Category Archives: Day Trips

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Finding The One in Paris, the City of Love

Poet Arthur Rimbaud— who used a one-way ticket to get to Paris— once compared the sensation of love to the feeling of late night walks “beneath the green lime trees of the Promenade” after filling up on beer and lemonade in “rowdy cafes and their dazzling lights.” One-way tickets litter the streets of Paris, where young lovers meet like living symbolist poems, walking, kissing, and perspiring upon weathered cobblestones and beneath delicate corinthian cornices. Young romantics can count on feeling overwhelmed with options when it comes to the task of planning the perfect day in athe City of Love. To mitigate your planning anxieties, we’ve gone ahead and planned the day for you. Je vous en prie, mon amour!

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Les Buttes Chaumont

Located in the northeast of the city in the 19th arrondissement, the park offers visitors a wide variety of features: including a breath-taking grotto with cascading waterfalls, a suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel, and the breathtaking Temple de la Sibylle, which sits on the top of tall cliffs, high above the the manmade lake at the park’s center. Purchase an inexpensive bottle of red wine, a fresh block chevre cheese, a baguette, some tupelo honey, and some salumi at a nearby grocery store and head to the park’s center. Ask an attractive stranger to join you for a picnic, and admire blue skies and puffy white clouds as a gentle breeze brushes your cheek. When was the last time you partook in a summersault competition? Have you ever stood on your head for an extended period of time? Les Buttes Chaumont welcomes youthful spirits, warm (and occasionally inebriated) conversations, and contented silence. Two minds, one Les Buttes Chaumont.

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La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin

On 9 rue Champollion in Paris’ Latin Quarter, just a few blocks from La Sorbonne, La Filmothèque du Quartier Latin greets every evening with its brightly lit marquee. Featuring retrospective masterworks, films by Godard, Kubrick, Allen, Antonioni, Fellini, Cassavetes regularly hit the screen. The screening rooms are small and cozy; the vibes are hospitable and warm. Take your new friend’s hand in your own and get lost in the illustrious and timeless world of the silver screen.     

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10 Bar in Saint-Germain des Prés

Saint-Germain des Prés— an area in the 6th arrondissement of Paris— was once the home of existentialist movement. Coincidentally, the area is now home to one of the best bars in Paris: 10 Bar. Founded in 1955, 10 Bar claims to attract a “record crowd every night” as the “only sangria bar in the capital.” Go early and queue up some choice tunes on the bar’s classic jukebox. Grab a seat next to the massive organ-shaped mahogany mirror in the back and tell the person sitting next to you at the bar about the strangest dream that you’ve ever had, then take a few spins on the dance floor. When you’ve had your share of libations and wildness, take a short cab ride to the luxurious Hotel Bel Ami. Just a short walk away from the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Pont Neuf, and Musee d’Orsay, Hotel Bel Ami will help to keep the romance alive!

 

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The Four Best Day Trips For Fall Visitors To Seattle

For visitors to the Pacific Northwest this fall, there is no shortage of activities in Seattle, the region’s largest and fastest-growing city. Baseball fans can check out a Mariners game, foodies can stroll around Pike Place Market for hours, and brave souls unafraid of heights can take in the unparalleled view from the Space Needle. But travelers who find themselves with free time, and with access to a car, may want to consider the following four day trips, which highlight the lush beauty unique to the Emerald City and the surrounding area, particularly in the Autumn season.

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The San Juan Islands:

About a three-and-a-half-hour drive north, the San Juan Islands are a must-see destination for out-of-towners. The San Juan Islands are composed of 172 individual islands, but four (San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island) are served by ferries and feature activities for visitors. For wine aficionados, visiting San Juan Vineyards, located on the main San Juan Island, is well worth the drive –  their well-regarded wines have won many awards. Those with fond memories of the film Free Willy should also be sure to go whale watching while exploring the islands, with the best time for viewing occurring from late May to October. All four islands have hotels and inns for those wishing to stay overnight, with the Earthbox Inn and Spa offering the perfect ambiance to relax.

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North Cascades National Park:

Northwest of Seattle is the North Cascades National Park, which is about a four hour drive from the city. Many come here to camp, and the jagged peaks, engulfed by hundreds of glaciers nestled among cascading waters, ensure an unforgettable experience. No other U.S. park outside of Alaska contains as many glaciers, in addition to diverse wildlife: bald eagles, moose, bears, grey wolves, and more than 200 species of birds. If you’d prefer a day trip in the park as opposed to camping, try staying at the budget-friendly Red Roof Inn near the Seattle-Tacoma Airport (Sea-Tac).

