Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quirky Roadside Attractions, Part 2

I'm slightly obsessed with really weird roadside attractions. Just this week, National Geographic came out with a list of their Top 10 U.S. Roadside Attractions.  Out of the 10 listed, we have only seen one so far - Randy's Donuts in Inglewood, CA.  But I HAVE added a few more must sees to my list.

Lucy the Elephant, Margate, New Jersey


Luckily, I am going down to Atlantic City next month so I will hopefully be able to cross this one off my list.

Enchanted Highway, Regent, North Dakota


I think I've made my love for birds clear both here and here, so is it really shocking that I want to see giant scrap metal geese lining a highway?

Giant Paul Bunyan Statue, Bemidji, Minnesota


So apparently, there are a lot of Paul Bunyon and Babe statues out there, but I like this one the best. I mean, look how cool Babe looks!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Last Minute 4th of July Vacation Ideas

Pic via wikipedia

Looking to plan a last minute 4th of July getaway? My favorite travel resource, Viator recently unveiled their 10 best travel deals and destinations of where we can celebrate our nation's birthday.

According to Viator, the top 10 destinations with the best deals to celebrate the July 4th holiday weekend include:
  1. New York - Watch one of the best fireworks displays in the country with Viator's once-in-a-lifetime July 4th VIP Exclusive: Fireworks from the Empire State Building's Observation Deck. A limited number of tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis to this two-hour, private evening event, guaranteed to sell out quickly.
  2. Washington, D.C. - See 100 of the most popular monuments and points of interest in America's capital after the sun goes down on the Washington D.C. Monuments by Moonlight Night Tour by Trolley, currently more than 50 percent off.
  3. Philadelphia - There's no better time to visit our nation's first capital than during a weekend to celebrate America's Independence. Travelers will save more than 45 percent on admission to six of the city's premier attractions with a Viator Philadelphia CityPASS.
  4. Las Vegas - Hit the highway out of Las Vegas and spend the day touring two major tourist attractions on the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam Day Trip, currently on sale with savings more than 50 percent.
  5. Orlando - Get two days for the price of one at Kennedy Space Center, a short drive from Orlando and the launch site for every U.S. human space flight since December 1968.
  6. San Diego - Tour one of the largest aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy fleet at the USS Midway Museum, San Diego's newest visitor attraction. A visit to this historic naval aircraft carrier museum is an essential experience for patriots of all ages.
  7. Boston - Travel north from Boston to historic Marblehead, the birthplace of the American Navy. Along the way, visit Salem, the Witch City and learn about the history of witchcraft and the reasons why the trials occurred.
  8. Niagara Falls - Visit New York's first state park on an overnight trip to Niagara Falls from New York City. Along the way, experience the state's diverse ethnic heritage and the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes, one of the country's premier wine producing areas.
  9. Oahu - Take a sobering journey through U.S. history on a tour of the Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri, the last battleship built by the U.S. Navy. Tickets include skip-the-line access to make the most of a day at Pearl Harbor, complete with a tour of downtown Honolulu and a drive through Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific. An added bonus: receive one free child ticket for each adult ticket purchased.
  10. Memphis - Walk in the footsteps of the King of Rock 'n' Roll at Elvis Presley's home, Graceland Mansion - the number one thing to do in Memphis, Tenn. Upgrade to the Elvis Entourage VIP Package and also receive entrance to a VIP Only Exhibit, Front of the Line Access to the Mansion, and more.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Favorites: The Duck Master


As I mentioned last week, I am a big fan of birds. Before we left for our Southern excursion, I had heard about a special pack of ducks at the Peabody Hotel that swim in the hotel lobby’s fountain and are marched down a red carpet twice a day. Needless to say, this was something I had to check out. Numerous times. (Sorry, Dan!)

Each morning, at 11am, the Peabody Ducks leave their Royal Peabody Duck Palace, and arrive at a location in the lobby, where a red carpet has been laid out for them to walk down. The ducks are accompanied by their Duck Master who leads them down the carpet to John Philip Sousa's King Cotton March. The ducks climb up a carpeted staircase and dive into the fountain where they hang out until 5pm when they march back down the carpet and up the elevator to their Duck Palace. The twice-daily March of The Peabody Ducks has continued in unbroken sequence at 11am and 5pm since the tradition began in Memphis almost 70 years ago.

Just swimmin'
During our trip, we happened to visit two of the Peabody Hotel’s locations, Memphis and Little Rock. We arrived at the Peabody Memphis a little too late to get a prime viewing spot for the duck march and were unable to see a thing. Damn you lady and your wine glass and big hair! When we drove over to Little Rock, we decided to give the ducks another chance. The Peabody Little Rock had a much bigger viewing area than the Peabody Memphis and I was able to score one of the two seats that lined the red carpet. Score one for me. The ducks literally walked right past my feet on the way to the elevator. Hell, we even became friends with the Duck Master and Duck Master in training – shout out to Titus!


