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Flickr/rjshadeAs the count down to the New Year approaches, so does the party-planning pressure. Most major cities throw vast, crowded spectacles for the occasion, but if you’re not so keen on ringing in the New Year elbow-to-elbow with thousands of strangers, consider planning something a little offbeat this year… Read more

Flickr_taxi_twicepix_sizedForget about the subway – with all the new innovations showing up in taxis lately, we’re sticking with getting around cities the old-fashioned, four-wheel way. And we’re not talking about things like e-hailing taxi apps, which we covered already in a post last month. No, this time we’re looking at new ways to pay fares, cabs with free Wifi, and eco-friendly electric taxis. Find out which cities are ahead of the pack, below! Read more

New York City flipped over the cronut – a sweet cross between a croissant and a donut created by pastry chef Dominique Ansel.  But the Big Apple isn’t the only city that that has a signature sweet. (Or a series of signature sweets ; we remember when people in New York waited around the block for cupcakes, too.) Here’s a look at some other tasty treats that are satiating sweet tooths around the world.

1. Australia
Flickr/Reuben Hills Ice Cream SandwichWhen looking for an unusual brunch treat in Sydney, try the Dogg’s Breakfast at Reuben Hills in Darlinghurst. This hand-crafted ice-cream sandwich is served with salted caramel sauce. (The whole Reuben Hills menu follows suit, with some salty language.)

If you’re looking for a more traditional Australian treat, keep an eye out for lamingtons.  The spongy yellow cake covered in coconut and chocolate is available at most bakeries and cafes.

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Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp, BelgiumBetween 1873 and 1935 the Red Star Line shipping company transported more than two million European migrants from Antwerp, Belgium to new lives in the “New World” of the United States and Canada. The shipping line’s former warehouses, which stood empty and decaying (and slated to be turned into apartments) since the line ceased operations, will reopen as a museum on September 28th.  Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the architectural firm behind the renovation and preservation of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and Grand Central Terminal, were responsible for the warehouses’ restoration.

The museum will likely draw many American visitors who will be able to research their ancestry and see the very place, in a warehouse at the port of Antwerp, where their ancestors embarked on these life-changing journeys. Also of interest will be the stories of the famous passengers who left Europe on the Red Star Line, such as Irving Berlin, whose family loaned his transposing piano to the museum, and Albert Einstein who, as he fled Nazi persecution, wrote a letter on Red Star Line stationery announcing his resignation from the Prussian Academy of Sciences — also on loan to the museum.

The museum’s slogan is “People on the Move,” drawing attention to the fact that “migration is a universal phenomenon” and links the experience of the Red Star Line’s passengers with that of contemporary migrants. Interactive exhibits will attempt to simulate the experience of immigration, including a visit to, first, a Warsaw travel agency and finally an intake center in New York City or Philadelphia.

Here are some other migration museums around the world where you can trace your heritage…

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Tourism Campaigns to LoveWhen was the last time you were inspired to visit a destination based on a commercial you saw on TV, or a poster ad in the subway? Savvy tourism marketing offices are on a never-ending crusade to bring new visitors to their country; and with a well-placed, visually striking, simply-worded ad, they often manage to achieve their goal. But what is the key to a successful tourism campaign? Well, if you follow the lead of these five winning campaigns, the answer is: cute animals, drag queens, and a great sense of humor. Read more

Madame BrusselsEach year, The Economist releases its list of the world’s most livable cities – and for three years now, Melbourne in Australia has earned the number one spot. We got to thinking, there must be something we’re not seeing – certainly, we thought, it has nothing on Sydney’s rich culture, or the Gold Coast’s beautiful beaches, but after a little digging, we uncovered a few reasons why we think it’s made it to the top, year after year. Read more

Wilson Island, Great Barrier ReefSome people only dream of exploring Australia’s prized gem: The Great Barrier Reef, with its crystal clear blue waters and countless species of fish that call it home. But getting to Australia, let alone the natural heritage site (and one of the seven natural wonders of the world), isn’t easy. Aside from the numerous hours on a plane, hotel expenses, activity fees – the list goes on – there are plenty of reasons to just save it for “later.” Until now.

For groups looking to hunker down on a private island for several nights, Wilson Island could be the difference between your dream and reality. Read more

Guide to Lake HillierDefying scientific explanation, the waters of Lake Hillier are distinctly rose-pink. Located on Middle Island, the largest of the islands that compose the Recherche Archipelago in Western Australia, the lake’s beautiful pink color is neither a reflection of the floor of the lake, like many colored lakes and rivers, nor influenced by the dye of organisms and bacteria. The pink hue is permanent, even when placed in a container. Almost 2,000 feet long, the lake and its bubblegum hue can be seen clearly by air passengers flying above it. Read more

Uluru, AustraliaGlowing a brilliant red at both dawn and sunset (above), Uluru, a giant sandstone rock formation in Australia’s Northern Territory, provides nature’s version of an optical illusion. Though the rock itself is actually grey (which can be seen when it rains), its coat of red oxide combined with the reflection of the sun causes the inselberg (an isolated rock structure) to appear a different striking red or orange hue at different times of the day.

