The Most Underrated American Architectural Gems

The list of America’s Favourite Works of Architecture is dominated by three cities I the northeast and one 9n the Midwest. New York has 32 places on the list (SPOILER ALERT) including #1 the Empire State Building. Chicago has 17 one more than Washington D.C. The list is especially top heavy with NYC and DC with only 5 of the top 23 outside their city limits. But a closer inspection of the rest of the list reveals a number of unjustly relegated gems masterpieces who deserve to be celebrated, along with the men who built them. And yes they are all men but that’s another issue. But get introduced to some of the giants of the 20th center. Eero Saarinen. Richard Meier whose work looks like he graduated from the Starfleet Academy in Star Date 2214.9. Fay Jones who described his work as “Ozark Gothic.” Also, meet three sports venues. One each for hockey, baseball and football. Basketball didn’t make the cut. Many of them reflect the Iron Law of Retail: Three things matter. Location. Location. Location. You might think that if a great building were in Manhattan as opposed to say, Eureka Springs, Arkansas it might have been nearer the top. In any case here are 20 reasons why the non-Northeast hinterland is well stocked with iconic architecture.

20. Ingalls Ice Arena, Yale University – New Haven, CT #149

Barely made the cut but really, how many chances are there to put a hockey rink on a list of memorable works of architecture? Answer: one. At its unveiling in 1958 it was disparagingly nicknamed The Yale Whale for tis double curve and tail. It was designed by the Finnish-American and Yale alumnus Eero Saarinen one of the greatest architects of the 20th century. The structure is unique and for its time innovative. A concrete arch supported by a cable net and later cable ties made for a marvel of engineering. Canadian hockey fans may be reminded of the Calgary Saddledome decades later. Interesting that he Top 150 list contains a number of baseball stadiums and a football stadium but no basketball venues or other historic venues such as Madison Square or Boston Garden.

19. Brown Palace Hotel – Denver 148

When the famously triangle-shaped Brown Palace opened its doors in 1892, the term Wild West was still appropriate. The iconic hotel was the height of sophistication with rare luxuries like a bathroom in every room. One Denver website says the historic and gorgeous lobby ” with its turn-of-the-century luxury finishes and the dazzling stained glass roof” qualifies as a Historic Landmark on its own. The architect F.E. Edbroke used Arizona sandstone and local Colorado red granite crafted in the Italian Renaissance style. Never mind it has hosted royalty, every U.S. President but wo and he Beatles, it was here the God known as legendary Bronco quarterback John Elway had lunch before signing the hometown Broncos. Now THAT is true immortality.

18. Corning Museum of Glass – Corning, NY #136

The Corning company campus in upstate New York is a magical enclave of glass buildings designed and built by notable architects over three generations. What began as a single low building with walls made of (what else?) glass, its fabulous collection grew and necessitated extensions which are works of art on their own in 1980, 2002 and the latest in 2015. It is a stark white box which on closer inspection reveals an intricate layering of glass sheets, with white and grey silicon. The renowned collection of artifacts dating back 3,500 years, the website says the entire history of art through a single material.”

17. Safeco Field – Seattle 135

Though 15 years old “The Safe’ is still a state of the art facility. It presents itself with a curved brick facade retro homage to the great ballparks of old, like Ebbetts Field and Yankee Stadium. Some regard the juxtaposition with the ultra-modern facets of the rest an ungainly hybrid. The unique 22 million pound retractable roof protects field and fans from inclement weather. An underground heating system induces the 7 grass blend of Kentucky blue and perennial rye to turn green by opening day. It affords grand views of the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound. More importantly, the sightlines for fans are among the highest-rated in the league and player testimonials are glowing. Maybe the more the Mariners on field product is a winning one the better everyone feels about the park.

16. Douglas House – Harbor Springs, MI Richard Meier #130

If you haven’t met before, welcome to the wild, white world of Richard Meier one of architecture’s towering geniuses. Architecture aficionados will note the influences of Le Corbusier and Miles van de Rohe in the building and the furniture which Meier also designed. It is an extremely ambitious structure, packing a lot into its small residential size. The material is reinforced concrete. The front faces a the rock wall of the shore while the four-story back faces Lake Michigan and provides floor to ceiling views with stairways tucked away in corners. With a skylight on top and unimpeded views of the lake make it an exercise in sublime space, a futuristic enclosure springing from primordial lakeside bedrock.

15. Union Station Kansas City #127

The beautiful BeauxArts station was the second largest in the U.S when it opened in the fall of 1914. It was huge, 850,000 square feet and 95 feet up to is gloriously ornate ceiling with a trio of chandeliers each weighing 3500 pounds. But it withered as traffic dried up, dropping from almost 700,000 in 1945 to just 33.000 in 1973. By the 90’s, the website says, “was a broken and empty shell begging for attention.” When government decided to save it, the assembled an all- star team for what was more of a resurrection than restoration. Much of the roof had to be replaced with tiles of the exact same shape and color. The grand chandeliers were rewired, the original paint color was reproduced. The tram included experts who had work on restoration projects on Windsor Castle, Grand Central Station, and the Lincoln Memorial. Now the Station is alive and thriving with shops, restaurants and a Science Center, an architectural Lazarus brought back from the dead.

14. The Athenaeum – New Harmony, IN

Another striking exercise in white by Richard Meier New Harmony began life in 1814 as utopian community founded by a group of dissenting Germans who formed the New Harmonie Society before selling to a wealthy industrialist who made it a model community for education and social justice. As it came to be called the Athens of the West, Meier’s gateway porcelain-paneled building was called The Athenaeum… The AIA nomination called it building “one of Meier’s seminal works of architecture … a classic Meier design.” Visitors are taken up through 3 floors of exhibits to a fourth floor panorama of the Indiana flatlands and Wabash River before being led down exterior ramps to town, as if transitioning from our deeply-flawed world mankind has made to the utopian dream ha might have been.

13. Humana Building – Louisville, KY Michael Graves, #98

The 26- story post-modern skyscraper opened in 1985 and has won multiple awards for architect Michael Graves, one of the greatest interpreters of the style. TIME Magazine listed it as one of the 10 best buildings of the 1980’s. Most of the exterior its pink granite and gold leaf. It is a building with many faces and styles, each side being different. Its eight-floor Main Street façade mirrors the low-rise historical buildings alongside.
Above it explodes into energetic collisions of loggia and colonnades. The interior office space with tis modern statues and marble finishes is immaculate and looks more like the residence of a billionaire with impeccable taste than a place where people actually work. Graves did have his playful side. Humana was once dubbed The Milk Carton for its unusual shape(s). He also designed a postmodern teakettle for Target.

12. United States Courthouse, Islip NY #97

Yes another example of the Whiter Shade of Richard Meier. Islip is an historic town on the south coast off Long Island that opened in 2000. For a change, here is the building in his own words. “This federal courthouse takes advantage of panoramic views over both the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The 12-story building is placed on a podium to gain an extra presence on an otherwise flat and undifferentiated suburban site. Visitors ascend two wide tiers of steps and enter the building through a monumental 9-story, top-lit rotunda in the form of an opaque cone clad in white metal panels. The rest of the south elevation consists of a gently inflected curtain wall that allows light into the corridors and permits uninterrupted views of the ocean. The north façade is faced with metal panels and pierced by horizontal windows. This building reinterprets the courthouse as a new type of civic institution, receptive to public events as well as to the formalities of the judicial process. The terraced forecourt, articulated by a modulated surface and rectilinear plantings of trees, provides an appropriate setting for a building of such civic stature.

