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Aug
27

Flamenco is a type of music and dance that is popular in Spain. Thanks to flydime for posting this photo.

Photo: flydime

Photo: flydime

Plan your trip to Valencia on TravelMuse.

Want to share your recent trip photos and have them featured on TravelMusings? Add your photos to our TravelMuse Flickr group or TravelMuse Facebook page, and we’ll publish our favorites.

Aug
26

Every year, summer comes and goes far too quickly—my sunscreen bottle is only halfway empty for crying out loud! Luckily when we all start to get the end-of-summer blues, Labor Day weekend saves the day by giving us one last change to soak up the sun, explore new destinations and say goodbye to everyone’s favorite season in style.

View from Dolores Park. Photo: Loose Charm Productions

View from Dolores Park. Photo: Loose Charm Productions

Vegas Pool Parties
If you feel like getting a little loco this Labor Day weekend, head to Las Vegas for some of Sin City’s infamous pool parties. Labor Day is one the busiest times of year for these pool parties, which isn’t a surprise considering that the temperature is still sweltering. Check out Rehab at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on September 5 for strong mix drinks, private cabanas, celebrity guests and incredible DJs. Most of the major hotels in Vegas will have some sort of pool party, so research your favorites to find your perfect pool party.

San Francisco Picnics
Mark Twain allegedly said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. While that might seem to be an extreme statement (unless he lived year round in Hawaii), San Francisco can be quite foggy during the summer. Well, usually (*fingers crossed*) come Labor Day, San Francisco is enjoying some late summer sunshine. To take full advantage, pack up your picnic basket, a big blanket and your favorite lunchtime goodies and head to one of the city’s finest parks to enjoy your Labor Day in true San Franciscan-tradition. Dolores Park has great views and is known for its ample supply of sunshine, even if it’s foggy elsewhere. The park is small and can get crowded—so be sure to get there early so you don’t have to fight the hipster kids for blanket space. San Francisco has an abundance of awesome parks, so be sure to find one that fits your needs.

Chicago Jazz Concerts

Boogie down this Labor Day to Chicago’s 32nd annual Jazz Festival. With four days and three locations to choose from, this year’s event is taking place Sept. 2 through Sept. 5, with shows at Grant Park, Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center—plus admission is free. So get ready to see some national and international acts alongside some Chicago jazz greats.

Cleveland Air Shows
The Cleveland National Air Show takes flight over Labor Day Weekend, so gather the family and head over to the Burke Lakefront Airport on Sept. 4, 5 and 6. This year the Cleveland skies will be filled with the aerial skills and tricks of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the U.S. Army Golden Knights, the U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle and more. With three days to chose from, you can pack some excitement into your long weekend and still have time to throw that barbeque you’ve been mentally planning.

Seattle’s Bumbershoot
One of my favorite parts of summer is rocking out at music and arts festivals, so it’s always a relief to see a few end-of-summer festivals trying to cling to the last days of warm weather and the carefree life. At Seattle’s Bumbershoot, you can  check out musical acts such as Neko Case, Bob Dylan and Weezer; watch indie films; get your jollies at a stand-up show; and peruse the crafts that are for sale.

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Aug
20

In honor of my upcoming (and first ever!) trip to Las Vegas, I decided to feature this flashy photo. What are some of your favorite things to do in Sin City? How about places to stay and eat? I’m currently planning my trip (which I’m looking forward to sharing with the readers of TravelMusings!) and am open to any and all suggestions. Thanks to James Marvin Phelps (mandj98) for posting this photo.

Photo: James Marvin Phelps (mandj98)

Photo: James Marvin Phelps (mandj98)

Plan your trip to Las Vegas on TravelMuse.

Want to share your recent trip photos and have them featured on TravelMusings? Add your photos to our TravelMuse Flickr group or TravelMuse Facebook page, and we’ll publish our favorites.

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Aug
19

The reasons to travel are infinite in my book. However, it’s so easy to get swept up in the whirlwind of life and forget to explore. Stress, money, family, education, work and health are just a few reasons we find ourselves stuck in our bubble or why we tether ourselves to same old reliable vacation spots year after year. When I get stuck in the travel rut, I make a list of reasons I love to travel and what destinations would be best suited for those reasons, and I find myself inspired to start planning my next travel adventure.

Get to know yourself in Bhutan. Photo: jmhullot

Get to know yourself in Bhutan. Photo: jmhullot

1. Meeting new people
One of my favorite parts about travel (actually, life in general) is meeting new people—especially people who have completely different worldviews and life experiences than myself. When visiting a foreign destination, my mind is even more open and receptive to different ways of living, eating and thinking. There is so much to learn if you’re willing to put yourself out there when you travel. No museum or sightseeing tour that will teach you as much about a destination than getting to know the locals and immersing yourself in their culture.

