Close by the border of northern Iowa sits the small town of Worthington. If you just pass through it may seem like every other town nearby with fast food and a Wal-Mart. Like almost anywhere, off the beaten path there’s tons to be found! Tucked in a small neighborhood in the middle of town sits the Dayton House (built way back in 1890!) which is rightfully on the National Register of Historic Places! The plaque out front even gives the history of the home! “Worthington bankers and real estate developer George Draper Dayton commissioned this home for his family of six. The Historic Dayton House was constructed over four months during the summer of 1890 for a cost estimated to be less the $20,000. Designed by Wallace Dow — a leading architect with several prominent Sioux Falls, SD, buildings to his credit — the house is a Georgian Colonial Revival structure that reflects the New England upbringing of both Dow and Dayton. Distinctive features include a covered front porch supported by large Doric columns, decorative pilasters, and dentil molding trim, a front entryway accented with leaded glass sidelights, a side porch and a widow’s walk. The interior boasts 10-foot ceilings, oak/cherry pocket doors, five fireplaces, and a central open staircase. Owned until 1902 by Dayton, the house was later occupied by three different families: the Smallwoods (1902-1931), the Cashels (1932-1991), and the Gjertsens (1992-2001). After decades of use as a nursing home/boarding house (1940s through about 1990), many of the home’s original features had been obscured. Historic Worthington, Inc., with the encouragement of George Draper’s grandson, Bruce Dayton, and the generous support of the Dayton family and the Target Corporation, completely restored the structure beginning in 2002. Since the project’s completion in 2004, the Historic Dayton House has been used as a community gathering place for hosting public and private events.”
Not far from the Dayton House is the Pioneer Village which features historic buildings plus live blacksmiths, woodworkers, and more! We just happened to stop by on 4th of July this year and they were having their annual Tractor Parade showing off the wheels of classic and modern tractors owned by local farmers!
If you look through any guidebook, tourism maps, or travel websites you’ll undoubtedly read about the Mary Tyler Moore filming locations that are scattered across Minneapolis. Perhaps the most famous, and the one that makes for the best photo op, is the statue of Mary herself tossing her hat like in the opening theme to the show! While I was in town the Nicollet Mall area was completely torn up and undergoing intense construction so the statue was moved from its original location at Nicollet Mall & 7th to inside the Visitor’s Center a few blocks away.
Another instantly recognizable location from the show is the house in which Mary rented the top-floor apartment!
The story goes that the owners of the house while the show was airing got so tired of people stopping by their house and taking photos, they hung political banners around the property the next time the camera crew was around to take more exterior establishing shots — hence the reason for Mary moving to her new high-rise apartment in season 6. That particular building can basically be seen from all over town!
Mary’s skyscraper workplace, WJM Channel 12, can be found in the downtown area just steps away from the statue!
Perhaps my favorite place to visit was the restaurant balcony where Mary had lunch with a friend (her real-life husband) in the opening theme. Today, the eatery is called Basil’s and is so proud of its television history that it even installed a plaque! If you call ahead, you can even make reservations at this special table! When we were seated, the manager told us that people ask to be seated there on a daily basis!
As seen on screen in: The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970 – 1977).
While each of the Twin Cities has its own special charm. Saint Paul, with only around 300,000 residents, is the state capitol but still seems to be overshadowed by its slightly bigger neighbor.
Saint Paul, MN
The downtown area in the once named “Pigs Eye” — the nickname of the first European settler in what would later become Saint Paul — has the world famous streetcar Mickey’s Diner which is a must-go when you’re in town. This small eatery has been in continuous operation at this location since 1939 and is, rightfully so, named to the National Registry of Historic Places! Come in and take a seat at the counter and you’ll be transported back to the 90’s when this local landmark appeared in The Mighty Ducks and Jingle All the Way!
As seen on screen in: The Mighty Ducks (1992), Jingle All the Way (1996), and several others!
Just a couple blocks from Mickey’s is the small Rice Park. This small plaza has several bronze statues scattered about of all the Peanuts characters!
One thing you’ll notice right away about the Twin Cities is the seamless mixture of historic and ornate buildings along with modern and glass skyscrapers. The magnificent Saint Paul Hotel is a perfect example!
Minneapolis, just over the Mississippi River from the state capitol of Saint Paul, is the larger of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. The downtown area is home to Target Field (home of the Twins) and the newly finished US Bank Stadium that will house the Vikings in the upcoming NFL season. If you venture out of the downtown area, there’s tons to discover in the Mill City!
Target Field, as I mentioned, is home to the Minnesota Twins and offers a fantastic view of the surrounding skyline just over the right field wall! If you’re in town during the baseball season I highly recommend taking in a game!
This amazing clock tower that overlooks 5th Street is above the Hennepin County Courthouse and Minneapolis’s City Hall. As you can imagine, the beautiful rose granite building is on the National Register of Historic Places! That being said, the exterior is not allowed to be changed so the skyways that connect the rest of the downtown buildings is instead a “pedestrian tunnel” that goes under both 4th Street and 5th Street!
Like most metropolitan areas, Minneapolis (as well as Saint Paul for that matter) has a fantastic Metro system that connects the two cities!
