On a recent trip to Tucson, I was amazed to learn that the Sonoran Desert, which laps at the city’s doorstep, is second only to the Amazon for its diversity of plants and animals. Who knew? I was also excited to discover the iconic Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa—which underwent $35 million in renovations to its guestrooms, public spaces, and pools in 2013—has partnered with Tucson’s excellent Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to inspire and educate guests, and bring the incredible surroundings to light.
Looking ahead to the holiday weekend? Here, three ideas for fun and affordable July 4thgetaways.
The birthplace of independence is the perfect place to celebrate the Fourth of July. Benjamin Franklin Parkway hosts the “Largest Free Concert” with The Roots, Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, and Jennifer Hudson. Stay at the Four Seasons Hotel off Logan Square, where kids are welcomed with toys, and cookies and milk are served at bedtime. Price: $249 a night. Book Now: fourseasons.com/philadelphia
2. Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff was voted the Best Town for July 4th in the Travel + Leisure America’s Favorite Towns survey (voting is open now for T+L’s 2014 America’s Favorite Places survey!). With its ponderosa pines, frontier spirit, and cool mountain air, it’s no surprise why. The city has great town square that’s the centerpiece of its celebration, which includes for fireworks, parades, and a fun run. Stay at the Hotel Monte Vista, just a block from Route 66. Price: $90 a night. Book Now: hotelmontevista.com
3. Oahu, Hawaii
The fireworks on the southern shore of Oahu are so grand that around 50,000 people watch it each year! (They’re set off from a manmade peninsula to protect the underwater reef ecosystem.) At the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, most rooms have private balconies and overlook the ocean; the five pools include the 10,000-square-foot Super Pool, the largest in Hawaii. Price: $199 a night. Book Now: hiltonhawaiianvillage.com
Watch T+L editor Sarah Spagnolo present these deals on this morning's Wake Up with Al.
Ultimate travel industry disrupter Airbnb is at it again—this time testing out a pilot program in San Francisco whereby hosts also make meals for their guests. According to a recent article in Reuters, one of the trial dinners was $25 per person for three courses; Airbnb would take a portion of the earnings. The company isn’t offering any details, stating only, “We are always experimenting with new ways to create meaningful experiences on Airbnb.”
Last week, Samsung debuted the Galaxy Tab S—its latest attempt to overthrow Apple in the cutthroat tablet market. The ultra-thin device (no thicker than five stacked credit cards) has standout new features—and a few improvements to old Tab capabilities we already loved.
Like most neighborhood transformations-turned-gentrification, Wynwood’s started on the streets.
As the younger, trendier brother of Miami’s Design District, Wynwood has grown quick. When its largest gallery held its first show in 1999, the area was nothing more than a string of abandoned warehouses and auto shops. Though the current cultural core of the city is just ten minutes from South Beach, it’s only been a few years since many were too afraidto walk down its graffiti-ridden streets after dark.
Not anymore. In true hipster form, what was once terribly dangerous is now terribly cool. Also in true hipster form, it’s only really cool once a month. The Wynwood Art Walk, held the second Saturday of every month, transforms the usually scarce streets into the sort of place that gives Miami the cultural cred it so greatly deserves.
This morning, Air France revealed the results of one billion euro investment in new cabins, livery, and service, as part of the carrier's effort to reassert its position as a leader in international air travel.
“We want to be back as one of the top three world class airlines by 2016,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Chairman and CEO of Air France-KLM.
The first of 44 Boeing 777 jets equipped with the improved interiors and world-class partnerships (think luxe Givenchy amenity kits in the first class suites; Eugeni Quittlet tableware for your gourmet snacks) departed Paris-Charles de Gualle yesterday, and landed at John F. Kennedy in time for the debut.
Just in time for summer's high season, popular Cape Cod beaches enacted smoking bans last week.
Meant to minimize second-hand smoke for the marjority of beachgoers, the bans apply to six heavily visited lifeguarded areas on Massachusett's Cape Cod National Seashore. Smokers will have to head several hundred feet away from lifeguard stations to light up.
Canada-based Cirque du Soleil is setting up shop in the Riviera Maya, in a 600-seat, custom-built theater that takes cues from the Yucatan's lush jungle landscape. Grupo Vidanta, the developer behind Mexico's ultra-glam Grand Luxxe resorts, is creating the new venue, which will debut its inaugural showJOYÀ on November 8.
