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.

Best Insults

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.

Best Beer

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.

Best Cheesburger

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 Boat Drinks.

Best Hotel

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 for it.

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 it.

Worst Hotel

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.

Noisiest Hotel

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.

Best Golf

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.

Best Gambling/Nevada

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.

Worst Gambling

Merv Griffin's Paradise Island-The Bahamas-Nothing pays off here and the cheapest Blackjack table is $5. No wonder Donald Trump sold it to Merv.

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.

Best Airline

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.

Worst Airline

Continental-If you've ever flown with these turkeys, you know why. Although Alaska Airlines is trying their darndest to stoop to Continentals level.

Best Beaches

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.

Weirdest Beach

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 in Tulsa?

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 there!

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 beer is.

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 you.

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 since.

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 there forever?

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 Cheeks" Shriver.

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 couldn't sing.

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 event.

Worst Airline Flight To Be Sitting Next To Someone Who Doesn't Like Flying

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 conversation.

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 trip.

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 water everywhere.

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 Bar

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 hotel.

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.

Is there any more?  (I don't know)

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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