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 United States



Southwestern Michigan’s Wine Country Delights the Senses

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Napa Valley in California; Tuscany in Italy; The Rioja region in Spain; and….Michigan? While the aforementioned destinations are top of mind as a wine lovers paradise, don’t overlook this lesser known but beautiful hidden gem just 90 minutes out of Chicago.
Round Barn Winery in Baroda
All up and down the southern shore of Lake Michigan are more than a dozen individual wineries often set on lush grounds offering a number of varietals. Some tasting rooms are private and require appointments, but many, such as the recently expanded Round Barn Winery in Baroda feature expansive tasting rooms and grounds which frequently fill with food trucks and live music in the summer and early fall. One of the best features of the Southwestern Michigan Wine Trail is the close proximity and easy drive between locations. Just a few miles down from Round Barn Winery is the popular Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant. A full-service restaurant and banquet facilities are available along with an expansive outdoor patio and adjoining bar space for wine tasting.…
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Desserts Glorious Desserts on the Highseas

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Chocolate Chocolate Orange Cake by Nadia Ali
When most people think about going on a cruise, the first thing that comes to mind is the dreamy vacation onboard a luxury ship surrounded by the sea. Spending evenings watching the cabaret shows, having a posh dinner and walking on the deck under the moon and stars. There are also various onboard activities and entertainment areas such as theatre shows and comedy night that lure people to take a cruise. All of this and you still get to travel, see destinations and partake in shore excursions at every port. Such excursions include interacting with stingrays in a coral garden to experiencing the mysteries of a Mayan kingdom.
Decadent Dessert by Nadia Ali
But for me, the best thing about a cruise was the desserts, glorious desserts! There were tables and tables of desserts and not just a sponge cake but decadent, sinful, specialty cakes and desserts.…
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Splashing about in Thrilling Indoor Water Parks

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Fun water characters by Nadia Ali
  The best thing about summer has got to be splashing about in water, after all, who doesn’t like getting wet when the days are balmy and hot. While many kids and adults look forward to the seasonal opening of the summer water parks there’s always the worry about the unpredictable weather, going on a rainy day or when there is extreme heat, dehydration or sun burn. So, what other way can you enjoy a water park without having to wait for summer or worry about the weather? Check out these indoor water adventures that are open year-round despite it being bitterly cold or extremely hot outside. Every one of these water parks features a heated indoor area that has slides, chutes, tree house bucket drops, pools and kiddie water spray areas, so let’s see what sets them apart.  
Photo of the entrance at Great Wolf Lodge, Washington courtesy Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge, Grand Mound, Washington This indoor water park is accessed as a guest only at the Great Wolf Lodge hotel with wristbands for free entrance as paying hotel guests.
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There’s More to Las Vegas than Casinos…

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Casinos? Ca’seen them. Yes, the megalith casinos keep getting bigger and bigger and they will likely always be the top draw for Vegas visitors. But when you are suffering from casino fatigue, and can’t take even one minute more of the atmosphere of smoke, sweat and desperation, take a look inside any of three museums that cry out “Vegas” but have nothing – okay, let’s say little – to do with casinos.   The Mob Museum (National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement) There are many American venues that would be appropriate for a museum dedicated to organized crime. But why not Las Vegas? The Mob didn’t come here after the city was long established; the Mob came here to establish the city. Of course, Vegas hardly held a monopoly of gangsters and guns.
Kegs and bottles help illustrate the long and tangled story of Prohibition at the Mob Museum.…
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The Fabled Colonial Key West

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Key West Aerial View by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau
Key West is described as the southernmost city giving visitors a taste of the Caribbean without even leaving the US. The tourist board even states Key West is a “unique tropical island city.” However it is defined, Key West is alluring, entertaining and peaceful all at the same time with sightseeing tours conducted on conch trains down roads lined with Colonial houses.
Chugging Train, Key West by Nadia Ali
The Conch Train One of the coolest things to see is the conch train chugging its way through the streets of Key West. It originally began back in 1958 by Bill and Olive Kroll and has become a signature attraction. Visitors can take a 90-minute tour on the tourist trolley which gives a somewhat rough ride compared to the smooth ride of cars today. It has just four stops and the tour guide gives the ins and out of the historical town and points of interest.…
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Seeing Providence, Rhode Island by Gondola

