6 Great Places for Cool Winter Fun
From skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing, tubing, and fat-tire biking, America's winter athletes are spoiled for choice, while those who prefer a less intense approach are often left out in the cold. Well, no more. We’ve found some great ways to enjoy the season without breaking too much of a sweat—and all of our picks have the usual options too, so we've got you covered, whether you’re looking to take a break from the slopes or build a trip around something a bit more unconventional. Either way, you’ll earn that hot chocolate.
(Courtesy Ice Castles LLC)
Areas like Aspen and Vail get lots of love from the ski-bum contingent, but there’s more to Colorado than its primo powder. The adventurous can learn a new sport here, like ice climbing at the Ouray Ice Park (ourayicepark.com), while cautious travelers can enjoy activities like a snowcat adventure at Breckenridge Nordic Center (breckenridgenordic.com), an evening excursion that lets you take in the scenery from the vehicle's heated glass cabin, with a stop for s’mores and hot chocolate along the way. If you don't mind the cold, the town of Dillon’s Ice Castles (icecastles.com) are not to be missed. A frozen phenomenon hand-made by a team of professional ice artists, the castles feature everything from LED-lit sculptures to ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains, and frozen thrones. Open seasonally, each castle takes about two months to make and utilizes anywhere from 5,0000 to 12,000 icicles; the finished structure covers an entire acre, weighing in at more than 25 million pounds.
(Courtesy Sundance Mountain Resort)
With its glorious national parks and a stunning array of premiere skiing destinations, it’s no wonder the Beehive State has one of the best sports-participation rates in the country. Like-minded visitors will find no shortage of opportunities to jump into the fray, and there’s low-key fun to be had as well. At Sundance Mountain Resort (sundanceresort.com), take in nearly 4,000 feet of scenery from the zip line, do some fly-fishing on the Provo River, or, for something unique, sign up for a Night Owling session. Under the guidance of a wildlife expert, you’ll meet live owls and learn about the local flora and fauna, then take a snowshoe tour around Mount Timpanogos to call and track down those wise creatures in the wild.
At the Park City resort (parkcitymountain.com), guests can check out the state’s largest alpine coaster, a thrill-a-minute ride that winds through snow banks at speeds of up to 30 mph, or stick with the simple pleasures and cozy up under a blanket for a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Visit on the weekend to enjoy an après ski concert and, on the first Friday of the month, a gorgeous alpine fireworks display.
In Ogden, tour the New World Distillery (newworlddistillery.com) and sample the small-batch gin, vodka, and agave spirits (the tart-cherry liquor is especially tempting), and get out some aggression with an axe-throwing outing (socialaxethrowing.com)—though please, not in that order. Explore the nearby dark-sky park, one of 12 in the state, via bike, snowshoes, or cross-country skis, or opt for an even closer look. As of January, stargazers can take in the cosmos at the Compass Rose Lodge (compassroselodge.com), a 15-room boutique property that doubles as an observatory, thanks to a 16-inch aperture Ritchey-Chretien-style telescope that allows guests to sneak a peek at Saturn’s rings and Jupiter’s moons, not to mention galaxies, nebulae, and globular clusters.
When it comes to traditional winter fun, the 49th state is hard to beat. Action-oriented specialty tours abound—think: fat-bike excursions in Willow, from operators like Snowhook Adventure Guides and Alaska Trail Guides; guided snowmobile tours in the Glacier View area, from Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours and Sheep Mountain Lodge; and biologist-led nature hikes and snowshoe tours on the outskirts of Fairbanks, from Leaf Out Nature Guides—but for our money, the northern lights are where it’s at. Explore Denali by day and book in at Tonglen Lake Lodge (tonglenlake.com) for evenings of unfiltered aurora borealis views from the communal deck, or head to the interior for a more private scene, courtesy of Borealis Basecamp (borealisbasecamp.net), where the igloo-style accommodations come with clear ceilings so you can watch the show from the comfort of your bed. Before you head out into the wilderness, learn to capture the night sky for posterity with a photography workshop from Aurora Bear (aurora-bear.com), near Fairbanks, then head south to toast to your newfound talents at Arctic Harvest (akgrownspirits.com), a farm-to-bottle distillery outside of North Pole that offers tours, tastings, cocktails, and more on its family-run farm.
