Awesome Things To Do In The U.S.A That You…

 

The United States of America is arguably one of the most interesting countries in the world. Offering a plethora of amazing experiences, cultural attitudes and peoples, America truly is the melting pot of all the world’s diversity and life. Whether you’re looking for great food, great amusement parks or fantastic getaway retreats, America has the best of all three.

But sometimes, as a tourist, it’s tempting to go off the beaten path, and exploring new things you might not initially think of doing. Each state has their benefits, and attractions you must see, but if you’re truly looking for an alternative, fun time to have in the States, you need to look no further than this list.

Go Drinking In Chicago

Chicago is not the city many people would consider the premium destination in the States for bar culture, but it really is a great one. Not only is the comedic culture alternative and hilarious there, but it has local access to some of the greatest microbreweries around today.

Chicago is famed for its amazing theater culture too, and so going to a show there might perfectly contemplate this activity. Chicago is often a city that new tourists to the states overlook in favor of hotspots like New York and Washington D.C, but if you’re really open to a good time with real, genuine people who have a story to tell, Chicago could be just your city.

See Comedy In L.A

L.A comedians are some of the best in the world. Joe Rogan, Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle, Joey Diaz and Louis C.K are some of the biggest names that always draw a massive crowd, and for good reason. All of the best comedians flock to L.A to test their mettle and stand on the stages that some of the greatest of all time have. If laughing hard tires you out after a couple of nights, consider checking out more of what this state has to offer by checking out the best of L.A.

Travel Route 66

Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway or Mother Road, was one of the initial highways within the U.S road system. Running through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, a long travel holiday along this road in a rented vehicle is a perfect way to get a taste for some of what this great nation has to offer. Just be sure you’re willing to put in the road miles, and that you have the two weeks it’s generally accepted the journey will take.

Hike In Colorado

Colorado is famed for its mountainous geography and is a prime spot for travelers looking to get in the wild and escape the frantic beck and call of city life. Not only will a long journey help you get some exercise, but is also immensely healthy due to the air quality there. There is a real lack of pollution that can take your breath away if you’ve lived in a built up environment for a good part of your life, and it’s worth checking out.

An extended stay in Northern America can be a wonderful thing. If you’re already a resident, it’s likely you haven’t explored all your state has to offer, let alone the next 49. Making the effort to explore the great, historical nation you’re in or are traveling to is a great way to unwind, relax, and find that sense of adventure you crave.

Vacationing in the Cultural Capitals of the United States

Planning a vacation doesn’t always mean going away to a tropical escape, theme park, or snowy cabin on a mountain top. Some of the most rewarding types of vacations involve cultural exploration. There are a surprising number of cultural powerhouses scattered throughout the United States, including West Hollywood, Austin, and Brooklyn.

West Hollywood, California

West Hollywood describes itself as The Creative City. It is a welcoming hub of art and culture that is celebrated throughout the city. WeHo Arts is the powerhouse behind the concentrated effort to keep art foremost in the city’s consciousness. They claim the city potentially has more art per square mile than that found in any other city in the United States. The organization promotes film, music, theater, visual arts, and literary arts. Special attention is given to children’s art, the LGBTQ community, and the Russian-speaking community.

For anyone planning to visit West Hollywood, it is certainly worth checking out the local events and exhibits that the WeHo community has available. Two of the most iconic museums in the area include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).

There are several large annual events that take place in West Hollywood. The Russian Cultural Festival is a family themed community event designed to spotlight the unique contributions of Russian culture, including food, art, music, and businesses within the local community. Pride Month, also known as One City One Pride is hosted each June. The event celebrates pride in the artistic contributions of the LGBTQ community.

Austin, Texas

Austin is often called The Live Music Capital of the World and the propensity for high-quality live music in the city is well established. However, it has far more than just music to offer the world. It has numerous cultural and historic centers and museums for visitors and residents to explore. Some of the not to be missed museums include the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, The Blanton Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center, and the LBJ Presidential Library.

Annual festivals are a big part of Austin’s cultural appeal. The Austin City Limits Music Festival is a two-week event held in October of each year. It is a celebration of music, art, and food hosted at Zilker Park. The Annual Austin PRIDE Week is held toward the end of August and includes a fashion show, parade, and festival. Perhaps the most famous event in the city is the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival held in the Austin Convention Center in March of each year. It is devoted to helping creatives achieve their goals and is an explosion of interactive technology, music, and film.

Brooklyn, New York

Most New York City boroughs are difficult to label, and this is even more true for the cultural melting pot of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Cultural District is in the heart of the neighborhoods thriving arts community. It is anchored by the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Brooklyn Public Library and filled with art spaces, music venues, and theaters.

