The 12 Most Unique Movie Theaters in the World

Forget watching Netflix at home or going to a regular movie theatre, all around the world from the United States to Norway to the UK there are some extremely unique theatres to visit. Some take credit for being hundreds of years old while others use new technology to wow moviegoers. From an elementary school turned brewpub/theatre to an outdoor cinema set up in a cemetery; here are our top 12 choices for the most unique movie theatres in the world.

12. Kennedy School, Portland, OR

This one time elementary school has been turned into a 35-room hotel, restaurant, and movie theatre, all thanks to McMenamins, a local empire of brewpubs and entertainment venues. The movie theatre located in the school’s old auditorium is a mix of comfortable sofas, armchairs, and tables for two. It can fit up to 300 guests inside where second-run feature films are shown nightly.

Mommy matinees are shown during the day from Tuesdays to Thursday s where kids and their parents can come enjoy the first show, and it won’t matter to anyone if the wee ones fuss. Admission here is a steal, at just $4 per person and just $2 a child. There is a special theatre lounge and lobby to grab a drink and bite to eat before the show, or put in your order, as servers will come to your seat throughout the movie so you don’t have to miss a minute of it. Not surprisingly there are a number of McMenamins Craft Beers on tap here!

Via Lonely Planet

11. Colosseum Kino, Oslo, Norway

It is the largest cinema in Northern Europe and the largest THX cinema in the world and is dominating in structure due to its large spherical dome. The grey and cream dome looks more like a futuristic spaceship rather than a movie theatre but it was actually built in 1921.

Throughout its 90 year history, the Colosseum Kino has managed to keep up with technological advances such as sounds systems, and ticketing systems. In 1998 the theatre closed down for a period of time in which major interior and exterior renovations were made.

Via Cinemaholic

10. The Castro Theatre, San Francisco

Built in 1922 by pioneer San Francisco theatre entrepreneurs, this is one of the last remaining movie palaces in the nation that was built in the 1920’s that is still in operation. Both outside and it is breathtakingly gorgeous with the inside being just a touch more luxurious. Expect to see foamy balconies, wall-mounted busts of heroic figures and an auditorium that seat over 1,400 guests in a fantasy setting that is both lavish and intimate.

On either side of the screen are large organ grills, a large art deco chandelier hangs from the room and two dramatic staircases lead to the mezzanine and balcony. Showing here are foreign films, classic revivals, festivals and some of the most intense audiences in town.  In recent years the sound quality has been improved, new stage lighting was installed and larger and more comfortable seats were put on the main floor.

9. Electric Cinema, London

Visitors to the Electric Cinema in London should expect luxury service in this adults aimed hideout in the chic Notting Hill Neighborhood. It is one of the oldest working cinemas in the country, opening in 1910 and has run almost continuously since that time. The interior of the theater is made up of 65 leather armchairs with footstools and side tables, three 2-seater sofas at the rear and six double beds in the front row.

To make things even better, individual cashmere blankets are provided for guests. The bar opens 10 minutes before screening time, whereas the movie starts 30 minutes after screening time. Offering wine, beer, champagne and a variety of snacks; one must get their food and drinks ahead of time. On Monday mornings babies and their caregivers are invited to Electric Scream, a screening designed especially for them.

Via YouTube

8. Raj Mandir Cinema, Jaipur, India

It is nicknamed the “Pride of Asia” and is considered the crown jewel of India’s cinemas, and certainly lives up to its reputation. The theatre was created to make guests feel as though they were royal guests of a palace, a place full of style and elegance. Walking into this theatre is an experience unlike any other, high ceilings hung with huge chandeliers, lighting that changes from white to blue and walls covered in artistic artwork.

The seating here is divided into four sections, Pearl, Ruby, Emerald, and Diamond and once you are seated you will be faced with a huge screen covered by velvet curtains. This is such an experience that every single movie showing over the past 25 years has had a full house, now that is something to brag about. There certainly doesn’t seem to be any better place to take in the colorful sights and sounds of a Bollywood film.

7. Cine de Chef, Seoul, South Korea

This cinema gives a new meaning to “dinner and a movie” with its small luxurious theatre. Couples will begin their night by dropping their car off at the valet and taking the private elevator up to Cordon Bleu café for a quick meal before the show. Think upscale cuisine with a twist. Moviegoers are than put into a private screening room that seats just a handful of patrons.

The comfortable reclining chairs were designed by the same people who design seats for the United Arab Emirates Royalty and once you sit down you may never want to get back up. Footstools, side tables, and lamps complete the picture of this awesome yet small venue. Tickets start at just $54 per person for both dinner and a movie.

Via designseoda

6. Rooftop Cinema, Melbourne, Australia

Sitting on a rooftop bar watching a movie play on a large projection screen sounds like a dream come true. In fact, it is actually reality at the Rooftop Cinema in Melbourne Australia. Open daily from 11am-1am it is easy to grab a drink before the movie starts and hang around long after the credits roll. The rooftop cinema is open from December to April and prices start at $22 per person.

The seating up here is incredibly comfortable deck chairs and blankets are available to rent for just $5 for the course of the movie. Showings include art house films, classics, and recent releases. It is fully licensed up on this roof and moviegoers often bring up their cocktails and brews from the bar below. Enjoy the sky above you, the grass beneath you and an incredible view of the Melbourne skyline.

Via Time Out

5. Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA

The outdoor movie screenings here are hard to beat in terms of being unique as they are held on Fairbanks Lawn, an open grassy field inside the Hollywood Forever Cemetery; yes we did just say cemetery. Moviegoers here are responsible for bringing their own low lying chairs, blankets and pillows as well as picnics, wine and beer (note that no spirits are allowed). The Forever Cemetery is the final resting place for many, including John Huston, Peter Lorre, Bugsy Siegel and more.

The showing range from comedies to horror to old school classics and tickets generally cost $10-$15. Guests arriving at the showing will walk through the beautiful and historic cemetery before plunking down in front of the screen. There are restrooms on site to use and there are no in and out privileges. If you thought that watching a scary movie in a normal cinema was scary, wait until you watch one in a cemetery.

Via Hollywood Reporter

4. Alamo Drafthouse, Austin, TX

This quirky indie movie chain was started by a husband and wife team that had no movie qualifications, other than being devoted movie fans. Striving to create the perfect viewing experience for movie lovers there are some strict rules to follow here in order for everyone to enjoy. Some of these rules include absolutely no talking, no cell-phone usage, no unaccompanied children, no babies and no ads before the movies.

What you can expect is high quality and locally sourced food and beer that are served to your seat. This movie chain also runs some incredible events across their theatres. It once showed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy where viewers were only permitted to eat when the characters ate on screen, or how about the events when they call for every viewer to dress like a certain character. Its how movie showing should be, uninterrupted, fun and enjoyable.