Also known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is located in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The rock is made up of arkose and conglomerate, and is 1,141 feet high (to put it into perspective, that lump is taller than The Shard in London). There are many species of flora and fauna that live near Uluru, as well as the group of aboriginal people native to the area, the Anangu, and Uluru is a sacred site for them, as they believe that it is the home of their ancestors. Read more

Where to Ski in the SummerIt’s officially summer in the northern hemisphere, which means holidays, road trips, and the urge to visit national parks. But if you’re craving a cooler sort of escape this season, consider a ski trip…to the southern hemisphere. With winter just settling in, places like Chile and New Zealand offer incredible skiing at a time of year when most North Americans are hitting the beach. The best part? Skiing in these destinations can be a bargain. Here are our favorite “summer” skiing destinations.

New Zealand: Cardrona Alpine Resort
Visiting New Zealand is a dream for lots of Americans. If you head down there to see the epic landscapes used as backdrops in the Lord of the Rings movies, consider hitting the slopes, too. Cardrona, New Zealand is easily accessible from Queenstown on the south island. Skiers will find plenty to love, and snowboarders will have a tough time finding better terrain anywhere. At under $100 for a lift ticket, it’s actually cheaper than many of the venues surrounding Vail, Aspen, and other high-end mountains in the U.S. Read more

The Best Golf Resorts for Father's DayIf you’re the type to travel for golf (or just golf while you travel), check out our top ten list of the best golf resorts around the world. Get ready to tee off in some seriously amazing destinations.

1. PGA National Resort and Spa Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

It’s the stuff of legends. Home to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, the PGA National Resort and Spa is steeped in golf history. Boasting signature courses like “The Palmer” and “The Squire” (designed and named after Arnold Palmer and Gene Sarazen, respectively), an on-site Golf Academy offering lessons from certified PGA pros, and a newly renovated golf complex, it’s easy to see why this resort is a favorite among golf buffs. Treat dad to the Gold Golf Package, which includes resort accommodation, daily breakfast at the Palm Terrace restaurant, one round of golf daily on selected courses, and unlimited balls and bag storage. Room rates start from $129 per room per night. Read more

Green Beacon Brisbane BeerI turned up in Brisbane thirsty. The kind of thirst that only a stiff drink or well-poured brew could possibly quench. While it’s no secret that Aussies are a generally hop-happy breed, this laid-back Queensland capital takes its swill rather seriously, turning the act of casual beer drinking into a veritable art form. A bevy of new boutique beer bars and microbreweries have recently cropped up about town, with top taps turning out specialty suds and respectable bar bites in stylish, yet unpretentious, settings. Read more

Sydneysiders are spoiled when it comes to leisure options. When they tire of the beach, culture, and nightlife that brims within their city limits, a world-class mountain escape is nearby. The breathtaking Blue Mountains – harboring a series of national parks and conservation areas that have earned a UNESCO World Heritage designation – are set within easy striking distance of Sydney. They’re close enough to taste in a scratch-the-surface day trip, but are best enjoyed over a couple of active days. Just back from my own budget-friendly Blue Mountains escape, here are some tips for this sensational Sydney trip. Read more

Think of Melbourne as Sydney’s shy but sexy little sister, who doesn’t scream out for the spotlight, but once you get to know her, va va voom. I tacked on a couple of days in Melbourne at the tail end of my recent Australian travels, and regretted not having more time to idly explore the subtle charms of this captivating cosmopolitan capital, pulsing with creativity and cultural flair.

While lacking the major blockbuster attractions that typically reel in the international tourists, Melbourne’s real allure is uncovered while exploring its city-within-the-city, on its tucked-away “laneways” that sneak away from the wide, well-ordered, and trafficked streets of Melbourne’s polished facade. Here, a rich-in-character back-door world of bustling back alleyways brimming with quirky bars, trendsetting boutiques, cozy cafes, edgy art galleries, and multicultural restaurants is unveiled, all overseen by a vibrant and unrivaled street art scene. Read more

kim-marie-evans-turks-caicosIf you don’t know what Bulgaria, London, Milwaukee, Montana, and New Zealand have in common, it’s my pleasure to remind you that they’re all places some of my well-traveled colleagues identified as worthy family vacation destinations for 2012.

Given that a new year is upon us and my friends are still well traveled, I called on them again to identify destinations that family travelers might want to add to their short lists in 2013.

Kangaroo Island: Yes, Things Are Hopping There

If Hobbit tourism catches on the way John E. DiScala (aka the very frequent flier better known as Johnny Jet) predicted last year, the New Zealand town of Matamata will still be a destination to watch for 2013. If Tolkien travel is not your family’s thing, but you’re still intrigued by the Southern Hemisphere, DiScala has another nomination for you: Kangaroo Island. “It’s in south Australia, just a 15 minute flight from Adelaide,” he points out, “and it’s known as Australia’s ‘zoo without fences.’” As you might expect, you’ll get an eyeful of kangaroos and wallabies there, as well as koalas, seals, and the whimsical-looking echidnas (spiny anteaters). DiScala also says the island’s Southern Ocean Lodge is one of the world’s best places to stay.

Perhaps the best news is that Kangaroo Island is not yet on the radar of U.S. family travelers. “I was there in October, so no U.S. families were traveling,” DiScala says, “but they will be there, as it’s just now getting known. It’s the new Tasmania.” Read more

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