8 Best Places to Celebrate Your 60th Birthday


There are birthdays and then there are birthdays. Turning 60 is one of the biggies. For some people, it’s a bit of a panic. Your 50s have come and gone and what’s next may be more of a question mark than an exclamation point. That’s all the more reason to celebrate this milestone birthday with a trip to usher in the new decade.

I’ll be joining the 60 club and can’t decide where to go. I’m not sure of my mood. How do I want to greet my 60s? My dilly-dallying means that I won’t actually celebrate in my birthday month, but surely by the end of this year, I will have come to my senses and gotten on with it! I’m leaning toward something cosmic and soothing to the soul, maybe a repeat Sedona trip or something similar.

But in the meantime, I recently had the pleasure of helping a brother-in-law mark his 60th in Las Vegas. A good time was had by all. You’ll see why it makes the list of places you should consider for your big 60th birthday getaway. The main ingredient for this special fete is to stick with what appeals to you. Whether you love the outdoors, adventure, or culture, or something else is your jam, indulge 100 percent right there.

Las Vegas at night time.
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

Best For Party Animals

Las Vegas 

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. It’s understood that everyone is going to be on their worst (or wildest!) behavior, and it’s not going to be broadcast to the world. You arrive in town with permission to clown, big time. Go ahead, let your hair down, shake off the last five decades, eat, drink, and be merry. You can’t go wrong with places to crash after a night of partying (I recommend the Park MGM). For that one special meal of the trip, reserve a table at The Mayfair Supper Club in the Bellagio. Recall a bygone era amid the elegance, live jazz, and over-the-top cuisine, like Mary’s Organic Chicken, which is fried and grilled and served with sauce remoulade, shishito hot sauce, green bean amandine, and truffle pasta. And of course, you’ll have the view of the infamous Bellagio fountains spraying rhythmically as you dine. The perfect cure for a hangover is brunch at Catch. Go for the smashed organic avocado toast or cinnamon roll pancakes. Between the shows and the clubs, you’ll dance your way into the next decade and have a lot of secrets to keep.

Pro Tip: As much as Vegas is about the Strip, venture off it a bit. I discovered EllaEm’s Soul Food about 30 minutes away from the action. It’s grandma’s cooking and more. Eat guilt-free; work it off dancing the night away. 

Durango in Colorado.
 Travelling Jack / Shutterstock.com

Best For The Outdoorsy

Durango, Colorado

How fast can you say Giddyap? If that thought makes you smile, this historic Old West town is for you. Horseback riding awaits you on mountain trails. The adventure of riding across gurgling streams and surrounding ponderosa pines and wildflowers will make you feel like you’re in one of those movies you watch on a Saturday afternoon. If you want adventure without doing the work, take a jeep tour during which you can summit a peak at 12,000 feet elevation. However, if you must prove you’ve still got it even at 60, use your time in Durango to go white water rafting on the Animas River. When you’re ready to exhale, there’s SKA Brewery and Fox Fire Farms, a vineyard and winery where you might catch an outdoor concert.

Best For Cultural Immersion Lovers

Tuscany, Italy

You may have already accomplished much on your bucket list, but how about a celebration at Agriturismo Casetta, a nearly 300-year-old luxury farmhouse in Tuscany with your close family and friends? And the best part is you can enjoy cultural experiences like truffle hunting with the royal descendants of the Mona Lisa, private art tours, and access to some of Italy’s rarest wine cellars. Imagine zipping around in a Ferrari touring vineyards and wine cellars rarely seen by the public or being in the private woods of a 400 A.D. castle with the descendants of Mona Lisa feasting on a white truffle lunch and wines from the estate’s 1,000-year-old cellars. Top it off with private gallery tours with an art historian.

Editor’s Note: Tuscany bound? Don’t miss our Tuscany Road Trip: The Perfect Itinerary Through Italy’s Stunning Countryside.

Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.
Joel Hensler / Shutterstock.com

Best For A Guys’ Golf Getaway

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Designed for a foursome of golf buddies who want an extra-special place to celebrate their love of the game and the big 6-0, the Guys Golf Getaway package at Pueblo Bonito Resorts is an option worth putting on the list of possibilities. For sure the main attraction is the unlimited golf at Quivira Golf Club, the Jack Nicklaus Signature course carved into a stunning Land’s End site at the place where the Sea of Cortes meets the Pacific Ocean. You’ll be wowed by the granite cliffs, massive windswept dunes, rolling desert foothills, and panoramic views. Pueblo Bonito Pacifica is beloved for its ocean-desert-mountain ecosystem, Quivira offers more oceanfront exposure than any other course in Los Cabos.

Carmel-by-the-Sea in California.
Robert Mullan / Shutterstock.com

Best For Architecture Enthusiasts And Foodies

Carmel-By-The-Sea

This is one of my favorite places on the planet. It’s proof that good things come in small packages. The one-square-mile, European-style village of Carmel-by-the-Sea is the stuff of fairytales with its architecture, which has been called a Charles Dickens-inspired wonderland. Take a historic walking tour or go it on your own. Here, it’s all about the food. Make it easy on yourself and take a food tour so you can sample the best of the best. There are some 50 full-service restaurants in this little town. It has more restaurants per capita than any other small city in the U.S. What else makes Carmel special? You’ll love exploring the secret passageways, courtyards, and gardens. There are more than 40 of them. There’s plenty of love for vino here, too, with 17 wine tasting rooms, wine bars, and bottle shops.

Pro Tip: Take a side trip to nearby Monterey. Cannery Row is charming, and the aquarium is one of the best.

Best For Lovers Of Slow Travel

Canyons & Deserts Train Trip With Vacations By Rail

You can’t go wrong with a nine-day tour called Canyons & Deserts that features Sedona. Sedona is my sweet spot. It’s the kind of place where you find your center, clear your head, and leave better than you arrived. This trip starts with a full day to explore Las Vegas. Next up, a trek out to Death Valley National Park, hitting all the main sites including the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin. The itinerary includes Owen’s Valley, surrounded by the Sierra Nevada, White, and Inyo Mountains. A trip like this wouldn’t be complete without the ghost town of Randsburg, where you’ll see the remains of the Old West’s gold rush with preserved museums, antique stores, and saloons. Taking two days across Route 66, you’ll arrive at the Grand Canyon for a motorcoach tour. Then you’ll make your way to Sedona, with its red sandstone terrain, vortexes, and more. Stop in the ghost town of Jerome and board the Verde Canyon Railroad with first-class tickets along the green waters of the river under the lush canopy. With one last day of desert adventure in Sedona, a farewell dinner concludes the adventure before you head to Phoenix the next day for departure. 

St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
Randy Stedwell / Shutterstock.com

Best For The Lavish Beach Bum

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

This mountainous island is a sight to behold with its white-sand beaches, green rolling hills, and flora. But St. Thomas stands out for its sophisticated and cosmopolitan vibe, too. Think fine dining, nightlife, and luxurious accommodations. There’s a reason to make your home away from home the newly renovated Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. The views over Great Bay, locally sourced cuisine, a luxury catamaran for sunset cruises, snorkeling tours and private events, and a renovated Club Lounge with updated culinary offerings and marine-inspired decor are just part of the attraction. For the ultimate 60th birthday bash, set sail on one of the property’s three luxury sailing catamarans. The Lady Lynsey II is an exquisite 60-foot vessel that offers island-hopping excursions, snorkeling tours, and champagne sunset sails.

Pro Tip: You’ll cheap yourself if you spend at least a day in nearby St. John with its hipster vibe, fab beaches, and great restaurants. What I fell in love with was all the historical sites, including the Catherineberg Ruins, Annaberg Sugar Plantation, and Cinnamon Bay Nature Loop Trail.

