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Whether for a quick weekend trip or for a longer holiday, New England is a great destination for foodies eager to explore the culinary treats found there. It is where you come for real maple syrup, Maine lobsters so sweet you don’t need to eat them with butter, clam chowder, and a multitude of other tasty delights.
Here is a short list of the top ten foodie destinations in New England, all within a few hours drive of each other. Some suggestions are foodie towns, some suggestions are actual food producers foodies have a special fondness for.
Beautiful Portland, Maine is a thriving foodie destination with at least three chefs who have been anointed as the best young chefs working in America. Try getting a table at the following restaurants: Duckfat, Hugo’s, Fore Street, and 555 if you can get in. This bustling seafront city has a thriving waterfront with lobster pounds and fish markets, many of which will ship fresh lobsters, clams, and chowder on ice to your home. Visit the Allagash Brewery for a beer tour and walk around the Old Port to find a seat with a view of the bay for an outdoor fresh seafood lunch. There are also some nice little chocolate shops in this section of the city to sample.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire is New Hampshire’s answer to Portland, Maine. Also along the seafront, also quaint, also filled with galleries and fabulous restaurants. Try getting a seat at: The Black Trumpet, Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Cafe, Popovers, Pesce Blue, or Dunaway. Take a walk around town during the day, stopping at either Anabelle’s Ice Cream or Izzy’s Frozen Yogurt, both extremely popular with foodies. Chocolate? Visit the Lindt Factory Outlet! Actually Lindt & Sprungli candy are headquartered nearby in Stratham. Another chocolate stop to make is at Byrne & Carlson on State Street. Also nearby is the famous Stonewall Kitchen, a foodie heaven with a huge online presence and stores throughout New England. They are located in York, a few miles away.
Boston has so many wonderful food related places to visit. A favorite is to take the tour at the Taza Chocolate Factory. Not only is the chocolate organic and fair trade, but it is absolutely delicious. Take a stroll through Boston’s Little Italy called the North End and stop for a coffee and canolli at Modern Pastry. Stop for fresh oysters at the Union Oyster House. And for the best baked beans in Boston, don’t miss a meal at historic Durgin Park. Just next door is Faneuil Hall with its indoor gourmet food hall for snacking and sampling a great deal of what Boston has on offer.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory is located near Stowe, Vermont in Waterbury. You can take a guided tour of the factory and visit the Flavoroom to try ice cream samples. There’s a fun gift shop and the factory is nestled in the mountains so plan on bringing a picnic to enjoy the scenery.
And finally, King Arthur Flour is a mecca for those who love to bake and love artisanal bread. Visit their factory store to shop for all your baking needs. Enjoy their little restaurant where you can dine on their freshly baked pizzas and breads. And if you have time, check the web site for classes you can take there. Wouldn’t it be fun to learn how to bake the perfect French baguette at home?
Alex is a travel writer and blogger. He loves touring the world’s best cities, expanding his belly on all the great foods. He also contributes regularly to a Kefalonia information guide.
by Maria Haskins
Greece is a fantastic place to visit for many reasons: the food, the climate, the history, and the gorgeous beaches. Another reason is the many unique and amazing Greek islands visitors can explore: each one with its own particular atmosphere and local flavor. Whether you fly, or travel by boat; whether you go island-hopping between a dozen islands, or just pick one or two to visit, it’s likely you won’t be disappointed.
Here are 10 Greek islands that are definitely worth visiting:
Crete is the largest of all the Greek islands, and it has a lot going for it. According to some, the best food in Greece can even be found here! Crete is where the ancient Minoan civilization flourished from about 2700 BC, to 1400 BC, and this is where the stories of Ariadne’s thread, Theseus, the labyrinth and the Minotaur originated. For travellers interested in Greek history, the Minoan palace of Knossos is a must-see with its gorgeous buildings and colourful, evocative frescoes. Travellers interested in natural wonders can hike the Samaria Gorge, or enjoy one of the island’s many fabulous beaches. Popular beach-destinations include Balos and Elafonisi in Chania, Red Beach near the town of Matala, and the beaches around the town of Rethymno.
Located in the eastern Aegean Sea, near the coast of Turkey, Rhodes is one of the larger Greek islands. Like so many other places in Greece, it has a lot of ancient history for travellers to explore. Two of the most famous historical sites are Rhodes Old Town, which dates back to medieval times; and the acropolis of Lindos, which sits high on a cliff above the ocean, and was used as a fort by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, medieval knights and others through the ages. Rhodes also has a wealth of gorgeous beaches to enjoy. Several nice beaches are located near Lindos, while the popular (and sometimes crowded) Faliraki beach is just south of Rhodes Town, on the east-side of the island. There are also more secluded beaches, for example Prassonissi Beach in the southern-most part of the island.
