Remember Hanging Out And The World Out There?
March 5, 2002 2:17 AM   Subscribe

Remember Hanging Out And The World Out There? This invigorating article by Jay Walljasper in the current Utne Reader, lists 60 favourite gathering places in the U.S. I half-expected MetaFilter to figure prominently. But then, all of a sudden, it hit me. And I felt guilty about forgetting the real outdoor, face-to-face meaning of the lost art of hanging out . Well, I plan to make amends this weekend. I'll be hanging out at my favourite café in Lisbon - the beautiful eighteenth-century Nicola - where table-to-table political discussions, flirting, studying, hot buttered toast and almost illegally caffeinated espressos are de rigueur. So what's your favourite hang-out? If and when you can tear yourself away from your computer, that is...
posted by MiguelCardoso (62 comments total)
When I was lived in Edinburgh, the bongo club was a favoured haunt of mine.
posted by the cuban at 2:50 AM on March 5, 2002

Shine in Belfast - The best club in Ireland imho. Great mixes on their site (shame they are real audio though) of DJ sets from the club.
posted by twistedonion at 4:32 AM on March 5, 2002

Corner pub. Leave me alone. I'm trying to write.
posted by pracowity at 4:40 AM on March 5, 2002

Why did I know that this thread would go the way of pubs and nightclubs? Doesn't anybody spend time outside anywhere? Do you do things that don't involve alcohol? anyone? Anyone?
posted by Dreama at 4:54 AM on March 5, 2002

Who said anything about alcohol...

In Northern Ireland Outside isnt exactly the most pleasant experience for at least 80% of the year. The other 20% is taken up by 'the silly season'.

I walk my dog - that's enough outdoors for me thanks
posted by twistedonion at 4:58 AM on March 5, 2002

We do most "hanging out" these days at the homes of our friends with little kids -- just seems the only option for them, most of the time. But when I first moved to New York about ten years ago, the gravitational pull of all-night diners, late-night restaurants and the like always grabbed me. The peace of the half-empty space, endless cups of coffee. The pleasure of breakfast food at 11 PM. Quiet conversation or reading the Voice over a cup of soup at the Kiev. The Cozy Soup 'n' Burger. The meditative side of nightlife.
posted by BT at 5:09 AM on March 5, 2002

My friends and I have had a perpetual booth at the Union Street Cafe ever since I was a freshman. On Thursday nights, there are anywhere from 7-10 of us clustered around a table, drinking the 99 cent neverending cup of coffee, talking about pop culture and bullshitting, and enjoying breakfast omelettes at 12 in the morning. Some of my most precious memories come from late night discussions at that restaurant. I swear, before I graduate, one of those coffee cups will be mine.
posted by KoPi_42 at 5:21 AM on March 5, 2002

Mount Monadnock in lower New Hampshire is a great place to spend the day. In the warmer months that is. Pack some food, plenty of water and just hike the entire day. Bask in the sun at the top, hang out and read. Hike around. And it is less then an hour from home.
posted by a3matrix at 5:25 AM on March 5, 2002

Harvard Square and environs, a hundred places from Central Square to The Plough and the Stars to the book stores and all the way to Mount Auburn Cemetery, which is green and still and silent.
posted by pracowity at 5:57 AM on March 5, 2002

Why did I know that this thread would go the way of pubs and nightclubs? Doesn't anybody spend time outside anywhere? Do you do things that don't involve alcohol? anyone? Anyone?

Yeah, I do. In the garden and at Glastonbury it happens outside too.
posted by vbfg at 6:00 AM on March 5, 2002

Mmm, before I moved to the midwest, my favourite hangout was The Library, a cafe in a 1904 warehouse. Full of overstuffed furniture, dimly lit artwork, and rows upon rows of $1 used books. Best damned coffee in town. My favourite table was hidden between two bookshelves, with one single light over it. It was private, I could write, and drink forty-three espressos without provoking comment. Plus, after two or three hours there, I could order one last coffee to go and walk on the beach for awhile, as it was only a block away.

I haven't found a hangout in Missouri yet. Any ideas? Anyone?
posted by annathea at 6:03 AM on March 5, 2002

Yeah, I do. In the garden and at Glastonbury it happens outside too.

