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Where to Experience Portuguese Culture in Macau

Macau

Macau, a former colony of Portugal, is a tiny peninsula off the coast of mainland China with a unique blend of Chinese and Portuguese cultures. Located less than an hour from Hong Kong, Macau is home to a massive gambling industry that dwarfs that of Las Vegas, not to mention glitzy hotels, luxurious spas, high-end shopping, and other markers of opulence.

But in spite of all that, the Portuguese influence has not been completely removed. From the cobblestone streets and dual-language signage to the plethora of Portuguese dining options that remain true to their roots, experiencing Portugal in Macau is easy if you know where to look.

What to Know

Dual Language Street Signs

In 1557, Macau, now a Special Administrative Region of China, became a Portuguese colony for trading purposes. The colony’s economy flourished, playing a central role in the Portuguese trade route. In 1841, the British Empire took over Hong Kong and much of the former trade business of Macau, administering a devastating blow to the Macanese economy. To counteract this, in 1844, Portugal legalized gambling and casinos on the peninsula, taking the first step toward creating the Macau we know today. By 1999, Portugal signed Macau back to China, handing over the last European colony in all of Asia. These days, the colonization of Macau has ended, but the Portuguese influence is anything but absent. 

What to Eat

Egg Tarts

No visit to Macau is complete without a bite of the famous egg tarts. Savory, rather than sweet like the Portuguese version, these bite-sized tarts are available at every corner. The original two Lord Stow’s locations are responsible for creating the buzz and the tweaked recipe.

Miramar

A traditional Portuguese lunch of bacalao is easy to find, but for local favorites Restaurante Fernando and Miramar, you’ll have to venture a bit farther. These beachside eateries rest at the farthest tip of Macau’s chain of islands, but their reputations are enough to warrant the journey. Make sure to ask for vinho verde (young white wine from Portugal) and end your meal with a sip of Port.

What to See

Street Designs

Ignore the oft-used advice to “look up!” and instead focus on what lies at your feet. Designs laid in stone in the typical Portuguese style create dizzying patterns, spirals, and symbols throughout Macau. Originally created from broken pottery pieces that sailors would bring over to counterbalance their ships and then simply dumped on Macau soil, these designs are now created by Portuguese artists to bring the tradition and design into this century.

Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos debuts her largest work yet at the Grande Praça - MGM Macau. Running through October 2015, the "Valkyrie Octopus" exhibit draws its inspiration from Norse mythology, while its spirit and embroidery stem from Portugal.

Where to Stay

If you are looking to escape the bright lights of the massive casinos for a quieter, more cultural experience, look no further than the Pousada de Sao Tiago. You’ll find charm and history converge atop this shaded hillside hotel, housed in a former fortress, with panoramic views of the Macau harbor. Sunsets here hold their own against the flashing color of Macau’s casino floors, and the dramatic stone walls and grand staircases will transport you back in time. 

America's 10 Best Summer Road Trips for 2015

With gas prices predicted to remain at travel-tempting lows, 2015 is destined to be the summer of the road trip. Around the country, new additions are spicing up classic routes, and important anniversaries are being celebrated along dedicated drives. Add in a few itineraries inspired by summer blockbusters, and you’ve got ten exciting and affordable options for a memorable summer road trip vacation. Pack up the trunk, prep your music playlists, and get ready to explore America.

By Jess Moss

Beginner�s Guide to Hawaii: Kauai

Kauai

We’re rounding out our three-part beginner’s guide to Hawaii with the Garden Isle of Kauai. Each of the Hawaiian Islands has something unique and special, making them all desirable places to visit. We began our guide recommending the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai for a perfect blend of tourism and culture. Part two focused on the active and adventurous “Big Island,” as well as the most visited island, Oahu, which offers both the densely populated major city of Honolulu and off-the-beaten-path options, like the North Shore. But we've saved the best for last, so now it’s time for Kauai.

Kauai

Kauai

The island of Kauai truly stands apart and holds a special place in the hearts of many who have visited. The oldest, northernmost, and fourth-largest island in the Hawaiian chain, Kauai is covered in shades of green. It’s filled with valleys, sharp mountain spires, and jagged cliffs aged by the elements over time. There are tropical rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and forking rivers throughout, and parts of the island are only accessible by sea or air, which means a lot of what you can see is untouched and breathtaking. It's so beautiful, in fact, that more than fifty major motion pictures have been filmed here, including South Pacific, Jurassic Park, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and The Descendants.

There is a lot to see on Kauai, and the best way to get a sense of what the island has to offer is to view the island from above. AirVentures Hawaii, located near Lihue Airport, has three aircraft options including a six-passenger GA-8 Airvan and Kauai’s only biplane, the YMF-5 Super. Seeing the island from a small plane provides epic aerial views at a slightly lower cost than a helicopter tour—by far the most popular activity on the island. For those who prefer to get closer to the waterfalls and can stomach a windy helicopter ride, Sunshine Helicopters has great tours departing from Princeville. 

Kauai

Places not to miss in Kauai include Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park. Waimea Canyon, ten miles long and two miles wide, was nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” by Mark Twain. It is located in the western part of Kauai and is accessible by two roads, from either side of the island. Kokee State Park is more than 4,000 acres and has approximately 45 miles of hiking trails, some of which lead into the canyon. There are also two drivable lookouts: the Kalalau Lookout and the Puu o Kila Lookout, both of which provide gorgeous views. Also worth a visit is the Limahuli Garden and Preserve, which is set in the Lawai Valley in Haena on the North Shore of Kauai and extends to 1,000 acres of verdant tropical valley and covers three distinct ecological zones.

Also on the North Shore is the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, which offers amazing views of the Pacific and a chance to visit the historic Kilauea Lighthouse, an entrant on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. Check out the island’s premier tour operator, Princeville Ranch Adventures, and enjoy a leisurely horseback ride that leads to a hike and ends with a waterfall picnic. It also provides zip-line, off-road, kayak, and hiking tours. Kauai’s South Shore is definitely sunnier than the north and has some must-sees. Poipu Beach is for the beach lovers. It’s also family-friendly for swimming, snorkeling, and more. Spouting Horn, close to Poipu Beach, features a blowhole that releases a spout of water twenty feet or more into the air. Old Koloa Town is located on the South Shore, as is the Koloa Heritage Trail, which highlights significant cultural, historical, and geological sites.

Kauai

Where to Stay

The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas are located 200 feet above Anini Beach on a lush bluff. These long-stay, family-friendly villas come with homey comforts, along with four revitalizing pools, a two-story clubhouse, a restaurant, a poolside bar and grill, and a general store, not to mention the added health programs that come with staying at a Westin.

St. Regis Princeville overlooks Hanalei Bay, one of the most beautiful sites in the world. This luxury property has world-class golf, a sanctuary within its Halele’a Spa, four remarkable dining experiences, and the famed St. Regis Butler service.

Sheraton Kauai Resort occupies 20 oceanfront acres on Kauai’s Poipu Beach, one of the most coveted beaches on all of the islands. The property recently underwent a $16 million revitalization, which includes a new lobby and courtyard featuring fire pits, new bungalows by the Ocean Pool, and updates to its stellar dining options at its signature restaurants, Rum Fire and Lava’s on Poipu Beach.

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is an AAA Four Diamond resort set in the heart of Poipu that contains nine dining outlets; a 1.5-acre saltwater swimming lagoon offering kayak rentals; and two freshwater outdoor pools with connecting “river pools,” wrap-around sundecks, and a 150-foot waterslide.

Inside One World Trade Center's Stunning New Observatory

Joining the ranks of the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, the $100 million, three-story attraction atop One World Trade Center, offers breathtaking views of New York City and beyond. But there’s more than just views here—and there should be, given the $32 ticket price—from dazzling, high-tech elevators to fine dining. The observatory opens to the public on May 29, but we got a sneak peek inside what will certainly be one of the city’s most-visited sites, expected to attract between three and four million viewers annually. Read on to see some of the observatory’s unique features and, yes, more of those incredible views.