Corfu, or Kerkyra, is located in the Ionian Sea between Greece and Italy. Once upon a time, this island was ruled by the Italian kingdom of Venice, and the Venetian influence still shows in the architecture in Corfu’s Old Town. The Venetian rulers also encouraged and rewarded the planting of olive trees on the island, and centuries later, many of those trees are still alive and thriving. Of course, there are olive trees everywhere in Greece, but in Corfu, they are especially abundant: estimates vary from three to six million olive trees! Corfu has many beautiful beaches for visitors to explore. Popular beaches include Paleokastritsa, Glyfada, and Agios Gordios. Acharavi beach, on the northern tip of the island, is also a great beach-destination. For an “unofficially” nudist beach experience, travellers can visit Myrtiotissa Beach on Corfu’s west side.
Mykonos is known as Greece’s party-destination number one, and a lot of tourists go here to sunbathe, drink and dance the nights away. Paradise Beach, and its neighbour Super Paradise, are the prime party beaches. Other popular beaches are Elia, Platis Gialos, and Paraga Beach. Travellers looking for quieter spots to sunbathe and enjoy the turquoise waters can head to more remote beaches like Agios Ioannis and Agios Sostis. For visitors looking to explore some Greek history, the nearby island of Delos is a great destination for a day-trip. In ancient times Delos was considered the birth place of Apollo and Artemis, and the island has many easily accessible archaeological sites, like the temple of Apollo, the temple of Isis, and an ancient amphitheatre.
Many Greek islands have connections to the ancient Greek myths, and Naxos is no exception. According to legend, this is the island where Zeus himself was raised in a cave. For travellers looking for a taste of Greek history, there’s the ancient temple of Apollo, a medieval Venetian castle, and Naxos’ Old Town to explore, as well as other historical sites. This small island also has many great beaches. Popular beaches include Agia Anna, Agios Prokopios and Plaka: all long and sandy and located south of Naxos Town. Another beach in the same area, Agios Gordios, is especially good for families with children.
Cephalonia is located in the Ionian Sea, and provided the setting for the movie “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin”, starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz: not a bad way to get some good word of mouth going! Remains of the island’s ancient Greek, Roman, and Venetian past can be found at various archaeological sites. Cephalonia is famous for its hiking and walking trails, and there are beautiful mountains, caves, and forests to explore. The island is also well-endowed when it comes to beaches. Myrtos beach, located just north of the main town Argostoli, is often mentioned as the best beach in Greece. Other good beaches include those near the resort town of Lassi, and Lourdas Beach – a relatively un-crowded and quiet pebble-beach further to the south.
Santorini, also known as Thera or Thira, belongs to the group of Greek islands called the Cyclades. It is often mentioned as one of the most beautiful islands in Greece. During the Bronze Age, a violent volcanic eruption occurred here and destroyed much of the early Minoan settlements. Some even believe that this eruption was the origin of the myth of Atlantis. The archaeological remains of Santorini’s early civilization are now being excavated at a site called Akrotiri. The excavations show that as early as 2000 BC, inhabitants used running water, constructed multi-level buildings, and painted beautiful frescoes. Most of the beaches on Santorini, like the island’s famous Red Beach, are made up of coarser volcanic rock and sand, which can make them seem a little less inviting than the soft, sandy beaches in other places. To make up for it, the submerged crater near the island makes for spectacular diving.
According to ancient Greek history (which tends to blend with myth), the island of Zakynthos was once invaded and conquered by Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s “Odyssey”. These days, tourists are doing most of the invading, and one reason people come here is Navagio or Shipwreck Beach, one of the most beautiful and most photographed beaches in all of Greece. The name comes from the smuggling ship that has been stuck in the middle of the sandy cove since the 1980s, when it ran aground and foundered just off-shore. The dramatic wreck, the surrounding white cliffs and the crystal-clear waters, make this beach a knockout. There is also excellent snorkelling and scuba diving around the cliffs and rocks.
According to Greek legend, Skopelos was founded by the wine-god Dionysus and Ariadne (the girl with the thread in the labyrinth), and throughout antiquity the island was famous for its wines. It is also famous for its green forests, with pine and oak trees covering most of the island’s interior. This is one of the quieter Greek islands, with smaller crowds and friendly locals. There are several beautiful beaches here, including Panormos, located near the small town by the same name, and Milia, a long, sandy beach that was featured in the movie “Mamma Mia”. Other beaches, like Ftelia and Sarres, are very secluded and can be reached only by boat or rough hiking trails.
