Experiencing the quintessential of a place
May 16, 2009 9:12 AM   Subscribe

I like to travel, and generally try to visit and take part in the unique things a place has to offer. Even so, I still find joy in experiencing the quintessential (if often cliché) things to do in a place. Drink a pint of Guinness in an Irish pub, for instance, or run with the bulls in Pamplona. What are the other "You must ____ in ____!" experiences around the world?
posted by nitsuj to Travel & Transportation (79 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
Kiss your partner at the top of the eiffel tower in Paris.

Skate on the Rideau canal and have a beaver tail in Ottawa.

Eat chicken wings in Buffalo, NY.

Ride a gondola in Venice.
posted by thenormshow at 9:16 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Eat a hot dog in Chicago. No ketchup!
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:20 AM on May 16, 2009

Hunt caribou in Alaska.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:26 AM on May 16, 2009

Smoke pot in Amsterdam.
posted by meerkatty at 9:26 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Eat crabs in Maryland.
posted by puckish at 9:27 AM on May 16, 2009

Ride the footboards of a cable car in San Francisco (the Hyde street line).
posted by gyusan at 9:29 AM on May 16, 2009

Get mugged in Central Park.
posted by box at 9:30 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

Hang out at Lifeguard stand number Nine (Posto Nove) on Ipanema Beach in Rio. Whilst there, drink the juice straight out of an ice cold coconut. Then have the person who sold you the coconut, crack the thing open with a machete, and slurp out the glorious insides with the little makeshift coconut spoon that he hands you.
posted by msali at 9:31 AM on May 16, 2009

Tomato fight in Buñol!
posted by so_necessary at 9:37 AM on May 16, 2009

Go to a sauna at someone's summer place (and get drunk before, during and after) in Finland.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:42 AM on May 16, 2009

Be looked down upon by a French person in Paris.
posted by fire&wings at 9:57 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Go to Powells City of Books in Portland, Oregon.

Eat sugar on snow in Vermont.

Drive real slow through the mountains in the fall admiring the leaves in Vermont.

Mountain bike at Moab.

Drink alcohol on a street corner in New Orleans.

Lose your money gambling in Las Vegas.
posted by idiopath at 9:57 AM on May 16, 2009

Have lunch here.
posted by Zambrano at 10:13 AM on May 16, 2009

Cross the scramble crossing in Shibuya, Tokyo.
Drink belgian beers, each in its own unique glass, in Bruges.
Eat Fish and Chips by the British seaside.
Moan about public transport in London.
posted by Sifter at 10:16 AM on May 16, 2009

Drink a Bellini here.
posted by Zambrano at 10:17 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Canoe trip through Algonquin park.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2009

Sneak a quick picture in here.
posted by Zambrano at 10:20 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Kiss the Blarney Stone.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:38 AM on May 16, 2009

Watch a sunset on Santorini.
posted by WowLookStars at 10:38 AM on May 16, 2009

Stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.
posted by FergieBelle at 11:01 AM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

Watch the July 4th fireworks on the Mall in Washington, DC.

Attend a presidential inauguration or the first day of a new congress.
posted by jgirl at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2009

- Watch the Palio horse race in Sienna.
- Go for a swim in the Aare River in Bern.
- Visit the Alhambra in Granada.
- See Michelangelo's David in Florence.
- Visit Parc Guell and La Sagrada Famillia in Barcelona, and walk La Rambla.
- Hike up a mountain in Vancouver (try the Grouse Grind).
- Bike or jog the seawall in Vancouver.
- Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
- Smoke some weed in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.
- Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back (or take a mule ride).
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2009

Eat barbecue in Eastern NC.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:13 AM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]

Body Surfing on Sandy Beach in Hawaii
posted by tke248 at 11:16 AM on May 16, 2009

drink Manzanilla with seafood at the Bajo de Guia area of Sanlucar de la Barrameda, Spain
posted by mrmarley at 11:19 AM on May 16, 2009