By Michael Alan Connelly

Fodor's Week in Travel: Indulge Yourself

It's time to treat yourself, and we're here to help. From splurging on a new weekender to giving in to the temptation of a juicy cheeseburger, our weekly roundup has you covered.

World's 10 Most Fashionable Hotel Suites

Eloise Suite at The Plaza Hotel

Pretend you're Eloise or Holly Golightly and spoil yourself with a stay at a gorgeous hotel suite designed by big-name fashion labels and jewelers.

Beginner's Guide to Hawaii: Oahu and the Big Island

Hawaii

Pamper yourself with a Hawaiian getaway and spend a week sunning on these beautiful beaches and exploring the awe-inspiring nature on these two islands.

Fodor's Approved: 2015's Best Summer Weekend Bags

Hook & Albert Leather Garment Weekender Bag

Add one of these staff-approved weekenders to your next shopping spree.

America's Best Burger Joints

B Spot

Forget about that bikini-body diet and sink your teeth into some of the best burgers in the nation.

10 Reasons to Visit Long Island Now

Many people think Long Island is just the suburbs of New York City, but it’s actually a fascinating destination on its own, offering a variety of experiences for every traveler. And with so many of Long Island’s sites easily accessible via train or car, this is a destination not to be missed. Glamorous history, spectacular food and drinks, luxurious accommodations, phenomenal scenic landscapes—Long Island has it all. Here are our picks for Long Island’s must-see attractions, from Gold Coast mansions to vineyards in the North Fork.

By Jennifer Arnow

America's Best Burger Joints

From In-N-Out and White Castle to menus from Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Daniel Boulud, no food spans the gap between high-end and budget dining like the classic American burger. Yet while there are many great burgers in bars and restaurants across the country, there's nothing quite like burger joints, where you're spoiled for choice when it comes to toppings, sides, and shakes. Whether you’re in search of the birthplace of the American burger or a spot with a more modern twist, here are ten of America’s best burger joints.

By Abbey Chase

America's Best Urban Bike Paths

Every May since 1956, communities from coast to coast celebrate National Bike Month. It’s the perfect excuse to hang up your car keys or ditch the subway and see the world from a fresh, wind-in-your-hair perspective. And while cycling can be a great way to commune with nature, cities all across the United States—from Sacramento to Indianapolis and down to St. Petersburg—are developing more cyclist-friendly environments with designated bike paths. Luckily for travelers, these urban trails double as roadmaps to the very best of art, dining, and adventure in each destination, no matter what time of year.

By Katarina Kovacevic

Beginner's Guide to Hawaii: Oahu and the Big Island

Hawaii

Continuing our three-part series on how to see Hawaii for the first time, this installment moves on to the largest Hawaiian island, as well as the most visited of the six tourist islands. Hawaii is actually made up of eight islands, but Niihau and Kahoolawe are both off limits to tourists without special permission and permits. In part one of our guide, we highlighted Maui, which offers the perfect blend of culture and tourism that looks like the Hawaii seen in films and postcards. Also included were Lanai and Molokai, the smallest of the six islands, both of which provide that much needed connection to Hawaiian history and tradition. Now we move onto Oahu, home of Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, and Hawaii (the Big Island), home of five volcanoes, three of which are active.

Oahu

Oahu

Given that it's the most populated island in Hawaii, Oahu has a little bit of everything. Honolulu is an international destination: the city offers a world-class shopping scene, exciting nightlife, an abundance of highly rated hotels, and a culinary scene that rivals major cities around the world. Yes, it’s home to the most crowded Hawaiian beach, Waikiki Beach, but Oahu has a lot more to offer than most travelers might guess. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in Honolulu, so it’s good to break away and experience the more mellow side of Oahu in addition to all the hot tourist spots.

Perhaps the most famous site in all of Hawaii is Leahi Diamond Head State Monument, a 475-acre land crater created more than 300,000 years ago from a single explosion. It costs all of $1 to walk in (or $5 to drive) and enjoy the views. Open from 6 am to 6 pm daily, it’s a great way to spend a day. Five miles from downtown Honolulu is the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, which has vistas considered to be the best on all of the islands, and a 1,000-foot perch that looks down on Honolulu, Kailua, Kaneohe, and more; it’s also possible to see the Honolulu Botanical Gardens and the University of Hawaii, both additional locations to add to your itinerary. For another outdoor activity, Hanauma Bay State Park has the reputation for the best snorkeling. Situated in the remnants of a volcanic crater, the park, located just thirty minutes from Honolulu by car, has an admission price of $7.50 per person, deep blue waters, and an abundance of undersea life.

Oahu

For some Hawaiian history, the Polynesian Cultural Center takes visitors back in time to the days of the Polynesian monarchy, long before Hawaii was ever part of the United States. There are eight different packaged “experience” options for visitors to enjoy, including the Super Ambassador Package, which includes special seating and backstage access in addition to the dining experience provided with every package. Also located on Oahu is the Dole Plantation, which offers a tour, a garden maze, and even a train tour, which is popular with children. Admission to the Dole Plantation is free, but activities each have a cost. Finally, a trip to Pearl Harbor is a right of passage for visitors to Oahu. The USS Arizona is still visible from the surface of the water, and Pearl Harbor Tours provide somber experiences filled with history and remembrance.

But no trip to Oahu is complete without a visit to the North Shore, just about an hour-long drive from Waikiki. There are places to eat, shop, and hang with locals, but most importantly, there are places to surf. The beaches of the North Shore stretch seven miles and host the world’s premier surfing competitions, meaning the surf is intended for only professionals and spectators. Waimea Bay, Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach are some of the most coveted beaches in the world, and taking a day to explore the North Shore will provide a mini escape from the madness of Honolulu.

Oahu

Where to Stay:

The Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927 and is known as the “Pink Palace of the Pacific.” This historic, yet modern, 528-room resort boasts the award-winning Azure Restaurant and Mai Tai Bar, as well as Waikiki’s only beachfront luau, Aha Aina.

Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa is an elegant 793-room resort that opened in 1901 and recently underwent a $20 million transformation. It's also home to Beach Bar in the legendary Banyan Courtyard.

The Modern Honolulu is cosmopolitan and chic, a sophisticated hotel overlooking the marina. Footsteps away from the top-ranked beach in America, it is also home to Morimoto Waikiki, one of the best dining experiences on the island.

The Big Island

Hawaii

Often referred to as the “Big Island,” Hawaii is the largest and most volcanically active island in the Hawaiian chain, an ideal destination for the active, outdoorsy traveler. There are hundreds of miles of coastline for surfers, swimmers, and snorkelers, as well as volcanoes with ever-changing landscapes. The west side of the island, Kailua-Kona, is home to the larger resorts and world-class golf courses. Hilo, located on the east side of the island is home to a rainforest, waterfalls, and red-hot flowing lava. Head to Volcano Village, located around the corner from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can participate in the famous Kona Manta Ray Night Dive, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Big Island has a little bit of everything and will definitely provide that thrill-seeking adventure some travelers crave. To get a sense of what the entire island has to offer, most guests opt to take a helicopter tour to get an up-close look of hidden waterfalls and fresh lava flows. Zip-lining, whale watching, scuba diving, hiking, biking, and camping are popular as well. When it’s time to slow down a bit, a visit to the breathtaking Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s most sacred location, provides some of the best stargazing in all of the Islands. Waipio Valley has one of the most stunning views, but it’s the horseback riding trails leading to waterfalls within the valley that attract most visitors. For the ultimate in dolphin experiences, the Sunlight on Water dolphin eco-tour is the best way to behold the magnificence of the animals, as the company operates with the utmost respect and care for them while still providing an incredible memory.

