MUSICEYES & EDGE

INSIDER'S GUIDE TO GREAT TOWNS

MUSICEYES & EDGE
INSIDER'S GUIDE TO GREAT TOWNS

So, you finally get to take that trip you have been waiting for and counting down on your google calendar for the last 92 days now, or maybe it's a business trip you have no desire taking. Regardless, isn't it a bitch when you go to these places that you know must house some kind of cool off the beaten track place, or good gallery that isn't on Main St, you just don't know it? Well maybe these will help. We have gathered some insiders, one could also call them residents, to give you the the down low on some great American towns.

Travel through the windy city on the "L", then to the small town of Walla Walla (230ish miles east of Portland), back to the midwest to Detroit (ROCK CITY! -it's automatic), up to New York's hip Brooklyn borough, down to home of the Bangles in Cincinnati, to Los Angeles back on the west coast, then to the founder's lovely hometown of Bloomington, IN, off to make a quick stop to its kind-of neighbor Louisville, KY, and back up to the up and coming Minneapolis. But not in that order. That would be a stupid route.One thing we have come to find...every damn person, no matter where you live...loves brunch.

Okay, next stop...CHICAGO!

“L” YEAH: A GUIDE TO THE WINDY CITY - CHICAGO  

I could give you the standard Chicago tourist-spiel, but let’s be real.  You already know the shopping on Michigan Avenue is second-to-none. You’ve seen countless pictures of tourists in front of The Bean at Millennium Park. You know we have a lot of museums. There’s so much more to see and do (and eat) in Chicago. So let’s skip what you already know, hop on the “L” and venture into Chicago’s many great neighborhoods. You’ll feel like a local in no time.First things first, Chicagoans love brunch. There are tons of places in the city to get your French toast fix, but there are a few that simply take the cake. The pancake that is. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, The Bongo Room is a must. They serve up seasonally changing sweets, like pumpkin carrot flapjacks with warm vanilla bean cream and red velvet chocolatey cocoa hotcakes. They don’t take reservations, so pop in early to get seated quickly. If you’re an eco-conscious diner, Uncommon Ground is right up your alley. Everything is sourced locally and in 2011, they were named the “Greenest Restaurant in the Country” by the Green Restaurant Association. Perks: fresh-squeezed mimosas, Midwest craft beers and a mean Bloody Mary. And finally, I have to put a personal plug in for Lou Mitchell’s on the Near West Side, one of my late relative’s restaurants. When I interviewed Bethenny Frankel for Cheeky Chicago, she told me it was her favorite brunch spot in the city. Open for 85 years and counting, good breakfast never goes out of style.As much as we love food here in the Windy City, we also like to get our drink on.  Check out Barrelhouse Flat (2624 N. Lincoln) in Lincoln Park and bring on the bubbly. Downstairs is a more standard night out—booths and bar seating—but upstairs is a lounge with a pre-Prohibition vibe, designed by the L.A.-based Patry + Kline, complete with red velvet chairs, fabric paneled walls and dim lighting. Though they’re known for their punches, they offer a tasty selection of cocktails with fun names like the “Bizzy Izzy” and the “Mamie Taylor.” It was love at first sip. If you’re feeling low-key, grab a table at Guthries in Lakeview. I’m not a huge fan of the Wrigleyville bar scene, but this one is so not standard. It’s tucked away on a side street and the inside is charming, filled with over 50 board games and friendly staff. You can even order food in. It’s the perfect place to break the ice on a first date or grab a beer with a small group of friends.And last but not least, if you’re in Chicago, you’ve got to experience our live music scene. We’ve got well-known venues like The House of Blues, The Riv and Metro, but I’ve got a few smaller spots that are more my jam. Stop into Schubas or Lincoln Hall, two sibling venues in Chicago that offer live-music nightly. Schubas is more of a dive bar, with the same familiar faces and a smaller stage area, but they book an awesome mix of well-known talent and emerging bands. My absolute favorite venue, S.P.A.C.E., is just north of the city in Evanston, home to Northwestern University. With no seat more than 40 feet away from the stage, your tickets are well worth the price. The acoustics are amazing and they offer reserved table seating (in addition to standing room) for a more relaxed live music experience. And this goes without saying: if you’re a huge music fan, visit us in the summer, when we have festivals like Lollapalooza and Pitchfork. Be prepared to rock your little heart out, Chicago style.For more recommendations, advice or a local guide when you go to visit e-mail Kristen at  Kristen@abeerwiththeband.com.____________________________________________________________________Kristen MitchellDay Job: Non-profit marketing manager, Freelance Writer for Cheeky Chicago and Founder/Editor of A Beer with the Band.I grew up just outside of Chicago until I was 18, went away to school for four years, and came right back to the city. I now live in the Southport Corridor neighborhood of Chicago, former hood of Rosie O’Donnell and current home to the oh-so-sexy Blackhawks player Patrick Sharpe (he’s just down the block!).What's your favorite thing about Chicago: There’s something about the people in Chicago that warms my heart. Maybe it’s the Midwestern charm. If you ask someone for directions, they’ll stop. If you initiate a conversation with someone on a train, they’ll chat. I had a friend who started talking with someone on a bus, and now they go out for drinks once a week. Also, having Lake Michigan in your backyard isn’t a bad deal. Summers here are the best.Chicago's Motto: When I saw comedian Jeff Garland at Steppenwolf a few weeks ago, he said it the best: “Chicago winters keep all the assholes out.”Next stop, WALLA WALLA, WA. 

