Interesting Facts About The United States

The United States of America, the land of the free consists of 50 states. Over 327 million people reside in America making it the third most populous country in the world. The US is also the fourth largest country in the world by total area. This vast country is well known across the world and has a cultural imprint that is driven by technological innovation, popular movies, television, and music. Discover all the amazing and interesting things America has to offer with these 20 interesting facts.

1. America Is Home To Many Natural Wonders

America is home to many natural wonders of the world. In fact, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recognized many heritage sites in America. According to UNESCO, a world heritage site is a place of special cultural or physical significance.

Some examples of the UNESCO world heritage sites in America are the Grand Canyon National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and a few others. Check out the full list of Natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the USA.

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2. The US Has The 4th Longest River System In The World

The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. The river derives from Montana, located at the base of the Rocky Mountains and flows for approximately 2, 341 miles (3, 767 kilometers) before it empties into the Mississippi River just north of St. Louis, Missouri. The Missouri River and the Mississippi River combine to create the 4th longest river system in the world.

For thousands of years, many people have depended on the Missouri River. From drinking water to transportation, irrigation, flood control and now even for the generation of hydroelectric power. As you can see this long body of water has played an important role over the years.

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3. The US Has The Largest Economy In The World

The United States has maintained its position of being the world’s largest economy since 1871. The economy is so large that the US is often noted as an economic superpower and this is due to the fact that it makes up almost a quarter of the global economy.

The US economy is connected to the country’s enormous population, technological innovation, high consumer spending, high average incomes, as well as a moderate unemployment rate.

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4. The American Flag Has Had 27 Versions

The first American flag only displayed 13 stripes as well as 13 stars that were arranged in a circle. The stars and stripes represented the 13 colonies that declared independence from Great Britain. While the origins of the first American Flag are unknown, some do believe that is was designed by a New Jersy Congressman, Francis Hopkinson and sewn by a Philadelphia seamstress, Betsy Ross.

Since the founding of the United State, there have been 27 versions of the American flag. Each new flag represented the addition of new states. Today, the American flag displays 50 stars that represent the 50 states that make up the US.

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5. Home To Some of The Best Musical Artist Of All Time

Not only is America a huge country, but their musical impression has made a big impact on the world too. America dominates the music industry as there are so many talented musicians that call America home.

Some of the best musical artists include Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Hendrix, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and many many more.

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6. Center of Entertainment

America has a huge impact on global culture and a portion of that stems from entertainment. Many romance and action movies we enjoy are filmed and produced in the United States.

Hollywood is globally well-known as the center of entertainment and some would consider that it is one of the most famous places on earth. Hollywood attracts tourists from all over the world with landmarks such as the brass star embedded Walk of Fame and the TCL Chinese Theatre.

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7. Washington, DC Wasn’t Always The Capital Of America

Many recognize Washington, DC as the capital of the United States but that wasn’t always the case. Washington didn’t become the capital until 1790.

Believe it or not, from 1785 until 1790, New York City served as the countries capital. While it may not be the capital today, over 8 million people reside in New York City, making it the most populous city in America.

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8. Las Vegas Is The Gambling Capital Of The World

Las Vegas, Nevada is the 28th-most populated city in the United States and is the most populous city in Nevada. This famous city is renowned for its nightlife, entertainment, gambling, shopping, and fine dining. Las Vegas has the largest strip of casinos which has earned this city the Gambling Capital of the World title.

The city is also famous for its mega casino-hotels which has also earned Las Vegas the title of Entertainment Capital of the World. Further, Las Vegas is one of the world’s most visited tourist destinations as well as one of the top destinations for business conventions in the United States.

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9. There Is More Bourbon Than People In Kentucky

The bourbon industry is growing at a fast pace. This is great news for Kentucky, as they produce 96 percent of the world’s bourbon. Due to the high demand, Kentucky stores about 4.7 million barrels filled with bourbon. Surprisingly the number of barrels outweighs the population of Kentucky as there are 4.3 million residents.

Some speculate that this booming industry has the American drama series, Mad Men, to thank for making bourbon cocktails cool again. Nonetheless, whether you like bourbon because it’s trendy or because you simply enjoy the flavor, we all have the State of Kentucky to thank for this delicious beverage.

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10. There Is a City Named Boring And It’s In Oregon

When you hear the word boring, nothing exciting comes to mind. So you might be asking yourself who would ever want to reside in a city name Boring. Believe it or not, tucked away in the state of Oregon about 20 miles from Portland, is a city named Boring with a population of over 7 thousand people.

While this may sound like an obscure name for a city, the name was chosen for a reason. The city was named after its founder, William H Boring, who farmed the land in the 1870s. To make things more exciting, Boring, Oregan partnered with Dull, Scotland and have even declared August 9 as the annual Dull, Boring Day. This newfound partnership has sparked tourist’s interest and is putting Boring, Oregan back on the map.

11. The US Doesn’t Have An Official Language

While English is predominantly spoken across the United States, on a federal level there are no laws stating that English is the official language. However, even though there are no federal laws, 31 states have declared English the official language.

Further, there are only a few states that are officially bilingual. For example, in New Mexico, the official language is English and Spanish, whereas, in Louisiana, the official language is English and French, and finally, in Hawaii, the official language is English and Hawaiin.

 

12. Alaska Has The Longest Coastline In The US

In comparison to other states, Alaska has the longest coastline. By definition, the coastline is the length of land bordering the ocean and Alaska borders both the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean.

To explain further, if you only measure the coastline, it is 6, 640 miles long whereas if you measure all the bays, and inlets, you’ll discover that Alaska stretches across 47, 000 miles, which is longer than all the states combined.

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13. The US Is Called Many Names

The United States is by far the most famous country in the world. It’s famous for its attractions, such as the Grand Canyon, tech innovation, sports, and it has a large imprint on the global culture thanks to famous movies, television shows, and music.

However, did you know that the United States of America is referred to several different names? Some of these recognizable names are the United States, the U.S., the US, and America. Thankfully, all of these names are considered appropriate.

14. The US Has Many Hotels Featured In Famous Movies

Have you ever wondered what it would be like walking the halls of hotels that are featured in famous films? Well in America you can experience it! Many films use real hotels and resorts to shoot their scenes and this means we can visit and even stay overnight in them too.

Swim in the pool at The Fontainebleau, in Miami, Florida and relive the scenes of Scarface. Or perhaps you’d enjoy walking the halls of The Plaza hotel, in New York, NY where scenes from The Great Gatsby were shot. The Plaza is also featured in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Sleepless in Seattle as well as several other films too. Check out these other famous movie hotels where you can live like a star!

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15. There Are Many Free Museums In The Country’s Capital

Washington, D.C., America’s capital is the heart of American history and culture. There are many things to see and do in Washington DC including many free museums. The Smithsonian Institute museums are a must-visit and many of them are located on the National Mall.

In fact, 11 of the 20 Smithsonian Institute Museums are located in Washington, including the National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History, National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as several others.

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16. Full Of Beautiful Landscapes

While America is famous for the hustle and bustle of its major cities, this beautiful country also offers stunning picturesque landscapes. As mentioned previously, the Grand Canyons is one of the most popular tourist destinations when it comes to picturesque views but there are many others too.

Consider checking out America’s highest mountain, Mount Mckinley located in Alaska. Or perhaps you’d like to head to Utah and take in the view of Zion Canyon at the Zion National Park. For more beautiful landscapes be sure to check out the most picturesque views in the United States.

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17. Iconic Food In America

Like other countries, America is famous for a few dishes. To begin, the iconic Twinkies were invented in Illinois in the 1930s by a baker named James Alexander Dewar. Legend has it that the name for this sugary snack was inspired by a billboard that was advertising for “Twinkle Toe Shoes”.

The inventor of corn dogs is uncertain, but it was definitely invented by someone in America in the later 1930s. Since then this popular State Fair food has made its way into the many freezers across North America and beyond. A few other iconic American foods include cheeseburgers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, s’mores, BBQ ribs, and more.

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18. The Statue Of Liberty Was A Gift

The Statue of Liberty, formally known as “Liberty Enlightening the World”, was a gift from France. This gift was sent to celebrate 100 years of Franco-American friendship. The statue was sculpted by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi while the framework was designed by a French engineer, Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the Eiffel Tower.

The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island in New York, NY. The torch is a symbol of enlightenment and lights the way to freedom by showing us the path to liberty.

Source: Shutterstock

19. The Gateway Arch Is The Tallest Monument In The US

The Gateway Arch, also known as the “Gateway to the West” is a monument in St. Louis, Missouri and sits along the west bank of the Mississippi River. At 630 feet tall, the Gateway Arch claims the title of the tallest man-made monument in the US.

The monument commemorates the westward expansion of the United States and is officially dedicated to “the American People”. The Arch is internationally recognized as a symbol of St. Louis and because of this, it is a popular tourist destination.