Hawaii

Where to Stay:

Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa is situated on the iconic lava rocks of the Kona coast. This property overlooks the historic Keahou Bay and provides guests with endless resort activities.

Hilton Waikoloa Village is a 62-acre resort that's a trip in itself, with 1,240 guestrooms, three fresh-water swimming pools, an ocean-fed snorkeling lagoon with aquatic life, Dolphin Quest educational center, thirteen dining and bar options, a museum walkway, and more.

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai, set on the North Kona Coast, offers a dramatic mix of white-sand beaches and black-lava landscapes. The expansive open-air living spaces provide an authentic, yet luxurious, Hawaiian experience. 

Fodor's Approved: 2015's Best Summer Weekend Bags

Summer is all about carefree weekend getaways, but before you can have any fun, first you need to find the perfect weekend bag. Whether you're looking for a tote to sling over your shoulder at the beach or a duffle to throw in the trunk for a road trip, it’s not always easy to find a bag that’s fashionable and functional. We’ve tested a bunch, from an eye-popping, pink-confetti weekender to a convertible garment bag made of smooth leather, and selected our favorites. Read on to find your new favorite travel companion.

World's 10 Most Fashionable Hotel Suites

The décor of a hotel room or suite is always important, but in some cases, it becomes the main attraction. Around the world, renowned haute couture houses, leather artisans, and jewelers have decked out luxury hotel suites from top to bottom with their iconic designs. From Chicago to Berlin to Hong Kong, here’s where you’ll find the best-dressed hotel suites and celebrate your favorite designers.

By Anja Mutic

15 Incredible Biking Tours Around the World

Escape the crowds of tourists and make your own tracks on a bike tour, the best way to uncover a region at your own pace. We’ve rounded up fifteen breathtaking bike tours around the world that will take you past ancient glaciers, active volcanoes, bustling villages, lava-sand beaches, and more. So grab your helmet—and your sense of adventure—and let’s hit the road.

By Kathleen Rellihan

America�s Most Stunning Waterfalls

Mighty and majestic, waterfalls are one of nature's most incredible and dramatic features. Though they can easily be found in many locations across the country, the most awe-inspiring waterfalls have become destinations in their own right. From a surging water wall to an indoor torrent 30 million years in the making, these waterfalls capture the power and beauty of nature in one stunning sight.

By Zachary Laks

10 Best Taco Spots in the U.S.

With expertly homemade tortillas, succulent meats, and intensely flavorful salsas, the perfect taco packs a lot of flavor into every single bite. As the latest street food to receive a highbrow makeover, tacos lend themselves well to innovative chefs looking to put a personal spin on a classic. While a few of the restaurants featured here have menus with a unique twist, most stick to basics and serve up simply delicious, traditionally prepared street tacos. Here are ten of our favorite taco joints across the country, serving up the perfect food for warm weather.

By Abbey Chase

Beginner's Guide to Hawaii: Maui, Lanai, and Molokai

Maui

First-time visitors to Hawaii can be overwhelmed when planning their trips. After all, the state has six tourist islands—which is the right one to experience? It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking Waikiki Beach and Honolulu should be the first stops, especially because most of the direct flight options land on Oahu. Though Oahu has its draws, it really shouldn’t be the first stop for new visitors; Honolulu is a big city with lots of traffic and loads of tourists, and it doesn't accurately reflect what other islands have to offer.

We’ve compiled a three-part series on how to see Hawaii for the first time, and it starts with Maui, which has the perfect mixture of tourism and culture, plus two lesser-known islands: Lanai and Molokai, both of which are easily accessible from Maui and can provide an authentic Hawaiian experience.

Maui

Maui

Maui is just as popular as its sister island of Oahu and can be reached via direct flights from the mainland. What sets Maui apart is that although there are central tourist areas on the island, there’s a lot left to explore and discover beyond that. The island is large, and getting from one side to the other can be daunting, so planning your itinerary with specific locations in mind will help decrease time spent behind the wheel. Maui is for lovers, families, and even groups of friends looking for an escape. As with all the islands, the weather depends on the season, but the Wailea side tends to see the most sunny days. But all it takes is some good planning to get the most out of any weather.

If you are going to Maui, you have to wake up early on the first day and head to Haleakala to catch the stunning sunrise from the top of the crater. Depending on where you are staying on the island, the drive can take some time, especially with traffic. (Make sure to bring warm clothes, as it’s a lot colder at the higher altitudes.) To get a bird’s eye view of the island, Proflyght Paragliding has a two flight options, great for all levels of jumpers because they are tandem jumps. Additional activities in the area include tastings and tours at Surfing Goat Dairy Farm or Tedeschi Vineyards and Winery.

Maui

For the more adventurous travelers, Maui Easy Riders offers a downhill bicycle tour of the Haleakala volcano, and Skyline Eco Adventures has zip lines that overlook Maui’s historic Lahaina town and boast incredible views of West Maui. When it’s time to wind down a bit, Atlantis Submarine Tours has 45-minute rides that depart from Lahaina Harbor and provide a one-of-a-kind view of the ocean floor. Gemini Sailing Charters has many options for visitors, but their two-hour sunset cruise with a complimentary bar is not to be missed. 

Finding good food on Maui is fortunately not a problem, and there is an abundance of great restaurants scattered throughout the island. Some places not to miss include Mama’s Fish House on the North Shore, Ferraro’s Bar e Ristorante at the Four Seasons Maui, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a at the Grand Wailea Resort, The Plantation House in Kapalua, Ka’ana Kitchen at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, Star Noodle in Lahaina, Cuatro in Kihei, and newcomers to the food scene Cow Pig Bun (535 Lipoa Pkwy.; 808-875-8100) and Joe’s Nuevo Latino (131 Wailea Ike Pl.; 808-875-7767), both garnering much well-deserved attention.

Where To Stay

Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is one of the most stunning family-friendly resorts in Wailea, with award-winning dining, spa, and amenities and one of the best coastlines in all of Maui.

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa recently completed a multi-million dollar refresh and offers many ways to rejuvenate, including its 87,000-square-foot aquatic playground.

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa is on Kaanapali Beach at the foot of the legendary Black Rock, which means it boasts breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean from every guest room.

Lanai

Lanai

Lanai is currently accessible via Expeditions Ferry from Lahaina Harbor in Maui. Fortunately, the island provides a unique experience that doesn’t require advanced planning if you’re heading over for a day of snorkeling in Manele Bay. A quick hike to view Pu’u Pehe (Sweetheart Rock), which represents an ancient Hawaiian legend of lovers, is a must; nearby are the tidal pools of Hulopoe Bay. For the best tour of the island, Rabaca’s Limousine visits the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center, Keahiakawelo (Garden of the Gods), and Kaiolohia (Shipwreck Beach). For more active visitors, archery at Lanai Pine Sporting Clays is a highly coveted secret on the island.

The heart of Lanai City is Dole Square, dotted with local boutiques, galleries, and places to eat. Dis 'N Dat is the most unique and most visited boutique in the city; it isn’t hard to find thanks to the bright yellow car proudly parked on the front lawn. Amazing dining options are available at the hotels on the island, but for more local cuisine, check out Blue Ginger Café, Canoes Lanai Restaurant (419 7th St.; 808-565-6537), and the Lanai Ohana Poke Market.

Where To Stay

Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is situated on the cliffs of Manele Bay. This newly renovated property rivals the best Maui hotels and is providing cutting-edge technology conveniences for guests.

Four Seasons Resort Lanai, The Lodge at Koele provides a completely different atmosphere from Manele Bay. It's the more rustic, yet luxurious, lodge of the Four Seasons. Shuttle service between the two properties is available.

