The Standard Sets It Very, Very High

Whether you are poolside or cozying up in The Purple Lounge, nothing is standard at The Standard. It only takes one step into the lobby to realize that you are at one of the swankiest hotels in Los Angeles. Filled with modern furniture and a staff that looks like they were castPicture 17 from Ford Models, The Standard upholds its reputation of combining trendy elegance with a retro chic vibe.

If you are a lucky patron of the hotel, make sure your room has views to match its interior. Placed on Sunset Boulevard, views overlooking Hollywood are as worthy as the price you are paying for it.

For those just looking for a night out on the town, this is probably the only hotel you will ever see where the lobby gets as much action as a Las Vegas Casino. If you venture further into the 24/7 restaurant, you can find yourself in a club-like experience with flashing neon lights and select DJs.

Though the rooms and lobby are equally as amazing, nothing truly beats being poolside at The Standard. While sipping cocktails in the sun, don’t be surprised to run into celebrities who also ventured out to frolic under the shades of this fabulous pool.

Overall, the Standard can please any need, from the clubber to the sunbather. If you are looking for an over-the-top experience, you might as well go Standard.

Practice What You Beach at Venice

Filled with beach bodies, body builders and people doing sidewalk tricks, a trip to Venice Beach is as unique as the people who walk the boardwalk. With souvenir shops and waterfront views, anyone from any age visits the boardwalk to either embark on a rollerblading excursion or simply engage in a henna tattoo.

Though there is always something going on at Venice, the best time to Picture 21visit is during a warm day. The boardwalk fills up with pedestrians once the sun is out, which gives Venice Beach its unique charm.

If you are looking for beautiful blue water and soft sand, you might want to rethink packing that bikini. You may find stragglers dipping their feet in the water, but you will rarely find people lounging by the shore; people come here more for the unique culture and always-surprising sidewalk sidekicks.

If snow cones and psychics sound like a fun Sunday afternoon, Venice Boardwalk is your new home away from home.

Insider Tip: Though the crowds are great and cheap boardwalk food is even better, parking is definitely problematic, so find a cheap lot a few blocks away. And if you have heard of the saying “fun in the sun,” take that saying to heart. Once the sun goes down, so does a lot of the fun, so leave when you can still feel yourself building your tan.

MI6 is the New 007

Picture 9Though it doesn’t stand for “Mission Impossible,” MI6’s long line may leave you time to figure out its meaning- and who’s inside (hint: Daniel Craig’s employer). Originally Foxtail, the hot, new Santa Monica Boulevard club has started fresh and bumped up the stakes. With an impossible guest list and packed dance floor, you either need to know someone on the list or buy your way in.

The reason for MI6’s skyrocketing popularity is due to its location and setup. Situated on one of L.A’s busiest streets, street parking is actually plausible if you come at the right times. And thanks to its two story location, you can either make your way to the downstairs dance floor or upstairs for bottle service and tables.

Thanks to celebrity partygoers such as Lauren Conrad and Lamar Odom, MI6 has taken the clubbing scene by storm offering multiple bars and an even better DJ. With dark lighting and large crowds, the truest clubbing fans should venture to MI6 where the parties are known to last longer than the closing time of 2 A.M.

Goodbye, Foxtail. Hello, MI6.

Traveling Broadway Shines at Winspear Opera House

An affordable evening of culture and class? You bet. The Winspear Opera House is the crown jewel of One Arts Plaza, boasting seating for 2,200 with retractable screens, variable acoustics and a spectacular view of the skyscrapers of downtown Dallas.

Picture 19Enjoy your own Phantom of the Opera moment as the enormous chandelier appears to float above the room until the lights dim for the show, and then slowly ascends into the ceiling and disappears. Speaking of grand performances, take in family friendly Broadway shows like Beauty and the Beast, the legendary Pointer Sisters, or more mature favorites like Avenue Q.

The acoustics rival Broadway theaters and bring the orchestra to life in an intimate way, no matter where your seats are located. During intermission, browse the lobby area and coffee bar for the delicious treats and fine drinks. Tickets begin at $25, providing affordable date nights, family outings and group excursions. And remember, the good times aren’t over until the fat lady sings.

Twin Peaks’ Views For Lovers & Sightseers

While the city skyline is beautiful from the balcony of a downtown hotel, nothing can compare to the city’s best views, Twin Peaks Vista Point.  Called Los Pechos de la ChocaPicture 23 (breasts of the Indian maiden) by early Spanish settlers, Twin Peaks is perfect for lovers and sightseers alike.

The drive up is stunning, especially at night, so hire a limousine or taxi to fully enjoy the ride.  Of course, you can also take a bus or hike up during the day– it’s worth the trek in clear weather once you see Ocean Beach, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge all in one sweeping glance!

Twin Peaks are a must for anyone who comes to San Francisco and for anyone who hasn’t been in a while.  Bundle up for the wind, and you’ll enjoy eucalyptus-shrouded hiking, bird-watching, city-watching and the most popular place to snuggle with your loved ones in the city.

Drink Your Way Through Dinner at Prosecco

Picture 10Making a toast is oh-so-easy at Chicago’s chic River North Gallery district’s restaurant, Prosecco. After all, they have the largest selection of sparkling wines in the whole city. White linen tables, authentic seasonal Italian cuisine with homemade pastas, and plenty of romantic ambiance make this place a hotspot for dates– and for those looking for love.

At Prosecco it’s not just about making that initial toast with the sparkling wine, however. The mantra is that the sparkling wines of Italy stand alone, both the reds and the whites and need not/should not be limited only as a starter beverage, but rather enjoyed throughout the duration of the meal. For those unfamiliar with the pairing of sparkling wines for each course, leave it to the friendly staff to guide you to the bubbly of your preferences. And don’t forget about the elegant Italian food that’s made Prosecco one of the best new restaurants in Chicago.

The bar here is equally as fun as the ristorante. Painted to look like Caravaggio’s “Confessional of St. Paul,” it’s the drinks that will have people confessing, like the Mionetto Brut Prosecco with Chambord and 24 carat gold dust! The long, classic bar is one of the best in the city, making it perfect for those wishing to get buzzed on bubbly wine with a new, special someone.

When a quick trip to Veneto, Italia isn’t quite doable, Prosecco should suffice just fine. Cheers to that.

The Best Drive is to Universal City Walk

When venturing out to Hollywood to witness the bright lights and eccentricity on the boulevard seems daunting, there is an alternative that takes out the chaos and adds some fun. Universal City Walk is truly one of a kind in that it’s a city within a city, offering everything from movie theaters to restaurants, candy shops to water ballet. Locals and tourists alike are always gathering in the one pPicture 9lace where acting like a kid is commendable.

Though rummaging through magnet stores and a shop completely dedicated to Pez seems over the top, the adults have their fair share of fun, too. Universal has some American dining favorites, from Hard Rock Café to Wasabi. If you are looking for a quick bite to soak up all the fun, Universal has adapted the mall-like food court and offers quick eats from Dodger Dogs to Panda Express.
Once the shopping and eating comes to a rest, Universal City Walk has a nightlife scene offering great alternatives for those who don’t want to venture to the other side of the hill. Places like Saddle Ranch and Howl at the Moon bring in large crowds and keep the excitement alive all night.

Whether it’s daytime fun or nighttime entertainment, the crowds never seem to stop arriving at City Walk. The next time you feel like driving to Hollywood, skip the traffic and expensive drinks and drive to the Walk.

Jazzed by Dazzle

Picture 6The yin to El Chapultepec’s yang, Dazzle is Denver’s other most esteemed jazz venue—and every bit as amenity-oriented as The Pec is no-frills. While its nightly lineup of both local and national talent—swing, bebop, fusion, et cetera—has won it numerous awards from both local and national media (including Downbeat), the club also gets its audience into the act via fascinating interactive programs like First Monday Art Talks and Jeff Jenkins’ Piano Conversations.

Moreover, it’s made fans, even among non-enthusiasts, with its freewheeling happy hour and the Friday Lunch Club—both featuring live music and a $5 menu—as well as the famed Sunday Urban Brunch, a sprawling all-you-can-eat affair complete with a bottomless bloody mary and mimosa bar.

Stella McCartney’s Rock ‘n Roll Meatpacking Store

Picture 26Stella McCartney was born rock royalty, but in the design world she has become a fashion force to be reckoned with: Madonna, Gwyneth and Cameron are a few of her famous fans. Her fiercely feminine clothes (think sexy with a draping of romance) were the first to invade the now uber chic meatpacking district that is now host to DVF, Carlos Miele and the late Alexander McQueen, among many other design houses.

Besides being the offspring of an ex-Beatle, Stella is most widely known for her staunch PETA stance. So near to her heart is the cause, that before she even started her line in 2001, she told Gucci Group her line would stay true to its “no fur and no leather” stance. Such conscious free clothing includes vegetarian shoe collection, faux fur and faux leather, but the luxury is most definitely always there with the incredible tailoring, craftmanship and unique designs. Stella’s line is huge with everything from fragrances, shoes, bags, and organic skin care to cashmere coats and red carpet dresses.

An added bonus? Her father’s Beatles music is always playing whenever you walk into the meatpacking store.

Live Like a Star at Hotel ZaZa

Swimming pools and movie stars….no, this isn’t an episode of Beverly Hills, but a stay here can feel like that (without the drama, of course). Hotel ZaZa is a hotbed of glitPicture 8z and glamour that draws big names and big parties. When celebs come to town, ZaZa is a hands-down favorite, and for good reason: the exterior is modern with a French Chateau twist, the chic lobby is bathed in candlelight and crystal accents, and the hotel boasts the Magnificent Seven Suites, with themes like Crouching Tiger and Rock Star that can accommodate stylish dinner parties or become a sexy bridal suite. (Insider tip: Rock Star lives up to its name, being rumored to truly be a favorite of rock stars all over the world.)

The pool is another place you’ll find yourself feeling like the epitome of glamour. In the summer, it is full of greenery and cocktails for comfortably basking in the Texas heat. In the winter, the pool area is encased by a tent and candlelight, and becomes a plexiglass floor that guests can mix and mingle over.

With eclectic dining in Dragonfly, the hotel restaurant, and Za Spa, a relaxing oasis, you’ll begin to think you’ve been magically transported to Beverly Hills instead of Big D.

TV Host Hilary Kennedy Loves Late Nights at DMA

Hilary Kennedy has hosted segments on everything about local Dallas life: sports, real estate, dining and holiday celebrations. But every third Friday, there’s one DallaPicture 6s event that is “perfect for a night owl like me,” and that’s Late Nights at DMA.

Once a month the Dallas Museum of Art keeps its doors open extra late and the crowd goes from the typical tourist and family scene to young, sophisticated Texans. “They have live music, treats and tours until midnight,” Hilary told citybuzz. Every month there’s a different theme and the DMA does a great job of keeping it cool. For example, in anticipation for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland remake, the DMA hosted Mad Hatter treasure hunts, a film screening of the original Alice in Wonderland and had a DJ spinning in each of its galleries.

As Hilary says, “It’s great for a romantic date,” or to see great art in an even better atmosphere.

*** Hilary Kennedy is the host of many of Dallas’ favorite TV shows, like NBC5’s “Home and Lifestyle Television,” KFWD’s “Just Fun TV” and “Hot On! Homes.” Hilary began her career as the first female Entertainment Host for the Dallas Stars hockey team and is the host of the nationally syndicated “New Year’s Nation” every New Year’s Eve.

Moooving up to One of Boston’s Top Steakhouses

Steakhouses in Boston are everywhePicture 5re, so finding one of the best in the city was a challenge until Mooo made its debut. Chef/owner Jamie Mammano’s modern steakhouse with the unusual name offers some of the juiciest, well prepared steaks in town and a private Wine Cellar dining room. Located in Beacon Hill across from the State House, Mooo attracts numerous politicians (Governor Deval Patrick is said to be a regular).

It’s difficult not to fill up on the Staub skillet of four dense hot buttered sweet rolls topped with sea salt, but be sure to save room for the likes of a 35-day dry aged New York sirloin, bone-in Delmonico, pepper crusted prime sirloin au poivre or ribeye steak. Top it off with a béarnaise, red wine, bordelaise, steak or barbecue sauce. Dishes are a la carte so complement your dinner with panko and parmesan crusted onion rings, mushroom risotto and creamed spinach. The restaurant also offers a good selection of seafood dishes, including grilled salmon, seared sea scallops and butter poached Maine lobster. End the night with the ultimate indulgence – a $25 Bailey’s hot fudge sundae for two. Visit for more information.

Walk Amongst Greatness with the Frank Lloyd Wright Tour

Oak Park, just a quick jaunt on Chicago’s green line train, is like walking into a Hallmark movie. It’s so charming and beautiful here that the hustle and bustle of Chi-town seems light years away. In addition to the picturesque main brick streets, mansions and bistros, this is also the hometown of architectural genius Frank Lloyd Wright.

Year round, Chicagoans Picture 11and tourists alike gather for a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and several other of his architectural designs. Wright’s home, where he lived from 1889 to 1909, will inspire even the most apathetic of design lovers. Its facade and interior design make most gawk in awe, and suddenly everyone can’t help but snap away a hundred photos.

Custom private tours are also an option at the house, educational programs and year round special events take place so be sure to check the calendar before your visit. The Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust also has a museum and gift shop so don’t worry, you don’t have to leave empty handed.

Insider’s Tip: Advance tickets are highly recommended. Purchase tickets here or call 1.800.514.ETIX (3849).

Cretia is Nightlife’s Sweet Spot

You might not immediately think of Cretia’s as a hopping nightlife spot if you’ve never been. Oh, you’ve heard they have an incredible (affordable!) brunch and killer desserts? But at night, it has live music, an expansive patio anPicture 21d bars packed with more action than a Bruce Willis movie. Open until 2:00 a.m. with free valet, Cretia’s has several different rooms inside the bar/restaurant, each decorated with a slightly gothic style. The atmosphere ranges from hipster romantic to raging party, depending on the night and the music.

