Well, the first 10 week swing of the tour is done. The east coast has been conquered and I’ve had enough turkey to really reflect on the cool and not-so-cool things we did. Okay, really the tryptophan has kicked in and I can’t get up and do anything productive. So here’s the rundown of things to do if you find yourself in the eastern third of the Unted States. Blipey’s things to do from Cincinatti to Boston (and other places you’ve never heard of):
Cincinatti, OH: Definitely go to the Newport Aquarium. It is located along the river, right downtown, in amongst a few nice restaurants and other stuff to do. The aquarium does a nice job of showing off aquatic life from all over the globe. Each continent has a section and there’s even a aviary (try to avoid getting bird droppings on you). The big attraction, of course, is the shark tank whic you literally walk through the middle of. My favorite part was the petting tank…I got to pet a shark, you know (along with starfish, crabs, and other cool sealife).
Indianapolis, IN: The 12th largest city in the United States has a lot to offer…perhaps surprising to those who’ve only visited in the 1970s. Downtown is now a vibrant and entertaining place to be. The ArtsGarden is a unique music and performance space located over the downtown streets. Connected to a shopping center and restaurants by skywalks, I would recommend seeing a jazz trio or vocal concert over lunch here.
No trip to Indy would be complete (at least for music lovers) without visiting The Slippery Noodle Inn. It is simply one of the finest blues venues I have ever been to. The food is okay, the beer selection is decent, and the cocktails are fairly well made. The music, however, is First Rate. The Noodle’s two stages host live blues bands seven nights a week. No matter what night, you can always find some of the country’s finest musicians here. You can also be a part a local blues radio broadcast that is taped at the rear stage on Saturday nights.
Abingdon, VA: This is a very nice town in western Virginia, featuring both historic and artistic things to do. The Barter Theatre is the nation’s first State Theatre. They stage about 15-18 shows a year on 3 stages and also have a regional touring company. We saw a show a their second stage and it was decent. The production values were high and the actors were pretty good. I have several qualms with the script, but that happens sometimes. Besides the more adult fair, they also have a children’s stage that roduces year-round. They also have a nice cafe that serves light lunch and dinner. One recommendation: don’t buy the dinner and a show package. It is cheaper to eat at the cafe and buy your tickets separately. At least in the seats we got and they were pretty decent.
Boston, MA: Go to Lexington and Concord. They aren’t that far away and thte history is really worth it. You can tour the original taverns the Minutemen and British Regulars stayed and comandeered (respectively). And if you’d like to make it into a hiking daytrip or a shorter bicycle trip, you can follow the battle road. This is the routes taken by Paul Revere and William Dawes, the British from Boston, and the return fight from Concord. They have all the sites marked and time-stamped which is very cool. Especially if you’re walking, you can see if you can keep up with the army’s pace (and on a bike, Paul Revere’s).
Also, a lot of super nice colonial homes and architecture. For anyone with more money than they know what to do with, there are a lot of homes for sale–they ain’t cheap.
As if most people don’t know this, DON’T DRIVE IN BOSTON!!! You’ll never find parking and you’ll never get anywhere. Take the train and the subway. Beacon Hill is a must see for first timers (it’s the capitol district, shopping, touristy eateries, that sort of thing–CHEERS is there). The North Bay is very cool, also–historic homes, including Revere’s.
New Jersey: Avoid it like plague. The roads suck, the traffic sucks, the only thing the hotels have gong for them is they’re half the price of the same thing in Manhattan. The Jersey Shore doesn’t completely suck, but there are certainly better beaches around. Upstate is kind of pretty, so if you’re a painter wanting to do some landscapes, go for it–otherwise not so much.
Okay, there ARE some really good restaurants in Hoboken.
Part 2 coming tomorrow…