Support GM and America!; L.A. Auto Show

•November 21, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The history of this country inspires us to be supportive.  Not just leisure, but an opportunity to support American automobile companies, the L.A. Auto Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center gives an experience everyone in the family can enjoy along with mountains of information and the scoop into future projects for those upcoming buyers.  Skip the flight to Detroit and attend the second largest auto show in North America.

Usually during the winter, this specific show has been pushed back for families visiting to enjoy during the Thanksgiving week.  With the sun, beaches and mountains, Southern California has a diverse terrain that draws all the automotive companies to this show.  Whether it’s the excitement of seeing the newest green cars, or the marvel of exotic Italian sports cars like Maserati and Ferrari, the auto show has always been a good time for me to get inside and see my dream cars that we’ll all someday have.  When you arrive in the convention center the South Hall will be upstairs directly in front of you, this is where most of the main manufactures will be.  Swing a right towards concourse hall to see exotic cars like your Lotus’ Rolls Royce and the new Spyker LM85; being released exclusively at the L.A. Auto Show.  Other stand outs include the Honda Fuel Cell car that emits no emissions, and the sleek Tesla sports car that runs on electricity.spyker3

Open from Friday November 21st to Sunday November 30th, 2008, the convention center and surrounding attractions in downtown L.A. will be bustling with entertainment.  Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and all children 12 and under are free.  For show hours and information on a free $2 off coupon click here.  Remember to get there early because the doors close one hour before the show closes for the night.

kobe-dunk1Also downtown adjacent to the Convention Center is the Staples Center.  This pristine modern arena is home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers professional basketball teams.  The Lakers have the best record in the NBA and are arguably the most exiting team to watch this season.  The Staples Center is also home to the Los Angeles Kings professional hockey team if you prefer the ice.  These games are a great place to take dates, family or friends before you go hit the bars or restuarants of downtown L.A.  For more information on home games and tickets during the thanksgiving week see the Staples Center.

Since the driving in Los Angeles is notorious, I poked around the downtown area and found a good place with a very short walk to the Convention/Staples Center and the great surrounding culinary joints:

This Spanish Villa style hotel was renovated five years ago and is a great secured place to stay if you want to wake up downtown every morning.  The Inn is a half mile from the Convention Center and for those who want to get in their cars, two miles from the famous shops of Rodeo Drive.  They gave me a great complimentary continental breakfast and fitness center.  With wireless internet, (inside and outside) I could catch up on the morning without having to get up and walk right away.  From LAX Airport to downtown is one freeway change and one exit, that’s it!  They gave me a single for $68 a night with cable, newspaper and all the works.  Have fun and check back to see where you can eat great American food as we approach Thanksgiving.


Top 10 All American Diners

•October 22, 2008 • 3 Comments

Blue Benn Diner- Bennington VT

Contrary to the typical retro reform dining experience with Marilyn Monroe in a hoop skirt and roller skates this sometimes referred to as “a gourmet” diner boasts all the classics and none of the fuss.  Standing proudly along its current spot on Route 7 since 1949 the Blue Ben remains a true-blue hash house.

(check out my last post for Vermont vacation ideas)

Goody Goody Diner– St. Louis MO

Connely’s Goody Goody has its roots in the dark days of the depression and was originally home to the first walk-up A&W Root Beer stand.  Now in business for almost 60 years this St. Louis family run staple still prides themselves on frosted mugs and classic atmosphere.

True to St. Louis classics be sure to try the “Chicken and Waffle Supreme” with grits.

Becky’s Diner on Hobsons Wharf– Portland, ME

An homage to true American spirit and drive Becky, a mother of six recognized a need for the hardworking fisherman of Maine to have a place to eat before and after a grueling day beyond the docks.  She lobbied hard and beat zoning laws and was finally awarded the ability to build a diner on the waterfront.

Full of sleepy fishing town classics like some killer “Chowdah” also be sure to crawl outside of your comfort zone and try the lobster and swiss omelet.

Summerton Diner- Summerton, SC

Just a stones through from interstate 95 off exit 108 this small town slice of classic americana doesn’t need any fancy schtick, elaborate signage or market study driven prices, Summerton’ s keeps it real.  From the greasy skillet, Southern fried chicken, Sunday specials, Ocra and never ending refills of iced tea this family run establishment has its priorities straight.  With dinner specials starting around $6.95 Summerton serves as a reminder of whats really important.

66 Diner– Albequerque, NM

This nostalgia driven diner seeks to bring back the former glory of the classic Route 66 ideology.  With thick malts, full grease traps, impossible to finish burgers and enough neon lighting for a modern day rave; the mom and pop 66 Diner dedicates itself to the preservation of a quickly vanishing aspect of US history along Route 66.