The stocked Ruby Bar is reason enough to spend your evening here, but if you come early enough, treat yourself to the sinful desserts at the bakery. You’ll never go wrong with the White Sour Cream Cake and Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie. So the next time you feel like getting your groove on (and perhaps giving in to your sweet tooth), head down McKinney to find all your favorites in one spot.

Rock-and-Rolling with the Punches: Denver Roller Derby

Picture 17For a 21st-century cosmopolis, Denver still hasn’t lost its rough-and-tumble Wild West edge. Case in point: the super-popularity of roller derby. The city supports not one, but two leagues, the Rocky Mountain Roller Girls and the Denver Roller Dolls—sponsored by none other than good old PBR.

Whether taking place at the Fillmore Auditorium or the new 1STBANK Center, bouts between teams with names like the Dooms Daisies and the Green Barrettes can get deliciously fierce—and the surprisingly mixed crowd, from hipsters to families, loves it, cheering on the likes of Aphromighty and Fonda Payne. But the fun doesn’t stop or even start at the rink: take the RMRG’s Party Bus, and you’ll be whisked to the match, piled with free beer, and returned to the afterparty at the Skylark Lounge.

The U.S. Botanic Garden is Always in Bloom

Right next to bustling Capitol Hill is haven of breathtaking Picture 15flowers, roses and gardens at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Tracing its beginnings to 1816, The U.S. Botanic Garden the oldest of its kind in North America.

It is divided into three locations: the Conservatory, Bartholdi Park, and the National Garden. The newly renovated Conservatory is one big greenhouse divided into separate rooms and holds over 4,000 living species. Each room simulates a different habitat and contains various types of plants that ordinarily would not survive in Washington D.C., from desert species to Southern plants to medicinal plants.

Bartholdi Park serves as a home landscape demonstration garden and is home to a beautiful fountain that is 30 feet high. There is also the National Garden, which contains the Rose Garden and the First ladies Water Garden, as well as an outdoor amphitheater.

Rosewood Crescent is a Landmark of Luxury

It’s impossible to miss The Rosewood Crescent Hotel. Its eye-catching French windows and pristine white exterior beckon a peek inside the uptown landmark. Upon entering, the vaulted ceilings, marble floors and fresh flowers confirm what you already suspected: this is a first class hotel that doesn’t compromise on style or service.

For the health nut, the fitness center’s classes,Picture 13 like Pilates and kickboxing, are added perks. For those looking to relax during their stay, the spa offers over 77 treatments ranging from wraps, scrubs, massages and nail care.

When you want to venture out of your room that includes 480-threadcount Egyptian sheets and cuddly terry bathrobes, the Shops and Galleries of The Crescent are the perfect solution. The shops carry bath and beauty products, fine art, linens, home products, and you’ll also find dining that rivals the best restaurants in the city.

It isn’t uncommon to see a beautiful bride celebrating her day at this hotel as it boasts some of the most luxurious weddings and special events in Dallas. From the moment you arrive to the moment you check-out, The Rosewood Crescent lives up to its look and reputation, and instills the desire to return again soon.

Historic Laughs at New Tommy’s Comedy Lounge

Picture 8If you’re looking for something fun to do for everyone of all ages, head over to Tommy’s Comedy Lounge for a great night of laughs. Boston’s newest comedy club, located at The Charles Playhouse in the historic Theater District, offers live stand-up comedy every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

You never know who you might see on stage that night. The comedy house has showcased well known local talent, including Tony V, Gary Gulman and Steve Sweeney of There’s Something About Mary and Me Myself and Irene fame as well as the annual Magners Comedy Festival.

Every Thursday night, there is a comedy showcase at 8:30 p.m. for a cheap $8 admission ticket. Tommy’s new showcase for gay and lesbian comedians will be held the last Thursday of every month beginning this month. Typically, most shows are under $20 per ticket making for a reasonably priced and affordable night on the town.

Speakeasy Jazz Upstairs at Van Dyke Cafe

Picture 10Lincoln Road has evolved into an eclectic mix of well known chain stores, smaller boutiques and stand-alone restaurants,  but the one place that has stood the test of time on this pedestrian strip of road is the Van Dyke Cafe, where the jazz is always playing.

The place is reminiscent of a speakeasy jazz club with soft lighting, intimate seating and stellar performances of Latin jazz, AfroCuban, soloists and jazz quartets. Local legend Maryel Epps still performs at Van Dyke and has been for more than a decade! And joining her are local faves Palo! and Conjunto Progreso.

Catch a vibe from another era at this classic spot, a perfect way to either start or end an evening on South Beach.

Kettal Brings Sophistication Outdoors

Picture 17Think uniquely original, zen-like and chic, and it’s the perfect description for Kettal’s outdoor furnishings. An award-winning trio of design geniuses, with chops from London, Milan and New York, create the outdoor masterpieces.

The gorgeous, sleek, cabana-like outdoor settings that are the stuff of spa and luxury hotel pools can be had at home with this place’s selection. Think an outdoor sofa seating complete with curtains, elegant tables, and plush cushions and throw pillows. Outdoor rugs, accessories, planters and umbrellas complete the many styles they offer. A backyard oasis is easy to have with these clean and elegant pieces. Spend time indoors? Never again.

Tillman’s Roadhouse is the Perfect Pit Stop

Picture 19It may be off the beaten path, but Tillman’s Roadhouse is one of many great stops in the Bishop Arts district of Oak Cliff.

Self-proclaimed as a “California twist on Texas roadhouse,” Tillman’s offers eclectic cuisine like Venison Frito Pie and Trio of Fries: parmesan, black pepper, kennebec fries, chili dusted purple peruvian fries and smoked, salt scented sweet potato fries with housemade catsup and horseradish pickle mayo. Sound good? Save room for dessert- you won’t believe the tableside s’mores that includes delicious orange, maple, and coffee marshmallows, cinnamon grahams and dark chocolate bark. Yum.

Wooden taxidermy heads and crystal chandeliers are some of the whimsical decor that adds an element of rustic romance. Situated between unique boutiques and galleries, Tillman’s offers a varied upscale grill menu that will have you adding Bishop Arts in your rotation of favorite spots to fill up.

The DAM Bursts with Surprises

Picture 9You don’t even have to step inside to see the art of the Denver Art Museum (a.k.a. the DAM): its ultramodern, extra-angular two-building exterior is a masterwork in itself, designed by world-famous architects Gio Ponti and Daniel Libeskind, respectively.

But once you do, you’ll discover a collection that’s remarkable for a mid-sized metropolis. While it runs the standard gamut from European painting to pre-Columbian artifacts, it’s especially strong in some unexpected areas, namely American Indian art and American graphic design.

But the biggest artistic surprise awaits in the bathroom: when you wash your hands, you’ll be treated to a round of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” courtesy of Jim Green’s notorious automatic singing sinks.

Recharge Your Battery at Fairmont Battery Wharf

With a vibrant harbor front and just steps to the North End, Boston’s Battery Wharf area has been completely revitalized, which is no wonder why the Fairmont chose to open its second location here. With a more intimate hotel- just 150 guestrooms to its 383-room Copley Plaza sister property- you certainly can’t compete with the waterfront views.

Picture 28Each room at the Fairmont Battery Wharf is spacious and includes all modern amenities such as iPod docking stations, flat screen televisions and IP telephones. Last year, the hotel opened Fairmont Gold here for those seeking more personalized service. A Fairmont Gold room features access to its own lounge, which offers complimentary continental breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres as well as an honor bar for cocktails.

Whether you come for a romantic getaway or weekend escape, the only thing you’ll be left wondering is whether the hotel or location is better.

Mile-High Marks for Osteria Marco

From fancy to funky and fusilli to udon, no Denver OMartichokesrestaurateur uses his noodle quite like Frank Bonanno, who has made a go of Italian destinations and Asian hangouts alike (see Luca d’Italia and Bones, respectively). Osteria Marco is his savvy nod to the enoteca.

Occupying a dark, glittering, buzzing subterranean cave on Larimer Square, it serves up a deceptively casual menu of salumi, antipasti, panini, and pizzas—all of which are as carefully crafted as Bonanno’s most elaborate $40 entree at Mizuna. While the housemade burrata is a justly ballyhooed must, there’s nary a miss on the menu, be it the whole grilled artichoke or the Sunday special—whole roast suckling pig.

Museum of Contemporary Art Denver: From Mixed Media to Mixed Taste

Accessible by a long walking ramp, the MCA Denver bills itself as “the museum without a front door.” And to be sure, it does open wide to let the world in. Picture 17

Eschewing a permanent collection, it stages ever-rotating, often highly provocative exhibitions that interrogate postmodern society and our place in it: existentially inclined short films by Yang Fudong, the wacky soundscapes of local artist Jim Green, even Damien Hirst’s famed mixed media installations.

And following a merger with The Lab, it now hosts some of the city’s most eye-opening programs—above all Mixed Taste, a seasonal series of lectures each comprised of two unrelated topics: imagine (if you can) the Human Genome and Leadbelly or Absinthe and Arctic Ice Caps.

Chow Down in Style at Mr. Chow

Picture 7No matter where a Mr. Chow restaurant opens, it instantly becomes a spot where everyone must go, especially celebrities. In Miami – in South Beach’s swanky W Hotel no less- Mr. Chow is brimming with elegance and style.

The Asian food here has to be called cuisine, because of offerings like fresh steamed sea bass filet and fresh lobster noodles – lobster tails sauteed in ginger sauce served on a bed of  handmade noodles. The flair and creativity with which the dishes are prepared is unequaled and so stands the reputation of this hot bed of Beijing-inspired yummy. Don’t come looking for honey chicken, General Tsao’s or special fried rice here, it’s non-existent.

Shop for Everything on Your Wish List

Everything you’ve ever wished for can be found at thePicture 13 dreamy little boutique Wish in Beacon Hill. The contemporary women’s shop features high end designer labels (think black American Express Centurion), including Shoshanna, Diane von Furstenberg, Theory, Rebecca Taylor, Hudson and Citizens of Humanity.

Everyone loves a fabulous shop that has all the latest fashions and Wish truly has it all from handbags to jeans. Whether your look is trendy or traditional, Wish offers some of the most stylish threads in the city, but be prepared to pay luxury store prices.

Wish is the brainchild of three former Newbury Street employees, who had a dream of opening their own clothing store. This boutique just goes to prove that wishes really do come true. Check out for more information.

Expand Your Repertoire at The Washington Ballet

For those lookPicture 14ing to broaden their cultural horizons, schedule an evening full of the arts with a show-stopping performance by the internationally renowned Washington Ballet. TWB, as it’s known, has developed a celebrated reputation for its repertoire of contemporary performances, as well as its interpretations of notable 19th century pieces.  TWB has translated classic literary works such as Don Quixote, The Great Gatsby and the legendary Nutcracker into flawlessly choreographed modern ballets that continue to entertain the Washington community.

With performances at The Kennedy Center, The Harman Center for the Arts, and its very own intimate Washington Ballet England Studio Theatre located just off Wisconsin Avenue, TWB always entertains its audience with a myriad of talented performers with roots from around the world, as well as a continuous calendar of exceptional shows.

Insider Tip: Although TWB encourages all to attend performances for the betterment of the performing arts community, don’t forget to follow proper ballet etiquette, especially in Washington.  For inexperienced first timers, be sure to wear formal attire for Opening Night performances, and “business casual” for all other shows.

10 Acres of Rich Romance at Delaney Vineyards

Wine and romance go hand in hand. For a true tastePicture 21 of both, Delaney Vineyards doesn’t disappoint. Grapevine, Texas is famous for its namesake and Delaney takes it one step further with free tours of the vineyard and winery, a vast selection of local wines (including beloved Sweet Texas Red and Three Daughters), and a French Chateau style building that is the perfect backdrop for special occasions.

While on the free tour (Mon-Sat 10am-5pm) , take the opportunity to spend around ten dollars on a stellar wine tasting. The wine tasting serves as a mini wine class, which is great for amateurs and connoisseurs alike. Guys, keep this place in mind when dreaming up a creative date that will set the mood-you’ll have a great time and your special someone will be impressed.

When you can’t afford to jet off to southern France or Napa Valley to sip the best, Delaney Vineyards is the escape you’ve been looking for, only much closer to home.

Live Music Noon to Midnight at World Cafe Live

The World Café Live is hands down the best place to hear music that’s not getting played on the radio. It was named best club in Philadelphia by in 2009 and best new music venue by Philadelphia Magazine when it came out on the scene in 2005. Whether you’re looking for indie singer-songwriters, hip hop artists, or African drumming; The World Café Live is your destination.

world cafe live

One part music venue, one part restaurant, you never know what you’re going to get when walking into World Café Live. Downstairs is a three tiered music hall which seats 300 people in a bistro style set up, and as many as 650 people in the standing room only section. Upstairs is a café on historic Walnut Street. Comfortably seating 100 people, the café features live radio broadcasts and performances every day of the week. It has an extensive menu and the best happy hour specials near the Drexel Campus.

The World Café Live is also home to the annual Beta Hifi Music Festival, and puts on weekly concert series called Peanut Butter and Jams, a lunch time concert for children and their parents every Saturday. It’s safe to say that if you want live music any hour of the day, just head over to World Cafe Live.

Tory Burch’s Philly Fave is The Guard House

Tory Burch, the designer that epitomizes Manhattan, Gossip Girl style, is actually a Philadelphia native- and raised on a farm, no less! But amidst all the glitz and glamour of Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week, Tory told citybuzz there’s one place she has to go when she’s back in her hometown: The Old Guard House Inn Restaurant.Picture 7

Much like Tory’s upbringing, The Guard House, as Tory says, is in the suburbs of Philadelphia and quite unassuming. Yet, this historical landmark (rumor says George Washington slept here) is a neighborhood favorite for those in the know. Year after year it’s voted the Main Line’s best restaurant and the Philadelphia Inquirer gave it an “Excellent” rating.

