Tag Archives: unique

Design for the Adventurous at Rare Device

Design savvy bay area shoppers know Rare Device as the place to get everything from nautical lore to laser-etching and everything inbetween.

Co-owners, and designers, Rena Tom and Lisa Congdon take pride in their handmade, beautifully crafted collection of zany wares that add panache to a humdrum home. Every object was hand picked specifically because of it’s unique story, it’s usefulness, and it’s position in the modern, quirky aesthetic of the shop.

Part shop, part gallery, Rare Device enjoys hosting traveling shows for many modern artists of today.

Simply put, Rare Device is good stuff for a good home.

Swim with Sharks at the Georgia Aquarium

Only one place can boast as the world’s largest aquarium and have a months-long waiting list for one of its exhibits- and that’s the Georgia Aquarium. Safe to say it’s one of Atlanta’s most popular destinations, pulling in millions of sightseers from around the world, and drawing even the likes of celebrities to its 550,000 square feet facility. It boasts a whopping eight million gallons of aquatic life, including over 100,000 exotic mammals from 500 different species.

Local visitors and tourists alike are overcome with wonder and excitement when exploring the scenic paths of more than 60 exhibits – with the main attraction being the Ocean Voyager. The Ocean Voyager exhibit houses thousands of fish including whale sharks, zebra sharks, sawfish, bowmouth guitarfish and humphead wrasses. Offering a swim and dive program, novice guests can take a dip with these gentle giants as their voyage with the largest fish in the world comes complete with mask, fins, booties and wet suit to round out your scuba gear. Skilled water enthusiasts can take an even bigger plunge as certified divers can journey underwater.  If being hands-on isn’t your thing, watch all the action through a picturesque window.

Such an adventure is bound to work up an appetite for Café Aquaria – the resident eatery – which serves up traditional classics like burgers and fries, pizza and ice cream, or onsite catering from Wolfgang Puck, where you can gaze into an eye-popping backdrop of fish.  It also hosts special events from weddings to Mother’s Day brunches. What other restaurant allows you to swim or just eat Wolfgang Puck in the company of sharks?

Contemporary Art at the Industry Gallery

Unique, funky, and contemporarily-hip are a few words to describe this one-of-a-kind Industry Gallery in the Northeast.

With industrial materials like recycled glass, aluminum, and carbon fiber, artists from all over the world create new and innovative works to redefine the relationship between art and design.

The gallery holds single-artist exhibitions to highlight the works of each international artist who is selected for his or her unique insight and ability to illuminate broad spectrums of international design.

This is definitely the new destination for contemporary art connoisseurs, collectors, curators, or art lovers. Click here for more information.

Wolfbait & B-girls

Wolfbait & B-girls is not only where Chicago shops, but where Chicago sells. Showcasing the wares of over 170 local artisans as well as Chicago-based fair-trade companies, Wolfbait highlights our city’s local talent.

Wolfbait & B-girls is a female-owned and operated independent business, fashioned by two native designers, Shirley Kienitz and Jenny Stadler. Their respective collections, Bruiser and Brazen judy, are executed in-house from concept to consumer. This, along with customer-oriented workshops, and featured, artist trunk shows, creates an intimate environment for a unique shopping experience. Wolfbait just so happens to be a one-stop shop for unique and practical clothing, playful accessories, and one-of-a-kind handcrafted treasures. See something you like? Call us to order by phone if you can’t make it in person!

The name Wolfbait & B-girls is a nod to historic Chicago. The 1950’s guidebook Chicago Confidential defines wolfbait as girls who moved to the city looking for success, and b-girls as what they sometimes turn into. Think B-movie, B-side, bad girl, Bruiser and Brazen judy. Wolfbait is not only for the shopper, but also for the artisan.

The Federal’s serving unique eats

The latest installation in the ever-growing MiMo (short for Miami Modern) section along Biscayne Blvd. is a funky, tiny little spot called The Federal. They’re serving up equally funky eats not normally found on most menus.

Just look at some of the dishes, especially the names:

Jar-o-Duck with candied sweet potato, charred fluff and slow-cooked Hudson Valley duck; diet coke and foie gras fritters with corn-nut mayo and velveeta foam; Crispy Niman Ranch pig ears with pineapple, radish, jalapeno and kumquat-apple vin; crispy beef bits bbq scented omasan, savory maple.

OK, there are some traditional items like cheese biscuits, chicken, steak, shrimp & grits, salads, collard greens and mashed potatoes.

The decor is as quirky as the menu, completely rustic with intricate wood sculptures along the wall and plain and simple seating. It’s all about comfort here, no pretense.

The Federal is located at 5132 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305-758-9559 www.thefederalmiami.com

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante: That’s Italian!

The name is kind of long but oh so Italian — Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante on Miami Beach in the quaint area around Purdy Avenue. It’s becoming a hotbed of restaurants over here and no wonder, away a bit from the crowded South Beach scene which makes it a locals scene.

This gorgeous restaurant with pretty wooden tables and chairs, oversized tiles for flooring and an inviting bar that makes a great spot to eat too puts the wine front and center. The Italian wines are proudly displayed and elegantly lit in a bookcase looking case.

And if choosing between antipasti, soup, salad, entree, panini, pasta or any other of their wide selection perhaps the Tasting Menu is the best bet. For $65 there are plenty of seafood or landlubber selections along with a cheeseboard and dessert selection. It’s true Italian fare and because wine is so important here, they’re happy to offer diners a taste before purchasing. Very classy.

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante is located at 1801 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach, FL 305-531-2228, www.saridinia-ristorante.com

Miami Twice: Great shopping for vintage goods

A mainstay of Miami’s shopping scene, especially for those who prefer something different than the mall, Miami Twice is a great place to shop for vintage goods.

Courtesy of Google Images

The store is packed with wares and accessories not easily found, rare gems that can make a wardrobe unique and different. Think great dresses and shoes from the early 1900s to the 1980s. They’ve also got modern designer duds and purses. They’re jewelry, especially brooches and costume pieces, as well as vintage shoes and purses from classic eras are all the rage here.

