Posts Tagged ‘US travel’

Exploring Los Angeles, California: The Museum of Ice Cream


Obligatory selfie at the Museum of Ice Cream

One of my favorite things about Los Angeles is how many interesting and quirky events there are to check out. Last week I got a chance to visit the highly instagramable Museum of Ice Cream in the downtown LA Arts District.


Great people watching at the Museum of Ice Cream

Part pop-up art gallery, part interactive ice cream experience (featuring artisanal frozen goodness from L.A. faves Salt & Straw and Coolhaus) the Museum of Ice Cream is an offbeat place to explore and get a sugar high while learning some interesting ice cream facts and history.


Popsicle art 

25 year old Laguna Beach native Maryellis Bunn came up with the idea for the MoIC was recently profiled in Forbes magazine. The Los Angeles version of the MoIC opened in late April and is currently sold out for it’s extended run through August. It may be extended, so sign up here for updates.


Pink telephone room at the Museum of Ice Cream

Ms. Bunn hopes to open Museum of Ice Cream locations in San Francisco and Miami by the end of the year, and is rumored to be thinking about a permanent location in New York City.

The banana swing room was my favorite installation 

My friend, photographer Rebecca Adler joined me at the museum of ice cream and shot this video in the banana swing room.


Sweet decor details at the Museum of Ice Cream

The whole experience was fun and everyone from kids to hipsters to tourists were enjoying the MoIC. Workers were rocking pink denim Canadian tuxedos and entertained guests with fun factoids about ice cream. The employee who seemed to be having the least good time was the sprinkle sweep, in charge of explaining the rules to visitors before they are allowed to play in the four foot deep pit full of plastic “sprinkles.”

Slow motion sprinkles = good times

Be warned— those sprinkles get EVERYWHERE!

Visitors exit through the gift shop where they can buy ice-cream related items ranging from $10 Unicorn Snot body glitter to a $10,500 limited edition MoIC x Elevate tennis table.


Cute museum of Ice Cream goers

I really enjoyed my interactive Museum of Ice Cream experience and think it’s a perfect opportunity for summer fun. The people watching was really great as well.


Getting cozy with a giant gummy bear at the Museum of Ice Cream

Ticket holders should arrive ahead of time, as they are strict about entry times.


Charcoal cookie dough”ice cream” in front of an installation by artist Abel Benton

The Museum of Ice Cream is yet another fun draw to Los Angeles’ Downtown Arts District, which gets more impressive every time I visit.


Left: the sprinkle pit Right: Bon-Bon Jovi’s star at the MoIC’s walk of fame

Workers were checking IDs (one per group) against the names on tickets, so be warned if you are planning on attempting to buy a ticket on the re-sale market.


You can buy this custom tennis table in the gift shop


Neon sweetness at the Museum of Ice Cream


Unicorn snot for sale in the gift store

Museum of Ice Cream

2018 E 7th Place Los Angeles, CA 90021

Adult ( age 13 +) $29

Child (age 3-12) Senior (age 60+) $18

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Exploring Minneapolis: Celebrating the Legacy of Prince on The Official Paisley Park VIP Tour



Prince art decorating the Performer Suite at the Loews Minneapolis Hotel

Last week I spent a few days in Minneapolis, Minnesota and used the opportunity to take the Official Paisley Park VIP Tour. I have always been a music fan and Prince has been an essential part of the soundtrack of my life. My brother and nephews live in Minneapolis and were game to join me on our trip to the suburb of Chanhassen where rock icon and musician Prince built his multipurpose estate and production compound in 1987.

Note: Paisley Park has a strict “no photos” policy, and asks guests to power off their phones when on the grounds. There is a photo opportunity available for purchase, where guests can have their picture taken next to a 10 foot high mural of Prince and get the image files on a Paisley Park flash drive. I bought this opportunity but my flash drive does not work, and I am attempting to get the image files from the staff at Paisley Park.


The dining room in the Performer Suite of the Loews Minneapolis

Prince died without a will, but while taking the tour it seems clear that he had thought about his legacy and had always had plans for Paisley Park to ultimately become a museum. The other guests on the VIP Paisley Park tour enhanced our experience immensely. They were all die hard Prince fans, most wearing purple clothing. All came from out of town and one said the ticket price to her first Prince show cost $7.99. The tour of the creative bubble universe Prince created at Paisley Park was fascinating, moving and at times surprising.


The living room of the Performer Suite 

Prince was very private and his living quarters at Paisley Park are not among the spaces guests are allowed to explore. Some of the highlights of the tour included seeing Prince’s office, complete with coffee table books and personal photos and listening to unreleased jazz tracks Prince was working on in Studio A, where they were recorded.


The bedroom of the Performer Suite at the Loews Minneapolis

Even those only slightly familiar with Prince’s music will be impressed by the collection of gold and platinum records on display. The Academy Award Prince for Purple Rain was front and center in the Purple Rain room, as well as several Grammys (a few of which could use a polish).

The tone and seriousness our tour guide used was respectful and very human. It’s clear that Paisley Park staffers were Prince’s de facto family and those working there seemed reverential without coming off as fanboys. Several guests were moved to tears when they found themselves in front of Prince’s urn, a replica of Paisley Park that is kept in the atrium of the complex, near where a trio of doves live in decorative cages.


Waiting for the elevator at the Loews Minneapolis Hotel

Exploring the various rooms of Paisley Park many of Prince’s costumes and shoes are on display and they do not disappoint. I felt like the tour fee was easily justified when the other guests on our tour spontaneously broke into song and dance in the Graffiti Bridge room. Even my high school and college age nephews understood how deeply Prince’s work affected his fans.


The baby grand piano in the Performer Suite at the Loews

Paisley Park’s colorful Prince-centric murals and on-site night club further show how the musician created his own pocket universe. We even got a chance to paddle away on Prince’s in-studio ping pong table. Video and audio clips are presented in the same spaces they where they were created. Many of Prince’s musical instruments including multiple cloud guitars and custom pianos are sprinkled throughout the tour.


Prince art in the Performer Suite at the Loews Minneapolis Hotel

There is gift shop on the tour, complete with a cafe where guests can order the pancakes Prince was so fond of that have been immortalized in this David Chapelle skit.


Fan Tributes at Paisley Park after Prince died in 2016

If you’re visiting Minneapolis and want to further pay homage to Prince, I suggest staying at the Loews Minneapolis Hotel, where I stayed in the Performer Suite, which is decorated in muted grays and purples, complete with Prince art and and a baby grand piano.

Prince Tributes put up at Paisley Park after the artist’s death in 2016

The Loews Minneapolis also close to First Avenue, the legendary club that Prince performed at since 1981 and where several scenes of Purple Rain were filmed.


A purple symbol created by a fan at Paisley Park in 2016

601 1st Avenue North Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55403
Phone: 612-677-1100
Reservations: 1-877-880-8918

Paisley Park

Address: 7801 Audubon Rd, Chanhassen, MN 55317, USA

Paisley Park hours operation are as follows:

Monday and Tuesdays: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Friday : 9:00 am – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Paisley Park is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

General Admission $38.50 (Additional $7.50 (service fee plus facility fee) per GA ticket )

VIP Tour $100.00 (Additional $11.75 (service fee plus facility fee) per ticket)

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Exploring New Mexico: Meow Wolf in Santa Fe


A furry creature in Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return

Santa Fe, New Mexico is one of my favorite small town destinations for a weekend getaway. The city has a rich culture, good restaurants, a great art scene and tons of culture to check out. But during my last visit, I felt like I hadn’t discovered anything that felt fresh or new in Santa Fe for a long time. Then I went to the arts collective Meow Wolf.