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Olympic Peninsula:

Three hours west of Seattle is the Olympic Peninsula, home to temperate rainforests and the Olympic Mountains. There is no shortage of activities with fishing, sailing, boating, and hiking being among the most popular. The Peninsula is also famous for its lush scenery featured in Hollywood blockbusters like the Twilight series. Those wishing to stay in and around the peninsula have a plethora of options, while nearby Olympia offers budget-friendly hotels like Red Lion Hotel or the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites.

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Mt. Rainier National Park:

For aspiring mountain climbers, the three hour drive south to Mt. Rainier National Park is a must. Mt. Rainier is an iconic part of Washington state’s landscape, standing at 14,000 feet above sea level. An active volcano, Mt. Rainier has the largest glaciers in the U.S. outside of Alaska. Most climbers require two to three days to reach the summit, with experience in glacier travel and self-rescue required. About half of the 8,000-13,000 climb attempts per year are successful, so only the brave at heart should undertake the climb. Less experienced mountain climbers shouldn’t feel left out though, as the entire park is open for hiking, backcountry skiing, camping. Photographers should definitely pay a visit – you won’t see anything else like it in the U.S. Try staying in nearby Tacoma, at either the Hotel Murano or the Silver Cloud Inn, for affordable, modern luxury.

 

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HipHunt: The Berkshires

When hot, crowded, dirty, stressful day-to-day life in New York or Boston has caused city-dwellers’ eyes to glaze over, a weekend in the Berkshire Mountains may be necessary to rejuvenate and put things in perspective. The landscapes that inspired Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edith Wharton are sure to have a positive effect on even the most cynical traveler, and there are plenty of man-made musical, culinary, theatrical, and visual creations to further nourish depleted, overworked souls. To get the most out of a full day in the Berkshires, take the following winding path around south county (easiest with a rental car).

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Wake up in the historic Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. This two-century-old New England gem predates the Revolutionary War, and its crest—the red lion—indicated loyalty to the British Crown. However, the lion once had a green tail, subtly indicating sympathy with the cause of Independence. The Inn’s past is connected to Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys, as well as Shay’s Rebellion. After lounging a bit in your individually decorated guestroom, go downstairs to enjoy a lavish breakfast of seasonal berries, Old Chatham Sheep’s Milk Yogurt, house smoked bacon, and Berkshire Apple Pancakes with Ioka Maple Syrup. In the mood for eggs? Then go for the Bulich Farm Shiitake Mushroom Hash & Poached Eggs or the “Lion’s” Frittata with diced prime rib. When the morning’s feast is placed on the table, be sure to break out the phone to capture yourself eating like a king on antique china. Tag #hipmunk or tweet @thehipmunk to make us jealous.

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Arrive at the Norman Rockwell Museum as it opens at 10am to see some of this artist’s well-known portrayals of American life in the 20th century. Try to spot his illustrations of the “Four Freedoms” mentioned in FDR’s address to Congress in 1943. For bonus points, stage a living recreation of one of Norman Rockwell’s paintings of smalltown America, using downtown Stockbridge as your backdrop. Show us your best attempt by tagging #hipmunk.

Head one town over to drink a cup of house-roasted coffee in an old train station depot in West Stockbridge. If you find this coffee-lovers’ secret clubhouse, prove it by showing us a cup of the roast of your choice. (Make sure to tweet us which one you picked!) When the buzz has set in, cross the bridge over Shaker Dam and browse through photographs from around the world (many of which were featured in issues of National Geographic) at the John Stanmeyer Gallery.

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Drive up to Lenox for the rest of the day. After grabbing a pear croque monsieur or arugula and farro salad at Haven, venture out on foot to explore shops in the quaint historic downtown. See if you can find School House Hill, where Edith Wharton’s character Ethan Frome had his dangerous sledding adventure. Be more careful than Ethan, but get a picture of yourself in sledding position on the hill, and post it on Instagram.

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Buy tickets ahead for an evening concert at Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The best place to enjoy the music is out on the expansive lawn, so take the rest of the afternoon to procure picnic dinner supplies from Guido’s Fresh Marketplace. With a basket full of good bread, some hummus, dried sausage, cheeses, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, the concert is sure to be a success.