4. Big Sky, Montana
(Courtesy Big Sky Resort)
Given its location in the mountains of Montana, just an hour northwest of Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky's (bigskyresort.com) great skiing isn’t a surprise, but the resort’s lesser-known pursuits are a happy discovery. For a bird’s-eye view, strap on the snowshoes and trek up to the nature zipline, where you’ll traverse a bucolic, snow-covered gully from heights of 30 to 50 feet. Other ways to achieve lift-off include a second zipline, which is faster and longer, as well as a bungee trampoline and a giant swing. For more grounded options, look off-property, where you can enjoy an old-fashioned sleigh ride, strap in behind a team of huskies for a dog-sledding excursion, or arrange for a snowmobile tour of Yellowstone’s highlights, including Old Faithful, through a third-party operator. Closer to home, you can spend a Saturday evening around the campfire as the slopes close, scarfing down s’mores and watching the ski-patrol rescue dogs show off their skills. (Pro-tip: If you are planning on getting in a few runs while you're here, be sure to get your lift passes in advance—you'll get the best rates if you buy early.)
5. Redding, California
(Courtesy National Park Service)
If you enjoy the great outdoors, summertime in the Shasta Cascades is pretty much paradise, with hiking, fishing, and water sports galore. But it’s just as magical in December, when its snow-covered peaks offer access to skiing, snowtubing, and snowmobiling. Intrepid explorers should visit Lassen Volcanic National Park (nps.gov/lavo), where they can go backcountry skiing (proper avalanche gear required) or take a ranger-led snowshoe tour on the park’s active volcano. Still on the strenuous side but slightly lower impact, the ice-cave tour at Lava Beds National Monument (nps.gov/labe) is a weekly, three-hour outing that shows off the Cristal Ice Cave’s most dazzling formations (above). You’ll have to haul yourself up a sheer, sloped, icy floor by a rope, pull yourself through a tight hole, and navigate shaky, rocky floors with patches of ice, but if you can make it through, the payoff is well worth it.
6. White Mountains, New Hampshire
(Courtesy Sarah Miller/Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel)
Skiers and snowboarders know to hit New Hampshire’s White Mountains for fresh powder and challenging runs, but there’s plenty here to keep everyone else occupied too. The Mt. Washington Auto Road (mtwashingtonautoroad.com) reaches breathtaking heights at any time of year; hitch a ride to the treeline for a glimpse of the wintery wonderland at 4,200 feet. Try Great Glen Trails (greatglentrails.com) for snow tubing and miles of snowshoeing, check in at Loon Mountain Adventure Center (loonmtn.com) for ziplining and ice skating, or take a guided snowmobile tour with an operator like SledVentures, Northeast Snowmobile, or Northern Extremes Snowmobiling. But the real showstopper here has four legs: Muddy Paw Dog Sled Kennel (dogslednh.com) offers dog sledding, with proceeds going toward the care and upkeep of the organization’s 80-plus canines. Take a guided tour and interact with the pups, getting them ready for the trail, hooking them up to the sleds, and giving them some love afterwards—belly rubs most definitely welcome.
