10 Foods That Make the State  

Every single one of the American States has its own quirky food scene and signature dish. Whether you are devouring a fresh lobster roll or chewing on a piece of saltwater taffy; these foods all have a history that ties them to a particular state. From the west coast to the east, from delectable marionberry pies to the famous Louisiana gumbo; these 10 foods and states go hand in hand, and it wouldn’t be a visit to any of these states without trying these foods.

10. Marionberry Pie, Oregon

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This hybrid berry is responsible for this awesome pie that Oregon is so greatly known for. The Marion blackberry, marketed as the marionberry is a cross between the ‘Chehalem’ and ‘Olallie’ blackberry and was developed by the USDA ARS breeding program in cooperation with Oregon State University. The berry has somewhat of a tart flavor, larger, sweeter, and juicier compared with an evergreen blackberry. Oregon produces between 28 million and 33 million pounds annually of these berries and the result is some incredible pies. There are thousands of recipes out there for these pies but the best have been handed down generations and every year at the State Fair there is a Marionberry Pie Contest. Many people are now adding cream cheese to the pie in addition to the berry filling, to add a little something extra. It wouldn’t be a trip to Oregon without filling your belly with at least one slice of this delicious pie.

9. Philly Cheese Steak, Pennsylvania

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The Philly cheese steak is a passionately defended local institution, and rightfully so as this gooey sandwich is absolutely delicious. The cheesesteak was developed in the early 20th century but the identity of the inventor and exact process is the subject of spirited debate but Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited with inventing the sandwich by serving chopped steak on an Italian roll in the early 1930s. Today the sandwich consists of a crusty roll filled with juicy thin-sliced beef and topped with fried onions, peppers, and Cheez Whiz. The best two places to get yourself one of these amazing sandwiches are either Pat’s King of Steaks or its rival Geno’s, they have been across-the-street rivals for nearly 50 years.

8. Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, Illinois

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Whoever invented deep-dish pizza, we wish they were alive today so we could give them a big old hug, or at least a high five. It was the year 1943 when this style of pizza was invented. Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened Pizzeria Uno in Chicago’s North Side neighborhood and served up a new style of pizza with a deeper dish, crunchier crust, and inverted layers. The deep-dish style pizza was invented and Chicago and the rest of the American world never looked back. What exactly goes into this process though? The cake-like pan in which the pizza is cooked is first coated in olive oil and then topped with a flour dough mixture. Before hitting the oven, a layer of sliced mozzarella is covered with vegetables and meats, typically Italian sausage, and then topped with a sweet layer of crushed tomatoes. The inverted layers of ingredients prevent the cheese from burning, while the meat, vegetables, sauce, and crust marry their flavors, leading to one incredible pie.

7. Crab Cakes, Maryland

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The Chesapeake Bay is known country-wide for its sweet-fleshed blue crabs and crab cakes quickly became the state food here. Before they became popular though, crabs were not widely eaten as they were considered too dangerous and difficult to eat. However as time went on fisherman began to master the technique of getting the meat out of the shell, and thus crab meat was in abundance. The term “crab cake” was first coined by Crosby Gaige in the 1930s. In his cookbook titled, New York World’s Fair Cook Book, he finally gave the popular recipe a name: “Baltimore Crab Cakes”. This fishcake is composed of crab meat, bread crumbs, milk, mayonnaise, eggs, seasoning, and may contain red or green peppers. The cake is then sautéed, baked, grilled, or broiled, turning it into a delicious seafood treat.

6. Lobster Roll, Maine

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Maine lobster is celebrated from sea to table all over the state and one of the favorite ways to eat this delicious seafood is in the famous sandwich, the lobster roll. Like a lot of other incredible dishes on this list, the history of who actually did the lobster roll first is under much debate. Many locals view Bayley’s Lobster Pound at Pine Point as the inventor of the famous seafood sandwich. Then there are the out-of-state claimants. Some say that Harry Perry first offered lobster rolls out of his Milford, Connecticut, restaurant in the 1920s. Others claim the Nautilus Tea Room in Marblehead, Massachusetts, as the original purveyor of lobster rolls. Lobster rolls in Maine have several distinct characteristics starting with the bun. The roll is baked slightly different from a hot dog roll, the sides are flat so they can be buttered, lobster meat is actually served cold in the roll and there is a light spread of mayonnaise either spread in the roll or mixed in with the meat.

5. Hotdish, Minnesota

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This interesting variety of casserole is actually produced as “hoddish” and is commonly found at large gatherings and family events. What makes up a hotdish is a variety of ingredients including potatoes, ground beef, green beans, corn, and canned soup. The potatoes can either be hash browns, potato chips, or the most widely used tater tots. Usually served with a side of ketchup, this dish remains popular, to everyone’s surprise, that doesn’t live in this state. The history of the hotdish goes back to when budget-minded farm wives needed to feed their own families, as well as congregations in the basements of the first Minnesota churches. Since then, the state has embraced this dish and even runs an annual hotdish competition.

4. Salt Water Taffy, New Jersey

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Salt water taffy evokes the Jersey Shore, more than any other candy or food out there. Considering the ingredients in this candy include things such as sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerine, water, butter, salt, natural and/or artificial flavor, and food color; it is astounding that this candy has remained the food we associate with New Jersey. Joseph Fralinger is said to be the one who popularized the candy when he started boxing it and selling it in Atlantic City. Shriver’s, the oldest business on the Ocean City boardwalk – it opened in 1898 – offers a staggering 70 flavors of taffy, with chocolate the overwhelming bestseller. Funny enough, the entire salt water taffy business in this state is owned by one family.  In 1947, four brothers named Glaser bought James and in 1990 they bought Fralinger’s. Today, the two famous taffy names are made in the same production rooms, with red collecting pans marked “James” and gray pans marked “Fralinger’s.”

3. Chimichanga, Arizona

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The history of how the chimichanga became a dish is much debated. According to one source the founder of the Tucson, Arizona, restaurant “El Charro”, Monica Flin, accidentally dropped a pastry into the deep fryer in 1922. She immediately began to utter a Spanish curse-word but quickly stopped herself and instead exclaimed chimichanga, a Spanish equivalent of “thingamajig”. Woody Johnson on the other hand claims he invented this dish in 1946 when he put burritos into a deep fryer as part of an experiment at his restaurant, Wood’s El Nido. This delicious deep-fried monster is made up of a flour tortilla filled with a wide range of ingredients, most commonly rice, cheese, machaca, carne adobada, or shredded chicken. Fold it into a rectangular package, drop it in the deep fryer and serve it up with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.

2. Gumbo, Louisiana

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Of all the dishes in the repertoire of Louisiana cooking, gumbo is absolutely the most famous and one of the most loved dishes of the state. Gumbo is found in the houses of both the rich and the poor, across restaurants, and at every single special event. Generally speaking, gumbo is a thick, dark soup containing a mixture of rice, vegetables, and meat or seafood. Yet when it comes to ingredients, the one constant in gumbo is variety. There are just two hard and fast rules: a gumbo must always contain rice, and it must always be thickened with something. The history of this dish is quite a mystery as it has been a staple in Louisiana kitchens long before written records of the dish existed. No one is certain whether the dish is Cajun or Creole in origin, but only one thing really matters; how delicious it truly is.

1. Shrimp and Grits, South Carolina

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Shrimp and grits are the typical breakfast for many of the Charleston area fishermen during the shrimping season, which ordinarily runs from May through December, but was discovered as a dish long before these fishermen started eating it. Grits actually originated from the Native Americans and were used as a way to communicate with the white people before they learned how to speak the same language. An important event happened in 1584 when Native Americans gave some of their grits to Sir Walter Raleigh and centuries later, in 1976, grits were declared the official state food of South Carolina and noted for their vital contribution to the culture and the economy of South Carolina, as well as to the sustenance of the people living there. Essentially this dish is Grits (thick ground corn) that form a bed for fresh-from-the-sea shrimp and other mix-ins, like bacon, garlic, and lemon.