Vineyard in Sonoma, California.
Alexandra Latypova / Shutterstock.com

Best For Wine Lovers

Sonoma, California 

There’s more to California wine than Napa. I love Napa, don’t get me wrong, but escape to the Russian River Valley’s luxury boutique hotel, the Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma. Set off your celebration with the Farm, Flight & Field two-day getaway. The fun includes a four-hour helicopter tour of the Sonoma Coast featuring stopovers at a remote vineyard and a picnic lunch in an exclusive coastal location as well as spa treatments, a seven-course meal from the inn’s Michelin-starred restaurant, an exclusive wine library, a food-paired wine tasting, and other once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Keepsakes include handmade ceramic teacups from Cristina Hobbs for use in the spa and to take home, an in-room welcome gift, wine amenity, and a Paul Hobbs Winery takeaway risotto/dashi kit with a recipe from the estate chef.



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7 Most Beautiful Places To Visit From Los Angeles To Kings Canyon


My family loves road tripping, and more often than not, we hit the road even after flying to a location, treating our flight destination as a base. During our latest road trip, we noticed that our drive to Yosemite and eventually Sequoia and Kings Canyon from Los Angeles made a perfect circle while hitting some of the most beautiful landscapes in California. Though our entire California trip was longer, this was its most spectacular segment. 

You’ll experience contrasts while driving from the busiest city to the most desolate landscape in the country, from the lowest point on the continent in Death Valley to the highest peak in the contiguous United States, from sand dunes empty of vegetation to dark forests featuring some of the largest trees in the world. The following are the best stops on this road trip through the best of California. 

1. Los Angeles

The variety of scenery and landscape of the city and its proximity to the ocean and high desert environment, make Los Angeles a must-visit city in California. And its location offers the best base for one of the most scenic road trips to embark upon in the state. 

But before setting up off the trip, visit a few places in the city. Start with the pier at the famous Santa Monica beach, then dip your toes in the ocean and walk in the sand along its sides. Or walk the paved path along the shore and enjoy the views. For even better views and a pleasant walk, head over to the cliffs of the Pacific Palisades and walk along the trail bordering the clifftops.

For a taste of the Hollywood scene, head over to the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, where you’ll see the stars featuring celebrities embedded in the sidewalk.

If it’s museums you prefer, you’ll find one of the best at the Getty Center, comprising impressive galleries through multiple buildings. You can also read up on our picks for the best art museums in Los Angeles and what to see there.

Pro Tip: Traffic in Los Angeles is some of the worst in the world, and parking spots are few and expensive, so instead of driving, park your car and use Uber or Lyft to get around. 

Highway 190 crossing Panamint Valley in Death Valley National Park
Photo Credit: Radoslaw Lecyk / Shutterstock.com

2. Death Valley

Driving away from Los Angeles, you’ll transition from the busiest city on the coast to one of the most desolate areas in the U.S. The hottest and driest desert on the continent, Death Valley National Park also features the area with the lowest elevation at 282 feet below sea level. 

Aside from the oasis where the hotels are, it is the most desolate area I’ve ever visited — and I live in the desert. But this lack of vegetation and water resulted in a showcase of some of the most beautiful geological features. Colorful rock formations, salt flats, and golden sand dunes enchant the senses here.

During a summer visit, you can’t do much more than drive through, but the scenery is still worth it. Stop at the sand dunes, drive the 9-mile-long Artist Drive, and before leaving, stop at Zabriskie Point for some of the best views in the park. 

Pro Tip: The best time to visit Death Valley is winter. Spring is still bearable and adds the spectacle of wildflowers in some areas. But, with temperatures constantly in the triple digits, summer is the time to avoid this national park, except to drive through it in an air-conditioned car. 

Mount Whitney, California.
Mount Whitney (Photo Credit: Emese Fromm)

3. Lone Pine And Mount Whitney

A gateway to both Death Valley and Mount Whitney, the town of Lone Pine lies between the lowest and the highest elevation in the contiguous U.S. 

Known as a background for Western movies, over 400 of which were filmed here, the town displays memorabilia from them at the Museum of Western Film History.

But Lone Pine is more popular for its proximity to Mount Whitney and its famous Summit Trail. The spectacular Whitney Portal Road starts in the center of town and leads up to it. At only 13 miles long, the road climbs to 8,374 feet via steep dramatic switchbacks.

Whitney Portal, a wooded canyon surrounded by towering granite cliffs, marks the end of the road. This is where the Summit Trail starts, leading to the top of the mountain on a strenuous 10.5-mile trek. However, you need a permit, proper gear, and mountaineering experience to hike to the top of the 14,494-foot mountain. 

Instead, enjoy the Portal and its surroundings. Take a shorter hike along Lone Pine Creek, and have a picnic in the shadow of tall pines. 

Pro Tips: Remember, you are at high elevation; if you are prone to elevation sickness, you might feel it, with headache and lightheadedness being the most common symptoms. Make sure you drink plenty of water and take it slow if you hike. Also, I visited Whitney Portal at the beginning of June 2021. As of June 29, 2021, the area is closed through November 2021 because of the Inyo Creek Fire. As you plan your visit, check the status of the National Recreation Trail here.

Mammonth Village, California.
Mammoth Village (Photo Credit: Emese Fromm)

4. Mammoth Lakes

The town of Mammoth Lakes lies at the foothills of Mammoth Mountain at an elevation of 7,880 feet. A gateway to the scenic mountain and to Devils Postpile National Monument, the town and its immediate surroundings offer outdoor activities year-round in an area of unbelievable natural beauty. 

During our road trip in early June, Devils Postpile National Monument was still closed, so we couldn’t drive up to it. If you’d like to visit it, check the status before you go. But even without it, Mammoth Lakes itself was one highlight of the trip. 

Driving toward Devils Postpile, you’ll reach the ski resort of Mammoth Lakes. You can spend some time here, enjoying outdoor activities, shopping, or taking the ski lift on the scenic ride to the summit of Mammoth Mountain. 

Take the scenic drive surrounding the town, then head over to the Mammoth Lakes Basin, where you’ll find several crystal-clear mountain lakes surrounded by deep pine forests. Here, you’ll enjoy hiking opportunities on trails ranging from easy to strenuous. 

Don’t leave town before walking through the picturesque Mammoth Village in the center of town for great dining and shopping opportunities.

5. Lee Vining And Mono Lake

A truly tiny town, Lee Vining is a gateway to the east entrance of Yosemite National Park, when it is open. Sitting at the foot of Tioga Pass, near Mono Lake, the town offers a perfect alternative to overnight stays in the park.

You can stay in a hotel here if you don’t have reservations in the park or are looking for cheaper alternatives. Lakeview Lodge was our choice. For dinner, it might surprise you to hear locals send you to Whoa Nellie Deli, especially when you realize it’s in a gas station. But don’t let it deter you; we had one of the best meals of our whole trip there. 

Other than using the tiny town as a gateway to Yosemite, you can spend time here exploring Mono Lake, an ancient saline lake. You’ll have opportunities to take free, naturalist-led walking tours through different habitats and will learn about California’s most unusual lake. You’ll walk among strange tufa (limestone) towers and bubbling springs, brine shrimp habitats, wetlands, willows, sagebrush, and cottonwood trees. This is also an excellent area for birdwatching and wildlife viewing.

Yosemite National Park.
Emese Fromm

6. Yosemite National Park 

Yosemite National Park was the primary destination of our road trip, and since we needed reservations to enter, we timed everything else around it. If you are visiting Yosemite, you’ll have to do the same, since visitors now need reservations to enter the park. Besides that, to enjoy this road trip, you need to ensure Tioga Pass is open. 

In the park, explore the higher elevations along Tioga Road. Take a hike in Tuolumne Meadows for gorgeous views of the waterways, and often wildlife. Spend time on the shores of Tenaya Lake, where you can walk the rim trail, swim (though the water is always cold), fish, or kayak. Have a picnic near the rushing Yosemite Creek, and stop for gorgeous scenic views at Olmsted Point. 