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On your drive back to the center of town, be sure to stop off at Chocolate Springs for a sweet interlude. This unique sanctuary (especially on a hot day, when the air conditioning feels heavenly) has a Japanese ambiance, and a variety of handmade bonbons made on the premises. Each one is an edible work of art. Get a ceramic Japanese plate with a few chocolates from the case, such as the gold-dusted “Celebration” bonbon with dark chocolate champagne ganache, the “creme brulee” bonbon striped with white chocolate, the green tea bonbon imprinted with an image of a bonsai, or the erotically shaped “Venus” bonbon with milk chocolate rum ganache. Instagram a pic of your favorite bonbon and, you know, feel free to send us a box!

After this pick-me-up, take your picnic basket, a blanket, and a bottle of wine from Nejaime’s Wine Cellar to Tanglewood. Arrive a few hours early to get the best real estate for both your car and your blanket. Navigate the parking and follow the crowds through one of the gates to find the perfect patch of grass on the lawn, then settle in. Play frisbee or cards, enjoy the wine and food, and relax into the knowledge there is nowhere else you need to be. Before the music starts, make friends with some of your neighbors for the evening. Get a picture sharing a toast with your new pals.  Then lie on your back and appreciate the live soundtrack for sunset, twilight, and slowly wheeling constellations.

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HipHunt: New Orleans

Attempting to articulate the essence of New Orleans, Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) once remarked: “everything mingles together… until nothing is purely itself but becomes part of one funky gumbo.” Get a taste of the gumbo that is the Big Easy, and complete this hunt between 3:30 pm and the first crow of the morning rooster. Also, make sure to remember to bring cash for cabs, as you will need to take a few throughout the day. Bòn chans!

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Start your afternoon around 3:30 pm at The Backstreet Cultural Museum ($8 for admission) in the French Quarter and learn about the history of New Orleans’ African American community. More specifically, learn about that community’s rich traditions having to do with jazz funerals, social aid and pleasure clubs, masking, and Mardi Gras Indians. Music-loving locals gather at The Backstreet Cultural Museum on Mardi Gras, as it marks the site of where the second line parades start and end. Take a photograph of your favorite museum artifact, tag #hipmunkcitylove, and post it on our Instagram page @thehipmunk.

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From the museum, walk southeast on Ursulines Ave until you reach the Mississippi River, and then cut a right on Decatur Street. Hopefully, you’ve worked up an appetite by this hour, as Tujague’s offers some of the finest cajun cuisine in the city. Established in the 1850s and originally serving as a Spanish Armory, Tujague’s built its legendary reputation on two notable dishes: a stimulating remoulade sauce flavoring cold shrimp, and a rich beef brisket served with fresh vegetables and horseradish sauce. Make sure to glance the restaurant’s guestbook, which includes the names of Cole Porter, Dan Aykroyd, and Ty Cobb (to name a few), and tweet your favorite celebrity to have frequented the restaurant @thehipmunk. Additionally, be sure enjoy a refreshing Sazerac or Absinthe frappé at the restaurant’s old cypress bar. Take a freewheeling selfie with a new friend and your drink, tag #hipmunkcitylove, and post it on our Instagram page @thehipmunk.

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Travelers can’t truly experience New Orleans until they’ve danced in reckless abandon at Vaughan’s, the beloved local music venue and cash only bar in New Orleans’ Bywater neighborhood. A short cab ride from both Tujague’s and the French Quarter’s Bourbon Orleans Hotel (in case you want to change into comfortable dancing clothes before going out), Vaughan’s features some of the best acts in the city, including world-renowned trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and his foot-stompin’ band on Thursday nights. Photograph a plate of red beans, gumbo, and rice, all of which the bar serves to its customers for free after midnight, tag #hipmunkcitylove, and post it on our Instagram page @thehipmunk.

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From Vaughan’s, take a cab to The Spotted Cat. Located at 623 Frenchmen Street in the center of the Fauborg Marigny District, “The Cat” epitomizes the spirit of New Orleans’ live music scene. Locals frequent this music club to see killer bands like Pat Casey & the New Sound, Dominick Grillo & The Frenchmen Street All-Stars, Washboard Chaz Trio, and Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns. If you’re not familiar with these groups, see one of them live and thank us later. Hosting three bands nightly, “The Cat” guarantees its customers quality music, atmosphere, and libations. Shoot a video on your iPhone of a blaring horn solo, tag #hipmunkcitylove, and post it on our Instagram page @thehipmunk.

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Feeling the electricity of the night (and perhaps of a few bold Sazeracs), ride an uber from The Spotted Cat to Hotel Monteleone in the French District, and drift into a comfortable sleep in luxurious linens beneath high ceilings and elaborate crown moldings. Wake up and work out at the hotel’s rooftop fitness room, and freshen up for another funky day in America’s hippest city.

