Whether it’s a sonnet, dish or book, one thing is certain: The arts have an ability to move you, and they serve as a reminder of all that there is to love about being human – and life. Listed are some of the nation’s top spots for travelers to take pleasure in the musical, literary and culinary arts.
Red Rocks Park
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is a perfect marriage of awe-inspiring nature and man-made music venue. Most of the time the park offers free entry for hiking the trails and you can even sign up for a $1 yoga class all while appreciating the towering red rocks that surround the venue. Other family-friendly activities include classic film showings, such as “Grease,” “Ferris Bueller's Day Off” and “The Sandlot.” This year’s summer concert series will include Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Celtic Woman, Norah Jones and many more.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Walking down St. Peter Street in the New Orleans French Quarter to Preservation Hall is like walking back in time. You can buy tickets online or pay $15 to $20 cash at the door (line-waiting often runs about an hour. The tiny venue can seat 40 people on benches or floor cushions and there is standing room for about 60 people. The hall features jazz performances by the house band or from a list of regular performers. You might find the hall’s resident cat, Sweets, wandering around.
Motown Museum in Detroit was the original headquarters of Motown record company. The museum is so popular that visitors must secure tickets to one of its tours, which begin every hour on the hour. During tours, people are immersed in the distinctive Motown sound that is familiar and legendary.
Los Angeles, California
Amoeba Music, located on Sunset Boulevard, claims to have the biggest – and most diverse – collection of music and movies under one roof. However, it is more than just a music store. It’s a gathering place for music enthusiasts to mourn the loss of industry icons while also enjoying live performances. Amoeba has regular free shows by artists, one of whom includes – most famously – Paul McCartney, who recorded “Amoeba’s Secret” during his performance.
Ernest Hemingway's Birthplace and Museum
Oak Park, Illinois
Oak Park is quite proud of its literary status as being the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway. Visit and tour the literary legend’s childhood home, where his peers never knew him as a famous author. The museum has interesting artifacts, such as Hemingway's childhood diary and the famous letter – later portrayed in “A Farewell to Arms” – from nurse Agnes von Kurowsky that ended the couple’s engagement. Those who visit during the weekend of July 17 can participate in Hemingway’s birthday bash and the Hemingway 8K Running of the Bulls.
House and Museum
Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, and his family lived in Hartford for nearly 20 years. It’s the same place where he said, “Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see, this is the chief... . You do not know what beauty is if you have not been here.” It is in Twain’s house that you might feel the same inspiration he felt to write some of his most famous characters, such as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Powell’s City of Books
Powell’s City of Books in Portland is known as the world’s largest independent bookstore. This place is a book-lover’s paradise, where people enjoy getting lost in the many wonders of the written word.
Keep an eye peeled for the May 16 opening of The American Writers Museum. Inspired by the Dublin Writers Museum in Ireland, the national museum will celebrate American writers and literature.
Repeatedly lauded to be among the best restaurants in the world, The French Laundry in the Napa Valley area is a destination where diners are blissfully rewarded for the tedium involved in securing a reservation and paying more than $300 a person (before tip and alcohol) to dine. Chef Thomas Keller challenges himself to never repeat an ingredient on a single menu and, in this way, leads diners in discovering the nuance behind tasting familiar ingredients but – seemingly – for the first time.
New York, New York
For chef Eric Ripert, food is an expression of memories and emotion. The menus at his highly- acclaimed and world-renowned French Seafood restaurant, Le Bernardin, take diners on an extremely-refined journey in fine dining. (Women are given foot stools for their purses). A top dish on the menu is the Yellow Fin Tuna Carpaccio – ibérico ham “chutney,” sea beans and lemon-extra virgin olive oil.
The three-star-Michelin-rated Alinea is a Latin symbol that indicates a new paragraph. Chef Grant Achatz strives to take guests on an entire journey of performance and discovery. Guests begin by going down a hallway that is frequently transformed and always marks the entry into a different world. Dishes are disguised as centerpieces, enveloped in sweet smelling smoke and suspended by helium.
Led by Chef Iliana Regan, Elizabeth restaurant defines farm-to-table fine dining. Regan’s menu is described as honest, and she hearkens to her Midwest roots – a style that she likes to call “new gatherer cuisine.”