Archive for the ‘Themes and Activities’ Category


America’s Favorite Farmers’ Markets

It begins in early June–my obsessive tracking of the quality of sweet corn.

At that point in the season, it’s early–far too early–for the kernels to burst with juicy, sunny, sweetness, but every week I buy half a dozen ears, roast them in the oven, and offer my estimate of how many more weeks we have to wait for the corn to hit its peak. That high point lasts two weeks at most, but I enjoy every minute of it.

I’m fortunate to live in New York City, which has year-round farmers’ markets, but I asked around the office and among TravelMuse followers on twitter and Facebook: What are YOUR favorite farmers’ markets?

Here are some of their answers:

1. Pearl Farmers’ Market, San Antonio, Texas

The Pearl Farmers’ Market is located along the banks of the San Antonio River and features the goods of producers whose farms are within 150 miles. Typical Texas fruits and veggies–like the variety of peppers shown here–aren’t the only items on offer; there’s also grass-fed bison, heritage pork, and charcuterie.

San Antonio

Image: Gruenemann

2. Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, Santa Monica, California

This farmers’ market, considered one of the largest and most diverse growers-only farmers’ markets in the U.S., was a top pick among staffers and TravelMuse twitter followers. Its website reports an average of 9,000 shoppers at its weekly Wednesday market.
Santa Monica

Image: Sharon Mollerus

3. Cold Spring Farmers’ Market, Cold Spring, New York

This farmers’ market in the Hudson River Valley is open year-round, but it’s best in the summer, when it’s held on the grounds of Boscobel, a historic house-turned-museum with this view of the Hudson River. Bonus? You can picnic on the Boscobel grounds after you do your shopping.

Cold Spring

Image: ScubaBear68

4. Mountain View Farmers’ Market, Mountain View, California

Mountain View is one of the five biggest farmers’ markets in California and a regular winner of “favorite farmers’ markets” contests. The variety of vendors and the market’s proximity to the Salinas Valley (aka: “America’s Salad Bowl”) make this market a top pick.

Mountain View

Image: IrisDragon

5. Nicollet Mall Market, Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Nicollet Mall Market is convenient for people who live and work in downtown Minneapolis, and it’s an ideal place to pick up lunch during the summer. It’s also close to public transportation. And the eggplant! Isn’t it gorgeous?


Image: Cultivate Landscapes

6. Ballard Sunday Farmers’ Market, Seattle, Washington

As its name suggests, the Ballard Sunday Farmers’ Market is open on Sunday only. Year-round, through sun, snow, wind, and rain, Ballard says it’s “more reliable than the post office.” Other reasons to visit? Hard cider, honey-smoked albacore, and other Pacific Northwest-inspired treats.


Image: Brian Glanz

7. Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington

Yes, another market in Seattle, but how could we leave Pike Place off our list? It’s probably one of the most-visited markets in the United States. Plus, it’s not strictly a farmers’ market; open “19-1/2 hours a day, 362 days a year,” Pike Place is known for its fish and seafood, too.
Image: angelan.

8. Aptos Farmers’ Market, Monterey Bay, California

Any farmers’ market worth its salt should have live entertainment, and Aptos does. In addition to what looks like some absolutely delicious corn, Aptos serves up live bluegrass and accordion music, and it offers a variety of classes, including pickling and canning.


Image: DavidDennisPhotos

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Olympic Sites in Mexico City and Vancouver

What becomes of an Olympic venue once the Games have ended? We take a look at Olympic sites from the 1968 Games, hosted by Mexico City, and the 2010 Games, hosted by Vancouver.

Mexico City

Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, hosted the Olympic Games in 1968. The selection of Mexico City was significant for a number of reasons: it was the first time the Games had been held in a Spanish-speaking country, the first time they had been held in Latin America, and the first time they had been held in what was considered a “developing” country.


Photo: Julie Schwietert Collazo

For a brief moment, it looked like the International Olympic Committee would cancel the Games, as a massacre of student and civilian protesters occurred just 10 days before the Games’ Opening Ceremony. The IOC decided not to cancel the Games; however, the world’s biggest sporting event was definitely politically charged that year and Mexican officials were relieved that the Games concluded without significant incidents.

Today, many of the venues that hosted athletic competitions during the 1968 Olympics remain active sporting sites for Mexican athletes, and are open to the public. Arena Mexico, not far from the city’s main square, the Zocalo, hosted wrestling matches in 1968 and continues to do so today. Popular lucha libre spectacles are held here regularly, drawing massive crowds eager to watch this beloved and uniquely Mexican sport in which masked and costumed wrestlers try to best one another.