Paros, located in the Aegean Sea, is favoured by many island-hopping visitors because it offers great ferry connections to other islands in the area. The island’s main town is Parikia, a picturesque and quintessentially Greek town with white-washed walls, doors painted brilliant turquoise, and lush gardens. Parikia also has a small archaeological museum, and the ruins of a medieval castle overlook the sea from a cliff above the town. Those looking to party on Paros usually head to Naoussa in the northern part of the island. The nearby Kolymbithres Beach is one of the best on the island, and famous for its clear waters. Other great beaches here are Livadia Beach near Parikia, one of the most popular beaches on the island; and Golden Beach on the island’s east side, which is frequented by many windsurfers.
I’m a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom with two kids. I maintain a travel blog called Traveling with Kids: http://traveling-kids.blogspot.com/ My twitter handle is @TravelAndKids .
by Isabel Eva Bohrer
Smartphones and tablets have changed the world, and that includes the travel industry. Now, we can navigate, find restaurants, taxis, bathrooms – you name it – using an app. Just about any amenity can be searched for from the palm of your hand, and getting to know a destination has also become easier than ever.
Here are 10 travel apps that will really help you learn more details about the places you find go and the people you see:
This app provides customs, cultural information and facts on over 165 different countries. For example, did you know that Bulgarians shake their heads from side to side for “yes,” and up and down for “no”? Orthat pointing with your index finger in China isn’t usually done? Instead, make sure to use your whole hand, the app will teach you.
Available on iTunes, TRVL is a free travel magazine. It is also the first magazine that was made available for iPad only. You can download free issues that show you the lifestyle and customs of anywhere from Buenos Aires to Athens. Great photography is always there to accompany the text.
With this app, you can tap into the collective knowledge and experiences of the Hotel InterContinental Concierges. For any of the cities that has an InterContinental Hotel, the Concierge will give you his insider tips regarding restaurants, shopping, and more.
Shake your iPhone and the Urbanspoon slot machine will pick a good restaurant for you to try. You will surely not go hungry abroad.
Have you ever found yourself in a Japanese restaurant and then received something that you didn’t think you ordered? Don’t let it happen again! This app provides an encyclopedia for all kinds of Sushi, useful for Japan and beyond.
We took a look at the most popular New Year’s Eve rental hot spots in 2010 so we could give you the skinny on the best places to be when we say goodbye to 2011. From a skiers torchlight procession in Big Bear to a wild street part in Edinburgh here are the top ten locations where FlipKey travelers spend the final hours of the year.
Big Bear lights up the slopes to ring in the New Year at the annual Torchlight Parade at Snow Summit Resort. At 7 P.M. more than 250 skiers and snowboarders zigzag down the mountain carrying fluorescent torches to create a brilliant stream of light. Many of the revelers in the parade are equipped with outlandish holiday themed costumes to celebrate the New Year while cruising down the mountain. Enjoy a bit of night skiing and then head to one of the many New Year’s parties hosted by the local resorts for live music and champagne.
The Big Apple is the hub of New Year’s celebrations in the U.S. with over one-million visitors piling into Times Square to watch the fabled ball drop as the clock strikes midnight. If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of Times Square, then there’s a plethora of alternative options. You can buy a ticket to one of the many parties in downtown Manhattan, but make sure to plan early because the most popular tickets sell out fast! Or, you might choose to take part in the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, a four mile race, starting in Central Park with a laser light show and Fireworks!
Nestled in the scenic Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg hosts a rousing New Year’s celebration with a lively pyrotechnic displays centered on the historic 407-foot tall Space Needle. During the hours leading up to midnight there is a spirited celebration at the base of the Space Needle with live music to keep the crowd entertained. Everyone anticipates the climax of the night when Midnight arrives and the ball drops from the Space Needle to signify one year passing to the next. Local businesses and restaurants provide great deals to keep the party going long after midnight.
Lake Tahoe is renowned for its incredible fireworks spectacle, which reflects stunningly across the lake and momentarily illuminates the entire area to welcome the New Year. This year promises to be even better with the arrival of the SnowGlobe Music Festival, featuring some of the best acts in electronic music like Bassnectar and Pretty Lights. In addition to the fireworks and music, Heavenly Ski Resort hosts an ice sculpting competition, while the Montbleu offers a different experience at their night club dance party.
