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Trip to America


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#1 Mariachi

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 07:18 PM

Hey guys,
Not sure if this is the right place to put this but I couldn't find a better place.

I've seen a lot of the members here are American, and I was planning on doing a trip there in mid april for about 1-2 months.
I was wondering if you guys could give me some suggestions on what to see. My main interests are the arts, and mainly Blues music culture. Being a musician myself I want to go and see all the roots of Blues music, see the people playing it and discuss it with people, something severely lacking in my own country.

I'm open to anything else though that you think I would be stupid to miss when coming there, so as many suggestions as possible are welcome. It's been a long time since I was in America, really looking forward to it!

Thanks guys :)

Edited by Mariachi, 24 February 2012 - 07:19 PM.


#2 Ishmael Forsaken

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 07:36 PM

Well, as our resident citizen of the great state of Louisiana, Red, can tell you, if the blues are what interests you, then visiting New Orleans should be your destination. The blues originated there in the very early 1900's, and the best Blue's clubs in America can still be found there. If you had only been able to make your trip a few weeks earlier, then you could have experienced one of America's most famous festivals, Mardi Gras. It takes place in New Orleans every year in mid-February. It's a celebration of booze, great blues music, and excessive female breast-flashing.

If you want to see the Arts, the American Museum of the Arts in Chicago is top notch. There's not much else there, however. There is a wonderful art festival in the southern city of Charleston, South Carolina, the Spolletto Festival, that takes place in early April, that is unparalleled. Charleston is also a very historical city that retains much of its' pre-Industrial era charm and has many attractions to interest the avid history buff. It also has many blues attractions as well.

Other than that, there are the usual tourist traps of New York City and Las Vegas. But as I am of Irish decent, nothing tops Boston, Massachusetts if clubbing and hitting American drinking holes interest you. There are also many historic venues to look into there, as it is one of the most influential cities in the history of American sites. And you can also check out Red Sox games if you have an interest in the American pastime of baseball.

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#3 SinisterDeath

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 07:52 PM

Uhh.. New Orleans? I mean, blues, music, culture, and given the fact that spring break is/was big down there and april is around spring break... Just seems a natural fit. :P

Okay.. wow, apparently i loaded this page 20 minutes ago, didn't refresh and replied without seeing Ishmael's post!

So yea.. New Orleans is a definate fit. :P

As for other 'cultural hot spots', I can't really say, though from what people say about my state (Minesota) Minneapolis is the place to be.
Also, Mall of America. It is the 2nd largest mall in North America, and largest in floor space in N.A... I've never been but.. look at it this way. in the deepest cold of winter, they don't turn the heat on. The body heat of every person in the store, is more than enough to keep it plenty warm.. in fact, I think they turn the A.C on.

non-culture stuff, well, theres tons of camping & lakes. Scenerio, ect. ;)

Edited by SinisterDeath, 24 February 2012 - 07:58 PM.

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#4 Mariachi

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 08:17 PM

Oh man, I'm hell annoyed I'll miss mardi gras! Unfortunately with study it doesn't permit any other timing. Gah.
New Orleans was definitely going to be a stop, any place in particular there that I should check out?
The south is the main areas that I will be checking out, I've got about 3-4 weeks to do all that then I head to New York for a week or so to do some music and meet up with some friends.

Also, another question. What's the best phone network to jump onto with pre paid over there, I'll need to get that as well. I want something with good data speeds, calls are not a big issue but data will be. What kind of speeds do you guys get over there as well? I've gotten used to Telstras awesome speeds here :p

Cheers guys, this is flipping awesome. Keep it coming! :D

#5 SinisterDeath

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:22 PM

Oh man, I'm hell annoyed I'll miss mardi gras! Unfortunately with study it doesn't permit any other timing. Gah.
New Orleans was definitely going to be a stop, any place in particular there that I should check out?
The south is the main areas that I will be checking out, I've got about 3-4 weeks to do all that then I head to New York for a week or so to do some music and meet up with some friends.

