United States of America Favorite Tips by b1bob Top 5 Page for this destination
United States of America Favorites: 466 reviews and 430 photos
several of many flavours from The Pop Shoppe
Fondest memory: In the mid to late 1970s, there really used to be a shop that sold nothing but carbonated sweet drinks called The Pop Shoppe. It used to be at Newbridge Square Shopping Centre in Highland Springs just east of Richmond. Besides just colas, they offered a wide range of flavours including lime rickey, strawberry, and many others. I hear they still have Pop Shoppes in Canada and may be threatening a comeback in the United States. I hope they will take their rightful place at Newbridge Square once again, if not in Mechanicsville.
off the beaten path near Keysville, Virginia
Favorite thing: If you are traveling America's roads and you have time to spare, take the slower, more scenic routes. The interstates do offer speed and convenience, but lacklustre scenery of billboards, similar chain hotels and restaurants. America's back roads offer better scenery, helpful folks in friendly towns, downhome diners, and family owned motels. In July, 2005, gipper84 and I went to the southern part of Virginia. If we had been in a hurry, we could have taken Interstate 85 as far as South Hill and Route 58 into Clarksville. However, we chose to take the more scenic Route 360 (stopping to see Amelia, Burkeville, Meherrin, and Keysville) through to Wylliesburg where we took Route 15 into Clarksville. It will hit you like a freight train that a stone's throw from the fast lane, the true America is really safe and sound.
Don Quijote Spanish restaurant: Charlotte, NC
Favorite thing: Just as there are many ethnic grocery stores around the United States, there is also no shortage of ethnic restaurants. Practically every town of any size at all (even as small as South Boston, Virginia) has Chinese, Italian, and Mexican restaurants. The larger the city, the wider the variety. Cities the size of Richmond have all that (only more of it), plus Filipino restaurants (Manila, Manila!), tapas bars (Europa Mediterranean Cafe & Tapas Bar), a Brazilian churrascaria (Ipanema Grill), among others. Fifty years ago, international cuisine was almost unheard of except in the very largest of cities. Now, smaller cities and even some smaller rural towns are more exposed to cuisine our grandparents would have considered exotic.
Lebanese Food Festival: Richmond, VA
Favorite thing: Attend an ethnic food festival in the cities. Richmond, for example, has a Greek Festival the first weekend in June. There are food festivals in every city of any size and of any country's cuisine if you look hard enough.
rising steam from melting hailstones
Favorite thing: ClarkRB isn't the only one on here who can discuss weather phenomena with great authority. On 5 May 2004, the Mechanicsville area had an especially bad hailstorm. Normally, hailstorms are short-lived and yield pea-sized stones. However, this one had 2 waves of 5-minutes each, yielding dime-sized stones. Even from the basement, it sounded like horses were galloping on the roof. Before the hailstorm, the temperature was 86 degrees (30 Celsius). After the hailstorm, it fell to 59 degrees (15 Celsius). As the temperature gradually rose again, the numerous hailstones began to melt, causing the phenomenon you see in the photo (enlarge for a better view). It gives the appearance of having been shot in an English or Scottish moor, but it was taken a short distance from my house.
Bombay Bazaar: Charlotte, NC
Favorite thing: The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. American culture is really a melting pot of international cultures. This is reflected in the number of ethnically oriented gift shops and grocery stores in the larger cities. Many nationalities sell food and wares from their old countries. There are lots of Italian, Mexican, and Oriental (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Indian, etc.) store. Brazilian markets can, of course, be found in south Florida, and the Ironbound District of Newark, New Jersey, but they're popping up everywhere. As I understand it, there is a Brazilian restaurant and grocery store in Provo, Utah! Toque Brasil sells all manner of Brazilian goods. My mama was recently in south Florida and she bought some more Brazilian coffee, some cheese bread mix, some dende oil (for which some Brazilian recipes call), and shipped me some more of my favourite soft drink- Antarctica guarana. Other ethnic markets have their respective country's staples so that immigrants can cook the cuisine on which they grew up and for Americans who have been here longer to experiment with a new cuisine.
Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour
Fondest memory: At one time, you could find Farrell's Ice Cream Parlours in just about every major metropolitan area in the United States. Now, there are only 4 or 5 of them left and all of them are in Southern California. There used to be one in Richmond at Regency Square Mall on the first floor where the food court is now located. I never will forget going there for Sean McFaden's birthday after a trip to Golden Skate World (skating and b1bob don't mix any better than I do with horseback riding). Farrell's had a carnival type of atmosphere. There were lollies as big as a 10-year old's face. For birthdays, all hell breaks loose. They come dressed in 1890s style outfits, banging on a drum singing happy birthday. It's a real treat for the kids. I loved the strawberry sundae too.
29 Diner, Fairfax, VA
Favorite thing: Get away from the national chain restaurants at least once and eat at a truck stop or diner. Diners are a slice of Americana. They started out in the early 20th century catering to millworkers on the late shift after most of the town's restaurants closed. Original diners were mobile. They serve generous portions of nourishing yet simple American cuisine for low prices.
U.S. Department of State
Favorite thing: Visit the consular services web site so you can have all the embassy and consular information in case you need their services during your stay:
Be sure to photocopy your passport and any required visas. Also, carry a couple of extra passport-size photos to speed up reprocessing of a new passport if your original gets lost or stolen.
Jones' Discount Drug Store, Oxford, NC
Favorite thing: The drug store lunch counter is a place to get nourishing, yet simple food while shopping or waiting for a prescription to be filled. Drug store lunch counters are not merely a convenient place to eat, but they are also a social gathering place. Fortunately, they haven't all died out in the '50s. Sadly, corporate-thinking national chains are taking over small town drug stores like kudzu and doing away with the lunch counters.
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