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 Best Things to See and Do in Orlando, Florida

Orlando is well-known for its fun and family-friendly theme parks, which are headlined by Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World, home of Epcot Center. While you’d surely have a fine time if you focused your trip on one or both of these world-famous attractions, you’d also miss out on the many other things Orlando has to offer.

With that in mind, we’ve curated a list of 12 things to see and do in Orlando besides these popular theme parks.

12. Ride the Orlando Eye

This towering, 400-foot observation wheel is the tallest on America’s east coast, and delivers stunning views of the Orlando skyline. It’s a great way for first-time visitors to get oriented in the city, as long as you don’t have a fear of heights.

When your ride on the Orlando Eye is over, you can amuse yourself at the wheel’s companion entertainment center. Situated on the same grounds as the Orlando Eye, the I-Drive 360 center is an expansive, multimillion-dollar entertainment facility brimming with great eats, themed attractions, and live entertainment.

11. Take a Drive to Winter Park

Winter Park is an upscale suburban community situated just north of Orlando. Its interesting history dates back to the 19th century, when the town became a preferred winter destination for wealthy Americans from colder climes. It now boasts an enviable collection of amazing boutiques and gourmet restaurants that are every bit as fashionable and luxurious as those found in places like Beverly Hills, only they’re much more welcoming and accessible.

After your shopping excursion, head to the Winter Park History Museum to learn more about this unique community. Then, cap off your visit with an unforgettable dining experience at one of the city’s many fine establishments.

Photo by: City of Winter Park Facebook

10. Blast Off Into Outer Space

Okay, we might be cheating a little bit on the “no theme parks” rule with this one, but it’s primarily educational so we decided it doesn’t count. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is home to an incredible collection of fascinating interactive exhibits that bring the mystery and wonder of the “final frontier” to life like nothing else.

Be sure to check out the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, try a simulated blast-off with the Shuttle Launch Experience, and check out the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit.

Photo by: Kennedy Space Center Facebook

9. Get Cultured in Orlando’s Museums

Few visitors realize it, but Orlando actually has one of the most active and engaging arts scenes of any city in the eastern United States. To get a sampling, start your exploring with a visit to the Orlando Museum of Art, which is renowned for its Art of the Ancient Americas permanent exhibit. Then, if you’d like to sample the local arts scene, head to downtown Orlando’s CityArts Factory, which displays the work of up-and-coming Florida artists.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art also merits an honorable mention. This gallery will be of interest to anyone who enjoys jewelry, glass, and ceramic artwork.

Photo by: Orlando Museum of Art Facebook

8. Experience the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve

This beautiful 440-acre nature park is the perfect way to enjoy a break from Orlando’s intense sunshine and heat while still enjoying the outdoors. With dense trees casting deep natural shade, this lakeside park offers breathtaking views and fantastic photo opportunities. Peaceful and scenic, the nature preserve’s well-maintained trail network makes for easy walking through idyllic flatwoods and perfectly conserved marshlands.

Pro tip: Don’t forget the mosquito repellent. The park is home to Lake Tibet-Butler and thick marshes, which tend to attract mosquitoes. While these bloodsucking bugs are most active around dawn and dusk, you’ll want to be protected no matter what time you visit.

OnTheTrail / Shutterstock.com

7. Take a Day Trip to Kissimmee

This charming city lies just south of Orlando, and makes for an easy day trip if you’re looking for a break from the fast pace of urban life. Its main attraction is Kissimmee Lakefront Park, where you can wander walking paths, turn the kids loose on beautiful playgrounds, or head to the pier to go fishing.

The park’s boat tours are also highly recommended, and can be booked for as short as 30 minutes if you’re pressed for time. However, many who have visited Kissimmee rave about the boat rides, and especially the airboat experiences. If you aren’t in a hurry, a longer tour is well worth the extra time and money.

Photo by: Steven Lemongello, Orlando Sentinel

6. Dance the Night Away in Thornton Park

If you’re over 21, aren’t in town with young children, and are looking for some after-hours adventure, head to Thornton Park. Based on and around East Central Boulevard, Thornton Park is a drinks-and-dancing hotspot, with dozens of trendy bars and nightclubs drawing throngs of fashionable partygoers practically every night of the week. If you want to make a whole night of your Thornton Park experience, get dressed up for dinner and head for one of the neighborhood’s many eateries before hitting the party scene.

/ Shutterstock.com

5. Shop Till You Drop

Orlando is one of the best shopping cities in the region. The most convenient way to enjoy the best of the city’s bustling retail scene is to head to one of its three designer outlet malls, which house dozens of boutiques carrying famous brand-name fashions. First and foremost, there’s Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, which has undergone a recent expansion.

Then, if you’ve still got some money left over, head to Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores. Conveniently, the Lake Buena Vista outlet center provides free shuttle service to and from dozens of local hotels. Last but not least, there’s also the high-end Mall at Millennia, which is the preferred destination of discerning and demanding fashionistas looking for upscale brands including Breitling, Yves Saint-Laurent, and Prada, among others.

4. Traipse Through Tropical Gardens

The Harry P. Leu Gardens offer a quiet respite from busy city life even though the site is just a short drive from downtown Orlando. This natural paradise dates back to the 1930s, when local entrepreneur Harry Leu founded the gardens as a place to plant the seeds and saplings he collected during his extensive travels around the world. Today, the gardens now include more than 50 acres of stunning botanical specimens, including centuries-old oaks, tropical and semitropical blossoming plants, and breathtaking flower collections.

Guests are also welcome to enjoy picnics on the manicured lawns, and visitors can learn more by popping into the Leu House Museum. Oh, and be sure not to miss the park’s Tropical Stream Garden and its picturesque water features.

