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There are plenty of fun, interesting ways to walk on the wild side all across North America, but these destination zoos lead the pack by offering some of the most memorable visitor experiences rooted in animal encounters, community outreach, conservation efforts, unique programming and special events. Lincoln Park Zoo The 35-acre Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868 on Chicago’s north side, making it one of the oldest in the country. Movie buffs might remember the Lester E. Fisher Great Ape House from its appearance in the 1999 film Return to Me; although the habitat has since transformed into the $26 million Regenstein Center for African Apes, the mighty gorillas are still a major draw. There’s also an amazing conservatory on site to check out. Best of all, the zoo stays open 365 days a year, and while you may have to pay for parking, admission is always free. San Diego Zoo Long respected for its conservation initiatives, the Balboa Park-based San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,700 animals across 650 different species, many rare or endangered. The property is massive and navigation can be a little overwhelming; double-decker bus tours make it easier to get the lay of the land. A few of the most popular animal attractions include the Australian Outback koalas, the 2.5-acre elephant habitat and the penguin-populated Africa Rocks exhibit. Hearts broke when the zoo’s beloved giant pandas were returned to their Chinese homeland in spring 2019. However, the adorable red pandas are still around to admire. Cincinnati Zoo Paired with a world-class botanical garden, the Cincinnati Zoo has been delighting Midwestern youngsters and their families since 1875 when it opened under the direction of the Zoological Society of Cincinnati. A pioneer in successful breeding efforts, the facility launched the Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife in 1986 to help propagate and preserve globally endangered species. Amid the lovingly tended collection of animal exhibits, visitors tend to gravitate toward the cheetah run, the meerkats and the lions, but the world-famous Fiona — a charming young hippo born in early 2017 — is the biggest animal celebrity in residence. Bronx Zoo A much-loved New York City fixture since 1899 and the largest city zoo in the US, the Bronx Zoo gives guests a glimpse into the world-wide animal kingdom within the beating heart of the urban jungle. With more than 260 forested acres to explore and 6,000 animals from aardvarks to zebras, this expansive attraction merits at least a full day to truly appreciate. Expect to do a lot of walking; you can always hop on the Wild Asia monorail or the seasonal Dinosaur Safari for a quick breather. The facility is also notable for having opened the very first veterinarian-staffed animal hospital back in 1916. Henry Doorly Zoo Home to the largest indoor desert habitat in the world, the Henry Doorly Zoo’s soaring glazed geodesic Desert Dome has come to be one of the most recognizable landmarks in Nebraska. Inside, a 55-foot tall central “mountain” divides the landscape into distinctive Namib, Australian and Sonoran habitats; nocturnal creatures make their home in the Kingdoms of the Night exhibits on the lower level. Elsewhere on the property, immersive Asian Highlands, Alaskan Glacier Bay and African Grasslands exhibits transport visitors around the world without ever leaving Omaha. The stunning Scott Aquarium facility showcases sea turtles, sharks and other marine life. Indianapolis Zoo Arranged in five distinctive biome areas, the Indianapolis Zoo delivers a comprehensive visitor experience for animal lovers of all ilks. The organization partners with global researchers to promote animal conservation and education, acknowledging the work of worthy recipients with the coveted Indianapolis Prize awarded annually. The ethereal Dolphin Pavilion often doubles as an event space (guests can even arrange in-water adventures to swim along), and the Simon Skojdt International Orangutan Center furthers efforts to study and support these majestic animals in the wild. Access to the lovely White River Gardens is included in the price of admission. St Louis Zoo One of several appealing attractions that populate Forest Park, the city’s verdant crown jewel, the free-to-visit St Louis Zoo receives approximately 3 million visitors each year. A leader in animal management, conservation and awareness with assistance from the Saint Louis Zoo Wildcare Institute, this friendly Midwestern facility houses and cares for more than 17,000 resident mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects on site. The zoo originated during the 1904 World’s Fair, taking shape around the original Flight Cage that still stands as part of the Cypress Swamp exhibit in the Historic Hill section. Woodland Park Zoo This Seattle-based organization enlightens visitors as to the vital roles conservation and sustainability play (particularly in the Pacific Northwest