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Vacations: Where to go, What to see, Where to eat

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I'm not a big amusement park person but am going with a group who are taking kids to Universal Studios Hollywood for spring break. My concern....I've read reviews about the 3-D rides. Do we need to take Bonine? Many comments mention puking and motion sickness. Thanks!

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On 2/7/2017 at 4:58 PM, Spunkygal said:

I'm not a big amusement park person but am going with a group who are taking kids to Universal Studios Hollywood for spring break. My concern....I've read reviews about the 3-D rides. Do we need to take Bonine? Many comments mention puking and motion sickness. Thanks!

Better safe than sorry!

I'm going to Boston in August. Room is booked, just deciding what flight I want to take. Red-eye out of LA and land late morning BOS time or 6:40am flight and land around 4pm BOS time. I'm only going to be there Fri - Mon (the red-eye would leave Thurs).

Edited by theredhead77

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On 2/7/2017 at 4:58 PM, Spunkygal said:

I'm not a big amusement park person but am going with a group who are taking kids to Universal Studios Hollywood for spring break. My concern....I've read reviews about the 3-D rides. Do we need to take Bonine? Many comments mention puking and motion sickness. Thanks!

I have terrible motion sickness, and cannot handle 3D rides, museum exhibits, etc.  If you're at all prone to motion sickness, I would definitely recommend Bonine as a precaution.

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6 minutes ago, Bastet said:

I have terrible motion sickness, and cannot handle 3D rides, museum exhibits, etc.  If you're at all prone to motion sickness, I would definitely recommend Bonine as a precaution.

It's been many years since I went to a park with rides but I recall the warnings of "Don't ride this if you have high blood pressure." A person who was with me st the time  had HTN. Now I have it and it's super high. I guess if I go I could ride the baby teacups or the ferris  wheel and the baby merry-go-round. Bummer.

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Sorry I missed the Reyjkavik post.  Just got back and it was amazing.  Vienna in September is next on my list!

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@Luvmyjrt, exactly a year ago today I was in Vienna! Also 3 years ago at about this time. My 5 favorite things: Stadtpark with the lilacs and chesnut trees in bloom, Peterskirche, a ride in the country, eating bratwurst at the street fair next to St. Stephen's, and the hueringen we got very drunk at. If I could get a barrel of that wine, I would. Have you been to Vienna before?

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@ABay, I have not.   My fathers family immigrated from Austria, so in addition to going for the beauty of it, I would love to find out where they lived.  Unfortunately, I am running in to a brick wall on the geneology pre 1901 when they sailed here.  Thank you for the info.......but I just want to clarify ---- did you say wine?  ?

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@Luvmyjrt, indeed I did. Heurigens are taverns that specialize in their own new wine. We were inside but they usually have an outside area like a beer garden which are themselves a brilliant idea and this country should have them everywhere. The taverns are marked with an evergreen bush over the door. 

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@ABay, sounds like a city after my heart!   Did you stay in Vienna proper and coulld you recommend a hotel?   And, most i,portantly -- red or white??

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White. Red gives me a headache unless it's sangria.

The 2 hotels I've stayed in are the Intercontinental, right across the street from the Stadtpark and maybe 15 minutes walk to St. Stephen's. I could see the spire from my room, which also looked out over the park. It's also just a couple of blocks from the Belvedere and the Naschtmarkt...I'm sure I spelled that wrong. That was the best hotel I've ever stayed in. The place last year was the McGallery Sofitel a block or two behind the Intercontinental.

I didn't choose the hotels; I booked a Monograms trip, which I've done 5 times now. What I like about them: it takes the guess work out of choosing the hotel and they always have hotels close to where I want to be, there's a local "host" who can help you if you have a problem, there's a guided tour included in the package, and that's the only time you have to see anyone else on the same package--you're essentially on your own to see what you want when you want. You can also arrange pick up at the airport. They offer excursions for extra money. The first time, I took the side trip to Bratislava which is like walking around the set of a Dracula movie. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Last year, I took my sister and she chose a Globus tour. Globus and Monograms are essentially the same company but Globus does the traditional bus tours. They also offer optional excursions and we took the heurigen and Vienna woods ones. Definitely worth it.

