March Madness Kentucky Style
It’s March Madness – that’s college basketball season to the rest of the world – and there is no place in the world better for lovers of college basketball than Lexington, Kentucky! Kentucky fans “bleed blue” and Lexington, home of The University of Kentucky (and this year’s unbeaten 36-0 Kentucky Wildcats), is the perfect place to celebrate the college basketball season. This time of year you can’t turn around in town without seeing “Big Blue” and “Cats” specials everywhere.
So here is your guide for the best places to gear up, eat up, drink up, and soak up some Kentucky Big Blue Madness!!!
- Head to North Limestone Donuts and get a donut. You’ll find it at 575 N. Limestone St. Try the Maple Bacon or the Long John Calipari. Just because. If donuts aren’t your thing, then enjoy the best coffee and company you’ve ever had at Third St. Stuff at 257 N. Limestone. This funky hangout is full of friendly people and there will surely be a wildcat special on the menu.
- Get your Kentucky Gear. Personally I always like to shop local and my favorite little shop is High St. Fly at 887 E High St. It’s got great Unique Kentucky T-shirts and gear that nobody else has! Walk across the street and visit The Morris Book Shop (“MoBoSho”) for their knowledgeable friendly staff and all kinds of books including an entire section of Kentucky books. WHile there be sure to pick up the latest copy of our local STORY Magazine. This well made publication will entertain and inform you. Every edition is a great read. Get a copy of this year’s Kentucky Basketball Yearbook to be sure you have all your information about each player on the Kentucky roster. The Cat’s Paws is a local paper dedicated to information just about the wildcats.
- Take a Tour of The Joe Craft Center: (If you can arrange for one.) This 30 million dollar facility is the practice and training home for the University of Kentucky Men’s and Women’s basketball teams. It is really something to see. You generally have to get somebody local and “in the know” to arrange this but if you have a connection – get ready to be amazed. You will see how the basketball players experience life at UK as student-athletes, and if you are very lucky, you might get a peek into the office of the top cat, John Calipari. Alternatively, you can take a tour of the University of Kentucky and it’s beautiful campus. You won’t be disappointed
- Rupp Arena: Get your picture taken on the original floor of Rupp Arena. If you pull into the Hyatt Hotel valet parking you can run inside the front revolving doors of Rupp Arena and Lexington Convention Center. Just beyond the box office is the original floor of Rupp Arena. This is a great photo opportunity for anyone wanting their picture next to the Rupp Floor. You can’t actually get into the arena when there isn’t an event scheduled – but this is close.
- Have lunch at The Square. Right across from Rupp Arena you can enjoy lots of downtown eateries. You’ll be in the heart of Lexington which provides lots of downtown shopping for wildcat fans! My favorites are Pies and Pints, Saul Good (get the chicken and waffles) and Shakespere and Co. (Try their flowering tea and crepes! ). For the largest piece of pizza you have ever had, head around the corner to N. Mill St. to Goodfellas Pizza.
- Settle in to Watch the Game. Kentucky Basketball consumes this town. So where are you going to watch it? Don’t watch the game alone in your hotel room. If you are lucky enough to be in town for a home game try to get tickets. if you aren’t able to (every game sells out) watching with a crowd of fellow fans is always easy. If you are younger, you might head to The Tin Roof (303 S. Limestone) or Two Keys Tavern (333 S.Limestone). Less rowdy fans might want to check out the Kentucky Theater (214 E Main St.) which shows games free of charge on the Big Screen.
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If you are in North America and just can’t get over to Europe but want to get a feel for the English experience head on up to Ottawa, Canada. Although Canada has been an independent country from England for many years the ties to England are strong and some of beauty of heritage can be seen in it’s traditions and architecture in Ottawa. Be sure to head to Parliament Hill, considered to be the most beautiful centers of government in the world for the daily changing of the Royal Guard. It’s a spectacular experience complete with bagpipes.
Be sure to grab some fish and chips, poutine and maple sugar candy at the local market. Head just across the bridge and your in Quebec. Located on the Rideau river, Ottawa is stunningly beautiful and a tour of it’s amazing embassies, museums and historic buildings will keep your family thrilled. Not to mention many of the tours go on land and into the water.
FAST FACTS (From the Ottawa Tourism Visitors Page)
The ceremony begins on Parliament Hill at 10 am sharp each morning following a march by the Guard from its Cartier Square Drill Hall just south of Parliament Hill and up Elgin Street.
The Ceremonial Guard is assembled from two regiments – the Governor General’s Footguards and the Canadian Grenadier Guards – and also has its own regimental band and pipers who perform in the ceremony.
Most of the Ceremonial Guardsmen taking part in the ceremony are university and college students; all are primary reservists in the Canadian Forces.
Performances are free of charge; for best viewing, arrive on Parliament Hill at 9:45 a.m.
If you like Monkeys then a trip to the Sacred Monkey forest in Ubud, Bali is for you. Long-tailed macaques roam freely throughout the area and wayward tourists mingle amongst them. Be forewarned, you should not buy the food or try to feed them. You will get bitten. There are some beautiful temples within the forest and it is important to remember that this area is still a worship center for many of Balinese who live here and is sacred and should be treated respectfully. It’s hard not to fall in love with Bali.