In Florida, a day at a park doesn’t always have to mean hanging out with The Minions, Mickey or Big Bird, though it often does. No surprise, considering the Sunshine State is synonymous with popular theme and water parks. But, Florida is also home to 175 state parks scattered from the Panhandle to the Keys, each offering an opportunity to experience the state’s myriad natural and cultural treasures, whether streams and rivers threading through a verdant landscape, a system of caverns peppered with stalactites, miles of undeveloped sandy beaches, dense tracts of forests dripping with moss, or historic forts and lighthouses. The entire compendium of state parks shows off Florida’s grand diversity of ecosystems, from mangroves to pinelands to dunes, as well as the resident and migrant creatures that call these vast expanses home or pay a seasonal visit. In the six state parks below, a grand array of enticing scenery and activities are on full display. (You can learn more at floridastateparks.org.) 1. Oleta River State Park Just 30 minutes from downtown Miami, Oleta is considered Florida’s largest urban park and one offering numerous water- and land-based activities. Inside the park, BG Oleta River Outdoors (bgoletariveroutdoor.com) rents canoes and kayaks so visitors can paddle through dark, foliage tunnels along the mangrove-lined river and then on to peaceful Biscayne Bay and the Intercoastal Waterway with opportunities to spot river otter, and sea turtles. (This concession also offers full moon and one-hour Friday sunset kayak tours.) And, despite Miami’s perfectly flat topography, Oleta is considered one of Florida’s best mountain biking venues, with more than a dozen miles of interconnected, challenging single track coursing beside the park’s waterways. 2. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park On the southern tip of Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs is most noted for its one-mile-some beach -- perfect for sunning and swimming -- that’s often named as one of the top 10 beaches in the U.S. by Dr. Stephen Leatherman of Florida International University, aka Dr. Beach. Bird watchers are also attracted to this park that’s a stopover on the Atlantic Flyway for migrating species, such as Cerulean and Bay-breasted wood-warblers. Anyone walking to the southern tip of the Pond Trail will be near the Cape Florida Lighthouse, South Florida’s oldest structure that provides stunning views of Biscayne Bay, Key Biscayne and South Beach. 3. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Named for the tallest of the coastal dunes along the Gulf of Mexico that resembles a ship’s sail, rising over 25 feet high, Topsail Hill, located in the Florida Panhandle, preserves these white quartz dunes with lakes -- a unique ecosystem -- where fresh and saltwater mix. Those with a fishing license can try to snag catfish, bream or bass in one of these lakes, or cast from the beach for Spanish mackerel, pompano or red fish. The paved Campbell Lake Bike Trail -- named for this coastal dune lake, a popular picnic spot -- that’s shaded by tall longleaf pines appeals to cyclists. 4. Hillsborough River State Park Just a few minutes north of Tampa, Hillsborough is one of the few spots in Florida featuring whitewater rapids. Those who bring their own canoe relish the small section of Class II rapids. The park also rents canoes that can be put in just below the rapids on this blackwater river, the color deriving from the tannins leaching from fallen leaves. Growing along the shore, live oaks, magnolia and cypress trees provide for shaded paddling, with opportunities to see otters or alligators on the banks. History buffs often sign up on a guided tour of the reconstructed Fort Foster, a replica of the circa 1837 fort from the time of the Second Seminole Indian War. 5. Honeymoon Island State Park Having received its name after several dozen honeymoon cottages were constructed (and subsequently demolished) in the early 1940s, this barrier island remains a stunning day-trip from Tampa for nature lovers. Though beachgoers flock to the sandy and seashell/rock studded four-mile stretch, a wild landscape of tide pools, sand dunes and salt marshes await those walking past the last parking lot to the shaded Osprey Trail. Hikers will find monarch butterflies fluttering about and the ever-present scent of pine. (A real treat is seeing osprey with their young.) 6. Caladesi Island State Park A short ferry ride away from Honeymoon Island, Caladesi was once attached to its sister island prior to a major hurricane in 1921. Though now connected to Clearwater Beach after a land bridge formed, Caladesi feels like the Florida of another era, once visitors wander past the ranger station/concession, with nothing but the sounds of bird calls, and the tide lapping at the powdery beach. In 2018, Dr. Beach ranked Caladesi’s dazzling quartz sands as one of the country’s top 10. A network of sandy trails wind through the heart of this island where signs remind visitors that the dense interior is snake territory.
