12 Best Museums to Walk Among Dinosaurs

If you ever had the inkling to come face to face with a dinosaur, now is your chance. Although there are not any Jurassic Park theme parks as of yet; there are plenty of museums where you can get a more realistic idea of where dinosaurs came from and how they evolved. From China to New York to the land down under these 12 awesome museums give you the chance to walk among the dinosaurs, each offering their own unique spin on exhibits and displays.

12. Jurassic Land, Istanbul, Turkey

Part education and part entertainment, this is the closest you will come to living out your Jurassic World fantasies. Your journey here starts at the museum which features bones and eggs from millions of years ago and takes visitors through the history of dinosaurs with incredible exhibits. The science center is among the favorites and informative guides take visitors through, talking about the incubation units and introducing them to the moving realistic looking dinosaurs.

There is a great digging workshop for kids and after excavating they will receive a certificate. The 4-D theatre is suitable for all ages, although if you have really young kids it may be scary. This interactive film takes visitors a ride to Dinosaur Island and be prepared as you may just want to watch it again and again. Part museum, part amusement park, this is best suited for families with kids.

Via istanbulkesfi.com

11. Iziko Museum, Cape Town, South Africa

You won’t be heading here to see dinosaurs such as the famous T-Rex or Stegosaurus; instead, you will find prehistoric beats from the Karoo Region. This museum caters to visitors who want to learn more about the less known dinosaurs and their cousins that inhabited the continent. The dinosaur hall is where you’ll find a permanent exhibition called Stone Bones of the Ancient Karoo.

Here visitors will find ancient lizards, huge crocodiles and a cast of the most complete skeleton of Heterodontosaurus found to date. Make sure to check out Kirky the dinosaur, arguably the cutest dinosaur in the history of South Africa. The Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance and you will want to explore more than just the dinosaur hall here.

Via fireflyafrica.blogspot.com

10. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, Colorado

Although this museum is quite small, it delivers an awesome experience for those looking to learn more about dinosaurs. The center features an awe-inspiring display of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, pterosaurs, and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous period. Graphics and life-restoration sculptures are used to help visitors imagine these animals in real life.

What is so cool about this museum is the fact that you can see right inside the working fossil laboratory through the glass windows. This is a great museum for kids as it is not so big they will get tired and there are plenty of activities for them such as a fossil dig box, activity stations, and two short movies. Visitors will definitely want to take advantage of the tour that is included with admission as they run about an hour long and are highly informative.

Via The Dinosaur Stop

9. Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany

Besides housing an extremely large collection of bones excavated from Tanzania, 250 tones to be exact, this museum is also home to the tallest dinosaur on display in the world. The Brachiosaurus dominates the first gallery, standing at 41 feet, 5 inches tall. Also on display at this museum visitors will find the impressive Kentrosaurus, a spiky lizard that lived in the Upper Jurassic period.

What might be the most impressive here though is the Archaeopteryx fossil, thought to be the best-known fossil in the world and provides the link between birds and dinosaurs. One of the most interesting things this museum has done is install Jurascopes that allow visitors to bring the dinosaurs to life.

Via YouTube

8. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta

This museum is home to the permanent exhibition “Giants of the Mesozoic”, where a battle between giants is taking place. The world’s largest dinosaurs are shown here in a predator vs. prey situation and replicate the badlands of Patagonia, Argentina, where the largest dinosaurs in the world were unearthed. This exhibit features the Giganotosaurus, a dinosaur that is comparable in size to the T-Rex, as well as the Argentinosaurus, who scientists claim is the largest dinosaur ever classified.

Visitors will want to look up as more than 20 pterosaurs are shown overhead. Other notable features in this museum are the pterosaur and dinosaur tracks, remnants from an Araucaria tree, a fossilized crocodile, and additional fossil casts. It should be noted that all the fossils are cast replicas of the original specimens as the actual fossilized bones remain in Argentina, where they are considered a national treasure.

Via Expedia

7. Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science, Brussels, Belgium

The most important pieces in the museum are definitely the 30 fossilized Iguanodon skeletons, discovered in 1878 and helping to make the dinosaur hall Europe’s largest museum hall completely dedicated to dinosaurs. This museum is not just fascinating to walk through though, it actually offers an incredible amount of education through the interactive exhibits including the details of the fossilization process and dinosaur digs.

Parents will love watching the eight interviews with paleontology experts around the world while kids will have a blast in the paleo lab where they can touch and explore real fossils, along with putting together a life-sized stegosaurus and walking in dinosaur footprints. This museum does an excellent job linking dinosaurs to modern-day animals, making it even easier to understand how evolution works. A win-win in our books.

Via Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

6. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Alberta, Canada

This museum holds more than 130,000 fossils and is the only one of its kind dedicated to the science of paleontology. This museum focuses on education, creativity, and fun while opening visitor’s eyes to the fascinating world of dinosaurs. Visitors will want to make sure to head over to the Albertosaurus exhibit where this close relative of the T-Rex is displayed moving across a dry river channel.

This exhibit was the result of scientific evidence collected from a mass grave. The Dinosaur Hall features one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains that have been reconstructed and a favorite of many visitors. A rotating fossil display will enthuse visitors who are looking to see more of the tens of thousands of fossils this museum has. Make sure to make your way over to the Cretaceous Garden and experience what that environment was like and see Canada’s largest collection of prehistoric plant relatives.

Via fortwoplz.com

5. Zigong Dinosaur Museum, Zigong, China

This museum attracts over seven million visitors a year, in part because of its awesome location atop a fossil site. The excellent reputation it holds comes from the life-like exhibits, unique architecture, magnificent burial sites and incredible environment. Visitors here will experience two floors of displays and exhibits. The first floor features the favorite of many, Dinosaur world where 18 dinosaurs of different species and size are displayed.

The first floor is also home to the burial site, the largest burial site for watching spot-on protected dinosaur fossils so far known in the world. The second floor features a treasure hall, a display of all the flora and fauna from that period and displays on the evolution of dinosaurs and species. This huge roc cave-like museum was the first museum in Asia dedicated to dinosaurs and will surely not disappoint visitors.

Via CNN.com

4. American Museum of Natural History, New York

This museum has one of the greatest dinosaur fossil collections in the world and houses two famed dinosaur halls in the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing. The Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs is where visitors will find one of the major groups of dinosaurs, the ones with grasping hands. It is here where you will find the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex and the Apatosaurus. Along with the fossils, there is a slew of video footage and photography exploring the history of paleontology at the museum.

The Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs features the group of dinosaurs defined by a backward-pointing extension of the pubis bone and include such dinosaurs as the Stegosaurus and Triceratops. The museum has actually developed a dinosaur map to go along with the exhibit and visitors can use the app to help plan their way through the exhibits. For kids ages 6-13 there is a special overnight experience that takes place in the dinosaur hall where they can explore the exhibits by flashlight.

Via Citi Bike

3. National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra, Australia

Home to the largest permanent display of dinosaur and prehistoric fossils in Australia, this is where you should head if you want to know anything about dinosaurs down under. The museum actually follows the evolution of life and just happens to put the emphasis on dinosaurs. The favorite part of this museum has to be the dinosaur garden, with its imposing dinosaur sculptures made out of fiberglass and animatronics.

The museum has only been in operation since 1993 and with 23 complete skeletons, and over 300 displays of individual fossils, it is growing and expanding its collection as each year passes. Special experiences here include guided tours, children’s learning events, and fossil digs.

Via ABC

2. Wyoming Dinosaur Center, Thermopolis, Wyoming

It is one of the few dinosaur museums that have its own excavation site within driving distance and the standout attraction is the 106 foot Supersaurus on display, although their claim to fame here is the Archaeopteryx.  Only 12 specimens exist in the world and “The Thermopolis Specimen” is second only to the “Berlin” specimen in terms of completeness, including a well-preserved skull.

Also, there are over 30 mounted dinosaurs including two Velociraptors and a 41 foot T-Rex that is attacking a Triceratops horridus. Walking through the museums means following the time displays which go from earliest life forms to dinosaurs and finally mammals. The dig site can be toured in nice weather and it’s a rare opportunity for visitors to see dinosaur bones in the ground and the actual excavation of them. The real draw here is the chance to speak with actual paleontologists or to join one of the “dig days”.

Via Pitchengine

1. The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

It has the most famous of all museum dinosaurs, Sue, the largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world. The original skull weighs over 600 lbs and flashes 58 teeth and she is over 42 feet long and 67 million years old. That is just the beginning of this awesome dinosaur experience here at the Field Museum of Natural History.

The permanent Evolving Planet exhibition takes visitors on a journey through an expanded dinosaur hall where you learn about every major group of dinosaurs, where they lived, and what scientists have learned from Sue. Kids will love the fossil play lab located in the dinosaur hall. Don’t miss the 3-D movie where visitors are taken on a ride through Sue’s life, from hatchling to a 7-ton ferocious beast.

Via Chicago Tribune

The 12 Best Rooftop Bars in America

Rooftop bars continue to pop up all over America year after year and as this trend continues to grow, rooftop patios continue to get bigger and better. Although many assume that rooftop bars can only be accessed in the summertime, or in warm weather states, they would be mistaken, as shown by the sheer number of four-season rooftop bars, even in cold places such as Chicago. From rooftop bars that feature crystal-encrusted pools to those featuring incredible Latin-American street food, we have rounded up 12 of the best rooftop bars in America.

12. SODA Bar, NYLO Hotel, Dallas

Visitors can unwind and relax at this ultra modern rooftop bar complete with foosball tables, faux grass, and Texas brews. Located on top of the century-old Dallas Coffin Co. building this rooftop looks out onto the twinkling lights of downtown Dallas. Relax near the rooftop infinity pool; pull up a seat at the unique blue lighted bar or stretch out around the glowing fire pit.