Some of the largest annual cultural celebrations in Brooklyn include the NYCxDesign, BAM Next Wave Festival, and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade. NYCxDesign is a celebration of global design hosted each year in May. The event is comprised of talks, exhibitions, open studios, and trade shows. The BAM Next Wave Festival provides a spectacular selection of theater, dance, avant-garde music, and opera performances. The National Puerto Rican Day Parade celebrates the millions of Puerto Ricans living in the city and throughout the United States.

Exploring the cultural frontiers of the United States is easily a series of journeys that could span decades. One of the best things about this type of vacation is the rapidity with which our culture changes. Going to one of these locations now would be remarkably different than a visit of only a decade ago due to the way the cultural landscape changes over time. For those who truly love immersing themselves in the frontiers of current cultural trends and norms, nothing is better than regular immersion into one of the cities that fosters exploration and growth in all areas.

6 unique stops on a North Carolina road trip

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Ella Buchan is a freelance travel writer with 12 years of experience. Based between London and Paso Robles, California, she can often be found seeking out local dining spots and/or drinking wine with llamas.

Her time in North Carolina was part of the #DriveUS1 campaign with Captivate, road-tripping all the way down US Route 1 from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida.

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Where in the world can you go from sipping wine with baby llamas to hanging out in cool college cities by the coast? Rich in culture, history and offbeat experiences, the delights of North Carolina are best explored on a road trip.

Here’s my pick of stops that take in natural beauty, tempting food and charming towns of this varied east coast state – with some quirky surprises thrown in.

JOLO Winery

In the shadow of misty Pilot Mountain, the wineries of Yadkin Valley certainly have an aesthetic advantage. They also produce some world-class vintages, like the Pilot Fog at JOLO Winery & Vineyards, just off the US-52 and not far from the border with Virginia.

JOLO Winery

From America’s oldest native grape, Cynthiana or Norton, this velvety red has notes of jammy fruit, warm spices and chocolate.

That isn’t the only reason to visit. There’s also the adorable lilac cottage, known as the ‘Newlywed Chateau’. With silky-soft bed linens, a terrace overlooking the forest and a weathervane shaped like a wine bottle, it also proved luxurious lodgings for this solo traveller.

Ella and JW

Chief the Weimaraner (or ‘wine-maraner’, as owners JW and Kristen Ray joke) only adds to the charm.

Divine Llama Vineyards

Head 20 minutes south down the US-52 for more wine and a chance to hang out with baby llamas at Divine Llama Vineyards. And adult llamas – around 60 of the camelids roam, groan and watch visitors here with curious, spidery-lashed eyes.

Ella nd Llamas

One three-week-old tottered right up to me for a closer look. Perhaps she thought I was after her wine. And with blends (named after the llamas) like In a Heartbeat, half merlot and half cabernet franc, her suspicions proved correct.

A herd of Llamas

Check out the skeins of llama wool and T-shirts with the winery’s fab logo, in the style of a vintage transport poster.

Winston-Salem

Half an hour south, Winston-Salem is a charming blend of old and new. A vibrant arts and culinary scene has sprouted from its Moravian roots – the protestant missionaries settled here 250 years ago.

Old Salem Tavern

Try the Moravian chicken pie at The Tavern in Old Salem before exploring original Moravian buildings and gardens of Old Salem. Don’t miss the sloping Miksch Gardens, planted with crops early Moravian settlers grew, and Winkler Bakery. The latter has been concocting gossamer-thin cookies and rich sugar cakes since 1800.

reynolda

Reynolda House is a world-class American art museum with exquisite community gardens in the former home of tobacco baron RJ Reynolds.

I rounded off my visit with a nightcap at Tate’s Craft Cocktails, where the bartenders mix a mean Old Fashioned.

The Historic Brookstown Inn, an elegantly converted 1837 cotton mill, has enormous rooms with original wooden beams and high ceilings, with free wine and cheese in the lobby every evening.

Fearrington Village

Around 90 minutes southeast, Fearrington is a charming English-style village with a Relais & Châteaux inn, restaurant and shops located on a historic farm. Belted Galloway cows, or ‘Belties’, and monochrome fainting goats graze the pastures, while hotel guests are served afternoon tea with delicate cakes, finger sandwiches and the property’s own house-blend brews in The Fearrington House Restaurant.

Afternoon Tea

Cute Chapel Hill is a 15-minute drive away. At North Carolina Botanical Garden, butterflies flutter around grounds dotted with whimsical sculptures.

grounds fearrington

Another 20-minute drive brings you to Durham, a university town now served by direct flights from the UK. Explore the 9,000 acres around Duke University Campus, stop for a brownie sundae cake at The Parlour and sample local craft beers at Fullsteam Brewery.