Jillian Cain Photography / Shutterstock.com

3. Paddle the Afternoon Away

Lake Eola Park is a breath of fresh air in downtown Orlando. With a serene pond and professionally landscaped collection of parks and gardens, Lake Eola Park is home to a wide range of plant and animal life. You can take a leisurely walk around the park by following its main path, which covers about half a mile. Visitors can also rent paddleboats and head out on the water for a relaxing ride that also delivers fantastic views of the sleek city skyline.

Karen Fields / Shutterstock.com

2. Enjoy a Bike Ride

Another enjoyable off-the-beaten-track option is to head into Baldwin Park, which is just a few miles outside of central Orlando. This relatively new, master-planned community features upscale homes, quiet coffee shops and cafes, and a great collection of suburban retail outlets. You can also rent a bike and enjoy a ride around Baldwin Park’s beautiful lake. A smooth, easy cycling and jogging trail runs around its perimeter, delivering two and a half miles of idyllic beauty. The best time to visit is early in the morning, when temperatures are still nice and cool.

1. Go Alligator Watching

Florida is well-known for its alligator population, and while you definitely don’t want to get too close to these vicious reptiles, there are many safe ways to see them. One popular option is to take an airboat tour in a gator park, with Wild Willy’s on Lake Tohopekaliga being a particularly popular option. Wild Willy’s is just a short drive from Orlando, and offers affordable gator-watching experiences you won’t soon forget.

If you’re interested in venturing a little further from Orlando, there are also many excellent spots to explore Florida’s unique brand of nature around Sarasota. Myakka State Park is a particularly recommended option if you’re in this area.

Phillip Maguire / Shutterstock.com

8 Unusual Organized Tours for an Outstanding Vacation

Are your usual travel plans seeming a little flat? Do you want a travel experience that is truly conversation-worthy when you return home? Do you crave something out-of-the-box, but can’t quite put your finger on it? Read on below for some suggestions of amazing tours that are out of the ordinary- to varying degrees. Some will put a different perspective on familiar sites or cities. Others may have you saying- they have a tour for that?

1. Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom, Orlando

One of the first rules of being a magician is to never reveal the secrets behind your tricks. Well, the Magic Kingdom in Orlando turns that whole concept on its ear by providing a tour to its underground tunnel system (Utilidor) – which is where much of their magic happens. If you’ve been to the Magic Kingdom- think about it; have you ever seen anything the least bit utilitarian (i.e. supplies traveling) or un-magic? The complex Utilidor system is an intricate, minutely detailed system that is the conduit for Disney Cast Members (staff) to whisk from one location to another, supplies to be delivered and for garbage to be transported. It’s a whole other world underground at Disney World- complete with cafeterias, a hairdresser as well as a myriad of offices. The traveler who has a keen appreciation for well-executed logistics will enjoy this 7 hour tour, which includes lunch. It’s Disney from a whole new perspective.

Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com
Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com

2. Chernobyl, Ukraine

While touring the site of a nuclear disaster may not top everyone’s travel wish list, those wishing to gain insight into the historic 1986 Chernobyl disaster will be pleased to know that there are a number of organized tours open to the public. There are one day and two day tours offered (some include transportation to and from Kiev). Depending on your tour company, expect to see the village of Chernobyl and to travel through various checkpoints. You’ll see the abandoned town of Pripyat. Groups are taken through the Exclusion Zone (which is closed to the general public, but open to tour groups) and then brought into the Chernobyl Power Plant itself to witness the site of the disaster.

Chernobyl

3. Helter Skelter Tour, Los Angeles

In Los Angeles you can go on a guided tour that takes you through the sites of some of the grisly Tate/LaBianca murders committed by the Manson family. The tour delves into the minds of the killers and victims themselves in the hours prior to the murders. These cases continue to fascinate the public to this day, and this tour explores some of the reasons why.

crime scene

4. Funky Chicken Coop Tour, Texas

This organized tour is a little different than other tours for a number of reasons. For one thing- it is a once-a-year event. For another, it was developed as a promotional tool of sorts. The annual tour was launched by not-for-profit Urban Poultry Association of Texas, Inc. in order to raise public awareness around urban farming. The tour has a home base with family-friendly activities, and proceeds to tour around several urban chicken coops in the Austin area, where the public can view urban poultry (and other) farming first hand.

Photo by: Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour
Photo by: Austin Funky Chicken Coop Tour

5. Train with a Sumo Wrestler, Japan

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a Sumo Wrestler? In Japan, there are a number of tours intended to acquaint you with a morning in a typical day in the life of a Sumo Wrestler by immersing you in the experience. The art of Sumo Wrestling is steeped in centuries of tradition, deep history and regard for ritual. The tour begins in a traditional Sumo stable, where wrestlers live and train together. On this tour, your day starts with the traditional early morning Sumo Wrestling practice, where you’ll watch wrestlers have at it, and then have a go in the ring yourself. After your wrestling, you’ll eat the traditional Chanko meal (which is a mix of protein and veggies) which Sumo Wrestlers eat every day (these wrestlers reportedly eat about 10,000 calories in a single meal) to maintain their training regime. You’ll share the meal with the Oyakata (master) who will field any questions about what it is really like to be a Sumo Wrestler.