11. Dolphin and Swan Hotels, Walt Disney World Orlando #70

Before you roll your eyes at the inclusion of Disney hotels as some kind of déclassé architectural comfort food like Kraft dinner, rest assure this is a serious, if whimsical piece of architecture by Michel Graves, the same man who revolutionized the skyscraper with he Urbana building in Louisville. He began by creating a whole new mythical story with no existing Disney characters. Once upon a time, a submerged island was suddenly propelled to the surface with the dolphins on top and two birds who went in for closer inspection were transformed into swans, in this case, 28 ton 47 feet high swans. The dolphins were inspired by the master Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini whose work will be known to anyone who has had the good fortune to stroll the Piazza Navona in Rome. The dolphin subplot is ha Bernini’s frowned and Disney ownership insisted they put on a happy face. And there was no skimping on materials. European-made chandeliers with accents of Asian Golden Onyx and tropical Pao rosewood. As Mickey would say, “Oh boy, that sure is swell.”

10. Salt Lake City Public Library #69

Born in Israel, educated in Canada and based in Boston, architect Moshe Safdie burst onto the international scene before the age of 30 with his stunning design of the model housing complex, Habitat, a centerpiece of the 1967 World Exposition in Montreal. The dazzling library is a good deal more transparent that allows for lovely natural light and views of the Wasatch mountains. A virtuoso performance in glass and geometry has one building a triangle, another wing a rectangle enclosed with a crescent. At the base is a garden in a piazza and on top is a roof garden. Fireplaces swirling four floors up resemble a wall of flame at night from some angles. The windows though extensive have a very high UV rating for energy efficiency and are the sunblock for the library’s book collection.

9. Nebraska State Capital – Lincoln, NE #67

The Nebraska State Capitol building is ground breaking in more than one way. It was the first to be built as a tower. Perhaps more importantly I was far ahead of is time incorporating and paying tribute to the indigenous cultures of the plaints Indians. In parts Gothic and Byzantine Revival in style, the 400t foot tower is crowned by a massive figure The Sower” the people who came to plant and grow the crops and the very state itself. Inscriptions dot the exterior drawing on quotes from Aristotle, Plato and Navajo school wisdom.The doors to the East Chamber are especially striking and memorable together weighing the better part of a ton, eloquently commemorating the culture of the Plains Indians that the Americans and Europeans displaced…

8. Thorncrown Chapel – Eureka Springs 60

If any place can be said to be The Middle of Nowhere, Eureka Springs might be it. Two hundredf miles north of Little Rock, 250 east of Oklahoma City and 300 southeast of St. Louis It is also a renowned as a centre for the Arts with a School of the Arts, Writers’ Colony, dance studio Opera and Shakespeare in the Ozarks. A fitting home to one of the greatest architectural creations of the 20th century, the chapel which award- winning designer and Frank Lloyd Wright disciple Fay Jones jokingly labelled “Ozark Gothic. Its inspiration was the truly fabulous real Gothic 13th century Ste Chappelle in Paris. Thorncrown does not have Ste Chappelle’s incomparable stained glass but instead uses a starkly beautiful design, 425 windows and the light of the Ozark countryside as its ‘organic’ stained glass, changing hue and colour .As its website describes, and “Its appearance changes during each hour of the day and during the different seasons of the year.” A classic example of organic architecture, it appears to be ‘of’ the place not ‘on’ it.

7. Milwaukee Art Museum – Milwaukee # 59

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava was asked to undertake the daunting task to design and build an addition to the Museum’s striking original bui8lding dopne by the great Eero Saarinen who you’ve already met here. He succeeded in a spectacular post-modern manner. The Quaddraci pavilion (named after its primary donors) is huge. Just the Gothic Cathedral-style entrance hall can hold a two-story house. It is a unique combination of technology and craftsmanship. There are many nautical visual references. A ship’s prow, a remarkable set of steel fins, called the Burke Brise Soleil (literally) “sun break” up to a 105 feet in length and weighing 90 tons which Calatrava called the crowning element. Engineered to close automatically whenever wind speed exceeds 23 mph for more than three seconds, they also deploy and close each morning, noon and evening, thereby achieving his desire to reflect “he culture of the lake: the sailboats, the weather, the sense of motion and change.”

6. Denver International Airport – Denver #57

At first the DIA was infamous for its ambitious computerized baggage system that ate whatever it didn’t lose outright. It took 10 years for airlines to abandon it for good. Now, it’s famous for the peaked roof of the Jeppesen terminal that is reminiscent of the iconic Sydney Opera House, but in fact is a now world-famous rendition of the snow-capped Rockies that also evokes the pioneers’ wagons and Indian tepees. It is white but also green. Its translucence allows for generous amounts of natural light while its coating reflects 90% of the heat. The cable systems draws on that of the Brooklyn Bridge more than a century earlier. Also famous is a pedestrian that offers views of the Rockies above and taxiing planes below. With the addition of a solar energy farm, DIA has become a world leader in airport sustainability management. Architect Curtis Fentress , a disciple of the great Chinese American architect I.M. Pei, has gone on to build award-winning airports around the world.

5. Cincinnati Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati #45

The Cincinnati may not deliver a world-class product on the field, but the stadium they play in does. The intensely deconstructed design is a standout on the city skyline, especially at night when the lighting system and canopy of Teflon-coated fibreglass make it glow like an alien ladybug. Aside from excellent sightlines foe game action, fans can take advantage of the totally asymmetrical open-ended structure to gaze at the city skyline and riverfront during lulls in the action. From some side angles, the design can seem to recall Marcel Duchamp’s Modernist 1912 classic Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, though any resemblance may simply be in the eye of some beholders pushing the beer limit. 

4. Old Faithful Inn – Yellowstone National Park #36

Not a post-modern shred to be seen here. The national historic stone and log landmark dates from 1905 and is the most popular in the park. It is also the biggest log structure in the world. But it’s not famous for size or scale but for its rustic sensibilities like the huge stone fireplace in the lobby, (though it is some lobby at 76 feet in height) and of course for its proximity to Old Faithful. The original part of the Inn, referred to as the “Old House,” is a splendid example of well-preserved so called National Park architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

3. Allegheny County Courthouse – Pittsburgh #35

So compelling was Boston architect HH Richardson’s interpretation of the Romanesque Revival style, it was named after him. While the Allegheny County Courthouse may sound prosaic, Richardson considered it his finest work and one that deeply influenced future superstars like Frank Lloyd Wright and his onetime boss Louis Sullivan. The roughened surface of the granite blocks under a weight and bearing that give it an appearance of the immovable object of physics fame. The courthouse is connected in midair to a prison by “The Bridge of Sighs”, the term given by Byron to a similar link in Venice where prisoners would sigh with regret as the last sight the canals of the Great City. Though Grant Street in Pittsburgh is not be confused with the Grand Canal, it’s a lovely classical reference.

2. Wanamaker’s Department Store – Philadelphia #32

Still a Philly landmark, the dedication of the huge department store was delivered by President Taft. John Wanamaker had opened his clothing store 60 years earlier. The structure at 13th and Market streets was one of the first true department store in the country.one of the first in the country.
The exterior has been variously described as Renaissance palace and Florentine is quite plain in limestone and granite. But inside, the space was spectacular, the central court soaring five stories with eccentric features like the giant Wanamaker organ. It is the most impressive interior space in any commercial building in the city and contains the Wanamaker Organ from the St Louis World fair which joined forces with another St Louis souvenir in the beautifully-marbled Grand Court, the large Bronze Eagle. If today Philadelphians might say “Meet me at the Rocky Statue”, back then Wanamaker shoppers (which were just about everyone) would say “Meet me at the Eagle” and the rendezvous was set.