It’s a fun experience walking into this place and browsing through their merchandise, whether it’s for just looking or actually buying. A stop in Miami is worth a trip here. Hey, they’ve been in business a quarter of a century, they’re definitely doing something right.

Miami Twice is located at 6562 SW 40 St., Miami, FL 305-666-0127 http://www.facebook.com/pages/miami-twice

Nosh on unique eats and craft beers at The Local

A new incarnation has arrived in Downtown Coral Gables and it’s called The Local Craft Food & Drink, an idea whose time was overdue in the area. At least that’s what the two young owners thought and so they tapped an experienced and equally young chef and created this place.

The menu is a blend of many components, some of which incorporate well known ingredients from the owners Hispanic backgrounds. For example, their unique take on some classic barfood, instead of chicken wings, they’re serving buffalo-style sweetbreads instead with blue cheese and a unique apple, chayote and celery slaw. Chayote? That’s all Hispanic. Those sound perfect too paired with one of their many craft brews. It’s bar food taken up a notch. They’re even serving charcuterie prepared on premises and as many fresh local South Florida ingredients as possible.

Photos by Sebastian Rusk / SocialBuzzTV.com

The Local Craft Food & Drink is located at 150 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables 305-648-5687 www.facebook.com/thelocal150

Jaguar’s ceviche, and so much more…

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar and Latam Grill is like a tour through Latin America and the cuisines that make each area unique. It’s what Chef Oscar del Rivero envisioned bringing to diners and he’s delivering.

Front and center is the ceviche spoon bar, a fantastic representation of unique bites representing Peru, where the dish is most popular, and some great variations. The Asian inspired ones have soy and ginger  while many others include cilantro. All of course include the freshest fish and lime which is what makes the dish what it is.

The Latam (short for Latin American) grill features a grilled organic chicken chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese and pico de gallo verde, simple grilled fish entrees and steaks like filet mignon and skirt steak or “churrasco.”

The atmosphere complements the menu perfectly with warm-colored walls, unique bamboo styled lighting and dark wood chairs at the bar.

Jaguar is located at 3067 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove 305-444-0216 www.jaguarspot.com

Peacock Garden Cafe: Garden setting evokes Grove feel

It’s great to see a place like Peacock Garden Cafe open up in Coconut Grove especially nestled in a beautiful garden next to the historic Coconut Grove library on McFarlane Road. The claw-footed tub filled with dirt and used as an herb garden and colorful dangling orchids and potted plants make for a memorable entrance.

They’ve set the mood for what’s to come, an outdoor patio bursting with more foliage that surrounds the old-style furniture and umbrellas galore providing even more shade. Inside’s just as charming with mix and match tables and chairs, oversized windows providing plenty of sunshine and antique white glass chandeliers.

The atmosphere perfectly complements the menu. There’s a daily soup including fresh corn, potato-leek or fennel. A number of fresh salads like pear and bleu cheese or classic Nicoise salad and grilled items featuring roasted chicken, large shrimp or Atlantic salmon which come paired choice of salad or side dish.

The Peacock Garden Cafe is located at 2889 McFarlane Road, Coconut Grove 305-774-3332, www.peacockspot.com Open everday at 11:30 a.m., close at 10 p.m. Sun-Wed and 11:30 p.m. Thurs-Sat

Tui Lifestyle: Providing a modern touch

The concept of the Tui Lifestyle furnishings and accessories is to provide clients with a personalized look through their individualized lifestyle collections. Interior designer Tui Pranich and entrepreneur Jason Atkins have joined forces to combine essential furnishings and accessories with artwork and electronics to create a combination that’s unique to each lifestyle.

The power duo were charged with the task of furnishing units in one of Downtown’s swankiest the Marquis condos where they created the myPad model. It’s the perfect example of blending designer leather chairs, their unique Pebbles chandelier and 400-thread-count linens.

Their signature collections have names like Innovative, Innovative Premium and Innovative Signature; Sophisticated; Avenue; Marquis and even Glamorous and Sophisticated. What makes the Tui Lifestyle system unique is that they furnish the entire living space and have specific styles packaged together to make the decision as simple as possible.

The Tui Lifestyle Design Center is located at 3886 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 305-573-5411 www.tuilifestyle.com

Pubbelly: Simply stated, it’s hog heaven

The gastropub has come to Miami, Miami Beach that is, in Pubbelly located around the quieter end of South Beach around 20th Street. Smart move, the space has the perfect non-Art Deco-looking Chelsea New York reminiscent look and feel. It fits perfectly with what the trio of young hip owners are going for.

High ceilings, brick walls, rustic but city like, it’s the antithesis of bubblegum, neon, pastel South Beach and the unique menu is the perfect complement. Asian-inspired Gastropub’s the concept here, an unusual blend for sure but one that works.

Try the spaghetti and meatballs with lemongrass, sommen noodles, tomato and peanuts best described as tangy with a surprising addicting flavor. The McBelly with porkbelly, kimchee, barbecue, pickles and shaved onions is a must as is the pubbelly ramen with porkbelly, lemongrass broth and a poached egg. Menu’s divided into small plates (the first two mentioned here) and larger ones like the ramen, as well as veggies, raw/marinated/cured options and sides. Brews, sakes and wines are great here too with a huge selection.

Pubbelly is located at 1418 20 St., Miami Beach, FL

pubbelly 1

Julian Chang: Couture with a Miami flair

In a non-descript building along Biscayne Boulevard in Miami’s MiMo District or Upper East Side is the Julian Chang boutique/showroom. A native Peruvian who studied at Miami International University of Art & Design, the designer was a force to be reckoned with while still attending school.

His couture pieces quickly became the favorite of Miami’s elite crowd who turned to Chang for original designs during the height of party season which is pretty much year-round in Miami. He certainly does not pigeonhole himself to one style, cranking out eveningwear, contemporary women’s and ready-to-wear collections. He’s received honors from Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue en Espanol and MIFW.