9 Real American Ghost Stories

American history is rife with violent tales: grisly murders, massacres, tragic accidents and suicides litter the historical landscape. These kind of tragedies are apt to give rise to tales of horrifying hauntings; American folklore is chock-full of ghosts and ghouls. Many of these supposed specters are associated with violence, tragedy or unsolved crimes. Some of the places associated with these ghost tales have become well-known across the nation—and some are all the more terrifying because there’s at least some grain of truth buried in those ghastly yarns.

9. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

As far as spooky places go, you can’t get much more terrifying than an old asylum. Although many former asylums have been converted since their closure, others are abandoned—but almost all are rumored to be haunted with the ghosts of those patients who died in care there. The Trans-Allegheny Asylum, in Weston, West Virginia, has been mostly vacant since its closure in the mid-1990s, although a few small museums did operate during the early 2000s. These days, you can take a historic tour or a ghost tour during the evening. If you’re really up for a challenge, take the intensive, 8-hour ghost hunt on a Saturday night. The site also served as a post for soldiers during the Civil War, so in addition to the rumored spirits of hundreds of mentally ill patients, Civil War ghosts have also been reported to haunt the facility.

karenfoleyphotography / Shutterstock.com
karenfoleyphotography / Shutterstock.com

8. Moundsville Penitentiary

Like asylums, places where prisoners were held are often purported to be full of ghosts. The old Moundsville Penitentiary in West Virginia is one such supposedly haunted jail. These days, the former prison is a tourist attraction, used to host an annual Halloween attraction, but that’s not the only spooky thing going on here. Unexplained noises, voices, cold spots and even reports of a “shadow” man have given Moundsville a reputation as one of the most haunted prisons in America. Operating between 1876 and 1995, the facility had a violent history: 94 prisoners were executed and 36 were murdered by their fellow inmates. One such case was that of R.D. Wall, who was butchered in October 1929. In 1986, 3 inmates were killed during a riot. With stories like that, is it any wonder there’d be a few vengeful spirits still wandering here?

Moundsville Penitentiary

7. Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area

Gold was discovered in Sumpter, Oregon, in 1862, and between 1912 and 1934, 3 gold dredges operated in the valley district. The dredges weren’t overly sophisticated machines, but that didn’t make them safe. Two people were killed working on the dredges—though neither of them were “Joe Bush.” In 1918, an oiler named Christopher Rowe was greasing winch gears, when the gears started turning and Rowe was sucked in. When that dredge was dismantled to build the new No. 3, the gears were moved—and some say Rowe’s ghost moved with them. But reports of haunting didn’t pick up steam until the 1940s, when workers claimed that “Joe” would move tools and eat forgotten lunches. Some also report the ghost causes lights to flicker and doors to open and close. “Joe” is even said to leave wet footprints on the deck of the dredge.

Sumpter Valley Dredge

6. Myrtles Plantation

When Europeans arrived in America, Native Americans had been living on the land for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the new arrivals didn’t have much respect for that and often built right over important cultural sites—including burial grounds. Myrtles Plantation, in St. Francisville near Baton Rouge, is one building rumored to be right on top of a Native American burial ground. It’s also one of the scariest haunted houses in America, supposedly the home of no less than 12 ghosts. Legend says that up to 10 murders occurred in the house, but only the murder of William Winter is on record. Along with Winter’s ghost, other spectral residents include a young Native American woman, the spirits of a former owner and her 2 children, a murdered slave woman, at least 1 Civil War soldier and a young girl who died in 1868, who reportedly practices voodoo on unsuspecting guests.

"Myrtles Plantation Louisiana". Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Myrtles Plantation Louisiana“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

5. Huntingdon College

The Red Lady of Huntingdon College supposedly haunts the former Pratt Hall on the Montgomery campus, and her story is one many of us can relate to. According to legend, a student named Martha arrived to begin her studies at Huntingdon at the behest of her father. Originally from New York, Martha didn’t really want to go to Alabama. The other girls thought she was stand-offish and rude and Martha was unable to make any friends. Embittered, depressed and lonely, Martha committed suicide by slashing her wrists. The student who found her claimed to have seen red flashes of light shooting out of the room as she approached. Today, students say the date of Martha’s death is marked by red flashes of light from the room, and the ghost returns to haunt the building.

"Huntingdon College Flowers Hall" by Spyder Monkey - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Huntingdon College Flowers Hall” by Spyder MonkeyOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

4. Lizzie Borden House

The murders of Andrew and Abby Borden in 1892 caused a scandal across the nation. No one knows for sure who committed the crime, but the prime suspect was Lizzie Borden, Andrew’s daughter. The Bordens were butchered with an ax—as a popular ditty went, Lizzie “gave her mother 40 whacks.” Lizzie was acquitted at her trial, but no one else was ever charged. Today, the Lizzie Borden House, where the murders took place, is a bed and breakfast. Daily tours will take you to the rooms where Andrew and Abby were found, as well as to the basement where the ax was supposedly left by the murderer. Ghost hunters say the house is a hotbed of paranormal activity and the owners have a number of ghost cameras set up throughout the house. Some report seeing various players in the crime, including the ghosts of the victims and Lizzie.

"Borden House Present" by DkEgy - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Borden House Present” by DkEgyOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

3. Villisca Ax Murder House

Another famous ax murder case, also unsolved, occurred in the town of Villisca, Iowa, in 1912. Six members of the Moore family and 2 hapless house guests were bludgeoned to death on night in June. Several people were tried, but no one was ever convicted of the crime. The house where the murders took place is reported to be haunted: former tenants claim that they’d seen the shadowy figure of a man standing at the foot of their beds, swinging an ax, and to have heard the sound of children sobbing. Closet doors open and close, clothes are thrown out of dressers and shoes have been reported to fill with blood and move around the room. The house, which is now a museum, has been investigated by many ghost hunters, some of whom claim to have recorded a man saying things like “I killed 6 kids.”

Photo by: Iowa Girl on the Go
Photo by: Iowa Girl on the Go

2. Queen Esther’s Town Preserve

Many bloody battles were fought in the early days of America, making colonial history ripe for ghosts like Queen Esther. Legend says that Queen Esther, learning of her son’s death, rallied 500-plus villagers and raided a farm, killing at least 2 people in September 1778. A 200-man military force engaged the fierce Iroquian warriors of the village. The Iroquian women and children were caught and executed, and Esther was lynched. Today, near Athens, Pennsylvania, some say you can hear the screaming of the victims. Hunters report seeing a young woman weeping in an oak tree. She disappears and, after the sighting, weapons will fail to fire. Some people believe this is the spirit of Queen Esther trying to prevent more deaths. Others say Esther left a curse that would bring great misfortune to any settler who tried to live on the land where the massacre took place.

Photo by: Pennsylvanus Book Blog
Photo by: Pennsylvanus Book Blog 

1. The Bell Witch Cave

Although the Bell Witch might be one of the most famous stories in American paranormal folklore, nobody is quite sure who—or what—the “witch” was. Some accounts say the witch was a poltergeist, while others think it may have been the curse of a neighbor placed upon the Bell family in Adams, Tennessee. Still others say the neighbor was the witch herself. Whatever the case, the Bell family was tormented between 1817 and 1824: family members were pinched and prodded, animals were spooked for no seeming reason and unusual noises were heard. Eventually, John Bell died, but the witch went on tormenting the family; even today, Bell family descendants claim to be cursed. Although the Bells no longer own the farm property where the haunting took place, a nearby cave, called the Bell Witch Cave, is reputedly haunted and reports of paranormal activity continue to this very day.