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20. The Most Visited Museum Is In Washington

Have you ever been curious about the space shuttle, astronomy, or the Wright Brothers? Well, you can learn about these popular aviation and space topics at the most visited museum in America, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Located in Washington, D.C., this museum sees about 9 million visitors annually.

The admission to this museum is FREE and is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. The only day the Museum is closed, is on December 25.

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5 Must-Visit Destinations in Washington, D.C. for Families

With hundreds of monuments, museums, and memorials to choose from, a visit to D.C. can quickly turn overwhelming as you try to cram everything in. Add kids to the mix and things just get even more exhausting! Luckily, the United States’ capital is quite family-friendly — you just have to know which activates will most captivate your wee ones. For a visit to D.C. that’s energizing and educational for the entire family (instead of exhausting), incorporate a trip to a few of these spots full of family fun into your itinerary:

5. National Air and Space Museum

At over 160,000 square feet, D.C.’s National Air and Space Museum can feel a bit overwhelming — kind of like space itself! Kids, however, will marvel over super cool aircrafts and spaceships, and there are opportunities for hands-on fun, too. The museum often hosts observation events, where guests can use the incredibly powerful telescopes at the museum to get a glimpse of unusual happenings in the sky, like lunar eclipses. Plus, the IMAX theater at the museum brings the joy and mystery of airplanes and space travel to vivid life; the huge screens and surround sound systems completely envelop viewers. If you’re visiting with very young ones, they’ll enjoy the museum’s “story time” series, where they’ll be enthralled by tales of trips to mars, hot-air balloon journeys, and more.

National Air and Space Museum

4. Tidal Basin

Toting the little ones around to all of D.C.’s monuments can be totally exhausting … but there’s one stop you can’t miss. Young families will love the Tidal Basin, with its unparalleled views of the stately domed Jefferson Memorial. Why? Two words: paddle boats. Yep, nothing will get your kids excited about monuments like the chance to paddle their way through the shallow tidal basin, powering their boats with just their feet. The Tidal Basin Paddle Boat rental company offers both two-person and four-person boats for rent. You can either paddle through the basin as a family, or split up and see who can race to the Jefferson Memorial the fastest.

Tidal Basin washington

3. Nationals Game

If you and kids are tuckered out from sightseeing all day, head to Nationals Park along the D.C. waterfront for an excuse to sit back and relax for a few hours. The Nats stadium is exceedingly family-friendly; your kids will love cheering on famous faces like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln during the stadium’s signature “Presidents’ Race.” On many Saturdays and Sundays, you can snag “Family Fun Pack” deals, where families can purchase seat packages that include classic baseball stadium grub like hot dogs and chips for a reduced price. And on every Sunday, two Nationals players will be on hand to sign autographs for kids before the start of the game — just make sure you get a signature voucher to participate.

Washington Nationals

2. International Spy Museum

Do you have a budding James Bond or two in the family? Then a stop at the International Spy Museum is an absolute must. Kids can put their super spy skills to the test in interactive exhibits like “Operation Spy,” where they’ll have to decode audio conversations and “escape” from a high-security compound. This exhibit is for kiddos 12 years and older, but other exhibits are more suited to the younger set. Plus, the International Spy Museum has one heck of a gift shop; eschew the typical mugs and t-shirts for souvenirs and instead pick up invisible ink, a cryptex safe, or even a Coke can that doubles as a secret storage container.

International Spy Museum

1. National Zoo

Nothing captures a child’s imagination quite like animals, whether they’re of the cute and cuddly or slimy and scaly variety. You’ll find both at D.C.’s National Zoo, located in the Northwest quadrant of the city. The National Zoo caters to kids of all ages (and kids at heart, too) with interactive exhibits and tons of hands-on activities. You kids will “ooh” and “ahh” while they get to watch zoo keepers train elephants, feed lemurs, and play fetch with sloth bears. During certain days of the week, the zoo offers “Meet a Small Mammal” activities, where zoo guests can get up close and personal with cute creatures like armadillos and naked mole-rats. The best part of it all, because the zoo is a part of the Smithsonian network, admission is totally free!

National Zoo washington

America’s 20 Favorite Buildings

Consider it The People’s Choice awards for architecture. The American Institute of Architects commissioned a public poll on the most popular architectural works in the country. There are a number of well-known superstars including The Empire State Building and Faneuil Hall in Boston, but there are also the obscure and surprising; Seattle’s Safeco Field at #135, Denver International Airport at #57. The top of the list is decidedly skewed towards the northeast, especially New York and Washington D.C. who claim between them 16 of the top 20. Overall New York has 32 entries, while D.C. claims 17 and Chicago a respectable 16. Three of the favorites no longer exist: #143 Pennsylvania Station, the original Yankee Stadium of 1923 at #84 and the World Trade Center at #19. Among the architects making more than one appearance are Frank Lloyd Wright with 7 works; Eero Saarinen with 3 and one Thomas Jefferson with 2. Here are the Top 20 American structures that still stand and attract millions of sightseers and pilgrims from around the world:

20. Philadelphia City Hall – Philadelphia, PA

A truly magnificent building, it’s widely considered to be the best piece of French Second Empire architecture in the country. It is massive exercise in granite, sandstone and marble with muscular columns, some 250 pieces of sculpture including a massive 27 ton bronze of William Penn (as in Pennsylvania) on the clock tower. The 24 foot thick walls hold 4 acres of space with 700 rooms. It took 30 years to build, as only a government building can. Money was no object in a futile attempt to regain the city’s pre-eminence over the upstarts in New York and Washington, it was for a brief time, the tallest building in the world. Demolition was considered in the 1950’s and thank goodness rescinded.

Philadelphia City Hall

19. Brooklyn Bridge – New York City, NY

It was a huge deal when it opened in 1883. A sitting President, Charles Arthur, and a future one; New York Governor Grover Cleveland attended. The towers are built of limestone, cement and Maine granite delivered by schooner. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world for 20 years and like other New York landmarks it captured the artistic and popular culture’s imagination from Georgia O’Keefe through Jack Kerouac to Wycliffe Jean. Poet Marianne Moore wrote, “way out; way in; romantic passageway first seen by the eye of the mind, then by the eye. O steel! O stone! Climactic ornament, a double rainbow.” Beginning life on the 100th anniversary of the end of the Revolutionary War, the Bridge captures the enormous optimism of the economic boom of the Second Industrial Revolution. On ArchDaily, Cristopher Henry says the Bridge transformed not only bridge building but the city of New York itself. The Gothic Revival style span lit up at night framed by the Manhattan skyline, does seem like a road to a promised land.

Brooklyn Bridge

18. Hotel Del Coronado – San Diego, CA

What could be more striking, or make less sense, than a perfect example of 19th century British architecture on the California Pacific coast? A California beach house in downtown London perhaps? Though it may seem to an architectural fish out of water, it has been a magnet for celebrities, royalty and U.S. Presidents since it opened in 1888 at the peak influence of the Queen Anne building style. But such was its renown that its guest list includes from the Prince of Wales to Charlie Chaplin to Barack Obama. Queen Anne design is ornate and precious and violates every law of the American School which holds that buildings should be organic as if art of the site on which it’s built. But then architect James Reid apparently never studied law. The jumble of turrets and excess celebrates the Golden Age of decadence. Jay Gatsby would have been a frequent visitor had he actually existed. Gilded Age exuberance.

Vacclav / Shutterstock.com
Vacclav / Shutterstock.com

17. Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City, NY

The Met, as it’s affectionately known, has been evolving as an idea and entity since 1866. It has added and subtracted whole sections over the decades and has become an imposing if not terribly harmonious mix of International, Modern and Contemporary architecture, yet it somehow fits in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Its vast interior holds collections among the best in the world, with a net worth of approximately the Gross National Product of Iceland. Of course everyone would think of fit fondly. It’s a list of the Faves not the Bests.

Nick Starichenko / Shutterstock.com
Nick Starichenko / Shutterstock.com

16. St. Regis Hotel – New York City, NY

It was meant to be the lap of luxury, by and for New York’s insanely wealthy aristocracy. A monument to conspicuous consumption built by the Astor family. In his book ‘Built to Last’ the renowned hotel historian Stanley Turkel described the interior like this: “marble floors and hallways from the quarries of Caen, Louis XV furniture from France, Waterford crystal chandeliers, antique tapestries and oriental rugs, a library full of 3,000 leather-bound, gold-tooled books… beautiful burnished bronze entrance doors, rare wood paneling, great marble fireplaces, ornamental ceilings and a telephone in every room”, a rare luxury at the time. In fact the New York Times reported that the St. Regis offered luxury “on a scale of sumptuosity quite without precedent.” The great Russian writer Maxim Gorky visited and remarked, “Neither the Grand Dukes, nor even the Czar, have anything like this.” It remains a Beaux-Arts gem in limestone.