It’s this neighborhood vibe that keeps people coming back: generous servers and generous portions. The prices are just right for oversized plates of German and Continental inspired food like Wiener Schnitzel and signature Lobster Bisque.

The Old Guard House Inn may be away from the city lights, but it’s bright enough to keep Big City Gal Tory Burch coming back time and time again.

*** Tory Burch is a fashion designer of her namesake line, Tory Burch, based in New York City. Celebrity fans include Cameron Diaz, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, Uma Thurman and Hilary Swank.

Only Headlines at The News

The News is fresPicture 8h off the press; it’s an all-encompassing nightlife experience in the bohemian and laid-back Upper East Side. Cousin to the famous News Cafe on 8th and Ocean Drive, where famed fashion designer Gianni Versace read his Italian papers and sipped his espressos every morning, The News takes The Cafe’s vibe to another level. It features an outdoor patio with cool seating, a video screen showcasing old-time classic movies, and an indoor bar with great lighting and fabulous decor. The deejays keep the party going with an eclectic mix of hits to suit any News lounger’s taste, and regular special events like installations and fire performers keep things very interesting.

LoHi SteakBar Raises the Stakes—and the Bar

Picture 7When locals heard chef-about-town Sean Kelly had turned up at this smart, sexy Lower Highlands spot, they swarmed in pronto—and they haven’t left since. Hopping nightly with the city’s hipper foodies, LoHi SteakBar features a highly likeable menu that centers on an array of steak frites and burgers, rounded out by funky snacks, sandwiches, and sides—from blue cheese fondue to rock shrimp po’boys to creamed spinach, plus retro desserts like banana splits.

The bar mixes a mean cocktail or two as well, including a fresh update of the banana daiquiri, and 3-for-1 bloodies come with weekend brunch.

Skiing in the Flatlands? Four Lakes Proves it Possible

Yes, it’s true that Illinois is about as flat of a state as they come, but believe it or not, skiing (yes, downhill) is possible without driving to Wisconsin or flying to Colorado. Four Lakes is the place to get in some fun skiing, snowboarding and sledding without leaving Illinois.

FourLakes4The Four Lakes Ski & Snowboard School is a member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and uses the American Teaching System, which makes it a great place for starters, newcomers and those wanting a little change in their routine (a.k.a. a fun idea for a date!). Besides, you’re not going to beat the prices; you may shell out hundreds up nort’ in Wisconsin whereas here on “Fab Fridays,” all day skiing will only set you back $15.00!

Once the snow has melted, Four Lakes keeps going with summer activities like private party rooms, volleyball leagues, tournaments, court rentals and golf leagues.

Glitz and Grammy’s for The San Francisco Symphony

For the Vivian and Edward in all of us (Pretty Woman fans?), your romantic evening awaits at the San Francisco Symphony.  With eleven Grammy wins, this ensemble features the most talented musicians in the world and is appropriately situated in the magnificent Davies Symphony Hall, which neighbors the Opera House and Capitol Buildings of the Civic Center.Picture 23

Whether an anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or birthday, the San Francisco Symphony continues to excite and lure even the most jaded of guests to fall in love with classical music year-round.  The Symphony’s passion for music and award-winning Chorus & Youth Orchestra will inspire you to not just listen to the music, but emotionally become part of the experience.

Davies Symphony Hall even offers a free after-hours party for some of its concerts, allowing you to enjoy popular bay area music in a nightclub atmosphere.  The folks at SFS really know music, from classical to contemporary, and hope to inspire the same appreciation in their guests, even if it requires drinks and socializing from the balconies that offer spectacular views of City Hall.

No Passports Needed at the European Buckhead Grand Spa

Picture 11Save your money on a plane ticket to Europe. Just a short drive to Buckhead is all you need to go to arrive at Atlanta’s version of a weekday getaway: Buckhead Grand Spa. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Peachtree Street is this luxurious European spa retreat that’s renowned for its aesthetically appealing environment, natural products, as well as its luxurious and health-restoring body treatments, facials and waxing.

Try the spa packages on a girl’s night out or live it up with a full day of pampering in peaceful solitude. Can’t make it out to the spa during the normal business hours? Don’t worry, special appointments can be made for hotel stays in the Buckhead area.

Christmas isn’t the only time for giving, give the gift of relaxation to your family, friends and coworkers anytime at the Buckhead Grand Spa.

XV Beacon Offers First Class Luxury- With a Heart

The complimentary Lexus sedan parked outside the front door of XV Beacon lets you know you are in for a luxurious stay. The sophisticated Beacon Hill hotel just recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary, and it’s no wonder why the property remains one of the top luxurPicture 11y hotels in the city for service, style and value.

There are only seven guest rooms on each floor of this boutique property and every single room has a gas fireplace. Every modern amenity is considered here from the 42-inch flat screen television situated on a stainless steel wall above the fireplace, surround sound stereo system with five-disk CD player and CD library to the amazing marble bathroom equipped with a rainforest shower head, Fresh products and Frette bathrobes.

The pet friendly hotel also offers a sumptuous stay for your four-legged friend complete with a pet bed, bottled water and treats upon arrival. Best of all, the $25 “fee” to bring your dog with you is donated in full to the MSPCA Angell Memorial Hospital to assist with animal medical treatment, rehabilitation and adoption assistance.

Don’t forget to check out the rooftop deck for an amazing peek at the city.

Glamour and Grandeur Alike at The Oxford Hotel

Picture 18Opened in 1891, The Oxford was Denver’s first hotel, and it’s still going strong. Built by brewing magnate Adolph Zang, it looks every part the stately Grand Dame, with its sumptuous marble-floored lobby and collection of Western art. But the 21st-century amenities are plentiful, including free WiFi, iPod docking stations, and plasma TVs in every room.

While the hotel’s richest jewel is the Art Deco–era Cruise Room, a visit to McCormick’s Fish House off the lobby may be in order just for a glimpse of the cathedral stained-glass panels lining the bar (and perhaps a round or two of oysters on the half-shell).

Post 390 Gets the Stamp of Approval

Ever felt like you needed a drink while at the post office? Himmel Hospitality Group did too, which is why they created Post 390. Situated at the site of the former Back Bay Post Office Annex, this place boasts killer views, an impressive beer and wine selection, and super-chic clientele.

Picture 5On the first floor of this two-story urban tavern, a lively bar scene of a polished after-work crowd surrounds the cozy four-sided fireplace. Upstairs, there’s a second bar, open kitchen, and a fireside dining room with floor to ceiling glass windows that showcase the unbeatable views of the John Hancock Tower and Copley Place.

The bar (or shall we say, bars) boasts one of the best beer selections in the city with 12 brews on tap and 30 microbrews available in bottles, and they also have more than 200 wine selections. Post 390 offers a wide array of aptly named Bostonian drinks, including The Green Line, Dirty Water, Boston Tea Ketel and of course, The Back Bay.

As a sister restaurant to Grill 23, Harvest and the new Bistro du Midi at The Heritage on the Garden, Post 390 showcases Chef Eric Brennan’s talent here with a modern twist on classic comfort food favorites – think beer and bacon macaroni and cheese – in a chic setting. Visit for more information.

Art Deco Meets Italian Design at Marni

MarniIn the heart of the Design District is the splashy Art Deco meets Space Age boutique, Marni. The Italian fashion label has a cult following that love the Marni philosophy: designed pieces that intermingle effortlessly with any of the other collections so fashionistas can hold onto favorite items for more than one season.

The Miami store is designed specifically for the crowd it serves: chic, modern and with Art Deco touches. The signature fashions feature tribal influences as well as geometric patterns, long and flowy skirts, short and loose dresses, and chunky belts. Marni also has an enviable collection of oversized glasses, jewelry, handbags, and sandals to platform heels.

Grimaldi’s: New York Style in a Southern Locale

Just east oPicture 22f the West Village, Grimaldi’s Pizza can get you in a New York state of mind; it’s the closest thing you’ll find to New York style pizza this far south. The coal-fired brick oven pizza is cooked until the crust is delightfully crisp, and everything is homemade or shipped from back east.

With a range of toppings including jalapenos, artichokes and good old pepperoni, you can’t go wrong adorning your pie. Tomato Basil pizza comes highly recommended, as well as the nice selection of beer and wine. If weather permits, enjoy your meal outside and drink a bottle of wine from the Cork wine bar next door. With traditional Italian decor and Rat Pack music playing overhead, you just might forget you aren’t dining in the Big Apple.

Investigate DC’s Hot, New Museum: The Newseum

So you think you follow the news?  Think again. Inside a modern glass exterior, accented with a marble wall inscribed with the First Amendment, the impressive, newly renovated Newseum houses seven levels (and five centuries) of raw, groundbreaking, life-changing, history-making news – a little more than your typical history class or nightly news channel could ever offer!

The information “mecca” not only houses some of the most interesting news-related artifacts, images and technologies of our time, but it’s also extremely interactive making it the hottest new museum.  Try your hand at rnewseum2eporting and sit in the hot seat in the NBC News Interactive Newsroom.  For even more excitement, grab a seat (and some 3-D glasses!) at the I-Witness, a 4-D Time Travel Adventure, where visitors literally travel back in time with note-worthy journalists as they report on the most influential events in the history of news.

Other must-see exhibits include the Berlin Wall Gallery, the Pulitzer Prize Photograph Gallery (one of the most comprehensive collections of Pulitzer Prize-winning photos ever assembled), the emotional 9/11 Gallery and the G-Men & Journalists Gallery (an exhibit of the FBI’s relationship with the media, complete with the Unabomber’s actual cabin).

The most significant aspect of the museum, however, may be the museum’s objective of effectively bridging the gap between the media and the public – lending a sense of mutual understanding and purpose through visual, oral and written stories of time.

Insider Tip: Reflect on a moving experience by taking a trip up to the Hank Greenspun Terrace rooftop for arguably the best view of Pennsylvania Avenue (Washington’s “Main Street”) and the U.S. Capitol in the city.

Chicago Mob History 101 at the Green Mill Jazz Lounge

If there’s one place in Chicago that oozes its quintessential jazzy charm that dangerously flirts with a heavy history of mafia, then the Green Mill Jazz Lounge is your place. Not having changed much since its opening in 1907 (yes, 1907), the place is dark, smoky (even still, post no-smoking laws somehow) and sexy.

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Back in the day the place had an outdoor dancing and drinking garden lit by lanterns, where people arrived by horse and buggy. The garden was complete with horse-hitching posts. It soon transpired to be a mobster hangout when some of Al Capone’s henchmen became part owners. So much drama went down here that Sinatra himself played a singer whose throat and  tongue were once slit in this club over good ol’ mobster issues. Alas, Sinatra had to spend some quality time for “research” at the Green Mill as well.

It survived prohibition as a speakeasy and the decor of that era remains. Today, you can catch killer jazz there any night of the week, Mondays being a favorite for the Patricia Barber quartet. It’s all about the music and history here so don’t get too glammed up unless you’re trying to live vicariously through its history by transporting yourself in an immersion of jazz notes, strong cocktails and a big black booth that maybe Capone himself sat in: in which case, you just may be able to pull it off.

Romance & Adventure on the Arboretum’s Full Moon Hike

For romantic night owls, take a walk at the Full Moon Hike at the U.S. National Arboretum. Sure, the bars and entertainment in the city offer plenty of adventure, but this hike is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can’t be beat.

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At four miles long, with a path through meadows, woods and gardens, this hike allows you to see what the Arboretum looks like by moonlight, under a blanket of stars.  There are some truly magical areas throughout the hike, including a beautiful view of the Anacostia River and the illuminated National Capitol Columns.

The scenery is a rare sight, especially after spending a whole day next to loud cars and city life. It’s not just a light stroll through the park, though. The terrain is often hilly and uneven, so the hike is mildly strenuous. There’s no better way to see the lights of our nation’s capital than on the Full Moon Hike.

Endless Summers at Jasper White’s Summer Shack

If you are looking for some of the best seafood in town, you have certainly come to the right place at Jasper White’s Summer Shack. Award-winning chef and cookbook author JPicture 43asper White opened his first restaurant in Cambridge in 2000 and has been growing his enterprise ever since.

Whether you come for White’s famous clambake complete with corn on the cob or to indulge in his signature pan roasted lobster, the varied menu from sandwiches to lobster specialties appeals to every budget. You won’t find white tablecloths at this casual clam shack, but you will find a chalkboard filled with daily specials. The restaurant stays true to its namesake offering a casual and fun atmosphere for the entire family.

The seafood here is so amazingly fresh you would think it was plucked from the ocean just minutes before it hit your plate. The Tower of Power is a must-have indulgence, filled to the brim with oysters, littlenecks, crab claws, shrimp and lobster halves.  Summer Shack also has locations in Cambridge and Dedham as well as Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Visit for more information.

Insider Tip: If you are too full for dessert, order the walk away sundae, which is available in a to-go container to take with you.

Find Beauty Beneath at Trousseau

Picture 19Le Mystere. Roberto Cavalli. Cosabella. They’re all famous brands of opulent, sexy lingerie that can make anyone feel like a goddess. Trousseau in the West Village carries some of the finest lingerie brands in one convenient location. If you are looking to inspire a romantic evening or find bridal selections that will create a lasting impression, this boutique has it all.

Besides the much-needed professional bra fitting and undergarment staples, Trousseau also offers comfy lounge-wear and t-shirts for those times when you want to take a break from the sexier fare, but still look and feel pretty. Hollywood Fashion Tape and Nippets are helpful tricks of the trade used by celebrities, which are also best sellers here in Dallas. Before you plan that next special night, take a detour from typical mall shopping and visit Trousseau- you won’t be disappointed, and neither will your sweetheart.

