Hit the Road to March Madness

Updated: June 6, 2007, 1:58 PM ET
By Brett Pauly | ESPN SportsTravel senior editor

• Click here for host cities: Buffalo | Lexington Sacramento | Winston-Salem | Chicago | Columbus | New Orleans Spokane | San Antonio | San Jose | East Rutherford | St. Louis | Atlanta

• Women's NCAA Tourney Travel Guide

So your team's seeded an 8? Don't hesitate … even if the No. 9 squad its up against has better odds of winning. (9s are 47-41 in the first round.)

And, you there, are you confident that No. 5 placement the old alma mater secured is really that secure? You know a 5 is going to lose to a 12 somewhere. It happens more frequently than 6s trumping 11s.

But this isn't about stats and odds and such. This is about heart and passion and pride, all mixed up with skill and a pinch of luck. Yes, your school has made it to the Dance. But are you gonna be there to add your chorus to the crowd's clamor as the starting five take to the hardwood?

It's simple geometry, really. You're at point A; you need to get to point B. But the clock's against you. Tick-tick-tick. And those travel deals won't wait. It's time to fish or cut bait, friend. Now that's pressure … arghh.

Decompress. We've got you covered, from how to get there to where to stay, dine, drink and otherwise be entertained once you're on site at any of the 13 cities hosting this thing we call March Madness.

Welcome to the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament Travel Guide:


Georgia Dome
Atlanta's Georgia Dome is the final (four) destination on this road trip that is March Madness. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)



FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS — MARCH 15 and 17

BUFFALO
• Arena: HSBC Arena
• Hosts: Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Canisius College and Niagara University
• Address: One Seymour H. Knox III Plaza, Buffalo, N.Y.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: West Chippewa Street, Allentown
• Sports bar: Pearl Street Grill & Brewery (76 Pearl St.; 716-856-2337) — right downtown, 10 plasma screens, four microbrews brewed on the premises.
• Restaurant: E.B. Green's (2 Fountain Plaza; 716-855-4870) — when an ordinary steak just won't do.
• Cheap eats: City Grill (268 Main St.; 716-856-2651) — don't be deceived by the white linens; inexpensive soups, sandwiches, steaks to be had.
• Attractions: Niagara Falls; Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum; and Anchor Bar — birthplace of the beloved Buffalo wing.

ico_orbitzBuffalo travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

LEXINGTON
• Arena: Rupp Arena
• Host: University of Kentucky
• Address: 430 W. Vine St. Lexington, Ky.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: Downtown near Victorian Square offers a plethora of entertainment options in "the city in the park."
• Sports bar: Trumps Sports Bar & Grill (3130 Mapleleaf Drive; 859-543-2278) — if you're looking for a local feel and a bar menu, you've found it, along with steaks, salads, seven big-screen TVs and seven small screens.
• Restaurant: Malone's (3347 Tates Creek Road; 859-335-6500) — for a super fine steak purchased from only the best butchers in Chicago.
• Cheap eats: Brooklyn Pizza (3090 Helmsdale Place; 859-263-5855) — it may not feature actual New York pies, but this 'za is about the best in town.
• Attractions: Ashland estate; Mary Todd Lincoln House; Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill; Kentucky Horse Park, because, after all, what's Lexington without horses; "Mister Ed" might have suggested also visiting the horse farms of Calumet, Claiborne and Three Chimneys; take a bourbon distillery tour (Maker's Mark and Wild Turkey are nearby); and Kentucky Artisan Center (in Berea).

