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 Top Things to See and Do in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The City of Brotherly Love is one of America’s most historic and fascinating cities. This bustling metropolis was founded in 1682, and went on to play a pivotal role in the American Revolution just over a century later. It has since maintained its status as one of the most economically and culturally important urban areas in the northeastern United States, and it is also the country’s only officially designated World Heritage City.

If you’re headed to Philly for a first-time or a return visit, these 12 attractions and activities will make worthy additions to your itinerary.

12. Scare Yourself Silly at Eastern State Penitentiary

For a truly unique experience, head over to the spooky Eastern State Penitentiary. First opened in 1829 as an alternative prison where authorities attempted to rehabilitate rather than physically punish prisoners, the penitentiary remained operational until it was finally shuttered up in the 1970s.

Al Capone’s former cell is a key attraction, and Eastern State Penitentiary is also rumored to be heavily haunted. It’s one of the best places in the city to get a dose of the macabre, but unlike the Philadelphia Zoo, Eastern State Penitentiary is most definitely not recommended for children.

11. Take the Kids to the Philadelphia Zoo

Founded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1859, the Philadelphia Zoo is the oldest continuously operating zoo in the United States. Open to the public since 1874, the Philadelphia Zoo has become one of the world’s premier wildlife preservation institutes, and it is well-known for safely breeding critically endangered species in captivity to help boost their populations.

Kids in particular will love exploring the zoo, which is home to more than 1,300 animal species and also features a playground, carousel, paddleboat lake, and loads of interactive educational exhibits.

Photo by: jiwasz via Flickr

10. Enjoy the Sunshine in LOVE Park

Philadelphia is famously known as the City of Brotherly Love, and heading to LOVE Park to snap a photo in front of the well-known LOVE Sculpture is a fantastic way to commemorate your visit. The LOVE Sculpture was created by renowned American pop artist Robert Indiana, and it’s a landmark attraction of LOVE Park, which is officially known as John F. Kennedy Plaza.

Interestingly, the LOVE Sculpture has a Spanish-language counterpart in nearby Sister Cities Park. Known as the AMOR Sculpture, this companion piece is also worth a look if you’re interested in outdoor art installations.

9. Indulge in Masonic Mystery

The early history of the independent United States was shaped by many men with connections to the Freemasons, a notorious secret society. Philadelphia is steeped in Masonic history, with the city’s atmospheric Masonic Temple providing a fantastic opportunity to explore it. The grand Masonic Temple dates to the 19th century, and features decorative accents created by celebrated artist George Herzog. Seven rooms are open to the public, which are best seen as part of organized tours, as members of the public are not permitted to explore the building freely…perhaps because the temple may hide tempting and closely guarded secrets.

Conchi Martinez / Shutterstock.com

8. Stroll Through Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse Square is one of five original city parks designated by city founder William Penn in the late 17th century. Based around the intersection of 19th Street and Walnut Street, Rittenhouse Square is often cited as one of the most majestic and beautiful urban parks in the United States. The ritzy residential district surrounding the park is also known for its stunning houses, and if you’re visiting during the warm-weather months, Rittenhouse Square is an ideal place to enjoy a picnic lunch.

7. Visit Boathouse Row

If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city center, Boathouse Row is just the antidote. One of dozens of National Historic Landmarks in Philadelphia, Boathouse Row lines the shore of the Schuylkill River, and consists of 10 charming waterside domiciles. Views are equally impressive during the day and at night, when the boathouses illuminate to create dancing light reflections on the water. Take a leisurely walk down the path on Kelly Drive for the best views.

6. Head to South Broad Street

Philadelphia City Hall is the largest municipal government building in the United States, and it’s also widely considered to be one of the most beautiful. You can enjoy fantastic views of this architectural masterpiece from vantage points on South Broad Street in the city center.

If you’re interested in exploring further, the inside of Philadelphia City Hall is as impressive as its exterior and façade. You can also take tours that head up the building’s tower, where you can enjoy great views of Philly’s skyline. The scenic tower lookout also offers a great panorama of Benjamin Franklin Parkway from its breezy observation deck.

5. Chow Down

Philadelphia is one of America’s gastronomic capitals. For meat eaters, it’s obligatory to try a Philly cheesesteak, but this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to great eats.

One place foodies will definitely want to visit is the indoor food vendor and farmers’ market at Reading Terminal Market. Here, you’ll find everything from exotic ethnic cuisines to locally grown produce and gourmet desserts. The market comes complete with a generously sized seating area, so you won’t have to wait long to indulge your taste buds after making your choice.

Photo by: Amy Marietta

4. Go Museum-Hopping on Benjamin Franklin Parkway

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the crown jewel of Center City West’s famed museum district, which is built around Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Other cultural institutions in the cluster include The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Barnes Foundation, the Franklin Institute, and the Rodin Museum. Interestingly, Benjamin Franklin Parkway was inspired by and the glamorous Champs Elysees in Paris, complete with a scenic roundabout at its heart.

3. Run with Rocky

Rocky Balboa, the city’s most famous fictional icon, has been memorialized in a statue at the top of the exterior steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The character dashed up the stairs during a training montage in the beloved 1976 Best Picture winner Rocky. Fans of the film and pop culture in general will love this unique photo opportunity, and if you’re feeling sprightly, you can even run up the stairs yourself. Just don’t try to go 15 rounds with Apollo Creed when you’re done.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com

2. Take a Tour of Independence Hall

Once you’ve seen the Liberty Bell, head over to nearby Independence Hall for a fascinating tour of this famous institution. This is the famous site where America’s Founding Fathers debated and eventually signed by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

The hall itself is the central feature of Independence National Historic Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s jam-packed with historic buildings and points of interest. Nicknamed “America’s most historic square mile,” the park is also home to the enduring Benjamin Franklin Museum, which is well worth a visit if you’re looking to head indoors for a while.

1. See the Liberty Bell

Millions of visitors have this must-see at the top of their to-do lists when visiting Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell, commissioned in 1752, was used to summon the members of the Philadelphia Assembly to meetings. On July 8, 1776, four days after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell was rung to signal America’s freedom from British rule. Ever since, it has served as a prominent symbol of American democracy.

The Liberty Bell is right in the center of Philadelphia, so it makes a great starting point for a day of sightseeing in the city’s ever-popular historic district.

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

12 Over the Top Stadium Foods to Try This Year

If you are into over the top stadium foods, and not afraid to eat thousands of calories, this is the year to indulge in some crazy foods. From burgers that come complete with half pounds of cheese, nine patties and funnel cakes instead of buns to dessert dogs to vanilla bean apple-pie bacon milkshakes to chicken and waffles that require no cutlery; these over the top stadium foods will either have you begging for more or groaning in stomach pain.