Via Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

3. Secret Cinema, Unknown

Once a month moviegoers can be part of a secret audience, secret location and essentially a secret world. Secret Cinema brings together film, music, art, and theatre to create a larger than life experience in abandoned spaces. This is an entirely immersive experience where audiences must dress up as the characters or of the era of the film. They also have the chance to interact with the spectators and actors while having food and drinks, living in the world of the film before setting in to watch the film.

Tickets are not cheap for the event and start around $75 Great British Pounds per adult. Viewers must register online to receive the secret email for which film will be next on the list. Although this is not a standalone theatre, the concept and the delivery of these movies is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Via Stevenfollows.com

2. Hot Tub Cinema, UK, USA, Ibiza

One way to get people talking is to combine hot tubs and movies, because who doesn’t love both! This company started by combining great films with amazing space, lots of hot tubs and incredible people. The mantra here is that they don’t want you to watch films but instead celebrate them. This means your movie experience will be unlike any other you have had before.

Moviegoers are encouraged to dress up, sing, dance, drink and play, as well as spending plenty of time in the hot tub. With movies such as Dirty Dancing, Free Willy, Back to the Future and other classics, tickets sell out fast. Whole tubs can be rented out by buying 6 tickets for a friend or you can buy a pair of tickets and make some new friends as you share a hot tub. There are personalized tub waiters for each hot tub and you can assure this may just be the best night of your life.

Via AWOL

1. Sol Cinema, South Wales

It prides itself as the world’s smallest solar movie theatre and we have to say this may, in fact, be the most unique movie theatre in the world. The Sol Cinema is actually a mobile cinema in a caravan that is powered entirely by the sun. It can accommodate up to 8 adults comfortably and the choice is yours as to which movie is playing. Inside comfortable benches and surround sounds create the perfect viewing experience.

Guests here will get the utmost luxury treatment complete with a red carpet, usherette service and popcorn to snack on. The idea behind this solar movie theatre came when they wanted to reduce their own CO2 emissions but also show what is achievable with solar power. Creating this small cinema allows hundreds of people to be entertained on a daily basis and gives something unique and incredible to both creators and viewers.

Via Digital Spy

The 7 Best Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremonies in the World

The holidays are quickly approaching and there is perhaps no better way to embrace them by attending a tree lighting ceremony. Christmas trees are erected all over the world, some man-made, some shipped from other countries and some famous. Whether you prefer a traditional tree complete with garland and twinkling lights, or prefer one made out of lobster crates, we have discovered some of the best tree lighting ceremonies in the world.

7. Lobster Trap Tree Lighting, New England Area

For a really unique Christmas Tree lighting ceremony you will want to head to any number of towns around New England- including Rockland, Maine and Gloucester, Massachusetts. It is here where apparently lobsters and Christmas go hand in hand. Rockland is home to the world’s largest Lobster Trap Tree, dating back to 2003 when the tree was built with 152 traps, all by volunteers. Each trap is outfitted with a red door and 480 ft of garland is used to decorate, along with 125 lobster buoys that were brought to the tree by lobstering families. The tree is lighted both from the inside as well as with twinkle lights throughout the garland. And the topper, a 5 foot fiberglass lobster that reigns over the tree for the holiday season.

Lobster Trap Christmas Tree

6. Rodeo Drive Holiday Lighting, California

On November 22, 2015 the Holiday Lighting Ceremony takes place on Rodeo Drive, a place where Christmas shopping is taken to the extreme. This free event takes places on 200,200 and 400 Blocks of Rodeo Drive and features live performances, music and a whole lot of lights. It’s not just one tree that gets lit up here, instead it is 42 Palm trees that get illuminated along with twinkling birches and chandeliers. In the past, the ceremony has included a fireworks show and a snow shower of confetti. You never know what you are going to get when you show up for this over the top holiday lighting celebration.

Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com
Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock.com

5. Zilker Holiday Tree, Texas

This man-made tree stands a whopping 155 feet tall, featuring 39 streamers that each hold 81 multicolored bulbs, making the total number of lights 3,309. The top of the tree features a double star that measures 10 feet from point to point and displays 150 frosted bulbs. The tree was actually created by City of Austin electricians in the 1960’s and manages to hold on to its retro, mod like vibe. On November 29th this mammoth tree gets lit up in the official tree lighting ceremony where one lucky winner gets to flip the switch. Featuring local entertainment, food, novelties and live music; this celebration is truly epic. Make sure to come back to this tree after December 7th to walk the Trail of Lights, a 1.25 mile long path with over 50 displays and decorated trees. Austin, Texas certainly knows how to make its residents get into the holiday spirit.

Photo by: City of Austin
Photo by: City of Austin

4. National Christmas Tree Lighting, Washington, D.C.

In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse to light a 48-foot tree decorated with 2,500 red, white and green bulbs. A local choir along with a quartet from the U.S Marine Band performed. All these years later this holiday tradition continues and brings citizens together to share messages of peace and hope. The lighting ceremony this year takes place on December 3rd and those hoping to attend must apply for a free ticket through the online lottery. Expect a televised ceremony complete with celebrity hosts, live music performers and of course, the President and First Family.

National Christmas Tree Washington

3. Ski Tree Lighting, Colorado

This entire ski town is loaded with Christmas trees and thus they have decided to put their own spin on a holiday tradition. Instead of cutting down one of the many trees in the area, Telluride has created a huge Christmas tree out of old skies that the community has donated. The ceremony takes place December 5, 2015 between 5:30-7:30pm and includes a ceremonial bonfire where old skis go up in flames to honor Ullr, the old Norse patron saint of skiers.

Photo by: Lodging Telluride
Photo by: Lodging Telluride

2. Trafalgar Square, London

Every year since 1947 a Chrstimas tree has been given to the people of London from the people of Norway, in gratitude for Britain’s support during WWII. The tree is normally a Norweigan Spruce, measuring over 20 meters high and aged about 50-60 years. The tree lighting is performed by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the British Ambassador to Norway and the Mayor of Oslo. It is decorated in typical Norweigan fashion with vertical strings of lights and energy efficient light bulbs. Different groups performs carols in the square alongside this beautiful, handpicked and carefully delivered tree.

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com
Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com

1. Rockefeller Center, New York

It has been a tradition since 1933, when a tree was placed in NYC’s famous Rockefeller Center and continues to be one of the most famous tree lighting ceremonies in the world. The lighting of the tree is considered to be a symbol of the start of the holiday season all over the world. The annual tree lighting ceremony is free and open to the public and takes place on Wednesday December 2nd, 2015 between 7-9pm and if you can’t be there, you can still watch it on TVO. The ceremony involves tens of thousands of spectators, live performances and the magical moment that the tree is illuminated.

Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com
Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com

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

10 Gorgeous Pools You Won’t Believe Are Public

Lose the notion that public pools are just a concrete chlorine-filled square in the ground or a hot and humid indoor pool and let yourself imagine swimming underneath a beautiful arched glass ceiling, or soaking in geothermal waters with healing properties. Although there are some stunningly beautiful pools that are for hotel or resort guests only, there also happens to be incredibly gorgeous public pools, all over the world. From Hungary to Texas to Iceland, here are 10 gorgeous pools you won’t believe are open to the public.

10. Bondi Icebergs Club -Bondi, Australia

The famous Bondi Baths have been a landmark of Bondi Beach for over 100 years and are widely known for being absolutely breathtaking. The Olympic sized swimming pool was actually built into the rocks and is naturally filled with saltwater that rolls in on the ocean tide. Be warned however though that because of the concrete nature of the pool, the water is actually slightly colder than the ocean. Most visitors like to visit in the summertime when the water temperature reaches the high 70’s. Overlooking the Tasman Sea while doing laps in this pool is something everyone should experience once in a lifetime. You may even find yourself swimming next to a couple fish or picking up seashells from the bottom. There is even a smaller kid’s pool located right beside the main pool for the wee ones to have a dip.

PomInOz / Shutterstock.com
PomInOz / Shutterstock.com

9. Krapfenwaldbad Pools -Vienna, Austria

The neighborhood of Krapfenwaldlbad is one of the loveliest in all of Vienna and just happens to be the home of the beautiful park that features some of the finest swimming pools. There are a total of four heated pools and the main one is perched on a hill overlooking the city. It looks more like an infinity pool that is surrounded by Vienna’s skyline and that is exactly why this pool makes the list. Amenities are in abundance here and include a restaurant with a bar, table tennis, soccer, beach volleyball and a children’s playground. While the pool itself may not be the best looking on this list, the views over the city and vineyards while being surrounded by beautiful people that make it gorgeous.

Photo by: Wien Info
Photo by: Wien Info

8. Venetian Pool -Coral Gables, Florida

What was once an old rock quarry has been transformed into a beautiful pool overflowing with waterfalls and caves. Located in Coral Gables, the Venetian Pool is fed by spring water from an underground aquifer. This historic pool has actually been around since 1921 and surrounded by palm trees and nothing else in sight; you will forget you are actually at a public pool and instead feel like you are on a tropical island. Roaring waterfalls, a sandy beach, nooks carved into the coral and fresh chemical free water are all found here. You will find lots of families enjoying these waters as there is a shallow kiddy area that is connected to the main pool by an island and stone bridge. Feel free to bring your own picnic in here and spend the day away from reality.

Venetian Pool, Coral Gables

7. Thermae Bath Spa -Bath, England

One of the city’s main attractions has always been its famous hot water springs, as they are the warmest geothermal springs found in the UK. For 28 years residents and visitors didn’t have access to these waters and finally in 2006 the Thermae Bath Spa re-opened. Part spa, part pool, this bath house is breathtakingly beautiful, combining both new and old architecture. The open-air rooftop pool shines a brilliant blue and gives visitors views of the historic city, both day and night. But inside it may be the Minerva pool that is even more gorgeous, and futuristic looking. Bright white columns stretch down deep into the pool creating flowing curves and unusual shapes. This pool also happens to feature a lazy river, massage jets and a whirlpool inside. It is not just about the gorgeous public pools here, the building itself is often enough to stop people in their tracks to take a second look.

Eddy Galeotti / Shutterstock.com
Eddy Galeotti / Shutterstock.com

6. Kastrup Sea Bath -Kastrup, Denmark

This award winning open-air pool is located just south of Copenhagen and is conceived to be a sculptural dynamic form that can be seen from the beach, air and sea. The circular structure is meant to provide swimmers with shelter from the winds and to provide washrooms and changing rooms. Reaching the sea bath is as easy as walking out on the long wooden pier which extends from the shore. Once reaching the sea bath, visitors will find a diving platform, springboard, and a variety of benches, plateaus and nooks. Give that the structure is over 100 meters away from the shore, the water is deep enough to try and dive as far down as you dare. When designers created this pool they made it accessible for anyone, creating ramps and other features that allow the less mobile population full access to it. Free to everyone, anytime, this is one amazing public pool.

Photo by: Visit Copenhagen
Photo by: Visit Copenhagen

5. Yrjonkatu Swimming Hall -Helsinki, Finland

It is the oldest public swimming hall in all of Finland and the architecture of the building is both historically and artistically noteworthy. On the main level you will find the impressive pool in the massive hallway with its tiled floors and arched columns. With high ceilings, balconies looking over the pool and looking more like an ancient bath; you will feel transported back in time. Men and women have different swim days here as most people choose to swim nude, and it was actually law until 2001 that no one could enter the pool with a swimsuit. The upstairs in this building has private cubicles with day beds, your choice of sauna and a place to get a drink and snack. Although built in the 1920’s, this pool remains impeccably clean and the perfect way to immerse yourself in the Finnish culture.

Photo by: Inside Out Helsinki
Photo by: Inside Out Helsinki

4. Badeschiff -Berlin, Germany

This floating swimming pool is actually located right in Berlin, in the East Harbour section of the River Spree. It was designed so that citizens could swim in a sanitary environment near the river as the Spree itself is too polluted for safe swimming. The pool shines a brilliant blue and was actually converted from the hull of a vessel. In the summertime the area is packed full of hammocks, sunbathers on the sand, visitors playing beach volleyball and a beach bar. During the winter this pool actually gets a roof and becomes an epic sauna experience. Two Finnish Saunas and a roofed pool attract all sorts of locals and visitors alike to visit here in the winter, mainly in the buff. Insider tip, visit at night when it is all lit up either during the summer or winter for a romantic escape from reality.

Photo by: H. Fuller via Flickr
Photo by: H. Fuller via Flickr

3. Barton Springs Pool -Austin, Texas

This public pool is absolutely humongous, sitting at over three acres in size. It also happens to be unique in that it is fed from underground springs, keeping an average temperature of 70 degrees all year round, perfect for those hot Texas days. This pool is open to the public six days a week and varies in price throughout the months, ranging from free to a mere three dollars. The depth of the pool ranges from 0-18 feet and is surrounded by an abundance of grassy areas. Diving boards, lifeguards, rock walls and the beauty of nature are all present here. Thought to be more of a swimming hole than a pool, Barton Springs has drawn visitors from all over the world. Perhaps it is the enormity of it that makes it so gorgeous, perhaps is the turquoise color of the water, or maybe it is the grace they have taken to ensure it fits right into the landscape. Whatever the reason is, make sure to put this on your list of public pools to swim in.