region) through field projects and interactive exhibits spanning 70 developed acres. Bioclimate zones range from tropical rainforest and Australasian to temperate forest and African savanna habitats, housing more than 1,100 animals across 300 species. African Lions and Malayan Tigers and Brown Bears — oh my! Don’t miss the Assam Rhino Reserve, a partnership project with the International Rhino Foundation that raises funds to protect these threatened animals from illegal poaching. Detroit Zoo With sections that showcase African forest and grasslands dwellers; Arctic animals; and American, Asian and Australian-hailing creatures, the 125-acre Detroit Zoo offers plenty of incentives to visit. The state-of-the-art Polk Penguin Conservation Center is currently closed until summer 2020 for repairs, but once it reopens, visitors will be able to again observe the antics of 75 resident penguins in a spectacular 25 foot-deep, 326,000-gallon aquatic facility. In the meantime, you can still enjoy the butterfly garden, the bird enclosures and a diverse variety of other animal exhibits. Sedgwick County Zoo Wildlife park meets mainstream animal attraction at this award-winning Wichita zoo, where guests can watch elephants splash, play and eat in the third largest dedicated habitat in the country. Spend some time in the Downing Gorilla Forest, then marvel at the big cats in the immersive Slawson Family Tiger Trek. Animals are grouped according to geographical origin, making it easy to beeline directly to African, Asian, North American or tropical settings. A leisurely wander through the impressive aviary caps off the adventure in fine feathered form.
The Best Museums in Every State
With so many amazing cultural, quirky, history-focused and art-centric attractions to visit across America, it’s nearly impossible to choose the one best museum in each and every state. However, these institutions continually rise to the top of must-see lists for good reason: Alabama A multi-faceted interpretive museum and research center, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute takes visitors on a moving and important journey through the advent and progression of the Civil Rights movement. Alaska Inside its stunning glacier-like façade, the University of Alaska’s Museum of the North in Fairbanks offers an in-depth peek into the biodiversity, culture and geology of this intriguing northern terrain. Arizona Founded in 1929, The Heard Museum in Phoenix celebrates Native American culture and advances American Indian art through a remarkable collection of historic and modern items, textiles, jewelry, ceramics and Hopi katsina dolls. Arkansas Named for the natural spring that feeds the 120-acre grounds, the striking architecture of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville makes a memorable first impression; inside, view exhibitions housed within a linked series of pavilions for free. California The expansive views of the Los Angeles basin rival the art inside the uber-modern Getty Center; admire the European and American collections, then enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Central Garden and an al fresco café lunch or refreshment. Colorado On a 15-acre former rail yard, the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden maintains more than 100 historic locomotives, passenger cars and cabooses to observe, along with a depot museum, a railroad reference library and a functioning roundhouse. Connecticut Experience adventure at sea without ever leaving dry land; the Mystic Seaport Museum pays homage to America’s seafaring heritage with more than 500 watercraft on display, a recreated coastal village, a research center and a working shipyard. Delaware The former childhood home of horticulturalist Henry Francis du Pont, the opulently restored Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library fills 175 rooms with American decorative art pieces and furnishings, some dating back as far as 1640. Florida With a thought-provoking permanent collection of original objets d’art, prints, photos, sculpture, paintings and illustrations, the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg lends an immersive peek into the life of the eccentric artist and master of Surrealism. Georgia The World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta traces the lineage of the iconic soft drink with a 4-D film presentation, a look at the bottling process, a pop culture gallery, and the opportunity to sample more than 100 different products from around the world. Hawaii The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in downtown Honolulu serves as a thoughtful repository for royal family heirlooms and also maintains a science adventure center, a planetarium and one of world’s largest collections of natural history specimens. Idaho The quirky Museum of Clean in Pocatello goes way beyond vacuum cleaners and washing machines to address the evolution of cleaning products and equipment and their effects on the environment; a gallery for kids actually makes chores fun. Illinois