Move Over Shakira- It’s Fat Chance Bellydance

Picture 21Shakira may have started the belly dancing trend in mainstream America, but recently you’ve seen it featured as a fitness routine on Dr. Oz and in Akon’s “Bellydancer” video.  At Fat Chance Bellydance, in the heart of the Mission District, you can see a bodacious belly dancer in front of your own two eyes- or become one yourself.

One part troupe, one part workshop, Fat Chance Bellydance showcases American Tribal Style dancing,  created by director Carolena Nericcio. Here you’ll see how improvisational choreography creates a smooth and enchanting hip dance, or learn both slow and fast movements, and how to use zils to make your own beat.  Fat Chance is perfect if you’re looking for unique entertainment at a party, wanting to learn how to do solo performances at restaurants and shows, or for an alternative outlet to spice up your fitness routine.  Walk-ins are welcome!

Oyster House: A Philly Tradition for Aphrodisiacs

The Sansom Picture 13Street Oyster House, now known as just the Oyster House, is a classic staple of the food scene and has been serving Philadelphians fresh seafood at reasonable prices since 1947. Oyster Hour is the House’s version of happy hour, serving “Buck-A-Shuck” $1 Oysters of the Day and drink specials during weekday happy hour and late-night on Saturdays.

These mouth-watering little aphrodisiacs are a wonderful start to a night out on the town, chased down with the House’s quality cocktails. The Oyster House is also home to Philadelphia’s odd, but delicious pairing, fried oysters and chicken salad – an old 19th century tradition that started at The Union League and stayed in the city’s heart.

After being renovated a little over a year ago, the Oyster House now boasts high ceilings and industrial-chic flair; with the family’s dynamic collection of ceramic oyster plates speckling the walls, you’ll find just the right hint of personality that will make you want to come back for more.

Sexy People, Champagne and Beats at Cuvee

It’s all about dressing to impress at Cuvee, anCuvee2 uber-chic club/lounge in Chi-town’s River North. For the many fans of Enclave, they are sure to enjoy Cuvee, owned by the same troupe. To enter though, you’ll first have to pass the test, so dress up or you can call it at night at a pizza joint elsewhere. And don’t get confused trying to find your way in, it’s a back alley entrance only.

As the name suggests, the go-to drink here is of course Champagne. As the word cuvée in French- from the region of Champagne specifically- refers to the best of the best in Champagne as it comes from only the first 2,050 liters of the pressed grape juice. DJ beats, sexy crowd and plenty of bubbly make for a great option for dancing, mixing and mingling. As for date night, you may want to skip this one.

Insider Tip: Make a table service reservation online to get the most out of your experience.

Boston Chocolate Lovers Unite on a Walking Tour

Picture 5Bet you didn’t know that every Boston neighborhood has a chocolate story! Taste of Chocolate offers a walking tour every Saturday and Sunday of the city’s best neighborhoods, including Beacon Hill, Back Bay, South End and Cambridge, where you’ll learn about fine chocolates and indulge in a variety of delicacies. From the Toll House cookie to Baker’s chocolate, New England has a deep, dark and sumptuous history in chocolate.

On the tour, you’ll learn the history and creation of luxury chocolate by visiting a third generation market whose founder worked with Julia Child, tasting chocolate soup, and enjoying a formal tasting with an acclaimed pastry chef.

Even if you already have a love for chocolate, you are guaranteed to leave with a deeper appreciation of this one-of-a-kind experience. The tour company also hosts an on-going series of chocolate workshops designed as a hands-on introduction to the world of chocolate making.

DC’s Best Indie at The Black Cat

Kings of Leon. Death Cab. The Strokes. ThePicture 13 Black Cat’s mission is to bring D.C. locals and visitors the best in live independent music and it’s been succeeding since its opening in 1993.  Located in the famous U Street Corridor, the club has served as a staple in Washington DC’s alternative music scene and draws large crowds with its live bands and DJ sets.

Nightly, The Black Cat hosts bands on the local, national, and international levels. Major names include Arcade Fire, Beck, Andrew WK, Korn, Moby, The Killers, Jamiroqui, Foo Fighters, and the list could continue all night. With its cool atmosphere and even cooler bands, The Black Cat is always on the forefront of alternative, independent music.

Channel Mobster Untouchables Johnny Depp-err Dillinger in Chi-Town

Long before Johnny Depp portrayed bad-boy gangster, John Dillinger in Public Enemies, Picture 17visitors to Chicago have always been enthralled with the gangster and mob history of the Windy City. After all, here’s a place where you can take in jazz music sitting in Capone‘s favorite old booth or where restaurant genius Jerry Kleiner’s attempt to open a new restaurant on the south side had him discovering hidden passageways and making speakeasys. Outside the movie theater where Dillinger, so perfectly played by Depp, was taken down, there are still plenty of bullet holes over which to ponder.

Alas, The Untouchables Tour is the tour for you if mob and gangster history is your fancy. Promising  motto, “it was a blast” is supposed to evoke a double entendre.

With insight into the Windy City’s politicians, the secrets of the mob masters and secrets of life during prohibition, this tour is a fun favorite for both Chi-town locals and tourists alike. Bullet proof vests, not included.

Love is in the Air at the Spa at Trump

In need of a little polishing up? The Spa at Trump is the answer. Quickly becoming the hotspot for Chicagoans to escape for an hour, or even a day at times, its popularity can be attributed to its rockstar service. Many times guests are so impressed, they extend their spa day into an overnight stay in one of the 53 spa guest suites.

Immediately upon stepping in the door, guests are tended to Picture 8by a personal “Spa Attache.” For those overwhelmed by the indulgent choices on the menu of services (which even includes candlelight yoga classes), leave it to the Attache to help you decide. If it’s skin care you crave, let the celeb fave Kate Sommerville Skin Care line and the estheticians soothe you. A favorite of Jessica Alba, Freida Pinto, Molly Sims and Debra Messing, a skin treatment with this stuff will leave you feeling like a celebrity yourself.

Those desiring a little romance get it- and then some- with the couples treatments. Couples can bathe side by side in a rich Andalusian milk bath as they do in Spain, lather up with gemstone infused oils and unwind with “diamond massage oils” or  “sapphire gemstone oils” during their massage. To keep that warm feeling, a glass of Spanish wine is also included. If bubbly is more your fancy, The Spa at Trump also serves Champagne, music, and aphrodisiacs for those who wish for it, and aromatherapy and blanket wraps to truly escape from reality.

Drama Queens and Kings Flock to Philadelphia Theatre Company

Picture 5The Philadelphia Theatre Company’s performance season is always filled with the best of the best; whether it’s a world premiere, an off-Broadway smash, or a Tony award winner, when PTC productions are coming to town the whole city is buzzing.

PTC was founded in 1974 and has been dedicated to presenting world premieres of major works by contemporary American playwrights, which is quite a feat considering the enormously wide range that is American Theatre! PTC productions take place at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on the Avenue of the Arts. The 365-seat theater was renovated in 2008, providing the perks of a modern venue (like generous leg room) in an intimate viewing space.

To go, or not to go? Not even a question! With new shows happening every month, there’s no reason not to visit Suzanne Roberts Theatre for a Philadelphia Theatre Company production.

Pandora’s Got Nothing on The Box

What’s in ThPicture 11e Box? Most people can’t get into it, but those who have, don’t even know what to say. The Box is incredible nightlife decadence and over the top sexuality that is unique- and shocking- even to this City that’s seen it all. One part Folies Bergere theater (complete with barely clothed dancers) and one part super trendy nightclub, The Box is still one of the hottest doors to get into, eventhough it’s a few years old.

The Box is shaped like a theater, complete with round tables and a second floor balcony (a.k.a. the VIP section). Starting at 1:30 every night, three “interesting” shows perform on stage in hour intervals, with each one getting naughtier and raunchier. The MC (the most famous one being Raven O) kicks the sharp-witted stage shows that are all about finding social commentary through nudity, sexuality and even faux murders. Featuring what could be circus stars (if they weren’t always nude), the acts go from crazy robotic dancers to knife wielding throwers to up and coming singers, but they are most always, always very risque performances.

Needless to say, reservations, and a very large pocketbook, are needed to get into this place that would make Sin City blush.

White Rock’s Where You Can Do Everything or Nothing At All

Ah, the great outdoors. White Rock Lake is a Dallas landmark that brings people from all walks of life together for one common passion: outdoor beauty. A nearly ten mile hiking and biking trail provides runners, walkers and roller bladers a scenic route around the lake. The Audubon SocietPicture 27y has a specific bird watching area and wetlands site, and the picnic areas have ample space for a large BBQ or family reunion. If you love to fish, there are designated piers for catfish, sunfish and bass fishing where you can cast away.

Special events like the Rock Marathon, the White Rock Lake Trash Bash, and several others take place throughout the year, giving Dallas residents a chance to gather together and soak in rustic beauty amidst the surrounding concrete jungle.

In the Swim at Sushi Den

Picture 7Attention, fishheads! It may be land-locked, but Sushi Den can swim with the best of ’em. That’s because owners Yasu and Toshi Kizaki have been in the business for 25 years and counting, importing seafood from Japan to the United States and turning out some of the best nigiri, sashimi, and maki in town.

The ambiance is chic yet casual, luring dates and families alike—a lot of them: since reservations are only accepted for parties of five or more on weeknights, the crowd is constantly spilling out on to the sidewalk, day and night, enduring 90-minute waits for a taste of the action. But when you finally get in, your every fish wish will be granted, from all the usual suspects like maguro and unagi to the excellent Rocky Mountain Roll with smoked trout and the famous broiled miso cod.

Touring the Romantic Way: 76 Carriage Company

Picture 92Visitors of Philadelphia can see all the sites through the Philadelphia Trolley Works and the 76 Carriage Company, but for those looking to get away from the tourists and for a more private- and romantic- trip, try the latter with old-fashioned carriage rides.  Tours are written and delivered by real Philadelphians, so you get the entire local flavor.  See the Museum District, the Liberty Bell, Old City, Society Hill, Avenue of the Arts, Antique Row, Chinatown, the PA Convention Center, South Street, Penn’s Landing and much, much more in the Victorian style trolleys. Your Philadelphia pass is good all day long. You can get on and off as many times as you choose at any of the conveniently located stops.

Jean Georges Always Gold for Restaurant Critic Frank Bruni

There’s only one restaurant in New York City where you’ll never hear a bad word from former New York Times Restaurant Critic Frank Bruni; it’s Jean Georges. This celebrity chef has made a name for himself with star-studded favorites Spice Market and Mercer Kitchen, but his self-titled Jean Georges is the creme de la creme of his culinary empire.

“In my job I get a lot of calls and emails saying, ‘Well you know I had heard that X restaurant was great’ or ‘you had said that Y restaurant was great,'” Frank Bruni said to citybuzz of his tenure at the New York Times. “So I get a lot of complaints, and a lot of feedback that’s positive as well, and that’s a restaurant, Jean Georges, that I almost never, ever field a complaint about.” Picture 13

These are words that every chef would like to hear, especially since it’s a commentary from not only one of the most respected food critics in the business, but also of the overwhelmingly happy clientele at Jean Georges.

What makes this place so great? The four star restaurant prepares every meal to perfection, and that is not a cliche here. Every dish steals the show from perfectly seasoned scallops to signature dishes like the checkerboard hamachi and yellowfin tun and roasted squab with a corn pancake and an elegant splash of foie gras. The Trump Hotel restaurant (Hey, if it passed The Donald’s seal of approval, you know it must be incredible) has cleaned up nearly every award in the book: 4 Stars from the Times, 3 Michelen Stars (one of only four NYC restaurants with that Michelen rating), and chef Jean Georges Vongerichten has won 2 James Beard awards for this restaurant alone.

Or, as Frank Bruni simply put it, “Among food lovers who go to the city’s four star restaurants, I think Jean-Georges in the Trump Hotel in Columbus Circle is a restaurant that almost never disappoints.”

*** Frank Bruni is the former restaurant critic for The New York Times and is now working for the Times Magazine. Bruni is also a best-selling author, with works including the politically themed Ambling Into History and his recent memoir Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater.

Rooftop Romance at the Gramercy Park Hotel Roof Club

Rooftop real estate is the hottest commodity in New York during the summer, but few places keep the same prestige and popularity in the winter. The Gramercy Park Hotel’s Private Roof Club is the exception to the rule. By closing the retractable rooftop and turning the air conditioners to heaters, the ivy laced and dimly lit trendy summer hotspot becomes a cozy winter, well, hotspot.

Picture 20The Sophia Room epitomizes the warm romance that makes this rooftop so unique from other penthouse locations. The ceiling is actually an art piece, with 17,000 lightbulbs hanging on the wall, and the rest of the room includes two real (and very pricey) Damien Hirsts, two large, chocolate leather couches and one crackling fireplace. The “outdoor” terrace is lit with candles and beautifully placed hanging lights with overgrown trees and flowers separating each couch, making it feel private and quiet for each party. And the view, no matter what the season, is always exceptional with Empire, Chrysler and Union Square skyline views.

A favorite for the A-list guests who stay at the hotel, and New York elite, famous clientele include Eva Mendes, Sienna Miller, Ashely Olsen, Helena Christensen and socialite Olivia Palermo- before she was on The City. The signature martinis are made with the freshest ingredients and are seriously tasty. The rooftop also has a perfect lounge menu, prepared by the chefs from Danny Meyer’s prestigious Union Square Hospitality Group.

The Private Roof Club lives up to its name, because technically it is private to all non-hotel guests. But, by calling ahead, the key-only entrance can be opened to you.