9 California Food & Beverage Makers to Visit in 2019
We live in an era practically defined by entrepreneurship, and as we see it, some of the most exciting businesses are popping up in the food-and-beverage sector. While we love going to see where and how some of America's most iconic food brands are produced, we appreciate the personal touches that make independent creators so special, and California in particular is an embarrassment of riches. Here are some of our favorite destination-worthy small-batch producers in the state. 1. Lucero Olive Oil: Corning (Maya Stanton) In northern California, a straight shot south of Redding on I-5, you’ll find Corning, a small rural community where olives are the name of the game. The largest table-olive producer and the largest ripe-olive processor in the country, Bell-Carter Foods, is based here, but so is Lucero, a small, highly decorated operation turning out some of the best extra-virgin olive oil this side of the Mediterranean. Stop in for a look at the factory floor, and stay for a tasting and sample the wares (they import and flavor balsamic vinegars from Modena as well, traditional and fruit-flavored). You can choose from a basic introductory tour ($5), held twice daily; an hour-long Explorer Tour ($20; book in advance) that digs deeper into the olive-oil-making process and includes food pairings; and the two-hour Connoisseur Experience ($50; book in advance), which offers a peek at the olive mill as well as extensive pairing options. But no matter which you choose, hit the shop afterwards. With a wall of dispensers providing even more tastes of the merchandise, a selection of olive-wood tableware and accessories, and a plethora of carry-on-size bottles for purchase, you won’t be leaving empty-handed. 2120 Loleta Avenue, Corning; 877-330-2190; lucerooliveoil.com. 2. Journeyman Meat Co.: Healdsburg (Courtesy Richard Knapp) When Sonoma County winemaker Pete Seghesio gave up his vineyard and turned his attention to artisanal salumi, he wasn’t going in with his eyes closed. The grandson of 19th-century Italian immigrants, the meat business was in his blood: A great-grandfather was a butcher, and his father taught him to make fresh sausage and cured meats from the family’s farm-raised hogs at a young age. He got serious about the craft in 2012, spending time in Tuscany training under renowned butcher Dario Cecchini before opening Journeyman Meat Co. five years later. Today, you can buy Seghesio’s masterful finocchiona, soppressata, and chorizo online, but if you’re in the area, the butchery, salumeria, and wine tasting shop in Healdsburg is worth a visit. Set inside a retrofitted post office just north of the town’s main square, it features a rotating menu of wood-fired pizzas, house-made sausages and hot dogs, and, of course, an array of salumi boards, all paired with local Sonoma County wines. 404 Center Street, Healdsburg; 707-395-6328; journeymanmeat.com. 3. La Zamorana Candy Co.: Los Angeles Since 1957, the La Zamorana Candy Company has been turning out traditional Mexican candy using generations-old recipes in a small kitchen in East L.A. The family-owned-and-run business is known for its tarugos (sugar-coated tamarind-pulp candies), cocadas horneadas (baked macaroon-like coconut candies), milk fudge, and more. The candy is sold in Latin markets throughout the area, but to get a glimpse at traditional Mexican candy-making methods, visit the factory, which doubles as a shrine to old-time confectionery and clever modern-day resourcefulness. (A hand-operated slicer, for instance, was built with steel guitar strings that serve as blades.) Stop by and watch the magic happen. 7100 Wilson Ave, Los Angeles; 323-261-1817; zamoranacandy.com 4. Saltroot Café: San Francisco (Courtesy Saltroot Café) When John Goyert and Juliana Okada moved from Brazil to San Francisco a few years ago, they brought something delicious with them: a recipe for pão de queijo, that cheesy, chewy popover that could unofficially be considered the country’s national snack. The husband-and-wife team set up shop in the Outer Sunset neighborhood and opened their tiny cafe in 2017. In addition to stand-out pão de queijo in varieties both traditional (Parmesan) and non (guava), they serve a stellar selection of empanadas, green juices, coffee, and tea. Order a drink and watch them work while you wait; the production table and bread warmer are visible from the register, and the owners welcome the chance to talk about their craft. You’ll get a complimentary pão de queijo with your coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, but they’re also available to purchase individually or by the bag, frozen, to take away and bake yourself. 