1. Bellagio #22

Anyone who has actually been to the town of Bellagio in Italy’s Lake District, may struggle to see the resemblance. Bellagio is a collection of Renaissance architecture plunked on the shores of a lake whose setting resembles a piece of pristine Pacific Northwest forest, a setting not even Steve Wynn’s considerable wallet can reproduce in Las Vegas. It does have an impressive scale. The original tower is over 500 feet tall with a staggering 3000 rooms. Standing in for Lake Como an eight-acre body of water leading out to The Strip which features the Dancing Water Fountain that rises and falls to music. There is elegance to be had within too, especially the beauty of the blown glass instillation Fiori di Como (Flowers of Como). At #22, Bellagio is sandwiched by some high-powered American icons, the Brooklyn Bridge at #20 and St. John the Divine cathedral at 23.

The 9 Greatest Bars in the World

Narrowing down the greatest bars in the world is a tough feat, considering so many of them have managed to fly under the radar, guarding their locations and managing to keep them a secret. From hidden doors with doormen who usher you in quickly to dive bars that have retained their 1930’s charm to some of the most talented barkeeps and mixologists, these nine bars are considered some of the very best. Whether you dabble in cocktails, drool over in-house-made infusions or simply want a place to meet with friends, make sure to check out some of the greatest bars in the world.

9. Milk Tiger Lounge, Calgary

While many don’t associate amazing cocktails bars with the city of Calgary, there is one hidden gem here called the Milk Tiger Lounge. This classic cocktail bar employs mixologists and bartenders with levels of expertise and dedication to the craft you won’t find anywhere else in the province. It’s a throwback to the days when people would slide into a seat at the bar, take off their fedora and chat with the bartender.

The drink list is littered with cocktails you only have heard of in black and white movies and even features the first cocktail to ever be invented in America- the Sazerac. A well-chosen wine menu, delicious appetizers and a passion for cocktails set this bar among the best in the world.

Via Robert Pashuk Architecture

8. The California Clipper, Chicago

The Clipper is an old bar from the 1930’s, complete with red leather, lots of wood and cash only. The old-school jukebox is heavy on Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline which patrons are free to control. It can sometimes be referred to as a dive bar, but the best of dive bars featuring a craft cocktail list that shares menu space with cheap beer in bottles and cans.

Expect to shimmy up on one of the leather bar stools, order a famous Brandy Crusta and watch the live band. Or order a refreshing Amaro Shaved Ice, a drink hard to find anywhere else. Come for one drink and stay for many as the lights are dim enough in here to make you stay all night.

Via Californiaclipper.com

7. Arnaud’s French 75, New Orleans

It is a world-renowned cocktails bar in New Orleans and is not to be missed on any trip here. Interestingly enough it was originally a gentleman only bar during the days of the Cazenave family but today anyone is welcome here. There is an emphasis here on premium spirits, classic cocktails, and fine cigars.

The furnishings in here alone are incredible, both the bar and bar back were custom built in the late 1800’s. The staff is decked out in white tuxedos with black bow ties and the best barkeep in New Orleans, Chris Hannah calls this place home. We recommend going there and ordering an Old Fashioned, trust us.

Via arnaudsrestaurant.com

6. Eastern Standard Kitchen and Bar, Boston

The beautiful lounge is enough to make one want to visit this incredible bar, as it boasts the longest marble bar in the city, where exceptional bartenders make top-notch cocktails. One of the best reasons to visit this bar is their cocktail selection, as the bar team seems to view the drinking process as a conversation.

They craft their beverage selection carefully, and their specialty is creating classic cocktails that utilize in-house made vermouth, infusions, and bitters from around the world. The drink list won’t be the same here if you come in different seasons as it changes at least 4 times a year. As an added bonus the menu happens to be incredible and features such things as seared salmon and delicious burgers.

Via cntraveler.com

5. Angel’s Share, New York City

It is one of the classiest joints in the East Village, easily reached by an unmarked side door at the front of the Japanese Restaurant Village Yokocho. Many do not know about this bar and perhaps that is one reason why it is so incredible.

You are not allowed to stand around in this bar, nor bring any more than three of your closest friends, this is indeed one of the best places to bring a date. With a stellar view of Stuyvesant Square, bartenders in tuxedos and arguably the city’s best grasshoppers; this is the place to be. Go now, before everyone else finds out about it.

Via cntraveler.com

4. Green Russell, Denver

An amazing cocktail experience awaits visitors to the Green Russell in Denver, located in the underbelly of the most historic block in Denver. Visitors reach this bar by entering through a pie shop and through a swinging door. The bar is actually named for an 1850’s Colorado gold miner William Green Russell.

Inside the bar is styled as a Prohibition-era cocktail joint, featuring exposed brick, opulent chandeliers, plush armchairs and one playful telephone booth. Hand-crafted cocktails are the specialty here using a variety of house bitters, infusions, freshly squeezed juices and small-batch spirits. Appetizers and fresh pie are available to order daily and this is the ultimate bar for quiet conversation and a damn good cocktail.

via 10best.com

3. Hop Sing Laundromat, Philadelphia

Located in Philly’s Chinatown, one has to know where to look to find this incredible bar, (hint-look for the metal gated doorway on Race Street) and one has to be dressed to impress in order to gain access. Visitors get taken inside by a doorman to a vestibule where the floor is coated in pennies and sat down in a church pew where you must hand over your identification for inspection.

Once passing that test, you head inside where you will sample some of the city’s best cocktails and hopefully meet the owner who boasts very firm rules: no sneakers, no shorts, and no photos. Le, the owner claims to be from North Korea, although he is, in fact, Vietnamese by birth. Think about stepping into Hogwarts, pulling up a chair and sipping on one of the best cocktails you’ve ever had. Don’t believe us? Try it yourself, just make sure you don’t wear running shoes.

Via wheretraveler.com

2. Canon, Seattle

It is the pinnacle of Seattle cocktail culture and Jamie Boudreau has made this cocktail bar into something so over the top, it is absolutely incredible. Walking in, the dark upholstery and antique cash register will immediately catch your eye and whether you are in a suit and tie or plaid shirt and jeans, you immediately feel welcomed.

The bar is stained with Angostura bitters, the barrel-aged cocktails served in glass flasks and the drink menu features over 100 different concoctions. The bartenders are superb, managing to balance the hard job of crafting each cocktail to perfection while doing so in a timely manner to serve so many patrons rapidly. There is a beautiful and extensive, almost drool-worthy collection of liquor and if you are a whiskey fan, this bar does not disappoint.

Via The Whiskey Wash

1. 365 Tokyo, Las Vegas

Good luck getting into this member only bar in Las Vegas, a Japanese-inspired bar located on the second floor of Inspire. This bar seats just eight patrons in a tiny room that is walled in on three sides by limo-tinted glass. Guests here are greeted with a bow from the lead barmen and his assistant, along with a warm scented towel, glass of cucumber water and cocktail menu. Much of the experience here is up to the guests, as they can choose which ice they want, the base spirit and even mixing technique.

