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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 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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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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