2960 Clement Street, San Francisco; 415-663-6226; saltroot.com. 5. The Heart & Trotter: San Diego What began as two carnivorous friends’ Kickstarter campaign in 2013 has become a San Diego go-to for meats and a variety of gourmet provisions, primarily locally made food like jerky, mustard, and pickles and dairy items like cheese and butter. Since it opened in 2015, The Heart & Trotter has specialized in antibiotic- and hormone-free local meats and eggs. It’s a whole-animal butchery, so expect to find house-made sausages, paté, and rillettes alongside unconventional cuts (to wit, bavette, which is close to a hanger steak in terms of where it sits on the animal’s body, but less pricey). For lessons in how to put nose-to-tail practices into play, they offer demos and classes. Or just stop by for a generously stacked sandwich or charcuterie plate. Pro tip: the meat arrives from local farms in the morning, so if you get there early enough, you can catch the butchering in action. 2855 El Cajon Boulevard #1, San Diego; 619-564-8976; theheartandtrotter.com 6. California Cheese Trail: Compton to Crescent City (Courtesy Mike Larson/StepladdderCreamery.com) There are so many cheesemakers in California that it’d be impossible to pick just one—and luckily, you don’t have to. Discover the state’s dairy delights with the California Cheese Trail (cheesetrail.org), a self-guided tour created by Petaluma resident Vivien Straus, a cheese enthusiast who co-owns and manages a family dairy in Marshall. Choose from a suggested itinerary, or create your own, selecting a region and hitting the locations that are open for tours and tastings. In Marin County, Straus recommends Ramini Mozzarella (raminimozzarella.com), one of the only water-buffalo dairies in the country. The mozz is the draw, but animal-loving visitors can also get hands-on with the livestock: Water buffaloes, as it turns out, love to be groomed. “They literally curl their tails when brushed, then collapse in ecstasy,” Straus says. “It’s such a bizarre thing to see. Quite unique.” Further south, in Cambria on the Central Coast, Stepladder Creamery (stepladdercreamery.com) keeps a herd of LaMancha goats for its small-scale cheeses, alongside heritage pigs, black Angus cattle, and rows of Hass avocado trees on a third-generation family ranch. The creamery is open for tours by appointment, and not only are the cheeses available for purchase, you can also take home the farm’s honey, beef, pork, and avocados. “Delicious cheese!” says Straus. 7. Le Marcel Dog Bakery: San Francisco (Courtesy lemarceldogbakery.com) Canine travel companions deserve special treats, too! Established in 1998, dog bakery Le Marcel makes everything on its shelves from scratch—think pastries like “pupcakes” and “terrier-misu” and cookies shaped like cats and fetching sticks. If they've been especially good puppers, order ahead for a peanut butter special-occasion cake, and pick up a bag or two of packaged treats ("muttaroons," anyone?) for the road while you’re at it. Go ahead, throw that dog a bone. 2066 Union Street, San Francisco; 877-349-9199; lemarceldogbakery.com. 8. Chocovivo: Los Angeles (Courtesy Chocovivo) “Farm to table” and “grape to glass” have become part of the lingua franca for restaurants, food producers, and curious diners. Now “bean to bar” is becoming a more recognized term when it comes to chocolate-making. Choco Vivo, an airy, rustic-chic café with communal tables, features a chocolate-making facility specializing in bean-to-bar items, offering only dark-chocolate bars (no milk powder, soy lecithin, or any other additives or preservatives) and other simply made treats. Owner and chocolatier Patricia Tsai sources her beans directly from a particular grower in Mexico and roasts and stone-grinds them on an ancient Aztec stone grinder. At the shop, she sells chocolate sauce and hot-chocolate mix alongside her popular single-origin and blended chocolate bars. In 2014, she added hair and skin products to the lineup. There’s a calendar of events like chocolate tastings and tutorials in pairing chocolate with spirits or wine, so if you're in search of an education, options here are a sweet choice. 12469 W Washington Blvd, Los Angeles; 310-845-6259; chocovivo.com. 9. Henry's House of Coffee: San Francisco Before Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks, and long before “third wave coffee” was a thing, there was Henry’s House of Coffee, a San Francisco institution. Since the 1960s, Henry Kalebjian, son of an Armenian immigrant who now runs the business with his son Hrag, has been micro-roasting mindfully sourced beans in what can now be considered a vintage twelve-kilogram San Franciscan brand roaster as patrons look on. As legend has it, sight and touch are his main means of measuring, which is little surprise considering he's been in the biz since childhood. Henry, the story goes, learned the craft from his father on old-world equipment that required tending a fire and hand-cranking a drum. Today, regulars are legion, visiting the shop as much to say hi to the Kalebjians as they do for the coffee—though, needless to say, tourists always get a warm welcome too. The space, which includes something of a gallery of artisanal provisions and coffee-making gizmos and cups, blends modern elements (blond wood accents, a sleek seating area, cold brew) with old world accents (that majestic roasting equipment, Henry himself.) Order a strong cup of their Armenian-style coffee, and you'll feel like a regular in no time. 1618 Noriega St, San Francisco; 415-681-9363; henryshouseofcoffee.com.
