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 7 Best Urban Parks in America

When you hear ‘urban park’ and ‘America’ in the same sentence, one immediately thinks of Central Park in NYC, but it may surprise you to learn that all over America there are incredible urban parks. Parks play a key role in making a city desirable for both visitors and locals and it explains why cities are investing more and more money into them. From trapeze lessons on Governor’s Island to the impressive San Diego Zoo located in Balboa Park to parks that host awesome parties and festivals, here are seven urban parks that make these cities even more attractive to both live and visit.

7. Grant Park, Chicago

It is refereed to as Chicago’s “Front Yard”, a 319-acre public park that includes many notable features including Millennium Park, the Art Institute of Chicago and Buckingham Fountain. As well this park happens to be the site of three world-class museums, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, performance venues, gardens and sculptures. The beautiful lakefront recreation center, Maggie Daley Park opened in 2014 as well as the ice skating ribbon, a skating experience unlike any other that winds its way through a rolling landscape with a city skyline as a backdrop. It is also home to the famous shiny reflective bean shaped sculpture that has become both a city icon and popular photo-op.

grant park

6. Schenley Park, Pittsburgh

This beautiful park is worth a visit anytime of the year, but especially in the summertime where free movies play on Flagstaff Hill, or during the fall where the leaves turn brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red. There are enough sports for everyone here, from the 13 tennis courts to the soccer field to the running track, high-jump area to the 18-hole Frisbee golf course. Visitors can also choose to take it slow, wander through the Phipps Conservatory and gaze at the rare miniature orchids or the primitive tree ferns. The free Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix also takes place here during July and 150 sports cars navigate 23 turns around the parks Paddock Drive, while some 200,000 visitors cheer them on.

Joshua Haviv / Shutterstock.com
Joshua Haviv / Shutterstock.com

5. Balboa Park, San Diego

Sitting at just over 1,200 acres, this stunning park packs in more attractions than you could possibly visit in just one day, including the Tony Award-winning Old Glove theatre. It is here where visitors will find the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Museum of Art, numerous hiking and biking trails, a handful of playgrounds and more. There are a ton of restaurants to choose from here including tea pavilions, cafes, grills and pubs. Overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean and including buildings so stunning they have been used in movies and television shows, consider yourself lucky if you happen to have this incredible urban park as your backyard.

Balboa Park, San Diego

4. Encanto Park, Phoenix

This 222-acre oasis lies just a few blocks from the busy central corridor and features awesome picnic areas, a lagoon, boat house, swimming pool and more. Rent a paddle boat or canoe and enjoy the lagoon along with the opportunity for fishing and observing ducks. One of the best attractions here is the Enchanted Island Amusement Park, a park that features a ton of rides and activities for the whole family. There are a ton of free things to do as well here such as rollerblading along the paved trails, getting in a good workout at the exercise field, check out Art in Park or toss a Frisbee around in one of many green spaces.

Encanto Park, Phoenix

3. Discovery Green Park, Houston

This downtown paradise was made when the city decided to tear up numerous concrete parking lots and turn this otherwise unattractive part of the city into Discovery Green Park. This 12-acre park features awesome amenities such as a man-made lawn, 12-foot high arcing water jets, rolling green lawns and fine dining restaurants. Throughout the year numerous wacky competitions take place here, along with the dog jumping competitions and free classes. During the winter an amazing ice skating rink is open to the public as well as a field of lights, an awe-inspiring art installation that shines against the dark sky. Playgrounds, stages, trails, art installations, gardens, reading rooms and other awesome surprises await visitors at this awesome urban park.

goodcat / Shutterstock.com
goodcat / Shutterstock.com

2. Governors Island, New York City

This former military base off the tip of lower Manhattan has been turned into an amazing urban park, offering visitors and locals of NYC a second choice in awesome parks. It is here where you will find electric arts, food events and even a sandy beach to hang out at. Get here by taking the free ferry ride from Manhattan’s Battery Maritime Building or take the Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6, which offers stunning views of the skyline and State of Liberty. Circus nerds will go nuts over the trapeze lessons that are offered on the weekends and music fans unite to rock out to some incredible waterfront concerts. The island is car-free so many choose to rent bikes and cycle around, go on Fridays between May and October and even get your bike for free!

Keith Sherwood / Shutterstock.com
Keith Sherwood / Shutterstock.com

1. City Park, New Orleans

This park is as magical and historical as the city of New Orleans itself, boasting the largest collection of mature live oaks in the world. These sculptural-looking marvels include some that have their branches spread out twice as wide as their height (up to 75ft)! There are way too many things in this park to mention, but some of the most notable include the New Orleans Botanical Garden, Big Lake, Art and Sculpture Garden, City Splash and numerous playgrounds and sports fields. Summertime brings genteel parties complete with mint juleps and performances at the Botanical Gardens and live bands at the annual Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon. Enjoy the 18-hole golf course, the famous antique carousel and the beautiful Couturier Forest.

City Park, New Orleans

10 Amazing Historic Hotels in the Midwest

With a long history as an industrial manufacturing hub, the U.S. Midwest also is home to some of the nation’s finest hotels. But just as the fortunes of the region’s business barons have risen and fallen over the decades, so have many of its longest-standing hotels. Some of the Midwest’s most revered, historic hotels narrowly escaped fires, the Great Depression, and the wrecking ball, but today, they are better than ever thanks to a new generation of forward-thinking preservationists. Here are 10 amazing historic hotels in the Midwest that are still open for business, and the stories behind them.

