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    Somerset,

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    Somerset is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located within Franklin Township, in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the CDP's population was 22,083.Somerset housed one of the first Marconi Wireless Stations in the United States.
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    Destinations

    10 Gorgeous Pools You Won't Believe Are Public

    Forget every drab, rectangular, over-chlorinated pool you knew as a child: We found 10 shimmering oases across the globe that come with pleasing aesthetics, funky shapes, and naturally sourced water, injecting some novelty into your traditional summer cooldown. Best of all, they're all wallet-friendly, so pack up your crew, practice your cannonball, and dive right in! See the slide show! Sydney, Australia For more than a century, Tasman Sea waves have crashed against—and into—the Bondi Baths, an Olympic-size pool that became the home of the Bondi Icebergs, a winter swimming club, in 1929. Because of its solid concrete construction, the pool is always slightly colder than the ocean, even though it uses the same water—you can follow the fluctuating temps on its Twitter feed. The public is welcome here, but locals who want to become Icebergs (i.e., earn their official stripes as winter swimmers) must log 75 swims here during what most would consider the "off-season" (when pool temps dip below 60ºF in wintry July). Casual visitors favor summertime dips, when the water warms to the high 70s by February. Upon emerging from the striking shoreside pool at the Icebergs, bathers enjoy the amenities of its modernist, beachy clubhouse complex, which includes a gourmet bistro, two bars, fitness facilities, and a 1,600-square-foot sundeck.Accessibility: Year-roundAffordability: Day pass for nonmembers $6Hours: Mon.–Fri., 6 a.m.–6:30 p.m., Sat.–Sun., 6:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Closed for cleaning every Thurs. 1 Notts Ave., Bondi Beach, 011-61/2-9130-3120; icebergs.com.au Vienna, Austria Perhaps "Krapfenwaldlbad" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but it happens to be the name of one of Vienna's loveliest neighborhoods—as well as its renowned park with four heated pools for swimmers, socializers, and families. First opened in 1923 and perched like a leisurely sentinel on a hill, the main pool has become a fixture in the city's summer social scene. Accordingly, amenities run the gamut from a restaurant and a bar to table tennis, soccer, beach volleyball, and a children's playground. While the pools themselves may be standard fare, their exclusive views over the entire city, vineyards, and, well, other bathers, are what make them exceptional.Accessibility: May 2–Sept.Affordability: Adult admission to the park, including pool access, $6.70Hours: Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–8 p.m.; Sat., Sun., and holidays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Krapfenwaldgasse 65-73, Vienna, 011-43/1-320-1501; wien-konkret.at (German only, see above link for English) Copenhagen, Denmark Kastrup Søbad, a circular wooden pavilion in the Baltic Sea, captures the essence of Danish design with its clean lines and natural finish. Created in 2005, the "sea bath" rises up at the end of a 328-foot boardwalk that connects it to shore (where visitors will find showers and lockers) and spirals in a way that shields bathers from sea winds. The walls of the $1.3 million structure intentionally slope to provide a vantage point for admiring the three miles of beaches nearby. The swimming here is probably most enjoyed by those of hearty Scandinavian stock, given that the clear waters only reach the low 60s at their warmest. But it's a perfect place to experience hygge—an all-encompassing Danish term that means spending quality time with good friends—and it's only a seven-minute train trip from the heart of downtown.Accessibility: June–Sept.Affordability: FreeHours: 24 hours a day, June–Sept. 15; generally supervised from 11 a.m.–8 p.m., but check schedule for times. Amager Strandvej 301, Copenhagen, 011-45/3251-5135; visitcopenhagen.com Bath, England The Thermae Bath Spa taps into the same thermal springs that once soothed Roman conquerors in 43 A.D. From the naturally heated rooftop pool on the spa's New Royal Bath building, visitors can take in a panorama that includes the ornate towers of 17th-century Bath Abbey in the center of town. This building also houses the Minerva Bath, the largest and most futuristically stylized of the three on offer, with massage jets, a whirlpool, and a "lazy river." Here, as well as in the more intimate Cross Bath building (erected on a Celtic goddess-worshipping site), the mineral-rich water boils up out of the earth at 113ºF but is mechanically cooled to a comfortable 91ºF. While in town, it's worthwhile to check out the ruins in the nearby Roman Baths museum, where the spirits of those who soaked before you roam.Accessibility: Year-roundAffordability: Two-hour spa usage, including pool access, $40Hours:New Royal Bath, 9 a.m.