We aren’t just talking about shaken or stirred here though, these advanced techniques include frozen with liquid nitrogen, siphon-infused with botanicals or even smoked with your choice of wood. Luckily for those who don’t know this much as cocktails, you can leave it up to the bartender to choose for you. Memberships are hard to come by, but we suggest jumping if you ever have the chance to visit this bar

Via Las Vegas Weekly

The Best Places to Live in America

From sea to shining sea, America is a beautiful country filled with varied landscapes, eye-popping attractions and friendly people everywhere you go. Imagine being a new-comer to America and trying to decide where you’re going to call home, a tough task considering there are so many great options. Thankfully the readers of Outside magazine have done the tough work for us, Outside surveyed American’s from all walks of life to find out exactly what makes their hometown so special in order to come up with this list of the 16 best adventure places to live in America this year:

16. Seattle, Washington

Seattle natives aren’t shy to tell you why their city is so special, but spend some time there and you’ll figure it out for yourself pretty quickly. A world-class city in a location that’s abundant with trees, mountains and water, that’s something pretty special. Seattle, known as the Emerald City, has 465 city parks along with Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic National Park, plus six ski resorts within a three-hour drive. Seattle is truly an outdoor-lovers paradise.

Seattle washington

15. Durango, Colorado

Three-time Olympic mountain biker and Durango resident Todd Wells says that people don’t move to Durango for a job. They move here for the world-class biking, kayaking or other outdoor activities and they figure out a way to make it all work. Considering that the average home cost is around $360,000, it will take a bit of work, but Durango is certainly more affordable than many other Rocky Mountain meccas. Whether you’re into hiking, biking, rafting or just appreciate being in the great outdoors, Durango has it all.

Hiker Colorado Trail Durango, Colorado

14. Grand Marais, Minnesota

With a population of only 1,327, Grand Marais doesn’t seem like much at first, but once you understand its location it all starts to make sense. The tiny one-stoplight town sits between Superior National Forest and Lake Superior and is the only municipality in all of Cook County. This makes it the gateway to the 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness which lies in the forest to the North. Name pretty much any outdoor activity and you’ll find it going on somewhere, but Grand Marais also has plenty of shops, restaurants and microbreweries for those days when all you really want to do is relax.

Grand Marais, Minnesota

13. Ketchum, Idaho

If you’re a skier, you’ve likely heard of Sun Valley, America’s first ski resort and site of the world’s very first ski lift. Well, Sun Valley is right next door to the town of Ketchum, so naturally it’s a snow-bunny’s paradise. The local’s don’t just stick to the tourist-packed ski areas either; the Pioneers, the Boulders, the White Clouds and the Sawtooth mountain ranges all surround Ketchum providing endless opportunities for world-class skiing of all varieties.

Ketchum, Idaho

12. Bend, Oregon

Imagine a small-scale version of Portland, except with less hipsters and more outdoor adventurers, this is the kind of vibe you’ll get from Bend, Oregon. The city has grown to a population of almost 90,000 and now has 16 microbreweries, a whitewater park and an $11.4 million dollar recreational center, not to mention the resident volcanoes in the Cascades Range. In-town, a hike up Pilot Butte is always a popular activity, while a short drive outside of town will bring you to Mount Bachelor, South Sister and a little further north, Mount Washington. Skiing, mountain biking, hiking and more, Bend provides small city amenities in a picture-perfect outdoor setting.

Bend, Oregon

11. Gunnison, Colorado

When a town’s elevation is higher than its population, you know there’s going to be some great adventures to be had here. Gunnison is located 30 miles north of the famous Crested Butte Mountain Resort, so naturally skiing is a big draw for this town, but it’s not the only activity to be found. the nearby Hartman Rocks is located only a few minutes from town and offers over 8,000 acres of prime hiking, biking and climbing land while Gunnison Whitewater Park is a mecca for paddlers. Recover from all those activities with a beer at High Alpine Brewing Company in town.

Gunnison, Colorado

10. Hanalei, Hawaii

If alpine skiing and snow isn’t really your thing, perhaps the tropical paradise of Hanalei, Hawaii will sound a little more appealing. This town of only 450 people doesn’t have a lot of amenities; you’ll find a grocery store, some cafes, a few board shops and not much else, but what it does have is a lifestyle centered around the ocean. Surfing is a way of life so it’s not uncommon to see locals getting a session in before and after work, but there’s also plenty of other vacation-esq activities like SUP, horseback riding, hiking to waterfalls and of course there are plenty of beaches where you can just sit back and relax.

Hanalei, Hawaii

9. Bellingham, Washington

This small, west-coast city’s nickname doesn’t do it much justice; Bellingham, aka the ‘City of Subdued Excitement’ is actually surrounded by amazing things to see and do for adventurers of all varieties. A short ferry ride away you’ll find the San Juan Islands which provide excellent whale-watching and sea kayaking opportunities, while a 90 minute drive East will get you to the peaks of North Cascades National Park. Combine that with the city’s proximity to other outdoor meccas like Seattle and Vancouver and you can see why this small city has big appeal.

Bellingham, Washington

8. Boise, Idaho

Idaho isn’t all about the spuds, in the city of Boise you’ll find a population over 200,000 and many residents live there strictly for the amazing outdoor options. With a backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, the Boise Foothills provide residents ample opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and the Ridge to Rivers system makes it easy. This interconnected network of trails and roads courses through the Foothills linking neighborhoods and public lands. with over 190 miles of trails there’s a perfect route and degree of difficulty for everyone.

Playboat Boise, Idaho

7. Ludington, Michigan

This small city of just over 8,000 occupies some of the best waterfront real estate on Lake Michigan and the idyllic lighthouses and sandy beaches are only the beginning. Ludington State Park and the adjoining Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area have a combined ten miles of lakefront property perfect for exploring sandy dunes, camping, hiking, biking, swimming and paddling. In town, the 64-mile Pere Marquette River is a blue-ribbon fishery that flows through Manistee National Forest before reaching the Great Lakes.

Ludington, Michigan

6. Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Colorado has some pretty notable ski and adventure spots, so while you might not have expected a smaller city like Steamboat Springs to appear in this list, residents say it’s the city’s laid-back approach to adventure and the outdoors that has the biggest draw. Of course there is skiing, though Steamboat’s hills are a bit mellower than places like Jackson Hole or Telluride, and the city is also adding to it’s increasing network of bike trails and singletrack. Outdoor companies like Big Agnes, Smartwool and Moots all call Steamboat Springs their home, which should be proof enough that this is someplace worthwhile.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

5. Taos, New Mexico

Residents of this Norther New Mexico town say “It’s all about the landscape” and when you’re bounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains how could it not be? Located were the high desert meets the Rockies, Taos has outdoor fun happening no matter the season. In winter it’s the bone-dry powder at Taos Ski Valley that draws locals and visitors alike, while summer provides it’s own kind of adventure in the form of class IV boating on the Rio Grande or mountain biking on the famous South Boundary Trail.

Taos, New Mexico

4. Yachats, Oregon

Yachats is a significant step down the population ladder from the previously mentioned city of Bend, but don’t let this town of just over 700 fool you, there’s still plenty of action to be found here. If living along one of the most amazing stretches of Pacific Northwest coastline sounds like your kind of thing, or you enjoy fat biking on the beach or strolling the shores at low tide, Yachats is definitely the place for you. After a hike with ocean views along Cape Perpetua, you can head back to enjoy a pint at the newly formed Yachats Brewing and Farmstore.

Yachats, Oregon

3. Denver, Colorado

The capital city of Colorado happens to be one of the fastest growing cities in the country with transplants being drawn to the big city appeal and eye-popping natural setting. There are few places where you can find the amenities of big city life within easy reach of the Rocky Mountains and their world-class skiing, biking and hiking.

