As Obama and Romney near the election countdown, it’s time to answer the question: Who can lay claim to the better travel destinations? Let the debate begin with our city vs. city showdown.
It’s August 1961. Ike is president. The Berlin Wall has just gone up. And in Hawaii’s capital of Honolulu, Barack Hussein Obama II is born at the Kapiolani Hospital for Women & Children. In January 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as America’s first president born in Hawaii. In true presidential style, Obama has played golf at Olomana Golf Links and Royal Hawaiian Country Club, both on Oahu.
It’s March 1947. The Baby Boom is going strong! And in Detroit, Willard Mitt Romney is born at Harper Hospital. In June 2011, Romney announced his run for the 2012 Republican presidential ticket, becoming the first Mormon to win a major-party presidential nomination. Today, delve into Detroit’s rich auto past with a tour of the Ford Rouge Factory.
In 1967, 6-year-old Barack moved with his family to Indonesia. The young Barack initially lived in Jakarta, and attended Indonesian language schools until the age of 10. In the 1970s, Jakarta got a face-lift: A city-wide effort rehabilitated roads and bridges, encouraged the arts, and led to new schools and hospitals. Today, Jakarta stands as Indonesia’s economic, cultural and political center -- with some <a title="really great food" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/video/andrew-cooks-indonesian-shrimp-11879" target="_blank"><b>really great food</b></a>.
Romney grew up in Bloomfield Hills, MI, 20 miles from Detroit. Romney’s dad was the president of a big auto company, and later the governor of Michigan. Today, explore Cranbrook Institute of Science (for natural history), Crankbrook Art Museum (for contemporary art), Oakland Hills Country Club (6 US Opens hosted here) and, pictured here, Cranbrook House & Gardens (the jaw-dropping home of an old newspaper mogul).
In 1971, 10-year-old Obama returned to Honolulu to live with his mom’s parents. He got a scholarship to attend Punahou School, a private prep school, and graduated in 1979. Today, Punahou stands as the largest independent school in the US. In 2006, it was ranked the “greenest” school in America. And <i>Sports Illustrated</i> has ranked the school’s sports program as the best in the country. Not too shabby!
In the seventh grade, Romney was enrolled at the private Crankbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, and later graduated in June 1965. Spanning 319 acres, Cranbrook was established by newspaper magnate George Booth in 1905. A <i>New York Times</i> architecture critic called the campus “one of the greatest campuses ever created anywhere.” Such distinction draws visitors from all over the world.
In 1981, Obama enrolled at Columbia University in NYC, where he majored in political science, with a specialty in international relations, and graduated in 1983. Today, enjoy a self-guided tour of the campus, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, exploring points of interest such as Low Library (the vestibule and rotunda) and Avery Hall, known as the world’s greatest architecture library.
In 1971, Romney earned a BA in English from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. Owned and operated by the LDS Church, BYU is America’s largest religious university. Head to the top of Spencer W. Kimball Tower -- at 12 stories, it’s the highest building in Provo -- for great views of BYU, Provo and the mountains surrounding Utah County.
In 1988, Obama enrolled at Harvard Law School. At the end of his first year, he was tapped as an editor of the <i>Harvard Law Review</i> -- and became the first African-American to hold that distinction. Obama catapulted to national attention. Today, Harvard Law is the oldest continuously-operating law school in the US (it was established in 1817).
Romney earned an MBA and JD from Harvard University. Romney’s passion was business; he graduated in the top 5% of his biz school class, and soon joined a consulting firm. The 40-acre Harvard Business School campus is located in the Boston neighborhood of Allston, across the Charles River from the main Harvard campus in Cambridge.
After graduating Columbia, Obama moved to <a title="Chicago" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/destinations/chicago" target="_blank"><b>Chicago</b></a> to work as a community organizer. Later, after graduating Harvard, he returned to work for a law firm. That’s where he met a young lawyer named Michelle, and the rest is history. They married in 1992 at Trinity United Church of Christ, and took a honeymoon road trip from San Francisco through Big Sur and Carmel.
In 1969, Mitt married his high school sweetheart, Ann, at the <a title="Salt Lake Temple" href="http://www.travelchannel.com/destinations/united-states/photos/50-states-50-landmarks?page=45" target="_blank"><b>Salt Lake Temple</b></a>. The church took 40 years to build, and was officially dedicated in April 1893. The temple’s design is meant to evoke Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, and is oriented in the direction of the ancient city. Because of its status as a site sacred to Mormons, it is not open to public tours. Mitt and Ann honeymooned in Hawaii.
The Obamas’ 2 girls were born in Chicago and later attended a private, co-ed day school. The Windy City holds plenty of kid-friendly attractions. Kids love the skyscrapers (can’t miss Willis Tower), Lincoln Park Conservatory (great botanical garden) and Navy Pier (the Ferris wheel is reason enough). Plus, enjoy views of the Chicago River in downtown.
Belmont is a quiet New England town. As a young professional, Romney and his wife raised their 5 sons in “The Town of Homes,” as Belmont is called. Today, enjoy a leisurely family outing to Habitat Education Center and Wildlife Sanctuary -- fret not, the 93-acre urban oasis offers plenty of fun, including more than 2.5 miles of gentle trails, winding through evergreen forests and meadows.
President Obama skipped a summer vacation this election year. But in years past, the First Family has enjoyed some downtime on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The posh summer colony is home to a year-round population of 15,000 people. President Obama has enjoyed golf at Farm Neck Golf Club, and a bike ride with his daughter Malia through Manuel F. Correllus State Forest, both on the island.
In recent years, the Romneys had an oceanfront home in San Diego’s La Jolla district. This idyllic, seaside resort town showcases a dramatic view: rugged and sandy coastline where wild seals congregate. La Jolla is also home to great golf (at Torrey Pines Golf Course), the Museum of Contemporary Art and great beaches like La Jolla Cove, popular for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving.
What does a president-elect eat on his first Saturday afternoon in DC? In January 2009, Obama headed on over to Ben’s Chili Bowl, a veritable DC landmark since it opened in 1958, to order a … half-smoke chili dog and cheese fries, yum! Obama is no slouch in the kitchen, either. He’s told <i>60 Minutes</i> he’s made chili, cheese toast, tuna fish and omelets for his family.
OK, Romney has chowed down at a lot of places since hitting the campaign trail. Here, he stops by Hudson’s Smokehouse, a mom-and-pop style BBQ joint in South Carolina. Romney reportedly likes peanut butter-and-honey sandwiches, plus healthy choices for the road like hummus and pita. And can he cook? Well, <i>Fox News Sunday</i> filmed Romney cooking pancakes one time -- does that count?
Sometimes a change of scenery does a candidate good. In 2008, while campaigning in North Carolina, Obama stopped by a fundraising dinner at the Grove Park Inn Resort. Obama liked the resort, in the Blue Ridge Mountains area, so much that, after election, he returned with First Lady Michelle for a romantic spring getaway.
From CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics to that of 2 companies, Romney transitioned to public office in 2003, and became Massachusetts’ 70th governor. Now comes his biggest bid: Romney’s presidential campaign headquarters got their start on Commercial Street in Boston. The area’s just a few blocks from historic landmarks such as the Old North Church and the Paul Revere House.