Chicago is home to everything you would expect from a large American city: sky-scraping towers, fusion cuisine, impeccable shopping and eclectic nightlife. But the thing that sets it apart from other cities is its beautiful lake-side setting.
Along the Chicago-edge of Lake Michigan, you’ll find a plethora of activities – many of which you wouldn’t typically associate with a bustling city. You also have two options for exploring it. You can walk the entire distance along the Lakeside Trail (it’s 18 miles long) or you can hop in a rental car and drive along the Lake Shore Drive and stop off where you want to. There’s also the option of a boat tour! No matter how you choose to explore this scenic part of the city, you need to make sure you stop by these 10 things along Lake Michigan in Chicago.
If you’ve seen pictures of a silver bean structure in Chicago – this is where you’ll find it. Millennium Park is also home an outdoor art space, ice skating rink, outdoor theatre, and a 50 feet fountain. The park is also cleaned regularly and has won awards for its accessibility.
The words beach and city don’t typically go together, but in Chicago they do. The city’s beaches typically open for the summer months between May and then close again for winter on Labor Day. Oak Street Beach is one of the most popular, boasting volleyball tournaments, a restaurant, bike rentals and watersports. Lifeguards are also on duty.
Near the northern end of Lake Shore Drive you’ll find Lincoln Park. Clocking in at 1,200 acres, it is home to Lincoln Park Zoo, beaches, a golf course, soccer fields, bird sanctuaries, a nature museum, picnic grounds, boat harbours and a tomb from 1857. One of Chicago’s most renowned restaurants, North Pond, is also located here.
In the middle of Grant Park, you’ll find what many consider to be America’s greatest water fountain. Originally dedicated to Clarence Buckingham, it was designed in a rococo wedding cake style and inspired by the Latona Fountain at the Palace of Versailles. It was also featured in the title sequences of TV shows Married with Children and Crime Story.
Navy Pier is perfect for both foodies and history buffs. While these days it is a promenade filled with patio restaurants, theatres, tour boats and land-based rides (including a show-stopping Ferris wheel), it has been – at different times – a port, a warehouse and a University of Illinois campus.
On Northerly Island, you will find America’s very first planetarium. Dedicated to the study of astronomy and astrophysics, it is home to three full size theatres, extensive space science exhibitions, and the Doane Observatory (the only place in Chicago where the public can see planets, stars, and galaxies up-close).
Chicago is home to several harbours, but Belmont Harbour is definitely the most scenic (and biggest). Located in the neighbourhood of Lincoln, it is surrounded by parks and the Bill Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
Museum of Science and Industry
Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is one of the few buildings still in the city that were built before the city’s 1893 World’s Fair (which many of Chicago’s modern buildings were built for). The museum spans a wide range of themes, but its most notable displays are the Apollo 8 lunar module and a captured German U-boat from WWII.
13 different neighbourhoods
The Lakeside Trail is so long that it actually passes through thirteen different neighbourhoods: Edgewater, Uptown, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Gold Coast, Streeterville, Loop, South Loop, Bronzeville, Kenwood, Hyde Park and South Shore.
A beautiful sunset
There’s 59 miles between Chicago and the other side Lake Michigan. With no landmass visible from the city there’s a clean line for the sun to slip behind every night – creating a sunset you would typically associate with a tropical island. Make sure that at least once during your Chicago adventure you head out to edge of the lake for a perfect sundown.
What’s your favourite attraction along Chicago’s Lake Michigan Shoreline? Let us know in the comments if we’ve missed your favourite!
You might not have heard of Dutchess County , but you’ll certainly have heard of nearby New York City.
Located only 72 miles north of The Big Apple, Dutchess County is a relaxing contrast to the bustling city. Here you can unwind, eat fresh produce, and explore some of New York State’s fascinating historic sites. Plus, the county is also close to New York Stewart International Airport. Here’s everything you need to know before your first trip to Dutchess County.
Things to do
Treat your taste buds
Dutchess County is a foodie haven brimming with a wide variety of cuisines including Farm Markets, fine-dining restaurants, wineries, distilleries, and brewpubs. At the helm of the culinary scene is The Culinary Institute of America, ranked as the leading culinary school in the United States. They offer student-guided tours and four student-staffed public restaurants.
Farm culture is massive in Dutchess County and if you drive along any road you’ll likely pass a family-owned farm where you can stop and pick-your-own produce, shop their farm stands, or join them during family-oriented festivals.
Locally owned vineyards offer tasting sessions – and sometimes even relaxed outdoor concerts. The Dutchess Craft Beverage Trail features award-winning wineries, distilleries and breweries where you can tour and taste a wide variety of locally produced handcrafted spirits.
Soak up some culture
Dance, drama, film and music all have a home in Dutchess County. In fact, Dutchess County is home to numerous international celebrity film stars and musicians and serves as the location for multiple movies and television shows.
During the day there are museums and art galleries to explore, including Dia:Beacon one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to large installations by world-renowned artists from the 1960s to the present. At night you’ll find bars and restaurants with live music. For something a bit different, you can also visit glass-working studios and watch artisanal glassblowers perfect their craft.
Walk through history
In Dutchess County you get to choose which historical period you visit. Will it be the pre-Revolutionary War, the Gilded Age, or the early 20th century?
Bannerman Castle Island on the Hudson River is a unique attraction but the National Historic Sites in Hyde Park are some of the most popular in all of New York. There you can tour Eleanor Roosevelt’s cottage (the only National Historic Site dedicated to a First Lady), the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt (who is the only president elected to four terms), the gravesite of Franklin and Eleanor in the Roosevelt Rose Garden, and explore the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, America’s first presidential library and the only one used by a sitting president.
Fun with the family
Dutchess County also has its fair share of family-friendly activities. Some of the best include Soukup Farms where you can tour their maple-making process and sample their pure maple syrup, the Dutchess County Fair, Mid-Hudson Children's Museum, SplashDown Beach Waterpark, Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome with biplanes and airshows featuring vintage aircraft, and Trevor Zoo, caring for more than 180 animals including 8 endangered species as the country’s only accredited zoo managed by high school students.
Explore the great outdoors
Make the most of Dutchess County’s beautiful landscape with an impressive range of outdoor recreation that includes biking, hiking, horseback riding, golf, kayaking, archery and skeet shooting. If you’re looking for something a little calmer, there are a number of scenic parks that are perfect for a picnic and afternoon stroll including the not-to-missed Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge.
Dutchess County features antique, boutique, handcrafted and indoor mall shopping and is located close to Woodbury Premium Common Outlets, one of the largest outlet centres in the world.
How to get there
Dutchess County is primarily served by New York Stewart International Airport, which is also a major airport hub for New York City itself. Budget airline Norwegian Airlines runs direct flights from Edinburgh. If you’re doubling-up a stay in the Hudson Valley with NYC (which many people do) you can jump on a train for a scenic ride along the Hudson River from Grand Central Terminal or Penn Station.
Where to stay
Dutchess County is all about relaxation and that is what most accommodations offer. Lodging options include private bed and breakfasts, historic inns, budget-friendly motels, and family-oriented campgrounds. Three hotels that we recommend are the Hilltop House Bed & Breakfast, Beekman Arms Delamater Inn and the Hyatt House Fishkill
When to go
Dutchess County is a year-round destination, however many people choose to visit between early and mid-October when the autumn hues are at their best.
Other important information
Dutchess County is considered the dividing line between downstate New York, and upstate New York.
Like all the United States you need to arrange your visas in advance, the official language is English and the currency in US Dollars.
Dutchess County is easy to reach by train (only 90 minutes) from Grand Central Terminal (Metro-North Railroad) and Penn Station (Amtrak) in NYC.
Car hire in Dutchess County is simple with rental service pickup from local train stations and makes Dutchess a great hub to explore the Hudson Valley and other regions of New York State and neighbouring New England.
As Florida’s most diverse travel destination, Tampa Bay packs an entire Sunshine State getaway into a single location: thrilling roller-coasters, historic Cuban culture, year-round outdoor activities, fantastic food, and waterfront sunsets. There’s so much for all the family, no two days are the same.
Here are 10 reasons why Tampa should be part of your next Florida adventure.
1. Amusement Parks
Florida is famed for its larger than life attractions, and Tampa Bay is no exception. The main amusement centre is Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, which is home to nearly five miles of thrilling rides and Falcon’s Fury, the tallest drop tower in North America. There’s also a waterpark, Adventure Island, which is home to both fast-drops and lazy rivers.
Remember to pick up a Tampa Bay CityPASS, which provides a 51% discount to Busch Gardens and the rest of Tampa Bay’s most popular family attractions.
2.The amazing shopping opportunities
From luxury labels to big bargains, Tampa is home to an amazing selection of shops.
International Plaza and Bay Street, moments from Tampa International Airport, features 200 luxury shops and dining experiences unavailable elsewhere in the area. Historic open-air Hyde Park Village brings together a unique blend of high-end brands in a walkable environment. Twenty minutes north of downtown, Tampa Premium Outlets has 100 stores packed with discounts.
3. It’s a popular cruise port
Tampa is home port for four cruise lines, making it a convenient jumping-off point for journeys to sun-drenched Cuba, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Carnival and Royal Caribbean are even adding new, larger, or upgraded ships to meet the demand in Tampa Bay.
4. Its foodie scene
Tampa is home to Florida’s oldest restaurant, the Columbia, along with some of the Sunshine State’s most cutting-edge culinary experiences. In dynamic Tampa Heights, Ulele, Armature Works and The Hall on Franklin feature diverse local specialities in unique environments.
Florida’s hub for craft brewery offers 25 breweries within 10 square miles. Wine lovers will find the largest private collection in the world at Bern’s Steak House, a family-owned local restaurant.
5. It’s home to a rich history
People have treasured Tampa Bay for 12,000 years, but Spanish explorers truly put the region on the map 450 years. In 1885, the arrival of the railroad and the cigar industry turned Tampa Bay into a boomtown nearly overnight. Immigrants from Cuba, Spain, Sicily, Germany, and Eastern Europe gave Tampa Bay a flavour unique to Florida. In 1914, the world's first commercial flight touched down here after leaving nearby St. Petersburg. Explore Tampa Bay’s deep roots at the Tampa Bay History Center or hop a ride on a historic streetcar and stroll the brick streets of historic Ybor City, where artisans still roll cigars by hand as they have for 130 years.
6. Boating and water activities
With a stunning harbour on its doorstep, Tampa Bay is the perfect place to get out on the water. Captain your own e-boat for a self-guided tour of the local waterfront. Or try a self-propelled trip via water bike, paddleboard or kayak. The bright yellow Pirate Water Taxi makes regular stops at the waterfront’s most popular destinations.
Discover Tampa Bay’s treasures by strolling the Tampa Riverwalk, which links downtown’s most popular attractions like gems on a string.
7. The nearby beaches
While Tampa Bay has no beaches of its own, the world-famous sugar sand strands of Clearwater and St Pete’s are less than an hour’s drive away. The beaches regularly rank among the finest in America for everything from sand quality to environmental management.
8. Broadway-style shows
For live entertainment, book your tickets at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, home to The Florida Orchestra, Opera Tampa, and an annual Broadway season. The largest theatre complex in the southeastern United States, the facility boasts five stages and a prime spot along the Tampa Riverwalk.
9. Artistic street art
Tampa Bay is home to some incredible street art that makes for great holiday snaps. Say you were here beneath the enormous “Tampa” postcard mural at Franklin and Royal streets. Ponder the sculptures along the Tampa Riverwalk and the open-air gallery along Bayshore Boulevard. Guided tours will take you past some of the unique pieces.
10. It’s a great stop-off on a Florida road trip
Tampa Bay makes a great base of operations for a wider itinerary. Orlando’s sprawling theme parks are just over an hour east. To the south, you’ll find Bradenton 50 minutes away, Sarasota an hour and a half away, and Fort Myers 2 hours away. Even Havana is within reach – just a 70-minute flight from Tampa International Airport (perfect for a day trip!).
Direct flights to Tampa Bay via British Airways run out of London Gatwick, making the urban heart of Florida’s Gulf coast a convenient place to start and end your Florida road trip.
If it’s cowboy culture you’re looking for, Texas should be the top of your American holiday wish list.
The Lone Star State is buzzing with deserted cowboy towns, rodeo shoes, food trucks and fascinating history. But it is also more than that. Within its rustic landscape lies the modern cities of Houston and Austin, all-American sports, craft beer and a sunny shoreline looking over the Gulf of Mexico.
So grab your cowboy boots, we’re going to Texas.
Where to go
Clocking in at 695,662 square kilometres, Texas has a lot of attractions and realistically, you won’t get around it all in a two week holiday. To help, we’ve rounded up the five top attractions to consider.
Space Center Houston
This educational space complex boasts more than 400 artefacts including Pete Conrad’s Apollo 12 Suit, the new interactive Mars exhibit and the world’s largest collection of lunar rocks.
Dr Pepper Museum
In Britain, we claim to either love or hate Dr Pepper, but in Texas, it is considered the national drink. At the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco, you can listen to gallery talks, take part in a scavenger hunt and pick up some branded merchandise in its gift shop.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
This is the best place to learn more about the striking Texan landscape. Guadalupe Mountains National Park protects the world's most extensive Permian fossil reef, the four highest peaks in Texas and an environmentally diverse collection of flora and fauna.
If walls could talk, the Alamo would have a lot to say about the history of Texas State. Older than Texas itself, The Alamo has existed since the 18th Century and was used as a military lookout as the state changed hands between the English, French, Spanish and Americans.
Dallas, Houston and Austin
As we said, Texas isn’t all cowboys and desert. In the cities of Dallas, Houston and Austin you’ll find museums, nightlife and food trucks. Everyone who has visited all three has a strong opinion on which one is their favourite - so we’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Food and Drink
Everything is bigger and better in Texas, and that includes the portion sizes. Make sure you leave plenty of room for dinner and only order what you can realistically eat. BBQ food is a really big part of the local foodie scene and you can easily find queues of people waiting for a seat at the big BBQ restaurants. Chilli is also the official dish of Texas and you’ll find plenty of authentic Tex-Mex on offer. One Texan stereotype that holds true is their love of meat, so vegetarians might struggle – though liberal Austin is good for plant-based food.
Texas also boasts a large selection of home-grown beers, most with German heritage. Some of the best include Lone Star Beer, Ziegen Bock and Shiner Bock. There are also several award-winning wineries in Texas, mostly located around Hill Country west of San Antonio and Austin and in the Panhandle region around Lubbock.
Also, keep an eye out for Tito's Vodka – a Texan vodka made from yellow corn that is distilled six times. Like most US states, the legal drinking age is 21.
When to visit
The shoulder seasons are the best time to visit Texas. The heat during the peak of summer can be uncomfortable for travellers used to a British climate, but the spring and autumn are more relaxed. Weather is still warm in winter, but some attractions are closed.
How to Get There
Texas has three main airports, based out of Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Non-stop flights are available from both Manchester and London. Amtrak also offers three routes through the state so you can fit your Texan escape into a wider American adventure.
Other hints and tips:
Many locals consider themselves Texans first and American second so you’ll find the Texas flag flying outside many official buildings
If you’re hiking in Southern Texas, be mindful of the Mexican border. It’s not always very well marked.
English is the official language of Texas, though you’ll hear a lot of Spanish (especially in the cities)
The Rocky Mountains are considered one nature’s most beautiful gifts. They stretch for 3,000 miles from the northern parts of British Columbia right down to the border of New Mexico.
They are believed to be between 80 million to 55 million years old. Over the years further tectonic activity and glacier erosion have sculpted the mountain range into dramatic peaks. These days the peaks are also home to scenic alpine towns and active ski resorts. Throughout the year hiking, camping, mountaineering, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding are all popular.
A road trip through the American Rocky Mountains is a must. Around every bend there is a new discovery and you’ll be amazed at how stunning they are in real-life. In order to make the most of it we recommend stopping off at these 10 locations.
Colorado’s capital is the only metropolitan hub in the Rocky Mountains. It is considered the gateway to the American Rockies and boasts some of the USA’s best ski resorts. It’s a great base for a Rocky adventure including food, theatre and nightlife.
Also known as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas, the Royal Gorge has a maximum depth of 1,250 feet. You’ll find it west of Cañon City, Colorado, where it begins at the mouth of Grape Creek and ends near U.S. Route 50.
3. Pikes Peak
Everyone needs to stop by the highest summit of the southern Front Range. There’s several ways to reach the summit (you don’t have to hike!) including the world's highest cog railroad and the Pikes Peak Highway. You’ll find it in Pike National Forest, 12 miles south-west of downtown Colorado Springs.
Yellowstone National Park stretches across the U.S. states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, nestling itself into the South Central Rockies. It’s also the United States oldest national park. The must-see wonder of the park is Yellowstone Lake. It is one of the largest high-elevation lakes in North America and is located on the Yellowstone Caldera (the largest active volcano on the continent).
5. Glacier National Park
Further north in Montana lies this beautiful national park that cradles on the American-Canadian border. The park encompasses over 1 million acres and within that visitors will find over 130 named lakes plus more than 1,000 different species of plants. As for animals, you can keep your eye open for grizzly bears, moose, and mountain goats.
6. Mount Rushmore
Technically, this isn’t part of the Rocky Mountains but it is not far out of the way. Take a small detour into South Dakota from Wyoming, and you’ll find them in the Black Hills National Forest.
7. Trail Ridge Road
This isn’t a place to stop, but is instead a beautiful stretch of road that provides amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Eleven miles of the route travels above the treeline, with the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake not far away. It is open from late May through to mid-October.
8. Beaver Meadows Visitor Center
Also known as the Rocky Mountain National Park Administration Building, this is a great place to learn more about the Rocky Mountains. It is also architecturally significant and was designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture at Taliesin West, with the intension of integrating it in to its natural surroundings.
9. Sawtooth National Recreation Area
If you’re looking for somewhere to engage in outdoor activities, this is the perfect place. Within the park’s 730,864-acre range you’ll find hiking, backpacking, white water rafting, camping, rock climbing, kayaking, and mountain biking. You’ll find the park in central Idaho, seven miles north of Ketchum on Highway 75.
10. Stanley Hotel
If you’re looking for a bit of pop culture during your trip, then you’re in luck. This 142-room Colonial Revival hotel in Estes Park, Colorado was the inspiration for Stephen King’s 1977 bestseller The Shining. Since the novel was published it has become popular with ghost hunters and even offers its own ghost tours.
America was built for a road trip. Not only is there plenty of ground to cover, but the landscape is beautifully diverse. Looking for lovely coastal towns? Try Florida. Craving sunny beaches? Go to California. Want to wind around beautiful autumnal roads? Head to New England. Maybe you want to glide around the creaks of striking mountainous ranges? Try the Colorado Rockies.
There are infinite possibilities for an American road trip, but some are more iconic than others. Here are five of the best road-trips the USA has to offer.
1. Route 66
Technically speaking, Route 66 isn’t an official road anymore but that doesn’t mean you can’t find remainders of it. One of the best places to explore the old road is in Illinois, where the original road started.
Turn on your ignition in Chicago and work your way south to Collinsville. Along the way, you’ll find nostalgic attractions including a Drive-In theatre, Historic Route 66 signs and the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum.
2. Pacific Coast Highway
Explore California’s rugged and beautiful coastline, while also stopping by some of its key cities. Starting in San Francisco and ending in San Diego, you can travel this route in a day but we recommend taking your time. The route embodies everything that makes California such a well-visited state. From sleeping seaside towns to celebrity-spotting opportunities, to surf-spots to farm-fresh foods and local wines, you’ll tick it all off.
3. Florida Coast to Coast
Terrific weather and even better beaches, this is the only state where you can swim in the Gulf of Mexico in the morning and then watch the sunset on the Atlantic Coast on the same day.
Start your journey in St Petersburg, a laid-back coastal city with artist flair (it boasts the largest collection of Salvador Dalí’s work outside of Spain). Then carry on to Sanibel Island, where you’ll find a mass of washed up seashells and lazy bicycle routes. Then wander through the Everglades National Park, where you might come across black bears, alligators and the rare Florida panther. Then finish your journey in the glitzy coastal city of Miami.
4. USA’s Great Lakes
Head north into the heart of the Mid-West and explore the scenic lakes and the sparkling urban hubs that sit on their shores. Start your journey by flying to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where three rivers meet Lake Michigan. Then head to the Windy City itself and soak up its brilliant nightlife, spend money on the Magnificent Mile and enrich your brain at world-class museums. All with Lake Michigan as the backdrop.
After the excitement of Chicago, reign it back in with a visit to small-town Columbus, Ohio. Stroll along the waterfront or stop by the city’s German Village. Next, and still in Ohio, is Cincinnati – one of the best places for baseball fans.
Then cross over into Michigan, and stop by the scenic Grand Haven. It’s the perfect place for an active holiday with gorgeous lake-side bike trails and plenty of hiking trails. Make sure you take a walk along the boardwalk and visit the Grand Haven Lighthouse. Then explore the heart of Michigan: Detroit. Set on the banks of the Detroit River, this city is famous for Motown as well as Techno, Hip Hop and other genres. A visit to the Motown Museum is a must.
Then finish off your journey in Indianapolis, with a leisurely gondola ride along the city’s Central Canal.
5. Hana Highway
Hawaii is one of nature’s finest creations and this stretch of road is one of the best ways to admire its scenic beauty. Found along the coast of the island of Maui, this 83-kilometer road runs alongside abundant waterfalls, botanical gardens, iconic surf spots, black sand beaches and green taro food crop patches. There isn’t a bad view insight.
Finish up in the rustic and charming town of Hana. An understated place, you’ll find it nestled in an emerald rainforest. And remember to pick up the iconic bumper sticker “I Survived the Road to Hana."
Visiting Boston is like opening an American history book.
All around you will find sites of important historical events, landmarks paying homage to US history and some of the world’s most celebrated educational institutions. If you’re looking for a holiday that enriches and feeds the mind then Boston is definitely the destination for you.
But where to start? We’ve rounded up 10 of the best historical attractions and museums to get you going. Let us know if we’ve missed your favourite.
1. Freedom Trail
Start your day off with a leisurely walk round Downtown Boston. This 2.5 mile trail will take you past 16 significant historical sites. This includes the sites of the Benjamin Franklin statue, U.S. Constitution and the Bunker Hill Memorial.
2. Boston Light
Massachusetts and Boston (plus New England has a whole) has a strong maritime history. You’ll find lots of lighthouses dotted along the coast but Boston Light, found on Little Brewster Island in outer Boston Harbor, is the oldest lighthouse in the USA.
3. Harvard University
Harvard is America’s oldest university and is still renowned throughout the world as one of the world top educational organisations. But you don’t need to be a student to wander around the grounds. Student-led tours are common and stop by Widener Library, Memorial Church, University Hall, Fogg Museum and the John Harvard Statue.
4. Old State House
The Old State House is the oldest surviving public building in Boston, and one of the most important. It was the centre of politics in the colonies, and The Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony on the east side of the building. The Boston Massacre also took place just outside its doors. It’s already a stop on the Freedom Trail, but well worth a special visit.
5. Museum of Fine Arts
The Boston Museum of Fine Arts if the fourth largest museum in the United States, and the 55th most-visited art museum in the world. Its collection is one of the most comprehensive with more than 450,000 works of art. Some highlights include Egyptian artefacts, paintings by Monet and Van Gough, imperial Chinese art and The Rothschild Collection.
6. The institution of Contemporary Art
Founded in 1936, the Institution of Contemporary Art primarily concentrates on visual art and performances. In 2006, the museum established a permanent collection and features work by Louise Bourgeois, Mona Hatoum, Nan Goldin, Doris Salcedo, and Cindy Sherman.
7. Boston Public Library
If you’re looking to carry out some serious research while in Boston, you’ll find plenty of resources at the Boston Public Library. It is the third largest public library in the USA, behind the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. Its collection boasts over 23 million items and covers all media formats from books, DVDs, CDs, maps, music scores, microfilm, manuscripts, prints and electronic resources.
8. Boston Children’s Museum
Boston is a great city break for a family, and the Boston Children’s Museum is one of the best attractions for young people. It is the second oldest children’s museum in the United Sates, and its collection includes Arthur & Friends, Countdown to Kindergarten! And Science Playground.
9. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Found on Columbia Point, this museum celebrates the life, leadership, and legacy of President Kennedy. Permanent exhibitions include the 1960 Presidential Election, The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy, and The U.S. Space Program.
10. Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum
This award-winning museum invites guests on an immersive one-hour tour to one of America’s most revolutionary time periods. Your 18th Century host will take you through an interactive colonial town meeting, onto one of our ships to “dump the tea”, and through the wider museum experience. Make sure you also stop for some cake at Abigail’s Tea Room.
Colorado is one of those USA states that has something for everyone.
For the outdoors enthusiast, there is the Rocky Mountains. For the foodies, there is the locally-owned restaurants and breweries in cosmopolitan Denver. If it’s old western cowboy charm you’re after, there are the rustic towns of Durango and Silverton. If it’s outdoor adventure, then there’s the world-famous Rocky Mountains, as well as four National Parks. Oh, and if it’s a romantic or relaxing holiday you’re looking for – there’s plenty of soothing hot springs to choose from.
Let’s learn more, shall we?
Things to Do
Mesa Verde National Park
The Mesa Verde National Park is the perfect blend of beautiful scenery and ancient history. Aside from its scenic hiking trails, it is also the largest archaeological preserve in the United States where you’ll find ancient villages made out of (and set in into) the stone that surrounds them.
Taste some local food
Colorado has a rich foodie scene. You can find everything from fine dining, to fusion food, and good old-fashioned BBQ. But make sure you try the local Denver Omelette, prepared with cheddar cheese, diced ham, onions, and green bell peppers. And if you’re a seafood fan, you need to try the Rocky Mountain Oysters.
On top of that, Colorado is home to the largest concentration of craft breweries in the United States. Most of them also offer tours and beer tasting.
Known as the gateway to the Rocky Mountains, Denver is a city that still relishes Old West culture and outdoor pursuits. It is the home and final resting place of Wild West hero Buffalo Bill, and you can explore his life at the interactive Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave.
The city also offers a mix of diverse neighbourhoods. Head to Lower Downtown (LoDo) for hip bars and restaurants and make sure you stop by the historic Larimer Square for shopping and take a moment to people watch at the newly revamped Union Station. While The River North Arts District (RiNo) is made up of historic warehouses and factory buildings full of street art and craft breweries.
Outdoors fun in the Royal George Region
For the adrenaline junkies why not ‘canyon’ a waterfall or camp on a cliff? Or, for those who prefer keeping their feet on the ground, you can head out for a scenic hike and spot the local wildlife including moose, elk and bears. There’s also plenty of camping (and glamping) opportunities.
Relax in the hot springs
After a day of outdoor fun and touring craft breweries, you’ll need to unwind. Thankfully, Colorado is home to some soothing natural hot springs. Even in the winter, Mother Nature still does her job and is one of the few places in the world where you can soak up warm water while snowflakes fall around you.
Experience a bird’s eye view…in a hot air balloon
For the most incredible views of Colorado’s exquisite landscape, book yourself a hot air balloon ride. There’s plenty of companies in the cities and resort towns that offer these, and they really are the best way to experience the beauty of Colorado.
How to get there and getting around
You can fly to Denver non-stop from London with three airlines, or one-stop from other regional UK airports. Colorado is a must for any multi-state fly-drive itinerary. Or, for those that prefer to travel by train, you also have the additional option of travelling to Colorado on Amtrack’s California Zephyr that connects Chicago to San Francisco!
Once you’re in Colorado, the best way to switch between the different regions and cities is by hiring a car.
Other important information
• Colorado is the highest altitude state in America so remember sun cream, a sunhat and drink plenty of water.
• Colorado weather can change very quickly so remember to pack a variety of clothes
• Tipping is customary in Colorado with 15 and 20 per cent of the bill being the norm
• Colorado is on Mountain Standard Time, and is seven hours behind the UK.
• The currency is the USA Dollar, which you can exchange in advance.
Philadelphia is a city that will excite and inform you in equal measures. Full of history and culture, there are no shortages of fascinating historical landmarks and museums. But it’s also got all the modern flair you would expect from any large American city – with shopping, delicious restaurants and distinctive neighbourhoods. Here’s everything you need to know before your first trip to America’s birthplace.
Things to do
Explore American history
Philadelphia played a crucial role in the creation of the United States – it was even the temporary capital while Washington DC was built! Historic attractions include Independence Hall – where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were debated and adopted, the Liberty Bell, Independence National Historical Park, The Betsy Ross House (where the American Flag was designed!) and the former house of George Washington.
Wander between the neighbourhoods
Philadelphia is home to vibrant – and distinct – neighbourhoods. Eat delicious dim sum in Chinatown, explore the cobbled streets of Old City, soak up the Italian vibes of South Philadelphia or go for a relaxed walk in Rittenhouse Square.
Treat your taste buds
While you’re in the city you need to try the famous Philly cheesesteak. But there’s more to the city’s rich foodie scene. The Reading Terminal Market and Italian Market are both iconic landmarks and definitely worth a visit. The city is also home to a wide mix of restaurants thanks to the city’s rich cultural mix.
Admire some art
Philadelphia is home to the oldest art gallery in the USA, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The city was also home to Thomas Eakins, whose portraits of 19th Century Philadelphians make him arguably the greatest American painter. Plus, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the third biggest art museum in the world.
Shop ‘til you drop
Make sure you book a sizeable luggage allowance as Philadelphia offers plenty of shopping opportunities – the clothing and shoes are even tax-free! The King of Prussia Mall is also one of the biggest in America and boasts eight department stores including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s. But if you prefer something unique, wander around the side streets and you’ll find an infinite number of independent owner-run boutiques.
How to get to Philadelphia and find your way around
Philadelphia International Airport is a twenty-minute drive from the city centre and offers 4 non-stop flights to London a day. There’s also a railway line that connects the airport to Philadelphia’s downtown area (plus taxis charge a flat rate of $28.50 between the airport and Centre City).
If you’re planning a multi-centre break, Philadelphia is only two hours from New York City, 90 minutes from Baltimore, and three hours from Washington D.C via car. Philadelphia also sits on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail track, which connects the city to Boston, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and New York City.
Philadelphia is very easy to navigate and is rated as one of the USA’s most walkable cities. The city centre is compact and uses the grid system, with many notable attractions less than 20 minutes away from each other by foot.
Other important information
Like all of the USA, English is the official language, the currency is US Dollars and visas needs to be arranged in advance. Philadelphia also has a similar climate to the UK, with the same seasonal pattern. The 4th of July is considered one of the best times to visit with fireworks and street parades but other months still have a friendly atmosphere (with smaller crowds).
If you’ve been to Philadelphia before, what would advise would you offer first-time travellers?
If you haven’t already been to Florida, chances are it is on your list. And while the thrilling rides and attractions of Orlando definitely steal the limelight, the beautiful coastline should be on your list as well.
One of the best stretches of coastline has to be Clearwater Beach. Set on the west coast of Florida, it overlooks the warm waves of the Mexican Gulf, where beach-bums and water sports enthusiasts can both enjoy their chosen pastimes. Not only that, but the city itself boasts indie shops, restaurants and quaint attractions to see you through into the evening. Here are seven reasons why Clearwater should be on your travel bucket list.