Photo by: City of Austin
Photo by: City of Austin

2. Gellert Baths -Budapest, Hungary

From the moment you enter into the bathhouse you are transported a hundred years back in time where art and architecture played such an important role in society. This gorgeous public bath house was built in the early 1900’s and has since undergone extensive renovations, making it even more beautiful than before, if that is even possible. Towering columns line both the pools, one an open air outdoor wave pool, the other an effervescent swimming pool. The indoor palace pool may just be slightly more gorgeous with its arched glass ceiling and two-story balconies. The painted windows, the architecture, the adorning fountains and the warm therapeutic waters make this a must stop on any trip to Budapest.

Botond Horvath / Shutterstock.com
Botond Horvath / Shutterstock.com

1. The Blue Lagoon -Reykjavik, Iceland

It is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland but that certainly doesn’t take away from its beauty. Not so much of a public swimming pool and more of an oasis of relaxation, this man made lagoon is stunningly beautiful. The waters are rich in minerals and stay at an average of 99-102 degrees all year round. The water color itself is enough to rave about; a brilliant blue accompanied by white steam that often blows off the extremely hot spots. An interesting fact about the water here is that it is actually white and it is in fact the sun that makes it look blue. These geothermal waters are thought to have healing powers and while you won’t find any diving boards or kids splashing around, you will find plenty of people rubbing their faces with mud and relaxing in the serene setting.

SurangaSL / Shutterstock.com
SurangaSL / Shutterstock.com

The 10 Quirkiest Cities in America

Take a walk around many of America’s major cities and you’re bound to see someone or something that’s just a little odd. Take for example, Manhattan; any New Yorker will happily regale you with tales of the crazy things they’ve seen in the subway. Don’t get us wrong though, a little kookiness is definitely amusing and can even be downright charming. It’s actually something that many locals say they love about their cities. In a recent reader poll by Travel and Leisure magazine, readers voted on their favorite cities in America for a number of different categories from romance, to craft beers and even quirky locals…which we discuss here –because some cities have a lot more kooks than others you know.

10. New York City, New York

If you’ve ever been to New York City, you won’t be surprised to see the Big Apple on this list as it’s brimming with quirky things and quirky people. Of course you have the street performers of Times Square (Naked Cowboy anyone?), the freakishly interesting individuals at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow, and let’s not forget about the people watching opportunities right out on the street or in the subway.

In a city where you can find just about everything, you might not be surprised that this city is also home to such kitschy establishments as Earth Room; a gallery in SoHo that’s actually filled with dirt and the Elevator Historical Society Museum, located in Queens; for those who just can’t get enough of lifts.

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

9. Seattle, Washington

Seattle –the west coast gem that inspired grunge music and a certain iconic coffee chain might not be at the top if your mind when it comes to all thinks quirk. The people here might not seem as outwardly odd as those in big cities like New York, but there’s another reason Seattle made the top 10; it seems from recent census numbers that, in this city, the number of dogs actually outweighs the number of children.

Yes, statistics show that Seattle residents really love their 4 legged friends -and it shows. If you make the trek to the Fremont area which is known for a giant stone troll, a statue of Lenin that gets regular decorations and home to summer solstice parades -including nude cyclists, you’ll also find one of the most dog-friendly restaurants around. Norm’s Eatery & Ale House welcomes your furry friends and lets them even dine with you at your table. If your pooch is behaving particularly well, maybe head over to Scraps Dog Bakery where locals flock for gourmet baked dog treats as well as pet-sized Seattle Seahawks swag.

Matt Ragen / Shutterstock.com
Matt Ragen / Shutterstock.com

8. Kansas City, Missouri

In this survey, T&L readers reported Kansas City Midwesterners to be ‘thrifty and no-nonsense’, and while that might not seem like the most flattering of descriptions, it doesn’t mean they’re dull either. The city also ranked highly for its museums and history in the survey and Travel and Leisure reports that some of this history may be just a little ‘outside of the box’. Like the 1950’s All-Electric House for example, which was constructed by the Kansas City Power and Light co. in 1954 as a showcase for futuristic gadgets like the electric curtain opener, hidden television and ‘year-round air conditioner’.

There’s also the Arabia Steamboat Museum which features a wide array of pre-civil war artifacts collected from the sinking of the Steamboat Arabia on the Missouri River. If you get thirsty in KC just visit Oddly Correct, where you’ll find artfully crafted coffees, whose beans are roasted on site as well as a quirky concoction of coffee infused beer.

Sharon Day / Shutterstock.com
Sharon Day / Shutterstock.com

7. Baltimore, Maryland

If you’ve been to the city of Baltimore, you’ve probably heard the quirky dialect known as ‘Bawlmerese’ in action…and you’ve probably been called “hon” more than once or twice. Rather than lurk in the shadows of the big Eastern cities like Boston and New York, this city has long celebrated its outsider status. One city attraction, the American Visionary Art Museum, exemplifies this perfectly with its vast collection of outsider art from around the country.

The quirky factor doesn’t just end there, visit Atomic Books located in the Hampden neighborhood to possibly catch a glimpse of native oddball director John Waters who picks up his fan mail at the bookstore.

Graffiti Ally Baltimore

6. San Francisco, California

You had to know at least one city from the off the wall state of California would make this list…well those surveyed in the T&L poll agreed and say San Fran is just a little left of center. What else do you expect from the city that gave us hippies? You can experience this city’s quirky side yourself with a walking tour from Wild SF Walking Tours. Not your average walking tour, guides take you off-the-beaten path to explore the city’s “history, civil rights and social movements, presented as the residents of these neighborhoods would tell it.”

We can’t mention San Francisco without mentioning The Castro –also known as ‘America’s Gayborhood’. If you’re familiar with the Story of Harvey Milk and the gay rights movement, The Castro was ground zero for this civil rights movement of the 1970’s.

f8grapher / Shutterstock.com
f8grapher / Shutterstock.com

5. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Making it into the top five, the city sometimes referred to as ‘Albuquirky’ has many odd and unusual sights and attractions for those that seek them. The city has definitely embraced its ties to the TV series ‘Breaking Bad’ which is evident in everything from the coffee and faux-meth sprinkled Blue Sky donut at Rebel Donuts to ABQ  Trolly’s Bad Tour, where you can explore the city as seen through the eyes of Walter White.

There are off-kilter accommodations to be had as well, like Hotel Parq Central which is a renovated former psychiatric hospital –not that you would know it from the elegant modern décor. The hotel does feature one of the best rooftop bars in the city so it’s worth a visit even if you’re not staying the night.

meunierd / Shutterstock.com
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

4. Providence, Rhode Island

Providence –the little Rhode Island city that spawned such occult authors as H.P. Lovecraft and C.M. Eddy Jr, has no shortage of sights to see in the quirk department. Take a tour through the life of eccentric Providence-born horror author H.P. Lovecraft with a visit to his last place of residence, followed by a visit to his grave which is found in Swan Point Cemetery.  Given the historic significance of this city, it’s no surprise that more than a few notable figures reside in the city’s cemeteries; the graves of both Elizabeth Tilley Howland –one of the passengers of the Mayflower, and Thomas Willet –the first English mayor of New York City, can be found in Little Neck Cemetery.