8 Great Hanukkah Celebrations Across America
From Atlanta to Los Angeles, from raucous to quirky, the U.S. is home to some truly exceptional Hanukkah bashes, including family favorites like dreidel spinning and menorah lighting and commemorations of the ancient Jewish rebellion led by Judah Maccabee around 200 BCE. Here, a look at some of the biggest festival of lights parties you can find in major American cities. 1. Atlanta: Grand Menorah Lightings and Hanukkah Celebrations December 2-9; free; locations throughout the city; (404) 898-0434; atlantajewishconnector.com With daily Hanukkah celebrations throughout the city, the simcha (party) never ends! Decatur Square hosts the first night, when the grand menorah is lit. Come hungry - there’s hot latkes, fresh donuts, plus music, dancing, dreidels, raffles, and prizes. Spread some Hanukkah cheer at the Menorah Car Parade on December 6, when cars decked out with menorahs go on a drive from the Beltline throughout Atlanta. 2. Boston: Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights December 5, 4:30 PM – 10:00 PM; free events with food at extra cost; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; (617) 267- 9300; mfa.org Art, music, and Jewish heritage come together at this celebration, held at one of the best museums in New England. Come for the community menorah lighting and stay for the family song and story time, scavenger hunt throughout the galleries, dreidel making, and face painting. Then nosh on latkes, rugelach, and Star of David cookies. Don’t forget to save room for the top-your-own donut bar. Be sure to check out “The Maccabees and the Hanukkah Story,” a special installation featuring three centuries of Jewish decorative arts and ritual objects from Hanukkah lamps to embroidered silk. 3. Chicago: “Herschel and the Hanukkah Goblins” December 1 – January 5, 2019; $25 adults, $20 children; Strawdog Theatre Company; (773) 644-1380; strawdog.org Don’t miss this amazing stage production of the classic children’s book by Eric Kimmel about a weary traveler who stumbles upon a village taken over by a band of goblins who have ruined the town’s Hanukkah festivities. Live music tells the story as Herschel tries to defeat the wily fiends during the holiday’s eight nights. 4. Dallas: Hanukkah Hoopla December 2; 1:00 PM - 5:30 PM; free; Aaaron Family JCC of Dallas; (214) 739-2737; jccdallas.org Get your shop on at this holiday celebration and marketplace where more than 35 local vendors sell handmade art, glass and pottery, jewelry and Judaica, and yummy homemade treats perfect for gift-giving. Music and dancing plus storytelling, face painting, and a balloon artist entertain the kids while adults hit up the Latke Piano Lounge. L’chaim! (Cheers!) Menorah lighting begins around 5:30 at the Chabad of Dallas (6710 Levelland Rd). 5. Los Angeles: Hanukkah on the Canals Parade December 9, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM; free; Venice Canals, Venice Beach; (310) 821-1414; opentemple.org Rock the boat, Hanukkah-style as decorated canoes, kayaks, barges, paddle boats, and yachts take to the canals of Venice to celebrate the holiday. Bring the kids - there’s also menorah making and live music, plus the menorah lighting at sundown. Favorite local chef the Latke Lady serves up… you guessed it… her famous homemade potato pancakes just like your bubbe (grandma) used to make. 6. New Orleans: Latkes with a Twist December 6, 7:00 PM; $35; Press Street Station; (504) 828-6334; jcrs.org If you’re hoping this “twist” includes a lime, you’re in luck! This holiday event serves up a mean vodka latke punch, a bourbon Hanukkah highball, plus lots of other spirits from an open bar. Self-ordained Latke Master and local chef Adam Biderman slings his signature potato pancakes at the latke bar while the Joe Gelini Trio keeps the crowd dancing. Proceeds from the event help support local Jewish children with scholarships. 