Destination: I’ve always dreamed of going to Thailand because I find it fascinating that it’s the only Southeast Asian country that has never been colonized. Thailand would be a great place to travel as far as meeting new people goes. With deep roots in Theravada Buddhism, Thailand’s rich culture would be best experienced through the help, wisdom and company of locals.

2. Getting to know yourself
When I travel, I feel like I’m a better version of myself. My normal schedule is so packed that I rarely have time to reflect on my life, the decisions I’ve made and all of those other life questions that I’m forced to overlook. When I travel, I like to push my limits, break out of my comfort zone and see what I’m really capable of. Traveling will not only free up your time, but it will free up your mind so you can start getting to know yourself on a deeper level.

Destination:
Located in the eastern Himalayas between China and India, the Kingdom of Bhutan seems like the perfect destination to get back in touch with my spiritual and adventurous sides. From mountain trekking to Buddhist programs to festivals, there seems to be no shortage of ways to get to know yourself in Bhutan.

3. Food

As all my friends and family could confirm, I pretty much tell time by what meal comes next. My love for food complements my love for travel perfectly and has inspired me to travel to places where I’d never thought I’d wind up.

Destination: There are innumerable reasons I’ve dreamed of traveling to Peru, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the cuisine was a driving force. I’ve heard so much about the varied and unique culinary styles of this South American country that every time I hear “Peru,” I start to salivate. With Amerindian, Spanish, African, Asian and Italian influences, it’s no wonder Peru is known for its eclectic dishes. Guinea pigs, or cuy, are considered a delicacy in Peru and at some restaurants you can even pick out your own—definitely not your average dining experience.

Scuba dive in the clear waters of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Photo: ben.ramirez

Scuba dive in the clear waters of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Photo: ben.ramirez

4. History
History is a fascinating subject, but there’s only so much you can learn from a classroom or textbook, which is why history is a big source of inspiration in my travel. I love traveling to places that I learned about in school or have read about—it really puts historical events in context.

Destination: While I’ve traveled to some great historical destinations, I have still haven’t had the opportunity to check Gettysburg off of my list. The historical site of the Battle of Gettysburg has a lot of history packed into it—from museums dedicated to the Civil War to ghost-walk guided tours.

5. Activities
While some people travel just to explore, some travel with a purpose in mind, such as surfing or wine tasting. My personal calling is scuba diving; this underwater activity has brought me to islands that I never even knew existed before. So even if you don’t have a hobby or a particular activity that inspires you to travel, it’s time to cultivate one. It will open up a whole new world of travel.

Destination: The Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean lay claim to one of the largest coral reef systems in the world as well as translucent waters (I’ve read visibility up to 200 feet!) that make for ideal scuba diving conditions. Shipwreck and wall diving are also available for the adventurous.

What inspires you to travel? If you need help deciding where to go next, try TravelMuse’s Inspiration Finder.

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Aug
17

Alfonso Torres from Logan, Utah, is our last, but certainly not least, winner of Trip of the Week and recipient of a Frommer’s day by day guide to Hawaii. Alfonso built this trip on TravelMuse so he could share his culture with his friends and explore a few places he has never been himself.

lima

1. Why are you taking this Trip?

I am going to visit Peru with some friends. These guys haven’t been to Peru before, and since I am Peruvian, I wanted to show them a bit of the cultural diversity in the cities of Lima and Piura.

2. What are you most excited about seeing/doing?

As a Peruvian, I never had a chance to visit some of the places in my country. I want to see some archeological sites such as Huaca Pucllana in the very center of the capital city and the very famous Catacaos city, where the most beautiful silver jewels are made in Peru. My friends want to see everything over there; hopefully we will do it!

3. Any other interesting facts/ considerations about the trip?

The food. Peru is an extremely rich country in this matter. We have Peruvian food from the three main regions in our schedule: Sea/Criollian, Andean and Amazon jungle food. I hope my friends have a good appetite!!!

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A big thank you to all of our winners of Trip of the Week for sharing their incredible and adventurous trips with TravelMuse. Be sure to drop us a line and let us know how your trips went!

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Aug
13

Even if you haven’t been, it’s hard not to fall instantly in love with the enchanting Cinque Terre, an area along the Italian coast also known as the Five Lands. Comprised of five villages—Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso—Cinque Terre is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. Unlike the other villages, Corniglia rests on a promontory high above the ocean. Thanks to Cyril4j for posting this photo.

Photo: Cyril4j

Photo: Cyril4j

Plan your trip to Cinque Terre on TravelMuse.

Want to share your recent trip photos and have them featured on TravelMusings? Add your photos to our TravelMuse Flickr group or TravelMuse Facebook page, and we’ll publish our favorites.