WALLA WALLA

America’s Friendliest Small Town” has magic is in its historical downtown and waving fields of wheat but it is best known as one of the hot seats of modern American winemaking. As such, most visitors come to town with ambitious wine tasting itineraries -- but what to do when not enjoying the pleasures of imbibition? Here’s an insider’s guide to the best of Walla Walla, both on, and off, the beaten path.Breakfast:The regulars: If you’re just starting off wine tasting, start with a good base by filling up on some creative European-inspired breakfast classics at The Maple Counter Cafe. If you’re recovering from wine tasting, head to Bacon & Eggs for a full two-ounce hair of the dog pour and spicy options guaranteed to put a kick in your hungover pants.Off the beaten path: Since 1934, Tommy’s Dutch Lunch has been the go-to for locals in search of a classic full-belly breakfast.Shop & See:The regulars: Ladies can get something pretty to wear at Studio Opal, a small-town fashionista’s dream, while the gents can find something sporty at the Walla Walla Sweets Shoppe. Find inspiration at DeBouche, dealers in mid-century modern furniture and funky trinkets from the past. Fill the holes in your bottle collection at the Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman.Off the beaten path: Just two miles East of Walla Walla, but feeling like another planet, Bennington Lake’s 612 acres of public land, more than 20 miles of trails, and stunning views lure folks looking to stretch their legs.Lunch:The regulars: The Green Spoon has great options for all kinds of eaters, from picky kids to the gluten intolerant. The Garden Vegan’s healthy smoothies, rice bowls and vegan sandwiches are great for an energy boost. For grazers, Salumerie Cesario features handcrafted charcuterie, tasty cheeses and a great beer selection; the patio is an ideal place for people-watching.Off the beaten path: Walla Walla is big on worthwhile drive-thru’s. AK’s at the Co-Op serves up chef Andrae Bopp’s indulgent takes on his food truck staples through a gas station take-out window, while down the street, Graze (which also has a brick and mortar shop downtown) offers scrumptious takes on classic sandwich fare. The Ice-Burg Drive In will leave you feeling like a kid again (if you were born before 1980) with its old school charm.

Coffee Break:The regulars: Colville Street Patisserie makes a mean cup of joe but really, it’s all about the sweets here. From classic French pastries to house-made gelatos, this place gives the afternoon a kick.

Off the beaten path: The Walla Walla Roastery roasts up creative blends in its tiny facility at the Walla Walla airport. There are also about 30 wineries at the airport, making it quite possibly, the most awesome airport in America.

