Archive for the ‘Arts and Entertainment’ Category


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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I’m taking a mini road trip to Los Angeles with my younger brother next weekend. Between gas money, hotel costs and feeding ourselves, I was worried that we were going to be stuck with no money to see any of the the City of Angels’ infamous attractions. But Los Angeles is not just for the rich and the famous to enjoy. There are many incredible free activities to partake, much to my relief. Vacation saved! Here are five free top attractions that I plan to check out on my trip. What are you favorite things to do in Los Angeles for free?

The Getty Villa. Photo: brewbooks

The Getty Villa. Photo: brewbooks

1. Home of the Oscars

If you’re a movie buff (or even if you’re not), be sure to check out the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Grand Lobby and Fourth Floor Galleries. The Academy’s headquarters is located in the heart of Beverly Hills and its galleries feature impressive exhibitions that highlight the best of Hollywood’s movie magic and history. 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Tel. 310-247-3000.

2. The Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Trust is one of the largest supporters of visual arts in the world, and its two Los Angeles locations, the Getty Center Los Angeles and the Getty Villa Malibu, feature an incredible collection of European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illustrated manuscripts and photography, all housed in breathtaking indoor and outdoor settings. Although reservations aren’t needed at the Getty Center, visitors to the Getty Villa Malibu must have advance, timed tickets to gain entry, and only a limited number of tickets are offered daily. Getty Center. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles. Getty Villa Malibu, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades. Tel. 310-440-7300.

3. South Bay Bicycle Path

Taking a ride or stroll down the South Bay Bicycle Path is probably the best way to sample Los Angeles’ beaches. Despite its name, this 22-mile bike path is frequented by movers of all types and passes through must-see beach community highlights such as the Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach’s ever-present alternative culture and Redondo Beach’s Pier Avenue. To get the most out of your coastal stroll start at the bike path’s northernmost point, Will Rogers State Beach, where Temescal Canyon Road meets Pacific Coast Highway.,,

4. Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park

Located within Los Angeles’ famous Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory has been a highlight of Los Angeles for nearly 75 years. After recently undergoing an extensive six-year renovation and expansion, the observatory offers visitors a state-of-the-art planetarium, presentation theatre, public telescopes and multiple indoor and outdoor exhibits. Griffith Park is packed with attractions aside from the observatory, so consider spending a day on the park’s grounds. Griffith Park. 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles. Tel. 323-913-4688. Griffith Observatory. 2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles. Tel. 213-473-0800.

5. The Grove and Farmers Market

Looking for a true L.A. shopping experience without the fuss of Rodeo Drive? Then head to The Grove and Farmers Market located in Los Angeles’ Fairfax District. This outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex is riddled with SoCal ambiance, which means you’ll love it whether you splurge on souvenirs or just window shop. For an “organic” experience spend your time at the historic Farmers Market, where you’ll find fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, as well as restaurants and a wide variety of clothing, gadgets and other service vendors. 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles. Tel. 323-900-8080, Farmers Market. 6333 West 3rd St. Tel. 323-933-9211,

Plan your trip to Los Angeles on TravelMuse.

Post derived from “5 Free Los Angeles Attractions” by Teresa Basich.



Everyone can get down with the green on St. Patrick’s Day 2010. Festivals are held all over the world, so whether you’re planning a trip to Ireland, staying stateside or even escaping to the sunny Caribbean, you’re bound to find a celebration worthy of wearing your green. Here are TravelMuse’s top nine St. Patrick’s Day events:

Guinness glasses dance in the streets of London to celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Photo: zorilla

Guinness glasses dance in the streets of London to celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Photo: zorilla

1. New York City
Since 1762, New York City has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a huge parade. This year it kicks off at 11 a.m. at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue. Don’t look for floats or balloons; this is a true marching parade, with dozens of bands, pipers and the like from the United States and Ireland.

Plan a trip to New York City on TravelMuse.

2. Boston
Boston beats New York City as the oldest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States, with the first one held in 1737. This year’s parade of floats, marching bands and pipers starts on March 14 in South Boston.

Plan a trip to Boston on TravelMuse.

3. Savannah
Now celebrating its 186th year, the city of Savannah offers up one of the largest events in the United States, with 400,000 people expected to attend! The St. Patrick’s Day parade kicks off at 10:15 a.m. on March 17 with bands, floats and plenty of green.

Plan a trip to Savannah
on TravelMuse.

4. Chicago
For more than 40 years, Chicago has actually dyed its river emerald green for the annual Irish fest! This year, look for it to happen on March 13 at 10:45 a.m. The downtown one is always held the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day and kicks off at noon.

Plan a trip to Chicago
on TravelMuse.