1. Award-winning beaches
Have you really been to Florida if you didn’t stop by one of many white-sand beaches? The beaches in Clearwater are an excellent choice and are even award-winning. Clearwater Beach and Sand Key Park are two main ones, with white sands, the warm currents of the Gulf and on-duty lifeguards.
2. Marine Life
It’s not just beach-bums and water sports enthusiasts that love the exploring the Gulf coastline. Whether it’s bottle-nosed dolphins, turtles or the elusive manatee – you’ll find lots of beautiful creatures swimming around the shores. The best way to see them is to take a boat trip.
3. The Dolphin Trail
The water isn’t the only place where you’ll find dolphins in Clearwater. On land, take the “Dolphin Trail” that showcases one hundred, six-foot tall, fiberglass dolphins – each one decorated by a local artist and sponsored by a local business. See how many you can find.
4. A festival every night at Pier 60
Pier 60 throws a party two hours before the sun goes down – every single evening. Each night is different, where you might be greeted by local musicians one evening then a fire-breather the next. These events are also family-friendly, and there’s a playground very close to Pier 60.
5. Fishing and boating opportunities
The Gulf shoreline lends a hand to any holidaymakers or locals who enjoy fishing. There are a number of fishing and scuba diving tours that take people out regularly.
6. Tasty food
You’re going to be hungry after a long day at the beach – and Clearwater is not short of restaurants. Seafood is especially popular and one of the best places to try a fish-platter is Nauti-Nancy’s. But you’ll also find plenty of All-American diners and Caribbean inspired cuisine.
7. It’s the perfect end to an exhilarating Orlando break
Orlando is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, but a week exploring the parks tires most families out. So there’s no better way to relax than to hire a car and drive down to Clearwater and enjoy a few days on the beach before catching a flight back to the UK.
There’s no arguing that Napa Valley is primarily famous for producing some of the world’s finest wine. But this scenic county in central California is much more than just wineries and rolling vineyards.
Located north of San Francisco, Napa Valley works as a day-trip or as a relaxing end to a busy city-break in one California’s urban hubs. Aside from the obvious wine tasting tours (which are considered some of the best in the world) you’ll also find plenty of laid-back activities as well as beautiful outdoor pursuits in this beautiful but popular county. Here’s just a taster.
1. Sip fine wine
We’re going to start with the obvious though. Napa Valley is home to more than 400 wineries, some owned by multigenerational families, others by massive corporations – and a few by celebrities. Shortlisting the best wine tasting experiences in Napa is another blog post entirely – but an insider tip is to move away from the large wineries along Highway 29 and head to the hills, where a plethora of medium- and smaller-sized wineries awaits. Also, most wine tours are by appointment only so remember to research and book before you go.
2. Treat your taste buds
Wine has always been the perfect accompaniment to delicious cuisine, and Napa Valley isn’t short on that either. The Oxbow Market is the perfect place to try some regional food and wine, including fresh seafood and locally made jams. If it’s high-end sit-down dining that you’re looking for, then head to Yountville – which potentially has one of the world’s highest concentration of fine-dining restaurants.
3. Rent a convertible
Take advantage of California’s sunny weather and hit the Silverado Trail on the east side, which curves through the landscape from Napa to Calistoga. Plus, Calistoga is a hot springs town – making it the perfect place to rest after a day of driving.
4. Explore the great outdoors
If you’re into hiking, head to Westwood Hills Park and try the three-mile long trail. Alternatively, tackle the five-mile path to the top of 4,343-foot-high Mount St. Helena in Robert Louis Stevenson Park, outside Calistoga.
5. Admire some art
Originally a winery, the 217-acre Di Rosa now displays an impressive collection of works by Bay Area artists. It’s well worth a visit, and official guided tours highlights the 125-year-old residence and sculpture garden. Then in the evening, head to the Cameo Cinema, a historic cinema house in St. Helena, which dates back to 1913 and showcases a mix of indie, foreign, and first-run Hollywood films.
If you’ve been to Napa Valley, what is your favourite thing to do?
The Roosevelt Hotel in New York City is almost as famous as the city itself. Built right in the heart of Manhattan, and named after a famous President, its grand opening was earmarked by the Jazz Age. Since then it has earned a reputation as an iconic New York City hotel.
Needless to say, everyone who has ever stayed in this classic hotel can attest to its beauty and elegance. If you were to ask them to name their favourite amenity or feature it would likely be one of these eight.
1. The prime location
Located on Madison Avenue, some of NYC’s most energetic attractions lie right on the hotel’s doorstep. The Rockefeller Centre and Grand Central Station are literal seconds from the front door. While Central Park and the Empire State building are mere streets away.
2. Elegant rooms…
There are a total of 1,025 rooms at the Roosevelt Hotel, polished to perfection with dark mahogany furnishings and traditional wheel back chairs. To add to the sophistication, the beds are made with triple layer sheets and a golden duvet.
3. …with modern amenities
Catch-up with work or family back home with the high-speed wireless internet, or relax after a long day with Cable TV and in-room movies. When it’s time to leave your room and explore the city, make sure you’re impeccably groomed to cosmopolitan standards with your own hairdryer, iron and ironing board.
4. 24 hour Fitness Centre
The Roosevelt Hotel also caters to holidaymakers who like to maintain their fitness regime while away. Use of the fitness centre is complimentary and includes fruit, water, towels, magazines and newspapers.
5. Five dining options
Whether it’s a filling breakfast to start your day or a sumptuous dinner to celebrate a special occasion, The Roosevelt Hotel delivers. Choose between a special evening dinner in the Roosevelt Grill; or reward your taste buds with the legendary Roosevelt burger in the Madison Club Lounge; or stop for some convenient bar food at Vander Bar; or nibble away on the finger food in mad46 – plus there's room service!
6. Rooftop bar
Mad46 is an iconic Manhattan establishment and many New Yorkers consider it the place to be seen on a Friday night. Its rooftop location is the perfect place to soak up the Big Apple’s exhilarating atmosphere while still high enough off the ground to feel like a calming oasis. Make sure you pop up to the Roosevelt roof at least once during your stay.
7. Fascinating history
The Roosevelt Hotel first opened in 1924 and - while the hotel has added modern amenities - the elegance of the 1920s still fills the air. Named after Theodore Roosevelt, the architects chose the colonial architectural style because of the President’s fondness towards this period. It was also the location for the first ever broadcast of Guy Lombardo’s much-loved New Year’s Eve tradition of singing “Auld Lang Syne” over radio.
8. It’s a Hollywood film set
Film buffs will recognise the exterior and interior of the hotel. It has made an appearance in several famous movies and cult-favourites such as Maid in Manhattan, Malcolm X, Wall Street, French Connection, The Boiler Room and 1408.
Christmas is just around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to snuggle up on the sofa, hot chocolate in hand, to watch your favourite festive films.
There are so many incredible movies to get you in the mood for Christmas. One thing that many of them have in common is that they are set in New York City. This concrete jungle comes alive in the winter, with elaborate lights, beautiful trees and awe-inspiring holiday windows turning it into a winter wonderland.
Here’s a list of our favourite movies set in the Big Apple that are bound to get you into the festive spirit.
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Miracle on 34th Street has been beloved by fans for 70 years. It’s hard not to feel full of Christmas spirit when watching Kris Kringle bring the joy of Santa Claus to New York. This movie has won four Oscars and even inspired a Broadway play over the years!
Location Spotting: Beginning during the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, this movie is set in Manhattan, and is specifically set on West 34th Street. Macy’s Department Store is still situated there to this day – allowing for the perfect photo op for fans of the film!
This movie may only have come out in 2003, but it has become a Christmas classic in that time. It is hard not to appreciate the beauty of New York during the holidays as you witness Buddy – raised by elves in the North Pole – discover the joy of Christmas in the city.
Location Spotting: Dozens of exterior shots of NYC were used in the filming of Elf, but one of the most memorable is of Bethesda Fountain – which Santa’s sleigh narrowly misses when it crashes in Central Park.
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)
The second film in the ‘Home Alone’ series, this movie shows New York from the eyes of 10-year old Kevin. It’s no wonder we feel a child-like excitement for Christmas when we watch it! Even though the focus of the movie is on Kevin outsmarting and out-pranking the Wet Bandits once again, some of the scenic shots of the Big Apple will take your breath away.
Location Spotting: The heart-warming reunion between Kevin and his mother at the end of the movie takes place at the Rockefeller Centre. Would you like to make a Christmas wish there like Kevin does?
Did you know that ‘Scrooged’ is a modern adaption of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’? Bill Murray’s much-loved comedy is all about teaching inconsiderate Frank the true meaning of Christmas, with an ending that will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.
Location Spotting: If you want to visit the spot where Dickens’ tale came to life, head to Park Avenue. It may look like many other office blocks in New York, but this is where Frank’s Christmas story began to unfold!
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
This hugely successful romcom is the ultimate ‘will they, won’t they’ love story. Whilst not strictly a Christmas movie, it’s hard not to feel festive when you see Harry and Sally carrying a Christmas tree together through New York. This is the perfect movie to watch with your other half on these longer, darker nights.
Location Spotting: Get dropped off at Washington Square Park and walk through the arch, luggage in hand, to mimic Harry in the movie. Don’t forget to bring your favourite travel buddy so they can capture the perfect shot!
Have these films got you feeling festive? Let us know which location you would like to visit first in the comments below!
Hi Kellie, tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Barrhead Travel.
I have worked for Barrhead Travel for a little over 6 years now. I am a Travel Consultant who specialises in Worldwide Holidays. I am also the specialist for Sandals and Beaches resorts and promote weddings and honeymoons in their resorts. I was even the first member of staff to be married at a Sandals Resort!
What did you see when you were in Colorado? What would you recommend to people visiting?
Where to start? Colorado caters to everyone. If you are into art and culture Denver ticks all the boxes. Fort Collins was my favourite though. Small town, friendly people and great atmosphere. We visited Ginger & Baker and had a walk through with owner Ginger whose vision for her restaurant/pie shop was amazing and I would love to go back and see the finished building. Breckenridge is fantastic for skiing and the town itself is lovely with great little places to eat. For the adrenaline chasers, Royal Gorge is the place to visit (but not for the faint of heart or those afraid of heights).
Tell us a bit about the hotels you stayed in.
AC Hotel in Denver is brand new and super central, plus the staff and food were amazing.
The Armstrong Hotel in Fort Collins: really central, and a little bit more traditional in design and decoration.
DoubleTree Breckenride Hotel: close to the slopes for skiing and close to resort centre.