How could I forget the greatest outdoor event ever! 5 days a year (when it goes ahead) of magic in a field :-)
posted by twistedonion at 6:08 AM on March 5, 2002

The Galaxy Hut, in Arlington, VA ... or the newly refurbished Smithsonian Botanical Gardens down on the Mall.
posted by crunchland at 6:14 AM on March 5, 2002

If we're going for outdoor places, my favorite here in the ATL is Piedmont Park. A great place to bring a blanket, a book, and your in-lines and spend the day. Tons of people, always a frisbee or volleyball game to jump into, and plenty of tucked away spots for peace and relaxation. Better get there early though, when the weather is nice, parking around the park can get quite jammed. Seems far away now with the weather here being so cold. but it's actually right around the corner now.
posted by bump at 6:17 AM on March 5, 2002

Cheers, bump. :)
posted by grabbingsand at 6:19 AM on March 5, 2002

I'd been curious about Innovox, grabbingsand. I'll endeavor to check it out now.
posted by bump at 6:36 AM on March 5, 2002

I like hanging out of my boxers.
posted by uftheory at 6:37 AM on March 5, 2002

Doesn't anybody spend time outside anywhere?

It's winter here. (nyc)

Besides friends houses (and my desk), Cafe Mogador and Bagel Zone are my Seinfeldian haunts. I'm the really tall guy who needs a haircut.

During warmer months, it's a bench between the water fountain and the Ave. A playground in Tompkins Square Park. Soon though I'll be taking someone new to the playground.
posted by joemaller at 6:45 AM on March 5, 2002

Hey, yeah! Galaxy Hut is great when it's not overcrowded. Crunchland, do you recall a place called Strangeways that used to occupy much of what is now Iota, across Wilson Blvd. from Galaxy Hut? That place was the Cheers of Courthouse-Clarendon corridor for years. Sigh.

Er... sorry for the maudlin.
posted by Fenriss at 6:52 AM on March 5, 2002

Dirty Franks in Philadelphia
posted by mmm at 6:55 AM on March 5, 2002

In north-eastern Idaho, near the Lolo Pass, Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, "for nudists and textiles alike".
posted by liam at 6:58 AM on March 5, 2002

I'll take Franks, and raise you "The Jughandle Inn" on the other side of the river, mmm. If you know that one, you're good. Very good.
posted by Perigee at 7:01 AM on March 5, 2002

I'll second the Plough and Stars, and work across the street from Mt. Auburn cemetary. Great for a nice walk during lunchtime. The tower in the middle offers a great view of Boston...

Another favorite- Diesel Cafe in Davis Square, Slummerville Massachusetts.
posted by kahboom at 7:04 AM on March 5, 2002

When I was in DC I loved Cafe Northwest (sadly now defunct) where I periodically would go to read an entire novel in one sitting, or Teaism or the East Wing of the National Gallery (god bless free museums... sigh.) Now that I am in New York City I love Push on 23rd and 3rd and when it is warm the steps on the south side of Union Square, although they have completely torn these up for subway renovation. I hope they put them back. Also Saint Alp teashops, but you cannot sit there for very long. The garden in Moma is really nice too -- although they are tearing that up as well. The XandO on 75th _used_ to be great when they had power outlets and phone jacks that you could use to dial up for free, but since they merged with Cosi and started serving booze at night they started sucking.

The best possible place was in my hometown of Waynesboro, PA -- there were two parks up on the Blue Ridge Summit mountain that overlooked our whole valley and the stars. They were closed at night but I used to spend five hours at a time up there with my closest friends, just talking. Ahhh.
posted by n9 at 7:07 AM on March 5, 2002

I used to really like spending afternoons strollin along in St James Park, London - welcome relief and just around the corner from booring old school..
posted by Mossy at 7:08 AM on March 5, 2002

Perigee, I do know the "The Jughandle Inn", but I still prefer Franks, or at least it is much more convenient. Years ago I had an apartment across the street from Franks. Now in NYC I often find myself rating bars by how they compare to Franks. (I recommend the International). But at any rate I will be moving back to Philly soon and I am looking forward to the cheap pitchers and the relaxing atmosphere at Franks.
posted by mmm at 7:17 AM on March 5, 2002

My favourite place in Montreal is right at my corner - Jose's Cafe. Tiny, and he makes the best coffee in town, plus a killer omelette or seafood soup. Jose is Portuguese and his staff are mostly from around Marseilles, and they know their seafood soup.