Sumo Training

6. Tragic History Tour, Los Angeles

Unfortunately, often with fame comes a lot of tragedy and promising young lives are cut all too short. So it is no surprise that star-studded Hollywood has been the scene for a number of star-related deaths and scandals. There are a few organized tours that let you be celebrity voyeurs, and get your fix of celebrity gossip, complete with guided commentary. The Dearly Departed, Tragic History Tour brings you to 75 different sites over the course of an afternoon. See where Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and River Pheonix died. See the sites of the scandals that surrounded Hugh Grant, Rhianna and Chris Brown. With a nod of decidedly dark humor, this tour is delivered from a “tomb buggy” (a bus). It’s the perfect tour for the celeb-obsessed.

The Viper Room

7. Red Light District Tour, Amsterdam

There is nowhere quite like Amsterdam, the ultimate melting pot of all vices. Why not benefit from a little local commentary from an expert guide while taking in the “sights”. One tour company (named, plainly Amsterdam Red Light District Tours) has a tagline of ‘History, Hookers and Hashish: we have an awesome tour for you’. Delivered in English by local Dutch guides, guests of this tour will see the first condom shop in the world, peep shows, the infamous Amsterdam pot-smoking coffee shops, prostitutes (including the Museum of Prostitution) and appropriately, the Hangover Information Centre.

Red Light District Tour, Amsterdam

8. Crop Circle Tours, UK

Paranormal believers unite! You have likely heard of crop circles, but did you know that they have a high season? (which interestingly peaks in the middle of high traffic summer vacation season). There are a number of tours that take you out to tour recently formed circles. If you’d like to extend your extra-terrestrial tour time, then combine the crop circles with a “Magical Mystery tour” which hits all the local crop circles, but also takes you to see Stonehenge and Avebury, which borders the Warminster Triangle, where there has reportedly been strange sights, sounds, ghostly/unexplained apparitions- not to mention a very strong electro-magnetic field, which is requisite it would seem for UFO encounters.

Crop Circle

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 Ways to Enjoy Disney World Without Kids

While Disney World is the mecca of family vacations, this destination is also a great spot for couples to enjoy great amenities, recreation, fine dining, nightlife and an assortment of other activities geared to draw grownups. While you might be surrounded in some cases by children and families, there is ample opportunity to escape the crowds and enjoy each other- reason enough to leave the kids with the babysitter and pack your bags for some grown up time- Disney style, of course.

10. Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

Who wouldn’t love to eat and drink their way around the world? With the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, that is precisely what you get to do (on a smaller scale of course). This globally-themed food and wine extravaganza has been running for 20 years in the fall, and is a foodie’s delight. There are cooking and beverage seminars (Beverage Boot Camp, Mixology and Cheese Seminars), tasting events, celebrity chefs and dining packages. There are over 30 global marketplaces that let you wander and sample at your leisure. If you want a little guidance in your dining, consider participating in one of the Food and Beverage pairings where you sample regional food matched with local beers and wine.  For a little after-meal digestion, wander around and listen in at one of the many live concerts that run throughout the Festival.

Photo by: Disney Parks
Photo by: Disney Parks

9. Grand Floridian Resort and Spa

Although there are a host of luxurious accommodations onsite at Disney, the Grand Floridian Resort is well-tailored for the ultimate adult getaway at Disney. Disney’s opulent Senses Spa is located here and has a long menu of services available (couples massages too!). Dining options are plentiful, with Victoria & Albert’s romantic dining room and the Grandview Tea Room- where you can relish in a relaxing afternoon cup of tea.

Photo by: Disney Resorts
Photo by: Disney Resorts

8. Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides

Port Orleans is a hotel that recreates the experience of being in the rural Louisiana Bayou, with stately architecture, stylish cottages, lush wooded areas and a man-made lake. What better way to while away an evening with your significant other than on a horse-drawn carriage ride around this resort? They even spruce it up during the holidays with “sleigh” rides through the woodland area, all decked out in lights to celebrate the season.

Photo by: Disney Resorts
Photo by: Disney Resorts

7. Wishes California Grill

Enter this restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort through a private elevator, where you are whisked up 15 floors to an exquisite dining room. A table here will get you great views of Cinderella’s Castle, the lagoon and surrounding woodland area.  A seasonal menu that draws inspiration from California Cuisine is offered alongside an extensive wine list. The best part? You have one of the best views in the whole park for the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks show every evening. Dinner and a show!

Photo by: Disney Parks
Photo by: Disney Parks

6. Disney Run Series

Are you a couple that runs together? Consider attending one of the many races in the Disney run series that go throughout the year. These are no ordinary races though. In true Disney style, these races are themed all the way.  There is a Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival- so no guilt about overindulging in food. You can run it off! Star Wars Fans will want to participate in the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon- where Storm Troopers line the route to cheer you on.

Photo by: Disney Parks
Photo by: Disney Parks

5. Disney Cruise

While not in Disney World proper, a trip aboard a Disney Cruise is a great couples getaway. There are numerous areas and activities on Disney’s fleet that are restricted to guests 18 years and older- like special pools and fitness centers, and adults-only dining. This is in addition to a huge selection of signature dining restaurants, live shows, art galleries and dozens of nightclubs and lounges to dance the night away.

Disney Magic Cruise

4. Characters in Flight

Want to get a bird-eye view of Downtown Disney? How about floating 400 feet in the air in the world’s largest tethered helium balloon?  This is a great opportunity for those who’ve always wanted to try hot air ballooning, but were a little nervous about leaving the ground altogether. The fact in that you’re tethered means that you can take in some spectacular views, but are still attached to good old Mother Earth.

Photo by: Disney Parks
Photo by: Disney Parks

3. Disney Golf Courses

Golfing couples will appreciate any one of the four manicured championship golf courses at Disney World. The Magnolia Course is line, of course, with fragrant Magnolias and is the longest of the Disney courses. Lake Buena Vista is described as a “classic country club style course”. The Palm Course was completely redesigned in 2013 by the Arnold Palmer Course Design. Beginners or those looking to squeak in a quick game will enjoy the 9-hole, par 36 Oak Trail course.

