Las Vegas - The Party Never Stops
Las Vegas is known for its gambling and wild nightlife - probably the reason why so many bachelor parties are held there. Pool parties are epic - head to either Wet Republic or Encore for a solid experience. Hakkasan is the largest club, but famous DJs make their rounds throughout most of them, so anywhere you choose should be a good time. Be prepared to spend money though, a lot of it - Vegas is anything but cheap.
New Orleans (also known as NOLA) is a festive city filled with a mixture of cultural influences. Po’ boys (baguette sandwiches) and some incredible architecture found throughout the city represent the French influence. Don’t forget to try beignets and a café au lait at Café Du Monde. There are two locations in New Orleans - one in the French Quarter and another (lesser-known) one just outside of the French Quarter in a mall called The Riverwalk. The Riverwalk location is not full service (unlike its French Quarter counterpart), however it is generally much less crowded. Cajun and Creole influences contribute heavily to NOLA's spicy, and seafood-oriented food scene.
The music scene in New Orleans is phenomenal! NOLA is considered to be the birthplace of jazz in the United States. Many famous jazz artists such as Louis Armstrong emerged from here and helped shape the music culture in this country. Louis Armstrong is memorialized in a nearby park, unsurprisingly called Louis B. Armstrong Park. You can hear live music in the French Quarter - there are many extremely talented musicians playing in the streets. People and bands looking to get discovered often perform in/around Jackson Square Park. This is also a spot where artists are known to sell their work. To find jazz in actual venues, head to Frenchman Street - there are lots of great spots to check out, Maison being one of the most famous. You will find music on the streets in this area as well.
The party scene is outrageous – head to Bourbon Street (both during Mardi Gras and not) for loud music, scandalous dance moves and debaucherous shenanigans. Don’t forget to visit a bar with a balcony on the second floor for a drink so you can enjoy the view of Bourbon Street from above and people watch – you’re guaranteed to see something interesting.
As you may have heard and/or seen, Mardi Gras is a time when there is even more ruckus going on in New Orleans than normal. When you take an already wild city and give people a reason to celebrate, you can expect pure madness. Green, gold and purple are the colors you will most vividly and frequently see, along with numerous themed parades going on in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday. Be careful when attending parades as numerous items/collectables are thrown from the floats - getting hit in the face with a bag of large beads stings and may leave a mark. The closer it gets to Fat Tuesday, the more intense the city becomes. The weekend before Fat Tuesday gets really rowdy, particularly on Bourbon Street. Londi Gras (the day before Mardi Gras) is also chock full of parties and celebrations. Be safe and have fun!
Believe it or not, Houston, Texas ranks as one of the most diverse cities in the United States. There are many races, religions and cultures to be found here. With that said, naturally your eating choices are also diversified!
One of the many things that many people enjoy about Houston is the low cost of living. Combine that with no state income tax and it’s no wonder why so many people have flocked there. As Houston is a sprawling city, most people who live there own cars. Home to NASA and the Johnson Space Center, Houston attracts lots of tourists annually!
Just South of the Border...
Tijuana (also known as TJ) has a very different feel than its neighboring US cousin, San Diego. While you will find some similar food and friendly locals in both places, the official language in Tijuana (and Mexico) is Spanish, and there is more poverty there than in San Diego. I did not find as many tourists as I thought I would have in TJ. This may be due (at least in part) to the perceived danger there. I did not encounter any issues. Now, for a list of random facts about TJ:
Sunny San Diego
Sporting consistently sunny skies, warm weather, a lack of humidity, and amazing sunsets, it's no wonder why San Diego takes the cake year-to-year when it comes the best places to live both in the US and worldwide.
San Diego is a progressive city that offers lots of great restaurants, vegetarian and vegan options too, and no shortage of nightlife! The best areas to spend the evening are the Gaslamp District/Little Italy area if you want moderate to pure chaos, or North Park if you're deeper into the hipster scene.
Parks you might ask? Yupp, San Diego's got that too. Balboa Park is a particularly beautiful park with many sections including several museums, a botanical garden area, and even a dog park nearby! Check out the alluring variety of cacti - stunning!
