The Beatles Tour of Liverpool: Penny Lane to Cavern Club
The Beatles had a worldwide influence, and there’s no shortage of places to follow in the footsteps of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Hamburg’s Reeperbahn is where the Fab Four honed their skills; New York has the Ed Sullivan Theater; and of course, London has Abbey Road Studios and its iconic crosswalk. This itinerary takes in all the top sites, exploring the birth places of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
"There are places I’ll remember…"
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr are celebrated all over the city, but perhaps nowhere as much as the banks of the River Mersey. Start your tour on the waterfront, where a larger-than-life-size statue of the lads is nestled in the shadow of the iconic Royal Liver building, between the Titanic Memorial and Museum of Liverpool.
From there, it’s just a few hundred feet to the Royal Albert Dock. This UNESCO World Heritage site is now an immensely popular multi-use tourist attraction which includes the Fab4 Store, the Fab4Cafe and the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. But the biggest attraction is The Beatles Story, perhaps the best Beatles-only exhibition in the world. The museum is chock full of objects and memorabilia, as well as a children’s discovery zone. It’s the perfect place to start your exploration.
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"Get back to where you once belonged…"
The Beatles grew up in separate parts of Liverpool, so you’ll want to take a bus to do most of your touring. Ringo grew up at 10 Admiral Grove in the Dingle area, in a row house that was slated for demolition a few years ago until the public outcry put an end to those plans. George was the only Beatle who wasn’t born in a hospital—he was born in his childhood home at 12 Arnold Grove (a name he used as a pseudonym later in life) in Wavertree. Paul’s musical family lived at 20 Forthlin Road in Allerton.
When the guys skipped school to play, they sometimes practiced at John’s house "Mendips," located at 251 Menlove Ave. in the Woolton area. John’s guardian, his Aunt Mimi, didn’t like it much ("The guitar’s all right for a hobby, John, but you’ll never make a living at it," she once said). Still, the semi-detached house with the sunny entryway was centrally located and probably the nicest of all the houses. Now it’s an English Heritage site.
In fact it was close to Mendips—at St. Peter’s Church, on Church Road—where John’s skiffle band The Quarrymen was playing when he was introduced to Paul McCartney on July 6, 1957. Paul was a better musician than most of the guys in the group, and it wasn’t long before John invited him to join. A short time later, they changed their name to the Beatles. Speaking of names, there’s a gravestone in the churchyard with the name Eleanor Rigby. Inspiration, or coincidence?
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"Listen to the music playing in your head…"
The Beatles played all over the city before hitting the big time. The Casbah Club (tours available by appointment) was a coffee shop in the basement of original drummer Pete Best’s house at 8 Hayman’s Green in West Derby, and a frequent haunt for the band. The "Rainbow Stage" they played on there was little more than a nook. It’s a far cry from the Litherland Town Hall, where Beatlemania probably began. Now it’s a health center on Hatton Hill Road, but in 1961 it was where the band played its first gigs after returning from Hamburg—and quickly established they were the best draw in the city.
Of course, the most iconic site—indeed, it could very well be the most important and famous music venue in the world—is the Cavern Club. The Beatles played the stifling cellar at 10 Mathew Street a staggering 292 times and it was here they were discovered by manager Brian Epstein. In fact, Mathew Street is the center of the Beatles experience for any visitor to Liverpool. In addition to The Cavern, there’s a statue of John Lennon, a couple of Beatles-themed bars, gift shops and tours, as well as The Grapes—the pub where the boys drank between sets at the alcohol-free Cavern.
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"Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes…"
You don’t have to dig too deep to find the places that had the most direct inspiration on The Beatles’ music—they’re name-checked in some of the band’s most famous songs. For instance, Penny Lane is a real street in Liverpool. Where it meets Smithdown Road, there really is a roundabout with a bus stop shelter in the middle (in fact until recently the "shelter in the middle of the roundabout" was a Beatles-themed bistro). There’s even a barber shop on one side of the square.
If "Penny Lane" was Paul’s typically rose-colored look back at the places and people who filled his Liverpool childhood, for John it was bittersweet nostalgia inspiring "Strawberry Fields Forever." The song was named for a Salvation Army orphanage in Beaconsfield Road—just around the corner from Mendips. John and his friends would play in the wooded grounds, and they became a place of freedom and imagination. The old building is long gone, but the wrought-iron gates are still there and have been attracting Beatles fans for generations.
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Make the Beatles tour of Liverpool happen
It doesn’t get much better for a Beatles fan than Hard Day’s Night Hotel, with sculptures of the lads on every corner of the façade and more than 100 individually-designed rooms (all with Beatles themes, naturally). It backs directly up to Mathew Street, for easy access to the Cavern and other sites. The YHA Albert Dock hostel is a budget-friendly option with a Beatles theme as well. To get around, pick up a reloadable Walrus Card from Merseytravel for easy and inexpensive bus access. If you want to leave the planning to someone else, try the Beatles Fab Four Taxi Tour.