"Bell Witch Cave" by Www78 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.
Bell Witch Cave” by Www78Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

The 7 Spookiest Cities in America

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Sharing chill-inducing tales of ghosts and goblins is practically an American pastime, and we can all take solace in the fact that they’re just stories. It’s harder to shake off the uneasiness that a good ghost story leaves you with, though, when you visit the locations where the ghost story purportedly took place. Looking for a really good scare on your next vacation? Stop by one of these particularly spooky American cities if you’re looking for some major frightening fun.

7. St. Augustine, FL

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It should come as no surprise that the oldest city in the United States (St. Augustine was founded in 1585) has a few skeletons in its proverbial closet. To make the most of your ghostly visit to this gem of a city on Florida’s east coast, don’t miss the impressive Castillo de San Marcos. This large fort has been guarding America’s first city for over 300 years, so it has some ghostly stories to tell. While touring the dungeon, you may feel the cold hands of former prisoners wrap around your wrists or shoulders. Visit the fort near sunrise or sunset to see if you can get a glimpse of the spirit of the Spanish soldier; the ghost appears at the edge of the fort, wistfully looking out to the sea, just before daybreak and nightfall. You’ll get the shivers, too, at the Spanish Military Hospital, which was unwittingly built on top of a Timucuan burial ground.

6. Centralia, PA

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America’s ghost towns are inherently creepy, but the creepiness factor of this ghost town in rural Pennsylvania is cranked all the way up to a “10.” Once a quaint coal-mining town, Centralia used to be home to more than 2,000 residents — but now the town’s population has dwindled to less than 10. Why? You can thank the coal mining operation. In 1962, a fire in the coal mine started — and it’s still raging underground today, thanks to a nearly limitless supply of coal. Sicknesses, sinkholes, and dangerous levels of carbon monoxide led to residents high tailing it out of Centralia over the ensuing decades. Today, the abandoned buildings and empty streets give off a distinctly eerie vibe. The creepiest part of this town, though? Steam and smoke still rises from the underground fire and seeps through cracks in Centralia’s abandoned roadways, making it look like the town is enveloped in a ghostly vapor.

5. New Orleans, LA

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New Orleans may be known for its rowdy French Quarter and the ribald festivities of Mardi Gras, but there’s a darker side to this famed southern city, too. For a solid scare, head to the Andrew Jackson Hotel near the French Market; the hotel is said to be haunted by the spirits of five little boys who perished there when a fire ripped through the building in 1778. Another spooky New Orleans pastime? Voodoo. Pay homage to the city’s voodoo queen with a stop by Saint Louis Cemetery. Famed voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau, who died in 1881, is buried here — purportedly along with her pet snake, Zombi. She’s said to cast a curse on whoever walks by her grave. Laveau’s sinister character was recently “brought back to life” in the T.V. series American Horror Story; Angela Bassett played the high priestess of voodoo.

4. San Francisco, CA

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San Francisco is known for its brightly colored row houses, its hippy-dippy history, and — today — as the epicenter of the tech boom. But just off of San Fran’s breathtaking coast sits a more sinister relic. The infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island is just a ferry ride away from the mainland — but only visit if you’re up for being spooked. Alcatraz claims nefarious individuals, like Al Capone, as former inmates; in fact, visitors today claim to hear banjo music emanating from the shower room, where Capone used to play his beloved instrument. Throughout the years, visitors, inmates, and guides alike have been unnerved by the sounds of chains rattling, blood-curdling screams, and the feeling of walking through chilly goosebump-inducing cold spots throughout the prison.

3. Adams, TN

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Are you a fan of the shaky-camera storytelling and substantial scares of the movie The Blair Witch Project? Then a visit to Adams, TN, is a must since some spooky events in the town inspired the film. In the early 1800s, a farmer named John Bell settled in Adams; the Bell family grew happy and prosperous on their Adams farm for a number of years. That is, until mysterious happenings started to capture their attention — knocks on windows, the sound of chains being drug through the house, and strange animal sightings became an almost daily occurrence. Eventually, the family began hearing a ghostly voice, too; the disembodied voice identified itself as the ghost of Kate Batts, a former disgruntled neighbor of the Bells. The ghost of Kate tormented farmer John’s daughter, Betsy, relentlessly; Betsy reportedly had her hair pulled and was pinched and scratched by the ghost. You can still visit the haunted Bell cabin today … if you dare.

2. Salem, MA

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Famous around the world for the horrific Salem witch trials, this tiny northeastern town just can’t shed its witchy past. Relive the hysteria with a visit to Gallows Hill Park. Now a baseball field and children’s playground, this park’s innocent veneer belies its haunting past; it was here in 1692 that the town of Salem hung 19 residents for suspected crimes of witchery. Tourism in the town today surrounds the Salem witch trials; get your dose of ghostly history at the Witch Dungeon Museum, which hosts a live re-enactment of a witch trial, based on the actual 1692 transcript. And don’t pass up a visit to the Witch House, a historic home built in 1642 that once housed the fearsome judge James Corwin, who presided over the witch trials. Suspected sorceresses were supposedly brought to this home to be checked for “witches’ marks,” or marks said to be left by the devil on the bodies of those that practice witchcraft.

1. Savannah, GA

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Amidst the moss-draped old oaks and stately Georgian homes, spirits lurk. In fact, the charming coastal town of Savannah, Georgia, is often referred to as America’s Most Haunted City! That reputation is well earned — see for yourself with a visit to some of Savannah’s spookiest landmarks. Check out the Sorrel-Weed House, a handsome mansion built on top of the unmarked graves of revolutionary soldiers; spirit sightings are so common at the house that the Sci-Fi Channel’s show Ghost Hunters has paid a visit here. And the creepy albeit beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery just outside of town is another must-visit. For major chills, stop by the grave of Gracie Watson, a six-year-old girl who died from yellow fever in 1889. Even if you don’t buy the story that Gracie’s ghost still haunts the cemetery, you’ll still shudder at the ghostly-looking statue that sits upon her grave!

10 Amazing Historic Hotels in the Midwest

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

10. Palmer House Hilton (Chicago, IL)

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

9. Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza (Cincinnati, OH)

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

8. French Lick Resort (French Lick, IN)

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

7. Westin Book Cadillac (Detroit, MI)

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

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

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

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

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

4. The Pfister Hotel (Milwaukee, WI)

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

3. Omni William Penn (Pittsburgh, PA)

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

2. Renaissance Cleveland Hotel (Cleveland, OH)

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

1. Omni Severin Hotel (Indianapolis, IN)

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

The 12 Strangest Sayings in America

If you’ve had a chance to travel, you’ve noticed differences in the way people talk in other places. This is something that anyone who has traveled the U.S. is keenly aware that people in Seattle talk differently than New Yorkers, and Texans are a whole other kettle of fish again. Even then, we can usually figure out what people mean when they break out a colloquialism or a local version of an idiom. Sometimes, though, we’re left scratching our heads. Here are 12 of those strange sayings that will have you wondering if everyone’s still speaking English.

12. “Bang a U-ey” – Rhode Island

For most of us, “banging” something either means you’re making a big noise, like construction workers hammering nails into a wall or … well, you get the idea. We do use “bang” colloquially, but nowhere is the verb more colloquial than in Rhode Island where locals might tell you to “bang a U-ey” if you make a wrong turn. “U-ey” is pretty common slang for a U-turn. When Rhode Islanders tell you this, they just want you to make a U-turn, and there’s no need to make a lot of noise about it. The term might be related to the phrase “bang one out,” which essentially means to do something, but it sure sounds strange nonetheless. If you happen to be told to do this, your Rhode Island tour guide will likely be impressed if you just wheel it around, no questions asked.

Rhode Island

11. “Your wig’s a little loose” – Kentucky

The Bluegrass State is known for some of its quirky Southern slang, although it shares much of this lingo with other Southern states. One interesting phrase you might hear only in Kentucky is, “your wig’s a little loose” or “I think your wig’s a little loose.” This is essentially telling someone you think they’re crazy—not exactly a compliment. The phrase is comparable to idioms like “doesn’t have his head on straight” and “I think you have a few screws loose.” You needn’t be actually wearing a wig, in this case, your wig is more a metaphor than anything, so don’t worry about telling your Kentucky friends that you’re not even wearing a wig. Bets that this phrase got its start in the early days of the Union, when everyone was still wearing powdered wigs? We really hope so.