Beware the “shuffle” button! I create playlists for all my restaurants. Maybe I’m a control freak, but I love the process. If I have 100 things to do, “Make soundtracks” is the one I’ll jump to first. (Right after “Test these four pasta recipes.”) At each place, it’s the same list every night, in order. So I know it’s 9:45 when Broken Bells comes on at the Dutch ($$$). Playlists are a progression—you want the music to unfold throughout the night, in terms of genres, BPM (beats per minute), the mood you set.
When the restaurant’s full, you shouldn’t really “hear” the music. You’ll know it’s there, but it won’t take over. Then again, if the room is too quiet—you hear waitstaff gossiping, glasses being cleaned—that’s distracting as well. Music fills that sonic space. It actually helps you focus on your conversation. But no 14-minute cuts! It’s annoying when a song is droning on and on while you’re waiting for dessert. You need a fresh track every three to four minutes.
• 4 nights in a one-bedroom suite at Sublime Samana Hotel & Residences, on the island’s palm-fringed northeastern coast • Horseback riding on the beach • Bottle of wine upon arrival • Outdoor spa treatment
Cost: $840 ($210 per night)
Book by August 31 for travel through December 2014.
Did you hear screams coming from down the block or your neighbor's apartment? It's probably because everyone is glued to the big screen for the World Cup. Here's how fans and athletes are celebrating, showing their pride, and sharing their photos on Instagram around the world.
New York City
The cheers heard around the world are because of these guys:
Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.
Leave it to Andrew Zimmern—the Travel Channel’s peripatetic Bizarre Foods TV host—to create the ultimate foodie traveler’s global bucket list. We love that no place is too fancy (a caviar bar in St. Petersburg, Russia), too humble (noodle soup at a wholesale market in Bangkok), or too far-flung (tuna and lamb ribs in Samoa) to make the cut. We caught up with Zimmern at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen last weekend to get the inside scoop on his picks. Check out the full list on Pinterest here.
How did you choose your 31 meals?
The word “meal” to me seems limiting: how do you decide on 30 meals in the world when there are hundreds of thousands of places to choose from? I love leading people to travel experiences where they can carve out their own food destiny for themselves. That’s why the majority of my choices ended up being markets. I’m more about people seeking out unique adventures and letting them decide for themselves what they like about it.
Markets can be overwhelming though. How can travelers navigate their way to the best eating experiences?
You should either ask locals for their recommendations, or just look for the longest line. There are hundreds of vendors at any given market, but there’s one guy who’s got the biggest line early in the morning. Guess what? That’s where you should be eating.
Asia’s famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo isn’t on your list, but Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul is. Why?
The reason, very simply, is that at Noryangjin is not as touristed or fetishized as Tsukiji, and more importantly, there’s an entire restaurant culture that’s sprung up around the market where anyone can buy a fish or shellfish and take it to the restaurant and have it cooked. That doesn't really exist at Tsukiji market. To me, the essence of travel is about discovery, so I’d rather have someone go to Noryingjan seafood market and become a part of the action and ask around: where’s the restaurant where I can take this amazing yellow snapper to? It's the type of experience that you can go and participate in.
How does a Michelin-starred meal such as Mugaritz in San Sebastián, Spain, stand up next to a humble seafood shack like Badjao Seafood House in Palawan, in the Philippines?
You can’t say that a meal at Mugaritz is any better than a meal at Badjao Seafood House. The fish and shellfish at Badjao rivals what’s at Mugaritz. It’s as well tended, and it’s as beautifully created. You’re talking about a culinary experience in a magical restaurant versus a transporting little place where you walk out on a dock and sit in this little bamboo hut perched out over the water. “Best” and “most interesting” are relative terms.
We noticed that you included Kau Kee restaurant in Hong Kong—a favorite among T+L staff. What made it worthy of your top 31?
I like to go to Kau Kee and sit there for about an hour and a half, and every half hour I’ll have a bowl of brisket and noodles. It’s the essential Hong Kong experience: you’re in an old restaurant that only does one thing, and it costs anywhere between $1.50 and $3 per bowl. The reason I sit there for an hour and a half is not because I want time to have six bowls of soup. It's so I can watch all of Hong Kong go by—neighbors, families, shop owners—right from those tables. These are the types of experiences that make travel so unique.
Jennifer Flowers is the Hotels & Food Editor at Travel + Leisure. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.
World Cup 2014 is heating up in Rio de Janeiro and Belmond Copacabana Palace has added its own spice to the mix. The iconic hotel’s new pan-Asian restaurant MEE, fronted by celebrity chef Ken Hom, has created a beguiling concoction that’s casting a spell on World Cup fans.