Photo by: Disney Every Day
Photo by: Disney Every Day

2. ESPN Club

Sports fans will want to hit the 13,000 square foot ESPN Sports Club in the Boardwalk resort.  You’ll have a hard time deciding which game to watch with 100 different screens broadcasting sporting events from around the world. They even have TVs in the bathroom- because you never know when that winning goal or touchdown will be scored! The menu features a good selection of craft beers to enhance your sports viewing experience.

Photo by: GF DF WDW
Photo by: GF DF WDW

1. The Theme Parks

Given that Disney is for kids of all ages, there is no reason that you can’t enjoy the theme parks. There is a lot of fun to be had if you don’t have to pay attention to the clock and return to the hotel for naps and child down time. Give them an adult spin, by staying late and shutting the parks down (some are open later). Thrill seekers can ride coasters to their hearts content (like the Rock n’ Roller Coaster where you blast in a stretch limousine through drops and bends, rockin’ out to the tunes of Aerosmith).

Photo by: Mickey Mouse Schoolhouse
Photo by: Mickey Mouse Schoolhouse

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 Top 10 Hotels Pools in Orlando

It is easy for any hotel to dig a hole, fill it with water and charge extra because they now offer a pool. What is hard is creating such an incredible pool that people actually come and stay just for that experience. The following 10 hotels have done just that, created amazing pools and water spaces that have guests coming back for more. From lazy rivers to water slides to private cabanas to live shows; don’t miss out on these top 10 hotel pools in Orlando.

10. Orlando World Center Marriott

This complex of outdoor pools is located just a short drive from Disney World and has recently undergone a multi-million dollar renovation making it one of the best pools in Orlando. The main pool is the Falls Pool, located outdoors and features waterfalls throughout, along with a palm tree lining. The newest addition to this pool is a 90-foot-long “drop” slide and a pair of 200-foot-long curvy slides, some of the best hotel waterslides in the world, all reached by a 104 foot slide tower. These slides aren’t just for children and more often than not, more adults are in line than kids! A poolside bar that can seat 180, a zero-entry children’s pool with a ton of activities and a mermaid academy are just a few of the things offered at this unique pool.

Photo by: Orlando World Center Marriott
Photo by: Orlando World Center Marriott

9. Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

This 800,000 gallon free-flowing lagoon pool is located alongside thousands of feet of white sandy beach, making it one of the most desirable pools in Orlando. All together this pool boasts 12 different waterfalls, two whirlpools, heated and non-heated pools, a children’s rock climbing station, wraparound sundecks, two waterfalls, a swim through grotto and the new and impressive Water Jet Splash Zone. This splash zone features almost 40 jets; all of different powers with LED lights for both day and night play. Kids and adults alike happen to love the new open-flume water slide that twists and turns 124 feet in length, plunges 17.5 feet, and runs low to the ground. It takes riders through palms and lush landscaping before splashing you into the heated pool. Open from 5am-11pm, there are no lifeguards on duty so parents will have to keep an eye on their children. The pool manages to be great for kids but also for adults with the enhanced lush tropical landscaping, rock formations and modern lighting.

Photo by: Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
Photo by: Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

8. Stormalong Bay at the Disney Yacht & Beach Club Resort

This three acre water wonderland is perfect for both kids and adults and it will be hard to even fathom leaving these pools to experience anything else. Stormalong Bay is more of a waterpark than a pool, and offers an incredible sand-bottomed pool, a 230 foot waterslide, a lazy river and the replica of a shipwreck. Children are encouraged to play both in the main pool and in the kiddie pool, complete with miniature waterslide. For the adults there are choices of three leisure pools, all of which offer a tranquil and more peaceful setting, complete with whirlpools on hand. Bridges, towering palm trees and lush green foliage set the stage for a day of enjoyment, whether you are looking for a little romance or some family time.

Photo by: Walt Disney World
Photo by: Walt Disney World

7. Reunion Resort & Club

There isn’t just one amazing pool at this resort, more like 11 different pools to choose from and an amazing five acre waterpark for the kids. Whether you are floating down the lazy river that is full of surprises, taking a turn down the twisty waterslides or relaxing in one of many shaded areas, one thing is for certain, the pools here rock. The waterpark is full of thrills, spraying jets, tipping buckets and a lineup of activities to keep the kids busy all day long. The awesome Kids Club happens to be located right next to the waterpark and there is always something fun going on there for the little ones. The abundance of pools spread the hotel guests out and it is rare to ever feel over-crowded at this resort. Whether you are looking for some great poolside food and drinks, looking for a sun chair to relax in or looking to swim laps, you will find it here at the Reunion Resort & Club.

Photo by: Reunion Resort
Photo by: Reunion Resort

6. Omni Orlando at ChampionsGate

It is rare to come across a hotel that caters to both children and adults in terms of hotel pool, especially in Orlando. Omni Orlando is one of the few to absolutely master this concept and this explains why this hotel is a favorite of so many. The kid friendly lagoon pool is full of activities including corkscrew waterslides, dancing water fountains and tipping buckets. On the other hand the adult pool is built for relaxation with its private cabanas that feature comfortable sun beds, WiFi and televisions. The 850 foot lazy river is the favorite among guests, young or old and tunnels, gentle rapids and canyons await riders. Float through the beautiful surroundings but don’t be too surprised by the hidden shooting cannons and incredible waterfall.

