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    The city of Fitzgerald is the county seat of Ben Hill County in the south central portion of the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 9,053. It is the principal city of the Fitzgerald Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Ben Hill and Irwin counties.
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    Historic U.S. Homes: Our Top 8 Picks

    You can read an author’s entire body of work, study a president’s legacy, or celebrate the achievements of a civil rights hero, but nothing gives you a true understanding of a famous figure like a visit to the place she or he lived. Their home is their sanctuary for creating their art, developing and carrying out their righteous mission, or simply experiencing life in a setting that influenced them. Here are a few historic homes that deliver a thorough education and, if you’re open to it, inspiration. 1. Harry S. Truman National Historic Site: Independence, Missouri From 1919, the year he married Bess Wallace, until his death in 1972, President Harry S. Truman lived in a simple Victorian home in, fittingly enough, Independence, Missouri. (During his eight-year residency on Pennsylvania Avenue, it was known as the ‘Summer White House’) A wander through this home delivers an intimate look at the life of the World War I veteran and 33rd American President. Like most presidential homes and memorials, this one is part of the National Parks Service and tours by park rangers happen regularly. The home is so loaded with period details, family heirlooms, personal objects and memorabilia that a guided tour is well worth it. 2. Susan B. Anthony House: Rochester, New York One of the cornerstones of American democracy – a woman’s right to vote – took root at a modest, pre-Civil War brick house in Rochester, New York, which is located about 90 minutes from Niagara Falls. Pioneering activist Susan B. Anthony turned her house into the headquarters of the suffrage movement, and when she wasn’t campaigning across the country, she was organizing from the parlor here, often with anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass and fellow women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Check out the third-floor attic, where she penned many political documents, and the second floor features a collection of memorabilia that tell the story of the suffrage movement. 3. John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site: Brookline, Massachusetts America’s 35th president was born and raised just outside of Boston, in the ritzy suburb of Brookline, and to this day, the unassuming home where he spent the first three years of his life stands as a monument. It’s a museum-like destination showcasing Kennedy family mementos and photographs. 4. Morris-Jumel Mansion: New York, New York George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton are just a few of the notables who dined in the Morris-Jumel Mansion, a country retreat built in 1765 on an elevated perch overlooking Manhattan in what is now the Sugar Hill neighborhood of Harlem. It was commissioned by Roger Morris, a colonel in the British Army, and his wife Mary. But in 1776 it was seized by the Continental Army and transformed into General Washington’s HQ. About 35 years later, it was purchased by wealthy businessman Stephen Jumel who pulled out all the stops to refurbish it. Known to be the oldest house in Manhattan, its period details have been carefully maintained, much to the joy of locals over time. (Duke Ellington once deemed it ‘the jewel in the crown of Sugar Hill.’) 5. Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum: Baltimore, Maryland The city of Baltimore pays tribute to its longtime resident Edgar Allan Poe in many ways, such as naming its football team the Ravens, in honor of his famous poem. A visit to Charm City can be a Poe-filled pilgrimage, what with Enoch Pratt Free Library’s original manuscripts and his grave at Westminster Hall and Burial Ground. Of course, the best way to learn about the American icon and his celebrated work is to visit the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, a modest building where he lived for much of the 1930s with his teenage cousin/bride, Virginia, and her mother. His workroom sits at the top of a narrow and fittingly creaky staircase while the rest of the house, which became a National Historic Landmark in 1962, has exhibits on his life in Baltimore, his family and the poems and stories he penned. 6. Emily Dickinson Museum: Amherst, Massachusetts The tranquil woodsy landscape of Amherst Massachusetts, about 95 miles west of Boston, is the setting where Emily Dickinson penned her contemplative, radical verse. The Emily Dickinson Museum is set in two historic properties – the Evergreens, her brother and sister-in-law’s house, and the Homestead, a two-and-a-half-story brick house, where the famously reclusive Dickinson was born and spent most of her Victorian-era life writing countless poems, only ten of which were published – allegedly without her knowing – during her lifetime. Wander the Homestead for a look at her parlors, library, kitchen and maid’s quarters and check out ‘my Voice is alive,’ an interpretive exhibit about her early work. 7. Louis Armstrong House: Queens, New York The brick house on 103rd Street in the working-class neighborhood of Corona, Queens, doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside is a time capsule that tells the story of one of America’s most iconic musicians. Louis Armstrong, who grew up poor in New Orleans, lived out his retirement years with his wife, Lucille, in this gorgeously appointed home, which today stands as a tribute to the legend. The charming kitchen, the opulent bathroom and bedroom, the handsome wood-paneled office featuring original recording equipment, and the inviting living room, packed with souvenirs that Satchmo collected on his global travels, have all been maintained with attention to detail. 8. Eastman Museum: Rochester, New York Photography museums and galleries proliferate the planet, but the oldest in the world is in Rochester, New York at the estate of George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. A National Historic Landmark since 1966, the Eastman Museum is set on 10.5 picturesque acres and contains works from more than 14,000 photographers, including celebrated contemporary artists like Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman, the world’s largest collection of daguerreotypes, and vintage prints from luminaries like Ansel Adams. Eastman’s actual home contains more than 200,000 objects ranging from business and personal correspondences, including some with presidents, his own photos and scrapbooks, and an archive of Kodak advertisements. Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with Lonely Planet’s weekly newsletter.


