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Travel with benefits!

Nov. 1, 2005
Here’s where to go for key 2006 dental meetings

Here’s where to go for key 2006 dental meetings

By Sheri Doniger, DDS

“Love to travel? Need continuing education credits? Have we got a meeting for you!” That should be the promotion line for the upcoming dental meetings of 2006. We all must take a certain number of courses to maintain our licensure. Although each state is different, most require a minimum level for professional maintenance. Even though nearly all dental societies and study groups offer local programs for credit, many meetings around the country attract high caliber lecturers on many topics. Do you have a lot of continuing education requirements and nowhere to go? This article will highlight five 2006 meeting sites for your consideration.

Dental meetings offer professional content as well as leisure activities. Since we all have preferences about the type and content of coursework, the focus of this article will be outside the classroom.

Boston - Yankee Dental Congress - Jan. 25-29

The Yankee Dental Congress meets in January in Boston, a city rich in history and sometimes deep in snow. In 2005, Boston experienced some of the worst snowstorms in its history. Travel in and out of Logan International Airport was interesting, at best. But the show did go on. Boston at any time of year is a great experience, but in January, it is spectacular.

Boston is one of America’s oldest cities. In 2005, it celebrated its 375th birthday. Founded in 1630, Boston began as a 17th century port, and until 1755, was the largest city in the U.S. We all remember the Boston Tea Party and the revolt from the citizens over taxation. The Revolutionary War had its roots in Boston, thus the nickname “the cradle of Liberty.” From its Puritan then Pilgrim beginnings, the city has grown from a port town to a multicultural center of business and government.

Boston harbor
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There are many historic sights in Boston, a very walk-friendly city. The MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority) is the oldest underground transit system. A pass on the transit system offers many possibilities that might be missed if touring the city via taxi.

As a die-hard Cubs fan, one of the first things I saw was Fenway Park, which opened in 1912. It has kept true to history and changed little. Tours are offered all year, and I plan on making it a top priority during some of my free time at the Yankee next year.

Other historic sites include the Freedom Trail, the Boston Common, the King’s chapel, the first schoolhouse, the Old State House, Paul Revere’s House, the New England Aquarium, Faneuil Hall Market Place, and the Quincy Market Colonnade, which now houses several restaurants and bars. Remember that many of these sites mark the beginning of our democracy and freedom.

If you are feeling educational, the Boston area has more than 100 colleges and universities. Several museums and libraries are also available for an afternoon of culture. These include the John F. Kennedy Library and Presidential Museum, Boston Children’s Museum and the New England Aquarium. And of course, there is the incomparable Boston Symphony and Boston Pops.

One of the oldest restaurants in the country, Union Oyster House, founded in 1826, is on the Freedom Trail and is a national historic landmark. The No Name Restaurant, located on the Boston Fish Pier, is another seafood treat. Inman Square has several international restaurants. To round off the Boston experience, try some of the Irish Pubs located throughout the city.

Chicago - Chicago Midwinter Meeting - Feb. 23-26

February brings the dental world to Chicago, my kind of town, and actually, my back yard. The Chicago Dental Society’s Midwinter meeting is held at McCormack Place each year. Although not as historic as Boston, Chicago, founded in the 1800s, was the middle point between the east and western frontiers. The two remaining structures from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 are on Michigan Avenue - the water tower and pumping station.

When you visit in February, you’ll probably experience why Chicago is nicknamed the “Windy City.” With its proximity to Lake Michigan, there is no obstruction from the winds coming down from the North. From the shopping on the Mag Mile to the abundant cultural offerings, Chicago truly is the City of Big Shoulders.

This city of many neighborhoods with much diversity is not without history. It has trade and labor unions, theater fires which led to building codes, gangster massacres and Al Capone. Wrigley Field, the original field of dreams, opened in 1914, and yes, the city does have another baseball team in another ballpark - Cellular Field - on the south side of the city. The hamburger and Ferris wheel were both introduced at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893. The city has more than 20 movable bridges over the river. Visitors should note the Tribune Tower, which is built from pieces of stone from other famous buildings such as Westminster Abbey, Arc de Triomphe and the Alamo.

Chicago’s Millenium Park
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Culture in Chicago abounds. Broadway in Chicago offers high caliber plays, the museum campus houses several outstanding museums, the Adler Planetarium was the first planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, and the Shedd Aquarium, opened in 1929, is one of the world’s oldest.