Photo by: Omni Hotel Orlando
Photo by: Omni Hotel Orlando

5. JW Marriot and Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes

Swimming at either of these hotels will take your breath away, either the serene pool with lush tropical vegetation or floating down the lazy river. The best part about these pools is guests from either hotel can use all of the amenities. For those grownups that are looking to escape the kid-friendly city of Orlando, head to the adult only, outdoor, heated lap pool at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, just be sure you have a day pass or treatment reservation in order to gain access. The Ritz also offers a heated outdoor pool that is mainly filled with sunbathing adults and the occasional splashing kid. Kids really love to head to the JW Marriot for their water time though as it features a lazy river as well as a kid’s only outdoor heated pool. Adults can cozy up in the whirlpool and relax the day away.

Photo by: JW Marriot Orlando
Photo by: JW Marriot Orlando

4. Waldorf Astoria

If you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of all the theme parks and overcrowded malls that make up Orlando, this hotel pool will be the perfect oasis for you. Here you will find no lazy river, no towering waterslides and no DJ’s busting out overly loud music trying to get people up and dancing. What awaits you here instead are both a quiet lap pool and a zero-entry pool, perfect for those looking to relax. Rows of cabanas, cocktail servers and lush palm trees all line these luxurious pools. Daily family poolside activities are offered for families but with a quiet grace as to not disturb others who are looking for peace and tranquility. If you do want a little more excitement, guests at this hotel have access to the lazy river, waterslides and pool at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, located right next door.

Photo by: Waldorf Astoria Orlando
Photo by: Waldorf Astoria Orlando

3. Four Seasons Walt Disney World

Obviously the only five star hotel here should boast a five star pool and this hotel pool, or should we say multiple pools definitely don’t disappoint! Adults will love the peace and tranquility they find at the adults only pool that is open from sunrise to sunset, overlooking the lake and features an underwater sound system and an adjacent Jacuzzi. The family pool on the other hand is full of activity and splashing kids. This pool features a gradual sloping entry that is perfect for the little swimmers. The Splash Zone features a choreographed interactive fountain which blasts water up to 30 feet in the air. The Lazy River on the other hand features 11,083 square feet of water, waterfalls, frothing sections and twists and turns. For the adrenaline seekers make sure to try one of two 242-foot water slides.

Photo by: Four Seasons Resort Orlando
Photo by: Four Seasons Resort Orlando

2. Hard Rock Hotel

The pool is really the centerpiece of this iconic hotel and every member of the family will have a blast exploring the 12,000 square foot pool. Tunes come from speakers both outside of the pool and under water, a feature that has everyone buzzing. The amount of activities offered in the pool and poolside is simply overwhelming at times, there is pool basketball, rock ‘n’ roll trivia, ping pong battles and “dive-in movies”. Along with the enormous pool guests here will find two hot tubs, a beach volleyball court, a huge play area for the children and plenty of interactive fountains. A sand beach, waterslides and more make up this awesome hotel pool. Rent one of the private cabanas that come complete with ceiling fans, a plasma TV, free WiFi, sodas, water, a fruit basked and a personal server to bring you drinks and food all day long.

Photo by: Hard Rock Hotel Orlando
Photo by: Hard Rock Hotel Orlando

1. Nickelodeon Suites Lagoon Pool and Slides

This incredible hotel not only boasts an awesome pool but a full themed waterpark onsite complete with slides, nets and other awesome features. The Lagoon pool side features a zero depth entry heated pool along with a four-storey tower. The tower features seven waterslides, water jets, climbing net and the 400 gallon tank of water that tips over and splashes all who happen to be below. Every day guests of this pool will be treated to a live poolside show complete with music, pie throwing and plenty of fun. Watch out for that tipping bucket as not only does it tip water but green slime as well. For a quieter experience here, head to the Oasis side where there is a heated, Olympic-Style pool, more slides and a play area. Surrounded by palm trees and tropical foliage, you may never want to get out of this pool, and good luck convincing the kids to part ways.

Photo by: Nick Hotel
Photo by: Nick Hotel

10 Destination Races Worth the Trip

Any runner will tell you that there are few greater moments than when you cross that finish line during a race. It’s not just about having completed the race, but marks the achievement of all of the training that you’ve done to get there. If you feel like you may have plateaued a little in your training, or want some extra incentive, here are a few destination races that will make you want to get those feet moving.

10. Big Sur International Marathon -Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

This April race has the tagline of “running on the ragged edge of the western world”, which is a pretty apt description of the vistas that runners will take in during their race. Runners understand uniquely the effort/reward relationship in training, and they’ll take full advantage of some spectacular ocean views after tackling the challenging hill that spans almost two miles about a third into the race up to Hurricane Point. This race winds its way along the Pacific Highway, and is closed for the most part to vehicular traffic, providing for a serene, scenic run experience.

Photo by: Big Sur International Marathon
Photo by: Big Sur International Marathon

9. Not Since Moses -Five Island, Nova Scotia

Wanting to change your run routine up a bit? How about going for a run on the ocean floor? That’s exactly the terrain that runners get to cover in this August race at Sand Point, Five Island, Nova Scotia. Runners can choose between 5km and 10km distances, and will get to run across the Bay of Fundy at low tide. While the tide is out, runners run alongside scenic, ragged cliffs.

Photo by: Runner's World
Photo by: Runner’s World

8. Swiss Alpine Marathon -Chur, Switzerland

This 30-year old race began as “a race for the insane”, most likely named so for the number of height inclines and uphill portions in the races, as well as the extra challenges that are present when running at higher altitudes. It has evolved over the years to appeal to a wide variety of runners abilities and also promotes itself as a family friendly event by offering several different distances from a grueling 78km ultra marathon to a 500m kids fun run. It takes place in and around Davos in the Swiss Alps in July.