Down in Yosemite Valley, and throughout the park, enjoy a few hikes with gorgeous views of the famous waterfalls, surrounded by green meadows and towering granite rocks. As the best-known area of the park, Yosemite Valley is extremely popular and may get congested. However, if you get there early or late in the day, you should be fine. You’ll also find the Visitor Center and the park’s store here. 

For the most spectacular (and most famous) views of Yosemite Valley, drive up to Glacier Point, where you can take several short hikes to different viewpoints. 

Giant Sequoias.
Twin Sequoias, Kings Canyon National Park (Photo Credit: Emese Fromm)

7. Sequoia And Kings Canyon National Parks

As spectacular as Yosemite is, the highlight of this trip for me was Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The dramatic landscape of these parks includes towering mountains, deep canyons, and rugged foothills, but the most amazing thing about them is that they’re home to the world’s largest trees. 

Sequoia National Park is home to the General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest tree by volume, standing at 275 feet tall, with over 36 feet of circumference at the base. A paved but steep trail leads to it, one you cannot miss. The famous giant is part of the larger sequoia grove, the Giant Forest, offering an extensive network of hiking trails, from 1- and 2 hour-long hikes to half-day and longer ones. 

In Kings Canyon’s Grant Grove, you’ll find the stunning General Grant Tree. Home to many of the largest sequoias in the park, the hike through Grant Grove was probably my favorite in the park. No wonder, since according to the National Park Service site, “a higher percentage of this grove’s mature sequoias reach sizes of ten, fifteen, and twenty feet in diameter than any other grove.” The trail also leads through a fallen sequoia, offering an inside view of its hollow log. 

Pro Tip: Return To Los Angeles Through Bakersfield

The easiest way to return to Los Angeles from Kings Canyon is to pass through the California desert and the town of Bakersfield. The desolate area stands in stark contrast with what you just experienced, offering a slow transition through farmlands to the world of cities.



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The Best Places In The World For Nakations


It’s nakation time! Time to step out of your clothes, let the warm breeze waft across your body, and go aaaahhhh as you feel life’s daily stresses begin to ebb. The world is reopening to travelers and nude vacations offer many varied opportunities for those seeking the ultimate in freedom, relaxation, and fun. Whether you’re looking for a get-away-from-it-all peaceful retreat to recharge your batteries or an all-inclusive resort stay where clothing is left in the closet — or something in between — the naturist world has you (un)covered.

Here are some of the best options for your next nakation.

Naturist couple running into the water on beach.
Chris Moore

1. The Best Naturist Resorts For Families And Couples

The list of great naturist resorts for singles, couples, and families is endless, but here are just a few of the very best. Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park located less than an hour north of Toronto is a favorite for naturist families and people of all ages. The atmosphere here is one of welcome, acceptance, openness, and freedom — the pillars of naturism if you like — so it’s no surprise to see families with children, teens, and young adults enjoying life here, bringing a joyous, vivacious vibrancy to the place.

In Europe, La Jenny and Euronat on France’s west coast near Bordeaux are two of the largest and most established naturist resorts in the world. Located in large pine forests adjacent to miles of Atlantic beach, you will undress on arrival and not dress until you leave at the end of your nakation. Cycle to the bakery in the morning then stroll to the beach to work on that all-over tan. In the afternoon, hit a few golf balls (La Jenny) and laze in one of the many pools before heading to the on-site supermarket for your fresh grocery shopping. 

In the height of the summer, you will be rubbing shoulders with newborns to fourth-generation grandmas, all seemingly who have forgotten to get dressed. But even though there may be as many as 10,000 people nakationing in these two pockets of paradise, the resorts are so large you never feel you are living on top of each other. Cabins in the pine forests are well spaced out and fully equipped so once you arrive, there is no need to leave. Fly to Bordeaux and take a taxi for the 50-mile trip.

A little further south on Spain’s Andalusian coast lies Vera Playa and its “naturist urbanization.” Think of a small community with two-story buildings, grassy areas and pools, shops, restaurants, and a four-star hotel that fronts a wide sandy clothing-optional beach, and where there is no need to dress. There are no gates or obvious markings that show where this naturist urbanization stops and starts — it just blends into the rest of the local area so you have to take care not to wander too far to avoid drivers politely honking their horns at you. If your idea of a nakation is staying in a Holiday Inn-style hotel where you can (generally) be nude and wander to the beach all without dressing, this is the place for you.

In the United States, Mountain Air Ranch (MAR), just south of Denver, is another exceptional club for families. Located in 150 acres of beautiful, raw Colorado landscape, MAR offers a great escape from today’s hectic pace. A sense of freedom just blows through the wide open spaces of this mountain retreat that has been a draw for families for more than 80 years. There is a clubhouse for teens and a play area for the younger kids as well as all the usual amenities (clubhouse, pool, volleyball, etc.) you would expect from a well-established and popular resort.

2. Got an RV? Pull In Here

On long road trips, why not break the trip with overnight stops at naturist resorts? There are so many naturist resorts waiting to welcome you that with some good planning, you can be clothes free every night. Degrees of comfort vary — some offer full hookups and dump stations, others not much more than a space to pull into and share a communal bathhouse. A couple of favorites are Turtle Lake Resort and Sunshower Country Club in the U.S. Midwest, Whitetail resort in Virginia, and Whispering Pines Nudist Resort in North Carolina. These are great places to relax, skinny-dip in the pool, make new friends and unwind for a couple of days before heading off on the next leg of your road trip.

3. Sleeping Without A Stitch Under Canvas

There’s only one way to spend the night in a tent when it’s hot outside — naked. There are numerous naturist resorts in North America and Europe where you can pitch your tent and enjoy the amenities without the hassle of having to get dressed every time you step out of your tent. Apart from some higher-end resorts, almost all naturist sites have places to pitch tents — it’s simple, it’s quick and it’s cheap. The best part, you won’t get sweaty erecting your tent because you will have already stripped. Many resorts have a lake or river so just be careful where you pitch — mosquitos don’t care where they feast — even if you do.

4. Clothed Sightseeing, Naked Relaxation

For those seeking to combine textile sightseeing as well as naked freedom, choose to stay at a naturist resort close to the sights or make use of clothing-optional activities in an otherwise textile world. Visiting Mickey at Disneyworld in Florida? Check into Cypress Cove Nudist Resort in Kissimmee, one of Florida’s premier naturist resorts and just a 30-minute drive from the Magic Kingdom. The Cove is a well-established high-end resort with modern pools, hotel rooms, restaurant, bar, spa, exercise room, and recreational facilities as well as its own lake. Beware the alligator if you decide to swim.

California’s Glen Eden Sun Club is less than 40 miles from the other Disney — Disneyland Park in California, 60 miles to Los Angeles, and 85 miles to San Diego, making this a perfect base for California dreamin’.

5. The Ultimate In Relaxation

For the ultimate in relaxation, head to Hidden Beach Au Naturel Resort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. This five star all-inclusive resort is adults only. With swim up bars, rooms you can swim to, moonlight dinners on the beach, and massages on the sand, it’s a couples’ retreat par excellence. This is high-end nakationing and if you’re concerned the “Adults Only” tag may suggest a different lifestyle, it may elsewhere … at Hidden Beach, it does not.

Naturist hiking.
Chris Moore

6. Wear Nothing But Hiking Boots

If hiking is your thing, then why not join like-minded folks and step out on a clothes-free hike? The Naked European Walking Tour (NEWT) has organized naked hiking tours for more than 15 years, and these dedicated hikers march across the Alps wearing nothing but hiking boots and a smile. They do carry a backpack for their clothes of course, in case of changing weather conditions and for those places where it isn’t appropriate to be nude. 