Visitors should not miss the beautiful Chicago lakefront. As one is shuttled from McCormack Place to a hotel, take Navy Pier, with its constantly turning Ferris wheel, Shakespeare Theater, Columbia Yacht Club, Grant Park, and the newly minted Millennium Park, home of Cloud gate.

Chicago is home of the blues. The famous gospel brunch happens on Sunday at the House of Blues, and music of all types abounds in the Windy City. And, don’t forget the Second City Comedy troupe that gave rise to most of the original members of Saturday Night Live.

Chicago offers a plethora of dining experiences. Each nationality has inspired an abundance of dining opportunities. Greektown, Chinatown, and Little Italy are all near the downtown hotels. But you can’t visit Chicago without trying the pizza. The deep dish from Gino’s East, Giordano’s, Pizzeria Uno’s and Due’s are the most famous. One very unique pizzeria is Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders Factory. Located on Clark Street, it is a very romantic place to go on Valentines Day, as the site of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre occurred across the street from the restaurant in 1929.

Another Chicago staple is the hot dog, where everything salad is applied. There are several locations in the city, such as Johnny’s Red Hots, Gold Coast Dogs and, for the adventuresome, Superdawg, a north side mainstay.

Atlanta - Hinman Meeting - March 23-25

March brings the Thomas P. Hinman meeting to Atlanta, an American Indian territory that served as a trading center called Standing Peachtree. This was changed to Marthasville until 1844, when it was renamed Atlanta by the chief engineer of the Georgia Railroad. The city served as a transportation center of the country until the Civil War, and was considered one of the great inland cities. In 1864 the Union Army burned the city, but Atlanta persevered, began rebuilding in 1866, and is now considered the capital of the New South.

The city center originally was formed at the terminus of two rail lines. This area was moved a quarter mile to the east in 1842 and is now the site of Underground Atlanta, which reopened in 1989 after some major renovation and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Today it serves as a mecca for incredible restaurants and entertainment.

Atlanta skyline
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Public transportation courtesy of the MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Regional Transportation Agency) is a reasonable method for seeing a variety of local sights. The Southeastern Railway Museum offers vintage steam and diesel locomotives as well as President Harding’s personal rail car. The Oakland Cemetery, founded in1850, serves as the final resting place for over 7,000 Confederate soldiers, as well as Margaret Mitchell.

Culture abounds in Atlanta. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library is the only Presidential library in the southeast United States. Fulton Stadium is the former home of the Atlanta Braves, and Turner Field was built to accommodate baseball for the Atlanta Olympics of 1996. Tours are available during the off season.

A few other Atlanta siteseeing destinations are Coca Cola, Centennial Olympic Park and CNN Studios. Atlanta has incredible nightlife and a great music scene. Some restaurants incorporate both. Gladys and Ron’s Chicken and Waffles is owned by Gladys Knight and gospel singer Ron Winans. The Busy Bee Café offers soul food and has been around for over 50 years.

A visit to Atlanta isn’t complete without visiting one of the nation’s largest drive-in restaurants. The Varsity, opened in 1928, is true to its roots. It offers the same curb service it did when it moved from its smaller location to the now two-block sprawl it sits upon. Amazingly, over 600 cars and 800 guests can be served each day at this Atlanta main-stay.

New York - Greater New York Dental Meeting - Nov. 25-30

On to New York in November! The Greater New York Meeting is right after the Macy’s Day Parade, an unbelievable time to be in the Big Apple, which offers theater, museums, music and night life like no other city. The city that never sleeps had its beginning as a Dutch settlement that was incorporated in 1622. It served as the United States Capitol from 1789 to 1790 and as the state capitol until 1797. The moniker “The Big Apple” originated in the 1920s, when John FitzGerald from the Morning Telegraph referred to the city’s racetracks. A less glamorous rendition of this name comes from the depression, when former businessmen came to town from their country homes to sell apples on the streets.

Central Park opened in 1858. Originally considered a park for the wealthy, it became a park for the people when the first playground was installed in 1926. The “Boulevard” became Broadway in 1899. In the first decade of the 20th century, movie production companies and theatres prospered. The tradition has endured, and theater abounds.

Statue of Liberty in New York harbor
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Because the meeting is after Thanksgiving, it’s a great time to begin Christmas shopping. If you tire of shopping, visit Rockefeller Center Plaza for ice skating. A trip to Ellis Island to learn about the gateway for immigrants from 1892 and 1954 is fascinating. You may find some long lost relatives’ names engraved in the memorials located in the rear of the building.

