When making The Light Nearby it was interesting to see all the various aspects of life lived out in different cities. Each city was completely different than the last, and each one had its pros and cons. Because of the vastness of experiences I had, I wanted to give unique awards pertaining to different aspects of my travels. There are tons of different categories I hit, and these are all from my personal experience traveling around the country for 10 months. Enjoy!
1. Best Wifi: Las Vegas, NV/Portland, OR
I didn’t expect Portland to be one of the tie winners, but this was definitely the case when I traveled there. For this award I factored in wifi everywhere, not just one location, and both Vegas and Portland had insanely fast wifi.
2. Worst Wifi: Redwood City, CA
You would think that a location like Redwood City, being right next to San Francisco (the tech start-up capital of the country), to have faster wifi. This one definitely surprised me as almost every location I went to had insanely slow wifi that took hours (yes, hours) sometimes just to upload a simple video.
3. Best Tap Water: Portland, OR
Portland definitely had the best tap water by far because of how good it tasted. For this award I really focused on tap water in random places (i.e. Starbucks’s bathrooms, gym fountains, etc).
4. Worst Tap Water: Fort Lauderdale, FL
When going into random restaurants and cafes, and either asking for tap water or filling up from the bathroom, it always tasted funky. I didn’t get sick or anything, but the taste was noticeably weird.
5. Easiest Place To Live Out Of My Car: Las Vegas, NV/New York City, NY
I’ve found that car living is comprised of 3 main factors: 1. Parking 2. Public Transportation and 3. Access to Wifi & Gyms. In Vegas you can park at any parking garage for free, so that made it extremely easy even though Vegas didn’t have any public transportation. With New York, I could easily park in an area outside the city (I parked in Bushwick) and take the MTA straight in. The ease of public transportation made New York City right up there with Vegas.
6. Hardest Place To Live Out Of My Car: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Thank God I knew people who lived in this area, because I stayed with them a decent amount of the time, but this is by far the hardest to live out of your car. Finding free parking overnight is tough, and even when I tried parking in random neighborhoods it was tough because there were some bad areas and parking is extremely tight. Not to mention there is no public transportation, so I had to get around solely by car which became difficult at points when I wanted to explore the nightlife.
7. Best Starbucks To Work At: Portland, OR
If you haven’t seen this post yet, check it out here: Top 5 Starbucks In The Country. This specific Starbucks in Portland, located at 8510 SW Terwilliger Blvd, had the craziest combination of an awesome inside set-up with a nature-filled outdoor patio.
8. Friendliest People: Austin, TX
This was a really tough one to answer because just about every place I went to had extremely nice people. Overall, I would have to give it to Austin though because of how accepting they are of people no matter what their circumstance or view point.
9. Meanest People: Boston, MA
Yea, sorry Boston. Don’t get me wrong – I love Boston, and that’s where I’ve been living for the past few years because I grew up in Massachusetts, but this one had no competition. It’s no surprise as to why we’re called “Massholes” and most people take it as a compliment rather than an insult.
10. Most Connected City: Boston, MA
…on the flipside of the meanest people award, Boston was by far the most connected city I’ve been to. By connected I mean that people bond and become friends just over the fact that their from Boston. I really didn’t experience this phenomena in any other city around the country, but for some reason in Boston people are very closely knit and are there for each other just because it’s the way Boston is. I would also bet a lot of money that if someone was in a fight, for example, and they were from Boston and another person was from Boston, they would jump in just because of the Boston connection.
11. Most Connected State: Texas
No question here. The way Boston people feel about Boston is the way people in Texas feel about Texas. It’s even prevalent when you look at food sizes: Small, Medium, Large, Texas Size. That’s an actual size used by companies to describe the biggest order you can get. Texas is also the only state that you’re WAY more likely to see a Texas state flag than the American flag.
12. Best Nightlife: Las Vegas, NV
13. Worst Drivers: Seattle, WA
Nope – not Boston for this one. Boston drivers are aggressive, but not bad drivers especially compared to people in Seattle. I’ve never seen so many people careless driving and not really paying attention, but I guess the entire state of Washington is known to have the worst drivers.
14. Worst Traffic: Boston, MA/Los Angeles, CA
These two are pretty equally tied for the worst traffic in the country. Even with the Big Dig in Boston it didn’t help much, and LA traffic will always be LA traffic.
15. Most Aggressive Homeless People: Las Vegas, NV
This was a close one, but the reason why I picked Las Vegas is because they will go out of their way to ask for money and do more creative things to try and get your attention.
16. Easiest Place To Find Parking: Las Vegas, NV
Every parking is free, so it’s a no brainer here. If you’re curious about my parking techniques though, check out this video I made about finding parking anywhere:
17. Best Nightclub: XS (Las Vegas, NV)
Vegas dominates for clubs, and XS was definitely my favorite. They always get top-level DJs and the set-up is amazing with a pool and indoor club scene. Not to mention that they have dope midnight pool parties, which combine the best of both worlds.
