People have always liked eating ice flavored with sugar and fruit and these days, in our mom and pop shops, in our pseudo-diners, home kitchens and culinary studios, we see America reclaiming ice cream identity, experimenting with flavors and processes to create gelato, frozen custard, fro-yo, soft serve, sorbets; giant colorful scoops of ‘em layered between gluten free cookies or held aloft on a sugar waffle cone, in a cup, shoveled with tiny spoons, any way you want it. Don’t fret on a hot day, just hit one of these cities and, by gum, never order the vanilla unless it’s Tahitian and swirled with a layer of caramel.
The populous and sprawling city of Louisville is hailed as the “Gateway to the South” for its place perched on great Mason-Dixon divide. It’s a city that displays a curious amalgamation of northern aristocracy and traditional American country character, all the while presenting itself as a truly remarkable, forward-thinking and exhilarating metropolis in its own right. Louisville is perhaps most famous as the home of the Kentucky Derby, a prestigious and long-running dirt track horse race that’s been attracting Central America’s high society since 1875. But away from the Churchill Downs, the city is also a capital for bourbon whiskey making, and visitors can come to taste the woody, earthy flavors of this much-loved national drink in one of the many breweries and bars that pepper its streets.
Country music heritage streams through Nashville, pouring out of various museums, bars, concert venues and restaurants. In the great temple-like performance space of the Ryman Auditorium, and on the legendary weekly spectacular of the Grand Ole Opry, the genre’s greatest stars have pierced the hearts of Nashville audiences and, subsequently, the country’s: Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams and Kris Kristofferson all spring-boarded off the Nashville scene. Alongside these musical pleasures, Nashville has several great and eclectic BBQ restaurants, which work with styles from across the southern States. It’s a city of smoky meat and sincere music, which together make for a gloriously immersive vacation experience.
One thing’s for certain: Bentonville is on the rise. In recent years this unassuming small town has been named time and time again as one of North America’s hottest destinations, and an explosion of cultural energy of late has manifested itself right across the board, with shiny new museums, creative dining spots, and boutique shopping outlets opening up en masse. Many visitors still drop in to wallow in the traditional charm and explore the plethora of historical buildings on offer, while others arrive on a retail pilgrimage, drawn to the town by its magnetic reputation as the place where Wal-Mart was born. But, if that’s still not enough, Bentonville is also one of the best-placed jump off points for outdoorsy pursuits in the Ozarks, a place whose backcountry comes laden with lakes and shadowy caves, hiking trails and biking routes, and the trademark forests of the Arkansas hills.
Few items in the food world are as controversial as BBQ ribs. Locals from the nation’s top cities for BBQ will debate at length about whether beef or pork provides a better base meat, or if dry rubs or sauce make for the superior dressing. And don’t even get people started on the best ingredients for that sauce, which can range from vinegar and mustard to molasses and tomato. One thing all the cities on our list of best rib spots share is a commitment to doing it the way they know best, whether it’s in a traditional style rooted in generations of preparation (Memphis, Kansas City, Austin, Charleston), or a melting-pot mix of various styles from around the world (Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago). In any case, the ribs promise to satisfy. Just make sure you don’t wear white.
Australia’s vast wilderness, relieved by a handful of vibrant modern metropolises, is one of the world’s great travel destinations, containing an immense diversity of cultures and climates, tastes and terrain for wanderers to explore. This two-week itinerary winds its way up the country’s east coast, taking in cities such as Sydney and Brisbane, sojourning in the sun-drenched Whitsunday Islands, and finishing in the great wild worlds of reef and rainforest that surround and enclose the city of Cairns. This is an unforgettable trip, encompassing almost 3000 km and some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.
One’s a little bit jazzy, and one’s a little bit rock and roll. One’s got over 100 barbecue joints and a history that spans just as many years; the other hosts the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the largest pork-smoking contest on the planet. Memphis favors the pig shoulder; Kansas City simply doesn’t discriminate, smoking everything from beef to mutton and sometimes fish over a blend of wood while grilling everything else. They plate up their burnt ends. That’s the KC trademark.
Hostels these days are a far cry from the soiled sheets on creaky bunk beds, stark walls, 30-second shower timers and complimentary breakfasts of dry toast. There are buzzwords for budget accommodation that just didn’t exist 10 years ago, phrases like, “luxury hostel” and “designer hostel,” describing places that look closer to boutique hotels than just a place to crash for the night.
Much has been made about the sheer diversity of the land in the United States, but few ever really venture wide enough to get the full extent of it. Island towns, jagged mountains, craggy canyons, shimmering coasts and a rainbow of different tree types are all sitting pretty on one chunk of North America. And with all of the unique aspects of each state come its own scope on history – some areas were settled by the Germans which indelibly mark a distinct Bavarian architectural sensibility; some by the Spanish and now boast an otherworldly culinary style. Some are simply all-American and have buildings left over from the War of Independence and have witnessed the march of progress and of presidents. Most are not often the go-to destinations for tourists, as evidenced by the distinct lack of blocks oppressively packed with long concrete towers or luxury hotel chains or celebrity chef restaurants. All are worth a stop, if not a true arrival and a wander around. So for true wilderness excitement and a totally different perspective on the story of America, check out these 18 hidden travel gems in the United States.
Saskatchewan’s capital is also its commercial, cultural, culinary and touristic heart; a city that’s loaded with interesting historical sites, creative restaurants, enticing museums and family-friendly attractions. In appearance, Regina is not far from the American prairie cities to the south, and the abundance of metropolitan greenery is an oft-noted feature of first-time visitors here. Popular attractions include the RCMP cultural centre, which explores the regional history of Canada’s iconic, red-coated mountain police, and the historic and magnificent governmental buildings, from the elaborate Legislative Assembly to the Government House, designed in the Italianate style. Regina is easy to get to too, sitting just a two-hour drive from the U.S.-Canada border and served by its own airport, the Regina International.