    Live Like a Local in the Florida Keys

    The 125-mile-long stretch of islands just south of the Florida mainland have been drawing diverse settlers and visitors, from Europe, the Caribbean, and the continental U.S. for centuries, forming one of the most vibrant and inviting cultural melanges anywhere in the world. For travelers, that means jaw-dropping natural beauty sustained by the Keys’ commitment to environmental stewardship, a tasty array of ethnic cuisines (Bahamian seafood, Cuban specialties, and more), and outdoor activities above and below the waters of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Florida Bay that keep visitors coming back year after year. Here, the best of the Keys, including “live like a local” tips from the savvy residents, conservationists, and forward-thinking business owners of the Keys.. DIVE INTO KEY LARGO (Ryan Jones/Dreamstime)Key Largo is an excellent first stop in the Keys. It’s the longest and northernmost island in the chain, a 60-minute drive from Miami International Airport, and a perfect place to start relaxing and taking in the natural wonders of the region. Bordered by the Atlantic, Florida Bay, and Everglades backcountry, Key Largo has earned the nickname the Dive Capital of the World. Take your pick of scuba, snorkeling, fishing, and much more—beginners can easily learn the basics of diving while on vacation. The star attraction is John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The state park draws more than 1 million visitors per year for both on-land hiking and cycling trails and underwater adventures, and you’ll love snorkeling the shallow waters of the colorful reef with hundreds of species of fish and more than 50 varieties of coral. For a one-of-a-kind underwater landmark, don’t miss the adjacent Key Largo Dry Rocks, with its nine-foot-tall sculpture “Christ in the Abyss.” Experienced scuba divers will love exploring Key Largo’s Spiegel Grove, which includes a sunken vessel that’s become a prized artificial reef. After the sun goes down, enjoy a cocktail at Caribbean Club, where scenes from the 1947 classic film Key Largo, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, were shot. “LIVE LIKE A LOCAL” TIP: For some visitors, renting bicycles and pedaling from Key Largo all the way down to Key West is at the top of their bucket list. Key Largo Bike and Adventure Tours, operated by one-time Louisiana cop Mark Terrill and one-time Ohio bar owner Patrick Fitzgerald, offers a variety of bikes suitable for the journey. FISHING & MORE IN ISLAMORADA Islamorada means “purple island” in Spanish, but the 20-mile-long village, bordered by Florida Bay and the Atlantic, actually includes not one but four of the Florida Keys: Plantation, Windley, and Upper and Lower Matecumbe. Islamorada will be your next stop on your drive south from Key Largo, or either a 90-minute drive from Miami International Airport or a 40-minute drive from Florida Keys Marathon Airport if you’re set on starting your Keys vacation here in the Sport-Fishing Capital of the World. And that nickname is more than just a local boast: The warm waters of the Gulf Stream pass as close as 10 miles offshore, drawing prized sport fish such as sailfish, marlin, kingfish, wahoo, mahi-mahi, and tuna for small-boat anglers to pursue offshore. Those who prefer to cast from piers or shore will enjoy catching tarpon and bonefish (you can also try a local tradition by hand-feeding tarpon off the docks at Robbie’s Marina). When you’re not fishing or diving Islamorada’s reefs full of tropical fish, coral, and sponges, you’ll love the vibrant arts and culture scene in the Morada Way Arts & Cultural District with its art galleries, monthly Third Thursday Art Walk, and wide array of restaurants: Take your pick from fresh-caught seafood, comfort foods like burgers and pizza, and a variety of great ethnic flavors from the melting pot that is south Florida. “LIVE LIKE A LOCAL” TIP: Our late 41st president, George H.W. Bush paid many visits to the Islamorada area before, during, and after his presidency and was an avid proponent of catch-and-release fishing for tarpon, bonefish, and permit. Participating in catch-and-release is a fine way to pay tribute to the “kinder, gentler” president and his legacy. FAMILY FUN IN MARATHON (Typhoonski/Dreamstime)The city of Marathon is made up of several keys, with Vaca Key as the epicenter. Settled by fruit farmers from the Bahamas and fishermen from New England more than 200 years ago, Marathon allegedly got its name thanks to the workers who constructed the Florida Keys Over-Sea Railroad more than a century ago, working a “marathon” schedule of nights and days. Today, Marathon is a magnet for families and boating enthusiasts, with