Day of the Dead inspired vending machine

Located on the south side of Santa Fe in a repurposed old bowling alley, Meow Wolf is an immersive art experience and event space housed in a building owned by Game of Thrones author (and Santa Fe resident) George RR Martin. The main space is occupied by Meow Wolf’s first permanent exhibit, The House of Eternal Return. It’s a hybrid of a Victorian haunted house, interactive storytelling, a jungle gym, and a choose your own adventure that makes every visitor’s experience different.


Giant tongue at MeowWolf

Meow Wolf was packed. And it’s trippy interactive appeal isn’t for just one demographic. There were groups of school children, couples on dates, and families exploring the arts and entertainment complex. The House of Eternal Return has a party/dance space which hosts a line up of interesting calendar of events including EDM concerts and and musical acts that defy being labeled by a genre. Words and pictures fail to do Meow Wolf justice. But it’s an unforgettable experience, and a fun one to share with others.


The aquarium space in the House of Eternal Return

Meow Wolf’s mass appeal and interactive genius was obvious to me from the second I entered. I’m not surprised that the Meow Wolf team recently purchased a former Caterpillar plant to turn into its manufacturing space. Meow Wolf is going to need it since they now have their eye on expanding their brand of entertainment nationally, beginning with a mobile exhibit.


Families taking selfies at Meow Wolf

Austin and Denver are rumored to be on the map as potential locations for the next permanent Meow Wolf location.


Neon goodness at Meow Wolf

I particularly liked the 80s inspired arcade at Meow Wolf, complete with Nagel-esque murals that reminded me of Duran Duran album covers of yore.


Interesting interior design choices in the House of Eternal return

Meow Wolf is well worth the price of admission ($18.00 for adults, $12.00 for children, seniors $16.00). If you’re headed to Santa Fe, it’s worth checking out this interactive storytelling multi-media experience.


Nagel-esque mural at Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf 

1352 Rufina Cir, Santa Fe, NM

(505) 395-6369

Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sun 10AM-8PM
(closed every Tuesday)
Fri, Sat 10AM-10PM

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Where to Stay in New York City: 1 Brooklyn Bridge


A view of the Brooklyn Bridge from my Bridge View King room

I recently went to New York City for a quick trip and wanted to try staying someplace new. I’d heard good buzz about the new eco-luxury property 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, the third property from from the chic brand, 1 Hotels.


Exterior of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

The 1 Hotels brand has the right kind of buzzwords attached to it… including a mission to be “nature led” and a core philosophy that states “The world around us is beautiful, and we want to keep it that way.” Sometimes having so many on point keywords can make a place feel “too Gwyneth” and preachy.


The lobby cocktail area

I was pleasantly surprised to discover the vibe of the place is pretty chill. It’s only when you pay attention to the details that you discover how thoughtful they are.


The 25 foot green wall in the lobby

Not to be shallow, but 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is a stunner. The property, which is the first ground up build from the brand, looks industrial chic and blends in perfectly with it’s DUMBO neighbors. The lobby features an impressive 25 food vertical garden and rustic yet warm eco-conscious design. But you’re not sacrificing comfort for style. All the small things work in this hotel. The upcycled wood chip room keys are clever and feel fresh. But when you discover to the repurposed pine flooring originally came from the Old Crow Distillery in Kentucky, you get the sense that 1 Hotels is the real deal. It’s chic, it’s cool… and it’s confidently laid back.


A communal table in the lobby

Many NYC hotels have impressive lobbies and shoebox sized guest rooms. Fortunately that’s not the case at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge. My Bridge View King Room was large enough to be comfortable for two people, and well-designed so that there was no wasted space. It also had a cool triple water filter so that guests can have tasty and clean water at their disposal without the clutter of plastic bottles. and the built-in dining area served double duty as a desk when it wasn’t occupied with a room service tray.


Smart storage above the built-in dining area

The hotel also has a complimentary shuttle. It’s a Tesla that will drop guests off within a three mile radius and is available on a first-come, first served basis.