No Windy City visit is complete with a trip to the iconic Art Institute of Chicago to marvel at original masterpieces by Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Chagall and Picasso during a docent-led or self-guided tour. Indiana Dinosaurs crashing through The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis façade get visitors excited for the five floors of interactive fun they’ll discover inside, including areas that focus on science, global culture, archeology, space travel and extraordinary children. Iowa Part of the 30-acre TechWorks campus in Waterloo, the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum gives voice to Iowa’s farming history and heritage as interpreted by one of the industry’s most significant contributors. Kansas The Kansas Aviation Museum in the original Wichita Airport facility flies high with historical military and civil airplanes, flight simulators, exhibits on major aircraft manufacturers, a retired air control tower and the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame. Kentucky The stunning works of art on display in the National Quilt Museum’s three exhibition galleries make it easy to see at a glance why enchanting little Paducah is famous for its quilting, crafting and fiber arts heritage. Louisiana Let the good times roll at Mardi Gras World on the New Orleans riverfront with an insider glimpse at how extravagant parade floats take shape, in addition to the opportunity to learn about Mardi Gras history and try on costumes. Maine The Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth’s Fort Williams Park dates back to 1791, making it the oldest lighthouse in Maine; the museum in the former Lighthouse Keeper’s quarters holds maritime artifacts, documents, navigational tools and models. Maryland Both part of the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in Cambridge and the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad State Park Center in Church Creek honor the life and legacy of the groundbreaking abolitionist. Massachusetts Inside a striking exterior designed by I.M. Pei, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library in Boston examines the life of America’s 35th Commander in Chief from childhood through his political career, marriage and assassination. Michigan Encompassing the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, the Greenfield Village living history site and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, the comprehensive 250-acre Henry Ford campus in Dearborn merits several days of exploration to fully absorb. Minnesota Founded in 1883, the Minneapolis Institute of Art boasts a permanent collection of 90,000 objects spanning 20,000 years and six continents, in addition to gorgeous architecture, traveling exhibits and community-oriented programming. Mississippi Visitors can immerse themselves in the sounds and stories of legendary artists like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton and John Lee Hooker at the Delta Blues Museum in the historic 1918 Clarksdale freight depot building. Missouri Crawling through colorful tunnels, scaling large-scale wire sculptures, playing amid indoor urban artscapes and riding the rooftop Ferris Wheel at the 600,000 square-foot City Museum in St. Louis is enough to make anyone feel like a kid again. Montana The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman honors its rugged roots with one of the world’s largest dinosaur fossil collections, a Yellowstone National Park display, planetarium shows, a paleontology research facility and a seasonal living history farm. Nebraska Step back in time to the days of the Oregon Trail; the landmark Archway facility in Kearney retraces the steps of America’s settlers as they traveled the Great Platte River Road during Westward Expansion. Nevada Get a lesson in Las Vegas history with a walk through the Neon Museum to see flashy signage that once adorned the Strip’s extravagant casinos, hotels and tourist attractions, along with blueprints, photos and other memorabilia. New Hampshire The Mount Washington Observatory and Weather Discovery Center in North Conway offers a way to safely explore some of the planet’s most extreme climates and conditions through guided weather station tours and interactive science exhibits. New Jersey Experience the bells and whistles of the Jersey Shore at the Pinball Hall of Fame and Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park by trying your luck on a rotating selection of 200-ish playable machines from the museum’s 600-item collection. New Mexico The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe imparts an inspiring look at the life and work of New Mexico’s most recognized 20th-century artist by inviting guests to experience her distinctive abstract, landscape and floral paintings in nine themed galleries. New York Rising from the ruins of the World Trade Center, the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City honors the lives lost during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and