Laugh It Off at Addison’s The Improv

Picture 4During tough times, nothing chases away the blues like a good, solid belly laugh. The Addison Comedy Club (also known as The Improv,) has been an Addison staple for several years for good reason: big name acts and surprisingly good amateurs. Headliners like Pauly Shore, Comedy Central’s Carlos Mencia and Tommy Davidson draw large crowds, while newbies get a chance at their big break. This is a great place for bachelor/bachelorette parties, date night, or a low-key night out with friends who have funny bones.

As with most improv comedy clubs, drinks can be a bit pricey and the food won’t win any awards, but the laughs are what really take center stage and keep the place packed week after week.

Don’t Break Up Over Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse

Yes, it’s true that there are several Smith & Wollensky Steakhouses throughout the US, but only one can claim fame for hosting Jennifer Aniston and hometown Chi-guy Vince Vaughn in the mega-hit The Break-up in 2006 (the restaurant is definitely recognizable in its break-out role).

With its killer views Picture 13and location in “Marina City,” Chicago’s Smith & Wollensky is proudly perched above the Chicago River in the heart of the city and surrounded by big players like Hotel Sax and the House of Blues. Smith & Wollensky is the ultimate place for a date, a steak, and/or just a glass of red.

The original location in NYC opened its doors back in ’77 and was the brainchild of the same guy who brought us T.G.I. Friday’s. But fear not, none of the cheesiness can be found in this venture. Instead, its all about the upper echelon of steaks with The Chicago Tribune’s food critic calling it “perhaps the best sirloin of my life.” The classic interior design of dark wood, shining brass, polished wood floors and iconic Chicago views is icing on the, er, steak.

Come once and you’ll come again – with or without the person you originally came with.

Aricie Lingerie’s International For Sexy

Although VaPicture 10lentine’s Day comes once a year, Aricie Lingerie has been adorning women with sexy undergarments everyday since 1982. With most of the merchandise coming from Europe, you’ll find fabulous French designs from Aubade, Chantelle, Rien, and Nina Ricci, and invigorating Italian trends from R. Crescentini, Parah and Valery.

Half the fun in shopping at Aricie is pretending you’re fluent in a romance language, with designs like Fleurs de pommier Demi Bras and Signora di Quadri G-Strings. You’ll look so good in Aricie’s collections, your partner won’t care what you say when you get home!  Of course, for that extra boost at work, you’ll feel confident knowing what’s underneath that stiff professional exterior. So, skip the chocolates and clichéd Victoria’s Secret black lace and get something you’ll feel gorgeous in all year.

Parx Casino: New and Xclusive

Parx Casino just opened outside of Philadelphia and showcases the futuristic side of gambling, replacing traditional tables with e-tables for all your favorite games.Picture 12

Parx is a meld of the City of Brotherly Love and classic casino. For events, it showcases local celebrities like famous radio host Jerry Blavat and up and coming DJs.

Parx also houses one of Philly’s favorite restaurants Chickies & Petes (crab fries, please!). C&P’s who just upped the anty on fun by allowing guests to reserve private rooms in the restaurant for groups to partake in play2, the “interactive sports bar.” Private rooms are stocked with your favorite video games for xbox, Wii and more so you can play, watch the game, and feel right at home.

From high rollers who get access to an “xclusive” gaming area to the bachelor/bachelorette destination you’ve been looking for, Parx covers the gamut for the area’s hottest casino. If you’re not into the 3,300 slots of gambling, head over to 360 – Parx’s club that features DJs, live entertainment, dancing, drinking and other shenanigans.

Enclave Encapsulates all the Beautiful People

Wondering where all the beautiful people are? Look no further, they’re at “Best of Citysearch Nightlife Winner,” Enclave. The who’s who of Chicago- and everywhere else- has been/performed here: Lady GaGa, Brody Jenner, Akon, Carmen Electra, Betsey Johnson, Holly Madison, and Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, to namePicture 10 a few.

Here, it’s all about bottle service. They’ve got anything you want, as long as it’s upscale. Whether it’s magnums of champagne (the real stuff only) or the hot, new, trendy vodka (Grey Goose or Effen), it all comes with fresh flowers and carafes of juice.

House and hip hop beats penetrate with an array of different hot DJs on the weekends and plenty of events to keep the year rolling; from football parties for Northwestern to Lady GaGa mixing it up with the locals. The two-story, 15,000 square foot space has chic, shiny wood floors, beautiful sofas and intimate-inspiring sheer curtains.

With never-ending A-List events and a hot, young, Chicago crowd, Enclave is the place to be for some serious partying in Chi-town.

Fall In Love with Art & Jewelry at Velvet da Vinci

Art has most of us seeireneebevan3webng inspiration in its pure form.  At Nob Hill’s favorite art-jewelry gallery, Velvet da Vinci, all you’ll see is too many pieces to fit in your box.  The lofty and warm space introduces San Francisco to the most unique pieces in modern art available, such as last June’s Jane Adam Jewelry exhibition.  With current pieces like Renee Bevan’s Rose Petal Lei, you may find something special just in time for Valentine’s Day or a special anniversary.  And with 10-12 exhibitions a year, you’ll have monthly supply of fresh pieces for your home and heart.

Since 1991, Velvet da Vinci has featured craft artists from the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Japan.  The regular exhibitions of artisanal jewelry, sculpture and metalwork are popular amongst collectors, museum curators and jewelry enthusiasts. With each unique piece up for grabs, this popular jewelry museum is a must-stop for everyday shoppers.  With only the cream of the crop in contemporary art and sculpture, it’s hard for anyone appreciative of beauty to walk out empty handed.

Brunching Paradise at Sabrina’s Cafe

When you wake up on the weekend and know that the only cure to your wretched margarita-beer-kamikaze-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink hangover is a belly-bursting brunch, Sabrina’s Café will be calling your name. Sabrina’s is located just outside of the Italian Market and offers all the classic comfort food of an all-star brunch menu. The weekly specials are always themed (recently it featured Jersey Shore selections like the “Self Tanner” Mexi Special and the “Situation” burger), which makes it even harder to choose from the already stellar menu.

Tried and true favorites, liPicture 15ke the caramelized Challah french toast, stuffed with cream cheese and bananas topped with vanilla bean maple syrup (say what?!), and the “Barking Chihuahua Breakfast Burrito” rolled up with scrambled eggs, black beans, red peppers, and pepper jack cheese (yo quiero!), will send you full and happy to your post-brunch coma…I mean nap. Shuffle on into Sabrina’s in your Sunday sweatpants and that sweater you swore you’d never step out of the house in, because it’s time to hit that sweet, salty, greasy breakfast goodness.

Insider’s Tip: The lines get long and the wait can be too, so be on the safe side and call ahead, they’ll add your name to the list before you get there!

Frederick Takes Hollywood to the Bedroom

Move over Fredericks PicVictoria; Frederick isn’t afraid to spill the secret about where to find the best lingerie at affordable prices. Unlike other lingerie shops, Fredericks of Hollywood is bringing flare back into the bedroom without breaking the bank. With cute corsets and matching lingerie pieces, it’s no wonder everyone is calling out for Frederick.

Found all over Los Angeles, whether in malls or on busy streets, people go crazy for what the store will offer next, from matching Valentine’s Day sets to their unbelievable sale items. And in true Hollywood form, they wouldn’t dare forget to sell matching shoes and accessories to go along with your lingerie set. The next time you are in the mood for a little glam in the bedroom, the only way to go is to go Hollywood.

All the City’s a Stage at the Curious Theatre Company

There are comPicture 7munity theaters, and then there are professional theaters that deeply engage their community. The Curious Theatre proudly falls in the latter category, often staging works by Denver-area scribes.

The company also offers annual playwriting workshops for young talent and hosts a unique fundraiser called Denver Stories—a gala performance of four plays, each inspired and co-written by some of the city’s most illustrious residents, from political figures like Governor Bill Ritter to sports heroes such as former Broncos star Reggie Rivers.

True to the notion that the personal is the political, it tends toward edgy, socially conscious productions that have won over many a local critic: Curious (as it’s known) has won the Denver Post’s Ovation Award for Best Year by a Company five years in a row!

ODC Takes the Artistry of Dance to Another Level

If the images of elegant ballerinas or hip-hop DWTS contestants come to mind when you think of dance performances, ODC Dance Company will blow your mind. Since the beginning, it has pushed the envelope of avant-garde dance, meaning the choreography, music, and narratives are completely out of the box and original.

But it’s not all creativity without meaning here, ODC has a commitment to maintaining interesting story lines (something not all avant-garde performances do) and outstanding technique. The company has been widely recognized for its fusion of modern techniques and ballet, as well as star-studded collaborations with actors like Robin Williams and visual artists like Eleanor Coppola.

ODC Dance Company proves that West Coast dance is as innovative and technically accomplished as any traditional East Coast company.

Once you [Absolute] POP! the Fun Don’t Stop

Picture 11Warhol lovers look no further, because Absolute POP! is the mecca you’ve been looking for for all of your pop art needs. The shop is bursting with vibrant colors and patterns, making it a great stop when visiting Philly’s Midtown Village. Absolute POP!’s two main goals are to be the “go-to” place for affordable decorative art and, to make sure you have great gift options for everyone on your shopping list, both of which they are succeeding.

Absolute POP! sells a huge variety of “art blocks,” glicee prints set in frames that are made from sustainable hardwood grown in North American forests, as well as other art, like tin signs and fine photograph prints. For a unique gift or souvenir, pick up a photo print from the “Absolute Philadelphia” collection, which features quirky architecture and iconic Philly monuments from around town.

Posh and Pet Friendly Palomar

Hotel Palomar is everything you would expect from a swanky Dallas hotel: upscale and contemporary decor, a wine hour for guests in the early evening and a nationally recognized restaurant (Central 214) to enjoy a delicious meal. What you might not expect is that the Palomar is pet friendly, with no size restrictions or pet deposit needed. AniPicture 11mal lovers who live in town, or visitors passing through, can enjoy all the upscale hotel amenities with the added benefit of bringing along their four-legged friends.

Other complimentary perks at Palomar include your choice of morning newspaper and overnight shoeshine, Nintendo on all televisions, L’Occitane bath amenities and iHome docking stations so you can listen to your favorite tunes. You won’t want to miss the fitness center and heated outdoor infinity pool. If you need a little extra motivation, the Exhale Spa will be glad to send over a personal trainer or nutritionist for an extra fee.

No bones about it, Hotel Palomar will have both you and man’s best friend living in the lap of luxury.

On the Road Redux: The Beat Poetry Driving Tour

It won’t come as aPicture 14 surprise to fans of Kerouac, Cassady, Ginsberg, and Burroughs that the Beat Poetry Driving Tour isn’t officially instituted; like the mid-century literary movement itself, it’s DIY. But since Denver (along with Boulder) was a temporary or permanent home to many of the Beats’ brightest lights, the city government has created a thoroughly engaging webguide to all the signficant sites in their lives, from parks and baseball diamonds to Larimer Square (Skid Row in Kerouac’s day, it now boasts some of Denver’s best dining and shopping).

Quick tip: save Stop 2, The Colburn Hotel, for the end of your tour so you can wind down with a drink at historic piano bar Charlie Brown’s.

Rose Bowl’s Year-Round Fabulous Flea Market Finds

For fashionistas and thrifty shoppers, the Rose Bowl is not a famous collPicture 4ege game. Though you’ve probably been there to see a concert or watch a live band, once a month the Rose Bowl turns into a plethora of sellers eagerly marking down prices on all of their things. If you are one of those people who think flea markets are for hippies and grandparents, you clearly haven’t seen this one.

From vintage gowns to silk scarves, you can pretty much find anything you want at this flea market. Buried under vintage t-shirts and old records can be designer bags at discount prices. With hundreds and hundreds of sellers, the Rose Bowl flea market is an all day affair. This flea market is truly the best in Los Angeles, but it only comes once a month so make sure to consistently check the schedule on their website to ensure you never miss a month!

Chic France Meets Exotic Vietnam Nights at Le Colonial

For San Francisco’s diverse crowd, there’s nothing better than a nightclub that fuses culture as well as it mixes drinks.  At Le Colonial in Union Square, romantic France meets Picture 12exotic Vietnam.  As evenings go in this city, rarely sticking to the conventional, you’ll fall in love even as you enter from an alley that sparkles with fairy lights and soft neon signs.  Relax in the palm and glass-canopied veranda while you wait for your party, or head inside to the downstairs lounge and order yourself an Emerald Buddha: Ciroc Vodka, House Lemongrass sour, and Barritt’s ginger beer on the rocks.

Le Colonial presents local DJ’s on Friday nights and the very popular Lotus Party on Saturdays.  Spinning remixes from every generation until 2am with a “for the classy and chic only” dress code, there are no excuse to be a wallflower.

The Nation’s One and Only Fabric Workshop and Museum

To say that The Fabric Workshop and Museum is one-of-a-kind is an understatement – there is no other museum in the nation of its kind! This is not a textile museum, it’s shocking and thought-provoking with pieces like “Entrails Carpet” and “Restless Nights/Atomic Shroud.” The FWM’s main goal is to show “design excellence in everyday objects,” anPicture 5d by transforming everyday textiles and objects, like carpets and beds, into channels for social commentary, it pushes contemporary art to another level.

The list of artists represented in the permanent gallery is lengthy, ensuring that you will see a variety of distinctive and creative pieces. Many of these artists also have items available exclusively in the Museum Shop, like canvas bags, scarves, napkins, ties, pillows, umbrellas, and t-shirts.

With an appointment, you can visit the construction and print studios, where you’ll see exhibitions of contemporary art, video programs, pieces from the FWM permanent collections and works in progress.

