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        + Alaska
        + New York City
        + St. Louis
        + New Orleans

I've been lucky enough to travel many places. I've never ever seen anything as magnificent as Alaska. My husband and I made our own arrangements and took the Anchorage-Seard train, and drove inland all the way to Fairbanks and back. If you like self-guided tours, I highly recommend this way of seeing Alaska. When you get off the beaten tourboat track, you get to meet wonderful people and see sites the likes of which you never had. We saw the Aurora Borealis at a little lodge called The Point Lodge in Glenallen and ate eskimo ice cream in Dillingham (eskimo ice cream used to involve berries, sugar and seal blubber. Now, it's berries, sugar and Crisco. Oh, yeah.)

I have one caveat I picked up while there. The Alaskan people suggested strongly that we not use the Princess Cruise lines, as none of the money people spend on them comes to Alaska. There is no sales tax in Alaska, and Princess owns every concession they use. It's just something to think about. If you get a chance, meet the people. Ask about their lives, their backgrounds (there is a village on the Kenai peninsula that speaks only Russian), their lore(ask any Yu'pik native about Big Mouth Baby). Be adventurous. It's worth it. Oh, one suggestion from the locals. If you want outdoors travel, the best time to go is after the middle of August when the first cold snap happens. It kills the mosquitos. If you want the Aurora, the temperature must be below freezing. The colder the better. There's actually an aurora watch site http://www.gedds.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/. Enjoy!

Anchorage:
Not a big place. The Museum is excellent, otherwise it's mostly a good jumping-off point.

Extended Stay Hotel
10 8 East 8th Avenue
(907)868-3520
(much better hotel than the big boys. Great beds, excellent staff)

Moose Gardens B&B
6345 W. Dimond BLVD
(907)245-1978
www.moosegardens.com
Funky house with fun owners. Called Moose Gardens because the Moose keep eating his prize dahlias.

Seward:
A wonderful little seaside village with lots of eco-tours out into the fjords and ocean that teams with wildlife. Everybody works around the Anchorage train arrival and departure, so you don't miss it.

NB. The town literally closes its doors when the train stops running at the end of September.

Seward Windsong Lodge
Mile 0.5 Herman Leirer Road
(907)224-7116
www.sewardwindsonglodge.com
(charming hotel with cabins across road from river. Beautiful area, lovely people)

Denali National Park
A stunning trip through one of the last truly wild places on earth.

Princess Denali Lodge
Mile 238.5 George Parks Highway

The Point Lodge
Mile 17.2 Lake Louise Road
HC01 Box 1706
Glennallen, Alaska 99588
www.thepointlodge.com
(If you don't take a tour up to the park, this is one of the few places to stay)

Fairbanks:
Best place to see the Aurora, but not much else. Another good jumping-off point)

Dale and Jo View Suites
http://www.alaskabba.com/inns.php?id=68
PO Box 85087,Fairbanks, AK 99708
907-456-6838
(holy cow, what a great B&B! Luxurious, with an Aurora wake-up call)

 

The Alaskan Railway from Seward all the way to Fairbanks. We took the Anchorage-Seward leg and were delighted. They stop for wildlife and actually serve pretty good food.

Rose's Cafe
Mile post 249.5
Parks Highway
(907)683-674

Gambardella's Pasta Bella Restaurant
706 2nd Ave
(907)456-3425
Glenallen
On the way to the Wrangle-St. Elias State Park, another range of phenomenal mountains:

 

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New YorkNB: I've just found that a really economic time to visit New York is right after New Years. The weather might be cold, but the prices are 1/2 to 1/3 off, and it's much easier to get good seats for Broadway. I've recommended some restaurants I like, but the truth is that you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a great restaurant. I've found that sites like www.diningcity.com/*new**york*/ or www.zagat.com are great help. Or just walk the streets, especially in Little Italy, the Broadway district (46th Street is called Restaurant Row), or Chinatown, and check the menu posted at the door.New York

WARNING: If you come in LaGuardia, don't use the Super Shuttle. I've used it in many other cities with no problems, but it is a hopeless mess at LaGuardia. If you don't want to take 3 hours to get to Manhattan(and I'm not exaggerating) It's well worth the cab fare, which is usually about $30 to midtown.

 

HOTEL EDISON
228 W. 47th Street
212-840-5000
(Perfect tourist hotel. Right in Times Square, busy, great lobby --don't miss the cafe--rooms are the size of my bathroom, but who cares? It has everything you need, friendly staff and good security, and it's clean)

GUANTANAMERA
939 Eighth(between 51 and 52)
212-262-602
(Cuban. Great food, good price, nice people, near theaters)

BARBETTA
321 W 46th St.
212-246-9171
(expensive, family Italian: excellent food, lovely patio, great ambience, near theaters)

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I'm a native of St. Louis. I know most people on the coasts consider it the "Fly Over Zone", but I'm telling you you're missing a lot by bypassing us. You want history? We've been around since well before the Revolution. Lewis and Clark, the Jesuit Black Robes, the largest woodhenge in the world at Cahokia Mounds, Dred Scott, General Sherman, Daniel Boone(who retired here with his family. You can still go to his house), Lindbergh, Charles Fremont, the 1904 World's Fair(which gave us the hot dog and ice cream cones). Et cetera, et cetera....