5. Montserrat
St. Patrick’s Day in the Caribbean? Sure! It makes sense when you find out that Montserrat recognizes the date as a national holiday and many citizens have Irish heritage. A full week of St. Patrick’s Day events is planned from March 13 to 20, with, of course, the biggest celebration on March 17.

Plan a trip to Montserrat on TravelMuse.

6. Dublin
Ireland started its St. Patrick’s Day Festival only in 1995 (it was mainly a religious holiday before that). Now the hugely popular event in Dublin is a six-day affair (this year, it’s March 12 to 17), with a parade on the final day. Over the course of the festival, more than 4,000 performers will entertain about one million people with music, street theater, carnivals, comedy, street performances, dance and a treasure hunt.

Plan a trip to Dublin on TravelMuse.

7. Toronto
Toronto’s 22nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is scheduled for March 14. There’s a full slate of Irish step dancers and pipe-and-drums bands who will march. The night before, put on your formal attire and attend the Grand Marshall Ball to dine, dance and bid in a silent auction.

Plan a trip to Toronto
on TravelMuse.

8. Sydney
Sydney’s big parade kicks off the St. Patrick’s Day 2009 celebration on March 21. After the parade, a variety of entertainment, crafts, food and children’s activities are offered in Hyde Park.

Plan a trip to Sydney
on TravelMuse.

9. London
London celebrates all week, but the main events are the parade and a festival, both on March 14. The parade kicks off at noon from Hyde Park corner. The festival also starts at noon and runs until 6 p.m. Trafalgar Square hosts the main stage, but events also happen at Leicester Square and Covent Garden. Sample Irish food, dance, crafts and music.

Plan a trip to London
on TravelMuse.

Adapted from “Top 10 St. Patrick’s Day Events” by Kim Foley Mackinnon.

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Top Five Spring Break Spots—College Edition

You’ve made it this far through the school year—time to recharge for finals and blow off some steam at one of TravelMuse’s top spring break destinations:

1. Jamaica

Pristine beaches, reggae and lingo like “go jam” (socialize)—it all adds up to an island paradise. There are plenty of all-inclusive resorts to choose from, but you can find something a little different (and cheaper) by staying at a furnished apartment or guest house. Explore limestone caves, waterfalls and mineral springs; listen to live reggae in Montego Bay or Negril; visit Bob Marley’s Birthplace and Mausoleum; discover the Ocho Rios Craft Market for unique souvenirs or the decadent Devon House to step into the past. Or, simply relax on the beach and enjoy paradise.

Visit for travel deals. Plan a trip to Jamaica on TravelMuse.

Let your school stress melt away in Jamaica. Photo: 04deveni

Let your school stress melt away in Jamaica. Photo: 04deveni

2. Costa Rica
San José and Tamarindo both offer the nightlife any spring breaker desires, but for those on a budget the best bet is Jacó for discos and dive bars galore. For surfing, the beaches of Jacó, Esterillos, Hermosa and Boca Barranca provide the best waves. Costa Rica is ideal for those looking for an eco-adventure. With 20 natural parks, eight biological reserves and numerous protected areas throughout the country, there are plenty of opportunities to hike, bike and do other outdoor activites. Trek up to see one of the finest volcanic craters in the world in Poás Volcano National Park; enjoy zip-lining through the cloud forest in Monteverde; or go rafting on the Reventazón River.

Visit and read our Costa Rica articles for more information. Plan a trip to Costa Rica on TravelMuse.

3. Panama City Beach

The tried-and-true college Spring Break locale, Panama City Beach has 27 miles of beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrews Bay in the northwest of Florida. The beach town welcomes college students every year for what has to be the prototypical spring break experience. Enjoy live reggae at Willy’s Pier Bar; eat seafood on the open-air deck of the Barefoot Beach Club; sip fruity cocktails at the Tiki Bar on the beach at Sandpiper Beacon Beach Resort. For a break from the sun, head over to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium housed in a 75-foot high cruise ship run aground.

Visit for more information. Plan a trip to Panama City Beach on TravelMuse.

4. Europe
Yes, Europe is an expensive choice, but deals can be had, especially during the spring. Virgin Vacations offers packages at nearly half the cost of the same trip during the summer.
As every college student with thoughts of backpacking knows, hostels across the continent are an affordable accommodations option, but check out universities in the city or cities you plan on visiting to see if they rent out dorm rooms during breaks.

Check out tourism board Web sites like and to find free attractions and discounts. Plan a trip to Europe on TravelMuse.

London is just one of your many options for an adventurous spring break. Photo: Jim Linwood.

London is just one of your many options for an adventurous spring break. Photo: Jim Linwood.