Denver, Colorado

2. Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson, Wyoming admittedly has a few negative things stacked against it; the winters are long and cold, it’s a bad area for farming and ranching and the average housing price is north of a cool million. Negatives aside, it’s a small price to pay for living in a place that acts as the gateway to two of the greatest national parks in America. Grand Teton National Park is a mere 7 minute drive from town and the famed Yellowstone National Park is under a 2 hour drive away. With skiing, hiking, mountaineering, fishing, hunting and whitewater all easily accessible, it’s no wonder Jackson lands at number two on the list.

Jackson, Wyoming

1. Billings, Montana

The scrappy city of Billings, Montana comes out on top defeating prime adventure meccas like Denver, Jackson and Bend to be ranked as the Best Adventure Place to Live in America. There’s good reason for this of course, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area is only a short drive away as is the legendary skiing at Granite Peak. the Bighorn and Stillwater Rivers provide plenty of opportunity for fishing, boating and kayaking and Yellowstone Park is less than a three hour drive away. Locals say the charm of Billings comes from that fact that it’s still really a small town dressed up like a big city. Average housing prices here are still under the $200,000 mark, but don’t expect them to stay there for too much longer. Sorry Billings, your secret is out.

Billings, Montana

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

The 10 Best Children’s Museums in America

In a country that loves innovation and learning it is no surprise that America is home to over 200 children’s museums and it is no wonder that millions of visitors flock to them every year as they offer incredible exhibits, engaging facilities, hands-on learning and fun for adults too. Nearly every city has a children’s museum, but if you want to experience the best of the best, we have rounded up our top 10 in America. From the largest children’s museum in the world to a renovated fish market, there is no excuse not to visit one of these incredible museums in America.

10. Please Touch Museum -Philadelphia, PA

With a name like “Please Touch”, it’s no wonder this is one of the best children’s museums in all of North America. This museum truly invites children to learn through playing and interacting with exhibits. Each section of this museum is designed to create learning opportunities that are completely fun and interactive. The six-themed exhibits include a mini Philly neighborhood, an Alice in Wonderland exhibit, a mock supermarket, construction zone and medical center. Kids love the halls of doors and mirrors, circular mazes and fairytale garden. Don’t forget about taking a ride on the 1908 carousel before you leave. With fair admission prices and enough fun to last all day, don’t miss out on this awesome museum.

Photo by: Jim, the Photographer via Flickr
Photo by: Jim, the Photographer via Flickr

9. Port Discovery -Baltimore, MD

This 80,000 square foot museum resides in a renovated fish market and is truly one of the anchors of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. It just so happens that the Walt Disney Company Imagineers designed many of the exhibits here, so you just know they have to be pretty amazing. Kids interested in farming will love the Down on the Farm exhibit where they can milk cows, plant seeds and brush the tail of a real horse. For the active explorer don’t miss the three-storey treehouse where they can crawl through tunnels, explore a whole room of balls and cross narrow rope bridges. The HiFlyer hot air balloon is one of the favorites as kids get to experience a 15-minute ride above the Inner Harbor. Travel back in time to Egypt in the 1920’s, read one of the 3,000 books or join in a sing-along at this incredible children’s museum.

Photo by: Paul Roth via Flickr
Photo by: Paul Roth via Flickr

8. COSI: Center of Science and Industry -Columbus, OH

This is one of the few children’s museums that actually keep adults just as entertained as their kids and is a welcome relief from the normal kid’s museums. COSI has established themselves as a leader in innovation and features a number of awesome exhibits, including a working television station. The daily live show is a hit among all visitors and features such acts as real rats playing basketball. The 10,000 square foot area for kids under first grade was designed by early education experts and is perfect for the little ones to crawl, play and learn. From exploring space and energy to learning how the mind works to playing with gadgets, this museum takes visitors on a journey through science and innovation. A bit more expensive than others on this list, it is well worth it to visit.

Photo by: COSI Colmbus' Dynamic
Photo by: COSI Colmbus’ Dynamic

7. Minnesota Children’s Museum -St Paul, MN

Over six million parents and kids have visited this museum since it set up shop in downtown St. Paul and it remains one of the most loved children’s museums in all of North America. Here it is all about immersive experiences and encourages children to run and crawl through representations of Minnesota’s different natural habitats. This museum is actually promising to get even better with a $28 million renovation and expansion that is set to be complete in 2017. For now though it is pretty awesome and offers an array of experiences including a water-centric exhibit that allows kids to race boats down flowing streams and make their own recycled paper. A pretend neighborhood and art on the rooftop are hits among the kids. Watch for this museum to become even better in the next few years, but make sure to visit now to experience how awesome it already is.

Photo by: minnemom via Flickr
Photo by: minnemom via Flickr

6. Boston Children’s Museum -Boston, MA

This award-winning museum has been operating for over 100 years and offers plenty of fun for the whole family. This museum welcomes guests with its huge 40-foot high red-and-white milk bottle out front. It is one of the only museums to really focus on toddlers and preschoolers, with attractions such as the rock climbing wall that caters to kids aged three to five years old. A favorite permanent exhibit with kids is the Construction Zone, an exhibit allowing children to jackhammer, walk on high beam girders and ride in a real bobcat. Back in 2007 this museum became the city’s first “green” museum with its eco-friendly addition and landscaped waterfront park. The fully functional Japanese house, the three story climbing structure and the countdown to Kindergarten room are all huge hits among visitors. Families are welcome to bring in food into the lunch room or dine outside on the Milk Bottle Plaza, a great alternative for budget conscious families.

Photo by: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via Flickr
Photo by: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via Flickr

5. Children’s Museum of Denver -Denver, CO

It first opened in 1973 in a converted school bus but since has expanded into one of the best children’s museums in all of North America. Kids who love to build things will head right over to the assembly plant where they can use screwdrivers, saws and clamps to create their own one of a kind creation, which they can then take over to the art studio to paint. The fire station has to be a favorite as it features a real fire truck, 911 call centers, dispatch station and even a fire pole. The new outdoor adventure is a whopping 30,000 square feet of dynamic outdoor fun featuring ruins and forts, caves, hills, bridges and streams. A zip line, sand dunes, tunnels and waterfalls will keep kids running all day long. Stay tuned for new exhibits coming in late 2015, such as a teaching kitchen, three story climber, hands-in water lab and extreme energy station.

Photo by: Chlidren's Museum of Denver
Photo by: Chlidren’s Museum of Denver

4. The Strong -Rochester, NY

It calls itself the national museum of play and this awesome 100,000 square foot museum certainly makes well on that promise. One of the most popular exhibits with both kids and adults alike is the year-round indoor butterfly garden that features lush tropical plants and over 1,000 free-flying tropical and native butterflies. Between the aquariums, the toys hall of fame and the reading adventureland, it can be hard to choose what to visit first. Wee ones will go nuts for the Sesame Street exhibit as well as the life-sized dollhouse. Comic book heroes, e-games, a rock wall and a theatre complete with a stage are just a few of the permanent exhibits that kids go wild for. There are also plenty of food choices in the spacious food court or a sit-down style restaurant in the atrium, making sure everyone’s needs are met.

Photo by: Lee Ruk via Flickr
Photo by: Lee Ruk via Flickr

3. Children’s Museum of Houston -Houston, TX

This elaborate children’s museum recently doubled its size to 90,000 square feet and features both inside and outside exhibits. Kidtropolis is a highlight for kids, a huge pretend city where kids run the show and features its own bank, news center, vets office and more. It was designed to help kids understand occupations and economics and go with the expectation that your kids will never want to leave. Several outdoor galleries include a weather station and watery flow station which is a hit on those hot and humid days. The invention convention encourages budding inventors to create their own gadgets while the TV studio lets kids see themselves on camera, read scripts from the anchor desk and work the control panel. The smaller kids under three won’t be left out as they have their own padded play area and awesome ball bit. A bargain at just $9 for adults and kids, this museum is definitely worth checking out.