You want sightseeing? Of course we have the Gateway Arch. But we also have have a world-class zoo, world class Botanical Gardens, world class museums of all kinds(including several just for kids). You want sports? How 'about our World Champion Cardinals, or the hockey Blues, or football Rams? You want music? Oh, baby, do we have music, every kind of music you want. Chuck Berry still plays at Blueberry Hill. Soulard neighborhood has the best jazz and blues in the midwest, along with my favorite, one of the world's most famous Irish Music Pubs, John D. McGurks. And that doesn't even take into account our Symphony, Opera Theater and summer outdoor Muny Theater. And if you enjoy architecture of any kind at all, you'll find exquisite examples hereabouts, all the way back to extant French colonial houses from the early 1700s just south of us. We're a city of music, of literature(Kate Chopin, Tennessee Williams, and TS Elliot among others--you can see their stars in the St. Louis Walk of Fame in University City), of sport, of neighborhoods, of great food. And I mean GREAT food. Best Italian west of the Mississippi.

St. Louis
Fourth of July,
St. Louis Style

Fireworks
Japanese Gardens in the
Missouri Botanical Gardens

If you're interested in visiting St. Louis, let me know. I love recommending things here, for people of all kinds. We really are especially good with kids, though, with the Magic House science museum, the real Science Museum, Grant's Farm(where the Budweiser Clydesdales live), sports, the zoo, City Museum--which I can't even define, but is the most fun place in St. Louis. Stop by. I promise you'll like it. The only caveat is that we do have all four seasons. Hot summers and cold winters. But spring and fall are unmatched anywhere. Just look at the picture from the Botanical Gardens.

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What can I say? New Orleans is like nowhere else in the world. Visit. The historic areas are all restored and ready for business, and the ambience is tremendous. One of my favorite times to visit isn't the Jazz Festival, which is way overcrowded, but the French Quarter Festival Weekend. It's spring, it's easy-going, and the music is tremendous all over the quarter, with stages set up on streets, in theaters, the square and the park. Try it out. But anytime is really great to visit. One other recommendation. If you want real New Orleans Jazz, the best clubs right now are on Frenchman's Street just across Esplanade from the Quarter in the Fauberg Marigny, a wonderful, quiet community where I often stay (I have a recommendation there.)


French Quarter


My Room at the Royal
Street Courtyard.

FRENCH QUARTER

HOTEL MONTELEONE
214 Royal Street
www.monteleonehotel.com
(Upscale, but great old world charm and comfort...and the famous Carousel Bar)

DAUPHINE ORLEANS
415 Dauphine
www.dauphineorleans.com
(everything from a budget up. Very convenient)

905 ROYAL
905 Royal Street
www.905royal.com
(if you like funky and historic. The oldest extant small hotel in New Orleans. It's haunted)

FAUBERG MARIGNY
(just across Esplanade from the Quarter, a funkier, more neighborhood feel. My friend likens it to a university town)

ROYAL STREET COURTYARD
2438 Royal Street
www.royalstreetcourtyard.com
(fabulous place, once you get used to the neighborhood. 4 blocks from Frenchman's Street with all the new music clubs. Phillip is an exceptional host. The rooms are beautiful, and if you have the front rooms, you get the balcony for free. GREAT people watching)

 

 

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Be sure to check out my International page for my thoughts and recommendations on International travel.

And let me know about your own travels. eileendreyer@eileendreyer.com

BON VOYAGE!!

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www.neworleansrestaurants.com

The Quarter

Yes, I recommend the usual suspects, although check to see if Brennan's and Emeril's is open again. GALLATOIRE'S on Bourbon is my favorite of the old time restaurants, especially the first floor.

But my top recommendation for elegant, old world experience in a haunted building with a balcony bar that overlooks Jackson Square and fabulous food, goes hands down to:

MURIEL'S
801 Chartres on Jackson Square
Wow. Just wow.

lA LOUISIANNE
on Iberville,

BACCO
310 Chartres
Italian: great food and ambience

PALACE CAFE
310 Canal at entrance to Quarter
(a perrenial Brennan favorite for casual, great food and service)

RED FISH GRILLE
115 Bourbon Street
(unfailingly great, reasonable seafood. I shook hands with Ray Nagin there, so you know the locals like it)

THE BOMBAY CLUB
831 Conti in Prince Conti Hotel (elegant, gin-and-the-raj kind of place. Great food, too)

THE PELICAN CLUB
312 Exhange Place
(again, great food and atmosphere. Especially the outside tables)

CAFE PONTALBE
546 St. Peter
(not just good food but fabulous people watching. On a corner with open doors)

PETUNIA'S
817 St. Louis Street
(breakfast, lunch. The biggest crepes in the world. Truly. Charming place)

THE GUMBO SHOP
630 St. Peter St.
(a mandatory stop for great, basic creole cuisine)

BEYOND THE QUARTER:

MULATTE'S
201 Julia St. just across from Convention Center
(Real Cajun cuisine and music. People come up from the bayou to dance here, and play their washboard ties. It's fabulous and cheap)

THE MARIGNY BRASSERIE
640 Frenchman St. at Royal
(lovely, low key, great food near great music in the Fauberg Marigny)

DANTE'S KITCHEN
736 Dante Street
(a cab ride from the quarter near the River, a small old house with great, eclectic menu. Sit on the deck. It's wonderful)

 
 
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