its own airport (it’s also a one-hour drive from Key West International Airport and a 2.5-hour drive from Miami International Airport). Visitors love driving on Seven Mile Bridge, just south of Vaca Key, savoring the perfect water views and the Old Seven Mile Bridge, which was once part of the Over-Sea Railroad. Kids of all ages will enjoy a visit to Pigeon Key, the original headquarters of the railroad construction, home to models, artifacts, and an educational video. Families will want to spend time exploring local hardwood forests and white-sand beaches, fishing for tarpon or diving the local reefs, and kayaking the incredible backcountry waters. But be sure to set aside time for the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, including a 200,000-gallon tank containing tropical reef fish (and the opportunity to watch divers feed the fish), the truly magical Instagrammable experience of swimming with dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center and seeing environmental stewardship in action at the Turtle Hospital. “LIVE LIKE A LOCAL” TIP: Marathon resident Rachel Bowman is the only female commercial lionfish fisherman in the Keys, catching up to 400 pounds per day of the invasive species and selling it to local restaurants and Whole Foods Markets; when you order delicious, flaky white lionfish off the menu in Marathon or other regions of the Keys, Bowman says you’re helping to reduce the predatory fish’s numbers and preserve native species such as snapper. EASY ADVENTURES IN BIG PINE AND THE LOWER KEYS We admire the devotion to the environment shown by Big Pine and the Lower Keys, nicknamed the Natural Keys for the district’s advocacy for sustainability and preservation. Here, a 30-minute drive from either Key West International Airport or Marathon International Airport, visitors will find abundant opportunities to enjoy the natural environment while staying within their personal comfort zone—easy adventures you’ll love and brag about when you get home. Bahia Honda State Park provides one-stop recreation opportunities with one of the most beautiful beaches in the U.S. according to Budget Travel and many travel polls and studies, campsites, and watersports. Get to know the endangered Key deer, smaller cousins of the more common white-tailed deer, at the National Key Deer Refuge. Try snorkeling (even beginners can master the basics in a few minutes) Looe Key Reef for Technicolor coral and marine life such as tropical fish, sponges, and more. Bring your binoculars and camera (or smartphone) on a kayak or canoe paddle or shallow-draft boat ride to Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, covering 375 square miles of water and islands between Key West and Marathon, where white herons and other migratory birds put on quite a show. You’ll find ample campgrounds and RV parks in the Big Pine and Lower Keys area, allowing you to savor the natural environment of the Natural Keys 24/7 during your visit. “LIVE LIKE A LOCAL” TIP: Support the environmental mission of the Natural Keys by heeding the 10 Keymandments, assembled by locals to help residents and visitors alike give back to the communities and habitats of the Keys: (1) Adopt a coral (by making a charitable donation, and, of course, don’t touch coral when you are diving); (2) Support the wildlife (by donating food or money, or volunteering time at a local wildlife center); (3) Take out the trash (which can mean literally removing debris from the water, and not contributing to it); (4) Capture a lionfish (an invasive species); (5) Leave a digital footprint (take photos of the Keys and share them with friends and family); (6) Hike it, bike it, or hoof it (these are all low-eco-impact activities); (7) Catch dinner (fishing for bonefish, tarpon, and permit is plentiful just about anywhere in the Keys); (8) Use a mooring buoy at dive sites (instead of an anchor); (9) Conserve vs. consume (continuing the same reuse, reuse, and recyling practice you employ at home while on vacation); (10) Get off the beaten path (explore hiking and cycling trails, kayaking, and canoeing). NIGHTLIFE & WATERSPORTS IN KEY WEST Even in the unique, gorgeous world of the Keys, Key West is a destination apart, a world unto itself. With its own airport, and located closer to Havana than it is to Miami, this southernmost point of the Keys (and the continental U.S. itself) is known for its buzzing nightlife and great food and drinks, but also for outdoor recreation and watersports that rival any other destination in America. Here, the influence of the Bahamas, Cuba, Spain, American literary giants like Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, and LGBTQ residents and visitors come together to form a culturally