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DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock.com

15. Supreme Court of the United States – Washington, DC

The Supreme Court was 146 years old before it got its own building that opened in 1935. Its austere steel-framed marble faced exterior on classic Roma temple lines with its thick Corinthian columns gives way to a more ornate interior with brass friezes, extensive statuary of mythical figures and oak carvings that suggest a place of worship rather than one of sober deliberation. Its surprise that makes it is perhaps the last D.C. project to come in UNDER budget. The website says it combines classical grandeur and quiet dignity. The courtroom alone contains 24 columns of Italian marble from the same area Michelangelo sourced his; the walls and friezes of Spanish Ivory Vein marble floor borders incorporates African marble.

Supreme Court of the United States

14. The Gateway Arch – St. Louis, MO

2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the date the final piece was put into place completing the majestic span across the Mississippi and putting the iconic Arch up there with other quintessential American sites like Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty. It is a memorial to the settlers who passed through the Gateway City of St. Louis. It also is a tribute of Thomas Jefferson who as President “championed the Louisiana Purchase and sent Lewis and Clark on their expedition westward. Technically it is a weighted catenary curve of over 17,000 tons of perfectly symmetrical concrete and steel. It is 630 feet high and 630 wide. The Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen is now considered one of the masters of American 20th-century architecture and furniture design. He won the design competition for the Arch in 1948 but sadly didn’t live to see construction begin in 1963 let alone to see it finished.

gateway arch

13. Grand Central Station – New York City, NY

A grand European palace masquerading as a New York train station. It looks like a transit point exclusively for the well-to-do, but in fact shepherds 750,000 people on their way, merrier for having passed through a great work of art on their way to work and home. On the outside are 50 foot high statues of Roman gods; Minerva Goddess of Wisdom, Mercury; God of financial gain, travelers, luck, trickery and thieves, eminently qualified to be the patron site of Manhattan not to mention Hercules. Within the classic Beaux Arts exterior lies a vast interior, larger than Notre Dame in Paris featuring too many masterpieces to list, bronze and stone carvings, Tennessee marble floors, frescoes of zodiac constellations. All illuminated by ten lavish chandeliers of nickel and gold, now containing energy efficient bulbs. The New York Tribune wrote, “Here is a space like the nave of an Old World cathedral. It compels to silence.”

pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com
pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com

12. Washington Monument – Washington, DC

It’s interesting that plans for a monument to George Washington were first discussed in 1783, construction began in 1848, and completion came in 1884 and the public got in in 1888. His followers wanted to build one as huge as their respect and devotion and many were rejected for being too grandiose for the new Republic. The elevator that was added in 1889 is still what visitors ride to the observation decks and their tremendous views of the capital. Technically, it is a classic Greek- inspired obelisk of 555 ft. in marble, granite and bluestone gneiss. It also contains some 193 memorial stones donated for inclusion. The donors ranged from the Sae of Utah, the Welsh people of New York to the Ottoman Empire.

National Mall and Washington Monument

11. St. Patrick’s Cathedral – New York City, NY

The neo-Gothic Cathedral of St. Patrick is the largest Catholic Church in the United States and certainly among the most beautiful. Its marble-clad brick facade must been a powerful, imposing site when it opened in 1879. Its 330ft twin neo Gothic towers soared above the neighborhood and were said to be visible for twenty miles, since dwarfed by sprouting skyscrapers.
Inside it has the traditional shape of the Latin cross. Its altars were designed by a Borgia, a Medici and Tiffany &co. Its renowned stained glass was crafted in England but the rose window, in the Gothic tradition was crafted by Charles Connick, a master of stained glass who the New York Times described as “the world’s greatest contemporary craftsman in stained glass.” A Pieta, three times larger than Michelangelo’s in the Vatican was added in 1906. Five million people go every year to worship and just experience this architectural wonder.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

10. Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial – Washington, DC

No doubt full of intangible meaning for Americans, the memorial is a profoundly moving experience wherever you’re from. Simplicity can engender an eloquence the grandest design may not. The façade of the 600 foot straight black wall of Indian granite lists the names of the 58,175 names Americans who died in the war. Its effect is intensified by the decision to build down rather than up, as if to mirror the descent into the depths of the carnage on the descent into the and eventually, after the last name to emerge a touched and changed person, back into the land of the living. Maya Lin, a Chinese American from Ohio was just 21 years old when she won the commission. There are 57,939 names on the original. At last count, that has grown to 58,286. In a
1983 interview published in the AIA Journal, Lin explained her inspiration, “I thought about what death is, what a loss is. A sharp pain that lessens with time, but can never quite heal over. A scar. The idea occurred to me there on the site. Take a knife and cut open the earth, and with time the grass would heal it.”

Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial

9. Chrysler Building – New York City, NY

Like many masterpieces the Chrysler Building opened to bad reviews. It was dismissed as a publicity stunt by Chrysler to beat the Manhattan Bank to completion and dethrone the Eiffel Tower as the world’s tallest building at the time. Its architect William van Alen was also dismissed as a “Dr. of Altitude.” But its Art Deco style has grown in stature since its heyday in the 1920’s and 30’s. It came to be regarded as over the top kitsch but went to become its own school of furniture, poster art and telephones. The Chrysler is one of the last of its kind, the Art Deco skyscraper. A counterpoint to the sombre Vietnam memorial the Chrysler emits the brash, confident futuristic exuberance of Art Deco at its best. If it had an observation deck, it may well have eclipsed the Empire State building in popularity. Its interior is yet more stunning. Lonely Planet guides suggest the best views are from the corner of 3rd and 44th. Or ironically from the observation deck of the Empire State. Where else could you see gargoyles in the image of Chrysler car parts?

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

8. Biltmore Estate – Asheville, NC

The British writer and with Oscar Wilde once said that “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” He might have had George W. Vanderbilt, one member of the wealthiest and influential American families in history, who contemporary descendants include CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. George W. fell in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains and bought 125,000 acres of it to build his summer estate. Only the best for a Vanderbilt, he hired Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer and architect-in-chief of Central Park. The French Renaissance ‘summer home’ has a copper roof monogrammed with the owner’s initials. Just the interior floor covers 4 acres. There are 34 bedrooms, 65 fireplace and at a time when indoor plumbing was rare, 43 bathrooms. Despite its excess it is a beautiful piece of work, intended to rival the old estate manors of Europe. The largest private home in America is a Historic Site and open to the public for tours.

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

7. Lincoln Memorial – Washington, DC

It is by no means a late Italian Renaissance piece or the ages but the Lincoln Memorial is a fascinating and compelling structure. Its grand exterior is a stunning Greek temple with 36 sturdy Doric columns, one for each state in the Union in 1865. The expectation that something of this classic magnitude would be a memorial or tomb of a great champion or god even. And there is inside a sculpture of the Great Emancipator himself but if you didn’t know his history you’d wonder if he won or lost the battle. The great American sculptor Daniel Chester French presents not a triumphant demi-God but a man, seated rumpled and not just tired but so weary from having seen too much grief. This was partly aesthetic genius partly astute politics. Construction of the Monument began in 1914, less than 50 years after the Civil War ended and any celebratory construct would have been deeply offensive to the South. The Southern Wall contains an elegant rendition of the Gettysburg Address while the north wall holds his second Inaugural Address which ends with the famous words…”With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds… to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Lincoln Memorial

6. U.S. Capitol – Washington, DC

The U.S. Capitol’s design was selected President Washington in 1793. Construction quickly began but they had to start over after the British burned it in the War of 1812. Like so many buildings in DC, it is classic Greek and Roman, the neoclassical style favored by Thomas Jefferson as befitting a modern empire. In fact he wanted the Capitol to be patterned after the Roman Pantheon. It has what might be called an intimidating charm of imposing size, symbolism and history. Expanded many times to its present 4 acres and 600 rooms, its most famous addition was the cast iron dome in 1858 weighing almost 9,000,000 pounds. Inside are of course the chambers of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the home of the Legislative Branch of the U.S. Government. Lesser known is the impressive collection of art accumulated and donated over the years. The Hall of Statuary is breathtaking as is the fresco in the Rotunda painted by Italian Constatino Brumidi in the Di sotto in sù (seen from below) style depicting the Apotheosis of Washington entering heaven with an escort of Roman gods representing among others War, Science and Agriculture.

US Capitol building

5. Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, CA

One of the greatest engineering and design accomplishments of the 20th century, a rarely surpassed combination of strength and beauty. They said it would be impossible to build a bridge across the Golden Gate Strait. It took four years and the equivalent of $600 million but at is completion in 1937 it was the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world at almost 2 miles long. The two famous towers are 820 feet tall. The distinctive red Art Deco profile framed by the Pacific Ocean has made it known around the world a masterpiece in steel and concrete.