pays tribute to the heroes that emerged. North Carolina With 8,000 acres, 250 preserved rooms, priceless works of art, a massive banquet hall, 65 fireplaces, an indoor pool and bowling alley, the palatial French chateau-style Biltmore House and Gardens estate is Asheville’s crown jewel. North Dakota The North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck takes a wide-ranging look at the state’s geologic evolution over 600 million years through four galleries filled with artifacts, art and interactive displays. Ohio Music fans make pilgrimages to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland to learn about the legions of legends who’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame, catch live performances and even noodle on real instruments in the Garage. Oklahoma Experience the great American West at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City through exhibits and galleries that highlight Native American life, the American Cowboy, rodeo and other cultural touchpoints. Oregon One of the top science centers in the country, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland maintains 200 hands-on exhibits spread across five halls, a planetarium, six labs and a full-size US Navy submarine to discover. Pennsylvania The echoes of history ring through the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitors Center; the museum offers a primer on one of America’s most significant Civil War battles before visitors embark on guided tours of the battlefield itself. Rhode Island The RISD Museum on the campus of the Rhode Island School of Design holds its own against much bigger facilities thanks to an extensive collection of 100,000+ globally sourced paintings, sculpture, textiles and furniture. South Carolina On the actual site where slaves were auctioned back in the mid-1800s, the Old Slave Mart Museum educates visitors on the facts and realities of the most shameful chapter of American history through informative, emotionally moving content. South Dakota Currently closed for a massive architectural expansion with plans to reopen in 2021, the National Music Museum on the University of South Dakota campus in Vermillion delights visitors with instruments on display from the facility’s 15,000+ piece collection. Tennessee A shrine fit for a King, Graceland in Memphis gives visitors the chance to tour the estate of Elvis Presley to see the rooms in which he lived, his racquetball court, personal family effects and final resting place in the meditation garden. Texas Retired spacecraft, astronaut spacesuits, an Independence shuttle replica, an International Space Station gallery, moon rocks, virtual reality experiences and motion simulators await at the Smithsonian-affiliated Space Center Houston. Utah Just west of Temple Square, the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City provides an overview of the religious history and foundations that inform the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Mormon faith. Vermont The Shelburne Museum serves up an all-inclusive sampler of history, art and culture through 39 New England–style buildings on a bucolic 45-acre site, all filled with materials and artifacts from the collections of founder Electra Havemeyer Webb. Virginia Colonial Williamsburg brings American history to life through costumed interpreters who populate a working 18th-century village, as well as museums dedicated to folk art and decorative arts, seasonal programming and historic dining opportunities. Washington Next to the Space Needle, Seattle’s long-term Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition sparkles and shines with eight galleries, three drawing walls, a Glasshouse and a garden filled with vibrant works by the renowned glass artist. West Virginia Veteran miners lead underground tours through the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum, a recreated 20th-century Appalachian miner’s camp settlement and an authentic West Virginia mountain homestead. Wisconsin Get your motor running at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee while learning all about the history of America’s signature motorcycles and the culture they’ve inspired among their loyal customer base through the years. Wyoming The Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody encapsulates the Buffalo Bill Museum, the Draper Natural History Museum, the Whitney Western Art Museum, the Plains Indian Museum and the Cody Firearms Museum all under one expansive roof.
Worst Cities in the World for Traffic