The MTA (New York City Transportation Agency) has an extensive system of underground subways, buses and trains. And New York has not one, but two baseball teams. Yankee Stadium was built in 1923, and the train trip to Flushing to see the Mets Shea Stadium takes visitors through many neighborhoods.

Architectural gems in New York are a combination of rich cultural history and the great talents of the day. The Flatiron Building is the oldest remaining skyscraper, dating back to 1902. The Chrysler Building is the first skyscraper built in Art Deco style during the 1930s, and the Empire State Building is another famous Art Deco structure. The Marble Collegiate Church, with its incredible Tiffany windows, was built in 1854. The Eldridge Street Project is the first synagogue built by the immigrant Eastern European Jews in 1887, and the Gothic-style St. Patrick Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Church that serves as the seat of the Cardinals of New York.

With all its ethnicities, New York has incredible restaurant options, from Jewish to Italian to Asian. Frankie and Johnny’s Steakhouse is in a 1920s speakeasy. Built in 1888, Katz’s Delicatessen is New York’s oldest deli. If you are looking for a more modern view of the city, The Room with a View is a gourmet restaurant that overlooks Central Park through 15 foot arched windows. You can’t find fresher pasta and more delicious Italian bread than in Little Italy. Dining in New York is truly an international experience.

Las Vegas - ADA meeting - Oct. 16-19

Las Vegas ... the city of dreams, the city built by gangsters in the 1920s. With the variety of architecture, visitors can virtually take a trip around the world without leaving the famed Strip. Between the hotels, restaurants, incredible variety of entertainment and spectacular sight seeing nearby, visitors should spend at least three days before or after a meeting to truly enjoy the glitz and glamour that is Las Vegas.

Las Vegas has come a long way since Spaniard Rafael Rivera, who discovered a valley of plentiful water and wild grasses on his “jornada de merte” or Journey of Death en route to Los Angeles. Las Vegas is Spanish for “The Meadows,” which describes what the young explorer saw in the early 1700s. Gambling was legalized in Nevada on March 19, 1931, and Las Vegas received six gambling licenses.

The Las Vegas hotel strip
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When Bugsy Siegel passed through Las Vegas in 1931, he had a dream of building large casinos and hotels for gambling. After returning east, he sold his vision to his business associates in crime. His first hotel, The Flamingo, named after the endearment he used for his girlfriend, opened with great fanfare and celebrity in December 1946. It wasn’t as profitable as it was hyped, but when it reopened in May 1947, it did prove to be successful. Unfortunately, Mr. Siegel didn’t live to see the profits; he was killed in June 1947.

Las Vegas celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2005. Some of the more historic hotels still exist, but many were imploded to make way for more modern structures. First class hotels, spas, golf courses, tennis facilities, and shopping are the royal flush of drawing cards for this international destination.

Venturing away from the Strip, there is plenty to do. Mt. Charleston has incredible views of the valley, and several hiking paths are available for varying skill levels. The Valley of Fire, Nevada’s first state park, is located 50 miles from Las Vegas. Early Indian artifacts and petroglyphs abound in the beautiful red sandstone park. Hoover Dam, which began construction in 1928 and was completed in 1935, is one of the seven man made wonders of the world. Hoover Dam holds back the Colorado River to form the largest man made lake in the U.S., Lake Mead. Another interesting destination for the roller coaster aficionados is Primm, Nevada. One of the world’s fastest roller coasters, the Desperado, is located in the Buffalo Bill’s Casino. With its 225 foot drop and a 55 degree descent, it is one of the tallest roller coasters in the country. While you are out in Primm, there is a fabulous outlet mall, for those who are shopping inclined. Two other interesting tours are in Henderson: the famous Ethyl M Chocolate Factory and Ocean Spray Cranberry World. Slightly different products but great samples at the end of the tour.

Did I mention shopping? Las Vegas has anything and everything anyone would ever need or want. From the newly renovated Las Vegas mall and outlet shopping to the upscale shops in the Venetian or Bellagio, any designer, type of clothing, and luxury item can be found in this city. The Forum Shoppe’s in Caesars Palace completed an addition that almost doubled its square footage. Vosges Haute Chocolate has an incredibly tasty store in this new location.

Between the sharks, dolphins, flamingos, parrots, white tigers and lions, people can’t believe they’re in gamblers paradise. Many hotels offer encounters with rare and wild animals as part of their entertainment. If speed is to your liking and you can’t head over to Primm, there are several roller coaster options on the Strip. They include Circus Circus Hotel’s Adventurdome, New York New York and the Stratosphere with its Big Shot freefall drop. High Roller, the world’s highest roller coaster (1,200 feet off the ground) that grips the side of the top of the tower, offers amazing views of the city. You could also try skydiving at FlyAway Indoor Skydiving, not far from the Convention Center.

