California

Exploring SF’s Interactive Exploratorium

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.

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8 Amazing Libraries (and One That’s Horrible)

One of Spot Cool Stuff’s most popular travel posts has been our review of World’s Best Bookstores. But what about those people looking to borrow, and not buy, a book? Fortunately our planet also has several incredible libraries. In fact, there’s a case to be made for libraries having more interesting architecture than any other building type except for religious houses of worship.

Here’s our look at eight architecturally amazing libraries (and one that’s not so much). It is the first in a series of Spot Cool Stuff’s tour of the world’s best looking libraries. To stay updated on all of our posts, including our cool library series, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS feed or check back with our newly opened Book and Literature Travel category page.

And if you know of a library you’d like us to check out leave us a comment any time. Late fees never apply.

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7 Downside-Up Houses

Constructing the upside-down house was so disorientating for the builders that they could only work in three hour shifts

˙uʍop ǝpısdn plɹoʍ ǝɥʇ uɹnʇ ʇɐɥʇ—puɐloԀ puɐ ɐıɹʇsn∀ ‘˙∀˙S˙∩ ǝɥʇ ‘ʎuɐɯɹǝפ ‘ɐpɐuɐƆ ‘uıɐdS uı—sǝɹnʇɔnɹʇs uǝʌǝs ǝsǝɥʇ ɟo puoɟ ʎllɐıɔǝdsǝ sı ɟɟnʇS looƆ ʇodS ʎɥʍ sı ɥɔıɥM ˙ʎʇılɐǝɹ uo ǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ɹnoʎ ǝƃuɐɥɔ uɐɔ ʎǝɥʇ :ǝɹnʇɔǝʇıɥɔɹɐ puɐ lǝʌɐɹʇ ɥʇoq ɟo ʇɔǝdsɐ looɔ ǝuO

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Lotusland:
Ganna Walska’s Garden of Dreams

The 3,000 rare and exotic species in Lotusland are organized into enchanting chapters

Ninety minutes north of Los Angeles in the manicured town of Montecito is a sprawling and surreal site—the 37-acre private botanical garden of a visionary eccentric.

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The Safari B&B in Deepest, Darkest California

At night you fall asleep listening to the roar of lions and tigers through the canvas walls of your tent. In the morning you wake up to an elephant bringing you your breakfast, carried in a picnic basket he’s holding by his trunk.

It may seem like you are in Africa or in some brought-to-life children’s story. You are not. You are at the Vision Quest Ranch, an unusual B&B in Salinas, California, about an hour south of San Francisco.

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Yurt “Camping” on the California Coast

You like camping but your partner prefers more glamorous travel. The solution? Glamping. Glamorous camping. Like that on offer at the The Treebones Resort.

Treebones, located on California’s scenic Big Sur coast, is a resort that offers the perfect romantic getaway for you both. Accommodations here are in yurts, large circular tents originally the domain of Central Asian nomads and made of sheepskin.

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5 Cool, Luxurious (and Inexpensive) Hostels

Mention the word “hostel” and most people recoil in horror, perhaps haunted by memories of dirty dorms, queues for the bathroom and rowdy backpackers. But hostels have transformed in recent years into some of the best value accommodation around, offering the same comfortable rooms and range of facilities you’d expect in a hotel.

As the credit crunch bites and travelers cut back on their holidays, this couldn’t be a more timely transformation—why pay the high room rates of hotel chains when you can get the same standard in a hostel?

Forget the standard youth and backpacker hostel, the term now covers a huge range of lodgings, from guesthouses to beachside apartments (you can even find hostels in tree-houses and old castles these days!). Many hostels now boast private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, widescreen TVs and even a Jacuzzi if you’re lucky!

The rise of the ‘boutique’ or ‘design’ hostel in major cities, with cutting-edge design, stylish interiors and high-tech facilities, is perfect for those of us that want to be cheap and chic.

Here is a look to the five most luxurious hostels out there:

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You Buy It, You Break It

Feeling frustrated? Tense? Angry? There are several stores that sell stress relief in the form of yoga lessons, aroma therapy or, say, Quaaludes. In San Diego, California there’s a shop where you can reduce tension a different way.

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