Planning on traveling to get some first hand action of the March Madness? Want to know the best place to pick up some fresh kicks, or eat some delicious local cuisine?
Dime has your exclusive 2012 NCAA March Madness travel guide. We’ll be breaking down every host city in the tournament, with a look at where the sneakerheads need to visit, places to wine and dine, and even attractions if you’re just looking for a taste of that city’s culture.
Up today is the destinations for the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8, the four cities that’ll be hosting games this weekend: Atlanta, Phoenix, Boston and St. Louis. Since the competition is getting more fierce, we will be giving you some more options in each city.
*** *** ***
Laced Up â€“ 572 Edgewood Ave NE Ste 114, Atlanta, GA 30312
With clientele like Usher, Lil’ Wayne and Andre 3000 you just know Laced Up has some quality merchandise. The boutique has been in the ATL since 2005 and has developed a loyal customer base due to their rare sneaker collection and great customer service.
Wish â€“ 447 Moreland Ave, Atlanta, GA 30307
Located in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta, Wish not only has a basement that would make any sneakerhead drool but carries some of the top lines in streetwear. There’s a wide range of lines like Undefeated, Mishka, Alife and Comme des Garcons so you are bound to find something to your liking.
Breakfast â€“ The Flying Biscuit Cafe â€“ 1655 McLendon Ave, NE Atlanta, GA 30307
Grits and biscuits are essential Southern cuisine, so you must make a trip to The Flying Biscuit Cafe to get some of their award-winning grits and famous biscuits. There’s quite an extensive menu and breakfast is served all day so get your beauty sleep in before heading over.
Lunch â€“ Carvers Country Kitchen â€“ 1118 W Marietta St NW Atlanta, GA 30318
A true Southern joint that serves up all the Southern favorites like fried chicken, mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, and collard greens. There’s even chocolate coca-cola cake! Get the massive Fried Dolly Parton Chicken Breast and you won’t have to eat dinner until late.
Dinner â€“ Fat Matt’s Rib Shack â€“ 1811 Piedmont Ave, NE Atlanta, GA 30324
The phrase “Lemme get one rib” will not be uttered at Fat Matt’s. Delicious ribs, bbq and live Blues music at night â€“ enough said.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site – 449 Auburn Ave, Northeast Atlanta, GA
Considered to be a national treasure in the heart of Atlanta, a visit to the MLK Jr. National Historic site should be on your schedule when visiting. Tour his birth home, pay your respects at Dr. King’s original gravesite and current tomb, and check out the visitor center which is filled with thought provoking civil rights exhibits.
World of Coca Cola – 121 Baker St., NW Atlanta, GA 30313
Sure it’s extremely touristy but how could you not go to the Coca Cola museum when you are in town?
High Point – 7154 E.Stetson Ste 200, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Although not right in Phoenix, High Point is one of the top streetwear boutiques in Arizona. Named after the hometown of owner Arizona Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson, High Point is the only store in the state that has Nike Quickstrike and Huf accounts so you know what you are getting is quite exclusive in the area. If you are looking to get some rare sneakers or just a fresh new T, High Point has got you covered.
Breakfast: Ronaldo’s Mexican Food – 10639 N 35th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85029
If you have never had a breakfast burrito, you haven’t lived. Ronaldo’s has an excellent variety of breakfast burritos that will fill you up for quite some time. No frills, a hole in the wall and off the beaten path but Renaldo’s is well worth it.
Lunch: Majerle’s Sports Grill – 24 N 2nd, Phoenix, AZ 85004
“Thunder” Dan Majerle is a Phoenix Suns legend, and currently an assistant coach with the Suns and a successful restaurateur. A trip to Phoenix would not be complete without paying a visit to Majerle’s – it’s typical sports bar foods with a Phoenix Suns twist – where else can you eat Joe Kline‘s Chicago Bleu burger or Jared Dudley‘s Grilled Chicken Sandwich?
Dinner: Los Reyes de la Torta – 9230 N 7th St., Phoenix, AZ 85020
Don’t discount Los Reyes de la Torta because it was featured on Travel Channel’s Man v. Food – they serve up quality and authentic Mexican food. Get one of their many tortas; don’t know what a torta is? It’s basically a Mexican take on a sandwich, so like most sandwiches it’s delicious.