Take the ferry in Sydney (best views of the opera house & bridge).
posted by kestrel251 at 11:21 AM on May 16, 2009

drink a singapore sling at the raffles hotel, singapore.
posted by modernnomad at 11:36 AM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Eat fish and chips on the beach anywhere in the UK. Bonus points if it's raining slightly.
posted by Lotto at 11:41 AM on May 16, 2009

Beer garden in Munich.
Maybe clam chowder in Boston?
posted by ubersturm at 11:41 AM on May 16, 2009

Drive the Atlantic Highway in Norway (preferably on a cold, wet, windy, stormy day).
posted by webhund at 11:50 AM on May 16, 2009

Smoke a joint in Amsterdam

Eat a cheesesteak in Philadelphia
posted by sickinthehead at 12:05 PM on May 16, 2009

Take a tour of Monet's gardens in Giverny (outside of Paris). It's like walking through a painting!
posted by radioamy at 12:13 PM on May 16, 2009

Get some lobsters in Maine.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 12:19 PM on May 16, 2009

Touch the statue of St. John on the Charles Bridge in Prague. (It's supposed to bring good luck, and is worn to a clean shine by being constantly touched. Right hand only, as I was firmly told by the Czech person next to me, who grabbed my hand when I went to touch it with my left.)
posted by felix grundy at 12:22 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ping pong show in Bangkok
posted by lukeo05 at 12:25 PM on May 16, 2009

- Ride a chicken bus in Guatemala.
- Eat the best meal of your life, bought from a roadside food vendor in Thailand, while sitting on a plastic chair.
- Ride the train, second class sleeper, across a good chunk of India. Be sure to drink many cups of chai sold by chaiwallas.
- While you're in India, also make sure to get your fortune told by a vedic astrologer. I take great comfort in the knowledge that I will live to be 87.
- Go to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
- Spend a lazy summer Sunday morning in Central Park, eating a bagel with lox and cream cheese and reading the Sunday Times. Winter version: do this in an Upper West Side coffee shop/diner.
posted by lunasol at 12:27 PM on May 16, 2009

You must bike in Copenhagen.
posted by flif at 12:43 PM on May 16, 2009

Buy a chicken and watch it be fed to the tigers in Harbin, China.
posted by cosmac at 12:58 PM on May 16, 2009

- Smoke a joint in Amsterdam
- If you're not into that, drink a beer at In De Wildeman in Amsterdam
- If you're not into that, eat fries with mayonnaise (or fry sauce) in Amsterdam
posted by transporter accident amy at 1:01 PM on May 16, 2009

Have a brat in Sheboygan!
posted by elliemm at 1:07 PM on May 16, 2009

Visit the Imam Mosque in Iman Square, Isfahan (Iran).
posted by number9dream at 1:28 PM on May 16, 2009

Stand on the equator in Ecuador.

Take the Staten Island Ferry in New York.

Get fast food on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
posted by puckish at 1:46 PM on May 16, 2009

Ride a camel in the desert and swim in a cool oasis outside Dubai, UAE or thereabouts.
I recommend against doing the quintessential Bangkok thing.
Ride on top of a train in India.
Throw a boomerang and play a didgiridoo in the Austrailian outback.
posted by ctmf at 2:06 PM on May 16, 2009

"Houston, we have a problem"

Visit the Johnson Space Center/Space Center Houston in Clear Lake, Houston. You get to see a Saturn V rocket and some other neat mission control stuff.
posted by abdulf at 2:08 PM on May 16, 2009

Drink absinthe in Prague
Go to Oktoberfest in Munich
Do La Tomatina in Buñol
Eat a Mozartkugel in Salzburg
Hold a koala/try Vegemite in Australia
Eat gelato in Italy
Go to the Highland Games in Inverness
Climb Kjerag in Norway and stand on Kjeragbolten
posted by JauntyFedora at 2:34 PM on May 16, 2009

Go to a strip club in Montreal.
posted by musofire at 2:54 PM on May 16, 2009

Ice skate in Central Park (in season) and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Touch the tomb of Marie Laveau (asking for something) in New Orleans. If your petition comes to pass, you must go back and make an offering.
posted by Morrigan at 2:58 PM on May 16, 2009

There's a new travel-tip website, Trazzler, which is entirely devoted to recommendations exactly like this -- contributors post very specific and distinct experiences one can have in specific places. (Full disclosure -- I am one of said contributors; albeit, one of a great many.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:01 PM on May 16, 2009

Ride a jeepney in the Philippines.
Eat at a night market in Taipei.
Shop for electronics in Akihabara.
Eat sushi at 5am after gawking at the Tokyo fish market.
Chocolate con churros for breakfast while nursing a hangover in Spain.
posted by crinklebat at 3:05 PM on May 16, 2009

Go to the Tulum ruins in Mexico, but don't spend a lot of time looking at the ruins themselves, since other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan are more impressive. Instead, swim at the beautiful beach there below the ruins (wear your suit under your clothes, since there aren't really any changing facilities).
posted by gudrun at 3:13 PM on May 16, 2009

Eat a steak dinner in Buenos Aires.
posted by joshers13 at 3:14 PM on May 16, 2009

Visit Greenwich and take a cheesy photo of yourself straddling the Prime Meridian and set your watch to exact GMT.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:34 PM on May 16, 2009

Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:50 PM on May 16, 2009

Kiss the cod (get Screeched) in Newfoundland.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:52 PM on May 16, 2009

Kiss the cod (get Screeched) in Newfoundland.

Yep, we'll keep this one alive so long as there's mainlanders willing to pay for the privilege.

I suggest taking a bike ride in Amsterdam. While high.
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:12 PM on May 16, 2009

Get to Ibu Oka before the lunch rush (before they sell out) in Ubud, on Bali, for the best pork lunch in a styrofoam take-out container you'll ever have.

Have your picture taken at a temple in Kyoto with a group of Japanese junior/senior high school girls on their school trip, all in uniform, all flashing the peace sign, all while standing in the midst of a temple that is several hundred years old.

Walk through the Qingping market in Guangzhou. Note the amazing variety of wildlife available, from scorpions to badgers, for consumption by people braver than you.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:39 PM on May 16, 2009

Bungy jump in Queenstown, New Zealand
posted by hmca at 5:01 PM on May 16, 2009

Buy electronics in Akihabara.

Watch a pro football game at Lambeau Field, a baseball game at Fenway Park and a college football game in Notre Dame Stadium (there are, of course, other candidates for each of these).
posted by box at 5:12 PM on May 16, 2009

Go to Carnaval in Salvador, Brazil.
posted by wallaby at 5:25 PM on May 16, 2009

Catch a ferry in Sydney
Eat a doner in Berlin
Eat a pretzel in Munich
Vodka in Russia
Goulash in Hungary
Fried cheese in Prague
Zurek in Poland

It is vaguely possible that I am obsessed with food.....but I do love trying out the local street fair.
posted by kjs4 at 5:34 PM on May 16, 2009

And poutine the fries in Canada.
posted by kjs4 at 5:34 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Victoria Peak in Hong Kong
Helicopter Ride on the Napali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii
Stop at Bell's Beer in Kalamazoo
Jet Boat Ride in Queenstown, New Zealand
Carnival in Trinidad
South Beach in Miami
Pat Pong or Soi Cowboy in Bangkok
Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda
posted by jasondigitized at 5:47 PM on May 16, 2009

get an egg cream on the lower east side, nyc.
posted by saul wright at 5:54 PM on May 16, 2009

Float in the Dead Sea
posted by Arbac at 6:00 PM on May 16, 2009

Share a mate in Paraguay or Uruguay

Take a picture with a tango dancer in Buenos Aires

Manipulate the perception of distance in your photos in the desert (Northern Chile/Bolivia, Egypt, etc...)

Ride a funicular in Valparaiso, Chile.

And I was going to say what Puckish said, except that its more cliche to stand on what is not the equator in Ecuador.
posted by nzydarkxj at 6:16 PM on May 16, 2009

I was told that I had to eat at Carnivore in Nairobi, Kenya. [I didn't.]
posted by bluestocking at 6:32 PM on May 16, 2009

Poaching in the Congo.
posted by gman at 7:12 PM on May 16, 2009

Shoot a cow with an RPG in Cambodia.
posted by gman at 7:18 PM on May 16, 2009

Ask a (Japanese) tourist to take your picture in the Rocky Mountains (Canada), especially at Lake Louise.
posted by kch at 8:24 PM on May 16, 2009

See the view from the observation deck of the Empire State Building in NYC
Go ice fishing in January in Minnesota
Drive down Lombard Street, the world's crookedest street, in San Francisco
Eat Rocky Mountain Oysters in parts of western North America
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:41 PM on May 16, 2009

When in LA it is imperative to drive up the PCH in a convertible.
posted by forallmankind at 10:02 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Watch a baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago!
posted by SisterHavana at 10:09 PM on May 16, 2009

Skate in Rockefeller Center.

Go to Kuwait Towers on a clear day.

Go to Shaybah in Saudi Arabia.

See the redwoods in the SF Bay Area.

See the Indy 500 in Indianapolis.

See all the stars in the sky anywhere there's no light pollution and a clear sky.

See Gatorland in Central Florida.

See the sun rise or set in Texas Hill Country when the wildflowers are present.
posted by ambient2 at 1:23 AM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Watch an F1 race in Monaco from a table at la Rascasse (and do it soon, before Ferrari leave the sport).
posted by Zambrano at 9:30 AM on May 17, 2009

Have an Inka Kola with your meal in Peru
Drink ouzo in Greece
Eat a Xiaolongbao in Shanghai
Sip dragonwell tea in Hangzhou
Take a picture with your reflection at the bean in Chicago
Eat jerk chicken in Jamaica, 'mon!
posted by gushn at 8:19 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some recent trips:

Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace
Visit the top of the Empire State Building, especially at night
Drive the Coast Road in northern California
Attend a ceremony at an Indian reservation in New Mexico
See the most photographed lighthouse in the world in Portland, Maine (self-link)
Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston
posted by backseatpilot at 7:42 AM on May 19, 2009

Take a picture with Elvis in Vegas.
Walk through Manhattan in the snow.
Take pictures of the monuments in Washington, DC.
Watch the sunset over the Pacific.
posted by talldean at 5:59 AM on May 22, 2009

Have a beer at the Tin & Lint in Saratoga Springs, NY
posted by kapu at 2:06 PM on May 22, 2009

If I read it correctly, this entire thread has (count em) only 2 references to the African continent, and both of them are shite - there's much better eats in Nairobi than Carnivore and the other one was a joke. Allow me to round out your list with the 6th continent (you'll have to find someone else to speak to Antartica).

- See the great whites breaching off of Seal Island, outside Cape Town, South Africa
- Climb Table mountain in Cape Town
- Tour SoWeTo in Johannesburg
- Safari in southern Kruger Park, SA
- Take the world's highest abseil in the mountains of Lesotho
- Surf / dive off the coast of Mozambique
- See the Quirimbas Archipelago off of Mozambique
- See the sand dunes in Namibia
- Pole through the swamps of the Okavango Delta in Botswana
- Raft the Zambezi river between Zambia and Zimbabwe
- Hop in Devil's Pool at the top of Victoria Falls
- Snorkel in Lake Malawi
- Climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania
- Explore Stone Town / Zanzibar off of Tanzania
- See the massive migration in the Masai Mara - Kenya / Tanzania
- Explore Nairobi in Kenya
- Dive off the coast of Lamu or Malindi in Kenya
- Walk with the chimpanzees in the hills of western Uganda
- See the gorillas in northern Rwanda, or in Congo
- Visit the ancient slave castles on the coast of Ghana
- See the desert outpost of Timbuktu in Mali
- Explore Dakar in Senegal
- See Isle de Gore off the coast of Dakar
- Visit Africa's smallest country - The Gambia
- Swim with the whale sharks off of Djibouti

I haven't gotten to the more touristy bits of North Africa yet, but that should give you a start.
posted by allkindsoftime at 2:12 AM on May 23, 2009

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