Dime’s March Madness Sneakerhead & Culture Travel Guide, Part 2

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 part two of the first round, four of the cities that’ll be hosting games this weekend: Albuquerque, Greensboro, Columbus, and Nashville.

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Part 1: Louisville, Portland, Pittsburgh and Omaha

Part 2: Albuquerque, Greensboro, Columbus, Nashville

Shopping: Cottonwood Mall – 10000 Coors Blvd Byp NW, Albuquerque, NM 87114
Coronado Mall – 6600 Menaul NE, Suite 1, Albuquerque, NM 87110
From watching a lot of Breaking Bad, and seeing the outfits that Jesse Pinkman goes out in, it’s not surprising that there are not a lot of independent shopping options in the ABQ. With two malls to choose from at least you will be out of the New Mexico heat and in perhaps the “coolest” place in town.

Grubbing: Mary & Tito’s Café – 2711 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102
M&T is a local institution that is known for their adovada – pork stewed in New Mexican red chili. If that description doesn’t do anything for you, know that M&T won the prestigious James Beard award in 2010. But don’t think that this is a fancy pants restaurant that will serve modern food that won’t fill you up – M&T keeps everything old school and churns out food a New Mexican grandmother would be proud of.

Sightseeing: Breaking Bad tour – Different locations around town
AMC’s amazing hit show Breaking Bad is filmed in Albuquerque and the city provides the perfect backdrop. If you have never seen Breaking Bad I feel bad for you- the show is on Netflix and you can catch up in no time. Although there is no official tour (yet) you can make your own using waldruggie’s detailed Flickr account. Travelling in a new city could be dangerous at times so if you run into any trouble, better call Saul.

Shopping: Four Seasons Town Centre – 410 Four Seasons Town Center, Greensboro, NC 27427
Similar to Albuquerque, Greensboro does not have a lot of shopping options. At least you will have extra money to spend at the arena’s gift shop.

Grubbing: Cook Out – 3804 High Point Rd, Greensboro, NC 27407
Chick-Fil-A may get the national spotlight as the best Southern-based fast food joint but that is probably because the majority of America has never gone to Cook Out. Started in Greensboro, Cook Out is super affordable, open late and has over 40 different milk shakes! Sure it’s not the healthiest place but it is a North Carolina tradition. I highly recommend getting a Cheerwine Float.

Sightseeing: International Civil Rights Center and Museum – 134 S. Elm St, Greensboro, NC 27401
Greensboro is the birthplace of the sit-in movement, which played a monumental role in the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. This museum honors the four North Carolina A&T students who decided to protest the segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter by “sitting in” until the racist practice was stopped. Built on the same location as the Woolwoth’s, the ICRCM is a must visit while in town.

Shopping: Homage – 17 Brickel St., Columbus, OH 43202
Homage lives up to their namesake by creating high quality t-shirts and accessories that “turns back the clock with shout outs to eclectic moments in sports, music, politics and popular culture.” They have a substantial collection of basketball tees that bring back memories of Moses Malone, NBA Jam, “Elevator” Ernie Johnson and the Atlanta (Hawks) Sky Force. There is a FREE old school NBA Jam arcade in the store so you can spend the good chunk of the day being on “fire.”

Grubbing: Ray Ray’s Hog Pit – Pacemont and High St., Columbus, OH 43202
It’s a little outside of town but with a name like Hog Pit why wouldn’t you journey for quality food? Ray Ray’s may be hard to find but you will know you are in the right place when you see a line in the parking lot of a Super Food Mart. Unfortunately, Ray Ray’s food cart is only open on weekends (perfect for March Madness travelers) so get there early and get some of the grass fed brisket that the locals rave about.

Sightseeing: Arena District – Between Neil Ave & North High St., Columbus, OH 43202
Since you are in town to watch the games, get to the Arena District early so you can soak up some of the March Madness atmosphere. With plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from you can eat and drink away your time before the games start. You could also head down to the nearby Olentangy River, where the city has created a beautiful river walk- you can get some fresh air before being in an arena with 18,000-plus fans. The Short North area of Columbus, which has art galleries and its own collection of restaurants and bars, is also nearby.

Shopping: Phatkaps Boutique – 789 Bell Road, Antioch, TN 37013
Phatkaps is a 20-minute drive or so from Nashville but it’s worth the trip. The store recently moved to a new space but continues to be one of the best lifestyle and street wear boutiques in the Nashville area.

Grubbing: Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack – 123 Ewing Str, Nashville, TN 37207
Pro tip: when in the South, eat fried chicken. The fried chicken from Prince’s is different than most- it’s marinated than rubbed in spices before going into the fryer. Don’t worry, they have a mild option and you can order delicious sides that will help control the heat.

Sight Seeing: Take in a show – Various Nashville music venues
Nicknamed “Music City”, Nashville has a ton of different music venues with a variety of different music. Check out the music calendar while you are in town and take in some local music.

What places will you be hitting up?

Follow Ananth on Twitter at @Ananth_Pandian.

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