Activities

China’s Pastel-Painted Mountains

There’s a UNESCO heritage site near the Chinese village of Nantaizi that, to some, looks like a real life scene from a Dr. Seuss illustration. Others imagine the giant hand of a deity painting the rocky mountains in pastel colors with long sweeping brush strokes. To Spot Cool Stuff’s eye, the area looks like giant pieces of bacon.

Whatever it reminds you of, unless you happen to have visited one specific section of Gansu province, you’ve never seen anything like the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park.

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The Magical Way into Harry Potter’s Wizarding World

If you are planning a vacation to Central Florida with young Muggles, odds are high that they’ve tugged on your arm begging you to take them to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The attraction, a part of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park, has been Orlando’s hottest attraction since it opened in June of 2010.

Nearly any kid who’s a fan of the J.K. Rowling books will eat up everything about the Wizarding World like so many Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. But what about the parents?

The good news for adults is that, while the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is far from mind blowingly amazing, it does have cool elements to it. There’s also one piece of advice that in itself can make your visit there turn out somewhere between tolerable and fun. For that, Dear Reader, continue on . . .

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The Beach in the Middle of the Meadow

Though not on the sea, water at the beach falls and rises with the tides.

In Spain, it isn’t surprising to find a crystal-clear waters lapping up against a golden sand beach. Yet it is completely surprising when you come across Spain’s Playa del Gulpiyuri. That’s because this unusual beach isn’t on the Atlantic Ocean. And it isn’t on the Mediterranean sea. It isn’t even on a lake or next to a river. Instead, Gulpiyuri beach is in the middle of a meadow!

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Cool Apres Ski Destinations

Imagine a combination of a ski lodge and Animal House.

Golf has it’s 19th hole. Football matches have after parties. And skiing has après ski. That’s when skiers depart the slopes in favor of a bar, tavern, warming hut or igloo (!) for some drinking and dancing and socializing — and then drinking some more.

The après ski concept has taken hold in some places more than others. Here’s Spot Cool Stuff’s rundown of the coolest après ski countries. Read on or click through to your country of choice:


The Titanic To Set Sail. Again.

Titanic, the movie, was an enormous success. Titanic, the ship, not so much.

Though it set sail on its half voyage more than a century ago, the RMS Titanic is still infamous for having provided its passengers with a rather suboptimal travel experience. So it seems peculiar that anyone would want to recreate it. Especially since, today, there’s a huge variety of cruises that offer more luxury and cheaper travel insurance rates than a recreated Titanic would — without the, you know, stigma of having previously drowned hundreds of passengers.

Yet recreating the Titanic cruise ship is exactly what one billionaire plans to do. Clive Palmer, a mining magnate and founder of the Blue Star Line company, is currently constructing the Titanic II.

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Key West Art Scene Hits New Low

It seems unlikely that a 60-year-old ship of war would end up as the home of a surreal art gallery. Which is an example of exactly why Spot Cool Stuff so loves to travel:

The world is full of unlikely attractions in unlikely places. And some of those places aren’t even on land.

So it is with Vandenberg: Life Below the Surface, an underwater art exhibit off the coast of Key West, Florida.

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Norway’s Landscape Hotel

There are all kinds of hotel categories: boutique hotels, eco hotels, heritage hotels, apartment hotels and capsule hotels, to name a few. (To say nothing of motels, hostels, lodges, resorts, inns, pensions, guest houses, flophouses, bunkhouses, bed and breakfasts, holiday cottages and caravanserai). But chances are you’ve never stayed at a “landscape hotel.” That’s because, chances are, you’ve never stayed at the cool Juvet Landscape Hotel near the village of Gudbrandsjuvet, Norway, a five-hour drive north from Oslo.

The landscape hotel category was virtually invented by the Juvet and the Norwegian architectural firm that designed it, Jensen & Skodvin. The idea was to create a hotel that’s minimalist in design, that blends into its environment and that offers amenities oriented outwards towards the surrounding nature.

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The Largest Water Park in the Caribbean

Somehow, kids make it look easy the first time they hop on a SurfStream simulated wave.

For such a sun-drenched, humidity-soaked, tourist-filled region, the Caribbean has surprisingly few really great water parks. Perhaps the best of them, and certainly the largest, is at the all-inclusive Beaches Resort in the Turks & Caicos. It’s there that Pirates Island beacons the young — and the young at heart.

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