10. Palmer House Hilton (Chicago, IL)

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The iconic Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago got off to a most inauspicious start when the elegant hotel fell victim to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 only 13 days after its grand opening. But, business magnate and owner Potter Palmer quickly rebuilt the 1,641-room hotel which opened in late 1873 and has been a landmark ever since. Palmer’s wife Bertha decorated the hotel with opulent chandeliers, paintings, and other art inspired by her French heritage including a majestic ceiling fresco by painter Louis Pierre Rigal. The decadent hotel has hosted everyone from Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde to U.S. presidents, and top entertainers such as Liberace, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Ella Fitzgerald performed in its Golden Empire Room. A $170 million renovation has ensured the Palmer House’s place among the top hotels to be found anywhere. Afternoon tea in the lobby is not to be missed.

9. Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (Cincinnati, OH)

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Some hotels stand the test of time as a stunning architectural design achievement, like the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, an Art Deco masterpiece that’s a registered National Historic Landmark. Elaborately decorated with rare Brazilian rosewood paneling, two-story ceiling murals, and original German silver-nickel sconces, the circa 1931 hotel in downtown Cincinnati is one of the world’s finest examples of French Art Deco style. Its Orchids at Palm Court is among the most beautiful restaurants in America, made even more memorable by Chef Todd Kelly, named the America Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year (2011-12). The opulent Hall of Mirrors ballroom has been at the heart of Cincinnati’s business and social scene for over 80 with its two-story ceilings, mezzanine, and original light fixtures. The Netherland Plaza is connected to the 49-story Carew Tower which opened in 1931 and has an observation deck with sweeping views of the Ohio River Valley.

8. French Lick Resort (French Lick, IN)

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The mineral spring waters that abound in French Lick were once thought to be the elusive Fountain of Youth due to their reported restorative and healing qualities. This attraction gave birth to the luxurious French Lick Resort that opened in 1845 and continues to be a destination for travelers seeking memorable accommodations. The 443-room hotel was restored to its original grandeur via a $382 million restoration and expansion project that added a 42,000-square-foot casino and restored and reopened the historic “Hill” golf course that originally opened in 1917. Prior to the restoration, the hotel had declined under several different owners. Over the years, it has hosted numerous dignitaries and historic events including the 1931 Democratic Governors Conference where Franklin D. Roosevelt secured support for his party’s presidential nomination. Today, the opulent resort has an array of amenities including a 27,000-square-foot, world-class spa with 24 treatment rooms.

7. Westin Book Cadillac (Detroit, MI)

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The story of most buildings that stand idle for a quarter-century rarely ends well, especially a luxury hotel like the Westin Book Cadillac in downtown Detroit. Originally opened in 1924 as the tallest building in Detroit, the 33-story Hotel Book-Cadillac played host to eight U.S. presidents and the likes of The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Babe Ruth, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its heyday. It boasted more than 1,200 rooms as well as three ballrooms and various restaurants and shops. Its Italian Garden and Venetian Ballroom incorporated architectural elements from Europe, and the hotel was featured in “State of the Union” in 1947, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Alas, it closed in 1984 as Detroit’s own fortunes began to wane, only to be reborn in 2008 after a $190 million project restored it. Today, it features 455 hotel rooms and 67 luxury condos.

6. Hilton President Kansas City (Kansas City, MO)

Known as the Hotel President when it opened in Kansas City in 1926, the Hilton President Kansas City has lived up to its name. The 453-room hotel hosted the 1928 Republican National Convention where Herbert Hoover received the party’s nomination. Three other U.S. presidents—Eisenhower, Truman, and Nixon—have either stayed or visited the opulent hotel. Its Drum Room lounge became equally famous after opening in 1941, hosting the likes of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr. The hotel closed in 1980 but soon was reborn as a smaller, 213-room luxury hotel following a $45 million restoration. Located in Kansas City’s vibrant Power and Light entertainment district, the Hilton’s immaculate lobby and mezzanine were meticulously restored, and its elegant Congress Ballroom features the original terrazzo floors installed in 1926. It’s Walnut Room restaurant features original stained glass and majestic wood columns as well.

5. West Baden Springs Hotel (West Baden Springs, IN)

Some hotels are famous for their history or their uniqueness and a few like the West Baden Springs Hotel are noted for both. The current West Baden Springs Hotel opened in 1902, but a hotel has occupied the site since 1855. In 1888, it was upgraded to a grand resort for the elite, complete with a casino and opera house. It burned to the ground in 1901 and was rebuilt just a year later with a spectacular circular design topped by an awe-inspiring 200-foot, a free-span dome that was touted as the eighth wonder of the world. The Depression forced the closure of the hotel in 1932 and it later served as a seminary and private college. It reopened in 2007 as part of a special casino district in Indiana after a massive restoration.  The luxurious, 246-room hotel now features a formal garden, an 8,000-square-foot spa, and a 12,000-square-foot indoor pool.