Comfortable bed, excellent storage in the nightstand

Guest rooms are designed with comfort and usability in mind. The design packs a lot of storage punch, with enough closet space for a couple and bonus coat hooks.


Fabulous robes at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

My stay was quick but I look forward to coming back to 1 Brooklyn Bridge to check out the hotel’s spa and 10th floor lounge, both set to open this summer. In the meantime, the cocktail service in the lobby was top-notch and included small plates from Neighbors, the minimalist chic Brooklyn-centric cafe off the lobby.


Interior of Neighbors

Most guests might won’t notice that the property operates on 100% wind power energy or that the edgy/cool sculpture by Jarrod Beck was created from pieces of salvaged roofing found in aftermath of a tornado. But learning these details don’t make you like the property any less. They draw you in deeper. I’m curious what I’ll learn about the hotel on my next visit.


Delicious crostini with lovely presentation in the hotel lobby

In addition to be comfortable, stylish, and well situated at Pier 1, 1 Brooklyn Bridge goes out of it’s way to be good with the ‘hood. I enjoyed getting my morning coffee at Neighbors next to locals using their neighborhood discount. The cafe’s menu had all sorts of locally sourced artisanal Brooklyn goodness one would expect. Mixing with the locals definitely added to the home-away-from-home attitude of the property, and added to the organic sensibility of the hotel.


Cheers to 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Wifi was speedy and easy to connect. Service was great and devoid of attitude.

My biggest complaint? The property doesn’t have gift shop and the fluffy terry robes were so comfy I wanted to take one home.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Address: 60 Furman St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA
Phone: +1 347-696-2500

Rates from $509 per night (I paid a media rate).

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Exploring the Pacific Northwest: Portland and Seattle with High School Students


UHS Faculty member Maggie Beckman hiking Portland’s Forest Park

I’ve long held the belief that travel is the best kind of education. So when my friend Wes Priest, an English teacher at University High School in Indiana, told me that he was bringing a group of students to the Pacific Northwest with his colleague, art teacher Tasha Barger, I agreed to join them and give a few photography tips.


Wes and the JTerm students at the Witches Castle in Forest Park (photo credit: Maggie Beckman)

These 23 teenagers spent the first part of January studying the art, photography and literature of the Pacific Northwest with Wes, Tasha, and faculty member Maggie Beckman during their school’s January Term (J-Term). During J-Term, the students take a break from their normal studies to immerse themselves in a single subject that interests them. This interdisciplinary class culminated in a trip to Portland and Seattle.


PDX snowpocalypse in Forest Park

I met up with the group in Portland, Oregon while the city was still pretty much shut down after experiencing the biggest snowstorm in 20 years. As a seasoned traveler, I know plans how often plans go awry and you need to embrace that. But I had no idea how a group of teenagers would handle it. Their upbeat attitudes and lack of complaints caught me off guard. It was refreshing. There really is nothing you can do about the weather and the students got to see Portland in a really unique way.

Time lapse of the students working on zines in Portland. What a cool class.

Spending time with this group taught me a lot of great things to do with teenagers in Portland. We hiked through snowy Forest Park to the Pittock Mansion to get a view of the city. We hit legendary Portland institutions including Powell’s City of Books and Voodoo Donuts.


Hiking the Upper Macleay Trail in Forest Park

I learned donuts are very popular with high school students. Top Pot Donuts in Seattle was also on the week’s agenda. The students documented their trip with cameras and used photos and found items to create hand bound zines. It was fun to watch so many young creative minds get busy making art.


Snoqualmie Falls

Spending the week with this group of students was both exhausting and inspiring. They appreciated both cities as well as the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and they reminded me of what it is like to have a youthful perspective.


Eating Ramen at Pine Market in Portland (photo credit: Wes Priest)

Eating Ramen at Pine Street Market was a big hit with this crew on a cold night in Portland.

