7 Pint-Sized Towns That Totally Deliver On Big Fun

The Huffington Post Canada  |  By Posted: 06/08/2014 10:07 am EDT  |  Updated: 06/09/2014 10:59 am EDT


Cosmopolitan hubs offer big city bustle, entertainment options out the wazoo, miles of tony museum space and scores of cooed-over restaurants. But sometimes you don’t need the whole enchilada. If a small bite out of the big Apple is all you crave you don’t even have to go to NYC — consider a trip to “The Little Apple” instead.

Stray from the travelling swarm during your next vacay and consider the delights only offered up by a select tribe of tertiary towns offering similar attractions minus the tornadoes of tourists, hefty bar tabs and excruciatingly busy airports. Each of these micropolises offer the chance to discover fresh perspective on the path less tread.

Bucharest, Romania: Little Paris

bucharest athenaeum

The charm and elegance of Parisian rues can be found in Bucharest’s buildings and boulevards. During La Belle Époque, Bucharesters certainly took architectural cues from the French. The domed Romanian Athenaeum, a concert hall in the centre of the city where today you catch the philharmonic, sprung up in the 1880s and has become a national symbol of culture. It is in the style of the renowned Palais Garnier built at the request of Napoleon III a couple decades prior.

While characterless communist high-rises built during Nicolae Ceaușescu’s regime still blight the skyline, vibes of Paris still looms architecturally large in the city from the Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest’s granite version of the landmark that honours veterans of WWI to Calea Victoriei, Bucharest’s charming equivalent of the Champs-Élysées.

Kitchener, Ontario: Little Berlin

kitchener ontario

Situated roughly one hundred kilometres west of Toronto, a quarter of Kitchener Ontario’s population has Germanic roots. Before being renamed in 1916, the area even shared the namesake of Deutschland’s capital for over fifty years. WWI enmity led to the new name but the language was still widely spoken in the streets through the ’60s.

While the lederhosen generation’s influence has been waning for some time, the town along with its twin city of Waterloo, holds one what’s billed as the largest Oktoberfest in the world outside of Germany, regularly attracting upwards of 750,000 revellers to their annual nine-day Bavarian bash. If you’re in the area be sure to try some wiener schnitzel or pig tails at the Olde Heidelberg Restaurant Tavern in Heidelberg, Ont.

Mobile, Alabama: The Little Easy

mobile alabama

While N’awlins gets all the fanfare, the Sweet Home state’s port city has celebrated Fat Tuesday for even longer. Mobile’s been getting down with Mardi Gras since 1703, and for a revelry history experience like none other there’s the Carnival Museum. Traipse through this Government Street mansion while scoping out the colourful paraphernalia and sumptuous gowns and coronation robes.

Be sure to climb atop a parade float and hurl a moon pie, a Mobile tradition. Laissez les bon temps roulez! The chocolate covered marshmallow treat also factors into Mobile’s NYE celebration which is capped by the dropping of a 12-foot Moonpie.

Manhattan, Kansas: The Little Apple

manhattan kansas

Manhattan, Kansas is a college town in the Flint Hills region of the Sunflower state with a strong cultural core. While KSU’s roost lacks a Greenwich Village, they do have Aggieville, a six-square block entertainment district swimming in college bars and eateries. While NYC is stuffed with classic pizzerias, Aggiesville contains a hefty slice of fast food history.

The Aggieville’s Pizza Hut is the red-roofed chain’s longest running location, a Moro mainstay for over fifty years. Like its big northeastern brother, it’s also been crooned about in a hit song. Country music hall of famer Glenn Campbell’s “Manhattan Kansas,” centers around a woman with a hard-luck story and reached #6 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart in 1972.

Sioux City, Iowa: Little Chicago

sioux city

Sioux City, Iowa earned the “Little Chicago” tag for being wet when the rest of the state was dry with gambling and other dens of iniquity, making it a smaller doppleganger of the mid-west’s biggest city. These days, Siouxland’s Chi-town cred extends to deep-dish pies, Warrior’s Sports Bar and Grill on 701 1st Street serves up some of the best deep stuff for dine-in customers only but you still may want to call ahead. Even the menu warns of a 45 minute wait.

Winnipeg, Manitoba: Little Kiev

winnipeg summer

Winnipeg has a large Ukrainian population with over 110,000 denizens of the Peg hailing from the country. Along with multiple months with average temperatures dipping below freezing and an appreciation for cold pursuits like hockey to consuming copious amounts of chilled beverages — Winnipeg is the Slurpee capital of the world after all — the tie that binds is a penchant for pierogies.

Devotees of the dumplings don’t have to jet to Eastern Europe to get an authentic taste. Winnipeg is crawling with pierogie joints and for pillowy moons handmade by babas. The Ukrainian Orthodox churches often take orders for fundraising efforts.

