Short Reviews Of 20 U.S. Places

That I’ve traveled to for business


I recently wrote about the ways I see the places I’ve lived (Colorado, Chicago, San Francisco, London and The South.) I have thoughts on the places I travel to for business, too. They’re shorter, but I figured what the hell.

Also, just to be totally fair: sometimes I spend no more than a few hours in each city — quick day trips in and out —and a “long” trip can be as short as two days. So I know that I could be 100% wrong on these observations. Take them with a grain of salt.

It’s a personal post, guys, not a formalized study. Which is also why some of these are called out by state and some are by city. This is how I think of them.


California

San Francisco — I’ve already talked about SF.

“She’s a one-size-too-small, ragged, old, smelly, lumpy sweater from a thrift shop, but the weave is fascinating and the wool was once high-grade, so it’s charming even in its grossness. She’s an introverted woman, both young and old all at once, who’s a little cool to the touch, with unkept hair and roughed up knees and an absent-minded gaze but a biting tongue, and she’s all wrapped up in that gross sweater, weirdly nonchalant about all the mostly socially-inept guys (we’re so far from the midwest…) making the room a little unbearable all around her.”

Los Angeles — I was surprised with how much I liked LA. Here I was expecting it to be over-the-top, in my face superficiality, but what I found was a laid-back, securely-masculine vibe. There are so many versions of LA, and here are the angles I love: health food LA, weather LA, mothafuckin motorcycles LA, latin LA, Little Ethiopia LA… it’s enough that I can happily overlook health nut LA, Hollywood LA, Rodeo Drive LA and that total letdown of a destination The Original Farmers Market… LA. I didn’t even mind the traffic (but then again, I typically don’t.)

San Diego — holy cow does San Diego smell pretty. I drove from LA to SD and nearly hyperventilated over the air coming in through all the open windows.

As a side note: I always wondered where “northern California” officially became “Southern California.” Then I had a drink at Bull and Bear Taphouse in Monterey and was barely two sips in when I realized: “oh. It’s right here. In this bar.”

Chicago

I’ve already written about Chicago, too.

“Chicago is nothing if not a good “work hard, play hard” mentality. Because Chicago is a golden retriever.”

Colorado

Denver — you leave Denver alone now, ya hear?

Broomfield — if you think Broomfield is gonna match your mental model of Colorado as a mountainous paradise where the snow’s pristine and the weed flows free, you’re gonna have a bad time. I’ve had several clients in Broomfield over the years, and for one very obvious reason: it’s effectively one massive corporate park, stretching between Boulder and Denver, with some housing developments and Class A strip malls for the people who work there but either don’t want to commute or enjoy living in (comparatively) cheap housing — or both.

Connecticut

You know that cliche metaphor “you don’t put a bumper stick on a Porsche/Bentley/Ferrari?” In Connecticut, they really do.

DC

DC, you so cute! You’re the Boston that has to keep it together and wear pants and make phone calls and stuff.

Florida

The entirety of Florida as a state: 
pros:
humidity and the way it smells (like broad, fat-leafed plants and nectary flowers and even that mildly decomposing smell of sodden soil.) ❤
con: it is a food desert, which might seem surprising at first, with all that Cuban influence, until you consider that Cuba is kind of a food desert too. (You might not think that either — I’m not even sure they think so — and I certainly didn’t, but then I went there and ate many a signature Cuban “salad:” iceberg lettuce, tomato and canned green beans. Chalk it up to communism.)

Florida has a “uniform,” and it’s a “short-sleeved ‘dressy shirt’ —in either cotton with ‘tasteful’ leaf/floral pattern or some kind of smooth synthetic blend like we’re ready for a rousing round of golf —worn untucked and loosely draped over a distended middle-aged belly.” Half the time I rent a car in Florida, they try to give me a Corvette or a bright yellow Challenger convertible, and I’m like “stop now please.” Florida not only wears those visors with the fake hair, but I’d bet the companies that sell them are based there.

Orlando — my least favorite airport by far. How they mess up “lines” that badly is beyond me, especially since they’ve got Disney World down the street. Like, hire a Mickey Mouse retiree or something. Damn.

Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Boca Raton, and the other surrounding areas — effectively all the same place as far as I’m concerned. You can try to tell me otherwise, but I’ve seen that split-lane road with the palm tree’d strip mall more than once. And yeah, that includes Miami, because a.) I’ve only ever seen the outskirts — and b.) plan to keep it that way. Nothing I have ever heard about Miami makes me think I’d like it (in fact, the more animated or passionate the description, the more I’m like “please no.”) And all of these places need more curbs in their neighborhoods — the broad-leaf Bermuda grass just sort of rolls up to the street in many places.

