It seems unlikely that a 60-year-old ship of war would end up as the home of a surreal art gallery. Which is an example of exactly why Spot Cool Stuff so loves to travel:
The world is full of unlikely attractions in unlikely places. And some of those places aren’t even on land.
So it is with Vandenberg: Life Below the Surface, an underwater art exhibit off the coast of Key West, Florida.
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 . . .
One of Spot Cool Stuff’s biggest travel peeves: Hotels that charge for in-room wireless internet. We somewhat understand budget no-frills hotels adding an optional internet fee, but it is usually those very hotels that don’t. The hotels that typically charge the most for internet access are those that already charge the highest room rates. What sort of luxury experience is that? To Spot Cool Stuff it is the equivalent of a hotel putting an electricity meter outside every room and charging their guests extra for their power usage.
For whatever reason, hotels and resorts in Orlando are especially prone to charging for internet access. We’ve found hotels in Central Florida that charge up to $30 per day! Fortunately we’ve always found a few hotels that offer an upmarket experience, that are convenient to Orlando’s theme parks and attractions and that provide free wifi.
Here are the three best:
Update: Amen! The Walt Disney World Resort has recently announced that it will start offering free wifi. Hopefully this means that other Orlando-area resorts will follow their lead.
The difference between driving a Lamborghini and, say, a Toyota Corolla is something like the difference between flying on a jumbo jet and taking the bus.
Chances are that, at one time or another, you’ve walked past a parked Ferrari or seen a Lamborghini zoom by and thought to yourself “I wonder what it would be like to drive that thing?” The Exotic Driving Experience is your chance to find out—without the hassle of following speed limits and fighting off grand theft auto charges in court. That’s because the Exotic Driving Experience is at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Florida. And the exotic car you are driving is a rental.
Since June 2010, the hottest attraction in Orlando has been the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, a part of Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure theme park. If you are vacationing in Central Florida with young Muggles, odds are high that they’ve tugged on your arm begging you to take them there.
The good news for adults is that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, while far from mind blowingly amazing, does have cool elements to it. There’s also one piece of advice that in itself can make your visit there turn out somewhere between tolerable and fun.
When a beach-side hotel is part owned by Madonna it's got to have a stylish pool.
Water views. Frozen drinks. The smell of sunscreen. Celebrities and scantily clad socialites mixing it up. The hotel swimming pools of South Beach do indeed offer all that. But did you know you can also find the world’s largest hot tub and the world’s shallowest swimming pool shallow end? For a scene like no other hop a flight to Miami and check out this selection of the city’s best hotel swimming pools:
A vacation to Central Florida often leaves people feeling like they need another vacation. This is especially the case after traveling with children to Orlando’s crowded, mayhem-filled theme parks. Spot Cool Stuff’s suggestion: Spend a day chilling out at Discovery Cove.
At Discovery Cove won’t find yourself standing in line for rides. There are no rides.
You won’t find yourself amongst a mob of other vacationers. Discovery Cove requires reservations and the number of guests allowed in is strictly limited.
And you won’t pay again and again for extra fees, incidentals or even food. Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive park.
You may before have ordered a vodka on the rocks. Well, how about a vodka in the rocks? That’s on offer at what’s literally the coolest drinking establishment in Orlando: the ICEBAR.
Long time readers of the Spot Cool Stuff travel blog already know of the Orlando ICEBAR—we reviewed this bar with the overly-capitalized name in our article about ice bars located in warm places. Inside the ICEBAR 50 tons of ice are carved into counters, lounge chairs and, yes, even the glasses patrons drink out of.
Before and since our visit there we’ve heard mixed reports about it from readers. And so here’s some advice to those considering knocking back a cold one at the ICEBAR when in Orlando.