|Organize for Success® Turns 10|
Today, let's cover my top ten favorite cities (or towns):
10. San Francisco, California - The Golden Gate Bridge isn't the only amazing view overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. Add to those breath-taking visuals some of our country's greatest restaurants as well as the home of Ghirardelli Chocolate Company and Evernote, one of my favorite tech tools, and there are plenty of reasons to visit the San Francisco Bay area. As one of the last places to which I traveled with Dad, San Francisco will always hold a special place in my heart.
9. New Orleans, Louisiana - It's easy to customize your experience in New Orleans to exactly what you desire, making it a perfect city in the rotation of hosts for the National Automobile Dealers Association annual convention. For the party animals, there is always Mardi Gras. For the thrill seekers, you can get behind the wheel of a Ferrari and take a lap around the track at NOLA Motorsports Park with Xtreme Xperience. I like the jazz music around almost every corner, the many varied museum options and, of course, beignets from Cafe Du Monde. My mouth is watering!
8. St. Louis, Missouri - When my aunt and uncle lived in Ballwin and, then, St. Charles, both just outside of St. Louis, my mom, grandmother, younger brother and I took a road trip up to visit them. While I could write a book about the drive itself, it's the city of St. Louis that everyone can and should enjoy. Our fun-filled adventure included the Gateway Arch, the Saint Louis Zoo, delicious fudge boiled in copper kettles from The Fudgery at the depot in downtown and absolutely a tour of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery to meet the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales.
7. New York, New York - After graduating from Princeton University, one of my older brothers lived in Manhattan working as an architect for about 15 years, and I was blessed to be able to visit him at least once a year throughout that time period. We delighted in amazing theatrical productions, engaging museum exhibits (especially at my favorite museum, which is the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and more delicious meals than I could ever list out, including steak from Smith and Wollensky as well as Italian from Frutti Di Mare, which has since closed. After many a stay in the Waldorf Astoria New York, I cannot wait to see what it will be like following the renovation happening now.
6. San Antonio, Texas - I've been a San Antonio Spurs' fan since back when David Robinson was wearing jersey number 50; however, when the incredible Tim Duncan arrived there from my Wake Forest University, it simply cemented my fandom. Therefore, when I got the opportunity to attend an NBA Finals game in San Antonio on Sunday, July 21, 2013, I absolutely jumped at the chance to see my Spurs in person, especially in the AT&T Center. As getting to the game on time and cheering through every minute of the action was my only focus, I'm extremely grateful that I was traveling with my friend Heather Hooper, who made sure I enjoyed all the city had to offer: tasty treats along the river walk, Rio San Antonio Cruises, Market Square, shopping at Rivercenter and touring The Alamo. Did you know that current TSA rules prohibit taking hot sauce in your carry-on? For real!
5. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Having recently been introduced to Pittsburgh, I can't believe I didn't make it there sooner. From Pirates baseball to Steelers football and all sorts of sports options from the University of Pittsburgh, entertainment abounds; then, there are the beautiful views from all the bridges and up the incline of Mt. Washington. Ranking well in Zagat's best US cities for food, Pittsburgh offers plenty of outstanding, locally-owned restaurants, like Butcher and the Rye, Morcilla, Sienna Mercato, Ten Penny and Vallozzi's. I enjoyed Market Square and how eco-friendly the convention center was with its green roof.
4. Nashville, Tennessee - This might be the most perfect mix of all my favorites in one city! There are musicians on almost every corner, and you can fully indulge in legendary country music at the Grand Ole Opry, the Bluebird Cafe as well as the Ryman Auditorium, learning even more than imaginable at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Sports are covered with the Tennessee Titans, the Nashville Predators and Vanderbilt University's many athletics teams. Plus, the tasty treats are endless at local restaurants, including ACME Feed and Seed, Adele's (which is built in what used to be a car dealership), Biscuit Love, Husk, Puckett's and The Southern. We enjoyed staying at the Gaylord Opryland, strolling through the farmers' market and views of the Cumberland River.
