It’s time for summer vacation. I hope at some point, you and your family will have the opportunity to take at least one trip out of town, state, or even the country if you’re so inclined.
I’ve traveled a lot during the course of my career. I’m usually the one asked for travel recommendations upon learning about someone’s vacation plans. I don’t mind, really. I’ve seen the majority of the continental United States including major cities and small tucked-away corners that are usually nothing more than a fuel stop for most travelers. I keep a mental note of the best spots just in case someone asks my opinion so I figured I would share a few with you in case you are embarking on any destinations frequented in my career adventures.
Starting in California, having lived in San Diego for four years it is always a popular summer attraction. I prefer Mission Beach, myself. As a former resident of Ocean Beach, if you would like to take in the hippie-vibe and relive the opening to one of my favorite flicks of all time, "Almost Famous," then O.B. might be the place for you. Mission Beach, however, has great vacation rentals and the boardwalk, which stretches into Pacific Beach. I spent many afternoons riding a skateboard from one end to the other just to clear my head.
Oregon and Washington are great destinations as well. We stumbled upon Long Beach, Wash., a few years back during a family trip. Surrounded by blue-collar fishing towns, this place is far from a resort-atmosphere but embodies real life with great scenery and borders Oregon with nearby famous stops like the Columbia River and picturesque Astoria, Ore.
Seattle is nice if you’re into big-city destinations. While tourists flock to Pike’s Place Market for the flying fish and other famous sundries, I encourage you to shop the lower levels and the handcrafted artisan areas. I still own a handmade leather journal from one of those craftsmen complete with hand-pressed paper. It’s almost too pretty to write on; at least that’s my excuse for not keeping up with entries.
Utah is an amazing area. I’ve spent a lot of time in Provo, Utah, thanks to competitions against nearby Utah Valley University and BYU. Please visit my friends over at Block 100 Antiques in Provo. It’s an amazing shop with a great staff. Stop by and say hello to the owner, Russ, who is always there, and if you’re lucky enough he might pick up an instrument and start jamming with customers who show interest in his musical items. I’ve heard some of the great sounds coming out of that spot during my visits, all simply made up on the fly.
Of course food is always something important during vacations. If you are one who prefers the comforts of chain restaurants when on the road, stop reading now; we can’t be friends. But if you’re like me and always interested in the local specialties, I have plenty to share. Heading to the Midwest? Kansas City is a food paradise with its barbecue history. Jack Stack’s BBQ is a great “sit-down” barbecue place with excellent burnt-ends, a KC staple. I also would suggest the more casual Arthur Bryant’s BBQ, a place where I once saw a to-go sandwich as big as my head wrapped in enough butcher paper to stretch around the block. It was impressive.
Chicago has my heart for the Wrigley Field experience and boy can that city eat, too. Deep dish pizza is famous for a reason and you can find plenty of places that serve it up right. There’s something called Italian beef that we are missing on the West Coast. Trust me, give it a try. Jump on the architectural tour boat and get a brilliant history of the city building by building. Head north to Wisconsin and drop in at the Mars Cheese Castle just over the border. You’ll thank me later.
Find some adventure wherever you may go. Don’t be afraid to try new things in strange places. I once found an amazing restaurant located in an alley in Honolulu that looked like it was on top of an apartment building. The risk paid off.
Be adventurous, be open-minded and make a memory or two along the way. That’s what summer vacations are all about.
Corey Costelloe, a Tehachapi High graduate, is assistant athletics director for communications for California State University, Bakersfield.