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 and interesting; we’d argue it is 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. 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 . . .
The cupcake ATM has its own Twitter account with over 1,800 followers
In the Los Angeles area, there’s something even better than money that you can get out of an automated teller machine: cupcakes!
At the Sprinkles Cupcake shop in Beverly Hills, California there’s a public, street-side ATM that provides access to gourmet cupcakes 24 hours a day.
On the shores of Lake Constance—which straddles Germany, Austria and Switzerland—the whales are not found in the water. They are found floating above it in the form of the massive whale-like zeppelin, the world’s largest commercial flying machine.
Note that zeppelins are different from blimps. Both have bulbous tops filled with a gas that’s lighter than air. But a blimp’s top has no internal structure; blimps are essentially steerable balloons. Zeppelins use a metal frame, which makes them more stable, agile, durable and quiet for passengers (since the engine can be placed further from the cabin).
While skiing the dunes, sand will get inside your clothes. And it will go to places you very much would rather it wouldn’t
Ski bums, do not despair when the weather warms at your travel destination. Though the snow may vanish, your opportunity to partake in downhill skiing and boarding needn’t.
Here’s a Spot Cool Stuff look at three non-snow ski surfaces and where to enjoy them:
This store is as close as you can get to a real-life Willy Wonka experience without wrangling some umpa lumpas and opening a shop yourself
Travelers with a sweet tooth weakness, do not proceed any further in this post. What follows is Spot Cool Stuff’s selection of the 6 most interesting-looking, diabetes-inducing candy stores. A trip to any one for these shops (well, except for the last one) is likely to result in a sugar overdose. Ye be warned.
Note: These are all primarily candy stores. We’ve reviewed our favorite chocolate stores in a separate post.
Trying to categorize the lodgings offered by the Acido Dorado, located on the edge of California’s Joshua Tree National Park, is like trying to solve a Zen koan.
Acido Dorado isn’t a house—it is too open to the elements for that. It isn’t a glamping (glamorous camping) experience and certainly isn’t a cabin—the setup is way too luxurious. The accommodations here aren’t indoors, though nor are they outdoors; rather, it is some ingenious melding of the two.
At most museums exhibits are behind glass cases and velvet ropes and DO NOT TOUCH signs. Not so at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s interactive playhouse dedicated to the science of psychology and perception.