Another favourite in Montreal is Open da night, a little bit out of my neighbourhood but renowned for its all day leisure possibilities.
posted by mikel at 7:18 AM on March 5, 2002

The best outdoor hangout I have ever found is a rock in the hills above Berkeley (there must be about 50 of these), just a big outcropping in the middle of a suburban neighborhood. I've been twice, visiting friends -- and while plenty of beer cans trapped down in crevices and the odd piece of desultory punk graffitti testified to its popularity, there was never anyone else around. Perched above the East Bay, feeling the breeze, smoking (whatever)...the best form of doing nothing imaginable. I'm a compulsive talker, but in a place like that even I am capable of shutting up and, dude, you know, hanging out.
posted by BT at 7:32 AM on March 5, 2002

I clicked on the link, all ready to make an indignant post about how they had failed to understand the midwest, and therefore left out the Plaza in Kansas City. But holy moley, it was included! I'm really impressed. The site of many a high-school date, and the place I made a point of visiting last time I was in town. I also have feelings for the central square in Groningen, Holland, and a little bar/cafe (they serve food too, Dreama) called Flor de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico, not to mention Richie's Pizza in Jerusalem, where there's a bulletin board (an old-fashioned, physical one made of cork) for Americans from all over to find those friends they believe are in Israel somewhere.

annathea: What part of Missouri are you in? I may know something...
posted by bingo at 7:42 AM on March 5, 2002

Here in Charlotte:
Hollywood Grill - nice 24-hour greasy spoon with some damned fine pancakes. The perfect coming-down after several hours of loud industrial music.
Thai Taste - the cosiest Thai restaurant I've been to in Charlotte, good food, nice atmosphere, and for some inexplicable reason, the layout lends itself well to good conversation.
Fat City up in NoDa is good when it's not overrun by hipsters.

What this city needs is a quiet late-night coffeehouse. We had one in a Caribou Coffee on Providence but that one closed down, and the one in Dilworth is always so bloomin' noisy.
posted by sigma7 at 7:48 AM on March 5, 2002

Nice call on Piedmont Park - spent many a beautiful day there lying on my back watching the clouds. When in Atlanta, don't forget the supreme hangout, the EARL.
posted by clowersayshaw! at 7:53 AM on March 5, 2002

bingo, Utne is based in the midwest (in Minneapolis). When they cover the US they really seem to cover the US. Usually they include all of North America, which is even better.
posted by mikel at 8:13 AM on March 5, 2002

My favorites include:

Borders cafe: its midway between where I work and my partner works.

The Monroe County (Indiana) library: downtown, one block away from the bus stop, a half block away from good eats, the perfect hangout for an information glutton.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:22 AM on March 5, 2002

I'm in Kansas City! And I haven't found anything good yet, though I haven't explored the Plaza as thoroughly as possible. I'm in North Kansas City, so I've got ready access to about four Wal-Marts within a five mile radius. That's about it.

Hint me!! Tell me somewhere good to go. :)
posted by annathea at 8:29 AM on March 5, 2002

Why did I know that this thread would go the way of pubs and nightclubs? Doesn't anybody spend time outside anywhere? Do you do things that don't involve alcohol? anyone? Anyone?

Gee, you waited for three whole posts to go by before ostentatiously wringing your hands? What took you?

Jesus, why do you care? Your fingers must be very well-developed with all the waggling.
posted by Skot at 8:36 AM on March 5, 2002

I lauged at the fact that Mount Adams in Cincinnati was listed. I try to avoid that area. I prefer Ritchies Chicken in Over-the-Rhine where you can buy 144 whole chickens for $1000. Fries Cafe by the University of Cincinnati, where there is lawn bowling on the roof, and our own table. Sunday brunch at the Proud Rooster where my friends and I have been continously eating brunch since 1997. As for outdoor venues, Fountain Square is as nice as anything, and the Quad @ the University of Cincinnati is good for the scenery [if you know what I mean].
posted by plemeljr at 8:41 AM on March 5, 2002

In Salt Lake, I'd suggest 9th and 9th, 15th and 15th, Liberty Park, or Park Ward chapel grounds (between Harvard and Yale Streets in the 1200s.

