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4 Historic Haunts in the Hudson Valley, New York

Mohonk Mountain House in New York

But there’s another aspect of the Hudson Valley that’s worthy of intrigue. The colonial activity along the Hudson River valley dates back to the early 1600s; the area is steeped in history. Many original buildings still stand, dotting the Hudson River Valley with locations of intrigue, battle, history, and haunting.
Next time you visit the Big Apple, take the less-than-2-hour trip to the Hudson Valley to immerse yourself in some historic haunts in the Hudson Valley:

1. Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz, NY

The small college town of New Paltz, NY, has a laid-back vibe, a prominent arts scene, and one of the earliest colonial streets in America. It’s a strange feeling to leave the hustle and bustle of Main Street and walk a few blocks down to Huguenot Street, where majestic old sycamore and pine trees and old stone houses radiate history.
According to the Huguenot Historical Society, the settlement along this simple street in a small town actually had its roots in the early 1500s. During that time The Protestant Reformation, sparked by Martin Luther’s act of opposition to the Roman Catholic Church, had spread rapidly throughout Europe.
By the 17th century, French Huguenots were being mercilessly killed due to their religious beliefs. When Catholic King Louis XIII took the throne in 1610, the violence escalated. A group of Huguenots (including the Hasbroucks, LeFevres, and Deyos, many of whose descendants still live in New Paltz) decided to strike off to the New World to escape persecution.
By 1678, after a long journey overseas, the Huguenots took up residence along the Wallkill River, where seven of the original stone houses still stand. Every October, tours take place to highlight some of the historical (and reportedly haunted) features of the street. From Maria Deyo’s infamous murder spree to the apparent ghostly sightings of a young Huguenot woman who died of tuberculosis, Huguenot Street is rife with history, myth, and legend.

2. Bannerman’s Island in Beacon, NY

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Bannerman Island Castle

People who take river cruises on the Hudson are often mystified by the crumbling ruins of what appears to be a Scottish Castle on a small, uninhabited island near Beacon, NY. Created by Frank Bannerman in the early 1900s, the building was built as a staggering homage to his cultural origins in Scotland.
Frank Bannerman, a former Union soldier in the American Civil War, was born in Scotland in 1851. When he eventually purchased the property on what’s now known as Bannerman Island, he designed the Scottish-style fortress as a way to store his huge collection of munitions. According to an article in Historic Hudson River Towns, Bannerman worked on the fortress for seventeen years, doing most of the architectural and engineering work himself. He made the fortress incredibly elaborate, which made it all the more tragic when a mysterious fire destroyed the buildings in 1969.
According to Jane Bannerman, the granddaughter-in-law of the fortress’s builder, Bannerman island used to be known as Pollepel Island and was considered haunted by local tribes. Most recently, the fortress was devastated by a fire that has made the historic site inaccessible to visitors except by boat. Seven years before the fire, Frank Bannerman’s grandson Charles issued a prophetic statement:
Time, the elements, and maybe even the goblins of the island will take their toll of some of the turrets and towers, and perhaps eventually the castle itself…
Also, visitors can’t set foot on the grounds, you can take an informative and scenic river cruise to pass by the crumbling Scottish castle on Bannerman Island.

3. Hoffman House, Kingston NY

Before Albany, the Hudson Valley town of Kingston held the distinction of the capital of New York. During the American Revolutionary War, Kingston became the prime target of a British attack, a fact in the biennial Burning of Kingston event.
After capturing New York City in October 1777, the British sailed up the Hudson River to target the prosperous colony at Kingston, landing at Kingston Point. The British marched along the Rondout River, burning houses as they went along. Though some locals fought back, the British quickly set the entire city alight, burning over 300 buildings to the ground.
Incredibly, the resilient city of Kingston soon bounced back and rebuilt. Now, visitors can visit the Stockade District where British soldiers indiscriminately burnt down houses. One of these is the Hoffman House, which along with the rest of the city was severely burnt in 1777.
Built in 1679, the Hoffman House is a typical example of Dutch colonial architecture. When it was restored in 1976, the new owners took care to use traditional materials—even using the house’s old nails in the restoration process. Now, it’s a restored tavern and restaurant where visitors can enjoy a pleasant meal inside one of the oldest houses in the third oldest settlement in New York.

