West Coast Trip November 2013

My wife and I took a trip out west to hit as many Famous Dave's as we could (another obsession) and hit some coasters as well. Due to the time-frame, many places were closed when we were in area.

Sunday Nov 10th, we arrived at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in afternoon. By the time we found place to park, walked to park, and bought ride tickets, it was about 4pm. They closed at 5pm. So we had 1 hr to ride 2 coasters and the carousel.

First, we got in line for Undertow, their new spinning coaster. We were peeved at first because of loose article policy. They had no lockers and could not leave on platform. They had a small area roped off by entrance for you to leave items. Apparently, they are getting lockers, but hadn't yet. As for the ride, it was pretty tame. We hardly spun at all. Not worth 30 min wait.

Next we hustled down to Giant Dipper. We waited about 20-25 min for our ride. We sat a couple cars from back. It was a fun ride. Surprisingly smooth. Would have liked to have more time to ride again.

Next we only had a couple of minutes to get carousel done. This was a must. It is one of few carousels where you can grab brass ring while riding. The added difficulty is this one, the outside horses go up-and-down. After a couple of tries, I got a rhythm going. A must do for anyone visiting the park!

Nov 13th - we hit Santa Monica in morning. We got there about hour and half before Pacific Park opened. So, we walked out on beach and played in water. The coaster is a Morgan steel. Very tame as well. It does have a great ending if you are sitting in front. It picks up speed after final helix and gives you a great pop of airtime into station.

Nov 14th - We got to San Diego to do Belmont Park. We skipped Sea World and Legoland due to time. Was not about to pay $70+ for hr at each park for credits. We return when we can spend more time.

We got some beach-time before opening. We bought tickets to ride the Giant Dipper twice, front & back. As we sat in front waiting for train to dispatch, wife overheard conversation between two guys standing at turnstyle and heard Toledo. I looked over and realized it was a friend who used to live in Toledo and is now in San Diego. 2,000 miles from home and I run into someone I know!

The Giant Dipper there is a better ride than the one at SCBB. It was butter-smooth in front. the back had some roughness. But nothing you couldn't tolerate. Great all-around ride!

Nov 15th - Las Vegas! Started day off in Circus Circus Adventure Dome. Canyon Blaster running fantastic! Very underrated ride! One of the best Arrow loopers out there. miner Mike was a bust. No adults. got many photos of El Loco going up. Looking good!

Walked to Startosphere, bought unlimited ride wristband which included elevator ride as well. Rode Insanity first. What a crazy ride! perfect name for it. then X-Scream this ride is Sooo not right! luckily it wasn't busy. I waited one cycle to ride front. Then off to Big Shot. this was amazing! the feeling of hitting top and becoming weightless that high up. Breathtaking!

Walked back to Circus Circus (where we stayed) and got car so we could hit the Famous Dave's around the area. Also hit Las Vegas Mini Gran Prix for a kiddie credit. Once done, we drove back to hotel and took taxi to New York New York Hotel & Casino to ride Roller Coaster (formally Manhattan Express). This coaster lives up to its reputation. It is a piece of crap! Not only does your head get slammed into restraint repeatedly, it also rides rough. The train felt like it was going to fall apart. It vibrated a lot. There was no padding in train. So, it was very uncomfortable.

We then walked the strip back to hotel, stopping by Bellagio to watch water show a couple of times. That was really awesome! by the time we made it back, wife could walk anymore and chose not to go back to Stratosphere. So, I went alone. I had to go do the rides at night. I did Insanity a couple more times. That ride is addicting! X-Scream is even more scary at night!

10 day vacation included: 13 states, 34 Famous Dave's, 7 coasters, Alcatraz Island, Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard St, Pacific Ocean, Las Vegas, seeing an ol' friend. Total miles driven - 6,722

Jerry - Magnum Fanatic
Famous Dave's- 206 restaurants - 35 states - 2 countries

Sounds like a fun trip, but here's my question, and I couldn't help but notice. 34 Famous Dave's in 10 days? Seriously? That's, like, at least 3, sometimes 4 visits a day. How much bar-b-que can you eat? And why? Even if it was the best on earth, ... no.
Tell me you were collecting pins. Or pint glasses. Or... something...
Too much of that stuff will put you in the coffin, boy! :-)

I'm not sure, but I don't think I've ever seen a Famous Dave's. Is it a western/Midwest franchise only?

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

Raven-Phile's avatar

I'm with you, Mac. That's just way too much Famous Dave's. I love BBQ as much as the next guy, but 3, 4 or 5 times a day? I guess if I was doing 3 or 4 different roadside/real BBQ places in TN or the Carolinas, that'd be a different story.