Also, another question. What's the best phone network to jump onto with pre paid over there, I'll need to get that as well. I want something with good data speeds, calls are not a big issue but data will be. What kind of speeds do you guys get over there as well? I've gotten used to Telstras awesome speeds here :p

Cheers guys, this is flipping awesome. Keep it coming! :D



That varies from place to place, mostly depending on which network has the best coverage.
I don't know about 'coverage' but Virgin Mobile has a $25 USD plan with 'unlimited' data (basically, you can browse all day if you want, and not use it up, but downloading will basically use it up, and reduce yoru total speed.) unlimited texts, and 300 Minutes.

Coverage obviously, will be a problem in some areas.

I know theres boost mobile, and Straight Talk, but I don't know there data plans off hand.

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#6 Red2111

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:33 PM

lol Ishy, i'm on the mIssissippi gulf coast, not in NOLA. but close enough :laugh:

Cingular and Verizon are the 2 major cell providers here. perosnally i prefer Verizon over the later, but both will give you good serivce and decent PAYGO plans.



NOLA is fun to visit, but you can see everything in a day tbh. i'd actually adivse against goign during Madi Gras to NOLA though. the place stinks to high heaven, is way too crowded, way over priced and you're more likely to get mugged or injured then have a good time imo. now if your in a big group, thats different; but it's not exactly the safest or cleanest city in the USA. i mean, it's pretty much like that all year round, because the French Quarter is party centeral at night, but it's 100% worse duing this time of year. you can get the Madi-gras experience without the ruff stuff here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast just as well as in NOLA :wink: (same goes if the Saints or a College game is playing in NOLA)

still, while the major party day and parade day is always on Fat Tuesday, the party generally starts the first week of Feb and lasts into early March with Parades and Balls and Drinking.


also, while NOLA may be the starting point for Blues int he USA, it's shifted to more jazzz/Cajun/Blues mix. Kentucky might be a good place to check out Blues here in the states as well as NOLA. and Birmingham, Alabama. if you do go to NOLA, i'd highly suggest taking a day to go to Baton Rouge as well; it's absolutley beautiful there.


if you do visit the South, make sure to come between the months of Dec - April, unless yoru used to a tropical humid climate. i wouldn't visit during Hurricane season (which picks up in July but starts as early as May) or in the summer months (May - Sept) as the heat/humidity will make touring very uncomfy. its a wet climate here, so when it's cold (typically in the 50's or 60's but can get as low as 20's and teens) it's a very wet cold so you feel it for sure. Feb, March and early April are the best weather months imo the Humidity is low, the flowers are just blooming and your get 70's with a good breeze off the gulf.

personally, i'd suggest trying for October (whcih is after Hurricane season) for Halloween and Voodoo/Hoodoo feast. they have some wicked tours aroudn this time adn imo its a better celebration that Madigras because it's centered more aroudn the history of the city.

for places to see in NOLA, here are some off the top of my head

- walk the French Qurter (more importantly bourbon Street). i'd advise doign this during the day, unless in a big group with a native to show you around. at ngiht, the freaks and swinlders come out, it can get rather scary honestly.
- go to Pat O'Briens and get yerself a drink called a Hurricane, trust me on this, they're delicious and you only need 1 (or 2 if your a heavy drinker) to get you good and drunk. get the Red colored one, it's like a fruit punch icee and has about 7 different types of liquors. plus the glass cup is a suvenior *nods*
- go to Cafe Du Monde and get yourself a beignets or 3 with a coffee. try to avoid the place around Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner times as the line will be outragously long. but it's worth it
- make sure ot try a SnowBall as well, which is like a Snow Cone but with finer shaved ice an loads more syrups. JuJu's, Hansens and Caseys are the top choices; research SnowBalls on Guy's "Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives" (off Food Network) web site for the place he went to as well. theres a creamary he went to that looked oustanding in another episode.
- St. Louis Cathedral is a very beautiful church to walk in and look around. theres also the Autobon Zoo and a bunch of Museums. the park is infront of the Cathedral, this is were most of your street performers and such hang out.
- also check out Marie Laveau Voodoo shop, shes the infamous Voodoo queen of NOLA.