Kentucky 1

10. “Get a wiggle on” – South Dakota

The Dakotas get a bad rap: the weather isn’t all that great, there’s not much to see or do and the locals are friendly, but perhaps a little strange. One thing you’ll quickly notice is that South Dakotans, much like Minnesotans and North Dakotans, have some pretty odd turns of phrase. One of the most intriguing is “get a wiggle on,” which essentially means “hurry up.” Others might be familiar with the phrase “get a move on,” which uses the same construct and means the same thing. We’re not entirely sure why South Dakotans want everyone to wiggle to their destination, though maybe it has something to do with keeping warm during the harsh winter weather. Nonetheless, if a South Dakotan acquaintance happens to suggest you should get your wiggle on, you needn’t bust a move like you’re on the dance floor—a bit more spring in your step will do.

South Dakota

9. “Gotta get flat” – California

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Golden State has some pretty slangy terminology. While a lot of California colloquialisms have arisen from surf culture and then spread to a wider demographic through the magic of Hollywood, there are still a few turns of phrase that are uniquely Californian. One of those phrases might be “gotta get flat,” which, at first glance, seems pretty obtuse. Why do we need to get flattened out? Is this something to do with earthquakes? Or maybe it’s some new twist on “getting down.” It actually just means “I need to lie down”—and if you think about it, it makes perfect sense: we often talk about being “laid flat out” or “flat on our backs,” so “getting flat” would be lying down.

California

8. “Geez-o-Pete!” – Michigan

Michigan’s strangest idiom might seem relatively tame or even understandable from some points of view. It’s a sort of mild swear, certainly not as rude as some of the phrases you can find around the world. In some ways, it’s almost cute and it’s definitely Michigan. “Geez-o-Pete!” is an exclamation that’s sort of like “Jesus Mary Mother of God!” with much the same meaning and a kind of parallel structure in that it calls on Jesus and St. Peter. If you hear your Michiganian friends shouting this, you know something’s caught them off-guard and not in a way that’s made them happy. It’s just that polite company is likely forcing them to keep it G-rated—otherwise you might hear some other choice words instead of this phrase.

Michigan

7. “Just because a cat has her kittens in the oven don’t make them biscuits” – Vermont

Local pride is something you’ll run into in any number of states (and countries, for that matter), but Vermont seems to take the cake with their own colloquialism about what makes a local a local. Specifically, they might tell you that “just because a cat has her kittens in the oven don’t make them biscuits.” What they’re really saying is that even if you were born in Vermont, you’re not necessarily a Vermonter, just like putting those kittens in the oven doesn’t make them biscuits. Once an outsider, always an outsider in Vermont, it seems. It will apparently take a couple generations to be considered a real Vermonter. In the meantime, nobody’s said we can’t all enjoy maple syrup, fantastic fall colors and great skiing in the Green Mountains in the wintertime.

Vermont

6. “That dog won’t hunt” – Georgia

Georgia’s another Southern state with that peculiarly Southern way of speaking. Of course, the Peach State has its own lingo, and one of the native phrases is “that dog won’t hunt” or “that dog don’t hunt.” While outsiders might think nothing of this idiom, it’s actually a way of saying something won’t work—much like a dog that won’t hunt, something’s a little off. Other versions of the phrase include “that horse isn’t a runner” and the historical predecessor “that cock won’t fight,” which was used as a natural metaphor for an idea that was bound to fail during the heydays of cockfighting in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, if someone from the Peach State tells you the dog won’t hunt, you’d better go back to the drawing board.

Georgia

5. “Looks like 10 miles of dirt road” – Wyoming

Wyoming is a relatively “young” state and this Western state has been decidedly pastoral and rural throughout most of its history, even before statehood. With a large interest in ranching, the smallest population in the U.S. and a huge swath of land dotted by mountains and valleys, it’s little wonder that Wyoming’s slang would take on a distinctly rural flavor. The phrase “looks like 10 miles of dirt road” is an example of that. This phrase is pretty easy to figure out: it means someone looks disheveled or unwell. Dirt roads are often unkempt and bumpy, washed out by storms and rutted especially after use or the winter—so saying someone looks like 10 miles of that is not a compliment! If your hosts in Wyoming suggest you look like this, you might want to nip off and “freshen up.”

Wyoming

4. “I’m going by your house later” – Louisiana

At first glance, the phrase “I’m going by your house later” may not seem all that strange. In fact, some of us may have offered someone a ride home from a party or offered to drop something off because we were “going by later.” But in Louisiana, “going by your house later” doesn’t mean someone is just going to drive by like a bitter ex. It means they’re actually going to stop in and visit. Whereas people from other places might say, “I’m going to stop in later,” Louisianans like to keep you in suspense by suggesting that they’ll be in the neighborhood, at some point. Chances are that the phrase started off much like it’s used in other regions—to mean somebody’s place is on your way—but eventually just became another way of saying they were going to drop by.

Louisiana

3. “Red it up” – Pennsylvania

Have you made a bit of a mess of things? If you’re in Pennsylvania, chances are you won’t be told to “clean up.” No, Pennsylvanians are more apt to tell you to “red it up,” an odd turn of phrase that could catch most of us off-guard. It seems, at first glance, tangentially related to phrases like “paint the town red,” but the actual meaning of the phrase is a lot more buckled down and serious than we might imagine. It’s actually descended from the verb “to ready [up],” which means to make a room ready for a guest or to set the table for a meal. It might be related to other archaic uses like “ready the cannons.” The Pennsylvania Dutch introduced that particular idiom to English in the Keystone state. In the modern day, “ready” has been changed to “red,” even though the phrase still means the same.

Pennsylvania

2. “Butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” – Alabama

Alabama is probably best known for its Southern drawl, that oft-mimicked and mocked accent that is supposed to characterize people who hail from Alabama and the other states that make up the Deep South. Alabamans have a few expressions that set them apart from other Southern states. One of the best (and most mystifying) is “butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” This is an exclamation expressing delight at discovering something surprising yet pleasant. Other variants exist around the English-speaking world, such as “pin my tail and call me a donkey.” A close synonym is “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” Just don’t take the suggestion too literally if you’re visiting the Heart of Dixie—nobody actually wants to be buttered and called a biscuit, although they’d surely be surprised if you did!

Alabama

1. “Slap you naked and hide your clothes” – Missouri

This phrase comes to us from Missouri, although there might be variants on it around other parts of the South and the West. In other areas, we might have heard our parents threaten to “tan your hide” or “slap you silly” when we did something they didn’t like. In Missouri, the threat is to “slap you naked,” and then “hide your clothes” so you can’t go out again in public—at least, not unless you want to go out in the buff. Really, this seems like a pretty good threat. If your parents were to “tan your hide,” nobody would really know. If you get slapped naked and have your clothes hidden though, everybody’s going to know what happened—you get a bruised ego in addition. Best to mind your manners when you visit Missouri!

TommyBrison / Shutterstock.com
TommyBrison / Shutterstock.com

9 Significant Historical Sites of the American Civil War

From 1861 to 1865 this iconic battle of North versus South waged on to determine the fate of slavery in the United States of America. This battle for civil rights and freedom was a defining moment in our nation’s history and marked the abolition of slavery and the preservation of the United States as one indivisible nation. The Civil War remains today as the deadliest war in American history, with approximately 620,000 military , not to mention the undetermined civilian casualties as a result of the relentless battles. From Gettysburg to Andersonville to Richmond, many of the historic sites are preserved and can still be visited today. Here are a few we recommend any history buff check out:

9. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park -Appomattox, Virginia

Among the preserved and reconstructed buildings at this national historic park is the McLean House. This important building is where General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederacy to Union commander Ulysses S. Grant on April 9th, 1865, effectively ending the Civil War. Today the park is home to many original artifacts tied to the events which occurred here, including the pencil used by General Lee to make corrections to the terms of surrender. The park’s visitor center is open daily from 8:30am – 5:00pm and admission is $10 per vehicle.