The New England Patriots just brought home their third Super Bowl ring in five years, and it looks like the Red Sox have a promising pitching lineup going into 2019 spring training. Boston's universities and medical facilities are regularly ranked best in the world, and its legacy of political royalty is unparalleled. But this month, the city earned another notch in its belt of superlatives, and locals won’t be beating their chests about this one: worst traffic in the United States. A Traffic-Stopping Analysis (Roman Smirnov/Dreamstime) INRIX, a transportation data firm that publishes annual rankings of urban traffic and congestion around the world, released its Global Traffic Scorecard last week (inrix.com/scorecard). The study identifies and ranks mobility and traffic in more than 200 cities in 38 countries, analyzing lost time due to congestion as well as the severity of the congestion and reasons for it. When it comes to spending time in gridlock at peak hours of morning and evening commutes, Boston drivers took home top prize for 2018. (Well, if they can ever manage to get home, that is.) To be fair, Boston isn’t alone in its supremely slow-moving misery—it’s an honor shared with Washington, D.C. Both have 15 more hours of congestion per year than Chicago and Seattle. Logic would dictate that New York City and Los Angeles, both infamous for bumper-to-bumper traffic, would come out on top. Chalk the counterintuitive results up to methodology. The study looked at commutes during peak times in the day, and, according to the report, “Los Angeles experiences high levels of congestion throughout the day, but its peak severity is less than Boston.” It also notes that the city has employment across a wider geographic area, preventing severe downtown congestion that more centralized cities experience, which helps explain Boston’s issues. Even with the billions spent on the so-called Big Dig, the decades-long construction project designed to relieve traffic by building a tunnel under the highway, it did nothing to alleviate the gridlock on the city streets, which were originally built for horse-drawn carriages. New York City has an honor entirely of its own: the slowest city in the U.S., with “last mile” speeds of nine miles per hour. Translation: It’s faster to bike than to drive or take the bus. (L.A.’s last mile speed is four minutes.) Time Is Money (Erik Lattwein/Dreamstime) The Global Traffic Scorecard found that congestion alone cost Americans nearly $87 billion in 2018, an average of $1,348 per driver. When it comes to time wasted, Americans lost an average of 97 hours annually. As far as the breakdown of losses across the world, the Scorecard ranked cities both by economic impact and hours lost. On the economic scale, the cities where traffic had the most serious impact are, in decreasing order, Moscow, Istanbul, Bogota, Mexico City, and São Paulo. Boston is the only U.S. city in the top ten, with drivers losing $2,291 per year due to congestion. As far as U.S. cities go, Boston is followed by D.C. ($2,161), Seattle ($1,932), Chicago ($1,920), and New York City ($1,859). At $304 per driver, Wichita, Kansas, had the lowest cost of congestion among the U.S. cities studied. When it comes to lost time, Bogota had the most hours lost globally to peak period congestion: 272 in 2018. That almost makes Boston, the top-ranking U.S. city, look good, with 164 hours lost. D.C. drivers lost 155 hours per year, with Chicago and Seattle trailing not far behind at 138 hours lost in each. New York City, L.A., Pittsburgh, and Portland, Oregon, are only marginally less congested, with 133, 128, 127, and 116 hours lost, respectively. So next time the hankering for a road trip takes hold, make sure you account for time lost to gridlock when you’re planning your journey.
8 U.S. Aviation Destinations That Belong on Your Bucket List
Whether you’re a hard-core aviation enthusiast (yes, #avgeeks is a thing) or just intrigued by the miracle of flight, there's a lot in store for in 2019. Step back in time to get inside the heads of the pioneers of aviation, like the Wright Brothers, then let your own dreams of flight take wing in a high-flying biplane ride. You can even spend the night at a new hotel that harkens back to the glamorous golden age of air travel. Here are eight bucket list experiences for today’s #avgeeks. 1. TWA Hotel: Jamaica, New York (Max Touhey) The stylish 512-room TWA Hotel (twahotel.com) at JFK’s Terminal 5, in New York City's most populous and diverse borough, Queens, is on track to preserve the romance and excitement of the Jet Age when it opens this spring. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into 1962, or at the very least, like an extra in the 2002 Steven Spielberg movie Catch Me If You Can. Guest rooms boast floor-to-ceiling windows, mid-century modern furnishings, and vintage rotary phones. Order an old-fashioned inside Connie, a 1958 Lockheed Constellation that’s been made over into a swanky cocktail lounge, or settle in at Paris Café, the latest restaurant by celebrated chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, featuring a menu inspired by TWA in-flight menus from the 1960s. 2. EAA AirVenture: Oshkosh, Wisconsin (EAA/Connor Madison) Known as the "World's Greatest Aviation Celebration," EAA AirVenture (eaa.org/en/airventure) soars over Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for seven days in July, attracting around 600,000 aviation enthusiasts. The annual fly-in convention features upwards of 3,000 showplanes, making Wittman Regional Airport the world’s busiest airport, if only for a few days. There are so many planes, in fact, that dozens of air traffic controllers are brought in to ensure smooth take-offs and landings. Daily air shows, a veterans' parade, and a 5K race on the runway, as well as dazzling aerobatics displays and parachute team demos, make EAA AirVenture a must for enthusiasts of the Golden Age of Aviation. 