Get a Taste of “Art in Motion” at the Hotel Palomar

Looking for comfy accommodations with a little something extra? Marked by the theme “Art in Motion,” DC’s Hotel Palomar prides itself on its unique partnership with the Smithsonian and the Phillips Collection – national institutions marked by their artistic prestige. The boutique hotel, part of the well-known Kimpton group, pairs modern accommodations with a bit of avant-garde panache – perfect for the out-of-town guest looking to see the trendier side of the District.

hotelpalomar2From the oversized modern art in the striking two-story lobby, to the attentive staff trained in graceful service by the Washington Ballet itself(!), the Hotel Palomar exudes creative touches that seek to intrigue and inspire guests from the moment they enter, to long after they have returned home.

With nearly 350 rooms inspired by 1930s French Moderne design aesthetic, the four star hotel boasts some of the roomiest accommodations in the city as well as a variety of appealing amenities.  The hotel showcases a 40-foot heated outdoor pool (open seasonally) that serves lunch daily, as guests lounge in trendy cabanas.  Additionally, guests can utilize the well-equipped fitness center, in-room spa services and nightly, complimentary wine receptions (known to host creative speakers and guest artists).

Insider Tip: For those who can’t bare to part with their favorite companions, not to worry!  The Hotel Palomar is a pet friendly hotel (free of charge) with a variety of amenities geared toward all types of furry friends.  Grab a glass of wine at the evening reception while your pup relaxes at The Dish, the nearby pet lounge, complete with tasty treats!

Mix-and-Match Moxie at Babareeba

Carrying a mix of nPicture 22ew and vintage threads, Babareeba! Then & Now is a comfy, welcome departure from the super-trendy, spendy boutiques of Highlands Square.

Owner Jerilyn Berardi is a stickler for mint condition pieces, be they designer pumps, faux fur and leather jackets circa 1973, or insane vintage gems—but she’s also got an eye for combining her finds with the duds of today. Head downstairs to check out the one-of-a-kind lingerie, charmingly displayed amid boudoir-style décor.

From Jackie O-style suits to designer gowns, Babareeba! maintains your flair—retro or cutting-edge—at prices that are more than fair.

No Boundaries in Miami Light Project’s Contemporary World

Picture 20There are no boundaries or limits when it comes to exploring the contemporary performance world, at least not for the Miami Light Project, who has spent the last two decades perfecting their craft and becoming Miami’s premier contemporary art forum. Searching for the most innovative form of expression in live performance, MLP is a place to discover groundbreaking local and global artists in music, dance and theatre.

The Miami Light Project taps into the beat of the city by offering hip hop acts and world music groups. The annual Here & Now Festival is a great place to see up and coming fresh acts, but don’t sweat it, there are special events year-round. Performances are at venues around the city, but mainly on South Beach and Downtown Miami.

Surin of Thailand: Atlanta’s Asian Persuasion

Want an alternative to the neighborhood Chinese buffet? Not quite adventurous to try the downtown Sushi bar? Then take a short drive to Virginia highlands for Surin of Thailand. Tucked away on the outskirts of the Atlanta skyline is this cozy dining hotspot that’s a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

Picture 11Upon entering this intimate dining chalet, guests are greeted by a fragrant floral bouquet, giving the room not only a feeling of Asian paradise, but that of being at home. The long tables are meant for family style dining, perfect for dinner parties or family outings. There are also private tables for special occasions or simply a romantic dinner for two.

Patrons enjoy a wide range of Thai cuisine including Roasted Duck with Red Curry, Crab Angels and a variety of Stir Fry options. All, of course, can be paired with a glass of delectable Plum wine.

Breathtaking Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods is a beautiful park that lives up to its naPicture 12me: think breathtaking views of 300 spectacular sandstone formations against a clear blue sky and snow capped mountains. The Garden of the Gods is so incredible it is a registered National Natural Landmark and is the most visited attraction in the region.

For the adventurous, this free park offers a plethora of activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking or horseback riding. There are always many special activities or simple guided tours that cater to each level of fitness or serenity.

When you’ve run out of energy, the glassed Pikes Peak cafe always you to replenish on delicious dishes, while taking in the incredible views from another level.

The Viceroy Hotel’s Bold Biscayne Bay Statement

The importance of making a statement is evident at first glance of the Viceroy Miami. Bold statement pieces, like massive, Dali-esque face sculptures, greet both arriving guests and people driving along posh Brickell Avenue. The Viceroy is a unique boutique hotel situated in the heart of the Biscayne Bay- and takes full advantage of its prime location with fabulous amenities.

Picture 23There’s rooftop partying and dining on the 50th floor’s aptly named Club 50, which wraps around the hotel’s pool and where deejays play the hottest tracks during happy hour and for the night owls. The 28,000-square-foot spa bathes guests in relaxation and luxury with a floating library, reflecting pond, hot and cold plunge pools and floor to ceiling windows showcasing dramatic bay views as far as the eye can see.

The Viceroy Hotel is as unique, luxurious and bold as its decorative pieces.

It’s Modern Charm at the Inn on Castro

The Inn on Castro may be Edwardian charm on the outside, but it’s all modern design inside – reiterating what it means to not judge a book by its cover.  This guest home has 8 bedrooms (and yes, 8 private bathrooms!) that give youPicture 19 a comfortable mix of modern eclectic décor with old-fashioned service.  Each room is decorated with original artwork and adorned every morning with fresh exotic flowers.  Enjoy a locally famous homemade breakfast in the morning, and brandy in the warm Italian style living room for your evening, complements of your host.  There are also three self-catering apartments available off site for those who want to fully be a part of the Castro community.

Located in the heart of the lively Castro District, at Castro and Market intersections, you are immediately immersed in everything this vibrant part of town has to offer: boutique shopping, modern bars, local and friendly restaurants, and four types of public transportation to help you with your sightseeing.  In this part of town, you will never be bored and nothing will ever be out of reach.

Small on Size, Big on Surprise: Denver’s Downtown Aquarium

If you can get past the unsettling fact that it’s owned by a giant restaurant chain—and operates its own seafood eatery in full view of the tanks—you’ll discover that the Downtown Aquarium contains many otherPicture 17, far more pleasant surprises.

Aside from all the tropical fish, sharks, eels, otters, and turtles you’d expect, there are also stingrays in a petting tank, birds, reptiles, and, of all incongruous but exciting things, a tiger exhibit.

Best of all, due to its relatively late hours (not to mention its cocktail lounge), it’s the setting of many a quirky date night long past the kiddies’ bedtime.

Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss Georgetown’s Secret Wink

Need a littlwinke lift in the wardrobe department?  Find the perfect fix at Wink, a little piece of fashion heaven on popular M Street in Georgetown.  The chic boutique has a feminine vibe with a bit of edge, featuring a variety of designers including DVF, Trina Turk, Black Halo and Ella Moss.

A small shop with a big selection, Wink offers everything from trendy blazers with studded cuffs to upscale cocktail dresses, perfect for that next Washingtonian affair.  The boutique is definitely a go-to for DC fashionistas, as well as out-of-town celebs (Amy Adams stopped in while filming in the District).

On your way there, be sure not to blink!  Wink is located beneath the street level shops, so it’s easy to miss.  The trendy window display marks the spot, so go pick-up your next perfect piece and don’t be surprised if you get a few more winks! Visit for more information.

1200 Reasons to Visit Bar 1200

If you’re in the mood for celebrity spotting, but are completely over the typical L.A. scene, look no further than Bar 1200 at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in West Hollywood. This plush and somewhat secluded bar can easily be passed when walking tsunset marquishrough the courtyard, which makes it the perfect place to spot a musician and/or rock star.

The bar features black and white photographs of familiar celebrity faces and provides the famous and the not so famous a place to grab a drink and lounge around. The popularity of this bar comes from the fact that it is a secluded hideaway from the hustle and bustle of Sunset Boulevard. It has a rock ‘n’ roll feel with a vast amount of seating to cozy up to in a booth or to hit the back patio.

If you are visiting Bar 1200 on a weekend, park across the street in the parking structure which will make it easier to find your car and provide less damage than an expensive valet charge.

1. Catch World Premieres at Indie Film Fest Feb. 2–8

Picture 7Surf ‘N Turf is typically what comes to mind when you think about Cali, but that’s not all the Golden State is famous for. Film fans from all over gather in San Francisco each February for the annual Indie Film Fest. With genres ranging from stop-motion and animated shorts to full-length feature films, the Indie Film Fest is all the rage, and its popularity grows each year.

This is the place to check out many world premieres of quality, artistic, and meaningful movies.  Catch Rodney Perkin’s Access Denied, a film about the weird and wacky, yet wonderful world of Public Access Television.  For animation fans, it would be a mistake to miss Chan-Chia Chang’s Pause Replay, a love story between a camera and a camcorder where the characteristics of the two machines are used to simulate the relationship of lovers.

As with any festival, there’s always a party. Don’t miss the 7th annual Big Lebowski Party on Friday where given the film’s reputation, you’re sure to find white Russians, mini bowling, beachside trampolines, and more.

1. Major Debuts at Chicago Auto Show Feb. 12-21

Picture 5The 109th presentation of the country’s biggest auto show transforms McCormick Place from a convention center to a dazzling showcase for automotive manufacturers from both near and far. Visitors can see every make and model, from Acuras to Volvos. An amazing array of concept cars will grace the exhibition space, from the much-anticipated debut of Fisker Automotive’s plug-in electric car, the Karma, to the sleek and powerful Ferrari 599XX.  Whether you’re interested in a new and efficient family car or a high-octane dream machine, the Chicago Auto Show delivers the goods.

1. Valentine’s Sweetheart Wine Trail Feb. 13-14

Picture 2Love is in the air, and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Nothing says I love you more than a glass of red wine, or, rather, gets you to say I love you.  Therefore Grapevine Wine Trail is proud to put together the perfect Valentine package for lovebirds.

Guide yourself and your sweetheart in three tasty samplings at each of 8 wineries. Come on an empty stomach, because hors d’oeuvres will be served as well. Each ticket includes a bottle of premium wine and a large wine glass so the romance and suds don’t stop when the trail winds home.

1. LA Times Travel & Adventure Show Feb. 13-14

Picture 12With scuba diving lessons, rock wall climbing, a zip line and adventure ropes course you may think you boarded a plane at LAX but you really just went to the LA Times Travel & Adventure Show. The 2010 show will feature 500 exhibitors, travel giveaways and appearances from travel gurus Rick Steves and Arthur and Pauline Frommer. Cultural performances will also take the Global Beat Stage where you can see the Lion Dance come alive.

The variety of travel destinations presented at the show is enough to peak the interest of any jetsetter and may just make you book your 2010 trip a little sooner.

1. The Super Bowl is Finally Here! Feb. 7

Picture 1Gear up to watch the New Orleans Saints go head-to-head with the Indianapolis Colts at the Super Bowl XLIV, the event of the year for the ultimate football fan. It’s the tenth time Miami has hosted the game and this year it will be in the newly name Sun Life Stadium.

More than a game, people all over the country will camp out… to their couches to watch this event, envious of the die-hard fans living it up in the Sunshine State. The weekend events includes Fan Jam on Friday featuring pop sensation Rihanna, an outdoor music festival on Saturday along with a fireworks spectacular, and, of course, gameday on Sunday. With hits like My Generation, Who Are You, and Magic Bus, UK band The Who promise an energy-filled performance when they take the stage at halftime.

Get ready as Drew Brees and the Saints square off with Peyton Manning and the Colts on Sunday, February 7.

1. Travel the World with The Boston Globe Travel Show Feb. 19-21

Picture 1It’s February in Boston, which means the joy- and color- of winter snow has turned to gray. That makes it the perfect time for The Boston Globe Travel Show, New England’s largest and most comprehensive travel show.

Not only is it great to peruse the aisles of more than 1,600 vendors in order to transport yourself to another, more exotic locale, The Boston Globe Travel Show has some practical benefits as well. There are show-only travel deals, giveaways, culinary stations featuring celebrity chefs and exotic foods, passport services (apply/renew), travel seminars with travel experts, and even cultural performances and entertainment to get inspired to escape to a new place.

1. Hottest Trends at DC Fashion Week Feb. 2-15

Times are changing, and with that, so does fashion. What better way to Picture 18keep up with the hottest trends than to attend one of the fastest growing fashion week exhibits in the world, DC Fashion Week. DC Fashion Week continues to reach more than 10 million viewers with each week. This eight-day event highlights fashion design as well as clothing merchandising and modeling. In its 12th season, the week brings some of the most cutting-edge fashion from across the globe to our nation’s capital, the center of International fashion. A plethora of designers will be featured from Nigeria to Colombia to Pakistan and even Italy.

Events will include fashion industry networking parties, an outdoor festival showcasing local designers, designer trunk shows, and an educational seminar. Don’t miss the chance to be the first to be fashion forward at DC Fashion Week.

1. Shuck ‘Em at OysterFest! Feb. 13, 20-21

Picture 3Each year, thousands of people gather to indulge in the legendary event known as Oysterfest. In the past, this has been a one-day event, but its popularity has grown so much that this year Oysterfest has split into two separate events a week apart from each other. For those who can’t make it to the Park Tavern for the mouth-watering fried and steamed oysters on Feb 13th, have no shame, for on the 20th, the Steamhouse Lounge is ready to serve up, hands-down, the best roasted oysters in town. Live music from local bands and DJs, ice cold beer, and brilliant cocktails, get your taste buds ready for the seafood event of the season!

1. Eat Up at Denver Restaurant Week Feb. 20-Mar. 5

Picture 6If you haven’t started fasting in preparation for restaurant week then you better get started. For two weeks, 225 participating restaurants will be serving almost 300,000 meals at the ridiculously low multi-course dinner price of $26.40 for one and $52.80 for two. The only thing that you need to worry about is how fast your fingers can dial to make reservations and how you are going to pack it all in. Some of the standout participants are Baur’s Ristorante, Restaurant Kevin Taylor and Q’s Restaurant.

