McGillin’s Olde Ale House, Philadelphia
What is this place? It's the embodiment of everything great and everything terrible about Philadelphia. It's where you drink away your L's. It's where you celebrate your W's. And it's the oldest continuously operating bar in Philly.
Best time to go: Considering I have spent 18 hours in a 24-hour time frame there, I can safely say there is no wrong time to go. It's the pregame, the game, and the postgame.
What to order: Yuengling by the pitcher. And when you are full? Shots of Jame-O.
Rules of the road: When you think you have the great idea to throw some tunes on the jukebox, just remember that someone has already prepaid for Bruce to play for the next four hours.
Why it’s a special place: I’m still convinced that no one has ever had a bad night at McGillin’s. It's the whole city's place to go when they’ve got no place else to go.
- Chase Kennedy, Greater Philadelphia ’10
Hula Dog, Haleiwa
What is this place: A food truck in Haleiwa on the North Shore that serves Hawaiian-style hot dogs with a "puka” (a hole) going through the middle of the bun so that you can eat them vertically instead of horizontally.
What to order: There are a lot of options. My personal favorite combo is the Polish sausage on taro bacon bread with mango relish, Lilikoi mustard, and jalapeno sauce, with the inside of the bun toasted well done.
Why it’s a special place: It’s my "go-to" place that is always a hit (I need to satisfy this craving once a month). In Pidgin English, we say it broke the mouth.
- Chelsea Arakawa, Hawai’i ’07
Burrito Gallery Brooklyn, Jacksonville
What is this place? Where you run into everyone you know at the extended 2-6 p.m. happy hour.
What to order: The Trio (queso, guacamole, and salsa) and $2 wine.
Rules of the road: Sit on the roof and watch the sun set over Jacksonville's skyline.
It’s special because: It’s our go-to spot for celebrations, for days when you need a pick-me-up, for watching a game, or for winding down. My friends and I come here after a hard day teaching, to celebrate after participating in a 15K, or to watch the NBA finals. It seems like we always end up here, no matter what the occasion.
- Morgan (Stewart) Mattson, Jacksonville ’13
Leahi Health, Honolulu
What is this place? A fruit stand of sorts in the middle of urban Honolulu.
Best time to go: Weekend mornings when your body feels hungover, not from alcohol but from a week of teaching, germs, and grading.
What to order: Kale avocado tacos or the Surfer Bowl with a smoothie on the side.
It’s special because: We often forget to nourish our bodies and fill them with healthy food during the week. It’s the perfect place to do this, take a breath of salt air, and remember we are in Hawai‘i.
- Meg McCormick, Hawai‘i ’09
Ay Jalisco!, Nuevo Progreso, Mexico
What is this place? This spot, sadly now closed, served up the best enchiladas and chalupas just south of the Texas border, in the expert opinion of two ’99 alums.
Best time to go: It was weekends (as opposed to Friday mornings for breakfast tacos at Irene’s in Weslaco, Texas, or after-work happy hours at Pecker’s for karaoke and Shiner Bock beer).
It’s special because: You could be serenaded by mariachis, buy roses for your sweetie, and feel right at home. We’ll miss you, but at least we still have South Padre Island.
- Kara Sterner and Kate Amin (both R.G.V. ’99)
Paula & Raiford’s Disco, Memphis
What is this place? A small club like no other filled with fog-machine smoke, rolling office chairs, velvet seats, hanging lights, a full drum set on the dance floor (that you are allowed to play), and mirrors from door to door so you can check your moonwalk as you listen to Michael Jackson for the entire night.
Best time to go: Never before 1 a.m., and bring cash for the cover (which is high but worth it).
Rules of the road: If you don’t get on the light-up dance floor at least once, why did you come?
It’s special because: It’s nightlife that’s weirdly aspirational and makes you feel good about yourself and other people, even if your head hurts the next morning.
- Jesse Bernstein, Memphis ’09
Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack, Nashville
What is this place? Not to be compared to a place serving traditional Southern fried chicken down the road in Memphis. Prince's serves HOT chicken. Gus's (from Memphis) serves traditional Southern fried chicken. This is like comparing pizza to lasagna in my book.
Best time to go: Tuesday to Saturday, until 4:00 a.m. on weekends if you really get a hankering. Expect a long line. This place is the truth and everybody in town knows it.
What to order: If you ask for hot, you better believe that the chicken will be hot. Get a side of cole slaw to cool you down. Also crinkle fries and pineapple tea if we're talking best-case scenario.
Rules of the road: There isn't a lot of seating, so be prepared to break bread with some new friends. Do not touch your eyes or face after dining.
It’s special because: It reminds me of my students, their families, my fellow corps members, and a city that is very dear to my heart.
- Rich Richards, Greater Nashville ’11
Crowders Mountain State Park, Charlotte
What is this place? The park (aka Kings Mountain) is a day trip about 45 minutes outside of Charlotte that feels like a getaway to the mountains.
Best time to go: It's beautiful any day of the week, but busier on the weekend.
Prepare by: Bringing good shoes, water, a camera, and some climbing stamina, as some of the routes up the mountain are tough.
It’s special because: Crowders makes the outdoors accessible to urbanites. It’s a hot spot for North Carolina wildlife, and you can even make out the Charlotte skyline from the top of the climb.
- Paige Sanduski Jones, Charlotte ’14