Many people travel alone and do their own hotel reservations and transportation, but this is what works for me. However, if I was going to look for my own hotel and wanted a more personal experience, I'd start with Rick Steves's guidebooks and TripAdvisor.

The very first time I went to Europe as an adult, in 2010, I took a Globus tour of Greece and it was fine. My own complaint was not enough time at a couple of the places like Delphi. I chose Globus because they had the fewest number of negative reviews on TripAdvisor. Greece was not a place I wanted to drive and I don't speak the language at all. Since then, I've memorized key phrases in the languages of the places I'm going. My proudest moment was negotiating the purchase of a bag for my sister in German. 8-)

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Thanks, @ABay!  Great info, all -- including the white wine.   Red?  Blech!!!

I am actually in the travel business as my part time career, but I love to get others thoughts.  Nothing wrong with organized tour package if that is what you like!  I think that is what my family figures my role to be and I enjoy it. I hear you on the not enough time when on organized tours -- my husband feels exactly the same!   I will have to work on my language skillz to barter when we go!

Again, many thanks for your time and input.  If I can ever return the favor --- you know where to find me!

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I'm getting really nervous about getting bumped from my flight to Boston. I'm a solo traveler flying on miles. Someone with lots of experience please reassure me that despite what is going on in the news I should be fine.

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The statistics are this:  Out of 615 million flyers in the US over the last 4 years, 500,000 of them have been involuntarily denied boarding.  That 0.08% of all passengers.   And if you are IDB, you are entitled to cash compensation (not a travel voucher). Fact is, it practically never happens. The airlines are required to ask for volunteers before IDB, and they almost always get volunteers.   A few cases have made the news lately, that`s all.  Just check in online the first minute that you can and you will be fine. 

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4 hours ago, Luvmyjrt said:

@theredhead77, if you are going to be in Boston for dinner, check out Reno's.   Fabulous italian food!

Thanks! If all goes as planned and there are no flight delays we'll have Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for breakfast/brunch and Sunday for breakfast and dinner. My friend wants to go to Neptune Oyster and I want all the seafood / authentic Boston food I can get. I found a whiskey bar near Fenway (about a half mile from our hotel). Looking for whiskey / wine / non-super touristy spots to check out Friday. Sunday I think we're doing the Freedom Trail.

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16 hours ago, theredhead77 said:

I'm getting really nervous about getting bumped from my flight to Boston. I'm a solo traveler flying on miles. Someone with lots of experience please reassure me that despite what is going on in the news I should be fine.

If you're really nervous, just be there early. The only time I was bumped from a flight (business class) was on the second fight go my journey, when the first leg had technical issues - couldn't print second boarding pass, flight was late due to extreme weather, etc. If the first flight hadn't been late, I probably would have gotten my seat. 

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Quote

Many people travel alone and do their own hotel reservations and transportation, but this is what works for me. However, if I was going to look for my own hotel and wanted a more personal experience, I'd start with Rick Steves's guidebooks and TripAdvisor.

Ohhhhh, don't do that.  Rick Steves has made his money off telling middle aged, middle Americans that the world is a big, scary place, and offering them tips on how to "experience" other parts of the world as if they had never left their hometowns.  His recommendations are safe, boring and paid for by the businesses he recommends.  

I travel solo all the time, across North America and further and further into Europe each trip (starting with English speaking countries, then spreading my wings into other languages.)   I plan absolutely everything myself, and rely on TripAdvisor as well as guidebooks like Lonely Planet and Frommer, and recommendations from friends.   The thought of an organized tour makes me squirmy. 