Why are there ducks swimming in a gorgeous hotel lobby you ask? We’re talking about the South here, so OF COURSE it involves booze. Back in the 1930s, Frank Schutt, general manager of The Peabody, and a friend, Chip Barwick, returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas. The men had a little too much whiskey and thought it would be funny to place some of their live duck decoys (it was legal then for hunters to use live decoys) in the beautiful Peabody fountain. The ducks were so well received and the tradition continues today!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Am Big, It’s The Pictures That Got Small


Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard is one of my favorite classic Hollywood films. Ranked #12 on the American Film Institute’s “100 Best American Films,” Sunset Boulevard chronicles silent film star Norma Desmond’s desire to return to the silver screen after being cast into obscurity with the rise of ‘talkies.’ She meets down-on-his-luck screenwriter, Joe Gillis whom Norma proposes move into the mansion to help her write a screenplay for her comeback to the cinema. One of the most memorable scenes in the film is when Norma returns back to Paramount Studios and is driven through their iconic gates.

Pic via dearoldhollywood.blogspot.com
Founded in 1912, Paramount is America's oldest existing film studio and the last major film studio still headquartered in the Hollywood district of Los Angeles. I had the pleasure of taking a tour of Paramount Studios when I was in Los Angeles, and it did not disappoint. Reservations are required for the backlot tour and even though they tell you cameras are not permitted, they really are, so be sure NOT to leave your camera in the car like the poor women in our tour group.


The tour lasted about two hours and in that time, we covered a lot of ground. In addition to learning more about the history of the actual studio, our tour took us to a ‘real’ New York City neighborhood (didn’t come close to the real thing!) the set of Men of a Certain Age and Monk, and right past LL Cool J who was filming NCIS: Los Angeles. But perhaps the best part of the tour was getting to see the famed gates that Norma Desmond was driven through in Sunset Boulevard. I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.

And the Paramount Gates today!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Favorites: That's a Lot of Steps


All of my childhood pets had feathers, so it’s no secret that I am a big fan of birds. A few years back, I watched a documentary on PBS called The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill about the infamous feral Red Masked Parakeets that reside in this part of the city. For obvious reasons, Telegraph Hill was a must-see when we visited San Francisco.

To get to Telegraph Hill and its famous Coit Tower, you have to climb stairs – HUNDREDS of stairs.  As we began climbing up, I was totally fine - full of energy and excitement. I may have even jogged up a few landings and stopped to take some artsy pictures of hanging flowers…and look for birds of course.


But then, it hit me. The burn. The regret of eating a giant churro before embarking on our climb. I had to rest on pretty much every landing. I took off my hoodie. Then my tee shirt. I was in bad shape. How DO people live on this hill?!

When we reached the top, I quickly realized that the pain had been totally worth it - the view was simply amazing. I even forgot about how close I came to needing Dan to sling me over his shoulder to carry me up the rest of the stairs.

The line to get up to Coit Tower was too long, so we skipped it. Why bother though? We had fabulous views of the Bay and the city for free!


However, one important thing was noticeably absent on our ascent – PARAKEETS! I didn’t even see one green feather on our climb. Maybe they knew I was coming and hid?  Well played, birds.  Well played.

Pic via wikipedia

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cowboy Casanova


After seeing cowboy boots on the feet of pretty much everyone in downtown Nashville, I got the bug to try on a few pairs. Boot stores are in abundance in Nashville, so it wasn’t hard to find someplace to browse in. We were drawn to Boot Country on Broadway because they advertised a ‘buy 1, get 2 free’ sale. The store offered a great variety of boots and I was pleased to see a lot of choices for my size 6 feet.

I tried on a bunch of boots, but fell in love with these bad boys.

Aren't they pretty?
They cost $269 which I had already justified as ‘not too expensive’ in my mind, AND buying them would mean that I would get 2 more pairs for free. All in all, a great deal right? Well, Dan reminded me that we live in New York and those $269 boots would gather dust in the annals of my closet. So I walked out empty handed.

Definitely pop in to Boot Country if you’re in downtown Nashville – but bring friends and family so you can score big with their ‘buy 1, get 2 free’ promo.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Favorites: Swish

And now a Friday Favorite from Dan :)

Pic via knickstweets.net

In honor of the riveting NBA finals that have me so hooked, today’s post focuses on the world of the NBA. As pretty die hard Knick fans, Steph and I have a passionate and ingrained hatred of all things Miami Heat. This dates back to the mid 90’s and all the classic Knick/Heat playoff series (F You PJ Brown AND Dick Bavetta for holding back Miami’s bench.) We rolled our eyes at the ridiculous farce of LeBron’s “Decision” and probably would have burned our #23 jerseys if we had them. The collusion years ago of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh to team up together and their totally fake free agent meetings with other teams that were all for show only strengthened our hatred. So for the first time in my life, I find myself passionately rooting for a Dallas sport team.