Mclean House

8. Shiloh National Military Park -Shiloh, Tennessee

Shiloh National Military Park preserves the battlefields of Shiloh and Corinth in southern Tennessee and Mississippi. The Battle of Shiloah was one of the first major Civil War battles in the south and resulted in nearly 24,000 soldiers killed, wounded or missing. After this battle the Union troops took the railroad junction at Corinth which is why the sights of both battlefields are preserved within this National Park designation. Among the attractions of these historic sites are the Shiloah National Cemetery, the Confederate Memorial in Shiloah Park, Siloah Indian Mounds and the Sunken Road.

Shiloh National Military Park

7. Richmond National Battlefield Park -Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia played an integral part of the Civil War, having served as the capital of the Confederate States of America during this time. As a result, there are numerous sites of historical significance to be found throughout the city and surrounding counties. Richmond National Battlefield Park includes 13 distinct sites or units, each commemorating an important event or location of the American Civil War. Among these sites are Fort Harrison, Cold Harbor, the defensive battery of Drewry’s Bluff and the famous Tredegar Iron Works, now home to the park’s main visitor center.

"Pattern building, Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia" by Morgan Riley - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Pattern building, Tredegar Iron Works, Richmond, Virginia” by Morgan RileyOwn work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

6. Antietam National Battlefield -Sharpsburg, Maryland

On September 17, 1862 the Battle of Antietam was fought at the foothills of the Appalachians along Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg, Maryland. This was a significant battle as it marked the end of General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North during the Civil War. Today, the area and its historic sites have been preserved as a National Park and included on the National Register of Historic Places. Each year over 330,00 people visit the park which includes such attractions as a visitor center, National Cemetery, Maryland Monument and the Pry House Field Hospital Museum.

Antietam National Battlefield

5. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park -Fredericksburg, Virginia

This Civil War site in Virginia gives you a 4 in 1 experience as this National Military Park covers 4 important battle sites of the Civil War; the Battle of Fredericksburg, Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of the Wilderness, and Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. The park includes 5 preserved structures open to the public (one of which is the location where Stonewall Jackson died of injuries sustained during the Battle of Chancellorsville) and at over 8374 acres, Fredericksburg is the second largest military park in the world.

Confederate Cemetery, Fredericksburg VA

4. Andersonville National Historic Site -Andersonville, Georgia

When we think of POW camps, our minds tend to lean more to Europe and the camps of WWII, long before this however there were POW camps right here in America. Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia preserves the site of Camp Sumter, also known as Andersonville Prison which was a Confederate POW camp during the Civil War. The site is open to the public and includes a National Cemetery, prisoner-of-war museum, and remains of the camp itself. Visit this site to pay your respects to the over 13,000 men that died here as a result of the unlivable conditions; a somber reminder of the horrors of war camps.

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

3. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park -Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia/Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

This military park encompasses two distinct locations which were the sites of two significant Civil War battles;  the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia and the Chattanooga Campaign at Lookout Mountain, eastern Tennessee. The park consists of four main areas: Chickamauga Battlefield, Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain Battlefield and Point Park and Moccasin Bend. These parks preserve and recount the long and hard-fought battle of the Chattanooga Campaign; the power struggle of North vs South for domination and control of this “Gateway to the Deep South”.

Lookout Mountain  Chattanooga

2. Fort Sumter National Monument -Charleston, South Carolina

Fort Sumter is credited as being the location where the American Civil War really began, when on April 12, 1861 Confederate artillery opened fire on this Charleston Harbor fort. While there are several sites associated with Fort Sumter that are accessible by land, including the visitor center, visiting the fort itself will require transportation by boat as the fort sits in Charleston Harbor. Visitors can either take the public boat tours operated by Fort Sumter Tours at a cost of $19 for adults and $12 for children, or if you have your own boat, there is no admission to visit Fort Sumter on your own.

Fort Sumter National Monument -Charleston

1. Gettysburg National Military Park -Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

It’s no accident that the site of the most notorious battle of the American Civil War comes in as the number one historical Civil War site to visit in America. The Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 was the bloodiest of the entire Civil War with an estimated 46,000-51,000 casualties from both sides. The result of this battle was a Union win, which ended Robert E. Lee’s second and most ambitious invasion of the North. The significance of this battle was such that it spawned President Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address which honored the fallen soldiers of this bloody clash. Today, the public can appreciate the significance of Gettysburg with a visit to the visitors center, the Soldier’s National Cemetery or David Wills House.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Frank Lloyd Wright’s 17 Greatest Hits

The great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright once wryly observed that “The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” Following his death in 1959, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) designated 17 of his buildings for special merit and preservation. Almost 50 years later they commissioned a public poll to list the Top 150 Favorite Works of Architecture with Wright placing seven. In 2015, the FLW Conservancy nominated 10 of his buildings to be added to UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites. This kind of recognition shows the enduring relevance and popularity of the man who the AIA called, “one of the greatest architects of all time.” He never was or will be nominated for Miss Congeniality but he was a great innovator and pioneer, a passionate American nationalist, disparaging about American fashion for Things European. He was the master of “organic architecture” which preached the harmonization of building with environment. Wright expressed its First Commandment like this:” No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.” Without further adieu, we present the 17 greatest works of Frank Lloyd Wright:

17. Hanna Honeycomb House (1936) -Stanford, California

Imagine a house with no right angles, not even its furniture. Wright’s design used only hexagonal shapes and the six-sided pattern so resembled a honeycomb it was nicknamed as such. It was actually called Hanna House after the Stanford Professor Paul Janna and wife Jean. It also contained several signature Wright characteristics, including being built with local materials; San Jose brick and redwood. As the National Park Service describes it, “The house clings to and completes the hillside on which it was built” as his ‘organic’ architecture believed. It was also a template for his dream of creating affordable housing for the middle class down to ensuring the wood assembly could be done by a carpenter, not requiring high-priced experts. Of course, he ran over budget and this middle class template ended up costing the Hannas the equivalent of over $600,000 dollars today. Such was the Wright bravado, he built it right over the San Andreas Fault. He didn’t live to see it badly damaged in the earthquake of 1989.

Photo by: Minimalisti
Photo by: Minimalisti

16. Frank Lloyd Wright Residence (1889) -Oak Park, Illinois

The oldest remaining of Wright’s buildings was built with $5000 which the rising architect borrowed from his boss. It was here that he began leaving his indelible mark on the architecture of the twentieth century. The Chicago suburb remains the largest enclave of his work with 25 various structures designed and built from 1889-1913. It established his first big innovation, in the Prairie School of Architecture, glorifying and refining the ground hugging structures of early settlers in the American west, a tribute in Wright’s view to the fundamental American values of hard work and perseverance. The materials and design are far beyond what any settler could have dreamed of. The Children’s Playroom is one of the most notable rooms in any of his creations, famous for the prisms of light that come through the specially designed windows and skylight.

Photo by: The Craftsman Bungalow
Photo by: The Craftsman Bungalow

15. William H. Winslow House (1893) -River Forest, Illinois

Bargain hunter alert! Check this real estate listing: “A most exceptional/livable home, great for entertaining with generous rooms sizes. 4 bedroom/3.5 bathroom Coach House with live-in apt. Original details remain intact: art glass windows, bronze/iron, furniture and built-ins, hardwood floors, 4 fireplaces. Meticulously maintained” And a price tag of just $1.55 million, a full million off the original asking price. One of Wright’s few properties with rooms one can actually imagine mere mortals living in. But then comes the achingly beautiful detailed woodwork, the ridiculously gorgeous dining room and you quickly realize that this residence is anything but ordinary. Winslow House is considered historically important in that it was Wright’s first independent commission after leaving his mentors at the architectural firm of Adler & Sullivan.