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Mohok Mountain House

4. Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz NY

Fifteen minutes outside of the same town that holds the stone houses of Historical Huguenot Street, the famous Mohonk Mountain House is nestled into the beautiful Shawangunk Ridge. In person, the hotel is incredible and eclectic. Built at different times with different architectural styles, you can feel the history on each floor of the hotel.
Originally built around Stokes Tavern, purchased by Albert K. Smiley in 1869, the Mountain House officially opened in 1870. Since then, it’s seen several rounds of renovation, growing from a ten-room inn on a lakefront to a sprawling—yet isolated—265-room resort in the Shawangunks. With towers, an ice skating rink, a massive pure-blue lake, and all the raw wonder of the surrounding forest and ridge, Mohonk is both a historical and natural retreat. To this day, it remains in the Smiley family through six generations of ownership.
Its age along with the castle-like feel have contributed to speculation that Mohonk is haunted. It is believed by some to be the inspiration for the massively haunted Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s novel The Shining. Mohonk Mountain house does indeed feel like something out of a storybook with its Victorian castle-like appearance, its giant hedge maze, and the now-unused carriage roads that used to bring horse-and-buggy travelers up to the mountain lodge on the lake.
Upstate New York is steeped in history and culture going back hundreds of years. From strange Scottish simulations to giant Victorian mountainside resorts, the gem of the Hudson Valley exists only 90 miles north of NYC. And it’s worth the trip.

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Top 8 Summer Music Festivals in the World

A music festival is a timeless way to see new places, spend time with your favorite people, and hear some great live music. A good festival, of course, is more than the sum of its parts. It’s a chaotic meshing of sounds, socializing, food, unique fashion statements, creative art forms, and merchandise. Ever since Woodstock, music festivals have become a rite of passage for young people and, increasingly, people of all ages. Best of all, there are amazing festivals in all corners of the globe. Let’s look at some of the top summer music festivals in the world.

1. Lollapalooza

Grant Park, Chicago, USA

Right in the heart of downtown, Chicago, Lollapalooza is an amazing festival that’s been running since 1991. It features eight stages and more than 170 bands, covering a wide range of styles. A festival in an urban setting can either be a perk or a drawback, depending on your point of view. On the one hand, you don’t have to drive into the wilderness and set up your campsite. You have all the city amenities within walking distance. Chicago is famous for its great food (especially pizza), bars, museums, and impressive skyline. On the other hand, escaping civilization is one of the features that draws you to festivals, you have plenty of other choices.
In addition to music, Lollapalooza has a mini-festival for kids, an art market, and plenty of merch. You can buy 4-day tickets for the entire festival or single-day tickets. There are also hotel packages. Children under 10 with an adult are admitted free (up to two kids per adult).

2. FYF Fest

Los Angeles, CA, USA

This annual 3-day festival is held at Exposition Park in Los Angeles. FYF Fest has been popular on the West Coast since 2004 and is known for its edgy atmosphere and diverse selection of music, including pop, rock, rap, electronic, hip-hop, and indie. It’s a good festival choice for those with eclectic tastes.

3. Tomorrowland

Boom, Belgium

Tomorrowland is a two-weekend festival that combines electronic music and the arts with a vision for a more peaceful and environmentally sustainable future. This festival began in 2005 and attracts an enthusiastic audience from all over the world. In some ways reminiscent of Burning Man in the U.S., Tomorrowland is full of futuristic visions, art installations, and its own “city,” DreamVille.
There are several options for accommodations, from As with most festivals, there are many tiers for ticket prices, depending on when you buy tickets, what you want to experience, and how long you stay. There are quite a few creative options, at various prices for lodging, including simple tents, tiny home-like structures to luxury “mansions.”

4. Hideout

Zrce Beach, Croatia

Hideout is a good choice if you want to get an early start to celebrating the summer. Set in a remote and pristine location on the Adriatic Sea with a view of mountains, this festival is famous for its boat rides, beach parties, and a wide selection of electronic music. As the name suggests, Hideout is a place where you can escape the everyday rut and experience an idyllic world for a few days.
This is also a great festival for adventurous travelers who enjoy water sports such as jet skiing, boating, and quad biking. Festival goers have a chance to island hop and explore beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park.

5. Electric Zoo

 New York City, USA

Electric Zoo is an end-of-summer Labor Day festival held at Randall’s Island Park, a 480-acre urban park on the border of Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx. Established in 2009, Electric Zoo has been held all over the world. The original location, however, is New York. The 2018 theme is The 6th Boro, which reveals the ambitious attempt to make the festival a permanent part of the New York City (which has five official boroughs or counties) cultural scene.
Their past lineup included DJ Snake, Above & Beyond, Galantis, and Sasha & John Digweed. Check the website for early bird tickets.

