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USA Radio
February 18, 2016

10 Must-See Places for our Next Train Trip


We wanted to see everything during our train trip across the United States of America — not just majestic birds soaring in the blue skies of the West, but also the bird-inspired Major League Baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles. And not just the engraved stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, but actual twinkling ones in the heavens.

Not all of our wishes came true, which is to be expected when you only have 10 days to travel 5,000 kilometres. So we’ve made a resolution. Here are the 10 places that we most wish we’d visited that we’re definitely making time for during our next trek.

Griffith Observatory - Los Angeles, California


Since its debut in 1935, more than 76 million people have visited Griffith Observatory, and more than 7.5 million of them have gazed at the stars through the 30½ -centimetre Zeiss refracting telescope. It’s a shame we weren’t among them while we were in town. Among the other observatory attractions we missed: live space-themed shows and clear views of both downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign.

Rodeo Drive - Beverly Hills, California

What it lacks in size—its shopping core runs only three blocks long — Rodeo Drive makes up for in fame, prestige and selection of luxury goods. Brands from A to W (Agent Provocateur to Wolford) compete for locals’ and travellers’ dollars. We won’t spend all of our money there, though. Window-shopping and people watching on Rodeo Drive might be more popular than shopping, so we might stick with those.

Barton Springs Pool - Austin, Texas


The Barton Springs Pool is no ordinary swimming pool. It’s a 1.2-hectare pool in Zilker Park fed by underground springs. Shady banks and water temperatures that hover near 21 degrees Celsius year-round draw people from around the world.  Legend has it that film star and director Robert Redford learned to swim here when he was 5 years old during a family visit.

The Pearl Brewery – San Antonio, Texas

After a more than 100-year run the Pearl Brewing Co. was bought by Pabst Brewing Co., which shut down the brewery in 1991. But the story of this brewery wasn’t over. A few years later it rose again with a tremendous second act. The Pearl Brewery was redeveloped as the centrepiece one of San Antonio’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, with nearly a dozen restaurants and a gourmet coffeehouse, bakery and ice cream shop, as well as an entertainment venue. Next time around we’ll check out the farmers market, maybe take in a concert and, as you’d expect when someplace inspired by a brewery, have a beer. 

The Garden District – New Orleans, Louisiana

Another outstanding neighbourhood we regret missing is the Garden District. As its name implies, the Garden District features gardens and greenery galore. It’s been a beloved part of the area since the early 1800s, with antebellum mansions and cemeteries punctuating the sense of history you’ll get just walking around. It’s also home to shopping and restaurants, including Commander’s Palace, one of New Orleans’ oldest and most famous restaurants and home of the 25-cent martini.  

The Center for Civil and Human Rights – Atlanta, Georgia

During the 1950s and 1960s, the civil rights movement helped bring forth societal changes in the southern U.S. and beyond. The Center for Civil and Human Rights highlights that progress and aims to connect it to the global human rights movement. It’s a place where dialogue takes place on a topic of worldwide importance, and we wish we could have spent time participating in the ongoing conversation about fundamental human rights. 

The World of Coca-Cola – Atlanta, Georgia

We’ve always wanted to have our picture taken with a polar bear, even if it is just the 2.1-metre-tall spokesbear for Coca-Cola. That’s just one of many cool things to do at the World of Coca-Cola, a celebration of the world-famous soda. We’re also looking forward to checking out the exhibit on Coca-Cola as pop culture icon and tasting our way through more than 100 beverages at the Coca-Cola Freestyle fountain.

The Newseum – Washington, D.C.

We’re always seeking a deeper understanding of the things we have seen and the experiences we have had, and we missed one place that explores the forces and events that have shaped the USA as reported by the media. That place is the Newseum, an interactive museum of the news dedicated to championing the freedoms guaranteed to all citizens of the United States by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It’s an unflinching look at the conflicts and growth of a nation. The structure, with its “window on the world” exterior, sits on Pennsylvania Avenue between the seats of two branches of the U.S. government, the White House and U.S. Capitol.

Union Market – Washington, D.C. 

We also missed Union Market while we were in Washington, D.C. as it was closed on our last night in town. The popularity of this food-lover’s paradise in the northeast part of the city, has exploded since it opened in 2012. With 40 local artisans serving food out of the sleek indoor space, Union Market has become a hot spot for locals and visitors looking to try out new food concepts or to get samplings of the many tastes of the Washington, D.C., food scene in one place. The market’s success has helped transformed the neighborhood, and we hope to get back to experience the delicious food and the exciting atmosphere.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards – Baltimore, Maryland

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home to Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, is a trendsetter. Opened in 1992, this ballpark recalls an earlier era of baseball, with its brickwork that allows it to blend in seamlessly with the historic downtown cityscape. The stadium helped revitalise Baltimore’s Inner Harbor area, and inspired similar stadium projects in cities across the United States. Next time we’ll take it all in while eating Boog’s BBQ, the barbecue stand of former Orioles star player Boog Powell.



Looking for more to see in Los Angeles? Go for a walk in any of these five great parks.


Want to experience the New Orleans music scene firsthand? Start your planning with this guide to the Big Easy.



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