Yosemite National Park is a fitness resort with unlimited use for people of all age groups. We are ramblers and often find the States poor for trails but the High Sierra Hiking Guide edition for Yosemite offered us some great walks and hints for comfort. White water rafting outside of the park on the river Merced was great as we stopped to swim and dive off rocks (not certain this would fit EU rules)! Many rock climbers could be seen climbing anything and everything up to El Capitan some 3,593 ft up. Accommodation and food in the park is basic (plan ahead). Why look for a gym when the whole park is a sports ground on offer 24 hrs a day 365 days a year.
NYC vacation rental market is swamped with blatant scams. It is safer to stick to airbnb.com or roomorama.com when looking for an apartment for short-term stay. Craigslist might still have the best bargains though, if you've got the time and patience to hunt for them. In order to weed out the scams, stick to two simple rules: after you've made contact with the person offering a place for rent, ask the magic question: "With all the scammers out there, could I please send a local friend over to take a look at the place before booking?" (doesn't matter if you really have anyone there who could go over, no reply = scammer). Second, do not pay anyone anything in advance unless there is a way to reverse the transaction (read: PayPal only). Anyone requesting full stay's rent plus a huge deposit in advance via bank transfer or money order is a scammer, and they're most likely using photos and descriptions stolen from legit real estate ads.
A two week intensive in drawing, painting or sculpture led by artists of renown. The Drawing Marathon transformed my studio practice and brought art back to the center of my life. I went deeper and farther in two weeks than I had in years.
A block away from the hurley burley of Beale St. When you're sick of burgers and steaks or fried salad, this is the place. Start with the gumbo or chowder. As a main the boiled shrimp or snow crab legs, served with boiled new potatoes and corn on the cob. No grease in sight, all washed down with an American beer or endless soda. Not to be missed!
105 S 2nd St
Memphis, TN 38103-3009
Downtown, near Peabody Hotel
Google map: tinyurl.com/ybewrr4
Ask for the lone log cabin by the creek, very spooky. It has the tallest dark trees and a sense of history in the hand built rickety wooden house - slightly red riding hood feel. And there are many years of visitors books to read.
The great restaurant is a walk away though.
I spent many, many summers in Seattle as a kid. So I did all the typical touristy stuff, the space needle, etc. We even drove to Vancouver once (well worth it.)
I feel that not enough people who visit Seattle (or the state of Washington, for that matter) end up exploring the majesty that is the San Juan Islands. I didn't end up doing it until I was much, much older. It is absolutely gorgeous, feels worlds away from Seattle and is relatively easy to get to thanks to the state ferry system. You won't have to take some crazy expensive tour to get there.
You probably won't have time to go to Alaska, and might only be in town for a week, so go for the next best thing. Sea kayaking is really popular in the area and a number of outfits will rent you one. If you get lucky or time your visit right, you might even get to see a pod of orcas - one of the main attractions. In my mind, a must-see of Washington.
Google map: tinyurl.com/yks76fb
This is a gem. My daughter and I have spent many delightful Saturday afternoons in this brilliant little theatre. Originally built by by Oscar Hammerstein it's an enchanting space off of Time Square, on 42nd. The shows are eclectic, funny, informative, and cultural courtesy of traveling companies from all over the world, including the UK. A must see for anyone visiting with children!
Days Inn Key West is a fairly priced and well kept property, a positive surprise when you are traveling on a budget to find a nice place to stay. Not a luxury accommodation, but cheap rates compared to most accommodations in Key West and value for the money.
3852 Roosevelt Boulevard
Monument Valley is found on the Utah/Arizona border. Set amongst the sandy desert its rugged peaks create one of the most recognisable horizons known in cinema history. Visit for yourself in the winter months when there are less tourists. Enjoy the vast amounts of space and early morning sunrises to appreciate the true beauty and colour of this fine Oscar winning landmark.
The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
The only boutique hotel in Sacramento.
Totally remodeled in 2008 and design by Dan Friedlander (limn.com), this 50's era motel has been tranformed into a unique lodging with European furnishings, private pool, internet and personal service.
Great value: rooms start at $100.
1700 del paso blvd. Sacramento 95815
San Francisco is one big movie location – so many films have been made there – from The Hulk to Guess Who's Coming to Dinner to the car chase in Bullit. The Pacific Heights neighbourhood hosted Mrs Doubtfire and, er, Pacific Heights. The early Broadway stage-door scene in All About Eve was shot at the Curran Theatre in Geary Street in San Francisco 's less than salubrious Tenderloin area. And there are way too many scenes in Vertigo to mention – from Mission Dolores church to the Golden Gate bridge.
But my most thrilling holiday movie moment took place 60 miles north of the city at the tiny hamlet of Bodega Bay, the setting of Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 masterpiece The Birds. I called into a gift shop near the Tides Inn (which also features in the film, though now totally transformed into deli, gift shop and restaurant) to ask directions to 'the centre of town' as seen in the movie. I was told by the woman in the shop: 'This is where she gets in the boat, the school is four miles inland!' I'd clearly not been the first fan of The Birds to call in to ask directions!
Inland was the classically spooky schoolhouse (very Edward Hopper) perched high on a hill, but no neighbouring jungle gym next door where the crows once perched. It was like being transported into the film and I half expected Tippi Hedren to appear at any moment. I never found the centre of town – there is no town – just cinema, the magic of.
North of San Francisco, take the coast road for the views.