Julian Chang is located at 6665 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL


Ramona La Rue: Floaty, bohemian designs for all

Using the softest silk fabrics and original designs from her mother’s collection as well as her own artistic vision, self-professed Bohemian stylist Arianne La Rue creates comfortable, airy, stylish fashions to suit any style and body type.

There’s nothing constricting about the dresses, tops and pants in this line, everything is flowy and soft and tailor made to be worn loose or gathered, over leggings or flowy pants, the possibilities are endless. And the hand painted designs on the fabric, created by Arianne and also taken from her mother’s original designs, are watercolor inspired.

Celebrities are known for loving Ra Mona La Rue creations with tops and jumpsuits spotted on singer Katy Perry and actress Hayden Panetierre star of the television show “Heroes.”

Ra Mona La Rue is located at 3400  North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL.

Monroe F

Inkanta Design Store: A place for lovers of modern design

For a unique gift, for a friend or for yourself, skip Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma across the street and pop into Inkanta Design Store, where their goal is “to satisfy lovers of modern design so they can enjoy beautiful objects at work, at home and in everyday life.” And that goal has been met. This minimalist, clean, crisp all-white store gets its pop of color from the modern object on display for sale.

A perfect fit for Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road, the store’s inviting interior features a slew of modern silver key chains with all types of colorful ensembles, a wall displaying modern clocks in every style, shape and color, funky wristwatches, and glassware for cocktails ranging from a high ball to a martini to a nice aged scotch, all done in gradient shades of pink, green and blue. The collection includes accessories as well as objects for home and office designed mainly by Europeans hailing from France, Denmark, Italy, England, Holland and Germany with a few American designers thrown into the mix.

Inkanta Design Store is located at 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach


The Maya Hatcha: Colorful accessories and clothes at Grove boutique

Maya jewelry

Celebrating four decades in the same Coconut Grove location, The Maya Hatcha is an institution in the area and it’s thanks to their unique clothing items, jewelry and other accessories.

This is the place to shop for cool, comfortable clothing and shoes, all made from natural materials, there’s lots of cool cotton and gauze in this place. Their “Kurta” an Indian shirt made of 100% cotton or silk is a great seller and comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Their flowing dresses can be dressed up for an evening out but also make a great beach or poolside cover up. Colorful accessories like handbags, hats and their exotic jewelry are the perfect complement to a new outfit.

They’ve also get both delicate and bold printed bedspreads and tapestries to add a touch of Maya to the home.

The Maya Hatcha is located at 3058 Grand Avenue, Coconut Grove, FL

The Maya Hatchacats-cu

The Not So Tiny Tiny Jewel Box

Looking for some sparkle? The Tiny Jewel Box offers three floors of precious gemstones, one-of-a-kind engagement rings, and designer jewelry from the likes of David Yurman and John Hardy. With DC’s largest collection of antique and vintage jewelry collection, it lives up to its motto of, “If it’s not special, it’s not here.”

While the first two floors are clearly female focused with wedding rings and designer names everywhere, an entire third floor is dedicated to men and their affinity toward watches. Everyone can come out a winner at Tiny Jewel Box, although we’ll bet the majority of the time will be spent on different floors!

Sara Jane’s No Plain Jane

Goodbye to Plain Jane. Sayonara, Farewell, Au revoir! Now say hello to Sara Jane.

It was the fall of 2002 when Sara Jane opened a store bearing her own name in hopes of providing a true boutique experience amongst the slew of chains just blocks nearby on the Magnificent Mile. Nestled in perhaps Chicago’s most charming neighborhood, Old Town, Sara Jane has made her humble splash on the scene. Although a regular in Lucky Magazine and Chicago Magazine, ask your average Chicagoan and they probably have never heard of the place.

But local fashionistas and Old Towners know to turn to Sara Jane for unique finds on adorable dresses, cocktail wear, jeans and accessories. The quick turnover allows for more variety and the small space often times conjures up new friendships and gab sessions (lucky thing there are plenty of pubs and bistros nearby!) A visit when “Sara Jane” herself (a.k.a. Sara Plocker) is there will only prove this neighborhood-gal-pal feel all the more.

EQ3: Home lover’s haven boasts original style

Home furnishings with an original flair is what EQ3 is all about. That, and offering a concept to help people create a cozy and comfortable environment. They’ve got their CORE program where pieces are made for mixing and matching with an urban feel and made of red oak veneer and available in earth and onyx finishes.

In the bedroom their Sleep by Natura collection is meant to provide a perfect night’s sleep with mattresses and pillows in a range of comfort levels and made of several natural materials.

Rounding out their collection are a wide array of chairs, sofas, ottomans, lamps, mirrors, office furniture, dining and entertainment pieces as well as accessories.

EQ3 is located at 3466 North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL


Mandolin Aegean Bistro: Charming with authentic fare

mandolin1It’s charm right off the bat at Mandolin Aegean Bistro, especially given that the restaurant is inside a historic 1940s house and is awash in white with traditional Mediterranean blue trim throughout. Quietly nestled between the hip Design District and Buena Vista neighborhoods, entering this place and then tasting their delicious offerings, diners are immediately transported to the Greek isles.

The food here is fresh, authentic and prepared with loving care. The Greek sampler is a great starter. Served up in a fancy trio of small containers it features tzatziki, smoked eggplant puree and tarama (a salmon puree). Gyros, pulled lamb and a lamb cheeseburger are part of the sandwich choices and for entrees there’s the village pasta of greek noodles with ground beef and bechamel sauce or a seafood stew with shrimp, mussels and calamari. Orzo pilaf, Aegean olives and wild greens round out some tasty sides.

Mandolin offers an experience to heighten the senses of tasting, seeing and  smelling to a whole other level.