ico_orbitzLexington travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

SACRAMENTO
• Arena: ARCO Arena
• Host: University of the Pacific
• Address: One Sports Parkway, Sacramento, Calif.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: Old Sacramento (Old Town)
• Sports bar: Center Court with C-Webb (3600 N. Freeway Blvd.; 916-419-4667) — this Chris Webber-owned "homage" to basketball is less than a mile from the hoops arena and features 32 flat screens, five Jumbotrons, an outside patio with TVs and fire pits, bar, private dining room (think ribs and steaks) and a variety of basketball memorabilia; Streets of London Pub (1804 J St.; 916-498-1388) — enjoy "pub grub" of fish and chips, bangers and mash and shepherds pie, wash down with English beer, watch your team on plasmas and bring a few quarters for the all-British jukebox.
• Restaurant: Firehouse Restaurant (1112 Second St.; 916-442-4772) — for an elegant dining experience, you can't miss with this mansion inside a restored 1850s fire station, complete with vaulted ceilings, wood paneling, a fireplace and fresh flowers on every table, along with specialties of salmon, crab cakes and veal.
• Cheap eats: Fanny Anne's Saloon (1023 Second St.; 916-441-0505) — with a loud and friendly crowd, this old-fashioned beer and burger joint offers an arcade, booth-style seating and a full bar.
• Attractions: Old Sacramento; Golden State Museum; State Capitol; Sacramento Zoo; Sutter's Fort; California State Railroad Museum; Funderland; and the Delta King.

ico_orbitzSacramento travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

WINSTON-SALEM
• Arena: Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum
• Host: Wake Forest University
• Address: 2825 University Parkway, Winston-Salem, N.C.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: Downtown, especially Fourth and Trade streets, but also on Seventh
• Sports bar: Fox and Hound English Pub & Grille (Thruway Mall, 367 Lower Mall; 336-722-6000) — upscale, yet casual, where the sophisticated sports hounds gather.
• Restaurant: Sweet Potatoes (529 Trade St.; 336-727-4844) — visit for a fine variety of soups, salads, sandwiches and Southern-style entrees, along with fun side dishes, at this locally owned establishment.
• Cheap eats: Kopper Kitchen (241 W. Fifth St.; 336-724-2691) — definitely old school, with cracked vinyl booths, collard greens and fried fish, among other Southern staples.
• Attractions: Old Salem; Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts; Reynolda House; Museum of American Art; Southern Center for Contemporary Art at Hanes Estate; and Mount Airy, a side trip on your quest to find the mystical Mayberry … and where Andy Griffith actually was born and raised.

ico_orbitzWinston-Salem travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

FIRST AND SECOND ROUNDS — MARCH 16 and 18

CHICAGO
• Arena: United Center
• Host: Big Ten Conference
• Address: 1901 W. Madison St., Chicago, Ill.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: Upscale scene to be seen along State & Rush in the Gold Coast area, all are welcome in The Loop/Downtown, hip and trendy stuff in Bucktown/Wicker Park, and always-classic Wrigleyville/Lincoln Park areas
• Sports bar: Joe's (940 W. Weed St.; 312-337-3486) — a vast warehouse of a venue near Lincoln Park with more than 120 televisions and 14 ten-foot screens, expect no shortage sports, live music and private parties, for those so inclined
• Restaurant: Gibsons Steakhouse (1028 N. Rush St.; 312-266-8999) — locals apparently are the heart and soul of this where where Streisand and Sinatra performed, but hoops fans from far and near are welcome to sample the steaks & chops and ribs & chicken.
• Cheap eats: Billy Goat Inn (1535 W. Madison St.; 312-733-9132) or Billy Goat Tavern (430 N. Michigan Ave.-Lower Level; 312-222-1525) — under the same ownership, any burger joint that announces "enter at your own risk" and "butt in anytime" is our kind of place.
• Attractions: Michigan Avenue Shopping, Wrigley Field (tours may be available), U.S. Cellular Field, Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, Water Tower, John Hancock's Signature Room, Shedd Aquarium and any of Chicago's many, varied and indelible museums.
• More in the ESPN SportsTravel City Guide: Chicago

ico_orbitzChicago travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

COLUMBUS
• Arena: Nationwide Arena
• Host: Ohio State University
• Address: 200 West Nationwide Blvd., Columbus, Ohio
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: Short North Arts Districts, Arena District
• Sports bars: The Frog Bear & Wild Boar Bar (343 N. Front St.; 614-621-9453) — right outside the hoops arena, with more than 40 TVs, VIP room, live music and a DJ; Brothers Bar & Grill (477 N. Park St.; 614-232-9020) — cold drinks, hot crowd; Varsity Club (278 W. Lane Ave.; 614-299-6269) — near Ohio Stadium, and where to go for all things Ohio State and sports.
• Restaurant: M (2 Miranova Place; 614-629-0000) — Columbus' best for seafood and steaks.
• Cheap eats: El Vaquero (3230 Olentangy River Road; 614-261-0900) — Mexican dishes, done right.
• Attractions: Jack Nicklaus Museum; Ohio Statehouse; German Village; North Market; and Ohio Historical Center.
• More in the ESPN SportsTravel City Guide: Columbus