12. Big Mother Funnel Burger – Appleton, Wisconsin

Executive chef Tim Hansen created this monster concoction that debuted at minor league’s Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Stadium. This funnel cake bacon cheeseburger will cost you $20 and contains a whopping 3,500 calories. It consists of 2 funnel cakes dusted with powdered sugar, a 1-lb burger, half a pound of cheese, eight slices of bacon and some lettuce, just to make sure you got your veggies in. We can’t promise that this heart-stopping creation won’t give you a stomach ache but the combination of sweet and beef is well worth it.

Photo by: Timothy Michael Hanson via Twitter
Photo by: Timothy Michael Hanson via Twitter

11. Sweenie Donut Dog – Wilmington, Delaware

This sandwich contains a lot of ingredients that don’t seemingly go together, raspberry jam, bacon, tubular meat and a Krispy Kreme donut. It debuted this year as the Wilmington Blue Rocks stadium and they even let fans choose the name of the dog. The chosen name, is a shout-out to former Blue Rocks player Mike Sweeney, who went on to play for the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, and the Phillies. This donut dog has a bun made out of a sticky Krispy Kreme donut, with a hot dog in the middle, topped with crumbled bacon and raspberry jam.

Photo by: Our Source University and Information
Photo by: Our Source University and Information

10. Tailgate Stack – Kansas City, Missouri

This sandwich pays tribute to Kansas City’s famous tailgate traditions. The Tailgate Stack features burnt ends topped with cheddar, malted beer grain syrup, bacon and fried egg, all served on a piece of deep fried bread. The Stack will put you back $13 but considering its both breakfast and lunch, we think it’s kind of a steal. Visitors can purchase the Tailgate Stack only at Gridiron Express stands located in sections 103 and 135 of Arrowhead Stadium.

Photo by: The Kansas City Star.
Photo by: The Kansas City Star.

9. Vanilla Bean-Apple Pie-Bacon Milkshake – Cleveland, Ohio

We have heard of bacon apple pie, much in thanks to Pinterest but has anyone ever thought to put it in a milkshake? Apparently Chef Michael Symon who runs the B Spot Restaurant at the Cleveland Browns Stadium thought this would be a wonderful idea. Luckily guests of the restaurant thought so too. This restaurant is actually located on the club level of the stadium so fans will have to shell out serious dough for tickets. This shake even looks delicious with crumbled bacon bits on top, a large straw to slurp through and flickers of vanilla bean throughout. Hold onto your hats Browns fans as this milkshake will knock your socks off.  We suggest making some wealthy fans to eat at this amazing restaurant and hope they pay for your milkshake too.

Photo by: Natalie / Foodspotting
Photo by: Natalie / Foodspotting

8. Chicken and Waffle Cone – Houston, Texas

If you are craving chicken and waffles and prefer to eat something on the go without any sort of cutlery, the Houston Astros have the solution for you. New to the stadium this year is the Chicken and Waffle Cone, and although waffles have been replaced with a cone, you still get that same great taste. What is consists of are pieces of fried chicken, along with mashed potatoes and topped with honey mustard, all stuffed into an easy to eat waffle cone. Although this culinary creation is loaded with calories, the team that produced this cone produced the much loved BBQ baked potato last year and we can assure you that this chicken stuffed waffle cone will be just as big of a hit, if not more.

Photo by: 365 Things to do in Houston
Photo by: 365 Things to do in Houston

7. Triple-Triple Wayback Burger – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It contains a remarkable 2,200 calories and the place to get it is at Citizen’s Bank Park. This enormous burger consists of a whopping nine patties and nine slices of cheese, weighing in with 139 grams of fat. It also contains lettuce and tomato, in what looks like an effort to make it look the least bit healthier. Wayback Burgers are the masterminds behind this enormous burger and they can be found at Alley Grill in the stadium. We aren’t quite sure how anyone is going to wrap their mouths around this tall burger, but we cannot wait to see pictures.

Photo by: Wayback Burgers
Photo by: Wayback Burgers

6. Churro Dog – Phoenix, Arizona

Chef Michael Snoke is the man responsible for the invention of this dessert Churro Dog that is now offered at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. It will set you back about $8.50 and consuming it means consuming over 1100 calories but fans are insisting that it is well worth it. Essentially this dog is a sundae that is designed to look like a hot dog, the churro replaces the dog, A chocolate-glazed Long John doughnut cut in half makes up the bun and instead of the typical hot dog toppings, you get three scoops of vanilla frozen yogurt, a generous serving of whipped cream, and significant drizzles of chocolate and caramel sauces. Every churro dog is made fresh to order and we suggest eating it rather quickly as once it starts to get soggy, things go downhill. There are only two designated churro dog spots in the stadium so prepare to wait with everyone else dying to try this over the top dessert.

Photo by: Jennifer Stewart/Arizona Diamondbacks via ESPN
Photo by: Jennifer Stewart/Arizona Diamondbacks via ESPN

5. Fried Nachos on a Stick – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee truly outdid themselves this year in terms of offering over the top food at their stadiums and fried nachos on a stick are no exception. Appropriately named “Inside the Park” nachos, they can be found at Miller Park, home of the Brewers. Each nacho is stuffed with taco meat, rolled in crushed Doritos, deep fried to a golden crisp and topped with cheese and sour cream. We aren’t sure what kinds of Doritos were used in the making of the deep friend nachos but we can assure you, they picked the right flavor. As an added bonus, this kind of nacho is far less messy than the regular kind and you can keep the stick, as a souvenir, or proof that this food really does exist. Our only question is why didn’t someone come up with this idea earlier?

Photo by: Delaware North Sportservice / Orbitz
Photo by: Delaware North Sportservice / Orbitz

4. Bacon and Sriracha Deviled Eggs – Detroit, Michigan

Detroit has really outdone themselves on this twist of “bacon and eggs” and fans from all over rushed the stadium to try them. Essentially what the culinary team has come up with is a thick slab of flat-top grilled bacon on the bottom with three equally delicious deviled eggs carefully placed on top. These aren’t your typical deviled eggs though. They are made with sriracha and feature fried jalapenos on top. Slightly hard to eat, you may want to make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand for this dish. Deviled eggs lovers will find this concoction at the portable cart at Section 125 and at Michigan Craft Beer, because who doesn’t need a beer to go with their eggs?

Photo by: Go Go Go Gourmet
Photo by: Go Go Go Gourmet

3. Pulled Pork Parfait – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This stadium food actually has its own Twitter account and although it looks completely unappetizing, fans of the Brewers actually love it. The parfait looks like a typical dessert complete with ice cream but in fact is far from it. Made up of pulled pork, gravy and mashed potatoes; this parfait is served in a parfait cup with a dash of beans on top. It seems as this dish is very American so you may be surprised to learn that it originally made its debut in Canada. Hank Daddy’s BBQ, based in Maple, Ontario, bills itself as the “Original Home of the Pulled Pork Parfait” and debuted the dish back in 2010. Since then companies all over have been replicating it and we see a long strong future ahead of this over the top, weird but delicious parfait.