diverse and delicious getaway. For a taste of the town’s Caribbean community, visit Bahama Village with its revitalized homes and shops, marketplace, and eateries. Speaking of seafood, hop aboard the Conch Tour Train, named for the Caribbean delicacy, for a guided tour of the area. The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum draw not only fans of American literature but also those curious about the life of one of Key West’s best-known party animals; you can tour the influential author’s writing studio and pick up a copy of his novel set in Key West, To Have and Have Not. Enjoy a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, spend some time at the Key West Aquarium (devoted to the marine life of the Keys and offering guided tours, shark feedings, a “please touch” tank, and more), or hit the links at the Key West Golf Club. Another form of wildlife you’ll enjoy meeting are the denizens of the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory, featuring a 5,000-square-foot tropical habitat under a glass dome, more than 50 species of butterfly, and even colorful birds like flamingos. Drop by the Instagrammable buoy that marks the southernmost point in the continental U.S., just 90 miles from Cuba. And, honestly, where else in the world will you find a nightly celebration of the setting sun, as you will at Key West’s Mallory Square, complete with cocktails, street performers, and the always-captivating colors of the sun going down over the Gulf of Mexico. “LIVE LIKE A LOCAL” TIP: Stop by Frangipani Gallery to see the work of local artists, including Larry Blackburn, the current King of Fantasy Fest (Key West’s annual 10-day October festival devoted to creative costumes and masks) and a prominent Key West-based photographer and board member of the AIDS Memorial. To learn more about the Florida Keys and help plan your trip, visit


    Travel News: A Vital New Program at Colonial Williamsburg, Celebrate World Book Day, and Good News About Marriott Rewards

    From an innovative new program in Virginia to literary destination all over the world and a big step forward for a major hotel brand's loyalty programs, this week's travel news combines inspiration with know-how. A VITAL NEW PROGRAM AT COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG Colonial Williamsburg proves once again that it is home to vital, living history, with its new program, “Resolved: An American Experiment,” in which actor-interpreters and audience members help to re-create important events in Virginia history with an imaginative twist: Historical figures are “cast” non-traditionally. Translation: white male figures may be portrayed by actors, or even audience members, of other ethnicities and genders. An African-American female actor, for instance, portraying a wealthy white male from Virginia’s House of Burgesses, has a transformative effect on visitors, opening up new avenues of understanding, emotion, and education. We congratulate Katrinah Lewis, Colonial Williamsburg’s artistic director of actor-interpreters, who wrote and directed “Resolved,” in which more than two centuries melt away, bringing American history, living and breathing into the 21st century (   CELEBRATE WORLD BOOK DAY If you love books and you love UNESCO (we sure do), you’ll be psyched to celebrate UNESCO’s World Book Day, April 23. Travelers often find that preparing for a trip by reading destination-relevant fiction - say, Willa Cather before visiting Virginia, or John Steinbeck before a trip to California - can enrich the travel experience by not only teaching important cultural and historical background about the destination but also creating an emotional attachment through characters you care about. We’ve even rounded up some beautiful U.S. travel destinations devoted to great authors. And we love that Holidu ( has even rounded up some vacation rentals around the world where super-devoted literary fans can rest their heads in properties where F. Scott Fitzgerald, Mary and Percy Shelley, Ernest Hemingway, and others once lived or visited. GOOD NEWS ABOUT MARRIOTT REWARDS Some of you have been anxious about Marriott’s aquisition of Starwood and how it might affect your loyalty-program points. The long story is: Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest have all been, sort of, combined under the Marriott brand. The short story is: If you already belong to any of those three loyalty programs, any points you’ve earned in the past remain intact. In addition, you’ll soon (in August) be able to book rooms and earn and redeem points across more than 6,000 hotels all over the globe. And in 2019, Marriott plans to roll out a brand-new loyalty program that combines all three current programs.