Golden Gate Bridge

4. Thomas Jefferson Memorial – Washington, DC

Jefferson didn’t get his wish for The Capitol to be built after the Pantheon in Rome but his memorial in Washington D.C. certainly is. It was inaugurated by President Franklin Roosevelt on the bicentenary of Jefferson’s birth in 1743. FDR proclaimed ““Today in the midst of a great war for freedom, we dedicate a shrine to freedom.” Jefferson’s intellect and influence towered above any of the founders, save for Washington himself. So it is more than fitting that the grand bronze statue of him inside the classic Roman architecture that he loved should tower over the interior showing him at the peak of his powers, with what is believed to be the Declaration of Independence in his hand.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

3. Washington National Cathedral – Washington, DC

A majestic Gothic Revival work in Indiana limestone, its construction was launched with a speech from President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907 and was completed only in 1990. A hallowed place of ecumenical worship the church is also deeply reflective of American history. It was the las pulpit from which the Reverend Martin Luther King preached before his assassination in 1968. The funerals of Presidents Reagan and Eisenhower were held there. Woodrow Wilson is buried there. There is stained glass devoted to the Apollo moon landing with a piece of moon rock. Recently, the church stewards decided to remove two stained glass panels honoring Confederate Generals Robert TE Lee and Stonewall Jackson containing the Confederate flag. The top of the lofty Gloria in Excelsis vault is the highest point in the capital. It tries be user friendly, incorporating a young person’s design of Darth Vader gargoyle on the roof. Still, really more popular than the Golden Gate?

Washington National Cathedral

2. The White House – Washington, DC

Construction of the original Presidential residence began in 1702. It was nothing like the current version, especially being not white but a grayish Georgia mansion. Its first tenants were the second President, John Adams and wife Abigail. The British torched it in 1812 and Hoban rebuilt it but I wasn’t til a major renovation in 1824 that the portico and pillars turned the modest Georgian home into a neoclassical white building. The West Wing burned in 1929 and with is rebuilding it became what we know today. The whitewashed sandstone walls are the originals. Inside it contains 132 rooms, 28 fireplaces and 32 bathrooms, Interesting trivia: running water was not installed until 1835.

The White House

 

1. Empire State Building – New York City, NY

Honestly, if you were making King Kong in 1933 and deciding on which building in the entire world on which the huge protagonist to meet his dramatic demise, what other choice could you make but the Empire State, the tallest most glamorous building in the world? It has appeared in 250 movies from the sublime (An Affair to Remember) to the ridiculous (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas). The 86th floor observation deck has had over a 100 million visitors, among the most popular in the world. While there are superstar architects with multiple entries in the list (Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen), the New York firm that built the Empire State has just he one. At the very top. It’s not just the view or the gorgeous Art Deco façade. It is the architectural version of swagger, the iconic image that says you are in the home of the Leader of the Free World. When Canadian Far Wray, the actress who played King Kong’s love interest, died in 2004, the Empire State went dark for 15 minutes in silent, eloquent tribute.

Empire State Building

The 7 Best Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremonies in the World

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

7. Lobster Trap Tree Lighting, New England Area

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

Lobster Trap Christmas Tree

6. Rodeo Drive Holiday Lighting, California

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

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

5. Zilker Holiday Tree, Texas

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

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

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

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

National Christmas Tree Washington

3. Ski Tree Lighting, Colorado

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

Photo by: Lodging Telluride
Photo by: Lodging Telluride

2. Trafalgar Square, London

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

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com
Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com

1. Rockefeller Center, New York

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

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

America’s 10 Best Towns to Visit During the Holidays

It’s that time of year again, sleigh bells are ringing, Christmas lights are strung from rooftops and around trees, carols are playing over the radio and there is a feeling of holiday cheer in the air. Some towns in America take the holidays extra serious, with festive decorations, tree lighting ceremonies, parades, contests and more. From traditional Victorian Christmas Festivals to those that feature over 5 million lights, here are America’s best towns to visit during the holidays.

10. Woodstock, Vermont

The air smells like pine needles, the ground lightly dusted with snow and the twinkling of lights shine down on this town during the holiday season. For the past 25 years this town has hosted Wassail Weekend, a pre-Christmas festival that is rooted in 19th century Norse culture and traditions. Wassail is a hot beverage, something like cider that is associated with Christmastime. The festival brings a parade of over 50 horses and riders that are in holiday costumes and period dresses, as well as wagon and sleigh rides. Don’t forget about the feast and the tours of the most notable historic buildings as well. Add in local shops that decorate their windows and stay open late for shoppers during the festival, friendly locals and an old-world charm, and this may be the perfect town to visit this holiday season.

Photo by: Scenic VT PHotos
Photo by: Scenic VT PHotos

9. McAdenville, North Carolina

This small town just 20 minutes outside of Charlotte has actually renamed itself “Christmas Town USA” during the month of December each year. This small town draws an average of 600,000 people each year who come to gaze at the 500,000 lights that decorate this town. This town kicks off its holiday cheer with a tree lighting ceremony on December 1st where the big switch is turned on to reveal the 500,000 red, white and green lights. It takes about 375 trees to house all these lights and they light a route that is perfect for a winter stroll through the downtown. Along with these lights are homes that are lit up by owners, who all love to take part in this holiday celebration. Enjoy hot chocolate and kettle corn as you stroll through the downtown and down to the nearby lake which features 33 trees liming the perimeter and a 75 foot water fountain that is lit with vibrant colors. It’s truly Christmas here all December long.

McAdenville, North Carolina

8. Ogden, Utah

Located in Northern Utah, this great railway hub of a town welcomes in the holiday season each year with their downtown Christmas Village. From the Saturday after Thanksgiving through January 1st the downtown area is aglow with magnificent displays and holiday lights. Every year thousands of tourists come to view the Christmas lights and replica cottages that are modeled after Santa’s Village at the North Pole. To open the Christmas Village an Electric Light Parade fills the streets, loaded with elaborate floats, themes and performers. Santa also happens to arrive this day and flips the switch to turn on the lights and illuminate the village. Each of the 59 cottages have their own theme, including The Elf Workshop, The Grinch and of course, Santa’s Castle. Ride on the Polar Express Train, shop at Santa’s store and marvel at the millions of lights that light this village up.

Photo by: Our Beck Treks
Photo by: Our Beck Treks

7. Vail, Colorado

This town turns into a true Winter Wonderland when the holiday season hits. December brings the festivities of Snowdaze to the town, when fresh snow is celebrated with live concerts each night. The village is filled with sponsors and après parties and former performers include the Barenaked Ladies, Wilco and O.A.R. Vail also plays host to Holidaz, a celebration that includes the tree lighting ceremony, a New Year’s Eve torchlight parade and some incredible fireworks. Enjoy outdoor skating, hot coffee from local producers and equally warming cocktails. This incredible winter destination has more than 5,2000 acres of ski and snowboard terrain and things only get better during the holiday season. Get here and discover why this is one of America’s most loved towns, especially in December.

Photo by: Panoramio/Ash Cook
Photo by: Panoramio/Ash Cook

6. Nantucket, Massachusetts

The festivities in this town really started in the 1970’s, as too many locals left town to shop in Cape Cod, and there needed to be a solution. This island town quickly came up with an annual Christmas Stroll, in which stores stayed open late and shop owners entertained shoppers with wine, hot chocolate, cider and Christmas cookies while they browsed. Nowadays this Christmas Stroll lasts for the whole first weekend of December and visitors can take part in walking amid dozens of seven foot Christmas trees that are illuminated at night and the 20-foot tree that talks to all visitors who visit it. Carolers sing at various downtown locations, live entertainment takes place, craft shows happen and Santa and Mrs. Claus always make an appearance.

Nantucket, Massachusetts Christmas

5. Ogunquit, Maine

It used to be an artist’s colony but has transformed into a summer getaway, not the first place one would think of when it comes to the Holiday season. But visiting here during the holidays means lower prices, a laid-back feeling and enough festivities to keep you going. Christmas by the Sea Festival features a town tree lighting ceremony with caroling and warm drinks, concerts, a meet and greet with Santa, beer and wine tasting, nightly bonfires, Christmas craft making workshops and more. There are plenty of local shops for those last minute gifts and plenty of friendly locals, and great deals on accommodations and dining here.

Photo by: Discover New England/Paul LaCedra
Photo by: Discover New England/Paul LaCedra

4. Naples, Florida

If you want to avoid the snowy weather but still want to enjoy that festive feeling, there is no better place than Naples to head to. This snowbird-style winter wonderland lures visitors with its festive ambiance, luxury stores, fantastic dining and warm weather. The headquarters for the official Christmas tree is Third Street South where twinkling lights and red and silver decorations adorn the streets. It is here where Santa comes to visit, snow falls out of the lampposts and shows take place throughout the month. On Fifth Avenue South is where the Christmas Parade takes place, along with awesome shopping for the Holidays event, which features live music, dancing and dining. Those who still want holiday cheer but want to avoid the snow, this is the town for you.