18. Best Fitness Gym: Snap Fitness (Leander, TX)
With the best staff out of any gym that I’ve been to, and the most motivational people working there, the Snap Fitness in Leander, TX takes the cake. This isn’t the type of gym you just walk into and then leave – it’s a whole community of people that help each other reach their fitness goals. If you’re in the area (it’s 15 minutes north of Austin) it’s worth doing even a quick workout in – check out their FB page here: http://www.facebook.com/snapfitnessleandertx.
19. Best Parkour Gym: APEX Movement (Boulder, CO)
APEX Movement has been blowing up as they already have multiple Parkour gyms around the country. The set-up of this gym is perfect for anyone – whether you’re a beginner or advanced, the gyms and staff will definitely challenge you to get better. Check out their whole community here: http://www.apexmovement.com/.
20. Best Burger: Juicy Burger @ Asiento (San Francisco, CA)
This thing is AMAZING. It’s a burger on an English Muffin with mayo, spices, sautéed spinach, onions, various herbs and soy sauce. This picture shows it all:
21. Cheapest Gas: El Paso, TX
While driving from Austin to LA I stopped in El Paso, and it was amazing how cheap the gas was. Yes, at the time of this post the gas prices have dropped tremendously, but at that time the gas in El Paso was a full dollar and a quarter less per gallon than anywhere I’ve been to.
22. Priciest Gas: Northern California
There wasn’t an exact city that had the priciest gas, but the entire northern part of California was INSANE. No joke – there were some places that had has for $5.60/gallon (I can’t make that up). Thank God I never had to stop for gas there, I luckily timed it so I avoided all the pricey parts.
23. Best Park: Charlie Frias Park (Las Vegas, NV)
I didn’t expect to find my favorite park in Vegas, but this one has perfect grass and a huge playground near it. It also has this creative collection of rocks that are perfect for doing Parkour on. This was my favorite place to workout outside, and in addition they have a huge track around the perimeter of the whole field. Here’s a picture:
24. Best Nature: Boulder, CO
Not even a question for this one. Colorado in general has the best nature, and the way it looks in Boulder is absolutely beautiful. Here’s a picture of me by Red Rocks in Boulder (not the Red Rocks, a different park called the same name) where I had my first MRE:
25. Best Local Chain Grocery Store: H-E-B (Texas Area)
There are numerous Local Chain Grocery Stores all around the country: Stop & Shop, Big Y, Kroger, Fred Myers, Safeway, Meijer, Publix, and more, but NOTHING (and I mean NOTHING) beats H-E-B. H-E-B has extremely cheap prices, high quality, and free samples all around the store. It’s very similar to Costco except you don’t need a membership and they have the highest quality items. H-E-B All day.
26. Best Weather: Redwood City, CA
The slogan of Redwood City is “Climate Best by Government Test.” Redwood City is, statically speaking, the best weather for any city in the entire country. Literally every single day is a perfect day, where it’s not too hot and not too cold and the sun is always out.
27. Best Parkour Spot: UMass Amherst (Amherst, MA)
I went to college at UMass Amherst and I honestly think it’s the best area I’ve been to for Parkour. There are numerous spots all around campus for various moves and techniques, not to mention there is an entire underground rail set-up for some dope rail work. Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.
28. Biggest Screen Lookers: Chicago, IL
Okay – I never thought that this would be a category – but I had to make it one after being in Chicago. I’ve worked in Starbucks’s all around the country, and I don’t know what it is about Chicago, but I had numerous people look at my screen while doing work throughout the day. At other locations there might be one or two in a given week, but in Chicago it was that per day. I’m not exactly sure why, but it was exponentially more noticeable in Chicago than any other place.
29. Strongest Drink: The Fishbowl @ The Fieldhouse (Dayton, OH)
This this is a monster. For $20 you get a huge fishbowl filled to the top with tons of liquor, and then multiple straws are placed. This is one of those huge mixed drinks that you can chug for what seems like forever and only make a dent in it.
30. Cheapest Alcohol: Boulder, CO/Las Vegas, NV
It’s definitely a tie here, and I didn’t expect for Boulder to be on the list. In Vegas, as long as you go outside the strip, you can find alcohol for insanely cheap (make sure you go to Lee’s!). For Boulder, the liquor stores I went to had insanely good deals and specials on almost everything.
31. Best Beach: Venice Beach aka Muscle Beach (Venice, CA)
The thing I really liked about this beach is that there was always a ton going on. I’m not the type of person to just lie down and do nothing for hours – I like to move around. The best part about Venice Beach is that it has a bodyweight workout set-up, which was almost like a playground for adults. I’m huge into Bodyweight Workouts, and if you’re interested in trying them, check out my free bodyweight workout videos: Bodyweight Workouts.