"William H. Winslow House Front Facade" by Oak Park Cycle Club - http://www.flickr.com/photos/oakparkcycleclub/707277262/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.
William H. Winslow House Front Facade” by Oak Park Cycle Club – http://www.flickr.com/photos/oakparkcycleclub/707277262/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

14. Ward W. Willits House (1901) -Highland Park, Illinois

This outwardly sedate-looking suburban home was a political statement and the true beginning of an architectural revolution. It was an emphatic rejection of the designs featured at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair which projected the rebirth of the city with towering ornate works of Greek and Roman grandeur. Midwest architects, Wright among them, objected to the old European influence insisting on and creating a new truly American style. This became known as the Prairie School, with which Wright first experimented in Oak Park as a precocious 22 year old. Its horizontal orientation reflected the American experience of the wide open prairie as opposed to the urbanized vertical clutter of the Old World. The AIA calls Willits House “the first house to embody all the classic elements of the Prairie style,” which included the absence of doors to mimic the ‘wide-open space’ of the prairie long before the concepts of local sourcing and sustainability were on trend, Wright was using locally sourced material. Here his ‘organic’ style took hold, the idea that buildings should look like they grew out of the landscape. In return, a hundred leaded windows, the use of which Wright pioneered, firmly integrated the interior living space into its natural surroundings.

"Willits House" by User:JeremyA - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons.
Willits House” by User:JeremyAOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons.

13. Unity Temple (1904) -Oak Park, Illinois

When Oak Park’s Unitarian Church burned down in 1905 Wright sought the commission to replace it. What he came up with according to the church website “broke nearly every existing rule and convention for American and European religious architecture.” There were few things Wright liked more than breaking rules in his work and life. It looks fortress-like from the outside but inside the space soars with geometric patterns and stained glass in earth tones to denote again the connection to nature. It was there Wright said that he realized that a building’s space was more important than its walls. It has been a national Historic Site since 1971. It was also, as the AIA declares, the “first significant American architectural statement in poured concrete.” The Church’s trustees thanked the architect by resolving that “We believe the building will long endure as a monument to his artistic genius and that, so long as it endures, it will stand forth as a masterpiece of art and architecture.”

Unity Temple

12. S.C. Johnson Administration Building (1936) -Racine, Wisconsin

Thirty years after his Unity Church triumphant exercise in design and space, Wright ventured to his home state of Wisconsin to create what has been called one of Wright’s most “astonishing” spaces, the S.C. Johnson Administration Building. Yes as in Johnson’s Wax. The family owned company’s ambitious leader S.C Johnson sought out Wright in the midst of the Great Depression because, he explained, “I wanted to build the best office building in the world, and the only way to do that was to get the greatest architect in the world.”  Wright had an uncanny knack to design places that look like sets from Star Date 2317.9 on Star Trek. The Great Workroom features 43 miles of Pyrex glass tubing, so-called birdcage elevators. The “lily pad” columns are 18 ½ feet wide at the top and just 9 inched at the bottom but still incredibly durable. Wright also designed dozens of pieces of furniture.

Photo by: James S. Russell
Photo by: James S. Russell

11. S.C. Johnson Research Tower (1944) -Racine, Wisconsin

In the same vein a few years later, another Johnson wanted a research facility that looked as cutting edge outside, as the research was inside. It was here that iconic consumer brands like Raid, Glade, Off! and Pledge were developed. The result was a structure about as far from the Prairie School as could be imagined. In his book on the project author Mark Hertzberg called it one of the most significant landmarks in modern architecture.  “The fifteen-story skyscraper is the only existing example of Wright’s ambitious taproot design. Like limbs from a tree trunk, alternating square floors and round mezzanines branch out from the weight-bearing central core—a truly revolutionary idea at the time and an engineering marvel today.” No longer in use, it is open to the public, the labs inside restored as they would have appeared when it opened in 1950.Wright did build a Prairie style home for the Johnsons called Wingspread which was said to be the “epitome of organic architecture” which is now a conference center.

Photo by: Mashable
Photo by: Mashable

10. Unitarian Meeting House (1947) -Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin

The Church of Tomorrow was at first a country church, though now in a Madison suburb. This was a rare labor of love for Wright. His father was one of the group’s founders and he himself was an off and on member. When money ran short, he charged a modest fee and organized fund raising events. Parishioners hauled tons of stone from a nearby quarry. He accepted the commission at the age of 78 and would turn 84 by its completion. Again, the compact exterior hid the space inside and Wright returned to the relationship in his mind of the geometric and the spiritual. According to the AIA Wright believed that light and a “geometric type of space” allowed a structure “to achieve the sacred quality particular to worship.” And like the Unity Church in Oak Park, traditional religious form, spires and bells, were absent. At its dedication Wright declared that “This building is itself a form of prayer.”

"UM 1" by Nomadseifer - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
UM 1” by NomadseiferOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

9. Price Company Tower (1952) -Bartlesville, Oklahoma

With the exception of the Johnson Research Tower, Wright’s reputation rested on intricate, innovative low rise structures. By the mid twentieth century, with the country’s increasing urbanization, the action had moved to the art of the high-rise and Wright’s ego compelled him to follow the trend. Fortunately he found an equally ambitious and wealthy oil magnate with a bank account to match his ego named H.C. Price. The original commission was for office space in New York in the 1930’s after the sensational debuts of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. The Great Depression forced a long delay, but Wright finally took up the challenge late in life. Though a 19 story building could hardly be called a skyscraper in New York City, it certainly was in Bartlesville in 1956. The AIA praised the concept as having the “organic ideal of the tree. A tap-root foundation solidly anchors the building to its site, and cantilevered floors hang like branches from the structural core.” It can still be seen for miles on the Oklahoma prairie and is open to the public.

Photo by: M Gerwing Architects
Photo by: M Gerwing Architects

8. Beth Sholom Synagogue (1954) -Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

A late tour de force by an architect who was 86 when he accepted the commission struck by the Rabbi’s request to build “a new thing—the American spirit wedded to the ancient spirit of Israel.” Wright responded with a design laden with symbolism, a tent like structure in glass walls whose interior as the AIA says “allows the sanctuary to soar to a height of 100 feet without internal supports.” The peaked front represents Mount Sinai, the beige carpets are the sands the chosen people had to cross. It is almost more spectacular by night as interior light seems to make the glass walls glow with an otherworldly energy source. He wrote he wanted to make the “kind of building in which people, on entering it, will feel as if they were resting in the hands of God.” The formal opening and dedication of Beth Sholom (House of Peace) was held in the fall of 1959, five months after Wright died.