Photo by: sikeri via Flickr
Photo by: sikeri via Flickr

2. Brooklyn Children’s Museum -Brooklyn, NY

This New York City landmark is the world’s first and oldest children’s museum and remains one of the best in North America. It features over 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and costs only $9 to explore. The Neighborhood Nature exhibit is a hit among kids as they can explore the natural habitats that can be found throughout the nation, such as woodland fields and ocean tide pools. Youngsters will enjoy the 1,700 square foot totally Tots Area where they explore the sand spot, baby patch and peek-a-boutique. The museum features nearly 30,000 natural history specimens and cultural objects that will thrill both parents and kids. The coolest thing about this museum may just be the entrance, located underground in the side of a hill through an authentic 1905 New York City trolley kiosk.

Photo by: Rubenstein via Flickr
Photo by: Rubenstein via Flickr

1. Children’s Museum Indianapolis -Indianapolis, IN

It is hailed as being the best children’s museum in all of North America and the massive facility that measures over 472,000 square feet does not disappoint. It sits on 29 acres and is the largest children’s museum in the entire world. The Dinosphere exhibit is perhaps the favorite of all and features a working paleontology lab, hands-on simulated fossil digs, life-size simulated dinosaurs and one of the largest collections of real fossils and dinosaur art in the nation. Also this museum has a working 1927 carousel, the largest water clock in North America and a 130-seat planetarium. It is all about hands-on learning here and children are encouraged to touch, play and learn as they make their way through this huge museum. If you happen to be out of town visiting, make sure you spend at least an entire day here.

Photo by: Snassek via Flickr
Photo by: Snassek via Flickr

The 10 Best Waterparks in America

Nothing screams summer more than embarking on a trip to one of the many waterparks across America. Some of the largest and most outrageous waterparks in the country are full of new attractions, slippery waterslides and wave pools that will knock your socks off. Discover realistic surfing waves, super speed water coasters and an abundance of kid-friendly water play areas. From Orlando to Denver to the town of Santa Clause discover the 10 most exciting, best in class waterparks in America.

10. Water World -Denver, Colorado

It’s not a city that one necessarily associates waterparks with but Denver has a lot going for it when you consider Water World. With over 50 attractions for all family members it is considered one of the premier waterparks across the country. Some of the highlights of this park is the two waves pool, one tamer than the other; the lazy river and the multitude of tube rides. The most famous of attractions here is the ‘Voyage to the Center of the Earth’ ride which takes place completely inside and is a multi-rider raft ride which takes you back to when the dinosaurs lived, throughout caves, down steep drops and feels more like a theme park ride. For those seeking thrills make sure to try out the ‘Mile High Flyer’, which is the first hydro-magnetic water coaster in the Rockies; that’s right we said water coaster.

Photo by: Water World
Photo by: Water World

9. Wet ’n’ Wild -Orlando, Florida

It is considered America’s first waterpark and it is remarkable that they still remain one of the best across the country. What visitors love most about this park is the amount of multi-rider slides and the absolutely amazing kids play area. Families it seems are drawn most to this park and kids love to visit the family orientated ‘Blastaway Beach’. Here a giant sandcastle, 17 slides and over 160 water attractions meets kids and parents in the biggest water playground for kids in the state. For those looking for a little more excitement, try the Bomb Bay where you plunge from six stories high or the newest slide, the Aqua Drag Racer where you can race three other people over 360 feet of adrenaline pumping thrills. Located just a stone’s throw away from Disney, this park is often less crowded than those located at the parks.

Photo by: Wet ’n’ Wild Orlando
Photo by: Wet ’n’ Wild Orlando

8. Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park -Orlando, Florida

Speaking of Disney, Blizzard Beach Water Park is next up on the list of the best in America. It was the third most visited waterpark in the world in 2014 and it’s not hard to see why. The majority of the attractions are located on top of Mount Gushmore, an artificial hill that splits into three different sections. Park goers can choose to either walk up the staircase or ride the one-way chairlift to the top. ‘Summit Plummet’ is one of the most popular slides as riders whisk down this 13 story slide at about 60 miles per hour. ‘Teamboat Springs’ is a family favorite and sends the whole family down a series of twisting and cascading waterfalls in one giant tube. An excellent kid’s area with mini-waterslides, a variety of shade and sun and great dining options await you at this ever popular waterpark.

Photo by: Flickr/Jeff Kays
Photo by: Flickr/Jeff Kays

7. Wet ’n’ Wild Hawaii -Kapolei, Hawaii

It is one of the most beautiful parks on this list, set in a lush tropical setting surrounded by natural cliffs and breathtaking landscapes. It is also one of the most popular waterparks in the country and it is easy to see why people love to visit. The simulated surfing experience is one of the most popular attractions and gives visitors the chance to take on a continuous 40-foot wave, with either a surfboard or body board. The newest addition to this park is the ‘Waimea Whirl’, a two-person thrill ride that drops riders into bowls of waters, spins them around and shoots them back out. A multi-level kids water playground, a lazy river through the tropical gardens and an adults only area makes this waterpark a must visit this year.

Photo by: Wet ’n’ Wild Hawaii
Photo by: Wet ’n’ Wild Hawaii

6. Sea World’s Aquatica -Orlando, Florida

It’s part waterpark and part marine animal attraction but the fact of the matter is people absolutely love this waterpark. The park features attractions and water activities for people of all ages but there most signature ride is the ‘Dolphin Plunge’. Enclosed tube slides send riders through the home of the black-and-white Commerson’s Dolphins, known for their playfulness and super speeds. A new slide recently opened here that claims to be the fastest and steepest waterslide in Orlando and sends riders straight down 40 feet before twisting and turning them through tunnels. The lazy river here takes riders through an underwater world full of exotic fish and dolphins. Visitors love the side by side wave pools, one offering constant high rolling waves, the other a mystery. A white sand beach with plenty of shade and lounge chairs complete the pools.

Photo by: Aquatica Orlando
Photo by: Aquatica Orlando

5. Noah’s Ark -Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

It is the largest waterpark in America and features a whopping 51 waterslides, a surfing simulator, two wave pools and an abundance of other attractions. It is also known for its extreme rides and thrill seekers will love their time here. The ‘Scorpion Tail’ draws the adrenaline junkies as it is America’s first nearly vertical waterslide loop, sending riders down an initial drop at 50-feet-per-second. The ‘Black Anaconda’ on the other hand feels more like a rollercoaster than waterslide as it sends raft riders up and down its course, with speeds reaching 30 miles per hour. This park also features numerous group rides in which you can choose to race your partner down the hair raising mat slide or pile alongside each other in one of the circular tube rides. Families will love the many kid’s areas that are scattered throughout the park and this is truly a day of non-stop fun.

Photo by: Noah's Ark Waterpark
Photo by: Noah’s Ark Waterpark

4. Six Flags White Water -Atlanta, Georgia

This family friendly waterpark offers something to do for all ages and is full of thrilling waterslides, family friendly activities and plenty of area for the kids to run around and get wet. The biggest decision at this park will be deciding what to do first. Adrenaline lovers will want to start with the recently added ‘Dive Bomber’ which sends riders plummeting 10-stories down at nearly 90 degrees into a splash pool. The little ones will want to start off at ‘Tree House Island’ where a four-story tropical treehouse features slides, spray jets and a big ole tipping bucket of water on top. If you can manage to get the whole family together in one place, head on over to the wave pool, lazy river or one of the family raft rides down the slides. No matter how old you are, this park promises to have you having fun in no time.

