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Archive for the ‘U.S. Destinations’ Category

Sep
05

5 Things to Do in Queens, NY

The US Open is held in Queens, one of New York City’s five boroughs and home to the most culturally and ethnically diverse communities in the United States. If you’re attending the US Open and you’re not from New York, you might wonder what there is to see and do in the neighborhoods that whiz past you as you take the 7 train to the Mets-Willets Point station.

Though few tourists and visitors venture into Queens, favoring Manhattan and Brooklyn over the other boroughs, there are lots of “only in New York” experiences you can have in this under-visited borough.

Here are five things to do in Queens while you’re in town for the US Open, or really any time when you want to check out the cool attractions in this region of NYC:

1. Time travel in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

You won’t have to wander from the US Open grounds to act on this tip, as the tennis stadiums are located in the park’s boundaries. The park–New York City’s second largest–was host of two New York World’s Fairs (1939-1940 and 1964-1965); several relics from those fairs remain on display today. The large Unisphere sculpture is the most visible and photogenic of these relics, but the most interesting (and the ones that are closest to the US Open venue) are the mosaics and time capsule that serve as snapshots of mid-century pop culture.

And those snapshots aren’t without controversy. Read this interesting article from local radio station, WNYC, to learn about the “mosaic mystery.”

Time Capsule Mosaic

Time Capsule Mosaic

Image: calestyo

2. Eat your way through Flushing’s Chinatown.

One stop beyond the US Open on the 7 train is Flushing, home to New York City’s lesser-known Chinatown. As busy and bustling as Manhattan’s Chinatown, Flushing is, well, flush with Chinese restaurants specializing in most regional cuisines, though locals in the know tend to visit Flushing for dim sum.

Get off the 7 train at Main Street, come to street level, close your eyes, spin around, and wherever you’re facing when your eyes open, head in that direction to find an authentic Chinese restaurant.

Flushing's Chinatown

Flushing's Chinatown

Image: Terry Ballard

3. Walk Flushing’s Freedom Trail.

Barely familiar even to New Yorkers who consider themselves connoisseurs of the little-known, Flushing’s Freedom Trail is a walking path with historically significant sites that offer important insights into both New York’s and America’s past.

Along the path, you’ll find the home of the man who invented the carbon filament light bulb and New York City’s first public high school, as well as the oldest house of worship in the city.

A stop on Flushing's Freedom Trail

A stop on Flushing's Freedom Trail

Image: Francisco Collazo

4. Visit the Louis Armstrong House Museum.

Harlem and Greenwich Village are more famous for their roles in musical history, but Queens is a surprisingly rich repository, too. For almost 30 years, Louis Armstrong lived in a modest house in the Corona neighborhood; today, the house is a museum that is open to the public.

Though it’s a bit out of the way, it’s a must-visit for serious Armstrong fans, as the house has been preserved as it was when he and his wife lived there.

Louis Armstrong House Museum

Louis Armstrong House Museum

Image: Paul Lowry

5. Watch the sunset from Gantry Plaza State Park.

Long Island City, one of Queens’ neighborhoods and the closest one to Manhattan, sits on the East River and has perfect, unobstructed views of Manhattan, best seen at sunset. Take the 7 train to Vernon-Jackson, walk west on 50th Avenue all the way to the water, and enjoy the view from the end of one of the piers or from your own hammock at the northern end of the park.

Gantry Plaza State Park

Gantry Plaza State Park

Image: Francisco Collazo

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May
14

Photo of the Day: Mammoth Lakes, CA

Mammoth Lakes is part of Yosemite National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in east-central California. Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves and biological diversity.

Mammoth Lakes, CA (image credit Flickr)

Mammoth Lakes, CA

Mammoth is famous for its stunning hiking trails and crystal clear lakes, excellent skiing in wintertime, and a vibrant music and arts scene year-round. Physically fit travelers will enjoy hiking Yosemite’s many trails and footpaths. Check with rangers for trail conditions; snow and hazards from falling rock close many trails in winter. No permits are required park-wide for day hikes. The valley also offers some of the most challenging and spectacular rock climbing in North America, with vertical faces more than 3,000 feet tall.

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Oct
28

Top 10 Haunted Hotels in the US

Halloween is approaching and spookiness is in the air, so we thought we’d bring you some of the country’s most notorious haunted hotels to consider for your next trip. Why settle for a plain old hotel stay when you could add apparitions, strange noises in the night, locking and unlocking doors, and more to the experience?

Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans - Image credit: Flickr

Hotel Monteleone, New Orleans - Image credit: Flickr

Check out these haunted spots from the Victorian seaport town of Port Townsend, WA to the land of voodoo and witchcraft itself, New Orleans, LA, and find the spot that’s right for your next journey!

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Oct
25

Every year, Frommer’s releases their must-do travel list, and it’s always sure to include at least a few eyebrow-raisers. Beirut, Lebanon? You might not know that it’s a sophisticated coastal city bustling with energy. Kansas City, MO? The world-class Kauffmann Center for the Performing Arts just opened, attracting some of the biggest names in dance and music.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Photo credit: Flickr

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Photo credit: Flickr

Check out the full list here for some other surprising – and not so surprising – travel ideas.

Oct
11

Red Bull Flugtag 2011 in Tampa Bay

Red Bull Flugtag challenges teams of everyday people to build homemade, human-powered flying machines and pilot them off a 30-foot high deck in hopes of achieving flight. Flugtag means “flying day” in German, but all these crafts ultimately splash into the waters below. They are judged not only on their flight’s distance, but creativity and showmanship as well.

