The top list of places to go, eat,
drink, and stuff to do when you're traveling for business or pleasure
(Editors Note: OK, in a effort to redeem myself for taking a number of
excursions throughout North America on taxpayer dollars, I have created
this best and worst list for my fellow travelers. All of these establishments
mentioned have been personally experienced. The best is guaranteed and
the worst is proven. Of course, I'll deny I ever did any of this stuff.
These comments are in no particular order of importance. Also, I realize
that a few of these places may have closed, moved, detonated, gone bankrupt,
etc., but they are the best of the best and still need to be on the list
to retain their place in history. By the way, don't miss the "Your Turn"
section at the end of the list!)
Best All-Around Bar Anywhere
The Howl at the Moon Saloon-Cleveland, Ohio-And who ever said that
Cleveland was a dull place. When 400 people get together and scream, "You
Bitch, You Slut, You Whore" at the top of their lungs, this has to be the
place. It's located in the Flats district along the river in the Powerhouse.
Get there early for a table. The tunes are provided by two guys playing
baby grand pianos and the drift of the deal is that the audience sings
along. They set the tone at the start of the night, "if you aren't here
to have a good time, get the Hell out and make room for those who are."
Best Dancing Bar
Studebakers-Montreal, Quebec-If you like to dance to the oldies
and also see the cute barmaids dance on the bar, hit this place on Crescent
Street in Montreal. Don't worry about the French culture in this place,
they don't even recognize it. Beware though, by the time you know it, it's
3 a.m. and they're still rockin' away.
The Crow's Nest Pub-Honolulu, Hawaii-Not your typical tourist joint
on Kalakaua Avenue, this place features The Blue Kangaroo for the past
20 years or so. These guys can make a navy man blush. The show gets dirtier
and dirtier as the night wears on so don't go there if you're shy and reserved.
Great folk tunes provide the breaks between the bawdy humor. (3/97-Now
closed for a couple of years. What a sad concept.)
Best Pub in a very Boring Town
Grandmas-Duluth, Minnesota-It's a cute place near the waterfront
with good food with a zillion video games and a basketball court for entertainment.
Next to the Minnesota Slip.
Best Pub (if you like firemen)
Otts-Emmitsburg, Maryland-This town is about 40 miles NW of Baltimore.
It's a quaint little city with a long history. It's also the site for the
National Fire Academy. Several hundred firemen away from home with only
one tavern within walking distance of the campus.
Kokanee Glacier Light-British Columbia-You can't buy it in the States,
or any other Province either. But when in BC, you can't go wrong with this
stuff. Grab a six pack or two to bring home to your friends. Of course,
it ain't cheap.
Cheesburger In Paradise-Lahaina, Hawaii-One of our first recommendations
from one of our many readers. It's gotta be good if they can get away from
swiping the name from a Jimmy Buffet tune. We assume that they also serve
La Mancha Private Villas-Palm Springs, California-The name says
it, this place is private. Each room has its own private swimming pool.
Some even have a hot tub next to the pool. Their byword is privacy. Nobody
bothers you. Ever. Even the maids apologize when they have to come in to
make up the room. One little note: make sure that someone else is paying
Best Hotel Room
Sheraton Waikiki-Honolulu, Hawaii-If you go, get the end suite on
the east end of the building on an upper floor. The living room has a view
of Waikiki Beach and the Pacific Ocean with a south view and the bedroom
has a view of Diamond head. If you have to ask how much, you can't afford
Opryland Hotel-Nashville, Tennessee-You won't believe this place,
it's huge. You need a map to find your room and the nearest hotel bar can
be a 10 minute walk from your room. However, it is entertaining to watch
the small town tourists take videos and photos of the hotel to take home
to their neighbors. This joint is also 30 minutes from anything in Nashville
other than the Opryland Theme Park.
Sheraton Grande/Torrey Pines-La Jolla, California-Such a beautiful
hotel, an outstanding view of the Torrey Pines Country Club golf course.
And it sits on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.. A magnificent pool,
nice lobby bar, and great service. However, it's 5 miles from the end of
the main runway at the Miramar Naval Air Station. You know the one, Tom
Cruise, F-16's with afterburners. There are clearance lights on the buildings.
