8 Great American Cities

...with some expert recommendations for tourists from the people who live there



From Keith Lockhart, conductor, Boston Pops

The essential experience: A Pops concert. Of course. "Come join 'America's Orchestra' on the Fourth of July if you want to hang out with half a million friends. A close second would be taking in a game at Fenway ... the way baseball should be. Like Chicagoans, we take our baseball seriously!"

But don't miss: "Boston's old neighborhoods, like Beacon Hill, or stroll down in the Harbor district, check out the aquarium and watch the boats come in."

Local delicacy: "I'm not much into baked beans or cod, so I guess I would have to choose the noble lobster. A close second: a great plate of pasta in a cozy North End restaurant."

Best big-bucks restaurant: "L'Espalier in Back Bay is certainly the place one thinks of ... but my favorite is probably Barbara Lynch's spectacular No. 9 Park Street, in Beacon Hill."

Iconic neighborhood favorite: Beacon Hill is "a great place to stroll at twilight, and then hole up for a cozy bite in either the Beacon Hill Bistro or the wonderful Lala Rokh, a warm and friendly [Persian] establishment that is probably the best ethnic restaurant in Boston."

The perfect Boston walk: "Walking along the Esplanade [where the Pops plays on the Fourth] is gorgeous [with the] sun setting over the Charles, sailboats and seagulls, and you can go for miles. Make a loop through Beacon Hill, back through the Public Garden. Boston is a big small town, and it's all right there at your feet."

Information: Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, 888-SEE-BOSTON; bostonusa.com


From Garry Marshall, Hollywood director / writer / actor

The essential experience: The Hollywood Bowl. "Nothing compares to seeing your favorite artists under the stars while enjoying a picnic dinner complete with dessert and popcorn at intermission. I also shot two pictures there: Beaches and Dear God. If I could shoot a third, it would be Picnic Dinner Complete With Dessert and Popcorn at Intermission."

But don't miss: The live theater. "You say 'L.A.' and the first thought is traffic. Actually, there are more live stage productions each year in Los Angeles than any other city in the entire country! I have to go now to beat the traffic."

Local delicacy: It's a place. "The Smokehouse Restaurant offers great food, entertainment and a rich Hollywood history. Bing Crosby and Bob Hope took a break from the road to grab a bite. The Smokehouse is also a great place to take the kids -- any kids, even if they're not your own."

Best big-bucks restaurant: Le Petit Chateau, in North Hollywood. "I go for the service, the ambience and the [French] cuisine. And it's in the Valley, like all my favorite restaurants except the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills."

Iconic neighborhood favorite: "I cross the street from my Falcon Theatre [in Burbank] and go to Papoo's Hot Dog Show. And what a show! They have bean dogs, chili dogs, ham dogs, parmesan dogs, hot Polish dogs and quarter-pound avocado dogs. I get the fried egg sandwich."

The perfect Los Angeles walk: "There are a lot of great places to walk in L.A. The problem is you might have to drive to get there. One of my favorites is walking around George Izay Park in Burbank, where I play softball."

Information: L.A. Inc., the Convention and Visitors Bureau, 213-689-8822; lacvb.com


From Yakov Karboff, bell captain, Eden Roc Resort and Spa, Miami Beach

The essential experience: South Beach. "It's not just the restaurants. It's culture things, it's shopping, it's everything. Daylight and nightlight."

But don't miss: Calle Ocho (8th Street), the traditional main street of Miami's Cuban district, though come with realistic expectations. "Cubans are moving out. It's just good authentic Cuban restaurants and nothing else."

The local delicacy: "Stone crabs are unique."

Best big-bucks restaurant: Joe's Stone Crab. "Famous people from New York come in to eat over there."

Iconic neighborhood favorite: Rascal House (North Miami Beach). "The best pastrami sandwiches. ... I live right near there. Always a line of people there. Always."

The perfect Miami Beach / Miami walk: Lincoln Road. "It's art galleries, restaurants -- it's a street with a musical life, especially Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday."

Information: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800-933-8448; gmcvb.com


From Millie Ball, travel editor, New Orleans Times-Picayune

The essential experience: "The French Quarter, dawlin', as you're likely to be called by some local women. We mispronounce lots of French words here, so Esplanade is Es-plan-ADE (like lemonade), Chartres is Charters, Burgundy is Bur-GUN-dy."

But don't miss: "To understand New Orleans and what people here are going through, take the Gray Line tour [or Tours by Isabelle], guided by people who have lost their homes, to see parts of the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina."

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