4. The Pfister Hotel (Milwaukee, WI)

When the Pfister Hotel opened in downtown Milwaukee in 1893 at a cost of nearly $1 million, it created quite a stir with unheard of features like individual thermostat controls in each guestroom and electricity throughout the hotel (imagine that). Sporting a Romanesque Revival style, the Pfister also had two billiard rooms (one for both sexes) and a private bar for men only. Owner Charles Pfister utilized the hotel bearing his name to showcase his extensive art collection. Today, the Pfister’s priceless Victorian art is among the world’s top hotel art collections. In 1962, theater operator Ben Marcus purchased the aging hotel at auction. He restored the grand dame of Milwaukee hotels and added a 23-story guestroom tower. The 307-room hotel is now better than ever, with a top-notch spa and a 23rd-floor martini and wine bar with great views of Lake Michigan.

3. Omni William Penn (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Omni William Penn Pittsburgh was once the largest hotel between Pittsburgh and Chicago, with 1,600 guestrooms, when its 600-room, Grant Street Annex addition opened in 1929. The original hotel, opened in 1916 at a cost of $6 million, was industrialist Henry Clay Frick’s dream to build a Pittsburgh landmark to rival the Old World elegance he saw in European hotels. He hired noted architects Franklin Abbott and Benno Janssen to design the hotel, and he spared no expense. The Grand Ballroom on the 17th floor of the original hotel has been lavishly restored. With huge crystal chandeliers and opulent gold and white décor on two levels, the large ballroom looks like a scene from “The Great Gatsby.” Traditional afternoon tea is served at the William Penn, which recently received a multi-million-dollar renovation. It now has 597 guestrooms, 52,000 square feet of function space, and multiple restaurants.

2. Renaissance Cleveland Hotel (Cleveland, OH)

Hotels have occupied the corner of Superior and Public Square in the heart of downtown Cleveland since 1812. Its current occupant, the Renaissance Cleveland, opened in 1918 as a 1,000-room luxury hotel with vaulted ceilings, high arched windows, and an impressive marble fountain in the lobby. It is connected to the Terminal Tower building that opened in 1930 as the city’s rapid transit center. Today, the 52-story Terminal Tower is known as Tower City Center and features shops, restaurants, cinemas, and casinos. After going through several names and owners over the years, the original Hotel Cleveland remains a luxury hotel with 441 guestrooms with marble bathrooms, 50 suites, and three ballrooms among 64,000 square feet of function space. Its aptly-named Grand Ballroom can seat 2,900 people. Its San Souci restaurant features fine dining in elegant surroundings including pastoral murals and wood columns.

1. Omni Severin Hotel (Indianapolis, IN)

The Omni Severin Hotel is one of the last original buildings standing in the Indianapolis Union Station Wholesale District. Built by Henry Severin, Jr. with help from the founders of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the hotel originally opened in 1913 as the Grand Hotel of Indianapolis. It thrived as a daily stream of train passengers arriving at adjacent Union Station needed a place to stay, and it continues today as the city’s longest-running luxury hotel. Severin’s history is on display throughout the hotel. The original marble staircase remains, as does the crystal chandelier hanging outside the Severin Ballroom. The original 1913 mailbox serves as a working mailbox today, and original furniture from the hotel rests outside the elevator on each floor of the 424-room hotel. Completely modernized while retaining its historic charm, the Severin is connected via skywalks to the downtown Circle Center Mall and Indianapolis Convention Center.

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 the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania as this is one of the best cities to visit in USA, packed full of shops and things to explore.

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

10 Best Baseball Stadiums to Watch America’s Pastime This Summer

There are few things more American than baseball, and there’s little more enjoyable than staking out a spot in the bleachers to bask in the sun while the players get put through their paces. The key, though, is knowing which ballparks are the best for catching a game. It’s not just about which teams are leading their division. Consider which stadiums have the best sightlines to catch all the action, which offer up spectacular views of their surroundings, and which have unique amenities. We’ve considered all these points and come up with a list of the top 10 Major League Baseball stadiums to visit around the country:

10. Kauffman Stadium -Home of the Kansas City Royals

Kauffman Stadium, just outside Kansas City, Missouri is actually one of the oldest in the major leagues, but you’d never guess it was built in 1973 just by looking. Extensive renovations completed in 2009 make this one of the best places to watch a game. Gaze into the outfield to watch the stadium’s signature feature, the magnificent fountains, and enjoy the feeling of being among some of the friendliest fans in the country. And while you’re in Kansas City, take a trip to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which charts the progress of the Negro Leagues and hosts a large collection of artifacts from the period.

Ffooter / Shutterstock.com
Ffooter / Shutterstock.com

9. Safeco Field -Home of the Seattle Mariners

Safeco might have a chance to pull itself higher up the list if the Mariners ever manage to become relevant. But even without any hope of the team challenging in the American League west, Safeco Field remains a beautiful spot to catch a game, particularly on a summer’s evening. Grab a craft beer and a box of sushi, then angle your view toward the Puget Sound for one of Seattle’s gorgeous sunsets. If Seattle’s frequent rain makes this an impossibility, worry not: Safeco Field is one of just two stadiums in the world with a retractable roof, meaning you’ll stay dry no matter the weather.

alens / Shutterstock.com
alens / Shutterstock.com

8. Target Field -Home of the Minnesota Twins

The Twins’ new home, located in downtown Minneapolis, is the newest ballpark in the United States. Even lovers of history won’t miss the crumbling concrete Metrodome, especially once they snuggle up to the fire pits in left field and gaze out over the city skyline. The sightlines are clean and the stadium feels cozy, and because of Target Field’s location, fans can easily walk or take the light rail to the nearby station – especially important after the stadium installed the major leagues’ first self-serve beer stations.