32. Craziest College: UMass Amherst (Amherst, MA)
Nothing like ZooMass. I’ve been to a lot of colleges around the country, and still nothings beats the nightlife and craziness of UMass.
33. Craziest College Spring Weekend: UConn (Storrs, CT)
UConn’s Spring Weekend is absolutely mayhem. There are thousands upon thousands of people during that one weekend, and each night is in a different location on campus. This is also the only place I’ve ever seen a cop come over to a beer pong table (set up in the middle of a parking lot party) and play beer pong with the other college students.
34. Best BBQ: Austin, TX
No surprise here – the BBQ blew my mind.
35. Best Fast Food Chain: In-N-Out
In-N-Out is AMAZING. I felt like it lived up to the hype and was as good as everyone said it was. Just make sure, when you go, to order animal style because it’s incredible.
36. Craziest Driving Route: NF-2319 (???, NV)
This was one of the craziest days of my life and the craziest drive I’ve ever done. I’m happy The Buckmobile didn’t break down, because if it did I would be so screwed I wouldn’t know what to do.
37. Sketchiest Starbucks: Las Vegas, NV
The Starbucks at 4985 West Tropicana Avenue was by far the sketchiest Starbucks I worked in. Weirdly enough, it was across the street from the park I mentioned earlier, but this Starbucks had the weirdest people there. It was a 24/7 Starbucks, so when I would go there late at night there would be the sketchiest people there and the location wasn’t the best either.
38. Worst Bottom Shelf Vodka: Five O’Clock (Massachusetts Area)
Nothing compares to how bad Five O’Clock tastes. I’ve had a lot of bottom shelf vodka, and there really isn’t anything close to this. It’s probably the only vodka that I won’t drink, even if it was free,
39. Best Festival: Electric Forest (Rothbury, MI)
Electric Forest is magical, no other way to word that. Every year I go is life changing and it truly makes me look at the world in away that I can’t even describe. It’s literally a dream for 4 days.
40. Best Concert Venue: Ruby Skye (San Francisco, CA)
This was a tough one, because I’ve been to so many concerts, but I liked Ruby Skye the best because it’s big enough where you can move around and get a good crowd but small enough where you can be intimate with the artist. Not to mention there’s also a balcony that’s huge in case you want to get an aerial view.
41. Healthiest People: Boulder, CO
The people in Boulder are the healthiest by both diet and exercise. All around, they have the healthiest lifestyle of any city I went to. This is also why you can find tons of rock climbing, parkour, and general fitness gyms in such a small radius.
42. Best Public Transportation: New York, NY
The public transportation in NY is second to none. There’s TONS of routes, so you can get anywhere, and the MTA barely ever breaks down (as oppose to Boston’s MBTA). In addition, it runs 24/7, so there’s always a way to get around.
43. Best EDM Scene: Chicago, IL
I almost put Miami or Vegas for this one, but I decided on Chicago because the scenes in Miami & Vegas are mostly concentrated around mainstream EDM (progressive & electro house). The thing I liked about the Chicago scene is that there’s tons of sub-genres right in one city. Everything from Glitch Hop to House to Dubstep is in Chicago, so there’s tons of variety.
44. Coolest Structure: Red-Jungle Gym-Thing? (San Francisco, CA)
Shoutout to Ami for taking me to this. This was a crazy, huge jungle gym type structure that had bouncy ropes connecting all different parts of it. You could climb up and bounce around it, so it was really cool to try some Parkour moves on.
45. Best Overall State: California
The reason why I picked California for this one is because there’s so many different scenes and cultures in one state. I like how there’s a ton of opportunity in LA, the bodyweight workout set-up in Venice, and the chill vibe of San Francisco. I also hate the cold, and the weather in California was perfect.
46. Best Salad: Paragon Portland (Portland, OR)
This thing was a beast. It had eggs, bacon, and so much more packed into this one salad. This salad alone completely filled me up, so it’s well worth checking out if you’re in the area. Here’s a picture of how perfect this is:
47. Best Breakfast: Snooze (Denver, CO)
This is all I’m going to say: Pineapple Upside Down Pancake, Banana Nutella Pancake, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pancake, and Maple Bacon Syrup. Enough said.
48. Best Sunset: Utah
The southwest area of the country (Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, etc) had the best sunsets by far. I was told that the dust from the desert helps refract and spread out the light more, which is why the sunsets are so vibrant and colorful. I felt that every time I was driving through Utah I would see the best sunsets, which made the drive a lot easier.
49. Cleanest Toilets: Portland, OR/Boulder, CO
I got requested to do this one, and I would say it would be tie between Portland and Boulder. Both are very clean areas and the people are extremely friendly and respectful as well, which leads to a cleaner bathroom.
50. Best Vehicle: The Buckmobile