It’s not all about historical figures though, there’s plenty of oddly entertaining experiences to enjoy as well; such as the Big Nazo Theater –which is an international performance group that includes visual artists, puppet performers and masked musicians. It all combines for a very entertaining and highly unusual performance art piece.

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

3. Portland, Oregon

Coming in the #3 spot according to T&L readers, the city of Portland definitely lives up to its reputation of hipsters, wacky food, and things that generally go against the grain. The people of Portland aren’t shy about their demand for all things local; all the way from the food to interesting products like mustache wax and locally crafted six-pack holders for your bicycle –all of which can be found at the MadeHere PDX store.

The love of ‘tasting rooms’ is also apparent in this west-coast city and you can find them for just about anything including coffee -like at Coava, a trendy coffee roaster with 2 locations, beer –which can be found at Coalition Brewing co. among other places, and even salt –like the Oregon pinot noir salt that can be sampled at Jacobsen Salt co.

Portland Timbers Flag

2. Austin, Texas

You may have expected the city that aims to keep it weird to come in first place in this reader poll, but another city stole that spot landing Austin in second place for quirkiest city in America. This runner-up can still firmly hold its place on the strange-scale with all the offerings that can be found here.

How about a drink at one of the many wild and wacky Austin bars like Lala’s –where it’s always Christmas no matter the time of year, or The Little Longhorn Saloon –where you can play Austin’s favorite gambling game: chicken s—t bingo (seriously). And if that’s not enough fun for you, head over to Javelina, where they’ve been known to host the occasional armadillo race.

Alfie Photography / Shutterstock.com
Alfie Photography / Shutterstock.com

1. New Orleans, Louisiana

So what city could top one whose slogan is all about keeping it weird? –The Big Easy of course. If you’ve ever been to the city of New Orleans and experienced its crazy mix of Cajun-French-Voodoo influences (among others), you know why this city was voted #1 in overall quirky-ness by Travel and Leisure readers.

Where else can you find non-stop festivals, funeral processions that feature dancing and big bands, chicory coffee, beignets and of course the infamous Mardi Gras parade? It seems the people of New Orleans will use any excuse to dress up in costume, be it fancy attire like big ball gowns or the more off-the-wall costumes that come out during Mardi Gras festivities. Even the luxury hotel brand Ritz Carlton joins in the quirky fun of this city by offering voodoo massages in their spa; which include ritual chanting and scents of absinthe with your rub down.

Chuck Wagner / Shutterstock.com
Chuck Wagner / Shutterstock.com

Things to See and Do in Austin, Texas

Quick, what’s the capital of Texas? Did you guess Dallas? Many people would, and many people would be wrong. Dallas enjoys a higher profile than the state capital of Austin, as do Houston and San Antonio. Nonetheless, Austin, with its status as capital, has become a vibrant—and quirky—city that has plenty to offer everyone, from the most casual tourist to the serious cultural traveler.

Austin is, in a lot of ways, the heart of Texas, celebrating Texan culture and history, as well as the uniqueness of the state, from its origins as a Mexican territory to its independence and, finally, to its incorporation into the U.S. If you want to experience a little bit of Texas—and a little bit of Americana in the process—Austin is your next stop. Whether you want to try some Texan cuisine, visit Native American monuments or learn more about people from Austin and its surrounding areas, the city is all too happy to oblige. Here are just 11 of the activities that make Austin a great vacation destination.

11. Enjoy a Real Cowboy Steak

Git along little doggie! The Lone Star state has a long history of ranching and Texan cuisine evolved around one of the state’s most abundant resources: cattle. Of course, there are plenty of ranching states (Wyoming, Montana), but the Texan steakhouse offers up bolder tastes, many of them heavily influenced by the nuances of Mexican cuisine. There’s a reason it’s called Tex-Mex!

Austin has its fair share (or perhaps more than its fair share) of spots offering up prime cuts, but some of the most well-regarded joints are Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Austin Land and Cattle (ALC) Steakhouse and downtown’s Roaring Fork, an establishment that cooks all of their steaks over a wood fire. Roaring Fork offers some Mexican-style dishes as well, though the influence can be seen on the menus of other steakhouses in their use of chili and jalapeno. Vegetarians, you’ve been warned—salad will seem dull and uninspired next to these meaty entrees.

Steak on the grill

10. Check out Victorian Architecture

There’s a certain nostalgia about old buildings, a kind of charm that comes with age. A well-preserved building can also be a window to the past, a view of how the people of bygone eras lived. Perhaps surprisingly, Austin is home to some of the best-preserved Victorian homes in Texas. The Bremond Block Historic District is one such area in Austin. The 11 buildings in the area were all constructed between 1854 and 1910. Most of the homes are large, having been built and owned by prominent members of Austin’s commercial and banking industries. Five of the buildings are homes built by the Bremond family; two of them are owned by the Texas Classroom Teachers Association.

Another intriguing look into Austin’s history is a visit to Swede Hill Historic District, a downtown residential area that was home to some 67 Swedish immigrant families in the late 1870s. Although many of the original buildings have been removed to make way for newer developments, those that remain show an eclectic mix of building styles—and each is a great example of the style it was built in. Most of the homes are ornate, with great detail in railings, porches and other fancy features.

Victorian buildings Austin

9. Visit Smith Rock Shelter

Smith Rock Shelter is one of 2 rock shelters in Austin to be designated on the National Register of Historic Places. This natural limestone formation is located in McKinney Falls State Park. It is believed that the overhang provided shelter to Native Americans in the area from around 500 BCE until the 1700s, with the last known inhabitants being relatives of the Tonkawa.

The shelter itself is accessible via a hiking trail in the park. The trail is approximately a mile long and creates a loop that takes about 30 to 45 minutes to hike. The trail runs alongside Onion Creek. Erosion on the face of the shelter shows that the creek once flowed on a much different path. Since the trail also offers a great opportunity to see some of the local flora and fauna, including Texas persimmons and Bald Cyprus trees, this is a great activity for families with young children and nature-lovers.

Nature Trail Austin Tx

8. Climb Mount Bonnell

Mount Bonnell, also known as Covert Park, is a prominent point alongside the Colorado River. Rising to a height of 780 feet above sea level, it’s one of the higher points around Austin, although not the highest. Said to have been named after George W. Bonnell, a 19th-century newspaper publisher, it is a popular attraction since it provides gorgeous vistas of Austin and the surrounding area. It forms part of the limestone Balcones Fault Escarpment.

Mount Bonnell has long been a popular picnic spot and it remains so even today. To get to the top, you have to climb a long set of stairs—around 100 steps!—but most agree that the views are well worth it. Sunrise and sunset are especially popular times to hike, and the location is considered one of the most romantic in Austin, making it a great destination for couples on a romantic retreat or vacation. There is also a path to the top for those who don’t think they can handle the stairs.