Ffooter / Shutterstock.com
Ffooter / Shutterstock.com

7. Petco Park -Home of the San Diego Padres

Take a stroll through San Diego’s Gaslamp District and you’ll be sure to stumble upon Petco Park. The Padres’ humble home suits the team  – a quietly lovely stadium that doesn’t seek to overshadow its neighbors, instead using its stucco façade to blend in. The sightlines are nearly perfect and it’s practically impossible to get stuck with a bad seat. Even sitting in the “Park in the Park” above the outfield isn’t a hardship, especially for just five dollars. Choose to sit in the bleachers instead, and you’ll have a beautiful view out over San Diego Bay and Balboa Park.

Petco Park

6. Fenway Park -Home of the Boston Red Sox

If you’re a fan of any baseball team not named the Red Sox, you’re likely sick of fans in your hometown who’ve hopped on the Boston bandwagon after the team finally won another World Series title in 2004, but hanging out with the diehards at Fenway will give you a whole new appreciation for the team. The fans that routinely sellout the stadium are knowledgeable and devoted to their boys, and thanks to the closeness of the seats, you’ll quickly feel like one of them. The packed-together atmosphere is just part of the stadium’s charm, along with the hand-operated scoreboard and the Green Monster.

Joyce Vincent / Shutterstock.com
Joyce Vincent / Shutterstock.com

5. Busch Stadium -Home of the St. Louis Cardinals

There are few things more quintessentially American than taking in a baseball game at Busch Stadium on a summer’s day. Named after Anheuser-Busch, headquartered in the city, you’ll certainly have a chance to down a few cold lagers. Even better though, is that you might get invited to a tailgate party happening before the game even starts. Then you’ll move into a packed stadium, filled with fans all proudly wearing red, and take in the view of the St. Louis Arch rising above the city skyline. Or you can even stay outside, watching the game from the sidewalk with other like-minded souls.

Matt McClain / Shutterstock.com
Matt McClain / Shutterstock.com

4. Camden Yards -Home of the Baltimore Orioles

In 1992, Camden Yards forever changed the course of history. The Orioles moved out of Memorial Stadium, a multipurpose arena like so many others used by baseball teams at the time, and into their new retro-chic home. From the brick outside to the incorporation of the old B&O Warehouse in right field to the regional food served on the concourses, Camden Yards was meant to glorify its locale. Other baseball teams followed suit, and almost every stadium built or renovated since the opening of Camden Yards gives a nod to this game changing stadium.

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

3. PNC Park -Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates

You want to be close to the baseball action? PNC Park is your best bet. This intimate stadium, opened in 2001, boasts that its highest seats are a mere 88 feet from the field, and it certainly has the best sightlines of any major league park. You’ll also get tremendous views of the Pittsburgh skyline’s distinctive architecture, and on game days the Roberto Clemente Bridge is closed to traffic so fans can walk along the Allegheny River to the game. Locals bring their boats and kayaks alongside the stadium, hoping a foul ball will splash into the water nearby.

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

2. Wrigley Field -Home of the Chicago Cubs

For fans wanting the best old-school atmosphere, nothing beats a day game with the bleacher bums at Wrigley. The park opened in 1914, meaning it’s never seen a Cubs championship, but that doesn’t mean the fans have given up on their home team. Groups congregate on nearby rooftops to watch the games, while kids hope to catch a home run ball out on the sidewalk. The ivy on the outfield walls grows so thick that sometimes players lose a ball they’re chasing, while the enormous scoreboard remains hand-operated. Bypass the seats and put your own bum in the bleachers, where the wonder of Wrigley is best experienced.

Wrigley Field

1. AT&T Park -Home of the San Francisco Giants

Was it this stadium opened in 2000, that led to the Giants capturing three World Series titles since moving in? Considering they didn’t manage even one championship in the 40 years spent at the drafty dungeon of Candlestick Park, this theory might not be too much of a stretch. Their new home is a gorgeous tribute to their city, from the kayaks waiting to fish balls out of McCovey Cove to the delicious local eats. The giant Coca-Cola bottle, complete with slides, and the enormous glove behind left field add whimsical touches, as does the foghorn that blares each time the Giants hit a home run.

Eric Broder Van Dyke / Shutterstock.com
Eric Broder Van Dyke / Shutterstock.com

10 Awesome Museums Where You Can Spend the Night

We can all thank the movie “Night at the Museum” for peaking everyone’s interest in spending a night at a museum, especially kids. While the artifacts and animals won’t come to life like the movie (or will they?), there is something pretty amazing about curling up surrounded by history. From snoozing under a 94-foot blue whale to building rockets to live animal exhibitions, these sleepovers aren’t just for kids. Indulge in an adult’s only sleepover complete with craft beer and wine or spend some quality family time at these 10 awesome museums where you can spend the night.

10. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum -Cooperstown, NY

You can sleep among the iconic athletes at this awesome hall of fame and museum during their Extra Innings Overnight program, a true delight for any baseball fan. The program typically runs just four times a year and is open to both children of members and youth groups. The program was inspired by the Night at the Museum movie but instead of dinosaurs and Indians, the kids get bats and balls. The actual sleeping happens underneath your favorite hall of famer’s plaque so get there early to stake your claim. Activities throughout the night include a scavenger hunt, presentations, hands-on exhibits, personal tours and movie and popcorn. This program is designed for children ages 7-12 and adults seem to enjoy it just as much as kids. Get your favorite jersey out and sleep under the stars at this awesome museum.

