Posts Tagged ‘Boston’


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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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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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,


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,

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,

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,

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,

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

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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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Planning on getting your special someone a dozen red roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day? Snooze! Treat your significant other to a Valentine’s Day celebration that will really knock his or her socks off. Here are TravelMuse’s top 9 annual Valentine’s Day events across the globe:

2222367956_66fc2934ddFrom Flamingos to Flamenco, Valentine’s Day is full of unconventional possibilities for romance.

Photo: kjunstorm

Wine Tasting and Chocolate Trail: Niagara-on-the-Lake
Wine and chocolate are known aphrodisiacs, and you’ll find both 20 kilometers (about a half-hour drive) from Niagara Falls. Each Valentine’s Day, 20 wineries around Niagara-on-the-Lake pair their signature wines with different flavors of chocolate. At Peller Estate Merlot is paired with coriander and at Palatine Hills Estate cabernet sauvignon goes with apricot, to name just two.

Plan a trip to Niagara Falls on TravelMuse: Jan. 7 through Feb. 23. Call the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce for more info (tel. 905-468-1950) or visit

Valentine’s Day in the Garden: Atlanta
On Valentine’s night in Atlanta, Ga., the Atlanta Botanical Garden turns into one long Lover’s Lane. Stroll candlelit paths, gaze at orchid displays paired with abstract art glass (part of the Orchid Daze exhibit) and listen to jazz  while you eat decadent desserts and sip martinis.

Plan a Trip to Atlanta on TravelMuse: Feb. 13, 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person (for members: $25 per person). 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, tel. 404-876-5859.

Woo at the Zoo: San Francisco
Get some sex education this Valentine’s Day at the San Francisco Zoo, where zookeeper Jane Tollini explains how animals from penguins to porcupines show their affection, shall we say. Come for brunch, with mimosas and a full French toast buffet, or for dinner that ends with strawberries dipped in chocolate.

Plan a Trip to San Francisco on TravelMuse: Feb. 13, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Feb. 14, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $75 and include zoo admission (visitors 21 and over only). 1 Zoo Rd., tel. 415-753-7080.

Bike Ride for Lovers: Brussels, Belgium
The annual Bike Ride for Lovers takes you, dressed in your best red and pink spandex, through the streets of Brussels. The three-hour ride starts after dark at the Pro Velo non-profit bike shop and takes you past the city’s most romantic fountains, buildings and bridges. Along the way, you’ll hear stories told in the language of love (what else but French) and stop at a local café to spend time flirting over espresso.

Plan a Trip to Brussels on TravelMuse: February 1 to February 28. Visit Pro Velo ( for more information.

On Screen Romance: Mons, Belgium
Belgium has another annual Valentine’s Day event, which shouldn’t surprise since the country does make some of the best chocolate in the world. The Mons International Love Film Festival tackles new ways to look at the idea of love through rare and controversial films. See love in all its forms through movies that make the main screen, or in smaller film competitions that highlight directors in developing countries, independent films, limited release films and, of course, shorts.

Plan a Trip to Belgium on TravelMuse: Feb. 19 to 26. Lotto Mono Expo,

Flamenco Festival: Boston
Add some passion to your love life and get a head start on Valentine’s Day at Boston’s annual Flamenco Festival on February 5 to February 6. “Flamenco is more than just a dance,” says Mari Katsigianis, organizer of the Boston festival. “The dance grew around the guitar playing, and that grew around the singing that is the focal part of flamenco.” The tradition started in Andalucia, Spain, and has developed over hundreds of years. “The dancing is tremendous when it’s done well,” says Katsigianis, which it’s sure to be with famed flamenco artist La Conja performing on Valentine’s Day.

To make the Spanish-style holiday complete, dine at one of Boston’s best tapas restaurants: Dali Restaurant and Tapas Bar, Tapeo or Tasca Restaurant in Brighton.

Plan a Trip to Boston on TravelMuse: Feb. 5, 8 p.m; Feb. 6, 8 p.m. at the Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St. Tickets: $65, $50, or $40. Tel. 877-598-8497.

Dance the Night Away: Vienna, Austria
Don your finest gown for the Johann Strauss Ball. Each year, the ball takes over the entire Kursalon Wien in Vienna, with a black tie dinner, lessons in the Viennese waltz and four dancing rooms that play everything from classical to ‘90s hits.

Plan a Trip to Vienna on TravelMuse: Feb. 13. Dinner at 6 p.m.; Ball starts at 9 p.m. Tickets range from €105 to €125(US $152 to $181, respectively) with dinner, €47 (US $68) without. For full event information, visit or call 0043-1-512-57-90.

Run Into Love: Moorea
Spend Valentine’s week on Moorea, a French Polynesian island otherwise known as “The Island of Love.” On Feb. 13, join 600 other runners in the 22nd International Moorea Marathon. Then, stay through Feb. 15 for an island celebration.

Plan a Trip to Moorea on TravelMuse: Marathon, Feb. 13, For more info on an island Valentine’s celebration, visit Tahiti Tourism.

Get Married at the Top of the World: New York City
Every year, 14 couples come to the Empire State Building in New York City on Valentine’s Day to say their vows. If you want to say “I do” at the “top of the world” next year, submit an essay that explains why you should be among the select few. Essays are due in October and couples are chosen in November.

Plan a trip to New York City on TravelMuse: For more information, visit or

*Adapted from “Valentine’s Day Events to Remember” by Samantha Cleaver. To read the full article go to

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