7. New York City: 10th Annual Latke Festival December 3; 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM, $75; Brooklyn Museum; latkefestival.com The classic Hanukkah dish gets a fun makeover by more than two dozen local chefs at this incredible tasting event. Forget your typical potato pancakes with apple sauce; past year’s dishes have included rueben latkes stuffed with corned beef and sauerkraut, duck confit latkes, and even bay scallop ceviche latkes. The creativity alone makes the entry fee well worth it, with proceeds benefitting the Sylvia Center, a local nonprofit dedicated to teaching healthy eating habits to children and their families. 8. San Francisco: Night at the Jewseum Shimmer December 6, 6:00 PM-9:00 PM; $8; the Contemporary Jewish Museum; (415) 655-7800; thecjm.org Light up the night at this meshuga (crazy) adults-only, museum-wide holiday celebration where a cosmic glow-in-the-dark fashion show is center stage as a DJ pumps up the jam with club music. Other off-beat activities include a scavenger hunt held in a gallery featuring the works of a Jewish tattoo artist, and a candid clergy Q and A session called “Ask a Rabbi.” Three-piece klezmer band the Yiddiots offers up holiday tunes as guests hit up the latke and brisket bar and sip special Hanukkah bourbon and gin cocktails.
8 Best TV & Movie Tours
Sure, Los Angeles and New York City get most of the credit and the glory. But many movies and TV shows are actually shot in incredible locations around the country. Lights! Camera! Action! Here are our eight favorite location tours. 1. BOSTON Boston Movie Mile Walking Tour; 1.5 hours; adults, $27, kids $19, private tours available; 866-982-2114; onlocationtours.com/tour/boston-movie-mile Bahstan is a filmmaker’s town. It’s home to Ben and Matt, after all, and also to more than 400 movies and TV shows. Find out why it’s so popular on this walking tour. Drinks at the Bull and Finch Pub, for Cheers, are an absolute must. Then sit on the park benches where Robin Williams and Matt Damon chatted in Good Will Hunting, check out the historic homes in The Thomas Crown Affair and get “made” at one of Jack Nicholson’s mob hangouts from The Departed. (Sorry, make that the Depahted.) Wicked cool: getting to read scripts exactly where they were shot. 2. ATLANTA Big Zombie Tour Part 1; 3 hours; $69 adults, $55 kids; 855-255-3456; atlantamovietours.com/tours/big-zombie-tour The. Walking. Dead. Need we say more? Watch clips from the show on a comfy bus as you visit exact locations. The hospital where Rick first woke up from his coma. The Goat Farm Arts Center abandoned building from “the Vatos.” The Jackson Street Bridge (selfies encouraged!). Every tour is led by a zombie extra who offers insider-only deets and runs a killer trivia game session. (Did you know that HBO passed on the series because it felt it was too violent?) Huge fans should sign up for Parts 2 and 3, plus there’s a walking tour! 3. NEW ORLEANS Original New Orleans Movie and TV Tours; 2 hours; adults $43, children $29; 225-240-8648; nolamovies.com If you’re lucky, you’ll hear the director yell “cut!” during this NOLA excursion, which offers a fun mix of live filmmaking (as of press time, NCIS: New Orleans was shooting), celebrity homes (Sandra Bullock! Brad Pitt!) and location tours including NOLA standbys Interview with the Vampire, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, American Horror Story, and Twilight. Don’t worry, the classics are represented too, including A Streetcar Named Desire and Easy Rider. All neighborhoods are covered, including the French Quarter, the Warehouse District and the Garden District. 