In North America, you can sometimes find resort members organizing their own informal hikes in local remote areas. Folks at Mira Vista Resort in Arizona have been known to go for group hikes in Redington Pass. Some resorts are large enough and in great locations that allow you to hike naked up steep hills affording great views within their own boundaries — Mountain Air Ranch in Colorado has 10 miles of hiking trails. Valley View Hot Springs in Colorado is a must for anyone who enjoys hiking to hot springs — especially in the raw.

Couples naturism cruise.
Chris Moore

7. Sail Away In Your Altogether

For those who prefer to spend most of their vacation on water, hop on a nude cruise. Bare Necessities offer Big Nude Boat cruises where you can join thousands of fellow nudists aboard a modern oceangoing cruise liner. While it’s appropriate to dress in the restaurants, the rest of the time you can enjoy life onboard in the altogether, though you will need to dress when in port. For a more intimate and slower sailing adventure, snag a cabin aboard the largest clipper sailing ship in the world, the 220 passenger Royal Clipper, which Bare Necessities regularly charters for nude sailings around the Mediterranean. If you prefer to go even smaller, there are some nude sailing charter companies that offer crewed sailings for up to eight or so guests who can enjoy the trip sans clothes.

8. Snag A Nude Weekend Getaway

If getting away for a three-week nakation in the sun is not possible this year, how about a long weekend in a nude Bed & Breakfast? There are a number available through www.NaturistBnB from Michigan to Key West. Nuance B&B near Battle Creek is a wonderful, cozy out-of-the-way place to try your first nakation. With acres of grounds to explore, you can wander outdoors or simply enjoy the small movie theater, play pool, or simply relax with a drink at the bar … all in the comfort of your skin.

Wherever your nakation takes you, one thing is for sure — you’ll be back for more.

Nude vacations offer the ultimate in freedom, relaxation, and fun. For more:



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7 Charming And Historic Places To Stay In Iowa


Over the years, my husband, Keith, and I have traveled extensively in Iowa. During our travels, we have come upon wonderful places to stay that are different from the typical hotel/motel variety. While some stays only require a clean room and a bed, others call for a bit more. Below are some of the places where we have found the comfort of a place that you want to linger at and sit and sip a little before heading out! These stops have been found through research and opportunities that others have shared along the way. Enjoy a little luxury in beautiful Iowa next time you head in that direction!

The Millwright Hotel is a converted woolen mill.
Cindy Ladage

1. Hotel Millwright

The Amana Colonies are some of our favorite destinations, and a few of our favorite stops are in the Amana area. Our latest stay in Amana, Iowa, was at the Hotel Millwright. Hosted by the Amana Colonies Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), the Millwright is in the heart of Amana, where you can walk to almost anywhere in town!

This hotel is a former woolen mill converted to a historic hotel. The mill helped the immigrants who fled Germany because of religious persecution make money once they arrived in the United States, where they found land and opportunity. Equipment for the mill was shipped from Germany, first to New York, and eventually to the Amana Colonies. There are seven villages in Amana where the colonists lived communally until 1932. 

Elise Heitman, executive director of the Amana Colonies CVB shared that Hotel Millwright is owned by the Amana Society, but run by a hotel management company IDM. Elise added, “I think they did a great job.”

The partnership successfully creates a combination of the mill’s historic elements and adds industrial design to create a one-of-a-kind hotel experience. The hotel has two stories and offers 65 guest rooms, all different due to the historic nature of the building. Shelby Foster, the events coordinator explained, “This campus was a working woolen mill process from the very beginning. This building became part of the electric company based on the Mill Race. The electric ran a lot of electricity, the woolen mill, and the flour mill across the stream.”

In each room, visitors find pictures that the Amana Society provides showing what happened in that area. Our room was a king suite. Woolen equipment is strategically placed throughout, and items that were non-functional became furniture, tables, and such. 

Cindy Ladage

There is a signature restaurant, on-premise whiskey bar, and 8,000 square feet of meeting and event space. While there, we had breakfast in the Indigo Room, the former boiler room, and enjoyed the selections. An eco-friendly hotel, the electricity for the building is generated by methane from the Amana Farms digester resulting from the cattle operation!

Rates vary depending on events, but the average room is between $130-$140 a night. There are elevators so the hotel is accessible, and ADA rooms are available as well.

Pro Tip: Be sure to dine at one of the two family-style restaurants, the Ronneburg, or the Ox Yoke Inn.

2. Zuber’s Homestead Hotel

We frequently stay at Zuber’s Homestead Hotel during the Prelude to Christmas, a wonderful holiday event in the Amana Colonies. Zuber’s is a historic property located in Homestead, Iowa.

Zuber’s is one of the original buildings. It started as a stagecoach stop and later expanded to a hotel. The hotel served the colonists until 1938 when it was sold to Bill and Connie Zuber. The Zubers turned the inn into Bill Zuber’s Dugout Restaurant. Bill Zuber is famous for his career playing baseball, having played for the Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox, and the New York Yankees. In 2004, the hotel was sold and remodeled. Today, the hotel is owned by Brian and Bonnie James and offers 15 rooms with private baths.

We love the community dining room where friends and family can gather. Breakfast is amazing and is included with the stay. Room rates are between $100-$120 and may vary during events.

If you have accessibility issues, book a downstairs room; there is no elevator, and the stairs to the second floor are steep.

Pro Tip: If you attend Prelude to Christmas, check out the house tour on Saturday.

3. Hotel Blackhawk

The Hotel Blackhawk in Davenport is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. We usually stay there during a John Deere event called Gathering of the Green. The Blackhawk was built in 1915 and renovated in 2010.

In 1923, the hotel went from seven floors to 11. It was at this time the downstairs bar and bowling alley were added. We have tried it out, and it was great fun!

The Blackhawk has hosted presidents and more. During Gathering of the Green, this luxurious hotel is quite a sight with John Deere equipment in the lobby! My favorite thing about this hotel is the big bathtub.

Rates are around the $200 or more mark unless you get a break on a rate.

4. The Black Hawk Hotel (Cedar Falls)

The second Black Hawk Hotel that was quite lovely to stay at is in downtown Cedar Falls. I was hosted by Cedar Falls Tourism a couple of years ago. The Black Hawk was not the first name for the hotel. Built in 1853, it was originally known then as the “Winslow House.” The hotel began as a wooden-framed stagecoach hotel. The hotel had several other names throughout the years and was once even destroyed by a fire. It was rebuilt in the Second Empire style in the 1870s, then received another upgrade in 1914, leading to the current combination of Second Empire and Mission-style architecture.

Rates vary between around $130-$160. Included is a European-style breakfast. Located in a historic neighborhood, we loved our stay at this quaint, beautiful hotel! Elevators are available at the Black Hawk.

Pro Tip: If you are interested in tractor history, the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum is in nearby Waterloo!

5. The Hotel At Kirkwood Center

Located on the Kirkwood Campus in Cedar Rapids, I was hosted by the Cedar Rapids CVB at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, a fascinating teaching hotel. The hotel is a teaching laboratory and is the largest, most comprehensive teaching hotel at a community college in the U.S. Besides being a teaching hotel, they are also a “green” hotel featuring native grass and local limestone.

All aspects of the hotel’s hospitality connect to teaching, including dining. According to their website, “over 100 pieces of local and artisan art are dotted throughout our accommodations and public spaces” adding another wonderful aspect to this urban setting. Depending on the time of year, room rates average $149-189. This modern hotel is easy to navigate and has elevators and other modern conveniences.