Molokai

Molokai

Molokai is one of the least visited islands of Hawaii but can be reached via daily flights from Maui and Oahu, as well as ferry service from Maui. The island remains true to its island roots, as there are no traffic lights and a lot of aloha spirit. The harbor town of Kaunakakai is where fisherman fish and farmers showcase fresh-picked produce. Molokai is also the birthplace of the hula and home to one of the most sacred spots in Hawaii, Halawa Valley, which can be visited by setting up a private tour with the family who resides there. Visitors can also descend 1,700 feet by mule to the remote settlement of Kalaupapa. Molokai is a very spiritual experience, and it’s important to be respectful of the locals. They have only recently begun accepting visits from tourists, unlike the rest of the islands, which have been doing so for decades.

Where to Stay

Hotel Molokai offers a a mix of authentic Hawaiian traditions (like live ukulele on Friday nights) and modern accommodations.

Molokai Shores helps bring guests closer to nature with its ocean views and four acres of lawn. 

10 Recently Renovated Destination Spas in the U.S.

From the treatment rooms to the décor, even the finest resorts can show wear and tear through the years, and there’s nothing more dispiriting than checking into a luxury retreat to find it feels old and uninspired. Millions are spent each year in a never-ending race to update the country’s premium vacation spots with the most contemporary finishes. From transforming color schemes to building a lazy river, these ten newly renovated destination spa sanctuaries have invested huge sums to deliver the most exciting and refreshing guest experiences in the past year. And believe us, it shows.

By Zachary Laks

10 Best U.S. Summer Food Festivals for 2015

Summer is festival season, and there’s one in every corner of the U.S. to suit every taste. From pig roasts to cheese fests, food trucks to cherries, we’re here to help you find a summer food festival worth traveling for.

by Katherine Martinelli

Fodor's Week in Travel: Travel Tips

Looking for more than just recommendations for beautiful places to visit? We've got insider advice and useful pointers to help you get the most out of your vacation. Check out our weekly roundup for our suggestions from what not to do on trips to how to tip in France.

10 Things Not to Do in Atlanta 

10 Things Not to Do in Atlanta

Don't overwhelm yourself with all Atlanta has to offer. Stay away from these ten don'ts to make the most of your trip. 

Eurostar Introduces New Routes to the South of France

If you're searching for a quick trip to Lyon, Avignon, or Marseille from England, check out these new tracks.

12 Things Not to Do in Los Angeles 

12 Things Not to Do in Los Angeles

Follow our expert advice on what to steer clear of in the City of Angels.

How to Tip in France

How to Tip in France

Take our cheat sheet with you on your next trip to Paris so that you'll never give the wrong amount again. 

World's 15 Most Scenic Train Rides

In a relaxation showdown amongst trains, planes, and automobiles, trains win as the most laidback style of travel, allowing you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the view. Luckily, some of the world’s most beautiful destinations are also home to the most scenic train rides—journeys ranging from a few hours to more than a week, costing as little as two movie tickets or as much as a luxury cruise, and traversing terrain as dramatic as snow-capped peaks or orange-hued deserts. Here's a look at 15 exceptionally scenic train rides.

By Donna Heiderstadt

Eurostar Introduces New Routes to the South of France

Eurostar

May 1 marked the maiden voyage of Eurostar's new direct trains to Lyon, Avignon, and Marseille from London and Ashford, England.

Eurostar's high-speed service to Paris, inaugurated in 1994, streamlined trips between the two capitals, decreasing an arduous six-hour ground journey—that included multiple slow trains, buses, and ferries—to two hours and fifteen minutes station to station. Although London-Paris flight time is only an hour and fifteen minutes, Eurostar, which runs direct from city center to city center, significantly reduced the time, expense, and frustration of rides to and from airports, baggage check-ins, and security checks. It was an evolution that significantly increased travel between France and England and popularized the London-Paris weekend jaunt.

The new routes, which bypass Paris, shine a well-deserved spotlight on France's second cities—both Marseille and Lyon vie for the title—with new opportunities for faster, more direct access and weekend trips to and from London.

Lyon and Marseille, both magnificent in their own rights, are often overlooked, or altogether forsaken, for the more glamorous capital. This disregard is a big mistake, as both cities offer a view of France you won't get from Paris.

Marseille

Dramatically set between two steep hills with the mighty Saone and Rhone rivers crossing through, Lyon possesses a cinematic beauty. A major strategic point for thousands of years, the city's unparalleled historical legacy—it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998—includes France's Théâtre Romain and a superb historic Old City.

As France's gastronomic capital, Lyon's rich culinary heritage is singular in France. Home of the legendary chef Paul Bocuse, the originator of nouvelle cuisine, Lyon offers scores of world-class restaurants and bouchons—the traditional local brasserie specializing in Lyonnais charcuterie and the famous red wines of neighboring Beaujolais and the Côtes du Rhône.

Lyon is also the entrepreneurial center of France, with a youthful outlook and a vibrant art scene, including the marvelous festival of lights (Fête des Lumières) at Christmastime. For the last several years, the city has been undergoing an extensive redevelopment of its riverbanks, opening the soaring new Musée des Confluences, which was designed by superstar architect Jean Nouvel last winter. To promote its new routes, Eurostar is offering two-for-one entry with your train ticket to the Confluence and to Marseille's new MuCEM.

Train times from London to Lyon are less than five hours, and prices start at £89 round trip (about $136).

As anyone who knows Marseille will tell you, this deeply Mediterranean port city—the oldest in France—is a diamond in the rough. Its shimmer is finally showing through after significant polishing since its designation as the European Capital of Culture in 2013. Three new cultural centers (MuCEM, the Regards de Provence Museum, and the Villa Méditerranée) and the restoration of several more (the Musée d'Histoire de Marseille, Le Corbusier's Cité Radieuse, the Marseille Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Château Borély) qualify the city, in alliance with its neighbor, Aix-en-Provence, as France's most important southern intellectual and artistic hub.

Marseille port

An exciting new culinary scene has also sprung up in Marseille in recent years, drawing a new generation of chefs who riff on the city's Mediterranean influences. The gleaming Hotel Intercontinental, housed in the city's iconic Hôtel Dieu, has added world-class luxury, complete with a pool, spa, Michelin-starred restaurant, and glorious views of the picturesque old port and the Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica.

Marseille is a glorious melting pot of cultures, which you'll find everywhere from its colorful markets and eclectic shopping to its local dish, the wonderful bouillabaisse.

Although Marseille is a much larger city than Paris, the old port and central neighborhoods can easily be explored over a long weekend. The city is an excellent starting point for your Provence vacation, set within a half hour of Bandol, Cassis, and Aix-en-Provence.

Round-trip Eurostar tickets to Marseille start at £99 (about $151). The trip is six hours from London's St Pancras International to Marseille's Saint Charles. Trains depart once a day, four times per week.

In November, Eurostar will introduce its new, state-of-the-art e320 trains to Lyon, Avignon, and Marseille. With speeds reaching 320 kilometers per hour (about 200 mph) and a 900-seat capacity, the luxurious trains will be the first of their kind to run in France.

Tickets can be booked six months in advance, making now a perfect time to plan for fall getaways.

Philadelphia's Summer of Pop-Ups

The Oval

This summer, Philadelphia will transform itself into an urban "resort" with a series of pop-up parks and seasonal beer gardens. With the recent launch of the city's bike-share program, Indego, you can easily hop from one venue to another. Here's a rundown of some of the city's coolest spots to escape from the summer heat.

Beer Gardens With a Mission

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Beer Gardens

Several years ago, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society added beer to the lineup at its annual pop-up garden, creating an instant hit attraction. This year, PHS is expanding the number of pop-up beer gardens to three. Proceeds from the pop-ups, which are set to debut the first week in June and run through October 1, will be used for programs like the City Harvest initiative to provide fruits and vegetables from community gardens to 1,200 needy families each week.