Make sure to try one of the specialty cocktails such as the Black Forest Martini or their signature Nylorita. Handmade sandwiches, thin crust pizzas and a variety of delicious appetizers accompany their expanding bar menu. SODA Bar is open to the public, not just guests of the NYLO Hotel and is perhaps the perfect place to spend an evening relaxing under the twinkling stars.

Via Pintrest

11. I|O Urban Roofscape, Chicago

It boasts itself as the highest indoor-outdoor rooftop lounge in the city of Chicago and this unique bar features a state of the art retractable roof that allows visitors to enjoy the lounge all year round. This 10,000 square feet space features uninterrupted views of the city’s skyline. Chic modern furniture sets the stage, along with ultra-modern umbrellas, splashes of color and superior service.

Other amazing features include a video wall, shimmering water elements, a fire pit and retractable roof. A menu that includes eats such as black truffle fries and grilled pork belly skewers goes perfectly with the handcrafted cocktails that are sure to wow any guest. Visitors should be sure to dress to impress if they plan on visiting this bar at night, as it is located inside a 4-star luxury hotel and requires upscale casual attire.

Via Libart USA

10. Six Feet Under, Atlanta

It is one of Atlanta’s most popular rooftop bars and with two locations one simply cannot be in this city and not visit here. Known for their locally made beer, chilled out vibe and extensive seafood menu, Six Feet Under is always hopping with action. We suggest heading to the location on Memorial Drive as the rooftop bar overlooks the Oakland Cemetery, another must see if you are in the city.

Locally crafted beer is not the only drink you should try here though; make sure to sample themed cocktails that the talented bartenders craft every day. Catfish tacos, an alligator appetizer, and raw oysters are just a slice of what you will see on this menu. Don’t expect to see any art-deco or chic furnishings here as this place is truly a reflection of the South. Do expect friendly service, incredible seafood, and great company.

Via 10best.com

9. Three Sixty, St. Louis

Electric colors of bright yellow and green set the stage for this rooftop bar that is located nearly 400 feet above downtown St. Louis. Three Sixty offers sweeping views in all directions, hence the name, and includes a bird’s eye view right into Busch Stadium. In addition to the Cardinals-themed cocktails, Three Sixty offers a variety of wine, beer and handcrafted small plates such as roasted BBQ oysters.

This stunning 6,000 square-foot space features indoor and outdoor seating, multiple indoor bars, an open kitchen, dramatic wine wall, fire pits and a giant outside bar. On Friday and Saturday nights visitors should expect to see a DJ spinning the beats and on all Cardinal home games, this bar is the place to be. Open after 4 pm, every day of the week, this is truly the hottest place to be in the city.

Via uk.businessinsider.com

8. Stars Restaurant & Rooftop Bar, South Carolina

This rooftop bar is a haven away from the hustle and bustle that makes up Upper King Street in Charleston, South Carolina. It also happens to be the only rooftop bar in Charleston with 360 degree views of the surrounding area. The location is unique in itself, the bar housed in a restored Arts and Crafts building that features 1930’s décor and views of the city’s beautiful historic district. With a large selection of international tap wines, specialty cocktails, and craft beer; there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Lunch and dinner are served here seven days of the week and feature both classic and innovative dishes. The furnishings include seagrass planters filled with fresh herbs, recycled wicker furniture, a reclaimed Tigerwood Bar and space heaters for the cooler nights. Make sure to try one of the bar’s original cocktails before you leave, we recommend the “Southern Belle Bathwater”, an innovative spin on the traditional Southern spiked lemonade.

Via Pintrest

7. Bar 54, New York

There are a plethora of rooftops bars in New York to choose from but the one that stands out from all the rest is Bar 54. Located on the 54th floor of the Hyatt Times Square, visitors shouldn’t expect loud music, excessive crowds or cheaply made cocktails like many of the rooftop bars in the city. Instead, visitors here will find a calm and unpretentious environment, with some of the absolute best cocktails in the city.

The views aren’t bad either: the Chrysler building, both rivers, and Manhattan’s southern skyline. Visitors can choose to sit inside or out, both offering the incredible views, the high windows run the length of the establishment. Expect superior service, an excellent snack menu and unforgettable cocktails. It will cost patrons at least $20 and up for a cocktail, but hey this is Times Square in New York City after all.

Via Time Out

6. Perch, Los Angeles

It hails itself as an elevated resting place, a rooftop bistro located on the 15th-floor that oozes with unique ambiance and is inspired by vintage French restaurants. Visitors to Perch may, in fact, feel as though they have been transported to the South of France; if it weren’t for the nearby skyscrapers that surround them. Antique-inspired furniture, detailed woodwork, intricate fireplaces, wicker chaises and plush lounge couches greet patrons as they arrive.

Whether you want to sit outdoors and enjoy one of the many fireplaces, lush landscaping, and gorgeous L.A views; or choose to sit indoors, with its intimate bohemian like atmosphere with stretching 30-foot ceilings; you won’t be disappointed. Head up to the 16th floor on cooler evenings to experience live jazz music, fire pits, and incredible cocktails, with names such as the “French Maid”.

Via Amanda Mills Los Angeles

5. Frol!k Kitchen + Cocktails, Seattle

It is one of Seattle’s most beloved destinations, featuring expansive outdoor seating, colorful modern furniture, and beautiful outdoor fireplaces. Whether you are meeting a group of friends or on a hot date; there are plenty of things to do for everyone, including shuffleboard courts. Or why not try your hand on one of the bright orange ping pong tables throughout the bar.

Seasonal hand-crafted cocktails are the favorite here and patrons will want to try one of the Pacific Northwest-inspired drinks, such as the “Marionberry Smash”. Several heat sources will keep visitors warm from the Pacific Northwest chill including an amazing tabletop fireplace. Although this rooftop bar doesn’t offer sweeping views of the city, it does offer an incredible ambiance and chilled out vibe, perfect for those relaxing nights.

Via ankrommoisan.com

4. Juvia, Miami

With a motto like “our penthouse is your penthouse”, visitors to Juvia should expect great things. It is one of Miami’s most popular rooftop bars due in part to its South Beach views and ultramodern décor. Striking colors of purple set the stage for this hip venue, along with an incredible vertical garden designed by an internationally renowned botanist. Juvia offers a variety of seating options, ranging from comfortable couches to high tables.

This dining oasis hands high in the sky above Miami Beach and patrons have the choice to sit indoors or out; while indulging in the French-Asian fusion menu. With a handful of award-winning chefs and designers; it is no surprise that locals and visitors to this area flock to this rooftop bar night after night. Insider tip- make sure to make a reservation ahead of time if you want to sit at an outdoor table as this rooftop bar gets crowded quickly.

Via Thirsty Mag

3. ABH, Sixty Beverly Hills, Los Angeles

This exclusive rooftop terrace is set high above Beverly Hills and remains one of the most sought-after drinking spots in the city. This two-level rooftop space offers full meals, snacks, and incredible specialty cocktails. The bar is open to both hotel guests and visitors although if you want to take a dip in the crystal-encrusted pool you have to be a guest of the hotel.

Elegant yet simple wooden furnishings adorn the patio and lanterns hung above to create an intimate setting. Later into the night the bar shifts into a more club-like atmosphere with fireplace lounges and DJ’s spinning beats, along with a plethora of people dancing to the tunes. Being the only rooftop al fresco bar and restaurant located within walking distance of Rodeo Drive, this rooftop attracts high-end clientele who are willing to drop serious cash on the specialty cocktails and fantastic small plates.

Via PartySlate

2. Legal Harborside, Boston

This expansive restaurant and bar feature over three floors of dining areas but if you are looking for the best rooftop bar in Boston it is up to the third floor you will head. The promenade deck here offers a four-season rooftop lounge and bar, complete with retractable walls and ceiling. During the winter months, visitors can enjoy the views of the harbor and skyline from the fully enclosed glass wall space.

Summer months the walls and ceiling are pulled back and visitors can drink under the sun and stars. An expansive wine menu, hand-crafted cocktails, and pitchers of punches pair perfectly with the incredible sushi menu. Plush lounge seating, incredible décor and the twinkling lights of the harbor create the perfect atmosphere in the city. A must visit for any visitor to the city.

Via Liberty Wharf

1. El Techo de Lolinda, San Francisco

Famous for its incredible views that stretch all the way from Mission Street to the Bay, El Techo de Lolinda is one of the best places to grab a tequila cocktail and some Latin-American inspired street food. This rooftop bar is located above the Lolinda Steakhouse and is famous in the city for being one of the best rooftop bars around. Whether you happen upon this bar during the day, or at night, expect great things.

Make sure to indulge in one of the famous pina coladas or margaritas, made with fresh coconut. Come from brunch on the weekends and keep cool under one of the umbrellas or saunter over here at night, where the heat lamps will keep you warm and the kitchen is open until 1 am. Whenever you decide to visit, enjoy these unique tequila cocktails, fresh food, and incredible views.

Via Eater SF

The 12 Best Food Truck Cities in America

There is no denying it; we are living in a glorious age where food trucks have become the hottest places to grab some grub. Cities all over America are host to hundreds of food trucks that offer everything from the typical taco to over the top gourmet meals. What makes a city better than another in terms of food trucks? We looked at how many food trucks operate in the city, how diverse the selections are and how friendly the cities are to these trucks. Without further ado, these 12 cities are the ultimate food truck cities in the country:

12. Honolulu, HI

Lunch wagons have been part of the landscape in Hawaii for generations and used to serve the same thing, a couple scoops or rice, some macaroni salad and gravy based main. But things have come a long way in recent years and innovative trucks have popped up all over Honolulu and visitors should be sure to check at least a few of them out. Melt Honolulu became an instant hit when it hit the streets in this city serving up incredible grilled cheese sandwiches, including one called the “Melt of Shame”. Fresh wood fired pizzas can be found at the Inferno’s truck or if you are in the mood for shrimp and grits, head to Soul Patrol. Warm weather all year round, awesome new food trucks popping up all over the city and the ocean at your fingertips; sounds like a pretty amazing food truck city to us!