Mandolin Aegean Bistro is located at 4312 NE 2 Avenue, Miami, FL

Boutique Betsy Hotel’s a Classic and Eco-Friendly Charmer

Sitting on the breezy porch of the Betsy Hotel on Miami Beach’s most famous stretch of road- Ocean Drive-this hotel is a standout structure with a colonial non-Art Deco look and an environmentally conscious green program throughout the property, something they’re proud to flaunt.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Picture 19Places in 1970 and this beauty deserves the recognition. While its traditional look is intact, it still has its South Beach touches. An inviting secluded courtyard pool beckons with an enclosed pool deck and plenty of amenities or there’s the rooftop retreat deck for unbeatable ocean views. Plantation style shutters, black walnut hardwood floors, walk-in showers, comfy custom built poster beds, and sunny colors make the suites and classic rooms an inviting place to relax and take in the views; staring at the swaying palm trees across the street and seeing endless ocean views is why they call this place paradise.

And when it’s time to eat, BLT Steak is where it’s at, with delectable items prepared by award-winning Chef Laurent Tourondel, whose skills have been praised by both Bon Appetit and Food and Wine Magazines.

For the Love of Jurassic Technology

With displays featuring chicken skins and galleries devoted to the soviet space dogs, The Museum of Jurassic Technology is the exact opposite of what you would expect from a museum visit. Unlike other museums with uptight tour guides and galleries that can send you into a snooze, this museum’s offering of eclectic and sometimes wild Picture 69exhibits combines science with conceptual art, making this place the perfect location for museum lovers and those who just want to have a good time.

Exhibits such as Rotten Luck feature decaying dice is just one exhibit of many that is unlike any other exhibit you are likely to find in a historical museum. Though the unique exhibits make for a unique visit, try not to mind the musty smell while making your way through this distinctive space.

Though this museum isn’t exactly for the faint of heart, the 5$ donation fee, (3$ for students) makes the visit worth it as it opens your eyes to what a museum can actually be. Afte, make sure to head upstairs for tea and cookies where you are awarded from your fine visiting efforts and donation.

With off the wall exhibits and masterful creations, it appears as though this museum has grabbed up all the fun from the other museums and conveniently placed it on Venice Boulevard.

Sage Boutique’s Big Finds for a Small Budget

Sitting AreaWith four locations across Atlanta, Sage Boutique is a ‘must shop’ for the fashionista, whether just budding or firmly ensconced!  In a city with many high end shopping choices, Sage fills the bill with both quality and quantity ~ and get this, at prices that are shocking because they’re so affordable.

Most items are under $100 and new arrivals are stocked every Friday.  Look for labels like Alternative, Free People, Miss Oops, IT Jeans, and See Thru Soul, along with unique handbags and accessories. Sage supports the local arts community by selling jewelry made by neighborhood designers.

The friendly employees always suggest cool styles, colors or help you build on a favorite piece you already own.  At Sage, chances are you’ll leave looking like a million bucks, without spending nearly that much. The store is located at The Collection at Forsyth. Visit sageclothing.com for more information.

NEUE Galerie’s Scott Gutterman Relaxes at Prospect Park

Believe it or not, Central Park is not the only park in New York City. Brooklyn native and Deputy Director Scott Gutterman of one of New York’s coolest museums, the NEUE Galerie, knows that Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is the hidden gem for a perfect urban escape.

“As much as I love Central Park,” Scott told citybuzz, “I think Prospect Park is a fantastic place. They have amazing concerts in the summer, lots of beautiful meadows, and it’s a little more rolling and winding so it gets a lot of respect from the city.” Picture 6

Located in the heart of New York’s most populated borough- yep, Brooklyn- Prospect Park is the place where true locals go to hang out. Designed by the same architects who created Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, is bigger in some ways than its more famous counterpart: a 90-acre Long Meadow, 60-acre lake and Brooklyn’s only forest. But that’s not all, Prospect Park has the nation’s first urban Audobon Center, a zoo and every summer there’s the Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Center, on top of year round tennis, playgrounds, and twilight tours that are like an urban safari, but with wine and cheese! Of course, Prospect Park is also great for a romantic stroll and the perfect excuse to get out of Manhattan and visit- for most New Yorkers- the real New York City.

*** Scott Gutterman is the Deputy Director of the NEUE Galerie on Museum Mile near Central Park. NEUE Galerie focuses on early twentieth-century German and Austrian art, including famed works from Gustav Klimt, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Otto Dix.

Scandalous to Fabulous at New Limelight Marketplace

It’s hard to believe the once infamous nightclub Limelight-that was once an Episcopal church turned into a scandalous late night party house- is now a chichi mall. There’s a doorman in a marble lobby of the new Limelight Marketplace, a chandelier on every ceiling, and exquisite – read, expensive – designer pajamas available from Olatz that you can wear in bed, while you eat artisan chocolate from Mariebelle Cacao Bar & Cafe.

On the first floor, formerly the main dance floor, there are Havianas and Hunter boots in every color imaginable, on the balconies there are flower arrangements from Barbara Scott (that might break the bank if you’re not careful), and rows of dainty handmade jewels from Tina Tang. And in the once co-ed bathroom that posted naked pictures of porn stars, you will find classy Brocade home furnishings fit for a modern princess.

In short, the Limelight Marketplace has it all for the ultimate upscale New York, however ironic, shopping experience. But lost on this irony the Limelight Marketplace is not. Many of the boutique stalls are set up around little bars that serve wares instead of alcohol: at Alexander West you can order a custom (bespoke!) men’s dress shirt and at Petrossian you can order ten different types off caviar – if that’s what you’re into. There are mannequins dressed as club kids on the main floor and there are antique bobbles from Old Hollywood on display in front of an enormous stained glass tryptic on the balcony. Shopping at the Limelight Marketplace is truly a unique experience – especially if you have experienced it in its former gritty glory.

Chanel, Halston, Dior at Rare Vintage

All New Yorkers covet vintage clothing, because everyone wants that one-of-a-kind piece to stand out in the crowd. Rare Vintage is the answer to that fashion holy grail: an entire store dedicated to hard to find, high-end designers and pieces that are simply no longer around today. From a red silk Balenciaga 1960 coat- worn by royalty!- to a limited edition Hermes ‘Security’ Kelly Bag to an owl head shaped minaudiere that looks like it came straight out of a Sex and the City episode, Rare Vintage is filled with gems from the icons of the fashion world past and present. Owner Juliana Cairone is a master of finding these rare pieces from all over the world, making frequent scouring trips to Paris and Italy, and luckily bringing back all her finds to the heart of Midtown Manhattan for fashion hungry shoppers.