You can see the pilots smiling as they barely clear the Palm Trees.
Best Hotel Pool
The Phoenician Resort-Scottsdale, Arizona-Actually they have seven
pools, and a water slide to boot. The people-watching is great, and the
bar service is wonderful. Just raise that little flag on your lounge chair
and the bar server is there in a flash with your next round. Be sure that
someone else is paying for this one too.
Most Impressive Hotel Suite To Become Dazzled By Your Own Importance
Presidential Suite-Century Plaza Hotel-Century City, California-It
was just a small, intimate reception for a few colleagues. Of course, you
must realize that this suite was the Western White House during the Reagan
administration. Nice view from the balcony that goes all the way around
this top-floor pad. We didn't have the guts to ask the price, but the regular
rooms were pegged at $325 a night.
Pete Dye Course/Westin Mission Hills Resort-Palm Springs, California-Lots
of water and sand traps make this puppy a deadly place to play. Home to
that new golf invention, "The Condo Shot" as in which way will the ball
go when it hits those tile roofs on the condos that line each fairway.
Real fun for those folks who can't control their slice.
Best Sport Bar/2 Way Tie
Telly's-Universal Sheraton-Los Angeles, California-Lots of games,
TV's, and good people watching. And even Telly Savalas drops by for a beer
now and then, (he lived upstairs. Of course, we now know that he is dead.
(I've heard he was stuffed and still hangs around the pub).
Balls-Baltimore, Maryland-Right across the street from Camden
Yards stadium. Groups of six TV's set in secluded areas on three floors.
Watch football, baseball, basketball, hockey, horse racing, and lawn bowling
all at once without turning your head.
Harold's Club/Reno Hilton-Reno Nevada-OK, it was easy. One of those
paddle machines spit out 3 silver dollars all by itself. The 3 dollars
were parlayed into $13 on a dollar video poker machine. The ensuing roll
of quarters was instilled in a slot machine at Bally's (Now the Hilton)
for a total take of $65. It would of been more but she kept bringing those
free beers and it was time to cash out and hit the potty.
Best Gambling/Not Nevada
Woody's Pub-Kananaskis, Alberta-When you find an opportunity to
take money back from the government, you gotta go for it. These little
video slot/blackjack/poker machines are run by the Province of Alberta
and they pay off rather loosely. Of course don't bet the ranch, this is
Canada, and they have to fund that great health care somehow.
Merv Griffin's Paradise Island-The Bahamas-Nothing pays off here
and the cheapest Blackjack table is $5. No wonder Donald Trump sold it
Best Small Town Pubs/3 Way Tie
The Brick-Roslyn, Washington-The world's only running water spittoon
makes this place a classic. Of course, you saw it on "Northern Exposure"
every week. The place looks just like it does on TV. Also the oldest bar
in the state.
Mikes Pub-Nelson, British Columbia-Great atmosphere, neat woodwork,
good games, and Kokanee on tap.
Enaville Resort-Kingston, Idaho-Great food, neat stuff on the
walls and Rocky Mountain Oysters on the menu. It hurts to think about it
if you are a male.
Best Tacky Bar In A Big City
The Dart Inn-Seattle, Washington-What a dumpy place. However, yuppies
and slime balls feel at home in the bar that holds liquor license #1 in
the State of Washington. Lots of dart games on the wall and good Mexican
food. Also, make friends with the barkeep and ask to see the law library.
No kidding! A Seattle judge has his personal office in this bar with his
law book library. A great place to research your upcoming DWI trial. (Alas,
this great spot lost its lease, the judge retired, and a Seattle legend
is gone. The town is going the way of Planet Hollywood, NikeTown, and all
the other L.A.'ish tackiness.)
Most Unique Tavern
The Birdhouse-Near Portage, Alaska-During the 1964 Alaska earthquake,
this little roadside tavern sunk about 10 feet and tilted to the south
a little bit. It was never remodeled. You have to go down some stairs to
get inside and the bar is located at the lowest point in the building.
Bring your business cards-there are thousands of them stapled to the walls
and ceiling. The bartender has an industrial staple gun that you can borrow
to attach yours wherever you like. (Update: Apparently the Birdhouse
succombed to fire last year (2000). It's toast. Bummer.