Dinner:The regulars: These are the places to see and be seen in Walla Walla. French is the theme at Brasserie Four, where you’re likely to knock elbows with a local winemaker and every dish is a delicious indulgence. T. Maccarone’s features Italian-inspired wine country fare and is a favorite for creative salads, pastas and a mean steak. Public House 124’s food is nothing to sneeze at, but the real pull here is the bar and the family of friends that run it. You’ll walk in a stranger and leave a regular.Off the beaten path: The Green Lantern is a classic college bar, famous for its fish tacos, except here you’re just as likely to sit next to a farmer or winemaker as you are a frat kid. For those with a taste for adventure, head 20 miles out of town to the tiny town of Waitsburg. On the way in, stop and visit with Izzy the Camel (hint, he loves carrots) before fulfilling your every desire at the cocktail heaven known as Jimgermanbar and the Southern spice of the Whoopemup Hollow Cafe.Late Night:The regulars: Late nights don’t get too late in Walla Walla, but there’s usually something exciting, ranging from Shakespeare to Broadway, going on at the Powerhouse Theatre. Vintage Cellars is a wine bar but has a constant lineup of local talent, from DJ’s to open mic nights.Off the beaten path: Karaoke at the Golden Horse will ensure you wake up with a headache and a sore throat. Do it if you dare. ___________________________________________________________________________Zibby WilderDay Job:  Food and wine writer. Aspiring innkeeper. Whispering-challenged horse whisperer.How long have you been a resident? 1 year. Moved here to "get away from it all".What's your favorite thing about Walla Walla? The people. And the land. The land is crazy beautiful.Town's Motto: What happens in Walla Walla stays in Walla Walla -- but everyone in Walla Walla will know about it. Next stop, DETROIT.

DETROIT

Fotoula LambrosDay Job: Kickass Fashion Designer (Fotoula Lambros Designs) + Creator of WORKROOMHow long have you been a resident? Born and raised!

Being someone with a social agenda that becomes very demanding…a lot of what I enjoy is scattered amidst the different events, meetings, and shows I am involved in across town. So, in a perfect world, and if the stars were to align….this in a nutshell is what would be my perfect Saturday in Detroit.Wake up early at home and get a pot of Midtown’s Great Lakes coffee brewing while I wipe off last night’s mascara. In midst, I ralley via text, all the muffins together (as in my friends I call muffins) for brunch at Grand Trunk (aka Foran’s) to enjoy some lobster omelets and Drew’s special bloody-mary mix.After we load up, we head on over to the Midtown’s area to shop like Nest, Nora, Hugh and City Bird for housewares and fine gift items. To stock up on nutrients for the week, I head over to Eastern Market! There you can find niche shoppes open most of the week, but every Saturday is filled with farmers and Bert’s Warehouse Streetside Karaoke in the summer.  It’s quite a scene and you can get more than you can carry for 20 dollars of freshness in a bag (bring your own to be more eco-chic)After a day trip around the city, I head on home and get ready for a night to get started at sunset. First on the menu is dinner at Micheal Simon’s Roast inside the historic Book Cadillac Hotel. It’s an ideal place to wine and dine before headed out for the night because of the close procimity to many gallery events happening around the area. A gallery show or two at either Start in the Theatre District or LongSharpe/Curis to scope the work of many international artists like Revok.After a feast for the eyes, I like to feast on the sounds of Detroit’s electronic music scene. My favorite place to dance my pants off is at TV BAR near Motor City Casino. Major acts come through all the time, and music blasts from both the red and blue rooms and their extended patio in the summer.  Many legends have walked through those doors and dancefloors…even Korn’s Jonathan Davis was spotted there when he was last in town.As for the end of any night in Detroit the last stop is Lafayette Coney Island. Always a really good idea at the time, however usually one of the many regrets the morning after ;)