Family Fun Aboard Boston Harbor Cruises’ Whale Watching Tours

Now that the warmer weather is finally here, it’s time to start planning some fun activities for the summer. What better way to explore the coastal region than with a trip aboard Boston Harbor Cruises’ whale watching tours. Board the three-hour cruise at Long Wharf located between The New England Aquarium and Marriott Hotel.

Once aboard the 400-passenger catamaran,Picture 23 you can take in the view of humpbacks, minkes, finbacks and white-sided dolphins from one of three outside decks. Inside, there is a climate-controlled cabin with free WiFi, and a galley for food and beverage purchases. The tour guide from the Whale Center of New England will narrate the cruise where will point out everything from whale behavior and migration patterns to the local ecology. Whale sightings are guaranteed, but if you don’t see one, Boston Harbor Cruises will give you a free ticket for a future cruise.

Insider’s Tip: Don’t forget binoculars, sunglasses and sunscreen for this outdoor event. April through October is the best viewing season. Reservations are recommended and can be bought easily online.

Martinis & Manicures at Beauty Bar Chi-Town

Finally. From New York to L.A., the Beauty Bar phenom has taken over the Windy City with a splash… of manicured nails, big bouffantes and poreless faces. Combining the loves of women (and thus men searching for women) everywhere, Beauty Bar fuses cocktails and spa services. Add a dose of dance-inspiring beats, superb people-watching and a new set of glossy red nails, and you’ve got: Beauty Bar.Picture 8

With celeb DJs and special guest performers like Vampire Weekend, Beauty Bar Chicago makes sure to play homage to its host city by bringing back “Spandexx,” once a popular event at the now-closed lounge, Sonotheque, with DJ Moneypenny, Sadie White and Team Bayside (holler to Saved by the Bell). True to form, the bar is retro deliciousness with mod mirrors, vintage posters, a disco ball and fun retro bar chairs.With a changing list of relevant DJs pumping out inspiring beats, and a disco-ball room inspired for dancing only, this manicure lounge slash bar, also doubles as a fab dance club.

With a fresh coat of paint on your paws, a tasty cocktail in your belly and happy memories swirling in your head, consider this: Beauty Bar is available for private parties and you can shop the look at its store (online too) for fun shirts and kitchy gifts.

Nan Thai: Discover The Food Golfer Vijay Singh Loves

Thai dining- at its highest level- is easily found at Nan Thai Fine Dining. Outside, the tone is set with an eye-catching gold statue right at the corner of Spring and 17th Street, minutes from Atlantic Station and the Woodruff Arts Center. Inside, it doesn’t stop. Elegantly appointed sculptures and art compliment the sleek and sophisticated room full of bamboo touches; even the bathroom is a calming oasis.

Equally impressive is the distinctive and flavorful food by Chef Nan Niyomkul, who co-owns Nan with her husband Charlie. The Pla Muk Thod, affectionately known as “fire calamari,” is an appetizer must. Pla Sahm Lod, the Chilean sea bass done in a three-flavor chili sauce, is a satisfying entrée. It’s not cheap like most Thai places, but it’s very well worth the expense.

Business is fine, but Nan works even better for romance. Its many admirers include Tiger Woods and family friends Vijay Singh and his wife Ardena. Singh is such a devotee that his love prompted a 2005 Sports Illustrated article about the Niyomkuls and their food, so it’s certainly cuisine worthy of any Master.

Fratelli Lyon Takes Fresh to Another Level

Stroll along the heart of Miami’s Design District and discover a place where the decor is modern and the food is prepared with a heart. At Fratelli Lyon, the dishes are not only great tasting but made in the freshest way possible, with ingredients like grass-fed beef, sustainable seafood and organically grown produce. Even the water filtration system is special here, producing triple filtered still and sparkling waters that are used in the homemade sodas, beverages and bottled waters.

Picture 20Now that the standard’s been set, don’t think for one minute it’s all boring food here. The menus – both lunch and dinner – are full of Italian favorites. The extensive list of antipastos is impressive all on its own with three categories: cheese, meats, or greens and fish. Even the wide range of pastas have two categories: handmade fresh or artisanal imported dry. The wine list is beyond extensive with something for any taste and price range.

Pizzas, paninis, salads, house specials, and specialty Italian coffees round out the menu and for lunch there’s an irresistible $24 fixed price that includes a choice of an appetizer, entree, and dessert or house wine.

Bahdeebahdu, Need We Say More?

Picture 16Bahdeebahdu is an explosively imaginative studio for design and the development of art, sculpture and furnishings. Bahdeebahdu is unlike any other gallery in the area, showcasing the works of Philadelphia’s favorite “Luminary” Warren Muller. Muller creates functional lighting sculptures by following the mantra “everything is up for grabs.” Found, recycled and salvaged objects turn into light sculptures that are featured in this gallery, along with various places around the city like theatres and restaurants.

Bahdeebahdu also houses works by interior designer RJ Thornburg, Muller’s lifetime partner and self-proclaimed Fabulist. RJ has been designing for twenty-five years and has left his fun and easy-going design mark all over Philadelphia (from bakeshops to internationally renowned hotels).

Cutting Edge Art at Iconic Dorsch Gallery

Picture 24Brook Dorsch moved his namesake Dorsch Gallery to the Wynwood Arts District 10 years ago, before there was an arts district. But just like how he’s got an eye for cutting edge art, this pioneer’s got an eye for location. The (very) recently renovated Dorsch Gallery has gone from newbie to icon status.

Close to two decades in the biz and Dorsch is still presenting thought-provoking art exhibitions, and in these warehouse digs he’s expanded to presenting concerts, film festivals and a host of cultural events. Expect the unexpected with installations featuring four stand-up concrete slabs, sculptures that seem to protrude from the ground, and geometric paintings that boggle the mind and trick the eye. He’s always got a stellar line-up of shows that are great to catch at the beginning or the end of a cultural outing to the Wynwood area.

