Larry Olmsted

Correspondent

  • Vermont, USA

Larry Olmsted is an at-large Forbes Travel Guide correspondent who lives in Vermont but regularly treks around the world as an award-winning journalist who has covered travel for more than 15 years. He writes the “Great American Bites” column for USAToday.com, previously wrote the “Life on Vacation” column for USA Today, and is the longtime contributing travel editor to Cigar Aficionado magazine. He has contributed to numerous travel guides, including the Michelin Green Guide, and writes regularly for both US Airways’ and American Airlines’ magazines. He also writes “The Great Life” column for Forbes.com.

  • On July 31, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the five best Reno food experiences?

    1. Start Your Day The Mexican Way: This is the Southwest after all, and Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs has long been Reno’s breakfast favorite, with tis myriad Mexican selections.

    2. Go Euro: The weather is good much of the year, so enjoy a late afternoon or early evening on the rooftop bar at Brasserie Saint James with a house made Belgian beer and one of several mussel or charcuterie options.

    3. Think Red Meat: This is meat and potato country, and the best steakhouse in town in the one in the Atlantis Casino, with high quality USDA prime beef, and all the classic accompaniments, from jumbo shrimp cocktails to creamed spinach.

    4. Red Meat, Part 2: It may not look like much, but the Cactus Creek Steakhouse in the Bonanza casino consistently wins top spot in local readers polls, thanks to its standout prime rib – this is what you come for, thick, juicy and succulent.

    5. Basque in Time: Reno was once a huge sheepherding community and traces of its Basque heritage remain. Take a seat at one of the family style tables at Louis’ Basque Corner and dig in to either classic Basque specialties or the heaping mounds of American comfort foods served up in the uniquely convivial atmosphere.
  • On July 31, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where are the best places to stay in Reno?

    In Reno the options are pretty much limited to casino hotels, and while most of the ones downtown are somewhat faded, the stand alone trio, Atlantis, Peppermill and Grand Sierra are surprisingly impressive. Atlantis has the town’s only concierge tower, with large rooms featuring oversized whirlpools, and its spa is outstanding, truly world class, with all the usual amenities plus hammam, cold room, salt room, etc. It also has the best steakhouse in town. The Peppermill also boasts a large spa, excellent pool complex, and rooms with jetted tubs, while the revamped Grand Sierra has lots of family friendly amenities like a bowling alley, movie theater, and more, plus the city’s liveliest nightlife scene.
  • On July 31, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where are the best places to eat in Reno?

    It’s nice to get out of the casino hotels, and Reno’s culinary claim to fame is its Basque heritage, going back to sheepherding days. The classic spot is Louis’ Basque Corner, opened in 1967 – though its signature Basque cocktail, Picon Punch, dates to 1837, a blend of Amer Picon (bitter orange liqueur), soda, brandy, and grenadine (like a less sweet, less tart margarita). Food is served family style with at least one Basque special nightly (beef tongue, chicken Basquaise, oxtails, chicken and rice). The newest hotspot is Brasserie Saint James, a brew pub doing Belgian style beers and bistro, from mussel dishes to an Argentinean grilled platter. If you do go in for casino dining, it is hard to beat the Atlantis Steakhouse in the Atlantis, Reno’s most luxurious casino resort, a first-rate, old school masculine chophouse with all the trimmings.
  • On July 31, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What is the best golf experience in Reno?

    Since the PGA Tour’s Reno-Tahoe Open is played at a private club (Montreaux), the premier course you can play in the region is Edgewood Tahoe, right on the water in Stateline, with its famous par-3 17th along the beach. It has hosted the US Senior Open and annually is home to the nation’s top celebrity tournament, the American Century Championship. Other top public choices around the region are Coyote Moon, Northstar at Tahoe, Red Hawk and the Dragon at Gold Mountain.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best attractions in Kansas City?

    The must see attractions include a mix of museums, neighborhoods and the Crown Center, the world headquarters of KC-based Hallmark, which includes the Hallmark Visitor’s Center, the city’s aquarium, the Crayola flagship store, Legoland Discovery Center and tons of shops and restaurants. As for museums, the top choices are the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, National World War One Museum, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the American Jazz Museum. Then there is unique Country Club Plaza, an entire pedestrian friendly neighborhood that was built in 1922 as the nation’s first suburban-style shopping mall specifically designed for the newly popular automobile. Patterned on sister city Seville, Spain, Country Club Plaza is full of white Mediterranean facades and fountains, home to KC’s best shopping and much of its top-shelf dining.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where is the best nightlife in Kansas City?