Naples Florida Christmas

3. Nevada City, California

Nevada City is located about an hour northwest of Sacramento, population of just over 3,000 and it happens to take great pride in its annual Victorian Christmas Festival. Already picturesque all year round with its historic buildings and mountain surroundings, this town transforms into a beautiful picture perfect Christmas Card during the holiday season. The town brings in authentic gas lamps, twinkling white lights and carolers that dress up in Victorian apparel. The smell of roasted chestnuts and holiday food will fill the air as you wander through the streets that over-flow with Christmas treasures. Make sure to check out the famous walking Christmas tree and the living nativity scene, as well as take a ride in a horse drawn carriage. Visitors are also encouraged to dress up in period attire, complete with feathers, scarves and top hats.

Photo by: Nevada City Chamber of Commerce
Photo by: Nevada City Chamber of Commerce

2. Branson, Missouri

It is known as the Ozark Mountain Christmas here in this town, as Branson transforms into a winter wonderland complete with twinkling lights, live shows and plenty of shopping. Here in this town they don’t even wait until thanksgiving has passed to start their holiday cheer, celebrations run from the beginning of November through New Year’s Day. Branson is the live music capital of the world and visitors should plan on attending one of the famous events that incorporate traditional Christmas music. Visiting the Silver Dollar City’s an Old Time Christmas Festival is a must when you are here, where 5 million lights, two live chows, 1,000 decorated Christmas trees and the awesome light parade all take place. Many of the hotels and resorts in this town pull out all stops for the holidays and expect visits with Santa, special activities for kids and lots of yummy treats.

Photo by: Branson Ticket Travel
Photo by: Branson Ticket Travel

1. Historic Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

It is Washington D.C.’s oldest neighborhood, beautiful already with its historic buildings that line the streets, but it really comes alive during the holiday season. With over 450 stores, restaurants and galleries, the streets come alive with Yuletide decorations. The Holiday Window Competition that takes place each year means visitors are privy to the gorgeous and innovative displays that shop keepers come up with. Think roasted chestnuts, horse-drawn sleigh rides, appearances by St. Nicholas, carolers in Victorian costumes, dancers and other entertainment.

Photo by: Hotel Junkie
Photo by: Hotel Junkie

The 6 Busiest North American Airports at Christmas

North American airports are notoriously busy, especially when you look at holiday times. It’s not just the influx of passengers that makes these airports so busy, although that helps, it’s also the weather that cancels and delays flights and the security lines that get extra slow. Luckily some of these airports do what they can to make flying over the holidays easier, such as bringing in Santa Claus to amuse the little ones or even bringing out adorable puppies for weary travelers to pet. Discover the busiest Christmas airports in North America, and which ones are the best and worst to fly through during the holidays.

6. LaGuardia New York Airport

It is one of the worst airports in the country, that we can all agree on, however you choose to measure it. Crowded and stranded travelers often pace the terminals as there is inadequate gate seating, a lack of power outlets and even a lack of restrooms for the 27 million travelers a year that cross through the gates of LaGuardia. At Christmas time this gets even worse and as the bad weather often hits, the runways become congested leaving passengers trapped in the airport. Luckily at Christmas time the staff try to make your day a little more pleasant by offering holiday greetings as you board the plane, unfortunately that’s about the only Christmas spirit you will find here. We recommend you try to avoid this airport at all costs during the Christmas season.

Photo by: Business Insider
Photo by: Business Insider

5. Calgary International Airport

Although it is one of the busiest airports in Canada around the holiday times, this airport is big on sharing the Christmas spirit with traveling guests. As the hub of WestJet airline, you can expect friendly service from these workers, donning blue Santa hats and festive Christmas sweaters. As you walk through the Calgary airport expect to find a brightly lit Christmas tree and carolers singing merry tunes. Mrs. Claus will even be offering story time in the terminal. Although security lines tend to get long here, flyers are often quite friendly and the line will pass quickly as you are swapping stories with a cowboy boot wearing guest behind you. It may be busy, but this is one of the friendliest airports to fly out of at Christmas.

Photo by: Vimeo/WestJet
Photo by: Vimeo/WestJet

4. Ronald Reagan Washington Airport

This airport promises to be busy, especially considering all the government employees that fly home to see their families around Christmas time and expect to be fighting lines and crowds of people. Luckily this airport makes it a little less stressful around the holidays with some awesome ways to pass the time. Make sure to check out the humongous Christmas tree that gets erected and this year keep your eyes out for more than just one. Kill time by browsing through more than 100 shops and restaurants located throughout the three terminals. The Gallery Walk located in historic Terminal A is a great place to view paintings, sculptures and other works of art from local artists. This airport also hosts singers, dancers and performing artists throughout the holiday season.

Photo by: Washington Post
Photo by: Washington Post

3. San Francisco International Airport

It’s no wonder this is one of the busiest airports during the holiday season as people flock to the warmer temperatures often found here. The bad news for fliers is that this airport does get overly crowded with long line ups as more than 2 million passengers come through over the two weeks surrounding Christmas. Luckily everyone at this airport is committed to making the holiday travel season as enjoyable as possible. Think festive holiday lighting, live music, social media events and mobile performers delighting passengers with music, magic tricks and storytelling. With kids spots located throughout, plenty of power outlets to charge those iPads and art displays throughout, passengers will forget it’s even the busy season, that is until they hear those carolers busting out their holiday tunes.

Photo by: SanFrancisco Airport
Photo by: SanFrancisco Airport

2. Toronto Pearson International Airport

An airport that is notorious for its long security lines, cancelled and delayed flights because of weather and its business at Christmas. Toronto Pearson promises to be busy during the holiday season but in recent years has done its best to ease stress on travelers. Airport ambassadors are now out roaming the terminals, helping guests figure out where to go, helping with bags and otherwise on hand to deal with any questions. Christmas carolers are set up throughout the airport bringing merry tunes to all who pass them and Mrs. Claus is often seen reading stories to little ones. There is even a spot set up where families can have their picture taken in a holiday setting. Yes, you will be waiting in line, yes you will be dealing with throngs of other passengers and yes you will most likely be delayed, but hey at least there are carolers.

rmnoa357 / Shutterstock.com
rmnoa357 / Shutterstock.com

1. Los Angeles International Airport

It is one of the busiest airports in North America and at Christmas time it only gets worse, although thankfully they don’t have to worry about weather delays on their end. Still snowstorms that blanket the Northeast will delay flights in LA. There are an estimated 3 million passengers that go through this airport over the two weeks near Christmas but luckily LAX is determined to make traveling a little stressful. Santa is often found roaming the terminals, taking photos with little ones and handing out candy canes. Last year members of the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUPS) program fanned out across the airport and were making their furry selves available for petting, a simple stress reliever for weary travelers. Expect to see plenty of Santa hats and holiday cheer here!

Photo by: LA Times
Photo by: LA Times

The 12 Best Food Truck Cities in America

There is no denying it; we are living in a glorious age where food trucks have become the hottest places to grab some grub. Cities all over America are host to hundreds of food trucks that offer everything from the typical taco to over the top gourmet meals. What makes a city better than another in terms of food trucks? We looked at how many food trucks operate in the city, how diverse the selections are and how friendly the cities are to these trucks. Without further ado, these 12 cities are the ultimate food truck cities in the country:

12. Honolulu, HI

Lunch wagons have been part of the landscape in Hawaii for generations and used to serve the same thing, a couple scoops or rice, some macaroni salad and gravy based main. But things have come a long way in recent years and innovative trucks have popped up all over Honolulu and visitors should be sure to check at least a few of them out. Melt Honolulu became an instant hit when it hit the streets in this city serving up incredible grilled cheese sandwiches, including one called the “Melt of Shame”. Fresh wood fired pizzas can be found at the Inferno’s truck or if you are in the mood for shrimp and grits, head to Soul Patrol. Warm weather all year round, awesome new food trucks popping up all over the city and the ocean at your fingertips; sounds like a pretty amazing food truck city to us!

Theodore Trimmer / Shutterstock.com
Theodore Trimmer / Shutterstock.com

11. Seattle, WA

Seattle has always been overshadowed by Portland in terms of being a food truck city but as the years tick by they are holding their own and home to some of the best food trucks in America. For some down home New Orleans cooking make sure to check out Where Ya At, a food truck that continuously rates as one of the best in the country. It is here where you will find Creole soul food, hot beignets and fried-oyster po’boys. Marination is another truck in this city that has garnered press country wide for its Hawaiian-Korean cuisine and attitude towards delivering incredible flavors and a dose of “Aloha” to the city. Seattle’s Largest Independent Food and Craft Festival happens yearly in the summertime and if you have a chance to check it out, we highly recommend it. One of the best cities in America for food trucks, yet highly underrated.