Theodore Trimmer / Shutterstock.com
Theodore Trimmer / Shutterstock.com

11. Seattle, WA

Seattle has always been overshadowed by Portland in terms of being a food truck city but as the years tick by they are holding their own and home to some of the best food trucks in America. For some down home New Orleans cooking make sure to check out Where Ya At, a food truck that continuously rates as one of the best in the country. It is here where you will find Creole soul food, hot beignets and fried-oyster po’boys. Marination is another truck in this city that has garnered press country wide for its Hawaiian-Korean cuisine and attitude towards delivering incredible flavors and a dose of “Aloha” to the city. Seattle’s Largest Independent Food and Craft Festival happens yearly in the summertime and if you have a chance to check it out, we highly recommend it. One of the best cities in America for food trucks, yet highly underrated.

Photo by: Urban Beer Hikes
Photo by: Urban Beer Hikes

10. San Francisco, CA

This city is teeming with food trucks, new ones popping up every day and no matter where you are headed you are sure to find one that absolutely blows your mind. Although this city wasn’t the birthplace of the food truck craze, they have upped their ante by offering food of new gastronomic levels. Fried oyster and bacon sandwiches, curry goat tacos and Vietnamese caramel ribs are just a slice of what you can find here. The SoMa Streat Food Park is a popular place to head, especially for visitors looking to get a variety of trucks. The lineup here changes daily and features a dozen or so trucks, entertainment and picnic tables to eat at. If you are looking for sustainable meat and veggies make sure to check out Go Streatery who is famous for serving up their famous handmade brisket sandwiched piled high and topped with an incredible savory jam.

Photo by: Carlos Muela
Photo by: Carlos Muela

9. Tampa, FL

This city is all about food trucks and getting them out on the road. They even are home to a Food Truck Rally, a company that specializes in promoting local cuisine and connecting the public with the food trucks, hosting seminars for potential food truck owners and staging events all over the city. Tampa Bay’s Florida State Fairgrounds also holds the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally on a yearly basis! Wicked Wiches is one of the most popular food trucks in the city, offering gourmet sandwiches including a fried chicken sandwich served on jalapeno waffles. If you are after vegetarian or vegan seek out the Taco Bus who are known for their awesome menu and the fact they only ever use fresh ingredients.  But if there is one thing to try in this city it is the famous Gorilla Balls from the Fire Monkey Food Truck. Gorilla Balls are balls of mushroom risotto stuffed with beef and blue cheese, then deep fried to crispy perfection.

Photo by: Bay News 9
Photo by: Bay News 9

8. Atlanta, GA

Atlanta is an up and coming city when it comes to food trucks and there is no better time to experience these awesome trucks than now. This city is where you will find down home southern comfort food mixed with Mexican and Asian influences. Head first to The Good Food Truck where “the Poodle” is served from a lipstick red carriage. The Poodle is actually a hot dog, sandwiched between a French toast bun and loaded with apple-maple slaw and spicy mustard. If you are more in the mood for something a little more Mexican, head to the Blaxican where you will find Buffalo chicken tacos and collard green quesadillas. New laws in Atlanta have made it easier for trucks to operate on public roads and expect to see even more as the years go on.

Photo by: The Good Food Truck
Photo by: The Good Food Truck

7. Miami, FL

South Florida loves their food trucks and you will find hundreds of trucks lining the streets, with offerings you won’t find anywhere else. The Latin Burger is one of the most popular trucks in this city, serving up something they call the Macho Burger, created out of a combination of chorizo, chuck and sirloin, topped with caramelized onions and Oaxaca cheese. If you are looking for Asian fare there is only one food truck to seek out that that is Dim Ssam a GoGo who serves up gourmet sandwiches with ingredients such as foie gras, kimchi and pork. But the real hit in this city is HipPops, a truck that offers handcrafted desserts. Hugely popular, this truck offers the chance for customers to create their own custom dessert. Choose from gelato, sorbet or frozen yogurt, and three kinds of premium Italian chocolate dips. Top your POP with finely crushed pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts or pecans. And ta da; an incredibly delicious creation.

Photo by: The Latin Burger
Photo by: The Latin Burger

6. Denver, CO

Denver boasts over 100 food trucks and there is seemingly no bad place to grab a bite to eat. Whether you are looking to grab a green-chili cheeseburger, pizza or barbecue; you can find it in this city. If you are looking to try some delicious made from scratch tacos or quesadillas make sure to search out the pink food truck named Comida, the best of its kind in town. If you want to get back to your childhood there is no better food truck to visit than HEY pb&j, a truck that puts an innovative spin on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Combinations such as The King (peanut butter, applewood smoked bacon, sliced bananas, clover honey) and the Mother Clucker (mo’ pecan-peanut butter, fried chicken, homemade green tomato jam, goat cheese, spicy hot honey) are true favorites.

Photo by: Comida
Photo by: Comida

5. Minneapolis, MN

Residents of the Twin Cities can certainly get their fill of any type of cuisine they are looking for in this city with its multitude of food trucks. Dozens of choices are parked along meters, outside the breweries and setting up shop at the farmers markets. Fans of tater tots will want o head directly to the TOT BOSS food truck where you can find anything from tater tot nachos to tot and beer burritos. If it is something like a burger you are after make sure to head over to Butcher Salt, where small town restaurant meets sustainability meets four wheels. Here you will find grass-fed beef sliders, candied maple bacon and a whole lot other deliciousness. If you are looking for something more gourmet head to Get Sauced, where you will find locally sourced and organic foods, all transformed from scratch into gourmet dishes.

Photo by: TOT BOSS
Photo by: TOT BOSS

4. Washington, DC

This city boasts more than 150 food trucks, many of them roaming the streets, many of them with permanent spots and a whole lot of them turning out for festivals. Washington stands out due to the unique and creative foods these trucks are seen serving up. Food truck pioneers The Fojol Bros are well worth a visit with their colorful trucks and carnival like costumes, not to mention the delicious food they are serving up including butter chicken and beef berbere. On a cool Washington day make sure you head over to Red Hook Lobster Pound where you can get a steaming cup of authentic New England clam chowder or delicious lobster roll. With all these food trucks it seems hard to keep track of but luckily the Food Truck Fiesta app has you covered with its real time map that lists where the trucks are and whose serving up what.

Photo by: Mobile Cuisine
Photo by: Mobile Cuisine

3. Austin, TX

Austin is a city which has been supporting food trucks at a time when no other city was, and it’s no surprise they have maintained that level of support. Featuring over 250 food trucks, this city is the perfect place to take a culinary tour. Visitors will want to head to the East King Side truck, a vibrant and colorful display of artwork that happens to serve up an incredible serving of beet home fries. The most famous food truck in this city though is Hey! You Gonna Eat or What?, a truck that is known for its snarky chefs and large sandwiches. The Shiner Bock Monte Cristo is the sandwich to order here and is loaded with cheddar, provolone, mesquite-smoked turkey and pit-smoked ham. It is then fried in batter, topped with powder sugar and served with a side of cherry-fig jam. Anywhere you turn in this city there is surely going to be a food truck to suit your needs.

Photo by: Hey!. You Gonna Eat or What?
Photo by: Hey!. You Gonna Eat or What?

2. Portland, OR

This city has been at the forefront of the food truck revolution and despite their reputation for being vegan hippies; you can find just about any food you want at one of their awesome trucks. With over 350 food trucks throughout the city, deciding which ones to visit will be your hardest choice. It is imperative that you head to the Grilled Cheese Grill where you can get your favorite childhood meal reinvented. The Cheesus is perhaps the most famous of dishes where a burger is served with grilled cheese sandwiches acting as the bun. Weenies from Another World is another truck you shouldn’t miss as this awesome looking vintage truck serves up homemade dogs, bread and incredible tater tots. If its southern food you are after head to Ms. Kate’s Southern Kitchen for homemade mac n’ cheese, pumpkin spiced waffles and buttery fluffy biscuits.

Photo by: Reddit
Photo by: Reddit

1. Orlando, FL

There are almost 200 food trucks in Orlando and counting, and this city wins in terms of having the most food trucks per capita in all of the United States. The good weather, the incredible creativity and the outpouring of support from citizens of this state all contribute to the number of them. One of the best food trucks to check out is Twisted Plates where you can get gourmet food without dolling out a ton of cash, or having to get dressed up. The menu here changes regularly depending what is in season. Dixieland Diner is where you will find Cajun and the best of southern food including shrimp and grits and jambalaya. The winning combination of southern hospitality and generous portions means this truck gets big lines, but it is well worth the wait. Natural juices, shaved ice, waffles and chicken, gelato, burgers and pizza are available state wide at a number of food trucks.

Photo by: Dixieland Diner
Photo by: Dixieland Diner

The 10 Busiest US Airports at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a crazy time for Americans, they take this holiday seriously, sometimes even more so than Christmas. Like the more holly-jolly holiday, Thanksgiving is about taking time to share a meal and be with family and friends, but since Americans are pretty spread out, this often requires a quick (or maybe not so quick) flight. If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of your family, you can sit back and smile at the rest of this article, taking satisfaction in the fact that you won’t be one of the millions who must brave the following 10 busiest airports over Thanksgiving (as reported by Orbitz travel data):

10. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International -Atlanta, Georgia

2015 marks the first year that Atlanta’s international airport has landed on the ‘most busy’ list for the Thanksgiving travel period and with travel during this holiday period up an estimated 6% over last year, Hartsfield is likely to stay in the top 10 for a while.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

9. Dallas-Fort Worth International -Dallas, Texas

Another newcomer to the top 10 list, Dallas-Fort Worth is sure to see its infrastructure put through a pressure test. Recent years have seen more than two million passengers served by this airport during the entire Thanksgiving holiday period.

Frontpage / Shutterstock.com
Frontpage / Shutterstock.com

8. Newark Liberty International -Newark, New Jersey

New Jersey’s Newark airport is a frenzy of activity on a good day, let alone one of the busiest travel times of the year. Last year during the entire month of November, Newark saw a total of nine million travelers through its doors and this year that number is only going to rise.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

7. Orlando International -Orlando, Florida

Orlando airport is also making its debut on the top 10 list and enters as the 7th most busy airport in America for the Thanksgiving travel period. Perhaps with air fares dropping, more travelers are taking advantage of visiting relatives in the country’s warmer southern states.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

6. John F. Kennedy International -New York, New York

New Yorkers have a bit of a reputation for being impatient but for those that plan to travel through JFK airport during Thanksgiving should expect to have to wait, and wait, and wait. JFK is the 6th busiest airport in the country for this travel period, so maybe opt for LaGuardia instead since it’s not in the top 10 list.

Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

5. Boston Logan International -Boston, Massachusetts

Be prepared for delays and make sure your travel plans are somewhat flexible if you’re using Boston’s Logan airport this Thanksgiving. Previous years on-time data for this travel period show that only about 30% of all flights into the airport land on-time.

Leena Robinson / Shutterstock.com
Leena Robinson / Shutterstock.com

4. Denver International -Denver, Colorado

Of all the new additions to this years top 10 list, Denver International Airport makes the biggest splash as it enters the charts as the 4th busiest in the country. Last year the airport released a statement of “Tips for Navigating Denver International Airport This Thanksgiving Holiday” advising travelers to bring carry-on luggage only, arrive hours early and check-in online ahead of time. All pretty much common sense.

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com
Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

3. San Francisco International -San Francisco, California

With a total of 38.8 million residents no one should be surprised to see a California airport on this list. One way that San Francisco airport is helping passengers cope with the stress of holiday travel is with their Yoga Room in Terminal 2. The Yoga Room offers complimentary mats and pillows so passengers can chill and get a little more aligned while waiting for their flights.

Photo by: Altego
Photo by: Altego

2. Chicago O’Hare International -Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s O’Hare International airport is going to be the second busiest in the country during Thanksgiving, but this airport has taken into consideration the fact that Thanksgiving is all about family time, meaning lots of children are going to be taking to the skies as well. Families can enjoy the Kids on the Fly play area inside Terminal 2 which features child-sized model planes and an air traffic control tower to keep them occupied while awaiting departure.

Photo by: Visit Flyover Country
Photo by: Visit Flyover Country

1. Los Angeles International -Los Angeles, California

The number one busiest airport in the country for Thanksgiving will be none other than LAX, and this probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise, however this airport has taken a creative approach to helping passengers cope with the stress. LAX PUPS which stands for Pets Unstressing Passengers is a dog therapy program where dogs and handlers are positioned at various gates to give love to stressed out travelers. Because after all, who can resist those puppy eyes.

Photo by: LA Times
Photo by: LA Times

7 Chicken Masters of the South

Like so many have said, there’s no chicken quite like mama’s chicken. But when mama is a master chef of the South…or just a belle who knows how to cook poultry like no other, the other stuff doesn’t even begin to compare. That is, until you head to these fine dining establishments and put her version to shame…not that you’d ever admit it. These master fryers know how to season, cook, serve, sauce, prep, and create chicken like we’ve never seen before. Add in an incredible smell and taste and it’s all uphill from there. In fact, they’re recipes are so tasty, folks rave about them from states away. Whether they’re from the South, or just happened to stumble upon some deliciousness while traveling. Never underestimate the power of a good piece of chicken. And, in our very tasty opinion, here are the seven best places to find them.

7. Busy Bee Café – Atlanta, Georgia

For a city known for its soul food, making a memorable plate of fried chicken is an incredible feat. It’s also one that Busy Bee prides itself on. Since the 40s, they’ve been serving up crispy and tasty chicken. Their secret? Brining the meat for 12 full hours, add a specialty flavored flour, then cook it in peanut oil. Order yours with their signature gravy, and bask it in sides like collard greens or broccoli and cheese casserole. Yum!

Photo by: Busy Bee Cafe-ATL
Photo by: Busy Bee Cafe-ATL

6. Raising Cane’s – Baton Rouge, Louisiana

If you’re looking for a restaurant that does one thing, and does it well, you’re in luck. Raising Cane’s offers home-fried chicken with the convenience of fast food. Their meals come in varying sizes, offering eaters chicken strips, french fries, coleslaw, and Texas toast. As well as their signature Cane’s sauce – a delicious addition to their hot, flavorful meals. Stop by one of their many franchised locations for a quick take on tasty dinners.

Photo by: Shoshanah via Flickr
Photo by: Shoshanah via Flickr

5. Martha Lou’s Kitchen – Charleston, South Carolina

Martha Lou is one example of its namesake working behind the scenes – Martha herself, along with her daughter, Debra, are chicken masterminds. And they’ve been perfecting their method for more than 30 years. Visitors can stop by their pink restaurant – virtually everything is coated in the color – for an added dose of “mama’s kitchen” charm. Fan favorite sides include okra stew and their signature pepper lima beans.

Photo by: Martha Lou's Kitchen
Photo by: Martha Lou’s Kitchen

4. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar – Miami Beach, FL

There’s a reason Yardbird is winning so many awards and public mentions – their chicken is delicious. Order it alone, with biscuits, or go for the full-meal deal and get their chow-chow cheddar waffles and watermelon (our mouths are watering already), which is topped off with hot honey, and bourbon maple syrup for the waffles. Chicken loving heaven. Oh, and did we mention each meal is plated perfectly, too? Sign us up!

Photo by: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
Photo by: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

3. Barbecue Inn – Houston, Texas

Self-proclaimed Southern hospitality specialists, Barbecue Inn has been dishing up chicken since the 40s. That’s four generations of incredible cooks who have passed their secrets down the line. Eaters can even choose from Southern versions, all white, or all dark meat when ordering their meal. Guests agree that the taste is virtually unbeatable, and that the crisp alone is worth the trip; chicken is served grease-free.

Photo by: Stephan Rushmore via Road Food
Photo by: Stephan Rushmore via Road Food

2. Beasley’s Chicken + Honey – Raleigh, North Carolina

One of the newer joints around, Beasley’s uses modern methods to reinvent an old favorite. Rather than traditional free-fry, they opt for the help of pressure fryers. It might sound new, but the taste is just as delicious as the old school ways. (Likely less messy, too.) Each piece is then topped with a thin drizzle of honey to bring out the Southern flare. Eaters also recommend a side of buttermilk biscuits to take in the whole honey-loving effect.

Photo by: Beasley's Chicken + Honey
Photo by: Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

1. Gus’s Fried Chicken – Mason, Tennessee

We don’t know who Gus is or how he got so good at frying up birds, but we’ll let him cook for us any day. The original was started in Tennessee back in 1953 and the chicken was so good, places elsewhere just couldn’t wait to get their hands – or mouth – on it. Today there’s locations all over where you can order their crispy, spicy chicken that so many have grown to love.

Photo by: Evan Blaser via Flickr
Photo by: Evan Blaser via Flickr

The 10 Most Poorly Designed Cities in the World

It’s fair to say that no city can ever be perfect as they are constantly evolving, changing and at times their systems can break down. Anyone who has sat in traffic for 3 hours in downtown Atlanta, Georgia can agree with that. But there are some cities around the world that are worse than the rest, and for a variety of reasons including poor road layout, no green space, non-working traffic lights, overcrowding and more. From India to Montana to Brazil, here are the top picks for the most poorly designed cities in the world:

10. Missoula, Montana, USA

Legend has it that when this city was first being established there were two brothers overseeing development who unfortunately had a falling out in the middle of the process. Instead of resolving their problems, they each began plotting out and building their own grids from separate sides of the city. The two grids converge in the middle of the city, which residents refer to as the “malfunction junction”. Others call this the most poorly designed city in the world because of its “Slants Streets” neighborhood, an offbeat part of town that was created when two lawyers wanted to break away and build a whole new town. The town ultimately said no and created their street plan with a grid, throwing everything out of whack. Whatever story you choose to believe, this city is a mess of bad intersections and confusing streets where trying to make a left hand turn is next to impossible.

Missoula, Montana

9. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

It may be surprising to many that this city makes the list as it is one of the fastest growing economies in the world but Dubai ends up at number nine on this list for a variety of reasons. The increasing number of skyscrapers and residential estates that take up hundreds of acres simply don’t jive well together. The entire layout of the city is connected by massive roadways leading from one enormous development to the next. Walking around the city is next to impossible because of this and frankly this city is lacking in shared public spaces. Parks and squares that encourage togetherness are void from Dubai and instead there are giant shopping malls and indoor ski resorts. If you are looking for a city where you can get to know your neighbors, have a picnic in the park or simply get some outdoor exercise; you may want to avoid Dubai.

All.in / Shutterstock.com
All.in / Shutterstock.com

8. Atlanta, Georgia, USA

If you are planning on moving to Atlanta and enjoying a traffic-free commute, think again. Traffic doesn’t get much worse than this city and in fact the traffic here is legendary. In the 1980’s and 90’s there was a boom in Atlanta that caused a massive urban sprawl and along with poorly situated highways; there seems to be no hope in terms of it getting any better. One of the major problems here is the division of race and class that leads to clashes in what should be done to alleviate the traffic problem. Georgia also happens to be one of the bottom five states in terms of highway spending per capita, meaning they aren’t committed to any kind of game plan to fix the system. Unless something drastic happens in this city, expect that the poor design will continue for decades.

Photo by: Flickr/Matt Lemmon
Photo by: Flickr/Matt Lemmon

7. Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Although this city boasts one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in all of the USA, Boston can be extremely difficult to navigate due to the layout of the streets. Navigating these maze-like streets can be overwhelming to both visitors and locals and although the common misconception is the streets were laid out on top of wandering cow paths, the truth is they simply weren’t laid out according to plan. The combination of random one-way streets and convoluted intersections pose significant safety issues for runners, walkers and cyclists. And although the “Big Dig” project has improved this city in many ways, it has cost an estimated $22 billion, an amount of debt that will not be paid off until approximately 2038. Although this city looks pretty, it certainly isn’t easy to find your way around and it came at a huge price to fix the problems.

Boston Aerial

6. Dhaka, Bangladesh

This capital city is truly a disaster, from one urban dysfunction to another. It stands to reason that this might happen considering out of the city’s 650 major intersections, only 60 of them have traffic lights, and only some of them work. Millions of rickshaws, cars, bike, buses, cows and motorcycles share these roads and driving here is downright dangerous. The awful transportation system means that many inhabitants are forced to live in the slums in the city, rather than commuting from outside, creating poor sanitation and water systems. This massive failure of infrastructure needs a total overhaul before it can begin to get better. In the meantime there will continue to be millions living in poverty and millions fighting each other for road space, truly proving it as one of the most poorly designed cities in the world.

Dmitry Chulov / Shutterstock.com
Dmitry Chulov / Shutterstock.com

5. Sao Paulo, Brazil

Over the course of the 20th century this city transitioned from a small urban environment into a sprawling metropolis, leading to what is one of the most poorly designed cities in the world. This shift in environment meant that the rich took over the center of the city and the poor were pushed to the outskirts; forcing a high number of commuters to the roads. In order to try and alleviate congestion this city implemented a two-mile elevated highway that winds right through the heart of the city, narrowly missing resident’s houses. This noisy eyesore replaced a lively neighborhood that was a cultural center of the city. The rich of the city don’t even bother dealing with roads though; instead they choose to get around by helicopter, making Sao Paulo the city with the world’s largest fleet of helicopters per capita. Unfortunately if you can’t afford a helicopter, you’re forced to deal with this:

AFNR / Shutterstock.com
AFNR / Shutterstock.com

4. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Hurricane Katrina devastated this city a decade ago due to the levee system failing miserably, a system that was designed to protect the city from storm surges. The large majority of Greater New Orleans was flooded and many people lost life and homes. Add this to the fact that this city is built on thousands of feet of soft sand, silt and clay and the song “New Orleans is Sinking” is actually coming true. Combine this with the awful traffic congestion and poor layout of roads and you can understand why this city ranks number 4 in the most poorly designed cities of the world. The saving grace of this city may just be its Mardi Gras festival that brings millions of dollars in revenue; enough to hopefully fix this infrastructure so another tragedy like Hurricane Katrina doesn’t strike this city again.

New Orleans, Louisiana highway

3. Naypyidaw, Myanmar

This fairly new capital of Myanmar has only been in existence since 2005, when the country’s government decided a change of scenery was in order. What was once a land of empty fields has been turned into a super city, six times the size of New York City and complete with 20-lane highways and widespread WiFi access. It sounds pretty great, so why is this city on the list? It happens to be located literally in the middle of nowhere with practically no residents. Government officials are pretty much the only people who choose to call this city home and while the streets and roads should be bustling with activity, more often than not there is no one around. Cities are meant to lived in and over the past decade, this city is failing miserably. Only time will tell if this was money well spent or not.

Photo by: NBC News
Photo by: NBC News

2. Brasilia, Brazil

It is the second Brazilian city on the list and while San Paulo suffers from a lack of design, Brasilia seems to suffer from too much design. This country just can’t seem to find a happy medium. The city of Brasilia was created from a plan back in the 1950’s which took inspiration from an airplane layout and included modernist concrete architecture, meant to make the city hold for years. While visually appealing to some, this city has earned a reputation for being sterile and artificial. It was also designed to house only 500,000 inhabitants but over the years has become home to almost 3 million people. In order to house all these people, it was no longer about keeping the city beautiful and more about creating room for them. Therefore Brasilia has become this mismatch of temporary fixes overshadowing its original beauty.

Donatas Dabravolskas / Shutterstock.com
Donatas Dabravolskas / Shutterstock.com

1. Jakarta, Indonesia

It happens to be the country’s capital and one of the most poorly designed cities in the World, a combination that makes getting around here a disaster. An ever-increasing number of car owners that come from the expansion of suburbia that surrounds this mega-city are to be blamed for the 400 hours a year that citizens spend in traffic. It is actually hailed as being the worst traffic in the world. It doesn’t seem like there is any solution for this mega-city as the infrastructure here falls into the hands of the local government and contracts are renegotiated annually; which means long-term projects are pretty much impossible. An average trip in this city takes about 2 hours; leaving plenty of drivers frustrated at all times. If you thought traffic was busy in your city, try living here for a few years.

Photo by: Indonesia Expat
Photo by: Indonesia Expat

The 14 Longest Non-stop Flights in The World

Flying from one end of the world to the other takes a long time, but luckily for passengers it is taking much less time with the introduction of non-stop flights. What used to be a two-day journey from New York to Hong Kong can now be done in just about 16 hours. Engineers have worked hard over the years to come up with innovative ways to make airplanes go faster and longer distances, without having to stop. Although these 16 hour journeys may take a long time, there are plenty of on-board amenities to keep passengers happy. Discover 14 of the longest non-stop flights in the world, and why flying long distance is easier than ever.

14. Chicago to Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific

Residents of the windy city can take a 15.5 hour journey all the way to the bustling metropolis of Hong Kong, a journey that covers 7,793 miles. Cathay Pacific is known around the world as one of the favorite airlines to fly and it’s no wonder they now have daily flights, as well as an extra direct flight three times a week between these two cities. While their planes don’t have the fully enclosed suites in first class, they still offer one of the best products out there for passengers who want to fly in style. Expect to spend the 15 hours sleeping in the ultra comfortable beds, in the provided pajamas while watching an unlimited amount of movies and television shows. One thing to note about this flight, if you do need something make sure to press the call button as the flight staff like to leave you alone as much as possible to get the rest that most people want.

Eric Hui / Shutterstock.com
Eric Hui / Shutterstock.com

13. New York to Taipei: EVA Air

This 7,808 mile route started back in 2011 and has only grown in popularity, despite the fact that it takes a whopping 15.5 hours to reach Taiwan’s booming capital from the Big Apple. Passengers aboard this flight will have three options of classes from regular Economy to Elite Premium Economy to the much loved Royal Laurel Class. Taking a flight and sitting in the Royal Laurel Class is unlike any other 15.5 hour flight as it offers one of the most comfortable sleeping areas. Each seat can convert to a two-meter long fully flat bed complete with lush linens and pillows. Added touches such as the shoe cabinet, retractable armrest and closet space just add to the experience. In-flight dining complete with champagne and fresh lobster are what passengers will find here. Economy passengers will still be subject to delicious dining, comfortable reclining seats and touch screen entertainment.

Taipei 101, Taiwan

12. Toronto to Hong Kong: Air Canada

It is the longest flight originating out of Canada and sits at 7,810 miles and takes a total of 15.5 hours to complete as passengers make their way from Toronto to Hong Kong. The aircraft for this long flight is Air Canada’s Boeing 777 that is complete with the loved Executive Pod Business Class cabins. With 48 of these classic pods, passengers can lie-flat, watch their own personal touch screen TV’s and charge any electronic devices in their personal power outlets. There is only the choice of economy and business class on these aircrafts but economy passengers can expect a wider seat pitch than others, a power outlet in-between the seats and access to the in-flight entertainment. Enjoy a hot meal with complimentary wine and spirits as you take the long journey from Toronto to Hong Kong.

Top Cities 2013 - Hong Kong

11. Los Angeles to Melbourne: United

What was once a route run by Virgin Australia, who moved its fleet to its L.A-Brisbane route, is now a route run by United, and this 7,921 mile journey takes about 16 hours. United flies its Boeing 787 Dreamliner which seats 252 passengers divided into three classes; Business, Economy and Economy Plus. Passengers in business class can expect seats that transform into lie-flat beds, an ottoman in front of the seat featuring storage and in-seat power with USB and reading light. Passengers aboard this 16 hour flight will have access to 150 hours of entertainment including movies, RV programs, music and games. Service with a smile, friendly passengers and enough options to keep you occupied for those 16 long hours, makes flying with United both easy and pleasant.

American Spirit / Shutterstock.com
American Spirit / Shutterstock.com

10. Dallas to Doha on Qatar Airways

This 7,931 mile journey takes passengers from Dallas, Texas to Doha, a new destination in the gulf region for Qatar passengers. This route debuted in July 2014 after the success of the Houston-Doha route that has been operating since 2008. Passengers will pass the 16.5 hours by using the awesome on-board entertainment system, getting some shut eye with the provided sleep mask or upgrading to the generous Business Class seats. This trip doesn’t come cheap though and passengers should expect to pay around $2,000 for a round trip economy ticket. It also happens to be one of the last of the 7,000 mile journeys on this list

Ivica Drusany / Shutterstock.com
Ivica Drusany / Shutterstock.com

9. New York to Guangzhou: China Southern

China’s biggest airline launched this flight in 2014, hoping to attract transit customers coming from other countries who will connect in Guangzhou. The journey from New York to Guangzhou is just over 8,000 miles and takes about 16 hours to complete. Along with the launch of this service came the delivery of their new 777-300ER aircraft that can carry 309 passengers in the four-class configuration. Featuring First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy, passengers now have an array of options on how they want to travel. Although you won’t find the same luxuries as Emirates, for example, there are still plenty of in-flight options, power outlets and food and drink choices to keep passengers happy. This route also happens to be very budget friendly and those looking to score a great deal, should look at China Southern.

Canton Tower in Guangzhou, China

8. Houston to Doha: Qatar Airways

It takes a total of 16.5 hours and covers over 8,047 miles taking passengers from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport to the megacity of Doha, on the cusp of the Persian Gulf. Luckily this Boeing 777 comes loaded with options such as the flat-bed first class suites, generous economy seats and flat seats in business class. Every passenger here is treated to an amenity kit complete with eyeshades, socks and other essentials. The acclaimed Oryx Entertainment system is available to all passengers on this flight. Most likely this plane ride will be full of business travelers as they fly from the oil-rich Houston area to the Middle East. For six years this flight has been in operation and demand continues to grow for this airline which operates 131 planes to over 137 destinations worldwide.

