Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Best City to Visit in America

beale street memphis bike night
Sash at Beale Street Bike Night, Memphis, TN
When I tell someone that Sash and I rode motorcycles across the United States for six months before coming back to San Diego, the one question they always ask us is...

"So, what place did you really enjoy the most?"

And, that's really hard to answer.

I usually tell them, "Memphis, TN". That's because without having to spend too much time thinking about it, we did actually have a lot of good times there. I loved the food, I loved Beale Street, I loved the placed we stayed at, I loved meeting the folks at Monogram Foods, and it just seemed like each day we were there we had a lot of fun.

But the fact is that we had a lot of fun at lot of other places.

And also, some places we stayed for a week while others we stayed for a day. It's hard to judge.

Actually, Knoxville, TN seemed more like my kind of town, full of craft beer bars, live bluegrass bands gathering on the street, and very much the Southern Hospitality we hear about back West. Nashville, on the other hand, seemed like a real party town, but I found it too commercialized, kinda like Gas Lamp District in San Diego. But then again, I often have a good time in Gas Lamp, so I imagine if I spent more days in Nashville, I'd like it too.

Tulsa, OK
Albuquerque, NM
Tucson, AZ
Denver, CO
Philadelphia, PA
Virginia Beach, VA
Asheville, NC
Columbus, OH
Indianapolis, IN
Des Moines, IA
Minneapolis, MN
Salt Lake City, UT
Las Vegas, NV

These are all towns we stayed at that we had some good times in, or more, and could have a really big blast in if we spent more time. There are more towns I didn't list because we just didn't have the time to see everything. And there are many more towns we didn't visit that we've heard good things about.

The most interesting thing to note in these towns is differences in attitudes.

I never thought Des Moines, IA had a vibrant culture, very comparable to East Village in San Diego. Kinda upscale, more techie with a touch of bohemia, very much into craft brewing, eclectic food, and bicycling. I figured the People of the Corn was still into biscuits and gravy and Old Milwaukee, but I guess times have changed.

Downtown Asheville, NC
And I always thought North Carolina was full of hicks and sticks. But Asheville was far more bohemian, almost Portlandia. It's full of neo-hippies, Belgian ales, Universalism, free love, and whatever else gets you high.

Then there's Minneapolis, the Great White North, well almost. I figured it was full of Scandinavian descendants with vodka and pickled herring. But instead it's very well diverse, with a wide array of ethnic subcultures. There's a Little Russia, and apparently a Little Somalia. I never figured that Minnesota was the place to for real, down home style, African pirate cuisine.

And oddly enough, some of the best Chinese delivery I had was in Steamboat Springs, CO. The Mapo Tofu had some great ginger going on, nothing like I had ever tasted anywhere else.

What's more, some of the best Mexican eats I had was way out in South Boston, VA, a little joint in a shopping center. If only the folks of South Boston knew just how good they have it.

And whoever thought that Burlington, IA was home to the tightest twisted road in the world?

I could go on and on.

But all this makes me itching to go see more.

Sure, I still love SoCal, and will always think of it as my home. But I'm really eager to get out and see more of the USA. For all I know, the best fried chicken might be going on in Fargo, ND, or that spider monkeys run rampant in Joplin, MO, or that Bangor, ME produces 80% of the world's dildos.

I guess we just have to point our handlebars and find out.


  1. I travel around a lot for work and frequently get asked the same question though as I get older, the more burning question is "If I were to move somewhere else in the country, where would that be?"

    I find myself asking the same question. Priorities and interests seem to change over the years...

    Discovering out of the way places in all of these cities are maybe the best part of road trips.

  2. This post made me chuckle. Sometimes our preconceived notions can be blown totally out of the water.

    I am sad to report the only town on your list I've been to is Vegas.

    So....have you two figured out the date when the next phase starts?

    1. Technically, it's already started. This is because we don't actually have a "home" to come home to. We're still living out of hotels and vacation rentals, even though we're back in the town we've lived in much of our lives. But, we'll be in SoCal until about December 1. Then, we'll leave the area for parts unknown.

  3. Steve:

    I think you are one of the lucky ones who can take more time to stay in one place for more than a day or two. On my recent trip across the country I had to make time to get to the other side and then I could relax for a bit, but then I had to be back at work. So while I could sight see a bit I just didn't have the time to slow down. You have seen so many places that I missed that it seems that I saw nothing . . . as compared to the two of you.

    Because I live in the city, I was trying to avoid large cities. I made a point of going around them and stay in less populated areas so I managed to avoid all those in your list. Because I was alone , I also avoided most restaurants as I don't like to dine alone. There are different dynamics when you are riding solo as opposed to having a riding buddy to share . . .

    I also liked your post with all the Pano photos

    Riding the Wet Coast


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)