Photo by: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Photo by: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

9. The National Archives -Washington, D.C.

It only happens once a year but the History, Heroes and Treasures sleepover at the National Archives is not to be missed. Aimed at children 8 years of age and older, this evening lets you curl up next to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Throughout the night, young explores will learn about the greatest adventures of time through music, games and chats with historical figures. Plan on writing a letter to the president, playing with historic toys and dressing up in period clothing. The evening concludes with a movie in the William G. McGowan Theatre. The next morning sleepover guests are treated to a pancake breakfast with a celebrity and even more activities including a chocolate history demonstration, a favorite for everyone. This event has only been happening for a few years and tends to sell out so make sure you register early.

Photo by: National Archives Foundation
Photo by: National Archives Foundation

8. Milwaukee Public Museum -Milwaukee, WI

Overnights at this museum give parents and kids the opportunity to explore the museum after dark, in themed overnights. The program is open for children ages 6 through 12 and their parents. One of the best values on this list, it only costs $47 per person if you are not a member. Themed nights include Ancient Worlds, Mystery Night and For Your Eyes Only; where participants get a look at the exhibits not normally available for public viewing. Activities include a self-guided flashlight tour of the third floor, a dome theatre show, educator-led activities, scavenger hunts, breakfast the next morning and admission the next day. Overnight sleepovers run on select Fridays and make sure you check the calendar and book your place in advance! For a fun-filled family atmosphere that never feels too crowded, check out this museum for your overnight adventure.

Photo by: Milwaukee Public Museum
Photo by: Milwaukee Public Museum

7. Carnegie Science Center -Pittsburgh, PA

The themed sleepovers at this museum are held monthly and offer such themes as Spooky Science and the Polar Express. These awesome sleepovers include live shows, an Omnimax movie, theme-related activities and free time to explore the museum exhibits once it is closed to the public. The Planetarium show or laser show is always a hit with the kids, as is the science workshop. A late night snack and continental breakfast along with admission is included the next day. If you are into the Star Wars series you will love the robot themed exhibit where you can lay your head down to sleep, right beside replicas of C-3PO and R2D2. Whichever themed night you choose, we promise it will be full of fun and adventure at this awesome science center.

Photo by: Carnegie Science Center
Photo by: Carnegie Science Center

6. Natural History Museum -Los Angeles County, CA

These overnight adventures just aren’t for kids anymore, although you can still attend one of the family specific sleepovers. The overnight adventures are broken into themes and include a girl’s only Camp Butterfly experience, Camp Dinosaur, Camp Arachnids and Camp Mummies. Each night includes specialty themed activities, scavenger hunts, crafts, an evening snack and admission to the museum the following day. The adult’s only program is a little different welcoming guests 21 and over to dance to live music, work on art projects and spend the evening in the nature gardens. Once night falls, adults will head indoors for a scavenger hunt, a DJ spinning tunes, a midnight buffet and open craft beer and wine bar. This all-nighter is made even better by movie screening, behind the scenes tour and a morning buffet. The cost for adults, only $95 which includes all food and drinks; we can’t think of a more awesome adult museum experience!

Photo by: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Photo by: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

5. The Field Museum -Chicago, IL

The resident T-Rex, Sue, welcomes families with children from 6-12 to experience once of its “Dozin with Dinos” sleepovers. You will want to pack your flashlight for this sleepover as you will head out on a self-guided tour of the Ancient Egypt exhibit which includes a gigantic three-story replica of an Egyptian tomb, complete with mummies. Overnight guests here will also have the opportunity to excavate fossils and examine the T-Rex’s bones. Educational workshops take place throughout the night and bring kids up close to live insects and animals. There are a number of premium packages for families looking for something a little extra and these include a behind-the-scenes guided tour and sleeping spots in the Evolving Planet Exhibition. This overnight program runs from 5:45pm until 9am the next morning and promises to be a hit with the whole family.

Jason Patrick Ross / Shutterstock.com
Jason Patrick Ross / Shutterstock.com

4. Saint Louis Science Center -St. Louis, MO

These family orientated sleepovers are offered all year round and allow visitors to explore the science center after dark. Science demonstrations, a planetarium show and Omnimax film are just part of the activities. Kids will delight in the pizza dinner, evening snack and continental breakfast which are included with this overnight experience. Parents and children ages 6 and up are invited to spend the night here sleeping in one of the galleries. Crafty activities include building a rocket, constructing an animatronics dinosaur and analyzing germs in the life sciences lab. Each sleepover features a different theme including dinosaurs, planetarium and Sherlock Holmes. Campers here also have the chance to explore the centers 700 exhibits with plenty of free time. Grab the kids, pack up your sleeping bags and head here for an unforgettable adventure.

Photo by: Saint Louis Science Center
Photo by: Saint Louis Science Center

3. The Franklin Institute -Philadelphia, PA

If you think visiting this museum during the day is great, try visiting at night at one of their Camp-In sleepovers, where kids and adults can snooze beside a giant heart of a 350-ton locomotive. Guests at this sleepover will not only enjoy a live astronomy show, a planetarium show and an IMAX movie but they can also try their hand at rooftop stargazing in the Joel N. Bloom Observatory. Kids love taking a ride on the flight simulator, exploring the brand new exhibits in the morning before the public have access and taking part in the hands-on activities. What is even better, once you have taken part in this sleepover, all children under 13 will have free access to this museum for a year! These sleepovers run Friday and Saturday nights periodically throughout the year and it’s truly an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for families.