Photo by: Delaware North Companies / NY Daily News
Photo by: Delaware North Companies / NY Daily News

2. Fried S’mOreo – Dallas, Texas

Texas Rangers fans had something to celebrate when this new dessert dish was introduced to their stadium this year. The Fried S’mOreo looks absolutely delicious, tastes absolutely delicious and we cannot promise it won’t give you a heart attack. So what is it exactly? First off two Oreos are battered and deep fried. A marshmallow is than covered in graham cracker crust and also deep friend. It is placed between the Oreos on a skewer and then the whole shebang is drizzled with an incredible chocolate sauce. In case that wasn’t enough, a side of chocolate is served with it for extra dipping opportunities. At $8 a serving, this heart attack on a skewer isn’t cheap but may just be worth it for the taste.

Photo by: Delaware North / ESPN
Photo by: Delaware North / ESPN

1. Breaded Chicken Waffle Sandwich – St. Louis, Missouri

It was the hottest new food item to hit the stadium in St. Louis this year and the breaded chicken waffle sandwich came out with a bang. The culinary team at the stadium worked long and hard to create this unique dish. Essentially the sandwich consists of a breaded chicken breast that is stuck between two waffles and loaded with maple bacon gravy. The waffles are cooked to order, making them fresh and fluffy while the maple bacon gravy pulls the dish together. This sandwich is served with queso tater tots topped with sour cream and fresh herbs.

Photo by: Susannah Lohr / St. Louis Public Radio
Photo by: Susannah Lohr / St. Louis Public Radio

12 Things to See and Do in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a historically important part of the United States since it is one of the original 13 colonies. It is also known for its diverse ecosystem which includes farmland, lush forests, major waterways and the Appalachian Mountains that run right through the middle of the state. It has 51 miles (82 km) of Lake Erie coastline and 57 miles (92 km) of shoreline along the Delaware Estuary. There are many attractions throughout the state worth visiting whether you just want to have fun or if you’d like to experience something a little more educational.

12. Hersheypark

Located in Derry Township about 15 miles east of Harrisburg, Hersheypark is a 121-acre (49 ha) family theme park originally designed as a leisure park for Hershey Chocolate Company employees. The park currently has about 70 rides including Children’s Rides, Mild Thrill Rides, Moderate Thrill Rides, High Thrill Rides and Aggressive Thrill Rides which are identified in the park maps so you can enjoy the ride suited to your tastes. There are number of entertainment venues including Hersheypark Amphitheatre and the Music Box Theater, as well as strolling shows throughout the park. There are several themed areas with a variety of eateries catering to various dietary needs and preferences. Make sure to allow a full day for enjoyment and adventure when you visit Hersheypark.

Photo by: Michael Bentley via Flickr
Photo by: Michael Bentley via Flickr

11. Dutch Wonderland

Located in Lancaster, Dutch Wonderland is a 48-acre (19 ha) amusement park primarily catering to families with small children. It is known as the park “Where Kids RULE!” apparent in their theme “Kingdom for Kids” and features over 34 fun-filled rides, tropical-themed interactive water play area and activities designed for children of all ages to enjoy. The entrance to the park has a stone imitation castle facade creating the illusion that you are entering a palace. Also found at the location are Wonderland Mini-Golf and Old Mill Stream Campground so you can make a weekend family retreat out of a visit here. It offers an extended season of “Happy Hauntings” and “Dutch Winter Wonderland” for Halloween and Christmas. It’s a fun-filled experience for everyone with their costumed characters, rides, kids’ games and shows and animatronic dinosaurs.

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

10. Liberty Bell

Housed at Independence Mall, the Liberty Bell is one of the most iconic and recognizable symbols of American freedom. The bell was sent to Philadelphia back in 1753 from Whitechapel Foundry in the East end of London. It is 12 feet in circumference around the lip and features a 44 pound clapper. The inscription on the bell reads: “Proclaim Liberty throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof”. The famous crack in the bell occurred during its first use and though it was recast adding more copper and later more silver to sweeten its tone, nobody was quite satisfied with the results. There is no charge to enter to see the Liberty Bell but visitors are required to pass through security screening to gain entry. Though millions have seen pictures of the Liberty Bell, very few actually get to see it in person.

Liberty Bell

9. Gettysburg National Military Park

Located in the heart of the Gettysburg National Military Park, the Gettysburg Battlefield is the area in which the 1863 military engagements of the Battle of Gettysburg were fought and is located in and around the borough of Gettysburg. It was the Civil War’s bloodiest battle and the inspiration for President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. You can start your tour at the National Park Service Museum where you will learn about what there is to visit in the park and how to visit to get the most out of your experience. The museum features 22,000 square feet of exhibit space that showcases relics of the Battle of Gettysburg, interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations covering the conflict from its beginnings to the end and the aftermath. It is a wonderful and educational piece of Americana and an experience you won’t soon forget.

Gettysburg Pennsylvania

8. Sesame Place

Located in Langhorne, Sesame Place is a children’s theme park where Sesame Street characters come to life. It features a variety of rides, shows, water attractions and is ripe with family fun. The park first opened in 1980, with a focus on entertainment for young children. The 14-acre (5.7 ha) park consists of play areas, large computer labs, rides and water attractions. Children will be thrilled to visit Cookie’s Monster Land, Grover’s Vapor Trail, Twiddlebug Land, Sesame Island, Sesame Street, Splash Castle Area, Elmo’s World and Sliding Land. After their tour, you can take in a show – Neighborhood Street Party (parade), Elmo the Musical – Live at Sesame Place!, Elmo Rocks!, Let’s Play Together and Dragon Experience. They’ll see live costumed characters they know and love (maybe even eat breakfast with them), walking the grounds and enjoy parades, dancing and music – a child and parents’ paradise.

Photo by: Matthew McCullough via Flickr
Photo by: Matthew McCullough via Flickr

7. Eastern State Penitentiary

Located in Pittsburg, Eastern State Penitentiary, also known as ESP, is a former prison which was operational from 1829 to 1971. The penitentiary was responsible for refining the separate incarceration system which focused on reform rather than punishment. The innovative wagon wheel design of the prison housed some very famous criminals – namely Willie Sutton and Al Capone. Once completed, it was touted as the most expensive and largest public structure ever erected and became the model for more than 300 prisons worldwide. It is currently named a U.S. National Historic Landmark and is open to the public as a museum for tours seven days a week all year round. You can take a guided tour during the winter and warmer months or you can opt to take a self-guided tour with the assistance of headphones. There are also scavenger hunts hosted for children who visit the prison.

