One of the most delightful parts of meeting travelers in SE Asia was that nearly everyone asked me where they should visit in the USA. Everyone knows about New York City and San Francisco (both extraordinary places!) but with 50 other states with countless cities, you’d be selling yourself short if you didn’t at least attempt to visit the following gems.
I’ve seen many a beautiful budget busted on food and drink, including my own (damn you, Italian food). American food can be quite pricey if you aren’t careful, but luckily the happy hour is still alive and kickin. More recently, food has been included (and encouraged) in the happy hour menu, which is a superb way to check out a restaurant you wouldn’t normally be able to afford.
Orange clay mountains make for a surreal backdrop. Arizona definitely seems like another planet, and I think it’s pretty out of this world (so friggin punny, I know).
a great way to see the city, literally. The top of the mountain provides a remarkable view of all things Phoenix. Be sure to go early in the morning and hydrate well, Phoenix can get up in the high 90’s.
Stingray Sushi… An ode to the wonderful West coast sushi. In other words, they don’t f**k around. Get delicious rolls anytime, and an impressive half-off happy hour from 2:30-6:30. Find what you’re looking for here.
Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve… Don’t get pricked! You can’t go to Phoenix without playing in the desert. Those cute cacti with the little arms are called Saguro Cactuses. Visit at dusk for surreal scenes and cool weather.
Where to Dine & Drink
230 N. Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ
An ungodly amount of meat and full bar, get The Tower Burger, Kettle Chips, and a Kir Royale
2333 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ
Local organic vegetables and any pizza you can concoct, get a 10 in. Buffalo Chicken Pizza, Half Strawberry Gorgenzola Salad for $10.95. Add in the waiter’s wine suggestion.
320 N Third St, Phoenix, AZ
Nothing over 9$ at noon, get the 3rd Street Carnitas, S’mores Ice Cream Whoopies, and a Phoenix Ale Brewery Camelback IPA
One of the quirkiest cities in the U.S. is also quite different from the other major cities in Texas, Houston and Dallas. You might have heard of the SXSW (south by southwest) film and music festival that is held in here in March, while the festival is definitely an experience, Austin has SO much more to offer.
Baylor Street Art Wall –
For a bit of art and a prime photo opp be sure visit this local favorite. For tips on how to photograph graffiti, look no further.
Food Trucks Galore– Austin loves a good food truck and plenty of them are BYOB, like the Fat Cactus serving navajo tacos. Or go really Texas with it and get BBQ at La Barbecue. Check the city food truck map here.
Watersports on Lady Bird Lake- People in Austin are always playing outside and when you visit you’ll see there is no denying that. Try SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) if you’re looking for something new or you can pick a classic kayak. You’ll fit in fine.
Where to Dine & Drink
Austin is a come-back king of Happy Hour. The food is even better than the drinks, y’all.
Lucky Robot for Happy Hour 5-7
1303 S Congress Avenue, Austin, TX
7$ Sake Carafes, 2$ Ichiban, and some of the best sushi in the city
The Hightower for Happy Hour 5-7
1209 E 7th Street, Austin, TX
$5 cocktails like the deep eddy splash (waterloo gin, deep eddy ruby red grapefruit, and mint). Have some smoked redfish spread to go with it.
The BuzzMill for Brunch
1505 Town Creek Drive, Austin, TX
$7 bottomless flapjacks with house-made bacon and eggs, $4 make-your-own Bloody Marys, and $2 mimosas.
It really pains me to have to cut this so short- there are SO many died-and-gone-to-heaven meals in the Crescent City. When you think of foodie, you might think NYC or Paris, but don’t sell this southern gem short. Whether you desire pecan-crusted gulf fish (my FAVORITE), macrons, or life-changing coffee, NOLA has it.
Don’t skip brunch. Elizabeth’s is a local favorite, and for damn good reason. Praline bacon and the fried green tomato Benedict are must haves but if you’re hungover get the shrimp-n-grits. Oh did I mention pour-your-own mimosas, brandy milk punch, and the-best-damn-bloody-mary-in-the-world? You won’t be disappointed.
Thanks to a diverse population, New Orleans has some of the best pho in the country. But if you think I’m full of malarkey, take it from cuisine king Anthony Bourdain. While truly every place you dine at will be remarkable, there are a few gems that are outstanding. Lilly’s on Magazine street is a guaranteed hit, just be sure to get her Lily rolls, a special take on the classic spring roll.