View from Mount Bonnell Austin

7. Get Out and Socialize

In a world where we travel to new places so frequently and connect with almost anyone instantly, it is somehow still a challenge to meet new people. Striking up a conversation can seem daunting, especially when everyone is now plugged in to their iPod or glued to their phone screen. That is, unless you’re from Austin. Austin consistently ranks as one of the friendliest cities in the U.S. Travel & Leisure magazine has ranked Austin’s citizens as the “best,” using criteria that evaluates the attitudes and personalities of residents.

That’s good news for travelers, who can expect a warm welcome in the state capital, which is something you may not get in, say, New York or LA. Grab a drink at a local bar, head out to a sporting event or concert or even just start up a conversation with the people you encounter on transit or along a hiking trail. You never know who you’ll meet and who you may keep contact with for years to come!

GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com
GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com

6. Hit a Music Festival

When you mention “American music scenes,” most people will think of LA, New York or Nashville. If you really press them, they might mention Memphis, St. Louis, Seattle or even Chicago. But very few people will name Austin as a musical city. Austin has a huge music scene, however; in fact, it’s known as the concert capital of America and uses the slogan “The Live Music Capital of the World.”

Austin is home to 2 long-running music festivals, the South-by-Southwest festival (SXSW) and the Austin City Limits festival, which has spawned the longest-running concert music program on American TV (also called Austin City Limits). Other festivals include the Urban Music Festival, Fun Fun Fun Fest and the Old Settler’s Music Festival. Festivals aren’t the only thing on Austin’s music calendar, however. The downtown core has a very high concentration of bars and lounges, many of which have musical guests and local bands performing on a regular basis.

GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com
GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com

5. Keep It Weird

The city of Austin’s official motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” and the city and its citizens take that slogan quite seriously! Austinites pride themselves on being “weird.” According to locals, the motto was introduced by a local librarian and his wife as a response to increasing commercialism and over-development. Many Austinites use it to protest irresponsible development projects, while others have adopted the slogan as a rallying cry for supporting local businesses rather than big box stores and chains.

If you’re looking to help support the “Keep Austin Weird” movement, or if you’re just looking for some unique gifts or experiences to bring home from your trip, check out the shopping district on South Congress Avenue. SoCo, as it’s known to locals, is home to a number of eclectic cafes and shops, restaurants and food trucks, as well as the occasional festival, all centered on local culture, products and fare. SoCo prides itself on “Keeping Austin Weird.”

Alfie Photography / Shutterstock.com
Alfie Photography / Shutterstock.com

4. Explore the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum

The 36th President of the United States was born and raised in Texas, a fact that’s commemorated by the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum in Austin. One of 13 Presidential Libraries operated by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, the library houses 45 million pages of historical documents, including President Johnson’s papers, as well as 650,000 photos and 5,000 hours of recordings. The museum also has a 7/8ths scale replica of the Oval Office, decorated as it was during Johnson’s term in office in the 1960s.

The library has several permanent exhibits and temporary ones as well, including exhibits on the Civil Rights movement, the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam war. Many of the items in the museum were donated by Johnson, his wife, family, friends, associates and ordinary Americans. The museum is home to some 54,000 items and welcomes between 100,000 and 125,000 visitors each year. While the museum collection is diverse, the core of the collection is dedicated to telling the story of one of the most troubled, yet successful, presidencies of the late 20th century.

Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

3. Visit the Texas State Capitol Building

While most people would be quick to point out that Dallas is easily the most well-known and recognizable city in Texas, Austin is actually the state capital. It’s home to the Texas State Capitol building, which is one of the most popular tourist spots in the city. The building, completed in 1888, is open for self-guided tours during business hours on most days.

The massive building, designed by architect Elijah E. Myers in an Italian Renaissance revival style, is actually taller than the federal Capitol Building in DC. It is lauded amongst tourists for its breathtaking architecture, as well as portraits of every President of the Republic of Texas and Governor that are housed in the building’s rotunda. The building’s grounds comprise 22 sprawling acres, which are home to 17 monuments. The 4 oldest are dedicated to the heroes of the Alamo, volunteer firemen, Confederate soldiers and Terry’s Texas Rangers. The building is a great stop for anyone looking for an introduction to Texas history.

Texas State Capitol Building

2. Catch a Longhorns Game

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for decades, you’ll likely have noticed someone wearing a Texas Longhorns hat or shirt. It might seem unusual but the Longhorns are the most popular sports team in Texas, surpassing even professional teams like the MLB’s Texas Rangers or NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. Part of that popularity might be that the Longhorns are based in the state capital, while most other sports teams in the state are in Dallas, Houston or San Antonio. For that reason, the Longhorns are Austin’s major sports team(s). Of course, they’ve been around long enough—and have an impressive number of wins—that other teams might have decided to steer clear of Longhorn turf!

The Longhorns are based at the University of Texas in Austin, and the school participates in many sports, including basketball, football and baseball, and has both men’s and women’s teams. The Longhorns collegiate athletics program has produced a number of pro athletes, and has even sent some athletes to the Olympics. The Longhorns have a long-standing rivalry with several teams including the Oklahoma Sooners. If you’re in town on game day, snap up some tickets… you won’t be disappointed!

Geoff Nelson / Shutterstock.com
Geoff Nelson / Shutterstock.com

1. Go for a Dip

It might seem a bit strange to think of Texas as a place you’re going to want to bring a bathing suit to. Most of us picture Texas as a desert and Austin specifically isn’t near any big bodies of water—or at least, it wasn’t until the creation of 3 artificial lakes. Austin is located along the Colorado River, however, and maybe unsurprisingly, swimming and pools have a long history in the city. Turns out that the citizens of Austin like to beat the heat and lounge poolside just as much as anyone!

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department has been awarded several times for its excellent aquatics program, which includes more than 50 public swimming pools! Among them are the well-fed Deep Eddy Pool, the oldest man-made swimming pool in Texas, and Barton Springs Pool, which has the distinction of being the largest natural swimming pool within an urban center in the whole country. Neither pool is chlorinated, and both are suitable for swimming year-round. If you’re willing to head outside of the city, about 30 miles west of Austin you’ll find the beautiful and tranquil Hamilton Pool Preserve. The beautiful pool and grotto here were formed when the ceiling of an underground river collapsed thousands of years ago due to erosion. Hamilton Pool is the perfect natural setting to cool off when the weather is warm.

Hamilton Pool Austin TX

 

12 Great American Food Festivals

It’s no secret that Americans like good food and while there are a few all-American classics, the food across this great nation is largely diverse.  Asian, European, South American… no part of the globe stands unrepresented and no dish goes untouched in the land where food is celebrated at every opportunity. There are so many ways to enjoy the diverse cuisine of America but one of the best ways is to visit one of these great food festivals. Festivals offer you a chance to sample small bites from big places and try a lot more than you probably could than just visiting a restaurant for a full meal, so read on, take your pick and plan to visit these amazing food festivals soon.