****

Leslie YoungbloodDay Job: Copywriter/Proofreader for the Detroit Media Partnership + Beauty/Fashion BloggerHow long have you been a resident? I moved back to metro Detroit in 2012 after a five year stint working and playing in New York City, and with its kickass activities, wonderfully grungy dive bars, awesome music scene, and best of all her husband, crazy puppies and family, doesn't miss the BIg Apple one bit! She loves that there is a palpable collective feeling and energy that Detroit is finally, truly on its way back and feels blessed to be a part of that in any small way.Ahhhh Detroit! My city, my home!  As my current work schedule affords me Mondays and Tuesdays off, there is nothing I love more than enjoying a full day downtown when the city is still recovering from the weekend's fun. Here is my ideal Monday in Motown.Clearly we all know what a first morning stop entails: deliciously strong coffee. So I head over to Corktown's Le Petit Zinc where I sip on an amazing giant, bowl-sized latte (or what I like to call "latte soup"), indulge in a yummy crepe and read the daily Detroit Free Press to get caught up on local and national events.Now that my belly's full and my body's caffeine buzzing, it's time to shop of course! I make the quick drive up to Midtown to check out the current offerings at  The Peacock Room and it's sister store, Emerald, located in the gorgeous historic Park Shelton Building. The former's  well-curated and well-priced selection of clothing, jewelry and accessories  always has a hit and I cannot even tell you how much money I could spend in Emerald stocking up on cheeky books, edgy stationery and fun gift items.Since I'm in Midtown and still have some money left, I pop down to People's Records and dig through their endless crates for some fresh vinyl. Perusing all the old classics has me feeling nostalgic so next I'll check out the old glorious mansions in Indian Village, dream about owning one someday (it WILL happen darnit!) and then make my way back into town to view the breathtaking architecture of the Guardian Building.I'll continue west for lunch at Mexicantown's Taqueria Lupita's who's $3.25 lunch special includes 2 fresh tacos (your choice of meat!) and a healthy serving of rice and beans. Full and re-energized I rendezvous with my husband and some friends back in Downtown at DRIVE, Detroit's Table Tennis Social Club. Ping pong people! Ping pong! Every Monday night they host their "Master's of the Basement Tournament" and residents of all ages will come to test their skills. If it was a summer night, we might forgo the pong to take in a Tigers game at Comerica Park. My husband maintains this is the nicest ballpark in all of baseball. I maintain he's biased (duh!), but can definitely vouch for it's contagious atmosphere and all-around fantastic views.few hours later you'll find us at Bucharest Grill devouring their mind blowingly delicious chicken shawarma. Seriously unreal. We're talking taste bud explosion here. You order up at the counter and then can enjoy a cocktail in the adjoining Park Bar while you wait.The night wraps up at the Old Miami in Midtown, a local mainstay where my father-in-law even used to frequent in his Detroit Firefighting days. The decor is everything you'd expect at a cherished dive: Vietnam memorabilia, old couches and TV's, Christmas lights, and more. But it's shining glory is it's gigantic outdoor patio and fire pit. It's like hanging out in your good friend's spacious backyard but in the middle of the city. Brilliant! It's definitely the perfect space to wrap up an entirely delightful day in the D!In conclusion:No matter where you go in Detroit, you are sure to see and do so many unique things along the way to anywhere. From the amazing graffiti that lines the facades of many abandoned building, to the many cultural spots around the city are some of the many reasons to stay and play in Detroit.   Just take it all in now as Detroit’s growing in leaps and bounds and more change is expected in the near future of this American city! Image sources: 1, 2, 3  Next Stop, BROOKLYN.  BROOKLYN WE BRUNCH HARD Somewhere locked deep away in his studio, maybe catching a red eye flight from LAX to Heathrow, or probably just sitting on the throne, pun intended, I do believe Jay-Z got it wrong when he wrote Brooklyn We Go Hard. What Jay should have said was Brooklyn We Brunch Hard because Brooklyn does indeed, brunch hard. Now I’m sure Jay-Z’s enjoyed his share of boozy brunches during his multi-platinum career but unfortunately for him, I guess they never took place in Brooklyn.If he had, Jay-Z would have witnessed first hand the dedicated and impassioned brunch culture that thrives in Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Park Slope, Green Point, and my personal favorite Williamsburg. Injectedwith a recent modern day bohemia of educated youth, this lot has adopted brunch and re-envisioned what it could mean to the weekend. No longer is brunch thought of as dull and drab. No longer is brunch owned by grandmas in purple hats and the geriatric bourgeois. Today, all across Brooklyn there are places offering bottomless cups of sanctity and nonjudgmental morsels that accept you for you, despite the kind of pride draining night you may have just recollected.Take Stone Park Café for instance located at 324 5th Ave right in the heart of Park Slope. Non pretentious and minimalist in décor, Stone Park Café fills the soul with dishes like the “Braised Short Rib Hash” topped with an egg cooked your way and equipped with crispy sourdough toast to soak up the loose ends. I’m not the Jigga Man but I can sure get jiggy with delights like that. And speaking of delights, the traditional American brunch spot Egg located at 135 N 5th St on the north side of Williamsburg is exactly that. Boasting an organic menu, creations like the “Eggs Rothko” that features egg layered on a slice of delicate brioche, topped with creamy Grafton cheddar keeps even the rare Manhattaner trekking across the East River.  Personally, with brunch spots like those mentioned above I say let Manhattan keep their caviar spreads and VIP buffets. I don’t know about you but I want my coffee French pressed and my bacon sourced locally. And I want it to cost less than it takes to do my laundry. In New York good food is easy to find but a quality price is hard to come by depending on the area. So if you’re ever in the Big Apple, grab a quick train to what’s in my opinion the best city in the nation for brunch. You won’t regret it and I promise, you’ll agree that in Brooklyn when it comes to brunch we go hard.___________________________________________________________________________Spencer CampbellDay Job: Creative at TBWA (Ad Agency)How long have you been a resident? 1o monthsWhat's your favorite thing about Brooklyn? The hustle.  the hustle. Like most things, in NYC you get out of it what you put into it.   Image source: 1, 2 Next Stop, CINCINNATI. 