5. Austin

During spring break, the average high temperatures are in the mid to upper 70s. The locals are dedicated to the city’s slogan—“Keep Austin Weird”—with attractions like the Cathedral of Junk (junk turned art in a resident’s backyard) and the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture. Mix in numerous nightlife options, particularly along Sixth Street, gorge on delectable barbecue at the likes of the Salt Lick and get to know the “Live Music Capital of the World” for a memorable Spring Break.

Visit or read our Austin articles for more information. Plan a trip to Austin on TravelMuse.

Post adapted from “10 Top Spring Break Spots” by Andrew Weiss.

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Miami: Home to Super Bowl XLIV

For those lucky enough to be able to attend the Super Bowl on February 7, 2010, there are a lot of great attractions, hotels and restaurants to visit on your Super Bowl extravaganza. Hosted in Miami Gardens, Fla., Super Bowl XLIV couldn’t be experienced in a more mild-weathered climate, especially considering the deep freeze plaguing the majority of the United States. For those who can’t afford a ticket (the cheapest I found was priced at $1,731 each on StubHub!) but are still interested in visiting Miami, TravelMuse has the best travel-planning information on the home of Super Bowl XLIV.

miami 2

Photo: Sarah Ackerman

The Basics


Prior to being claimed by the Spanish in 1566, Miami was inhabited by the Tequesta Indians and was better known as Biscayne Bay Country. After a local citrus grower convinced railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to extend his railroad to Miami, the city was officially born in 1896.

How Long to Stay
A Miami vacation makes for a great weekend getaway, especially if you’re looking for a romantic escape. If you plan on bringing the family, allow at least a week to give you time to visit all the attractions and sample Miami’s great hospitality.

Getting Around
If you are staying on the beach, you don’t need to rent a car as it’s easy to get around via taxi, scooter or GoCar. If you’re staying down south or intend on visiting any of the major tourist attractions, it’s advisable to rent a car during your stay.

Transportation from the airport is pretty inexpensive, either by taxi or shuttle. The majority of visitors fly into Miami International Airport (MIA), however Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) is only about 40 minutes from South Beach. For the most part, flights into Fort Lauderdale are a lot cheaper if you’re flying domestically.

Miami Neighborhoods

Miami Beach & SoBe (South Beach)
South Beach is famous for its architecturally preserved, historic Art Deco buildings dating back to the 1930s and 40s. Also, nightlife is most prominent here, playing host to world-renowned celebrity hangouts, clubs, bars, resorts, boutique hotels and of course, the beach.

Classified as North Miami Beach, Aventura is an elegant mix of high-rise apartments, family homes and stylish residents. Located on the mainland, the views along the intercoastals are extraordinary. Affluent and modern, Aventura offers stylish restaurants, Founders Park, the Aventura Mall, a country club, golf course and several great resorts and spas.

Coral Gables & Coconut Grove
From its conception, Coconut Grove has been a haven for the creative, attracting musicians, artists, authors and many a free spirit. Situated on the bay, it boasts gorgeous scenery, a marina, a waterfront park, a host of art galleries, sidewalk cafés, boutiques, open-air shopping mall and numerous excellent restaurants.

Key Biscayne
Key Biscayne is an island located six miles off the coast of Miami and linked to the mainland via the Rickenbacker Causeway. A resort community, Key Biscayne has it all, including the Miami Seaquarium and a wide variety of water sports and outdoor activities.

Downtown Miami and the Brickell Area
Brickell, the center of Miami’s financial district, lies just south of Downtown and the Miami River. Originally more of a business area, Brickell is fast becoming a trendy, vibrant neighborhood filled with sidewalk cafés, restaurants and prestigious hotels catering to business travelers and banking professionals.

Miami Design District

This 18-square block area situated just north of Downtown Miami is filled with a collection of chic and stylish galleries, trendy restaurants and contemporary furniture stores.

Cultural Districts
From Little Haiti and Little Havana, to Liberty City, Hialeah and South Miami-Dade, each district is so culturally diverse, they might as well be countries unto themselves.

Miami 1Photo: Mr. Thomas


Being a world-renowned tourist destination, Miami offers plenty of accommodation options. The beaches are lined with boutique hotels, resorts and hotel chains, while downtown Miami and Brickell cater more to the business traveler. However, more options are available than just your average hotel.
An increasingly popular trend, especially on the beach, is condo-hotels, providing visitors with the luxury of a hotel and the convenience of a condo. Generally a fraction of the price of hotels, this option is ideal for longer stays. Read more in our Miami Hotels article.

Additional Information

To read more about Miami’s neighborhoods, find the perfect hotel or decide on the best attractions to visit (including museums, beaches, water activities, restaurants and more), read our full article on Miami, “Miami: The Beaches and Beyond” on TravelMuse.

Plan a trip to Miami on TravelMuse.