The Miami Beach club scene will be going full throttle throughout the New Year’s weekend as thousands of visitors arrive to take advantage of the warm weather and the city’s best parties. If you’re looking for something the whole family can enjoy, check out the 35 ft. neon Big Orange at the Parks Amphitheater as it rises to the top of the Hotel Intercontinental to drop at the stroke of Midnights. The Big Orange spectacle is followed by fireworks and a light show over Biscayne Bay. On the afternoon of the 31st make sure to see the King Mango Strut Parade, a satirical parade, boasting some of the wackiest and most hilarious costumes around.
If you’re heading to Amsterdam to celebrate the coming of the New Year get ready to take to the streets and plazas with a bottle of champagne at your disposal. Hotspots include Dam Square, Niewmarkt and Rembrandtplein where kids and adults alike illuminate the streets with an abundance of firecrackers and sparklers. The city is easy to navigate on rental bikes, so explore a bit to find that perfect viewing bridge over the Amstel River for the city’s organized fireworks spectacle. Keep the night going at one of the many bars and clubs in Amsterdam’s notable party scene.
Every corner of the strip is stirring with energy on New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas. The strip closes at 6 p.m. and the streets fill with rousing partiers awaiting the midnight fireworks display. The show is an intense spectacle with fireworks launching from seven different casinos down the four mile strip including the MGM Grand, Aria, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, The Venetian and the Stratosphere. Freemont Street provides a different and enjoyable experience with a collection of various tribute bands like “Rolling the Stone” and “Fan Halen.” And of course the Las Vegas night clubs will be throwing incredible parties with some great artists and DJ’s.
Flagstaff hosts the college football Fiesta Bowl each year and rolls out various New Year’s Eve celebrations to accompany the storied game. The game will be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium on January 2 with a matchup between the Big 12 Conference Champion and the No. 1 BCS at-large selection. The Fiesta Bowl Block Party is Arizona’s best New Year’s Eve party and equipped with live music entertainment and multiple beer gardens sprawling down the Mill Avenue District in Tempe.
Touted as the “original and best,” the Edinburgh Hogmanay is a New Year’s Eve street party with a crowd of nearly 80,000 packed into the city center. The three day festival begins December 30 with the Torchlight procession from Parliament Sqaure to Carlton Hill Son et Lumiere followed by the street party on the 31st. The street party is one of Europe’s largest celebration with world famous DJ’s, outdoor bars and the famous midnight fireworks. The festival is followed by “The Loony Dook” on Jan 1st in which participants dive into the freezing River Forth! This is one celebration you won’t want to miss.
10. Rome, Italy
The New Year’s celebration also coincides with the La Festa di San Silvestro a gastro holiday feature dishes of Zampone and Cotechino accompanied by sparkling wine. The pork dishes are made to signify the richness of the coming year. After the ceremonial feast, Romans tend to congregate at the Piazza Popolo to enjoy classical rock music until the fireworks at midnight. On New Year’s Day there is a parade beginning in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican City that commences with the Pope’s blessing of the New Year. The parade ends at the Castel Sant’Angelo and is lauded for the performances of military and civil marching bands.
Frequent visits to a ski resort cafeteria cure the common hamburger addiction. Made from sources that might or might be meat, these atrocities often cost more than 10 dollars! Before you decide to brown bag it, check out these resorts that prove that good food in ski cafeterias is not an oxymoron!
1. Deer Valley
Despite its location in the conservative state of Utah, Deer Valley appeals to a skier’s most hedonistic desires. The extravagence of the cafeteria proves it. Guests wake up to the smell of cinnamon French toast, with real, honest to goodness maple syrup. At lunchtime, the salad barbeckons you with a corncucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables or a hot bowl of turkey chili.
The Timbers Deli is located on the first floor of the Moonlight Lodge, at the Moonlight Ski Resort, adjacent to Big Sky in Montana. This is the place to go if you believe in freedom of choice for lunch. The build your own sandwich menu lets you pick your meat, cheese, vegetable and bread, from a selection of fresh and healthy ingredients. Meet eaters have not seen nothing like the Mighty Quinn, a raost beef sandwich loaded with mustard, green chilis, peppers, amyo and horseradish.
3. Copper Mountain
Finding tasty meals at Copper Mountain is like searching for powder– you have to know where to look and when to go. Jack´s, the main cafeteria in Center Village, often features specialty gourmet stations, with Asian and other types of specialty foods. These usually open in the height of the season. The cafeteria in East Village offers a choice of different types of pasta with different sauces, and a yummy pience of Italian bread.