This interior shot of the Cheesemaker Inn B&B is part of the original home.
Cindy Ladage

6. Cheesemaker’s Inn Bed and Breakfast

Visit Pella hosted my stay at the Cheesemaker’s Inn. Kim and Rob Bandstra own the beautiful inn once located in the heart of a dairy farmstead. The Bandstras’ nephew, Mike Bandstra, who grew up milking cows on the farm, went on to become a cheesemaker and today owns Frisian Farms Cheese house

The Cheesemaker’s Inn is located on the edge of Pella and is a 1918 Craftsman-style house that has been converted into a B & B. The rooms are quite charming, and the morning meal is Danish-inspired. We had Kim’s amazing fruit soup as part of our selection. Every breakfast also includes a selection of Gouda cheese made at Frisian Farms. Each room has its own bathroom, and there is plenty of sitting space on the porch and out back. For a relaxed country feel, this is a great place to visit while checking out Pella’s many sites.

Note that all rooms are upstairs and there is no elevator. Rates are currently $140 a night for each room.

Pro Tip: Tour the Vermeer Mill and Historic Village while in town!

This is the stunning stairway at the McNeil Stone Mansion.
Cindy Ladage

7. McNeill Stone Mansion B&B

The McNeill Stone Mansion B&B in Oskaloosa is a true luxury stay. Hosted by Oskaloosa Main Street, this beautiful mansion left me awestruck! Virginia Walker, the owner, said this stone mansion constructed between 1908 and 1909 is fireproof and has lasted over the years because of the use of steel and concrete building materials. Originally built by Wilbur McNeil, this home is a combination of Colonial Revival and Mission Spanish style. Beautiful limestone covers the mansion outside.

The mansion is full of antiques and memories of Virginia’s travels with her late husband, Gary. The floors in the living room and dining room are Mexican Tabasco hardwood.

Our room was quite lovely and included a four-poster bed and a huge bathroom. Again, I was blessed with a huge jacuzzi tub to relax in after playing tourist all day. In the morning, we had a wonderful breakfast at the huge dining room table. Luxury mixed with a wonderful hostess make this an amazing stay! Room rates vary between $115 to $170.

There are so many places to stay in Iowa, but these offer a few of our favorites over the years!



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Cool travel escapes: Flee the heat at these places in the summer of 2021


(CNN) — Summer travel can be so inviting. There are fewer clothes to pack. Days are long for outdoor play. Outdoor dining abounds. And you can’t overstate the simple joy of basking in the sun’s soothing rays.
Whether you’re playing it safe or simply prefer relatively cooler temps over hot spots, here are nine places that usually make for cool travel escapes in summer. Keep in mind all the cautionary guidance about travel — especially if you’re not fully vaccinated or you’re crossing international borders.

1. Switzerland

Mountainous Switzerland always provides a cool spot somwhere. Dent Blanche, left, is next to the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps.

Mountainous Switzerland always provides a cool spot somwhere. Dent Blanche, left, is next to the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps.

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Should the major cities such as Geneva, Zurich and Bern become too hot for you (which is unlikely, especially at night), escape to the higher altitudes for an Alpine hike. Even in early July, temperatures on the 5 Lakes Walk near the Matterhorn can stay below 10 C (50 F) for the high.
If you want something less strenuous, take a boat tour of idyllic Lake Brienz.

2. San Francisco

Alcatraz Island can be seen from the Russian Hill neighborhood in San Francisco.

Alcatraz Island can be seen from the Russian Hill neighborhood in San Francisco.

Brontë Wittpenn/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

The quote oft-attributed to Mark Twain is nice summation of the weather there. Summer isn’t even its warmest season — that honor goes to fall. While much of the Northwest has been baking this year, the city’s microclimate has kept things cool.

You can explore neighborhoods such as hilly Russian Hill (home to crazy crooked Lombard Street) or head out to nearby Muir Woods for some serious tree time. Don’t forget a light jacket.

3 . Anchorage, Alaska

A cool sight: Spencer Glacier in Chugach National Forest.

A cool sight: Spencer Glacier in Chugach National Forest.

Ray Bulson/Alamy

Alaska isn’t necessarily the year-round ice block you may think it is. It can get surprisingly warm at times in Anchorage. But compared with the Lower 48, it’s still usually a relatively cool escape in summer. (In early July, CNN Weather forecasts the hottest day to be 63 F (17 C).

4. Iceland

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a spectular sight in southern Iceland.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a spectular sight in southern Iceland.

Sven-Erik Arndt/Arterra/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

With a name like Iceland, you’d better be cool — unless you’re near a lava flow or soaking in a hot spring. Average July highs in the capital of Reykjavík are 14 C (57 F).

5. Dubai

A skier competes during DXB Snow Week at Ski Dubai last year.

A skier competes during DXB Snow Week at Ski Dubai last year.

Francois Nel/Getty Images

No, we haven’t lost our minds. Dubai is indeed a hot desert emirate. But it offers year-round snow skiing and other winter activities. How can that be?

It’s all thanks to Ski Dubai. When you’re rolling in oil money, you can build a mammoth indoor ski park and draw folks from all over the world. Along with the skiing, you can have penguin encounters, ride snow slides or take a chair lift for a bird’s-eye view.

6. Air-conditioned destination malls

You can retreat to destination malls such as CentralWorld in Bangkok and spend a full day indoors and never get bored.

You can retreat to destination malls such as CentralWorld in Bangkok and spend a full day indoors and never get bored.

Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

Online shopping has delivered a big blow to many malls, but there are big destination malls in the USA and around the world that can still satiate your shopping and entertainment appetites in glorious, air-conditioned comfort.

Minnesota’s Mall of America is a kids’ climate-controlled playground paradise with everything from an aquarium to the Nickelodeon theme park.
Even hot, steamy Bangkok offers a cool respite if you go to malls such as CentralWorld, where there’s an ice skating rink.

Stay aware of any local mask-wearing requirements when you visit enclosed public locations. Even if you’re fully vaccinated, some locations still might ask you to wear a face mask.

7. Caves for tourists

You can see stalagmites, stalactites and formations called curtains in the Postojna Caves.

You can see stalagmites, stalactites and formations called curtains in the Postojna Caves.

Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky: The longest known cave system in the world has an average temperature of 54 F (12 C). Bring a jacket for your tour.
Eisriesenwelt Cave, Austria: You go from cool to downright cold here. This is an ice cave and one of Salzburg’s favorite things.
Postojna Caves, Slovenia: See stunning formations from the comfort of an underground train.

8. Fresh-water swimming holes

An old stone bridge spans the Voidomatis River.

An old stone bridge spans the Voidomatis River.

Antony Bouchagier/Alamy

There are all kinds of fresh-water swimming holes around the world that provide an exhilarating plunge even when it’s insufferable hot on land. A couple of examples:

Barton Springs; Austin, Texas: Residents and visitors can escape the notoriously brutal Texas heat in this naturally fed pool, where the water is always 68 to 70 F (20 to 21 C). On a cold winter morning, the pool actually provides a relatively warm place to swim.
Voidomatis Springs, Vikos Gorge, Greece: These spring-fed pools can be found on the Voidomatis River, deep in the Vikos Gorge in northern Greece. Be aware they can run dry in late summer.

9. Cold-water beaches

A couple walks the shore at Coast Guard Beach in Eastham on Cape Cod.

A couple walks the shore at Coast Guard Beach in Eastham on Cape Cod.

Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Even if the sun is out in force, some beaches have cool water ocean currents that make for chill air and bracing — even shocking — dips. A few of them are:

Nazaré, Portugal: This charming spot on the Portuguese coast north of Lisbon is known for surfing, but the waves are generally biggest in winter. The Atlantic is usually calmer here in summer. The water temperature in early July was 17 C (62 F).
Bryher; Isles of Scilly, UK: Bryher has rough Atlantic waves on one side, but calm, sandy beaches on the other. It’s about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the southwestern tip of Cornwall. The water is pretty cold for long swims unless you’re very hardy, but it doesn’t take long to cool off with a dip here.



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The Best Places In Missouri For A Family Vacation


From its rich history and incredible arts and culture to charming river towns and amazing outdoor adventures, Missouri is a destination for every family member! 

As you start planning your summer travel or weekend road trip, here are seven different places in Missouri that your entire crew — from grandparents to toddlers and everyone in between — will love!

Independence, MO overhead of Historical Independence Square
VisitIndependence.com

1. Independence 

Yes, it’s Harry S. Truman’s hometown. And while his presence is deeply felt in Independence, there’s a whole lot more to see and do here as well! Of course, to learn all about the 33rd president of the United States, you’ll want to stop at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. A multimillion-dollar refresh will be done in 2021, just in time to celebrate the 75th anniversary of when Truman ascended to the highest office in the United States. The complex contains archives, documents, and artifacts allowing you to really get to know the man well-known for his straight talk and “buck stops here” approach. You might also want to make time to visit the home he shared with his wife, Bess, which is now a National Historic Site.

All roads started in Independence when it came to exploring the Wild West. Thousands of people streamed through in the 1800s on their way to seek fortune along the Oregon, Santa Fe, and California trails. You can learn more about them, their struggles, and Independence’s role in their journeys at the National Frontier Trails Museum, home to more than 2,600 first-person trail accounts. Pioneer Trails Adventures also offers an up-close and personal look at the city’s deep pioneer roots with covered-wagon tours that take off from the Historic Independence Square. Each Labor Day Weekend, Independence honors its pioneer roots with the SantaCaliGon Days Festival on the Square.

And if all the history in Independence has you wondering about your own family’s past, you’ll want to visit the Midwest Genealogy Center. This is one of the best places in the country to research your family roots — for free! Its massive online genealogy databases include census records, newspaper articles, and other primary sources. Librarians are on hand to help you get started on your family story. 

To further explore all the fantastic things to see, do, and experience in Independence, check out the city’s online visitors guide and peruse our collection of Independence content here.

Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park in Arcadia Valley in Missouri
Image: K Welschmeyer, Shutterstock

2. Arcadia Valley

If you’re looking to include some of Missouri’s most stunning natural features in your getaway, there’s no better place than the Arcadia Valley, located in the state’s southeast. Taum Sauk, the state’s highest point, offers some terrific hikes and scenic, sweeping vistas. Johnsons Shut-Ins State Park has been a favorite road-trip stop for generations. With its crystal-clear spring-fed falls that rush through huge granite boulders, this place is like Mother Nature’s waterslide! And don’t forget Elephant Rocks State Park, where you can wander among enormous pink stones and learn all about the geological processes that created them. You can also see the carved names of stone cutters, left behind a century ago when they trained on the site.

And then, there is the fantastic floating! The Black River is cool, clear, and perfect for a day-long water adventure, with lots of sandbars and rocky beaches to stop for a break. There are many outfitters in the area that allow you to rent canoes, kayaks, or tubes for your float.

While campsites and cabins are plentiful, Wilderness Lodge just outside of the town of Lesterville is the perfect spot for an entire family to stay. Its cozy, comfortable cabins right on the river, onsite amenities, and delicious meals served in the main lodge (breakfast and dinner are included in your rate) make it a terrific choice. This place has been our family’s favorite for years. 

The University of Missouri campus in Columbia.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

3. Columbia

Home to the state’s flagship university, Columbia sits midway between St. Louis and Kansas City and is jam-packed with attractions and activities for your entire family. Of course, no visit here is complete without exploring the University of Missouri campus. If you’ve only got time for one stop, make it Francis Quadrangle, with its iconic Columns, Jesse Hall, and historic red brick buildings. Grab a slice of pizza (or whole pie!) at Shakespeare’s, where students have been flocking for generations. And make sure you stroll the city’s terrific Ninth Street district downtown, with its funky shops, boutiques, and cafes. 

For outdoor fun, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park boasts some of the best hiking trails in the state, which wind their way past an extensive cave system, and Shelter Gardens is a family favorite with its gorgeous flowers, shrubs, and manicured grounds. Learn how to spend the perfect weekend in Columbia here!

4. Innsbrook

For old-fashioned family fun in a tranquil, peaceful setting, consider Innsbrook for your next Missouri adventure. The resort, just an hour west of St. Louis, was first built as an A-frame resort inspired by mountain chalets in Europe and the natural beauty the developers loved in Colorado. Today, while the property has grown to include luxury homes and condominiums, it still combines nature and recreation in a special, serene way.

Innsbrook includes 100 lakes, nature trails, stables, tennis and pickleball courts, a pool, and even an 18-hole golf course, yet it retains its natural, unspoiled beauty. Big motors are not permitted at the resort, so you’ll be kayaking, canoeing, and fishing in still, quiet waters. And there are plenty of places within Innsbrook’s 7,500 acres to settle in, relax, and reconnect with nature and each other. While many properties here are privately owned, vacation rentals are also available.

Fountain at Park Central Square in Springfield, MO
Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock.com

5. Springfield

Located right in the Missouri Ozarks, Springfield is an outdoor paradise! Start your adventure at Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium, where you’ll walk through massive aquatic habitats filled with fish, marine mammals, and coral from all over the world. Next, head to the flagship Bass Pro Shop store, crammed with everything any outdoor enthusiast could need for an upcoming adventure. 

Fantastic Caverns takes the fun underground; here you’ll take a Jeep ferry ride deep into the earth, where you’ll see all sorts of formations and learn about the 12 brave women who were the first recorded explorers of the massive cave complex back in the 1860s. Missouri State University’s campus is located in Springfield and is certainly worth a stroll, as is the downtown district. And you can check out the boys of summer at a Springfield Cardinals game — they’re the Double-A club affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Clarksville, MO riverfront entrance
Photos BrianScantlebury / Shutterstock.com

6. Clarksville 

To share an old-fashioned river respite with your family, consider the tiny town of Clarksville. Located about an hour north of St. Louis, Clarksville sits just off Highway 79 on a stretch of road that runs along the Mississippi River, offering some of the most scenic views in the state! The town is perched just over U.S. Lock and Dam 24, providing a perfect vantage point for appreciating riverboat and barge traffic up close and personal. Enthusiasts of all ages will delight in seeing the barges make their way through the lock and dam system and on their way down the river. This stretch of the Mississippi is also a prime place to spot bald eagles — they routinely stop through Clarksville to fish during their winter migration. 

Clarksville has become a creative haven of sorts, with craftspeople and artists including potters and furniture makers choosing to live and work in Clarksville’s historic buildings and homes. Rent a historic cottage or stay at a B&B, wander the riverfront, and make your way through the shops as you relax and enjoy the slower pace of life here. Plan to make your way up to Overlook Farms, an idyllic spot set well above the river. It’s a working farm, and the store sells many items produced on-site. There are also several inns at Overlook, some historic and all offering luxe accommodations.

View from winery in Hermann, MO
Allison Weston

7. Hermann 

German immigrants established Hermann in the 1840s; the terrain reminded them of their homeland’s Rhine River Valley. Those settlers quickly built homes, churches, and wineries. Many of them remain today and are perfect for the entire family to explore!

To learn more about the German immigrants who established Hermann, pay a visit to the Deutschheim State Historic Site. It includes two houses from the 1840s that are perfectly preserved to reflect what life was truly like here in that era. Upper City Park, with its historic Rotunda building, is also worth a stop. The brick octagon was built as an agricultural fair exhibition hall in 1864; today it’s fully renovated and used for weddings and other special events.

In addition to the dozen wineries in and around Hermann, the downtown district is full of fun antique shops, boutiques, and cafes. Expresso Laine offers all sorts of fun drinks, snacks, and even an extensive selection of toys!If you’re looking for a bit more adventure during your Hermann vacation, consider a bike or hike down the nearby Katy Trail. While Hermann isn’t directly on this terrific trail, it’s less than 3 miles away. You can easily rent a bike in Hermann, ride across the river on the recently renovated bridge, and reach the McKittrick trailhead. The Katy runs right through Missouri’s most scenic areas and is fun for the whole family.

Visit Missouri Tourism

Missouri Division of Tourism



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10 of the best places to see outdoor art in the UK: chosen by readers | Cultural trips


Winning tip: Conversation Piece, South Shields

Conversation Piece – 22 bronze statues on Littlehaven beach in South Shields – is by Juan Muñoz and peers out over the sand dunes towards Herd Groyne lighthouse, the point where the River Tyne spills into the North Sea. The statues are known locally as weebles. These lifesize figures laugh, whisper, chatter, point or just stare out to sea. Some huddle in groups; others are alone. Yet, despite their quarter-tonne roly-poly bodies, they are all frozen in time and space. Cyclists or walkers on the coastal path stop when they see them, hug them for a selfie, skip round them, wonder about them. What are they talking about?
visitsouthtyneside.co.uk

Fiona MacLean

Fingermaze, Hove Park, East Sussex

fingermaze by Chris Drury. at Hove Park
Photograph: Chris Drury

What I like most about Chris Drury’s Fingermaze, in Hove Park, is to wind my way slowly along its grassy pathway to the centre. It’s a work of art and a labyrinth, all in one. (Note: it’s the turf and not the weathered York stone you need to follow.) The design, set into a slight incline, resembles a giant human fingerprint. Dogs and children often run across it, oblivious of any deeper meaning – and that’s fine, too. Created in 2006, it’s open access, free of charge and an unobtrusive but integral part of the park landscape.
brighton-hove.gov.uk
Alison Field

The Scallop, Aldeburgh beach

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Aldeburgh Scallop Shell Sculpture, Suffolk.
Photograph: Tim Graham

I love the sculpture called the Scallop on Aldeburgh beach. It was created by local artist Maggi Hambling as a homage to the late composer and Aldeburgh resident Benjamin Britten. He loved to stroll on the same beach. The wording on it reads, “I hear those voices that will not be drowned” [from Britten’s opera Peter Grimes], and when you stand close it accentuates the sound of the sea, which is rather magical. It looks stunning at the end of the day when the sun reflects on the surface and eventually leaves it in shadow on the horizon.
Gillian Daldy

The Kelpies, The Helix, Falkirk

The Kelpies, in Falkirk.
Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

Nothing has mesmerised me more than Andy Scott’s The Kelpies: the world’s largest equine sculptures, which are modelled on draught horses. More than 30 metres high, they are marvels with tubular steel skeletons (each weighing 300 tonnes). Tours are possible, when restrictions allow.
thehelix.co.uk
Rowena Rodrigues

Neon signs, Edinburgh

The neon lights over museum entrance reading “Everything is Going to be Alright” .
Neon light installation by artist Martin Creed. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

I’m fortunate to live right by the Edinburgh galleries known as Modern One and Modern Two, the twin buildings of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Both have neon artworks in their (free to enter) grounds, which have kept me company on my daily walks this past year. One, by Martin Creed, reads: “Everything is going to be alright” – a sentiment that gave me great comfort during the darkest days of lockdown. The other, by Nathan Coley, is pitched against the Edinburgh skyline and reads: “There will be no miracles here.” The juxtaposition of the words and their backdrop brings me delight and hope, especially when the sun sets over the city in a miraculous, pastel, almost-Technicolor display.
Katie Collins

The Messenger, Plymouth

The bronze Messenger, outside the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
Photograph: Terry Mathews/Alamy

Joseph Hillier’s The Messenger outside the Theatre Royal in Plymouth is a large bronze statue of a woman in a powerful straddled pose. I love the fact it is meant to signify female empowerment and also the power of theatre to change the world. The arts have suffered greatly during the pandemic and much store is put on maths and English in preference to arts subjects in primary and secondary schools. I hope one day that the powers that be will recognise the importance of the arts for human creativity, mental wellbeing and their ability to challenge ideas in society.
Patricia Nawacki

Irwell valley sculpture trail

Picture Frame, on the Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail.
Picture Frame by Richard Caink, on the Irwell Valley Sculpture Trail. Photograph: Alamy

This trail runs 33 miles from Bacup in Rossendale and finishes at Media City, Salford. It claims to be the largest public art scheme in England and is dotted with more than 70 artworks from local and international artists. I spent a lot of lockdown running the length of the trail in small chunks: it is easily navigable, makes for an entertaining day out and exposes lots of local heritage. The sculptures come in all shapes, sizes and styles, my personal favourite is Edward Allington’s Tilted Vase in Ramsbottom.
irwellsculpturetrail.co.uk
Mike L

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan, Llandovery, Carmarthenshire

Statue of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan in Llandovery.
Photograph: Neil Setchfield/Alamy

Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan’s empty helmet gives this impressive steel statue a Ringwraith-like atmosphere that is only partly offset by its shininess. Llywelyn was publicly executed here in 1401, in front of Henry IV of England, for his support of Owain Glyndŵr’s war of independence. He was little remembered, even locally, until a campaign in the 1990s to commemorate his courage led to the commissioning of this statue by blacksmithing brothers Toby and Gideon Petersen at Llandovery Castle, funded by the local community and the Arts Council of Wales.
Estelle

Kielder forest art and architecture trail, Northumberland

The Nick, at the highest point on the Kielder Forest Drive, Northumberland.
The Nick, at the highest point on the Kielder Forest Drive, was designed by Newcastle University architecture students. Photograph: Alamy

This trail makes hiking or cycling around the reservoir or surrounding hills a journey of discovery. Tucked away around corners or by the lakeside is an amazing variety of shelters, viewpoints, columns, chairs and other unexpected delights. Each one fits its location and its scale has somehow been selected to enhance the experience of being part of nature enhanced by human vision. Silvas Capitalis, by American artists Simparch, is a large wooden head with a gaping mouth, aping the expression on my face when I first glimpsed it among the pine trees. It is somehow both frightening and inviting. Like all the other sculptures this enhances an already excellent day out.
Neil

The Line sculpture walk, London

Black statue of girl with mobile phone
Reaching Out by artist Thomas J Price at Three Mills Green, near Stratford. Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

I discovered The Line in east London with my housemate on a cold January day. It links the Olympic Park and the O2 and follows the Thames and other waterways and the line of the Greenwich meridian. It doesn’t seem to be well known, so you may have it to yourself. Some of the sculptures are strange and striking, like a tower of shopping trolleys or an upside down electricity pylon. There’s also the surprisingly fun experience, midway through the walk, of getting the Emirates cable car across the Thames, with great views over the O2 and the river.
the-line.org
Anna

This article was amended on 19 April 2021 to add the names of artists for four of the works featured.



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8 Fantastic Places In President Truman’s Independence


Independence, Missouri, located just to the east of Kansas City, is a charming place chock full of things to do, see, and experience. It also happens to be the hometown of former U.S. President Harry S. Truman. Many history buffs flock here to trace President Truman’s steps. This is where he grew up, first practiced law, and got into politics. After his time in the White House, Truman chose to return to the place he had always called home.

Here are eight must-see places where you, too, can connect with the life and legacy of our nation’s 33rd president.

Truman Library Interior
Truman Library Institute

1. Check Out The Library And Museum

Perhaps the best place to start your Truman adventure is at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Currently undergoing a $30 million renovation, the complex is scheduled to open this summer, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect: It’s the 75th anniversary of when Truman became the nation’s 33rd president.

The library stores Truman’s personal papers and archives, and various exhibitions and artifacts related to his life and presidency can be found in the museum. The courtyard here is also the final resting place of Truman, who opted for a private service in Missouri instead of a state funeral in Washington, D.C. His wife, Bess; their daughter, Margaret; and their son-in-law, Clifton Daniel, are also interred here. It’s a testament to how much Independence meant to the entire Truman family.

