New Great Wolf Lodge Water Park Opens in Chicago Burbs

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 06/22/2018, 11:30 PM

Midwesterners in search of chlorinated fun have a new destination in the Chicago suburbs.  Great Wolf Lodge Illinois, the 17th outpost in a chain of Northwoods-themed indoor water park resorts across North America, has opened in Gurnee, the same town (located about 40 miles north of downtown Chicago) where you'll find Six Flags Great America.  The new Great Wolf occupies space once belonging to ...

Arthur Frommer: Universal Orlando Cuts Hotel Rates to Lure Visitors

By Arthur Frommer

Posted on 06/22/2018, 11:30 PM

For at least twenty years, Universal Orlando Resort has been on a hotel building spree. One after another, giant lodging has been squeezed onto its grounds, supplying close-at-hand rooms to would-be visitors.   In hotels supplying thousands of rooms, Universal is approaching (though it obviously hasn’t yet reached) the number of hotels on the grounds of Disney’s parks, 15 minutes away by car.  ...

New Zealand to Start Taxing Tourists

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 06/20/2018, 5:30 AM

The price of a vacation in New Zealand is about to go up.  The country's government has announced plans to charge a new tax on tourists, expected to go into effect in the middle of 2019. International visitors staying less than 12 months will be charged somewhere in the range of NZ$25–35 (US$17–24). Citizens of Australia and most Pacific Island Forum countries will be exempt from the fee.  Acco...

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Which North American Airport Has the Fastest Free Wi-Fi?

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 06/18/2018, 12:00 AM

Finding an airport with free Wi-Fi in the United States and Canada isn't as hard as it once was. It's still a challenge, though, to find free airport Wi-Fi that doesn't move at a pace recalling cold molasses, elderly turtles, or repairs to the New York City subway system. But the situation is improving in some terminals, according to a new report from Ookla, the company behind the Speedtest site ...

Historic Luxury Resort Reborn in Arizona

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 06/13/2018, 9:30 PM

For several decades starting in 1896, a remote Arizona resort located about 50 miles north of Phoenix played host to a steady stream of well-to-do vacationers, including Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Roosevelts, and other Gilded Age muckety-mucks.  They were drawn to Castle Hot Springs for the seclusion, sunny weather, Southwestern pursuits like horseback riding, and the supposed restorative propert...

Polish Vodka Museum Opens in Warsaw

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 06/12/2018, 8:00 AM

There's some dispute about where vodka was born. Both Poland and Russia lay claim to having produced the first batch of the transparent spirit from distilled grains or potatoes more than five centuries ago. Since the stuff has become so deeply embedded in both countries' cultures and economies—not to mention their citizens' bloodstreams—we're content to call it a tie.  Poland has arguably la...

After 700 Years, Westminster Abbey Opens Secret Attic to Visitors

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 06/11/2018, 12:00 AM

It took five years and $30.5 million (£22.9 million) to make it happen, but Westminster Abbey in London has just made a spectacular new addition to one of Europe's top tourist attractions. Which is to say it opened something more than 700 years old. The Triforium, a medieval attic balcony that runs around the top of the Abbey's nave from 52 feet high, has been converted into the Queen's Diamond ...

A Makeover and New Museum at Gateway Arch in St. Louis

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 06/08/2018, 9:00 PM

A multiyear, multimillion-dollar project to gussy up the grounds of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis culminates this summer in the July 3 opening of an expanded museum that tells the tale of America's westward expansion.  Located underground, the newly rechristened Museum at the Gateway Arch replaces the similar but more limited previous facility, which had become outdated both in its simplistic, Gu...

This Summer's Stupid Food Fad Has Arrived

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 06/04/2018, 12:00 AM

Following in the tradition not only of gimmicky dishes made with absurdly expensive ingredients (which is how we ended up with monstrosities like the $1,000 omelet and the $25,000 taco) but also in the tradition of gimmicky dishes made for Instagram rather than taste buds (looking at you, rainbow bagels), a restaurant chain in New York City is now serving 24-karat gold chicken wings.   ...

Singapore Airlines Bringing Back the World's Longest Flight

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/30/2018, 9:45 PM

Singapore Airlines has announced plans to resume nonstop service between the Asian city-state's Changi Airport (pictured above) and Newark Liberty International Airport just outside New York City—a flight that will cover more than 10,000 miles and last just under 19 hours, making it the world's longest. The carrier previously offered this route up until 2013, when it was decided that planes would...

How Bad Will Hurricane Season Be This Year?

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/30/2018, 12:00 AM

Hurricane season officially starts Friday, June 1, but the first named storm of the year has already arrived.  Subtropical depression Alberto made landfall in the Florida Panhandle on Memorial Day and continues to bring the threat of heavy rains, wind gusts, and flash flooding as it moves through the Southeast. The Weather Channel predicts the storm could last through late Wednesday, as what rema...

Seattle's Space Needle Gets a Glassy Makeover

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/26/2018, 12:00 AM

A $100 million update to Seattle's skyline-defining Space Needle is just about finished.  But don't worry, purists: The 605-foot retro-futuristic tower still looks like something dreamed up by the animators for The Jetsons—or, as the Frommer's guide puts it, "like a flying saucer on a tripod."  Some sprucing up here and there aside, the most dramatic changes can be found on the observation deck,...