CINCINNATI BEST BETS

Don't let this small city fool you, Cincinnati is littered with local cuisine, eclectic bars, boutiques, and historical architecture in the heart of the Midwest. Although I may argue there's few wrong bets to be made in Cincinnati, here's a few that will never fail.Happy Hour at Bakersfield OTRA hot spot in the historic neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine, Bakersfield will serve you Mexican-style street food at it's best. Enjoy affordable and tasty tacos, tequilas, and whiskeys in this bustling bar. Best Bet? Crispy Mahi Fish Taco with tabasco lime sauce and cabbage ($4) and a traditional margarita that will knock your socks off.Sunday Brunch at Honey in NorthsideNeed a brunch cure after a night out? Honey is surely to bring you back to life with mouthwatering brunch at this quaint brunch spot in the Northside, one of Cincinnati's most eclectic neighborhoods. Honey features many local ingredients in their delectable breakfast options. Although some entrees make repeat appearances, don't get too set on anything on the menu, as it changes with the seasons. Best bet? The Honey Eggs Benedict.Classic Baseball Game at Great American Ball ParkJoin the locals for a Cincinnati Reds game. Located alongside the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati,the Ball Park is quite the scenic spot to watch a classic baseball game and have a few beers on a hot summer day. Best Bet? Join in on Opening Day, arguably the best and most rowdy baseball day since it marks the beginning of the season.____________________________________________________________________________Meg BeldenDay Job: Innovation Analyst at NielsenHow long have you been a resident of Cincinnati? 5 1/2 years! I moved here for college.What's your favorite thing about the place? Good midwestern souls.   Next Stop, LOS ANGELES.

LOS ANGELES

I am, and always will be, a Californian. After growing up in the outskirts of San Francisco (and after a four-year stint in Oregon), I have relocated down the west coast to Los Angeles. This is what my ideal weekend looks (and tastes!) like:

SaturdayMORNINGFind the perfect Bloody Mary. This is a crucial step that will define the first of your two precious weekend days. Depending on where you wake up, you can’t go wrong with the Bloody Mary situations at Fat Dog and SkyBar (let’s be real, it’s the poolside that sells this one), or step up your socialite game at the Chateau Marmont.AFTERNOONGet cultured. I recently went to the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the LACMA which was killer. I also have an immense appreciation for street art and streetwear, so roaming Fairfax is always a solid call. You’ll most likely see Tyler the Creator skating in front of Supreme and Curtis Kulig ‘LOVE ME’ tags everywhere you turn.Now that I am an official Los Angeleno, I go to a lot of movies. LA takes film so seriously and I love it. I am a member of the ArcLight, my favorite theater in town. It’s on Sunset so there is always the option for a pre or post movie beverage at The Blue Boar or 3Dog Cantina on Cahuenga. Or browse through records at Ameoba’s flagship nextdoor. Pick your poison.EVENINGAt night you’ll find me and a crew somewhere in West Hollywood, Los Feliz, or Silverlake. The bouncers at my local dive, The Surly Goat, know me by name. I also frequent The Spare Room in the Hollywood Roosevelt because a) you can play jenga while drinking craft cocktails and b) it’s walking distance from my house. Don’t knock a good Marty and Elayne performance at The Dresden either.Brunch, obviously. My friends and I have been hitting up The Village Idiot on Melrose like it was a job lately.Next step, hike it off. Los Angelenos are blessed with beautiful trails and about 360 days of sunshine, so take advantage! Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon are the go-tos for this activity.If you’re more into shopping, this city can accommodate accordingly. Hit up the Melrose Trading Post for weekly vintage finds or just Melrose boutiques in general if you’re looking for great high to low price points. I couldn’t tell you any of the boutiques’ names, I just go rogue and come out with new things to wear. There are also the Crossroads and Wasteland staples on this main drag that we all know and love. You can also opt to get bougie at The Grove because it’s like your favorite mall went to Disneyland and TopShop opens soon (!!!!!). A quality Farmer’s Market trip is never a bad call either. I’ve been known to visit the one in Pasadena (gasp, I know) with my uncle from time to time.NIGHTSunday night is for hibernating. Everyone knows that.____________________________________________________________________________

