Photo courtesy of Jeremy Keith via Flickr
The Lone Star State Capital boasts lively music, finger-licking food and a surprisingly beautiful landscape that’s ideal for adventure-seeking groups that like to keep things weird.
Eat: Vox Table
Located in South Austin, VOX Table dishes out chef-crafted small plates with farm-to-table ingredients. While the menu is constantly changing, the charcuterie plate is a must-have for the table. Don’t skip the cocktails–Herb Is the Word is a gin-infused toddy that’s refreshing but also gets the party started.
Drink: Clive Bar
This refined-yet-casual watering hole has true-to-Texas appeal with a sizable patio that serves stellar and affordable classic cocktails (read: French 75) and local beers (read: Live Oak). Start the night on the right foot and pregame here before you seek a mechanical bull on bar-ridden 6th Street.
Nestled in Zilker Park, Barton Spring Pool is an Austin landmark that’s fueled from underground natural springs. This scenic natural pool is always between 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the perfect temp year-round (especially during the brutal Texas summers!) And psssst–Robert Redford learned to swim here when he was five years old. We’ll dip to that!
Save the Date: Austin City Limits | October 2-4 and October 9-11, 2015
As the longest running music festival featured on American television (thanks, PBS!) this music-loving haven boasts 130 bands playing on eight stages for two weekends. Cue Foo Fighters, Drake and The Strokes.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Gunn via Flickr
“Portland is a city where young people go to retire,” Fred Armisesn (astutely) states in popular television series Portlandia. And it’s no wonder–thanks to ample, award-winning restaurants, tons of activities that don’t require cars and the most microbreweries in the world, the city known for being extra crunchy sounds like the perfect weekend destination. Oh, and did we mention Portland has no sales tax? Go crazy.
Eat: Pok Pok
From James Beard Award winning chef Andy Ricker, Pok Pok serves some of the best Thai food outside of Thailand. What was once a simple food cart has evolved into a national institution, with sister restaurants now open in New York City and Los Angeles. Order the khao soi, a curry and coconut soup with noodles, and their famous chicken wings.
Drink: North 45
Not sure which is better at North 45: the food menu, drink selection or outdoor patio? Our vote: all three! Stop by this North East Portland gastropub and share mussels for the table, order a local beer, like the Logsdon Seizoen (it’s organic, obviously) or try a cocktail from one of their 150 bottles of bourbons and whiskeys that are ready to wet your whistle.
Those who pedal together, stay together. Get your crew together for a somewhat touristy, but all around terrific two-hour tour of the city with stops at three local breweries to meet a bachelor(ette) party’s favorite companion–beer.
Save the Date: Oregon’s Brewers Festival | July 22-16, 2015
If you haven’t gotten the memo by now, Portland really likes beer. Help them celebrate their hometown pastime by sipping from more than 90 local and imported brews at the annual festival. Hop to it!
Photo courtesy of Rod via Flickr
Full steam ahead to the Windy City for your “fling before the ring.” Laugh your ass butt off while listening to legendary stand-up comedy and eat and drink like Oprah, but on a pre-talk show budget.
Eat: Sink | Swim
Surf’s up to Chicago’s best seafood shack. Executive chef Matt Danko’s menu is quite the catch thanks to dishes like barbeque fish collards, pastrami-cured shrimp and beef and oyster tartar. Make a splash with one of their impressive cocktail creations, like a rye-based Harpoon Fizz–it’s sure to go down swimmingly.
Drink: Slippery Slope
Don’t forget your dancing shoes. Voted one of the “Best Bars to Dance Without Going to the Club” by Chicago Magazine, Slippery Slope in Logan Square is the perfect spot to sip, stay and dance like no one’s watching to crowd favorites of girls (and guys!), including Whitney Houston and Beyoncé. #truth
Do: Second City
Comedic legends like Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd and Tina Fey got their first laughs on this stage. (And Joan Rivers, John Belushi, Gilda Radnar, Chris Farley–BREATH–Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Amy Poehler, and Cecily Strong, to name a few…) With live performances seven nights a week and an ambiance that’s amicable to groups, bring your crew for a laugh or two (but likely many more!).
Save the Date: Lollapalooza | July 23-August 2, 2015
This annual festival is the leading lady of Chicago’s music scene. Neon-clad young adults flock from across the country to hear chart-topping artists, including this year’s showstoppers Paul McCartney and Florence and the Machine. If live music is your thing, then this event is your beat.
Photo courtesy of Dan via Flickr
There’s a reason it’s nicknamed “NashVegas”–its rowdy honky-tonks along the ever-bright Broadway strip, nationally acclaimed restaurants and its star-studded residents (we’re looking at you, Taylor Swift) makes the Music City not just for country crooners anymore.
Eat: 404 Kitchen
Located inside a former shipping container (yes, a shipping container), the brainchild of Chef Matt Bolus serves farm-to-table New American dishes, like Glendale Farms Confit Chicken Leg, that will have you contemplating seconds at this uniquely quaint venue.
Drink: Robert’s Western World
Skip the lines at The Bluebird Cafe (thanks to ABC’s Nashville) and head to Robert’s Western World. You can’t travel to the Music City without visiting this world-class honky-tonk that locals actually visit. Located on bustling Broadway in the heart of downtown, local live music is played every night. Want a snack? Try their now-famed Recession Special–a bologna sandwich, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and a moon pie for five bucks.
Do: Pinewood Social
Bowling never looked so cool. What was once a 13,000 square-foot trolley barn now houses six reclaimed bowling lanes and dishes out some of the best grub and drinks in the city. (Tip your cap to Chef Josh Habiger and cocktail extraordinaire Matt Tocco for that) Serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, this hip hangout is worth the hype. Psst–they even have a pool.
Save the Date: Music City Festival and BBQ Championship | August 28-29, 2015
Enjoy live music, sip local craft beers and sample hundreds of local grill master’s BBQ as they compete for best in show at the Tennessee State Fair Grounds. Don’t forget to grab extra napkins.
Asheville, North Carolina
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is like the lovechild of a laidback outdoorsman and highbrow cosmopolitan heiress. From boutique breweries to the Biltmore Estate and everything in between, Asheville truly has something for every pace.
Eat: The Admiral
This gastro-dive might be hidden behind a self-effacing cinderblock façade, but the culinary creations that pop out of its humble kitchen merit its lavish praises from the press. We’re ordering the Vietnamese crepe–loaded with duck confit, compressed cabbage, mung beans and mint.
Drink: Wicked Weed Brewing Company
A hip, two-story tasting room and restaurant has the perfect ambiance for day drinking thanks to over 15 beers on tap, like the Freak of Nature DIBA and Napoleon Complex IPA. Be sure to ask your barkeep about the “Last Chance Tap” to sample a soon to be out-of-season brew.
Do: Orange Peel
Asheville is known for its top-rate music venues, with Orange Peel being a great example. From local to nationally known groups, the space also hosts stand-up comedians and open mic nights. Be sure to get the bride or groom up on that stage!
Save the Date: Brewgrass Festival | September 9, 2015
Calling all beer lovers! The 19th annual see-and-be-seen event showcases bluegrass tunes by the likes of The Jeff Austin Band and Big Daddy Love and samplings of beers from Asheville and across the country. Get ready to tap your toes!