ALISTAIR

BEAR'S

TRAVEL PAGE

(AMERICA)

Featuring

Chicago | Washington, DC | Hollywood | Charleston, SC | Savannah

 

First Stop - Chicago, Illinois (Home of Al Capone and the boys)

Rating - 4 1/2 paw prints

 

 

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan this great city has something for everyone. It's a great city for walking anywhere downtown. The Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium are further afield but not more than 10 minutes by cab.

Things to do: Walk along the lake shore, stop in the Drake Hotel for a look around, go to the visitor's centre to learn all about the great fire, visit Navy Pier, check out a couple of Blues Clubs, take the Untouchable Tour (this is the history of Al Capone and all the famous sites), Lincoln Park Zoo, the Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: Have a drink (at night) in the Hancock Tower (96th floor), have cheesecake at the Cheesecake factory (same building-main floor), visit the Museum of Science & Industry and don't miss the German U-boat, stroll through downtown and admire the incredible architecture. After dark it's time to check out Second City for some great improv, and don't forget to check out a Blues Club or two.

Places to eat: The Cheesecake Factory (wow), The Travia Restaurant (Lincoln Park) or Bennigans. For fun how about the Rock & Roll MacDonalds or Pizzeria Uno (home of the first deep dish Chicago Style Pizza). There are many excellent restaurants but expect lineups. Don't forget cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory (the best I've eaten anywhere). Lots of chocolate shops too, check out The Drake Hotel or the Fudge Pot (Lincoln Park).

Places to stay: Well Oprah's guests stay at the Omni and the Drake is very impressive. Or check out the Bed and Breakfasts. Lincoln Park is within walking distance and good bus service and has lots of excellent restaurants.

Oooh... Alistair Bear is a bad bear. Alistair's new friend Raeona has corrected me that in fact it's not Oak Park but Lincoln Park. Sorry for the confusion and I've now corrected everything to read Lincoln Park.

***

(Just got back April 5, 1999)

Next Stop - CALIFORNIA (Hollywood, the Studios, Hollywood, the Beach, Hollywood and Disneyland). Yes Alistair Bear is a HUGE movie fan. He hopes that his small part in the upcoming film

Mystery, Alaska won't wind up on the cutting room floor. It opens October, 1999 in theatres everywhere. And yes I saw Burt Reynolds and Russell Crowe on the set.

Rating - 5 paw prints

Me in Disneyland

Easter Sunday, 1999

 

  Things to do: The Hollywood Walk of Fame, The Hollywood Entertainment Museum (great),NBC studios (where Howie films), Paramount Studio Tour, Warner Brothers Studio Tour (excellent), Sony Studios (catch a sitcom taping),Mann's Chinese Theatre, Drive through Beverly Hills with a walk along Rodeo Dr, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Universal Studios, Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Balboa Island (home of the Balboa Banana), Santa Monica Pier and of course Disneyland.

***Alistair Bear's Hollywood by Car Guide***

If you want to do the tour by car pick up a copy of "The Ultimate Hollywood Tour Book" by William A. Gordon. He's put a lot of work into it and it's a wonderful guide. 

Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: Okay these aren't all in the Hollywood area, some are Burbank and even as far away as Newport Beach. Still they are all linked to the Hollywood theme. Go to a live taping of a show at NBC, for tickets write to NBC Guest Relations, 3000 West Alameda Av, Burbank , CA 91523. Or just show up, there is usually a few shows taping on any given weekday. Tickets are free. I also highly recommend the Warner Brothers VIP Tour which is limited to about 20-40 persons per day. Your best chance to see film and TV stars. It's also very interesting and is a must for any movie fan. Stop by the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for a drink in the CineGrill or just wander around the second floor. Go spend at night at the Comedy Store at 8423 West Sunset Blvd, phone 213-656-6225 (maybe they'll invite you up on stage, I got to perform onstage there). And don't miss Balboa Island at Newport Beach. Take the cruise past some of the most famous and expensive homes. See where they filmed Gilligans Island and don't forget to have a Balboa Banana (my favourite thing in the world). You always have a good chance of spotting someone famous, especially on the studio tours. Here's a few I've bumped into (no not literally): Charles Bronson, Peter Falk, Merv Griffin, Bill Cosby, Greg Kinnear (this is my webpage too), George Carlin and Rip Torn.

Places to stay: If you want the real Hollywood experience here are a few of the famous hotels. Hollywood Roosevelt, The Regent Beverly Wilshire, the Beverly Hills Hotel or check out the Beverly Hills Hotel Guide.

Places to eat: I did the tourist thing and did The Hard Rock Cafe in the Beverly Centre (great shopping in the Centre) or how about Cafe Rodeo, or for something casual there's always Ed Debevic's or Planet Hollywood.

Handy bathrooms: I think it's into a restaurant or shopping centre. Restrooms at all tourist sites.

***

 Next Stop: Washington, D.C.

(Is it me or does this place remind you of Paris?)

Rating: 3 1/2 paw prints

At the garden party- my personal photo

 

 Billy and Hillary's House. To Hillary: Thanks for the lovely garden party on October 11, 1998. We really enjoyed it. Now for a word of warning. Don't even think about driving in D.C. It's NOT tourist friendly at all. I encourage you to take the METRO. Get an all day pass for $5.00 and hop on and off as required.

Things to do: Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument, the Smithsonian "Castle" (for a brief history), any museum you choose but if time is short go for the Air and Space Museum, White House Tour, Lincoln Memorial, Korea War Memorial, Roosevelt Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Arlington Cemetery (take the tour $4.25/person) and the National Portrait Gallery. I haven't toured the FBI building as it was a 2 hour wait. Be prepared for that.

Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: If you have a car spend an evening on old town Alexandria (about 20 minutes away by car and it's an easy drive), take a day and drive to Gettysburg and take a narrated bus tour. Park at the visitor's centre and walk through the cemetery. Where you come out is the Gettysburg Battlefield Bus Tours company. If you can get Mark as your guide you are in luck.

If you notice there is no WWII memorial along the "Mall" in Washington. It is only for lack of funds. If you would like to donate or would like more information please see the Memorial Page. Yes this is the one Tom Hanks mentioned on the Peoples Choice Awards.

Places to stay: Lots of hotels nearby in Arlington near the Rossyln station. Easy access by METRO to downtown. If you have a car why not stay in Alexandria at a quaint B&B.

Places to eat: For a quick and very good quality lunch I recommend Union Square, lower level. It's a food faire but the quality is surprising. For a drink at a sidewalk cafe or very good meal, I recommend the Occidental Grill on Pennsylvania Avenue just steps from the White House. If you are in the Air and Space Museum, they have a good cafeteria. In Alexandria go to the Union Street Public House (old town near the waterfront) and why not have an ice cream at "Pop's Old Fashioned Ice Cream Company" on King Street.

Handy Bathrooms: - Any museum at the Smithsonian or Roosevelt Memorial. At Arlington Cemetery either the front entrance or at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

***

Next Stop: Charleston, South Carolina & Savannah, Georgia

(I do love the south. And there's nothing like true Southern hospitality.)

Rating: 5 paw prints

 Mercer House/Savannah

A Walk in the fog, Charleston

(1/2 a block from my hotel - The Meeting St. Inn)

What a spectacular walk this was. Once in a lifetime

 

 

I have to admit that Alistairs' favourite place in America is Charleston with a day trip to Savannah. It is magical, educational and beautiful. I wouldn't have taken the time to go to Savannah had it not been for John Berendt (who wrote the book) and Clint Eastwood (who made the film), "Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil".

 

Charleston

 

Things to do: Lets skip to things you must do because I wouldn't want you to miss a thing.

Things you must do because Alistair Bear says so: I'll break it down but first start with a carriage ride along the Battery. Visit the Tourist Information Centre and catch the film. Take walks day or at night (especially when it's foggy) as the homes are breathtaking. Speaking of homes I will break them into homes and plantations. All are very different and all are worth seeing. If you only have time for one of each I will do them in order with the best being number 1. Also if time permits take the trip out to Fort Sumpter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired (departs from Patriots Point).

Homes: 1) Edmondston-Alston House 2) Nathaniel Russell House 3) Aiken-Rhett House

Plantations: 1) Middleton Plantation 2) Magnolia Plantation 3) Boone Hall

Do not miss a day at Patriots Point where I suggest a minimum 4.5 hours. Start with the USS Yorktown (an aircraft carrier allow 3 hours minimum) followed by the submarine "Clamagore", a cutter "the Ingham" and a destroyer "the Laffey".

Places to stay: I highly recommend the Meeting St Inn. It includes a continental buffet breakfast in the lobby, wine and cheese in the afternoon, turndown service with chocolates and a huge hot tub. It is in an ideal location directly across from the Market. You can stop in front to unload but parking can be found (for a reasonable cost) in a nearby parkade. Just carry on past the hotel and take your first left and immediately to your left is a parkade

Places to eat: Best turkey sandwich (on the go) in the world can be found at the Coffee Gallery on King St. Order the one with the Havarti cheese and Golden chutney. You can get them to go so we took a little sandwich in a bag and never needed to worry about lunch. You can also "eat in" if you prefer. For a nice dinner out I suggest the Peninsula Grill (reservations recommended). It's about a 2 minute walk from the Meeting St Inn. For some low country cooking the popular spot is Jestines or if you find yourself at Middleton Plantation they have an excellent restaurant as well.

 

Handy Bathrooms: All the plantations have them as well as at Patriots Point. Onboard there are washrooms on the USS Yorktown.

Savannah (day trip)

Here's a little mini tour for your 1 day trip.

Get up early (about 7 am) and grab a muffin for the road. Take Hwy 17 south then onto Interstate 95 briefly before going back onto the 17 and across the bridge into Savannah.

First stop is the visitors centre. Park your car and take a bathroom break, grab a bite and pick up brochures. In the car park you can find a variety of tour companies. I took a trolley car tour with Old Savannah Tours. They will give you a good orientation of the area, show you all the "hot" spots from the "book" and show you are Forrest Gump sat on the bench when he said, "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you gonna git".

When the tour is over leave your car and walk back to Monterey Square for a better view of Mercer House. Walk up to Forsythe Park (it's beautiful, nice fountain) and then over to Abercorn St and pop into St. John the Baptist Cathedral. It is as impressive as many cathedrals in Europe. By now you will be getting hungry and Clary's cafe is right across the street. Great food and great atmosphere.

Now you're ready for a stop at Telfair Square to check out the Telfair Musuem of Art. I was lucky enough to see the "Bird Girl" on exibit while I was there. Still they have a small but impressive collection of paintings.

Now head for Riverfront and check out the many shops and restaurants. Don't miss the statue of the waving girl and with luck you'll see a huge freighter navigate it's way up the river. It's a very impressive sight. As the sun goes down and the gaslights come on you feel as if you are transported back in time to the days of pirates. Yo Ho Ho and a buttle of rum.

Since you'll be returning at night be careful driving and try to avoid running over or into armadillos, bobcats and deer. It's quite the adventure just going on the drive.

Hope you had a good day.

 

 

 

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Last updated 990710