Aside from the grounded hang outs, there's the once-monthly "Gallery Stroll" -- when local galleries stay open late to accept strollers and to launch new exhibits (very cool) -- ask the Phillips Gallery for details.
posted by silusGROK at 8:54 AM on March 5, 2002

This is nostalgia for an imaginary past which crossed apple-pie neighborly Americana with European sidewalk cafes. Americans have not gathered out-of-doors for conversation since the invention of the air conditioner.

posted by Mars Saxman at 9:19 AM on March 5, 2002

I bought a swing for my front porch. I don't go anywhere else any more.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:21 AM on March 5, 2002

I have gone on (and on, and on) here about the astonishing beauty, grace and charm of my hometown (Charleston, SC) - nice to see it and Savannah both listed.

The pull of this fair city was enough to bring me back from Manhattan a number of years ago. Not long after I came back, I was walking to midnight mass on Christmas Eve with my brother. Turned a corner down one of the little alleys and came to an abrupt stop. No cars on the street, no real sign of electric light, a bright moon, stately old houses, church bells ringing in the background - I literally felt as if I had stepped back 200 years. We just stood there and took it all in for a moment.

Another favorite place of mine here is on one of the barrier islands - we can walk up the beach about four miles and civilization just vanishes. Very cool to lie on the beach and look up at the stars. I got to watch sea turtle eggs hatch and run for the ocean, and even helped right the balance of nature by keeping predators away.
posted by ebarker at 9:25 AM on March 5, 2002

I will disagree with Mars a bit and agree with the Utne. The chain of lakes mentioned in Minneapolis is blocks from me. And while it is snowing outside now (big fluffy snowshaker snow) in a matter of weeks I will begin my daily bike rides around them and part of the fun is watching the different groups of people sitting on the grass around the shores. My other favorite hang outs I won't mention, they are already a bit too crowded.
posted by chrismc at 9:33 AM on March 5, 2002

The best outdoor hangout I have ever found is a rock in the hills above Berkeley (there must be about 50 of these), just a big outcropping in the middle of a suburban neighborhood.

That's *got* to be Indian Rock. It is pretty nice up there; for outdoor places, I actually prefer the fire trail that runs up behind the stadium there (to that one peak -- the one with a large path running down it -- that I can see from my house). Other hangouts in Berkeley include the now defunct Wall Berlin (no successor as yet, apparently.), and Sproul Plaza, of course. The most popular bar around here seems to be Jupiter, and they do have a fantastic patio, but I think I prefer either Bigums Silver Lion up on Telegraph and (approx) 51st, or Acme bar (which just opened) down on San Pablo and University.

Best secret hangout for beer drinkers is the fourth friday of every month in the spring/summer -- which is coming up again soon! ...
posted by fishfucker at 9:34 AM on March 5, 2002

"Diggs Town, Norfolk, Virginia - Dangerous housing project transformed into a vital low-income neighborhood thanks to architectural redesign directed by the residents."

I'm amazed my adopted city of Norfolk, Virginia made the list (or makes any list). But I'm dumbfounded that the Diggs Town 'hood was chosen - Diggs Town maybe a transformed and revitalized area (and this is obviously a good thing), but it's a neighborhood that frowns on people "hanging out". Unless you want to get hassled by the cops or the new low-income home owners - plan to do your hanging around in Norfolk's Ghent neighborhood - which is much more friendly to skateboarders, bar goers, runners, walkers, cyclers and people socializing out in the open.
posted by wfrgms at 9:49 AM on March 5, 2002

Huh. They list the Nebraska State Capitol as a hangout--it's a really great building (I live 9 blocks from it), but it's not a good hangout at all. Seating is scanty, the lighting is poor, but the art and the knowledgable tour guides are fabulous.

The places I go to hang out in Lincoln are: A Novel Idea Bookstore, The Coffee House, and Rogue's Gallery (local bar with comfy couches where they don't care if you hang out all night and drink soda). These are student-oriented hangouts, mainly because most of the people I know in Lincoln (apart from co-workers) are students of one stripe or another.

When I was in high school back in Michigan, we'd hang out at the Big Boy or the Village Bakeshop. Or the cemetery that was at the end of my street. And then there was Area Code 313 in Waterford...I don't think it's there anymore, though.
posted by eilatan at 10:02 AM on March 5, 2002

I used to live about ten minutes' walk from Diesel, kahboom, and nothing in Berkeley has yet measured up. Yummy coffee, sunshine, cute counter girls, used bookstore next door...