5. Take the Plunge at Icy Polar Plunge March 7

Chicago may be known as the “Windy City,” but during the winter it feels more like the “Icy City.” Instead of cursing the cold, Chi-town embraces it everyPicture 11 year with the Polar Plunge and Melt Down Party. Starting as a fundraiser for the Special Olympics, this has become a sort of rite of passage, where over 1,200 participants bear the cold and jump into the frigid Lake Michigan.

Those who raise $100 for the good cause just have to get in for a good splish/splash (the brave go all the way under!) and then afterwards participants are treated with a commemorative t-shirt, towel and admission to the “Melt Down Party” with music, free food and of course, a cash bar. It’s the Chicago tradition that keeps on giving well after you’ve dried off!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

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.

Shopping and Social Awareness at Therapy

Small independent shops are not the exception in San Francisco, they’re the rule.  And if you think any one of them couldn’t possibly stand out from all the rest then you haven’t been to Therapy’s clothing and furniture boutique in the Mission District.  Great things do indeed come in small packages, as this littlelightingblogentry one-stop shop is stocked with style from the floorboards to the ceilings, literally.

Besides the consistently friendly service and laid-back atmosphere, you’ll also find Ben Sherman and Penguin brands for men, Sam Edleman and Free People for women, original artwork from San Francisco favorite Aaron Kraten, and a dozen varieties of mod lamps and chic wall decals for every room.  Bring it all together with colorful hand-made local accessories, Betsey Johnson purses, or a clutch by Hobo International, and you literally have it all at your fingertips.

At Therapy, your purchase is always socially responsible.  The store is stocked with items that have been purchased through fair-trade, it has donated over $6800 in 2009 to local classrooms, and promotes TOMS “One For One” Movement through the selling of TOMS shoes, and supports local artists by featuring their work.  Now that is truly ‘shopping therapy’!

It’s All About the Extravagant at The Castro Theatre

Glowing like a beacon over the Castro District, The Castro Theatre marquee is not only a symbol of the city’s gay rights movement (as featured in the Oscar-winning film Milk), but the city’s facastro_frontvorite venue to connect with the community in a way that is colorful and meaningful.  For decades San Franciscans have come together in this lavishly decorated historic theatre for live and screen performances, even participating in cult films such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Little Mermaid sing-alongs, Dionne Warwick concerts, and every single film festival that comes to town.

The Castro Theatre is old-fashioned and intimate, right down to the original brass ticket booth out front that’s big enough for only one vendor.  Inside, the Spanish-Oriental influence is apparent in the scraffito wall murals, but the gold art deco details make it familiar.  The 1,400 red velvet seats throughout the main floor, mezzanine, and balcony are new, along with the PA, sound, and lighting systems, but have stylishly retained their early-century charm.

The theatre also functions in the mainstream, as each month it features top box office movies.  Some recent favorites have been the star-studded Nine and Milk, which ran for almost two months.

Literally Unearth The Ice Age at The Page Museum & La Brea Tar Pits

Ever secretly fantasized about being an archeologist? Well, The Page Museum may be the closest thing to living out your dreams.  The museum is at the Rancho LPicture 10a Brea Tar Pits, which is world famous for having the largest and most diverse collection of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world. Think 40,000 year old mammoths, saber-tooth tigers and pre-historic sloths, just to name a few.

For those who don’t want to get down and dirty, the museum has dramatic exhibits of prehistoric animals. At the Page Museum Laboratory, you can see (real) archaeologists unearthing, cleaning and repairing fossils. Outside in Hancock Park, amazing life-size replicas of several extinct mammals whose fossils are in the ground below will bring the whole experience into perspective.

Brenda’s Comfort Food Has French Soul

On the outskirts of the Civic Center district lies San Francisco’s favorite breakfast and brunch hole-in-the-wall, Brenda’s French Soul Food.  On any given day Brenda’s produces a line of adoring patrons around the block, waiting in anticipation among the smells of buttery Cajun shrimp and grits with salty warm biscuits.  ConsPicture 5idering this gem is among the Top 5 Bold Newcomers from the New York Times and one of Travel & Leisure’s Top 50 US Restaurants of 2009, the hour wait is no surprise.

Since 2007, Brenda Buenviaje has charmed the city with her closet-sized open kitchen, a total of seven tables, and an old-fashioned diner-style counter.  Her New Orleans fare never rises above $10 and the portions are served with a heavy hand and plenty of love. And that’s exactly what you’ll get here, along with the best beignets west of France (try the Godiva chocolate or paprika crawfish).  Wash it all down with Brenda’s special watermelon sweet tea and you’d swear you’re in the French Quarter.

Yes, There’s Still Fabric on Fabric Row!

Fabric Row in South Philadelphia has broadened over time to so much more than textiles, yet still holds its reputation for the best fabric in the region. The Row is now amarlemsteinsn eclectic mix of shops ranging from third-generation fabric stores to a nightclub that boasts the best DJs in Philadelphia.

As far as fabric goes, Marmelstein’s is one of the oldest (opened in 1919) and most well-known shops in the region. Most of the shops are known for a specialty market, so if you’re looking for something specific like bridal fabrics, trimmings, or upholstery, calling around will be very helpful.

When it’s time for a bite to eat and a break for your feet, stop in at Famous 4th Street Delicatessen. It’s been open since 1923 for a reason, and their gargantuan sandwiches are a great meal for two people.

Other fun things to do on Fabric Row: dance to beats from ?uestlove of The Roots at Fluid Nightclub, get inked at Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoo Haven, get a cup o’ Joe at Redhook, and check the threads at Wilbur Vintage.

This little section of South Philly will surely steal a bit of your heart.

4. Have a Splash of Science with Your Cocktail at Exploratorium 1/20/10

Picture 6In one of the coolest science-meets-reality exhibits, for one night only the Exploratorium is hosting mixologists from across the city for the Science of Cocktails. Hands-on as always, bartenders from hotspots like 83 Proof and Orson will be mixing the drinks, while guests will be participating in experiments about alcohol, inebriation, hangovers, and cocktail mixing.