JPRichard / Shutterstock.com
JPRichard / Shutterstock.com

7. New York to Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific

On this flight from New York to Hong Kong, passengers will actually fly close to the North Pole, before descending back down south over Russia Siberia. At 8,072 miles, this journey takes about 16 hours. Cathay Pacific happens to be one of the best airlines to fly in Economy Class, good news for those not wanting to shell out big bucks for Business or First Class. Economy seats feature extra width and legroom compared to other airlines as well as a plethora of in-flight entertainment options. Small touches such as a printed menu with food options the same as in First Class, a USB and power outlet, along with a well-designed seat back, makes flying this 16 hour journey easy!

New York

6. Dallas to Hong Kong: American Airlines

It is one of the most recent routes on this list as it only launched in May 2015 and now features the incredible Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The journey from Dallas to Hong Kong is approximately 8,123 miles and takes about 16.5 hours. The custom designed Dreamliner aircraft is unique to American and offers Business Suites with fully adjustable lie-flat seats and direct aisle access for all. Every passenger here will enjoy the onboard Wi-Fi, power outlets and personal in-flight entertainment with up to 250 movies, 180 TV programs and 350 audio selections. It became the first flight from Dallas to China as a whole and we expect it won’t be the last.

Ivan Cholakov / Shutterstock.com
Ivan Cholakov / Shutterstock.com

5. Houston to Dubai: Emirates

This 8,168 mile journey from Houston to Dubai takes about 16. 5 hours, but for those oil tycoons who can afford to fly in style, it certainly won’t feel that long. First class brings “do not disturb” signs, personal mini-bars and on-demand dining. Business Class features privacy screens and leather seats that transform into beds, complete with a built-in massage feature. Even in economy, passengers are treated to the onboard entertainment system that features up to 1,500 channels of content. It is easy to book a seat on this flight as Emirates offers two connections between the cities daily, often at bargain rates at just over $1,000 round trip. This is one long journey that you may want to splurge on First Class, trust us, you won’t regret it.

Sophie James / Shutterstock.com
Sophie James / Shutterstock.com

4. Los Angeles to Dubai: Emirates

This 16.5 hour flight that covers over 8,339 miles flies from one end of the globe to the next, although you wouldn’t know it on arrival as these two cities both boast deep blue seas, luxurious hotels, fashion malls and miles upon miles of beaches. The aircraft used here is a double-decker A380 which features 14 First Class suites, 76 flat beds in Business Class and almost 400 seats in Economy. Premium fliers also get access to the exclusive upstairs cocktail lounge. Emirates is typically known for its over-the-top amenities on their flights and expect thousands of entertainment choices, a generous baggage allowance and both Wi-Fi and mobile phone connectivity on-board. If you happen to be taking this flight in first class, amenities range from bottles of Dom Perignon, in-flight shower spa sessions and 27-inch flat screen TV’s.  You may never want to leave this aircraft!

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com
Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

3. Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi: Etihad

The third longest non-stop flight in the world also takes just over 16.5 hours and covers over 8,390 miles; connecting the desert boom town of Abu Dhabi with L.A. This flight is one of the most comfortable on this list though as Etihad offers generous legroom in all of its classes. Passengers will choose from three different classes including the award-winning Diamond First Class suites, Business Class flatbed seats and Economy class. Expect 6-foot reclining beds and 23-inch flat-screen TV’s in the First Class suites as well as your own personal closet. For families that are flying this route, they may want to take advantage of the “Flying Nanny” program, where parents are given a break from their little ones. Wherever you sit on this plane, expect first-class service, excellent in-flight entertainment and a lot of hours in the air.

Lukas Rebec / Shutterstock.com
Lukas Rebec / Shutterstock.com

2. Atlanta to Johannesburg: Delta

Anyway you cut it, it is a long way from the United States to South Africa and at 16.5 hours, this flight covers over 8,439 miles. The 777 Boeing planes that are used to make this long flight provide awesome comfort though, if you are willing to spend a bit of extra cash. The business elite class is the favorite amongst many as it features lie-flat seats that allow your feet to face the aisle and offer the ultimate privacy, and as an added bonus every seat has aisle access. Even in economy, the new seats on these aircrafts provide enough room to stretch out and sleep. Economy comfort is also a great choice, not near as expensive as business class but still offers extra leg room and alcoholic beverages. The flight crosses over the entire breadth of the Atlantic Ocean before touching down in a country that teems with culture and wildlife.

Johannesburg South Africa

1. Dallas to Sydney: Qantas

At a whopping 17 hours this is currently the longest non-stop flight in the world and travels an insane 8,578 miles between the two cities. This route also boasts the biggest passenger plane in the skies; the double-decker A380. Qantas can fly this route in either direction and passengers have their choice of four different classes on-board. Choose from one of 14 seats in first class, 64 seats in business, 35 seats in premium economy or one of 371 seats in coach. Either way, expect more leg room, ergonomically correct seats, better in-flight facilities and even a self-serve snack bar. The on-demand entertainment systems ensures passengers have access to over 100 movies, 500 TV programs, 800 music options and 18 radio channels; ensuring this 17 hour flight will whiz by.

Circular Quay Sydney Australia

10 Awesome Aquariums Where You Can Spend the Night With Sharks

Imagine drifting off to sleep while a shark silently stalks above you, or a school of colorful fish dart in and out of coral, all while you are safely tucked into your warm sleeping bag, next to your kids, or a loved one. Aquariums around the world are taking experiences to a new level by offering a variety of overnight experiences. These sleepovers allow guests to explore the aquarium after dark, learn more about the marine life that live there and have the opportunity to go behind the scenes and participate in feedings and cleanings. From Toronto to California to South Africa, here are 10 awesome overnight aquarium experiences.

10. Vancouver Aquarium -Vancouver, BC

Spending a night at the Vancouver Aquarium is like no other in Canada, and offers visitors an exciting opportunity to go behind the scenes in their marine lab. Visitors on one of these sleepovers will have the opportunity to touch local invertebrates including live sea stars, anemones, sea urchins and more. Visitors can choose from different sleepovers including a family night where participants embark in a variety of activities, presentations and tours. They also offer an incredible Valentine’s night sleepover for the romantic couple that wants to create unique memories. A three course plated dinner, a presentation on the sex lives of sea animals and a behind the scenes tour is included with this sleepover. Fall asleep in the Arctic Canada underwater gallery to sights of the majestic beluga whales swimming right in front of your eyes in this awesome Canadian aquarium sleepover experience.

Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com
Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com

9. Georgia Aquarium -Atlanta, GA

Sleeping at the aquarium doesn’t have to be just for kids as the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta offers adults-only nights, along with a variety of family themed nights. The family nights are recommended for ages seven and up and include a variety of activities and behind-the-scenes tours, specifically focusing on whales and sharks. The adults-only sleepovers here are hugely popular and for good reason. The behind-the-scenes tours, gallery tours, activities and events that the aquarium plans for adults gives you a once in a lifetime chance to get up close and personal with the marine animals. Dinner, snacks, a 4-D movie and more are all included here. Make sure to spend the next day talking in the dolphin show and exploring the aquarium during daytime hours.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

8. Maui Ocean Center -Wailuku, HI

The aquarium here is an exciting place to be after dark as the creatures that normally hide during daylight hours make their debut, while others seem to disappear right before your eyes. The sleep with the shark sleepover at the Maui Ocean Center offers a total hands-on experience complete with fun activities, education, crafts and a movie. Watch as the sharks behavior changes from day to night, learn more about the marine animals and even have the chance to help an ocean naturalist feed the turtles and rays. This sleepover program is offered to anyone ages six to 13, accompanied by an adult. When you are all tuckered out from a fun-filled night, curl up in your sleeping bag and watch the Open Ocean show of the mesmerizing Sea Jelly exhibit. This program is one of the most hands-on sleepovers and promises to delight visitors of all ages.

Photo by: Joe Boyd via Flickr
Photo by: Joe Boyd via Flickr

7. Two Oceans Aquarium -Cape Town, South Africa

Not anyone can spend the night at this aquarium, but if you happen to be a member, part of an educational group or want to hold your child’s birthday party here; you will have access to a pretty awesome sleepover aquarium experience. The aquarium closes to the public at 6 pm, which allows sleepover guests plenty of time to explore the aquarium after dark. A kid-friendly dinner, a ton of planned activities, movies and more await guests here. Exhibits include the penguin exhibit, Indian Ocean gallery, touch pools, Atlantic Ocean gallery, predator exhibit and more. Birthday parties are perhaps the most popular sleepovers here, an experience your child will never forget. They happen to be best for children aged eight to 12.

InnaFelker / Shutterstock.com
InnaFelker / Shutterstock.com

6. Aquarium of the Pacific -Long Beach, CA

Grab your sleeping bag and prepare for the ultimate family adventure at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach California. This is one of the best sleepovers if you are looking for the most hands-on activities. Sleepover guests will embark on an awesome scavenger hunt with the whole family as well as have a pizza dinner, guaranteed to make every kid happy. Next up guests are encouraged to pet marine animals such as sharks, sea stars and sea jellies. You can even help participate in a fish feeding. A light snack before bed and the chance to paint your own souvenir t-shirt is also included with this experience. These themed overnights do fill up quickly and are normally offered in the summer, winter and Halloween; all complete with a different theme. These sleepovers also happen to be one of the most budget friendly on our list.

Photo by: Tracie Hall via Flickr
Photo by: Tracie Hall via Flickr

5. Newport Aquarium -Newport, KY

This awesome overnight experience is something not to miss if you are in the Newport Area. First up, children and adults of all ages are welcome although they do recommend children be at least 6 years old. Each group of children must be accompanied by an adult and there will be no shortage of fun activities to keep everyone entertained all night long. Along with backstage animal experiences and encounters, sleepover guests will get guided tours, help with tank feedings and enjoy either a shark or penguin presentation. The sleeping areas include Shark Tunnel (our personal favorite), Jellyfish Gallery or Coral Tunnel. An evening snack and breakfast is included, as is admission to the aquarium the next day. At just $49 per person, this is an amazing price to check out what happens after dark at this ultra cool aquarium.