    Budget Travel Lists

    7 Things to Do in Asheville, NC

    The history of Asheville, North Carolina, is a history of vacationing and just plain getting away from the rush and hubbub of urban life. It dates all the way back to the late 1800s, when George Washington Vanderbilt II became smitten with the mountains-rung town. Among the many draws was the curative mountain climate, which established it as a retreat for tuberculosis sufferers, F. Scott Fitzgerald not least among them. After his first visit, Vanderbilt bought 125,000 acres of land there because you can do that when you're a Vanderbilt. He built a home inspired by French Renaissance chateaus and today it still stands as the largest private residence in the nation. The Biltmore is easily the area’s biggest attraction, but it’s also been a destination for well-heeled travelers like Edith Wharton, Henry James, and an illustrious collection of presidents, from Theodore Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama. But you certainly don’t have to be a celebrity to enjoy the town to its fullest today, as no fewer than 3.8 million visitors discover each year. Its location—a reasonable driving distance from Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Greensboro, Durham, and many other cities—make it a primo pick for a weekend getaway, but thanks to its epic brewing scene, creative culinary pioneers, and all-around laid-back progressive spirit, chances are you’ll need more than a weekend to take it all in.   GROVE PARK INN: HISTORY AND CLASSIC DESIGN ON DISPLAY The posh Grove Park Inn is an architectural marvel that tells the history of Asheville. (Courtesy The Omni Grove Park Inn) The Biltmore is perhaps the city's most high profile tourist attraction, but a sense of early 20th century extravagance is also on display at the Grove Park Inn, which has welcomed guests as notable as Eleanor Roosevelt and Henry Ford. (They're all featured in the portrait gallery in the Great Hall, aka: lobby). Today the inn is a luxury property with a 43,000-square-foot spa, pools, and amenities fit for Saudi royalty, but it also has a museum like quality that's available to anyone. The centerpiece of the Great Hall is an antique grandfather clock worth about $1 million. After you take in the jaw-dropping views from the terrace, head upstairs in the old-timey elevator, complete with an operator, to the Palm Court, one of the first atrium-style hotel lobbies. It's decked out with original Arts and Crafts style handmade furniture as well as photographs that chronicle the circa-1913 construction of this architectural marvel. (Think: mules, wagons, ropes, 10,000-pound granite boulders, and 400 men working 10-hour shifts six days a week.) And while you're there, take note: there's a restaurant on the terrace, so make a plan to stay for dinner during sunset.  BEER CITY, USA There are plenty of people and places that have put Asheville on the national radar as a must-do foodie destination, but easily one of its biggest attractions is its beer. So much beer. It’s often referred to, in fact, as Beer City, USA because there are more breweries per capita than any other city in the USA. Not bad for a city of about 90,000. One of the star players is Wicked Weed. As a northerner, I hadn’t heard of the brewery because its beers haven’t been available far outside North Carolina, but that’s about to change thanks to its recent acquisition by AB-InBev, the colossus that owns Budweiser and Corona. Not to worry, though, it won’t affect the Funktorium, Wicked Weed’s industrial-chic taproom. In addition to being one of the most fantastically named beer joints in America, they are devoted exclusively to sour beers. There’s an astounding selection of sour beers, the style that Wicked Weed made its name with. With barrels aging in the back and a fun gift shop so you can take a few bottles for the road, this is a place where the hardcore beer nerd can geek out (each selection on a menu board includes the pH level and the type of barrel it’s aged in) but it’s laid-back enough that novices can feel comfortable asking questions. The community has become such a leading light that gargantuan brands like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium Brewing have established east coast operations here. Tours are offered and they’re free. Any drinker’s visit to Asheville would be incomplete, however, without a stop at Highland Brewing, the first legal brewery since Prohibition when it opened in 1994 and the largest independently owned brewery in the southeast today. Oscar Wong, a retired engineer who started it as a scrappy operation in a basement, is known today as the regional godfather of craft brewing. His daughter Leah runs the ship today. The family-friendly taproom is vast yet welcoming with live music five nights a week. There are four core beers and up to eight experimental or limited releases on draft at any time. Tours are offered. But what makes Asheville a truly exciting beer town is the multitude of breweries that are a bit more far-flung. (But only a bit. This is a pretty small town, after all.) To whit: The Wedge, located on the ground floor of a building with 20 artists studios upstairs. Founded by a metal artist, it's adorned with eccentric and delightfully creepy art. Station yourself at the bar or on the chill wrap-around porch outside and drink up.  