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Aug
12

Kicking back and sipping a frosty beer is the perfect way to kick off a well-deserved vacation, if you ask me. From lagers to ambers to pale ales, the possibilities are endless and delicious. Next time you’re in a new city and want to imbibe, take a tour of a local brewery to really have a reason to raise your glass. Here are TravelMuse’s top five picks for best brewery tours.

The Anheiser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo: pknitty86

The Anheiser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo: pknitty86

Anchor Brewing Company

Location: San Francisco, Calif.
Hours: Two tours a day Mon. through Fri., by reservation only. Call at least a month in advance.
Admission: Free.

Anchor, founded in San Francisco in 1896, has seen its fortunes rise and fall through the years, but it is firmly established today as a treasured local institution. Touring the gorgeous handcrafted copper brewhouse, where all the beers are handmade, is quite an experience. The walking tour of the brewery lasts about 45 minutes. The guide teaches a brief history of the brewery and walks you through three floors of the building. Afterwards, on to the tasting. Tel. 415-863-8350, www.anchorbrewing.com

Anheuser-Busch

Location: St. Louis, Mo.
Hours: Open daily. Call for hours, which vary with the season.
Admission: Free.
Of note: Tours also are available at the Fairfield, Calif., Fort Collins, Colo., Jacksonville, Fla. and Merrimack, N.H. facilities.

A trip to the world headquarters of “King of Beers” involves visiting the historic Budweiser Clydesdale Stable, Beechwood Lager Cellars, historic brewhouse and Bevo Packaging Facility. You’ll finish up in the Hospitality Room for a tasting. Even if you don’t like beer, it’s a treat to see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales in their stables. An optional tour offered is the “Beermaster Tour” ($25 for adults; $10 for those under 21). More in-depth than the regular tour, you’ll go behind the scenes, plus sample beer directly from a finishing tank and get a variety of gifts. Tel. 314-577-2626, www.budweisertours.com

Boulder Beer

Location: Boulder, Colo.
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 2 p.m. or by appointment.
Admission: Free.

Colorado’s first microbrewery, started in 1979 by two home brewing college professors, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Start your tour of the brewery with a beer in hand, then go to the brew pub to learn more about the beers, and of course, sample them. Of note is that the company was granted the 43rd brewery license in U.S. history. By 2005, there were more than 1,500. Tel. 303-444-8448, www.boulderbeer.com

Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Hours: Fri., 4 to 8 p.m.; Sat., 1 to 8 p.m.
Admission: Free.

Great Lakes Brewing Company, the first microbrewery in the state of Ohio, was founded by two brothers inspired by travels (and beer) in Europe. The large brewery has six buildings, three of which originally served as horse stables and kegging facilities for the Schlather Brewing Company, which was built in 1878. Fun fact: Bullet holes in the beautiful Taproom are said to have come from “The Untouchable” Eliot Ness. Check out brewing tanks in the brewhouse, dine in the beer cellar, or sample beers in the indoor/outdoor beer garden. Private tours ($50 for a maximum of 30 people) are also available. Tel. 216-771-4404, www.greatlakesbrewing.com

Samuel Adams Brewery
Location: Boston, Mass.
Hours: Mon. to Thurs., Sat., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Admission: Though the tour is free, a suggested $2 donation is encouraged. The money goes to local charities. Kids allowed with an adult.

You’ll get the spiel, almost legend now, of founder Jim Koch’s vision for a better beer in America while you learn about the brewing process. Pick up any number of Sam Adams merchandise at the brewery’s gift shop, open during tour hours. For those going to a Fenway game in the summer on select Friday nights, a special tour treat combines beer, baseball and a free ride; take a tour and get a lift to the game on an Old Town Trolley between 2 and 5:30 p.m. Tel. 617-368-5080, www.samueladams.com

Based on “Top 5 Brewery Tours” by Kim Foley MacKinnon.

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Aug
06

Egypt is home to the incredible Giza Pyramids. Thanks to firestarter1980 for posting this photo.

Photo: firestarter1980

Photo: firestarter1980

Plan your trip to Egypt on TravelMuse.

Want to share your recent trip photos and have them featured on TravelMusings? Add your photos to our TravelMuse Flickr group or TravelMuse Facebook page, and we’ll publish our favorites.

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Aug
05

Architecture is a great way to get to know a city’s culture and history. From monuments to houses to office buildings and everything in between, architecture is an integral part of our day-to-day existence. If you plan on visiting any of these cities on your next vacation, be sure to check out their architecture museums.