Rudfords Restaurant– San Diego, CA

Along El Cajon Boulevard this once common place diner now stands as a San Diego novelty and reminder of times past.  With a south of the border influence Rudfords sets itself apart by successfully combining potato dominant dishes with rustic Mexican Chili’s, peppers and Tamales to complete these maritime meals.  And with breakfast starting around $4 you may never want to leave.

Rosies Diner– Rockford MI

Arguably one of the most famous diners in the world Rosie’s colorful Americana history makes this roadside staple one of the most recognizable classics out there.  Probably best known for Nancy Walker as “Rosie the Waitress” in the much loved Bounty Paper Towel commercials, Rosie’s Diner is a familiar image in a veritable cornucopia of well known photographs.  Tie that in with classic styling, neon lights, charming retro-cool, classic American fare and a newly built bar to entertain Sunday football; there’s really no reason to ever leave.

The Avalon Diner- Houston, TX

With a tagline “Justly Famous Since 1938” and blue plate specials it doesn’t get more classic.  Consistently serving up rave reviews in major publications the Avalon’s Texas sized portions and Delaware sized prices keep ’em coming from all around.

Peggy Sues Diner- Yerma, CA

Nestled outside a little ghost town in between Los Angeles and Las Vegas Peggy Sue’s Diner is often overlooked.  Another historic gem set along the quickly dissolving Route 66 the real Peggy Sue was originally a young Hollywood starlet with over 100 movies and commercials to her credit.  Straying from the limelight in search of a simpler life she took her piece of Hollywood and embedded it in Yerma with her lovely blast from the past diner “Peggy Sue’s.”

Mickey’s Dining Car– St. Paul, MN

One of the first original American diners making its mark in 1939 has been recognized in films and TV for decades from the “Mighty Ducks” to “The Food Network”.  Designed as a classic railroad dining car from the period Mickey’s Diner mixes nostalgia with aesthetics and succeeds in a fully rounded experience.  Oh, and the classic Americana dishes that has kept Mickey’s famous for nearly 60 years and featured in countless write-up’s isn’t all that bad either.

Vermont: Scenic views and big city access

•October 8, 2008 • 1 Comment

On the heals of my last post I thought I would showcase one of my favorite fall foliage destinations as we progress into October.

The picturesque Vermont boasts farms that look as if they sprung from an oil painting, covered bridges and of course the burning reds, yellows and oranges that give Autumn its mystique. This coupled with arguably the best skiing terrain East of the Rockies and some of Americas most charming and opulent Inns; Vermont makes for a very cozy get away mixed with a plethora of more adventurous and more romantic possibilities.

Naturally due to the openness of Vermont which spans approximately 300 miles renting a car is certainly your best bet if you wish to do some extensive exploration. Since we havn’t quite hit the ski season yet I would suggest staying in Vermont’s largest city Burlington. There is a Hilton that rests on Lake Champlain only a block from the Ferry dock to New York City.

From Burlington you can jet over to the recreational haven of Smugglers Notch to enjoy mountainside lodging and remarkable scenic hikes or you can head about an hour southeast and indulge in the Mad River Valley resorts. From Smugglers you can take the beautiful 3 hour scenic route south down through Manchester New Hampshire and finish up the trip with a few nights in Boston.

Bookmark and Share

Top 10 Fall Destinations!

•September 9, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Now is that time where Summer is quickly fading into the horizon and the cool crisp air of fall begins to slowly overcome us and nothing says Autumn like the dramatic colors that blaze through the fall trees. So courtesy of ShermansTravel here are the top 10 foliage destination of Fall.

Aspen, CO
While Colorado’s aspens don’t offer the vibrant fall color spectacle of say, the Northeast, the yellows, golds, and bold oranges that cover the mountainsides here, against a backdrop of intermittent evergreens, are still reason enough for a visit. Mid- to late-September is the ideal time to catch the show.
Hotels in Aspen

The Catskills, NY
Dubbed “America’s First Wilderness,” this beautiful region harbors a variety of trees – maple, oak, birch, and beech among them – that come into their prime during the last two weeks of September or early to mid-October. Historic towns boast charming B&B’s that make great bases for discovering the family-friendly harvest festivals, farmers’ markets, pick-your-own orchards, crafts fairs, and antique shops that define the region at this time of year.