if you come in the fall, try to swing going to a Saints Game *nods* tickets are more expensive since winning the superbowl, but may god its a great place to be to watch foot ball and the fans are pretty cool in comparison to some other teams.
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#7 Red2111

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:46 PM

ofcourse when i say best paygo plans i'm talking specifically abotu domestic, not international. for international, i'd stick with land lines and calling cards otherwise your gonna pay out the ear for your calls/txts



for other places to visit i'd suggest the folllowing

- Washington DC in late April/early May for the Cherry Blossom feastival. theres loads of history, museums and shops to visit. make sure to visit the new harbor they just built.
- Inner Harbor Baltimore Maryland and Annapolis. very pretty place to visit, personally i'd go during the fall when crab season is int, there nothign like a Maryland steamed crab *drools* you must try a crab cake too, is what maryland is known for. also if you go during the fall, make sur to shoot over to Virginia (Upper Western portion) and drive skyline drive. my god the leave changes are beautiful.
- New York City
- Chicago
- Las Vegas
- Kissemme Florida (this is near the main attractions liek Dinsy World and Universal Studios) stay away from Miami imo.
- Birmingham for Shakespear Feastival
- Grand Canion
- Sanfransico





for the South specifcally

- Biloxi/Gulfport is nice for a half day visit. basically this is for the Casinos though. but the beaches ehre are nice, white sands, warm waters, relaxed atmospher and tidy bowl blue waters on the other side of the barrier islands.
- NOLA obviously
- Baton Rouge
- Birmingham AL
- Saint Louis MN
- Daytona Beach FL
- Key West FL & Everglades
- Kissemme FL
- Savannha GA
- Charlston SC
- Chatanoga TN


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#8 Mariachi

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 10:50 PM

Red2111, you sir are flipping amazing!
There is a lot of things on there I'm going to have to look up as it's terms i'm unfamiliar with but I will have questions soon.

I should clarify that I am a big fan of Jazz as well,
Places I'm also interested in, Nashville and Memphis.
Birmingham was also on the list.


Heat isn't too much of an issue for me, living in Australia has me used to that kind of thing- it's currently 36C(96F) here. So no an issue to me :)

Just found there is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival whilst I will be there, so perfect timing. Will definitely be checking that out.

Thanks a tonne guys! So much awesome!

#9 Red2111

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 11:14 PM

ah ha!! i'm glad you mentioned Memphis because thats totally the city i was thinking of when i wrote Kentuckey but for the life of me coulnd't rememerb the name just the area on the map where it's at geographically in the US. i couldn't remember which state out of the two it was and second guessed myself out of writting Tennessee :laugh: yes, i'd certianlty say memphis is more the Blues capital than NOLA right now *nods* make sure you visit Graceland and the Elvis Museum as well. seriuosly, i should have totlaly remembered the song "walking in memphis"


*whispers* btw, i'm a girl :wink: is okay, my name is ambigous and it happens alot :cool: glad i could help :happy: if you come to the MS Gulf Coast, shoot me a PM and me Bubba and I will meet you for lunch or dinner at one of the local resturants. Bubba was born and raised here on the Gulf Coast, while i moved down here from DC 6 years ago, so he'd be alot better at suggesting places to go in NOLA and the surrounding cities.



yeah if your from Asutrialia, the heat wont be so bad for you. not as dry (you might want to try Southwestern Texas, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, the climate there is dessert esque) but still as hott. in the dead of summer it's always between 85% & 100% or higher in humidity, the sun is ultra strong (me being a redhead, i can get a decent sunburn nly being outside in direct sunlight for 20 minutes) nights it doens't get any lower than low 80F and days it generally gets in the 100F with the heat index in the 110F's and 120F's. adn thats for a good straight 3 months end of May to mid Sept. August is about the worst, and thats typically whent he worst hurricanse swing through.

our winter this year has been mild, so i'm expecting an active hurricane seasion this year; hopefully they keep swinging like they have for the past 5 years; styaing out in the atlantic :unsure:
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#10 Hiarthbeorn