Aspenites demand the best of everything, and their cafeterias prove it. This beautiful people´s winter wonderland serves a tempting variety of healthy sandwiches and salads, many with calories low enough to keep you looking svelte and sexy in your Bogners.
A Rice Krispies breakfast hardly sustains your energy level for a day on the slopes. The folks at the Spruce Base Camp Lodge understand. That´s why they serve up luscious, made to order breakfasts. During the lunchtime, the smells of maple barbecue sauce, crab cakes and copper ale soup entice skiers to come in, sit down, relax and eat!
The Keystone resort is another example of how you can find excellent food at a ski resort, if you know where to look. In this case, we´re talking AAA Four Diamond type dining. Alpenglow Stube sits at the top of Keystone´s Outpost Gondola. Open for lunch and dinner, this award-winning lunch and dinner restaurant serves delicacies such as Colorado lamb and fresh water bass. The chefs of Alpenglow Stube also cater the lunches served at the Independence Yurt, which is a stop along Keystone´s Backountry Adventure Tour.
The Mill Cafe at Mammoth Mountain features juicy meat and poultry dishes, grilled with a smokey flavor and served with their secret recipe dipping sauces. They recently added a burrito cat, which travels throughoyt the mountain. This is perfect for those who would rather not waste time on cafeteria lines.
8. Park City
If Thanksgiving is your favorite holiday, you do not need to wait for November to enjoy it. Simply go to Park City and eat at the Snow Hut, located at the base of the Silverlode Lift. This restaurant serves turkey, cranberry sauce and all the fixings every day. It kind of makes you thankful that you´re a skier!
Note: Since everyone´s taste is different, these ski resort dining venues are not listed in any particular order. Many happy turns and meals!
by Isabel Eva Bohrer
Don’t know where to pick up your holiday gifts this year? No worries, there are great shopping destinations in every continent. If you still need to find an urban shopping paradise, check out the following cities.
London is home to luxury shops and quirky retailers alike. While Harrods is certainly the most famous high-end department store, hip fashion, unique gifts, rare sweets or one-off handmade jewellery are best found in Covent Garden. At big shopping centers like Westfield, in turn, you can find refuge among more than 275 luxury, premium and high-street retailers showcasing over 700 brands. It’s the largest urban shopping centre in Europe, including a cinema, gym, several bars and restaurants – all under one roof. Consult Visit London for more details on London’s best shopping areas.
2. New York
New York is a fashionista’s paradise. From the high-end boutiques on Madison Avenue to the luxury department stores on Fifth Avenue, to the funky shops in SoHo, there is something here for just about everyone’s taste.
New York magazine provides information on current sales and store openings. An even more curated guide is Daily Candy, which features a handpicked selection of all that’s fun, fashionable, food related, and culturally stimulating in the Big Apple.
After museums and monuments, shopping in Paris attracts millions of visitors each year. While in the Marais, you can find great eclectic fashion, unique jewelry, antiques and fine art, the area around St. German-des-Près is known for chic classic design, books, and home furnishings. Then, there’s the must-visit: the grand department store called “Galeries Lafayette.”
Milan’s shopping can essentially be divided into the following neighborhoods:[quintessential], [most central], [trendy], [avant-garde], [popular], [Milan's Chinatown], and [unexpected].
Shanghai is often called the “Oriental Paris.” Whether it’s crickets or pearls, you can get them at the markets in this city. Those who prefer high-end shopping, in turn, should head to West Nanjing Road. In addition, there are numerous malls to choose from, such as the Super Brand Mall, the largest shopping centre in the city.
Why not come back from India with a number of unique souvenirs, including scarves and other Indian crafts? If this sounds like the trip for you, then the markets of Mumbai are ideal. Lonely Planet tells us that you can purchase just about anything in the bazaars located north of the Fort. The main areas are Crawford Market (fruits and vegetables), Mangaldas Market (silk and cloths), Zaveri Bazaar (jewellery), Bhuleshwar Market (fruits and vegetables) and Chor Bazaar (antiques and furniture). Dhabu St, in turn, is the place to get leather goods, while Mutton Street is great for antiques, reproductions and junk.
There are so many items to buy in Istanbul, it’s really more of a question of narrowing down your choices. At the big malls, such as Istinye Park, you can purchase many of the brands that are available all over the world (this particular mall even has a Porsche dealership). However, for more characteristically local souvenirs, a great place to go is the Grand Bazaar. Here, you can purchase anything from leather goods to belly dancing costumes. For Turkish delights, head to the Spice Market.