Raleigh

Drive 45 minutes east to downtown Raleigh. A free bus, the R-Line, does a 20-minute lap around the city’s districts. Feel like Charlie at Videri Chocolate Factory, taste traditional North Carolina BBQ at The Pit and gawp at the selection of brews at Raleigh Beer Garden.

Raleigh beer garden

With 378 taps, this pub holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest number of brews on draft.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa, a 15-minute drive from downtown, is a sanctuary with plush beds, farm-to-table restaurant, serene spa and grounds that waft with the scent of hibiscus.

Umstead state park
Credit: VisitNC.com

The hotel has free bikes for guests’ use. Pedal the short distance to enter Umstead State Park, gloriously green all year round and popping with florets of pale gold and russet in autumn.

Wilmington

Two hours on the I-40 takes you to Wilmington, a coastal college city close to the border with South Carolina. This southern belle is blessed with natural beauty – but is too chilled out to shout about it.

Blockade Runner’s Surf to Sound Academy offers sailing lessons, kayak adventures and stand-up paddle tours through the marshes.

Credit: visit-nc.com
Credit: visit-nc.com

Don’t miss sunset over the ivory sands of Wrightsville Beach, just across the causeway. The sky swirls like candy floss before deepening to fiery burnt orange.

Wrightsville beach at sunset
credit: visit-nc.com

Discover more North Carolina at www.visitnc.com and www.visittheusa.com/state/north-carolina.

Thank you to Hertz

A big thank you to Hertz Car Hire for supporting this amazing road trip. A week’s hire in February (pick up and return to Portland Maine Int) starts from £200. Hertz has over 3000 locations across the USA. If you want to know more check out www.hertz.co.uk/p/car-hire/usa/north-carolina.

White Sands National Monument

Best USA landscape photography [Gallery]

Ask any American and they will tell you that their land is filled with some of the best landscapes on earth.

2,680 miles wide and 1,582 miles long, the USA has over 3.8 million square miles of landscape to explore.

So I wanted to show you some of the best USA landscape photography I could find. I will be adding more regularly so this collection will grow. Feel free to share it with your friends, pin it on your pinterest boards and enjoy the natural wonder of America.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon is one of the most inspiring and powerful landscapes in our planet. It is one of the 7 great natural wonders of the world. Size, colors, Colorado River and unique combinations of erosion gives you unforgettable feeling of exciting. People from all over the world come to stand on the edge of this natural wonder and one of the most breathtaking experiences with Mother Nature. Check out this helicopter tour for the best way to view the Grand Canyon.

USA landscape photography

 

Crater Lake, Oregon

It is the most favorite place of all photographers as there are more than 20 different scenic overlooks where everyone can take the most impressive photos. Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest lake in USA with unbelievable blue colour. You can not only enjoy the view but also try finishing or scuba diving. You can read more about Crater Lake here.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Acadia National Park

Acadia locates in the state of Maine and associate small islands. Indescribable landscapes, mountains, lakes, ocean seashore, woodlands attract people from all over the world. No matter when you are coming, this place will impress you any time of the year. It is the best place to run away from bustling and to spend time in privacy.

Acadia National Park

Death Valley National Park

There are many people that ignore the park, but if you like extreme – Death Valley is waiting for you. It is the hottest, driest and lowest place in North America. Mushroom Rock, Natural ridge, Zabriskie Point, Museum and many other things will wonder every tourist. And don’t be afraid of its name!

You can take a tour from Las Vegas to Death Valley on this day trip.

Death Valley USA

White Sands National Monument

If you have a dream to turn up in a different planet, White Sands National Monument is the place that gives you feeling that you are in another world. 275 square miles field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals. It is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. You will never find similar place in the world like White Sands National Monument.

White Sands National Monument

Staybridge Suites Indianapolis

5 of the Most Interesting Hotels in Indianapolis

As Indiana’s capital and most populous city, it’s no surprise that Indianapolis features a lot of hotels. Admittedly, some of them are more interesting than others. Considering a trip to Indy? Check out these hotel hotspots instead of the city’s more traditional accommodations.

The Staybridge Suites

Staybridge Suites IndianapolisIf you’re a movie-lover, you have to stay at the Staybridge Suites. This hotel has its own theatre room — complete with comfortable chairs and an enormous plasma screen television. You can watch movies from premium cable channels or you can bring your own DVDs.

However, that’s not the only reason to pick Staybridge. Each room has standard Internet and Sundowner Receptions offers appetizers and drinks throughout the week. There’s a convenience store, laundry facilities, and even an outdoor pavilion. Rooms include all comforts: satellite TV, DVD and CD players, as well as kitchenettes. Rates typically start out at around $157 per night.

