5 Down South Country Travel Spots

If you still don’t know where to go for the July 4th weekend or for your big summer trip, allow me to help you out. From my cross country trips I think I found some of the best spot to travel to in the United States if you’re looking for more of a country, down south, barbecue type vacation. Below you will find my top picks for your not so average vacation. Enjoy and have a great time on your travels.

Nashville:

gregory-gopman-nashvilleHome of blues, and known as the all encompassing “Music City”, Nashville is amazing. The weather is darn near perfect year round and the people couldnt be nicer. There are tons of attractions in Nashville if you’re looking to view a couple touristy things. You’ll find the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Auditorium (the world famous performance theatre), and more bars serving whiskey inspired cocktails in mason jars than you can count.

While you’re in Nashville you must check out the Hatch Show Print. Hatch show Print in now located in the Country Music Hall of Fame and was originally founded in 1879. It was and still is a legendary letterpress print shop that lead the “brash” style of music that embodied classic country music.

For lunch there are no other options that the critically acclaimed Pepperfire. If you love hot chicken that crispy, juicy, and served with homemade potato salad, this place is your haven.

New Orleans:

gregory-gopman-new-orleansCommonly known as “Nola” or “N’awlins”, New Orleans is a travel destination for everyone. Whether you are looking for a boozed crazed time at Mardi Gras or a relaxed vacation where you can order all the gumbo and oysters you can eat, New Orleans has it all. The southern hospitality defines this city as music fills the streets and everyone is curtious.

The southern/french inspired food fusions truly awake the pallet. One of the most classic delicacies in New Orleans is the Po Boy. There are tons of restaurants serving up the city’s most eaten dish but there is only 1 Killer Poboys. This restaurant is nestled behind the Erin Rose Bar and is the crowned jewel when it comes to New Orleans traditional cusine. They by far serve up the meanest seared gulf shrimp, meatloaf, and other fresh ingredients to make you keep coming back year after year to visit.

For something of slightly slower pace and more relaxed I would suggest visiting the Louis Armstrong Park. The park is located in the Tremé neighborhood and offers visitors a more quiet time and a step into the past. The park was named after the world famous Louis Armstrong, a New Orleans native. Be sure to visit the Congo Square which was the site of 19th century slave dances. Blues, Jazz, and Rock n’ roll can all base their roots in these slaves dances.

Austin:

gregory-gopman-austinAustin has become all the rage lately, hosting food fairs, music festivals, and start-up community events. Austin is extremely affordable to live in and is the ideal spot for young adults from 21-35. Texas is known for a lot of things, but one in particular could be the reason you book a trip to Austin today. Texas barbecue is widely regarded as having one of the best barbecues in the world. If you love barbecue like I do then you need to visit La Barbecue and Micklethwait. Serving up barbecue staples like brisket and mouth-watering steak, these two restaurants are dishing out massive portions because as you know, “everything is bigger in Texas.”

What better way to wash down all that barbecue and soak up that southern sun than tasting a few craft beers. Do yourself a favor and visit the Jester King Brewery for all your hoppy desires. Formerly a farmhouse, the Jester King is one of the most popular breweries in the area, complete with their own tasting room, brewery tours, outdoor seating, and one of a kind beer.

Thank you for reading,

Gregory Gopman

16 Places to Consider for Your December Vacation:

I have compiled a list of the 16 best places to travel for this December. Now is the time to book your last minute vacations before prices rise too high. This list includes many out of country trips so make sure your passport is still valid. If you live in a cold area you’re in luck as most of these are in warm climates. Enjoy!

Israel
Israel

  • Israel has become a very popular travel destination to spend the holiday season. Tourists have the option of visiting revered sights such as the Church of the Nativity and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. December in Israel begins with Hanukkah, which this year runs from November 27th – December 5th, but if you’re in the country on Christmas Eve, don’t miss the carol singing and public broadcast of Midnight Mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square and the Christmas Parade and market in Nazareth.

Belize

  • With the hurricane season over, now is the time to dodge the January crowds and make the most of sunny Belize. This time of year provides the perfect weather for taking in the country’s sights, from a Mayan history tour of ancient Xunantunich and the vast Caracol archaeological site, to relaxing on a beach along the Caribbean coast. Belize is also well-known for its adventurous activities, so make sure to visit the island of Ambergris Caye where you can snorkel, zip line, and tube, or go scuba diving at the incredible Great Blue Hole.

Guatemala
Tikal

  • Guatemala is also a hot location for holiday travels where visitors discover sights like the grand Mayan city of Tikal, cruise along the Rio Dulce, or scale the peak of an active volcano. December also brings a number of celebrations in the including the Burning of the Devil on December 7th, when Guatemalans burn waste paper and unneeded household items in large quantities, in preparation for the holy weeks ahead, and the unique St Thomas’ Day festival held in the highland city of Chichicastenango on the December 21st.