Like in Istanbul, many international brands have flagships stores in Marrakech. However, the real excitement is to be had at the souks. Here, you can have fun bargaining as you browse through Moroccan slippers and Oriental lamps. Saffron and other spices are also great local finds that are worth seeking out and bringing home. There are time-old shops that specialize in these specialties, and you can even hire a guide to take you through the souks.
Munich is the best place in Germany to buy beer, but many other products can be purchased here, too. Main shopping streets include the Kaufingerstrasse and the Neuhauserstrasse, where international as well as local brands can be found. For higher end shopping, head to the Theatinerstrasse, the Fünf Höfe and the Maximilianstrasse for even more luxury.
Tokyo offers shopping for all budgets. While the 100-Yen shops offer chopsticks, tableware, fans, kites, origami paper, calligraphy sets, “Hello Kitty” and more, the high end stores specialize in luxurious japanese designs.
by Isabel Eva Bohrer
If you’re looking to live life to the fullest, the capital of Spain is the place to go. Madrid is a sophisticated city, which attracts thousands of tourists year-round, offering entertainment and leisurely pursuits for people with many different interests and tastes.
With family ties to Madrid, I would visit the ciudad year after year, every time falling more in love with its vibrant culture, friendly people and delicious food. For over a year, I now consider myself an official madrileña, living in the Spanish capital for good. I regularly write about what livin’ la vida local is like, including a recent feature in National Geographic by the very name of “I Heart My City: Isabel Eva’s Madrid.”
Here are ten ideas to get you started in my favorite city:
1. Stroll around in the Retiro Park. When National Geographic asked me which is the first place I would take a visitor in Madrid, I replied the “Retiro Park.” Whether you are looking to go for a stroll, a jog or a romantic row, there are plenty of outdoor activities you can pursue in this park. There are also frequent art exhibitions (both indoor and outdoor) as well as countless activities for children and families.
2. Go see a flamenco show. Listening to traditional Spanish music and watching gitanos (gypsies) dance to it is a tourist staple. In Madrid, there are numerous flamenco venues to choose from, some more touristy than others. Head to the Tablao Las Carboneras for a small-scale venue that offers dinner, drinks and flamenco shows.
3. Eat chocolate con churros. The classic in terms of Spanish breakfast. Churros are pieces of fried dough, and chocolate is, well, chocolate. At the Chocolatería San Ginés, you can get this treat at any time of the day.
4. Take a tour of the Bernabeu soccer stadium. Soccer fans will find delight in this stadium. During the tour, you can learn about the history of the building as well as the Real Madrid team. All their trophies are on view here. You can also fill up on energy at the Puerta 57 bar and restaurant. Last but not least, if you are in town when a game is going on, you can witness the Spanish fans (and players) first-hand.
5. Admire Spanish masterpieces at the Prado museum. If you are interested in art, the Prado is a must-do. Here, you can revel in front of Velazquez, Goya and many others.
6. Take a day trip to Toledo. Just a 34-minute train ride away, the small city of Toledo is well worth a visit. Rich in history, it still retains its traces of three religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
7. Fill up on energy with a cocido madrileño. Especially if you are visiting in the winter, this typical stew will keep you warm. It includes chickpeas, onions, potatoes and meat.
8. Go for tapas in La Latina. Tapas can be had all over town, but the La Latina neighborhood is a great place to hop from bar to bar. Especially if you are coming on a weekend, be prepared to stand and wait; the popular places tend to fill up fast.
9. Party until the sun comes up. Madrid, and Spain in general, is famous for its nightlife. In the capital, you can choose from bars and clubs with all kinds of music, from traditional guitar songs to jazz festivals to contemporary music discos.
10. Witness a bullfight. Barcelona has abolished bullfights, but in Madrid, you can still attend one. The ideal month to go is during the San Isidro fair in May. Should you just want to take a tour of the Las Ventas arena that is possible, too.
by Lee Foster
I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving sneaks up on me before I even have the Halloween decorations put away. Suddenly everyone is talking about food, the cost of airline reservations and who is going where for dinner. Since I live in the city, work full time and am not a good cook, I have found the perfect solution for Thanksgiving…
Rent a house in some great vacation place that is driving distance from home. In my case, the Outer Banks is a perfect. There are hundreds of great houses for rent and North Carolina has been known to have a seventy-degree warm spell over the Thanksgiving holiday.
For the more adventurous, find a place to reach by ferry: Bald Head Island, Nantucket, Oxford or Sausalito are great choices. Having a vacation rental house in a magical place makes even the shorter holiday seem long and the memories more lasting. When we travel for Thanksgiving, we take along our traditional Thanksgiving accoutrements - special serving dishes, placemats and napkins, holiday sweaters, family recipes and, of course, a football.