Holiday Inn Select Indianapolis North

Where to stay in IndianapolisThere are many features that make the Holiday Inn a great, economical choice. With rates starting as low as $74 a night, visitors get to enjoy refrigerators, microwaves, and flat screen TVs, plus there’s a restaurant right on-site. Guests can relax and have fun in the pool or enjoy a fierce workout at the fitness center.

However, the feature that makes this particular Holiday Inn so interesting is Caribbean Cove. There’s an indoor water park on the hotel’s grounds, complete with lazy rivers and water slides. It’s the perfect way to have water fun even if the weather isn’t cooperating.

Crowne Plaza at Historic Union Station

Although a stay at the Crowne Plaza is a little more expensive, at around $231 a night, the experience is worth it. The hotel has all the amenities, such as valet service, satellite TV, Internet, cribs, coffee makers, irons, and ironing boards. There’s a business centre, a fitness centre, an indoor pool, and all sorts of packages.

Indianapolis travel advice

What’s so unique about all that? Guests get to enjoy it while staying in an actual Pullman car. Yes, guests can sleep in a train car. There are also suite options, but who would to pass up a Pullman?

The Alexander Art Museum

Although The Alexander is not truly an art museum, it can certainly pass as one. But it first functions as a hotel. When it comes to the rooms, prices start as low as $158 and go up to $269. Wi-Fi access is free, and the suites include full kitchens.

Art museums in Indianapolis

The accommodations promote relaxation via gorgeous views and luxurious amenities. There’s a workout center, green space, and even complimentary bikes. The big draw, however, is all the art. There are paintings and exhibits throughout the hotel, but even the fixtures, lights, and furniture are works-of-art.

The Conrad Indianapolis

You’ll likely have a hard time booking a stay at the Conrad Indianapolis, if only because reservations are tight and, at around $249 per night, the prices are steep. With spacious, beautifully appointed rooms, high-tech features, fine art, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and the Evan Todd Spa & Salon, however, pampering is a guarantee.

What to see in Indianapolis

The Conrad also offers sumptuous food from The Capital Grille and Tastings…A Wine Experience; plus, it boasts a relaxing environment that honors guests like royalty — for a price, of course.

It’s always an experience to stay somewhere unique. What’s the strangest or most one-of-a-kind hotel you’ve ever experienced?

unusual theater productions in new york

My top 3 unusual theaters in New York City

New York Theatre conjures certain images: Playbills clasped in bejeweled hands, fancy people, matinees post champagne brunch.. Take it from a born and bred New Yorker, though, there is far more to the city’s theatre scene than Broadway. Here’s my top 3 theaters to check out in New York.

Accomplice

Unusual performing arts in New YorkI don’t want to give too much away so pardon my vagueness, avoid googling spoilers and take a leap of faith. Part pseudo street theater, part improv, part scavenger hunt, Accomplice’s interactive theater experience will have you and a group of 8-10 walking the streets, popping into businesses, and approaching strangers as you work your way through the story that plays out through the excellent planning of the organizers. You’ll drink a beer or two with the characters, find clues and get lots of strange looks while also having your most memorable time in the city. There are two versions – West Village and Downtown. The experience starts with a phone call or email a few days before telling you where to be and when. Be there and experience a different type of NYC theater. Accomplice’s price tag is a little heavy but well worth every penny. Plus, you can often find a Groupon or LivingSocial coupon. It’s cheaper, about $65, and hipper than Broadway.

Live In Theater

murder mystery events in New YorkSimilar to Accomplice, Live In Theater takes the murder mystery dinners of yore and puts them on the streets. You and your group are transformed into new recruits of the police force and sent out onto the streets with a notepad, information about a crime and pictures of people. Using your noggin you find the characters, ask questions (question-asking is an art and bad questions yield bad answers, which is part if the fun!) and solve the murder. There are two shows currently available The Ryan Case and The Lombardi Case. Live In Theater also has deals on various sites so you can shave a little off your $60 ticket.

Then She Fell

unusual theater productions in new yorkIf you seek interactive theater that’s a little more surreal and not a mystery or hunt, consider hopping the L to Brooklyn for this Alice In Wonderland-esque experience. While the other two are good for the younger set (Accomplice will give hot cocoa or juice tk the under 21 crew) this experience includes custom drinks by a superb mixologist and is strictly 21+. Wander rooms, meet with performers one-on-one, find hidden scenes only accessible to those who sniff them out and stroll through Lewis Carroll’s imagination. The audience is about 15 people.

New York is a prime location for theater but why not experience something as unique as the city itself? You won’t regret trying one of these shows. No matter which you do make sure to wear comfortable shoes!