Red Bull Flugtag - Tampa Bay, FL (photo credit: Red Bull)

Red Bull Flugtag - Tampa Bay, FL (photo credit: Red Bull)

The 2011 Flugtag was held theispast weekend in Tampa Bay, Florida. Check out the website for amazing videos of the winners, losers, and Top Ten crashes from years past. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to put on your thinking cap and dream up a flying machine of your own!

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Oct
06

Ever heard of a Silent Disco?

Well, you wouldn’t actually hear it. It’s silent, right?  But you could watch one on Oct. 29, when Traverse City adds yet another entry to its list of fall happenings: the first-ever Old Town Halloween Carnival and Monster’s Ball. And it’s a spooky sight to behold.

In a Silent Disco, dancers are issued wireless headphones through which music is broadcast via an FM transmitter. It’s the perfect eerie effect for a Halloween street party, since everyone appears to be moving to no discernible music at all. (An added benefit is that non-dancers don’t have to shout at each other over the music, and the neighbors don’t call the cops to report you for making a public nuisance.)

Already known among Halloween cognoscenti for its ghoulish  5K Zombie Run footrace, where shambling “zombie” runners chase down normal-looking “survivors,” and the unspeakable cuteness of its kid-friendly Downtown Halloween Walk, Traverse City seems determined to make itself the Halloween capital of the Midwest with yet another event.

Photo credit: Porterhouse Productions

Photo credit: Porterhouse Productions

Billed as “the largest Halloween event in Northern Michigan,” the Oct. 29 Halloween Carnival and Monster’s Ball starts with a Saturday morning “Monster Pancake Throwdown” – a contest among local chefs in this bastion of culinary competitiveness for the title of Best Pancake in Traverse City. Pancakes will be served out with a host of other locally-produced sausages, eggs, jams, syrups and ciders. Family-style fun continues from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a kids’ costume contest, a haunted bouncy castle, old-school carnival games, Halloween creatures, a pneumatic “virtual hearse ride,” a pumpkin pie-eating contest, performances by local bands and dancers and other fun.

But things really begin to happen after dark, when the streets are taken over by the Monster’s Ball, with local food, wines and microbrews, and music from live bands and DJs. Entertainment will include the last live performance of Michigan dance-rock group Ella Riot (this will be the band’s farewell show), a costume contest featuring premium prizes, and an all-night Silent Disco dance party featuring DJ Body Rock and Wally Sparks (of Ella Riot), DJ Dominate and others.

Tickets for the Old Town Halloween Carnival & Monsters’ Ball can be purchased online at www.porterhouseproductions.com.

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Oct
06

Travel + Leisure Names America’s Most Beautiful Neighborhoods

Travel + Leisure has released their list of America’s most historic, charming, and downright beautiful neighborhoods, and folks across the country are bound to have strong opinions about which towns were left off the list. I’m happy to say I’ve personally spent time in four of the ten neighborhoods selected, and the others are now on my short list. I was surprised to see parts of Baltimore, Oklahoma City and Houston on this list, and you may be surprised by some of the other selections.

Check out the article and let us know which ‘hoods you think should have made the list, and which ones you think were deservedly named “Most Beautiful.”

Photo credit: Travel + Leisure / Nik Wheeler/ Alamy

Photo credit: Travel + Leisure / Nik Wheeler/ Alamy

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Sep
27

LEGOLAND, Florida set to open on October 15, 2011

In just 17 days, LEGOLAND, Florida is set to open its doors to the biggest Lego park in the world. The park will offer a mix of over 50 rides, shows and attractions, including never before seen Lego models. Daytona International Speedway is re-created from more than 180,000 Lego pieces and 1000 “Minilanders,” as the Lego citizens are called, and allows visitors to race against each other by pressing a button to launch their cars.

Other interactive elements for families to enjoy together will include Pirate’s Cove with a live water-stunt show, and “Miniland” featuring New York City, Las Vegas, Washington DC and more, all created from hundreds of thousands of Lego pieces. You really have to see it to believe it!

Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND, Florida

Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND, Florida

Check out the huge countdown clock at http://florida.legoland.com and start planning a trip today to this unique family-friendly spot!

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Sep
21

Boardwalk Empire Vintage Subway Cars in NYC

This weekend is the season premiere of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, the 1920’s gangster show set in Atlantic City, New Jersey. To kick off the premiere, the New York City MTA has converted some subways into fully-functioning 1920’s-era trains, from the subway cars themselves, to the maps, and even the advertisements displayed.

Boardwalk Empire Vintage NYC Subway

Photo: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid @ laughingsquid.com

If you’re in NYC anytime in September, see if you can catch one of these cool-looking trains on the 2/3 line for a truly transporting experience!

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Sep
20

Travel & Leisure’s Top Cities Worldwide

Every year Travel+Leisure invites readers to vote in its 16th annual World’s Best survey, rating cities on things including overall value, sights, shopping and more.  The results include some perennial favorites, and some surprising new additions.

Rome, Italy - Coliseum

Rome, Italy - Coliseum

Florence, Rome and New York City are annual favorites, and this year is no exception. Readers love the culture, cuisine and character of these cities, and they flock to them in droves.

Istanbul is back in the top 5, with its glittering mosques and super-trendy culinary delights. Siem Reap, Cambodia is another top choice that may not be on everyone’s bucket list, but it should: it has evolved from a cluster of riverfront villages into a full-fledged destination complete with art galleries and boutique hotels.

See them all in the World’s Top Cities Slideshow.

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