Rio de Janeiro

  • Nowhere in the world knows how to party like Rio and the festive season means palm trees lit up with flickering illuminations, surfers riding the waves in Santa suits, and the world’s largest floating Christmas tree lighting up the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. If you are still in Rio for December 31st, Copacabana beach hosts an one of the best New Year’s parties with over 2 million revelers to the white sands for a night of live music, excellent street food, and fireworks, which of course is paired by plenty of champagne.

Paris
Paris

  • As one of the most romantic cities in the world, one would expect nothing less than a wonderland of festivities and decorations throughout the city. Paris certainly doesn’t disappoint with the Eiffel Tower flanked by Christmas trees and the gorgeous Champs-Elysées shopping street glowing with over 150,000 twinkling lights, few European cities are as magical as Paris at Christmas time. Discover the spectacular display of the City of Lights with a Christmas lights tour around Paris, collect unique souvenirs at one of the seemingly infinite Christmas markets, or learn to cook festive delicacies like pumpkin soup and Bûche de Noël cake with a Christmas cooking class in Paris.

Fiji

  • With fewer crowds and cheaper prices, December can be a good month to travel to Fiji and with more than 330 tropical islands to choose from, you have plenty of options to choose from. From island-hopping cruises to scuba diving to Christmas picnics on the beach, there’s plenty to do.

Malaysia
mt-kinabalu-south-peak

  • December is the very beginning of the peak season for Malaysia, so visitors should make the most of the ideal weather by going on a wildlife tour in the Taman Negara rainforest, hiking in the tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands, or summiting Mt. Kinabalu. Visiting Kuala Lumpur is an absolute must, where the famous Petronas twin towers provide the perfect background for the New Years Eve fireworks.

Macau

  • Known as the ‘Las Vegas of the East’, Macau is as famous for its casinos as it is for its sandy beaches and infamous landmarks. The best reason for visiting Macau this month however is for celebrating the New Year. The city’s 33 casinos will be throwing lavish parties to mark the countdown to 2015, but the main attraction will be the fireworks display over Nam Van Lake.

The Bahamas
bahamas

  • Hurricane season is over in the Bahamas so you can once again enjoy the Bahamas without dealing with checking the weather forecast. The Junkanoo is one of the biggest parties and is held on Boxing Day and New Year’s day. The festival is comprised of riotous street parties and colorful carnival-esque parades held all over the county. The largest and most vibrant parade is held in Nassau, but Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Exuma host similarly flamboyant events.

Lake Tahoe, CA

  • You’re guaranteed a very white Christmas at Lake Tahoe! With the lakeside lined with snow-dusted pine trees, bright light displays, and atmospheric Santa’s villages, there’s plenty of festivities to be had. Feel the Christmas spirit with a horse-drawn sleigh ride around Lake Tahoe, then get active with a snowmobiling, sledding or ice skating trip. It goes without saying but wintertime is also ski and snowboard season and enthusiasts will be have a tough time deciding one of the many mountain resorts surrounding Tahoe.

Los Cabos
Los Cabos

  • Los Cabos will be in a celebratory mood this holiday season. With whale watching, scuba diving, and zip lining oas some of the many options, it’s safe to say this won’t be a traditional Christmas for visitors. During December  tourists can also see the Sabor a Cabo culinary festival sweep the city. Don’t worry – you can burn off the extra calories horse riding on the beach, mountain biking in the desert, or kayaking around the bay.

Tasmania

  • Escape mainland Australia for a trip to the shores of ‘Tassie’, where you can take a scenic drive around the Bay of Fires, hike through the Huon Valley, and come face to face with Tasmanian devils. There is also a lot of ways to celebrate the festive season in Hobart. Popular events include the Taste of Tasmania Festival, which fills the waterfront with gastronomic goodies, local wines, and entertainment over the New Year. There is also the legendary Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Boxing Day, one of Australia’s greatest sporting events, culminating in the Hobart prize giving ceremony.

Singapore
Singapore

  • With temperatures hovering in the 90’s it can be quite different in terms of getting in the holiday mood, but Singapore’s extravagant Christmas light displays and New Years Eve fireworks over Marina Bay show. Even if you’re not there for the main celebrations, December is an amazing time for sightseeing. Be sure to see the views from the Singapore Flyer, try the street food in Chinatown, or get your adrenaline fix at Universal Studios Singapore.

Sydney

  • Technically it summertime in Australia, but that doesn’t stop Sydney-siders from getting in the Christmas spirit. From enormous inflatable Santas in Darling Harbour and a spectacular light show illuminating Sydney Town Hall, to nightly carol concerts and turkey BBQs on the beach, there’s no more atmospheric time to be in Sydney. Stick around for after Christmas too – the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race launches as huge crowds watch on Boxing Day and the gigantic New Year celebrations in Sydney Harbour feature a glorious fireworks display, boat procession, and street party.

Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, NZ

  • New Zealand’s capital of adventure sports is the ideal location for the adrenaline junkie on holiday with whitewater rafting on the Shotover River, the country’s highest bungee jump, or looking out into the wild with the views from the Skyline Gondola. For New Year’s Eve there is a dramatic firework show that  kicks off the biggest event of the summer – the month-long Summer Daze Festival.