3. Wright Brothers National Memorial: Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (Outer Banks Visitors Bureau) Closed for renovations since winter 2016, the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center (nps.gov/wrbr/index.htm) on North Carolina’s Outer Banks reopened this past September to share the story of flight with new hands-on exhibits and artifacts, some on display for the first time—among them, a large piece of cloth from the 1903 Wright Flyer that was donated in 1960 by the Wright Family. Also new: a two-minute video that tells the story and science behind the Wright Brothers’ advances in flight. Meanwhile, a kid-friendly interactive Aspiration Wall invites visitors to share how they’ve overcome personal obstacles and the dreams they hope to make possible one day. 4. Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum: Mesa, Arizona (Visit Mesa) A hangar filled with historic military combat planes is just one of the attractions at the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum at Falcon Field (azcaf.org) in Mesa, a town with a strong draw for foodies, just outside Phoenix. After you tour the hangar, an education in military history, you can climb into the cockpit of a warbird, like a N2S-3 Stearman biplane, and take to the skies with a professional pilot. Can’t make it to Mesa? During the summer, look for the Flying Legends of Victory Tour between June and October, when three of the seven combat planes travel to 50 cities across the country to educate on the history of air combat and the role of these warbirds. 5. The Boneyard at Pima Air and Space Museum: Tucson, Arizona (Visit Tucson) The Pima Air & Space Museum’s Boneyard (pimaair.org) is home to more than 4,000 military aircraft. However, because the Boneyard is actually located on the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, advance reservations and a security clearance are required at least 10 days in advance for a narrated bus tour around the property. On the museum’s central grounds, explore the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame, see planes in several hangars, and criss-cross the grounds to check out another 150 planes parked on the museum’s 80 acres. Sign up for a tram tour or one of two docent-guided walking tours. 6. Kansas Aviation Museum: Wichita, Kansas As the Air Capital of the World, Wichita, Kansas, should be a top priority on anyone’s list—whether you're an aviation geek or just someone interested in American history. It's the city where iconic aviation brands like Cessna and Stearman were born, and where Bombardier and Airbus Americas still design aircraft. Start at the Kansas Aviation Museum (kansasaviationmuseum.org), housed in the original Wichita Airport and showcasing Wichita’s aviation history, including the debut of B-47 and B-52 bombers. Next, brush up on the city’s aviation leaders at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum before stopping for a pint at Aero Plains Brewing, where the bar is made from the wing of a Beechcraft Model 18. 7. Wings & Waves Waterpark: McMinnville, Oregon (Visit McMinnville) Cool off and make a big splash at Wings & Waves Waterpark in McMinnville, Oregon (wingsandwaveswaterpark.com). At possibly the only educational waterpark in the U.S., you’ll find 10 waterslides, including four that exit from the fuselage of a real Boeing 747, as well as a hands-on science center on the role of water in everyday life. The waterpark is just one part of a larger museum campus, which also includes the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum where you’ll find World War II artifacts, booster rockets, and high-speed reconnaissance aircraft. Air Force Two, the aircraft used by first ladies and vice presidents, touches down at the museum for guided tours this spring. 8. Aviation Trail: Dayton, Ohio (TourismOhio) Take a walk or ride your bike along the Aviation Trail (aviationtrailinc.org) in Dayton, Ohio, the birthplace of aviation. Along the trail, you’ll find 17 flight-related museums and historical sites, including the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, home to a space shuttle and four of nine presidential aircrafts, including the Air Force One that returned President John F. Kennedy’s body from Dallas. The trail begins at the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, where visitors learn about the early years of the Wright Brothers, and meanders its way across Dayton, making stops at the Aviation Trail Parachute Museum, the Wright Brothers Memorial, and the Tri-State Warbird Museum, which focuses on the history of aircraft used during war throughout history.