However, our main allegiance will always remain with our Knicks no matter how many times James Dolan will let us down. This past season was a good step forward after a decade of misery, and the coming years with Amar'e and Carmelo have every Knick fan hoping for a championship run of their own. It should even lead to a few more classic Knick/Heat playoff rivalries. If it happens, I hope Jeff Van Gundy will wrap himself around LeBron’s leg for old time’s sake, even if he’s only working TV at the time.

Pic via raptorsrapture.com

Next year Steph and I are already planning on few road trips to coincide with the Knicks schedule. There are definitely a few states we can knock off (Oklahoma for one) while going around rooting for a team that is finally relevant again. We can’t wait!

GO DALLAS!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quirky Roadside Attractions, Part 1

I like visiting weird places. So I was super excited to read a recent article in this the July issue of Woman’s Day highlighting some of the more quirky places that this country has to offer. I was already familiar with some of them and some were new to me. I’ve listed my favorites below. (All can be found in the book, 100 Best Affordable Vacations by Jane Wooldridge and Larry Bleiberg.)

Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD – Amazingly, this place has been on my ‘must see’ list ever since I saw it on an old episode of Road Rules. The Corn Palace is 39,000 square feet and features murals made of 275,000 ears of local corn. And each year, the exterior decorations are stripped down and new murals are put up. Who WOULDN’T want to see that?

Pic via wikipedia
CSI: The Experience, Las Vegas, NV – Both Dan and I are true crime junkies, so we’re definitely considering plopping down $30 to solve our own crime at the interactive exhibit at the MGM Grand. Bets on which one of us will solve our crime first?

Iowa State Fair, Des Moines, IA – Three words, life-size butter cow. Enough said.

Pic via thegazette.com
127 Corridor Sale – My mom and I would need a caravan of U-Hauls to traverse through this 675 mile long yard sale that spans six states from Michigan to Alabama. Chances are though, that we wouldn’t make it past the 1st yard sale without spending all our money.

Monarch Watch, Lawrence, KS – The Monarch butterfly migrates thru Kansas in September. What better place to catch, tag and release them.

Pic via wikipedia

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Donna Martin Graduates

If you pop into our house on a Sunday morning, chances are you’ll catch us watching reruns of Beverly Hills 90210. I’m a big fan of the Brenda years (hello drama!), but Dan prefers the Valerie years when Kelly joined a cult, got shot, hooked on cocaine, stalked, burned in a fire…you get the point. It's an endless debate in our house, neither one of us will budge.

Before we left for LA, we did a little research to find out exactly where Casa Walsh was so we could go by and take pictures (read: stalk) of it. Who knew there was a whole website devoted to places where 90210 was actually filmed?

Spoiler: Casa Walsh isn’t really in Beverly Hills. It’s located in Altadena which is about 45 minutes away from BH. And we thought Andrea Zuckerman lived far away in Van Nuys! I’m guessing that Brenda and Brandon wouldn’t have gone to West Beverly High if they used an Altadena address.

As we pulled up to the house, located on E. Altadena Drive, we realized that not much had changed since we last saw it on TV. We didn’t get out of the car for fear of looking like total creepers, but we did take a few pics.


Little did we know that Dylan’s bungalow was located right around the corner from Casa Walsh. Lazy much, Aaron Spelling? We took a few more pictures there (“make sure you get a pic of the side entrance because Dylan used to hang out there”) and we were on our merry way. We didn’t want the neighborhood watch coming to get us!


Now if we only could've gotten a megaburger at the Peach Pit, which sadly doesn't really exist.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bragging Rights


The polls are now open in the Travel & Leisure "America's Favorite Cities" survey.  Think your city is the best?  Represent! 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Favorites: Category 5

When it comes to alcohol, I am a VERY picky drinker. I don’t like beer or wine or anything that tastes like gasoline. So when I discovered the Pat O’Brien’s hurricane while walking down Bourbon Street, I instantly fell in love. It was fruity enough to be delicious but packed enough of a punch to knock you off your feet – the perfect combo.

Pic from Pat O'Brien's site

I remained loyal to the Pat O’Brien’s hurricane on my three trips to New Orleans and even in Orlando. However, I discovered some stiff competition on Beale Street in Memphis. Dare I say that the Silky O’Sullivan’s hurricane was *gasp* better than the Pat O’Brien’s hurricane??

I mean, look at that straw!

I’m sorry, Pat for cheating on you, but Silky’s hurricane just had a sweeter and more delicious flavor, even if it didn’t pack the same punch.  You'll have to try and win me back next time I am in NOLA.