Bob Dylan, whose childhood home is in the northern city of Hibbing, is represented all over town as a local legend!
If you find yourself walking down Marquette Avenue, be sure to check out the gorgeous indoor courtyard of the IDS Center!
Los Angeles has been a mecca for street art for years now with many world-known and high profile names leaving their mark on the city. Space Invader has made a few trips to the City of Angels (even supposedly getting arrested for vandalism back in 2011) and surprisingly several of his pieces still remain up to this day. Like many other big-name street artists, Space Invader’s pieces are usually stolen right off the wall by someone looking to resell it or keep it as a trophy for themselves. This big installation in Westlake was put up and stolen several years ago but has recently made a triumphant return. Was it put back up by the artist himself? Or possibly the shop owner? Your guess is as good as mine…
Working my way through the AFI Top 100 Greatest Films of All-Time!
#96 — Do the Right Thing (1989)
When most people think of canals in LA County they immediately picture the famous Venice Canals just north of the Marina del Rey boundary line. A more hidden, tourist free canal can be found in Long Beach in the Naples neighborhood. The beautiful — yet tiny — Naples Park sits on the Rivo Alto Canal and even on cloudy days offers a nice view of the Peninsula across the water!
Just off the freeway in the high desert city of Victorville — near a few power plants and water treatment plant — is Emma Jean’s Holland Burger. Ever since way back in 1947 this small diner has been serving up breakfast and lunch on the historic Route 66. The menu has all the breakfast classics but what they’re really known for is their burgers. The Holland Burger itself as well as the Brian Burger are a must! Besides serving up classic American fare for decades, Emma Jean’s has also appeared in several films and TV shows! The Quentin Tarantino fans will instantly recognize it from Kill Bill Vol. 2! Although short, it’s probably my favorite scene from the whole movie! Grab yourself a glass of water and check the clip out here!
As seen on screen in: Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004).
Silver Lake is no stranger to public art spaces, street art, and/or graffiti. The Bates Motel on Sunset Boulevard (named simply because the small side street it sits on is Bates Avenue) was once a local motel, but it’s now scheduled to be torn down to make way for a new mixed use building. Before this local landmark gets torn down, French artist Vincent Lamouroux covered the entire thing in white, eco-friendly limewash paint. And yes, that even includes the billboard and tall palm trees (the tops of the trees were also painted but Mother Nature has taken her course and washed that small bit off)! This dilapidated building is no stranger to big name street artists. Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant), Space Invader, and plenty of others have also left their mark here at one point or another!
A lot of attention has been paid to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley due to the recent passing of former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Now the couple both call this beautiful property their eternal resting place after Nancy was buried next to her late husband last month. Whether you agree with Reagan’s political views or not, it goes without saying that his time in office had many historical events. The library itself is great for Americans both young and old that are looking to learn more about our past. The long list of traveling exhibits is fantastic as well (including the huge Baseball and Football exhibits)! These statues of Ronald and Nancy Reagan can be found inside with a quote above them that reads, “America’s best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments are yet to be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead.” -Ronald Reagan.
Working my way through the AFI Top 100 Greatest Films of All-Time!
#51 — West Side Story (1961)
Almaden Expressway is the main thoroughfare that connects the wealthy neighborhood of Almaden to the 87 Freeway and the downtown area. Ever since the tech boom exploded in Silicon Valley, Almaden Expressway has been continuously getting busier and busier and they keep raising the speed limit as well. Most people from the area will recognize this cow proudly standing above the Sherwood Inn which is known simply as “The Green Cow.” While it used to be the same faded green as the awning on the front of the building, it recently had a makeover and now catches the eye even more of drivers cruising down the Expressway!
It’s not hard to find amazing graffiti around town. A lot of it is hidden in back alleys or under freeways because the city is pretty vigilant when it comes to painting over it. However, the stretch of train tracks that parallels Slauson Avenue in South LA is always covered in bright and colorful pieces. This area even made a brief appearance in the film Straight Outta Compton!
This unassuming ranch style home in Los Altos has just been unanimously voted to become a historical landmark. To most people it just looks like any other home, but in reality this home once belonged to the parents of Steve Jobs. It was inside this home that Jobs, Steve Wozniak and their team created the first Apple computers. Along with its real-life history, the recently released film Steve Jobs — starring Michael Fassbender as the man himself — filmed at this home. After some slight remodeling, director Danny Boyle and the crew were able to bring it back to its 1970s appearance! The value of this home you ask? Oh, just a cool $1.6 million! You can click here to read more about this world famous site!
As seen on screen in: Steve Jobs (2015).
The streets of Beverly Hills have been immortalized on countless films and television shows over the years. That — paired with its designer shops and celebrity owned eateries make it a hot spot for tourists from all over the world. One movie that hilariously shows what it could be like for someone from out-of-town is the late, great Chris Farley’s Beverly Hills Ninja. In the film, Haru (Farley) arrives in “the Hills of Beverly” to save the gorgeous Sally Jones. To ensure his safety, Haru’s ninja brother Gobei follows him around. In one scene, Gobei disguises himself to look like one of these statues as Haru aimlessly searches for Sally.
As seen on screen in: Beverly Hills Ninja (1997).