Locals Know Best: Wichita
When Wichita was first established as a trading post along the Chisolm Trail, it was a popular stop for cowboys driving their cattle from Texas to the end of the railroad in Kansas. Today, although some still call it a “cow town,” the only outlaws are the business owners and artists who are blazing their own trails. In modern times, Wichita has been known as the air capital of the world because of the high concentration of factories producing aircrafts, a heritage that’s on display at the Kansas Aviation Museum. But more than that, there's been fast and furious urban growth over the past few years, with rapid development in the downtown area, which sits on the Arkansas River, affectionately referred to as “Our Kansas River.” (Wink*) Apartment buildings have gone up and new bike lanes are highly trafficked. To get a sense of the Wichita landscape, we checked in with Andrew Gough, who owns the popular cafe/roastery Reverie Roasters (so popular, in fact, that it’s moving to a much bigger space after opening in 2013 in its original location.) He had the inside scoop on where the eat, hangout, and daytrip. DINE AROUND THE WORLD WITHIN THE CITY LIMITS A few years ago, Andrew was on a dining panel enlisted by the Wichita Eagle, the city’s daily newspaper, because there were too many new restaurants for the one primary restaurant critic to keep up with. Now that’s saying something. Given that, plus the fact that he owns a café and his phone is a who's who of local culinary types, it’s safe to say he’s a trustworthy guide for anyone curious about where to dine around town. To hear him tell it, some of the city’s most interesting meals are offered at tucked-away mom’n’pop eateries that collectively serve a rich assortment of ethnic cuisines. He’s a regular at Manna Wok, a homey Korean restaurant where the kimchee spread is off the charts and the owner clearly loves her customers as much as they love her spot. Why else would the walls be plastered little photographs of diners who’ve visited over the years? It’s a ritual that goes back so long that Polaroids from the early days still hang on the wall. Latin American fare is the pick on the southside of town. Usuluteco, a low-key and family owned El Salvadorian joint, is set inconspicuously in a strip mall just off a busy street where mom cooks and dad runs the front of house. Everything, he says, is 100% authentic, so he has a tough time deciding what to recommend. “Definitely the pupusas,” he says, referring to the classic El Salvadorian masa cakes with savory fillings. “But also anything with chicken or beef is really good. And also their pastelitos--fried empanadas stuffed with something like beef stew." In other words: everything. But if you were to press him on what food is identifiable with the region the way that cheesesteak is synonymous with Philly and pizza with New York, the nu way, a loose meat sandwich, is "a total Wichita thing," Andrew declares. It originated at a restaurant of the same name (Nu way), and you'd be best off going to the source to try it. "You need to eat it at the restaurant because when you get it to go, the grease just steeps through the bag. Sure, it's a heart attack on a bun, but it's delicious." More generally speaking, humus and all sorts of other Middle Eastern dishes are ubiquitous, thanks to a humongous Lebanese community in town. Wichita is also home to a sizable Vietnamese population, so you’d be well served at any of the many pho joints around town. HEARTY MEALS IN THE HEARTLAND But Kansas is smack in the middle of the heartland, so it’s only reasonable to expect to find places dishing out good ole American comfort food. Wichita, it seems, prefers its comfort food with a healthy dash of creativity. Tanya’s Soup Kitchen is one of Andrew’s go-tos for sandwiches he describes as “well thought out” (smoked turkey, blueberry barbecue sauce and provolone on an onion kaiser roll, anyone?) and soups. On Wednesdays they make a curry soup, but all the locals know that it’s the legendary tomato bisque you’ll want to try. Good thing it’s on offer all week. There’s a neat twist here. “They have recipe cards for all their products so you can make them at home, but interestingly, there’s still a line out the door every day." Sometimes you can find the most extraordinary grub in the most unlikely places. You might not be enticed by the no frills exterior of Dempsey’s Burger Pub, but the creative burgers here will teach you not to just a pub by its façade. The selections rotate, but the Thai peanut butter burger is a recurring choice and Andrew’s favorite. After all, it’s made with espresso from his roastery. COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST Dempsey's is located in Clifton Square, a block-long stretch comprised of mostly Victorian buildings that house an array of businesses, including some that are unique to the city, like College Hill Creamery, a homey neighborhood spot that turns out house-made ice cream. Tissu, a hip, charming little shop that sells yarn and all sorts of notions, features a sewing studio with classes. If you’re in town with friends and up for an offbeat group activity, the Wichita Escape Room is for you. A “live action” escape game, you get closed in a room with your group and all you have is puzzles and logic tricks to figure out how to find the key to get out. Each of Wichita's many neighborhoods has its own very distinctive flavor and