This weekend at NYC’s Hester Street Fair (Saturdays, 10am-6pm, Hester Street and Essex Street, hesterstreetfair.com), amid the foodcarts and vintage clothes vendors, a booth featuring travel-themed homegoods called On the Fringe, caught my eye. Decoupage artist Wendy Howard transforms old travel brochures and maps into trivets and coasters, ideal host/hostess gifts for summer travelers, or for graduates taking off for points unknown. (I kept picturing them arranged side-by-side behind my kitchen sink as a map-themed backsplash…)
On the Fringe (onthefringe.ws, coasters $6 each or 4 for $20; trivets from $15- $25.)
If, like me, you’re as likely to read a novel about a city as a guide book when preparing for a visit, the Los Angeles Times book staff has pieced together an excellent resource for you.Their Literary L.A. map pinpoints bookstores and lit landmarks around town (the library at UCLA where Ray Bradbury tapped out Fahrenheit 451 on a coin-operated typewriter!), and also includes passages from great fiction inspired by the the city and includes hardboiled L.A. classics like Double Indemnity and The Black Dahlia to more modern works like Steve Erickson’s Zeroville. The map has been released in time to accompany this weekend’s Festival of Books at USC.
Perhaps not the most obvious choice for a spring break, Chicago can keep a family happy—if not warm and dry—when school lets out. The city welcomed us with open arms during a blustery spring break week when our 'Plan A' vacation fell through. Here are some basic tips for a terrific time with the kids in the Windy City:
If you’re planning on hitting more than a few museums and skyscrapers, buying the Chicago CityPass ($94 for adults, $79 for kids, 11 and under) not only makes economic sense but it allows you to skip the lines at most of the participating venues. The passes saved us from standing in line in the sleet outside the Shedd Aquarium one day and we felt pretty smug sweeping past the hour and a half wait at the Skydeck. Waltz up to the desk and buy the passes at the first venue you visit, and they're valid for the next nine days.
Museum of Science and Industry This magnificent edifice in Hyde Park, between Lake Michigan and the University of Chicago campus, is one of the last remaining buildings of the 1893 Columbian Exposition (you know, from The Devil in the White City!). The museum offers engaging high- and low-tech exhibits—from the physics of basketball (kids pre-set the velocity and angle of a cannon that launches a ball across the grand hall and into a basket on the far balcony) to how cow manure can be turned into fuel (From Poop to Power!). A longtime favorite of Chicago kids, the museum was fully interactive before the word involved touchscreens. You can easily find enough varied and interesting activities to fill an entire day. Don't miss the retro make-your-own-molded-plastic-souvenir machines at the submarine, farm, and space exhibits.
This morning on Lat/Long, the Google Maps blog, a proud product manager unveiled new eye-popping, wig-launching Grand Canyon imagery that will be added to the region in Google Maps. (The shots, taken by hikers wearing 40-lb. packs mounted with Google 360-degree cameras, cover 75 miles of trails.)
Take a stroll through some of these spectacular panoramas while solemnly humming This Land Is Your Land. Kind of beats the pants off finding your childhood home on Google Streetview, eh?
Am I the only one who hears Donovan and remembers that scene in Goodfellas everytime I see Atlantis mentioned?
Okay, ridiculous confession aside, there’s good news for families looking for getaway ideas. (And really good news: this one doesn't involve Joe Pesci.) JetBlue is briefly offering a big deal: book at minimum 3-night vacation to Atlantis in the Bahamas, and your kids fly free, stay free, and eat free. Book before midnight Sunday (January 20) for travel before March 7.
There are some restrictions, natch: one kid per paying adult; blackout dates from February 13-26; maximum 2 adults and 2 kids per room; etc. But you KNOW how much it costs to fly the whole family anywhere—the airfare alone represents a big savings.
Participants will be invited to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame after-hours for some private worship at the high church of America’s favorite pastime. Ken Burns will give a keynote address and then hang around to talk ball during a cocktail reception (I hope the ghost of center fielder and bar-keep Mickey Mantle will not permit any craft cocktails made with Gatorade).
The mountain is open at Jackson Hole and eager skiers who’ve been watching the Wyoming weather (to summarize: snow and snow and more powdery snow) will be happy to hear that getting to the Tetons is easier this winter. United is flying directly from Newark and San Francisco and Delta has added direct flights from Minneapolis, bringing the number of cities with direct service to the valley up to nine.
Intermediate skiers (me!) get a little love from the notoriously Black Diamond-heavy resort, too. A recently completed detachable quad lift opened last week to sweep Blue Trail skiers (me!) up to mid-mountain in just three and a half minutes. The Casper trail network has been expanded and buffed and more than half the blue trails are open, even this early in the season, because of the benevolent snow gods have dumped over 130” so far—more than at any other Rockies resort.
Tiny, prolific cookbook author Dorie Greenspan has opened a tiny bakeshop, Beurre et Sel, in the Essex St. Market on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. With about the same square footage as a Midtown elevator, the bright and minimal space still packs a punch with an array of rich, buttery cookies. You can have your trendy cupcakes and doughnuts, I’ll take one of her divine World Peace cookies, please: bittersweet chips of Valhrona chocolate and flakes of fleur de sel in a dense chocolate sable cookie.
Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.
Yesterday, Disney announced Limited Time Magic—a year’s worth of weeklong celebrations for visitors to its Disney World and Disneyland resorts in 2013.
The announcement was made at a press event laden with the happy Disney touches (a barbershop quartet cheerily singing boy-band hits, a Mickey appearance, and a castle carved from 45,000 pounds of ice) but also a dark taste of the queen’s poisoned apple—a panel of marketing experts and psychologists placed surprisingly grim emphasis on the fleeting nature of childhood and the parents’ limited and precious time with their kids.
The 52 weeklong celebrations will feature limited-time elements—themed souvenirs that won’t be offered again, entertainment that will be performed only that week, special menu.
Spirit Airlines announced last week that beginning November 6, passengers arriving at their departure gate with a carry-on bag would be charged $100. If the passenger paid for the carry-on when they booked the ticket, the fee would drop to a who-could-possibly-object $30. For a carry-on bag!
New fees like these continue to be tacked on to airfares—and not just by cut-rate airlines like Spirit—plus travelers who actually pay for and check suitcases have to suffer through the vile rugby scrum at the baggage carousel. Options, like the ScotteVest, the jacket that conceals a Radio-Shack’s worth of gadgets, exist, but, um, our international editor Mark Orwoll looks better in it than I would.
LuggageForward.com, a baggage expeditor that uses UPS, FedEx, and DHL, offers prices that are (still) attractively competitive. Pay them $99 to pick up a 50-lb. suitcase a few days before your flight and it’ll be waiting at your domestic destination when you arrive. If Luggage Forward doesn’t get it there on time, they pay you up to $200.00 per day per item, up to $500. (The company also serves international destinations. And can transport awkward items like skis, bikes, surfboards, and golf bags.)