Thanks (and No Thanks) for the Memories, Bob Hope

By Jason Cochran

Posted on 05/21/2018, 12:00 AM

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans—truly one of the best, most thorough, and well-funded historic museums in the United States, and deeply underrated—is adding a special new exhibition through the end of 2018 and into early 2019. It's all about Bob Hope, the comic megastar whose association with the USO was a defining feature of both that war and his career. The exhibition, So Ready f...

Florida's SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Will Give Away Free Beer Again This Summer

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/17/2018, 12:00 AM

This post, originally published May 1, has been updated below. When the all-American brewer Anhueser-Busch opened Busch Gardens amusement park in Tampa, Florida in 1959 (other locations preceded and followed it, but only the Tampa park and another in Williamsburg, Virginia remain), the main focus was, naturally, marketing the brand's products.  To that end, "hospitality houses" (Tampa's is pictu...

American Airlines Cracks Down on Support Animals

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/15/2018, 7:00 PM

Emotional support insects are no longer welcome on American Airlines flights. Whoever heard of an emotional support insect, you ask? We have two words for you: Jiminy Cricket. In addition to keeping your helpful, devoted, and musically gifted bugs from the passenger cabin, the carrier's newly revised animal restrictions, which go into effect July 1, ban goats, hedgehogs, amphibians, ferrets, rep...

Free Admission at Wisconsin State Parks on the First Weekend of June

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/12/2018, 12:00 AM

Wisconsin is giving locals and visitors alike a good reason to experience the state's considerable outdoor charms on June 2-3.  That weekend, admission will be free at all Wisconsin state parks, encompassing forests, hiking trails, lakes, bluffs, and beaches. You can hit the trails to see picturesque cascades at Copper Falls (pictured above) in the northern part of the state, survey the mighty M...

New Booking Site for Clothing-Optional Stays

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/09/2018, 12:00 AM

We're strong believers in packing light—all that luggage will only slow you down—but the champions in that department have got to be those who are fond of vacationing in the nude. After all, once they reach their destinations, they don't need much more than towels and sunscreen (take that, airline baggage fees!). Those carefree and, we assume, frequently chilly travelers now have a new online res...

Longest-Ever Around-the-World Cruise to Set Sail in Summer 2019

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/08/2018, 9:15 PM

If you've seen a map of the world, you've seen the itinerary for the latest offering from Viking Ocean Cruises: a truly epic, ridiculously expensive, globe-girdling voyage that will leave Greenwich, London on August 31, 2019, and return to the city from the other direction eight months later. That's 245 days in total, making this the longest continuous cruise ever undertaken.  By the time the t...

Avocado Museum Coming to San Diego

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/04/2018, 9:00 PM

Even fruits and vegetables are subject to trends—need we remind you of the Great Kale Craze of 2013?  One of the hottest green things in recent years has been the avocado, which has at least one significant advantage over kale: It doesn't taste bad.  Now, California avocados are getting their own trendy pop-up museum in San Diego. Named The Cado, it will open June 16 at Liberty Station, a waterf...

United’s Updated Pet Policy: Ban Certain Breeds

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 05/02/2018, 9:30 PM

United Airlines has updated its pet-carrying policy following a comprehensive internal review in the wake of a disastrous couple of weeks in March.  First a French bulldog died on a plane after a flight attendant instructed the owners to put its pet carrier—with the dog still inside—in the overhead compartment. Then the airline sent two separate dogs toward the wrong destinations; one wound up in...

Famous Hawaiian Mule Ride Closed Indefinitely

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 04/30/2018, 9:45 PM

One of the most popular tourism experiences in Hawaii has shut down, possibly for good.  Travel Weekly reports that the operators of the long-running mule rides down the cliffs of Molokai have been evicted from the location where they stable their animals and organize riders for the daylong descent to Kalaupapa National Historical Park some 2,000 feet below.  That idyllic seaside spot was once a...

Floating Bike Path Being Built Around Italy's Lake Garda

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 04/27/2018, 8:00 PM

A new cycling route that seems destined to be considered one of the world's most beautiful is under construction in northern Italy.  Encircling the famously crystal-clear Lake Garda, which stretches from the foothills of the Dolomites in the north to vineyards and villas at the southern end, the 87-mile-long, 8.5-foot-wide path will give bicyclists the sensation of floating while pedaling 197 fee...

New Alabama Memorial Honors America's Lynching Victims

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 04/25/2018, 12:00 AM

A memorial to the nation's victims of racist terror lynchings opens in Montgomery, Alabama this week.  Located on a 6-acre site overlooking the state capital, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice uses sculpture, text, and hundreds of weathered steel columns to honor the multitude of African Americans murdered throughout the United States by angry mobs and other extra-judicial enforcers of ...

Dachshund Museum Opens in Germany

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 04/24/2018, 7:30 PM

A museum containing more than 4,500 pieces of dachshund memorabilia—toys, artwork, ceramic figurines, photos, and more—has opened in the city of Passau in Germany's Bavarian region.  Owners Josef Küblbeck and Oliver Storz, who began amassing their horde of wiener dog kitsch 25 years ago, told the BBC that their brand-new Dackelmuseum has the largest collection of dachshund-themed objects on earth...

What Fresh Hell Is This? Standing Airplane Seats

By Zac Thompson

Posted on 04/20/2018, 12:00 AM

Just when you thought the aviation industry couldn't possibly find a way to cram more people onto an airplane—short of stashing passengers in the cargo hold or overhead compartment (like there's any room up there anyway)—some evil genius has devised the abomination pictured above.  What you're looking at is the Skyrider 2.0, which was introduced by Italian company Aviointeriors at the Aircraft In...