Melanie Lynn Freelance / Shutterstock.com
Melanie Lynn Freelance / Shutterstock.com

6. Fallingwater

Designed in 1935 by America’s most famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, Fallingwater or Kaufmann Residence is a house located in rural southwestern Pennsylvania 43 miles (69 km) southeast of Pittsburg. This very unique home was partially built over a waterfall on Bear Run in the Laurel Highlands of the Allegheny Mountains. It has been listed in Smithsonian’s Life List of 28 places to visit before you die and in 1966, was designated a National Historic Landmark. The total cost of building the house was $155,000.00 USD which in 2014 dollar is equivalent to $2.6 million. You can look at photos of the house, but to truly experience its magnificence, you have to visit it in person and experience the total ambiance of the interior design and surrounding natural beauty.

Photo by: Brian Donovan via Flickr
Photo by: Brian Donovan via Flickr

5. Kennywood

Located in West Mifflin, Kennywood is a 16 ha amusement park featuring rides and structures dating back to the 1900s and is one of only two amusement parks listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Kiddieland was one of the first ride areas specifically for small children and features 14 rides. Lost Kennywood refers to the park’s long history and gives the illusion of yesteryear’s dangerous rides. Volcano Alley is a volcano themed area featuring the Volcano, Pirate and cement volcanoes which spew smoke. The park is home to six different roller coasters, sixteen flat rides, and a couple of upcharge attractions, award winning dark rides and water rides include Log Jammer, Pittsburg Plunge and Raging Rapids. Transportation rides include Kenny’s Parkway and Olde Kennywood Railroad. Besides the rides, there are many other special features in the park that must be experienced to be appreciated.

Photo by: saeru via Flickr
Photo by: saeru via Flickr

4. Hershey’s Chocolate World

Located in Hershey, and formerly known as Hershey Foods Corporation, Hershey’s Chocolate World is the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America. It has become an American icon for its chocolate bar and is one of the oldest chocolate companies in the United States. When you visit Chocolate World, you become immersed in sweetness and fun while exploring the chocolate attractions and treating your senses to the wonders of chocolate. The chocolate tour is free of charge, but you can purchase tickets to have some real fun Creating Your Own Candy Bar, solve a 4-D Chocolate Mystery, have a Chocolate Tasting Experience, take a ride through town on Hershey Trolley Works, shop and visit the bakery, enjoy some good eats at the food court, get some souvenirs photos or visit the Hershey’s Dessert Creation Studio. You can’t have a sweeter time on a vacation anywhere.

Photo by: Hersey's Chocolate World
Photo by: Hersey’s Chocolate World

3. Philadelphia Zoo

Located in the Centennial District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Zoo is 42-acres (17 ha) and home to more than 1300 animals. It is famed for being the first zoo in the United States opening to the public July 1, 1874. At that time, it was home to 1000 animals and admission was 25 cents. It now features a children’s zoo, a paddleboat lake, a rainforest themed carousel and many interactive exhibits. The three trail system, a first of its kind, consists of Big Cat Crossing, Gorilla Treeway, Treetop Trail and Great Ape Trail. You can see many kinds of endangered animals as well as others when you visit the different areas like Zoo360, PECO Primate Preserve, The Rare Animal Conservation Center, The Reptile and Amphibian House, Small Mammal House, KidZooU, McNeil Aviation Center, Bird Valley, First Niagara Big Cat Falls, Carnivore Kingdom, African Plains and Impala Lawn.

Photo by: jiwasz via Flickr
Photo by: jiwasz via Flickr

2. Knoebels Amusement Resort

Knoebels Amusement Resort is an amusement park, picnic grove and campground located in Elysburg. It is the largest free-admission amusement park in America and has been in operation for 89 years. The park has more than 60 rides which includes wooden roller coasters, a 1913 carousel and haunted house dark ride featured on the Discovery Channel. Other rides include Kozmo’s Kurves – a high speed steel roller coaster, Black Diamond – an indoor steel roller coaster, Old Smokey Train, Pioneer Train, Ferris Wheel, Log Flume and more. There are restaurants located throughout the park where you can either sit and eat or just order from a counter and have fast food or something a little more nutritious. Also located at the resort is Three Ponds Golf Course – an 18 hole, 71 par golf course. It’s a wonderful place to spend a day or a week.

Photo by: Knoebels Amusement Resort
Photo by: Knoebels Amusement Resort

1. Indian Echo Caverns

Located near Hummelstown, the Indian Echo Caverns are limestone show caves open to the public to visit by guided tour. In a bluff along the Swatara Creek is the entrance used by visitors to enter the caverns. The second entrance was sealed for security purposes. The caverns are over 440 million years old formed by water erosion and then geological forces that led to an “uplift” of the surrounding limestone which eventually resulted in more water flowing through the formation. This created small crevices which led to larger ones which created the caverns there today. Just outside the caverns, you will find picnic pavilions, playgrounds, a Gift Shop and a Gemstone Mill where you can pan for gems. Come spend a day exploring the mystical rooms in the caverns, enjoying the crystal clear lakes, an enjoyable picnic, panning for gems and a great souvenir from the gift shop.

Photo by: David Flores via Flickr
Photo by: David Flores via Flickr

15 Underrated Destinations in North America & Caribbean

Let’s face it, some famous places are so famous, it’s impossible to enjoy them anymore. They have become time consuming forced marches through hordes of tourists that kill the charm or grace of even the greatest destinations. As a result, we’ve compiled a list of the most underrated destinations where travelers don’t have to worry about getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of tourist traffic and can take a moment to enjoy the scene. We’ve even likely named a few you’ve never heard of! Although, you better act quick because there are warnings to heed as some of these places are beginning to grow. The New York Times recently noted that the lovely, uncluttered island country of St. Vincent built a $250 million dollar airport with non-stop flights to cities on both sides of the Atlantic. And the largely untouched Yellowstone National Park is even breaking ground and building hotels! On the reverse end of all this construction, a positive trend is emerging, especially among young travelers, it involves an interest in sustainable tourism, away from the destructive environmental footprints of tourist culprits like huge cruise ships. So here is the list of places that deserve more lovin’, respect and interest than they’re getting.

15. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Beautifully set on the banks of the Arkansas River in the foothills of the Ozarks, Tulsa was the Oil Capital of the World after they hit the first gusher in 1901. The subject of many country songs, the old oil capital has now diversified into technology sectors. It has two highly regarded art museums, plus professional opera and ballet companies. Whether by luck or design, Tulsa’s impressive enclave of Art Deco buildings remained intact and oil money went to renovations and additions. They’re building a whole new waterfront with more museums to come including the Route 66 Experience in honor of the city’s legendary status of the birthplace of one of the world’s most famous highways.

Ffooter / Shutterstock.com
Ffooter / Shutterstock.com

14. Saint Kitts Island, Caribbean

­With its neighbor and sidekick Nevis known as the decadent playground of the idle rich, St. Kitts is looking to go up market from its usual cruise ship fare, as well at the price of some of its informality and unspoiled assets. Entrepreneurs with big plans for huge marinas, big name hotel chains and golf course builders are all passing through the new private jet terminal. A development called Kittitian Hill calls itself an innovative exercise in sustainable living with menus ‘foraged’ from land and sea. They claim Irie Fields is the world’s first edible golf course. ‘Instead of the usual shrubs and trees, you’ll find organic crops and trees bursting with fresh fruit. Smart water management and an abundance of crops will all serve to reduce the course’s environmental impact’. Built on a former marijuana farm, Irie is also an island word for being at peace. Obviously named by someone who has never golfed. But intriguing nonetheless.