2. Celebrate Buffalo Bill’s Birthday Feb. 20

Picture 7The king of Rodeo shows, Buffalo Bill, is celebrating his 164th birthday at the Buffalo Rose Events Center. Too bad he won’t be there to attend, but the crowd will be livin’ it up for him with live entertainment by RattleSnake Jake, historical displays and costume contests. The prize for best costume for Old West Male is $100, which can appropriately be spent on the open-fire grilled food served at the event. The bash has been running for 30 years and is presented by Golden’s Buffalo Bill Days.

2. Chicago’s Delicious Restaurant Week Feb. 19-28

Picture 6The Second City’s 3rd Annual Restaurant Week warms up natives and tourists alike with the chance to try both new and established fine dining spots for a fraction of the usual price.  Three-course prix-fixe lunches are $22.00 per person and dinners are $32.00.  Chicago’s participating chefs celebrate Restaurant Week by offering special dishes that push the boundaries of their culinary skills and styles. Spice up the week with everything from Asian to American cuisines, in over 160 of Chicago’s most amazing top-shelf restaurants.

2. Mardi Gras Texas Style Feb. 6

Picture 5You don’t have to be Catholic to know it’s once again the season for Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday will come and go, but if you can’t make it to New Orleans for this year’s event, don’t fret, it’s coming to you.

Texas really knows how to put on an all-out Mardi Gras event, complete with crawfish, king-cakes, and, of course, lots and lots of beads! There will be four stages jam packed with live country music stars for everyone to enjoy. This is an authentic style Mardi Gras event, so you may want to leave the kids at home. New Orleans may be famous for Mardi Gras, but, remember, everything’s bigger in Texas.

2. Out of the Box Venice Valentine Event Feb. 13-14

Picture 13Make your honey work for their Valentine’s Day gift this year at the Venice Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt organized by Out of the Box Events. You’ll challenge you and your partner’s mind and legs as your team of two bikes around Venice searching for clues. The hunt is specifically designed to get you to know your partner’s intellectual side. So if you’re with someone who is all brawns and no brains you’ll quickly find out, but if you compliment each other mentally you’ll have a chance to win a prize for the top 3 performing teams.

2. Petrolheads Unite at Philly Int’l Auto Show Feb. 1-7

What does Hugh Douglas of the Philadelphia Eagles, NBA legend Darryl Dawkins and every other male in the Philadelphia region have in common? That’s easy, they’ll all be at the Philadelphia International Auto Show. Despite the past challenging year for the auto industry, nearly every car manufacturer will be on display to show the public the newest rides. So you too can put aside your economic woes and revel in vehicle fantasyland.

DUB Magazine will also be there to Picture 26spice up the show with DUB Live!, a 35,000 square foot display of the juiciest customized vehicles and celebrity rides. Be sure to get a sneak peak of the 2011 concept vehicles including the Mazda2 and the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe. And don’t forget to wipe the drool off your face when you exit the building.

2. Val Kilmer Talks Upcoming Mark Twain Film Feb. 11

Picture 2This month the Mary Baker Eddy Library Centenary Series gets some Hollywood attention as the former Batman star Val Kilmer spills the secrets on his new Mark Twain/Mary Baker Eddy movie. Together with Mike Davis, library researcher, and Chet Manchester, who has written a screenplay on Eddy, Kilmer & Co. will discuss how these two literary geniuses were intertwined and influential in their time and today. It should be a great night of learning as well as getting some secret details on the upcoming major motion picture!

Don’t forget to call in advance for reservations, as space is limited.

2. The AFF’s Art & Games Feb. 4 – 6

Gamers unite at the three-day public symposium, The Art History of Games, designed specifically for them to gather and investigate games as an art form. Not until recently have games bePicture 4en perceived as an art form in conjunction with serving as entertainment, education, self-expression and so on. Art historians mouths will water as they experience first-hand the premiere of commissioned art games by Jason Rohrer, Tale of Tales and Nathalie Pozzi and Eric Zimmerman.

For example, on its surface the four player game Sixteen Tons, designed by Nathalie Pozzi and Eric Zimmerman, looks like a large-scale boardgame in which players move very heavy pieces around a four-by-four grid, trying to maneuver their pieces into a winning position, but the gameplay is complicated since players can pay each other with real money.

History in the making, this game convention is a must-see for anyone who studies, plays, or enjoys games. That list includes, basically, everyone!

2. Prestigious Purebreds at The Westminster Dog Show Feb. 15-16

Picture 19For the 134th year, The Westminster Kennel Annual Dog Show will crown the most desirable purebred dog as Best in Show. Known as the Superbowl of the dog world, this is a landmark event for all dog lovers as it is America’s oldest and most prestigious dog show.

A limited 2,500 champion-only dogs compete for the coveted prize and this year there are some brand new additions to the mix. Three new breeds have been allowed to compete for the first time: Irish Red and White Setter, Norwegian Buhund, and Pyrenean Shepherd.

Will the Sussex Spaniel “Stump” defend the title or will a pug or newbie Pyrenean Shepherd grab the first prize? The only way to find out is at the Garden for two days in Manhattan.

2. National Harbor Restaurant Week Feb. 15–28

Get your taste buds ready for National Harbor Restaurant Week. The 300-acre waterfront destination set along the Potomac River, near Washington DC, is aligned with some of the finest restaurants and is the prime location for a food festival. The restaurants prepare to serve Picture 19up 3-course fixed priced meals with international menu options ranging from Chinese to Mexican to Seafood and more.

You can enjoy the youthful, fun atmosphere of Ketchup while you munch on delicious Two stacked Texas BBQ Chicken breast with Ketchup’s famous PBR BBQ sauce. Or peruse the wine cave at Moon Bay while the masters prepare to serve up delectable mahi mahi roasted to perfection in a lemon-sage brown butter sauce.

There’s so much to choose from, you’ll need a week to savor the mouth-watering meals at National Harbor Restaurant Week.

2. SoBay Festival of the Arts Feb. 1-14

Created in 2006, the SoBPicture 2ay Festival of Arts is an annual celebration of the literary, performing and visual arts of the South Miami-Dade community, including a wide-range of events that appeal to different tastes.

Events will include the Greater Miami Youth Symphony Performance, an Eco-Art Project, and the Miami-Dade College Theatre Department presenting an evening of Vignette’s on the Estate, to name a few. Along with the Festival, Ancestral Journeys by Xavier Cortada, an installation exhibit that uses DNA to trace the ancestral journeys of the people living in Miami, will be on view the entire month of February. Pianist Johnny Rodgers will bring the festival to a close on February 14th at the Annual Moonlight and Music Jazz Concert.

3. The Large, Extravagant Chinese New Year Fest & Parade Feb. 6–28

Picture 11Having the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, it should come as no surprise San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade is one of the top ten parades in the world. As one of the few remaining night-illuminated parades in the country, the Chinese New Year Parade continues to entertain hundreds of thousands of people all over the U.S. each year. Gorgeous floats, lion dancers, extravagant costumes, acrobatics, ferocious lions, and exploding firecrackers, this elaborate parade has got it all – not to mention the newly crowned Miss Chinatown USA and her court.

The fun doesn’t stop there. There’s three weeks full of events for the Chinese New Year ranging from a flower fair to a basketball jamboree to the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant. Don’t miss the live music and a chance to get your name written in ancient Chinese calligraphy by an artisan at the street fair.

3. All Lights on Art at Kalamath Feb. 5

Picture 8On February 5 you’ll be able to see Kalamath Street from outer space. Ok, so that may be an exaggeration, but the street will definitely be brighter than normal as four different light companies located on Kalamath and 2nd will be presenting a light show consisting of both contemporary and fine art lighting.

Featured light companies Alan Duff, Mark Friday: On/Off @ Studio 12 Gallery, Image Complete, InterArchitectural Products are all part of the larger Arts District of Sante Fe that brings together 50 galleries, museums and theaters in the area with the mission to promote this unique cultural district. These companies will open your eyes to how perfect lighting can enhance your surroundings in both home and office.

After this you’ll see things in a completely different light…literally.

3. The 35th Annual Sci-Fi Film Festival Feb. 5-15

Picture 3This year the 35th Annual Sci-Fi Film Festival, Boston’s premiere event for everything alien and fantasy-oriented, is bigger than ever. Expanding to a full 10 days of films from all over the world, this film festival has gone a long way from the 24-hour film marathon it was at its creation. But, this 24-hour movie marathon, or ‘Thon as it’s called, is now a tradition during the festival starting on noon of the Sunday of President’s Day Holiday. The Sci-Fi Film Festival has everything from classics, cartoons, shlockers, and premieres- and more than likely, everything in between.

3. Kilts & Whiskey at Queen Mary Fest Feb. 13-14

Picture 14We all get excited about men in kilts, but a haggis-eating contest is really a sight to see at the Queen Mary Scottish Festival. A tribute to the heritage of Queen Mary, this festival will be rocking with music, crafts and highland dancing. The event commences Friday night with a Men of Worth concert and gets even more interesting at the Whiskey Tasting event Saturday evening. Those that want to show off their athletic chops can partake in the Tossing the Caber or the Sheep Herding competition. Saturday night closes with Plaidpalooza and the Los Angeles Scots Pipe Band taking center stage.

3. Strictly Sail at Miami Int’l Boat Show Feb. 11-15

Picture 3With more than 2,000 exhibitors, Miami puts on one of the largest boat shows in the world. More than just boats, the Miami International Boat Show includes seminars of all kinds, including a live concert and even a block party!

Try out the new chair fighting challenge, the mechanical bull of the fishing world, or head over to Strictly Sail at the Sea Isle Marina and go on a half-hour sail with the Discover Sailing skipper. This event’s so big it had to go on both land and sea.

3. Travel the World in a NY Minute at the NYT Travel Show Feb. 26-28

Picture 22Escape the brutal cold of New York City winter and head to the New York Times Travel Show in late February. This annual buzzed about event features 500 fabulous destinations across the globe as well as stage performances, travel seminars, as well as travel agents who can book trips on the spot. The New York Times has one of the most prestigious travel sections of any newspaper in the world and all your favorite journalists will be on hand to give seminars on where to go, what to do when you’re there, and other helpful hints and advice to make your next trip go from great to insanely amazing. On top of all the great information, there will be prizes and travel giveaways as well as travel deals for those who aren’t lucky to snag an entire trip for free!

3. Winter Beer Carnival Feb. 27

It’s February again and Atlanta residents are thirsty, but the Decatur Beer Festival is eight months away. Fear not, Premiere Events recognizes Atlanta’s desire for beer and is preparPicture 5ed to fulfill that craving with the first-ever Winter Beer Carnival.

Featuring more than 60 beers for sampling, this one-day event will have something to wet everyone’s pallet. Carnival games, food, DJs, and more, it’s bound to become an annual event. With a premium selection of matchless, rare beers, the Winter Beer Carnival will not leave anyone without their thirst quenched.

3. Get “Naked at the Art Museum” Feb. 13-14

Shake up this Valentine’s Day with something new, perhaps a scavenger hunt? This isn’t your typical hunt, searching for little treasures in plastic eggs with the kiddies on Easter, but sometPicture 20hing a little more mature. The American Art Museum has partnered with Watson Adventures to bring lovebirds something new this holiday: Naked at the Art Museum.

Browse the museum with your lover as you search for the naked and the naughty. Scrutinize a she-devil temptress, an Eve who’d get you to bite an apple, and a scatterbrained drinker, while you envy native men that have no need for a gym. Step into the National Portrait Gallery to learn the scandalous secrets of some past presidents and other famous Americans. You don’t have to be an art historian to enjoy this fantastical event.

3. Diddy Does Dallas for NBA All-Stars Feb. 21

Picture 6The NBA 2010 All-Star Game is being held in Dallas this year, and with that comes a weekend full of star-studded parties. But the party that everyone’s talking about is none other than Diddy Does Dallas: 5 different rooms with over 35 fully staffed bars, 10 of the nation’s best DJs, 3 VIP lounges, and close to 10,000 guests. Host Diddy is pulling out all the stops for this all-star red carpet event.

Famous for his White Parties at the Hamptons, Diddy says the top five ingredients for the perfect party are the people, music, amenities, food and drink, and lighting. With guest lists that include A-listers from presidents to Michael Jackson to David Beckham, he’s got to be doing something right. You’re going to want to look your best, people will be talking about this for years.

3. Celebrate Poland at Navy Pier Feb.28

Picture 7Witamy means “welcome” in Polish, and it’s a greeting extended to young and old alike to join in on a festival of Polish food, music, dance and more at Chicago’s Navy Pier.  This free, one-day event, generously supported by the Lira Ensemble and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland, offers a glimpse into Chicago’s rich Polish heritage and traditions — home to the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw. Enjoy performances, sample food (especially at the famous Kasia’s Deli booth), and explore the wealth of folk art, costumes and gifts available to all.

4. Little Five Points’ Mardi Gras! Feb. 14

Picture 5You don’t have to go to New Orleans to experience an all-out Mardi Gras event. With three fabulous events rolled into one, Little 5 Points pulls out all the stops at the annual one-day outdoor music and food festival.

The fun starts at 10am with the Half-Fast 5K Road Race, which runs through the historic neighborhood of Candler Park. Next, exercise your liver at several local bars for the Abita Pub Crawl. Finally, chill out with friends and listen to some great tunes while you munch on jambalaya, crawfish, and beans and rice. Spiced to perfection, your taste buds think you’re in the heart of New Orleans. There’s face Painting, live music, lots of beads, and more at the 3rd Annual Little Five Points Mardi Gras Fest.

4. Step Onboard the Love Train Feb. 14

The classic O’Jays song will be running through your head as you cozy-Picture 29up to your lover aboard the Love Train. This privately-chartered, guided L train tour visits the 50 love-themed rooftop murals that collectively make up the Love Letter. All along Market Street in West Philadelphia, the Love Letter features artistically designed messages expressing the love of a boy to a girl that will surely flavor your Valentine’s Day.