Photo by: Six Flags White Water
Photo by: Six Flags White Water

3. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon -Orlando, Florida

It is the third waterpark from Orlando to make this list and it comes as no surprise that Disney has managed to make yet another epic waterpark. Typhoon Lagoon is a family favorite and lives up to all expectations. This park is home to North America’s largest wave pool that features 6-foot waves every 90 seconds, certain to keep your heart pumping. This park definitely caters to families with older kids, teens and adults themselves as many of the slides are fast and thrilling and the additional attractions cater to an older crowd. One experience visitors won’t want to miss out on here is snorkeling at Shark Reef where you can get up close and personal with leopard and bonnethead sharks, stingrays and schools of blue tangs. Available at no additional charge, this underwater experience is like nothing else. The added bonus of this park, visitors can bring in food and drinks to save a little money.

Photo by: Flickr/Isabelle Puaut
Photo by: Flickr/Isabelle Puaut

2. Schlitterbahn -New Braunfels, Texas

This is the first and perhaps the best known waterpark in Texas due to its size and amazing water attractions it offers. It is actually two parks that are connected by a tram, the original park that was created using water from the nearby Comal River and the newer park that features more thrilling slides and attractions. Their claim to fame might just be the ‘Master Blaster Uphill Water Coaster’, standing at over six stories tall and 1000 feet, this uphill water coaster takes riders up, down and around in circles on their two-passenger rafts. For those with kids, there are numerous areas around the park designed especially for them, with many slides and pools. One of the best things about this park is the ability to bring in your own food and drinks (non alcoholic). This park encourages visitors to bring in coolers and picnic baskets, and has scattered tables throughout the park.

Photo by: Schlitterbahn New Braunfels

1. Splashin’ Safari Water Park -Santa Claus, Indiana

This waterpark could make its way on this list with just two attractions, the two hydro-magnetic water coasters that claim to be two of the longest in the world. The ‘Mammoth’ and the ‘Wildebeest’ have given this waterpark its reputation for being one of the best in the world. The two coasters will thrill riders as they push them up and down the hills, through tubes, spin them backwards and leave them soaking wet. But these two coasters aren’t all this awesome park offers. Beyond them are two wave pools, a lazy river, numerous areas for children and even more waterslides. What makes this park even more unique is the family friendly service they provide. Free sunscreen, free soft drinks, free parking and admission to both the waterpark and theme park is enough to convince us that this is truly one of the best waterparks in America.

Photo by: Holiday World & Splashin' Safari
Photo by: Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari

The Best Things to See and Do in Denver

With 300 days of sunshine and a flourishing cultural scene, Denver is one of America’s favorite playgrounds. At the base of the Colorado Mountains, Denver is known as the “Mile High City.” Fabulous accommodations, award-winning dining, upscale shopping and seven professional sports teams combine with spectacular views and natural beauty to make Denver a choice vacation spot. The list of things to do in Denver is about as long as the city is high so to help you make the most of your visit, here are the 10 must-do things to experience while in Denver.

1. The Denver Art Museum

The Denver Art Museum is a part of the Civic Center of Denver. One of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast, it houses collections of over 68,000 works from around the world and across several centuries, but it’s the collection of American Indian Art that it’s best known for. In addition to exhibits, the museum has activities for all ages every day. These hands-on activities are included in the general admissions fee. A Fun Things for Families to Do brochure can be downloaded from the museum’s site in English and Spanish. This brochure lists the activities happening on every floor of the museum. Everyday activities include the Just for Fun Center, Kid’s Corner, Gallery Games and Art Making and a Studio for sculpting. Weekend and school holidays bring even more interactive involvement with programs such as Backpack & Art Tubes and Create-n-Take.

Denver Art Museum

2. Rocky Mountain National Park

A plethora of outdoor activities await visitors to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Enjoy hiking and climbing, backpacking, fishing and white-water rafting. The park features over 350 miles of trails amid majestic mountains, beautiful tundra, wildflowers, and abundant wildlife. Trails for all hiking levels provide adventure for everyone. Take an easy, leisurely hike around a mountain lake or take a multi-day backpacking mountain climb for a real challenge. The RMNP also has plenty of stimulation for the mind as well as the body. Whether you wish to try a watercolor painting of the landscape or learn how to track a moose, learning opportunities abound at the park. Take advantage of programs at the Rocky Mountain Conservatory, Ranger and Junior Rangers, conferences and over two dozen varied museum and art galleries.

Rocky Mountain National Park Fishing

3. Sample Some Craft Brews

Denver is famous around the world for its breweries. Take a free 30-minute self-paced tour at Golden’s legendary Coors Brewery. Tour the brewhouse, malthouse and the packaging complex. It’s the world’s largest single-site brewery. Be sure to hit the “fresh beer room” and sip a cool sample. If it’s craft brews you’re looking for Black Sky Brewery on Santa Fe Drive brews their own beer for sampling and selling by the glass or pitcher. The decor is industrial, the music is heavy metal and they serve pizzas with a menu of in-house brewed beers as well as a rotating guest list of beers from other local breweries to wash at all down. While sampling beers at all the breweries, it’s easy to stop by 3001 Walnut Street at the Epic Beer Brewery. Epically Strange and Big Bad Baptist are two popular flavors to try.

Black Sky Brewery

4. Denver Botanic Gardens

The Denver Botanic Gardens is in the Cheesman Park Neighborhood. It sprawls over 23 acres and contains several theme gardens, a conservatory and a sunken amphitheater where visitors can catch a variety of concerts during the summer. The gardens are divided into three distinct parts: the formal garden on York Street in east-central Denver, Denver Botanic Gardens near Chatfield State Park, and Mt. Goliath on the way to Mount Evans. The gardens at Chatfield feature natural meadows, river bank areas and a historic homestead. Mt. Goliath is an alpine wildflower garden with hiking trails. The botanic gardens is the perfect place to come relax or even have a picnic in the heart of the Mile High.

Denver Botanic Gardens

5. Shopping in Cherry Creek

The Cherry Creek North Shopping District is a shopaholic’s dream come true. This charming area features 16 blocks of shopping and dining. Only five minutes from downtown Denver, it’s locked in by First and Third Avenues and University and Steele Streets. The District has 320 independently owned shops, art galleries, boutiques, spas and restaurants. The Cherry Creek Shopping Center proper has over 160 shops with 40 of those being exclusive to the area. Find high-end brands such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Ralph Lauren. Quaint gardens, tree-lined streets and public art add to the shopping district’s charm. There are also unique bakeries, coffee shops and cafes where you can stop for a bit between browsing (or buying) in all those shops. The 22-mile Cherry Creek Bike Path connects to downtown Denver and beyond.