Hotels in Catskill

Columbia River Gorge, OR
A geological wonder, the gorge itself weaves its way through the Cascade Mountains, forming the border between northern Oregon and southern Washington, and is loaded with lush fir forests and twisted pines, big-leaf maple, cottonwood, Oregon ash, and vine maple trees that show their colors from mid-September to mid-October. The area is also known for its dazzling waterfalls, the remarkable 620-foot Multnomah Falls chief among them.

Hotels in the Columbia River Gorge

Eastern Townships, QC
This section of Quebec stretches as far east as Maine, perhaps explaining why some consider the region to resemble neighboring New England, but with the French influence you’d expect of the province. It is probably no surprise that the maple leaf is the star of the show here, and visitors can enjoy a fiery display on horseback or on foot, particularly from mid- to late-September when the foliage season reaches its peak.

Hotels in Eastern Townships

Great Smoky Mountains, TN & NC
Nestled between North Carolina and Tennessee, the most-visited National Park in the United States is home to 100 species of trees with an awesome display of turning leaves. Peak fall colors are predicted for mid-October through early November; the most memorable foliage coming courtesy of sugar maples, scarlet oaks, sweetgums, red maples, and hickories.

Hotels Near the Great Smokey Mountains Nat’l Park

Lake of the Ozarks, MO
Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is one place where the beauty of the fall season, particularly in late October, is even better, thanks to the area’s wide array of lakeside activities. Visitors can survey the Lake of the Ozarks State Park’s amazing collection of dogwoods, thong trees, and oak-hickory forests by foot or by boat, along various hiking trails or a unique aquatic trail complete with markers that explain the sights along the way.
Hotel at the Lake of the Ozarks

Litchfield Hills, CT
The Litchfield Hills is a spectacular sight each autumn when the maple, oak, aspen, beech, and birch trees are ablaze with color. You can take in the splendor on one of the many driving itineraries available or see it from the sky on a hot-air-balloon ride. Whatever your pleasure, try to visit in mid-October, when the colors are at their most vivid.
Hotels Near Litchfield

Lost Maples Natural Area, TX
While many think cacti is the main source of green in Texas, the Lone Star State is in fact home to the Lost Maples State Natural Area, which welcomes a beautiful flush come autumn, thanks in no small part to the relatively uncommon uvalde bigtooth maples, whose reddish blush is most spectacular from mid-October through mid-November.

Hotels Near the Lost Maples Natural Area (San Antonio)

Move over Madison County, Pennsylvania rules when it comes to covered bridges – the state boasts more then any place in the world. If you’re an admirer, you’re in luck – covered bridges figure heavily on several different driving itineraries worth doing through the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia countryside. Pine, hemlock, and maple trees dominate, and the colors (think gold and flaming red) reach their peak in early October.

Hotels in Philadelphia

Washington County, ME
For hard-core foliage enthusiasts looking to escape the crowds that plague much of New England each fall, Washington County, in Maine, is paradise for a leaf-peeper seeking solitude. The fall colors range from burnt orange to blazing red to golden yellow on the region’s birch, maple, oak, aspen, and ash trees, and are most vibrant from early to mid-October.

Bookmark and Share

PDN Photo Plus Expo: New York

•August 11, 2008 • Leave a Comment

In my writing and random perusing of assorted blogs, travel logs, inspirational quips and so on I have derived great pleasure out of the massive amounts of high quality and breathtaking photography of my fellow online contributors. With that in mind I went on the hunt for a quality trade show that may benefit you masters of lighting and lenses. Granted this isn’t my forte so if you know of any additional events by all means pass them along. And without ado, I give you the Photo Plus Expo in New York at the Jacob Javits Center Oct. 23-25.

This Photog dream come true is one of the 25 largest events in New York turning out an impressive 27,000 attendees last year in their massive 20,000 square foot expo floor filled with exhibits and galleries. An expo this size of course boast a varied cornucopia of leading industry technology, services and products. And for all of you budding photographers looking to go a step further Photo Plus is a networking extravaganza.

The question still remains, where are you going to stay shall you decide to partake in this photo phun phenomenon. I believe that Photo Plus has struck a deal with a travel company to give you some discounted rates so investigate that on the website. Also here’s a list of hotels a stones throw from the convention center for Oct. 23-26. If you don’t go to the expo each day your still in New York so I recommend staying someplace nice and allowing yourself some time to explore.

If you want to go big check out the Westin on 8th Ave. a block from Times Square. The epitome of the glam New York stay but it will cost a pretty penny.

If you’re looking on the cheaper end of the spectrum check out the Americana. Its inexpensive and well located to give you a soft pillow to rest you head at night.