Dana KellyDay Job: Creative Marketing Monster at (NO SUBJECT)How long have you been a resident of Los Angeles? 8 monthsWhat’s your favorite thing about LA? art + food + historyWhat’s the motto for LA? “The socialite’s dilemma.”

    Next Stop, BLOOMINGTON, IN.

HOME OF THE CUTTERS - BLOOMINGTON, IN

Bloomington is no-one’s ideal vacation spot; south-central Indiana’s Siam-like summers give way to stuttering autumns and blistering winters. But if you can bear the bipolar weather, you’ll find a small town with an excellent variety of food, drink, art, and a music scene that rivals Austin or Athens.

Like those cities, town-life in Bloomington whirls around a major university. The thirty-plus-thousand undergraduates who occupy the town every year draw some of the nation’s biggest acts and give IU its party-school reputation. If you’re not in your early twenties or if the idea of grinding up on sweaty strangers at house-shows isn’t your thing, don’t fret; clientele at Bloomington’s numerous bars and clubs is pretty well segregated between collegiate bros and… well, real people.High-class service and the greatest Old Fashioned you’ll ever drink (complete with mustachioed bartender) leads to the The Rail. Started by four townie buddies in 2011, Rail really is the stylish, Faulkner-witted, safari-hunting new kid on the block. Stay long enough and through your absinth washed cocktail, you’ll hear the train blow through your sobriety.If The Sound and the Fury isn’t your thing, you might like The Rail’s big brother the Atlas Ballroom. Weird taxidermy and cyborg deer line the walls, as food industry minions complain about table five over heavy G+Ts and Bloody Marys that live up to their name. Grab a picture in the photobooth to remind yourself of how cool you are in the morning, and prove your skills at skeeball or shuffleboard.For live music, turn the corner and you’ll find local and touring acts sweating through The Bishop’s bright stage lights. Elbow your way to the bar and ask amiable owner Stephen Westrich for any of the myriad craft brews. Sip, tip, and make your way through the bar doors and gaze at the sea of people silently nodding while bands work hard-as-hell to make them move. Do everyone a favor and show them how it’s done where you’re from.In the alleyway next door, you’ll find the more private Root Cellar. Neon mood lighting and antique farming implements give this basement bar a clubroom séance feel. If you’re lucky, you’ll find my colleagues from WFHB spinning while young professionals shimmy and shake across the concrete floor.If you’ve got the cash, book a room at the Grant Street Inn and stealthily make your way onto an Andre the Giant sized four-poster bed. In the horribly aggressive light of morning, shuffle down to The Runcible Spoon on Sixth Street. Irish owner Matt O’Neil, speed walks through the room chatting with customers while tattooed waitresses carry steaming lox benedicts, omelets, and buckwheat apple pancakes. Service can be a little slow and weekend brunch gets packed with parents and professors, but that gives you time to rereevaluate our life choices, even as you pour yourself another mimosa. If you’re not in the waiting mood, head to the Root Cellar’s parent restaurant Farm, or grab some spicy creole at the Uptown Café.

Catch a film and lecture by its director at the IU Art Cinema, see an opera at the Musical Arts Center (performed by the nation’s best music school), or just walk around what Thomas Gaines called “one of the most beautiful campuses in America.”