Photo by: Swissalpine Marathon
Photo by: Swissalpine Marathon

7. Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend -Orlando, Florida

Who couldn’t use a little magic to carry them through the tough times in their next big race? How about magic from the Magic Kingdom and surrounding parks? The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend offers several different distances over a single weekend, including a full marathon that winds its way through four of the Disney parks, and the Goofy Challenge (which is truly goofy) that involves running a half marathon on the Saturday, followed by the full marathon the following morning. This race weekend occurs in January every year.

GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com
GSPhotography / Shutterstock.com

6. National Capital Marathon Race Weekend -Ottawa, Ontario

The Ottawa Race weekend is Canada’s largest race weekend and several of the races consistently sell out every year. This particular race weekend usually takes place during the second last weekend in May before the summer heat really sets in. Distances include the full marathon, half marathon, 5km and 10km as well as a Kids Marathon. Runners are treated to some great views along the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill and other famous landmarks as they wind their way through downtown Ottawa and over the bridges to Gatineau, QC. Almost the whole route is accessible for spectators, so runners can expect lots of fan enthusiasm, beginning to end.

Photo by: Ross Dunn via Flickr
Photo by: Ross Dunn via Flickr

5. Reggae Marathon -Negril, Jamaica

Sun, surf, Reggae music and cold beer when you’re done running? Sounds like a runner’s delight (although the beer may not usually be part of post-run recovery, but when in Rome…). Set for the first weekend in December every year, the Reggae Marathon goes in Negril with a full marathon, half marathon and 10km distances. This event is promoted as having “good vibes and irie spirit”. Once you’re done, there is a party on the beach with Red Stripe Beer and lots of live music.

Photo by: Jamaica Experience
Photo by: Jamaica Experience

4. Great Wall Marathon -Tianjin, China

The Great Wall of China may already be on your bucket list, but what about combining that visit with a once-in-a-lifetime run at the same time. Promoted as “5,164 steps into history”, this race offers full and half marathons, as well as an 8.5 km race. This course is challenging, with lots of steps and inclines, but the views are reportedly worth the work. Runners will wind their way through towns and villages as well. This race takes place on the third Saturday in May every year.

Photo by: Great Wall Marathon
Photo by: Great Wall Marathon

3. The Polar Circle Marathon and Half Marathon -Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

If running in one of the most remote, yet scenic spots on the planet appeals to you, then this is your race. Otherwise known as “the coolest marathon on earth” (for obvious reasons) these races take place in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland in October. Runners will run through glaciers tongues, along ice caps and along some more forgiving gravel-based terrain. This route takes them just north of the Polar Circle.

Photo by: Polar Circle Marathon
Photo by: Polar Circle Marathon

2. Kauai Marathon and Half Marathon -Kauai, Hawaii

After running through the Polar Circle, runners may want a more temperate climate, namely the islands of Hawaii. Held annually in September, these races let runners wind their way through tropical rain forests and stunning views atop oceanside cliffs, the kind that lessen the burn in your thighs as you climb those hills.

Photo by: The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon
Photo by: The Kauai Marathon & Half Marathon

1. Bay Shore Marathon -Traverse City, Michigan

This May race offers a full marathon, half marathon and 10km distance run. As far as scenery goes, this run is tops. Runners will be treated to lovely views of Lake Michigan on one side and Traverse City’s orchards and cherry trees on the other. This course is known for being fast and flat which is popular for runners seeking those elusive personal bests.

Photo by: Bayshore Marathon
Photo by: Bayshore Marathon

The Disney World Dilemma: Should You Stay On or Offsite?

If you have children (or are young at heart) you’ve no doubt been asked the question: when are you going to Disney? It’s almost expected as a rite of passage for young and old alike to hit that Magic Kingdom at least once. The other question that a prospective Disney World traveler will be asked: do you plan to stay onsite at Disney World or are you staying offsite? With the huge variety of accommodations available in a wide cross section of price points both onsite at Disney World and in the surrounding areas, determining where to stay is no small decision; it will figure greatly into your overall experience. There is no wrong or right answer to the onsite vs. offsite question either. It comes down to budget, taste and your vacation objectives, so lets take a look and review the pros and cons of each option:

1. What’s Your Budget?

Perhaps the greatest decision making factor for any vacation: what is your budget for your accommodations? Disney World splits their onsite accommodations into several categories that will suit a wide variety of budgets (i.e. from $100 or less a night, all the way up to $500+ a night): value hotels, moderate hotels, deluxe and deluxe villas. Disney World even has a campground onsite (Fort Wilderness) for those who want to go that route. Truth be told, you do pay a premium to stay onsite, mostly because of a number of perks afforded to guests of Walt Disney World and the convenience of staying so close to the parks. You can find cheaper rooms for sure offsite- or at least more room for the same money, but it’s a trade-off. It really comes down to what you value most during your vacation.

Budget

2. The Food Question

A big benefit of staying offsite is that you can easily find accommodations that have a kitchen. Having the flexibility to make your own meals can be a savior -both from a convenience and from a cost standpoint. Even if you are planning on eating out for many meals, having the option to throw together a cheap, quick breakfast can save a significant amount over the duration of your stay. However, if being on vacation means leaving all of your household duties at home, staying onsite at Disney may appeal to you more. Disney World hotel guests can purchase a dining plan that can be utilized at over 100 different restaurants within the theme parks themselves and at different hotels. The dining plans offer choice, depending on your budget, from quick-service (i.e. counter food and fast food) to deluxe dining. Some character dinners are included as well. Onsite guests are not required to purchase a dining plan, and are free to dine a la carte wherever they’d like. There are varying schools of thought on which provides more value; it depends on how much and what kind of dining you’d usually do.