Canadian-OK, all airlines are the same right? Crammed with people,
running late, and bad food. To make up for all that, these folks offer
free drinks in coach class. Our kind of airline.
Continental-If you've ever flown with these turkeys, you know why.
Although Alaska Airlines is trying their darndest to stoop to Continentals
Big Beach/Little Beach-Maui, Hawaii-Some fun surf to play in just
south of Kihei. Drive through the golf course to Big Beach and then you
gotta hike around the rocks to Little Beach. Best nude beach on the Islands.
Pacific Ocean Beach along Mission Blvd.-Grand Ave. to Mission Bay, San
Diego, California-It was a Monday about 3:00 p.m. and this place was
hopping. Nothing but beer, volleyball, roller blades, and loud music for
4 miles, of course, not to mention the attire. These people were having
a lot of fun, don't they have jobs?
Best Airport Bar
Cheers-Anchorage International Airport-So what if they stole the
name. If you've been on the North Slope for six months and this is the
first drinkery that you see, you're gonna have a good time.
Best Airport To Get Stuck Overnight At
No winners in this category.
Worst Airport To Get Stuck In Overnight
All airports tied in this category.
Worst City To Be Stuck In Without A Car
Tulsa, Oklahoma-There is absolutely nothing to do within 10 miles
of downtown Tulsa.
Best Bar In Tulsa After You Rent A Car
Yucatan Liquor Stand-OK, the night we were there they had Mitch
Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. What else are ya gonna do on Tuesday night
Best Entertainer At A Convention
Tony Orlando-Really, we're not kidding. If you want to see somebody
work a crowd and get them to dance and party until all the booze runs out,
try this guy. Of course, you must realize that when we saw him, we were
in Tulsa, (see above).
Worst Entertainer At A Convention
Susan Anton-What a bitch. When we started dancing to some of her
more exciting offerings, she told us to sit down, be quiet, and watch the
show. We left instead.
Best Country Dancing Bar
The Ranchman-Calgary, Alberta-Located on McLeod Trail south of Downtown.
This is where the ladies can find a real Urban Cowboy oil worker. There's
nothing but pickup trucks in the parking lot. When you leave to back downtown,
don't make a U turn at the next intersection like everybody else does.
Those Mounties have a field day with that. Ask for a bucket of ice filled
with bottles of Kokanee, it's cheaper.
Best NFL Stadium To Watch Pro Football
Cleveland Stadium-The place is a dump, the seats are hard, they
have porta-potties for bathrooms, and there are still columns that you
have to look around. However, the crowd really gets into the game and best
of all, a 16 ounce can of beer is only $2.50. (Yeah, we know the original
Browns are gone and the old stadium is dust, but the place was still the
best for the average Joe Fan. No luxury suites, it was just football.)
Worst Stadium To Watch Pro Football
Kingdome-Seattle, Washington-This place used to be fun when the
crowd got excited and they won a game once in a while. Now, the owner traded
all the good players and the crowd is about as noisy as a professional
golf match. The wave has even sunk. And, a 12 ounce beer is $4.25 with
the majority of it containing foam. (They got the hint. It's gone. However,
the big question is: Why does Paul Allen with his billions, need the taxpayers
of Seattle and Washington State (us included) to build new digs for the
Seahawks? An outdoor stadium in Seattle. Hello! It rains
Best U.S./Canada Border Crossing
Washington State Route 25-Inbound Into the U.S.-North of Metaline
Falls, WA.ÑOk, so we were smuggling in 24 bottles of Kokanee with
less than a 24 hour stay in Canada. These folks understand how good this
Worst U.S./Canada Border Crossing
BC Highway 97-Inbound Into Canada-Osoyoos, British Columbia-These
people have taken the slump in the Canadian economy seriously. Having to
purchase a one-day importing license at $10 for the privilege of paying
$7 in Goods and Services taxes on material that is clearly duty and tax
free for import is extremely tacky. Avoid this joint like the plague.