ASHEVILLE PINBALL MUSEUM About 75 pinball machines and a variety of other arcade games are open for play with the price of admission at the Asheville Pinball Museum. (Liza Weisstuch) I hadn’t expected to spend much time at Asheville’s Pinball Museum. I’ve never been much of any kind of gamer. But this game museum, I quickly discovered, is also a history museum, an anthropology study, and a chronicle of technology, too. All this on top of being a nostalgic arcade. The museum opened in 2013 and now boasts about 75 pinball machines available for playing with themes ranging from race cars to the Rolling Stones to the Terminator to super heroes galore, to name just a few. A kind young employee showed me around and explained how machines evolved from analogue, with not a single digital component, to machines with speech. The then-futuristic looking, now quaint, Pin-Bot machine introduced in 1986 was a literal game-changer with the addition of ramps. Then in 1992 came the advent of dot-matrix displays. But about the fun part: the $15 admission ($12 for kids 10 and under) gets you open access to all the machines, no tokens or coins required. There are also all sorts of circa-1980s arcade games and plenty of other treats for 80s pop culture junkies. A snack bar offers beer and soda. Just one note: it can get very busy and there is a maximum capacity. They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait. BEYOND BARBECUE: REDEFINING APPALACHIAN CUISINE  Take everything you know about “Southern cooking” and toss it out the window. Asheville natives and chefs who’ve gravitated here from elsewhere around the country are redefining Appalachian cuisine. Katie Button, a four-time James Beard nominee, rises to the top of imaginative Southeastern chefs. After cutting her teeth at the acclaimed elBulli in Spain, the native daughter opened the Spanish tapas spot Cúrate, which has an astounding sherry selection to wash down classic Spanish bites, and then Nightbell, which focuses on small plates that showcase seasonal Appalachian ingredients, largely sourced from local farmers. In addition to turning out delicious food and meticulously crafted cocktails, the mission here is noteworthy as well: zero waste. In partnership with Cúrate, the kitchen uses lesser known cuts of meat. Bar director Phoebe Esmon swaps odds and ends with the chefs for pickling, canning, and preserving. The pulp from the house cider is used in a cider/bourbon cocktail makes a cameo in the jam served with the skillet corn bread.  Creativity extends far beyond the plate at the riverside Smoky Park Supper Club, a casual, lively eatery set in a strategically arranged shipping containers. There’s truth in advertising here, as the kitchen specializes in all sorts of wood-smoked morsels, from char-grilled oysters and wood-fired mussels to all kinds of meats. Even vegetarians will be pleased with choices like the charred cauliflower soup. And the cocktails are strong enough to stand up to the food’s intense flavors. WEST ASHEVILLE: SIP, SHOP, SAUNTER Local pride defines the increasingly hip West Asheville neighborhood. (Liza Weisstuch) Every city’s got at least one: it’s the neighborhood whose hip quotient has skyrocketed in just a few short years, thanks to an enterprising creative class. That neighborhood here is West Asheville, which is essentially a single main thoroughfare, Haywood Ave, with boutiques and bars and cafés and restaurants lining both sides for about a mile. I spent about three and a half hours walking from end to end, no small feat when I tell you it was raining buckets the entire afternoon. Nonetheless, I started at the Drygoods Shop, a gorgeous old actual dry goods shop that’s been appropriated as a designers’ collective. Owner Leigh Anne Hilbert, a seamstress who opened the place in 2011, makes leather/waxed canvas bags under the company name Overlap Sewing Studio. She also offers classes. Among the other makers that claim studio space here and sell their wares are New Life CBD Oil and Meri Hennon, who makes stylish leather bags under the brand Night Heron Studio. Just across the street I popped into Flora, a café/florist hybrid that might be the most zen coffee shop I’ve ever come across. The florist actually calls itself a “botanical living boutique,” as it specializes in living wall installations and the like. The shop space opens into the café, which has soaring ceilings, huge windows looking onto the road, and floral displays covering an entire wall. The coffee, pastries and all the trimming are Asheville-centric. After we chatted about her graduate courses in psychology and her sister who lives in Amsterdam, she told me that even the honey they use is sourced from a nearby organic beekeeper. “It’s as local as you can get,” she said. Making my way north, I stopped into Retrocade, which is exactly what it sounds like: a throwback of a spot with vintage arcade games and beer. All-day access to thousands of games fetches just $10. A few storefronts down in a cottage-like setup was On the Inside, a lingerie studio where Elise Olson makes high end unmentionables as well as PJs and accessories. There’s an exquisite delicacy to every piece here. True confessions: because of what had become a biblical-caliber storm, I took an Uber the 1.7 miles for dinner at Pizza Mind. As I dried off, I couldn’t imagine pizza anywhere tasting better.  