–10 p.m.; Cross Bath, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.6–8 Hot Bath St., Bath, 011-44/1225-331-234; thermaebathspa.com Montpellier, France Visitors to Montpellier's Piscine Olympique d'Antigone are simultaneously greeted by Antigone and Venus—that is, the Olympic-size lap pool and leisure pool—upon entering the modernist bi-level sports complex. Downstairs, Antigone hosts everything from lap sessions to sports matches—and some of France's elite Olympic athletes train here, if you're looking to bump into the water-polo team. Upstairs at Venus, bathers' diversions include a five-lane pool, a sun terrace beneath the retractable roof, a whirlpool, and the most chic waterslide you've ever seen (leave it to the French).Accessibility: Year-roundAffordability: Adult day pass $7Leisure pool hours: Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–7:15 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.–1:15 p.m. and 3 p.m.–7:15 p.m. 195, Avenue Jacques Cartier, Montpellier, 011-33/4-67-15-63-00; montpellier-agglo.com (French only) Berlin, Germany Berliners clamber aboard the Badeschiff (literally, "bathing ship"), which floats southeast of this vibrant cultural hub's city center, in the Spree River. The 90-foot-long, seven-foot-deep, bright blue pool was created in May 2004 from a converted barge and is now open throughout the year. Come summer, yoga classes, concerts, and movie screenings lure hipsters here to hang out on the adjacent floating wood platform, at the cafe, and on the man-made beach. During the winter, a translucent shell protects swimmers, and a pair of saunas materializes alongside the pool.Accessibility: May–Sept., Nov.–Mar.Affordability: $6Hours: Summer, daily, 8 a.m.–12 a.m.; winter, $17 for three hours, opening times vary according to day. Eichenstrasse, 4, Berlin; arena-berlin.de/badeschiff Budapest, Hungary While the Gellért Thermal Baths buildingdates from 1918, records of the healing waters on-site date back to the 15th century. First opened with an offering of six thermal baths, the complex today is an expansive Eastern European respite decked out in intricate stonework and mosaic tiles on a grand scale. The effervescent swimming pool in the art-nouveau-style main hall is arguably the showstopper, sparkling 98 feet long under the double-height glass roof and inevitably inspiring fantasies of swimming in champagne. The rest of the building encompasses the original mineral-hot-spring baths, plus cold baths, saunas, a steam room, a spa, and two outdoor pools, including a 130-foot-long open-air wave pool.Accessibility: Indoor, year-round; outdoor, summertimeAffordability: Pools only from $20Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.–8 p.m. Kelenhegyi út 4, Budapest, 011-36/466-6166; budapestgyogyfurdoi.hu Grindavík, Iceland The aptly named Blue Lagoon outside of Reykjavík draws more than 400,000 visitors a year to its 1.6 million gallons of approximately 100-degree seawater. Steam rises from these sky blue hot springs across a surreal landscape of black lava mounds, and bathers slather themselves with silica mud, precipitated from the spring water and known for its relaxing (and purported healing) properties. Formed in the 1970s as a by-product of the neighboring geothermal plant (after the plant used the hot water, it was led back to the lava field and formed the lagoon), the Blue Lagoon spawned a wellness center in 1999. With a restaurant, a spa, a dry sauna, and steam baths, the facility draws visitors from around the globe.Accessibility: Year-roundAffordability: Day pass $42Hours: Sept. 1–May 31, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.; June 1–Aug. 31, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. 240 Grindavík, 011-354/4-208-800; bluelagoon.com   Austin, Tex. The natural springs that feed the 1,000-foot-long Barton Springs Pool were once considered sacred by Native Americans, who believed in their healing powers. A dip in these waters is certainly rejuvenating, as is the time you'll spend lounging poolside on grassy knolls shaded by ancient oak and pecan trees in surrounding Zilker Metropolitan Park. The idyllic 355-acre green sprawl south of downtown is host to the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival and features Frisbee golf, playgrounds, and the Zilker Botanical Garden, which includes the Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Garden.Accessibility: Mar. 12–Jan. 24Affordability: Adults $3Hours: Apr.–Sept., 8 a.m.–10 p.m. 2100 Barton Springs Rd., Zilker Park, Austin, 512/867-3080; ci.austin.tx.us/parks/bartonsprings   Coral Gables, Fla. Like something out of a watercolor found at a Florida antiques show, Coral Gables Venetian Pool is a man-made, jade green, eight-foot-deep lagoon created in 1924 by the city's founding father, George Merrick. Drained every night and refilled with 820,000 gallons of spring water, the pool—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—is connected to a pair of waterfalls (one of which is 25 feet high!) and grottoes worthy of Michelangelo's eye. Hold court at the poolside cafe during the afternoons; as night descends, Venetian-inspired lampposts bestow a 1920s glamour on this secluded spot, but, sadly, moonlight canoodling is deterred by closing times that precede sunset.Accessibility: Year-roundAffordability: Day pass for nonresident adults $11Summer hours through Aug. 21, Mon.–Fri., 11 a.m.–6:30 p.m., Sat.–Sun., 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Aug. 22–Oct. 31, closes weekdays at 5:30 p.m. 2701 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables, 305/460-5306; coralgablesvenetianpool.com SEE MORE POPULAR CONTENT: World's Most Amazing Hotel Pools Secret Beaches of North America 25 Most Photographed Places on Earth 10 Most Beautiful Churches 26 Stunning Ireland Photos

    Inspiration

    10 Most Sacred Spots on Earth

    When we modern folks visit a beautiful natural site, the experience may evoke a sense of peace, a feeling of awe...or just the need to snap a million photos. For our ancient forbearers, though, these places were so much more. Throughout history, civilizations all over the globe have attached spiritual or religious importance to natural spots (ie. not man-made places) that played key roles in their respective cultures. From the mythological homes of powerhouse gods like Zeus and Shiva to the serene spot where the mortal Buddha achieved enlightenment, these are the places of legends. Some are still used for age-old rituals, others have been lost to time, but all crackle with a special energy and, if you're lucky, just a little bit of leftover magic. SEE THE SACRED PLACES! 1.ULURU-KATA TJUTA NATIONAL PARK, AUSTRALIA  Located in Australia's Red Centre, in the heart of the continent, these two natural rock formations are the main attractions in the World Heritage Site Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. One of the country's more recognizable landmarks, Uluru is a flat-topped sandstone rock standing about 1,100 feet high and almost six miles around, with a soulful, deep-red hue that changes throughout the day. (The site is also known as Ayers Rock, so named by the colonial surveyor who "rediscovered" the place in 1873.) About 30 miles away, Kata Tjuta (a.k.a. The Olgas) is made of more than 30 domes of varying rock types, including granite, sandstone, and basalt; the tallest point is almost 1,800 feet high.  Both sites are sacred to the Anangu people of the Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal tribe, who believe the rocks were built during the ancient creation period and are still inhabited by ancestor spirits. (Archeologist work suggests there were humans in this area over 20,000 years ago.) Owned by the Anangu and leased by the government, the park is open to the public, though tribespeople continue to perform rituals and ceremonies in various locations, such as the sacred "Dreamtime" track that runs near the modern hiking trail. The park also houses a Cultural Center and Aboriginal rock art sites, and ranger guided tours are available. Getting There: Visitors can drive or join a bus tour to the park from Alice Springs (280 miles away), or fly to Ayers Rock Airport/Connellan (AYQ); Qantas and Virgin Australia offer direct flights from several major domestic cities. There are only a few accommodation choices in the area, in different price ranges, and all are owned by Voyages Indigenous Tourism. (Camping is not allowed in the park.) Note that while hiking Uluru is not technically forbidden, the Anangu ask that visitors not climb the rock out of respect for its significance, and also ask that photos not be taken of certain sacred sites. Guests should also not pocket any rocks as souvenirs—those who have say it brings bad luck, and often mail the rocks back to the park. Admission is $25 for a three-day pass. 2. CENOTE SAGRADO, MEXICO  The ancient Maya revered water for its life-sustaining power, and worshiped Chac, the god of rain, because of this awe of H20. Many areas of Mexico are dotted with cenotes—natural underground sinkholes—and the Maya believed that some of these sites were visited by Chac himself. As a result, some cenotes were designated as "sacred" and kept for rituals, offerings and sacrifices, while others were set aside for bathing, drinking and crop water. One of the most notable of the sacred springs is Cenote Sagrado, located near the major Mayan archeological site Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula. Created from a natural limestone cave, with steep sides stretching about 60 feet above the water line, this cenote was specifically used for ceremonies and occasional sacrifices; for the latter, men, women, and children were thrown in during drought times to appease the water gods. When archeologists dredged the spring in the 20th century, they found gold bells, masks, cups, rings, jade pieces, and more (many from the post-Spanish period) along with human bones. Getting There: One of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico, Chichen Itza can be reached by car or organized bus tours (typically about $35 per person) from nearby tourist hubs like Cancún or Cozumel, or via infrequent public bus service; the ride is about two-and-a-half hours from Cancún. The entry fee is about $8 and includes the evening light and sound show; headphone tours are $2. Cenote Sagrado is part of the Great North Platform section of the site. 3. MAHABODHI TREE, BODH GAYA, INDIA  According to Buddhist traditions, around 500 B.C., when the ascetic Prince Siddhartha was wandering through what's now the state of Bihar in India, he took rest under a native bodhi tree. After meditating there for three nights, the prince awoke with enlightenment, insight and the answers he had been seeking, which developed into the teachings he went on to spread to his disciples. Naturally, the place where the Buddha reached enlightenment is one of the most sacred sites for Buddhists, and has been a major pilgrimage destination for centuries. Today, a temple complex surrounds what is believed to be a direct descendant of the original majestic tree itself, which sits in the middle of a courtyard surrounded by protective carved panels. A beautiful Buddha statue under the tree marks the significant spot.   Getting There: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Mahabodhi Temple Complex is in the Bodh Gaya area of Bihar, India. The site is about three miles from the Gaya Airport and about seven miles from Gaya City. Car service, public buses, and bus tours are also available from the holy city of Varanasi; public buses run about $8.   4. MOUNT KAILAS, TIBET  This black rock mountain in western Tibet is something of a holy hat trick, since it is sacred to Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains and is thought to be the mythical Axis Mundi, the center of the universe. Hindus believe it is the residence of Lord Shiva and the land of eternal bliss, and have celebrated the mythical Kailas in temple carvings throughout India. Tantric Buddhists say the mountain is the home of Buddha Demchog, who represents supreme bliss, and that three key Bodhisattvas live in the surrounding hills, while Jains believe it is the site (which they call Mount Ashtapada) where the first Jain attained nirvana. The peak is part of the Gangdise Mountain range and is set near the source of some of the longest rivers in Asia, including the Sutlej, the Indus, and the Ghaghara (a tributary of the holy Ganges River). Nearby Lake Manasarovar, considered the source of purity, is another major pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Buddhists. Getting There: Despite being such a mythical sacred site, Mount Kailas is also one of the least visited, due to its remote location in the Tibetan Himalayas. From Lhasa, it's about a four-night journey over the plateau to the small pilgrim outpost, where there are a few basic guesthouses. From this base, most pilgrims set out on foot, pony, or yak to circumnavigate the base of the mountain, a journey of about 32 miles. There is no record of anyone having attempted to climb Mount Kailas. 5. MOUNT SINAI, EGYPT  Some of the basic tenets of Judeo-Christian-Islamic beliefs can be traced back to this mountain on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, for it was at the top of this peak that Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments from God. Though there is not much archeological evidence confirming this as the exact place, and biblical scholars have theorized for years about the mythical mountain's location, early Christian monks believed this was the sacred site and established several monasteries in the area. Getting There: In the past, visitors could start at St. Catherine's Monastery at the base of the mountain, then climb to the summit, where there is the small Holy Trinity chapel and stunning views, especially at sunrise, however in September 2013, The Guardian reported that St. Catherine's Monastery was forced to close as a result of a shaky economy following the country's uprisings. The mountain can only be reached by road; Dahab and Nuweiba are both about two hours away by car, while it's about three hours from resort hub Sharm al-Sheikh. Most hotels on the peninsula can set you up on a bus tour, and many of these arrive at the base around 1 a.m., so visitors can be at the summit for sunrise. There are two ways to climb: by foot (which takes between 45 minutes and three hours, depending on your pace, or by camel, which is about three hours; note that if you choose the latter, you will still have to walk the final 750 steps up to the top. Guests are required to hire a local guide at the entrance for about $15 (the rate is negotiable.) Because of its peaceful silence, the mountain is also popular with visitors who practice yoga and meditation. 6. GLASTONBURY TOR, ENGLAND  Rising out of the middle of the Summerland Meadows in Somerset, England, is a hill that has long had magical connection. For centuries, Glastonbury Tor (Celtic for "hill") has been a source of myths: Some ancient Celtic civilizations considered it the entrance to the home of the Gwyn ap Nudd, alternately regarded as Lord of the Underworld and King of Fairies (a theory that resurfaced in the 19th century), while pagans may have used it for ceremonies celebrating the Goddess. Later, the site was considered a possibility for King Arthur's Avalon, since Arthur and Queen Guinevere's coffins were supposedly discovered at the top of the hill in the 12th century. And even more recently, theorists have linked the hill to the quest for the Holy Grail. To further add to all the speculation, archeologists have found remains of seven deep, symmetrical terraces on the hill's slopes, which could be anything from Middle Age crop land to a Neolithic labyrinth. Whatever the history, the hill is still thought to have spiritual energy, as visitors often report feeling more hopeful and positive after a walk on its slopes. Topped by the remains of the 15th century church of St. Michael, the hill is managed by the National Trust of the United Kingdom.  Getting There: The Tor is a short walk or bike ride from the center of Glastonbury, which is linked to London by frequent train service. The nearest station to the hill is Castle Cary. Admission is free. 7. CRATER LAKE, OREGON  Formed nearly 8,000 years ago after an alleged massive eruption caused Mount Mazama to collapse, this deep blue, freshwater caldera lake in south-central Oregon plunges nearly 2,000 feet below ground, making it the deepest in the United States and the seventh deepest in the world. The Native American Klamath tribe has long considered the lake a sacred site: Their legends say a battle here between the Chief of the Above World and the Chief of the Below World led to the destruction of Mount Mazama. (Historians believe the Klamath people may have witnessed the actual implosion of the mountain.) The tribesmen used Crater Lake in their vision quests (tasks may have included scaling the crater walls), and it is still considered a spiritual spot. The lake is now part of Crater Lake National Park. Getting There: Crater Lake National Park is about 60 miles from the airport in Klamath Falls and 80 miles from the airport in Medford; cars can be rented in both locations. (There is no public transport service available.) The park is open year-round, but some areas may be inaccessible in winter. A seven-day pass is $10 for cars and $5 per person for pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcycles. Check the official park website for a list of official free days each year. 8. MOUNT PARNASSUS, GREECE  Towering above Delphi in central Greece, this limestone mountain looms large in Greek mythology. In addition to being sacred to the god Apollo, who often visited the nearby Oracle at Delphi, the mountain was thought to be the residence of the Muses and, as a result, the home of poetry and song. The three Corycian Nymphs, each of whom was romanced by a major god, were born of springs located on Parnassus, and the mountain was also the setting for many minor myths. Today, the only sacred activity takes place on the slopes: The mountain is topped by two popular ski centers and is dotted with scenic hiking trails. Getting There: Mount Parnassus is a winding, two-hour mountain drive from Athens. Day trips and overnight bus tours are also available (Key Tours offers Delphi tours from $120 per person). After exploring the slopes, don't miss a visit to the ancient ruins in Delphi, set in the shadow of the mountain. 9. LAKE ATITLÁN, GUATEMALA  Set up in the Guatemalan Central Highlands, and bordered by three volcanoes, Lake Atitlán is the deepest lake in Central America at 1,114 feet. Along with its natural beauty, the lake is famous for the Maya villages that ring its shores, many of which have been there for centuries. Ninth-century Panajachel, one of the largest, has been drawing tourists since the 1960s, while in Santiago Atitlán, residents are known for their worship of Maximo, a local idol that fuses Mayan gods, Catholic saints, and Spanish legends. Mayan ceremonies still take place at various sites around the lake, from caves to the top of an adjacent hill. The lake's shores are also strewn with archeological sites and ruins of pre-Spanish towns, including Chiutinamit, a mythological "underwater city." Getting There: Lake Atitlán is located in western Guatemala, about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Guatemala City or Antigua. Companies like Transport Guatemala can arrange for bus or van service (from $25 per person from Guatemala City, from $15 per person from Antigua). There are a wide array of accommodations, from luxury to budget, in towns like Panajachel, along with tourist activities and dining options. 10. VORTEXES, ARIZONA  Sedona, Arizona, has long drawn people interested in healing, spirituality, mysticism, and metaphysics, who come for more than just the dramatic, red-rock beauty. The area is famous for its vortexes, powerful centers of kinetic energy that can have a deep effect on those who visit them; there are four main ones spread around town, including one near the airport. The ancient Native American Yavapai people knew about these centers, and celebrated this "Great Mother" energy with petroglyph paintings and sacred dwellings. Today, visitors can easily walk or hike to the four spots (the one in Boynton Canyon is among the most popular), and once there, can meditate or just soak up the good vibes. Many feel recharged and uplifted after visiting a vortex, and some guests even report having visions or deeper experiences while in town. Getting There: Sedona is a scenic two-hour drive from Phoenix, home to an international airport, and 45 minutes from the smaller commercial airport in Flagstaff. Maps highlighting the four vortexes are available at most hotels and online.