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Leaning back in our comfortable, padded seats, sipping on cold bottles of water, and watching the scenery of the city slide by on either side of us, we decided we had happened upon possibly the most comfortable and unique way to see a city. In a gondola. No, we were not in Italy. In fact, we were thousands of miles from Italy in a beautifully restored gondola on the Providence River in Providence, Rhode Island. Always interested in different city tours, we had happened upon the gondola tour as an option and were very pleased we had. La Gondola, although located in the most unlikely place for a gondola tour, provides a wonderful introduction to the city as you are paddled along the lovely Providence River. On the first morning of our visit to Providence, we trekked down to the river and the La Gondola dock from our hotel. We strolled along the river, admiring the view until the gondola returned from an early morning cruise.…
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Where to Eat, Stay, and Play During the Daytona 500

Friday, February 19, 2016

Daytona BeachThe Daytona Beach Welcome is right at the Speedway, which happens to be next to the airport.
With the Daytona 500 coming up the weekend of February 19th, most eyes in the Florida city will be on the racetrack, but that’s far from the only thing to do in Daytona Beach. Whether you are traveling here for the race weekend or planning a trip for another time, Daytona is ready with good food and a lot of fun.   Eat Along the Water Whether it’s an inlet or an ocean, you won’t have trouble finding water views to dine by in Daytona Beach, Florida. Many of the restaurants are right on the water, which also means the seafood couldn’t be fresher.
Crabby Joes DaytonaCrabby Joe’s in Daytona has become a popular breakfast spot thanks to the local fisherman.
Ocean Deck is a favorite of visitors and locals so be prepared for a full restaurant.…
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George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Monday, February 15, 2016

There they are, on full display in front of you: George Washington’s legendary false teeth, looking more like Johnny Rotten’s. The uppers aren’t that worse for wear, but the lowers have gaps that one could drive a truck through. But they are not made of wood as many believe. The first president’s choppers were crafted from the combination of elephant ivory, human teeth, and cow teeth.
Inside Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center: dentures exhibit. ©Michael Schuman
Despite the shoddy state of the stained dentures, Washington actually practiced pretty good dental hygiene. He brushed daily but suffered from repeated dental problems. While he was leading the rebellion against the Crown, his teeth were rebelling against him, resulting in abscesses and other dental maladies that caused him to rely on a mouthful of fake teeth by the time he was 57. Those who last visited Mount Vernon in the dark ages of the 20th century might be surprised to see how much has been added.…
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AHI LELE FIRE SHOW HEATS UP KAUAI

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ahi Lele (which translates to dancing/jumping fire) is a must-see!
After living on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kaua’i for the better half of last year, I had the privilege of experiencing many jaw-dropping cultural performances from local artists, musicians and dancers. Because Kauai is the type of mind-blowing place you visit once and think about every day for the rest of your life, I knew I had to return. This time around, I got wind of a new show, the Ahi Lele Fire Show by Destination Events Hawaii. After sharing a delightful brunch with my partner at Kitchen Table on Sunday afternoon and loving it, I revisited the open-aired venue on Wednesday night for the fire show, and I was certainly glad I did. It was, indeed, the best fire dancing performance I have ever seen. To top it off, I quickly learned that this is Kauai’s only exclusive fire show which includes a locally sourced three-course meal, embracing the farm-to-table concept in a bold and exciting way.…
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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A shaded forest with dappled sunlight dancing between the trees; a clear stream that cascades over a severe, silver rock face; a certain hush, save the occasional bird and the crunching of leaves underfoot, and there, in the middle of it, a house like a no other, rising from a waterfall.
Exterior view of Fallingwater from www.fallingwater.org
There’s a reason why Frank Lloyd Wright remains one of America’s most beloved architects. Falling Water, the stunning summer home that Wright designed for the wealthy Kauffman family in the 1930s, garnered instant fame for its daring position within (and incorporation of) the natural landscape. Falling Water Built between 1936 and 1939, the house appears to float over Bear Run, a mountain stream in the mountains southeast of Pittsburgh. It utilized innovative construction techniques, including cantilevers and reinforced concrete, all while somehow staying true in color, shape and texture to the surrounding environment, which was much loved by the Kauffman’s and their employees in Pittsburgh.…
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20 Years After Terror Attack, Oklahoma City Museum Undergoes Expansion