Photo by: Urban Beer Hikes
Photo by: Urban Beer Hikes

10. San Francisco, CA

This city is teeming with food trucks, new ones popping up every day and no matter where you are headed you are sure to find one that absolutely blows your mind. Although this city wasn’t the birthplace of the food truck craze, they have upped their ante by offering food of new gastronomic levels. Fried oyster and bacon sandwiches, curry goat tacos and Vietnamese caramel ribs are just a slice of what you can find here. The SoMa Streat Food Park is a popular place to head, especially for visitors looking to get a variety of trucks. The lineup here changes daily and features a dozen or so trucks, entertainment and picnic tables to eat at. If you are looking for sustainable meat and veggies make sure to check out Go Streatery who is famous for serving up their famous handmade brisket sandwiched piled high and topped with an incredible savory jam.

Photo by: Carlos Muela
Photo by: Carlos Muela

9. Tampa, FL

This city is all about food trucks and getting them out on the road. They even are home to a Food Truck Rally, a company that specializes in promoting local cuisine and connecting the public with the food trucks, hosting seminars for potential food truck owners and staging events all over the city. Tampa Bay’s Florida State Fairgrounds also holds the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally on a yearly basis! Wicked Wiches is one of the most popular food trucks in the city, offering gourmet sandwiches including a fried chicken sandwich served on jalapeno waffles. If you are after vegetarian or vegan seek out the Taco Bus who are known for their awesome menu and the fact they only ever use fresh ingredients.  But if there is one thing to try in this city it is the famous Gorilla Balls from the Fire Monkey Food Truck. Gorilla Balls are balls of mushroom risotto stuffed with beef and blue cheese, then deep fried to crispy perfection.

Photo by: Bay News 9
Photo by: Bay News 9

8. Atlanta, GA

Atlanta is an up and coming city when it comes to food trucks and there is no better time to experience these awesome trucks than now. This city is where you will find down home southern comfort food mixed with Mexican and Asian influences. Head first to The Good Food Truck where “the Poodle” is served from a lipstick red carriage. The Poodle is actually a hot dog, sandwiched between a French toast bun and loaded with apple-maple slaw and spicy mustard. If you are more in the mood for something a little more Mexican, head to the Blaxican where you will find Buffalo chicken tacos and collard green quesadillas. New laws in Atlanta have made it easier for trucks to operate on public roads and expect to see even more as the years go on.

Photo by: The Good Food Truck
Photo by: The Good Food Truck

7. Miami, FL

South Florida loves their food trucks and you will find hundreds of trucks lining the streets, with offerings you won’t find anywhere else. The Latin Burger is one of the most popular trucks in this city, serving up something they call the Macho Burger, created out of a combination of chorizo, chuck and sirloin, topped with caramelized onions and Oaxaca cheese. If you are looking for Asian fare there is only one food truck to seek out that that is Dim Ssam a GoGo who serves up gourmet sandwiches with ingredients such as foie gras, kimchi and pork. But the real hit in this city is HipPops, a truck that offers handcrafted desserts. Hugely popular, this truck offers the chance for customers to create their own custom dessert. Choose from gelato, sorbet or frozen yogurt, and three kinds of premium Italian chocolate dips. Top your POP with finely crushed pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts or pecans. And ta da; an incredibly delicious creation.

Photo by: The Latin Burger
Photo by: The Latin Burger

6. Denver, CO

Denver boasts over 100 food trucks and there is seemingly no bad place to grab a bite to eat. Whether you are looking to grab a green-chili cheeseburger, pizza or barbecue; you can find it in this city. If you are looking to try some delicious made from scratch tacos or quesadillas make sure to search out the pink food truck named Comida, the best of its kind in town. If you want to get back to your childhood there is no better food truck to visit than HEY pb&j, a truck that puts an innovative spin on the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Combinations such as The King (peanut butter, applewood smoked bacon, sliced bananas, clover honey) and the Mother Clucker (mo’ pecan-peanut butter, fried chicken, homemade green tomato jam, goat cheese, spicy hot honey) are true favorites.

Photo by: Comida
Photo by: Comida

5. Minneapolis, MN

Residents of the Twin Cities can certainly get their fill of any type of cuisine they are looking for in this city with its multitude of food trucks. Dozens of choices are parked along meters, outside the breweries and setting up shop at the farmers markets. Fans of tater tots will want o head directly to the TOT BOSS food truck where you can find anything from tater tot nachos to tot and beer burritos. If it is something like a burger you are after make sure to head over to Butcher Salt, where small town restaurant meets sustainability meets four wheels. Here you will find grass-fed beef sliders, candied maple bacon and a whole lot other deliciousness. If you are looking for something more gourmet head to Get Sauced, where you will find locally sourced and organic foods, all transformed from scratch into gourmet dishes.

Photo by: TOT BOSS
Photo by: TOT BOSS

4. Washington, DC

This city boasts more than 150 food trucks, many of them roaming the streets, many of them with permanent spots and a whole lot of them turning out for festivals. Washington stands out due to the unique and creative foods these trucks are seen serving up. Food truck pioneers The Fojol Bros are well worth a visit with their colorful trucks and carnival like costumes, not to mention the delicious food they are serving up including butter chicken and beef berbere. On a cool Washington day make sure you head over to Red Hook Lobster Pound where you can get a steaming cup of authentic New England clam chowder or delicious lobster roll. With all these food trucks it seems hard to keep track of but luckily the Food Truck Fiesta app has you covered with its real time map that lists where the trucks are and whose serving up what.

Photo by: Mobile Cuisine
Photo by: Mobile Cuisine

3. Austin, TX

Austin is a city which has been supporting food trucks at a time when no other city was, and it’s no surprise they have maintained that level of support. Featuring over 250 food trucks, this city is the perfect place to take a culinary tour. Visitors will want to head to the East King Side truck, a vibrant and colorful display of artwork that happens to serve up an incredible serving of beet home fries. The most famous food truck in this city though is Hey! You Gonna Eat or What?, a truck that is known for its snarky chefs and large sandwiches. The Shiner Bock Monte Cristo is the sandwich to order here and is loaded with cheddar, provolone, mesquite-smoked turkey and pit-smoked ham. It is then fried in batter, topped with powder sugar and served with a side of cherry-fig jam. Anywhere you turn in this city there is surely going to be a food truck to suit your needs.

Photo by: Hey!. You Gonna Eat or What?
Photo by: Hey!. You Gonna Eat or What?

2. Portland, OR

This city has been at the forefront of the food truck revolution and despite their reputation for being vegan hippies; you can find just about any food you want at one of their awesome trucks. With over 350 food trucks throughout the city, deciding which ones to visit will be your hardest choice. It is imperative that you head to the Grilled Cheese Grill where you can get your favorite childhood meal reinvented. The Cheesus is perhaps the most famous of dishes where a burger is served with grilled cheese sandwiches acting as the bun. Weenies from Another World is another truck you shouldn’t miss as this awesome looking vintage truck serves up homemade dogs, bread and incredible tater tots. If its southern food you are after head to Ms. Kate’s Southern Kitchen for homemade mac n’ cheese, pumpkin spiced waffles and buttery fluffy biscuits.

Photo by: Reddit
Photo by: Reddit

1. Orlando, FL

There are almost 200 food trucks in Orlando and counting, and this city wins in terms of having the most food trucks per capita in all of the United States. The good weather, the incredible creativity and the outpouring of support from citizens of this state all contribute to the number of them. One of the best food trucks to check out is Twisted Plates where you can get gourmet food without dolling out a ton of cash, or having to get dressed up. The menu here changes regularly depending what is in season. Dixieland Diner is where you will find Cajun and the best of southern food including shrimp and grits and jambalaya. The winning combination of southern hospitality and generous portions means this truck gets big lines, but it is well worth the wait. Natural juices, shaved ice, waffles and chicken, gelato, burgers and pizza are available state wide at a number of food trucks.

Photo by: Dixieland Diner
Photo by: Dixieland Diner

5 American National Landmarks That Deserve a Trip All Their Own

It’s the red, white, and blue, the old tried and true. A country that’s so happy about its patriotism, that it took more than a flag to tell you about it. It took thousands of flags, tons of poems and songs, landmarks, countless t-shirts and other paraphernalia, and they’re still not done telling you about it. At the bottom of all that pride, however, rests several perks to the American way. One of which is the ability to travel and see some seriously amazing sights. Ones that were put into place to honor the very country they reside in. From former presidents’ faces that were carved into a mountain, to a statue made to welcome traveling immigrants, to national parks that were put into place just to preserve the area’s incredible nature, here are five top American landmarks that without a doubt, deserve a visit of their own.