3. Winston-Salem, North Carolina - Growing up about 20 minutes from downtown Winston meant that we spent a good deal of time heading into this city for everything from movies to restaurants to the mall, even attending Centenary United Methodist Church. I'm a proud Demon Deacon graduate of Wake Forest University, which is located in Winston, and I'm amazed at how this city continues to grow at such a rapid rate. Must-try restaurants here now include Crafted: The Art of the Taco, Fabian's Restaurant, Fratelli's Italian Steakhouse, Meridian Restaurant, Milner's American Southern Cuisine and Cocktails, Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro, Paul's Fine Italian Dining, Rooster's Wood-Fired Kitchen, Ryan's Restaurant, Spring House Restaurant and Village Tavern. For a great jolt of caffeine, I highly recommend Camino Bakery. From the bar scene, you might want to consider Burke Street Pub, Foothills Brewing, Tavern in Old Salem, Tate's Craft Cocktails and Wise Man Brewing. Finally, for attractions, make time for Historic Bethabara Park, Old Salem, Reynolda House Museum of American Art and Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art.
2. Kernersville, North Carolina - I truly appreciate having been born and raised in this town that is smack-dab in the middle of our great state. With equally easy drives from this town to the beach or the mountains, it is one of the few places that actually experiences all 4 seasons (winter, spring, summer and fall). There are great parks, charming boutiques and plenty of options for supporting local restaurants, like Giada's Trattoria, J Pepper's, Outwest Steakhouse, Plaza Restaurant, Prissy Polly's Pig Pickin' BBQ as well as Sixty Six Pizzeria Grill and Bar; however, it's the annual events that really make this town special and memorable: Spring Folly is coming up this weekend, Oktoberfest at Historic Korner's Folly and The Honeybee Festival each August.
1. Raleigh, North Carolina - My home is Raleigh, where we are blessed with something happening all the time, from the Carolina Ballet to Broadway shows at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. I absolutely love attending concerts in Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre, but it's also only a short drive to the Durham Performing Arts Center or Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Raleigh is part of the Triangle region in North Carolina, where college sports are plentiful with the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State University; yet, there are plenty of professional sports' options, too, including the Carolina Hurricanes, the Durham Bulls, the Carolina Mudcats and a reasonable drive to the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. Plus, Raleigh is definitely one of the best cities for food, including an abundance of locally-owned and -operated restaurants (Beasley's Chicken + Honey, Cafe Carolina, Cafe Luna, Cave 1912, Chuck's, Coquette, Death and Taxes, Driftwood Southern Kitchen, Irregardless Cafe, Nantucket Grill, NOFO at the Pig, Poole's Diner, Relish Craft Restaurant and Bourbon Bar, The Pit Authentic Barbecue, Village Grill, Winston's Grille and Zest Cafe) as well as coffee shops (42 and Lawrence, Benelux Coffee, Bittersweet, Brew Coffee Bar, Jubala Village Coffee, Liquid State Coffee + Wine + Beer, Lucette Grace, Sir Walter Coffee, Sola Coffee Cafe, Videri Chocolate Factory and Yellow Dog Bread Company). If you'd like to be a little more active, Raleigh offers plenty of parks for outdoor adventures, the Triangle Rock Club and museums for growth or learning. Don't forget Raleigh's craft beer industry, spotlighted in the Brewgaloo festival.
Bonus - Chattanooga, Tennessee - Back when my nephew graduated from The McCallie School, all my siblings and parents trekked up to this fair city; luckily, I was in the half of us that flew there instead of the half that apparently almost drove off the side of the mountain, but I digress. Chattanooga offers simply magnificent mountainside views from atop Lookout Mountain, Rembrandt's Coffee has the most delicious dessert options, and there's plenty to do or see along its revitalized riverwalk.
Which locations have been your favorites to live in or visit? Are there any on your bucket list that you have yet to go see? Boston is still on my list, and I'm always searching for additional suggestions of ideal destinations. Looks like I need a warm, tropical city on this list, right?!?