Google map: tinyurl.com/ycyg6n5
It's a bit out of the way, being down by Grant's Park but the Blackstone is a lovely boutique hotel - it steps you back in time (founded in 1910) but has a really modern interior. Bright stripy carpets and massive chandeliers. Our room had a great view over the lake and the gym was a welcome air-con relief from jogging in the overpowering humidity.
Downstairs there was a gorgeous tapas restaurant which served an amazing fig and prosciutto salad - perfect after all those deep pan Chicago pizzas.
Location for some shots from the original Star Wars. As you go through Artists Drive, look for the sign for Artists Palette, park up and walk up the small hill and you will then have the view back down the arroyo which is where the camera was positioned for the long shot. If you climb down into the arroyo you can get a few other angles of various shots.
It’s no longer possible to pose, as my daughter and I did, on the sweeping staircase that Julia Roberts walked down during the 2001 film Oceans 11. The staircase, in luxury hotel Bellagio on the Las Vegas strip, was removed during a revamp in 2006. But you can still marvel at two thousand hand blown glass flowers on the ceiling, real flower displays in the Conservatory, and the dancing fountains which also feature in the film. We were slumming it at the Venetian, but this hotel, which quite literally dazzles, would be my first choice if money were no object. Imagine, a Bellagio Tower Suite with enough floor space for even my daughter’s strewn junk.
The exterior was used as the HQ of the Ghostbusters in both films. As fans it was only right to go and find it. The firehouse isn't mentioned in the movie tours around NYC, so we set off to find it walking from lower Manhattan and going straight up Broadway and then turning left onto White St, West Broadway and then North Moore St. It was just sitting there waiting to have its picture taken!
Nearest station would be the Franklin Street subway.
14 N. Moore Street
Google map: tinyurl.com/ybw52mj
Living in London it's not often you get to drive on the open road. Well, on a recent trip to Northern California, starting in San Francisco I got to do just that. After spending a few days in San Francisco with the girlfriend we rented a car and took 80 East towards Lake Tahoe which is one of the most gorgeous drives I've ever done. And when your destination is Lake Tahoe you really can't get a better package. Spending some time in Lake Tahoe, and a few nights camping was great. But we were soon on our way again down to Yosemite NP. Another breathtaking location in Nor Cal which is full of wildlife and picturesque views. Yosemite Valley is an obvious highlight. We were happy to get back to San Fran, it was a long 10 days. San Francisco remains one of my favourite cities - absolutely beautiful, even if the weather can be a bit odd sometimes!
Cocktail bar in Lower East Side. AMAZING cocktails, including ones made with house-infused vodkas in various flavours. Has a nice zinc top bar for that classic NY cocktail bar experience. The bartender was really friendly, and we even got some lovely aperitifs on the house to go with our drinks.
Make sure you don't miss it though - we initially thought it was shut, as there is just a small sign and you have to go downstairs to get to it! Incidentally we also ate at one of it's sister restaurants, Schillers, which was also lovely.
281 Lafayette St
Even in San Francisco, the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar has a reputation for being surprising and quirky. It's in the basement of the very swish Fairmont Hotel - in which the UN charter was signed and, more importantly, where you can find Scarlet O'Hara's staircase from Gone with the Wind. (Although if you run down it repeatedly while attempting a bad southern accent, the staff will look at you strangely.)
The Tonga Room isn't signposted in the hotel, but take the lift down to the basement and you will find a place of such incredible kitch-ness that you'll understand why the hotel may try to downplay its existence. It's a tiki bar, so it's decorated in a 1950s vision of the tropics: pots of leafy plants, palm trees, plastic Easter Island statues, and waiters in Hawaiian shirts. Cocktails are served in hollowed out coconuts and pineapples festooned with umbrellas.
The room is arranged around a rectangular pool. The band plays in a thatched hut in the middle of the pool. The reason it's thatched? Because precisely every half an hour, lightning flashes, thunder rumbles, and it rains into the pool.
Go for the (admittedly expensive) cocktails and the experience: the food isn't great, but even on a weekday evening the punters arrive dressed in full 1950s costume and dance late into the night. And it rains every thirty minutes.
Address: The Fairmont, 950 Mason Street, San Francisco, California, USA 94108
Tel: (415) 772-5000
This is the best place to hear bluegrass music in the world. Everybody who is anybody has played there or will. They have the greatest house band I've ever heard, "The Time Jumpers", made up of the funniest, fastest, and most dazzlingly proficient session musicians in the city.
The Station Inn is an institution, but also completely unwrecked by its success. And it's just gotten better - they have smoked barbeque that they make in some weird cast iron septic tank looking thing that is delicious. If you do one thing in Nashville, go hear music there. You won't regret it.
10th Avenue South, downtown Nashville, behind the old Union Station and off Broadway.
Bar on Houston St in New York. A really nice little bar with a great atmosphere. Make sure you go up the stairs and not to the bar below, which is a completely different place! We went in happy hour (around 6pm-8pm I think), which was cheap cocktails and 2-4-1 on draught beers (and good ones at that - try the Brooklyn white or pilsner). The best thing was that here Happy Hour stipulates that you MUST have two drinks each to benefit - brilliant, more beer! Also it's just down the road from Katz's deli so perfect for pre/post sandwich drinking. They also had cheap tacos on that night, which also looked pretty good, and they seemed to have various different food and drinks offers on each night of the week.
47 E Houston St
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org