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Really? I've never gotten that from Steves's books at all. On the contrary, he's always seemd to me to be encouraging travel, urging Americans to travel more and experience the world. Also, he always tells you where the public toilets are.

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3 hours ago, Quof said:

Ohhhhh, don't do that.  Rick Steves has made his money off telling middle aged, middle Americans that the world is a big, scary place, and offering them tips on how to "experience" other parts of the world as if they had never left their hometowns.  His recommendations are safe, boring and paid for by the businesses he recommends.

It definitely comes off that way on his shows, but his books are more useful than the show for a "real" traveler.  I can't say I've ever relied on his recommendations - we have happened to visit some of the same attractions and restaurants (no hotel overlap that I've ever discovered) - but I don't object to the books the way I do the show (which, admittedly, I'll still watch when it's someplace I've been just to re-live the scenery). 

On the show, he often participates in some sort of guided tour, which is decidedly not my way of traveling, and just seems strangely sheltered for someone with extensive travel experience, but from the books he seems a more independent traveler. 

And some of his general travel tips (rather than location-specific recommendations) are quite sound. 

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I feel like I need to clarify: What I like about Monograms is that it takes care of the things I don't enjoy and find tedious to deal with--finding and booking a hotel, figuring out how to get my heavily drugged and sleepless me from the airport to the hotel, for instance--and leaves me free to spend more time figuring out what I want to see and then do the things I enjoy on my own--going to the weird sites I like, wandering around and getting lost, subjecting poor locals to my execrable language skills, lounging in cafes, and whatnot.  You never have to see any of the other people who also booked the trip. The guided tour that's included is one morning and you don't have to go on it. It is useful for getting into crowded spots quickly, like the Sagrada Famila or the Forum, and then ditching the group to explore on your own. In my experience, groups get in faster than individuals with museum passes, although those are also great time-savers.

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@ABay, however you prefer to travel is what works best for you.  I hope you felt no judgement from me.   Each person has their own preferences and just traveling is the important part -- as we gain experience and insight into other cultures and as I like to say "take photographs in our mind".   Our memories from travel are priceless!

It's funny....I have an autoimmune disease that makes each trip a bit more difficult, but also have a SIL who has MS who travels with me often, and you can't keep her down.  In many trips, I can only recall once where she has visibly "had enough" and needed to call it a day after a full day of going.   With our current health care crisis looming, I wonder if I should curtail traveling in lieu of what will likely be a big change in cost in the future, but then think......I should go while I can.  Vienna is still in the mix, but what to is as well.   I am typically not this ambivalent, but ....... what to do?

End venting and whining!   Travel on, my friends!

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On ‎5‎/‎8‎/‎2017 at 11:59 AM, Quof said:

Rick Steves has made his money off telling middle aged, middle Americans that the world is a big, scary place, and offering them tips on how to "experience" other parts of the world as if they had never left their hometowns.  His recommendations are safe, boring and paid for by the businesses he recommends.  

I bought one of his travel books for Paris.  It had quite a few walking tours in it.  We took one of them (well almost one, we pooped out before we finished) and I found it great.  It was like being on a guided tour but without the other people and able to go completely at your own pace.

And, I will also say that when I went to Italy and Australia, I went on the guided tours.  I get that they're not for everyone, but I'm not sure why some people seem to think they're so awful in general and should be avoided like the plague. 

Edited by Katy M
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I have nothingnagainst guided tours and would go on them in some situations. Mostly I don't want to because I don't like to be told what pace to go and because I am always interested in the wrong things. But your post, @Katy M, made me think of the Designing Women episode when Julia and Suzanne went to Japan and this scene. (Don't ask why. I'm not sure. I don't think you are like Suzanne. But people looking down on tours made me think of "seeing the real" wherever.)