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Off the Beaten Path: Exploring Melbourne’s Laneways

Melbourne is the home of Aussie rules football, the film and TV industries, and a major center for literature and street art. Those interested in exploring something unique to Melbourne, and not seen in many other cities, should consider spending a day exploring the various laneways of the city, also known as “arcadeways.”

In the early days of the city, the laneways, which date mostly to the Victorian era, consisted of pathways for horses and carts, behind buildings, with roofs later added to protect from the weather. For decades, the untapped potential of these lanes remained dormant, until about 30 years ago when a change in Victoria’s liquor laws spurred a laneway renaissance.

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Architect and urban designer Craig Allchin noted in an interview about Melbourne’s unique laneways that the then-newly created “small bar” licenses, originally set up to spur the development of a local casino, alow allowed enterprising Melburnians to set up small bars all over the city. Before the change in law, establishments were required to serve food to serve alcohol, with the operational cost of kitchens making most undertakings difficult.

Additionally, Melbourne’s mid-1980s city center was mostly empty, with suburban malls poaching much of the retail out of the city. Allchin commented that, “State government strategists reasoned that specialist, one-off stores servicing the whole metropolitan population were important for the life of the city,” and noting that a savvy state government created rent policies which encouraged small businesses to try their hand in the city center.

With an eye toward maintaining the historical character of the laneways, state policies also forced businesses to get creative in the existing small spaces. Today, the laneways, which vary in size from very narrow to comfortably accommodating outdoor seating and music, have been transformed into “hole in the wall” delights, with the various arcades, each with their own distinct personality, boasting acclaimed bars, al-fresco dining, unique shops, and urban art.

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For music fans, AC/DC Lane located off Flinders Lane, is a must-see. Named for the legendary band, which filmed a video for their 1976 classic “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll” while riding a truck down Melbourne’s streets, this laneway boasts the popular live music venue Cherry, host to many a rock band.

Walk 5 minutes away from AC/DC Lane, back down Flinders Lane, and turn onto Hosier Lane. The center of Melbourne’s street art scene, this sprawling alley way features every kind of street art – colorful murals, stencil work, and classic graffiti “tagging.” References to both popular culture and Australian politics makes a jaunt down Hosier both educational and entertaining. The Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Melbourne, near Flinders Street Station, is just around the corner from Hosier Lane and the perfect affordable option to make “home base” when venturing out to explore the laneways.

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In search of food? A 15 minute walk away from Hosier, down Collins Street and Elizabeth Street, will bring you to Hardware Lane, a foodie’s delight with unmatched ambiance – outdoor seating beneath the facades of 1900s-era warehouses. At night, live music complements the food and drink. Try Amigos for tequila and tapas, Il Nostro Posto for pasta, and Aloi Na for Thai. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time eating your way through all of Hardware Lane’s options, the nearby Westin Hotel, just a 10 minute walk away, is a great option for home base.

Finding a drink isn’t difficult in Melbourne, but for a special experience, after dinner in Hardware Lane, walk 15 minutes down Little Bourke Street and into Meyers Place. There are several bars to hole up in, from modern cocktail bars to old-school style speakeasies, but make a point to stop by the city’s oldest laneway bar, Meyers Place, which often has great happy hours deals.

These are just a smattering of the laneways of Melbourne – part of the fun is going on a walking tour of the city and discovering the hidden delights! There are group tours available, or, download your own map and see where the laneways lead you!

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HipHunt: Austin

Between students and tourists, it can be hard to dodge the crowds eager to take in the best drinks, eats and experiences of Austin. Luckily, the Texas state capitol has plenty of quieter spots and lesser known locales to absorb some of that uniquely Texan culture, especially if you spend a day in South Austin, just below the Colorado River. With incredible nightlife, it’s ok to get a late start to your day and complete this scavenger hunt anytime between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.

The Hotel San Jose opened as a motor court in 1936. While a retro-feel remains, the amenities have been upgraded to offer one of the best hotel experiences in the city. The interiors are both minimal and quirky, mixing kimono-style bathrobes with 1960s concert posters and handmade wooden furniture. And while the hotel is located on South Congress, among some of Austin’s busiest blocks, the lush courtyards keep you secluded and peaceful when that’s desired. Before starting your adventures, borrow a typewriter from the hotel and write out a memory from your travels. Instagram a photo of it with the hashtag #hipmunk to be featured on Hipmunk’s Instagram.

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Since Austin is only chilly for a couple months out of the year, visitors will likely want to take a dip in Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring that is 68 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. It’s easy to rent a bike (Hotel San Jose customers can rent from the hotel) and pedal to the city’s natural beauty in the midst of Zilker Park, only a 13 minute ride away (or just over two miles). There’s a fenced in (and paid) portion of the springs with a green lawn for lounging and lifeguards on duty, but the better experience is just outside that fence where the spring is both free and dog-friendly. Find the friendliest pup frolicking in the water and tweet us a picture @thehipmunk!

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After a dip in the icy spring water, bike back to Sandy’s Hamburgers on Barton Springs Road for a creamy treat. This no-frills burger joint has a walk-up window or drive-thru, with a few picnic tables for those who want to hang out. While it doesn’t look like much, there’s no better warm weather treat than a Sandy’s dip cone or milkshake. Order your treat of choice and Instagram it tagged with #hipmunk so we can all enjoy (and try not to drool).

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 2.21.24 PMWhen it comes to meal time, the restaurants along South Congress and South Lamar can get pretty congested with people. But just a bit East of Congress is Curra’s Grill. Famous for tamales and avocado margaritas, you’ll enjoy a Tex-Mex feast here after a day in the sun. There’s everything from tacos and enchiladas to ceviche and fajitas. What do you recommend off the Curra’s menu? Tweet us your favorite @thehipmunk and let us know.

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Do some shopping, but just to the West of Congress on South First Street. Here visitors can find some truly Texan, and Austin-style, places—think vintage shops and quirky art galleries. Don’t skip past the old-school neon signage at Roadhouse Relics, where you’ll find the Americana creations of artist Todd Sanders. His neon art is in national magazines, the movies of Terrence Malick and Robert Rodriguez and the collections of Willie Nelson and Norah Jones, to name a few. Snap a shot on the side of Roadhouse Relics where you’ll find the iconic Greetings from Austin street art, beloved by locals and tourists alike, which Sanders is responsible for restoring just two years ago. Share on Instagram with the hashtag #hipmunk.

Finally, end your evening on South Lamar, a short drive from South Congress, South First or Barton Springs Road, depending on where you are in your hunt. Find yourself at the Broken Spoke, a honky tonk with real country bands and real country dancing. There’s sure to be a friendly enough Texan to teach you to two-step (if you don’t already know it), and plenty of couples to watch for the wallflowers. Find the best pair of cowboy boots and tweet a picture @thehipmunk!

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HipHunt: Burlington, VT

Your day in Burlington begins at Penny Cluse, a kitschy cafe located on Cherry Street. Pick a seat by the window to watch the city wake up as you dive into a bottomless cup of the cafe’s strong coffee. Check out the daily specials, but know that what you want is something slathered in the cafe’s famous herb gravy. We suggest sticking with the cafe’s namesake dish, the Penny Cluse, a dish with eggs, home fries, biscuits and, of course, a bowl of gravy. Snap a pic of your fuel and tag #hipmunk on Instagram!

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When you finish, head out and take a left on Cherry. Walk a block until you hit Church Street. Turn left or right, it doesn’t matter. You’ll want to explore every nook and cranny of Burlington’s famous walking street, which includes farm-to-table restaurants, candle shops, jewelry stores, and art galleries. Enjoy one of the many buskers you’re bound to run into, so find your favorite and film a video for us. Don’t forget to tag @thehipmunk on Instagram!

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Wander down Church Street until you reach Burlington City Arts at the corner of Church and Main. BCA offers a plethora of great arts exhibitions and concerts that feature everything from historic photography of Vermont to abstract painting. Duck inside to see which artists are being featured that month. Take a photo of yourself by the piece of art you’re most drawn to, and tell us why you love it in a tweet @thehipmunk.

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After taking in the exhibits at BCA, turn right onto Main Street and walk until you reach the waterfront. Choose a bench along the boardwalk and take in Lake Champlain. Be on the look out for Champ, the monster who, according to local myth, dwells at the bottom of the lake. (Better make sure your phone is ready, because if you spot the mythical beast, we need to see it @thehipmunk!) Spend a few peaceful moments this way and then head to the ECHO Lake Aquarium, where you can learn about the flora and fauna of the lake. If you’re hungry, head to the Skinny Pancake at the corner of College and Main Street. You’re safe ordering any of the delectable crepes available there, but we suggest the Sass-Squash, which is a wholly Vermont-y dish made with local squash, apples, and Vermont cheddar.