Another Olympic venue you can visit for both a sense of the past and a dose of local culture is the Estadio Olimpico Universitario (University Olympic Stadium) at UNAM, Mexico’s largest and most prestigious university, located in the south of the city. The site of the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the 1968 Games, as well as many track and field events, today’s it’s the home field for the popular Pumas soccer team.


Vancouver was one of the most recent Olympic hosts, so it’s hardly a surprise that many of its venues are in excellent condition and are open to the public for recreational purposes. One of the most popular spots for locals in Vancouver is the Richmond Olympic Oval, which was the site for speed skating competitions in the 2010 Winter Olympics. After the Games, the entire complex was converted into a 23,000 square foot fitness and recreation center that’s open to the public on a membership basis. There’s a 31 route climbing wall, a paddling center, two Olympic size skating rinks, and dozens of courts for badminton, basketball, and volleyball. Don’t feel like working out? You can take a guided tour of the venue instead.


Photo: tgreyfox

One of the most popular Olympic sites in Vancouver–and one of the most accessible, too– is the Olympic cauldron, which remains in its original location near the convention center. It’s ideal for a photo opp. Besides the Cauldron itself, the natural views here are spectacular, with the North Shore Mountains visible in the distance.

To learn more about other Olympic sites you can visit in North America, check out our feature article, “Destinations of Champions”.

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Incredible Capture: Pulpit Rock, Norway

Though Norway may be better known for Vikings and salmon, Pulpit Rock is one of its most famous attractions. Located in western Norway, visitors must hike about two and a half miles, climbing about 1,982 feet along the way, to reach the gorgeous views afforded at the edge of this cliff. See the original post on the NileGuide blog

pulpit rockImage: Today is a Good Day/Flickr



6 Most Beautiful Places to Take a Leap of Faith

Craving a rush of air, adrenaline and great views? Check out these stunning jump-off spots that will leave you breathless in more ways than one.

1. Bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Located between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world – so it should go without saying it is an ideal place to fall 111 meters with a cord attached to your ankles. We wonder if the fall’s namesake Queen Victoria ever felt the rush of plummeting off this waterfall? We guess not.

Image: On The Go Tours/Flickr

2. Base jumping from the Sky Tower, New Zealand

People from all over congregate to the 328m Sky Tower, distinguished as one of the tallest free-standing structures in the Southern hemisphere. Feeling the need for speed? This base jumping spot is the place for you – jumpers reach up to 85km/hr while on their way down. On top of this fast and extremely high fall, you also have to worry about wind entering your equation. Fortunately, base jumpers use a guide-cable-controlled to avert the jumper from bumping into the building.

Image: Andy Beal Photography/Flickr

3. Skydiving over Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Take skydiving to the next level by flying above one of the last active volcano regions in New Zealand. It is very popular for people to experience one minute of freefalling in this 15,000 feet drop. Also, if you are a skydiver on a budget, skydiving over Lake Taupo is known for low-cost jumps. We’re not sure if this is a good thing or not.

Image: Antoine Hurbert/Flickr

4. Hang gliding the mountains of Bariloche, Argentina

Hang gliding in Bariloche, Argentina is said to be an incredible experience any time of the year, but summer has been recognized as the truly best time.

Image: patrícia soransso /Flickr

5. Zip lining the treetops of Durango, USA

If you are an adrenaline junkie jonsing for the great outdoors, then it is time for you to zip line through the treetops of Durango, Colorado. As you travel high up amongst the trees, you can spot reptiles and birds from an incredible vantage point. Sounds like an ideal day to us.

Video: Gary Gaurdreau/Vimeo

6. Paragliding Babadag Mountain, Turkey

In October the small resort town of Oludeniz hosts an annual Air Games week for all the air lovers around the world. Located at the foot of Babadag mountain, be one with nature as you para-glide through the mountains, cedar forests and shores of the Mediterranean.


Love this topic? Read the whole post on the NileGuide blog

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5 Prison-Turned-Hotels

Anyone with even a slight appreciation of irony would enjoy knowing that hellish prisons around the world, closed down because of overcrowding and human-rights abuse, have reopened as posh hotels and kitschy hostels. [Read the full post at the NileGuide blog.]

1. The Liberty Hotel – Boston, USA

Image: Ben+Sam/Flickr

Although The Liberty Hotel might have the gosh darn coolest design of any hotel on our list, it certainly wasn’t always that way. Back when The Liberty Hotel was the Charles Street Jail, the place was so overcrowded and nasty-gnarly, the US District Court ruled it was unconstitutional for even criminals to live there.