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A lot has happened since the pictures of devastation from the usually quiet municipality of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA made headlines 20 years ago. Heart-wrenching images of a bombed office building and broken bodies, the kind we are used to seeing from the Middle East and not the American Midwest, were on television screens and in newspapers in parts of the world that never knew Oklahoma City existed. The date was April 19, 1995. The time was 9:02 a.m. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, in the middle of downtown in the Oklahoma state capital, exploded with a hellish boom that people could hear 30 miles way. “Like a sonic boom, except at least 100 times louder,” said survivor Cathy Jean Coulter. Right away first responders knew the cost in humanity and lives was devastating. Two militant anti-government Americans and former Army buddies, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, were captured shortly afterwards, and in time, tried and convicted.…
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Choo Choo! A Scenic Trip on the Verde Canyon Railroad

 United States

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lounging back on the comfortable love seat of the First Class railroad car on the train, I popped a chocolate brownie in my mouth. There was a sumptuous spread of food on the table before me and someone was strolling around taking drink orders. I could not be more comfortable. This was the way to travel. On a train. No tiny airline seats, no elbows banged into your head as people pass, no seats reclined into your lap, no dry peanuts. Not only was this First Class railroad car itself completely comfortable and relaxing during our scenic journey on the Verde Canyon Railroad in Clarkdale, Arizona, the view out the window for the entire trip was absolutely spectacular. The Verde Canyon Railroad is a very popular outing in the Clarkdale area. The parking lot was full when we arrived and people were streaming into the quaint depot to buy tickets. Luckily, we had tickets waiting for us because they had been arranged prior to our trip but I had no idea if they were Coach or First Class.…
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Happy 100th Birthday to San Diego’s Famed Balboa Park

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Balboa Park, just outside Automotive Museum.
A century ago, the world came to San Diego – an amazing feat, considering that much of the world did not know San Diego existed. The occasion was the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Its purpose was to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal. In 1915, San Diego, today the eighth largest city in the United States, was Lilliputian with a population of roughly 32,000. Both San Francisco and Los Angeles had a few hundred thousand citizens each; San Francisco was even hosting a dueling expo, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. But on July 9th, 1909, prominent San Diego banker G. Aubrey Davidson formally suggested that his city, a toddling beach community located in the big toe of the Golden State, host an exhibition in 1915 to celebrate the man-made marvel’s opening. If the event made the city a household name and helped it bounce back from the economic Panic of 1907, so much the better.…
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Art in Philadelphia: More than just the Rocky Steps

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

To most, the name “Philadelphia” is synonymous with Rocky Balboa, the Liberty Bell, and soft pretzels.  But the cradle of American democracy boasts more than its well-known slew of historic landmarks and pop culture references – it is also home to a large number of world class art museums, complete with its very own Avenue des Champs-Élysées leading from City Hall to what is, arguably, the crown jewel in the city’s collection: The Philadelphia Museum of Art. But before we talk about the PMA, let’s start with a few other sites not to be missed.  Heading northwest from the city center along Benjamin Franklin Parkway, you’ll pass Logan Square (an architectural delight itself) before coming to the new (if controversial) home of the Barnes Foundation.  Established by Dr. Albert C. Barnes in 1922 to “promote the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts and horticulture” the collection was originally housed on the Barnes estate in Merion before it was brought to Philadelphia in 2012.…
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