ico_orbitzColumbus travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

NEW ORLEANS
• Arena: New Orleans Arena
• Host: Tulane University
• Address: 1501 Girod St., New Orleans, La.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: The world famous French Quarter brings in the tourists, but just across Esplanade Avenue is the Faubourg Marigny, which is filled with hip restaurants, bars and music clubs.
• Sports bar: Tucker's Tavern (869 Magazine St.; 504-522-0440) — plenty of televisions, cold beer and friendly faces, with great bar food, too (try the deep-fried, stuffed hamburgers).
• Restaurant: Restaurant August (301 Tchopitoulas St.; 504-299-9777) — John Besh won the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast in 2006, and you'll know why after sampling his cuisine which draws from local roots (Besh is a native son) and accentuates them with international flavors.
• Cheap eats: Mother's Restaurant (401 Poydras St.; 504-523-9656) — this New Orleans institution offers up some of the best po'boy sandwiches in town, and also offers delicious gumbo, seafood plates and a host of other traditional 'Nawlins fare.
• Attractions: You can't beat a stroll down Bourbon Street or a visit to Harrah's Casino. But if you want something more low-key, tour historic St. Louis Cathedral, spend an afternoon at the fabulous National D-Day Museum or bring the kids to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas overlooking the Mississippi River.

ico_orbitzNew Orleans travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

SPOKANE
• Arena: Spokane Memorial Arena
• Host: Washington State University
• Address: 720 West Mallon Ave., Spokane, Wash.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: Revitalized downtown area, from the retail shopping bonanza to Riverside and Sprague avenues.
• Sports bar: Jack and Dan's Bar & Grill (1226 N. Hamilton St.; 509-487-6546) — neighborhood feel, campus atmosphere, oh, and the saloonkeeper is the father of former Gonzaga and Utah Jazz star guard John Stockton. Enough said.
• Restaurant: Clinkerdagger (W. 621 Mallon St.; 509-328-5965) — a landmark dinner house with fine seafood (think lobster, prawns, scallops and crab) and the house specialty of rock-salt roasted prime rib of beef
• Cheap eats: Franks Diner (1516 W. Second Ave.; 509-747-8798) — great breakfast, but get there early as it's an old presidential boxcar with limited seating.
• Attractions: Historic Davenport Hotel and Tower (established 1914), with its elegant Peacock Room known regionwide for unique stained-glass ceiling and unrivaled martinis; Cliff House at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars; Centennial Trail; Jundt Art Museum; Bowl and Pitcher (geologic phenomenon near the swinging bridge that spans Spokane River at Riverside State Park).

ico_orbitzSpokane travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

REGIONALS — MARCH 22 and 24

SAN ANTONIO — South Regional (Plan out your Power Weekend)
• Arena: Alamodome
• Host: University of Texas-San Antonio
• Address: 100 Montana St., San Antonio, Texas
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: River Walk, Saint Mary's Strip
• Sports bar: Tex's Sports Bar (200 S. Alamo St., in the Hilton Palacio del Rio; 210-222-1400) — ice-cold beer and Texas-style appetizers to accompany any and all TV coverage.
• Restaurant: Boudro's on the River Walk (421 E. Commerce St.; 210-224-8484) — the go-to place for Texas-style seafood and steaks.
• Cheap eats: La Calesa (2103 E. Hildebrand Ave.; 210-822-4475) — family-owned Mexican restaurant, features Yucatan-region cuisine.
• Attractions: River Walk; The Alamo; Fort Sam Houston Museum; Market Square; and San Antonio Museum of Art
• More in the ESPN SportsTravel City Guide: San Antonio
• Plan your Power Weekend to San Antonio and the Sweet 16