In David Letterman style, I offer you my Top Ten reasons to rent a vacation house for the Thanksgiving holiday. Counting down, reason number:
Taking an urban vacation is often a nice change of pace from the typical beach or resort backdrop of tourism. An inner-city setting allows for countless activities, and gives you a chance to live like the locals. From your urban vacation home, you’ll find a wide range of restaurants within walking distance, and live theaters, bars, and parks that can all be easily accessed and enjoyed. The question remains, however, which big cities have the best vacation rentals? Here’s a list of the top world’s 10 urban rental areas to help you decide where to visit!
10.) San Francisco Bay
San Francisco is a great place not only to enjoy some valued vacation time, but also to take part in the local culture. Head to the famous Golden Gate Bridge, check out the local entertainment, or sample the freshest catch from the fish market at the pier. You’re sure to have an urban retreat to remember in this lively corner of California.
The center of Germany’s culture since the fall of the Berlin Wall, this former Soviet stronghold offers no shortage of historical landmarks, activities, and tourist attractions. For those who aren’t history buffs, there is plenty of German culture to take in as well. Try a local bakery’s fresh baked breads, cakes, and other unique concoctions and confections for a taste you won’t soon forget.
8.) Rio de Janerio
As Brazil’s country’s second-largest city, you’ll find yourself in the heart of the country’s culture, with a skyline that offers countless picturesque photo opportunities. The city is composed of five separate districts, all of which can be explored on your exciting urban getaway.
7.) Los Angeles
Only in the city of stars can you experience the glitz and glam that Hollywood has to offer. Whether you’re stolling down the Walk of Fame, taking a guided tour, or snapping photos of the notable landmarks (and celebrities), L.A. will provide a destination experience like no other urban spot can.
6.) Las Vegas
When it comes to urban cityscapes, Sin City has virtually every skyline beat. Casinos, hotels, and all types of businesses spread out as far as your camera lens can see. And with activities from gambling and shopping to hanging out by the pool and relaxing, every visitor is sure to find their pastime of choice in America’s playground.
5.) Washington, D.C.
Who says the nation’s capital is just for politics? Washington, D.C. has plenty of museums, monuments, and educational stops that all add up to create a distinctly unique urban vacation experience. Not to mention, many of these historical monuments and activities are offered free of charge.
Take a tour of the Coliseum and other Roman ruins in this historic ancient city, or visit the Vatican City and the famous Sistine Chapel to see historical landmarks in action. Once you’ve finished touring the sites, take in the flavors of Roma. No matter your cup of tea (or plate of pasta), the Italian Capital provides its guests with an incredible selections of food and wine, not to mention seemingly endless gelato flavors.
Expand your urban horizons by traveling to Barcelona, Spain’s center of art and culture. The locals speak Catalan, a romance language that is a mixture between Spanish and French. Decipher a local map and visit Gaudi’s famous “Sagrada Familia” cathedral and take a stroll by the Nou Camp – the largest soccer stadium in the world.
No urban vacation list would be complete without one of the world’s most beloved cities: Paris. This heavily-populated town is home to some of the most famous markets in the world, ranging from high-end couture to mom-and-pop shops. Take advantage of the city of lights by living like a local and enjoying more off-the-beaten-path parts of town. You may find a hidden gem among the city’s many jewels.
1.) New York City
Finally, we reach our number one urban rental destination: NYC. Not only is New York the biggest city in the U.S., but the Big Apple is also home to five separate boroughs … meaning five distinct downtown cultures. Catch an acclaimed Broadway play and walk to Central Park when you visit Manhattan, or explore the city’s subway to head out to Queens or Brooklyn. You can spend a lifetime of vacations in New York without seeing it all. Next time, try renting a vacation home in a new boroughs and exploring your surroundings. You’ll be surprised at how much there is to discover!
Despite the necktie being a smash hit for the past 15 years, you probably shouldn’t assume that your Dad wants one more this Father’s Day. Not that he didn’t absolutely appreciate the one shaped like a fish you gave him when you were 7, but he’s a hard working guy who deserves a little something extra this year. Then again, maybe what he really deserves is something extra special. He’s been going big for you your whole life, and Father’s Day is the perfect chance to return the favor by sending him on an adventure in one of these larger than life destinations!