    The renovated Power & Light District is the heart of KC nightlife, with indoor and outdoor bustling bars, an outpost of the popular PBR (Pro Bull Riders) Big Sky, serious urban nightclubs (Angel’s Rock, Hotel Nightclub), a huge outdoor beer garden in warm weather, dueling pianos (Howl at the Moon) and a new branch of Texas’ wildly popular Alamo Drafthouse, combing first run movies with treat food and drink. All of this is found in a four square block area.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best sports venues in Kansas City?

    Kansas City has two big time professional teams both of which have enjoyed much success over the years. Major League Baseball Royals play in open air Kauffman Stadium, which like the rest of KC, is famous for its elaborate fountains. The National Football League Chiefs play in historic Arrowhead stadium, which got a $375 million facelift in 2010, also under the open sky. But it might be more fun to check out one of KC’s less well known teams, like T-Bones minor league baseball at CommunityAmerica ballpark or the Renegades arena football at American Royal Court.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best overall restaurants in Kansas City?

    Depending what you want, KC has great food for all taste. Barbecue is paramount here and there is no single better place to enjoy the city’s full gamut of smoky taste than at the legendary Oklahoma Joes. It’s very casual – in a still functional gas station – but numerous critics have singled it out as the nation’s very best. A stockyard center, Kansas City loves red meat, and the Golden Ox, located in the stockyard district, has been doing it right since 1949, and is also full of historic KC memorabilia. The farm-to-table craze has taken off here, and Justus Drugstore, near the airport, has received plenty of national attention for its only from scratch, only from local farmers fine dining in a casual setting. Italian is huge here, and while beloved local red sauce institution Garozzo’s is famous for inventing another KC specialty, speidini, marinated skewered meat oozing juicy goodness, the best is Lidia’s, by the first lady of Italian American cooking, cook book author, TV personality and acclaimed chef Lidia Bastianich.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best kids activities in Kansas City?

    The Crown Center is the end all and be all for kids, with several marquee attractions in one vast complex including the Legoland Discovery Center, Hallmark Visitors Center, Sea Life Aquarium, the city’s only public outdoor skating rink, Hallmark’s hands-on Kaleidoscope creativity center, several theaters with love performances, almost daily live entertainment and special exhibitions, and kid friendly dining. Beyond the Crown Center are the Anita Gorman Conservation Discovery Center, a 10-acre self-guided wetlands park in the middle of the city; the Kansas City Zoo; and during baseball season, KC Royal’s Major league home games.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What is Kansas City’s dining scene like?

    Hearty beats out fancy here and the 800-pound gorilla of Kansas City dining is barbecue, and as an amalgam of the nation’s styles, this is the best place in the country to try great smoked meat of every description, from Texas brisket to Memphis-style ribs to Carolina pulled pork sandwiches and KC’s own creation, burnet ends, heavily seasoned and slightly crunchy cubes of twice smoked exterior brisket. Legendary options include Oklahoma Joe’s, Gates Bar-B-Q and Danny Edwards Boulevard BBQ. KC also has a rich Italian history and for local flavor it’s hard to beat Garozzo’s, which has spent a quarter century in the Columbus Park neighborhood near downtown and whose claim to fame is the invention of spiedini, now a regional staple. Sort of like shish kebab, it involves marinated chunks of meats cooked on skewers but gets vastly more complex. Garozzo’s signature chicken spiedini is “Marinated chicken breast, rolled in Italian bread crumbs, skewered & grilled,” oozing explosive tastes of lemon, garlic, herbs and olive oil. There are several other versions as well. Finally, as a longtime stockyard locale, KC loves its steak, especially corn fed American USDA prime beef, and the classic steakhouses here are The Golden Ox, M&S Grill and Plaza III in Country Club Plaza.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best museums in Kansas City?