Royal Gorge Cabins: Without a doubt my favourite. Fairly new, modern and a fab home away from home with views that would take your breath away.
Antlers Hotel in Colorado Springs: central hotel with nice cocktail bar just off the lobby.
What clothes would you recommend someone packs?
The weather is so changeable. Depending on the time of year pack sunscreen as well as hats and gloves. One day could be glorious sunshine and the next could be a snow storm.
How did you get to Colorado?
I flew from Glasgow via Reykjavik with IcelandAir. First time flying with them and really enjoyed it. Connecting via Iceland is so easy and would 100% use them again.
Any other tips for someone travelling to Colorado?
Pack lip balm and hand cream as well as drinking loads of water. The high altitude really does affect your skin making it dry. Plenty of water to keep hydrated as it high and dry. Especially the higher you go. Pack painkillers as the altitude can give you a bit of a headache.
Did you know that more Americans celebrate Thanksgiving every year than Christmas?
A national holiday since 1864, Thanksgiving is a day full of food, family and most importantly, giving thanks for all the positive things in your life. While it is traditional to celebrate the holiday at home with your loved ones, you can experience countless different traditions by travelling around the United States.
Here’s our top choices for where to spend your Thanksgiving break – from the traditional, to the historical, to the down-right wacky!
For a tranquil getaway, opt for some sun and take off to Hawaii. While the rest of America is wearing jumpers and scarves, you will be having a ball in Waikiki resting on a hot beach, paddling in crystal clear waters and enjoying the gentle ocean breeze. If you don’t want to miss out on the traditional meal, head to one of the beachfront restaurants for an incredible Thanksgiving buffet with your loved ones.
AFTER THE FEAST: Burn off those extra calories by taking part in Waikiki’s ‘Turkey Trot’, a 10km fun run with over 4000 participants each year. Alternatively, show off your artistic talents by taking part in one of the many Christmas themed sand-sculpture competition.
New York City, New York
New York is probably the most well-known place that you can celebrate the holiday in a traditional sense. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade is one of the most famous and is broadcast nationwide on Thanksgiving morning every year, featuring marching bands, novelty balloons and a giant turkey float. After your front-row view of the parade, take the pressure off cooking a huge meal and dine out at one of The Big Apple’s thousands of restaurants – although some fixed-price menus will be pricy, the quality of the cuisine will always be sublime.
AFTER THE FEAST: Every shop in New York will primed and ready for Black Friday the next day, so celebrate the end of the holiday in style and shop til’ you drop.
Although a small coastal town rather than a city, Plymouth is where the Thanksgiving tradition began. After watching the annual parade, spend your day at the incomparable Plimoth Plantation. Once a colonist’s village and now a living history museum, interact with Pilgrim actors and Native interpreters to learn the fascinating history of America’s biggest holiday. Join others from around the world to indulge in a traditional New England dinner, featuring native turkey, and giblet gravy. This is a once-in-a lifetime event, and tickets sell fast every year.
AFTER THE FEAST: Experience everything America’s hometown has to offer. Enjoy concerts celebrating America’s military history and rich history, or – if you have any room left – sample yet more delicious delights at the Harvest Market and New England Food Festival.
San Francisco, California
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to discover The City by the Bay. Many tourist attractions remain open over the holiday, but if you want to celebrate like a local, spend the day on the water. Our recommendation? Take in a sunset cruise around the California coastline after your meal. For an incredible alternative activity, join the ‘Indigenous People's Sunrise Gathering at Alcatraz’ in the early hours of the morning, featuring traditional dancing, singing and other performances.
AFTER THE FEAST: Make sure you stick around for the unmissable Macy’s ‘Annual Tree Lighting Festival’ in Union Square the next day. Choir performances and a special visit from Santa make for the perfect family day out.
New Orleans, Louisiana
For all-American festivities with a twist, head to the Deep South. New Orleans enjoy their own parade in the form of the Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Parade - the most alternative part of your Thanksgiving will be the cuisine. Try some New Orleans classics including deep-fried turkey and the aptly-named ‘Turducken’. Consisting of a chicken stuffed inside a duck, stuffed inside a turkey, this delicacy is a meat-lover’s paradise.
AFTER THE FEAST: Hang around in New Orleans to experience the spectacular ‘Celebration of the Oaks’ the next day. Join 165,000 others in City Park for breath-taking light displays throughout the 25-acre grounds.
Where would you love to celebrate Thanksgiving this year? Let us know in the comments below!
More than 8 million people call New York City home and a further 60 million tourists visit the island every year – and apparently ghostly spirits can’t get enough of the place either!
While we don’t have official numbers on how many ghosts populate NYC, we wouldn’t be surprised it goes into the thousands. Anyone looking for a spook certainly won’t be disappointed. There are numerous places you can look for paranormal activity, but today we’ve rounded up the most popular. If you’re looking for a ghost these are the best places to look.
1. Dakota Apartments
While this apartment block is already infamous as the murder site of John Lennon, it’s disturbing past starts way before that. Over the years, there has been sightings of a little girl dressed in turn-of-the-century clothing, an adult with the face of a small boy, and even the ghost of Lennon himself. In 1968, the exterior of the building was also used in the horror classic Rosemary’s Baby.
2. The House of Death
At 14 West 10th Street you’ll find a beautiful townhouse that has been called the most haunted building in New York City. Throughout the 20th Century the building has been the site of many gruesome crimes – and experts claim there are 22 ghosts that call the building home. Mark Twain lived here from 1900 to 1901 and his ghost has even been spotted wandering the stairway.
3. 12 Gay Street
Located along one of Manhattan’s most picturesque streets lies this former speakeasy. It operated during the Prohibition era and was called the Pirate’s Den – before being bought by former NYC Mayor Jimmy Walker. Residents and neighbours have insisted that flapper girl ghosts have been seen on the property. If that wasn’t creepy enough, at one point the building was owned by Frank Paris, the creator of notorious hell-puppet Howdy Doody.
4. The Manhattan Well
You’ll miss this one if you aren’t looking for it. First brought to public attention as the murder site in the Manhattan Well Murder trial of 1800 (the first American murder trial to have a recorded transcript), it’s now a site of spooky goings on.
A young woman named Gulielma "Elma" Sands was found here, and a man named Levi Weeks (who had been courting her) was accused of her murder. The trial went on for weeks but – to much public outrage – Levi was acquitted. The well was filled in and built over in 1817, but was rediscovered in 1980 – and paranormal investigators claim that Gulielma Sands still haunts the area.
5. The Conference House
Over on Staten Island you’ll find the only surviving pre-Revolutionary manor house in New York. It was at one point used by loyalist Colonel Christopher Billop as a station for British forces during the Revolutionary War. Plus, it was the location of the unsuccessful Staten Island Peace Conference on September 11, 1776.
However, ghost hunters visit for a different reason. In 1779, Billop suspected a fifteen-year-old serving girl of spying for the rebels and threw her down a flight of stairs, killing her. Apparently her screams can still be heard today. To top it off, the house was built on a Lenape Indian burial ground.
6. Merchant’s House Museum
This is one of New York City’s more under-the-nose museums. Once owned by the Tredwell family, it’s rumoured that the youngest member still lives there in spiritual form. Gertrude Tredwell lived there until her death in 1933 – and weird sights, sounds and smells have been reported. You can book yourself a ghost tour of the house.
7. Morris-Jumel Mansion
Manhattan’s oldest remaining house has certainly seen its fair share of ghostly spirits. The previous owner Eliza Bowen Jumel is a common sight, but the ghosts of a soldier and a young girl aren’t unheard of.
8. White Horse Tavern
This sophisticated pub was quite the hangout for tortured writers back in the early 1950s. One of them, a poet named Dylan Thomas, drank too much whiskey and collapsed on the pavement outside. He later died in hospital but it’s rumoured that his ghost returned to the pub.
9. New Amsterdam Theatre
If you’re seeing a show here, keep your eyes peeled for an extra performer. A onetime Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl named Olive Thomas died by suicide here in 1920, and there have been reported sightings since. Her pictures have been hung up at every entrance so that the cast and crew can greet her on their way in and out. Apparently she has remained a friendly ghost and keeps her peace with the living.
10. Hotel Chelsea
If you’re looking for some celebrity ghost sightings, it’s rumoured that the ghost of Charles R. Jackson and Nancy Spungen wander the Hotel Chelsea at 222 West 23rd Street. Currently it is closed for renovations but will reopen in 2018.
There’s plenty more haunted building in NYC aside from these ones. Have we missed any of that you think are especially spooky?
It’s October and that means it’s fright time. Not just because it’s Halloween in two weeks, but because the latest instalment of American Horror Story is now on our screens.
Acclaimed by critics and worshipped by fans, the show has become a favourite with TV fans obsessed with the macabre. Many of the season’s standalone storylines (that fit into a wider universe) are based or inspired by real-world events, such as New Orleans voodoo queens and disappearing colonies.
The producers have brilliantly brought these storylines to life with some of today’s finest actors, impeccable special effects and location scouts who spent weeks looking for the perfect filming sites. Fans of the show have made it their goal to not only track down every filming location used, but also the real-life locations of the stories some of the seasons were based on.
Ready for a pop culture guide/history lesson? Let’s get started.
Season 1: Murder House
The Harmon residence might not have been the friendliest or happiest home in the world, but there’s no denying that the house was beautiful. In real life, it is known as The Alfred Rosenheim Mansion and can be found on the wealthy Westchester Place in Los Angeles.
Its real history is also fascinating (but a lot less gruesome). Rosenheim was an architect by trade (as well as a roller-coaster designer!) and built the house in 1902 for himself and his family. They sold it after eleven years to California’s richest man, A.J. McQuatters (the then president of the Alvarado Mining and Milling Company). The house then switched hands in the early 1930s to actor Edward Everett Horton.
After that – believe it or not – the house was sold to Catholic Order of Nuns who used it is as a convent. They built a chapel on its grounds, and all the attic scenes were filmed here. It was damaged by an earthquake in 1994 and the nuns put it on the market for an impressive $3 million.
The producers of American Horror Story weren’t the only film-makers to choose the house as a backdrop. Spiderman, Seabiscuit, The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, Six Feet Under, Bones, Dexter, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have also filmed here.
Season 2: Asylum
While Asylum was set in gloomy 1960s New England, the series was mostly filmed in sunny Orange County. The exterior shots of the asylum were the Santa Ana Courthouse – an imposing Romanesque structure that was perfect for bringing the frightful Briarcliff Mental Institution to life.