Photo by: Jeff Kubina via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Jeff Kubina via Wikimedia Commons

4. SeaWorld -San Diego, CA and San Antonio, TX

For any animal lover ages four to 14, with an adult chaperone, a family sleepover at SeaWorld might just be the most unforgettable and exciting night of your life. Your event begins at 5:45 pm where guests will be invited to check in and eat a delicious pasta dinner. Following that are a multitude of animal encounters and fun and educational activities. Bedtime ranges between 10 pm to midnight and sleepover guests are encouraged to explore SeaWorld the entire next day, as admission is included. Kids also love the fact that they get a souvenir SeaWorld sleepover t-shirt to take home. If you happen to take the kids to SeaWorld San Antonio, try to visit during the Christmas season and stay overnight at the South Pole with the penguin encounter. Nothing says Merry Christmas than waking up to these cheerful creatures. Whichever experience you decide to try, you won’t be disappointed at SeaWorld.

Roka / Shutterstock.com
Roka / Shutterstock.com

3. Monterey Bay Aquarium -Monterey Bay, CA

Seashore sleepovers at this aquarium offer animal loves the chance to experience the aquarium after hours, even choosing to sleep next to your favorite exhibit. Check in begins at 6 pm and sleeping areas are first come first serve, which means you best come early to get the sleeping area you want. The doors close at 8 pm to the general public and that is truly when the adventure begins. Special programming throughout the night means you won’t ever be bored and participants can choose to explore the aquarium on their own or participate in one of the many activities. A light evening snack is offered and bedtime is between 10:30 pm and 11 pm. In the morning have a continental breakfast in the café and spend the rest of the day exploring the aquarium by daylight.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

2. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada -Toronto, ON

Let’s talk facts; this aquarium features over 16,000 animals, North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel and more than 100 interactive exhibits, including three touch exhibits featuring horseshoe crabs, sharks and rays. What makes this aquarium even better, which we didn’t think was possible, is there shark sleepovers. Yes we said shark sleepovers. Visitors are invited throughout the year to curl up under the famous shark tank and sleep under the watchful eyes of the scary sharks that swim overhead. Included in this experience is admission to the aquarium in the evening and the next day, a take home activity in the classroom and a late night snack plus breakfast. The aquarium does remain open to the general public until 11 pm on the night of the sleepover but rest assured you will be the only ones that get to experience the overnight in the dangerous lagoon tunnel, packed full of sand tiger sharks, roughtail stingrays and green sea turtles.

mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com
mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com

1. National Aquarium in Baltimore -Baltimore, MD

It is no surprise that this impressive aquarium boasts two awesome sleepovers for anyone over the age of eight. Visitors here can choose to sleepover with the dolphins or the sharks, each offering unique programming. For dolphin lovers the evening begins with a talk from the marine mammal team where you will get to know the dolphins and discover how they learn and play. From there, a kid-friendly dinner is served and you are off to experience the 4-D immersion films, explore the aquarium after dark and discover the behind-the-scenes area with expert guides. Fall asleep in one of the underwater viewing areas and in the morning help wake the dolphins up with an exclusive enrichment session. If you choose to sleep with the sharks, expect much of the same experiences; only substitute the dolphin with the shark. A once in a lifetime opportunity awaits you here at this awesome aquarium.

LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com
LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

10 Awesome Zoos Where You Can Spend the Night

We all know that kids love spending time at the zoo but did you know you can take things one step further and actually spend the night there? And hey, this experience isn’t just for kids. Many zoos all over the world are opening their doors after dark and are giving visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with the animals. From bring your own tent events to luxury lodges to sleeping beside the sea lions; here are 10 awesome zoos where you can spend the night.

10. Zoo Miami -Miami, FL

Zoo Miami, formerly known as Miami MetroZoo has a tragic past. In 1965 Hurricane Betsy dumped over three feet of water onto the zoo and killed 25 animals. Then in 1992 Hurricane Andrew came in and destroyed 5,000 trees, the 1.5 acre aviary and all of its inhabitants. The zoo has worked hard over the past decade to restore it and one of the ways they have made themselves unforgettable is their sleepovers they offer. The best they offer is perhaps their Annual Big Cat-Nap Campout. This special once a year sleepover invites families to pitch their own tents in the grasslands for a real camping experience, complete with sounds effects provided by the very real zoo animals nearby. A favorite for kids and adults, make sure your kids are at least 6 years old and pre-register as this event is known to sell out fast!

Jaguar Zoo Miami

9. Zoo Atlanta -Atlanta, GA

Zoo Atlanta is one of the best in terms of offering an abundance of overnight programs. Whether you want to bring 10 kids for a birthday party or want to have a family sleepover; this is the zoo for you. For families there are two options for overnights. The first is to pick one of their theme nights, pack up your sleeping bag and join the fun as you have awesome animal encounters, themed games, a scavenger hunt, breakfast and private guided tour of the zoo. The second option is to join one of the deluxe family nights where you will have the opportunity to go behind the scenes and actually feed the zoo residents. If you want to leave the kids at home, Zoo Atlanta offers an adult-only group experience where you and 10 of your friends get together for an epic after hours scavenger hunt that lasts throughout the night.

Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com
Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com

8. Zoofari Slumber, Nashville Zoo -Nashville, TN

The Zoofari Slumber at Nashville Zoo allows anyone over the age of 4 to camp out overnight, specifically recommended for families with children aged 4-12. This is a bring your own tent experience that requires families to pack everything they would normally take camping, including camp food, chairs and musical instruments. A variety of activities awaits families here including hayrides, inflatable castles, animal shows and crafts. The evening hot dog and marshmallow roast is always a hit for the kids, as is the campfire songs. A full breakfast is served in the mornings. Sleeping under the start just a short ways from the snoozing animals, content in your own tent is something every Nashville family should experience.

Photo by: Nashville Zoo
Photo by: Nashville Zoo

7. Overnight Safari at the Bronx Zoo -The Bronx, NY

The overnight safari series at The Bronx Zoo sells out year after year so if you are planning on snoozing with the snow leopards, we suggest you register early. Children 5 and older are welcome at these fun nights where you will bring your own tents, sleeping bags and picnic dinners. It is more like a summer camp experience packed all into one night here as the experience starts at 4pm and the zoo fills your night with never ending activities. From the classroom where animals are brought in to the scavenger hunts and activities that are planned, there is never a dull moment until the 10pm bedtime. The campsite is located between the Monkey House and the Sea Lion Tank, promising that the barking sea lions will wake you up in the morning. Plenty of snacks are provided, admission to the zoo the next day and a whole bunch of surprises await you at this overnight safari.

littleny / Shutterstock.com
littleny / Shutterstock.com

6. Snore and Roar, Smithsonian National Zoological Park -Washington, DC

It is the best way to see the animals of the Smithsonian Zoological Park after hours and have the entire park to yourself, as well as falling asleep to the sounds of wolves howling. Your tent will be perched on Lion/Tiger Hill and the overnight experience begins with a keeper-led tour of the exhibits. There is a maximum of 12 participants on each of these sleepovers so it’s suggested you book early. Both of the family options and the adults-only nights offer games, activities and breakfast. Each overnight experience is catered to a different area of the zoo, from reptiles to cheetahs to small mammals. Expect wine and cheese on the adults only nights and more family geared activities on the family nights, perfect for ages 6 to teen. Whatever experience you choose, this is one zoo that lets you get up close and personal with the animals of your choice at one of the best zoos in the world.

Red Panda Smithsonian National Zoological Park

5. Adult Overnights at the Philadelphia Zoo -Philadelphia, PA

Leave the kiddos at home on one of these adults-only overnights at the Philadelphia Zoo. You have to 21 and over to attend this event and prepare to indulge in some happy hour drinks starting at 6:30pm. What you will get on these overnights is a behind the scenes experience, up-close encounters with the animals, an after-dark tour of the zoo, meet and greats with the zoo experts and a light dinner. There are a couple different options for adults overnights, including a throwback to summer camp bring your own tent option and a haunted overnight where you will sleep in the historic treehouse. The next morning breakfast is served and you will experience the opening of the zoo alongside the workers, while visiting some adorable baby animals. An awesome night complete with beer, animals and ghost stories; you couldn’t ask for a better zoo experience.

Peacock Philadelphia Zoo

4. Serengeti Bush Camp, Toronto Zoo -Toronto, Canada

You won’t have to bring your own tent to sleep here, nor will you be stuck inside a building. The Toronto Zoo offers something really unique at its overnights. Spend the night in an authentic African Tent, complete with cots as you experience the African Savanna. Activities are in abundance during the experience and include a walking tour of the African Savanna and interactive adventure at the African Rainforest Pavilion. Dinner is served at the Simba Safari Restaurant which overlooks the white rhino and zebra exhibits, as the sun sets in the background. There are a number of programs here including an adults-only night and a night for families with kids younger than 5; all planned with age appropriate activities. This VIP experience is once in a lifetime and you will truly feel as you sleeping in the middle of Africa, amongst the animals.

Lion Toronto Zoo

3. Roar and Snore Safari, San Diego Zoo Safari Park -San Diego, CA

It is quite possible you will fall asleep to lions roaring and elephants trumping at this overnight safari experience at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. From February to November, you can combine the thrill of camping with the excitement of up-close animal encounters at one of the many themed overnights here. The campground, complete with your choice of canvas tent overlooks the 65 acre East Africa enclosure which features such animals as rhinos, giraffes, wildebeest and antelope. As with many of the zoo, this one offers a number of different programs for families with young children, school aged children or adults only. Dinner, snacks, breakfast, crafts, activities and of course animals encounters are all included in the price. If you do feel like splurging try one of the adults-only experiences where you can get up close and personal with more animals than ever, and stay in the premium tents where wood floors, a queen sized bed and electricity await you.

littleny / Shutterstock.com
littleny / Shutterstock.com

2. Roar and Snore, Taronga Zoo -Sydney, Australia

The unique accommodation site sets this overnight experience apart from the rest. Nestled on the cliff top overlooking the stunning Sydney Harbor on one side, and lions, leopards and meerkats on the other side; Roar and Snore at Taronga Zoo is an extra special overnight experience. In the evening guests are privy to some of the amazing native Australian reptiles as well as the big cats who are most impressive at night. In the mornings are when the cute and furry animals come out to play.  The full education experience include close up animal encounters, guided tours of the zoo after dark and behind the scenes experiences. The VIP treatment continues with refreshments, a feast with drinks and beautiful tent accommodations. Think beds, showers and electricity here. The Tarongo Zoo has created an incredible overnight program that should be the envy of many others around the world.

Taronga Zoo Giraffe

1. Jamala Wildlife Lodge, National Zoo and Aquarium -Canberra, Australia

Australia is at the forefront of delivering exceptional overnight zoo experiences and Jamala Wildlife Lodge at the National Zoo and Aquarium is a prime example of this. This all-inclusive luxury lodge experience includes overnight accommodation, all beverages and food and a number of animal encounters. Accommodations range from lodge rooms, bungalows and tree houses, each with their own unique animal encounter. How would you like to stay in a bungalow where you can take a bath and look into the lion’s den, or how about being able to feed the giraffe from your balcony? From an amazing dinner party to personal tours to pre-dinner drinks and an afternoon safari; this feels more like a vacation than just a simple overnight experience at a zoo.

Photo by: National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra
Photo by: National Zoo & Aquarium Canberra

10 Breathtaking Gardens to Visit in the U.S.

If you are looking to find peace and tranquility there is absolutely no better place than one of America’s beautiful public gardens. Whether you want to spend an hour wandering through the trails, or have a whole day to explore, these gardens will inspire you. Discover a butterfly hatching into a tropical oasis, the largest display of orchids in the US, towering fountains, amazing koi ponds and hundreds of acres of complete bliss. From Arizona to New York City to Florida; here are 10 breathtaking gardens to visit in the US.

10. Longwood Gardens -Kennett Square, PA

In the Brandywine Creek Valley sits 1,077 acres of magnificent gardens, woodlands and meadows known as Longwood Gardens. The longtime home of industrialist Pierre S. du Pont, this public garden boasts century old trees that were the inspiration behind du Pont conserving this land. The historic four acre conservatory is not to be missed, packed full of colorful flowers, ferns and fruits. Du Pont had much of a hand in designing this garden and in fact the Italian water garden was done entirely by him. Visit during the summer to catch one of the concerts in the grand ballroom, complete with a massive organ. If you want to catch the breathtaking colors of the Norway Maples, make sure to come in fall as they surround the 130 foot main fountain which becomes emblazoned in gold. Spring is the best time to see the impressive crocus and trillium carpeting the forest floor.

Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA

9. Desert Botanical Garden -Phoenix, AZ

Throw away any notion you may have of an ugly desert and experience the magic of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Spanning 145 acres this garden showcases more than 50,000 plants including the ever traditional cacti. This garden has a distinct mission to focus solely on desert plants while thrilling visitors with its colorful wildflower exhibit. The absolute best time to head here is during the spring when the wildflower exhibit explodes with color and the butterflies take flight in the covered pavilion. This garden also hosts a number of events including flashlight tours, music in the garden, kids programs and classes for adults. Discover the Mexican poppies, desert lupine and a large array of agave and other succulents in this awesome desert garden that pops with color.

Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin / Shutterstock.com
Images by Dr. Alan Lipkin / Shutterstock.com

8. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens -Boothbay, ME

This is one the newest gardens on our list and only opened in 2007, quick to become one of Maine’s most popular attractions. The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens span 248 acres with a mile of waterfront and took over 16 years to plan, build and plant. The beautiful walking trails, plant life and sculptures can be appreciated by spending the entire day here. Visitors will find everything here, from manicured formal gardens to waterfalls to thousands of species of herbs, plants and flowers. A hands-on children’s garden makes this destination family friendly. The summer is the ultimate time to visit as everything is in bloom and the weather is warm, make sure you pack a picnic to enjoy either in the butterfly gardens or the meditation gardens. Lectures and education talks are offered all year round, as are guided tours throughout the gardens and this is quickly becoming one of the most beautiful gardens in America.

Photo by: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
Photo by: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

7. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens -Coral Gables, FL

The southern climate in this state makes for great year round growing and at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens visitors are privy to rare exotic fruit species and an abundance of lush foliage. Located less than 10 miles from downtown Miami, this space showcases more than 3,400 tropical species, many of them gathered by the founder of this garden. David Fairchild actually traveled the globe in search of useful plants and in 1938 opened the 83 acre garden. Today it is home to an impressive number of palms, cycads and fruit species. Also on the property is a magnificent butterfly conservatory that features almost 3,000 butterflies. Visitors can watch them hatch and be released into the conservatory. Visitors will want to head here in winter for cooler temperatures and fewer bugs.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, Coral Gables, FL

6. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park -Grand Rapids, MI

The motto of this garden is always growing, always beautiful and always new. The sculpture program at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park features over 200 works in the permanent collected, both indoors and out, spread over 158 acres. This haven is one of the best when it comes to incorporating horticulture and sculptures throughout its site. Plan on spending an entire day here while you discover the tropical conservatory featuring over 500 species from around the world, complete with waterfalls, bridges and a variety of tropical birds. Or head to the new Japanese gardens which spans over 8 acres complete with serene bridges and ponds. The children’s garden is a hit among the little ones as they are encouraged to dig for fossils, sit in the giants bird nest or look through the viewpoints at the numerous sculptures. Don’t miss the annual exhibition when the butterflies hatch and take flight in the tropical conservatory.

Photo by: Brett McPherson/Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Photo by: Brett McPherson/Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

5. Chicago Botanic Garden -Chicago, IL

The Chicago Botanic Garden draws about a million visitors annually and is considered one of the largest botanical gardens in the U.S, spanning nearly 400 acres. It is actually considered to be a living museum and this garden has a big hand in groundbreaking plant conservation research. Visitors will want to come here between late April and November to see the nearly 200 Bonsai that are on display. These miniature masterpieces are cultivated by bonsai master Susumu Nakamura and it is considered one of the best public displays of bonsai. Visitors here will also find a local-centric fruit and vegetable garden, a classic English walled garden and 100 acre native oak woodland. Spanning across nine islands and six miles of lakeshore, this garden is absolutely one of the most breathtaking in all of America.

Chicago Botanic Garden

4. Portland Japanese Garden -Portland, OR

This 5.5 acre garden is quite small compared to the rest of the beautiful gardens on this list but makes up for its size with what it offers visitors. The late landscape architect Takuma Tono created this magnificent garden true to the traditions of his native Japan with stunning results. The landscape here is split into five distinct gardens- the flat garden, strolling pond garden, tea garden, natural garden and sand and stone garden. If you have never been to a Japanese garden before, prepare yourself for the peace and tranquility that overwhelms you as you enter. These gardens are designed to make visitors feel as part of nature, not overwhelmed by it. One of the best times to visit is in the spring with the famous weeping cheery erupts into the beautiful pink blossoms. It is important to note that this garden has many trails that make it quite difficult for wheelchair guests.

Portland Japanese Garden

3. Missouri Botanical Garden -St. Louis, MO

The breathtaking Missouri Botanical Garden spans over 79 acres and includes an amazing 14 acre Japanese garden, an original 1850’s estate home and one of the world’s largest collections of rare and endangered orchids. The collection of orchids includes over 3,000 species with colors ranging from bright pink to dainty spotted varieties. February and March are the only moths to see the full orchid display and we guarantee it is like nothing you have seen before. But that’s not all this garden offers, there are also more than 700 types of daffodils on display and an amazing collection of daylilies. This garden is also home to the iconic Climatron conservatory, a clime controlled geodesic dome built in the 1960’s that features an impressive tropical paradise. From summer music festivals to train shows to holiday flower shows, there is something happening at this garden every day of the year.

Photo by: Carlos Muela
Photo by: Carlos Muela

2. The New York Botanical Garden -New York City, NY

This national historic landmark spans over 250 acres in the Bronx and gives the ever bustling city a sense of peace and tranquility. These gardens were established way back in 1891 and along with the millions of plants is home to a number of historic buildings. The 1902-era conservatory is a hit among visitors as it includes eleven distinct plant habitats including a tropical rainforest and desert environment of the Americas and Africa. The garden is arranged in fifty distinct areas and includes a century old collection of conifers, a 4,000 plant rose garden and the largest old growth deciduous forest in New York. Helpful guides are always located throughout this garden spouting bits of useful information to visitors, a welcome touch. Visitors flock here for the spring orchid exhibit and in the summer for fields of blooming daffodils.

The New York Botanical Garden

1. Atlanta Botanical Garden -Atlanta, GA

This 30 acre botanical garden boasts the largest collection of orchid species on permanent display in the US, and that is just one of the many reasons that visitors flock to experience this garden. There is fun for the whole family here, including a children’s garden complete with fountains, sculptures and fun exhibits on botany and ecology. The hit among many visitors is the 600 foot long canopy walk that takes you through the branches of oaks, hickories and poplars while overlooking native species of hydrangeas, perennials and camellias. A pond full of aquatic plants, a Japanese garden and rose garden are just a few things you should expect to explore here. Between the concerts they offer, the chef demonstrations and the guided tours; there is truly something for everyone. Check out the garden at night in the summers when unique structures feature hundreds of miles of optic fiber, turning the garden into an enchanting storybook setting.

Atlanta Botanical Garden