Just Two Hours a Week in Nature Could Change Your Life
The news that there are positive health benefits to spending just two hours in nature per week should inspire people to get travelling more to woodlands, beaches and parks. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports has found that spending two hours per week in the natural world gives a positive boost to mental and physical well-being. Based on interviews with around 20,000 people in England, those who reported spending 120 minutes in nature in the previous week had consistently higher levels of both health and well-being than those who spent less than that. One Long Walk or Several Short Walks Are Sufficient The results indicated that it did not matter whether the two hours of contact a week was achieved in one long stint or several shorter ones. This is good news because while some people may prefer long walks at the weekend in locations further from home, others may prefer regular shorter visits to parks or beaches in their local area. Most People Don’t Spend Enough Time in Nature The findings indicated that only one in three people who had spent at least two hours in the natural world in the previous week said they felt dissatisfied, while just one in seven reported poor health. By contrast, close to half of those who spent little or no time in parks, beaches or woods in the past seven days reported low levels of life satisfaction. One in four of these people said they were in poor health. The researchers found that the results were consistent across ages, sexes and residential areas, and even among those with long-standing illnesses or disabilities. The other interesting fact was that there is no need to spend huge amounts of times to get the benefits, as the positive impact levels off, so the people in the study didn’t report increased benefits if they exceeded two hours in the wild. To read the full study in Scientific Reports, please click here.
Discover This Gorgeous Corner of Washington State Before Everybody Else Does
We love introducing you to places you've possibly never heard of. Today, we’re giving away a big secret. (Just don’t tell everybody, okay?)( There’s a little corner of Northeast Washington State that boasts hundreds of thousands of acres of public land, including trails for hiking and cycling, lakes for paddling and swimming, and mountains to inspire you whether you choose to climb or enjoy the occasional sightings of native grizzly, black bears, cougars, bald eagles, and the last remaining herd of caribou in the U.S. The best part? You’ve probably never heard of Ferry County, WA, the town of Republic, or the Colville National Forest and other nearby public lands, and neither have hundreds of thousands of other travelers. That relative anonymity, of course, poses both a challenge and an opportunity for the people who live and work in Ferry County, about a 2.5-hour drive from Spokane and a 5-hour drive from the Seattle area. The area's inaugural Get Out Fest will put the region on travelers' maps. Meet the Get Out Fest From June 27 to 30, nature-loving travelers will be discovering all that the Ferry County region has to offer when the Get Out Fest makes its debut. The goal of this inaugural event is to raise awareness of the area’s opportunities for outdoor recreation and to offer tons of outdoor activities that won’t break the bank. What to Expect at the Get Out Fest First of all: $5 admission (what part of $5 admission don’t you like?) when you register in advance, $10 at the gate. Kids under 18 get in for free. Festival participants can head to the Ferry County Fairground for an array of activities. Outdoor specialists REI will offer mountain bike rides on the Kettle Crest, a guided hike along a section of the Pacific Northwest Trail, a 25-foot climbing wall, skateboarding activities, a fishing derby, and a fossil hunt. There will be outdoor movies, food, local libations (sponsored by Rainier Beer, Latta Wines, Kind Stranger Wines, and Sleight of Hand Cellars), and live music from The Cave Singers, a Seattle band. Runners may want to lace up for a half-marathon along the gorgeous Ferry County Rail Trail ($45), or the less challenging but no less beautiful 5k ($30). Local Lodging Camping costs $20 for a tent and $30 for an RV. Airbnb rentals in the area start at under $100/night. Marquee Names For an undiscovered corner of the Evergreen State, Ferry County’s festival has some very cool partners. Maybe you’ve heard of Washington’s very own Pearl Jam? The band donated a guitar that will be auctioned online to offset costs of the festival. REI Spokane will be provide free watersport rentals (kayaks and paddleboards), and the Spokane climbing gym Wild Walls and the Washington Trails Association will be onsite lending their expertise and inspiration. Learn More Learn more and book your weekend at the festival at getoutfest.com. And for a fascinating look at the years of planning that went into this inaugural Get Out Fest, read Eli Francovich’s article in The Spokesman-Review, which first put the Get Out Fest on our radar.