Jeff's avatar

It isn't really particularly stand-out-ish food, either.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Bunky, I don't do barbecue..not my thing...but I believe Dave's has a presence in many areas, not just the Midwest. I know there's at least one in Jersey.

The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist


Raven-Phile's avatar

Jeff said:

It isn't really particularly stand-out-ish food, either.

Not at all. It's kind of like the Applebees of BBQ joints. I mean, it still tastes good, but it's standard fare, non offensive to most people's taste buds, appeals to the masses etc.

I recently learned that they don't smoke their meats in house. It's pre-cooked, packed and trucked in - which is kind of disappointing to me, but I guess all of the big chains do that.

Every location has there own smokers. There are even a couple of them that have the smokers in the open for the customers to see. It was cool seeing the meats revolving around and then cooks coming out and removing.

We don't eat meals at all of them. We split it up when we do multiples in one day. We might have fries and drinks or just dessert.

It's not just about the bbq. It is the atmosphere we enjoy among other things. We talk to managers at each location and collect their business cards. Some will sit down with us and chat about our travels. it is a lot of fun. Just like those of us on these boards chatting about rollercoasters and amusement parks, there are people out there that don't understand our obsession. Same with Famous Dave's, we really enjoy going around and meeting the people. It's a great company and they care about the brand. They have been known to shut down locations if they do not perform up to standards.

Jerry - Magnum Fanatic
Famous Dave's- 206 restaurants - 35 states - 2 countries

CoffinBoy, you just took the words outta my mouth. I've thought about your quest and I was gonna say, in fairness, that I totally understand a good old fashioned obsession. And that I've had plenty of friends that looked askance when they found out my dream is to visit every amusement park in the country, or that I'll take a road trip that includes 6 or 7 different parks in a week.

I know people that strive to visit places like Hard Rock Cafe or Hooters whenever they go on vacation. A pin or a shirt is sought after as proof of their visit.

I can remember a time, back in the day, when I couldn't pass a Steak n Shake without pulling in. But now that we have 12 or so locations here in central Ohio I'm a WHOLE lot less interested...
I also stop at just about every real frozen custard stand I come across. But I like sampling various kinds and brands to see who has the best, not so much stopping at every, say, Andy's franchise that there is. (though I do love me some Andy's...)

Speaking of bar-b-que, for those that haven't tried it, I highly recommend City BBQ (with locations in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana) for awesome food. Honestly, some of the best que I've ever tasted, and rivals anything in the south for authenticity. As much as I like it, though, I dont think I could stop daily for some. But if I should feel the need to try, it would be a lot easier for me to visit all 24 locations than it would be to track down every single Famous Dave's on earth.

sirloindude's avatar

Motion seconded on City BBQ. My family found that place by accident on a trip to the Columbus area. That food is stupid good.

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones


I've heard of City. But have yet to try one. Also want to try Dinosaur BBQ. Have heard many good things about them. I have tried Old Carolina (I think that was name) on east side of Oh and hated it. Sonny's in Fl was surprisingly good for being franchise. Also, west of St Louis off I-70 is Two Dudes BBQ. Very good! People often ask me what I think of Smokey Bones. No comparison. I once made mistake of eating there day after Dave's and thought to myself "this sucks". LOL I know Dave's ain't always perfect. Sometimes I get food not done right and I let someone know. Either manager there or I write to corporate. Famous Dave's in Manhattan was worse. I wrote complaints about them and I wasn't only one. It got shut down this year.

Including the couple Dave's opening next month, we have about 15 left. Of course, there will always be more opening. :)

Jerry - Magnum Fanatic
Famous Dave's- 206 restaurants - 35 states - 2 countries

sirloindude's avatar

As far as Famous Dave's goes, I actually give them a lot of credit. Their brisket is way above average, and that's against places like Sonny Bryan's and Arthur Bryant's. I LOVE me some Famous Dave's. The sweet tea is pretty epic, too.

13 Boomerang, 9 SLC, and 8 B-TR clones


That sounds like a wonderful trip! I bet you had a lot of fun! We have been thinking about taking a trip out that way, and I always want to hear about what sort of amusement parks/roller coasters are in that area before vacationing! It sounds like there are some pretty good amusement rides out there! I am a little curious about the rides at Stratosphere Tower, you say that Insanity and X-scream were good rides, but don't say what kind of rides they are. Are they roller coasters or spinning rides or what! I'll have to look it up in my spare time! Great trip

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