Best Airline Airport Frequent Flyer Lounge
Delta Airlines Crown Room-Salt Lake City International Airport-All
brand new. Comfy furniture. Free liquor. Cable TV. All the usual stuff
but great service, generous drinks, and they just can't pour enough into
Worst Airport To Be Able to Find Your Luggage
Honolulu International-You have to take a damn bus to baggage claim.
It takes you 20 minutes just to find the right carousel.
Most Interesting Airport Design
Long Beach Terminal, Long Beach, California-If you like art deco
design, this is the place. It was built in the 30's and hasn't been remodeled
Most Interesting Government Revenue Concept
Departure Tax-Nassau, The Bahamas-We were trying to leave, we had
our luggage, we were at the airport, and they charged us $13 to get out
of the country. What would happen if we didn't pay? Would we get to stay
Worst Hotel Restaurant
Dukes-Waikiki Outrigger Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii-OK, we went there
based on its hyped reputation. Bad service, bad food, watery drinks, incredibly
high prices. Don't bother.
Best Free Food
Schatzi's On Main, Venice, California-What we needed was some munchies
while we were quenching our thirst. Plop down at the bar during happy hour
and it is unlimited pizza slices right out of the wood-fired oven. You
don't need dinner after this place. Plus, it's one of the trendy spots
in L.A., where cool people go to be seen by other cool people. OK, it's
owned by Arnold "I'll Be Back" Swartzeneger and Maria "Check Out My Kennedy
Hardest City to Find An English-Speaking Cab Driver
Seattle, Washington-All of these guys wear turbans and can't even
find the Space Needle in a haystack.
Luckiest City to Find An English-Speaking Cab Driver
Montreal, Quebec-We hopped in the cab and were totally shocked.
This guy gave us a totally unbiased view of being an English-speaker is
this anti-English society. (Although he did know the great French restaurants.)
We hung out in the English district anyway.
Most Nervous Place To Experience Your First Earthquake
Sheraton Long Beach Hotel-Long Beach, California-What the Hell are
you supposed to do when your 14th floor room starts to vibrate at 9:57
p.m. It's simple, just grab another beer from the mini-bar and flip the
TV over to the news.
Most Confused 10:00 p.m. News Team After An Earthquake At 9:57 p.m.
KTLA -TV10:00 News-Los Angeles, California-These folks are supposed
to be the big city pros but for the next 30 minutes, you'd think they had
never felt an earthquake before. These are the same people that brought
you the L.A. riots live and in color a week later.
Best Bar-B-Cue Ribs
Bones-Edmonton, Alberta-We jammed 40 people into this place and
they still gave us separate checks because we were all on expense accounts.
On top of that, the food was great and the wait staff shoveled the insults
back as fast as we could make them up. I guess when it's 30¡ Celsius
below zero with a 30 mile per hour wind, you have to have a warm personality.
Dumbest Place To Park Your Rental Car All Day Outside On The Street
at -30 degrees Celsius
102nd Street-Edmonton, Alberta-We were a little late for the BBQ
Rib dinner mentioned above because someone in our group did this. As previously
mentioned the temperature was minus 30 degrees Celsius. For some reason,
that battery just wouldn't turn the starter.
Strangest Nightclub Act
The Snake Lady/Salt Lake City, Utah-OK, this singer actually has
a python that she wraps around her as part of the act. Who cares if she
Wierdest Liquor Laws
Anywhere-State of Utah-Having to pay $5 to join a private club in
a hotel that you're already shelling out $100 per night to sleep in has
gotta be weird. But the snake lady was worth it.
Best Place to Watch Californians With Thong Bikinis On Ninja Motorcycles
Palm Canyon Drive-Palm Springs, California-You gotta see it to believe
it. Just the thought of this concept is incredible. OK, we know it's sexist,
but this is California on a warm Spring Saturday night. The following week
the city outlawed this particular activity. Sonny Bono just didn't have
a sense of humor. He moved on to Congress to perfect that conservatism.
(And died skiing thru the trees!...Go figure.)