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 12:30 AM

Even though I was born in Michigan, I can only really speak to the American West. My state of Colorado has a lot to speak of. Denver is sweltering hot in the summer and a bit like Hoth in the winter. I live three hours south of Denver, Colorado and the country here is much more rugged than the idyllic hills of skiing people come to Colorado for. The southwestern corner of Colorado includes Durango and Cortez and, if you do some research, you'll find a number of Native American archaeological sites. The Mesa Verde cliff dwellings are absolutely stunning but there are a number of other indigenous cities in the Four Corners area. I did an archaeological survey there years ago and I can't recommend the area enough. My favorite site is probably Chaco Canyon, partly because it is surrounded in such historical mystery and also because it's a massive site for the region. There's another site whose name eludes me at the moment but we had to hike through a canyon for a few miles before finding the cliff dwelling which was situated along a river. Bah. It's late and I forget important details.

New Mexico is gorgeous country and I recommend it to anybody who wants to visit America. Roswell, New Mexico is Conspiracy Country - they thrive on the mystique of the Roswell incident and the entire town is plastered in UFO/Alien imagery. The street lamps are shaped like alien heads , the Wal-Mart is decorated with ufos and the McDonald's playpen is a giant chromed-out space saucer. There was also a Museum of Alternate Realities the last time I visited but it was curiously empty. Don't believe me? I'll let my Flickr account do the talking.

http://www.flickr.co...ass/3482687802/

Lincoln County, New Mexico is the site of Billy the Kid's Lincoln County War. Taos, New Mexico is a thriving artfag town but there's always something to see and do. Carson National Forest is a hop and a skip away from Taos. Alamogordo, New Mexico is situated on the southern part of New Mexico and includes a park called White Sands, inscrutably named for its desert of white sand. White Sands also hosts the White Sands Missile Range, which is home to the Trinity Test Site. This may or may not be interesting to you but it is the site of the first nuclear detonation - our modern anxieties began here. The base is open only twice a year for tourists. Here's a picture from inside the base looking out toward the White Sands national park, also by me.

http://www.flickr.co...ass/3482687890/

Arizona, Nevada and Utah are also fine states to visit but I would recommend Monument Valley. A few John Wayne films were filmed in Monument Valley and it's breath-taking in real life. Bring lots of water. @_@;;

I haven't spent very much time in Wyoming but it's one of the largest states as well as one of the most sparsely populated. I like to think velociraptors roam the valleys of Wyoming and only Harrison Ford and his helicopter keep the predators at bay.

Texas is... well, it's Texas. I don't want to disparage any state and I could see myself living in Texas if it weren't for the heat. I didn't spend much time there though and I have very bad memories of Galveston. I do hope the rest of the ocean's shores are not littered with dead jellyfish and bloated hookers.

There's lot of stuff to see in America. Don't be afraid to go off the beaten track and explore. Always mingle, always rub elbows. I hope you enjoy your visit!

Edited by Hiarthbeorn, 25 February 2012 - 12:31 AM.

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#11 Hallow

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 04:24 AM

I'm not American (and so I don't have the expertise some of these guys and gals have) but I've been over there a few times and New York City is an absolute must in my mind.
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#12 Mariachi

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 04:26 AM

Ahh, my deepest apologies Red2111, I'm not even sure why I assumed male.

I've been looking into and I reckon MS will be on the list, There's the Delta Blues Museum there as well as Elvis birth place of Tupelo. Some of my all time favourite musicians came out of there. I'll definitely love to catchup and have lunch/dinner with you as well :)


Man, this is getting exiting!

Hiarthbeorn, cheers for that, you've given me a few more things to add to the list, they sound really cool!

Keep it coming! you guys rock!

******EDIT******

Hallow, New York is is definitely on the list, I will be spending at least a week there! Really looking forward to that.

Edited by Mariachi, 25 February 2012 - 04:29 AM.


#13 SinisterDeath

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 09:18 AM

Ahh, my deepest apologies Red2111, I'm not even sure why I assumed male.