Jazz Fest Los Angels: JVC Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl

•July 29, 2008 • 1 Comment

Summer is in full swing and the concerts are starting to heat up. If your thinking about heading to the Los Angeles area anytime soon nows the time to stop dilly dallying and to take a weekend get away.

For all of you music lovers the JVC Jazz Festival Tour is coming to a close and their grand finale is going to be hosted at the Legendary Hollywood Bowl on August 17th. If you don’t know much about jazz or you’re just looking for an easy going concert you should definitely check this out. Full of unique sets and and enigmatic performances you wont regret this musical experience.

As we all now Hollywood is a very popular destination and the crowds can get a little rough if your not a fan of seas of people; so I have a short list of popular Hollywood attractions as well as some a little more off the beaten path.

If you want to stick around the Hollywood area definitely check out Hollywood blvd just so you can say you’ve done it and if you’re looking for touristy shopping you will find plenty plus the Kodak Theater, home of the Academy Awards. There is also plenty of photo ops along the walk of fame and costumed Hollywood characters perusing the Boulevard.

If you have some cash burning a hole in your pocket skip Melrose and head over to Beverly Hills and Rodeo drive. The boutiques are great and you can stop at several cafes/restaurants along the way and enjoy a good meal or a coffee concoction with entirely too many adjectives attached.

Venice beach and the boardwalk is also a quick drive from Hollywood but if you are looking for something a little less grass roots head over to Santa Monica and the 3rd street promenade. Its a pleasant walk with ocean air and you can walk out onto the pier and enjoy a date worthy “Carnival and Ferris Wheel” atmosphere (there really is a Ferris wheel)

For a more cultured visit hop over to LACMA Museum of arts or the Getty. I would also highly recommend the Griffith Park Observatory and Planetarium. Griffith Park is home to gorgeous views and nestled back in the trees is the Greek theater which is a pretty amazing outdoor venue.

And now for where to stay and theres a lot, but Im just going to push one because this is getting a little long.

In the heart of Hollywood off of the Sunset strip you have the Standard which gives you the luxury socialite feel and slick atmosphere with comparatively moderate pricing. The Standard’s location is tough to beat too placing you in cab and walking distance to clubs and restaurants plus the Standard turns into a club at night all on its own. Really a cool place for the hipster party crowd that wants to indulge in the Hollywood “scene.”

Seattle Seafair: Airshow, Hydroplanes and Pirates Arrrr!

•July 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Seattle Washington, the birthplace of Grunge and Starbucks is one of my favorite cities with a cool and laid back urban landscape that is never too far from nature. This culturally rich city offers, of course, some of the best coffee in the country along with a wide variety of art and museums such as the Seattle Art Museum and my personal favorite the Museum of Glass. The Museum of glass is technically in Tacoma but is well worth it with massive exhibits, hands on art studio, glass blowing demonstrations and even the building is a work of art itself.

Downtown Seattle is also renown for their fresh seafood caught from the bordering Pacific and the legendary Pike Place Fish Market. You know, the massive fish market where they chuck full size salmon across the market yelling the whole time, its quite the experience and inevitably someone usually gets hit with a fish which is hilarious providing you’re not the one getting hit.

Don’t forget you also have your standbys such as the Space Needle with the revolving restaurant overlooking the city and the breathtaking observation deck, the Seattle Aquarium, Bellevue Square and republic of Fremont for all you shoppers, GameWorks (which is pretty much the ultimate arcade), SafeCo Field for baseball fans and a killer night life.

Going on right now is a Puget Sound staple, the Seattle Seafair. Drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors each year this massive month long fest is home to the Chevrolet Cup power boat races (August 1st-3rd). If you don’t know what a racing power boat is or “Hydroplanes”, its basically a little futuristic looking boat with a helicopter jet strapped to it and sent flying across the water.

The Seafair also includes an interesting element…Pirates!  Yes we all love pirates, I mean honestly who doesn’t?  Well maybe ninjas I suppose.  But seriously the Seafair pirates are composed of 40 or more swashbuckling performers that gallivant across the grounds stirring up ruckus providing music and entertainment.  There is even a Pirate ship!  What more could you want!?

So if you are looking to explore the Northwest now is definitely the best time to go, especially before we get back in to the rainy season.

If you are wondering where to stay and have a budget then check out the Sorrento Hotel. This gorgeous boutique hotel is a nice step away from ordinary with luxury Mediterranean styling this early 1900’s landmark is centrally located only a few blocks from downtown, Pioneer Place and a couple miles to the Pike Place Fish Market.

I would like to hear some of the less “touristy” spots Seattle has to offer, I know there is a huge underground and I am looking to head back to the Northwest soon so send me a line!