A joke we overheard in a coffee shop in Italy:
Question: What’s the difference between yogurt and the United States of America?
Answer: Yogurt has culture.
Okay, maybe that’s a little funny. The problem is, it isn’t true. The United States is full of culture. It isn’t as gourmet as, say, Italy. Nor is it as old as China or as all-encompassing as India, or as snobby as France. But it most certainly is there. American culture is diverse, interesting and, we’d argue, it’s one of the most fun national cultures on the planet.
Want proof? Below is our recommendation for five distinctly American cultural experiences that you are unlikely to find written up in any guidebook.
Note: For this post we only considered experiences that are available across the country. Anything that’s exclusive to a specific ethnic group or region — attending Burning Man in Nevada or eating gumbo in New Orleans or getting yelled at by a taxi driver in New York City, for instance — was disqualified. We also nixed holiday events, like the 4th of July American Independence Day.
While this post was written with non-American travelers in mind, those from the United States may also gain some travel tips by reading on . . .
Make yourself at home. Shirts and shoes are strictly optional.
Spot Cool Stuff has not seen the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back. But we’ve seen where Stella got her groove back — at My Time ‘N’ Place, a wonderful little cottage bed and breakfast-y type of place on the northern coast of Jamaica.
My Time ‘N’ Place owes its existence to the movie industry. And to its gregarious and entrepreneurial owner, Tony.
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.
Mountain biking is one of these sports that its enthusiasts take to extreme (and often dangerous) levels — and each of the five locations below are certainly places where you can do that. But this is not a post exclusively for aspiring X-Games participants. Each of these five destinations is also a great travel destination even for those with no interest in biking (or mountains). And if you are an uninspiringly average mountain biker, you’ll find cool travel ideas for you too:
The last time Spot Cool Stuff flew into the international airport in Christchurch, New Zealand there was a big sign in the customs area that read WELCOME TO MIDDLE EARTH.
That was in 2003. The third installment of the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy was selling out in theaters worldwide. Word had spread that the filming location of Middle Earth in the three Rings movies — all the outdoor scenes from the volcanic landscape around Mordor to the lush green elven forest — were filmed somewhere in New Zealand. In fact, even the rings used as props in the movies were made in New Zealand†. And suddenly, New Zealand, on the fringe of the planet’s populated masses, became the center of travel for fantasy fiction lovers everywhere.
Then the hype around the movies faded into shadow (as they say). But its power is about to reemerge.
The bar offers “Martinis and Manicures” every night for the ‘60s bargain price of $10 for both!
The “swinging ‘60s” might be so last millennium, but partying like Mad Men’s purveyor of cool, Don Draper, is about as current as it gets. In honor of the new season of the cool AMC show Mad Men, here’s your guide to a retro night out in New York City, from kitschy New York bars to lounges specializing in Old Fashioneds and Mint Juleps:
Spot Cool Stuff previously reviewed the cool, luxurious and eco-friendly Adrere Amellal resort in Egypt; we described being there as like living on Tatooine, Luke Skywalker’s desertic home planet in Star Wars.
Further to the west, in Matmata, Tunisia, there’s a desert lodge that isn’t like Tatooine. It is Tatooine1. That lodge, the Sidi Driss Hotel, served as the filming location for several scenes in Star Wars.