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After crepes, head up College Street, away from the waterfront until you reach Vermont Pub and Brewery, Vermont’s oldest brewery. The guy who owns this place, Greg Noonan, really knows his stuff, so take his lead on beer suggestions. Grab a seat at the bar and try one of their experimental brews, which could be as fanciful as a Strawberry Rhubarb Ale or as traditional as an Irish Red. Gab with some local Vermonters and tweet us the name of your favorite beer.

Groggy on your happy hour pint, make your way to City Hall Park, just down the street from the brewery. Sit for a moment and take in the quaint hustle of the city. Watch as the sun begins to sink below the mountains and the lake. Come in the Fall when the foliage makes the mountains glow with reds, oranges, and golds.

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When it’s time to eat, head to American Flatbread, which borders the park at Paul St. American Flatbread is a favorite amongst Burlingtoners, who gather around the large brick hearth in the center of the restaurant to feast on delicious flatbreads and salads. You really can’t go wrong here, but we suggest trying out the Punctuated Equilibrium flatbread, which is loaded with kalamata olives, sweet red peppers, Vermont goat cheese, and fresh rosemary. Many of the ingredients are locally sourced, so ask your waiter where the veggies on your dish came from. When you find out, tweet us!

As the day reaches its close, check out Merrill’s Roxy, an independently owned movie theater on College St. that plays popular and indie films. Or, take in a concert at Higher Ground, a great place to catch local and national talent. Or, if you’re beat from the day, take a meandering walk back to your hotel. Remember that the users with the best tweets and posts get a chance to win a #hipmunk tee!

 

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HipHunt: Mumbai

With an empty belly (you’ll be eating a lot, today!) begin your day in Mumbai at the Gateway of India. Built in 1924, the colossal structure overlooks Mumbai Harbor and was built to welcome trade vessels to India’s main port city. Book a short passage on a boat that circles the harbor (about 70 rupees, or $1), or take in the view from a bench and watch the tourists stroll by. Have someone snap a photo of you by the gate and make sure to tag #hipmunk on Instagram (we want to see your adventures!).

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Once you’ve had your fill of the water, walk down PJ Ramchandani Marg until you hit the Taj Mahal Palace. Not to be confused with the other Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahal Palace is one of Mumbai’s most famous architectural locations. Peek inside for a look at the gilded architecture, or, if you’re feeling ambitious, reserve a table for High Tea and nosh on an elaborate display of local delicacies. Instagram your favorite dish, tag us, and tell us all about it! After your snack, make sure to tour the historic halls.

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Resurface on PJ Ramchandani Marg and hail a cab, then head to the Leopold Cafe on Colaba Causeway. Taxis move quickly through the narrow streets of Mumbai, so keep the window rolled down and feel the breeze as it jets in. Take in the smells of street chai and roasting sugar, and the whirling reds and pinks of the buildings. Snap a photo of the view from your window and see how many sites you can tag from memory and remember to #hipmunk on Instagram!

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Once at Leopold, grab a seat (the most prized spots are right under one of their ceiling fans). The cafe is a famous meeting ground for artists and writers, such as Gregory David Roberts of Shantaram fame. Order a coffee and a masala savoury tomato omelette and enjoy the prime people-watching on the busy Causeway. Step outside to explore the streets of Colaba, then duck into one of the silver shops and barter over a necklace or ring that catches your eye. Take a photo with the shop owner while wearing your newfound piece of jewelry and share it with us!

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After Colaba, head toward the roundabout at the end of Colaba Causeway. Walk along its outer edge until you hit Mahatma Gandhi Road, then continue for a few minutes until you hit VB Gandhi Marg. Turn right, and you’ll be standing in the middle of the Kala Ghoda Arts District. Explore some of the small sides streets to the left and right, including the plentiful local art galleries. Snap a pic of your favorite piece of art, tag us, and tell us what it means to you. Make a quick pitstop at the Kala Ghoda Cafe for a selection of delicious sandwiches and salads. Or, if you’re in the mood for traditional Indian fare, check out Paratha Mantra along B Bharucha Road.

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Head out on B Bharucha Road until you hit Nagindas Master Road. Turn left, and at the next corner, turn right on Dalal Street. Follow it until you reach Horniman Circle Garden, a large expanse of green lodged into the pit of a quiet shopping center. Take a seat in the garden to catch your breath, then pop into the Central Library and the St. Thomas Cathedral Church. Or simply enjoy the lush flowers and the warmth of a Mumbai afternoon.