So we bought a French press and now we hang out on our porch.
posted by blissbat at 10:12 AM on March 5, 2002

the kong in harvard square, back before the renovation. we used to go there almost every night, order nasty, greasy-ass appetizers and plastic mugs full of fruity alcoholic swill, and talk for hours about all the shit that seemed so important to us in college.
posted by shylock at 10:49 AM on March 5, 2002

In Victoria, BC... I like to take walks to Moss Rock and the old cemetary nearby, especially at night. Moss Rock seems like a mountain when you're trying to scale the side, at night, while stoned. And once you're at the top, you've got a great view of the city & the harbour. At the other end of the city, in James Bay, is the Breakwater, where you can almost always see baby seals swimming in the water. And if you go there during a storm, it's even more fun (only if you don't mind getting soaked by the crashing waves). I guess my favorite part of Victoria is the whole Dallas Road stretch, which has the Breakwater at one end, and Moss Rock at the other, and lots of park in between.

My favorite pub is Thursdays, there's usually great music, and on Sundays and Mondays pool is free.
posted by skwm at 11:48 AM on March 5, 2002

Ala Moana Beach Park

Very close, wide range of activities available. Good year round.
posted by scottymac at 11:56 AM on March 5, 2002

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C. - Public monument offering Americans an outlet for their complicated emotions about a wrenching war.

Feh. Utne Reader is all wrong on this one. No one I know likes to hang out there. Aside from the fact that the place is crawling with tourists, the whole place has an oppresive feel... not to mention that it's not really designed to be a place where one lingers... no benches, no real place to sit down.... unless you count the whole reflecting pool area, west of the Washington Monument, and east of the Lincoln Memorial (a large portion of which is currently fenced off while they build the controversial WW2 memorial). No. I can see hanging out down on the Mall in general, but that specific spot? Absolutely no way.
posted by crunchland at 12:24 PM on March 5, 2002

Utne Reader lists Central Park; to be more specific the Sheep Meadow, Manhattan's beach.
posted by liam at 1:40 PM on March 5, 2002

This, this and this is where I hang out. It also happens to be where I live.
posted by Lynsey at 2:04 PM on March 5, 2002

In Portland Oregon it is Powell's Books, the largest new & used bookstore in the world. This time of year, Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood is cool (where the shining was filmed), and later, Crater Lake.
posted by Mack Twain at 2:30 PM on March 5, 2002

In DC: The Haupt Garden behind Smithsonian Castle or in Peace Park across the river in Arlington, VA.

Here in Milwaukee: during the summer, the festival grounds or on my porch. Throughout the rest of the year, Schwartz Books, Beans & Barley Cafe or Paddy's Pub.
posted by aine42 at 3:43 PM on March 5, 2002

annathea: Besides the Plaza, there's Westport (not far away), and half an hour away is Lawrence, a nice college town with a decent nightlife and live music scene. I tried to email you, but it bounced back. Write me if you want more details.
posted by bingo at 4:23 PM on March 5, 2002

Pike Place Market? In a pig's eye! Man, that place is wall to wall, big butt to big butt tourist from April through September. I go to Lowell's for breakfast sometimes, before 8 AM on a Sunday morning. Other wise, downtown is Tourist Town, a must to avoid. Twice Sold Tales gets a vote but then Nevada's an Emeritus there.There's plenty of other small venues but why tell Macy's? When the Doghouse was open... well, but that was then.
posted by y2karl at 9:47 PM on March 5, 2002

I like Twice Sold Tales. Also, don't know if it's still open, but the Globe Cafe, on 14th St. I believe, great vegan food, great atmosphere. Used to go to Eileen's on Broadway, but I hear it's closed.
posted by bingo at 10:21 PM on March 5, 2002

Ahh...the chain of lakes in Minneapolis, I used to blade around at midnite in the summer. But Hidden Beach is more obscure and Twin Lake is good if you really want to hang out. Of course, nothing else in Minnesota beats the BWCA.
posted by yonderboy at 2:44 AM on March 6, 2002

Seeing how South Florida's pretty useless unless you want to trudge all the way to Miami to gawk at nude women on South Beach, my high school years were spent screwing around at the Fort Lauderdale Airport while returning errant carts for cash. In DC, The Mall is great. Except in July. Then it's as hot as hell.
posted by owillis at 2:51 AM on March 6, 2002

posted by y2karl at 3:34 AM on March 6, 2002

y2karl: Fascinating, I didn't know that. And of course that explains why part of Ileen's was called "The Ernie Room" was a dive, but I had a lot of good times there. Partly because I used to live about 2 blocks away, I'll admit.
posted by bingo at 8:29 AM on March 6, 2002

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