The Petronas Towers are an amazing site. They are an impressive 452 meters high and once held the tallest building record for six years. We really enjoyed visiting downtown Kuala Lumpur. The food was delicious, the shopping was amazing and there was a fabulous discovery museum by Petronas inside the towers that the kids loved. They are absolutely worth a visit!
#63 Meet the Karen Longneck Tribe, Thailand:
The People of The Karen Longneck Hill Tribe have a long history. They left Burma to escape the conflict there. They have refuge and safety in Thailand and have found trade among the tourism industry here. A visit to their tourism market or the village might feel like you are experiencing a human zoo. Walking through stands and staring at the expanding necks supported by rings. Even some of the children wear them. Although these people have been removed from what was a normal way of life in Burma they have found a new way of life in Thailand. Although controversy surrounds the neck rings and the tourism trade I found it incredibly interesting to visit. The women were lovely to talk to. The crafts were beautiful and our family discussed many of the issues that surrounded the village before and after our visit. It was an experience I’ll never forget.
Watching an FC Barcelona game was at the top of my son’s bucket list. We had ordered tickets in advance once we realized our visit to town coincided with a home game. We were hopeful that we would get to see Lionel Messi play. What I was unprepared for was the amazing tour that you can take of Camp Nou – the FC Barca stadium. The “Camp Nou Experience Tour and Museum” is a fascinating history of the football club and plenty of up close and personal moments to thrill a football fan. We loved walking through the orange hallway like the players do before a match and getting right down to the field where the players sit. It’s a brilliant tour and one that doesn’t disappoint!
Our day was topped off with a big Barca win and two goals by Messi – who also doesn’t disappoint!
As they say… FC Barcelona – mes que en club!
#66 Visit a Children’s Home in Guatemala, Volunteer:
There is a children’s home in the center of Guatemala City that is doing fantastic work. Hope for Tomorrow offers a real home environment for the abandoned and orphaned children of Guatemala. Home to about 17 children, Hope for Tomorrow provides for the physical, educational, medical, psychological, nutritional and spiritual needs of each child and is also now opening the doors to a new preschool program. The preschool will offer more needed services to the community. Hope is truly a home and the people living and working there are a family. After our family visited the home it became a place very close to our hearts. Meeting the children and spending time with them makes you willing to undertake every effort on their behalf. It also makes you appreciate the family you have and mourn the families that these children have lost. Hope offers a wonderful environment in which to grow up. The home works with the government to assist the children in returning with their families or placing them with new adoptive families. Taking time as a family to work with these children, and the fabulous people who have dedicated their lives to them, is a rewarding experience that makes you want do more.
Visit Hope for Tomorrow’s page and see the important work they are doing.
#72 Learn to Surf in Agnes Water, Australia
While driving up the eastern coast of Australia, we discovered the most beautiful little towns of Agnes Water and 1770. These small little towns are fantastic stops to take in the Australia coastline and just stay a few days. The beach was close to erfect. The water was a perfect swimming temperature. There were no crowds. No stingers. and a perfect small break for beginning surfers. There were beautiful views and both towns offered lots of history for the rare moments we left the beach.
The local surf school was fabulous and had both kids learning to surf really quickly. They were both standing up on their boards on the first day!
We stayed right on the beach in a raised tent (chalet) in Agnes Water. It was like an african safari tent with A/C, TV, ensuite bathroom and room for four. It was an ideal setting for several days on the beach in small town Australia.
#73 Visit The Ferrari Museum, Maranello, Italy
My son and husband love cars. It was a dream come true when they got to visit the Ferrari Museum (Museo Ferrari) in Maranello, Italy. Full of race car history and more cars than you can imagine, it was truly a dream for these boys. I have to say, I enjoyed it too. The museum takes you through the history of an Italian auto empire and the cars are as beautiful as they are powerful. Kids, young and old, will like the F1 driving simulator. The nearby town of Modena has some amazing restaurants including the one owned by Luciano Pavarotti’s family called Europa 92. In rural Modena and adjacent to the late maestro’s home – it provided one of the best meals we had in all of Italy. Home to rival auto manufacturer, Maserati and the 12th-century Romanesque Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) there is much to see and do in this part of Italy.
#79 Ride the Sand Dunes outside Dubai: 100 Family Travel Experiences
Dubai is an exciting city with lots of shopping and luxury. For a fun adventure with the kids, go outside the city into the desert. There are two fun ways to take on the dunes. First is by four-wheeler and the second is by SUV. The four-wheelers are fun because you have so much open desert, the sand dunes are huge and you are driving. Our family raced each other over sand hills and through valleys at thrilling speeds. Tackling the dunes in an SUV is different because you are a passenger. Although the vehicle is familiar the surroundings and experience are not. The drivers deflate the tires before venturing into the sand. Then brace yourself for a wild and bouncy ride! I think I laughed hysterically for a full half hour of extreme riding in the dunes. I’m not sure if it was out of real fear or just fear of being car sick. It’s a fun way to experience the desert and kids will love it!