Image: liluinteriors

Constructed in 1851, the Charles Street Jail was designed by famed Boston architect Gridley James Fox Bryant, who created a massive granite structure with an octagonal rotunda, a 90-foot tall atrium, and 30 arched windows that measured 33 feet high. A mix between a Gothic cathedral and a fortress, the Charles Street Jail was once home to Malcolm X, Sacco and Vanzetti, and Boston mayor James Michael Curley.

Image: The Liberty Hotel

After failing inspections, the Charles Street Jail was closed to inmates in 1990 and renovations began to turn it from an all-around dump into one of the swankiest hotels in Boston. The Liberty Hotel maintained the grand exterior and rotunda while totally refurbishing the jail cells into rooms considerably bigger than the original 7 x 10 foot floor plan.

Interested in rubbing shoulders with the “in” crowd without paying the big bucks to spend the night? Grab an appetizer at The Liberty Hotel’s restaurant Clink (teehee) or a drink at their bar, Alibi (haha), which has an impressive array of celebrity mug shots. Oh, The Liberty Hotel, you’re so clever.

Image: The Liberty Hotel

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Incredible Capture: Church of Livadia, Crete

On the island of Crete – the largest of Greece’s islands – stands the Church of Livadia. It has quite the colorful interior, reflecting Crete’s distinctive culture from the rest of Greece.

Livadia greece church

Image: Wolfgang Staudt/ Flickr

The island has its own poetry form, Mantinades, along with music and indigenous dancing. The people of Crete also often wear traditional dress in everyday settings, including knee-high black riding boots and black shirts. Most of the population is Greek Orthodox, and religious holidays play an important role in gathering the people of Crete together. (via NileGuide)

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10 Spectacular Sunsets in the City

Whether the sun sets in the east or the west, sunsets offer travel photographers the opportunity to snap  once-in-a-lifetime photos. Here are ten of our current favorites from around the world.

Santorini, Greece

Image: Wolfgang Staudt/Flickr

Stockholm, Sweden

Image: bomb_tea/Flickr

Walt Disney World, Florida

Image: Express Monorail, Flickr

Tokyo, Japan

Image: Guwashi999/Flickr

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Image: jonworth-eu/Flickr

San Francisco, California

Image: arcreyes [-ratamahatta-]/Flickr

Paris, France

Image: Trey Ratcliff/Flickr

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Image: iko/Flickr

London, England

Image: PixelLaika/Flickr

New York City, New York

Image: jerryfergusonphotography/Flickr

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Photo of the Day: Prague, A Cultural Gem

Prague, the stunning capital city of the Czech Republic, has become a gem of European tourism. The modern city still retains its medieval city center, complete with cobblestone streets and twisting, narrow alleyways where you’ll find a mix of hip and traditional bars and pubs.

Staromestske Namesti, Prague

Staromestske Namesti, Prague

One of the city’s most famous landmarks is Prague Castle and Hradcany; originally constructed in the 9th century, it’s the world’s largest ancient castle. Prague’s world-renowned arts scene features a wealth of fine museums including the magnificent National Museum. And don’t forget to check out Prague’s lively music scene; it won’t be hard to find—jazz clubs and year-round festivals are plentiful.



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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Photos of the Day: Hawaiian Escape

In need of a beach getaway? So are we!

Hawaii, a chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, practically defines paradise. Sandy beaches, tropical drinks, lazy live music and expansive resorts fuel the tourism that’s vital to the state’s economy.

Hawaii is hot! Formed from volcanic eruptions, the mostly-sunny state averages 80- and 90-degree temperatures year-round. Stay cool in an aloha shirt (men) or muumuu (women), then swim with the dolphins at Sea Life Park. Sign up for classes in hula-ing and lei-making to have something to show your friends. Grab a plate lunch from a lunch wagon, which usually includes meat, rice and macaroni, then head to the Hilo Art Museum.

Salt Pond Beach, Kauai

Salt Pond Beach, Kauai

Kauai is the northwestern-most and oldest of Hawaii’s major islands. People come to Kauai primarily for one thing: the beaches with their great snorkeling, surfing, swimming and sunning. But Kauai also boasts more navigable rivers than the other Hawaiian Islands making kayaking very popular. If the surf is calm you can even combine a river run with time paddling the bays and ocean shoreline. You’ll find kayak rentals near the mouth of the most popular rivers. Kauai has great hiking and mountain biking trails as well

Sunset in Kauai, Hawaii

Sunset in Kauai, Hawaii

By the way, your tan lines are showing.

Plan your next trip to Hawaii on TravelMuse.

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