For the Fisherman – Key West, FL
Key West offers some of the most pristine and well-stocked deep sea sport fishing grounds in the world. Serious anglers come here to land the big ones – tuna, grouper, barracuda, and of course, marlin. The wide variety of fishing tour companies in Key West is not only great due to the competitive pricing it creates, but because it also means even the weekend angler can find a tour that can easily be tailored to suit varying levels of experience.
For the Golfer – Pebble Beach, CA
If your Dad is a PGA Tour pipe-dreamer, there’s no place he’d rather hit the links than in Pebble Beach. Located on the beautiful and temperate California coast, it’s home to some of the most famous golf courses in the world. Dad will feel connected to golf history playing Del Monte, the oldest course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi, or battling through the championship tees at Spyglass Hill, from which Robert Louis Stevenson found inspiration for his classic novel, Treasure Island.
For the Baseball Nut – Cooperstown, NY
In Cooperstown (approximately 3 hours north of NYC) Dads can live out their ultimate baseball fantasy during Father’s Day weekend, which by no small coincidence is also the annual Hall of Fame Classic Weekend. Among the activities are the Hall of Fame Classic, an exhibition game featuring numerous Hall of Famers; Family Catch at Doubleday Field; a parade and the Cooperstown Golf Classic. And just like the other 51 weekends of the year, the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be open for Dad to stroll in awe through baseball history.
For the Player – Las Vegas, NV
Gambling, music, nightlife, extreme sports, and entertainment galore… doesn’t sound like your Dad? Think again. While it’s true that the siren song of Vegas beckons all men, it doesn’t do so for the sole purpose of leaving a trail of debauchery in his wake, like most movies would suggest. Vegas has plenty of class left, and is still more The Rat Pack than it is The Hangover. Sending Dad to Vegas is perfect because it gives him a chance to pack a lot of fun in a short amount of time, be it golf, cards, fine dining, or a critically-acclaimed show.
For the Romantic – Honolulu, HI
What better place for Dad to abscond with Mom on a romantic getaway than the tropical island paradise of Hawaii? Even if they somehow manage to tire of blissfully lounging on the sand and playing in the piercing blue water, Honolulu has a multitude of affordable relaxing spas, forests to explore, and has become a veritable foodie heaven of inexpensive noodle joints and artful Pacific Rim cuisine.
For the Wine Lover – Napa Valley, CA
The Napa and Sonoma Valley regions of Northern California make up the heart of what is simply known as “wine country” throughout the state, as well as across most of the U.S. While the entire area is predominantly agricultural, it’s rather easy to stumble into (or meticulously book) countless opportunities to explore the picturesque countryside and sample the delicately-crafted wares of the vintners who cultivate it. Given the area’s close proximity to San Francisco’s high-end culinary scene, you won’t run short of delectable pairing options for your favorite bottle any time soon.
For the Sightseer – New York, NY
This is a really great idea for the Dad who has never been to New York City, or wasn’t able to stop and appreciate it while there on business. The perfect addition to this trip is the New York CityPASS, which gives the holder (line-free) admission into six of New York’s most famous attractions:
- Empire State Building
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- American Museum of Natural History
- The Museum of Modern Art
- Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty
- Guggenheim Museum
For the Speed Demon – Los Angeles, CA
Have Dad put his driving chops to the ultimate test at one of the stunt driving clinics offered through the Extreme Stunt and Driving Team. If your Dad doesn’t limit his adrenaline intake to things on four wheels, you might want consider adding another day or two onto the trip to give him the chance to check out their many stunt clinics, including the high fall and fire gag (read: you could “safely” set your dad on fire).
For the Brewmaster Hopeful – Portland, OR
Portland leads the nation in concentration of microbreweries per capita, an asset that can be wonderfully advantageous to the beer aficionado hoping to tour as many different breweries and sample as many different styles as possible in a short period of time. With a little bit of advanced planning, or even via prepackaged “BrewBus” tours, Dad can learn about the brewing process and get a hands-on understanding of the inner workings of some of highest rated breweries in the country.
For the Outdoorsman – Big Sky, MT
The rugged, explorer side of your Dad will come alive in the heart of Big Sky Country. The expansive beauty on the banks of the Gallatin River, along with the surrounding Gallatin and Paradise Valleys, could keep a man occupied for years. The lower region is perfect for camping, fly fishing, viewing wildlife, or simply slipping into the sweet silence that comes from being the only person for miles around.
Jay Ferris is a Seattle-based writer, husband, and father of three, whose penchant for outdoors-based travel is rivaled only by his dependence on a steady internet connection and spider-free existence. Follow him on Twitter at @jayferris.