Gwen McClure headshot
Gwen McClure headshot

Gwen McClure

Gwen McClure is an American journalist living in Auckland, New Zealand. Before moving to the bottom of the world, Gwen lived in New York, and she grew up in Portland, Oregon. In between, she studied French in Paris, France, interned at a newspaper in Johannesburg, South Africa, taught English on Jeju Island, South Korea, and traveled extensively through Asia and Europe. For more than a decade, Gwen has been a journalist. Now, she produces a nightly current affairs show, as well as documenting the highlights of New Zealand for publications including Travel + Leisure, Departures, and Celebrated Living, among others.

* 10+ years of experience working as a journalist
* Received a master's degree in journalism from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
* Lived in South Africa, France, South Korea, Australia, the U.S., and New Zealand
With borders reopening, now is the perfect time to book a luxury road trip through New Zealand.
Imagine trying to explain a diner to someone who’s never eaten in one. It’s like a restaurant, but not quite; like a cafe, but not quite; like a bistro; but not quite. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of plopping down on a stool at the countertop for a milkshake, here’s what makes a diner a diner: They’re inexpensive, casual, open late (often around the clock), and serve a menu chock-full of all-American classics with a side of nostalgia. That nostalgia comes from the fact that diners have been part of the American experience since the late 1800s. According to the American Diner Museum, back then, men started selling sandwiches out of horse drawn carriages, and pretty quickly, companies were manufacturing made-for-purpose modified carriages with counters and stools, so customers could eat inside. By the 1920s, the old-fashioned horse-drawn cart gave way to the railway car, and the modern-day diner was born. Throughout the decades, design in diners has followed trends. In the '50s, the space race meant neon rockets and stainless steel countertops. In the '60s, Mediterranean and neoclassical styles became popular as diners fought to maintain customers’ interest while fast food gained popularity. It clearly worked: Fast food stuck around, but diners did, too. Sure, fast food restaurants are ubiquitous and inexpensive, but so are diners. Even the predictability of fast food can’t compete. You always know what you’re getting when you pull up to the drive-thru of a chain, but diners offer similar menus everywhere, with the chance of much better food. No matter where you are, you can count on hot coffee with a tiny pitcher of milk. The menu will always be long (and arrive on your table in a folded plastic sleeve) and chances are it will include a short stack of buttermilk pancakes with a scoop of melting butter on top, chicken and biscuits, smothered in gravy, and an oversized hamburger with chunky fries and a small side salad. Whether you’ve gone for pancakes or the burger, your condiments (maple syrup and Heinz ketchup, respectively) will be sitting on the table already. Diners have cemented themselves in American culture, and these days, they’re an attraction in and of themselves. And while many are good, some are absolutely great. To determine the 25 best diners in the country, Yelp ranked businesses in the diner category, excluding large chains. “Best,” according to Yelp, is based on an algorithm that looks both at the number of reviews and star ratings. No more than two diners per state can make the list in order to ensure geographic diversity. Whether you’re sliding into a booth for breakfast or pulling off the highway for a midnight snack, keep an eye out for these excellent establishments.
The Oxford Dictionary defines barbecue as “a meal or gathering at which meat, fish, or other food is cooked out of doors on a rack over an open fire or on a special appliance.” But Oxford is in England, and any self-respecting Southerner knows that the definition of barbecue isn't as straightforward as cooking meat outdoors. In the U.S., and especially in the South, barbecue is a staple, and it’s all about cooking meat ‘low and slow’ so the end result is tender, melt-in-your mouth meat filled with flavor. Barbecue aficionados are on the same page when it comes to the meal’s importance to America’s culinary scene, but that’s where the agreement ends. From state to state, and even within, regional variations mean fierce competition for who claims rights to the best type of barbecue, and more than one state lays claim to being the birthplace as well. There’s pulled pork, brisket, pork ribs, chicken, beef ribs, pork shoulder, and a whole lot more. The list of seasonings is just as long, with dry rubs, vinegars, mustards, and hot sauces. And sure, they’re not barbecue, but you’ll want to indulge in the side dishes, too. Think potato salad, mac’n’cheese, coleslaw, cornbread, and baked beans. Humans have been cooking over open flames since they lived in caves, but today’s style of barbecue likely originated during the colonization of the U.S. (If you’re still imitating the caveman’s style of grilling, you’re doing it wrong. Turn down the heat, leave the meat covered and smoke it, slowly.) The word barbecue