The new garden locations include one near the iconic cheesesteak stands of Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks in East Passyunk. This one sports a lounge-y vibe with beanbags, recycled bike parts, and reclaimed wood stadium seats. Another is near the Franklin Institute, Barnes Foundation, and other attractions on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and it will conjure up beach fantasies with palm trees, tropical plants, and cabanas. PHS is also bringing back its 2014 garden on South Street West, this time with a “Bohemian” vibe of palm and banana trees set amid a series of outdoor rooms defined by trellises and container gardens. All three pop-ups will serve a mix of craft beers, wines, and specially designed cocktail and food menus from local restaurants and bars.

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Spruce Street Harbor Park, a boardwalk-themed destination on the Delaware River, returns Memorial Day Weekend with all the elements that made it so popular during its 2014 debut. There will be hammocks galore for lounging; a casual bar-restaurant from “Iron Chef” and restaurateur Jose Garces fashioned from three repurposed shipping barges; floating gardens; ambient lighting from hundreds of multi-colored LEDs; and a boardwalk area with arcade games, soft pretzels and other snacks, and live music. New this year is a classic roller skating rink, with a boathouse-style lodge with food and adult refreshments, a play zone for kids, and rocking chairs for taking in the action.

The Oval

The Oval

The Oval, a pop-up park across from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has typically offered a place to relax on colorful Adirondack chairs, play chess on a giant set, and sample offerings from food trucks while enjoying tunes from guest DJs. This year's edition will also feature the only North American stop for Future Sensations, a traveling exhibition marking the 350th anniversary of Saint-Gobain, one of the globe's biggest suppliers of building materials. The show, which runs from May 30 to June 6, consists of a series of temporary pavilions that will deploy digital, 3D technology under the themes of  “Look,” “Listen,” “Color,” “Create,” and “The History and Future.” Meanwhile, The Oval will hold its regular schedule of movies, performances, and family events from July 14 through August 23.

Morgan’s Pier

Morgan's Pier

Morgan's Pier, a seasonal beer garden open through the fall, boasts prime views of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Delaware River from a sprawling wooden deck lined with picnic tables and colorful umbrellas. The spot takes its name from George C. Morgan, the first person to cross the bridge after it opened in 1926. This season, the kitchen is helmed by former “Top Chef” winner Nicholas Elmi, who will be serving his haute version of summer food—think citrus-poached peel-and-eat shrimp with Sriracha, a poutine of “dancing Tater tots,” and a fried clam roll with pickled ramp tartar sauce. Morgan's Pier is also offering Sunday brunch and weekday happy hour specials from a bar stocked with fourteen craft beers, custom cocktails, and a “nitro” coffee tap from locally based brewer La Colombe. Music includes DJ sets and an eclectic playlist of live performances.

Independence Beer Garden

Independence Beer Garden

Our forefathers back in 1776 debated the creation of the country behind closed doors at Philly's Independence Hall in the heat of early summer. Fortunately, visitors to the historic district today can quench their thirst in the much more welcoming surroundings of the Independence Beer Garden. Located across 6th Street from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, the beer garden boasts a sprawling 22,000-square-foot covered patio; a menu heavy on burgers, ribs, fried chicken, and other picnic fare from chef Michael Schulson; and a wide selection of craft beers and specialty cocktails, like the Cucumber Crush—gin, cucumber, and elderflower.

10 Things Not to Do in Atlanta

Whether you’re heading to Atlanta for work or pleasure, we’ve got you covered with ten things not to do in the capital of the New South. This list will help you avoid some all-too-common mistakes and reveal when not to visit, where not to stay, and little-known or new places you shouldn’t miss out on. Follow this expert advice on what to stay away from in Atlanta, and you’ll leave having won your vacation.

By Salwa Jabado

10 Can't-Miss Pop-up Restaurants in 2015

The pop-up trend has arrived at the plate, introducing diners to one-off culinary experiences that feature celebrity chefs, off-the-grid locations, and innovative menus. We’ve rounded up ten upcoming pop-ups across North America that will entice your taste buds this season, ranging from long-table dinners on an organic farm to musical pairing events.

By Anja Mutic

How to Tip in France

Notre Dame Cathedral

There is nothing more vexing than trying to figure out who to tip, how much, and when—especially when you're in a foreign country. You’ll come face to face with employees at airports, train stations, hotels, restaurants, and cafés. Do you have to tip everyone? What about shuttle bus drivers, tour guides, and bellmen? The next time your travels take you to Paris or elsewhere in France, rely on the following guidelines. Below, you'll also find a handy cheat sheet that will prevent you from ever tipping too much or too little again.

At the airport or train station: You should tip anyone who helps you with your bags. Giving €1 to €2 per bag is sufficient. The same guidelines apply when taking a shuttle bus around the airport or to your car rental counter. When the valet brings your car to you, you should hand over €1 or €2.

At hotels: The bellhop who carries your luggage to your room should get €1 to €2 for each bag. You should give your maid €1 to €2 every morning, and room service waiters should get €1 to €3 despite service charges. You don’t need to tip the concierge for simple questions like directions to restaurants or sights, but you should give €5 to €15 for more involved requests, like securing hard-to-get restaurant reservations or sold-out show tickets. Doormen should be given €1 to €2 if they hail you a taxi.

Taxi drivers: A good tip for taxi drivers is 10 percent of the fare.

At restaurants: You should tip waiters and waitresses €1 to €3 at a casual eatery or 5 percent of the bill for a fancier spot. For those more expensive restaurants, you should tip restroom attendants and coat-check personnel up to €1. Bartenders should recieve €1 to €4 per round, depending on the amount of drinks ordered.

Tour guides: All tour guides should receive 10 percent of the tour price.

France Tipping Guidelines

12 Things Not to Do in Los Angeles

It’s no secret that Los Angeles is one of most sprawling cities in the world, making it impossible to see all, or even most, of it in one trip. It’s downright overwhelming when you think about how to pack Hollywood, Beverly Hills, the beach cities, and everything in between into one trip. Many visitors try to do it all, but there are some things you simply shouldn’t do in L.A. We’re here to guide you away from those, so you have more time for the best of Los Angeles.

By: Spencer Spellman

What to Do in Milan During Expo 2015

Piazza Duomo

The World's Fair has given birth to some of the most visually memorable landmarks: Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Seattle’s Space Needle, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch. Now Milan, the site of this year's Expo, has replenished its historic Darsena port.

Originally envisaged in the thirteenth century, the Darsena was where cargo ships unloaded goods, right into the center of the city. During the sixties, a great deal of the Darsena was covered, and it has not received large boats or cargo since 1979.

The Expo architects, Edoardo Guazzoni, Paolo Rizzatto, Sandro Rossi and Studio Bodin & Associés renovated the riverbanks with pedestrianized walkways, green areas, docks, gardens, and even an international market. Elsewhere around town, events abound.

Armani/Silos Exhibit Space

Giorgio Armani, appointed special ambassador of the Expo, celebrates forty years in the fashion business this year. In celebration, a permanent exhibition of his finest works will be open to the public in his new Armani/Silos exhibit space.

Address: Via Bergognone, 40 (Tram 14 to Piazza del Rosario or Metro Stop Sant' Agostino)

Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Admission: €12 or €15 with guided audio tour

Contact: +39 02 91630010; info@armanisilos.com

Campari Galleria

Campari Galleria

An homage anthology of the beverage maker's iconic imagery, the Campari Galleria will take you on a tour of its iconic Art Deco illustrations, industrial boom art of the ‘60s, and sultry advertisements of the 1990s. Multi-media installations and special recent collaborations for Milan's Design Week will also be available to the public.

Address: Via Gramsci, 161

Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday with three guided tours (2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.) and every first Saturday with five guided tours (10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.)

Admission: Free

Contact: +39 0262251; galleria@campari.com

Prada Foundation

Prada Galleria

As the city eagerly awaits the opening of the Prada Galleria, a new headquarters and exhibition space in Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, where Mario Prada opened his first shop in 1913, the luxury label's Fondazione Prada will open to the public on May 9.