St. Kitts

13. Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico

Taos hasn’t rated in the big time ski resort list, but it’s staking its claim. Its underdevelopment has been one of its many charms, but now previously inaccessible expert runs are being opened up, the most notable being Kachina Peak with an elevation of 12,500 feet. Snowmaking capacity has been enhanced. The base village is in the process of upgrades, though cranky traditionalists might call them downgrades. The town itself has maybe 7,000 permanent residents. It is a completely charming place with an artists’ colony and a strong native presence. The simple southwestern food is propelled to great heights by local green chili sauce and access to fresh Pacific seafood not far away. In between skiing seasons, it is a wonderful place for strenuous hiking and sightseeing. The great British author D.H. Lawrence spent some time here in the 1920’s, a testament to the presence of sights and sensibilities that stir the soul. The Times advises ‘visit while it’s still manageable’. Julia Roberts bought a spread here. Consider yourself warned.

Photo by: Kevin Muncie via Flickr
Photo by: Kevin Muncie via Flickr

12. Quebec City, Quebec

They have a brand spanking new arena and a down payment on a National Hockey League franchise to renew their bitter rivalry with Montreal which goes far beyond the ice. So visitors will just have to make do with the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s impeccably preserved 17th century Old Town, gourmet French and Quebecois cooking, alongside some fabulous skiing at Mont Ste Anne and kite-flying on the Plains of Abraham. The Marche de Vieux Port is a foodie flash mob every weekend. Visit Notre Dame de la Victoire, a church built to celebrate an audacious victory over the British in 1642. Have a drink at the bar in the old Chateau Frontenac and enjoy the sumptuous views of the lower St. Lawrence and the Ile d’Orleans. The Winter Carnival is the best and biggest on the continent and the summer music festival is worth a detour as well. The list goes on and on with more enchantment at every turn.

Quebec City

11. The Catskills, New York

As recently as 2012, travel media were writing the Catskill’s obituary. For half of the 20th century, the Catskills were called The Jewish Alps. The Borscht Belt referred to the food, the clientele and a whole genre of comedy. Superstars like Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and Mel Brooks honed their skills at the legendary Grossinger’s Hotel, entertaining the Jewish clientele who flocked to the resort when many others denied them entry. Now the resurrection is underway with chic boutique hotels, snappy restaurants with uber-style—it has decider Vogue Magazine’s blessing of the Phoenicia Diner and Woodstock Way’s luxurious cabins.

The CatSkills, NY

10. San José del Cabo, Mexico

San José is the more mature, refined sibling of Cabo (Cape) San Lucas. The beaches and ocean is the same, just the people on them are perhaps a bit older and a good deal less hung over. It is joining the ever-growing trend to having more environmentally responsible tourism with Flora Farms, a resort with an organic garden in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains. Try the Farm Julep made with fresh watermelon juice. There is also a level of sophistication to engage the mind as well as the liver. Smart boutique hotels, good restaurants and art galleries showcasing Mexico’s best. This place offers a satisfying all-round vacation with a different far more satisfying version of the all inclusive.

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

9. San Antonio, Texas

There is so much to see and do in America’s seventh-largest city, San Antonio. With over 20 million people visiting every year the tourist economy is booming. People flock to this city not only to remember Battle of the Alamo­, though they do that too, this famed battle site completely overshadows the city’s other UNESCO World Heritage Site, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park with the ruins of four Spanish mission churches dating from the early to mid-nineteenth century. The River Walk is a must and recently grew 500% in length to a full 15 miles. It is celebrated in the country’s musical heart. The legendary blues player Robert Johnson recorded here. It is the “Guitar Town”, home of the great singer-songwriter Steve Earle and Lyle Lovett who sings of his love for his ‘San Antonio Girl”.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

8. New Orleans, Louisiana

The year of 2015 is a somber milestone for New Orleans. A decade has passed since the devastation of Katrina. There will be memorials in honor of the victims, but also much pride to show how far the city and its people have bounced back. There are extra helpings of gumbo and jazz at the beautiful brand new venue of the People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market which was built in dedication to the city’s greatest achievement: the creation of jazz. The South Market has got the resto/condo/boutique treatment, but the city’s unmistakable personality endures. In this time of reflection, go a little more native, beyond the cuisine clichés, a little couche-couche for breakfast, or try some comfort food like rice and beans and the aperitif called the official Cocktail of New Orleans, the Sazerac, named for the cognac that is its base.

Photo by: Bill Staney via Flickr
Photo by: Bill Staney via Flickr

7. Squamish, British Columbia

The city calls itself “where the oceans meet the mountains”. There is no outdoor adventure activity that can’t be found here – mountain biking, kayaking, white water rafting, wind and kite surfing. It is an acclaimed destination for rock-climbing on the 2000 foot Stawamus Chief mountain which towers 600m (almost 2000 ft) above Squamish, as the 2nd tallest hunk of freestanding granite in the world, after the Rock of Gibraltar. But the most recent addition to attract some of the millions who flock to nearby Whistler is the Sea to Sky Gondola that takes visitors up 3000 feet in 10 minutes to a separate network of high alpine trails to hike and snowshoe. The Gondolas website promises “breathtaking views of the mountains and ocean below”. That is a gross understatement. Each year Squamish plays host to one of North America’s largest convocations of bald eagles who hang out in Squamish during the winter.

Stawamus Chief Mountain

6. Campeche, México

Campeche has everything. It’s a UNESCO World heritage Site. Nearby Mayan ruins perhaps 3000 years old and jungle biosphere that is also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Well preserved Spanish colonial architectures from the 17th century on, some of which have been turned into charming hotels. Not to mention the great seafood! Yet it remains relatively well-know bypassed perhaps for Yucatan’s hyper-popular beaches. The ruins of Calakmul, including the imposing five pyramids lie under the forest canopy teeming with monkeys and toucans. The Times seductively promises visitors “can experience a solitude unthinkable at tourist-clogged Maya sites like Chichén Itzá”.

Campeche Mexico

5. Cleveland, Ohio

Wait let me get my glasses. I thought it said Cleveland. It’s actually true! It’s no longer the ‘Mistake by the Lake’. The city has reconnected to the waterfront with the renovation of the warehouse district, The Gordon Square Arts district has a gaggle of spiffed up theaters – the stage kind. Waterfront warehouses are being transformed and the glassy geometric new home to the Museum of Contemporary Art is the height of sophistication. One wouldn’t expect the iconic symbol of Rust Belt decline to have miles of hiking and biking trails, but it does. And don’t forget the Hall of Fame. Go Cavs.

Cleveland Flats

4. Miami, Florida

South Beach has become the ultimate in North American chic. Loads of celebs, designer hotels and elegant restaurants. It is now larger and if at all possible, becoming more chic. They have hired Norman Foster and Rem Koolhaas, two of the world’s greatest living architects, both winners of the Pritzker Prize, the Nobel Prize of architecture, so this will be something to see. Designer giant Tommy Hilfiger bought the historic Art Deco gem, the Raleigh Hotel which has been famous since it opened in 1940. Did you hear that? It was the sound of a lot of coin being dropped. When future archaeologists find the ruins, they will think it the Versailles of Florida Panhandle, the center of a society dedicated to above all, conspicuous over consumption.

Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock.com
Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock.com

3. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Caribbean

It is everything you could want in a Caribbean getaway. Superlatives like ‘idyllic’ and ‘unspoiled’ are often used. Divers love the coral reefs and Saint Margaret beach is one of the nicest on the planet. There’s not that much to actually do on the tiny country’s 32 islands, unless you’re one of the one per cent who have private islands and hidden mansions. There’s not that much riveting history, architecture of culture really, except for the one that preaches of blissful relaxation in an impossibly beautiful setting. However, they did shell out a quarter of a billion dollars for a new airport with nonstop flights to and from North America and Europe. Might be good to see it before everyone else does.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

2. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is the oldest National Park in the United States dating back to 1872. A 500 room lodge is being modernized. A few ‘sustainable’ lodges are opening making the home of Old Faithful a more welcome destination to spend more time in. It is staggering to know that most of the world’s geysers are here. Within the confines of the duty to protect and preserve this treasure, the Park Service is partnering with local nonprofits to responsibly open up the venerable park for both accommodation and exploration. There are new hiking and biking trails. You can take your own snowmobile tour for the first time in over a decade. And veteran visitors swear it is even more spectacular in winter.

Yellowstone National Park

1. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

No seriously. It’s a different way to build a city into a popular destination. Sure, there are famous things to see. The Liberty Bell, the Rocky statue on the Library steps.  But there’s not much of the ‘biggest this-’ or ‘oldest that-’. It’s more about creating a very engaging urban space. It’s a very livable, people-friendly functional urban space with European overtones. Which is saying a lot for a city whose previous contributions to American culture were cheese steaks and the most notorious sports fans in the country. There are free yoga classes on the Race Street Pier in the home of hockey’s Broad Street Bullies. Fairmount Park is the largest city park in the United States, bigger even than Central Park, and very runner/rollerblader/cycler friendly. It must be said pockets of shameful poverty remain. But cities in the world without a regrettable blemish are rare. A civilized city to savor.

Philadelphia Pennsylvania

The 10 Best Chinatowns Across America

America is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures. Most major American cities have neighborhoods settled by the people who crossed oceans and began an unpredictable journey to America to provide a better life for their children, escaping poverty and war in their homeland. Little Italy, Germantown and of course, Chinatown are all staples of America’s cities, their residents establishing their identities in America while holding onto their native cultures. Among the oldest of these miniature ethnic pockets are the Chinatowns that dot the U.S., from Seattle to Boston, San Francisco to New York City. Here are the 10 best you’ll find in America.

10. Washington D.C.

Though one of the smallest Chinatowns on this list, Washington D.C.’s Chinese neighborhood benefits from a great location-walking distance to many other landmarks and neighborhoods-and a more calm atmosphere than others. Only about a fifth of the neighborhood’s 3,000 residents are actually Chinese, as recent college grads have moved to the area in recent years, attracted to the affordable housing. This does not take away from the authentic Chinese atmosphere, however. Like many Chinatowns, there is a classically styled archway over H Street and 7th Street, just a few blocks down from the Verizon Center, where the hometown Wizards (NBA) and Capitals (NHL) compete. You’ll find a handful of shops selling pastries and little knickknacks, as well as some great restaurants, such as Tony Cheng’s Seafood and Pho DC -one of the best bowls of Pho in the D.C. area.

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

9. Houston

Not to be confused with the city’s “Old Chinatown” neighborhood, the current community of Chinese residents, shops and restaurants can be found in the southwestern part of town. Unlike most Chinatowns, which usually occupy a number of dense city blocks, the Houston Chinatown is a widely dispersed set of strip malls over 6 square miles. It’s probably the most automobile friendly Chinatown on this list, so if you’re a tourist without a rental car this one would be a tough draw. Chinese food is not the only kind you’ll find here. Filipinos, Indonesians, Japanese, Koreans and more have populated the area, and have brought the cuisine of their home countries with them. Some people are hesitant to even refer to this part of the city as Chinatown, since there are so many other Asian influences present.

Photo by: Capital Realty Group
Photo by: Capital Realty Group

8. Boston

Boston, a city more known for its Irish heritage as seen in films like Good Will Hunting and The Town, is also home to a stellar Chinatown, the only one in all of New England. 70% of the population is Chinese, though there is a strong Vietnamese influence as well, which can be felt in the number of Vietnamese restaurants and food stalls. Located near Boston’s theater district and Tufts Medical Center, Chinatown is a convenient place to stop for an authentic Chinese dinner before a night around town, but its also got enough to keep your attention for a full day. There are some great hot pot (a Chinese fondue of sorts) restaurants, as well as dim sum and some hole in the walls with cheaper options but still quality eats.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

7. Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Chinatown traces its roots all the way back to the mid 19th century, when Cantonese immigrants opened restaurants and laundries in the city center. In the late 1990s, an influx of immigrants from other Asian countries including Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, began moving into Philly’s Chinatown. Like many other Chinatowns in America, there is a Friendship Gate (an archway) that’s built in the colorful style of the Ming and Qing dynasties, which acts as symbol of connection between Philadelphia and its sister city of Tianjin. It’s a beautiful landmark, and well worth a picture or two. Hong Kong style eateries can be found on 10th Street and Race Street, where restaurants serving other Asian fare-Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese-can also be enjoyed.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

6. Los Angeles

Forever immortalized by the 1974 film Chinatown, and also featured in the buddy-cop classic Rush Hour, L.A.’s Chinatown is vast, full of things to see and do (and of course, eat). When the Central Pacific Railroad Co. began work on the country’s first transcontinental rail in the 1860s, they started to recruit laborers from China, who then moved here and settled in what is now known as Chinatown. Among the highlights: a statue of Bruce Lee and Sun Yat-sen (father of modern China); a beautiful Wishing Well, a dragon mural and a main plaza strung with red lanterns. There are restaurants with glass displays of roast duck and pigs, but some of the more popular eateries include an Italian place called Little Joe’s and a French deli called Philippe’s.

