lives in the foothills with her husband and two sons


Tucson has a lot of transplants, and before moving to the Old Pueblo, those residents spent years in other cities. We're transplants, too, and for our family Chicago is our home away from home.

My husband and our sons recently spent a week in Chicago for vacation. Here are a few reasons why having a "second city" (pun intended) to visit on a regular basis is so fun and special.

1. We know how to get around the city. Not spending time figuring out how to get everywhere during our vacation is a huge plus. When we lived in Chicago, we didn't own a car - it was too expensive and parking could be a nightmare. We got everywhere we needed to go via L trains, buses and taxicabs.

2. We don't have to cram in everything in one trip. We can have a lazy day and not feel like we are wasting an opportunity to see the city's main attractions. We've done so much in the past, and we know we will be back to visit Chicago in the future.

3. There are so many experiences that we can't get at home in Tucson. We can sit atop the 150-foot-high Ferris wheel at Navy Pier. We can visit the Art Institute of Chicago and see "American Gothic" by Grant Wood and "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat. We can see four states from the observation deck of the John Hancock building.

4. We can go back to places that hold meaning for us. We ate dinner at the restaurant where my husband and I had our first date, and we point out to the boys the buildings where we used to live and work.

5. We go off the beaten path a whole lot more often than we do when we go to a new city. We go beyond the traditional tourist areas to explore the neighborhoods of Chicago. In a part of the city called Wicker Park, we discovered a shop called iCream. The iCream employees used a mixing machine with liquid nitrogen to quick-freeze the ingredients we chose for our yogurt and ice cream treats.

6. We get to see friends and family. Without a doubt, the best part of our trips is catching up with friends and relatives. Who we see matters more than what we do on our trips.

Tucson is definitely home to us now, and we love it, but it's great to have a second city that we enjoy so much when we visit it. Happy travels if you are visiting your home away from home this summer!

E-mail Kelley Helfand at