Season 3: Coven
Die-hard fans will want to visit the Lalaurie Mansion - and we mean the real one. While the Gallier House was used for exterior shots, and the Hermann-Grima House was used for interior, this isn’t where everything went down in 19th Century New Orleans.
On Royal Street, near the waterfront, you’ll find the real Lalaurie House. Purchased in 1832 by Doctor Louis Lalaurie and his wife Delphine, it became the location of many lavish parties and gruesome crimes. The couple was well-respected among the New Orleans elite but the slave trade began to notice the high-turnover of their house slaves.
When a fire broke out, their secret was no longer safe. When law enforcement got to the property they discovered the missing slaves in the attic - many of them disfigured, mutilated and amputated. Some were also dead and never disposed of. The couple had already fled the city and it's widely believed that they moved to France. Many believe it was a slave who started the fire in the kitchen in the hopes of attracting attention from law enforcement.
Over the years the building has been used as a saloon, barber and furniture shop. It was even owned by the actor Nicolas Cage at one point.
For somewhere more light-hearted, remember to pop by Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies aka the Buckner Mansion in NoLa's Garden District. You’ll also find Maison Vitry in the Treme District stepping in as Marie Laveau’s Cornrow City Salon.
Season 4: Freak Show
While this season was meant to be set in Jupiter, Florida, the producers kept to New Orleans. The circus camp was a purpose-built set that is longer there. But fans can still stop by Dandy’s home. The real location is Longue Vue House & Gardens in the Lakewood neighbourhood. The diner in the series is Camellia Grill in the French Quarter.
Die-hard fans might also want to make the trip to Philadelphia . Specifically to the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia to learn more about the real-life Edward Mordrake.
Season 5: Hotel
Welcome to Hotel Cortez, aka the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. While not used as a filming location by the producers, this infamous hotel and its shady past inspired the series. It opened in 1927, and since then has there has been over a dozen deaths caused by suicide, accident or murder. Its name changed in 2013 to Stay on the Main.
The deaths that have taken place on the property are not the only thing that’s a bit off-putting. It was also the reported residence of serial killers Richard Ramirez in 1985 and Jack Unterweger in 1991. It is also rumoured that the Black Dahlia (who was actually portrayed Season 1 Murder House) made the Cecil Hotel her last stop before her death in 1947.
For filming, the producers used The Oviatt Building at 617 South Olive Avenue for its exterior shots. The lobby and hotel rooms were a purpose-built film set inside Fox Studios, but there’s one place you can visit. The ornate wood-panelled ballroom is the lower level of the Los Angeles Theatre at 615 South Broadway!
Season 6: Roanoke
If you’re looking for the farmhouse where Matt and Shelby stayed, you’ll be disappointed. The house was purpose-built for the show in the Calabasas area of California . But you can still visit the real Roanoke (sort of).
The modern-day Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in North Carolina is where the Roanoke colony was established by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587. At the same time, a native Croatoan tribe also lived on the island and not everyone peacefully co-existed. Colony leader John White travelled back to England for more people and supplies. But between the harsh winter and the Anglo-Spanish war, he didn’t return for three years. When he did, there were no people or buildings, only the word Croatoan carved into a tree.
Many historians, archaeologists and conspiracy theorists have tried to work out what happened to them. While you won’t find any remains in the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, there is a visitor centre with information.
Season 7: Cult
We’re only half-way through the current season and we’re not sure how many locations we might be introduced to. But eagle-eyed fans picked up from the trailer alone that the house the ice cream truck drives in front of is the same house that belonged to the Doyle’s in the 1978 Halloween slasher flick. The real-life location of these houses is Orange Grove Avenue in West Hollywood (the Myers House was 707 Meridian Avenue, South Pasadena, California.)
Now that the show is running, we’ve discovered that the show’s main characters Ally Mayfair-Richards and Ivy Mayfair-Richards live in the Doyle’s former house. And a murder has already taken place across the street – in the same house where the Wallace family lived in Halloween. Oh, and the murder took place while a bit of babysitting was going on.
Coincidence or homage? You decide.
What is your favourite season of American Horror Story so far and can you name any locations that we’ve missed?
New York City is amazing and one of a kind; there is no denying that. But so many travellers get sucked into the glamour of Manhattan that they never step outside to see the wider New York State. A contrast to its glitzy capital, New York State is an abundance of green and natural landscapes, outdoor activities and quaint towns dazzled with that New England charm. Whether it’s your first or fifth time visiting the Big Apple we highly recommend taking a trip outside the city to explore the gems that lie within the wider state.
1. Niagara Falls
While this famous waterfall is mostly associated with Canada and the much-loved Toronto, it’s New York State that hugs the American border. Some visitors have even argued that New York offers a more natural experience of the falls, as the USA side is situated within national park rather than a lively tourist town.
2. Finger Lakes
New York’s scenic Finger Lakes region can be found in the western part of the state and is named after the 11 long, narrow, north-south lakes that stretch across its plains. Ideally suited for watersports and outdoor activities, the region is popular with active holidaymakers looking for fishing and kayaking. Wine enthusiasts will love the award-winning tipples that grown in the region, while history enthusiasts will adore the cultural attractions including the Haunted History Trail of New York State.
3. Thousand Islands
After visiting Niagara Falls, stop by this other natural wonder that straddles the Canada-USA border. Stretching for about 50 miles down the Saint Lawrence River, the archipelago is made up of 1,864 islands with some belonging to the province of Ontario and some belonging to the state of New York. Grindstone Island and Wellesley Island are the two most recognisable islands that belong to the USA, the first of which is filled with tourist-friendly relics.
4. Bannerman's Castle
Further up the Hudson River from NYC lies Pollepel Island and Bannerman's Castle: an abandoned military ruin steeped in history and haunted tales. The island was, at one point, owned by Scottish entrepreneur Francis Bannerman who purchased it in 1900 as a storage site for his business. At 150 Main Street, Beacon, New York you’ll find the Bannerman Island Gallery that showcases work inspired by the island and castle.
5. Adirondack Region
Head upstate to the Adirondack Region and explore the largest protected natural area in the lower 48 (it spans for more than six million acres). It will be difficult to see the whole region and different parts bring different activities. You could head to Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake regions for kayaking and canoeing, or take your pick from hiking trails in the High Peaks Wilderness in the Lake Placid Region. You can even keep a lookout for sunken shipwrecks in Adirondack Seaway near the Canadian Border.
6. The Hamptons
New York State’s other famous residential area is a popular seaside break for locals looking for a bit of low-key luxury. Located at the eastern end of Long Island, you’ll need to spend a pretty penny to stay here but being within easy reach of New York City itself you can easily pop out for a day-trip.
7. International Museum of Photography and Film
The George Eastman Museum in Rochester is home to many artefacts but it is the photography and film section that makes it a must see. Considered one of the best collections in the world, visitors can gaze upon 400,000 photographic objects dating from the introduction of the medium in 1839 and admire works by over 1,000 photographers.
8. Watkins Glen State Park
You’ll find this natural gem at the southern tip of Seneca Lake and will be instantly mesmerised by the rock formations and waterfalls. The singular stream descends 400 feet past 200 foot cliffs, while the gorge path winds under and over waterfalls for an immersive experience.
9. Wine tasting in Hudson Valley
Wine enthusiasts need to make sure they visit Hudson Valley aka the oldest wine making and grape-growing region in the United States. The regions wine industry dates back as far back as 1677 and even today visitors will find a beautiful collection of wine tasting events and festivals.
10. Allegany State Park
Somewhere as beautiful as New York State is bound to have plenty of peaceful state parks, but Allegany clocks in as the state’s largest. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the 18 hiking trails (all of varying difficulty) while history-lovers will love exploring the ruins of a New Ireland settlement from the early 20th Century.
Where is your favourite place to visit outside of New York City?
Los Angeles is the film and television centre of the world. Year after year film fans flock to this glitzy metropolitan city to explore the city’s pop cultural heritage, including scouting out famous film sets.
Anyone visiting Los Angeles to follow in the exact footsteps of their favourite actors and fictional characters will find their itinerary building up quickly. While the amount of films set in Los Angeles is literally into the hundreds, we’ve rounded up 10 to get you started!
Rydell High School is a combination of Venice High School (exterior shots) and Huntington Park High School (interiors). And even though Grease centres on the gang’s senior year, the characters still get out and about in Los Angeles. The race scene was filmed at the Los Angeles River, between the First and Seventh Street Bridges, the sleepover was shot at a private house in East Hollywood and the drive-in movie scenes were shot at the Burbank Pickwick Drive-In (though it has been replaced by a shopping centre).
City of Angels
Even if the name didn’t give away the primary filming location, the beautifully haunting beach scenes probably did. San Francisco Public Library, Dodger Stadium, Grand Central Public Market, Big Bear Lake and LAX Airport all step in to bring this film to life.
While Legally Blonde centred on Elle Woods journey through her first year at Harvard University, most of it was filmed in Los Angeles (aside from a few exterior shots). Most of the California filming took place in Pasadena, ever so slightly north-east of Los Angeles. This includes CalTech Campus (1200 East California Boulevard) that stood in the for the fictional CULA campus and Rose City High School (325 South Oak Knoll Avenue) was used for college’s hallways. The ‘Gamma Theta’ sorority house is also set within CalTech’s campus, and can be found at 345 South Hill Avenue, south of East Del Mar Boulevard.
Proving that sequels can succeed the original, Terminator 2 was filmed all over this glamorous city. John Connor’s House where he lived with his foster parents can be found at 19828 Valerio Street, while Northridge Mall (exterior) and Santa Monica Place Mall (interior) were used for the mall chase, the payphone that John calls his foster parents from can be found outside Lakeview Terrace Liquor Store and the final scenes were filmed at the Kaiser Steel Plant.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
While this cult vampire favourite took place in the fictional town of Sunnydale, there was no escaping the west-coast Cali girl vibe of the show. Most of the filming took place in LA, though the producers stayed away from iconic landmarks to keep the air of a fictional town. The exterior of Sunnydale High School was Torrance High School at 2200 W. Carson Street, while the college scenes were filmed at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) campus in Westwood. After Buffy and the Scoobies blew up the original high school, her sister Dawn can be seen attending what is actually California State University, Northridge.
Just three blocks north of Torrance High School lies Buffy’s home that she shared with her mother, Joyce, and in later seasons her sister Dawn. While the mansion that is occupied by vampires Angel, Drusilla and Spike at the end of the second season is Ennis House and stands on a hilltop at 2607 Glendower Avenue in Griffith Park.
And if you’re looking to hunt out some vampires in a graveyard, many of the cemetery scenes were filmed at the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery at 1831 W. Washington Boulevard, in the West Adams District.