I've been looking into and I reckon MS will be on the list, There's the Delta Blues Museum there as well as Elvis birth place of Tupelo. Some of my all time favourite musicians came out of there. I'll definitely love to catchup and have lunch/dinner with you as well :)


Man, this is getting exiting!

Hiarthbeorn, cheers for that, you've given me a few more things to add to the list, they sound really cool!

Keep it coming! you guys rock!

******EDIT******

Hallow, New York is is definitely on the list, I will be spending at least a week there! Really looking forward to that.



New York, The way I understand it, theres 2 things you have to do there.
1. Eat a Hot Dog from a street Vendor.
2. Go to the New York Central Park, and go to the 'big rock'.
3. Perhaps an Authentic New York Pizza?

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#14 Paul H

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 06:38 PM

Since you said you are interested in the blues, I would recommend Chicago. Chicago has a rich history of blues music, and they still have some great blues clubs. Buddy Guy's Legends is the club I would most highly recommend, but I think there are some other good ones too. Actually, if you can delay your trip and come in June, you can attend the Chicago Blues Festival, which is always great, and which is paid for by the hard-working taxpayers of Chicago (in other words, it's free admission!). Here is a page that lists the major artists playing at this year's Chicago Blues Festival.

While you're in Chicago, you might also check out the Chicago Art Institute, which has many well-known paintings, and the Field Museum, which has the world's largest complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. Navy Pier is also fun, though very touristy.

Also, if you like jazz, then I would also highly recommend that you spend an evening at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge jazz club while you are in Chicago. Or if you like jazz and if you can come even later in the year, then don't miss the huge Chicago Jazz Festival, which is always great.

Now, if I were coming to the United States, I would be interested in the musical stuff, just like you are. (I love jazz, blues, and many other styles of music.) But I would also want to see some of the really awesome outdoor stuff. I think that Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon would be tied for the first spot on my list. I would also consider spending some time visiting other cities and outdoor attractions in the western U.S., including Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, Salt Lake City, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, the other national parks in southern Utah (I can't think of the names right now), Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, San Diego, Los Angeles, Monterey/Carmel, San Francisco, Muir Woods (north of San Francisco), etc., etc.

Also, if you are into roller coasters, you might want to squeeze in a trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (though this most likely won't be near anything else on your itinerary). I think they have three different roller coasters each of which at the time it was built was the tallest and fastest in the world, and they have something like 12 roller coasters altogether, plus many other rides as well.

Wherever you go, enjoy your trip!

Edited by Paul H, 25 February 2012 - 06:51 PM.


#15 Paul H

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 06:47 PM

One more thing: I know that a couple of people have already recommended New Orleans. If at all possible, I would highly recommend that you attend the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which runs from April 27 to May 6. It is the longest, biggest, and best music festival that I know of anywhere in the United States. Just check out this huge line-up of great bands for this year!

#16 Hiarthbeorn

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 08:23 PM

Also, if you are into roller coasters, you might want to squeeze in a trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (though this most likely won't be near anything else on your itinerary). I think they have three different roller coasters each of which at the time it was built was the tallest and fastest in the world, and they have something like 12 roller coasters altogether, plus many other rides as well.

Wherever you go, enjoy your trip!


Yes! Cedar Point! I always try to go to whenever I visit Michigan.

And speaking of Michigan, if you get the chance, visit Mackinac Island.

Edited by Hiarthbeorn, 25 February 2012 - 08:24 PM.

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#17 SinisterDeath

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:17 PM

Now, if I were coming to the United States, I would be interested in the musical stuff, just like you are. (I love jazz, blues, and many other styles of music.) But I would also want to see some of the really awesome outdoor stuff. I think that Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon would be tied for the first spot on my list. I would also consider spending some time visiting other cities and outdoor attractions in the western U.S., including Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, Salt Lake City, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, the other national parks in southern Utah (I can't think of the names right now), Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, San Diego, Los Angeles, Monterey/Carmel, San Francisco, Muir Woods (north of San Francisco), etc., etc.

http://www.exploreminnesota.com/planning-tools/history/index.aspx
http://www.exploremi...ture/index.aspx