The 204,521-square-foot space designed by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA architecture studio is situated in a former distillery on Milan’s Largo Isarco. It’s home to an educational area dedicated to children, designed with the help of students from the Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture de Versailles, as well as a Milanese coffee shop-esque bar conceptualized by film director Wes Anderson.

Address: Largo Isarco, 2

Contact: +39 02 5666 2611; info@fondazioneprada.org

MUDEC Museum

MUDEC Museum

The new Museum of Cultures opened its doors in March, just in time for the Expo. Situated in a former factory in the Tortona design district, the museum has a permanent collection of over 7,000 artifacts from Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, and Central and South America, dating from 1500 A.D. to the beginning of the twentieth century. The ongoing "Mondi a Milano" exhibit will run until July 19, while the "Africa" exhibit will run until August 30.

Address: Via Tortona, 56 (Metro Porto Genova)

Hours: Monday 2:30-7:30 p.m.;
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.;
Thursday and Saturday 9:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.

Admission: €15

Garden of Wonders, "A Journey Through Scents”

Russia’s richest woman, Yelena Baturina, and BE OPEN, her philanthropy that networks and promotes the greatest twenty-first-century minds, has organized the "A Journey Through Scents" exhibit in Milan's Orto Botanico di Brera.

Showcasing celebrated perfumes, including defunct ones like the French label Biette and Lundborg, designer and architect Ferruccio Laviani has fashioned an interactive olfactory tour. Giant perfume atomizers on display contain the world's most historic scents from the chypre to the aldehydic scents worn by the queens and empresses of yesteryear.

Address: Orto Botanico, Via Brera, 28 (Metro Lanza)

Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.; Saturday 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (From July 1-August 31: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Saturday 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.)

Admission: Free

Italian Makers Village

Also situated in Milan's Tortona design district, Italy's artisan consortium Confartigianato has organized an ongoing exhibit that will feature the work of 800 artisans from all over the country. There will be 1,000 events dedicated to the aim of showing off excellence in Italian food and craft.

Address: Via Tortona, 32 (Metro Porto Genova)

Hours: vary through May to October

Contact: +39 0220232548; info@italianmakersvillage.it

Cirque du Soleil "Allavita!"

The legendary acrobatic dance troupe will perform at the Lake Arena, the choreographic open-air theater in the Expo 2015 exhibition area, from May 6 to August 23.  More than fifty Italian and international artists will take to the stage for the extravaganza that tells the story of a boy who receives a magic seed from his grandmother. This seed transforms into an imaginary friend who leads him on an amazing journey of discovery.

La Triennale Arts & Food Pavilion

Tom Wesselmann Still Life

Milan's contemporary La Triennale museum will be hosting an Arts & Foods pavilion satellite area that will unfurl series of exhibits until November 1, 2015. About 7,000 square meters of the building that sits on the edge of the Parco Sempione will host visual installations and showcase sculptures that revolve around the world of food, dining, and nutrition.

Address: Viale Emilio Alemagna, 6

Contact: +39 02 724341

Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibit, Palazzo Reale

Palazzo Reale

It is no surprise that Milan will pay tribute to one of the nation's greatest minds during the 2015 Expo. The opening of the exhibit took place on the anniversary of the birth of the artist, who was born in Vinci in April 1452.

Reportedly the largest tribute to Da Vinci ever to be held in Italy, it features more than 200 artworks from 100 museums and institutions around the globe that have donated their most coveted drawings and paintings. The Louvre and the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, where the “Codex Atlanticus” is housed, are among the major lenders. Works like the "Vitruvian Man" and "Studio di Volto Femminile" will also be on display.

Address: Piazza del Duomo, 12 (Metro Duomo)

Hours: Monday 2:30-7:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday 9:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 9:30-12:00 a.m.

Admission: €12

Sofia Celeste is an editor and fashion critic living in Milan. She is also the founder of BACOLuxury, an online magazine dedicated to fashion's artisans.

Fodor's Week in Travel: Close to Home

Your next big trip doesn't have to be a journey across the sea that begins and ends with a nine-hour flight. Get inspired by our weekly roundup and plan a getaway around an amusement park or your favorite TV show.

The Ultimate Guide to the High Line

The Standard Biergarten

It's the perfect time to check out our guide to this beautiful park and its surroundings, as the new Whitney Museum of American Art opens today.

10 Best Family-Friendly Amusement Parks in the U.S.

Santa's Villaeg Azoosment Park

Take the whole family to a theme park everyone will enjoy. Look out for bulldozers, fossil digging, and bunny trees.

America's Best Luxury Tennis Resorts

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Try a spin on your average resort experience and get active on one of these courts

A 'Mad Men' Guide to New York City

Time-Life Building

Prepare yourself to see New York throught the eyes of Don Draper and his friends. Success, scandal, and a lot of booze await in our guide.

16 Indie Bookstores We Love

In a literary era dominated by Kindles, you might be surprised to learn that there's no shortage of outstanding independent bookstores around the country, beautiful places where you can connect with your favorite authors and receive knowledgeable, one-on-one recommendations based on your interests. In honor of the first-ever national Independent Bookstore Day (May 2, 2015), here are sixteen of our favorite shops, which offer unique services including special navigation apps and outdoor, honor-system buys.

By Sara Quaranta

A 'Mad Men' Guide to New York City

While the characters of Mad Men have gone bicoastal in recent years, the show's heart and soul has always been in New York City. In honor of the final season—the series will end on May 17—we’ve taken a tour through Manhattan of some noteworthy sites that have appeared on the show. Replicas of these well-known institutions have been used in the show because Mad Men is filmed in Los Angeles, but a tour of these timeless hotels and eateries will transport you to Don Draper's New York. While many of the show’s locales no longer exist, these ten spots remain nearly unchanged, giving you the chance to step back in time.

By Abbey Chase

How to Get Tickets for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro

Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro

In the summer of 2016, 205 countries will be represented by 10,500 athletes in the first Olympic Games to be held in South America. For 17 days, 42 sports (including rugby and golf, returning to the Games after 92 and 112 years, respectively) will showcase their top athletes in 306 medal events. There are 7.5 million tickets available, 3.8 million of which are less than $30. Here’s how to get one.

First, register on the Rio 2016 ticket web portal for ticket updates and alerts and the Olympic schedule.

As of March, Brazilian fans were able to apply for the first ticket draw, and non-Brazilians can buy tickets through authorized resellers. Residents of the United States and Canada can purchase theirs through CoSport, which is currently accepting requests for individual tickets. All requests must be received by 2 pm EDT on May 4, 2015. Individual ticket requests will be confirmed by CoSport on May 11. What remains of individual tickets will go on sale starting May 19, but putting in a ticket request before the deadline is the best chance you have of attending the most popular events. In coming months, some tickets will be sold as part of packages that include lodging.

The tickets for the first Brazilian draw will be announced in June, and those who applied but did not make the first draw can register for the second in July, with the results announced in August. All unsold tickets after the lottery will go on sale to Brazilian residents.

If you want your tickets delivered, they will be mailed to you in May 2016. Otherwise, they will be ready for pickup in June 2016.

In an effort to make the biggest sporting event in the world accessible to everyone, tickets will be sold at a reasonably low cost, with the cheapest going for about $15. Tickets for pool-based events are among the priciest, from about $100–$350. Prices for individual events can be found here. Note that prices are in the Brazilian real, which is currently equivalent to about 0.34 USD.

Tickets to the Paralympic Games are being sold on a different schedule and will be announced at a later date. 

Where to Eat in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai

While Bangkok has established a slick, glamorous dining scene, the comparatively laid-back, earthy Chiang Mai remains rustic, traditional, and, of course, very spicy. This mecca of night market fare and hole-in-the-wall discoveries—“restaurant” may entail little more than a three-walled concrete inlet or portable tables and chairs under a makeshift tin roof or tarp—is where Andy Ricker, James Beard Award–winning chef and owner of Portland and New York’s Pok Pok restaurants, found his calling.

