Regular Spot Cool Stuff travel blog readers might remember our review of Beijing’s cool Happy Magic water park, which is housed inside a building originally constructed to host the swimming events at the 2008 Beijing Games.
But it isn’t the only structure that was originally built for an Olympics but that’s used today for a completely different purpose. Also in that category is the Montreal Biodome. It was originally built as a venue for the track cycling and judo events of the 1976 Olympic Games. Today, the dome is home to fascinating replicas of various ecosystems around the Americas.
For a family vacation, we absolutely adore Montreal.
Quebec’s largest city is a stellar place to travel with kids. (It’s superb choice for a romantic weekend or singles getaway too, though for different reasons.) We’d place Montreal among the likes of Paris, Sydney and San Francisco as one of the world’s top urban family travel destinations. However, unlike all the other cities that would be on that list, Montreal doesn’t really have any iconic, world-famous sights. There’s no Montreal equivalent of the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House1 or Alcatraz Island.
Do not be put off. While Montreal might lack that one must-see attraction, the city makes up for it with its depth of offerings and range of special events and festivals. Especially the festivals. Montreal’s unofficial moto is “Any excuse for a party.” The city almost always has something fun happening, something officials will gladly close streets and divert traffic for. And the best part for families traveling on a budget: Montreal’s festivals tend to be are partly, or completely, free!
The collection of life-sized human casts resemble an underwater Pompeii
Ah, Cancun. The sun. The beaches. The shopping. The tequila shots. The drunken college kids on spring break. The massive underwater sculpture park?
Even some of those familiar with the attractions Cancun offers above sea level are surprised at what they can find underneath it: a museum. The Museo Subacuatico de Arte, to be specific.
Anyone can (attempt to) sing Dancing Queen in a karaoke bar. But what about singing Dancing Queen along with a holographic rendering of ABBA and then fielding a real live phone call from one of the original band members? That’s possible only if you are exceedingly wealthy, eccentric and well-connected — or if you visit The ABBA Museum. It’s part of a new complex in Stockholm that celebrates Sweden’s second most famous export after Ikea furniture: The Swedish Music Hall of Fame.
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.
The Edinburgh Castle is the largest and most famous tourist attraction in Scotland’s capital. But in its shadow, almost literally, there’s another must-visit destination: The Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions. Operating since 1835, it’s part unusual art gallery, part interactive science museum, part surreal funhouse — and entirely entertaining.
As an attraction, Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions consists of two parts. It will surely come as stunning news that these are: 1) the Camera Obscura and 2) the World of Illusions.
One day you’re in. The next day you’re out.
Heidi Klum’s golden rule of Project Runway fashion is also the reality for the characters that comprise signs. One day you are an L or an R proudly pointing the way towards an attraction along with your fellow letters. The next day you are discarded.
Usually old signs end up in landfills or incinerators. But an especially lucky, and especially artistic, few have their letters go on display in museums. There people look at them not for any direction they can provide but for the works of art that they are.
Here’s a review of Spot Cool Stuff’s favorite unusual typography museums: