Mercedes House (Photo Courtesy of Neil R)
Overwhelmed by New York’s neon canyons? Wary of running with the tourist hordes? If you’re “Times Squared-out,” you can visit an authentic part of New York City just a short distance away. Explore Hell’s Kitchen, the area roughly bordered by Port Authority and 57th Street to the north and south, and 8th Avenue and the Hudson River to the east and west.
This once-raffish neighborhood was home to bad-boy Travel Channel host Anthony Bourdain. Today, it thrives with restaurants, bars and opinionated, demanding locals. Parts of Hell’s Kitchen also offer peace and quiet — something visitors may think is unattainable in New York. Here are a few rough and refined recommendations on what not to miss in this hood: READ MORE
Photo Courtesy of Embratur
“Belo Horizonte” means beautiful horizon in Portuguese, which is fitting for its magnificent landscape. When the city was first built, it was planned to house only a few hundreds of residents. No one ever expected that it would grow to have more than 5 million inhabitants. Unlike São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, tourists often overlook Belo Horizonte as a travel destination. That means those who venture out to Belo Horizonte gain unique experiences that most visitors don’t know exist.
Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s “Bar Capital.”
Belo Horizonte is the capital of Minas Gerais state, but it is also known as Brazil’s “bar capital.” The city has more than 14,000 bars for locals and tourists to choose from, which makes Belo Horizonte’s nightlife extremely animated. This is the ideal setting for people who don’t necessarily have tickets to the World Cup games in the Mineirão Stadium (Estádio do Mineirão), but want to celebrate with some of the world’s most spirited fans.
Photography by Reuters
Cinco de Mayo, which means “5th of May” in Spanish, celebrates Mexico’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. And in many cities in Mexico and in the US, Cinco de Mayo means it’s time for a fiesta.
Celebrated on May 5 each year, more than 120 cities across the US have Cinco de Mayo celebrations where you can listen to live Mariachi bands, enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine and throw back a few margaritas or cervezas. So grab your sombrero and maracas, and head to one of the best cities in the US to celebrate Cinco de Mayo 2014! READ MORE
Photo By: Jessica Menk
Asheville, NC: Known for having some of the best craft breweries on the East Coast, Asheville is an eclectic, artsy town that sits just outside the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. You can feel the city’s entrepreneurial spirit as you explore its various neighborhoods. The town is locally driven from restaurants to antique shops. This adorable town should be on your must-see list. READ MORE
Photography by Getty Images
There’s no better way to experience the history, soul and charm of The Big Easy than at a festival. While Mardi Gras is the most popular and well-known festival in New Orleans, the celebrations don’t stop there. With more than 400,000 attendees each year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, also known as Jazz Fest, is the city’s second most popular festival.
Taking place from April 25 to May 4 this spring at the Fair Grounds Race Course, this 10-day, 2 weekend festival celebrates the music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana with live music, authentic Louisiana cuisine and crafting. READ MORE
Salvador’s Pelourinho Neighborhood (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)
Salvador is known as Brazil’s “capital of happiness” because of its countless number of popular outdoor parties, including its street carnival. Its humble beginnings can be traced to 1549 when Portuguese settlers decided to colonize Brazil and make Salvador the capital of the country. As a result, this coastal city quickly became the main port of call for ships from all over the world that would dock and import their goods into South America. Salvador is no longer Brazil’s capital, but it is a magnificent city with unique architecture, historic museums, chic gastronomy restaurants and African-inspired music, which makes it a unique host city for the 2014 World Cup soccer games.
Salvador, the City of Music
Bahia is the musical state of Brazil. Its rich mixture of Brazilian, African and European cultures birthed genres and rhythms like axe, pagode and samba.. The state’s capital, Salvador, marches to its own beat. People here sing and play special percussion instruments like the berimbau, agogos and atabaques.
Photography by André Maceira
When you think of Brazil, do you think of cowboys in wide-brimmed hats and red neck kerchiefs, verdant canyons and apple strudel? Didn’t think so.
These things happen to be as Brazilian as a pulsating samba beat; Technicolor carnival costumes and intoxicatingly beautiful beaches, and you can find them in the country’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, which is getting ready for its star turn during the 2014 World Cup.
The region will reveal a side of Brazil that few know with culture and customs traced back to fiercely independent gauchos, along with determined Portuguese, Spanish, German and Italian settlers. These customs show up mostly in the region’s foods. There’s chimarrao, the evra mate tea sipped from a communal cup called a cuia; galeterias, restaurants serving the pastas, polenta and grilled chicken of Italian immigrants; and café colonial, serving plate after plate of German-inspired dishes, including strudel. And then, there is churrasco, the gaucho parade of grilled beef, pork and chicken, probably Rio Grande do Sul’s most well-known export. READ MORE
Curitiba (Photo Courtesy of Embratur)
Curitiba is a city that advocates sustainable living. The name of the city originates from Guarani, an indigenous language in South America, and translates to “lots of pine trees.” People traveling to Curitiba for the World Cup will admire the Arena Da Baixada, which is considered to be one of the most modern stadiums, as it opens its doors to more than 40,000 fans from around the world. Even with all of the excitement and energy surrounding the games, guests will enjoy Curitiba’s hidden gems, including its urban parks and city center.
Curitiba, the City with Sustainable Living
With existing public policies that focus on sustainability in urban public areas, the city of Curitiba is at the forefront of environmentally friendly living. These policies helped build and maintain 30 parks and forests, and the government’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the United Nations Environment Program, who awarded Curitiba a prestigious award for its recycling waste project.
To start your tour of Curitiba’s urban parks, we recommend going to the Parque de Pedreiras (Quarries Park) where the marvelous Ópera de Arame (Wire Opera House) is located. This gorgeous, translucent structure is built out of steel tubes and is full of windows, and it only took an impressive 75 days to construct.
Photography By San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau
For more than a century, San Antonio has honored the heroes of the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto with an annual parade and celebration. Now, one of the largest festivals in the US, Fiesta San Antonio welcomes almost 3.5 million people each year.
A fun, family-friendly event for all ages, this year’s Texas-sized Fiesta will take place April 10-27, and will offer 110 events such as concerts, parades, cook-offs and more. READ MORE
Photography by Reuters
Each year, in March and April, millions of people flock to Washington, DC, to experience the beauty of the National Cherry Blossom Festival when thousands of cherry blossom trees bloom along the Tidal Basin.
Today marks the average peak bloom date for the cherry blossom trees, and while the actual bloom date is difficult to predict, the National Park Service predicts that this spring’s peak bloom period is between April 8 and 12.
If you’re planning a visit, a stroll along the Tidal Basin is a must, but here are some other ways you can also celebrate the festival in the nation’s capital: READ MORE