Alright yinz. If you don’t know what yinz is, you better figure it out because the locals will pick you the hell apart if they suspect you’re a FOT (fucking out-of-towner). First place to check out in Pittsburgh is Lawrenceville. Reserve an entire day for this rad little pad. They’ve got everything and I mean everything—bowling alley, movie theater, craft beer, tattoo parlors…you get the point. Of course, you’ll be making time to hit up the ‘Burgh’s most notorious area, the Strip District. Leave bright and early to get your name in at Pamela’s—their pancakes are so damn good, President Obama himself declared them some of the best pancakes he’s ever had. This ‘80s diner is straight out of Gilmore Girls and even if you’re like me and hate that damn show, Pamela’s will just about charm you to death. As you peruse the area, make sure you’ve got espresso from 21st Street Coffee and Tea in hand. Your caffeine buzz will feel like an alcohol buzz so you may as well go with the flow and grab a drink at Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grill while you pour over an early lunch of sushi burritos or cod sandwiches. You’re probably stuffed at this point so work on some calories by haggling with one of the many street vendors. They think you’re paying $12 for that Steelers crewneck? They’ve got you all wrong. You’ll give them $4.50 and not a penny more. Listen closely pupils because the next three words you’re about to read are of the utmost importance: Church Brew Works. This Catholic church-turned-brewery is big, beautiful, and boozy. It has all the normal suspects of your childhood early afternoon Sunday hangouts except for instead of an alter, there’s brewing equipment and instead of a sip of red wine, you’re free to guzzle as much craft beer as you’d like. Finally, a chance to worship the only thing holy in college: beer.
It’s easy to work up an appetite during a long day navigating the massive metropolis that is Chicago. Whether you’re taking checking out the Willis Tower on a weekend trip, taking in some prehistoric life at The Field Museum, or rocking out at Lollapalooza, choosing a spot to eat can be tough, especially for vegans. Travelling with non-vegans can make the endeavor even more difficult, especially in a city known for foods that are very much not vegan. For all of the plant-based travelers venturing to the windy city this summer, here’s a full day of options that aren’t deep dish pizza. Before you make your way to take your obligatory selfies at the Cloud Gate, you gotta fuel up on some breakfast. Hunting down a spot that serves (good) vegan donuts is an adventure, but if Chicago is your destination this summer, you’re in luck. You just have to look find a Stan’s Donuts. The Los Angeles-Based chain has several locations in Chicago, and offers a few vegan options: sugar and cinnamon sugar. If you’re having coffee, it can be served with almond milk. There’s a lot of things to do in the city—like maxing out your credit card on Michigan Ave.—so make the most of your time by grabbing some lunch at the fast-casual joint, The Protein Bar. To the surprise of some, a plant-based diet does provide protein, and this restaurant proves that to be true. It’s not strictly vegan, but the vegan items on the menu are clearly marked, so it’s a great place to go with any non-vegan travellers in your party that must satiate themselves with cheese or meat. Rounding out your getaway grub in Chicago comes from a strictly vegan restaurant that is a must-go for any vegan. The counter-service restaurant, Native Foods Cafe, serves a wide variety of American fare that would satisfy even the most enthusiastic carnivores. It also serves several desserts, so show up hungry. Here’s to hoping these vegan tips to Chitown help a veghead in need, and if not, I hope you love Chicago style pizza without cheese.
When I got a job in Knoxville my first thought was, “what’s there to do in Knoxville?” I knew nothing about the city but when I arrived I was instantly taken aback. You have to drive through the Great Smoky Mountains to get into the city, so for all the nature-lovers out there, Knoxville has everything. There is incredible hiking with beautiful views, inner tubing ande water rafting and the best part is that it’s significantly less crowded than places like Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Knoxville is also a college town, with the University of Tennessee, and has some great nightlife for any college students looking for a getaway. Just a couple blocks from the college scene, is the Market Square. During the summer there is a farmers market every Saturday with everything from food to fresh-cut flowers to handmade furniture. The city organizes events like Shakespeare in the Park and trivia nights. There’s something for everyone.
Ijams Nature Center: There’s hiking, a small zoo and a quarry to paddle board or swim in. And if you’re there at the right time you can see their famous sunflower patch which is totally an obligatory Instagram post.
The Bluffs: This place is hard to find and it’s a small hike to get up to it, but the views of Knoxville, especially at sunset, are totally worth it.
Historic Market Square District & Gay Street: Bars, great food, and jazz night. It might be a little small in Knoxville’s downtown, but that just means less walking and more partying.
Knoxville Farmers Market: Farmers Markets are on Wednesdays and Sundays and runs from May to November. Finally, a chance to buy some artisanal crafts that don’t have the shape of Ohio on it!
Roadside Barbeque: It’s just a shack on the side of the road with a giant smoker (I wonder how it got its name?), but don’t judge this book by its cover. The food is insane and they have great deals too.
Atlanta has horrible traffic. It’s very humid. And they all like peaches. The end.
If you get those negatives out of the way, it’s one of the more entertaining cities of the south. It has lots of big-name places to visit, incredible cajun food and a great TV show with Donald Glover is named after it. What else could you ask for? Well, the drive isn’t bad. It’s about 7 and a half hours, and you’ll feel like you’re even further away because of the accents. Soak them in. The Georgia Aquarium is nationally known, and face it, you could get lost in an aquarium for hours. Be thankful it’s not Sea World and you’re not funding murderers. This is a safe(er) place to put your money. If sea life isn’t your cup of tea, Atlanta Braves games are fun, but not because they are good or anything. You’ll have a great view of the city, and the parking lot hosts the wall that Hank Aaron hit his record breaking home run with. And while we are keeping things historical, Atlanta is home to the World of Coca-Cola. Not Pepsi. At least you know people in Atlanta have good taste when it comes to soda. Atlanta is also the home to the Center for Civil and Human Rights, which is much more relevant than the creation of a brown fizzy soda, and there aren’t many better places to learn more about progressive growth as a nation than the stomping grounds of MLK. Most people only think of Atlanta as a big city, but you’d be presently surprised with the amount of parks like The Historic Fourth Ward Park or Freedom Park that are very aesthetically pleasing for Instagram lighting. You know you had that in mind when picking a vacation spot, don’t lie. No trip is complete without a fast-food joint that is specifc to the area and that’s exactly what you’ll find at Cookout. It’s the best fast-food joint in the country, at least one that rivals In-N-Out. Don’t @ me. And if you aren’t feeling the mouthwatering burgers and cajun chicken offered at Cookout, you can always munch on peanuts for the entire trip because damn near every gas station will have the hookups on some boiled peanuts… if you’re into that kind of thing.
Looking to really get the hell out of Ohio? Check out our third tier of getaways that are absolutely worth every penny: The Great Escape: Worth The Flight.
Money not on your side? These quick getaways in Ohio are affordable, close to home, and did we mention affordable? The Great Escape: Staying Close To Home.