Georgia

Atlanta — Atlanta had my attention within about 10 minutes. Two words: radio stations. Between the 90s hip hop and current country, Atlanta wins at radio. Also, the highways smell like “humid pine,” so much softer and sweeter different than the “wheezing, bristly pine” of Colorado. It also has just enough “hipster” to keep me happy, because even though I’m not a foodie and don’t even like “good” coffee, sometimes I just fucking love spending $12 on a good grilled cheese. (Not joking.)

Savannah — terrible restaurants, tired early-2000’s retail, and yet somehow… tourism? Is the Spanish moss truly holding this place up? On the upside, I paid $26 for Byrd’s cookies, knowing full well I was being tourist-seduced, and I powered through all four bags the entire way home, happy and physically ill.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas can die in a fire. It is my least favorite city in the US by far.

People have one of two reactions to hearing this. Either a.) “Yeah, I know! I just gotta get out of there after like three days!” or b.) “oh… you don’t like gambling?”

To each point: 
a.) I’m not talking days. I’m talking minutes. The airport makes my skin crawl. 
b.) I don’t have any issue with gambling, grandma.

The issue is something more like “tacky AF empty, cheap distractions that register as the opposite of fun.” People always try to argue by shouting “it’s the Disneyland for adults!” And I always stare back at them in disgust, because, like: weird. that’s precisely my point, too.

Take Chucky Cheese’s screaming kids, whacking each other over the head with their inflatable bats, except “super size” them into adults, load them up with infomercial testosterone and then give them a three-day escape from the lives they hate, plus just enough “cheap circus” so that they know they’re spending some money but not enough to blowing their ATM-dictated budget. Remove everything real. Add everything fake. Prop it all up with glitter and cardboard facades. Then blow it out until it’s gross and distorted.

You ever stick a Peep in the microwave? That’s Vegas.

No thank you.

Massachusetts

Western Mass — I told my client there I’d rather visit Western Mass than Las Vegas and he thought I was messing with him, but I wholeheartedly meant it. It makes sense, because they’re pretty much opposite places. There’s no tourism in Western Mass. There are barely restaurants in Western Mass. The whole place is just darling and simple and genuine.

Boston — such a sweet-cranky little old lady… or maybe a middle aged man (big Sox fan) who doesn’t realize that he comes across as a cranky little old lady. Because that’s pretty much exactly how intimidating — and funny — I find Boston.

Minneapolis

Oh yeah? “Hot dish?” Okay, Minnesota, you sweet thing you.

Nashville

No, Nashville. Just no.

I’ve heard people call Nashville “The New Vegas,” and that should pretty much explain everything that needs to be said here.

It’s the cheaper, tackier, smaller and more strictly-themed version of Vegas. It’s a fanny pack and bedazzled purple cowboy boots and early-2000’s woo girls on wheels.

North Carolina

Sweet, sweet Carolina… Your people are mostly cherub’d faced but I’m not sure you’d care even if you knew. And the Smoky Mountains smell like my definition of heaven.

New York City

I mean… it’s New York City. Come on.

Even the view of New York is beautiful. The bridges (all of them) are beautiful. The waterways and inexplicable stretches of open land just over them are beautiful. I like Brooklyn, I like Manhattan, I’ll even fly LaGuardia — I’ve never had a single problem with that airport.

NYC is the super-senior kicked back at the frat house, who knows he’s top dog and no longer has to prove anything. In fact, my only dig at New York City is that nobody told NYC it’s no longer [whatever year NYC was in its prime], and there are a number of people still running around like it’s ten or thirty years ago. (The fashion district is still mad it’s no longer the 70’s heyday, yet others are still rocking unbuttoned dress shirt + gold chain combos.)

Texas

Austin — the cutest airport by far. And obviously cute around.

Houston — lol. Take all of the cliches about Texas and make them into a caricature and then project that caricature onto a big ole white sheet billowing in the breeze, but then also time travel to the late 90s, and you’ve got Houston. It’s expansive, two-dimensional masculinity like sidewalk marketing, made of cardboard and retrofits and hot air. When I landed at the airport and made my way to car rental building, I was the only woman business traveler. Seriously, Houston, what year is it?

My most favorites (and a few least)

For food: best: San Francisco (worst: Florida, then Savannah)

For weather: best: Florida (second best: Texas) (reminder: I like humidity)

For traffic/drivers: the south’s drivers are worse than LA’s traffic

(Seriously.)

For accommodations: I found several totally adorable airbnb’s in Austin that were on par, in terms of pricing, with a Days Inn

For airport: best, Austin (worst: Orlando)

For people: the Midwest probably still has my heart here, but I like all my clients

Overall: honestly, all of them have their own special charm 🙂 I do love me some business travel.

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