In the summer time, no one goes to the quarries where they filmed the Academy Award-winning movie Breaking Away. No one jumps forty feet into the turquoise water or picnics on long limestone blocks hewn by “the cutters”—that would be illegal and your car runs the very high chance of being towed and damaged (unless you park at that church down the road).Grab a cup of joe on Kirkwood at Soma, and get your buzz going again over gourmet food and local beers at Upland Brewing Company.

A sun-kissed patio in the summer and roaring fire in the winter compliments the proudly brewed libations.

Even if you end up doing nothing but sharing PBRs with your buddies in one of the thousands of low-income student houses that doughnut the downtown, you’ll at least be in good company and surrounded by quintessential Midwestern hospitality.____________________________________________________________________________

Wes MartinDay Job: Journalist for WFHB and WFIU/WTIU.How long have you been a resident of Bloomington? Eternity (all my life)What's your favorite part about this place? Every day is different and weird if you meet the right people. 

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4,

Next Stop, LOUISVILLE, KY!

 LOUISVILLE, KY

Louisville is a cultural crossroads between the charms and lively hospitality of the South, a deeply rooted and proud Appalachian heritage, the innovation and industry of the North, the intellect of a large University town, and the influence of and support for a growing refugee and international community, which uniquely creates the perfect mix for anyone looking for a comfortable, connected, compassionate and changing city.

Louisvillians are proud of their locally grown and sustainable food movement with over 20 farmer's markets available weekly, their homegrown passion for bluegrass music, their unwavering support for local businesses, the numerous “local-chain” coffee shops available, a strong interest in the arts, and an emphatic investment in its burgeoning nonprofit sector.  With the induction of the “Compassionate City” initiative by Louisville's progressive Mayor Fisher, Louisville and its many invested community members are actively seeking to learn about, help, and inspire each other through numerous volunteer connections and support for social and civic services, as well as almost weekly cultural festivals including World Fest, the Festival of Faiths, the Mayor's annual GIVE-A -DAY of Service Initiative, innumerable art fairs and cooking events, and of course the world-renowned Kentucky Derby.

Louisvillians are also proud of their over fifty truly creative and connected neighborhoods where any kind of traveler can find something to do.  Head to the Highlands on Bardstown Road to find a jiving nightlife scene with some great bars and restaurants complete with homegrown Bourbon, delicious craft beers, local music as well as niche shops selling anything from used books to locally roasted coffee, smoke shops, musical instruments, boutique wears, and tattoos.Worth mentioning: Lilly’s Bistro and Basa Restaurant Take the monthly Trolley Hop down Frankfort Avenue for tasty, locally-owned, and internationally themed restaurants, art galleries, and local shops all nestled on a populated stretch connecting downtown to the ritzy East End district. If you’re stomach starts to growl, stop by Blue Dog Bakery and Cafe for artisan breads, drool worthy brunch/lunch menus, or tapas. Then travel on to the St. Matthew's area for Louisville's largest shopping district and several organic groceries.See a University of Louisville basketball or football game and then go for a stroll and explore the numerous bars squeezed in between art galleries, museums, and nonprofits housed in the city's ever-expanding and progressive Downtown area.Dance the night away Downtown at 4th Street Live on Louisville's dance club and bar strip. Visit the East Market District, also known as NuLu, to see old factories turned into historically-restored antique shops and locally sourced organic restaurants like, Garage Bar which was former auto service garage now serving wood fired pizzas and seasonal cocktails or Harvest where it’s naturally sourced but you can still order comforting dishes like buttermilk fried chicken and cookies with candied bacon and vanilla filling.Walk amongst beautifully restored Victorian-era homes in the third-largest historic preservation district in the country, complete with tree-lined streets, old, brick churches, and neighborhood bars in Louisville's up-and-coming Old Louisville district. After stimulating your eyes, try your tastebuds at Louisville’s famous 610 Magnolia for innovative southern dishes created by Chef/Owner Edward Lee.Follow Louisville's Urban Bourbon Trail to see over 50 different kinds of bourbon, and see why 95% of bourbon in the US can proudly call Kentucky home.  Last, but certainly not least, watch a summer concert at the Louisville Waterfront Park as the sun sets over the Ohio River, and then wake up the next day take your dog to the Dog Run Park or play frisbee in one of the city's over 120 parks – just to name of few of the city's exciting things to do!____________________________________________________________________________Katye EllisonDay Job: I am an AmeriCorps VISTA, and I will be serving as a full-time volunteer in the city for one year.How long have you been a resident of Louisville? 5 months.What's your favorite thing about the place?My favorite thing about Louisville is how friendly and passionate Louisvillians are. They really believe the saying that “Nobody is a Stranger”, and they are not only completely invested and in love with their city, but they are very welcoming and open to sharing it with newcomers like myself.What's the motto for Louisville? My personal motto for Louisville is that “Nobody is a Stranger”, because you can make a friend literally anywhere you go – at the grocery, at the park, at restaurants. It is evident that the residents of the city really try to create a sense of community in anything that they do. Image sources: 1, 2, 3Next Stop, MINNEAPOLIS. 