likely comes from the Arawak word for a wooden frame, barbacoa, which was sometimes used as a structure to cook meat. Pork became popular with British colonizers because pigs gave them a lot of bang for their buck: they were easy to keep, and the meat from one pig went a long way. When it came time to cook, the community would get together for the feast, and the modern-day barbecue as a social event was born. Barbecue got a foothold in American culture during those colonial times, and has been around ever since. George Washington wrote in his diaries about barbecuing, and Andrew Jackson rose to power during a time when barbecues were getting political. In the early 1800s, the gatherings were a popular way for politicians to wrangle a crowd. Not everyone was a fan. One particular fellow who dubbed himself Barbecuensis went on a crusade to try to end the trend, which he thought was sloppy and distracted voters from the real issues. He clearly failed to alter the course of barbecue history, given that even modern day presidents make a point to eat at local joints when they’re on tour — remember when Obama reportedly became the first ever person to skip the hours-long line at Austin’s Franklin Barbecue? We can’t help you cut the queue — pun intended — but we’ve saved you some time with this list, compiled by Yelp, of the best 25 places to enjoy barbecue across the U.S. “Best” is based on Yelp's algorithm that looks at both the number of reviews as well as the star rating. Large chains were excluded, and there are no more than two establishments from each state to ensure geographic diversity.
The first day of summer is technically June 21, but Memorial Day weekend heralds the unofficial beginning of the season. Even if the weather isn’t perfect, the weekend signals to winter-weary Americans across the country that they can finally — finally! — put away their winter coat, dust off the barbecue, and replace last year’s expired sunscreen. After cold weather snaps across the West Coast, and four nor’easters that forced East Coasters to Google the terms “ bomb cyclone” and “bombogenesis,” the summer months can’t come fast enough. One of the first times Memorial Day was observed was in 1868, a few years after the end of the Civil War, when mourners gathered at Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia. Back then, it was known as Decoration Day, and was marked by speeches and a parade of people delivering flowers to the graves of soldiers. Today, Americans commemorate the efforts of soldiers in much the same way. At Arlington National Cemetery, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment places more than 230,000 flags at gravesites. And in cities across the country, parades honour those who fought in U.S. wars. In addition to remembering the reason for the holiday, the three-day weekend means the opportunity for a quick escape. AAA estimates that more than 41.5 million people will take advantage of the opportunity to head out of town this Memorial Day. Despite higher than normal gas prices, a whopping 89 percent will be traveling by car. Plan ahead by looking at local projections of the best and worst times to leave town, then pick a playlist, pack some snacks, and enjoy the open road. You don’t have to go far from home to make the most of the holiday weekend. If you’ve left your planning to the last minute, there's no reason to worry. Yelp compiled the top 10 trending Memorial Day destinations by looking at cities that saw the biggest spike in search traffic before the holiday in 2017. From national parks to beachfront boardwalks, here's where to have a great weekend.
A little over a decade ago, it was easy to arrive in a new-to-you destination with a guide book in hand and little expectation of what awaited you. Thanks to the internet and the proliferation of social media, today’s travelers can scroll through thousands of photos to see every angle of their next destination before stepping foot off a plane. For all the good things about this, it can also have drawbacks. Aside from crowds at sites from Angkor Wat to the Trevi Fountain, and inception-style vacation photos filled with hundreds of smaller LCD screens glowing with the same view, having already seen hundreds of photos can take the wow-factor out of visiting a new spot. The cure? Heading out into the wild to check out some of nature’s most striking landscapes. Whether that means paddling through the flooded Amazon with sloths dawdling overhead or gliding past snow-capped peaks in New Zealand’s South Island, there are some places that must be seen to be believed. And while camping under the stars in the middle of a desert might appeal to some intrepid travelers, there’s good news for everyone else: You don’t need to forgo creature comforts to get up close and personal with nature. Around the world, some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes are also home to destination resorts — and if there’s something better than watching the Northern Lights flash through the sky, it’s doing so from an indoor spa tub. Here are 10 destination resorts that take the idea of “a room with a view” to another level.
Next time you’re in Paris, skip the packed tourist centers and base yourself in a quieter, cooler part of town.