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I've never taken a tour holiday, but twice or thrice while in a country or big city I visited for the first time I signed up for a short bus tour. A city tour in a huge city is useful to get your bearings and decide where you'd like to come back and explore more leisurely, while an island tour is interesting to see things like rice fields or stilt homes in non touristy areas that you wouldn't go to specifically as a destination if you are not driving. However, I still like getting a few ideas from a guide book about what each neighbourhood is like and after selecting some I think I'd like best just go there and walk and walk and walk and imbibe the feel of the place at my own pace. 

Edited by NutMeg · Reason: to replace "few" with "first"
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I went on several walking tours in Rome and London which were great.  Made for a good background to then explore without the tour after.

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On May 13, 2016 at 1:51 PM, EighteenTwelve said:

Anyone else been to Reykjavik?  I'm going in three weeks.

Youre probably already on your trip, but we went last May and it was a fantastic trip. Iceland is a really unique and beautiful country. Hope to hear about your trip when you return! ?

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Anyone else like cruises? I love them -- your comfy hotel room takes you to the next stop.  Very relaxing and pretty stress free (great for the more timid traveler, like me).

If you research ahead, and find some good private tours, you can end up with a fantastic "sampler" trip. At the very least it gives you an idea of where you would like to visit again, and maybe spend a little more time. 

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23 minutes ago, Jel said:

Anyone else like cruises?

I'll never go on one because my motion sickness is severe on the water, but they don't sound at all appealing to me anyway -- too restricted.  I like to wander when I travel, and with a cruise you're beholden to an itinerary.  I would hate to pull into port, fall in love with the city, and have to get back on the ship rather than being able to decide to hang out there for several days.  I wouldn't like the "at sea" days, either, stuck on the ship; I want to explore someplace in which people naturally live, not lounge around a floating mall.  And, oh my god, no way in hell would I go one of those cruises where you're assigned a table (or meal time) for eating!  I'll eat when I want to, not at an assigned time, and I'll eat alone or with someone I've chosen on my own, not random people to whom I've been assigned. 

I won't stay in B&Bs because of the limits on freedom, either.

My parents are going on a Mississippi River cruise, from New Orleans to Memphis, in September; my dad thinks cruises sound like hell, too, but figured this sounded a lot less awful because there's so much time on land (and they're going about a week early to New Orleans [they've never been], staying a few days in Memphis [they have, but long ago], then driving down to visit family in Oklahoma before flying home, so the cruise will be bookended by stuff more to his liking).

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Heading to Johnson City, TN next week with the family. Anyone have any suggestions? We'll have three little kids with us ranging from 4-8 and it looks like rain much of the week so while I'm hoping we can get some hiking and outdoor time in we may need alternatives. Also any good restaurants? Thanks!

Edited by Socks

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Huh. I did not know that. I guess I didn't watch enough The Price Is Right. I thought I had watched a lot over the years.

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@Bastet  Tell your parents to go eat at the Red Fish Grill. Absolutely delicious and lots of locals I know love the place for a special night out. Not as prim as Commanders Palace or Antione's. Breakfast at Brennan's is very good...a bit touristy but the service is outstanding. Warn them the Bloody Mary's at Brennan's are VERY spicy tho lol! I had to switch to Mimosas tho I adore Tabasco. 

 

P.S. They should make the reservation now for Red Fish but worth it. PM me if you want more info re: New Orleans. I used to live there. 

Edited by Mindthinkr · Reason: Added PS
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I've been to New Orleans several times, so I've given them a lot of recommendations, but it would be great to hear more from a local!  You can PM me if you'd like, or post here - I think others would enjoy hearing recommendations for if/when they're in New Orleans.   

(And it is not possible to make a Bloody Mary too spicy for them [or me], heh; in fact, I don't even remember taking particular note of the spice level at Brennan's.)