5. The Statue of Liberty

For decades, this green lady welcomed all who sailed in to the United States. Located off the coast of New York City, she faces just outside of Ellis Island, where immigrants were funneled through once traveling to America. Her tall torch represents a land of freedom, while her book shows a freedom of religion and speech. Once colored copper (as it’s made from that very metal), she’s since turned green with years of weather and sea exposure. A change that has since helped further her iconic state. Visitors can travel up inside this massive monument, check out the museum, or even head over to the Ellis Island welcoming center and look up relatives’ information. As a strange bonus fact, the statue is actually French; it was a gift from the country to America handed off in 1886.

statue of liberty

4. The National Mall

Like its name might suggest, this collection of landmarks has nothing to do with shopping. Instead, it’s a compilation of national monuments in the country’s capitol, Washington, D.C. Some of the most memorable sights include the Washington Monument, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial (with reflecting pool), and the Vietnam Memorial. The mall is free to visit, and is accompanied by a number of educational buildings, such as museums. Many of which are also free to attend. Many tourists take several days in order to take in each stop. But no matter how many you choose to view up close, the collection can be seen from miles away. It’s even a favorite among air travelers, who get an aerial view when flying in to the nearby Ronald Reagan airport.

National Mall and Washington Monument

3. Mount Rushmore

It’s massive, it’s bold, and it hosts the faces of some of America’s greatest presidents. Including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln … in that order. And though they face slightly different directions, there’s no denying the impressive carving that spans 60 feet in height across a South Dakota mountain. A project that was accomplished by a father and son sculpting pair in the 1930s – one which took roughly seven years to create. Put into action as a way to draw tourists (which totally worked, by the way), Mount Rushmore draws in thousands each year. There’s also a museum and gift shop duo, and a series of lights that fall upon its side at night to create an even more epic view of this longtime national favorite.

Mount Rushmore

2. Hoover Dam

Talk about a huge piece of construction, the Hoover Dam is something you won’t soon forget. Located just outside of Vegas on the Nevada and Arizona border, it’s a landmark that’s as impressive as it is functional. Since the 1930s, it’s a structure that has held back the Colorado River and Lake Mead, allowing water and natural powered electricity for multiple states. The dam hosts some unique archeticural traits, some of which had never been tested at the time of building, including an arch-gravity design, which allows the force behind the water to be placed back into the canyon. It also includes a cement wall that ranges from 45-feet deep at the top, to 660-feet at its base. And if you think that sounds like an incredible amount of concrete, you’re right. Many visitors claim sheer awe even after having seen the structure in person.

Hoover Dam

1. The Golden Gate Bridge

Getting its name from its unique design and its waters below, a bridge that hosts ladder-like posts and a bridge that is entirely golden in color, it’s become a go-to San Francisco staple. A design that was put into effect to mirror the Golden Gate strait. In laymen terms, it’s a sight of pure beauty. And in technical terms, it’s a suspension bridge that spans an entire mile of water (a gap where the Pacific Ocean meets the San Francisco Bay). The passage has been open since 1937 and is one of the most recognizable symbols in the entire country. As well as the world. Visit and gaze from afar, or actually drive across the golden beauty. Fun fact: it’s painted “international orange” to provide better visibility to boats in intense fog, which takes place frequently in the city of San Fra.

Golden Gate Bridge

 

10 Tourist Attractions That Really are THAT GOOD

Everyone has talked about how great it is, you have been planning and looking forward to it, you can’t wait to finally see it and then it happens. You get to the greatest tourist attraction the world has ever known, you take a look around, scratch your head and wonder what the big deal is. We have all been there, standing in line to get into some place only to wish we had skipped it. Although there are plenty of places that might disappoint, we have compiled a list of tourist attractions that live up to the hype and are totally worth visiting.

10. The Alhambra -Granada, Spain

The Alhambra fortress and palace complex in Granada is one of Spain’s main tourist attractions and well worth the visit. Construction began in the 9th century with a small fort but it was the years between 1333-1391 that the Alhambra was expanded and is what much of what visitors can admire today. The Patio of Lions is probably the most famous place at the Alhambra. Aptly named for the twelve lions around the fountain. The white marble fountain sits in the middle of the patio which is rectangular and surrounded by a gallery supported by 124 white marble columns. The Alcazaba, a fortress, is the oldest part of the Alhambra and one of the places with the best views of the city can be found in the gardens near the entrance. The number of visitors is limited daily with certain time slots given to you to visit some of the palaces. Even if you have a ticket you should plan to arrive early. One thing is for certain, you won’t regret having visited.

VLADJ55 / Shutterstock.com
VLADJ55 / Shutterstock.com

9. Palace of Versailles, France

From the time of Louis XIV to Louis XVI Versailles was the principal residence of the French King. The opulent castle has 250 acres of manicured lawns, gardens and fountains. The hall of mirrors, containing over 300 mirrors, reflect the gardens through the 17 arched windows. You can walk the halls where French history’s famous and infamous once lived, partied and ruled the country. People like Madame Pompadour, mistress and confidant of King Louis XV, Madame Du Barry, Marie Antoinette and even Napoleon. The palace has five chapels, over 1,200 fireplaces and 67 staircases. Created in the 17th century Versailles contains Europe’s largest palace garden, an impressive site in itself with trees, flowers, status, fountains and walking paths. For a glimpse of France during the ages of Kings, courts and extravagance Versailles is certainly the place and won’t disappoint.

Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com
Kiev.Victor / Shutterstock.com

8. Sơn Doòng Cave, Vietnam

If you are willing to walk 10 km through a dense forest on a small path then ascend down a cliff you can be one of the few people in modern times to have ever seen the largest cave in the world. Formed over a million years ago, the cave was discovered in modern times by a local man in 1990. The path through the jungle was so dense he could not remember how to find it again until he rediscovered it in 2008. Since that time the cave has been partially explored and discovered to be over five kilometers long with sections reaching 200 meters high and contains waterfalls, flowing rivers and an abundance of wildlife. Explorers attempted to measure a lake inside the cave but the rope they used only extended 200 meters so a final depth could not be determined. A five day, four night tour will set you back around $4,000 and be led by experienced cave experts.

Photo by: Travelled Paths
Photo by: Travelled Paths

7. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History -Washington DC, USA

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is one of several museums that make up what is known as The Smithsonian. Opened in 1910 the museum houses over 125 million natural science specimens and artifacts. An estimated 7 million people visit the museum each year. The main building contains 325,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space. Exhibitions include meteorites and fossils, animal specimens, some extinct like the Tasmanian Tiger, stone figures from Easter Island and so much more. You have heard of the Hope Diamond? Well it is on display here as well. The blue diamond has a storied history and owners have included King George IV of England and King Louis XIV of France. The museum is open 364 days a year only closing on Christmas day and the best part is admission is free.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Washington

6. Vatican City -Rome, Italy

Vatican City is a city state surrounded by Rome and the headquarters of the Catholic Church. You don’t have to be Catholic or even religious to appreciate all this city has to offer. At just over 100 acres Vatican City attracts millions of visitors and religious pilgrims each year. Visitors to Vatican City enter through St Peters Square and line up to visit the Vatican museums. Visitors can view the Raphael Rooms where Raphael painted frescoes covering four rooms, St Peters Basilica, Greek and Roman antiquities and of course the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s ceiling and altar frescoes and painting from other masters have been restored and now visitors can see the masterpieces better than before. There are many tour companies offering guided tours but the best way to visit is to take a personal tour. A personal tour guide give you a more personalized experience and deviate from the tour schedule so you can see things when the other tours aren’t there yet.

Vatican City Sunset

5. Ohrid, Macedonia

Lake Ohrid is one of Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes and sits on the border of Macedonia and Albania. The lake, almost 19 miles long and over 9 miles wide, is a favorite destination in the region and home of the Ohrid trout. The Macedonian side of the lake has several towns along a 20 mile stretch of road worth visiting and spending a few days or even a week at. The town of Ohrid itself is a fabulous place to visit.  The city of Ohrid traces its roots to the pre – Slavic period and attracts people from all over the world. Known as the Balkan Jerusalem, at one time Ohrid had 365 churches and was the religious center of Macedonia. One of the best examples is the St John Kaneo Church which is one of the most photographed churches in the world. The Tsar Samuels Fortress sits prominently on a hill overlooking the town where cobble stone streets wind through the city. Small shops, sidewalk cafés nearby archeological excavations and the monastery of St Naum are worth visiting also.

