United States

5 In-America-Only Cultural Travel Activities

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 enveloping 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 . . .

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Nantucket’s Historic, Modern Bed and Breakfast

Next to the reception desk of The Veranda House on Nantucket Island there’s a large photo from the 1880s of the bed and breakfast. It shows well-heeled guests hanging out on the namesake verandas, admiring the view of the historic town center and the waters of the Nantucket Sound beyond.

Since that photo was taken the fashions have changed. The quality of photographs has greatly improved. But guests today still hang out on those same verandas. They still enjoy the view of the town and the water. They are still drawn to the iconic lodgings by its history. The Veranda House, after all, was built in 1684 — by the time the photo was taken it had already earned its place as one of the island’s historic icons!

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Summer Camps Where Adults Can Be Kids Again

Summer camp.

For adults of a certain age, those two words can evoke powerful memories of innocence and coming-of-age.

Perhaps those memories are of sleeping in cabins or learning archery. Perhaps they are memories of canoeing rivers, roasting marshmallows, participating in camp talent shows or playing games of capture the flag.

Perhaps summer camp is where you had your first kiss. Perhaps that kiss happened while you were sitting on a huge tree trunk that had fallen across a creek — you know, the one that’s behind the arts and crafts cabin — where perhaps Bridget Aubrey agreed to meet you after the camp dance and where she totally kissed you back but then told Hannah Laguna that she didn’t really like you, after which maybe Hannah told that to Damian Simmons who for some unknown reason felt compelled to share what he heard with everyone in your cabin, all of whom made you worried that you were a bad kisser and left you feeling desperate to avoid Bridget for the rest of your life. Um, you know, hypothetically speaking.

At Spot Cool Stuff, we were reminiscing about summer camps when a question popped in our heads: Are there camps where adults can relive, at least in part, the kid-like experience of being away at summer camp?

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The World’s Most Amazing Swimming Holes

Technically, a “swimming hole” is any deep place for swimming in a stream, lake or river. But for this post — where are share our picks for the world’s best, coolest and most picturesque swimming holes — Spot Cool Stuff’s travel editors decided on a more ridged set of criteria:

First, we considered only swimming spots that were inside some sort of hole in the earth. That is, our swimming holes had to be substantially surrounded by rock. So somewhere like Idaho’s Redfish Lake, which a popular travel magazine named as one of their best swimming holes, wouldn’t count for us because, really, it’s just a regular lake.

Second, we decided to count only naturally occurring swimming holes. Sadly, this eliminated a very cool hidden swimming spot in Mexico that was created by a giant bomb — check back for our post on that later.

Finally, we only considered swimming holes that offered temperate waters. Because, well, we are cold water wimps. Spain’s wonderful, meadow-surrounded Playa del Gulpiyuri is unfortunately ruled out of contention on this count.

So what swimming holes made the cut? Read on . . . .

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Go Forth and Multiply, Cupcake ATM

Remember our post about the world’s first Cupcake dispensing ATM? It was located in Beverly Hills, California outside of a Sprinkles Cupcake store.

The Los Angeles suburb of Beverly Hills has long been known as the home of ritzy Rodeo Drive shopping, by-the-book police officers and the country’s most famous zip code. Yet the cupcake ATM managed to grab its own share of the spotlight. The machine made cameo television appearances, including on TMZ, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and The Today Show. And it proved a huge hit across the spectrum of Beverly Hills residents, from celebrities to soccer moms and stoners (and travel bloggers). It was even the location of a wedding proposal!

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4 Cool Ideas For Short Term Work Abroad

'Working' on a sailboat plying tropical waters—that's a tough gig to beat.

Long term travel does not have to come at the expense of long term debt. To pay for extended travel you can be independently wealthy or embark on a successful crime spree — or you can defray at least some of the costs by weaving a short term job in with your trip.

With that in mind, Spot Cool Stuff takes a look at four jobs that can be incorporated into your travels abroad. Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list of work abroad possibilities. The most obvious omission from this list is teaching English. Look for us to cover that in a future post. To be updated on that, follow us on LinkedIn.

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Bathe In Chocolate

Bathe in whipped chocolate milk while basking in the glow of Tootsie Roll-flavored candles and breathing in brownie scented steam.

Chocolate is romantic. Taking a candlelit bath with your special someone is romantic. So what could be more romantic than spending time with your special someone while bathing in chocolate?

It’s that sort of flawless logic that has Spot Cool Stuff writing a review of the world’s best chocolate spas. We found three spots in particular—one each in Switzerland, the United States and Japan—where you’ll want to go to experience the world’s best chocolate baths.

So, what’s it like to bathe in chocolate? you might be asking.

Contrary to what you might imagine, it isn’t like this . . .

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5 Cool Airport Bars

Most airport bars are exactly what you’d expect: a rather dull-looking spot in between terminals where you can wet your whistle during a layover. But every so often, a bar, pub or alcohol-serving restaurant will go above and beyond merely meeting the needs of the travel-weary by supplying a truly special experience to make your trip that much better.

That’s the case with these five cool airport bars. While you can find decent watering holes in most of the world’s airports, these five provide a truly transcend the experience for downing a beverage before or during your air travel itinerary.

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