LA Chinatown

5. Honolulu

Hawaii might be well known for its East Asian influence already, particularly its Japanese roots, but did you know that Honolulu has one of the best Chinatowns in America? Chinese laborers from the area’s sugar plantations settled here in the 19th century, only to have the entire neighborhood burned down in the Great Honolulu Chinatown Fire of 1900. It has since been rebuilt, a bustling, open space full of fruit stands and restaurants. Given Hawaii’s tropical climate, the Honolulu Chinatown feels like a small city in the south of China. The famed Wo Fat restaurant, known as the namesake for a character in Hawaii Five-O-is now out of service, but its historic façade is still worth a visit.

Honolulu Chinatown

4. Seattle

America’s Pacific Coast has long been concentrated with immigrants from East Asia, and while officially named “Chinatown”, this Seattle neighborhood is more Little East Asia. The bulk of this Chinatown is on King Street, though just off the main thoroughfare is Japantown, which as you can imagine is modeled after a Japanese city. There is a vibrant and lively Chinese New Year celebration with lion dancers and fireworks, and the China Gate restaurant has a beautiful gate modeled after the walls of the ancient Chinese capital Peking (now Beijing). Hing Hay Park is an idyllic outdoor spot with a traditional Chinese Pagoda and chess tables. The Nippon Kan Theatre and the Wing Luke Asian Museum are also must see attractions.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

3. Chicago

Located on the Red Line, Chicago’s Chinatown provides great views of the city skyline as well as a variety of restaurants and landmarks to check out on a fine summer day in Chicago. The Nine-Dragon Wall is a beautiful jade and yellow colored monument built in the style typical of imperial China. Chinatown Square, decorated with statues of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals, is full of shops; tea shops, traditional medicine shops and massage parlors that have the feel of the dense hutongs (alleyways) of Old Beijing. Lao Beijing and Lao Szechwan are local staples, serving traditional cuisine from those cities, and Hing Kee is a great noodle spot that makes their noodles by hand. Get a foot massage at one of the area’s massage parlors, and visit a Buddhist temple, which can be easy to miss among the abundance of grocery stores, restaurants and gift shops. Make sure to stop by the shop that specializes in swords! The Bruce Lee poster in the front display is hard to miss.

Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com
Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com

2. Manhattan

Manhattan’s Chinatown is huge, so huge that it can almost be considered its own mini-city, and it has the second largest population density of Chinese in the entire Western Hemisphere. There are 9 Chinatowns scattered across all of New York City, but Manhattan’s is the largest and the oldest, and it’s easy to forget that you’re still in America, not a metropolis of China. There are fish markets and fruit markets, theaters and museums. There’s a Little Hong Kong, a Little Fuzhou, a Little Guangdong. It’s almost like a Chinatown within a Chinatown within a Chinatown. Between 90,000 and 100,000 people live in Manhattan’s Chinatown, and its easy to get put off by the density and activity, but if you’d like to experience what life in a modern Chinese city is like, and are willing to have an open mind while doing so, then dive right in and take in all it has to offer.

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

1. San Francisco

The oldest in the country, San Francisco’s Chinatown sees more tourists every year than the Golden Gate Bridge. Every September, the neighborhood hosts the Autumn Moon Festival, a Chinese tradition that celebrates the summer harvest, and it’s a must-attend event for those who’d like to experience a traditional Chinese holiday other than the New Year. Boasting two hospitals, a post office, schools, libraries, parks, restaurants and grocery stores, San Francisco’s Chinatown is essentially an autonomous enclave, and is also home to the highest Chinese population outside of Asia. For the most authentic taste of China outside of Asia, San Francisco’s Chinatown is the #1 place to visit.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

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

10 Awesome Zoos Where You Can Spend the Night

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

10. Zoo Miami -Miami, FL

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

Jaguar Zoo Miami

9. Zoo Atlanta -Atlanta, GA

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

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

8. Zoofari Slumber, Nashville Zoo -Nashville, TN

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

Photo by: Nashville Zoo
Photo by: Nashville Zoo

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

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

littleny / Shutterstock.com
littleny / Shutterstock.com

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

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

Red Panda Smithsonian National Zoological Park

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

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

Peacock Philadelphia Zoo

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

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

Lion Toronto Zoo

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

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

littleny / Shutterstock.com
littleny / Shutterstock.com

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

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

Taronga Zoo Giraffe

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

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

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

The 15 Most Unfriendly Cities in America

It seems that America isn’t just full of friendly locals, welcoming Texas BBQ’s and charming southerners. Indeed in a recent study by Travel and Leisure, it is evident that America is also full of a slew of unfriendly cities. Avoiding these cities isn’t always possible and many of them boast amazing attractions and things to do, as well as big business centers. Whether it is the locals or tourists, the weather or politics, these 15 cities have been named the most unfriendly in all of America. Discover what makes them so unfriendly and how you can find the friendliest spots in each.

15. Chicago, IL

Chicago is full of museums, great restaurants and a spectacular view, but that doesn’t mean the people are friendly towards outsiders. What visitors here will find are people walking with their heads towards the ground, rushing from one thing to the next and an overall vibe of unfriendliness. Perhaps it is due to the high amount of crime that happens, or maybe people are just too busy to start up a conversation. Whatever the reason is, don’t bank on making any new friends in this city, and make sure you buy a map so you don’t have to ask for directions. For a friendlier Chicago head to the neighborhood of Old Town for a root beer float spiked with Stoli and hang out with the locals or get your laughs on at some stand up comedy at Second City.

photo.ua / Shutterstock.com
photo.ua / Shutterstock.com

14. Providence, RI

These New Englanders are not happy to welcome anyone or anything new in this city. Providence is known for their locals being downright rude and snobby. The weather here is pretty awful, bringing a lot of cloudy days as well as rain, snow and ice in the winter which may contribute to the attitudes of people. This city also happens to be highly unaffordable. The taxes are high, as is the cost of living. Visitors here often have spent enough time here after two days and won’t want to stick around getting to know the locals who often throw them rude glances and downright ignore them when spoken to. The Dean Hotel welcomes visitors and plan on staying here if you want to experience any type of friendliness.

Providence, RI

13. Seattle, WA

Seattle has been deemed unfriendly for many years, but in fact it just seems that this city is unsocial. They won’t slam the door on you, or not make eye contact but rather these locals just seem maddeningly impersonal. The weather can’t help matters as it is seriously grey, wet and miserable looking most of the year. Seattle is a very segregated city, meaning that people stick in their cliques and often have a hard time letting anyone knew in. For visitors, you probably won’t notice the unfriendliness that much as people will still tell you to “have a good day” but it’s people who move here that really suffer. Just look up the definition of “Seattle Freeze” and you will understand what we mean when we call this city unfriendly.

seattle_image

12. Baltimore, MD

We aren’t quite sure how Baltimore got the nickname of “Charm City” but visitors to this city certainly don’t agree with it. Along with recent turmoil that has literally caused this city to be on a curfew; people just aren’t friendly to outsiders, or each other. Crime is at an all time high in this city and both locals and visitors walk around being afraid, which means no eye contact and no small talk with strangers. The city is known as being a little quirky and off-beat, but sometimes that rubs visitors the wrong way. If you are looking for a bit of friendliness in this city, head to one of the concerts by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra or grab brunch in the neighborhood of Hampden.

