Food | Park | Drink | Art

August 21, 2019

We love traveling, and between Beth and I and our two boys, we’ve gotten pretty good at it.

In recent years we’ve had experience with it all: international trips, cross-country visits, long drives, weekend getaways, and short day trips.

We like to do a lot when we travel. We’re not manic; we don’t race from one activity to another. But we like to plan out our time so we can see, taste, and do a lot, while also having time to relax.

Through our experiences, we’ve developed a four-part guide to exploring a new place, planning a trip itinerary, or even creating a date night: food, park, drink, and art.

These four things combined help you get to know a place, see it through locals’ eyes, and experience a bit of everything, from people to food to culture.

Food

What does it mean?

  • Any local food spot, but preferably an old school diner or donut shop, a cafe, a food truck, or a farmers market

Why?

  • We’ve long seen food as the in-road to discovering a place. Get to know what people eat – and how – and you’ll get a sense of who they are.
  • You can taste local and regional specialties! Scrapple in eastern Pennsylvania, great coffee in Seattle, grits down south.
  • Come face-to-face with locals, meet the people who live in the community.
  • Chat with your server! What are their favorite spots around town? They’ll give you real scoop.

Park

What does it mean?

  • City, county, state, or national parks; hiking trails, an arboretum, nature preserve, conservatory, lake

Why?

  • Discover the natural landscape around you – hills and mountains, rivers and waterfalls, plains and meadows – and the animals who live there.
  • Learn about defining natural features of an area: cities that grew up in a river valley, mountains nearby, an iconic landmark.
  • Pairs best with some local history: a famous house, fort, earthworks, or site.
  • Learn the stories of people who helped develop a place: benefactors who created or preserved a public park, a zoo, a conservatory.
  • Get some exercise!

Drink

What does it mean?

  • A coffee shop, brewery, distillery, wine bar, soda shop

Why?

  • A city’s beverage scene tells you a lot about it: what type of beers are popular in this region? Who roasts coffee, and how does the city enjoy it? What sort of spirits do they distill and enjoy? Is it bourbon-heavy or gin-focused?
  • Just like your server, a bartender or barista can give you the inside scoop on a destination. What’s their favorite bar? Where do locals get breakfast? What other breweries or coffee shops do they like to visit?
  • And just like an old school diner or donut shop, coffee shops and breweries are gathering places for the community. If you want to get the pulse of a place, hang out in the taproom for an hour or enjoy a quiet moment over a cappuccino or some cold brew.

Art

What does it mean?

  • The city’s cultural institutions: art museums and galleries, children’s and science museums, public art, festivals, local theatres and movie houses, live music venues and local bands, dance troupes and symphonies, art centers and independent artists

Why?

  • How a city embraces art and its artists is important. These are the people and institutions that inject the life-blood into the city and improve the quality of life. How and where do they engage with art?
  • Also, what styles of art (visual, music, performance, writing) are indicative of the area? Has the region produced any famous or influential artists? Is it known for a particular festival?
  • What are the historic buildings – old theatres and music halls and cinemas – where you can enjoy history, culture, and architecture all at once? Which of these are defining landmarks, like the Art Institute in Chicago, or MoMA in New York, or the Music Hall in Cincinnati?

In our experience, following these four tenets has helped us engage with a destination authentically, discover new places, get to know locals, and better enjoy ourselves!

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FOOD + TRAVEL WRITER

I go by Dr. Breakfast, but in addition to restaurants and recipes, I write about family travel, breweries and distilleries, the arts, outdoor fun, and so much more.

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