Other Miami articles to read on TravelMuse:
Get Your Dough On
Miami’s Top Events and Festivals
So Many Miami Hotels, So Little Time
Best of Miami’s Nightlife Dining
Best Meals in Miami
Hot Miami Wine Bars

* All information on Miami adapted from “Miami: The Beaches and Beyond” by Kim Michele.

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I’m the first to admit that every time I hear reference to Istanbul, that infectious song gets stuck in my head. But Turkey’s most populous city has left its footprint in the history of world civilization without help from some cheesy song.


Photo: HBarrison

In 2010, Istanbul will be celebrated as a capital of European culture with yearlong events, the opening of new exhibits and museums, renovations of landmarks and performances by artists from around the globe. In preparation, the city has renovated landmark attractions and even opened new museums. Renovations include the Ataturk Culture Center, the Topkapi Palace museum and the Hagia Sophia, one of the world’s most famous churches and mosques. Istanbul has also opened the Maslak Culture Center as a venue for performing arts and commenced a Frank Gehry-designed opera house.

The events will follow the theme “A City of Four Elements” to help the city organize the yearlong celebration. Jan. 1 through March 20 will represent the “Earth” period, where archaeological excavations will be showcased, exhibits illustrating the city’s historical development will be featured and the influence of Ottoman Istanbul is detailed. March 21 through June 21 will represent “Air” and will feature multicultural and inter-religious events. “Water” will take place from June 22 through Sept. 22 and boast two weeklong presentations of music, art and food from numerous European countries in waterfront districts of Istanbul. Ending the yearlong celebration “Fire,” which takes place Sept. 22 through Dec. 31, will focus on Turkey’s contemporary art scene.

For more information and a detailed calendar of events, visit or

Plan your 2010 trip to Istanbul on TravelMuse.

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Music Festivals Celebrate the End of Summer

The end of summer is on the horizon, but you can still squeeze in some affordable last minute warm-weather fun at a music festival. Summer music festivals are a great way to take a pseudo-vacation; you get to spend time outside, listen to amazing music and check out all of the awesome vendors. Here are four to get you started, but make sure you check your local listings for festivals in your area.


Outside Lands 2008. Photo: vonlohmann

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is the venue for the 2nd annual Outside Lands Festival. This three-day festival takes place from August 28 to 30 and boasts a wide variety of musical genres including rock, blues, reggae, jazz, hip-hop, soul, latin and electronic music. Sample some of the best food San Francisco has to offer, while enjoying the music of bands such as Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, Modest Mouse and The Mars Volta. If you need a break from the crowds at one of the three main stages, saunter past the arts and crafts booths and pick up a souvenir to bring home with you.

For more information, visit


Pukkelpop is one of the largest alternative open-air festivals in Belgium. The festival takes place from August 20 to 22 and features eight stages of live music, with more than 200 acts. Some of the notable acts include The Offspring, Snow Patrol, 50 Cent and Wilco. Make sure you bring your tent and sleeping bag, because your festival ticket includes free access to the campsite.

For more information, visit


Outside Lands 2008. Photo: Julio Enriquez

Monolith Festival

Once deemed the “Best Live Music Venue in North America” by Pollstar, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado will host the 2009 Monolith Festival from September 12 to 13. The festival will present more than 50 musical artists on five stages, including the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Method Man and Redman, Girl Talk and The Dandy Warhols. Enjoy the music, sip a cold brew and be ready to rock out.

For more information, visit

Austin City Limits Music Festival

The Austin City Limits Music Festival dates back to 2002, and over the course of the year it has become one of the most recognized music festivals in the United States. Austin’s three-day festival has been known to draw as many as 65,000 people a day, and this October 2 to 4 will be no different. Major acts for the 2009 show include John Legend, Lily Allen, Andrew Bird, Mos Def, the Levon Helm Band, Ben Harper and the Relentless7, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and Sonic Youth.

For more information, visit


Who says you have to be a geek to appreciate museum events? At the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Thursday nights from 6 to 10 p.m. (through Oct. 29, 2009) are now dedicated to NightLife, with music, food, cocktails and science presentations for adults 21 years and older.

For only $10 ($8 for members), you can shake your groove thang to hot DJ-supplied tunes or learn something scientific with your drink in hand. Each week, a different part of the Academy hosts the party, but you can still walk through the exhibits to your heart’s content (although some, like the Rainforest and Penguin exhibits, close early).

NightLife is the perfect event for those of us who love seeing kids excited about science, and who also prefer to get in close to see that cool-looking stingray, thankyouverymuch.

So, on your next San Francisco vacation, go to the Academy of Sciences at night—and you can check “spectacular new science museum” and “cool San Francisco nightlife” off your itinerary at once! For more information, visit

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