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

11. Orlando, FL

In a city that boasts “The Happiest Place on Earth”, it seems surprising that Orlando is actually really unfriendly. It is not certain whether it is the locals who are unfriendly, or just the tourists who are snapping at each other. Either way you can expect a lot of horns being honked, a lot of snappy comments and a slew of crying kids. Maybe it is all the tired feet or low blood sugar that comes from visiting the theme parks, but whatever it is, people here can’t wait to return to their hotels. The theme parks tend to be the worst place to deal with unfriendly people, but also tends to be the main draw here.

Orlando, Florida

10. Dallas, TX

Many people have the notion that all people from Texas are friendly and welcoming but that certainly isn’t the case when it comes to the city of Dallas. The people of Dallas certainly seem to be in a rush and are generally stressed out, which leads to a lot of fast walking, plugged in ear pieces and a lack of eye contact. It is interesting here because most people that live in this state don’t actually like people from Dallas, adding to the notion that they are quite rude. Perhaps they are just tired of the cowboy and oil jokes or maybe they just want to keep their city to themselves, either way don’t plan on getting a friendly Texas welcome from this city.

mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com
mandritoiu / Shutterstock.com

9. San Francisco, CA

If you ask the people here they will probably outright admit that they can be both rude and snobby, especially when it comes to food. Locals in this city seem to put themselves on a pedestal slightly higher than everyone else. Locals here aren’t afraid to laugh at the tourists in their shorts and t-shirts shivering at the piers, nor are they quick to judge visitors who don’t know how to get around. San Francisco does gain a lot of points for being LGBT friendly though and if you want to experience the friendliest of the city, head to the neighborhood who welcomes anyone of any nature. Just don’t start judging what they eat, trust us on that one.

San Francisco bridge

8. Los Angeles, CA

It has long been known as a snobby city and as the years go on it seems that this city just can’t figure how to be charming. Whether you are trying to exchange pleasantries with the locals and getting shut down, or trying to snap a selfie in the crowds at the hall of fame, chances are you will leave this city feeling bruised. Known as having some of the most beautiful people in the country, chances are you will feel a little down about yourself. To immerse yourself into the locals, try some retail therapy to boost your happiness and connect with some of the shop owners who are friendly if you drop enough cash.

Los Angeles

7. Las Vegas, NV

It should come as no surprise that this city is actually unfriendly. Think about what happens in Vegas, the wild parties, the rambunctious outsiders who come in droves and crowd up the city with large amounts of drinking and gambling. Therefore we aren’t entirely sure who the ones are that are being rude in Vegas. Is it the locals or the tourists? Either way, this city that sits at the top of the list for tourism certainly doesn’t know how to play nice. Expect business men talking business, women brushing off your smiles and people generally avoiding eye contact. If you want to avoid the overly rude tourists make sure to get off the strip and visit the downtown bars where the locals hang out.

Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

6. Miami, FL

Horn honking, people yelling at each other, rude customer service and stuck up individuals who think they are better than you, all of this and more awaits visitors to Miami. This city is thought to be the capital of “me”, where everyone only cares about themselves and makes sure everyone else knows it. People here love to flash their expensive cars and clothes while looking down on those who aren’t on par with them. Racism is still a problem in this city and contributes to the unfriendliness of their nature. Don’t plan on heading to South Beach if you are looking to chill with the locals and be accepted, instead head somewhere like Virginia Key Beach for a more mellow and laid-back beach scene.

Miami Beach

5. Boston, MA

This city has a horrible history of race relations and that can’t help with people thinking that this city will forever remain unfriendly. Things have changed in this busy city, but people are still not warm and fuzzy. The city rates are high when it comes to intelligent people and perhaps they are just too smart to want to make small talk with visitors. The winters are awful, everything closes early including the bars and red sox fans; and all we will say about that is that you better be cheering for them when they are in town. Visitors should expect that locals will be rushing with heads down, cell phones in hand and far too busy to make new friends. On the plus side, the city is very pretty and if you can find some accepting locals, they promise to be both smart and funny.

Boston

4. Washington, D.C

Politics are ugly, perhaps getting more ugly as time goes on and therefore it is no surprise that Washington is unfriendly, rude and just too busy to make newcomers feel welcomed. Lobbyists and lawyers make up the majority of people in this city and they tend to be too self-absorbed or busy to throw a smile your way. Many commuters tend to use public transit, as do tourists to get around this city and it seems that the unfriendly vibe is picked up by tourists as they watch the commuters on their way to work and home. This city is also high on security which means that entering something like a children’s museum means getting your bags searched and many of the security guards are not warm and fuzzy. Fighting terrorism is a serious job here and it seems they lack in customer service when they do so.

Washington DC

3. Philadelphia, PA

We suggest you don’t come to this city of “Brotherly Love” wearing anything but a jersey that represents Philly as you will more than likely clash with the locals. Locals here also have some colorful and unusual language, being the one city that likes to drop the “f” word on Twitter on a consistent basis. If you can go to visit and act like a local, wear an Eagles jersey and eat a cheesecake with the best of them, it will be no doubt that you will be welcomed in. But if you show up with a New York accent, wearing a Giants jersey and turn your nose up at one of their beloved food choices; plan on someone telling you where to go. Philadelphia has always known for being a bit rough and if you can’t respect them don’t plan on being welcomed.

Marco Rubino / Shutterstock.com
Marco Rubino / Shutterstock.com

2. Detroit, MI

Motor City has been called the armpit of the world by more than one person and does nothing to help its reputation. Unwelcoming, loud and having an incredible amount of lousy drivers makes this a city people love to stay away from. Crime levels have not helped this city as more and more people who visit become afraid of walking after dark or in unknown neighborhoods. Detroit was one of the hardest hit cities by the recession, making it even more unfriendly. The huge numbers of unemployed people tend to be less than happy to see other people visiting that have jobs, houses and cars. If you do want to find some friendlier times here, head to one of the live music venues and chat with other patrons.

Detroit, MI

1. New York City, NY

Sure, New York offers an insane amount of theatres, shops, restaurants, hotels and other entertainment, but it seems that people just can’t get past the unfriendliness of the city. It starts with the angry cabs that are incessantly honking their horns at other drivers and pedestrians. The unfriendliness continues in the stores and restaurants, who are more concerned with how much money you have to spend rather than to make your experience a good one. Perhaps the extremely high cost of living turns people off from this city or maybe they just don’t love the extreme hustle and bustle that is constant. Whatever the reason is, New York has and continues to be one of the most unfriendly cities in America and chances are it won’t get any friendlier in the future.

Aerial view of Manhattan skyline at sunset, New York City