RIVER ARTS DISTRICT Wander through dozens of artist galleries in the River Arts District. (Liza Weisstuch) Asheville has long had a gravitational pull on creative types. As early as the late 1800s, women came to the region from more northern states and built lives for themselves as craftspeople. They set up schools and became avid practitioners of the Arts and Crafts style. The arts scene is still thriving, as evident in the River Arts District, a once-industrial neighborhood where warehouses and industrial buildings, like a tannery and a cotton mill, have been appropriated by artists. Now, with their cheery, brightly colored facades, most galleries, many of which are also working studios, are open to the public each day. Some even have drop-in demos or drop-in classes. Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts, for one, offer pot-throwing sessions most Fridays. I spend a solid few hours browsing delicate pottery, electric-hued landscape painting, and eccentric wax sculptures. And where artists go, affordable eats follow. Check out the globally-accented tacos at White Duck Taco and grab a cappuccino at one of the many laid-back cafes.   GINGER BEER TAKES CENTER STAGE  Ginger's Revenge features a variety of housemade ginger beers in a lively industrial-chic setting. (Courtesy Jack Sorokin) I’ve walked into many a’specialty bar over the years—a sherry bar in New York City’s East Village, a gin bar in San Francisco, and an amusingly quirky bubbles bar called Cava in Kansas City. Never in my wildest dreams, however, could I have imagined a ginger beer bar if you ever dared me to. Husband-and-wife-run Ginger’s Revenge is a standout in a city of beer bars. They serve brewed-onsite alcoholic ginger beer—and lots of it. I sampled a flight of honey-chamomile, agave lime, pear rosemary, and dry-hopped. Each offered a different degree of ginger spiciness to shine through. There’s a lively block party vibe to the place, what with communal tables and . The night I visited, the resident food truck was Booty's Meat Market, a one-woman-show. The owner (and everything else) dashed about the room taking orders and delivering plates of slow-stewed leg of lamb, cod tacos, and much more. 


    #BTReads: Our Favorite Travel Books

    A Room with a View (E.M. Forster) manages to be a romantic comedy, travelogue, and deeply moving rumination on art and mortality at the same time. No small feat, but Forster (author of Howard’s End and A Passage to India) is no small writer. When Lucy Honeychurch arrives in Florence from the U.K. with her uptight spinster cousin, Charlotte, she has no idea that accepting a “room with a view” from a quirky neighbor at their pensione will, over the ensuing months, open up a more figurative “view” that will change her life. Spoiler alert: best literary kiss ever. —Robert Firpo-Cappiello, Editor in Chief Bill Bryson’s love letter to Australia, In a Sunburned Country, has quickly become my all-time favorite travel book. I’ve always dreamed of doing what he did—driving from city to city, meeting locals along the way, and writing about it. Bryson’s style of storytelling keeps you captivated and following along with his adventures like you’re hearing about the travels of a close friend, and all the while he’s delivering historical context in a hilariously entertaining way. As Bryson says at the end, “You see, Australia is an interesting place. It truly is. And that really is all I’m saying.” —Kaeli Conforti, Digital Editor  My favorite kind of novel is one in which I can relate to the characters—or at least get the urge to venture alongside them. Bernadette Fox, the protagonist in Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple,isn’t someone you’d readily admit to seeing yourself in, but she’s so real, so fierce, so flawed, so…infamous. She’s a non-conforming Seattle mom, an esteemed architect, a humorist, and a best friend to her daughter. As you might infer, one day Bernadette disappears. What I love most is it’s not so much a mystery novel as it is a psychological exploration of an endearing character through travel-related occurrences. —Whitney Tressel, Photo Editor The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, set in New York City, makes me see the city with fresh eyes. There is so much history hidden in plain sight in New York, and the author, Michael Chabon, brings out the city’s romance, energy, and mystery. I’ve lived here all my life, but when I read this book, it makes me want to get a map and a bike and explore. In Kavalier & Clay, the cousins work in the Flatiron District, and many old buildings that are referenced are still standing. It feels like the characters could be there now. —Amy Lundeen, Photo Director A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway, might seem like an obvious choice, but when you dive into the stories about Hemingway’s time in 1920s Paris, hanging out with the likes of Gertrude Stein, you’ll see why the book remains a classic. Hemingway’s tales of arguing with wannabe literary critics in cafés, nursing a drunken F. Scott Fitzgerald (whom he was clearly jealous of), and drinking Châteauneuf du Pape with steak frites at lunch make Paris vibrate as a freewheeling, energetic, creative place where writers are welcome to linger at bistros perfecting their masterpieces. When I’m lucky enough to go to Paris, I always visit one of Hemingway’s old haunts. —Jamie Beckman, Senior Editor