4. WILMINGTON, NC Hollywood Location Walk; 1.5 hours; $13 adults, kids free; 910-794-1866; hauntedwilmington.com/hollywood-location-walk.html Wilmington, NC, otherwise known as “Wilmywood” or “Hollywood East,” has been a moviemaking mecca since director Mark L. Lester shot Firestarter here in 1983. Customize your tour and see the locations for teen faves Dawson’s Creek (the famous dock where Dawson pined away for Joey) and One Tree Hill (Blue Post Billiards, where Lucas and Sophia went on their first “tattoo” date), Cape Fear (the Memorial Bridge), Dream a Little Dream (the Coreys’ high school) and Weekend at Bernies (the lighthouse where Parker gets temporarily blinded). Or check out movie props, set pieces, and interiors, hear about your favorite actors, or find out how a winter wonderland is created in the heat of summer. 5. OAHU Hollywood Movie Site Tour, Kualoa Ranch; 90 minutes; adults $49.50, children $39.95; 808-237-7321; kualoa.com/toursactivities A vintage bus takes you 45 minutes from Honolulu to Kualoa Ranch, a 4,000 acre nature reserve billed as “the backlot of Hawaii” thanks to its role in dozens of movies and TV shows since the 1950s, including Jurassic Park, Lost, Magnum P.I., The Hunger Games, Jumanji, Hawaii Five- O, and Pearl Harbor. Examine Godzilla’s footprints, stand at the Jurassic Park gate, and check out the bunkers on Lost. An amazing World War II army bunker houses lots of props, movie posters, and memorabilia. 6. CHICAGO Chicago Film Tour; 2 hours; call for rates; 312-593-4455; chicagofilmtour.com Chi-town neighborhoods absolutely make this tour - Wrigleyville Uptown, the Gold Coast, Old Town – all home to more than 80 films over the past 100 years. Check out locations from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (where surely you’ll want to “Twist and Shout” through Federal Plaza), The Dark Knight (the Chicago Post Office), Transformers 3 (The Uptown Theatre), My Best Friend’s Wedding (the White Sox ballpark), and The Untouchables (South La Salle St.). A tour guide offers up fun film facts and trivia. (Did you know: “Twist and Shout” is the only original version of a Beatles song to appear twice in the top 40, thanks to FBDO and Matthew Broderick’s famous parade scene.) 7. PHILADELPHIA Philadelphia Movie Stars Tour, 2.5 hours, private tours from $33 per person; 215-625-7980; moviesitestour.com Lace up your running shoes to take on the 68 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rocky-style. This tour takes you there, plus past City Hall, the Italian Market and Ninth Street where Rocky did his training runs. Check out scenes from Tom Hanks’ Philadelphia including the law firm building where Andrew Beckett worked (The Mellon Bank Building) and the library where he studied case law (The University of Pennsylvania Fine Arts Library). The Sixth Sense (St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church), Trading Places (Rittenhouse Square), and Twelve Monkeys (the Met Theatre) are also big stars on this tour. 8. WASHINGTON, DC Washington DC TV and Movie Sites Tour; 2.5 hours; from $40; taketours.com/washington-dc Where else you gonna shoot movies like Air Force One, Independence Day, A Few Good Men, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? Our nation’s capital is a Hollywood dream with some of the most recognizable buildings and monuments in the world (the Lincoln Memorial is host to drunken nights in Wedding Crashers; Constitutional Hall serves as the White House in the West Wing; the reflecting pool is seen in Forrest Gump, The Firm, and Deep Impact, to name just a few). This tour explores them all, starting in Union Station seen in Hannibal, Minority Report, and the Sentinel, takes you to the steps of the house in The Exorcist, past the bar in St. Elmo’s Fire and to the mall in True Lies. Bonus: Tours are led by local actors.