La La Land
La La Land is not only a great film – it’s also an accidental tour of Los Angeles. Head to Griffith Park and re-create the “A Lovely Night” dance or practice your moves to “City of Stars” on Hermosa Pier. Then there’s the opening scene filmed on the Century Freeway – the crew actually shut it down for two days to get the perfectly choreographed routine just right.
Fans of this 1995 hit comedy will spot locations everywhere in Los Angeles. Whether it’s her “Beverly Hills mansion” that is actually found in San Fernando Valley, the Westfield Fashion Square where Tai nearly “met her death” or the Shoreline Drive where Dionne, Cher and Murray end up on the freeway, you won’t have to look too hard to find the sets.
Keeping Up With the Kardashians
Whether or not you actually admit to watching this (we know you do) you’ve probably seen the clips where we see the exterior of the house. It’s been well documented that this is not Kris Jenner's actual house, though the dummy one is still hidden by a gated community (and was on the market for $9 million earlier this year). However, the family boutique DASH can be found on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood if you fancy a nosey (and you might even bump into one of the older Kardashian sisters).
When travelling through Los Angeles make sure you stop for breakfast at Pat and Lorraine's, 4720 Eagle Rock Boulevard, where the Dogs stopped to discuss Madonna lyrics and the ethics of tipping. And later you can visit the jewellery store that they robbed – even though it’s actually a mirror/picture frame supplier (either way, its address is 2612 West Burbank Boulevard at Wyoming Avenue in Burbank).
American Horror Story
Despite dedicating each season to a different story and setting, the producers have kept much of the filming to Los Angeles – even when it’s meant to be set elsewhere. The Harmon’s mansion in Season 1 is in Los Angeles as said so on screen (real address is 1120 Westchester Place, Los Angeles, CA 90019) but the creepy New England Briarcliff Asylum in Season 2 is actually the beautiful Santa Ana Courthouse in Oak View, a small town not far north of Los Angeles.
While we jump to New Orleans for season 3 and 4, the producers went back to Los Angeles Season 5 and scouted out the Oviatt Building (617 S. Olive St.) for its exterior shots of Hotel Cortez. Even Season 6, that follows the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony, which was meant to be set in Virginia used an old ranch mansion in Calabasas, California.
American cities are always bursting with colour and fascinating history – but none of them compete with the footprints of history that have been silently marked onto the pavements of Philadelphia . Birth place of the Constitution and the American flag (plus the Rocky films) this is where the United States of America truly began, and is a city that any self-proclaimed history buff needs to visit. In order to soak up the most knowledge from your trip to this historic city, we recommend these 10 museums.
Benjamin Franklin Museum
Benjamin Franklin is famous for being a founding father of the United States but many people don’t know that he lived in Philadelphia for most of life and fulfilled many different roles from printer to scientist. Inside his name-sake museum, visitors will discover personal artefacts, computer animations and hands-on displays exploring Franklin’s life as a private citizen and statesman. In the courtyard outside the museum stands the iconic ghost house that traces the outlines of Franklin’s now demolished house and print shop.
The Liberty Bell Center
The Liberty Bell is an iconic symbol of Philadelphia and American Freedom, and this centre explores the myths and legends that surround it. Exhibitions show the bell being used as a symbol for many liberation campaigns – from suffragettes to abolitionists – and organisations using it as part of their branding and advertising.
Before America became its own independent nation, and before Washington DC was built, there was the First Continental Congress. It was here that independence was debated for the first time and a vote to support a trade embargo to England was passed unanimously – helping Carpenter’s Hall cement itself in the American history textbooks.
Museum of the American Revolution
In 2017, Philadelphia’s Historic District became home to this all-encompassing museum exploring every facet of the American Revolution. Inside this 118,000 square feet building, history buffs will find art, manuscripts and printed works from America’s Revolutionary Period, as well as artefacts from the Revolutionary War such as American and British weapons.
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Founded in 1812, this is the oldest continually operating natural history museum in the western hemisphere, and helped fund some of the biggest fossil digs in North America and worldwide. Between the four floors, visitors will a find fully constructed Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and large game animals from the 1920s and 1930s showcased in a 3-D painted dioramas that replicate their natural habitats.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
If it’s art you’re after, the third largest art museum in the USA is a must-visit. Renaissance, American, Impressionist and Modern art are all present throughout, plus in the upper level there are 80 rooms dedicated to period art, and there’s a whole other room dedicated to Philadelphia’s own Thomas Eakins.
The Betsy Ross House
The American Flag is one of the most recognisable and iconic flags in the world – but do you know how it originated? The stars and stripes was sewn together by Betsy Ross in her Philadelphia home that you can visit. On a self-guided tour, you can wander through the bedroom, basement and living area and spot Ross family memorabilia.
National Liberty Museum
Feel inspired by the stories of real-life heroes at this emotional museum. Jackie Robinson, Nelson Mandela, Jim Henson and 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai are all featured in this interactive museum. There is also a three-floor exhibit that plays tribute to the heroes of 9/11.
City Hall and City Hall Tower
Aside from being historical significant, City Hall and its adjacent tower is also architecturally beautiful. The largest municipal building in the United States, the exterior is adorned with sculptures representing the seasons and continents, as well as allegorical figures, heads and masks. And obviously you can’t miss the statue of William Penn looking over the city from the top of the tower.
Independence National Historical Park
Not technically a museum, but still an important part of Philadelphia – and USA – history. This is the location of the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Congress Hall, the New Hall Military Museum, Franklin Court, the Bishop White House and the Graff House – and many events took place here that moved America towards the country it is today.
It’s common knowledge that the USA is full of beautiful landscapes and scenic wonders, and New England is no exception. From idyllic villages to tranquil lakes and panoramic mountain views, the cluster of states in the USA’s north-eastern corner has a charming beauty that is peaceful and calm.
Whether it’s Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhodes Island or Vermont you’ll find a beautiful collection of natural and urban wonders on a trip around New England. Here’s just 10 stops that we recommend making.
1.Acadia National Park
This 47,000-acre heaven is a rolling landscape of deep woodlands, glacier lakes and mountain peaks set against the rugged Maine coastline. The edge of Echo Lake Beach is a popular spot for falcons, black bear and moose, while in the wider park you can look up at the tallest peak on the U.S. Atlantic coast.
2.The Cog Railway
Set amongst the beautiful landscapes of New Hampshire lies the world's oldest mountain-climbing cog railroad, the Cog Railway. Hop on board an historic steam or eco-friendly biodiesel powered locomotive and leisurely ascend into New Hampshire’s White Mountains and the top of Mount Washington. The views from the highest mountain in the north east of the USA are spectacular.
3. Kancamagus Highway
Take the scenic route along Route 112 through northern New Hampshire where the roadside is nothing but lush forest uninterrupted by modern amenities such as hotels, gas stations -and even phone reception! In the autumn, it’s a leaf-peeper’s dream.
If you’ve ever seen an autumnal postcard with a white chapel then you’re already familiar with the picture-perfect Stowe. The town is known for its festivals and events, including arts and crafts shows, a balloon festival, and the weekend-long British Invasion event that happens in the third week of September.
You can visit the Green Mountains range once every season and feel like you’ve travelled to an entirely different place. In the winter months, they are infused with the energy of ski enthusiasts, in the spring snow melts and flowers begin to blossom, the summer months turn the mountains into a lush green dreamland and then in fall, visitors witness the iconic kaleidoscope of autumnal colours that New England is famed for.
New England’s urban highlight is, without a doubt, Boston. This beautiful and charming urban sprawl boasts a unique blend of old and new making it a must-visit for anyone after history and culture. The best way to discover the classically American history of the city is to wander along the Freedom Trail: a 2.5-mile, red-lined route that leads you to 16 historically significant sites, including museums and meetinghouses, churches, and burying grounds.
7.Explore the maritime history
New England has a long maritime history and the coastline is dotted with scenic lighthouses, beaches and fishing harbours. There’s 150 lighthouses along the coast in total: the oldest complete lighthouse is Scituate Lighthouse in Massachusetts, while Stonington Harbor Light in Connecticut boasts the country’s oldest lighthouse museum that opened in 1925. Mystic Seaport in Connecticut is also a must-visit for a maritime adventure, where you can climb on board tall ships, browse fascinating exhibits and enjoy exciting seaside-themed events.
Between March and November, many whales roam the waters off the coast of New England thanks to copious amounts of mackerel, herring, krill and other schooling fish. Humpback whales are known to be spotted within the schools that swim by, along with Finback, Right, and Minke whales.
9.Delicious foodie stops
In between all the mountain climbing and days out, you’re going to need a bite to eat. Thankfully New England has a rich and varied foodie scene. Try some Ben & Jerry’s in its hometown in Vermont, stop by a lobster shack and treat your tastebuds with some shellfish caught straight from the nearby Atlantic coast, or load up on fresh cranberries from Cape Cod or blueberries from Maine. New England is also home to numerous maple trees and every March syrup and candies pop up in shops all over the different states.
A lot of the major events in USA history took place in New England. From the first landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, to the American Revolution and the Industrial Revolution – there’s a lot of history here and a lot of the sites and landmarks are still standing today. Explore the grand mansions from The Gilded Age in Newport (Rhode Island), stop-by one of America’s oldest cities (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), walk the freedom trail in Boston or visit Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts that commemorates the arrival of the Pilgrims.
You won’t find a more American celebration than the 4th of July – it’s a country-wide holiday and is marked by parades, fireworks and barbeques across the land. However, New York City definitely hosts some of the most spectacular events in the entire country and there's arguably no better place to celebrate the 4th of July than in The Big Apple.
Macy's 4th of July fireworks
The most impressive has to be Macy’s 4th of July fireworks, which is the largest in the United States and delivers a truly spectacular array of multi-coloured fireworks which are launched from four barges in the Hudson River. They’re visible from Manhattan’s West Side, and New Jersey, as well as being broadcast live on TV.
As an alternative, choose to watch the fireworks as you enjoy dinner, an open bar and live music on a sightseeing cruise in the New York harbour. It’s an ideal way to get an unobstructed view of the fireworks, but be sure to book in advance as they’re always popular. Or a cheaper option is to watch the display from a pier party at the Circle Line and World Yacht piers along the river.
July 4th International Hot Dog Eating Contest
For something a little different, head for Coney Island, where the Nathan’s Famous July 4th International Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place at the company’s flagship restaurant. The 10-minute, all-you-can-eat contests will feature men’s and women’s contests. Free to attend, the competition attracts in the region of 40,000 spectators who enjoy live music and entertainment too. Just one block south of Nathan’s is the legendary Coney Island Amusement park with rollercoasters, a boardwalk and the beach.
July is a month when many areas of the city hold street fairs. These tend to run from around 11am to 6pm, and can include all sorts of attractions, including food vendors, psychics. Stroll around and enjoy the sights and sounds as you cool down with a smoothie and soak up the atmosphere.
Parades in Manhattan
If it’s a traditional parade you’re after, Manhattan doesn’t hold one, but take the ferry to Staten Island for one of the oldest parades in the country. Its 102nd parade kicks off at 1230 from the Showplace Center, and houses along the route will compete to be the best decorated and most patriotic home in 2013.
Relax in Central Park
For a lazy, and cost-effective, 4th of July, head for Central Park for a nice picnic in the sun. Manhattan’s famous green space has good picnic spots everywhere, and if you enter from the most southwest entrance at Columbus Circle, you’ll find food carts and a supermarket where you can stock up on your picnic basket.
From the glitz and glamour of the spectacular fireworks display to the chilled-out and laid-back open air of Central Park, whatever you choose to do on the 4th of July in NYC, the celebrations will create unforgettable memories.
Music City: a place doesn’t just randomly happen upon a nickname like this, it has to be earned by music fans across the world.
And Nashville has certainly earned that accolade and respect. These streets and buildings helped cement the genres of blues, country and rock & roll, and that musical history still beats through the city’s atmosphere to this day.
If you’re a music fan, then Nashville has to be on your list – with these 10 music-themed attractions at the top of your itinerary!
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Found in the heart of Nashville’s downtown entertainment district, this 130,000-square-foot museum is a wonderland of rhinestone costumes, acoustic guitars, interactive exhibitions and classic lyrics sheets. Current and upcoming exhibits include country legends such as Charlie Daniels and Loretta Lynn as well as modern day idols such as Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum
What makes this museum extra special and a must-visit for any music and pop-culture enthusiast is that it pays homage to the musicians who have worked in some of the world’s most famous tracks – whether they were the frontman or the behind-the-scenes drummer. The museum is also designed so that six American cities that have a renowned reputations for producing great music get their own chance to shine (Detroit, Nashville, Muscle Shoals, L.A., Memphis and New York).
Music City Walk of Fame Park
Taking inspiration from Los Angeles Walk of Fame, the stars on Nashville's Music Mile pays homage to individuals (whether famous or behind the scenes) who have made significant contributions to the city’s musical heritage - names such as Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Reba McEntire, Emmylou Harris, Little Richard and Hank Williams are already dotted around the park. Induction ceremonies are opened to the public and happen twice a year in April and November.
The Johnny Cash Museum
For many, Johnny Cash is the epitome of country music and opening his namesake museum right in the middle of Nashville’s heart is a fitting tribute. Even the most diehard fans will be mesmerised walking from room-to-room as they are reminded by how long and colourful his career was.
Previously owned by country legend, Barbara Mandrell, this 27,000 square foot log home is Nashville’s only country music mansion tour. The house was designed by Mandrell herself and boasts 20 rooms, 13 bathrooms, 5 fireplaces, 2 kitchens, an indoor pool, and even an indoor shooting range. Throughout the house, music fans will spot memorabilia associated with Mandrel as well as other rock stars associated with Fontanel.
Loretta Lynn’s Ranch
Another country star to open up their private property to their fans is Loretta Lynn – who even makes the odd appearance and performs for her guests! She also built the Coal Miner’s Daughter museum on the property, where she has amassed a huge collection of memorabilia from her own career (and the careers of some of her friends). Then there’s the addition of the Loretta’s Fan & Doll Museum, where she displays all the gifts she has received from her fans over the years.
The GRAMMY® Award-winning Nashville Symphony host roughly 140 performances a year with a broad range of classical, pop and jazz musical styles. There’s also a range of educational and community programmes on offer throughout the year for adults and children.
National Museum of African American Music
Even though this landmark museum won’t be open until 2019, it will be the first of its kind in the country. It will serve as a space that celebrates music created by African-American musicians, and the music influenced by it. There are plans to build five exhibitions that represent blues, gospel, jazz, R&B, and hip hop – all genres that have been heavily shaped by African-American communities.
Visit (or even book tickets to a show!) what is considered to be one of the most legendary theatres in Nashville that offers some of the best acoustics in the world. As you step through the front doors, you’ll be walking in the same shoes as Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Minnie Pearl, and even president Theodore Roosevelt (to name a few). To this day, the auditorium attracts some of the biggest named in music – regardless of genre – including the Foo Fighters, Lana Del Ray, Tom Jones and Ed Sheeran.
Hawaii is more multifaceted than you might presume. As you glide into the capital of Honolulu you’ll be met with a metropolitan hub that rivals that of LA or NYC, but is set amongst a striking landscape of jungles, volcanoes and sandy shorelines. Across the six islands, you’ll find a chest of Pacific Ocean treasures just waiting to be discovered. If you’re planning on visiting soon, we recommend ticking these 39 activities off your bucket list.
1. Come face-to-face with an active volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (if you visit at night time, you can witness the lava glowing out the crater!)
2. Get a view of the other islands by hiking to the top of Koko Head.
3. Drive the scenic Hana Highway, arguably the best drive in Hawaii.
4. While driving to Hana, remember to stop by the Pipiwai hiking trail.
5. Swim with sea turtles.
6. Take in the breath-taking views from a helicopter tour.
7. Grab your fork and dig into a Poke Bowl (local delicacy made of cubed raw fish, seasoned any way you like it).
8. Find the Kaniakapupu Ruins (they’re on the Nu’uanu Oahu hike).
9. Visit Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens.
10. Go mountain tubing through caves.
11. Stroll through Thurston Lava Tube, a 500-foot ancient tunnel formed by flowing lava.
12. Gasp at the Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.
13. Snorkel around Molokini - a crescent-shaped volcanic crater that peaks out of the Alalakeiki Channel between the islands of Maui and Kahoʻolawe.
14. Visit the historic Iolani Palace (the only palace on United States soil).
15. Stargaze at the top of Mauna Kea, home to the world’s largest astronomical observatory.
16. Practice your golf swing at one of the archipelago’s 70 courses.
17. Skydive over the islands.
18. Walk along one of Hawaii’s black sand beaches, such as Punaluu Beach.
19. Kayak to Mokulua Islands.
20. Grab a tasty dinner form the food trucks on the North Shore.
21. Take in amazing views of Waikiki at the top of Diamond Head State Monument.
22. Whale watch off the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.
23. Visit the Oloupena Falls, the tallest waterfall in Hawaii and the fourth largest in the world.
24. Pay your respects at the USS Arizona Memorial that went down during the events of Pearl Harbour.
25. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay, the most popular snorkelling beach on Oahu.
26. Walk around Old Lahaina Town, a Maui town of historical and cultural significance.
27. Watch lava flow into the ocean (this isn’t a regular occurrence, but is once in a lifetime if you do see it).
28. Try some Shave Ice – a local delicacy that can be likened to a grown-up Snow Cone.
29. Hike the Napali Coast along the Kalalau Trail.
30. Hop on board a submarine and discover Hawaii’s colourful aquatic life.
31. Visit The Polynesian Cultural Center – a Polynesian theme-park with six areas representing Fiji, Tonga, Samao, Tahiti, Hawaii and Aotearoa.
32. Gaze out at the Pacific Ocean at Ka Lae – also known as South Point, the southernmost area of the USA.
33. Feel déjà vu as you keep a look-out for film and television sets from Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lost, Pearl Harbour, and King Kong.
34. Spot a Hawaiian Monk Seal, the only seal native to Hawaii.
35. Get your surf on (the South Shore is best for beginners) or watch the professionals at one of the many championships.
36. Walk on Hanalei Beach Pier.
37. Visit the Red Sand Beach (Kaihalulu Beach).
38. Explore the Haleakala National Park and look out for the 400-foot tall Waimoku waterfall.
39. Visit Post-A-Nut on Molokai, and send a coconut back home to your friends and family.
Hawaii is one of the world’s top bucket list destinations – is there anything you think we’ve missed?
Picking just one stop whilst on holiday in Florida can be a challenge. The Sunshine State is home to multiple cities and beach-side towns that offer their own unique slice of Floridian culture. As multi-centre holidays increase in popularity, we encourage our holidaymakers to pick two (or more) must-see destinations to allow them to get the most out of their sun-drenched holiday.
Two of our top picks are the towns of Kissimmee (which is nicely snuggled in beside Orlando) and St. Pete/Clearwater, overlooking the shimmering Gulf of Mexico. Here are just a few reasons why they make the perfect twin centre Florida holiday.
Explore two sides of Florida
St Pete/Clearwater and Kissimmee both have a lot of similarities but at the same time highlight two unique sides of the Sunshine State. Kissimmee offers a traditional Florida vibe with the Everglades tropical wetlands and local fairgrounds, while St. Pete/Clearwater is a quintessential beach holiday filled with water sports, beach-front eateries, and diverse culture in the downtown area.
You’ll need down time after the theme parks
Kissimmee’s main charm is its easy access to Orlando’s world-famous theme parks, whereas St. Pete/Clearwater has a laid-back vibe and is all about relaxing on its beautiful beaches. And as fabulous as the parks are, relaxation may be just what you need if you’ve had a few days of high-impact excitement. St. Pete/Clearwater is home to 35 miles of award-winning beaches, including the pristine barrier islands of Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands in Dunedin, where families and couples can play or relax next to the crystal clear waters.
Both Kissimmee and St. Pete/Clearwater boast tremendous local shopping – so there’s twice the opportunity to shop ‘til you drop. In both cities you’ll find speciality shops, local stores, artisan markets and independent boutiques where you can pick up some unique clothing or souvenirs.
Both are family-friendly
With its close proximity to the parks, Kissimmee is widely recognised as a family-friendly holiday destination. It’s not just the nearby Orlando that can offer adventure and thrills – Kissimmee itself is home to Fun Spot USA and Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park. St. Pete/Clearwater is perfect for families with its water-based activities, Clearwater Marine Aquarium as well as pirate and sea-life cruises.
Both are close to a major airport
You don’t want to spend the final day of your twin-city break travelling back to your original destination for your flight. Thankfully Kissimmee is near Orlando International Airport, while St. Pete/Clearwater is 30 minutes from Tampa International Airport.
They’re under two hours apart
When it’s time to make the switch between the two destinations, you’ll only be 90 minutes in the car. And no matter which direction you’re travelling, all you have to do is drive onto Interstate 4 and you’re on your way.