Photo by: The Franklin Institute
Photo by: The Franklin Institute

2. Museum of Science and Industry -Chicago IL

They call it Science Snoozeum and this rare opportunity to visit the museum after dark excites both kids and adults. An intense but fun-filled scavenger hunt will have you searching as a family for a special path, kids will participate in special science activities and make their own science toys, and families will have the chance to sleep nose-to-nose with a real-life 727 airplane. Explore the exhibits after dark including the life-size replica of a coal mine, an actual U-505 German submarine and a giant heart. Sleepovers here are offered to families with children ages 6-12 and include parking, admission, an Omnimax film and breakfast. This program operates all year round and offers many themed nights including Halloween and Christmas. The program begins at 5:30pm and ends at 8:30am and includes both an evening snack and breakfast.

Photo by: Museum of Science and Industry Chicago
Photo by: Museum of Science and Industry Chicago

1. American Museum of Natural History -New York City, NY

It is no surprise that you can unroll your sleeping bag at this museum, after all the famous movie featuring Ben Stiller was inspired by the NYC Natural History Museum. Visitors here have two options for sleepovers though, one a family inspired event where ages 6-13 are welcome and the other, an adult only 21 and over event. The family friendly version includes a live-animal exhibition, a flashlight tour of the dinosaur exhibit and a space show, along with snacks and crafts along the way. The adult’s only sleepover starts off with a champagne reception and live jazz music, followed by a buffet dinner with both beer and wine. A flashlight-led fossil fact-finding tour, a midnight showing of the space show and several presentations take place throughout the night. In both sleepovers, visitors will curl up under the beloved 94-foot long blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

Photo by: American Museum of Natural History
Photo by: American Museum of Natural History

10 Must See Sports Stadiums in North America

While travelling many people make sure to get to all of the biggest attractions and talked about places at their destination as these are often the deciding factors on choosing where to take their trip. While this is understandable, many people overlook the fact that some of the most amazing structures in modern society revolve around local sports teams, especially in North America. With sports being such a huge part of culture, teams are making more money than ever meaning they are building stadiums that are amazing to behold. So whether you’re a sports fan who likes to travel or a traveler who doesn’t mind taking in a sports game in order to experience the amazing features stadiums have to offer, here are the 10 Must-See Sports Stadiums in North America.

10. New Yankee Stadium, MLB

New Yankee Stadium is located in New York, New York and is home to the New York Yankees of the MLB and will be the future home of the New York City FC of Major League Soccer. This stadium is relatively new, as it opened in 2009 and cost 1.5 billion dollars to construct. One of the best things to see in this massive structure is the “Great Hall” which is located between the outside and inside walls and runs between gates 4 and 6. This huge space displays banners of Yankee star players as well as massive LED screens. If all of that is too modern for you, there’s also a New York Yankee Museum located at Gate 6 which features Yankee memorabilia and highlights major New York Yankees moments through the years. If you’re visiting New York, this stadium is clearly a spot you’d want to check out, with lots to see before even getting to the actual baseball game.

eddtoro / Shutterstock.com
eddtoro / Shutterstock.com

9. Fenway Park, MLB

If you are a traveler who loves to experience the true local vibe and feel of the place you are visiting then Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, is definitely somewhere to go while in Boston, Massachusetts. Unlike many of the stadiums on this list, Fenway is not new, in fact it is the oldest stadium in the MLB although it has undergone almost continuous upgrades and renovations to keep it in working order. It’s still a perfect place for those who enjoy the history of their travel destination as Fenway is now officially on the National Register of Historic Places. Make sure to check out the numerous activities that shut down the streets and bring everyone together before and after games to get a true Boston experience. As well, if you’re visiting the stadium you can’t miss the iconic “Green Monster” which is the left field wall and is one of the few manually operated scoreboards in the game today. If you’re not one who is easily impressed by the glitz and glam of big buildings and stadiums then Fenway’s historic charm and atmosphere is sure to be a great experience.

Joyce Vincent / Shutterstock.com
Joyce Vincent / Shutterstock.com

8. CenturyLink Field, NFL

This massive stadium located in Seattle, Washington opened in 2002 and is home to the NFL’s 2014 defending Super Bowl Champions the Seattle Seahawks as well as the Seattle Sounders FC of Major League Soccer. Aside from the champions who play here, this complex also boasts the WaMu Theater, a public plaza and is a place of major concerts and trade shows aside from major sporting events. To get an all-around CenturyLink experience one can take the train from Seattle’s King Street Station right to the stadium. Of course what’s most talked about with this famous stadium is not something you can see, but something you can hear. If you’re checking out the stadium during a Seahawks game get ready to cheer or cover your ears as this stadium broke the Guinness World Record for loudest crowd roar which is amplified by the structure itself with the seating decks and roof trap resounding noise back to the field, giving a definite home-field advantage. This stadium is every travelling sports fan’s dream come true.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