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@Bastet I think one of my favorite things is NOMA. They have a collection of Faberge Eggs including my favorite. The one that has pearls as Lilies of the Valley. It was a decent sized collection too. I also enjoyed the Pharmacy Museum on Chartes in the French Quarter. It doesn't take up much time but seeing all the long outdated apothecary stuff was pretty neat. I'm sure you suggested a ride on the St Charles Trolley which is the best way to see the Garden District with all the stately homes and gardening. Of course it is a must to have beignets at Cafe du Monde but a warning about their coffee. It's made with chicory and it acts like an instant laxative. I always choose hot chocolate. I'll keep my mind thinking but will let you know if I remember any things else.  Oh, the Mardi Gras Museum to see all the floats and costumes is unique too. That's such a fun city. If they are renting a car I would suggest going into Metairie, about 20-30 minutes outside if the main city and eat at a place named Copelands. It's very good too and not as touristy. I wish them a splendid time. Let me know how they liked the riverboat cruise after their return. 

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@Bastet, we were in NOLA in January and I went to the Southern Food & Beverage Museum.  It's a huge room with exhibits of food from each of the southern states and also has a corner devoted to absinthe.  The in-house restaurant is Toups South and I really enjoyed lunch there.  You can also go in when you get there and buy a drink to walk around with while you're browsing the exhibits.  All in all, a fun way to spent a couple of hours.  I mention it because I think it's kinda new so it may not have been there when you were last in the city.  

Don't know if your parents are into it, but the WWII Museum is quite impressive.  That does require a chunk of time to set aside.

Other than the traditional places to eat, we did stop in for drinks and apps at August.  We'd like to go for a meal the next time we're in town.

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While in New Orleans, don't forget to visit the Cabildo Museum in Jackson Square right next to the Cathedral  !  It was the city hall and would be the place where the Louisiana Purchase would be signed (and a replica room has been set up there) but it also is a fascinating place with unique exhibits detailing how Native Americans, French, Spanish, French-Canadians, Creoles, Africans, English, Americans, etc. all came together and formed the unique culture there  even when they were diametrically opposed to each other! Oh and it's very close to the French Market and Café de Monde where one can indulge in rich beignets &chicory coffee 24/7!

Edited by Blergh · Reason: redundancy
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I love NOMA, too.

Good to know about the Cafe du Monde coffee; I've been there for beignets (of course), but I don't drink coffee.  Nor does my mom, but my dad does, so I will pass that along.

We have a pharmacy museum here; my mom and I went recently, but my dad has never been there.  So I'll mention that; thanks (everything else was already on my list).

They'll just be on foot/using public transport, so I don't know how far they'll venture out.

I've always skipped the WWII museum, as that's not my thing, but it comes recommended from several people, so that's on their list.

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum sounds interesting; I will tell them about it (and stop in myself if I make another trip).

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Oh, one more thing I loved - cemetery tours!  We wandered around the cemetery that's across from Commander's Palace (Lafayette?) one afternoon.  Then, while Mr ebk was working, I took a tour of Saint Louis 1 and 2 near the Quarter.  I used Save Our Cemeteries since they plow the funds into actually saving the cemeteries instead of profit.  It was a lovely tour!

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Planning to go to Chicago to go the the Art Museum. Probably going to stay at the Palmer House. Any ideas of other things that I should see, do or somewhere I should eat? 

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Doughnuts, Mindthinkr.  Doughnuts.

Glazed and Infused. Do-Rite Donuts. Stan's Donuts. Doughnut Vault.  Firecakes.

Can you tell I like doughnuts? 

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OMG, Chicago!  

Take as many Architecture Foundation tours as you can (I mean as long as they interest you).  I love everything they do!

Eat at The Purple Pig, and the The Publican, and The Gage, and The Girl and the Goat.  And have pizza somewhere.  And I'll think of more places. 

Go to Wrigley Field.  If you don't like baseball (sacrilege!), you can take a tour.  I think...the last time I was there they were doing off-season construction so there were no tours. 

Do you like beer?  Go to Revolution Brewing.  (If you do like beer, I'll think of more places)

The Art Institute is fantastic.  That's more than enough reason to go.