In fact, Ricker spends several months a year living here, and many of the recipes featured in his New York Times bestseller, Pok Pok, are inspired or derived directly from his favorite Chiang Mai haunts. Currently at work on a pair of new tomes, dedicated to noodles and drinking fare, respectively, Ricker maintains an Instagram account, @pawkhrua, that serves as an invaluable visitors’ guide to the best tucked-away, mouthwatering Chiang Mai gems, while the blog of Ricker’s photographer friend, Austin Bush, is also riddled with delicious dishes and spots to seek out.

Ricker took us on a motorcycle tour of some Chiang Mai musts, which you’ll find here with a few other choice hot spots, from a romantic fine dining venue to a trendy “hi-so” (high society) Thai hangout to a dose of American comfort fare.

Khao Soi Prince

Khao Soi Prince

Where: 105-109 Th Kaew Nawarat

Over a half-century old and named after the nearby Prince Royal’s College, this is one of Ricker’s favorite khao soi joints. Chiang Mai’s best-known and most ubiquitous culinary staple, khao soi, is coconut and curry-based soup with egg noodles, chicken, and some crunchy fried noodles for texture. It’s rich, distinctive, and best served with a lime wedge and a pickled mustard greens garnish. A bowl costs just $1 or $1.15 with beef, and if you’re feeling really hungry, add rice with Indian spices, herbs, and soup ($1).

Laap Dii Khom Patan

Laap Dii Khom Patan

Where: Soi 5, Thanon Arak

For a broad sampling of northern Thai flavors, this almost ramshackle roadside venue is the place. Aluminum pots crowd a table at the front—there’s no actual door to speak of—containing intensely flavored soups, stews, and spicy laap minced meat salads. Laap khom consists of raw beef with bile and blood for flavor, while the wok-fried (and less likely to impart unpleasant bacteria or heebie jeebies) laap khua adds offal to the mix. Pescetarian? Try the catfish-based laap plaa duk. A word of warning: mosquitoes fond of Western blood congregate near the dining area’s rear, so apply repellant liberally lest you become a tasty farang meal for these pesky little residents.

Hearn Kham

Hearn Kham

Where: 16/10 Kutao Soi 3

Myanmar’s Shan region and people, Tai Yai in Thai, are responsible for one of Southeast Asia’s most delicious and, to North Americans, obscure styles of cuisine. Located across a narrow dirt road from a gas pump and close to Wat Ku Tao, this discrete hole in the wall serves up lovingly made-to-order, utterly mind-blowing Tai Yai fare. Burmese ephemera pepper otherwise bare white walls, while retro Burmese pop music plays. Conveniently, menus are available in several languages, including English, with photos of each dish, but these images barely convey the ultra-fresh, fragrant food you’re in for. After sampling moo gon turmeric pork meatballs bathing in succulent gravy and creamy Pit Ko Sai soybean dip with crisp veggies and herbs, you may feel compelled to journey to the north. 

Huen Jai Yong

Where: 65 Moo 4, Thambon Buak Khang, Samkampaeng

One of Ricker’s musts for Chiang Mai visitors, this wooden home-turned-restaurant offers a refined survey of northern Thai cuisine, particularly that of the Lamphun province, in a halcyon and rural environment. It is well worth its 20-minute drive outside the city, so be sure to order Chiang Mai’s famed sai oua sausage, its insides packed with coriander, lemongrass, and galangal; tam baakeua, eggplant salad with hard-boiled eggs; and kaeng kanun, a coconut-free curry with jackfruit and pork ribs. 

The Dining Room at 137 Pillars House

The Dining Room at 187 Pillars House

Where: 2 Soi 1 Nawatgate Road

One of the city’s most gorgeous five-star boutique properties, the lushly landscaped 30-room 137 Pillars House, is the setting for this contemporary fine dining venue. Creative, upscale Thai, Southeast Asian, and Western fusion dishes like gaeng hung lay gae, lamb shank curry with edamame, are offered and use local and organic farm products. The coffee is sourced from a tribal village (part of an NGO effort). If you stay overnight be sure to use the infinity pool, juxtaposed dramatically against a sprawling living wall.

Tong Tem Toh

Tong Tem Toh

Where: 11 Nimmanhemin, Soi 13

Chiang Mai’s trendiest, boutique-y neighborhood is thick with see-and-be-seen eateries, local design and art shops, galleries, cafes, and nightclubs. One of the hottest weekend lunch spots is the leafy, patio-like Tong Tem Toh. Between taking endless selfies, stylish patrons chow down on northern Thai sausage, sai oua; roasted banana pepper chili dip, nam prik noom; pork belly, kaeng hang lay curry; and olive-shaped “puff mushrooms,” served with galangal chili dip (recommended during May, when in season). It’s a very different scene and crowd, and Thai people from across the country love to come here and brag via social media.

Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak

Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak

Where: Thanon Manee Nop Parat, Amphoe Mueang

Possibly Chiang Mai’s most famous food personality is the cleaver-wielding, cowboy hat-wearing, deadpan-faced food hawker known as “Cowgirl.” Featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown,” her stall at the White Elephant Gate (Chang Puak) night market serves up one of Ricker’s favorite comfort foods: khao kha moo, fall-apart stewed pork knuckle meat over rice with a hard-boiled egg on the side.

Beast Burger

Where: Nimmanhemin, Soi 11

If itching for some farang comfort food after days of khao soi, offal, and spicy laab, this compact yellow and white food truck offers prime ground beef relief to Western expats and tourists alike. Good artisanal hamburgers in Chiang Mai, who knew?

10 Hotels That Are Perfect for Solo Travelers

Traveling alone can be one of the more rewarding ways to see some of the world’s best sights, but with so many tour companies and hotels designed for couples and groups, finding the perfect place to stay when you strike out on your own can be tricky. With solo travel becoming more and more popular, hotels and resorts have begun to modify their offerings and optimize their experiences for guests who have hit the road on their own. Whether you’re looking to simply enjoy your solo vacation free from the honeymoon and family crowd or hoping to meet fellow single travelers, these ten hotels and resorts reward and cater to a party of one.

By Abbey Chase

The Ultimate Guide to the High Line

The High Line

Ask any of the 8.5 million New Yorkers living in the city for their essential list of must-see NYC spots, and you're bound to get as many different answers, with the exception of one key highlight that just about everybody seems to agree on: the High Line. This beloved, elevated green space unveiled its first of three segments back in 2009, brilliantly reimagining an abandoned freight train trestle as a wildly popular public park that has served to revitalize Manhattan's lower West Side.

The High Line's 1.45-mile-long stretch runs from Gansevoort Street, in the Meatpacking District, through Chelsea and the work-in-progress Hudson Yards mixed-use redevelopment project, and up to 34th Street at its northern end, tapering off near the Javits Convention Center. Eleven entrances allow visitors to hop on and off the raised promenade along the way.

With the "rails-to-trails" park's final phase completed in September 2014 (with just a few final touches still pending in the park's northern reaches), and the new Whitney Museum of American Art debuting May 1 at its Gansevoort Street terminus, there's never been a better time to discover this reliably pleasant park and its many neighboring gems. Here's the ultimate guide to the High Line, with park- and street-level picks for what to see and do and where to eat, drink, and sleep along the way.

High Line Highlights

The High Line

While the aerial greenway is restricted to the confines of its narrow, linear design, the collaborative designers (James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Piet Oudolf) have created an assortment of microclimates and mini-environments along its length, keeping the city's four seasons in mind. A walk through its entirety reveals some 350 species of trees, grasses, perennials, wildflowers, shrubs, and vines; glimpses of the original railroad tracks; generous seating via the parks distinctive "peel-up" benches; and scenic overlooks out onto the Hudson River and surrounding cityscapes from the park's 30-foot-high perch.

