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Ellis Island Hospital Opens Today for Tours

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History buffs and fans of American Horror Story will love the chipped paint and cracked porcelain sinks, the stained tiles and rusting hospital beds in the halls of the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital—open to visitors today for the first time in 60 years. 

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Aspen Art Museum Makes Dramatic Debut

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If the Gucci and Prada storefronts weren't enough to dispel any impression of Aspen as a humble mountain town, the Shigeru Ban-designed Aspen Art Museum should do the trick. The 35-year-old art institution recently debuted a new $45 million building created by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect and funded entirely by private donations from the city's wealthy patrons.   


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The new museum, dedicated to rotating exhibits of contemporary art, opened its glass doors to a surprising blend of acclaim and criticism. Many applauded the latticework cube for its nod to traditional Japanese craftsmanship, while others (including New York Magazine's architecture critic, Justin Davidson) dismissed the façade as cage-like and unattractive. But there's little argument that the museum strikes a dramatic silhouette against a backdrop of classic alpine brick buildings. From the rooftop sculpture garden, visitors have sweeping views of nearby Ajax Mountain.


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Ban's first permanent museum in the United States is something of a departure for the architect, who is best known for his temporary, humanitarian-focused structures, including the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the stackable shipping-container apartments he created after the Japanese tsunami and earthquake in 2011. But the museum reflects Ban's famous use of recyclable materials: he created the shell out of translucent coated paper and veneer wood planks. Inside is 33,000 square feet of minimalist, naturally lit exhibition space. 


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Inaugural exhibits include a retrospective of Ban’s disaster-relief buildings, as well as works by contemporary artists Yves Kein, David Hammons, Tomma Abts, and others. According to director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson, the free museum is committed to showcasing international, contemporary work with a social edge.


Melanie Lieberman is theEditorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.

Photos courtesy of Aspen Art Museum © Michael Moran/OTTO, Peter Feinzig

Hotel Tonight Extends Booking Window to One Week

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The last-minute hotel booking space is getting a little less last-minute, as HotelTonight is unveiling a new feature that lets users book their rooms a full week in advance. The new features, live today, respond to a need to have more flexibility when traveling in certain situations, says CEO Sam Shank, who for the first time talked about demographics beyond the spontaneous weekend traveler when I met with him earlier this week. Business travelers, he pointed out, would especially stand to gain from the new model, which allows you to wait until your schedule is set before deciding which neighborhood (or specific property) might be best suited for a particular trip.

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Cincinnati's Red Bikes and an Update on Destination Bikeshares

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Visitors to Cincinnati now have access to a collection of 200 bikes at 30 stations around the Ohio city’s central neighborhoods. With its new Red Bikes rentals, named after the hometown baseball team, Cincinnati is just one of an ever growing list of cities to embrace bicycle sharing programs.

While often designed primarily for locals, the hourly bike rentals serve travelers equally well. Here’s a quick update on the state of two-wheeling in America’s cities.

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Expedia.com Explores Vacation Rentals With HomeAway

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Travelers looking for accommodations can now test the waters in vacation rentals, via Expedia’s expanded listings from HomeAway. Following up on its 10,000-listing pilot program last October, it has added 115,000 properties for families and groups to choose from.

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MFA Houston Showcases the Grand Estate of Houghton Hall

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It is fair to say that the popular television drama Downton Abbey has reawakened interest in the grand English estate—and aristocratic life—as never before.  This weekend visitors to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston  have a last chance to experience one of the grandest of all such houses in the exhibition “Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House.” 

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Hop Aboard Amtrak's Vintage Great Dome Train for Fall Foliage Viewing

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As oak and birch leaves turn to deep reds and warm yellows, Amtrak will offer passengers the ideal viewing arrangement. From September 25 to November 4, its 1955 Great Dome car will be rolling through the Adirondack Mountains. The only one of its kind in Amtrak’s fleet, this double decker train car offers stunning panoramic views of New York state’s mountains and lakes from its floor-to-ceiling windows.

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Vegan Food Truck Wins Tenth Annual NYC Vendy Awards

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We love food trucks here at T+L, so this year's NYC Vendy Awards had our attention. Food truck vendors traveled to Governors Island, New York, Saturday for a cook-off at the tenth annual Vendy Awards. This year, twenty-five finalists were nominated online and competed in one of five categories at the event. 

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Trip4Real Offers Peer-to-Peer Tours in Spain

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Peer-to-peer, local, authentic: these are all buzzwords permeating the travel world—with no hints of disappearing any time soon. Our latest P2P find takes a page out of Vayable, a worldwide marketplace of local-led experiences. The Barcelona-based Trip4Real, which launched last year, is solely focused on Spain, with 3,000-plus activities in 50 cities, from popular spots such as Barcelona and Madrid to small towns in Basque Country.

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T-Mobile Now Offers In-Flight Texting

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Is T-Mobile trying to be the world's best network for travelers? All signs say yes. You likely already know about T-Mobile's free international data roaming features. Earlier we reported on T-Mobile's Wi-Fi calling features. Now, there's one more feather in the carrier's cap: free in-flight texting, picture messaging, and visual voicemail on all gogo-powered flights. The service is made possible thanks to a partnership with the in-flight Wi-Fi provider; like most announcements of this kind, this is being considered a limited time promotion (no end date has been announced).

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