California

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, playing games of capture the flag, receiving care packages, passing swim tests or engaging in dining hall food fights.

Maybe summer camp is where you had your first kiss. Maybe 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.

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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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The Cupcake ATM

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.

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A Good Night’s Nest

Spot Cool Stuff wrote previously about a rental villa in France where guests can live like human hamsters. But perhaps you’re looking for an animalistic unusual hotel experience more avian than that. We have your answer: The Human Nest.

The Nest is literally a human-sized abode made of branches and woven wood. Think of it as a piece of art that you happen to be able to sleep in.

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Flying the Airway to Heaven

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).

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Go Skiing (But Not On Snow)

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:

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The World’s Best Candy Stores

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.

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Stay Outdoors, Indoors, at Joshua Tree

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.

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