Halifax, Nova Scotia: Little Glasgow

halifax nova scotia

You don’t have to cross the pond for a full-on Celtic culture immersion. Nerarly 30 per cent of Haligonians are of Scottish heritage lending a Celtic flavour to the maritime city. “The Great Scots”, touted as Canada’s answer to The Beatles were hatched in Halifax.

The Highland Games are massive in these parts and no one will bat an eye at a man wearing a tartan kilt. If there was a game show category where contestants had to guess whether bands were from Nova Scotia or Scotland there’d certainly be a ton of mistakes made on artists like the Barra Macneils, Natalie MacMaster and Ashley Macisaac.

Airbus factory shows commitment to U.S.

Allan McArtor, the chairman and CEO of Airbus Group, says the company’s new manufacturing facility in Alabama shows Airbus’ strong commitment to producing aircraft in the United States.

McArtor outlined how the facility at Mobile Aeroplex fits into the company’s global operating strategy in a guest column published today on the AL.com web site.

Read More

Mobile’s Next Great Music Venue

For decades, the old furniture store at 401 Dauphin St. sat empty, its front doorway and back alley a shelter for vagrants.mobile al commercial property

Now, two Mobile developers want to pour $1 million into the property to turn it into a stylish two-story music venue.

The Mobile City Council will vote on Tuesday whether to uphold a planning commission ruling from last month that essentially halted the project.

If the city overturns the planning commission’s decision, the developers say that they plan to pump $1 million into renovating the century-and-a-half-old 401 Dauphin St.

PNC economist: Manufacturing gains lead Mobile’s tempered recovery

By Kelli Dugan | kdugan@al.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on August 11, 2015 at 3:43 PM

Manufacturing gains, cheap gasoline and modest housing progress set a promising – if guarded – tone for Mobile’s economy through the close of 2015 and beyond, according to the most recent market outlook released by Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services.

“Mobile is one of the few areas that has more manufacturing jobs now than before the recession. Production jobs were 15 percent higher in mid-2015 than their previous peak in 2008,” PNC Assistant Vice President Mekael Teshome, an economist for the southeastern region, wrote in the third-quarter 2015 forecast for Mobile County.

Teshome pointed primarily to the uptick in activity associated with Airbus’ A320 final assembly line preparing to enter production at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley.

Toulouse, France-based Airbus will launch production this month at its first A320 final assembly line on U.S. soil at Brookley, expected to figure prominently in the company’s ability to efficiently fill the mounting backlog for the popular single-aisle aircraft. The $600 million facility is expected to deliver its first Mobile-assembled aircraft to JetBlue in the second quarter of 2016 and employ about 1,000 peoplewhen it reaches full annual production of 40 to 50 aircraft by 2018.

“Besides the manufacturing jobs that will be created once the facilities are operational, many of the goods and services the company needs could be sourced locally and suppliers moving into Mobile add upside potential to the outlook,” Teshome wrote, adding, “Mobile’s longer-term outlook is more optimistic with payroll growth at least matching the nation’s pace. We expect to see population growth and in-migration normalize over the next few years as the regional economy continues to heal. Low business costs and strong infrastructure networks could attract investment.”

In addition, he noted trade, transportation, finance and professional services should contribute to near-term recovery and the “precipitous decline of energy prices over the past year is an additional benefit that will lower input costs for the region’s manufacturers.”

Moreover, Teshome said lower gas prices mean increased disposable income that should ultimately boost tourism spending because “Alabamians spend a greater than average share of their incomes on gasoline.”


Video Airbus holds grand opening in Mobile at Brookley Field

With enough real estate under lease to expand at will, a locally-recruited workforce garnering high praise from veteran European employees and a $600 million final assembly line set to debut as the most efficient in the world, Airbus confirmed Sunday an unyielding commitment to Mobile and the U.S. aircraft market.

“Mobile is our industrial home in the United States … It is not likely at all that we would try to find some other state to go to,” Allan McArtor, chairman and chief executive officer of Airbus Group Inc., said.

Meanwhile, Airbus Americas President Barry Eccleston touted repeatedly the integral role its Mobile operations will play in expanding the planemaker’s global market share to meet escalating demand for single-aisle aircraft, and Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Bregier said the Toulouse, France-based aircraft manufacturer does not just feel welcome in Mobile but “at home.”

The comments were delivered a few hours after media from across the globe were allowed sneak-peak, guided tours of the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility, debuting officially at 10 a.m. Monday at an invitation-only ceremony.

The final assembly line – which actually began production quietly on its first two planes a few weeks ago at Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley – will focus solely on the commercial jetmaker’s popular A320 family of aircraft.

Airbus Americas spokeswoman Kristi Tucker confirmed the first

of the two A321s under construction will take its first flight in the first quarter of 2016 and is slated for delivery to Jet Blue in the second quarter of 2016. The second A321 glimpsed Sunday in the sprawling final assembly hangar will be delivered to American Airways at a later date.