Window shopping

6. Catch a Game

Seven professional sports teams provide year-around entertainment for sports fans in the Mile High City. Some of the best athletes in the world thrill the crowds for baseball, football, basketball, lacrosse, hockey and rugby. The University of Colorado Boulder plays Colorado State every year at Sports Authority Field at Mile High with cutthroat rivalry. It is college football at its best for everyone. Don’t miss baseball with the Colorado Rockies, Denver’s adored Major League Baseball team at the famous Coors Field. The baseball season is a long one, running from March all the way into October. The huge Sports Authority Field at Mile High is home to NFL’s Denver Broncos. The city turns orange, blue and white on game days. Although Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway is now a restaurateur, there is still plenty of talent on the roster. Catch a game from September to January. Basketball fans can catch NBA’s Denver Nuggets in action from October to June. The Nuggets rule the court at downtown Denver’s Pepsi Center. A roster full of big-name veteran players and talented newcomers keeps basketball in Denver exciting year after year. Since 2007, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park has been home to the Colorado Rapid’s, Denver’s Major League Soccer Team. The roster includes home town talent and international players from several different countries. Catch a soccer game between March and October.

spirit of america / Shutterstock.com
spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

7. Red Rocks Park

Fifteen miles west of town, Denver’s Red Rocks Park serves as a park with both outdoor activities like hiking and biking trails with spectacular views as well as an entertainment center featuring a word-famous outdoor music venue. The natural acoustics are unsurpassed for star-studded concerts. The Visitor Center has interactive educational displays with film documentaries on both the park’s geological and musical history. Pay a visit to the Performer’s Hall of Fame to admire the lineup for concerts of the past. The Ship Rock Grille, built around two massive boulders has a delectable menu served among some of the world’s best scenery.

Red Rocks Park Denver

8. Tour the City on a Bike

Take a ride around Denver and get to know the city on a bicycle. Denver B-cycle is an automated bike sharing system for use on short trips around town. Get great exercise, see the sights and at the same time help keep Denver’s fresh air clean. Its lots of fun and a great way to be “green”. Denver B-cycle maintains 700 bikes in top notch shape. With 82 stations, it’s easy to rent a bike at one station and conveniently return it to any other station.

spirit of america / Shutterstock.com
spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

9. Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Learn about the fascinating history of Colorado, Earth, and even the universe at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Exhibitions, programs and activities at the museum seem almost endless and will appeal to every age group. It’s a 500,000 square foot facility featuring millions of objects in collections including anthropological and natural history materials. Amateur researchers can browse through archival and library resources as well. Exhibitions, classes, lectures, programs and IMAX films are all centered around geology, anthropology, health science, paleontology, zoology and space science. One great feature is The Gates Planetarium which is a 125-seat planetarium that presents a view of the universe and tells science stories to help visitors understand its vastness.

Dinosaur museum

10. Four Mile Historic Park

Four Mile Historic Park is a 12-acre oasis on the banks of Cherry Creek, only four miles from downtown Denver. Visitors to the park will see Denver’s oldest still-standing structure. The park features pioneer exhibits, guided tours and special events for every age group. It’s a fun-filled way to learn about Colorado’s fascinating frontier past. The house at Four Mile was the last stop for pioneers coming to Denver from the east along the Cherokee Trail. Weary travelers could wash up, rest and have a home-cooked meal before traveling on to Denver. The house was built in 1859 and was a stagecoach stopover between 1860 and 1864.

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

The Best Cities to Visit in the United States

The Unites States has much to see from beautiful coastlines to majestic mountain ranges. From east to west, north and south, below are ten of the best cities to visit in the U.S.

10. New York City

The Big Apple is a must-see for anyone. From Times Square and Rockefeller center to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Broadway, the city that never sleeps has attractions and excitement 24-7.

Hotels prices range from just over $100 for a two-star hotel to over $200 for a four to five-star hotel in or near Times Square.

CristinaMuraca / Shutterstock.com
CristinaMuraca / Shutterstock.com

9. Orlando, Florida

Home of the Magic Kingdom, Orlando Florida is a great vacation spot. Visit SeaWorld or Universal Studios or one of the many Disney theme parks. Sunny Orlando has lots of fun and exciting adventures for the whole family!

Hotels prices range from under $100 for two and three-star hotel to close to $300 plus for a five-star hotel such as the Ritz Carlton, Orlando.

Orlando Florida

8. Las Vegas, Nevada

Whether you’re a high-stakes gambler, or just looking to take in a show, Las Vegas is a fabulous city with great food, high-end shopping and endless fun and excitement! Visit the MGM Grand to gamble, do some shopping at Caesars Palace Forum Shops, or take in some Cirque de Soleil. Kids love the rides at Circus Circus, or the roller Coaster at New York New York.

Hotels prices range from under $100 for up to a five-star hotel on the strip. Many casinos offer inexpensive rooms and meals to attract players to their casinos.

Las Vegas Nevada

7. Los Angeles, California

Beverly Hills, the Hollywood Bowl and the Walk-of-Fame are just a few of the attractions of California’s most famous city. Take a walk along Venice Beach, have a drink at the Beverly Hills Hotel or stroll the shopping on Rodeo Drive. Want to see where your favorite celebrities live? There are plenty of bus tours to show you who lives underneath the Hollywood sign!

Hotels prices range from under $100 for a two-star hotel to over $200 for a five-star hotel such as The London West Hollywood.

Los Angeles

6. New Orleans, Louisianna

From Bourbon Street to a Mississippi River Cruise, New Orleans has much excitement and fun even after Mardi Gras. Enjoy the Creole cuisine, the Po’ boys and the mint julips. Golf or shop by day and enjoy some jazz by night in the French Quarter. New Orleans has night life and festivals all year long!

Hotels prices range from under $100 for a two-star hotel to over $200 for a five-star hotel such as the Ritz Carlton, New Orleans.

New Orleans Louisiana

5. Denver, Colorado

Even if you don’t ski, Denver has lots to do all year long, from the Botanic Gardens and the Denver Zoo to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Coors Brewery Tour. Visit the U.S. Mint or the Buffalo Bill Museum. Of course, there are always fun snow activities, such as snowmobiling, tubing and ice-skating!

Hotels prices range from under $100 for a two-star hotel to over $300 for a five-star hotel such as the Four Seasons, Denver.

Denver Colorado

4. Anchorage, Alaska

There’s fun for the whole family in beautiful, Anchorage! Visit the country’s largest indoor waterpark, H2Oasis, dig for dinosaur bones at the Alaska Museum of Natural History or visit with a bear at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Scenic day drives, walking tours, fairs and festivals are all fun, outdoor activities to investigate during your visit to Anchorage.

Many hotels and bed and breakfasts can be found for just around $100 per night.

Anchorage Alaska

3. Honolulu, Hawaii

With its white sand beaches, surfing and gorgeous skies, there is much to do in beautiful Honolulu. Take in the sights at the Manoa Falls or hike Diamond Head by day and see the Legends in Concert Waikiki by night. For history/military buffs, visit the Pearl Harbor National Monument or the USS Missouri Memorial. Relax at night with some sunset yoga before attending a luau.

Hotels prices range from under $100 for a two-star hotel to at or around $300 for a five-star hotel such as the Royal Hawaiian, Waikiki.

Honolulu Hawaii

2. San Antonio, Texas

From the beautiful Riverwalk to the Alamo, San Antonio is a mecca of history and nightlife. There’s fun for the whole family, too, with the San Antonio Zoo, Six Flags San Antonio and SeaWorld San Antonio.

Hotels prices range from under $100 for a two-star hotel to just under $200 for a five-star hotel such as the JW Marriott, San Antonio.

San Antonio Tx

1. Hershey, Pennsylvania

Hershey Pennsylvania, with famous Hershey Park and Chocolate World, is fun for the whole family and chocolate lovers alike! Hershey, PA also boasts Hershey Gardens, the Antique Auto Museum as well as some beautiful golf courses.

Hotels prices range from under $50 for a two-star hotel to over $100 for a three to four-star hotel.

Hershey Pennsylvania
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