    For its size, Kansas City has a wealth of museums. The most prominent is the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, one of the nation’s best. Heavily endowed and flush with cash during the Great Depression it was able to amass a world-class collection at fire sale prices. In 2007, the nearly $100 million Bloch wing, named for benefactor Henry Bloch, cofounder of accounting’s H&R Block fame (he changed spelling), opened and was promptly named a Top 10 New Architectural Marvel by Time Magazine. The other must-see is the National World War One Museum, by the same designer as the Holocaust Memorial in DC. The museum is heavily interactive: you can literally poke your head into the horrors of trench warfare or design your own War Bonds posters. The round museum is split into two halves, one for before the US entry into the war and one for after, with a great short film in between, complete with smoke and special effects. The other notable offerings are the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, with a Louise Bourgeois spider sculpture in front, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and the American Jazz Museum.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where is the best shopping in Kansas City?

    Those seeking out retail therapy will be very pleasantly surprised to discover the unique Country Club Plaza. This was the very first suburban-style shopping mall in the nation, specifically designed with the newly popular automobile in mind, a centralized park and stroll concept that was revolutionary when it opened in 1922. It is patterned on sister city Seville, Spain, with white Mediterranean facades and fountains (the “City of Fountains,” KC has more than anyplace else in the US), and quite reminiscent of Addison Mizner’s South Florida architecture. The several streets comprising this open-air shopping district contain most of the city’s best retail (Tiffany, Burberry, Restoration Hardware, L’Occitane, Sur La Table, Athleta, etc.) as well a large share of the city’s top restaurants. The other notable spot is the Crown Center Mall with the nation’s flagship Hallmark and Crayola stores (both KC based) and many others. Since KC is famous for barbecue, it’s worth noting that nearby Olathe is home to the most amazing retail emporium of the genre, with everything from thermometers and spice rubs to the world’s largest collection of BBQ sauces and tow-behind competition smokers, all at the amazing Kansas City Barbecue Store.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where is the best BBQ in Kansas City?

    There are three major regional variants of barbecue in the US, Memphis-style (ribs, tomato-based sauce), Texas-style (beef brisket, little or no sauce), and Carolina style (pulled pork and sauces of vinegar or mustard). Kansas City is a melting pot where they all come together, plus the city’s own contribution to the BBQ lexicon, burnt ends, crusty spiced exterior cubes of brisket. For this reason, KC has arguably the best barbecue scene in the world and excels at every style, and many critics rightfully consider Oklahoma Joe’s just across the border in KS the very best. They make perfect ribs, perfect brisket and amazing sandwiches, and usually have a line at the door when they open. A second, larger location is in Olathe, KS, nearby. KC has several other tops standouts, most notably Danny Edwards Boulevard BBQ (great ribs) and the locally popular Gates Bar-B-Q chain, where you order at a cafeteria style counter. Gates and the more famous Arthur Bryant’s chain are locked in fierce competition but Gates is better.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best hotels in Kansas City?

    Luxury lodging is not Kansas City’s claim to fame, and the city does not have a single Forbes 4 or 5-Star rated hotel, but it still has some good choices for visitors. The classic art deco Hotel Phillips is a landmark that was recently renovated and has great location in the heart of downtown, within walking distance of the Power & Light District. The hotel bar famously serves the city’s shortest happy hour: $1 drafts of local microbrews from 5-5:15PM. Also located by the Power & Light District, the Hilton President is the city’s grand hotel, since 1920 and has been home to everyone from Houdini to Sinatra. The Ambassador is a new stylish downtown boutique hotel, with just 43 well-appointed rooms featuring modern technology and luxury bathrooms with large walk-in showers. The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center is a very reliable hotel with the chain’s Heavenly Beds and Heavenly Baths, but its best asset is its location, especially for families, directly connected to the downtown Crown Center, the headquarters of Hallmark, with an aquarium and Crayola flagship store.
  • On June 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    When is the best time to visit Kansas City?

    Kansas City rarely gets crowded, so seasonal influxes are not an issue, but weather can be, as the region enjoys four distinct seasons, with winter fairly cold and summer very hot and humid, 90-100° with high moisture levels. For climate, September and October are best and often feature an “Indian summer” with warm sunny days and cooler nights. This is also the season of the city’s biggest annual event , the American Royal, held from early September to mid-November at the fairgrounds, an ongoing series of rodeos, cattle exhibitions, live entertainment and other activities, with the highlight being the World Series of Barbecue in early October, the premier such event in the entire world. May and June are also quite nice though in late June summer temperatures begin to arrive.