The public transportation system, which consists mainly of buses and trolleys, does a pretty decent job connecting the different parts of San Diego. Should you decide you want to venture out of the city, train and bus connections will conveniently take you north toward Los Angeles to meet movie stars, or south to Tijuana if you're curious what’s on the other side of the border.
The main takeaway is that although it’s an expensive city, it's definitely a very livable and enjoyable place!
Beastmode US Road Trip
Although I usually like to write about my experiences in short essay-style format, I am going to let the statistics do the talking on this one:
1) 10,000 miles driven = equivalent distance between New York, United States & Sydney, Australia
2) if we continued traveling for about 2.5 years at the same pace, we would have reached the moon
Challenging drives: Highland Scenic Byway in WV, 40mph winds in Kansas and Nebraska, operation bunny avoidance in Nevada
Animals seen: Dolphins (Shem Creek, SC), alligators and bullfrogs (Achafalaya Basin, LA), bison, pronghorns, white-tailed deer(?) (Custer State Park, SD), Prairie dogs, Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep (Badlands, SD), Pronghorns, mule deer (scenic drive from SD to WY), donkey (town in southern Nevada), large (jack?)rabbit (southern Nevada)
Best hotels: Cambria in New Orleans, Hilton Americas in Houston, Ramada Plaza Atlanta Downtown
Food All-Star List (vegetarian/vegan):
- Bru Burger Indianapolis: mushroom patty burger & mushroom & garbanzo bean burger
- Lulu's (vegan) St. Louis: Buffalo fried cauliflower bites with ranch sauce, crunch wrap
- *Biscuit Head Asheville: Asheville Benedict, soy chorizo
- Wet Willie's Savannah: vegan burger (1st customers to try)
- MELT Birmingham: Mac n cheese egg rolls with chili sauce, pretzel covered cheese bites with jalapeno ranch, mac n cheese burger (with egg added), beer battered fries with rosemary infused ketchup and spicy/sweet mustard combo, banana stand
- Oceana Grill New Orleans: Cajun Vegetarian Stew
- Killer Poboys New Orleans: Cheddar omellete Poboy
- Walk-Ons in Baton Rouge - veggie burger, waffle fries & Cajun queseaux dip w/ chips
- India's in Baton Rouge: Honey chili cauliflower bites
- Arlo's in Austin: BBQ Burger & Bacon Cheese Burger
- Vegan Nom in Austin: Tempeh Bacon & Organic Tofu Scramble breakfast taco, Three Amigos Taco, Jalisco Chicken Fajitas
- Goro in Oklahoma City: Yasai Ramen (with chili bomb)
- The Donut Whole in Wichita - drip coffee, medium roast w/ sugar & Irish cream
- Black Hills Bagels in Rapid City: white chocolate chip bagel with brown sugar and cinnamon cream cheese; egg and American cheese on a cheddar cheese bagel; egg and pepper jack cheese on a sour dough bagel with cream cheese; egg, pepper jack cheese, olives, jalapenos, lettuce, and tomato with cream cheese on a plain bagel; White Mocha (espresso drink)
- Paramount Cafe in Cheyenne - M.O. 35 (drink)
- Watercourse Foods in Denver - Cuban Sandwich & vegan seitan wings
- Matador in Boise: Veggie burger (beyond burger), side of fries, salad, crispy brussels sprouts
- Wayward Vegan Cafe in Seattle: The Real Deal
- Next Level Burger in Portland: Special Sauce Burger
- Kati in Portland: Pad See Ew, Pad Kee Mao, Panang Curry, Vegan Iced Thai Tea, Iced Green Tea
- Ramen Yamadaya in Los Angeles: Vegan Ramen
Cool nightlife spots: Baxter's - Louisville, Tree House - Savannah, Atomic Lounge - Birmingham
States visited (32): NY, NJ, PA, MD, WV, KY, IN, IL, MO, AR, TN, NC, GA, SC, AL, MI, LA, TX, OK, KS, NE, SD, WY, CO, NM, AZ, UT, NV, ID, OR, WA, CA
Coolest small towns: Casey, IL; Lucas, KS; Goldfield, NV
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.