Not only will guests be learning from the experiments, they can also get a free bartending lesson as the masters show the secret behind their craft. This is one event where drinking is both fun and for a good cause as this event will raise funds for the Exploratorium Museum.

Black and Read and Funky All Over

Picture 10If Tattered Cover is Denver’s 800-lb. gorilla, Black and Read is its bespectacled bookworm burrowing into the local literary underground. Granted, new and used books in dizzying array—or disarray, as the case may be—aren’t the half of it: indie music buffs browse the aisles for obscure recordings on vinyl, while fanatical gamers (are there any other kind?) gather to gab about the latest releases with employees who are, of course, almost comically knowledgeable about the inventory, be it MMPORGs or 1980s SoCal punk. Owner Danny Graul, for his part, is a true cinephile, and it shows in his selection of film texts.

Ultimately, Black and Read is less about finding any purchase in particular than about losing yourself in the search.

Date Night at the Cemetery’s Cinespia

When you are looking for a taste of old Hollywood and a way to spice up your love life, there is no better date spot than the Hollywood cemetery. On Sunday nights, thePicture 17 cemetery opens its doors for the hundreds of people who are looking for a cheaper way to go to the movies. With old Hollywood flicks constantly being aired, you feel as though you are truly in another decade.

One of the best parts of Cinespia is that you can turn the experience into your own. People bring blankets, food and even wine as they sprawl onto the lawn and cozy up for a film. The uniqueness of this experience draws a large crowd so make sure to get there early- really early. While this may be the only movie theater you can actually bring your own food into, it is also one of the best experiences when you are looking for a change in scenery, literally.

Forget Postcards, Cantina Returns With Liquor

To any downtown intoxicologist, Cantina is the preference for ‘cocktails de culinaire.’ In fact, the bar grows its own citrus and infuses its own liquors. Bringing decades of knowledge to the bar, each Cantina mixologist is a self-proclaimed ‘savant of spirits’ who’s traveled the far corners of the world in pursuit of the finest cocktail ingredients. Cantina bartenders have a genuine love for the art and invent every dCantina Goodrink on the menu, making your experience at Cantina completely unique. It’s no wonder Cantina’s recipes have graced the pages of The New York Times, Food & Wine, Esquire, London’s Daily Telegraph, and even Vogue.

You’d assume such famous cocktails would have equally notorious prices, but Cantina offers drinks from $9-$11.  Their most prized potion is on the market for $14: The Coca Leaf Sour- Pisco infused with coca leaves, egg white, yellow chartreuse, fresh-squeezed citrus, and sugar.  Of course, their $9 cocktails are just as impressive.  Try the St. Barth’s Daiquiri- rhum de batiste, fresh lime & key lime bitters, luxardo maraschino & fresh-grated nutmeg.

Just remember, quality takes time so no impatient tapping on the bar at Cantina, relax and enjoy the world through its spirits.

Sushi Gets Jazzed Up at Yoshi’s

Someone forgot to tell the proprietors of Yoshi’s that sushi and jazz are cultural opposites.  Of course its founder and namesake, Yoshie Akiba, is also a fascinating mix.  YoshisOrphaned in Japan during WWII, Yoshie came to Berkeley as a student and opened Yoshi’s with her two best friends.

Thirty years later, in its new $10 million setting in the Fillmore District (the “Harlem of the West”), Yoshi’s has earned a reputation as one of the world’s finest jazz venues featuring jazz legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Diana Krall, Max Roach, and Harry Connick Jr.

Yoshi’s is also an award-winning restaurant, with Chef Shotaro Kamio presenting modern sushi that he describes as “seasonal, simple, surprise.”  You can make dinner reservations in the separate restaurant before the show or enjoy small tapas-style sushi and sake cocktails in the club.  Prices are higher than average, but you’ll appreciate that Yoshi’s serves fresh and thoughtful Japanese cuisine rather than greasy quesadillas and mozzarella sticks.

Tickets range from $13 – $100 depending on the performer, and the club seats 420 in its warmly lit acoustic cavern.  The custom sound system, complete with a resident Steinway grand piano, is clear and allows artists to truly be the center of attention.  So feel free to jazz it up with flapper outfits and tailcoats.

Controversial De Young Museum Shines

Unless you’re a local who knows its history, visitors who pass by the De Young Museum might think an abstract spaceship had crash-landed into Golden Gate Park. Providing San Franciscans with a never-ending debate over aesthetics, the building is intended to unify modern art and architecture with the natural landscape.  Meant to oxidize and turn pale green the way the Statue of Liberty has done, the museum’s copper mesh exterior will eventually blend in with the surrounding eucalyptus trees.

image_1_32Before you even enter the De Young Museum, explore over five acres of native landscaping, in which you can wanarden, koi ponds, waterfalls, and the Andy Goldsworthy “Faultline” installation in the courtyard.

Like any great museum, the De Young features an impressive permanent collection: Ancient Teotihuacan stone murals from Mexico, the finest collection of American paintings, African and Oceanic art, and The Anderson Graphics Art Collection.  Great exhibitions have included Yves Saint Laurent, Andy Warhol, Chihuly, and most recently King Tutankhamun.  You can also explore the 144 ft. observation tower that provides views of the park, the new California Academy of Sciences building across the lawn, the Golden Gate Bridge, and downtown.

Whether you love the building and what it contains, or hate its aesthetics, the architects and curators have obviously done their jobs – eliciting reactions.

Blackbird Bar: Not For the Birds

P8200088Oscar Wilde once said: “Work is the curse of the drinking class,” and if you’ve been to The Castro’s newest and most popular neighborhood bar, Blackbird, you’ll completely understand.   You’ll find a drink for everyone in your group with wines by the glass, artisan microbrews on draft, and proper classic cocktails- and none of them will drain your wallet, even after the 5-8pm happy hour is over.

For years the area has had only two choices when it comes to happy hour– dive bars for the straight community or pricey lounges for the gay crowd.  Blackbird, with expert precision, has nailed the art of comfort and class for the mixed-crowd atmosphere.