    6 Vegas Getaways You Need Right Now

    We're all familiar with that famous Las Vegas Strip skyline, but long before the Strip came to embody the city as a whole, the first hotel-casinos began rising from the Nevada desert two and a half miles north. Today, Downtown thoroughfare Fremont Street bustles with brand-new bars, restaurants, shops, venues, and hotels offering budget-friendly, intimate, and down-to-earth accommodations that sometimes outdo their Strip counterparts. Bonus: All six of the hip hot spots and historic mainstays below provide free parking, easy access to the North Premium Outlets mall, and a firsthand view of a side of the city that's making a comeback in a big way. The D How much: From $29 per night plus $20 resort fee, What it's like: Completed in fall 2012, a remodel of the former Irish-themed Fitzgerald casino retained the ground-floor pool, added Michigan-based eateries American Coney Island hot dogs and the upscale Andiamo Italian Steakhouse, and redecorated 34 hotel floors in sleek black and retro red, an update shared with recently expanded sister property the Golden Gate (from $9 plus $20 resort fee). On the ground level, bask in a lively, uninhibited vibe that includes LED lighting, dancing card dealers, and flair bartenders. What to do when you're not playing the slots: Check out the music, food, and arts programming at the outdoor Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, which opened in September. Downtown Grand How much: From $29 per night plus $11 resort fee, What it's like: Across Stewart Avenue from the popular Mob Museum, the year-old Ascend Collection boutique (formerly the Lady Luck Hotel & Casino) offers a well-stocked fitness center, a roomy and welcoming rooftop pool deck overlooking Third Street, and an upscale reimagining of defunct Arts District dive the Art Bar. What to do when you're not playing the slots: Dual room towers connect via skybridge, which also provides easy access to one full block of happy hour heaven: Richard Sandoval's The Commissary Latin Kitchen (select beers, margaritas, mojitos, and wines are $4 from 4 to 7 p.m. daily), Triple George Grill (3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, half-price appetizers including $8 bruschetta, $9 calamari, $11 crab cakes, and $13 seared ahi), and Pizza Rock ($3 drafts, well drinks, meatballs, and Italian fries, plus $5 calamari, garlic bread, and one-topping personal pizzas from 3 to 6 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. to close nightly). El Cortez How much: From $17 per night plus $9 resort fee, What it's like: Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, the longest continuously operating hotel-casino in Las Vegas maintains a free airport return shuttle and six categories of rooms. Since 2009 the 64-unit, free-standing Cabana Suites sport classy black, white, and green decor, and fresh fruit in a high-tech fitness center. What to do when you're not playing the slots: It's all steps away from the brand-new Market grocery store and innovative Container Park, an open-air mall built from shipping containers and featuring a treehouse playground, live events, and a massive sculpture of a fire-shooting praying mantis. Golden Nugget How much: From $39 per night plus $20 resort fee, What it's like: A waterslide, shark tank, and third-story infinity pool are but a few of the outdoor amenities; inside, a whopping 2,419 rooms, 10 restaurants, a two-suite fitness center, and an adjacent spa provide options for every taste and appetite. What to do when you're not playing the slots: Continuous upgrades since 2005 play on the gold (naturally) and rust theme and emphasize uncompromised sightlines, all the better for exploring the sprawling, always surprising Downtown landmark. Oasis at Gold Spike How much: From $39 per night plus $20 resort fee, What it's like: Owned by business incubator the Downtown Project (originally founded by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh), the retro blue and orange boutique opened in September with a tiny fitness center, year-round pool, and fire pits. Sleek lighting, accent pieces, and art vary throughout each of the 44 unique rooms, which don't waste outlet space with phones and alarm clocks. What to do when you're not playing the slots: Instead of traditional Vegas gaming, an expansive patio and lawn area houses foursquare, hopscotch, cornhole, and oversized beer pong, plus the occasional DJ and live band. Rental bikes and vinyl library available at the front desk. The Plaza How much: From $29 per night plus $15 resort fee, What it's like: The Western anchor of Fremont Street boasts a rooftop swimming pool, roomy fitness center, and coupon book offering deals on gaming, two-for-one drinks, and even free tickets to resident comedian Louie Anderson's family-friendly show. What to do when you're not playing the slots: Dining highlights include Man v. Food favorite Hash House A Go Go, indoor/outdoor Beer Garden offering gourmet bratwursts plus side (fries, onion strings, or coleslaw) and a craft beer for under $8, $4 vegan and vegetarian options at Pop Up Pizza, and former three-term mayor Oscar Goodman's eponymous Oscar's, a gorgeous, glass-domed steakhouse where drinks and appetizers (normally $15 to $17) are half-off weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m.


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