Humor Travel Life
As someone who loves travel, it’s especially exciting when you can combine travel and work. In mid-July, I had the opportunity to travel to Raleigh, North Carolina for a work conference. Not only was I excited to meet many of my colleagues in person, but I was also looking forward to seeing Raleigh for the first time. Furthermore, I had never been to North Carolina, so it was a brand new experience in both the state and city. Though the trip would be short and primarily focused on work, I would have a little time to see some of the city.
Despite having two layovers to get there – a potential issue in this busy summer travel season – I had a relatively smooth trip getting there. I did have a three-hour delay on my second layover, but since it was to my final destination and wouldn’t get me in super late, it wasn’t a major inconvenience.
Since it was summer in the southeastern U.S., I expected hot and muggy weather, and true to form, the weather there was just that. To be fair, though, I’m someone who enjoys the heat, and we’ve had a milder summer in LA, so I didn’t mind the higher temps.
My main time to explore was the evening of the day I arrived. I walked from my hotel, the Aloft, toward downtown Raleigh. The Aloft is a boutique hotel, and it’s right next to North Carolina State University, making it a great spot for families coming from out of town to visit students there. Another perk to the Aloft is that it’s next door to a local coffee shop, as well as some restaurants, but more on that later!
As I walked toward downtown Raleigh, I definitely found that the city has this feeling of where the East Coast meets the South, as I saw hints of both in the architecture. Raleigh is definitely a quieter city than I expected but still very pretty and clean.
I made my way back to the hotel, which is when I decided to stop for dinner at a local spot called The Player’s Retreat, which serves as both a bar and restaurant. I sat outside and ordered a sandwich and fries, along with a Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale (a nice treat for this OG Michigander). The food was great, but the service was even better. Honestly, the staff was super nice, and I learned this was one of the few places around town that required Covid-19 vaccine cards if you decided to go inside.
After a great time with my colleagues, it was eventually time for me to travel back to Los Angeles. I had an early flight and was nervous that I’d have difficulty trying to catch a Lyft to Raleigh airport at 3:30 in the morning. Surprisingly, I found a Lyft right away, so no issue there. Despite the early morning hours at Raleigh airport, the place was packed with travelers. I gave myself extra time, but I will say the TSA line was pretty long, so don’t let yourself be short on time if you can help it. Currently, airports are busier than ever, and many are also understaffed, so giving yourself extra time is a good idea. Better to wait in the terminal than miss your flight, right?
One thing about the Raleigh airport – and really airports in general – is that they get cold. Even if it’s 90 degrees outside, it’s an igloo inside. Pack a sweater, even if it’s just for the journey. I had to buy one at one of the airport stores, so I could be comfortable.
I had a fantastic time seeing Raleigh for the first time and eventually hope to see more of North Carolina someday.
Up next, I’ll be sharing my birthday trip to the one and only New Orleans!
Whether it’s your first time in West Michigan or you’re visiting friends and family, when you go is a pretty important factor. Midwest winters can be brutal, and while Spring and Fall have their perks, the best time to travel to Michigan is in the Summer. So I’m going to break down just why summers in Grand Rapids are the best so that you can make the most of your time there.
1. The Weather
First things first, Summer weather in Michigan is ideal. It’s the sunniest, warmest time of the year, which means you can comfortably spend more time outdoors. Rather than being holed up inside because of a snow storm, you can go out for a nice afternoon bike ride or have an outdoor lunch on your family’s backyard deck. Granted, you can expect some humidity and nighttime mosquitoes, but we could probably agree that this is much better than trudging through 7 inches of dirty, slushy snow in 20-degree weather.
2. There’s More to Do
Anyone who thinks there’s nothing to do in Grand Rapids probably hasn’t been there in the Summer months. Because of the warmer weather, there are way more activities in the area and places you can enjoy. First, there are the major outdoor events like the Festival of the Arts and the Coast Guard Festival. Then, spend an afternoon or evening at a Whitecaps baseball game. Or take the family for a beach day at one of the many gorgeous beaches along Lake Michigan. You can also visit nearby towns like Saugatuck that come alive in summer, with lots of great local shops and eateries. You’ll also see outdoor seating at restaurants downtown, making the city feel more vibrant than it does in the colder months.
3. Longer Days
Summer also means longer days, and while this isn’t unique to just Michigan, the days are exceptionally longer here than in areas like Los Angeles. During summer in LA, you can expect sunsets around 8:00 p.m., but in the Midwest, the sun may set as late as 9:30-9:45 p.m. The extra sunlight is great for your mental health, as many experts say that time outdoors and in the sun boosts serotonin levels. Plus, you’ll feel that you have more time and energy to do things with the extra daylight.
4. People are in a Better Mood
People in the Midwest are very friendly throughout the year, but there’s something about the summer that makes people there even more relaxed and happy. And I get it! After being cooped up during a long Winter, it probably feels amazing to get outside and enjoy summer. There’s a great, friendly energy that I love about Michigan summers, and you’ll likely notice it for yourself too.
When you live in Los Angeles, it’s sometimes easy to forget just how much Hollywood history is really here. Any weekend you can find famous venues and landmarks where the stars of the past would frequent. One of LA’s most famous fast food spots also happens to be beloved by the stars of Hollywood’s past and present.
Pink’s Hot Dogs has been in business since 1939. Though they’ve since gained a few more Southern California locations, their original site at Melrose and La Brea still stands. Pink’s is known for their wide variety of chili dogs, and over time, they’ve created signature hot dogs named after some of the stars who loved to visit.
One such movie star who was a fan of Pink’s was Marlon Brando. So when I recently visited, I knew that The Brando Dog would have to be my pick for what to eat – and it did not disappoint! This meal features a 9-inch stretch dog, mustard, onions, chili, and shredded cheddar cheese.
There’s so much variety on the Pink’s menu, too. Any hot dog combination you could think of, and Pink’s probably has it. Some other hot dog titles include the Martha Stewart Dog, Lord of the Rings Dog, Carl Reiner Dog, Rosie O’Donnell Long Island Dog, Hollywood Walk of Fame Dog, and the Mulholland Drive Dog – to name a few!
You can expect to pay an average of around $8-10 for a hot dog here, with some options more expensive and cheaper than others. Plus, as you wait for your meal order to be called, you can check out the walls inside that are covered with photos of the many celebrities that have visited Pink’s over the years.
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and comedian who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Sleep Advisor, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com