Boise: Fell In Love At First Sight. Here Are 5 Reasons Why.

Boise: Fell In Love At First Sight. Here Are 5 Reasons Why.

 

I’m ready to move here! Well probably not quite but I am pondering a 2-3 week residency to get more fully immersed in the Boise scene.

The love affair started with our hotel, The Modern Hotel & Bar. It’s a former Travelodge with great mid-century décor and a very cool vibe that attracts as many locals to its courtyard bar  & restaurant as it does visitors!

 

Read on below for five things that make Boise the BEST!

Read More >

Share this post on:

Denver: 7 Cool Things To Do On Your Next Visit

Denver: 7 Cool Things To Do On Your Next Visit

 

This was my first trip back to Denver in ten years. It felt like the city was in the midst of a major transition. The big mystery being, to what?

 

That said, I had a great time. I especially loved my hotel, and I loved meeting Jason Siegel, a Denver-based photographer who not only has his finger on the pulse of all that is new and happening in Denver, he’s also deeply involved in a host of artistic endeavors! He and his partners have a phenomenal pop-up called Foreign Form on Larimer in the RiNo district. He seems to be cut from the same cloth as many of the greatest artist/creative entrepreneurs of our time, people like Brian Donnelly (KAWS), Shepard Fairey (Obey) and Aaron Rose (founder of Alleged Gallery). Keep an eye on this guy – he’s going places.

 

Scroll down for my top recommendations.

Read More >

Share this post on:

Tulsa: 7 Reasons To Check It Out

Tulsa: 7 Reasons To Check It Out

 

I had a great time in Tulsa – thank you, Jack White, for putting it on my radar.

 

Here’s what I especially loved about it – and why you might want to check it out also.

The aesthetics and the vibe of the downtown area are super cool. I’m always fantasizing about gritty old buildings that can be converted into lofts. In Tulsa’s case, old buildings are most likely to be transformed into bars and restaurants.

The people are super friendly. Everyone was incredibly nice and helpful. I met even more people working in hospitality and the arts than I usually do. And as always, they are absolute fonts of knowledge on what to do (and what to skip) in their cities.

I have written about this before and will do it again now. If you are in a new city, find one spot that you love and sit at the counter. You’ll get the lay of the land very quickly and the best recommendations! And, btw, big shout out to the Hodges Bend staff, especially the bartender (Tyler?) for all the stellar restaurant recommendations.

What impressed me on this trip was how many young Tulsans are moving back to their hometown after living in bigger cities like Denver or New York. They’re excited to be back and from what I can tell are shaking things up, especially on the restaurant scene and the arts.

The culture. Tulsa has a strong art scene. The Philbrook Museum is world-class. But music is really at the heart of the city. I like music, but it’s not “my thing” so I can’t talk about it in depth other than to tell you that almost every conversation in Tulsa will start with what music you’ve seen. Not surprisingly, virtually every bar and restaurant features live music.

Tulsa also benefits from the civic-mindedness of its moneyed families, e.g., the Kaiser family just spent $500 million to create Gathering Place – a state of the art riverside park spanning 66 acres along the Arkansas River. It includes an enormous skateboarding park, playgrounds including ones specifically for autistic children, bike trails and a spectacular boathouse which features a “cabinet of wonder” art installation by world-renowned artist Mark Dion. It is magnificent. And, on top of that, the Gathering Place has an endowment to keep it FREE in perpetuity.

One thing that perplexed me was Tulsa’s size. To me, it felt like a really small city. It reminded me of Bentonville (pop: 44K). Imagine my surprise when I found that Tulsa city proper has a population of 400K and total Metro Tulsa is almost a million.

 

Scroll down for my seven top reasons to check out Tulsa. I highly recommend you tack on a few days and visit the city the next time you’re in that neck of the woods.

Read More >

Share this post on:

Tulsa, Denver, Boise, Utah: Watch Out. Here I Come!

Tulsa, Denver, Boise, Utah: Watch Out. Here I Come!

 

I start this epic cultural immersion tomorrow (August 8th). Lots of art, restaurants and bars, and quirky, iconic landmarks like the Golden Driller (above left). What makes this trip even more exciting is having great friends join me along the way.

 

I will be writing only intermittently while traveling but I will post to Instagram daily. Please follow me. I will be back to my regular writing schedule on Monday, August 26th.

 

Read on below for my UPDATED travel itinerary. And if anybody has recently been to any of these cities, please send along recommendations.

