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Decatur among great places for business travelers

8:15 PM, Jan 22, 2014   |    comments
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Decatur, Ga. listed among best neighborhoods

USA TODAY -- Decatur is listed among the best places for business travelers, according to the American Planning Association.

Frequent business traveler Cale Potter-Chambers can name many favorite public spaces, neighborhoods and streets that make his days away from home more enjoyable.

"You can't beat the combination of jogging trails with great weather and amazing views" at Embarcadero Marina Park near the San Diego Convention Center," says the sales consultant from Mobile, Ala., who spent about 130 nights on the road last year.

Potter-Chambers also likes the "up-and-coming neighborhood" of East Nashville, Tenn., for its farm-to-table restaurants and great bars, and the intimate planned community of Southlake outside of Dallas.

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"As Ferris Bueller said, 'Life moves pretty fast,'" Potter-Chambers says. "If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.'"

Many business travelers' schedules on the road may be too hectic, but many others find time to appreciate special public places of the towns they are visiting.

Travelers with some free time may want to consider the 30 Great Places - 10 public spaces, 10 neighborhoods and 10 streets - chosen for 2013 by the American Planning Association, a non-profit educational organization.

The association, which picks Great Places annually, says each of its Great Places represents "the gold standard" for "a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement and a vision for tomorrow."

The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail begins at the Alaska Railroad Station on Second Avenue and continues along the Knik and Turnagain arms of Cook Inlet to Kincaid Park.

It connects more than 40 miles of trails and seven city parks and provides recreation for cyclists, runners, wheelchair users, skaters and skiers, the association says.

Forest Park in St. Louis encompasses 1,371 acres - about 500 acres larger than New York City's Central Park, the group says. Forest Park is home to about 30,000 trees, the Missouri History Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Saint Louis Science Center, the Saint Louis Zoo and the Muny, an outdoor musical theater, which bills itself as "America's oldest and largest outdoor musical theater."

Great neighborhoods for 2013 include San Francisco's Chinatown and downtown Norwich, Conn.

The association says Chinatown is a cultural capital and an immigrant gateway. "The unique sense of place found within this ethnic enclave comes not only from the architecture and compact street grid, but a cultural identity that has persevered for more than 160 years," the association says.

Downtown Norwich, located at the confluence of three rivers and overlooking "picturesque Norwich Harbor," has "buildings of monumental character and dramatic views," the group says.

Among other attributes, the downtown area includes historic architecture, a 200-slip marina, pedestrian paths and an 80-seat black-box theater. The group's great streets include Palafox Street in Pensacola, Fla., and The Strand in Galveston, Texas.

Eight blocks of Palafox Street between Wright Street and Main Street offer "wide sidewalks, colorful Crepe Myrtle trees and balconies extending from building facades" that protect pedestrians from the hot sun, the association says. Two plazas - Ferdinand and Martin Luther King Jr. - anchor the street. The latter, located at the intersection of Garden and Wright streets, hosts "one of the country's most celebrated farmers' markets," the association says.

The Strand (Avenue B) in Galveston was once called "The Wall Street of the Southwest," because it attracted banks, wholesalers, cotton brokers and other merchants. "The buildings, designed by Galveston's leading architects, are exquisite examples of Victorian architecture and represent one of the country's largest collections of cast iron historic commercial buildings," the association says.

2013 GREAT PLACES IN AMERICA

Great neighborhoods
San Francisco: Chinatown
Norwich, Conn.: Downtown Norwich/Chelsea Landing
Decatur, Ga.: Downtown Decatur
Evanston, Ill.: Central Street Neighborhood
Mason City, Iowa: Downtown Mason City
Covington, Ky.: Historic Licking Riverside
Minneapolis: Kenwood
Beaufort, S.C.: Beaufort Historic District
Norfolk, Va.: West Freemason
Madison, Wis.: Williamson Marquette

Great streets
Milford, Del.: North and South Walnut Street
Pensacola, Fla.: Palafox Street
Honolulu: Kalakaua Avenue
Virginia City, Nev.: C Street
Las Vegas, N.M.: Bridge Street
Corning, N.Y.: Market Street
Jim Thorpe, Penn.: Broadway
Philadelphia: Ben Franklin Parkway
Galveston, Texas: The Strand (Avenue B)
Staunton, Va.: West Beverley Street

Great public spaces
Anchorage: Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Los Angeles: Grand Park
Hollywood, Fla.: Broadwalk
Boston: Norman B. Leventhal Park
Cambridge and Watertown, Mass.: Mount Auburn Cemetery
St. Louis: Forest Park
Newark: Essex County Branch Brook Park
New York: Grand Central Terminal
Chattanooga, Tenn.: Walnut Street Bridge
Vancouver, Wash.: Esther Short Park

Source: 30 Great Places by the American Planning Association

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