character. The Douglas Design District, which is awash with murals and revitalized storefronts, is regarded as the most creative community. Well over 90% of its hundreds of businesses are small and independently owned. Not surprisingly, it’s where you'll find Andrew’s cozy Reverie Roasters, a go-to cafe for thoughtfully prepared java drinks. His is one among the ranks of businesses that’s making Wichita a destination for foodies. Down the street, Donut Whole offers fresh donuts made with local ingredients and coffee made with beans from Andrew's roastery. He says it's the shop that ignited the 'hood's creative energy. Complete with a gallery and a lounge with live music, he describes it as “funky, creative, super-duper unique, and eclectic.” Next door is Piatto, a pizzeria run by a man who went to Italy to learn how to make true Neapolitan-style pies and brought a traditional pizza oven back with him. The aforementioned Tanya’s is across the street. One of the most exciting things in the DDD is the growing craft beer scene. Hopping Gnome and Central Standard Brewing both feature a brewpub where you can hangout and drink the house suds. Plus they’re food-truck-friendly, so people pick up grub from the trucks and bring it inside for a session. Workers at both brewpubs are really engaging and informative, Andrew says, offering history lessons on beer styles, information on where they source ingredients, and elaborate explanations of beer styles. “Every one of these new breweries does that. It makes it all more interesting,” he says. DAY TRIPPER 2016 marked the centennial of Coronado Heights, a castle-like stone structure built into the side of a bluff pathways from spiderweb to the top....pathways carved into hill... Located about an hour and 15 minutes outside town and listed on the National and Kansas State Registers of Historic Places, it features an observatory deck that offers breathtaking views of the Smoky Hill River Valley and it’s one of the “8 Wonders of Kansas Geography.” (Who knew?) Coronado Heights is surrounded by a an elaborate network of walking paths with astonishing views. Make a day trip out of it and stop in nearby Linsborg, known as “Little Sweden” because it was built by Scandinavian immigrants back when they settled there in 1869. That history lives on in its Scandinavian architecture and rich cultural sites. About 30 miles in the opposite direction of town is Mushroom Rock State Park, a collection of bizarre oversize standstone formations; millions years ago water left rock formation in the shape of fungi. "There's so many little things and always more to discover. It's a beautiful drive to get there."
America's Top 10 Zoos
TripAdvisor recently announced the top 10 zoos in the U.S., as measured by rankings compiled through the site. Top honors go to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, which boasts the largest indoor desert in the world (you'll find cape cobras and meerkats, among other heat–loving critters, inside). Coming in second place is Saint Louis Zoo, which is unveiling a new sea lion exhibit at the end of this month. And in third place: Cape May County Park & Zoo, located in one of BT's Coolest Small Towns. And as for the rest of the list? The Southern U.S. had a decent showing, with four zoos in the top 10, including: Columbia, S.C.'s Riverbanks Zoo and Garden (4th place); Tennessee's Memphis Zoo (5th place); Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Fla. (8th place—and featuring a new zip line course); and New Orleans' Audubon Zoo rounding out the list at number 10. Perhaps the famous zoo in the country, the San Diego Zoo, came in at number six, while spots 7 and 9 went to The Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kans., and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colo., respectively. Though BT's reigning Cutest Zoo Baby, Maggie the Giraffe, won't be found at one of TripAdvisor's top 10 zoos (she's at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, Calif.), we love any reason to check out a wildlife wonderland. And breaking the bank isn't a requirement: Admission for these zoos runs the gamut, from the pricey ($42/adult for The San Diego Zoo) to the blissfully budget–friendly (both the Saint Louis Zoo and Cape May County Park & Zoo offer free admission). Here's the full list: 1) Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, Nebr. ($13.50/adult; $9/child aged 3–11) 2) Saint Louis Zoo, St. Louis, Mo. (free; though charges apply for certain exhibits) 3) Cape May County Park & Zoo, Cape May, N.J. (free) 4) Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Columbia, S.C. ($11.75/adult; $9.25/child aged 3–12) 5) Memphis Zoo, Memphis, Tenn. ($15/adult; $10/child aged 2–11) 6) San Diego Zoo, San Diego, Calif. ($42/adult; $32/child aged 3–11) 7) Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kans. ($13.95/adult; $8.95/child aged 3–11) 8) Brevard Zoo, Melbourne, Fla. ($14.50/adult; $10.50/child aged 2–12) 9) Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colo. ($17.25/adult; $12.25/child aged 3–11) 10) Audubon Zoo, New Orleans, La. ($16/adult; $11/child aged 2–12) What do you think? Are there any zoos missing from TripAdvisor's list? SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL The 35 Cutest Zoo Babies of 2012 13 Best Places in the U.S. for Wildlife Viewing More Adorable Animal Encounters
More Places to go
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