Photo by: Inside the Magic
Photo by: Inside the Magic

3. Park Perks

Guests that stay onsite get to take advantage of Magic Hours- which grants them exclusive access to the parks during select hours when they are closed to the general public.  These parks rotate daily, and give guests access for an hour or two either before the park opens or after the park closes officially. This means less crowds and more rides, which for some it totally worth it.

Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com
Katherine Welles / Shutterstock.com

4. Experience Expectations

Is this your once-in-a lifetime visit to Disney World, or is this the first of many visits to come? If this is the “big one”, you may want to consider staying onsite, simply as part of the overall Disney experience. Disney is all about details, and their onsite hotels embrace this ideal wholeheartedly. Onsite hotels abound with Disney characters and theme hotels, recreated in detail to craft a particular experience. From the Polynesian Village to the Art of Animation to the Animal Kingdom, these hotels provide a unique accommodation experience. However, if your trip to Disney World is all about the parks and you plan on spending just enough time at your hotel to rest and recharge before hitting the parks again in the morning, you might be well-served to secure off site accommodations.While Disney World hotels are flush with amenities like cool pools, waterslides and activities, many offsite hotels offer similar amenities, usually with a slightly less Disney-esque angle.

Disney Hat

5. Other Plans?

Do you plan to visit other parks or attractions during your time in Orlando? If you’re thinking of hitting Universal or some of the other tourist attractions while you are there, you may be better served to stay somewhere mid-point. Kissimmee, for instance, offers a number of hotels that are less than a 15-minute drive to most of the Disney parks and about a 20 to 30-minute drive to the Universal parks.

Kamira / Shutterstock.com
Kamira / Shutterstock.com

6. Who Are You Travelling With?

If you’re travelling with little ones who will need a nap during the day, staying onsite provides a definite advantage. You can zip back to your room for a quick afternoon siesta and then return to the park refreshed to enjoy the evening with minimal travel time. Similarly, if you’re travelling with a group of children of diverse ages (i.e. teens and toddlers), staying onsite provides a little more convenience and independence, in terms of the ability to come and go as you please.

Maria Maarbes / Shutterstock.com
Maria Maarbes / Shutterstock.com

7. Transportation

Guests staying at Walt Disney World resorts get round-trip transportation from the airport as well as full use of shuttle buses, monorails and ferries to travel between parks and other resorts included with their accommodation. There are a number of off site hotels that offer shuttles to the Disney parks; sometimes this is included with your room and sometimes you’re charged a nominal fee.

DIsney World

8. Parking

If you are driving yourself, expect to pay to park and then take a shuttle from the parking lot. There are advantages to this though; when the park you are in closes, there are usually long lines to board the Disney transportation. You can skip those lines, head right to the parking lot and be halfway home. A good tip: CAA/AAA members are eligible for AAA Diamond parking at no extra cost. Simply get a pass from your local CAA/AAA office before you leave. This puts you in the premium parking section, closest to park entrances for the same price as regular parking. It usually means that you don’t need to take a shuttle from the nether regions of the parking lot.

Photo by: Aroundustyroads
Photo by: Aroundustyroads

America’s 12 Best Golf Vacations

Golf may have been invented in Scotland but Americans love the sport. The United States accounts for approximately 45 percent of the golf courses in the world. While golf used to be a “rich man’s” sport, today there are courses that fit every budget. With the emergence of players like Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam golf has become popular with people of all ages. Along with the growing popularity of golf, weekend trips and golfing vacations have also become more popular. Couples and groups of friends have found that a golfing vacation is the best way to play some of the best courses and also enjoy a great travel destination at the same time. We have come up with our list of the best golf destinations in America.

12. Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs is a resort destination in the desert. The area became popular around 1900 for its hot springs. In the early part of the 1920’s the Hollywood elite would go there to get away from the crowds, but soon hotels and spas began springing up to serve the clientele. Today Palm Springs is still a spa destination but also offers great golfing. Palm Springs has over 100 public and private courses in the area. Courses are available for all levels of players and budgets. One of the best golf packages is at Indian Wells Golf Resort which has 36 holes and is ranked in the top 20 of “courses you can play” in California by Golfweek magazine. When not golfing you can enjoy the hot springs, shopping, hiking, biking or horseback riding. Great for couples looking to go on a trip, or even just a group of friends.

Photo by: Prayitno via Flickr
Photo by: Prayitno via Flickr

11. San Antonio, Texas

Texas has over a thousand golf courses to choose from. San Antonio makes our list not only for the great courses but the surrounding activities. La Cantera Golf Resort is ranked #2 in “Top Resorts in North America” and among the “top 50 Golf Resorts in the US” by Conde Nast traveler. As the site of PGA events, the resort offers great dining, luxurious rooms and is a good home base for exploring the surrounding area. Sights like the famed San Antonio River Walk and of course, The Alamo are both destinations that need to be on your must see list. Located at the gateway to the Texas Hill Country, San Antonio is a great destination for couples, families or that buddy trip.

Photo by: La Cantera
Photo by: La Cantera

10. Savannah, Georgia

Established in 1733, Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia. Outdoor cafes, gourmet restaurants and River Street along the Savannah River offers visitors a unique experience. The famed 18-hole Savannah Harbor Golf Resort is a Robert Cupp and Sam Snead championship course and is ranked among the top 100 golf courses in the US by Conde Nast Traveler. The Westin offers golf packages from $109 and up. The Westin also has a complimentary water ferry to take you to River Street where you can check out the brew pubs, galleries and great restaurants after a day on the course.