St John Kaneo Church Ohrid Macedonia

4. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The Temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia is considered the largest religious monument in the world. Built in the first half of the 12th century it took an estimated 30 years to construct. Angkor Wat is actually one monument within the Angkor group of temples. There are 41 monuments and temples within the complex with Angkor Wat being the most famous and important. Angkor Wat covers 500 acres and has a moat with a long sandstone causeway crossing it. Galleries consisting of Bas reliefs and pavilions stretching over the temple make it an imposing site. Visitors to Angkor Wat are never underwhelmed by the site and the entire archeological site of Angkor, stretching over 400 km, can take days to fully explore and appreciate the wonders. A major cultural, religious and historical site, Angkor Wat should be on your list of places to visit.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

3. Koyasan, Japan

Listed as a World Heritage Site, Koyasan is an active center of Shingon Buddhism. Located 2 hours by train from Tokyo, at the top of Mount Koya, the area is a complex of Buddhist temples, halls and pagodas. More than 100 temples form this religious city. Visitors enter the city through the magnificent 25 meter high Dai-mon Gate where two statues of guardian gods stand on either side. Each morning the chief priest and monks of the temple hold services, chanting Buddhist sutras. Visitors to the area can stay at over 50 of the temples where monks will prepare your room and serve vegetarian dishes. Temple lodging, known as Shukubo, is popular in Japan and Koyasan is the best place to get the entire experience. During your stay you can rent one of the 25 bicycles available to explore the city.

Koyasan, Japan
cowardlion / Shutterstock.com

2. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The largest living structure on the planet stretching 2300 km, The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space. If that doesn’t impress you then you are really hard to please. Consisting of 600 types of corals, over 1600 types of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and manta rays and over 30 species of whales and dolphins, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the worlds most treasured eco systems. Visitors to the reef can enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling to get up close to the corals and marine life or take a cruise along the most scenic parts of the reef. Other activities include hot air balloon tours and helicopter tours of the area. The nearby Daintree Rainforest is a popular attractions as well as white water rafting on the Russel and Barron Rivers. Whether you want to lay on a sandy beach and go swimming, get up close to the marine life, do something adventurous on the rivers or learn to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef has it all.

great barrier Reef turtle

1. Disney World -Orlando, Florida

What? Disney World you say? Absolutely. What once was thought of as a kids theme park has evolved into a mecca of family and adult fun. Let’s look at some facts about Disney World. Disney World Resorts is actually several parks consisting of The Magic Kingdom, Epcot World, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. At over 30,000 acres it is about the size of San Francisco. Over 48 million people visit the resort each year. It’s not just for kids. The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival features celebrity chefs, mixology seminars, craft beers and wines from around the world. Some of the resorts run by Disney are geared more for adults than others with upscale dining, spas and gold courses. Stay at the Disney Yacht Club where you can dine on mouthwatering steaks at the Yachtsman Steak House and take a boat ride to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With everything to offer it is possible to spend a couple of weeks and still not come close to doing everything.

Photo by: Vii Know
Photo by: Vii Knowstate-flori

Lonely Planet’s 10 Cool New Openings for 2016

The ever popular publisher of travel guidebooks has come out with their annual ‘Best of Travel’ guide which lists the best of the best for the next year of travel in all sorts of categories from best budget travel to best family travel experiences. If you’ve been planning ahead for next year’s vacations here is the list of the hottest new attractions set to open in 2016 to get your imagination running wild. This year’s list has something for everyone from Disney fans to football fanatics, outdoor explorers and adventurous foodies, no one will be disappointed and everyone will be scrambling to find their passport after one read through this list.

10. Shanghai Disney Resort, China

In Spring of 2916, Disney is set to open its newest resort and the first of its kind in mainland China. The park will include 6 themed areas placed around the largest constructed Enchanted Castle of any Disney park. In the center of the park, ‘The Garden of the Twelve Friends’ will depict the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac represented by Disney characters. There will also be a Disneytown entertainment district (perhaps similar to America’s Downtown Disney) located outside of the new Magic Kingdom which will feature restaurants, shopping, entertainment and two Disney hotel accommodations.

Photo by: Shanghai Disney Resort
Photo by: Shanghai Disney Resort

9. Mamma Mia! The Party, Stockholm, Sweden

Diehard ABBA fans will want to take note of this next opening in Stockholm next year; the city’s Gröna Lund amusement park will see the opening of a brand new Mamma Mia!–themed restaurant in January of 2016. The brains behind this new disco-dining experience is none other than ABBA’s own Björn Ulvaeus, the former Swedish music star also co-composed the famed Mamma Mia! musical so naturally he has some involvement here as well. Lonely Planet reports that diners will enter a Greek-style Taverna where diners will tuck into Greek specialties while the story unfolds around them.

Photo by: ABBA Fanatic
Photo by: ABBA Fanatic

8. Monnaie de Paris, France

For those who haven’t been to the city, the Monnaie de Paris is the Paris mint, and in mid-2016 it will see the completion of its ‘MetaLmorphoses’ project -a huge transformation of the mint’s 1.2-hectare site on the Seine. So far the transformation has already seen art exhibitions in the mint’s neoclassical building in 2014 and the opening of famous Michelin accredited chef Guy Savoy’s flagship restaurant in 2015. The fun will continue in 2016 with the unveiling of the mint’s previously unseen collections. In addition, there will be metalwork and foundry tours, Guy Savoy’s MetaLcafé brasserie and much more to see and do.

Photo by: Soundscapes Blog
Photo by: Soundscapes Blog

7. FIFA World Football Museum, Zurich, Switzerland

Ask any football fan if they would make a trip if there were a world football museum and chances are they would probably say yes. Well in spring of 2016, just such an attraction will be opening its doors in Zurich, Switzerland. The FIFA World Football Museum will be a 3,500 square meter facility located in the heart of the city and dedicated to the most widely played sport in the world. The museum will take visitors through the history of the game with a timeline and include a hall of fame, a cinema and a giant football pinball machine.

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

6. Bourdain Market, New York City, USA

Famous culinary adventurer Anthony Bourdain first announced his plans to open a food market in New York back in January 2014 and foodies have been listening for any little detail about the project ever since. While many details are still unknown (and likely will be until its opening) we do know that the theme will be crazy, loud and slightly obnoxious and it’s all set to open in early 2016. The 100,000 square foot space at Pier 57 will feature producers and carefully selected food vendors from around the world as well as a hawker-style food hall, rooftop beer garden, farmers market and oyster bar.

Erin Cadigan / Shutterstock.com
Erin Cadigan / Shutterstock.com

5. Surf Snowdonia, Wales

Snowdonia National Park in Wales is known for it’s vast natural beauty and spectacular scenery. While this piece of natural paradise is perfect for hikers and those with an appreciation for the great outdoors, there are an increasing number of adventure sports enthusiasts heading to Snowdonia for the man-made adrenaline attractions like Europe’s longest zip line and an underground trampolining center. In 2016 the park will see another new attraction to entice visitors, in the form of a 300 meter long artificial surf lagoon. The £12 million project is said to use rainwater to produce a consistent barreling 2 meter wave every minute, and is the first of its kind in the world.

Photo by: Surf Snowdonia
Photo by: Surf Snowdonia

4. National Gallery Singapore

Lonely Planet says that while Singapore is host to several world-class museums, if you only have time for one in 2016 make it the National Gallery. Located in the city’s former City Hall and Supreme Court buildings, the gallery not only offers Southeast Asian art from the 19th century to today, but the venue itself offers history and its own story. Visit the restored colonial courtrooms and council chambers but make sure you also check out the beautiful rooftop garden which offers spectacular views of Marina Bay.

Photo by: National Gallery Singapore
Photo by: National Gallery Singapore

3. BASK, Gili Meno, Indonesia

BASK is a brand-new luxury villa-resort development on the island of Gili Meno near Bali. The development which is set to open in 2016 has a very recognizable celebrity endorsement on its side; David Hasselhoff, aka The Hoff, is the face of BASK and is said to be looking at having his own vacation villa in the complex. The development is located on a private white sand beach and will feature a world class restaurant, beach club, luxury spa and even its own underwater sculpture park for diving enthusiasts.

Photo by: BASK
Photo by: BASK

2. Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE

The Abu Dhabi arts scene is about to get a new star in 2016; the Louvre Abu Dhabi was first planned to be completed in 2012, but flash forward another 4 years and we will finally see this €100 million dollar project completed. The building itself is a sight to behold as the domed structure seems to almost be floating on the water as it sits on Saadiyat Island. The museum will have a permanent collection of art throughout the ages including Chinese Buddhist carvings and Italian oil paintings while works from famed artists like Van Gogh, Monet and da Vinci will be on loan from France.

Photo by: Louvre Abu Dhabi
Photo by: Louvre Abu Dhabi

1. National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC, USA

The number one opening in 2016 is an exciting first for America; the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC for short) will become the first national museum in America to focus exclusively on the lives, history and culture of African Americans. The 10-storey space Smithsonian Institution museum will open in Washington DC in 2016 and will boast artifacts from around the country that represent the history of African Americans. Everything from Harriet Tubman’s 1876 hymn book, to a Jim Crow-era segregated railcar, to banners and photographs from notable human rights demonstrations will be on display.

Photo by: Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroupJJR
Photo by: Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroupJJR