Party in the U.S.A.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

As most of you don’t know, I’m on a little U.S. tour this month and I’m currently blogging from my last location – Los Angeles.

I’ve had the opportunity to travel to America’s biggest metropolitans this month, so I wanted to share with you some of my favorite (mostly obvious) places to visit in each city.

New York: The home of Reader Amy & very soon to be Reader Nugget!

Times Square: Yeah, yeah, I know what you are thinking. This is going to be a JV review of NYC. I still suggest you pass through Times Square to see the lights and billboards, but why I REALLY suggest you go through is for the Garment District for the inexpensive jewelry and crafting supplies (think beads, pins, fabrics, embellishments). For Project Runway fans, stopping by Mood and spotting Atlas is a must!

SoHo: I swear, I spent three nights in the SoHo Grand and I just felt chic-er after leaving. This part of town just reeks coolness. You’ll find some great shopping here – normal mall stores with a mix of a few transport shops that are sure to leave you finding something unique.

Shake Shack: There are a few locations of this scrumptious gem. Fries and a milkshake are a must with your burger.

Central Park: Again, another cheesy stop, but it’s good to say that you’ve been. Ride a horse-drawn carriage to get the full experience. When you are done, FAO Schwartz, The Plaza Hotel and Barney’s are close by!

Random Tips: If you fly into Newark, be prepared to pay about $80 for a cab into the city. Be prepared for your Starbucks barristas to be mean. If you’re an early riser, head to a morning show at 6:00 a.m. and stand there for about 2 hours to watch the live broadcast on the stations respective plaza.

Chicago: Oh sweet home Chicago.

Eat: Chicago has become a big foodie destination. My favorite places to eat (all $ ranges): Graham Elliott, De Cero, La Madia, Hub 51, Potbelly’s, Table 52, Flat Top Grill, Carmine’s, Rockit, Hannah’s Bretzel (during the work week!) and Weiner Circle (get a chocolate shake).

Shop: Stop by the Macy’s on State Street and pick up some Frango mints. There’s some good shopping in the area as well (Nordstrom Rack shoes are ah-mazing). Then, walk up a block to Michigan Ave. (stop at the bean) and continue the shopping. You may also see the famous bucket boys on the street!

Secret View: At the end of Michigan Ave, there’s the Hancock Tower. Take the elevators up 95 floor for the Signature Lounge (specify lounge). Drink a quick $12 cocktail and enjoy the views (especially in the bathroom) and then leave happy knowing that you got to see the sights while having a cocktail and without paying the $20 for the guided tour!

Summer: During warm weather months, visit the Oak Street Beach, then head to the Cedar Motel. It looks like a haunted hostel, but it’s really a fun outside bar that’s great for people watching.

Winter: Prepare for airport delays and always pack boots for winter visits. I was obviously drunk or stupid (or both) when I packed and didn’t prepare for the six inches of snow that fell on the Windy City during my stay.

Read: Pick up a RedEye newspaper. It’s free and has local events, restaurant specials, etc. Also, CS Magazine, Where Mag, Front Desk and Today’s Chicago Women are all free too – just look for the magazine stands.

EL: Regardless if you are flying into Midway (my fav) or O’Hare, take the train (aka The El) into the city. It’s sometimes quicker than a cab and only $2.25.
Los Angeles: My temporary home - in the home of Reader Dana! While I’m still learning the ropes to the City of Stars, this list includes some things I still need to do…

Hollywood Blvd: Gotta see the star’s names on the sidewalk. Then, swing by Hollywood & Hilands, where if you are lucky, you will see the Hollywood sign and a lot of crazy/creepy impersonators.

The Grove: Head to this popular shopping destination in the morning and watch Mario Lopez tape Extra (you’ll chuckle when he messes up and needs to do a few takes).

Studio Tours: Yep. Go and see the sets. I also recommend checking show’s websites for seats – I mean who would pass up an opp to dance on Ellen!

Beaches: Reader Dana was giving me the update today – rent bikes and ride the pacific coast through Marina del Ray, Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu (I think I forgot one).

Eat: Yeah, people in LA eat (although they don’t look like they do). On my list? Original Sprinkles, In & Out Burger, Joan’s on Third and maybe some Babycakes.

Tip: LA is famous for its celebrities, big houses, fashionable people…and TRAFFIC! I suggest the amazing airport shuttle which was $16 from LAX to Hollywood. While chain hotels are plentiful, I also recommend checking out some of the boutique places to stay.