Oakland Is the Bay Area’s New Style Capital
Visitors to Northern California’s Bay Area have a legendary array of sights to see and experiences to savor, from the natural beauty of Marin County to the cultural cornucopia of Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and other communities. But lately, we’ve noticed that Oakland in particular is setting itself apart when it comes to attracting fashion-forward shoppers. The city of Oakland itself has taken notice of its stylish status as well, launching a new Oakland Style digital fashion guide to help visitors and locals explore Oakland-based apparel and accessories. Unique Local Style With Meaning Shoppers in the know are attracted to Oakland’s style scene not only because the clothing and accessories are original and beautiful but also because Oakland style often holds deeper meaning, reflecting local history (black berets are just one example), popular culture (remember MC Hammer’s parachute pants?) and even politics. Oakland’s Sherri McMullen styled iconic looks for Michelle Obama; Oakland rapper Mistah F.A.B. launched the Dope Era fashion brand; Oakland native and NFL player Marshawn Lynch created Beastmode, an “athleisure” brand; and local Viscera crafts unique jewelry using a 3D printer. We love how Oakland-inspired clothing brand Oaklandish pursues a mission to spread “local love”: with local-pride T-shirts and accessories and by creating quality jobs for inner-city locals. And we applaud vintager clothing boutique Regina’s Door for serving as a sanctuary for homeless youth, young creatives, and survivors of sex trafficking. A Handy Guide for Visitors and Locals Oakland Style (visitoakland.com/style) highlights five distinct local fashion styles: Town Pride, Vintage and Consignment, A Night on The Town, Elevated Style and Lakeside Lounging. “We are excited to launch the Oakland Style campaign, and to promote shopping at local Oakland businesses to visitors and locals alike,” says Mark Everton, CEO of Visit Oakland. “Oakland’s diverse makers and business owners are what make our city unique, and we are thrilled to highlight their creative products in our digital fashion guide.” Put Oakland on Your California Must-See ListOakland is always a good idea, whether you’re visiting for its stylish clothing or for its other ample charms, including great food, the unique urban parkland around Lake Merritt, and the exceptional Oakland Museum of California, which combines art, history, and science in a user-friendly environment. Oakland is an easy day trip across the bay from (the significantly more expensive) San Francisco and a must-stop for anyone exploring Northern California.
Discover the New Frontier of California Wine Country in Paso Robles
One of the most delicious and inspiring ways to spend a day on California’s Central Coast is to drop by one of the fine wineries that are charting the next frontier of California Wine Country. We recently caught up with Eric Jensen, owner and winemaker at Booker Vineyard, in Paso Robles (the up-and-coming wine region about midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles). Jensen shared some tips for first-time vineyard visitors, his top recommendations for wine and coastal fun, and some exciting news about Booker’s most recent bottlings. What are your top tips for novice wine tasters headed to California for the first time? Eric Jensen: Decide what’s most important before you book and this will help set your budget. Is it all about the wine? If so, look for lodging close enough to wineries that is bare bones but clean. If it’s about the area and enjoying the surroundings and you won’t be spending all your money on wine, then you can look for a hotel with amenities like nice pools, restaurants, areas around the property to bike and hike, etc. Don’t forget though, our Paso Robles region has incredible hiking, biking, and gorgeous beaches all within just 30 minutes. What are your tips for aspiring wine collectors who want to shop for wine in California? E.J.: Try it all! Find the varieties and styles you’re passionate about. For me, it was big Syrahs and bright red Grenaches, so I chose Paso Robles as this region just does Syrah and Grenache better. It took me trying lots of bottles though, because, like most, I thought there was only Cabernet and Chardonnay. After finding passions, trust your palate and don’t just drink wines that a sommelier or wine critic says is supposed to be great. I’ve found out I don’t like most of those wines. Also, it’s very important to find the salesperson who learns what you like and seems to always be right. This could be the person at the local wine shop, supermarket, or could be a wine critic. That individual becomes your personal sommelier/critic. Any advice for Budget Travelers who are seeking world-class wine bargains? E.J.: Paso Robles is a world-class bargain. You can stay in a hotel for a third the price of Napa, taste wine and purchase world-class wines with the highest of critical acclaim for $25-$75 that would be $75-$800 in Napa, and be on the beach with your partner, dog, and a glass of Champagne to watch the sunset! Paso also boasts a great food and cocktail scene at small-town prices, great boutiques, and one of America’s great small towns (San Luis Obispo) just 20 minutes away. What do you love about the Central Coast, and Paso Robles in particular. E.J.: I love that there’s no traffic, none of the pretension that sometimes comes with a wine country (think fancy watches and expensive cars), and that I can hike a ridge overlooking the ocean in the morning, eat lunch in the vines on a vineyard, do a bit of wine tasting, and then head to the beach for a relaxing sunset. Paso Robles is that friendly “Mayberry” town where everyone seems to go out of their way to treat you well regardless of the size of your wallet. Tell us about the varietals that you grow at Booker. E.J.: Booker started as a Rhône house, with predominately Syrah- and Grenache-based wines. We have added a world-class Cabernet that outscores every cab in its $79 price point with Robert Parker by a long shot. It has a 12-year history of around 97 points. We would love to hear about your latest offerings. E.J.: Our main wines are Oublié, which is a Grenache-based wine that also includes Mourvedre and a small amount of Syrah. Similar to the French wine Chateauneuf du Pape. Oublié was just Wine Spectator’s No. 10 wine in the Top 100 in the World. Fracture is our 100 percent Syrah and is one of the most coveted Syrahs in the world, selling out in a matter of hours on our list. My Favorite Neighbor is our version of the California Cult Cabernet, critically comparing to the rarest Bordeaux’s and Napa Cabs, but doing it for $79! Are there any Booker wines that might be categorized as “budget”? E.J.: We always make a diverse blend that is usually Grenache-based called RLF for $45 that sells like In-N-Out Burger at a crowded music festival. We have a new Cab-based blend coming out in June called Harvey and Harriet which is $50 and received a 96 point score in barrel, separating it from all the Cabs in its price category. To learn more, visit bookerwines.com.