Following the tour, join the private reception held at SEPTA’s Grand Mezzanine where hors d’oeuvres and champagne will be served. The potent mixture of the murals and champagne will inspire whispered sweet nothings for a lover’s ear.

4. Lion Dancing & Firecrackers for the Chinese New Year Feb. 14

Picture 25It’s the year of Tiger in 2010, which means that it’s going to be fiery year. Start it of with the New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival- one of the few days a year you can legally set off firecrackers and rockets in Manhattan. Along with the amazing explosions will be lion dances, drumming, and giveaways/contests of traditional Chinese New Year items. After the Firecracker Ceremony, make sure to join in on the festival parade through the streets of Chinatown.

4. Flay & Ray at SoBe Wine & Food Fest Feb. 25-28

Picture 4Join your favorite Food Network stars for a fun-packed 4 days of cooking demonstrations, book signings, seminars, wine tastings and more! Take some pointers from celebrity chefs Paula Dean, Rachel Ray, and Bobby Flay, to name a few.

Typical to the Miami Beach lifestyle, it’s not all learning with no playing at these events. Get mischieveous on Friday at Mischieve, where artists, performers and dancers will set the scene. Cocktails will be served by beautiful agave girls whose drinks will replace all spirits with Hornitos, the 100% pure blue agave tequila.

Attend a sunset soiree on Saturday as fashionista Sandra Lee hosts the gala that’s fittingly held in the house where fashion was built, Casa Casuarina, the former home of Gianni Versace. Sip on fabulous cocktails while you enjoy savory hors’ devoures and mingle with Miami’s elite.

There’s so much more than just food at the Food Network’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

4. Crash a Dock Party at the Dallas Boat Show Feb. 5-14

The Dallas Boat Show is back and jam packed with more than 40 exhibits to bring you Party Barges, Yachts, Cabin Cruisers, Powerboats, Jetskis, and even inflatable boats! Sounds liPicture 9ke a trip to the Gulf and after 10 fun-filled days at this event you’ll want to make that trip.

Many events are planned throughout the week including: fishing, boat safety trivia, scavenger hunt, etc. For your entertainment, music artists Austin Allsup, Mike Ryan, and Stars Go Dim will be playing during the show and at the Dock Party at Lost Cove Bar.

Don’t miss the Dock Party on the 10th, when 13 restaurants will be added to the mix to bring you delicious food and wine, while special guest TV and Radio personality Brian Doty presents the live auction. There will be a silent auction as well. Children will be entertained and educated at Kids Cove. It’s more than just boats at the Dallas Boat Show.

4. Chocolate Lovers Festival Feb. 6-7

Picture 21Hey chocolate lovers! It’s time to indulge at the annual Chocolate Lovers Festival. Developed in 1992, the events at this festival completely revolve around chocolate, including the Taste of Chocolate, Chocolate Caper Mock Trial, and a pancake breakfast featuring chocolate chip pancakes. Join local artists in the Chocolate Challenge contest in creating works using chocolate as the medium. Be sure to pick up your own copy of the Chocolate Lovers Cookbook, you won’t want to leave without it!

4. Garfield Park Conservatory’s Sweet Saturdays Feb. 6 & 13

Picture 8For a modest $3 admission, visitors can learn how plants living at the Conservatory are the key ingredients in many scrumptious desserts. Bananas, vanilla beans, cinnamon bark, and chocolate trees abound, and Tropical Treat Stations throughout the Conservatory offer the opportunity to sample these natural sweets. Hands-on activity stations give both young and old the opportunity to make a variety of scented gifts and cards, and live music at the Tropical Café rounds out the day. Special guests on February 6 offer a honey-tasting event; on February 13, the special highlight is a vanilla-tasting presentation.

4. Colorado Garden and Home Show Feb. 13-21

Picture 10Over $116,000 worth of flowers, 400 tons of boulders and rocks, and 50 free educational seminars led by gardening and home improvement gurus is just some of what you’ll find at the Colorado Garden and Home Show. This prestigious show featuring 650 companies will fuel your imagination and give you confidence to implement home and garden improvements yourself.  The breathtaking garden displays will catch your eye and your nose with all their fragrances. And the best part is that about 2,000 cubic yards of recycled mulch will be used to make the gardens.

4. 111th Annual Golden Dragon Parade Feb. 20

Picture 16Firecrackers will be cracking, dragons will be dancing, and bands will be marching in celebration of the Year of the Tiger. The Chinese New Year marks an important date in the Asian calendar and thus is a cause for some serious festivities. For its 111th year, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles will host The Golden Dragon Parade. Drawing over 110,000 people, this festival is one of the biggest and most impressive. The plethora of colors that make up the exquisite floats alone is eye candy. Hopefully the innumerable dragons lining the street will help bring good luck for the New Year.

Make sure to get to the parade early to hold your spot.

4. World Premiere of Madame White Snake Opera Feb. 26-Mar 1

Picture 4Move over Madame Butterfly, there’s a new Asian heroine on the scene and this one is about to make a grand debut. Madame White Snake will premiere with the Boston Opera for a long weekend in February.

The opera is cross-cultural drama based on a Chinese legend; a powerful white snake demon transforms into a beautiful woman, Madame White Snake, in order to experience love. When she does falls in love and marries a man, consequences and betrayal threaten to break up the fairy tale romance.

Internationally renowned opera and theatre director Robert Woodruff will be returning to Boston to bring Bean-town this incredible drama.

4. Noise Pop’s All Things Indie Feb. 23 – Mar. 1

Picture 12February only comes once a year, but in San Fran, indie fests are a regular occurrence. A film festival, craft fair, and music conference all meshed into one, Noise Pop is the ultimate indie fest. In the past, this festival has brought exposure to emerging artists including the White Stripes, Death Cab for Cutie, The Flaming Lips, and more. With a reputation like this, it’s not a surprise bands from all over the country make themselves available to play at this festival. Music for any taste can be found here, from the folk sounds of Martha Wainwright to the traditional pop rock of Dear and the Headlights to the String Quartet that accompanies soloist Josh Ritter.

New to the festival this year, “The Art of Noise Pop – A Retrospective of Festival Posters, Photos and Design” featuring past photographs, posters, and art works by well-known artists will be on view. Of course, there will be films upon films upon films to view throughout the week. Gear up for the ultimate hipster fest: Noise Pop.

5. The Original: Miami Int’l Orchid Show Feb. 27- March 1

Picture 6Not to be confused with other orchid shows, the 64th Annual Miami International Orchid Show is the original. Now, it is the largest orchid show in the country and one of the most prestigious orchid shows in the world!

Kicking off the show will be the Premiere Party, unveiling the winners of not only the best orchid in show, but also the photography and art contests leading up to the event. The daily interactive demonstrations by world-renowned growers, juried awards competition, walking tours by knowledgeable Orchid Society members, and the sales of orchid-related art and collectibles are what really set this show apart. View the rare and exotic blooms from amateurs and professionals from around the world at the Miami International Orchid Show.

5. Battle of the Blues at ATL Blues Fest Feb. 6

The American Idol of the blues genre takes the stage on February 6th at the Atlanta Civic Center.

Watch as well-known, extremely talented blues singers such as Floyd Taylor anPicture 6d Thodis Ealey go head-to-head to be titled the best, and this time, the audience gets to decide. Known for her 1974 classic “Woman to Woman”, Shirley Brown goes up against Marvin Sease with his lady’s man image and explicit songs, as well as J Blackfoot who scored 15 hits on Billboard’s R ‘n’ B charts between 1968 and 1978. Mel Brown – who pulls hits like “Hit It and Quit It” out of his sleeve – rises to the challenge against B.B. King Achievement Award Winner Sir Charles Jones.

There’s a $10,000 prize, and only one man will be left standing. It’s a battle of the best, so sit on the edge of your seat as artists battle it out to be the Kris Allen of blues.

5. Mardi Gras Brazilian Style! Feb. 20

Picture 18It’s not fair that Brazilians get to have all the fun during Carnaval (the international equivalent to Mardi Gras) so Brazilian Nites Productions is allowing West Coasters to share in on the festivities. The 10th Annual Brazilian Carnaval brings an authentic representation of the Brazilian tradition to Club Nokia at LA Live. Over 3,000 people will pack the house with samba beats, costumes, and parading, making it the largest Carnaval on the West Coast. DJ Garth Trinidad, Trio Electrico and Caso do Samba will bring that Brazilian spirit to the dance floor.

5. Guilt-Free Wine & Chocolate Event Feb. 12

Picture is granting everyone a guilt-free Valentine’s Day this year at the Wine & Chocolate Event by promoting the health benefits of these devilish delights. Apparently it isn’t just love that strengthens the heart. promises an evening of romance with tastings of red wine and dark chocolate served up by Pennsylvania’s finest Chaddsford Winery premium wines and Prestige Chocolates handcrafted truffles. This will be a true celebration of heart month.

There will also be a special marketplace on location where you can purchase your favorites in larger quantities just in time for Valentine’s Day. Be sure to make reservations.

5. Special Tiger Celebration for Chinese New Year Feb. 21

Kung Fu demonstrations, lion dancers, elaborate costumes, Chinese dragons, gorgeous floats, and acrobatics are just a few things you would typically expect from the annual Chinese New Year Parade in D.C. But, this year the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce has something fresh and spectacular cooked up for the Lunar New Year.Picture 22

According to Chinese Legend, this year is the Year of the Tiger, and people born in it will be physically powerful, gracious, independent, brave, and extremely bold people who are instilled with a great dose of courage. As a result, they are capable to achieve great goals. In celebration of this special year, a 5-story high firecracker will be lit off during the parade at 3:45 pm. Also, more than 4,000 red good-luck charms will be spread among the crowd during the parade.

5. Westword Artopia Massive Block Party Feb. 20

Dave Chappelle’s block party has nothing on Westword Artopia 2010 five block party! With art, fashion, music and theater performances mixed with the very necessPicture 11ary food and drink, it will most definitely be a big soiree. This night of artistic celebration will feature the likes of Snake Rattle Rattle Snake, Flashbulb Fires and Flamenco Denver.

Artopia will span five top Denver venues including City Hall, Vinyl, Mo’s, Bar Standard and the Living Room. Check out the scene at anyone of these and see what tickles your fancy. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the event giving you access to over 20 music performances and 25 other attractions, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting a local charity. Not too shabby!

5. Have a Feast During NYC Restaurant Week Jan. 25-Feb. 7

Picture 24New York City is known for having one of the best culinary scenes in the world and Restaurant Week is a time for all New Yorkers to take advantage of the incredible talent without gasping at the bill. For just $24 for lunch and $35 for dinner, people can enjoy a gourmet three-course meal that has been put together by industry heavyweights like David Burke, Mario Batali, and Bobby Flay.

Some 200 restaurants participate in the two week long event including award winning restaurants like Tabla, Megu, Nobu, Rosa Mexicana, Spice Market, and the list goes on and on and on. Reservations begin on January 12th so make sure to book for the coveted restaurants early- and frequently!

5. “Love is in the Air” for Valentine’s Day Feb. 13

Picture 6Sure, this concert isn’t exactly on Valentine’s Day, but it will definitely set the mood for a romantic holiday. Love is in the Air is the aptly name title that features songs from Sondheim, Gershwin, and other incredibly romantic composers.

Together soprano Nancy Armstrong and baritone Robert Honeysucker sucker their audience into a daze of love and are accompanied by the lovely strings of baroque violinist Daniel Stepner and viola player Laura Jeppesen.

5. Poetic “No Love for Love” Valentine’s Day Show Feb. 7

Peter Sagal, host of the popular and extremely funny NPR show “Wait, Wait…Don’t TPicture 10ell Me,” will headline a cadre of performers who explore the ups and downs of romance and love via verse in Chicago Poetry Center’s 3rd Annual “No Love for Love” Valentine’s Day show.

Hosted by Jonathan Messinger, the event also features performances by Rosie Forrest, Edward Thomas-Herrera, Robbie Q. Telfer, and filmmaker Steve Delahoyde. A pre-show VIP reception (tickets $150 each) with Peter Sagal will offer attendees the chance to meet Peter and mingle with others while enjoying drinks, hors d’oeuvres and a private book signing. It’s a pre-Valentine’s Day valentine to the myriad faces and foibles of love.

5. All Texas Garden Show Feb. 26-28

Spring is right around the corner and it’s time to start planning for the breatPicture 11htaking flowerbed that will put the neighbors to shame! Sure, HGTV is handy, but how are you ever going to learn without getting your hands dirty? All Texas Garden Show is ready to give you just that, with seminars and how-to demonstrations by savvy gardeners, including expert horticulturist Neil Sperry.

With waterfall landscapes, flower and plant features, stone product, garden décor, paving systems, and water garden displays, this is the perfect place to get ideas for your landscaping. No gardener should miss this inspiring event.

5. Exotic Beauty at the Pacific Orchid Expo Feb. 26–28

Professional and amateur horticulturists in San Francisco and across the globe dream of showing off their most elaborate and exotic orchids at the Pacific Orchid Expo. The mission of the sponsors, the San Francisco Orchid Society, is to foster the cultivation of orchids and educate the public about them, and this expo is the perfect venue for that.

The expo is kicked oPicture 14ff with an opening gala, where guests can escape and enjoy an evening of beauty and fun. Admire glamorous orchids from over 50 national and international nurseries as they are put up for sale to raise money for the Helen Crocker Russell Horticulture Library and the Conservatory of Flowers. A portion of the money raised also goes as a scholarship to a special horticulture student at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Don’t miss the chance to observe some of the most stunning orchids in the world at the Pacific Orchid Expo.