12. Taste of Buffalo Festival

While you may be surprised to find the Taste of Buffalo on this list, you may also be surprised to know this festival is actually the largest 2-day food festival in the whole country. People from all over western New York and beyond flock to the streets of downtown Buffalo to sample more than 200 culinary specialties and beverages. With all items priced between $1-4, you can bring the whole family and afford to sample till your heart’s content. Just be prepared to deal with some crowds at this festival as it currently attracts almost 450,000 patrons annually.

Nicholas Piccillo / Shutterstock.com
Nicholas Piccillo / Shutterstock.com

11. Maine Lobster Festival

When you think of east coast specialties, Maine lobster is probably one of the first things to come to mind and it’s being celebrated in every way thinkable at the annual Maine Lobster Festival which takes place at the end of July. The festival runs for 5 days and features a carnival, arts and crafts vendors, art show, a parade, live entertainment and of course lobster! Over 20,000 pounds of these crustaceans are served up during the festival so if you’re a lobster lover this is the festival for you!

Maine Lobster

10.  Vermont Cheesemakers Festival

The annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival heads into its 7th year in 2015 and celebrates one of the country’s best cheesemaking regions. The one day festival takes place in July and highlights the award winning cheeses, wines and artisan foods of the area. There’s cheese themed workshops, cooking demonstrations by local chefs and of course lots of cheese to be sampled. Children under 3 get in free and regular priced adult admission is $50 but this gives you access to the workshops, cheesemaking and cooking demos and of course lots of samples!

Jeffrey B. Banke / Shutterstock.com
Jeffrey B. Banke / Shutterstock.com

9. Savannah Food and Wine Festival

The Savannah Food and Wine Festival is one of the newest and hottest food festivals in the country. 2014 marks the return of this celebration of the south after much success after their inaugural festival last year. Taking place in the fall, the festival runs for 1 week and features events of all kinds including cooking classes, farm to table dinners, celebrity chef tour, wine tastings, riverboat dinner cruise, and of course the main event: Taste of Savannah. Taking place on the Saturday, the streets are closed as patrons sip and sample some of the best the city has to offer.

Cupcakes Savannah

8. The Taste: Los Angeles

Presented by Los Angeles Times and Citi, The Taste is a weekend food festival highlighting the best of west coast cuisine. Featuring several events including opening night gala, field to fork, Sunday brunch and flavors of LA, The Taste provides supporters with a local food experience that’s authentically LA. Sample the best from local restaurateurs all looking to boost their restaurant street cred in a city where culinary competition is fierce and innovation is key. The Taste happens annually on labor day weekend.

Small bites

7. Austin Food and Wine Festival

Austin’s culinary scene has been steadily growing over the years and the Austin Food and Wine Festival proves this city deserves a spot right up with the culinary giants like New York and South Beach. The weekend festival takes place in the spring and includes some notable celebrity chef faces. There are events happening the entire weekend including cooking demos, chef showcases and feast under the stars. The grand tasting event is where you’ll get to try the best bites from the Austin culinary scene.

tacos

6. Taste of Chicago

Since 1980, Chicago’s lakefront Grant Park has been closing to play host to this 5 day food extravaganza celebrating everything that makes Chicago cuisine so unique.  This festival has something for everyone and is perfect for families with the kids zone and live music featuring notable performers each year. Of course there’s also the food…and it comes in the form of food trucks, 5 day festival restaurants and pop-up restaurants; keep an eye out for these short opportunity shops because they’re only around for a day or two!

Photo by: Taste of Chicago
Photo by: Taste of Chicago

5. New Orleans Food and Wine Experience

It’s safe to say the people of New Orleans enjoy good food and drink…in fact they’re downright passionate about it! From beignets to po’ boys, The New Orleans Food and Wine Experience showcases the best of the Big Easy. Not only is food celebrated at this event but this festival goes above and beyond to incorporate another Louisiana passion into the agenda; live music! With hundreds of wineries and restaurants participating each year, it’s easy to see why the festival is currently in its 22nd year.

Shrimp and grits

4. Taste of Vail

Rated among the best food and wine festivals by many media publications, we agree that Taste of Vail is an experience like no other, and should be high on any traveling foodies list. Each April, Vail Colorado hosts this 4 day culinary celebration highlighting the unique Vail lifestyle and renowned Colorado cuisine. While it may not be the biggest food festival in the country, each of the 30+ participating restaurants places a focus on quality ingredients with local flair.

Photo by: Taste of Vail
Photo by: Taste of Vail

3. NYC Food and Wine Festival

The New York City Food and Wine Festival presented by The Food Network and Food and Wine is a party with a purpose. 100% of the net proceeds from the 4-day fall festival go towards Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and the NYC Food Bank. With over $7 million raised in its six short years it’s clear to see this city supports both food and wine as well as community support. At this event you’ll find lots of recognizable Food Network celebrities but event tickets aren’t cheap so save up before visiting this one.

Cheese plate

2. South Beach Food and Wine Festival

Also presented by The Food Network and Food and Wine, The South Beach Food and Wine Festival (or SOBEWFF as it’s known) has been delighting diners in Florida for over 13 years. The event began as a 1-day festival at the Florida International University campus and was moved to South Beach in 2002 and as they say; the rest is history. South Beach is widely known as the premier celebration of celebrity chefs, exceptional wines and south coast dining. If you’re looking for a great food experience in a beautiful setting SOBEWFF is your spot.

South Beach

1. Aspen Food and Wine Classic

Celebrating its 32nd year, the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen is like the pro-bowl of America’s culinary scene. It’s a star studded affair with big name chefs like Tyler Florence, Giada De Laurentiis, Marcus Samuelsson and many more. The Classic allows chefs to demo their best new recipes, wineries to pour their finest drops, and attendees to enjoy all the best of these culinary geniuses…all surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of the mountains.

Aspen Food and Wine

 

9 Most Overrated Cities in the US

Moving – or traveling – to a new place is something that can really make life worth it. While traveling in any form is pretty amazing, there just are some cities in the United States that aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they should be skipped altogether, it just means that a person should temper their expectations should they choose to visit them.

Here, we’ll list the top 9 cities that we consider to be vastly overrated.