    Inspiration

    London: The five best values for September

    The Thames Festival London's biggest end of the summer party takes place on the 11th and 12th along the banks of the River Thames between Westminster and Tower Bridge. There are free concerts from the likes of fusion band Saravah Soul, a nighttime carnival, circuses, firework displays, markets and all manner of street performers. Free Heritage Open Days Between September 9th and 12th throughout England, historic buildings which are normally closed to the public throw open their doors to visitors. The city of London has also organized Open House London, with an additional list of open sites the following weekend (September 18-19). All in all, hundreds of wonderful buildings and tourists sights are open—for free—including the Bodleian Library in Oxford, great Masonic Temple in Covent Garden (where there is a huge painting of George Washington in full Masonic regalia), The Royal Society buildings in Westminster (where Newton and Priestley were members), and tourist attractions like the London Eye. Free The Great River Race The biggest annual race on the Thames takes place at 12:15 pm on September 25th, when river craft—everything from adapted bath tubs and Polynesian war canoes to svelte competition kayaks—gather in Ham in West London to race 21 miles to the Docklands in the East. It's far less exclusive than the more famous Oxford-vs-Cambridge boat race, but far more colorful—and if you can get hold of a boat you can even enter the race, instead of just watching it. Free The Clarence House Garden Party Between September 8th and 19th, Prince Charles throws an 11-day shindig in the gardens of his London Palace. It's to raise money for his favorite charities. Tickets are a snip at US$23—which includes privileged access to the royal lawns and flower beds, as well as a full program of entertainment. This year this includes music by Jools Holland, comedy by local stars Marcus Brigstocke and Hugh Dennis, and a fashion show by Vivienne Westwood. London Fashion Weekend A coterie of London and the world's top designers gather at Somerset House in the city center between September 23-26 to parade their latest wares on the catwalk and offer the hoi polloi the chance to buy their gowns and garb for 70% of the retail price. Designers who will be showing this year include John Galliano, Chloe, Mawi, Herve Leger, Vivienne Westwood, Beatrix Ong and Pyrus. Get tickets (from US$20) and more information here.

    Budget Travel Lists

    7 of the U.K.'s Best Christmas Markets

    Sophie Gackowski writes for HomeAway UK You don't have to go to Vienna to enjoy the magic of a European Christmas: Here in the U.K., we have hundreds of events both big and small, taking place across Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Whether you want to pack your suitcase full with gems and trinkets, woodwork and crafts, or an array of festive delicacies, here's our guide to seven of the United Kingdom's most wintry and wonderful events. Bath. As a World Heritage City, there are plenty of reasons to visit Bath aside from just its Christmas market. That said, the festive display—which sits in the shadow of grand Bath Abbey—is certainly one of the U.K.'s best. Held from the last days of November until the second week of December every year, it comprises 150 wooden chalets adorned with handmade crafts, decorations and food, including Christmas favourites like caramel and gingerbread. And when you've shopped till you've dropped, Bath's spas will surely revive you. Lincoln. It may only take place over four days in December, but Lincoln's Christmas market—set in the city's atmospheric medieval square—encompasses over 280 stalls, making it one of the largest in Europe. Needless to say there's too much on sale to list here (though keep an eye out for the German-made wooden toys), but with the ferris wheel, classical music concerts and host of traditional events on offer, there's plenty to keep you busy. And as if that wasn't enough, the imposing Gothic cathedral is sure to set the stage. Cardiff. Cardiff doesn't just have a Christmas market; it has an entire Winter Wonderland. Including an open-air ice rink, children's carousels, food and gift stalls and a 60-metre high ride—which features spinning chairs, making it the only of its kind in the U.K.—it's a great event for the whole family. And, taking place between mid-November and mid-January, you can experience a festive Wales without having to forgo an American Christmas. When you've admired all that, why not visit Cardiff Castle or the 12th-century Llandaff Cathedral? York. Yorkshire goes mad for yuletide. With no less than seven distinct Christmas markets—including the Crafts and Children's Fayres and St. Nicholas Medieval Market—there's much to see and do when taking a festive break here. Pick up historic crafts (think pottery and jewellery) at the latter, while enjoying a glass of spiced mead. Baroque and medieval music fills the city's churches from the start of December, carol singing awaits in York's spectacular cathedral, and intricate ice sculptures will be displayed at the Festival of Angels. London. You don't need to attend Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland to visit the Big Smoke, but it's as good a reason as any. Running from late November to early January (except Christmas day, of course—that's reserved for gifts and gluttony!), this lovely event encompasses everything Christmassy. You can grab a bite to eat at the Bavarian Village or Nordic Bar, flash your cash at over 200 wooden chalet stalls, and view the capital from the sky on the Giant Observation Wheel. Travelling with little ones? Don't miss Zippo's Christmas Circus! Salisbury. Salisbury's Christmas spirit comes alive as Father Christmas enters his grotto, the lantern procession begins, and the sound of local choirs fills the air. Set in the city's Guildhall Square, there's an enormous tree decorated with candy canes and baubles, which overlooks dozens of stalls adorned in tinsel and lights. From fudge and hand-blown glass to oil paintings and organic soap, there's just about everything you could possibly imagine gifting. And the next day, take a trip to nearby Old Sarum, an incredible Iron Age hill fort. Edinburgh. Lastly, running from mid-November to early January, Edinburgh's Christmas market is yet another you don't have to actually visit over Christmas. For almost two months, the market below the Mound is decorated with a range of tempting treats, arts and crafts, many of which have travelled all the way from Germany. Sink your teeth into juicy schnitzels washed down with mugs of glühwein (mulled wine, or literally 'glow wine' in German), before riding the illuminated ferris wheel. And, if you decide to hang around until it finishes, make sure you check out my next blog post: In December, I'll share the definitive guide to an Edinburgh Hogmanay! Follow Sophie Gackowski on Google+