The National Building Museum. Photo: BAR Photography

The National Building Museum. Photo: BAR Photography

Skyscraper Museum, New York

Even the most jaded Manhattanite can’t resist staring upward sometimes. The city is a vertical metropolis, and it has a museum dedicated to that subject. New York City’s Skyscraper Museum explores the design, technology and culture of tall buildings. Permanent displays include miniature models of Downtown and Midtown Manhattan, historical photos of skyscrapers under construction and a section devoted to the Word Trade Center and rebuilding at Ground Zero. Through 2009 the exhibition “China Prophecy” examines booming Shanghai as a model for future urbanism. The museum offers frequent free talks by architects and authors.

39 Battery Place. Tel. 212-968-1961. www.skyscraper.org

National Building Museum, Washington, D.C.

It’s fitting that Washington, D.C.’s National Building Museum, created by Congress, should concern itself as much with the future of our built environment as with its past. Exhibitions have addressed new visions for affordable housing, sustainable buildings and cities, concepts for rebuilding New Orleans—as well as the work of master architects like Wright and Saarinen and other historic themes. Through 2011, “Washington: Symbol and City” reveals the tension between the capital’s role as national landmark and metaphor, and its everyday functioning as a place where regular people live. The “Building Zone” is a hands-on exploration space for kids up to 6 years old. The museum occupies one of D.C.’s most spectacular 19th-century structures, modeled after a 16th-century Roman palace designed by Michelangelo.

401 F St., NW. Tel. 202-272-2448. www.nbm.org

Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal

The provocative exhibitions here change often and range widely. Recent ones have explored the history of skylights, actions individuals can take to affect the city, and the architectural innovations spurred by the 1973 oil crisis. The Centre for Architecture occupies a striking post-modern building that wraps around an important 19th-century mansion. It sits in a garden that evokes historical periods of landscape design. Tours of the building (and garden, in summer) are offered daily. On Thursday evenings, there are lectures, screenings and gallery talks.

1920 rue Baile. Tel. 514-939-7000. www.cca.qc.ca


Architecture+Design Museum, Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a fertile incubator of modernism, in both its urban form and its buildings. And this ultra-creative California  metropolis—its evolution, seminal architects, and possible futures—are frequent topics for exhibitions here. Graphic and product design are also explored. Exhibitions change frequently.

6032 Wilshire Blvd. Tel. 323-932-9393. www.aplusd.org

The Heinz Architectural Center, Pittsburgh

This section of the Carnegie Museum of Art has an extensive collection of architectural drawings, prints and models from which its changing exhibitions are drawn. The museum also incorporates the monumental Hall of Architecture, opened in 1907, where more than 140 plaster casts of doorways, columns and other architectural details are displayed. These casts were taken from significant buildings dating from ancient Egypt to the Renaissance.

4400 Forbes Ave. Tel. 412-622-3131. www.cmoa.org

Post based on “The World’s Top Architecture Museums” by Jonathan Lerner.

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Aug
03

Motor Home Road Trip Summer 2010 is our newest winner of Trip of the Week and recipient of a Frommer’s day by day guide. Our winner built this road trip, which explores many of the great national parks, on TravelMuse for her family.

The Adorable Triplets!

The Adorable Triplets!

1. Why are you taking this Trip?

It was truly my triplet’s idea to rent a “car house,” as they call it.  Every time they would see an RV or camper or land yacht drive by, they would get so excited. So, the seed was planted and we started talking to friends who had done similar trips—all with the same reply:”go for it!” So, we decided to take their advice and hit the road!  (The girls turned 8 in June.)

2. What are you most excited about seeing/doing?

We took the trip in July 2010 for 27 days and loved every moment.  From waking up and seeing buffalo in Hayden Valley (Yellowstone, WY) to the spectacular hoo doos of Bryce. The highlights of the trip included the “re-route” from Flagstaff to Sedona for some business I had (Sedona is breathtaking, enchanting and the back country Jeep Tour was beyond exciting for the kids), Bryce Canyon and the Grand Tetons.  The kids would tell you that their favorite part of the trip was living in the car house; going to Sedona; horseback riding in Zion, Utah; and, of course, driving through the herd of buffalo.

Sunrise at Bryce.

Sunrise at Bryce.

3. Any other interesting facts/ considerations about the trip?

RVs are great for family adventures. We’d recommended renting a privately-owned RV (several companies do this). Cost is very good and they are well maintained.  Also, kids love having sleeping options in the RV (over the cab, on the dinette fold out, the pull out couch, back bedroom). Make sure you book your national park reservations in advance, if traveling in the summer: use a GARMIN (life saver) and buy an annual park pass (it’s a huge cost saver!). We’re going to do this again in two years—and have already shared our TravelMuse trip plan (in hard copy print outs and online) with lots of friends and family who want to do the same.

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Tell us about your Trips and you could be featured in Trip of the Week–win one of the new Frommer’s Day by Day Guide Books.

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