Cactus League Baseball – Different stadiums in area
This is the last weekend of Spring Training, so if you want to have a sports-heavy weekend, take in some afternoon baseball before watching the games. With the cheap tickets and a chance to watch the pros get prepared for the season, this is a can’t-miss opportunity if you are in the area.
“I’m from the Lou’ and I’m Proud”- Nelly
Dropcents – The Shop – 10060 Natural Bridge Rd., Saint Louis, MO 63134
The Shop boasts a rather impressive shoe wall that showcases Supras and Greedy Genius among other brands. You are bound to find something unique for your closet when you stop by.
Breakfast: Goody Goody Diner – 5900 Natural Bridge Ave., Saint Louis, MO 63120
There is nothing like a good diner: comfortable, friendly staff and quality food. Locals recommend the chicken and waffles and you know it’s a good tip when Goody’s has an entire page on their menu devoted to the dish. Chicken and waffles isn’t your thing? Try one of their many omelets or other solid breakfast options.
Lunch: Blues City Deli – 2438 McNair Ave., Saint Louis, MO 63104
Known for their po’ boys and muffulettas, Blues City Deli will have a sandwich or hot dog that will fill you up. This is not your typical deli as there is live blues or jazz music on certain days, a huge variety of chips and unique sodas to accompany your meal.
Dinner: The Shaved Duck – 2900 Virginia Ave., St Louis, MO 63118
You can’t go to the Lou’ and not have any St. Louis-style barbecue. Although the Shaved Duck does have St. Louis style ribs, the menu has a lot of other items that will leave you more than satisfied.
The Gateway Arch – 11 North 4th St., Saint Louis, MO
The iconic Gateway Arch is seemingly in every picture of St. Louis. Of course you can see it from a ways away. But the arch is the tallest national monument in the U.S., so go up close and personal – for $10 you can even take a ride to the top of the arch and see for miles and miles.
Bodega – 6 Clearway St., Boston, MA 02115
Consistently ranked as one of the top men’s stores in the county, Bodega is a “hidden” oasis in Boston. Just getting into the store is an experience, one that you must partake in when you are in town.
Just for this week, Bodega has collaborated with the hip-hop collective, Odd Future, to open up a pop-up shop at their art gallery, Fourthwall Project. The pop-up will be open until Friday.
Here is more info:
Fourthwall Project – 132 Brookline Ave., Boston, MA 02215
“Earl is Free and Bodega is building an Odd Future Sweatshop opening this Wednesday (3/21, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.) at our gallery, Fourth Wall Project (located at 132 Brookline Ave). The Sweatshop will be open 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday as well (until Golf Wang supplies run out).”
Concepts – 37 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138
Just across the river in Harvard Square, Concepts helps bring streetwear to the hipsters over at Harvard and MIT. Although not a skate shop, Concepts does have a Nike SB account and proved that they deserve it when they came out with the Lobster Dunks SBs back in 2008.
Jim’s Deli – 371 Washington St., Boston, MA 02135
A bit out of the way but Jim’s Deli is worth it. An old school, family-run joint where you order your food cafeteria-style: get a tray, utensils and plates then make your order to the friendly staff. Nothing too fancy but everything is just so comforting and portions will leave you satisfied.
Villa Mexico – 296 Cambridge St., Boston, MA 02114
A hidden gem that lives up to the saying: “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” Located inside a gas station, Villa Mexico serves up delicious authentic Mexican food that will leave you mystified that such gourmet goodness is coming from inside a gas station. Highly recommend getting the mole poblano burrito.
Orinoco – 477 Shawmut Ave., Boston, MA 02118
Arepas, bacon wrapped dates and delicious sangria. If you never had an arepa you are missing out. This Venezuelan/Latin American sandwich is a little corn pocket filled with meat/cheese or beans/cheese – a lot of different variations but all delicious. Orinoco is a small but cozy restaurant with a great atmosphere to go with the great food.
Go for a walk – Downtown Boston
Boston is always ranked as one of the better walking cities in the U.S., and with a decent public transportation system you can get around town rather easily without a car. A rather touristy thing to do is follow the Freedom Trail, which is throughout downtown Boston and takes you to all of the historic sites.
If you are heading to the TD North Garden for the games, walk through the famous Italian neighborhood, the North End. Want to get some shopping done? Cut through the Boston Common and the Public Garden – stop to smell the flowers – and get on Newbury or Boylston streets, the main shopping drag in the city (Bodega is close to this area).
What places do you plan on hitting up?
Follow Ananth on Twitter at @Ananth_Pandian.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.