Photo by: Keith Allison
Photo by: Keith Allison

9. Orlando, Florida

Mickey Mouse isn’t the only thing Orlando is known for. Besides the proximity to Disney World, Orlando offers world class golf courses and resorts. Resorts like the Villas of Grand Cypress are close to Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Orlando. The resort offers exceptional golfing and has hosted such tournaments as the LPGA Tour Championship, World Cup of Golf and Greg Norman’s Shark Shoot-out. The club offers 45-holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature designed golf. With all the great nearby attractions, Orlando rates as a great golf destination for everyone.

Golf Course Florida (2)

8. Napa, California

Located in the Napa wine region, the Silverado Resort and Spa is also home to two championship courses designed by PGA Hall of Famer Johnny Miller. The resort offers several golf packages and also has Junior Golf Summer Camps. The resort also has a world class spa with wellness coaches and even a golf swing therapy session with massage and reflexology treatments.  With over 400 wineries in the region a day tour of wine tasting and sightseeing should be on your list of things to do. Host to the PGA Frys.com tournament, the luxury resort is a great getaway for couples looking to relax, golf and spend time in the wine country.

Silverado Resort and Spa, CA
Photo by: Silverado Resort and Spa

7. Hilton Head, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island off the coast of South Carolina is known for beautiful beaches, exceptional restaurants and world class golf. With over 50 courses to choose from on the island it is hard to make a choice, but one place stands out above the rest. The courses at Sea Pines Resort home to the Heron Point Course by Pete Dye, the Ocean Course and the Harbor Town Golf Links which is a favorite among PGA players has to be the best resort on the island. Located on 5,000 acres the resort hosts the annual PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament. Accommodations range from elegant rooms at the Harbor Town Inn to homes and vacation villas. The resort has vacation packages to suit couples groups and families.

Photo by: Sea Pines Resort
Photo by: Sea Pines Resort

6. Monterey, California

Monterey, located on California’s rugged central coast, is the home of the Pebble Beach Golf Resort. Even people that don’t follow or play the sport have heard of Pebble Beach. Over the years the resort has attracted politicians such as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Teddy Roosevelt, golfers like Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones and celebrities the likes of Bill Murray, Bing Crosby and Clint Eastwood. With choices of three distinct accommodations, the Lodge, the Inn and a Mediterranean-styled estate, you can relax in style and also experience one of the best known courses in the world. Five courses to include the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links will test your skills and patience.

Pebble Beach Golf Resort, CA

5. White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Don’t be confused that this location is included on our list. White Sulphur Springs is home to The Greenbrier. Since 1778 The Greenbrier Resort has been welcoming guests from all over the world. Listed on the National Historic Register, The Greenbrier has hosted 26 of the nation’s Presidents and has been a favorite of royalty and celebrities. Befitting the status of the Greenbrier be prepared to dress accordingly. Collared shirts and slacks, no denim, are required on the course. With rates ranging from $300 per person and up, this is chance to experience great golf and stay at a historic resort. You never can tell who you might run into.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

4. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Situated at the base of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs is also home to the US Air Force Academy. Colorado Springs offers visitors great outdoor activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, sightseeing and of course golf. The Broadmoor was founded in 1918 and at the time had the highest elevation golf course in the United States at 6,400 ft. The resort has three courses and package rates that include accommodations, course fees and meal credits. The resort also has over 20 restaurants and lounges on the property. If you ever decide to venture away from the resort, the nearby area surrounding Colorado Springs offers a lot of things to see and do.

Golf

3. Tucson, Arizona

Located in the Sonoran Desert, Tucson is also the home of the University of Arizona. Historic old Spanish Missions, Hot Air Balloon rides, horseback riding, handcrafted jewelry and souvenirs are all available. The reason we include this on our list is the Omni Tucson National Resort, a host course for the PGA Tucson Conquistadores Classic and past host of the Chrysler Classic. Ranked by PGA pros as one of the most challenging finishing holes on the tour this course will make for a memorable trip. The Catalina course has hosted over 30 PGA tournaments throughout the years while the Tom Lehman designed Sonoran Course features 2 lakes and over 60 bunkers. After spending time on the course exploring Tucson and all it has to offer makes for a great trip.

Photo by: Tucson Golf Estates
Photo by: Tucson Golf Estates

2. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

With close to 100 courses in the greater Myrtle Beach area there is no wonder why it is often called “the Golf Capital of the World”. Depending on the time of year a golf vacation package can cost as low as $60 per day which includes lodging and course fees. When you’re not on the golf course you can enjoy the beach, great shopping or book a fishing charter. Myrtle Beach is a great destination for couples, families or friends alike. With courses like TPC Myrtle beach, awarded five stars by Golf Digest and the Dunes, a Robert Trent Jones signature course; Myrtle Beach has to be on your list of destination.

Myrtle Beach Golf Course

1. Pinehurst, North Carolina

While Myrtle Beach is known as the “Golf Capital of the World” Pinehurst is known as the “Cradle of American Golf”. Pinehurst has a population of less than 15,000 and is home to nothing else but Pinehurst. Since the first cottages were built in 1895, Pinehurst has expanded and grown into one of the most recognized golf courses in the world. In the early 1900’s Donald Ross was commissioned to build the first four courses at Pinehurst. Since then it has grown to nine courses total and has hosted more championships than any other course in the United States. Pinehurst has to be on every avid golfer’s bucket list and is a great trip destination.

Pinehurst Golf Course