You can’t visit New Orleans without getting a po’boy. The sandwich was originally made for streetcar workers on strike in the 1930’s, and the city hasn’t let them go since. Crisp, delicate French bread stuffed with fried shrimp, lettuce, mayo, and tomato makes for the perfect hangover prevention. A meal for under $10 USD at Adam’s Street Market.
Where to Dine & Drink
It would be downright shameful to not catch all of the classic New Orleans drinks.
Elizabeth’s for Brunch
601 Gallier Street, New Orleans, LA
Bananas Foster French Toast, Red Neck Eggs, and a Ghetto Fabulous Mimosa
The Ruby Slipper Cafe for Brunch
1005 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA
BBQ Shrimp n Grits, Hot Smoked Salmon Benny, and an Irish Cream Coffee
Lilly’s Cafe for Lunch
1813 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA
Lilly’s Rolls, Pho Rare Flank & Brisket, and an Iced Vietnamese Coffe
Adam Street Grocery for Lunch
1309 Adams Street, New Orleans, LA
Shrimp Poboy, Zapp’s Voodoo Chips, Abita Strawberry Harvest Beer
Liuzza’s by the Track for Dinner
1518 N Lopez Street, New Orleans, LA
Creole Gumbo, Shrimp Remoulade, and a Pimm’s Cup
Mr. B’s for a Dinner Splurge
Oven Roasted Pork Belly and Fig, Pecan Crusted Redfish, Dirty Martini , and Bread Pudding
One of the reasons I refuse to move North of I-10 is because I grew up in the sunniest place in the world.* The main attraction is lucky free- the gorgeous white sand and greenish-blue sea. I’m sure it would be impossible to pull you off the beach, but in case you have a cloudy day there are plenty sights to see.
For a real bargain… Visit the Wagon Wheel Flea Market, an indoor/outdoor monstrosity that has been family-owned since 1966. Open Saturdays and Sundays rain or shine, they also serve cold beer to beat the heat.
For a bit of brilliance… Visit the Dali Museum, one of the cities pride and joys. Get in for $10 on Thursdays after 5 pm.
For an aquatic adventure… Get over to Egmont Key, one of the areas many natural reservations. Snorkel in the crystal clear water with dolphins and turtles. If dolphins are near, there is a good chance they’ll swim to you or your boat. SO friendly, but they can also get a little frisky…
Where to Dine & Drink
Since the city is surrounded by water, the seafood is exceptional. Redfish, grouper, and conch fritters are local favorites and the fish can be served blackened, fried, grilled, and anything else you can think of.
Red Mesa Cantina Happy Hour
128 3rd St S, St Petersburg, FL
Huachinango Ceviche, Crab and Shrimp Quesadilla, Cucumber Margarita
Middle Grounds Grill
10925 Gulf Blvd, Treasure Island, FL
Key West Chowder, Coconut Almond Shrimp, Key Lime Pie Martini
The Oyster Bar
249 Central Ave, St. Petersburg FL
Smoked Fish Spread, Crab and Arugula Salad, Grilled Pineapple Mojito
Seattle has a reputation for rainy days and grey skies, which makes for great lighting. One of the biggest regrets I almost always have about traveling is not taking enough pictures. Don’t be selfish, inspire some wanderlust and share. I’m also a HUGE fan of Halloween and spooky things so keep that in mind 😉.
Gas Works Playground…
This former gas company building turned park is a local favorite. Get a cheap sheet to lay on and one of the many local microbrews
and enjoy the great outdoors.
Pike Place Market… You can’t really go wrong with a waterfront market. It gets pretty packed, so be prepared for flying fish and bargaining. It wouldn’t be a real visit without tasting some of the amazing food, now would it?
Kerry Park… The absolute best view of the city, with the Space Needle, snow-capped mountains, and the skyline. Visit it at both day and night for vastly different scenes.
Where to Dine & Drink
Food trucks are a common quick and delicious way to get your grub around Seattle. It also gives you a chance to mingle with some locals.
Fusion on the Run
Key flavors: fresh pineapple, pork, cilantro
Boneless Short Ribs Tacos and Jicama Slaw
Key flavors: coconut, brown sugar, chocolate
Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Sandwich and Pumpkin Pie Bars (it’s Fall y’all…)
Off the Rez
Key flavors: quinoa, slaw, raspberry jam
Indian Taco and Razzleberry Fry Bread