Real estate development along the route has blossomed, adding a layer of inventive, modern builds to the old industrial brick factories and warehouses for a fascinating architectural landscape. Be on the lookout for innovative buildings like Frank Gehry's IAC Building (on W. 18th St.) or Jean Nouvel's Chelsea Nouvel apartment building (look down W. 19th St.) and for sections of the park that cross through buildings like The Standard, The High Line Hotel, which bridges the High Line, or the historic 1890 Chelsea Market building (a former Nabisco factory, where the Oreo cookie was invented). 

Several temporary, commissioned, site-specific art installations from worldwide artists pock the park—check out the current line-up.

Some permanent park features to look for include the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Overlook at Gansevoort Street—the balcony ending here marks the park's severed southern terminus (the rail line's more southerly extension was cut off and demolished at this point in the 90s), which now stands just next to the Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum of American Art.

The High Line

For an idea of what the High Line looked like before it was landscaped, sneak a peek over the Northern Spur Preserve (at W. 16th St.), which has been planted to evoke the self-sown landscape (crabapples, asters, and more) that grew naturally before it was a designated park.

The 10th Avenue Square and Overlook (at W. 17th St.) is an overhanging amphitheater-like space with wooden seating, where visitors can peer out a viewing window onto 10th Avenue. Don't miss the Hudson River and Statue of Liberty views in the distance, on the opposite side.

Insert yourself into the rectangular frame that serves as living billboard at the 26th Street Viewing Spur, which recalls the billboards that were once prominently affixed to the High Line.

If you have kids in tow, head to the Pershing Square Beams play area, at W. 30th St., which reveals the rail line's original (and now safely silicone-coated) steal beam and girder framework, creating sunken areas where kids can climb and play.

Events and Activities

The park plays host to 400-plus public programs and activities annually, including tours, talks, performances, and dance parties. Some free upcoming and ongoing events to look out for are 75-minute park tours illustrating the High Line's history, design, and landscape; evening stargazing sessions with high-powered telescopes and experts on hand from the Amateur Astronomers Association; and guided meditations, led by reps from neighborhood yoga studios. 

Where to Eat

Chelsea Market

The High Line's many benches, lawn section, and even picnic tables (along W. 30th St.) make for perfect alfresco dining and picnic lunches. Stock up on fare-to-go from area food halls, like the recently opened Gansevoort Market, set in a historic nineteenth-century trading post, with more than twenty vendors hocking tacos, crêpes, and more. Or, hit up ever-crowded shopping-and-dining standby, the block-long Chelsea Market, jam-packed with more than thirty-five vendors. Most offer take-out, but our favorite spot is the sit-down-only The Green Table, with a menu of farm-to-table, seasonally driven ingredients with signatures like chicken pot pies and four-cheese mac & cheese (reservations recommended).

Alternatively, look to the High Line-affiliated seasonal food and beverage vendors, largely clustered around the bi-level Chelsea Market Passage section of the promenade around W. 15th St. Vendors for 2015 include Blue Bottle Coffee, La Newyorkina (for frozen treats and sweets), L’Arte del Gelato, Melt Bakery (ice cream sandwiches), The Taco Truck, and La Sonrisa Empanandas.

For more traditional dining, look to Fodor's-recommended area restaurants like the bustling The Standard Grill, serving up seasonal American fare at the ever-trendy The Standard; upscale Italian Del Posto, backed by Mario Batali; Barcelona-style tapas bar Toro; celeb chef Tom Colicchio's contemporary American eatery Colicchio & Sons; and Jean-Georges Vongerichten's transporting Southeast Asian street food inspired Spice Market. Farther north, hit up sit-down pizzeria Co. focused on all things bread, from tasty wood-fire pizzas (try the spinach pie) to rustic flatbreads, courtesy of Jim Lahey, of Sullivan Street Bakery.

Where to Drink

The Standard Biergarten

When the weather's cooperating, look no further than the High Line itself for a little alfresco imbibing, thanks to the seasonal Terroir High Line (set at W. 15th St.; opens May 1) serving wine, beer, and small plates. Another area go-to is the railroad-themed rooftop garden oasis at Gallow Green, atop The McKittrick Hotel. Using the High Line's underside as its rooftop, the Standard Biergarten at The Standard hotel is a popular year-round watering hole inspired by German-style beer gardens, with communal seating, steins of imported German and Austrian beer, and traditional bites like bratwurst and pretzels.

More to Do

Sleep No More

Tack an area attraction onto your High Line visit for a well-rounded day out. The most buzz-worthy option is the newly relocated Whitney Museum of American Art (opens May 1), set just adjacent to the High Line's southern edge at Gansevoort Street. The museum's mission of documenting arts in the U.S. from 1900 to today is well accomplished through its inaugural exhibition, “America is Hard to See” (runs through September 27, 2015). Expect a multi-floor presentation that sources more than 400 artists and 600 works from The Whitney's renowned permanent collection, with pieces from Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Andy Warhol.

The park's linear format is more geared toward walking and sitting than anything else, but you can burn off some steam getting active at the nearby Chelsea Piers, a sports and recreation complex on the Hudson River waterfront where tennis, rock climbing, bowling, and pretty much every other sport under the sun awaits. They also offer year-round indoor ice-skating. In season, head instead to The Standard, which sets up a seasonal outdoor rink right on its plaza. 

For a memorable evening of eerily transporting entertainment, stop by The McKittrick Hotel, home to Sleep No More. This spine-tingling reinvention of Shakespeare's Macbeth is realized as an immersive, interactive theatrical experience that will haunt your dreams. Theater-goers, masked and sworn to silence, wander through nearly 100 spaces within the massive multilevel set, as actors rove among rooms, acting out scenes of sex, conflict, and despair. You’ll leave with you own interpretation and tale to tell (book in advance, and leave kids at home).

Where to Shop

The streets surrounding the High Line in the Meatpacking District and Chelsea spill over with a slew of interesting independent boutiques. Try the Chelsea Market, which hosts shops like the Williamsburg-based Artists & Fleas that showcases work from more than thirty independent artists, fashion designers, and vintage collectors. Pop into Diane von Furstenberg's flagship boutique for designer womenswear (look for her signature wrap dresses), or hit up independent bookseller 192 Books for its small but thoughtful selection of literature and art books.

Where to Sleep

The High Line Hotel

Love the High Line so much you don't want to leave? Then don’t. The Standard's winning combination of beautiful faces meets beautiful spaces continues to impress six years after opening. André Balazs’ beautiful architecture straddles the park at W. 13th St., with 338 modern rooms that boast floor-to-ceiling windows touting killer views. Stick around for highlights like the beer garden, The Standard Grill, and seasonal ice rink.

Or, look to the 1.5-year-old, 60-room The High Line Hotel, set within a converted, landmarked nineteenth-century seminary. The old-world-style property boasts a "collegiate gothic" aesthetic, with rooms and public spaces tastefully blanketed with Victorian and Edwardian antiques, Oriental carpets, Tiffany-style lamps, and stained-glass windows. Don't miss a stroll in the cloistered landscaped gardens just out back, and ask a hotel staffer to see the adjoining, cathedral-like refectory, a special-event space that's still used as a daily dining hall for members of the General Theological Seminary.

10 Best Family-Friendly Amusement Parks in the U.S.

Providing picture-perfect moments and memories to last a lifetime, amusement parks are ideal places for family fun, but not all parks are designed for smaller visitors. Featuring the conveniences and necessities that children demand and parents appreciate, the country’s 10 best family-friendly amusement parks deliver a treasured day of thrills and laughs for kids and their keepers. Expect carousels, animatronic dinosaurs, and real bulldozers as these parks push the limits of innovation and creativity in the name of fun.

By Zachary Laks