7. Bell Centre, NHL

The 270 million dollar Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada is a great stop while visiting beautiful Montreal due to its ease of access and proximity to many other places to visit. Best known as the home of the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL, this complex is also one of the world’s busiest for non-sporting events. With the old charm of Montreal mixed with the excitement of the world of sports and entertainment, it’s a great place to experience the NHL and even has a section of lower priced seating for children known as the Family Zone. The Bell Centre is connected to both major metro stations as well as to the underground city of Montreal and is across the street from the 1250 Rene-Levesque skyscraper, putting it right in the middle of many things you’d like to see so you can enjoy the best of the major attractions while also getting to see one of the best hockey stadiums in North America.

meunierd / Shutterstock.com
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

6. PNC Park, MLB

Like many other baseball stadiums, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a must-see not only because of the structure itself but because of the experience it offers as a whole. Home to the Pittsburgh Pirates, this baseball park has many features to make it a must see while in Pittsburgh. Its location alone is amazing, so even if you aren’t that into watching baseball, just go for the spectacular view of downtown Pittsburgh premised by the Alleghany River; on a beautiful day of baseball, the view steals the show. There are also many great food experiences to be had with the “Tastes of Pittsburgh” that includes traditional baseball foods, Pittsburgh specialties and exotic choices, making sure to have something for everyone and anyone who wants to be adventurous while visiting a new city. While the park itself is great to visit, just getting there is also exciting for those wanting to see the city. You can take a water limo service on the Alleghany or take a walk across the Roberto Clemente Bridge as vehicular traffic is prohibited on game days.

jessicakirsh / Shutterstock.com
jessicakirsh / Shutterstock.com

5. Lucas Oil Stadium, NFL

The still very new Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana gives fans a great experience. Home to the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil replaced the RCA Dome in 2008 and consequently utilizes the best modern technology and engineering techniques to create an amazing stadium. Some of the best features include two massive HD scoreboards, a retractable roof that divides in two, and the second largest movable glass window-wall which allows for light when closed and a great view of the Indianapolis downtown when open. Lucas Oil is a great experience and a great example of when the best of modern technology and the world of sports come together.

Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

4. MetLife Stadium, NFL

New York is a tourist hot-spot so why not take a break from the main city and check out East Rutherford, New Jersey, the location of MetLife Stadium. What’s most distinguishable about MetLife is the fact it’s home to two NFL teams, the New York Giants and the New York Jets and has interior lighting that switches colors based on which team is playing. Along with changing lights, it also boasts twenty massive LED Pylons at the North and East entrances which play videos of whichever team is playing. In 2014 MetLife became a whole lot more popular when it was the first ever stadium with no dome, in a cold weather climate to host the Super Bowl.

Jai Agnish / Shutterstock.com
Jai Agnish / Shutterstock.com

3. EverBank Field, NFL

EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida is home to the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars and has had a long history since it opened in 1995. After poor attendance and issues due to age of the stadium, the location has recently underwent $63 million of improvements and renovations now making it a must-see stadium in North America. The new and improved Everbank is looking a little like a Las Vegas resort as it now includes two wading pools in what is known as the “Party Deck” at the stadium’s North end zone. Other features include two new scoreboards which are the largest of their kind, enhanced food and beverage options and numerous interactive activities. The grandeur of this stadium makes it a must-see, what could be better for a sports fan than playing in a pool in Florida while watching a live NFL game?

Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.com
Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.com

2. AT&T Park, MLB

It’s obvious that many baseball parks are amazing to see, but AT&T Park in San Francisco, home to the San Francisco Giants of the MLB is a must see spot for sports fans visiting the spectacular city of San Francisco. Like PNC Park, this stadium’s location and the view it offers is one of its best features. With the backdrop of San Francisco Bay, overlooking McCovey Cove, named after former Giant Willie McCovey, the atmosphere is unrivaled. The park includes a giant Coca-Cola bottle with slides as well as bubbles and lights that go off when a home run occurs and next door sits an equally massive Four Fingered Baseball Glove. The park is perfect for the young and young at heart, with great food, great atmosphere and a great view that no one would want to miss while in San Francisco.

Eric Broder Van Dyke / Shutterstock.com
Eric Broder Van Dyke / Shutterstock.com

1. AT&T Stadium, NFL

Arlington, Texas may not be the first on your list for traveling destinations but if you’re a serious sports fan, it probably should be. Opened in 2009, AT&T Stadium is the proud home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and is a testament to what happens when enormous amounts of money and brand new technology collide, having also been called “Jerry World” playing off the grandeur vision Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones had for the stadium as an all-around entertainment mecca. The outstanding feature of this incredible stadium is its enormous HD television screen which was the largest in the world at the time of the stadium’s opening. For fan experience the stadium also includes a Party Pass section which is a series of platforms that offers standing room for 25,000 people in addition to the 80,000 seats in the stadium. There are also over 3,000 LCD TV screens to ensure no fan misses any play no matter where they are, as well as a retractable roof allowing for the best of conditions at all times. Stepping into this stadium is like stepping into a party in the future, which will amaze any visitor to Texas.

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

Top 10 Cities to Invest in Real Estate in the US for 2014

With the recession growing more distant as each day passes, it’s the perfect time to set your sights on investing in real estate in the United States. Affordable housing, low vacancy rates and low interest rates make this market attractive to all types of investors. Cities are finally experiencing population growth, job growth and expansion of international markets which is making the real estate market finally begin to rise. The time to get into that market is now and here we show you the ten best cities to invest in. Whether you’re buying a vacation home, rental property or a place to call home; these cities can offer up a great place to invest.