If keeping your feet on the ground is more to your liking, and you feel an urge for some great culture, a visit to the magnificent art museum at the Bellagio, along with viewing the Chihuly glass in their lobby should be on your to-do list. If your tastes run to the glitzy, visit the Liberace Museum. The Fremont Street experience, though a short taxi ride from the Strip, is an entertaining laser show. It also offers a glimpse into old Las Vegas, with some remaining architecture and hotels.

You will not be bored in Las Vegas. The fine art of people watching can be perfected to a science---not a stalking science, but it is always a lesson in sociology seeing the different people in their many costumes and emotions. Entertainment abounds. From the free circus acts in Circus Circus to the headliners such as Elton John, Celine Dion, Rita Rudner and the forever young Wayne Newton, Vegas is a cacophony of talent. Comedy clubs, magic acts and Broadway musicals are also offered, not to mention world class boxing matches and rodeos. Some shows do book up fast, so you may want to check online to see if the performer you want to see is “in town” and what the availability of the tickets are. Hotels do offer ticket sales for their specific shows, in addition to other shows on the Strip.

Food in Las Vegas is a gourmet’s delight. From shrimp cocktails and steak and egg dinners late night in the casinos to first class dining experiences, there are dining options for everyone’s taste. Almost every restaurant offers a buffet. Expect long waits at the most popular locations. The Bellagio has an incredible breakfast. The seafood buffet at the Rio offers gluttony of delights for the seafood lover. Many restaurants have found their second homes in Las Vegas, such as Emeril’s and the Brown Derby. Joe’s Steak and Seafood originated in South Beach and had opened its third restaurant in the new Forum Shoppes in 2004. There is a great Chinatown, located just off of the Strip. New York New York offers neighborhood restaurants, similar to those found in the boroughs of New York. One final destination. If you have ever wanted to visit Paris but haven’t had the time, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant has an outstanding menu and one of the best views of the sunset in the city. If you don’t have time to reserve for dinner, try to find time to have dessert. It will be well worth it.

The guidebooks will tend to seer you to the Strip hotels. Here are a few reasonably priced dining suggestions that are mainly off Las Vegas Boulevard. For breakfast only, Bagelmania is the best kosher-style deli in town. Nora’s on Flamingo and Café Chloe on Buffalo Drive offer outstanding Italian fare. If you are in the mood for vegetarian, Long life Veggie, located about fifteen minutes off the Strip, has outstanding Chinese vegetarian. The Mayflower Cuisiner, located on West Sahara, serves amazing Asian-fusion with incredible service. The Firefly has outstanding Spanish Tapas. For great Mexican meals, try Garduño’s at the Palms and either of the two Michoacan restaurants: Bonito Michoacan in the southwest or Lindo Michoacan in the southeast. If your Sunday breakfast taste runs away from buffets, Commanders Palace in the Aladdin has an outstanding breakfast. Some excellent all night coffee shop’s include the Sunrise Café in the Palms and Mr. Lucky’s in the Hard Rock Café. If you are in the mood for some late night Italian fare with live entertainment, try Capozzoli’s on Maryland Parkway. For an interesting evening of entertainment mixed in with your dining, try the Italian fare at Bootlegger’s Bistro. You never know who will be stopping by to perform for you on a Friday or Saturday night with Sonny King, the legendary lounge singer and comedian.

Some final thoughts: life is short, and so is your time in these great cities. Make the most of your continuing education travel, and spend some quality time in and around the host cities. If you haven’t already experienced the ease of making dining reservations online, try the site Any time of the day or night, you are able to secure reservations at prime locations without the hassle of a phone call. Make it easy on yourself.

Safe journeys to all. I look forward to seeing you at these excellent 2006 meetings. If I missed your favorite restaurant or historic location, please feel free to drop me an e-mail. I am always looking for special places to visit in our great country. May the course be with you!

Dr. Sheri B. Doniger has been traveling and eating for many years, and includes “making reservations” as a specialty component of her resume. In addition to having a private practice in Lincolnwood, Ill., Dr. Doniger has authored articles for major dental publications, including DE, RDH, DE&M, Proofs and WDJ. When not researching where to go and what to eat, she serves as editor of the AAWD Chronicle. You may reach her at [email protected].




New York

Las Vegas

For restaurant reservations in these cities:

The author wishes to thank Craig Jacobson for his enlightened dining recommendations.