ico_orbitzSan Antonio travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

SAN JOSE — West Regional
• Arena: HP Pavilion
• Host: San Jose State University
• Address: 525 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose, Calif.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: SoFA District (South First Area), San Pedro District
• Sports bar: Scores Sports Bar and Grill (417 S. First St.; 408-971-6646) — five large projection screens, VIP booths with individual plasma flat screens equipped with DirectTV sports packages.
• Restaurant: A.P. Stump's Chop House (163 W. Santa Clara St.; 408-292-9928) — primo steaks a short stroll from the HP Pavilion.
• Cheap eats: Taqueria Tlaquepaque (721 Willow St.; 408-287-9777) — arguably the best Mexican restaurant in the Silicon Valley.
• Attractions: Tech Museum of Innovation; San Jose Museum of Art; and Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies (featuring the largest collection of Beethoven materials outside of Europe).

ico_orbitzSan Jose travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

REGIONALS — MARCH 23 and 25

EAST RUTHERFORD — East Regional
• Arena: Continental Airlines Arena
• Host: Rutgers University
• Address: 50 State Route 120, East Rutherford, N.J.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: Just over the bridge is a little someplace called New York City. TriBeCa, West Village, Lower East Side (Alphabet City)
• Sports bar: The 40/40 Club (6 W. 25th St.; 212-832-4040) — the sports life, as interpreted by hip-hop mogul and sports nut Jay-Z.
• Restaurant: Oceana (55 E. 54th St.; 212-759-5941) — seafood like it's served on your rich uncle's yacht.
• Cheap eats: Virgil's BBQ (152 W. 44th St.; 212-921-9494) — barbecue so Texas, you'll forget you're in … New York City!
• Attractions: Statue of Liberty; Ellis Island; United Nations; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art; American Museum of Natural History; Hayden Planetarium; Bronx Zoo; and Wall Street. And that's just a start.
• More in the ESPN SportsTravel City Guide: New York City

ico_orbitzNew York City travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

ST. LOUIS — Midwest Regional
• Arena: Edward Jones Dome
• Host: Missouri Valley Conference
• Address: 701 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, Mo.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: The Loop, Laclede's Landing (The Landing), West Port Plaza, St. Louis Union Station
• Sports bar: Al Hrabosky's Ballpark Saloon (800 Cerre St.; 314-241-6969) — the old Cardinals reliever serves 'em up near the ballpark.
• Restaurant: Tony's (410 Market St.; 314-231-7007) — superior Italian, the only AAA five-diamond restaurant in Missouri.
• Cheap eats: The Schlafly Tap Room (2100 Locust St.; 314-241-2337) — a microbrewery that serves sandwiches and meals, many of which include beer in the recipes.
• Attractions: Anheuser-Busch Brewery; Gateway Arch/Jefferson National Expansion Memorial; St. Louis Art Museum; Missouri Botanical Garden; and International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame.
• More in the ESPN SportsTravel City Guide: St. Louis

ico_orbitzSt. Louis travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

FINAL FOUR — March 31 and April 2

ATLANTA
• Arena: Georgia Dome
• Host: Georgia Tech
• Address: One Georgia Dome Drive, Atlanta, Ga.
• Web site | Seating chart | Buy tickets
• Nightlife area: Midtown, Buckhead, Underground Atlanta, Little Five Points
• Sports bar: Jocks & Jills Sports Grill (1 CNN Center; 404-688-4225) — the city's main sports hub; even pro athletes sometimes drop in.
• Restaurant: Bone's Restaurant (3130 Piedmont Road N.E.; 404-237-2663) — the last word on prime steak.
• Cheap eats: Thelma's Rib Shack (302 Auburn Ave.; 404-688-5855) — Atlanta's best, classic, down-home Southern restaurant; order the fried chicken and cornbread.
• Attractions: Underground Atlanta; World of Coca-Cola; Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum; High Museum of Art; and Margaret Mitchell House & Museum.
• More in the ESPN SportsTravel City Guide: Atlanta

ico_orbitzAtlanta travel: Plan Trip | Hotel | Flight | Tourney tix

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