    Travel Tips

    Jump on These Black Friday & Cyber Monday Travel Sales

    With money-saving Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals extending throughout late November and early December, now is one of the best times of year to find bargains on hotels, package tours, and other travel experiences. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel sales and we’ve organized them into tropical bargains, warm American beaches, great American getaways, international  travel you can actually afford, and some incredible sales from major hotel chains. Please note that some Black Friday and Cyber Monday web links won’t be active until the date that the sale begins, and most deals are for specific travel periods and may be based on availability and may involve minimum stays and blackout dates. Happy travels! TROPICAL BARGAINS Aruba Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort Spa & Casino: Save 25 percent, plus parents can save 50 percent off a second room when traveling with children 18 and under. Sale dates: November 27 to 30. Bahamas Grand Lucayan, Grand Bahama Island: Cyber Monday rates starting at $91 per person, a $50 spa credit, and more. Sale dates: November 23 to 30; reference code BLKFR when booking. Dominican Republic Casa de Campo Resort & Villas: 35 percent off and up to 50 percent off villas. Sale dates: November 24 to November 27. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Punta Cana: Up to 40 percent off deluxe room rates. Sale dates: November 20 to 27. Mexico The Westin Los Cabos Resort Villas & Spa: 20 percent discount for stays between December 7 and January 15 (blackout dates: December 25 to 31). UNICO 20’87 Hotel, Riviera Maya: Up to 20 percent off an all-inclusive stay for two. Sale dates: November 20 to 27. Mahekal Beach Resort, Playa del Carmen: Up to 50 percent savings. Sale dates: November 16 to December 8. Hacienda Encantada Resort & Residences and Marina Fiesta Resort & Spa, Los Cabos: Up to 50 percent savings, with up to 60 percent savings for a hotel and flight package. Sale dates: November 23 to 27. Turks & Caicos Sailrock Resort, South Caicos: 50 percent off beachfront villas. Sale dates: November 24 to 27. The Somerset on Grace Bay: 30 percent off a villa vacation. Sale dates: November 20 to 29. WARM AMERICAN BEACHES Florida The Don CeSar, St. Pete Beach: Up to 45 percent off the lowest available room rates. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1. The Brazilian Court Hotel, Palm Beach: Up to 25 percent off, plus a complimentary upgrade, and free parking. Sale date: November 27. The Gates Hotel Key West and 24° North Hotel: A wedding deal gives newlyweds a complimentary three-night stay when they book their wedding at the new 12,105-square-foot event lawn. Sale dates: November to 27; email sales@thekeyscollection.com. Pelican Grand Beach Resort, Fort Lauderdale: 25 percent off the best available rate and a $50 resort credit when guests book two nights. Sale dates: November 27 to 30. The Gates Hotel South Beach, Miami Beach: 20 percent off, plus two welcome drinks at check-in. Sale dates: November 24 to 27. Hawaii Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu: 30 percent off rooms. Sale dates: Now through November 28. GREAT AMERICAN GETAWAYS Arizona Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale: Up to 50 percent off lowest available rates. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1. The Wigwam: 50 percent off its best available rate with a minimum two-night stay. Sale dates: November 24 and November 27. California Carmel Mission Inn, Carmel-by-the-Sea: Complimentary welcome drinks for two and complimentary breakfast for two. Sale dates: November 24 to 30; use loyalty code CM. Colorado The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs: Up to 50 percent off lowest available rates. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1. Illinois The Talbott Hotel, Chicago: Up to 40 percent off the best available rates. Sale dates: November 23 to 29. JW Marriott Chicago: 15 off room rates. Sale dates: November 24 to 27. The Godfrey Hotel Chicago: $89 per night, plus 20 percent off at the hotel’s Dolce Italian restaurant. Sale dates: November 27 to December 1. The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Chicago: 15 percent off the lowest available room rates. Sale dates: November 22 through 27. Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Chicago: Up to 40 percent off. Sale dates: November 27 to 29. Louisiana NOPSI New Orleans, a Salamander Hotel: 50 percent off lowest available rates. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1. Maine The Kennebunkport Resort Collection (KRC): Gift card discounts include a $100 resort credit for the purchase of a $500 gift card, and a $25 resort credit for purchase of a $200 gift card. Sale date: November 27. Massachusetts The Godfrey Hotel Boston: 50 percent off. Sale dates: November 24 to 27. Hotel Commonwealth, Boston: $100/night (more than a 50 percent savings). Sale date: November 27 at 10 a.m. EST, concluding at 11:40 a.m. (100 minutes); use offer code Score100. Minnesota Radisson Blu Mall of America, Bloomington: 35 percent savings off the best available rates. Sale date: November 27; use promo code CYBER. Missouri Hotel Phillips, Kansas City: 20 percent off, plus complimentary breakfast for two. Sale date: November 27. New Jersey Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Atlantic City: 25 percent off Classic Rooms and 35 percent off Flore Suites. Sale dates: November 26 to 30; use promo codes CYB79 (for rooms) and CYB109 (for suites). The Asbury, Asbury Park (Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Town in America 2017): 50 percent off. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1; use code CYBERSTAY. New Mexico La Fonda, Santa Fe: Up to 30 percent off lowest available rates. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1. Sunrise Springs Spa Resort, Santa Fe: 30 percent off stays, plus, for those traveling with dogs, one free private “puppy play session,” part of the resort’s “animal interactions” program. Sale dates: November 27 to December 4. New York Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC: Up to 35 percent off (depending on the day of your stay, with discounts ranging from 10 percent for Fridays and Saturdays to 35 percent for Sundays). Sale dates: November 24 to 27; find promo codes on the hotel’s social media accounts, @Gansevoort. Hotel Saranac, Lake Saranac: $90 credit at the hotel’s salon and spa, food and beverage venues, and retail shops, and a portion of the credit can be used toward the nightly rate. Sale date: November 27. The Maritime Hotel, New York City: $208/night. Sale date: November 27; use code MANICMONDAY. Executive Hotel Le Soleil New York: 20 percent off. Sale dates: November 27 to December 3; use promo code CYBER. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, New York City: Buy one ticket, get one free. Sales date: November 27; use code BOGO17. New York Water Taxi, New York City: $17 tickets (more than a 40 percent savings) for ferry rides including an all-day access pass, Statue of Liberty Express, and Statue by Night cruises. Sale date: November 27; use code CYBER 17. Box House Hotel Group, Greenoint, Brooklyn: 20 percent off. Sale date: November 27; use promo code CYBERBOXHOUSE. Vermont Hotel Vermont, Burlington: Rates starting at $129. Sales date: November 27; use promo code CYBER. Woodstock Inn & Resort, Woodstock: Up to 50 percent off standard rates. Sale dates: November 27. Kimpton Taconic, Manchester: Book a deluxe room for $201.50 and get a second night free. Sale date: November 27 from 11:27 a.m. to 1:19 p.m. EST. Virginia Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg: Up to 30 percent off lowest available rates. Sales dates: November 24 to December 1. The Omni Homestead Resort, Hot Springs: $99 ski passes. Sale date: November 27. Washington, D.C. The Jefferson: Up to 40 percent off lowest available rates. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1. Fairfax at Embassy Row: Up to 30 percent off lowest available rates. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1. Wyoming Spring Creek Ranch, Jackson: Book a two-night stay and get the third night free, plus 50 percent off a massage at the ranch’s spa. Sale date: November 27. INTERNATIONAL TRIPS YOU CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD United Kingdom One Aldwych, London: Get three nights for the price of two. Sale dates: November 24 to 27 (Greenwich Mean Time). Dukes, London: 40 percent off. Sale date: November 24 (Greenwich Mean Time). Italy NH Collection Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi: Up to 30 percent off lowest available rates. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1. NH Collection Florence Porta Rossa, Florence: Up to 30 percent off lowest available rates. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1. NH Collection Venice Palazzo Barocci, Venice: Up to 30 percent off lowest available rates. Sale dates: November 24 to December 1. Package Tours Intrepid Travel: 15 percent off more than 1,000 trips, including a 9-day tour of Peru, 8-day “best of Jamaica,” and 14-day “real food adventure” in Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories. Sale dates: November 20 to 30. HOTEL BOOKING DEALS Budget Travel’s Book a Hotel page: Always a good place to save money on hotels around the world, not only during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but every other day of the year. Pacifica Hotels: 40 percent off rooms at 26 California hotels. Sale date: November 27, PST; use promo code CYBER. Loews Hotels: 20 percent off. Sale dates: November 27 to 29. Hotels.com: Up to 50 off. Sale dates: November 21 to 29.