Most Important Place To Keep A Tight Grip On Your Beer Can
The Continental Divide-Just West Of Calgary, Alberta-When your Boeing
737 drops at least 500 feet in an eyeblink as it crosses over the eastern
slope of these mountains, a tight hold on your $3 can of Budweiser is a
good idea. This is also a fun place to watch the flight attendant down-the-aisle-long-jump
Worst Airline Flight To Be Sitting Next To Someone Who Doesn't Like
United Airlines from Spokane to Calgary-See above. The fingernail
scars are still visible on my left wrist.
World's Largest Unscheduled Airline
Northwest Orient-OK, we were sicker than a dog and it was the only
time we ever bought an open ticket when we could change our plans and come
home early from Kansas City. Spending 8 extra hours in the Minneapolis
airport was not on our list of things to do that day. Vowed never to fly
them again, but had to. Ended up trying to fly from Montreal to Detroit
to Minneapolis to Seattle to Spokane and ended going to Portland, grounded
for 3 hours with no food or drinks. The terminal was closed. The plane
tried again to fly to Spokane, diverted back to Seattle. They tried to
get us to take a bus to Spokane. Argued with ticket agent for 30 minutes
to get a comp room in Seattle. Succeeded. Total time spent to fly 2,000
miles-30 hours. They proved it again on a flight to Duluth, Minnesota by
losing our luggage and running about 2 hours late. Just in time for us
to miss our connecting flight in Minneapolis.
Best Comment By An Airline Pilot
Northwest Airlines-On the Ground In Portland, Oregon-(See above)
"Hell, we don't know what to do with you people on the ground, we just
drive these things."
Funniest Comment By A Flight Attendant
United Airlines-737 Flight Chicago to Spokane-"Please make sure
your seat back is in the full upright position. If you are in any way comfortable,
your seat is not in the full upright position."
More Funny Comments By A Flight Attendant
Horizon 2768-Seattle To Spokane-" If there is a loss of cabin
pressure, an oxygen mask will drop from the overhead compartment. Stop
screaming and place the mask over your mouth and face and breath normally.
This is a non-smoking flight. If you are in desperate need of a cigarette,
please feel free to step outside at any time."
Not So Funny Comment Made By An Air Traffic Controller
O'Hare Ground Control-Chicago, Illinois-This was overheard on the
inflight entertainment system and turned out to be quite entertaining.
"United 450...(No Response)...United 450...(No Response)....United 450,
Are you on this frequency?....(No Response)....United 450, Where in the
Hell are You? We were too nervous to listen for the outcome of this particular
Most Hilarious Airline Flight
United Airlines-Calgary to Spokane-Having a flight attendant tell
her entire story of her terrible love life, overweight problems, and job
problems in the last row of a half full plane. All flight attendants gather
around during this conversation, ignoring all the other passengers. Laughing
for 45 minutes so loud that at the end of the flight all 50 of the other
passengers turn around and look back to see what the heck was going on
back there. Jaw hurt from laughing so hard. Also got plenty of free Budweiser
on this flight.
Quickest Meal Service on a Domestic Airline
Southwest Airlines-They were in a hurry. So as the aircraft
was climbing out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the Flight Attendant
dumped the entire box of little peanut bags onto the floor. Yep,
the little bags even made to the cheap seats in the back. All you
had to do was reach down to the aisle as they zoomed by. Everyone
got at least one bag.
Best Thing To Do When It's 106 degrees F
The Oasis Water Park-Palm Springs, California-We had a choice,
go on a desert safari, sit in a seminar, or skip out to the water slide
park. Which do you think we picked?
Dumbest Sightseeing Idea
Going For A Short Walk At The Summit-Snowbird Ski Resort, Utah-We
thought it would be fun to hike the few yards up the hill and look at the
rest of the mountains?at 11,000 feet above sea level. Boy, that was stupid.
There's no oxygen up there. and there was 3 feet of new powder snow.
Most Interesting Place To Ride A 47 Passenger Motorcoach
Charlotte Motor Speedway-Charlotte, North Carolina-This sounded
like a cute promotional idea. Take the convention delegates on a hot lap
around one of the world's fastest racetracks. Of course, this track as
a very steep bank around the corners and those busses are somewhat top-heavy.