Read More >

Share this post on:

Atlas Obscura Behind-The-Scenes Tours: Highly Recommend

Atlas Obscura Behind-The-Scenes Tours: Highly Recommend

 

Atlas Obscura schedules the most fascinating explorations of random, off-the-beaten-path places around the world.

 

Subscribe to their email newsletter, and you’ll be alerted to upcoming events. Their U.S. cities include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.  Globally, they’re everywhere from Barcelona to Beijing to Berlin to Rome (plus many more cities).

I’ve previously joined them for a visit to NYC’s Explorer’s Club, which was terrific. Every tour is led by an expert on that specific subject and location.

Their website breaks down their trips in a variety of ways from most popular, e.g., Catacombes de Paris or the Underground Tunnels in LA, to most visited, most random, newest and so on.

The walking tour I went on this past Wednesday explored NYC’s infrastructure, including our largest sewer plant, tunnels, draw and truss bridges, rail yards, and recycling plants.

Our guide was Mitch Waxman. He’s the Newtown Creek Alliance Historian, but beyond being knowledgeable about every inch of this terrain, he’s also entertaining, opinionated and a real treat to walk with. You’ll learn a lot about the history of NYC on this almost-three hour trek from Greenpoint to Long Island City’s waterfront.

Atlas Obscura does not lie when it says we will “get up close and personal” with the underbelly of the Newtown Creek Superfund site!

  • Our tour started in Greenpoint right near the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (gross but fascinating!).
  • It took us over six bridges
  • We learned about the history of this Superfund site including all of the businesses that helped to create this mess
  • We traversed three rail yards
  • A major highway
  • Tons of sanitation truck routes with detailed info on how NYC handles its recyclables
  • And after all that grime, we ended up at the new Hunter’s Point South Park which is gorgeous with the most beautiful views of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island City

I got some fantastic photos from our trek across this industrial and obscure section of Greenpoint and Long Island City.

 

Scroll down for photos. And again, if you are a history buff or just fascinated by random, off-the-beaten-path locations and their backstories, check out Atlas Obscura – you will thank me!!

Read More >

Share this post on:

What Are Airlines Going To Do About All This Bad Behavior?

What Are Airlines Going To Do About All This Bad Behavior?

 

Why do airlines serve alcohol to intoxicated passengers? And will the plane crash because passengers refuse to set their phones to “airplane mode?”

 

Have you noticed how many of the craziest, most disruptive passengers on planes turn out to be drunk?

I have. And so have the airlines themselves. They are increasingly going after passengers for damages resulting from their bad behavior, e.g., if they have to make an emergency landing because of a drunken inflight brawl.

But, in my opinion, the airlines have brought this on themselves by allowing intoxicated people on board in the first place. Even more so when they continue to serve them alcohol or when they over-serve passengers during flights.

And look at the sign above for “Order To Go Cocktails” (lower left). I just saw it at the Minneapolis airport. How can anyone think this is a good idea?

The Washington Post reported that 99% of cases of disruptive, unruly behavior on planes involve intoxicated passengers or passengers who are reacting to someone else under the influence.

I mean how much money can airlines be making off the booze on planes? I suggest airlines start becoming more sober-curious before a whole plane goes down.

Ryanair is the only airline I’ve heard of that is asking airports to impose a two-drink limit per boarding pass, and a total ban on alcohol sales before 10 am.

Per the BBC, there has been a 50 percent increase in the number of people arrested for drunken shenanigans on British flights.

 

The other question I have for the airlines is about setting our phones to airplane mode.

 

Read on below.

Read More >

Share this post on:

36 Hrs In Minneapolis: On The Culture Beat

36 Hrs In Minneapolis: On The Culture Beat

 

This was my first trip to Minneapolis in over ten years. Not at all as I recall it. Way cooler in some ways, way sleepier in others.

 

I planned a short one-day trip specifically to check out Brad Kahlhamer’s show at the Minnesota Institute of American Art- it’s MAJOR!  More on that below.

In prepping for my visit, I researched the city’s art scene and ended up extending my trip into a full-on 3-day cultural immersion. Extremely worthwhile!

That said, I have to preface this review of my 36 hrs in Minneapolis with a caveat. I am an action junkie. And I love high-energy, hip, emerging scenes, which is why I am going to start with my hotel.

The Hewing, in the North Loop/Warehouse District, is fantastic. I’m a total sucker for this type of hotel. Their lobby is amazing. It’s a vibrant spot where locals gather as much as hotel guests do. Unless you’re a Four Seasons’ fancy-pants kind of person, stay at the Hewing!

