There's a hand-carved (!) carousel, 18-hole mini golf course, Kool-Aid waterfall, gourmet fudge shop, vintage toy museum, huge children's book selection, llama petting zoo, puppet shows and, oh yeah, you can also buy toys.
It’s a tough job but someone has to take on the task of finding the world’s best toy stores. So Spot Cool Stuff assigned ourselves.
Here’s a look at our favorite shops for indulging your kids—and your inner child:
So how do you create a three-story bookstore in a cathedral when you can’t drill any holes into the building or attach anything load-bearing to its walls?
Usually a store is just a store. But a few stores are attractions in and of themselves. So it is with these six incredibly cool-looking bookstores. Next you are in Maastricht, Beijing, Porto, Buenos Aires, Paris or Mexico City, add these stores to your list of must-see attractions—even if you don’t plan on buying a book.
At almost any bar in the world you can get a drink with ice. At a few you can get a drink in ice. While sitting on seats made of ice. At a table made of ice. Surrounded by walls made of ice.
The concept of the ice bar originated, logically enough, in Sweden where both water and freezing temperatures are abundant. These icy drinking establishments soon became popular around Scandinavia, partly because they combined two elements Scandinavians tend to embrace (cold and alcohol) and partly because these bars’ LED lighting, artworks of frozen water and and intimate settings made them great places to chill out. (Pun. Sorry.)
Today, there are more than two dozen ice bars around the globe including ones in Amsterdam, London, Poland, Canada and Alaska. Not all of these frozen saloons are in places with cold climes. Hence this Spot Cool Stuff overview of ice bars in warm places.
For the purposes of this review, a “warm place” is anywhere it doesn’t snow in the winter and regularly gets hot in the summer. So, the ice bar in Beijing doesn’t count. The one in Shanghai would have had it not recently closed.
All of the selections on this list, like most of the ice bars anywhere, charge an entrance fee to get in. Usually this fee includes one free drink and use of cold-weather clothing that is designed as much to protect patrons from the bar’s sub-freezing temperatures as it is to protect the bar itself from the patrons’ body heat. To help keep their establishments below freezing, ice bars also have strict limits on the number of people allowed in.
And with that, let’s kick back with a cold one and tour the world’s ice bars in warm places . . .
Mention the word “hostel” and most people recoil in horror, perhaps haunted by memories of dirty dorms, queues for the bathroom and rowdy backpackers. But hostels have transformed in recent years into some of the best value accommodation around, offering the same comfortable rooms and range of facilities you’d expect in a hotel.
As the credit crunch bites and travelers cut back on their holidays, this couldn’t be a more timely transformation—why pay the high room rates of hotel chains when you can get the same standard in a hostel?
Forget the standard youth and backpacker hostel, the term now covers a huge range of lodgings, from guesthouses to beachside apartments (you can even find hostels in tree-houses and old castles these days!). Many hostels now boast private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, widescreen TVs and even a Jacuzzi if you’re lucky!
The rise of the ‘boutique’ or ‘design’ hostel in major cities, with cutting-edge design, stylish interiors and high-tech facilities, is perfect for those of us that want to be cheap and chic.
Here is a look to the five most luxurious hostels out there:
Conjure an image of what’s it is like to go on a cruise. Are you picturing buffet dinners? On-deck spinning classes? Retirees playing shuffleboard? Many cruises really are like that. But if you’re looking for a different sort of cruise scene consider traveling by cargo ship.
Cargo ship travel is the un-cruise. There’s nothing fabricated about it. Every day thousands of freighters ply the high seas. Some of them have extra state rooms and accept passengers to tag along for the ride. This is as “real” as travel gets.
Of course, cargo ship cruising is not for everyone. Cargo ships don’t have swimming pools, evening entertainment, rock climbing walls or organized mixers on Lido decks. Go on a cargo ship cruise and there might be as many as four or five other paying passengers like yourself. Or, you may be the only one. And while cargo ships often have comfortable sleeping quarters they’re unlikely to be luxurious.
To book passage on a cargo ship you can go directly through some shipping lines. But we recommend working through a travel agent that can vouch for the quality of the food and accommodations and can make sure your itinerary includes sufficient shore leave time. One of the best agents for cargo ship cruises is Intrepid Travel. Here’s a look at their five cool cargo cruise ship itineraries:
Oh, if you are wondering, each Modern Toilet restaurant does have proper bathrooms. They are very well marked to prevent patrons from making the horrible mistake.
We can’t imagine the marketing meeting during which some one pitches the concept for a toilet-themed restaurant . . . and the others in the meeting agreeing that it’s a good idea. And yet presumably such a meeting has happened. More than once. There are at least 20 (!) restaurants on planet Earth where toilets, urinals and potty talk are the central attraction. Five of those have opened in 2008 alone and at least ten more are planned for 2009, most in either China or Taiwan.
Let’s get you going with an overview of some of the world’s crappy dinning experiences in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Germany and Portugal . . .