Truman’s presidency was marked by difficult decisions and turbulent times. The son of a Missouri farmer, he ascended to the highest office in the land after President Roosevelt died in April 1945, and his tenure included the end of World War II, the start of the Cold War, and the beginning of the war in Korea. You’ll learn more about those tough calls — and perhaps appreciate them all the more — after a visit to the library and museum.

Independence, MO in the fall at Harry S. Truman's home
VisitIndependence.com

2. Stop By The Historic Sites

The Truman family’s roots truly ran deep in Independence. The stunning Victorian home where Harry and Bess lived was built by her grandfather back in 1867. 

Today, the home is part of the Harry S Truman National Historic Site. At the Harry S. Truman Home, you’ll get a feel for what life was like for the couple, who moved into the family residence after their honeymoon. They embraced their extended family, sharing the home with Bess’s mother and grandmother. Two of Bess’s brothers built small homes on the grounds as well. 

Truman returned to the family home on Delaware Street from time to time during his presidency, calling it the Summer White House. After the Trumans left Washington for good, this was the place they chose to call home once again, and for good. They turned away from the spotlight and instead opted for simplicity. 

This desire is reflected in the home. While large, it offers a very personal look at the life they lived here. While the Trumans occasionally welcomed guests to their home, they were intensely private. After Bess’s death, the home was donated to the National Park Service, and rangers continue to protect the family’s privacy to this day: Visitors are not allowed on the second floor of the residence.

The historic site also includes the Noland House right across the street, where Truman’s aunt and uncle lived. One day while visiting with them, they asked Harry to return a cake plate to the home across the street. There, he reconnected with Bess, and their courtship began. Today, the house explains the deep bonds — and love of home — that Harry and Bess shared.

Both spots — so important and central to Harry S. Truman’s life — are open for free tours, but you must have a ticket. They are available at the Visitor Center downtown.

3. Tour Truman’s Courtroom

Truman’s path to the presidency was a bit of an unorthodox one. He certainly wasn’t groomed straight out of the gate for a life in public service. His family couldn’t afford to send him to college, so instead, he held various other jobs, until eventually following in his father’s footsteps and farming for a time. After returning from World War I, he opened — and then shut down — a clothing store, and he didn’t become a county judge until he was in his late 30s. 

The historic courthouse where Truman presided as a judge now houses the Jackson County Historical Society. The group gives guided tours of Truman’s office and courtroom. While there, don’t forget to snap a selfie with the man himself — a bronze statue of Truman is located on the courthouse’s east side.

Family outside in Independence, MO
VisitIndependence.com

It’s tough to take more than a few steps in Independence without coming across a Truman landmark. As it turns out, it’s easy to combine a good workout with lesser-known Truman places and spots. It’s also a tribute of sorts, as he was known for keeping in shape by striding about town before breakfast. He  always kept a brisk pace, with a walking stick in hand.

Keep your eye out for large navy-blue signs featuring a silhouette of President Truman near downtown; these indicate areas of interest for those wishing to see additional spots or landmarks having to do with him or his family and friends. There’s also a self-guided walking tour available which includes a total of 44 stops along a 2.7-mile route. This is a terrific activity for the hard-core history buffs; download the map or pick one up at the Visitor Center.

Truman Depot in Independence, MO
VisitIndependence.com

5. See Where The Whistlestop Ended

Truman’s famous Whistlestop Campaign took place during the summer and fall of 1948 as he was locked in a reelection battle. He decided to talk directly to the American people, and as many of them as he could. The resulting 31,000-mile journey was marked by plain-talk speeches and lots of campaign stumping. The final stop? Independence, of course!

Today, the historic Missouri Pacific Depot where Truman’s campaign travels came to an end is perhaps better known as the Truman Depot. It’s the same spot where more than 8,000 people came out to welcome Truman home years later in January 1953, after he left the White House.

Built back in 1913, the Truman Depot currently serves as an Amtrak train station, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

6. See The Trumans’ Spiritual Home

Harry S. Truman had known Bess Wallace for the majority of his life, having first met the blonde-haired blue-eyed girl in Sunday school class when they were small children. Years later, in 1919, the couple married at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Independence, which was first established during the town’s pioneer days back in 1844 and was Bess’s home church. The current building was built in 1881 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Trinity truly served as the spiritual center for the Truman family: Their daughter, Margaret, was married here in 1956; President Truman laid the cornerstone for Trinity’s fellowship hall in 1959; and Bess Truman’s funeral service was held at the church in 1982.

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7. Grab A Sweet Treat At Clinton’s Soda Fountain

If while tracing Truman’s steps you find yourself ready for a sweet treat, stop into Clinton’s Soda Fountain on the Historic Independence Square. As a teenager, Truman worked at a pharmacy and soda fountain in this very location. It has also housed a shoe store and jewelry shop but returned to its former sweet-shop self in 1988 when Clinton’s opened up.

The old-fashioned soda fountain offers sundaes, ice cream floats, old-time phosphates, and even edible cookie dough as well as soups and sandwiches. This place feels like a blast from the past, and it’s not too hard to imagine a young Harry S. Truman wiping down tables, scooping ice cream, and serving customers. It’s a great place to sit, sip, and relax in Independence’s historic heart!

Finally, if you find you’ve got the need to work in a bit of retail therapy as you discover Truman’s deep legacy in Independence, head to Wild About Harry. Named in tribute to the 33rd president, the shop located on the Square stocks men’s gifts, including luxe grooming items, office decor, games, and gadgets. It’s the perfect place to choose a gift fit for a president, a dad, or any other special guy in your life!

Pro Tip

You could easily spend an entire weekend seeing and experiencing everything having to do with Truman in his hometown. Independence has a wide range of accommodations to fit any need or budget. From historic downtown inns to more traditional hotel chains, the city’s got a great list here.To learn much more about all of the fantastic things to see, do, and experience in Independence, check out the city’s online visitors guide and get inspired by all our Independence content here.

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United Airlines places huge orders with both Boeing and Airbus | News


In a big day for the carrier, United Airlines has confirmed orders for 270 new planes.

Boeing and United announced the carrier will expand its 737 order book by purchasing an additional 200 737 Max jets, including 150 for the largest member of the family, the 737-10.

The remaining order is for 50 of the 737-8 variant.

At the same time, United has placed an order for 70 Airbus A321neo aircraft, positioning the airline to grow its presence in the single-aisle market.

“Our United Next vision will revolutionise the experience of flying United as we accelerate our business to meet a resurgence in air travel,” said United chief executive, Scott Kirby.

“By adding and upgrading this many aircraft so quickly with our new signature interiors, we will combine friendly, helpful service with the best experience in the sky, all across our premier global network.”

The Boeing purchase increases United’s order book for the fuel-efficient, single-aisle family to 380 airplanes, including 30 that have been delivered.

As the launch customer for the 737-10, United placed its first order in 2017 by converting 100 737-9 orders to the larger 737-10 variant.

The new agreement also includes the purchase of Boeing 737 Max training simulator data packages to support pilot training programs.

“We are truly humbled by United Airlines’ confidence in the people of Boeing and the airplanes we design and build every day.

“Our strong partnership, dating back to United’s founding, has helped us grow and weather challenges through the decades,” said Stan Deal, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

United’s A321neo aircraft will feature Airbus’ Airspace cabin design.

“Such a significant order from a great airline like United underscores that the A321neo offers unmatched capabilities, operating economics, and passenger friendliness,” said Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer and head of international.

“No other aircraft can do what the A321neo can do, and the Airbus team is most gratified by United’s strong affirmation of its premium status.

“The A321neo will complement United’s future A321XLR aircraft, together creating a privileged segment on its own.”





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