1. Houston, Texas

With a booming economy and adequate room for expansion, Houston is number one on our list of top cities to invest in. Being the fourth largest city in the United States and an international business hub; it is the gateway to Latin America. With affordable housing options, low cost of living and high quality of living; this city is begging to be lived in. With its growing population and job growth that will continue into 2015; Houston has ever growing industries. Being named the energy capital of the world with over half of Fortune 500 companies being headquartered in Houston; this city is moving forward and the right time to invest in it is now.

Skyline of Houston, Texas in daytime under blue sky

2. Orlando, Florida

Being one of the hardest hit cities during the recession, Orlando is still struggling to bounce back into the forefront of the market. In saying that; it’s also one of the top cities to grab up real estate right now. With low priced homes along with low interest rates; investors can score big on buying. High rental rates make Orlando more attractive to investors and with a massive tourist industry; rental units are a top investment choice. Along with the tourist industry, Orlando boasts an above average job growth and booming health science industry; both leading to further growth in this sunny destination. With prices on the rise and the country coming out of the recession; we suggest you get in the game now!

Orlando downtown welcome sign with tropical scene

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

During the recession, Pittsburgh proved to be one of the most resilient cities in the country and that is one of the reasons investing in real estate here is a great choice. With growth in medical, banking and education industries; Pittsburgh is seeing an increase in both in-town and out-of-town investors. Historic low vacancy rates and affordable house prices lets buyers into the market without breaking the bank. With a growing demand in the oil and gas industry, this city is proving to be unstoppable in terms of growth and stability.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

4. Minneapolis, Minnesota

The time to invest in real estate in Minneapolis is now. The strong diverse economy and low housing prices together with the low rental vacancy rates makes this city desirable for all types of investors. Currently out of town investors are snapping up huge chunks of apartment buildings in the core center. Although this means housing is harder to come by than some of the other cities we have mentioned, the value of real estate is quickly rising. Younger generations who don’t want to leave the Midwest are flocking to Minneapolis after graduating. The time is now to buy in this quickly growing market where one can choose to pick a long term investment or “turn and burn” a property to make money.

Morning view of Minneapolis, MN skyline

5. Atlanta, Georgia

More homes were seized in Atlanta than any major metro area in the country according to CoreLogic Inc, which makes this city a buyer’s market. With its usually warm winters, home of a dozen fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola and Home Depot; Atlanta offers up a great place to invest in real estate. With a cost of living less than half that of Manhattans and a multitude of houses available; this city is the perfect place to grab some real estate. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, there are plenty of opportunities to buy a fixer upper well below the average price of $200,000 for a single dwelling unit.

Downtown Atlanta, Georgia, USA skyline

6. Seattle, Washington

As the economy continues to rebound; this city shows no sign of slowing down. Seattle is filled with not just rainy days but world renowned coffee and massive companies such as Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft. Always being a great city to buy property, Seattle remains true to its origins and is still a top choice to invest in real estate. Young people are flocking to this city to work for giant companies and the city is shifting from suburban to urban and there’s no sign of this city’s growth slowing down. Do yourself a favor and invest in an apartment, house or commercial property. It will be well worth it.

Downtown Seattle as seen from the Kerry park in the evening

7. Raleigh, North Carolina

Affordable cost of living and job growth in stable fields have propelled this city into our top ten list. Raleigh prides itself on being the hub of education and with job stability comes a great market for real estate investment. A low foreclosure rate and strong commercial real estate opportunities will propel Raleigh into a strong future. Real estate investors will feel confident in this city as there is nowhere to go but up.

Skyline of Raleigh, NC

8. Phoenix, Arizona

Sun lovers are scooping up real estate in this now trending city; one of the hardest hit cities when the housing market bubble burst. Bargain prices, plenty of availability and a steady job growth makes Phoenix an attractive place to invest. Top companies such as Walmart and Intel support the job growth and housing market. Investors are choosing secondary markets such as Phoenix over major cities where real estate markets are flooded. Take a page from their book and get your hands on some sun soaked property here, but act quickly; this housing market is only going up. With big banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America employing people; this city is bouncing back.

Phoenix Arizona

9. Manhattan, New York

By far the most expensive city to buy real estate in this list, Manhattan nonetheless is an excellent city to invest in –if you can afford it. With thousands of employees coming to work at the World Trade Center; the market is booming, especially in the financial district. Couple that fact with New York’s ever growing population and notoriously trendy “Hipster” neighborhoods; there doesn’t seem to be a bad time to invest in this city when it comes to real estate. You will have to have deep pockets to invest here, but in the long run this Empire State will make it worth your while.

Aerial view of Manhattan skyline at sunset, New York City

10. Dallas, Texas

One of the fastest growing cities; Dallas rounds off our list of top cities in The United States to invest in real estate. With houses priced below 12% of their actual value, it’s a great time to buy in Texas. Constant job growth, the ability to profit from future gas and oil development and home to the third busiest airport in the world; there is no shortage of growth in this city. With the ever growing technology industry taking place in Dallas; this is the place for people looking for long-term economic stability. Invest in real estate here today and in ten years you will wonder why you didn’t invest sooner.

A View of the Skyline of Dallas, Texas, USA