London

  • With thousands and thousands of Christmas lights all over Oxford Street, a gigantic Winter Wonderland taking over Hyde Park, a reindeer petting zoo in Covent Garden, and a massive open-air ice rink beneath the Tower of London, London does not skimp on Christmas season. Once you’ve bought all the gifts you can at the city’s many Christmas markets, spent Christmas with Harry Potter at the Warner Bros Studio, and visited Harrods’ spectacular Santa’s grotto, make sure you save some time for the legendary January sales, and the world renowned New Years Eve fireworks display, held over the Thames River with the London Eye and Big Ben in the background.

Oxford Street Christmas Lights, London, Britain

Singapore: The Most Amazing Little Country in the World

SingaporeSingapore is the little country that could — rising from a impoverished and abandoned British colony to most modern city in the world. My Singaporean friends like to brag that Singapore “played a perfect game of Sim city for the last 50 years.” Whatever the rhyme or reason, Singapore is awesome and you should consider making a visit, starting a business, or investing in this best of bread city in Asia.

I started going to Singapore in 2012, as I expanded my hackathon company, AngelHack, into the region. I was shocked by stories of $1,000 fines for putting gum on the ground and executions of tourists who smoke weed, two things which are legal where I live in San Francisco. But, upon entering Singapore I quickly realized I wasn’t in some dangerous foreign land, I was in a Disney-world like country, filled with rules to protect citizens and keep the area safe. Bottle popping night clubs, karaoke parlors, an epic bar scene, and all night restaurants are everywhere throughout the city. To understand Singapore, you must understand it is rated the most competitive country in the world and they built the country around what they believe a productive society should look and feel like.. And whether you think that’s good or bad, it’s totally working!!

Singapore is one of the best places in the world to start a business as an ex-pat. It offers the same tax free shelters as Hong Kong, a super simple process for creating a business, and has an incredible amount of resources at it’s disposal. It’s home to the largest shipping port in South East Asia, a booming tech sector, and is more affordable then most developed country. In general things are 15-20% cheaper than in the USA. Plus, and this is a really  big plus, everyone speaks English!!! Singapore also brings in a diverse group of wealthy individuals for tourism and business conferences. The city is easy to navigate. The government is constantly sponsoring grants to help different industries improve inside the country. There is a lot of family activities like theme parks, shopping malls, and parks. There’s incredible architecture all around you. Basically, no matter what your industry, Singapore is probably a place you can find a lot of business.

All and all, I love Singapore. It’s one of the best developed countries in the world, a gate-way to South East Asia, and has opportunities galore. If you go, make sure to ask people where their favorite restaurants in town are, apart from success, nothing makes a Singaporean happier than talking about food. And notably, their food is amazing also!

My Favorite Cities in North America

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Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved to travel. Something about entering a new city inspires me and makes me feel alive all over again. Over the past 4 years I’ve been to over 50 cities and as I adventure people often ask me which city is my favorite. It’s not really a fair question, every city is special in it’s own way, but most people will tell you the best place to live in the world is America. In light of that, here are my favorite cities in North America — Toronto, San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.

What makes a great city is a mixture of career opportunities, healthy food options, good weather, great people, a good dating scene, and ease of public transportation. Thanks to Uber though, public transport is less of a factor now and has accelerated Los Angeles onto my list. Los Angeles is definitely the black sheep from my list. It gets a bad rap for traffic, shallowness, and a lack of opportunity. But I think Los Angeles is growing up from the Hollywood stereo type more than people realize, especially towns west of the 405 like Santa Monica. San Francisco is the leader in career opportunities and has incredibly amazing things to do nearby — skiing, hiking, wining (wine-ing), theme parks, sailing, camping, hot springs. In my opinion it’s dating scene is sub-par, but it excels so much in other areas that it makes up for it.

Gregory gopman in NYC
New York is incredible on all levels, except for it’s weather in recent years that is bone-chilling cold. That said, you simply can’t find a better place on earth than New York in the Fall.
gregory gopman in toronto

And finally Toronto… Toronto is a gem — Canadians as people are amazing, the dating scene is incredible, and life there is just good. The weather is comparable to New York, incredible in Summer/Fall, but a toss up on what Winter will be like.

Some close seconds to my favorite cities are San Diego, Austin, Vancouver, and DC.  I’m always happy to visit any one of them. I think an exceptional city inspires you to reach high and work towards your potential.

If I had the option, I’d say live a bi-coastal life between New York / Toronto in the Fall and Los Angeles / San Francisco in the spring. If you’re working in tech or looking for a career change, San Francisco should be your choice. Looking for a wife, Toronto and New York. Love the beach — Los Angeles via Santa Monica or Venice. Love the outdoors, San Francisco again. It really doesn’t matter which place you chose, all are world class cities and all are going to provide you a diverse and happy life. For now I live in San Francisco, but that could change at any month. And in the world we live in, your favorite cities are just a plane ticket away.

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