While I know your not the OP, I still can't stress enough, how under-apreciated Minnesota is in National Park/State Parks.
http://www.visitusa....-state-park.htm

http://usparks.about...asca/index.html

http://usparks.about...cave/index.html

Hell, even non park stuff
http://www.co.otter-....us/phelpsmill/
Including Historical
http://www.rollag.com/

As for Culutural stuffs.
http://www.tripadvis...ta:Culture.html

http://hotsummerjazz.com/
http://www.moondancejam.com/
(there is an event in august called We-Fest (more country than blue-grass or jazz, but i'd highly not recommend that crapfest)

http://bellafiore.bellamusicfest.com/ (never heard of this one)

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#18 Red2111

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 06:14 AM

did someone say Roller Coasters Posted Image i ... LOVE... Rollercoasters :happy: if you go to DC, take a tripe to Kingsdominion in Virginia (rough 3 hour drive) and go to that theme park My link i really can't recomend this theme park enough. they're partnered with Paramount Pictures and Universal, so they've got a Waynes World, Forrest Gump and Nickelodeon themed sections; they've also got alot of coasters, to include some wicked wooden coasters :happy:


Hershy Park is fun as well, but in Maryland stay away from Six Flags, the enviroment there isn't one that will make anyone feel safe. last time i went there in 98' i felt liek i was gonna be stabbed for my Tennis Shoes.


and as for jazz clubs to visit in NOLA heres a list i found My link theres two others Bubba suggested, but i'm waiting for a text back from him becuase i don't recall the names and i don't beleieve there on that list.

edit - this might also be a helpful site for you, it seems to have a bunch of good info about jazz clubs in NOLA My link

Edited by Red2111, 27 February 2012 - 06:16 AM.

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#19 Song of Ice and Fire

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 06:31 AM

Uhh.. New Orleans? I mean, blues, music, culture, and given the fact that spring break is/was big down there and april is around spring break... Just seems a natural fit. :P

Okay.. wow, apparently i loaded this page 20 minutes ago, didn't refresh and replied without seeing Ishmael's post!

So yea.. New Orleans is a definate fit. :P

As for other 'cultural hot spots', I can't really say, though from what people say about my state (Minesota) Minneapolis is the place to be.
Also, Mall of America. It is the 2nd largest mall in North America, and largest in floor space in N.A... I've never been but.. look at it this way. in the deepest cold of winter, they don't turn the heat on. The body heat of every person in the store, is more than enough to keep it plenty warm.. in fact, I think they turn the A.C on.

non-culture stuff, well, theres tons of camping & lakes. Scenerio, ect. ;)


You've never been to the biggest thing in Minnesnowta and you live there? lulz Though I can't really talk, I've never been to the state fair...

If you like camping and outdoorsy stuff, and happen to go to Minnesota, Lake superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world, and also up in that area is the BWCA, Boundary Waters Canoe Area, I used to live up around that area, and people all over the world come to see the big lake and to canoe up in there.

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#20 trench

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Posted 27 February 2012 - 07:06 AM

Well if your coming here for some good music, definitely try to make it to Austin, Texas, that town is has the best live music scene in the country. The Austin City Limits music festival is in the fall, but there will be good shows there year round. Another thing to consider for good music is Manchester, Tennessee, for the Bonnaroo music and arts fest, it in the first half of June. The longer it goes on the more main stream it gets but if you ignore the main stages and don't mind huge crowds, just stick to the tents and you will be in for some very cool music. Also you have to make it to Memphis, Tennessee, head down to Beale street and bar hop, I did it once and it was one of the best times I ever had, it a serious must for any fan of the blues, I can't recommend it enough. Even if you just went to BB king's club there it would be enough. I don't know if Bourbon street in New Orleans is more fun then Beale street but it can't be much more fun.

If I had the money I would start in New Orleans, then head up the Mississippi, to Natchez, Mississippi, after that I would go to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee trying to find all the good blues bars in between, then head to Chicago to cap it off.

Edited by trench, 27 February 2012 - 07:14 AM.

"Bloody thing must have been designed by insane, cross-eyed Trollocs and built from the bones of the damned."