Best Way To See Hawaii
Conning The Owner Of A Limo Company Out Of A Car And Driver For An Entire
Day, Complimentary-Honolulu/Oahu, Hawaii-Six associates, a free limo,
lotsa beer, and a gorgeous day makes for a great way to spend a business
Best Way To Get Wet
40 Mile Per Hour Jet Boats-Snake River/Hell's Canyon-Smashing through
class 4 rapids with the wind in your face, a cool beer in your hand, and
Best Natural Hot Spring
Ainsworth Hot Springs Hotel-Ainsworth, British Columbia-This has
gotta be the best place to stay after a long day of making travel agent
sales calls. There is a cave that goes back into the mountain. A classic.
Worst Place To Watch The Super Bowl
Main Lounge-San Francisco International Airport-Yeah, it was a major
sacrifice to schedule a return trip from Hawaii on Super Bowl Sunday. We
had to listen to the first half in the plane. The TV in the lounge
was blurry. We only got to see parts of the third and fourth quarters.
And have you priced beer in airport bars? The only saving grace was that
the beer was cheaper than at the Kingdome.
Most Interesting TV Program To Appear During Happy Hour In A Hotel
Tornado Radar-Tulsa, Oklahoma-For people from our part of the world,
watching a tornado come toward you on radar is a unique concept. The little
radar picture stayed on the screen all the way through Opra. We ordered
up another round and waited for the funnel cloud to appear outside the
Most Famous Person Met In A Men's Room
Ted Turner-Spokane Convention Center-OK, so it wasn't on the road,
but it is worth mentioning. Mr. CNN/WTBS/Atlanta Braves and Hawks, and
Mr. Jane Fonda. It was a thrill to meet the man that Jane....well, you
get the idea.
Worst Hotel Bar Disc Jockey
Sheraton Hotel/Anchorage, Alaska-You know the deal. Hotels hire
young, starving, part-time radio stars to play the hits in their lounge.
This guy didn't even know the song "American Pie" or who the artist was.
He did know the Beach Boys and the Beatles, but just barely.
Most Interesting Event To Watch Outside Your Hotel Room
Camlin Hotel-Seattle, Washington-On the night of the L.A. riots,
the Seattle Police mounted unit chasing a large crowd down the block. Rocks,
bottles, yelling, and the usual entertainment.
Best Hotel to have lunch in and hang around the lobby, even if you
could never afford it
Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel/Beverly Hills, California-This place
just oozes money. Even the lobby rest rooms have gold faucets and nifty
towels. You can hang out on the mezzanine and watch the rich and famous
cruise in and out and watch the scowls from the front desk staff. You know
the place, Julia Roberts-Pretty Woman. World famous Rodeo Drive dead ends
at the front door. ( A few years after I visited this place on business,
I took the wife and kids on a whirlwind tour of L.A. and included this
little place. The kids were impressed by the guy in the bathroom who hands
you a towel.)
The times they are a changin'
Addendum-Sadly, a few things have changed since we originally made
this comprehensive list. Cleveland Stadium's Dawg Pound and the Kingdome'
Wave was silenced by the greedy, fat cat, multi-millionaire owners. But
now the Microsoft boys have taken over. The wave is back, but the
Kingdome was reduced to rubble, and the Seahawks now play in Qwest Field Stadium. The Dart Inn lost its lease and closed forever. Ditto
for the Crow's Nest. After over 20 years, the audience changed and
those bawdy jokes didn't make any sense to Japanese tourists. Harold's
Club in Reno is closed. And finally, Telly Salvalas is dead and to
the best of our knowledge doesn't go to the bar anymore. We still
get to travel every once in a while, but nowhere near the neat places on
this list. The Camlin Hotel was again ground zero for rioting.
The Seattle WTO riots started in their parking lot. A good friend
was the manager and I still haven't heard from him since the "Battle in
Seattle." It's now gone condo. And Ted Turner and Jane Fonda's marriage is on the rocks.
I now have a greater respect for pilots and air traffic controllers since
I'm learning how to fly. If you can't beat 'em...join 'em.
Now it's your turn-We hope you have enjoyed this little list and
we're sure you have had some similar experiences. If you have something
that you would like to see us add to it, just e-mail it to Travel
List Ideas. We'll just toss it in. Thanks again.
Updated on 8/20/2000
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