Watching the students document their trip made me want to include some of their photos and impressions on this blog. Featured below are some images the UHS students shot on their trip to the PNW and their own captions.


I took this photograph of my friends’ and my feet right before our hike at Twin Falls.”- Kathryn Papp

These students came prepared and learned the best way to handle the Pacific Northwest’s moody weather is by dressing correctly. Every one of these students was wearing appropriate footwear. It made for a cute photo opportunity and I was excited that one of the students captured it.


Lily in Capitol Hill in front of graffiti- Erin Webb

The students wandered through Portland, checking out local record stores, thrift shops, and the Portland Art Museum.


I took it because its kind of a perfect depiction of the Seattle vibe. Everyone and everything is accepted, except for lack of acceptance- Lily Hunter

The students broke up into groups and explored different neighborhoods in Seattle, which prides itself on being progressive and a Sanctuary City. I wasn’t surprised the teenagers loved Pike Place Market and my personal favorite, MoPop  (formerly known as the EMP).

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 Gorgeous water fall at Snoqualmie falls in Washington” – Kenzie Binford

Seattle’s weather cooperated with us and the group got to visit Snoqualmie Falls and went for a great hike in Twin Falls.


 “A different perspective of a piece of wood art at Portland Art Museum”- Drej Cosby

It was my first visit to the Portland Art Museum and I thought it was both user friendly and a nice size. There was lots to see without it being too overwhelming.


 “Meowtropolitan cat taking some time to chill”- Drej Cosby

Some of the students visited Seattle’s Meowtropolitan, a Japanese-style cat cafe. I’m allergic to cats but was interested in their take. They really enjoyed it, and seemed to think it was quite a bit of fun for the price point!


 Red and Boji”- Maddie Compton

I was impressed by the student’s genuine appreciation for the post-modern architecture of the the Seattle Central Library. They made me remember just how cool the Rem Koolhas and Joshua Ramus-designed building is.


 “The Seattle Room at the Seattle Public Library”- Elise Zaniker

Seattle’s Central Library is also a great location to take photographs and the kids got some eye catching shots.

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 The modern built Seattle Public Library is home to many of writers and artists that open a portal of literary bliss to anyone. I felt that this was a good representation of the modern architecture that houses the classic tales of our time.”- Serena Patel


  “This was on the bus ride from Portland to Seattle. It was just a nice, quiet moment I wanted to capture.”-Kathryn Papp

The students impressed me with their keen interest in the Pacific Northwest, their manners and the general lack of drama. Travelers have always been de facto ambassadors, and this group certainly made University High School look good.


This bridge that served as our entry point into Forest Park felt like a gateway or portal into another world. Once I crossed under this bridge, I felt like I was in an entirely different universe of snowy bliss. Almost like Narnia.”- Livi Nichols

Spending a week with these kids strengthened my belief that travel is great education. It forces you out of your comfort zone, makes you to think on your feet and switches up your perspective. It was fun being able to share the experience of exploring the Pacific Northwest with these students. Their enthusiasm and curiosity was contagious.


  Michaela laughed as she hoisted herself up to get a better view of Elliott Bay. It was our first day in Seattle and the rain and fog only added to our ‘authentic’ Seattle experience.“- Livi Nichols

I did not just learn from the students. Wes, Tasha, and Maggie are passionate educators who are dedicated to helping young minds develop. They worked hard to plan this trip and make it a positive experience for all involved. I hope these students know how lucky they are to have such fantastic and accessible teachers.


“It was really spiritual and one of the best moments of my life because everybody was helping everybody else. People were cold and tired, but everybody stayed positive and struggled together to get the best feeling once we hit the very top.”- Eli DeBrota

The whole J-Term concept is a really cool idea. Where were classes like this when I was in high school?


The JTerm Crew on the waterfront in Seattle

I have to confess I missed this group once they left Seattle. Hopefully some of them with return to visit. I promise Portland is an entirely different experience without all the snow.


Wes and Tasha at Snoqualmie Falls

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