MINNEAPOLIS

Although not native to Minnesota, convincing me to move anywhere else would be a challenge.  I will admit that the sensation of my nose hairs freezing during my first winter in Minneapolis was not particularly enjoyable.  However, I’ve come to fall in love with this city despite the chilly weather what comes along with it.

On any given day, in April or in February, it’s not uncommon to find Minneapolis residents spending most of their time outside.  The 22 lakes within the city limits provide ample entertainment for runners, bikers, swimmers, cross-country skiers and ice fishers.  After enjoying a day of sunshine or light, fluffy snow, there are many fabulous ways that Minnesotans spend their evenings. Another fabulous way Minnesotans spend their time? At their lake house. Also everyone has a spot they retreat to in the summer, so get cozy, make some friends and check out their outdoor oasis.Minneapolis is home to some of the most delicious cuisine I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.  So delicious, in fact, that my favorite restaurant is usually the most recent one that I’ve eaten at.  Last night my boyfriend and I headed to the trendy neighborhood of Northeast and enjoyed a delicious Italian meal at The Butcher Block.  We splurged on pasta dishes such as rigatoni with house ground pork sausage and truffle cream as well as creamy risotto with chicken, leeks and crispy prosciutto…delish. Looking for another spot in the Northeast, with a little less class? The award winning Bulldogs NE boast about its ambience and 24 beers on tap, but what I love are the gourmet tater tots. Great spot to unwind on a Friday with a group of pals.For those that prefer drinking their dinners, Minneapolis’s quaint Uptown neighborhood houses dozens of watering holes.  Check out the relaxing atmospheres such as The Lyndale Tap House that boasts over 20 tap beers and over 30 bottled beers as well as dark and chaotic dance clubs such as Bar Abilene.  But, my favorite feature of Minneapolis nightlife has to be the rooftop bar.  In the summer, countless bars both in Uptown and Downtown Minneapolis open their roofs to its customers to offer a breezy outdoor partying experience. Top picks are Solera, where you can booze it up with a breathtaking view of the concrete jungle and make sure you don’t miss their summer movie series. Another fav is Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge. Don’t let the name fool you, this tiki torch lite bar hosts a tropical outdoor drinking spot complete with Hawaiian inspired grass umbrellas and of the view of the river. Cool fruity cocktail areserved in tiki mugs and I’ve actually never gotten the same one twice! In the sharing mood? Go for the speciality cocktails served in volcano bowls or giant shells. It will make you break out the bikini and scream “Ahola!”While it would be easy to spend all your time drinking and eating in Minneapolis, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the oh so many museums in Minneapolis including The Guthrie where I’ve seen a handful of charming plays or the Mill City Museum, which is built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill.  Also worth touring is the Walker Art Center, mentioned in January’s issue of Vogue magazine for its “Painter Painter” exhibition opening next month.I’ve only scraped the surface on this fantastic city but instead of going on and on I’ll put the ball in your court.  Check it out, you won’t be sorry.____________________________________________________________________________Alison JohnsonDay Job: Media Sales RepresentativeHow long have you been a resident of Minneapolis?  Almost 3 yearsWhat's your favorite thing about the place?  The outdoorsiness.  This may not be a real word, but even at sub-zero temperatures, it’s not uncommon to find Minnesotans out and about:  ice fishing, cross country skiing or even jogging around the lakes.

Image source

****