Indy. Daytona. Laguna Seca. Sure, there are better known race tracks you can visit for a night of racing action. But it's hard to beat the value/fun ratio of a race at Eldora Speedway. Located in the heartland roughly halfway between Columbus and Indianapolis, this legendary dirt track plays host to a variety of events throughout the year, including a NASCAR truck series race and the star-studded "Prelude to the Dream" race, which draws out some of NASCAR's best for the evening — no doubt in part due to the track's owner, Tony Stewart.
Enjoy an authentic links experience without crossing the pond with a round at Cabot Links. Located in Nova Scotia along the coast of Cape Breton, this traditional links course is carved out of rugged shoreline, with views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence on every hole and five set right along the beach. It's also next to the village of Inverness — and the excellent Red Shoe Pub — but if you should feel the need to stay, there's also a 48-room lodge and a restaurant on the grounds.
Think you need to cross the Atlantic to play authentic links-style golf? Think again. Located in the center of the state, Streamsong offers two courses — Red, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, and Blue, created by Tom Doak — that bring a true links experience stateside. Built on a former mining site, both courses offer far more rolls and elevation changes than you'd expect from the surrounding (flat) topography, and the fantastic Alberto Alfonso-designed Clubhouse — packing a full-service restaurant, a golf shop, an outdoor terrace, and 12 guest rooms — means you don't have to leave until you're good and ready.
You don't have to be a fan of opera to enjoy a trip to the Winspear Opera House — although it certainly doesn't hurt. Located in the heart of downtown's Arts District, this horseshoe-shaped venue sports a stunning design from Norman Foster that features a bright red core that reflects wonderfully off the water features outside thanks to a glass facade that lets the color shine through. Inside, you'll find 2,200 seats in the main Margaret McDermott Performance Hall, as well as a grand lobby, cafe, and Box Circle-level restaurant.
Most venues consist of a big room, a stage, some restrooms (or porta-johns), and, if you're lucky, a bar. Hence why Brooklyn Bowl is such a terrific place to catch a show. In addition to functioning as a venue for performances, this Williamsburg spot takes its "Bowl" designnation seriously, with 16 lanes available, all within earshot of the stage. The LEED-certified space — the first bowling alley in the world to earn the honor — is also home to multiple bars serving up local craft brews and a restaurant serving up food by Blue Ribbon.
Lots of times the phrase "intimate venue" is simply another way of saying "a rather tiny spot that no one of any importance every plays." Yet there's no denying the intimacy — or importance — of the Black Cat. Located in the U Street Corridor since its opening in 1993 — it moved in 2001, but only three doors away — and co-owned by Dave Grohl, this legendary venue specializes in indie, alternative, punk, and experimental music, and has played host to everyone from Jeff Buckley and Neko Case to The Killers, Radiohead, and The Roots. The Cat is also home to the Food for Thought Café and the Red Room Bar, so you can find an excuse to stop by even if the show hasn't started yet.
Unlike most storied music houses, the walls of the 40 Watt Club haven't heard decades of history making — but that's mostly just because it's moved so damn many times. Currently settled into some digs on Washington, this venue was instrumental in the rise of America's punk and new wave scene, playing host to bands like Pylon, Love Tractor, Indigo Girls, Modern Skirts, and R.E.M. — in fact, the ex-wife of R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck is now the owner. These days, it's the home base for acts like of Montreal, The Whigs, and the Drive-By Truckers, serving notice that while the address may have changed, the club's importance has not.
Sure, the Florida Panhandle isn't exactly known as a music mecca — but if you happen to be in the area, you need to make a pilgrimage to the Vinyl Music Hall. Set in historic downtown, this quality venue is large enough to host national acts yet small enough to keep an intimate feel, and plays host to everything from bluegrass and folk to rap, rock, and even burlesque shows. And with all quality venues, there's also a bar to keep you well lubricated throughout the show, and a patio if you need some fresh air.
Run by the folks behind the nearby reBar restaurant, the ReRun Gastropub Theater is an ideal place to catch a casual showing. This independent theater was imagined as a drive-in, and thus features reclaimed car seats for seating, as well as an in-theater bar serving up beers — including two craft selections on tap — sustainable, organic, and biodynamically farmed wines, and a full range of liquor, and of course tasty snacks from the reBar crew down the hall. All of which makes it far more enjoyable than a trip to the local multiplex.
No, that's not a joke — Billy Bob's Texas is a real place. And considering its size — over 11,000 square feet — and the lineup of talent they bring, it's no joking matter, either. This massive multi-functional venue offers a large stage, which has played host to names like George Jones, Willie Nelson, Alabama, Loretta Lynn, and Dierks Bentley, as well as a restaurant that specializes in Southern-style dishes like BBQ'd brisket and ribs, chili, and quail sliders, an arena that hosts live bill riding (!), a large dance floor, an arcade with plenty of games and billiards tables, and, of course, plenty of spots to grab a cold refreshment.
Going to the movies to watch new films is all well and good — except for, you know, the waiting in line, the high prices, the bad food, and the annoying people — but sometimes catching a classic is a lot more enjoyable. The Academy Theater is PDX's best place to do so. Opened in 1948, abandoned in the '70s, and fully restored in 2006, this classic, independent theater features a metallic, two-story dome in the lobby, and an excellent selection of snacks, including offerings from Flying Pie Pizzeria, Bipartisan Cafe and Miyamoto Sushi, as well as beer and wine. Oh, and if this all sounds good to you, stop by their Indiegogo page and pony up a few bucks to help them convert over to digital projection.
It might not sound that big given the name, but Commonwealth Bar & Stage actually has more than enough room to function as two venues in one. The large stage and dance floor is used to accomodate both touring acts and DJs, while a separate bar — on a different floor — allows for two events to happen at once. Theme nights are also quite popular, with the Saturday night party boasting modern tunes playing upstairs and vintage tracks downstairs, Wimbledon Wednesdays featuring ping pong and live music, and Wonder Years Thursdays filling the converted warehouse with the sounds of the '80s, '90s, and '00s. Oh, and don't forget to hit up Tubby Dog - Commonwealth's own food stand - while you're there.