Photo by: Dami's Findings
Photo by: Dami’s Findings

7. Frederick C. Robie House (1906) -Chicago, Illinois

The final seven structures on our list are the ones that also made the AIA’s Top 150 favorite pieces of architecture according to the public poll “America’s Favorite Architecture” conducted by The AIA and Harris Interactive. At #138 on their list is The Robie House, considered Wright’s masterpiece of the Prairie Style. The Institute notes how “Concealed steel beams create long, uninterrupted spaces that extend through windows onto porches and balconies, making walls disappear,” echoing his belief that spaces are more important than walls, and that more than a century before the locally sourced philosophy became a mantra of the creative class, Wright had invoked it as his. Even the wood he used was left in a natural state, unvarnished, unpainted. Its open space inside astonishes after viewing the squat and sturdy horizontal. The attention to detail in furniture, art, glass and windows is mind-boggling but manages to seem truly artistic rather than lavish.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

6. Hollyhock House (1917) -Los Angeles, California

Number 131 on the Favorites List, built from 1919 to 1921, interior rooms connect to gardens with rooftop terraces affording spectacular views of the Hollywood Hills and Pacific Ocean. It was Wright’s first west coast project and he developed a style specific to the region that he called California Romanza, though from some angles it resembles a Mayan temple. The eclectic Wright admired the Mayan ‘mighty, primitive abstractions of man’s nature.” It was commissioned by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, a pioneer in the realm of Avant garde theater, a fervent feminist and radical activist for social justice who knew Emma Goldman and was watched by the FBI for decades. Barnsdall and Wright bickered constantly so the full project was never finished. Barnsdall donated the house (said to be named for her favorite flower) to the city. The house was nearly turned into a sports center and fell into such disrepair it was nearly razed. Eventually it was become the artistic center that Barnsdall always wanted and is now open to the public.

trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com
trekandshoot / Shutterstock.com

5. V.C. Morris Gift Shop (1948) -San Francisco, California

Perhaps the smallest gem in the Wright firmament. The formidable looking exterior seems hardly appropriate for a retail space, yet something about its precision and detail beckons, especially the futuristic look of the lighting grilles beside the arch. The effect is created by losing every second brick and filling the space with back lighting. The dazzling interior features the stark contrast of black walnut furniture and the white reinforced concrete of the spiral ramp. It’s known for being the precursor to the grand design of the Guggenheim Museum of 1956. When the owner questioned the absence of storefront windows, Wright, imperiously replied, “We are not going to dump your beautiful merchandise on the street, but create an arch-tunnel of glass, into which the passers-by may look and be enticed. As they penetrate further into the entrance, seeing the shop inside with its spiral ramp and tables set with fine china and crystal, they will suddenly push open the door, and you’ve got them!”

"Frank Lloyd Wright - V.C. Morris Gift Shop, SF - 3" by Daderot - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Frank Lloyd Wright – V.C. Morris Gift Shop, SF – 3” by DaderotOwn work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

4. Taliesin West (1937) -Scottsdale, Arizona

Ranked as 123rd on the Most Popular list, Taliesin West was Wright’s winter home and is now home to a school of architecture and the FLW Foundation. It is a national historic monument and is perhaps his greatest achievement in his beloved organic architecture as it seems to be not so much built onto the desert mountain landscape but rather to emerge from as part of it. The AIA praises it as “most dramatic assimilation of a building into a natural environment.” It’s named after his Wisconsin home (ta-LEE-son), the name of renowned 6th century Welsh Poet and translates as “Shining Brow.” Wright and his apprentices personally built and maintained this much beloved home, which Wright called “the top of the world.” It personifies the Wright creed that everything from the grandest design to the smallest detail were equally important parts of the organic whole. “It is quite impossible”, he said,” to consider the building as one thing, its furnishings another and its setting and environment still another,” he concluded. “The spirit in which these buildings are conceived sees all these together at work as one thing.”

"TaliesinWest03 gobeirne" by I, Gobeirne. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons
TaliesinWest03 gobeirne” by I, Gobeirne. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Commons

3. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1956) -New York, New York

Not only at 74th on the Popular List, the iconic Guggenheim Museum is also one of nine Wright creations nominated for status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for “creating a new paradigm for the museum…the imagination, daring form, new construction techniques, and resonant symbolic shape.” A staggering masterpiece full of staggering masterpieces, and perhaps Wright’s best know work. The whirling dervish exterior is actually derived from the “ziggurat” motif of ancient Babylonian temple design from the 6th century BCE. The stubborn architect insisted on a location near central park to anchor it in nature. The Museum website calls the interior “a symphony of triangles, ovals, arcs, circles, and squares.” He even brought his cardinal rule of open space eschewing walls and compartments, his radical concept takes visitors straight to the top and then lets them wander down a spiral ramp sort of surfing the galleries on the way down to the floor of the spectacular rotunda. Once criticized for overshadowing the Guggenheims’ incredible collection of art.

Victoria Lipov / Shutterstock.com
Victoria Lipov / Shutterstock.com

2. Taliesin East (1911) -Spring Green, Wisconsin

The Wright family home after the Chicago years, and 30th most Popular. It has been described as the architect’s “autobiography in wood and stone.” It has a dour exterior but as usual the inside explodes with a celebration of space, light and integration with nature as the Wisconsin River Valley fills every window. There is a fascinating 3D HD tour of the house that is the next best thing to being there, the perfection, the astonishing look of “everything just so”, right down to the single horseshoe over one of the fireplaces. Local wood and stone somehow cohabit in harmony and balance with exotic statuary and huge Japanese prints. The thought suddenly occurs, “What is keeping this place up? The absence of walls and visible beams suggests an insight into Wright’s Byzantine thoughts, that is his tribute to the wide open spaces, the Frontier, which until the intrusion of the automobile defined the American psyche and its expression was a distinctly American style of architecture.

Taliesin Spring Green

1. Fallingwater (1935) -Mill Run, Pennsylvania

The 39th Most Popular is audacious, outrageous genius, just like its creator. The Kaufmann’s were a wealthy Pittsburgh family whose department store was a huge success. They wanted a summer home on their patch of land 67 miles southwest of the city featuring their favorite view of the 30 ft. waterfall. They reach out to Wright who at his point was at the lowest point of his life, down and just about out. The Great Depression and Wright’s own erratic sometimes offensive behavior had left him without commissions, friends or money. Someone in his position might be expected to bend over backwards to please his life-saving client. But true to form, Wright shocked his patrons with a design that placed the home on top of the beloved falls whose view they were so looking forward to. It went the 1938 version of viral when unveiled as a magical place that appeared to be built on thin air jutting out over the falls. Wright said he wanted them to live with the falls, not just occasionally look at them. Deeply influenced by Japanese architecture while on a project in Tokyo, he was proud with the resulting harmonic coexistence of man and nature (although the risky design would lead to chronic problems requiring constant repair.) Wright seized his out of the blue chance at redemption and created his ultimate masterpiece, cementing his legacy as the greatest American architect of all time.

"Fallingwater - DSC05639" by Daderot - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Fallingwater – DSC05639” by DaderotOwn work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The 10 Coolest Log Buildings in the World

Small homes, going off-the-grid and the popularity of figures like lumberjacks show that Western culture is reaching back to its roots to reinvent itself, especially in terms of the way we live and the spaces we inhabit. The current popularity of the “log cabin” and its associated “rustic” appeal is evidence of that nostalgia. But log buildings don’t need to be a little log cabin in the woods. As these 10 examples show, log buildings have been around for a long time, they came in all shapes and sizes—and they continue to diversify.

10. Hans Liberg Recording Studio, Netherlands

Hans Liberg is a Dutch composer and like many artists, he finds the modern world distracts him from his art. In his case, the sounds of sirens and phones ringing play havoc with his ability to create. Enter a log cabin in the woods: an escape, a true retreat from the noisiness of modernity to the solitude of nature. But Liberg’s log cabin isn’t like any other. No, this construction is designed to look like a woodpile, the kind you’d find stocked for keeping the fire stoked during the long, cold winter. Not only that, but this log cabin is mobile; Liberg decided to set his studio up so he could move it around if, say, one place gets too noisy. Inside is a sound recording studio, where Liberg can create his art—albeit while making noise to disturb everyone else when the windows are open!

Photo by: Laura Casey Interiors
Photo by: Laura Casey Interiors

9. Victory Lodge – Sierra Nevada, United States

The American motto has long seemed to be “go big or go home,” and that’s certainly the motif behind Victory Lodge near June Lake, in the Sierra Nevada region of California. This enormous log cabin thoroughly stretches the definition of “cabin” with its magnitude. Nominally a single-family dwelling, the cabin features nine bedrooms and nine baths. The building, while privately owned, is rented out, occasionally as a wedding venue. It comes with all the amenities of modern life: 11 fireplaces, a six car garage, a sauna and even its own private casino. Coupled with sweeping views of the mountainous landscape surrounding it, Victory Lodge is truly an amazing example of what you can do with a few logs and a bit of cash—the property is valued at over $14 million and a weekly rental will run you nearly $5,000.