9. Boston

Most Americans love their history. If you’re planning to visit Boston for that aspect, you’ll assuredly appreciate the city. It’s beautiful in that regard. For many, that’s kind of where it ends. Not only has it been viewed as one of the least friendly cities in the US, but it’s also one that has a massive superiority complex. A lot of this has to come from their cultural significance, as well as their perceived excellence of their sports teams.
Boston

8. San Francisco

Admittedly, there’s a lot to love about San Francisco. It’s a very good looking city, and there’s plenty to do. However, it makes this list because it’s definitely fit for certain types of people – those who really love to protest and those who have long been referred to as hipsters. That’s not a bad thing, but it does make for a city that has an air of pretentiousness. Couple that with some of the highest rents in the country, you have a city that will definitely make many overrated lists.
San-Francisco

7. Portland

If you’re a young person, Portland is basically Mecca. However, if you’re not – you may not find all that much to love about it, provided that you’re not into outdoors-y kind of things. One of the biggest things is the fact that there isn’t much in the way of employment there. Of course, this isn’t a big deal if you’re just visiting. However, should you decide to move, you may want to bring your own job.
Portland Oregon 1

6. Austin

Keep Austin weird. This is something that has become a slogan for the city. That’s something to appreciate for many, especially in a state that is as rigid as Texas. While that’s commendable, Austin is also uncomfortably hot. It takes a spot on this list because it does seem to try too hard to stand out from the pack, and it shows in many of the residents that make it their home.
Austin Texas 1

5. Asheville

Asheville is probably one of the prettiest smaller cities in the southeast. Very culturally similar to Portland, Asheville has something that Portland doesn’t – disgruntled residents. They just don’t seem to be very happy that you’re there, unless you happen to fit a certain mold. The reasons are understandable – it’s a city that has become the “it” place for younger people across the southeast, which amounts to massive traffic and other stresses on a city that doesn’t have the ability to accommodate it.
Asheville North Carolina

4. NYC

You would think that New York City would be higher on the list, especially considering how big it is. However, that’s the very reason why it’s not higher. You can essentially hide yourself in a certain community and not feel as if you’re not in New York at all. However, the city as a whole is overrated for a couple of reasons. It’s expensive, rude, and boisterous. Yes, all the time.
New York City

3. Las Vegas

Las Vegas is a city built on debauchery. Copious gambling and drinking? That may be fine for some, but it would be redeemable if the city wasn’t known as being one of the cheesiest in the US.
Las Vegas Nevada

2. Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a city that’s all style, but it’s also the one with the smallest amount of substance. To find the semblance of substance that it does have, you’ll have to drive at least an hour to get to it.
Los Angeles

1. Miami

Admittedly, Miami probably has the best nightlife on the planet. Unfortunately, you probably can’t afford it. By many lists, Miami is the most vain city in the United States. The interesting thing is that it’s not a city where people are rude, but they are most definitely judging the quality of your clothing and vehicle. This makes it much like LA. However, Miami is also a city where there isn’t much in the way of gainful employment.
Miami Florida

The World’s 10 Best Airports for Foodies

Stuck with a long layover at the airport and a hungry tummy?

Don’t worry; airport food isn’t quite as bad as it used to be. In fact, it’s quite surprisingly delicious in the following ten instances. These particular airport eats will have you traveling more often—just for the airport snack-attacks…

1. Atlanta International Airport, Georgia

The greatest thing about the Atlanta International Airport food court is that you don’t have to choose between sushi and a sandwich—you can have both in the form of a delectable sushi roll. These pork belly concoctions are the signature item on the menu at ‘One Flew Over’, the airport’s trendy dinning establishment that serves up entrees and cocktails so fine that you won’t believe you’re in an airport.

atlanta

2. Barcelona Airport, Spain

Not only does the airport in El Prat del Llobregat, Barcelona boast a Michelin-star-rated chef in Carles Gaig, if you’ve developed a taste for traditional Catalan dishes during your trip to Spain, you can have one last parting meal that you won’t forget at Restaurant Gaig, located in Porta Gaig in Terminal 1, where diners dig into succulent roast chicken and spicy veal before takeoff.

barcelona

3. Washington-Dulles International Airport, USA

If it’s good enough for President Obama, it’s good enough for us. Washington Dulles’ Five Guys, in Concourse A and B, isn’t just another burger chain. Made-to-order hamburgers and cheeseburgers served with copious amounts of fresh-cut French fries are the special here. Add on as many toppings as you want, including barbecue sauce, jalapeños, hot sauce, onions, mushrooms, and more. President Obama orders his cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, jalapeños, and mustard.

washington

4. Seoul-Incheon International Airport, Korea

Not only will you be kept busy if you find yourself laid over in Seoul’s major airport with its full spa, premiere golf course, casino, not to mention the Museum of Korean Culture—your belly will also be happy! Why? Because it will be filled with a hot bowl of bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish that combines fragrant rice, chili paste, fresh thin-sliced vegetables, beef, and a fried egg. And you can procure one at Incheon Bibimbap, between rounds of golf or before a mani-pedi.

Korea

5. Austin-Bergstrom Airport, Texas, USA

One doesn’t venture through Texas without a catching a whiff of authentic, smoky barbecue and being lured into one of the smoke house restaurants at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Salt Lick BBQ at Gate 12 houses a traditional meat smoke pit and just the scent of their signature beef brisket or pork ribs will have you forgetting your next destination. Grab desert in the form of a whole made ice cream cone at Amy’s Ice Creams if you can choose from their wall of unique flavors like Sweet Cream, Oreo crush, or Mexican Vanilla.

texas

6. Hong Kong International Airport

If you haven’t had your fill of dumplings, prepare to be stuffed to the brim at Terminal 2 of the Hong Kong Airport, it’s a shopping, eating, shopping, and lounging oasis. Try a sampling at Tian Xia Dumplings for the great prices and the traditional street food-style flare or The Wing, if you want a fancier experience with full cocktail service.

hong kong

7. Memphis Airport, Tennessee, USA

If you don’t mind waiting in a lengthy line up; it’ll be worth your while at Ivar’s Seafood Bar, located at Gate B4 at the Memphis Airport. Sure, it’s a local fast-food seafood chain, however, you would hardly tell by the food—yummy seafood chowders, huge portions of fish and chips, crispy crab cakes, and friendly and gracious servers to boot! Ye haw!

Tennessee

8. London Heathrow Airport, UK

It might seem a tad odd to eat pan-Asian in the UK, but that doesn’t deter the crowds at Wagamama form waiting for some comfort food. This locale quickly serves up bowls of gyoza, soba, udon, and ramen smack-dab in the middle of Heathrow airport’s Terminal 5.

london

9. Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport, Netherlands

Sucking juicy oysters and guzzling bubbly doesn’t sound like the typical airport experience—unless you’re dining at Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar. Here the champagne and seafood never stop flowing. Plus the surroundings are quite lovely and lively with a huge saltwater aquarium and nearby casino.

Netherlands

10. Changi Airport, Singapore

I dare you to even try to rush your way through Changi Airport. The rows of street food stalls will stop you in your tracks with they’re spicy-garlic infused delectables—as strange as they are delicious. Choose from fish-head curries, spiced pork-rib soups, mutton noodles, and laksa, a fragrant coconut-curry soup.


Singapore