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Downtown Houston

Downtown Houston by telwink, on Flickr

When picking a new travel assignment, you can compare the “cool” factor of cities across the country.  Forbes ranked 65 American cities based on how cool a place they are to live. Cities with abundant entertainment and recreational opportunities, large number of restaurants and pubs (excluding chains), young diverse population, significant migration into the city, and low unemployment rate were the factors used to compile the list.

Houston’s strong economy has spurred its enviable growth. Residents and visitors enjoy world-class arts, pro sports teams, award-winning cuisine and loads of shopping in the nation’s fourth largest city.

WHAT TO SEE

  • •Buy a $2 METRORail ticket and go explore Houston’s Museum District. With 19 museums and a 50-acre zoo, the intellectually curious will find a range of satisfying topics from the Holocaust to postmodern art.
  • •Bike or hike on trails inside the 10.4 acre downtown Sesquicentennial Park or kayak through Buffalo Bayou during a four hour urban excursion.
  • •Play at the number #1 ranked children’s museum in the country or take the kids to the Health Museum—it’s part of the world renowned Texas Medical Center.
  • •Shopaholics can spend days in the Galleria with more than 375 stores. Take a break at the indoor ice skating rink.
  • •Spend an evening at the 17-block Theater District. Reserve a seat at the Alley Theater, the Houston Grand Opera, or Houston Symphony.
  • •Sports fans can back their favorite pro team. H-town has its own football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey teams.

TOP TEN

The top ten coolest cities in America are:

Houston, Texas

Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles, California

Dallas, Texas

Seattle, Washington

San Diego, California

Boston, Massachusetts

Orange County, California

San Francisco, California

New York, New York

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & AwayGlobal Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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BDesotelle1

Photo courtesy Bruce Desotelle

I love this time of year, when every weekend, stadium parking lots come alive with a sea of tailgaters. For example, Kansas City Chiefs’ fans are known to get the party started a few days early. Each football town has its own way to boost team spirit. As healthcare travelers, you have the opportunity to witness first-hand how different fans in different cities honor their teams’ tailgating traditions.

Regardless of where you attend the party while on assignment, there is a certain etiquette expected of all tailgaters. Here are a few of the basics for beginners.

• Fanfare: Unless you’re a diehard fan for your own team, invest in some local spirit gear, such as a cap or T-shirt, so you fit in with the crowd.

• Car show: Once on the scene, stroll the grounds to see how vehicles have been decked out and customized to display their owners’ over-the-top team loyalty. Most people will be happy to explain how they converted an old school bus into a football lounge on wheels.

• Personal chef: One of the best parts of tailgating is tasting regional favorites prepared on portable grills or creatively constructed cook tops. If you’re in Boston on assignment, you’ll find kettles of New England clam chowder at Gillette Stadium. Every grill at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., will be loaded with brats. Even if you’re not hosting the football fiesta, offer to contribute to the menu, maybe a side dish or dessert. Extra ice and drinks are always appreciated, too.

• Dress code: Better to be over-prepared than get caught in the rain or snow. Bring an umbrella, or gloves, scarf, and hat if you are on contract in a northern town. Here’s a thought: battery operated portable heater.

• Keep cool: Sure, the majority of people will be cheering for the local pigskin players, but there could be visiting fans, too. Good-natured teasing might be okay, but keep the “game talk” G-rated so everyone has a good time.

• Clean-up service: No matter if you’re attending the big game or watching the gridiron showdown on TVs set up in the parking lot (yes, that happens), don’t leave a mess behind. Bring along extra trash bags to pick up after your neighbors if necessary.

Whatever the final score, everyone wins when tailgating is done right.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a professional writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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