The “Mandinga” cocktail is a seductive blend of Cachaça (a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice) and cashew juice with a dash of hazelnut and mandarin liqueurs. MEE hopes this touch of Afro-Brazilian magic will carry the Seleção squad to their sixth World Cup trophy. Brazil may not have invented soccer, but they are known for perfecting it. Saúde!
Mandinga Cocktail Recipe: - 1.5 fl. oz. Leblon Cachaça - ¼ fl. oz. Frangelico liqueur - ¼ fl. oz. Mandarinetto liqueur - 1 fl. oz. cashew juice - ¼ fl. oz. lemon juice - ¼ fl. oz. sugar syrup
Nora Walsh is Travel + Leisure's Latin America correspondent.
If you book a Royal Caribbean cruise in early December, don’t be surprised to see capes, pointed ears, and furry feet on some of your fellow passengers. Trilo3y Voyages, with the blessing of J.R.R. Tolkien’s family, is planning the first in a series of cruises for fans of the author’s works, including The Lord of the Rings. Onboard activities will include a cosplay competition and masquerade gala.
Whether you prefer a quiet slice of sand or a bustling local scene, join our Ultimate Beaches Twitter chat, sponsored by @Aruba, this Tuesday, June 24th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. From the world's best beaches to where to eat and drink near the sand, ask the experts for their advice!
As a frequent flier, I’m always searching for the perfect place to get a last-minute manicure—one that will actually stay on through the course of my trip. And on the flip side, as a tourist, I’m always searching for a cool, reliable, (and yes, clean!) nail salon when I need a quick touch-up abroad. Enter Paintbox, a chic new manicure studio in Manhattan's Soho neighborhood that is quickly developing a cult following among locals—and which should be on every traveler’s radar.
After years of anticipation, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights opens on June 23 in downtown Atlanta, adjacent to the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca. The 42,000-square-foot center by architect Philip Freelon is designed to start a dialogue and inspire visitors to think about how they can create a more unprejudiced world.
An exhibit at the Boston Public Library compares the modern city with the Boston of a century ago. One surprising revelation: even with a steady influx of immigrants in the past ten years, the city still has not regained its 1910 record-high population of more than 670,000.
Pandas are taking over Hong Kong! An exhibit of 1,600 papier-mâché bears designed by French artist Paulo Grangeon will be on view in the PMQ arts district from June 25-July 17 in an effort to raise awareness of dwindling panda populations.
Today is National Chocolate Éclair Day (really!), which seems like a good excuse to tell you about a delicious new program Le Méridien hotels is launching with everyone's favorite pastry chef, Johnny Iuzzini. The former head judge from Top Chef Just Desserts will create eight seasonal éclair recipes for the chain, revealing them over the next 12 months as he stays at different Le Méridien hotels around the world. (First up: San Francisco, to be revealed on July 27. We're hoping it doesn't involve salt-water taffy.)
The discreet charms of the classic, East Coast–elite-style summer vacation: Devin Friedman finds his inner WASP on Martha’s Vineyard.
People are always going on vacation and putting on a straw sombrero and drinking a beer and feeling relaxed and saying, You know what, this is the real me. But that’s not the real you. The real you isn’t the person who is totally stress-free and good-humored and loves to make funny rum cocktails for people he barely knows, who thinks that version of herself embroiled in the careerist rat race is an impostor, who says If I just never came home and instead opened a bookstore/beach bar/sundress emporium here and bought a character-building chapeau I could spend the rest of my days being the real me. Somewhere deep inside the folds of our cortexes, we know that (1) we’re never going to move here and buy the hat and the bookstore and that (2) if we did, the old us would come and take the ferry over and hunt us down by the smell of our fear and aftershave and climb back into our bodies again and make us anxious and ambitious and money-conscious just the way we always were. Getting to not be you for two weeks is what it’s all about anyway. One of the great unsung joys of going on vacation is that you get to be a poseur. So my feeling is, pose like crazy, enjoy it, then hide the pictures of you in the hat.
From Jack Kerouac’s original manuscript for On the Road to a classic 1960 Corvette, L.A.’s Autry National Center of the American West traces the history of “America’s Main Street,” and its impact on popular culture. “Route 66: The Road and the Romance” runs through January 4, 2015.
Every June, the art world descends on the Swiss city of Basel for a week of art-seeing, design-hunting, and people-watching. The team behind Artsy, the art collecting and education resource, writes about its favorite moments from the fairs and festivities—and wishes you were here.
"Everyone who visits Design Miami/Basel has the thrill of experiencing Jamie Zigelbaum’s monumental light sculpture, Triangular Series. It's installed above the entrance hall," writes Matthew Israel, director of The Art Genome Project.