To create a Blackbird: blend historical newsprints with local modern art, an old-world cherry wood bar with contemporary seating, and a top shelf drink list handwritten on 8 feet of butcher paper, and the neighborhood bar is ready.  Do not garnish with a cover, fancy dress code, or water down with unemployed barflies- just a twist of chic will do.

Exploratorium Allows You To Do Just That

At most museums you are told “Do Not Touch,” but that’s the exact opposite of the intention at San Francisco’s Exploratorium. This institution’s goal is to promote museums as education centers, and here they like their visitors to learn by doing. Whether it’s creating a tornado with your feet, putting samples under a microscope, or getting your hands wet touching sea creatures, the unique Exploratorium has hundreds of exhibits for your enjoyment in science, art, and human perception.

Center City’s Anthropologie Is All That & More

PHIanthropologieThere aren’t many retailers that are as fabulous as Anthropologie, but four stories of it? It’s like Christmas came early! Anthro started out near Philadelphia and boasts one of its most beautiful stores in Center City.

Located on the coveted corner of 18th and Walnut on Rittenhouse Square, this store takes your breath away as you walk up the oversized central spiral staircases. Even if you end up without a purchase (this branch has only women’s apparel and home goods), a look around the building will be a treat in itself. Even boyfriends and husbands won’t mind taking a peak around this impressive building. This is a definite stop while in the Rittenhouse sector.

John Gidding Loves It To Pieces


When designer John Gidding from HGTV’s “Designed to Sell” recommends a furniture store, you know it’s something special. Pieces in Atlanta is a one-of-a-kind store that garners major attention from Atlanta-based, design television stars and national press alike.

Why does one shop receive so much praise? It’s because of owner and refurbishing queen Lee Kleinhelter.

Pieces is adorably designed where each room is a color-based vignette showing off Kleinhelter’s one-of-a-kind gems that are refurbished using her own hands. From pillows to wooden tables to antique chairs, Kleinhelter literally turns someone’s “trash” into absolute treasure.

While the antique and unique furniture tends to be pricey, you can get a completely unique accessory item for less than fifty bucks. The style is classic with a punch and the clean lines resonate well with buyers, landing Pieces in Lucky Magazine, Elle Décor, and even in the Best of Atlanta Magazine’s Hall of Fame.

When it comes to the home, John Gidding knows best with his amazing recommendation of Pieces.

**John Gidding is a host/designer on HGTV’s Atlanta-based “Designed to Sell” and founder of John Gidding Design. Gidding is also a Yale and Harvard graduate and former model. Visit piecesinc.com for more information.

Closet Fever: Waxing, Vintage, & DJ’s Under One Roof

Imagine a hair salon and a vintage clothing boutique and DJ all under one roof. At Closet Fever there’s a turntable inside where hip DJ’s spin beats as clients browse through one-of-a kind bracelets, cutting edge dresses, and funky handbags galore. But if you’re looking to get your body manicured, the staff of professional beauty mavens will have you primped and pretty in no time whether it’s waxing or hairstyling. Where else can you get an outfit, complete with studs, and hair extensions all in one stop?

Funky, Trendy & a Museum? Only at New Museum

Not many buildings sport a rainbow “Hell Yes” on their facade, let alone an art museum. “New Art, New Ideas;” that’s the motto for the aptly named New Museum in the hip Lower East Side. Unlike most contemporary art galleries, the art here is so new that it includes YouTube videos(!) and art that’s a social commentary on current political hot topics like the Iraq War.

Not only is the art inside super hip and new, so is the building, that is like a modern Goliath among the aging downtown buildings. It’s actually the first art museum ever to be constructed from the ground up in downtown Manhattan.

Fitting to its artsy Bowery locale, the crowd here is more likely to be sporting Converses and Aviators than suits and ties. Before leaving, check out the seventh floor Skyroom that has a spectacular panoramic view of Manhattan from the Financial District to the Midtown skyscrapers.

Find International Designs at Modern Appealing Clothing

Modern Appealing Clothing offers an unexpected quality of high fashion clothing. The MAC shop has exposed brick, high ceilings, and funhouse mirrors offered by the sister-brother-mother team of owners. Handsome English-cut suits for men and spartan dresses for women hang with a mix of local and international modern jewelry. Best known as a source for clothing from Belgian designers like Dries van Noten and Martin Marjiela, they also carry an extensive sampling of Japanese designers.

Coi Is Not For The Shy Eater

Adventurous eaters, welcome! Coi is small and sleek and caters to foodies who want to sample new and exciting flavors. Chef Daniel Patterson’s unique dishes include Picture 26Yuba (soy skin) papardelle with coconut milk and curry, sea bream sashimi with white soy, yuzu and chives, caviar sautéed bone marrow with beet gelee, and soft cooked egg yolk with spicy onion relish bacon and parmesean foam. With dishes such as these, it’s no surprise he was voted San Francisco Magazine’s Chef of the Year 2007.

Coi prides itself in using only the best ingredients in the dishes. Coi searches high and low, locally of course, to find cultivated plants grown from heirloom seeds; wild-harvested leaves, flowers, barks and roots; seaweeds and coastal grasses, and more. Coi insists its guests are served nothing short of the best that San Francisco has to offer.

Tour Boston with Free Audissey Guide

One of the easiest ways to get to see the city of Boston is on Picture 22your own schedule but just how do you know where to go and what sights to see? Audissey Guides offers a free one-hour downloadable tour that will show you a unique side of Boston most tourists never get to see. Some of the narrators include Michael Patrick MacDonald, author of All Souls: a Family Story from Southie, Luigi ‘Big Lou’ DeMarco whose family owns Caffe Graffiti, a local hangout in the North End and Dicky Barrett, lead singer of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. On the one-mile tour, you will be led down secret alleys and hidden paths to uncover the pulse of the real Beantown. On the award-winning audio tour, you will visit the former headquarters of the Boston Mafia, meet a Boston Mayor elected from a jail cell, and sip a cappuccino with locals in the North End. There is a walking map to guide you along the tour route – simply visit the website and download the Zip file of tour and a PDF map.