Photo by: Curbed Ski
Photo by: Curbed Ski

8. Biskupin – Lake Biskupin, Poland

Biskupin is an Iron Age settlement and fortress in Poland. When the site was discovered in the 1930s, it became famous and was used by Polish nationalists to show that prehistoric “Poles” had held their own against the Germans; the site was only 70 kilometers from the German border. A life-size model was constructed in the 1930s, but was destroyed by the retreating German army at the end of World War II. They also flooded the site, hoping to destroy it, but the water actually helped preserve the ancient timber—which was then used to date the site and to reconstruct a new, open-air museum. The Iron Age settlement was dated between 747 and 722 B.C., with over half of the wood being dated to 738–37 B.C. by dendrochronology. The ramparts and several houses have been reconstructed for visitors.

Photo by: Tomcio77 via Flickr
Photo by: Tomcio77 via Flickr

7. Chateau Montebello – Quebec, Canada

If you think log buildings are limited to log cabins, the Chateau Montebello in Quebec, Canada, invites you to think again. This hotel sits on a 65,000-acre, forested wildlife sanctuary on the shores of the Ottawa River. It has been a popular destination for Canadian leaders hosting international summits; many world leaders have visited the chateau for conferences and meetings. The plot, which had originally been granted to a bishop of New France in 1674 and subsequently sold and resold, ended up in the hands of Harold M. Saddleman in the late 1920s. Under the direction of a Finnish master builder, the Scandinavian-style log buildings were constructed in the early 1930s using red cedar shipped in via the Canadian Pacific Railway. The chateau remains a popular private retreat, in part because of its blend of luxury and rustic appeal.

Photo by: Gordon Bell via Flickr
Photo by: Gordon Bell via Flickr

6. Gakona Roadhouse – Gakona, Alaska

In 1904, the U.S. Army was in the midst of building the Trans-Alaska Military Highway between Valdez and Eagle. During construction, they put up a number of buildings to house workers, including what is now the Gakona Roadhouse. It sits at mile 205 of the Glenn Highway, which is located at a point where the new military highway diverged from the old trail that had been frequented by miners on their way to the Yukon River fields during the gold rush of the late 1890s. Today, travelers are welcomed into structures dating to the 1920s, while the 1904 building is used for storage. It has a 1-1/2 log structure and a gabled roof made of corrugated metal. The building was listed on the American National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Photo by: Masterseek
Photo by: Masterseek

5. Shoso-in – Nara, Japan

Say “log building” and many people would think of a rustic construction made by pioneers somewhere in frontier America. Log cabins have been built around the world though, just in different styles. Take, for example, the Japanese azekura: joined-log structures typically made of cypress. The style was used for buildings like granaries and storehouses during the first millennium A.D. Perhaps the most famous azekura is Shoso-in, the treasure house at Todai-ji in Nara. It was built after 756 to house 600 items Empress Komyo had donated to the Great Buddha at Todai-ji in remembrance of her husband, Emperor Shomu. It is the oldest azekura building in Japan and the treasury holds some 9,000 items. The collection items are shown once a year at the Nara National Museum. Shoso-in is also home to a silk collection donated by the current Empress of Japan.

Photo by: STA3816 via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: STA3816 via Wikimedia Commons

4. Church of Transfiguration – Karelia, Russia

If you want to see several cool log buildings in a short amount of time, visit Kizhi Pogost in Russia’s Perm Krai. Kizhi Pogost is an open-air museum that was founded in 1969; it has been welcoming visitors since 1980. The museum is dedicated to wooden architecture of the Ural region and includes 23 unique monuments, all of them constructed between the 1600s and the early 20th century. All of the structures are native to Perm Krai, although they were moved to the museum. A traditional Russian izba is on display, as well as a windmill. Perhaps most impressive is the Church of the Transfiguration, originally built in 1707 in the Cherdynsk District, complete with all its spires. The museum is one of the most important attractions in Perm Krai and regularly hosts festivals and holidays.

Kizhi Pogost, Russia

3. Vlkolínec Village – Vlkolínec, Slovakia

Not just one or two log buildings, Vlkolínec in central Slovakia is an intact village with some of the best examples of folk architecture in the Northern Carpathians. The village is one of 10 Slovak villages to have been granted status as a folk architecture reservation and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993. The village, a remarkable example of the traditions of central Europe, consists of more than 45 traditional log houses. Houses Number 16 and 17 function as a folk museum dedicated to showcasing lifeways, complete with tools and other artifacts. A wooden belfry and a baroque-style chapel are also intact, dating from at least the 18th century. Vlkolínec has been described as “picturesque” and offers us a peek into how the mountain-dwelling peoples of central Europe lived centuries ago—and a chance to see how their traditions have influenced Slovak culture today.

Vlkolinec Village

2. The Hess Homestead – Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

The Hess family immigrated from Germany in the early 18th century to Pennsylvania where they purchased a farm from the family of William Penn. The homestead functioned as a meeting place for Pennsylvania’s early Mennonites, until 1856 when the Mennonite church was built in Lancaster County. The early buildings on the land, including the 1740s log farm house, are fine examples of the German tradition of blockbau building, which the Hess family brought with them. In 1785, a log cabin was also built on the property. In 1985, a Hess descendant purchased the historic family property, and began relocation and conservation of several historic buildings that had been threatened with demolition. The former Reading Railroad line now forms a walking trail that adjoins the farmhouses. In 1999, the Warwick Township installed historic markers in the log farmhouse.

Photo by: FamilySearch
Photo by: FamilySearch

1. Heidal Church – Heidal, Norway

Heidal, Norway, is a valley and parish in the county of Oppland. Relatively unassuming and very rustic, the valley has a long history of carpentry and wood carving, and many historic buildings. Some, like the Bjostad farm are not open to the public, but are private property. Others, such as the Sore Harildstad farm allow guided tours. One of the places that visitors can tour are the Heidal Church, which was built between 1937 and 1941, as an exact replica of an 18th century log church that had burned down in 1933. Near to the church stands the Bjostad Chapel, another log building. It predates the church, being constructed in approximately 1531. Other log buildings are also scattered about the town, which makes visiting Heidal almost like stepping back in time. The church and chapel are excellent examples of local traditions merging with trends imported from elsewhere in Europe.

Photo by: Anders Einar Hilden via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Anders Einar Hilden via Wikimedia Commons

12 Over the Top Stadium Foods to Try This Year

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

12. Big Mother Funnel Burger – Appleton, Wisconsin

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

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

11. Sweenie Donut Dog – Wilmington, Delaware

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

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

10. Tailgate Stack – Kansas City, Missouri

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

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

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

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

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

8. Chicken and Waffle Cone – Houston, Texas

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

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

7. Triple-Triple Wayback Burger – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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

Photo by: Wayback Burgers
Photo by: Wayback Burgers

6. Churro Dog – Phoenix, Arizona

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

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

5. Fried Nachos on a Stick – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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

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

4. Bacon and Sriracha Deviled Eggs – Detroit, Michigan

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

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

3. Pulled Pork Parfait – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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

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

2. Fried S’mOreo – Dallas, Texas

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

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

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

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

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

12 Things to See and Do in Pennsylvania

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

12. Hersheypark

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

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

11. Dutch Wonderland

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

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

10. Liberty Bell

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

Liberty Bell

9. Gettysburg National Military Park

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

Gettysburg Pennsylvania

8. Sesame Place

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

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

7. Eastern State Penitentiary

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

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

6. Fallingwater

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

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

5. Kennywood

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

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

4. Hershey’s Chocolate World

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

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

3. Philadelphia Zoo

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

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

2. Knoebels Amusement Resort

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

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

1. Indian Echo Caverns

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

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