Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Lattanzi Ten - 3/10/14 (Guest Edition)

On occasion, I will not be able to put forth this daily feature, so I will turn it over to others. Tonight's Ten comes from the great Nick Caputo (of Caputo's Corner - yes, it still exists!). Take it away, Nicholas! -- J.L. 

Greetings! So the great Lattanzi is unable to publish The Ten tonight so I will do my best give you a Ten that you can enjoy just as much as his. Remember that the Lattanzi Ten is often imitated, but never duplicated. However, I will give it my best shot. Since it is Tuesday, the Ten today will be more culturally inclined. Recently I just traveled to the Big Easy: New Orleans, for a bachelor party. That got me thinking, what are ten cities in the USA that are definitely worth visiting? I have to tell you, I might (might) have an east coast bias (sorry, California), but if you've read my blog before, or what’s left of it, you will know that my opinions here are my own. So enjoy and pack your bags (in no particular order)!

1. Washington, DC

Remember that thing I said about east coast bias? Yes, I consider the Nation’s Capital to be home base but even if you look beyond all the monuments and museums there really is a lot the District has to offer for an out-of-towner. For starters, there is actually a lot of green space for someone to just take in the surroundings and be one with their thoughts: the National Mall and Rock Creek Park just to name a couple. I’m also a big fan of the neighborhoods. DuPont and U Street are always fun for a good time out (and everyone has to stop at Ben’s Chili Bowl at least once). Georgetown is where you want to go for your (expensive) antique and boutique shopping. I could go on and on…….

2. Boston, MA

New Englanders can grate on your nerves sometimes, but Beantown really is a fascinating place to visit, for the history buffs and everyone else. You have to walk the Freedom Trail. Don’t do with a tour guide. It is much better doing it at your own pace like I did. By the end of the day, if you decide to even attempt climbing Bunker Hill Monument, you will be exhausted, and your legs will be sore, but it’s worth it. Take in a Red Sox game at Fenway too. Regardless of your opinions of the “Nation,” it is quite an experience to watch a game in one of the cathedrals of baseball. Finally, I know the Boston “Big Dig” project was not a fan favorite with some of the locals (leaky tunnels and cost overruns galore), but driving through the finished product is actually quite cool.

3. New Orleans, LA

This one is fresh in my mind for obvious reasons. Imagine everything you think you know about the Big Easy. Got it? Yeah, it’s all true. You have to psychologically prepare yourself for the French Quarter. The party literally does not stop. It goes all day and all night with people (and alcoholic beverages) everywhere. If you can somehow black out the hurricanes and hand grenades for just a minute though, there really is a lot of fascinating Creole culture to explore. The city did a great job of rebuilding after Katrina (at least the parts that we visited). Also for the first time I tried alligator sausage and rabbit and sausage jambalaya. I have to say, it tasted like chicken! Oh, and the gumbo, if you think you know gumbo, unless you've been to NOLA, you don’t know gumbo.

4. Niagara Falls, NY

So Niagara Falls is actually much more of an experience on the Canadian side of the border (so I've heard), but since I was there as a kid and we did NOT cross the border (and since I’m keeping this a USA list), I’ll focus on the New York side. After all, the whole point of going to Niagara Falls is to see the waterfall. They cater to the tourists really well up there. The Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds tours are a must, despite the fact that when I was there as a kid I was petrified. You have to be OK with getting at least a little wet. Take a trip to the top of the observation tower and get a load of the view. Pretty awesome.

5. Las Vegas, NV

OK, so I had to throw the west coast a bone. I've never actually been to Vegas, but judging from the testimonials I've heard from people who have been there, it’s a lot like New Orleans. Everything they say about it is true, and you have to see it to believe it. Even if you don’t want to gamble, go see a Wayne Newton show, or eat…EAT! But let’s face it, if you’re going to go to Vegas, you have to budget at least a little money for…ahem…”entertainment.” If it were up to me, I’d find a 1-2 or a 2-4 Texas Hold ‘Em game and I’d be set.

6. Myrtle Beach, SC

Back on the right coast, Myrtle Beach has a little something for everyone. You've got the traditional family resort town (which is how I experienced it going there with the family a few times), but then you've also got the not-so-family side with the clubs and shops boardwalk where the party just keeps on going. I have not been since I was in high school, but this is definitely one of those beaches I’d love to go back and visit again older and wiser.

7. New York, NY

For all you New Yorkers reading this and thinking to yourselves “WHAT!??! SEVEN!!??” relax. Remember that this is a list in no particular order so if it makes you feel better you can put yourselves up to #1. OK? If Manhattan were not so #%@!in’ expensive it would have an even dearer place in my heart. The City that Never Sleeps always has something to do: Times Square, Central Park, Radio City and the GAAHden, and oh yes, all the (expensive) shopping. Hey if that’s your thing, go for it. I’ll just be content taking in the sights and exploring the antiquated highway system. It was revolutionary for its time…in the 1930s…

8. Philadelphia, PA

I throw the same disclaimer to all my friends in Philly that I threw at my New Yorkers. If it makes you feel better, you can put yourself at the top of the list. Sports aside, if you enjoy history, and a cheesesteak, then Philly is the place to go. The locals will tell you that if you really want a good steak, don’t go to Pat’s or Geno’s because that’s where all the tourists go. Go to one of the local corner delis. I believe them. They know their steaks, but sorry, every time I've been in that town it’s like I’m one of Pavlov’s dogs when I find myself on Passyunk Ave.

9. Pittsburgh, PA

My only experience with Pittsburgh is driving through it on my way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, everyone that I've talked to has nothing but great things to say about the city on the other end of the PA Turnpike. Even though my experience is limited to what I saw through a windshield, I have to say that there is no better entrance in America to a downtown than traveling through the Fort Pitt Tunnel eastbound and seeing the skyline open up in front of you.

10. San Francisco, CA

Finally, we have to make one more trip to the West Coast. If there is one city in California that I would like to go visit it’s San Fran. I think it would be cool to ride on one of the street trolleys and now that they have completed the new Bay Bridge, I’d be very fascinated to take a drive over it. Also, Pac Bell/SBC/AT&T/Some other phone company Park is making a good name for itself as one of the new shrines of baseball. Watching home runs land in water is really cool, but that’s just me.

Bonus. Baltimore, MD

See disclaimers for Philly and NYC above. Baltimore makes the list as an honorable mention for two reasons: Old Bay and Crabs. GET YOUR MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER!

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