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Foodie-ish spring break

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This is mostly a travel question. I'm looking for suggestions of not only where to go for spring break, but also potential things to do there. Since I'm asking on these boards, Cancun isn't really on my list, and I'm fine with many "potential things to do" being food- or culture-related.

Confession: I'm bad at traveling.

What does that mean? Two years ago, I went on a spring break long weekend with three friends to New York. Now, I'm from CT, and I'd already done a lot of the touristy things in NY, and I thought I vaguely knew the city. We stayed at a reasonable hotel in Manhattan and tried to do touristy things;; let's just say that there was a lot of walking around with an iPhone, trying to find things, and trying to find things to do. We stayed in one night playing chess. Which was alright, but not something you'd do in a city that is supposedly very alive.

But there was one gleaming success! I'd looked up Socarrat Paella Bar beforehand, and everyone liked that.

This makes me think that good travels depend on solid plans and good food (and friends, if they're going with you). But it's possible that I /may/ be going alone on this, with, say, $50 budgeted per day for meals/tickets.

I was thinking Chicago, even though Wait Wait is conveniently /not/ taping there during my break (last week of March), or Charleston/somewhere in the southeast. I like dance, concerts, musicals, all sorts of food except steak and large slabs of meat (tasty but not interesting); and I've spent significant time in Seattle, so that's not really a city to visit.

Advice? Suggestions? How to solo? How to plan trips? How to travel? Where to go?

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  1. Austin Texas for SXSW - awesome food, awesome music and film. And oddly enough it's during Spring Break, so a lot of the UT students *leave*.

    1. i guess the question for me is, if you could look up soccarat before, why couldn't you look up something while on the road as well?

      1 Reply
      1. re: thew

        I think we tried. Yes, I remember that two of us were playing chess while the other two of us were looking through the promotional materials from the hotel lobby and event calendar websites--we just couldn't find anything.

        On this note, are there any places that are better than brochures and general websites for looking up events?

      2. I agree solid plans and good food are essential.
        Where? I'd pick New Orleans or San Francisco. And I'd pick Savannah over Charleston because the Spoleto fest begins two months after your break. DC has a good food and entertainment scene and all those free museums. If there's a city or area you may move to after college this is a good opportunity to explore it.
        How to plan? I try to put no more than 2 or 3 events on each days itinerary so that there is time for spontaneity. I usually have a short list of places/events to further choose from if I don't want to stay in the room to play chess. Start a thread like these to help make your plans: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/751503 and http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/762824
        How to solo? Years of business travel made me pretty good at this. Just go. You'll have a good time.

        1 Reply
        1. re: AreBe

          Digression: Spoleto fest! I am swooning over the program. Bruckner + Mahler + Vaughn Williams? <3 ^n, n very large.

          Thanks for the 2 or 3 events/day framework, AreBe--maybe I'll work out a matrix of "events on this day" and "events that can be done any day, at this time of day" to be maximally flexible.

          I have a feeling (hope?) that I end up near Seattle after graduation, and I've been fortunate enough to spend a summer near there already. The south/midwest are just parts that I haven't touched at all--my family, in one way or another (bus tour, touristy family trip), has covered the 'historical cities of the east coast,' e.g. Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, DC (though I don't remember it at all).

        2. Another vote here for New Orleans or Charleston. In terms of solo travel, I would personally feel safer in Charleston, but still comfortable enough in New Orleans to go solo. I've also had surprisingly good solo trips to DC - the food scene isn't as vibrant as many cities, but there are hidden gems.

          1. How about Philly? It's a relatively easy drive or train trip from CT (savings over air fare), has a great food scene that's doable for the $50/day budget and lots of touristy things to do in terms of art, history, entertainment.

            1. I live outside Charleston. Every time I travel I just want to come home! It's beautiful in spring and you might enjoy a little sunshine after winter. The number of great restaurants is astounding and there are nice beaches too.

              Should you decide to come down, be sure to eat at Husk, SNOB, FIG, High Cotton, and have a cocktail at the Market Pavilion on the roof overlooking the harbor.

              1. I certainly agree that Charleston, New Orleans, and Savannah could be great spring break foodie destinations, but I also think your original suggestion of Chicago is a good one (as long as you don't mind the cold weather). We were there last year for spring break (OK , my husband's family lives there) and my goal was to make the most of the restaurants. We ate everything from low end (dim sum in Chinatown, hot dogs and duck fat french fries at Hot Doug's, and tapas at Cafe Iberco) to very high end (Topolobampo and Alinea). Also enjoyed a cooking class at the Chopping Block (which turned out to be a good deal as it included a meal with left overs). It's a GREAT city for eating out and plenty of other things to do there as well. I imagine you could probably get relatively inexpensive flights from NY.
                Also, someone else suggested Washington DC. We were just there in November and ate some great Ethiopian and a few higher end restaurants as well. One nice thing about DC is that so many of the things to see are free, which would allow you to spend more of your daily budget on food. It would be an easy train ride from NY.