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As the afternoon sinks into evening, grab a cab to Delhi Darbar, one of Mumbai’s most famous restaurant chains. Order one of the delectable lamb curries (around 275 rupees) and enjoy a post-dinner chai. After dinner, walk to the Regal Cinema at the end of the road. After all, a trip to Mumbai would be nothing without taking in a Bollywood film! The cinema doesn’t offer subtitles for movies not in English, but the dancing and lively music will more than make up for it. Tweet @thehipmunk the name of the movie you decide to see and a quick review!

After the movie, grab a drink at the Woodside Inn, or if you’re too exhausted, take a taxi back to your hotel and rest up for the next day’s exciting adventure! And remember to share your photos and observations with us here at Hipmunk. Your funniest posts might just win you a Hipmunk tee!

 

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5 Cities With Hidden Scavenger Hunts

Calling all private eyes, detectives, and treasure hunters! We’ve brought together the most exciting (and challenging) scavenger hunts and mystery adventures in five cities across America. Think you’ve mastered deductive reasoning? Got the eyes of a hawk? Round up the usual suspects – family or friends – and put those skills to the test.

SAN DIEGO, CA

Combine exploring city neighborhoods and an Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt with Urban Adventure in San Diego. If you thrive on competition, team play is option here as you meander through the city following the clues. What better way to settle family rivalries or bond with new colleagues? When you’ve finished the tour, check in to The Dana, a retro-style hotel on Mission Bay, minutes away from the beach and the San Diego Zoo, where you can make friends with Gao Gao, Bai Yun, and Xiao Liwu, the three adorable giant pandas who live there.

NEW YORK, NY

There are eight million stories in the naked city…and once you’ve arrived, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Problem-solvers enjoy Escape the Room, a brainy puzzle in which participants are held captive in a room until someone cracks the code to escape. It’s the stuff of nightmares for some, and an irresistible challenge for others. Alternatively, create your own adventure wandering the corridors of the lower Manhattan sensation, Sleep No More, an ‘immersive theatre’ mashup of Macbeth and film noir. Imagine a scavenger hunt led by a bloodthirsty Scottish power couple as conceived by Alfred Hitchcock. You can’t actually stay at the abandoned McKittrick Hotel, the gloriously detailed,100-plus room set of the show, but you can book yourself a room at Viceroy, a snazzy new hotel in Midtown that channels Art Deco and the old New York in its intricate design and luxe amenities.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

The nation’s definitive Easter Egg hunt takes in the capital, kicked off by the President and First Lady themselves. Planned specifically for young children with accompanying adults, classic activities like dyeing and decorating eggs are supplemented by storytelling, cooking demonstrations, sports, and games. Check out the highlights of 2015 and plan next year’s visit now! Or, decipher cryptic messages and solve a fictional murder mystery set in D.C.’s expansive National Gallery. Sleuths and fans of the Da Vinci Code will be well prepared for the Leonardo-themed, two-and-a-half hour tour.  Meanwhile, the charmingly historical Henley Hotel is situated close to Gallery Place and offers a delightful afternoon tea service, a great way to celebrate the case closed.

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO

Some treasure is buried deep in the earth… and some falls straight from the sky. The deserts and dry lakebeds of Glorietta Mountain in New Mexico are excellent spots to search for fallen stars (aka meteorites). Bring a metal detector and a rock hammer, or team up with the pros at Meteorite Adventures and begin your expedition with them. When not engaged in active fieldwork, enjoy central Santa Fe at the Hotel Chimayo, a downtown hotel that displays local artwork in partnership with Chimayo Cultural Preservation Association.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Trivia night at the local pub will seem elementary, my dear doctor, compared with the mental and physical challenges posed by City Solve in Seattle. Charge up the brain cells at the original Starbucks located in Pike Place Market and prepare to solve riddles, identify pop-culture references, and outsmart (or outrun) the competition: after all, there’s a $300 cash prize for first place. With the mission complete, enjoy an evening gazing out at the waterfront over a glass of local Washington wine at the The Edgewater, the best hotel in Seattle for panoramic views of Elliot Bay and the Olympic Mountains in the distance.

 

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6 Hours For Business Travelers In San Antonio

While San Antonio, Texas, is an excellent tourist destination known for the historic Battle of the Alamo and its picturesque River Walk, the city is also an established center for business. The Alamo City often plays host to meetings and conferences for such diversified industries as healthcare, car manufacturing, financial services, and oil and gas. The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, conveniently located in the heart of the city’s Downtown San Antonio allows business travelers easy access to many of the city’s must-see attractions. Here’s a quick guide for the business traveler (or just the busy traveler!) with just six hours to spare in one of Texas’ gems.