 

This was just off the top of my head.  I'll search out more places that I've been.  

Have fun!

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@ebk57  Thank you for all of the ideas! I do love architecture so will try to check one of those tours out. I also saw a Conservatory with plants and wildlife in a suburb named West...(something- Westwood, Westlake; I'll go back to the site and know where I'm going before flying the coop). I'm more of a wine drinker (no brewery's this trip) and appreciate the names of the places to eat that you posted. Thanks again. 

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I loved the Architecture Foundation river tour.  I did it early on a Sunday morning while the city was still quiet. It was pretty awesome.  

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I was just in Chicago for this past 4th of July weekend: perfect time to go! It's such a lovely city, especially when the weather is warmer. 

Definitely do a river architecture tour, preferably around early morning or 4pm---afternoon or sunset gets crazy crowded.

Right by there is the lovely downtown river walk: lots of fun bars/eateries down there. Please just avoid the lousy chains.

I also did a dinner cruise on The Odyssey II for the 4th((fireworks on the water!)) which was absolutely gorgeous. They do those nightly otherwise and you see a whole different side of the cityscape/water on there.

Gotta go up to the Signature Tower for the view! You could go on the cheesy "Tilt" ride up there if you like heights and don't mind the wait, although if you're into the more elegant option, just get lunch or dinner at The Signature Room---great food, lovely vibe and all the views you can handle. Don't miss the Ladies Room view!

You simply must hit the Art Institute: some of the most famous works of art/legendary artists in the world are in there. Seeing Monet's water lilies and "American Gothic" and Pollocks up close is such a rare treat. And then hit "The Bean" nearby and the fountains.

I'm not a big fan of deep dish pizza, but if you're going to try it, either hit Giordano's((the main location)) or Lou Milnati's---those are among the best originals in the city. If you like experimental Asian with a Korean twist, hit Publican's sister restaurant Parachute. If you love seafood, the brunch buffet at Shaw's Seafood House is exquisite. German food? The Berghoff!

Lots of great beer up there and Revolution is an excellent local brewery/eatery indeed. Haymarket Brewing is great too. If you like cocktails, right up the street from Revolution is this fun cocktail bar known as Spilt Milk. My personal favorite cocktail bar I hit in Chicago was this underground tiki bar called Three Dots And a Dash---they make some of the craziest tiki drinks you'll ever injest and it's such a retro chic joint! Just get down there at non-busier times((don't bother with a typical Friday/Saturday night 7pm-midnight)), otherwise it'll be standing room only. I also hit this fun rooftop bar for frozen rose atop the Chicago Athletic Club called Cindy's Rooftop---go there in the daytime for better views/ledge room.

As for New Orleans, I'm a regular visitor there. Things you must do while there: take a haunted tour, take a boat tour of the bayou/swamps, take a very good city/cemetery tour, visit NOMA, take a trolley to the garden district and explore the area, try to do a historical homes tour in the Quarter if you ever see one offered, walk and explore their lovely city park.

Bars you must visit while there: Tujagues, Napolean House, Jean Leffite's, Carousel Bar((it's in the Hotel M.---actual carousel that slowly revolves as you drink!)), Pat O'Brians, Oak, Maple Leaf, Bombay Club, Snake & Jake's, Bouligny Tavern, Cooter Brown's, LOA...

Restaurants you must eat at while there((I'm spelling half of these wrong)): Gallitoire's, Brennan's, Antoine's, Bayona, Jaquimo, Commander's Palace, Mulate's, Mother's, Luke, NOLA...

And coffee & beignets at Cafe Du Monde and/or Morning Call is simply a *requirement*!!

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55 minutes ago, Sun-Bun said:

Jean Leffite's

I love Lafitte's.  Lit by candlelight?  Old guy playing piano?  I'm in.  I went there the first time I visited New Orleans, and return there every time. 

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