    Inspiration

    London: 5 best May values

    In May the flowers are in bloom and the English are busy pottering about the garden, planting and pruning. And London itself celebrates with bursts of color from window boxes, flower shows and…pachyderms. Elephants in London Brilliantly colored elephants have been appearing all over the city since the beginning of the month…in Hyde Park, on the streets of Mayfair near Harrods, outside the Royal Academy of Art, and inside railroad stations. And these are no ordinary elephants. They've been especially designed by the city's top fashionistas, such as Alice Temperley and Lulu Guiness, in sky blue, with fluffy clouds, paisley, or even chintz. There are some 250 fiberglass tuskers placed around the city to raise awareness of the plight of the endangered Asian elephant. They'll be here until July, when they are to be auctioned off at Sotheby's. free, elephantparadelondon.org. The Chelsea Flower Show 25–29 MayThe British are passionate about gardening. This is a country whose citizens sit glued to the TV on weekend nights watching reality TV shows about gardening; where the locals discuss roses, peonies, and magnolias with the gusto which Americans reserve for the Super Bowl. May sees the biggest annual celebration of the English garden with the Chelsea Flower Show. This takes place in a huge open space next to the Thames. It's one of the largest flower shows in the world, covering 11 acres and attended by some 160,000 people, including the Royal Family. Tickets ($28) are selling like hotcakes. rhs.org.uk Regent's Park Open Air Theater From May and through the summer summer, the Open Air Theatre company performs drama under the stars in one of the city's prettiest green spaces, Regent's Park. This year's season kicks off with Arthur Miller's The Crucible and continues through the summer with a healthy brace of Shakespeare plays which include the Comedy of Errors and Macbeth. visitlondon.com tickets from about $7. openairtheatre.org The Soccer FA Cup May 15 sees the biggest event in the annual domestic Soccer season, the FA Cup played in the sport's premier venue, Wembley Stadium in northwest London. Tickets for the 2010 game, which is a match between London club Chelsea and south coast underdogs Portsmouth, have long sold out. But beer-bellied British the capital over will be congregating in sports bars and pubs to cheer and jeer from kickoff at 3 p.m. Loyal Chelsea fans unable to make the game will descend in a riotous sea of blue at the former Shed Bar (now called Blues Sports Bar) in Chelsea Village at the clubs grounds in Chelsea itself. free. Painting for kids and teenagers at London's top galleries Two of London's top art galleries are running free activity days for kids this month. Somerset House's Wet Wash on May 29 invites 6–12 year olds to play around with pots of watercolor paint under the supervision of an artist. Meanwhile, on May 31, the National Portrait Gallery begins a week of workshops for 14-to-21 year-olds inspired by their current Indian Portrait exhibition. free, somersethouse.org.uk. Plan your trip on our London City Page!

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    DESTINATION IN New Jersey

    Central New Jersey

    New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; on the southwest by Delaware Bay and the state of Delaware. At 7,354 square miles (19,050 km2), New Jersey is the fifth-smallest state based on land area, but with close to 9.3 million residents, is the 11th-most populous and the most densely populated. New Jersey's state capital is Trenton, while the state's most populous city is Newark. With the sole exception of Warren County, all counties in the state lie within the combined statistical areas of New York City or Philadelphia; consequently, the state's largest metropolitan area falls within Greater New York. New Jersey was first inhabited by Native Americans for at least 2,800 years, with the Lenape being the dominant group when Europeans arrived in the early 17th century. Dutch and the Swedish colonists founded the first European settlements in the state. The English later seized control of the region and established the Province of New Jersey, after the largest of the Channel Islands, Jersey. The colony's fertile lands and relative religious tolerance drew a large and diverse population. New Jersey was among the Thirteen Colonies that opposed Great Britain, hosting numerous pivotal battles and military commands in the American Revolutionary War. The state remained in the Union during the U.S. Civil War, and thereafter became a major center of manufacturing and immigration; it helped drive the nation's Industrial Revolution, and became the site of numerous technological and commercial innovations into the mid 20th century. New Jersey's central location in the Northeast megalopolis fueled its rapid growth and suburbanization in the second half of the 20th century. At the turn of the 21st century, its economy increasingly diversified, with major sectors including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, specialized agriculture, and informational technology. New Jersey remains a major destination for immigrants, with one of the most multicultural populations in the U.S. Echoing historic trends, the state has increasingly re-urbanized, with growth in the cities outpacing the suburbs since 2008. New Jersey is one of the wealthiest states in the U.S., with the second highest median household income in 2017. Almost one-tenth of all households, or over 323,000 of 3.3 million, are millionaires, the highest rate per capita in the country. New Jersey's public school system consistently ranks at or among the top of all U.S. states.

    DESTINATION IN New Jersey

    Princeton

    Princeton is a municipality with a borough form of government in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States, that was established in its current form on January 1, 2013, through the consolidation of the now-defunct Borough of Princeton and Princeton Township. Centrally located within the Raritan Valley region, Princeton is a regional commercial hub for the Central New Jersey region and a commuter town in the New York metropolitan area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the municipality's population was 28,572, reflecting the former township's population of 16,265, along with the 12,307 in the former borough.Princeton was founded before the American Revolutionary War. It is the home of Princeton University, which bears its name and moved to the community in 1756 from its previous location in Newark. Although its association with the university is primarily what makes Princeton a college town, other important institutions in the area include the Institute for Advanced Study, Westminster Choir College, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton Theological Seminary, Opinion Research Corporation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Siemens Corporate Research, SRI International, FMC Corporation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Amrep, Church and Dwight, Berlitz International, and Dow Jones & Company. Princeton is roughly equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia. It is close to many major highways that serve both cities (e.g., Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1), and receives major television and radio broadcasts from each. It is also close to Trenton, New Jersey's capital city, New Brunswick and Edison. The New Jersey governor's official residence has been in Princeton since 1945, when Morven in what was then Princeton Borough became the first Governor's mansion. It was later replaced by the larger Drumthwacket, a colonial mansion located in the former Township. Morven became a museum property of the New Jersey Historical Society. Princeton was ranked 15th of the top 100 towns in the United States to Live In by Money magazine in 2005. Throughout much of its history, the community was composed of two separate municipalities: a township and a borough. The central borough was completely surrounded by the township. The borough seceded from the township in 1894 in a dispute over school taxes; the two municipalities later formed the Princeton Public Schools, and some other public services were conducted together before they were reunited into a single Princeton in January 2013. Princeton Borough contained Nassau Street, the main commercial street, most of the university campus, and incorporated most of the urban area until the postwar suburbanization. The borough and township had roughly equal populations.