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1:00 p.m.

Check into one of the many beautiful downtown hotels San Antonio has to offer. The Grand Hyatt San Antonio is located next to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, while the Westin Riverwalk San Antonio is on the famous River Walk and only a short 10-minute walk away.

1:30 p.m.

Pop into Schilo’s Delicatessen on E. Commerce Street for a Reuben sandwich, split pea soup and their famous homemade root beer. This German-style deli, housed in a former 19th century mercantile exchange building, has been serving up sandwiches since 1917 and is emblematic of the city’s rich German roots. It’s only a six-minute walk from the Westin or a seven-minute stroll from the Convention Center.

 

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2:15 p.m.

Amble on the famous River Walk, or Paseo del Rio as it’s also referred to in Spanish, one story below street level. There’s an entrance on E. Commerce and Losoya streets only a few steps away from Schilo’s. The River Walk is a series of sidewalks lining the San Antonio River and peppered with restaurants, bars and shops. Construction on the project began as early as 1939 and has continued to be extended away from the down town area. The river is used for many boat parades, including all five of the San Antonio Spurs’ NBA Championship victory cruises and annual holiday lighting ceremonies.

 

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2:20 p.m.

Continue on the river for approximately five minutes until reaching the Hyatt Regency San Antonio hotel. Once inside, walk through the hotel’s specialty-designed pedestrian walkway complete with concrete waterfalls and romantic landscaping reminiscent of indigenous pyramids. The walkway is appropriately named Paseo del Alamo as it leads back to street level directly across from The Alamo Mission. The Alamo was the site of the famous Battle of the Alamo in 1836 during the Texas Revolution. It’s one of five historic Spanish frontier missions in San Antonio that were collectively named a UNESCO World Heritage Site this July. Walk through the mission’s gardens and learn about the battle’s iconic participants, including General Sam Houston, James Bowie, and Davy Crockett. Admission to the Alamo is free.

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3:10 p.m.

After the Alamo, walk to the corner of East Crockett Street and cut through Rivercenter Mall. Do a bit of shopping inside the beautifully sunlit mall. Go down to river level for Marble Slab Creamery ice cream where they expertly hand-mix flavors and toppings into a waffle cone. Enjoy the lovely views of the river and the sounds of the Peruvian woodwind instruments played by the Andean Fusion band, which can typically be found there on the weekends.

 

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3:45 p.m.

Continue south on the River Walk for another 10 minutes until you reach HemisFair Park, located on the grounds behind the Convention Center. The lush park ground has beautiful gardens, cascading waterfalls, fountains and playgrounds. The park is home to the Mexican Cultural Institute, which showcases Mexican artists and classic films. Rise to the top of the city for $11 at the Tower of Americas, the 750-foot rotating observation tower and restaurant, and get 360-degree views of the Alamo City. Grab a coffee or have a delicious meal at the award-winning restaurant Chart House.

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4:30 p.m.

Catch bus 305 at the corner of S. Alamo and Nueva Street (towards S. Main Opposite Johnson) and explore San Antonio’s King William Historic District. Hop off at the Beauregard St. stop, approximately three stops and about an eight-minute bus ride. Walk west on Beauregard and make a left on King William St. to admire the beautiful 19-century homes designed in Victorian, Italianate and Greek revival styles once occupied by early German settlers. King William often hosts various street fairs and celebrations.

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5:00 p.m.

Keep admiring the architecture until you reach Guenther St. and choose to either walk on the street or the river until you reach the Blue Star Contemporary Art complex on South Alamo St. housing various art galleries and brewing company by the same. First Friday is an art walk that happens every first Friday of the month where galleries, homes and businesses along South Alamo St. alike stay open late to showcase artists’ work and offer free wine.

5:45 p.m.

Stroll up South Alamo St. or hop back on the 305 bus until you get to Rosario’s Café Y Cantina at the corner of S. St. Mary’s St. for some delicious Mexican fare. Start with a refreshing prickly pear cactus margarita at the bar. Have the white fish ceviche or the shrimp nachos as an appetizer, then try the chile relleno (stuffed poblano pepper) or chicken enchiladas Suizas.

6:45 p.m.

If you’re still up for a nightcap, head to The Friendly Spot, an outdoor bar known for their micheladas and more than 250 bottled beers to choose from.