  • It’s the epicenter of cool (in my opinion). Thank you, Neely Tamminga, for insisting I stay here.
  • What I loved most about the Hewing was its vibe, along with its decor, and the location. This is where my tribe hangs out.
  • It was formerly a farm equipment showroom, so its proportions are ginormous.
  • It’s comfy but rough-hewn, rugged but chic. The custom wallpapers are fantastic, and I especially loved having my coffee in the morning ensconced in one of their window seats (spectacular when a major thunderstorm rolls through town).
  • It reminded me a lot of Chicago’s Soho House.
  • The staff is exceptional. Thorough, caring, and they have opinions about what you should order (and I love that)!
  • There’s a rooftop lounge with glorious sunset views.
  • They also have bikes available for hotel guests.

Having the Hewing as my home base (vs. the Aloft where I initially planned to stay), dialed up the quality of my visit immeasurably. And, by the way, I walked past the Aloft on my way to the Walker Art Center, and all I could think was, “Wow, so glad I’m not staying here – or in that part of town.”

So tip #1: choose your hotel wisely.

Tip #2: if you stay at the Hewing, make sure you book directly online and prepay – it’ll save you almost $100 a night.

While almost every aspect of my hotel experience was outstanding, there were a few peculiarities:

  • For example, their highly-touted restaurant, Tullibee, had created a special Restaurant Week menu which offered a limited selection of two starters, two mains, and two desserts.
  • However, at dinner, they relayed a few specials to us. One was a cheese plate. I said great, I’ll have the special cheese plate as my main. This is where it goes off the rails.
  • The specials are only available as add-ons. Therefore you have to order two entrees. If I wanted the cheese plate, I would have to order it on top of one of the mains on the menu.
  • To me, that’s bizarre. They did, however, suggest they could simply not serve me the menu entrée, but I would still have to pay for both dishes. Then it just turns into a weird kind of rip off – and I honestly don’t feel that was their intent.
  • The second peculiar thing about the hotel is how dog-friendly it is.
  • It appears to have become a top destination for professional dog walkers to hang out with their pack of hounds.
  • While I was there, two dog walkers took over a few couches for their pooches. I know all my dog lover friends will think this is great, but I don’t want to sit on a couch that has just had five dogs slobbering all over it. But lest that dissuade you, they also have a stellar team of clean-up people who mop and vacuum after dogs have visited.

Those are, however, the only two misses. I would stay at the Hewing again in a heartbeat. And I did stay there again on Sunday night after my flight to NYC got interminably delayed. That’s also when I found out how much better it is to book and prepay at the Hewing. Scroll down for pics.

 

Also, read on below for more on the Minneapolis Culture Beat as well as other observations from my 3-day stay.

Read More >

Share this post on:

Utah and Bonneville Salt Flats Are Back On The Agenda

Utah and Bonneville Salt Flats Are Back On The Agenda

 

From the Bureau of Land Management: “If you go out onto the salt flats on your own, let someone know where you are and when you plan to return. Getting stuck out alone on the flats is dangerous and has resulted in past fatalities.

 

YIKES. So after getting bogged down in the desert sands last month in 100-degree heat and needing an $800 tow, I got nervous about heading to the Bonneville Salt Flats and planned to bag that part of my Great American Cultural Immersion.

This past Sunday, however, over a fabulous Cinco de Mayo Feast at Ludlow House, my good friends Erika and John Machamer asked if they could join me on this leg of the trip starting in Boise. The stars aligned as the Mexican cocktails flowed, and thanks to the Machamers, Utah is back in play – and I could not be happier!

Funny how things work out like that. I’m beyond thrilled because this also means that I will be celebrating my birthday (in Boise), with my fellow Leo, John Machamer. And what a celebration it will be. Our whole posse of State Fair aficionados will be together again for the opening of the Western Idaho State Fair. Afterward, Erika, John and I will be road tripping to Utah, while the rest of the crew flies back home to LA and NY.

I still find it incomprehensible that I was completely unaware that something like the Bonneville Salt Flats even existed. Of course, now I’m playing catch-up and maniacally researching everything I can find about the place. But there’s not much available on how you’re meant to access or explore the area or how you determine where it is safe to drive/walk. All those unknowns would usually not deter me, but after last month’s incident in the desert, I would be lying if I didn’t admit to being extremely nervous about driving out there totally on my own. So, Erika and John, I owe you big time for turning my dream into a reality!

 

Read on below for our tentative itinerary, and if anyone has traveled to these parts before, your tips and recommendations would be much appreciated.

Read More >

Share this post on: