Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Favorite U.S. Cities

Since my involvement with the American Bar Association starting in 1995 I have had the opportunity of visiting a lot of cities all over the United States and Canada. The ABA has two major meetings a year, and in addition, I enjoyed many more planning meetings and the chance to teach ABA judicial classes in several different states. When counting up all the trips I have visited 36 different cities on ABA business. The test is whether you would want to return to a city, just for fun, even though business is involved. In looking at this list of cities, the following are my top five:

Chicago, Illinois – It always seems that there is so much happening in Chicago and it is so easy to get around the downtown center. You can handle Chicago easier than the crowds and many of the neighborhoods of New York City. The proximity of Lake Michigan and the many parks and venues stretched out along the lake and rivers make this a beautiful city to explore. The wonderful restaurants, world class museums, and theatre options make it a great place to visit, whether in the winter or in the summer. I never tire of visiting Chicago and their fun loving attitude.

San Diego, California – Maybe it is the water! It could also be the pleasant breezes from the Pacific and warm weather. Although I am not a beach person (I can last dormant on the sand for about 30 minutes before looking for something to do) visiting the San Diego waterfront and walking the beaches and parks is an enjoyable way to explore a city. The city also has an interesting cultural mix. I always appreciate Latino influences and the general laid back nature of lower Southern California. San Diego also has a great art scene that we enjoy and if you want a lot of kid stuff to do, this is a great place to visit.

Boston, Massachusetts – Boston is just a gem of a city. It is easy to walk around. Great history with not only the history walk, but you can visit all the colonial sites along the walk. Even with the many times I have been in Boston, it is always fun to take one of the hop on-hop off city tours. You always see something new. The city has a wonderful downtown library where you can enjoy architecture and history and a terrific art museum featuring many early U.S. masters. It has the first public library in the United States. The world’s greatest shopper also enjoys the great shopping. We both enjoy the Italian restaurants and some very nice downtown hotels which are not too expensive. And to top it off you can hopefully catch a Boston Red Sox game to make a perfect visit.

Santa Fe, New Mexico – When we lived in El Paso, Texas we made weekend trips to Santa Fe, which was the delight of living in the Southwest. It claims (along with St. Augustine, Florida) to be the oldest city in America. You can’t help but enjoy the Spanish adobe architecture and western art that is to die for. Much of our love of art and a life long habit of art purchases was nurtured in those early visits. As the state capitol, there is a lot going on and the Spanish and Indian culture is fun to observe and enjoy. It is a bit hard to get to, as you can no longer fly into Santa Fe, so fly into Albuquerque and rent a car for a reasonable drive north to Santa Fe.

San Antonio, Texas – The Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio is a real hidden gem. The city diverted the river so it wandered around the downtown, encouraged the building of restaurants and hotels along the river and ended up with a great city experience. It is a Spanish motif with a lot of Mexican restaurants and evening music. It is a very nice convention destination. Along the river they have open river boats cruising along enjoying the mild temperatures, trees drooping over the river and often free music from public amphitheaters along the river. And don’t forget, San Antonio is famous for the Alamo and the founding of the Texas Republic. The fort is just a short walk from the river.

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