6. Wireless Festival

London, UK

If you want to visit London this summer, you may want to schedule your trip to coincide with this festival, held at Finsbury Park. Now in its 13th year, Wireless has become one of the most popular music festivals in the UK. Since Wireless is an urban festival, you have to find your own accommodations. London, however, is an easy city to navigate. If you don’t want to spring for a costly hotel, there are plenty of hostels and reasonable Airbnb options.

7. Arise

 Loveland, Colorado, USA

The Arise Music Festival, approaching its 6th year, is a diverse event held at Sunset Ranch, a 350-acre organic farm in a scenic valley. In addition to music, Arise gives participants the chance to explore a variety of classes, workshops, and art installations. Many attendees are active in political and environmental causes. One of the requirements is that you “leave no trace” –i.e. clean up and leave the grounds as you found them.
Tickets for the 3-day festival include camping. Car camping is another option. There are also camping upgrades available if you want additional amenities.

8. Montreux Jazz Festival

Montreux, Switzerland

The Montreux Jazz Festival, founded in 1967, is one of the most glamorous and popular jazz festivals in the world. The program typically includes rock, soul, and blues musicians as well as jazz greats. On the scenic shores of Lake Geneva, the setting is perfect for relaxation and boat rides as well as great music, parties, and socializing.
Montreux has a variety of venues to enjoy music and special events, such as the Auditorium Stravinski, known for its outstanding acoustics and the Montreux Jazz Club, where you can enjoy intimate performances by contemporary artists. Visit the website to find out program details. Past participants have included B.B. King, David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Radiohead, and scores of other household names as well as new performers.
You can buy an all-music pass or attend one of the festival’s many free events such as jam sessions, concerts, and film screenings.

Music Festivals Make the Summer More Fun

A music festival can be the highlight of summer vacation. If it’s close to home, it can make for an awesome road trip. The above are some of the most exciting summer festivals in the world. Some festivals don’t announce their lineups until fairly late in the season. However, keep in mind that tickets often sell out fast. So, if you want to attend one of these festivals, it’s best to buy your tickets early!
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6 Spectacular American Cities to Spend the Holidays

The enchanting sights, sounds, and aromatic smells of the holiday season come alive at these six cities across the United States that provide you with a fun and fabulous wintertime adventure that you’re sure to remember for a lifetime. Take a look at the breathtaking displays, spectacular shopping, and unique cultural events that make these locations a mecca for those who love to experience the season’s best celebrations.

‘Christmas town USA’: Best City for Holiday Lights

McAdenville, North Carolina epitomizes the giving spirit of the holidays with its spectacular month-long holiday lights display that showcases 160 festive homes, a fabulous downtown commons display, 265 evergreens featuring 500,000 lights, and spectacular lakeside scenery surrounded by beautifully-brightened spruce trees. The entire month-long extravaganza is free to the public, and the official lighting ceremony takes place on November 30th. The town is lit up every Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. and weekends from 5:30 to 11:00 p.m. through December 26th.
This small village just outside of Charlotte doesn’t stop there. Townsfolk also gifts the first 1,000 visitors to the Annual Christmas Town Festival with free cider and kettle corn to help usher in some holiday cheer. This fun family event takes place on December 13th and features a charming holiday parade, a stopover by Santa, a traditional yule log ceremony, and musical entertainment that captures the magic of the season.

New York City, New York: Best Center for Magical Ice Skating

New York’s Rockefeller Square is a cultural icon that stays true to its reputation for excellence with a whole host of holiday activities for yuletide-lovers who are both young and young-at-heart. The lighting of the iconic 75-foot tree takes place on the evening of November 28th and brightens the square every evening through January 7th with its 30,000 lights and Swarovski crystal star. The gigantic live spruce overlooks an intimate ice rink that gives skaters the impression of sliding through a mythical urban landscape dotted with giant forests, celebrated artwork, and twinkling lights. Visitors can also enjoy magical horse and buggy rides that take you on a tour of the area’s most famous attractions, such as Radio City Music Hall. Here you can enjoy all the pomp and spectacle of the Radio City Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular. 

Branson, Missouri: Best Place to Catch the Polar Express Train

Best known as the Live Music Capital of the World, this quaint mountain town of about 10,000 people sits against the spectacular backdrop of the pine-covered Ozark Mountains. Every holiday season it lights up the region with a wide array of events that have collectively come to be known as the Ozark Mountain Christmas Festival. By far the unique and eagerly anticipated of these experiences is the Branson Scenic Railway’s Polar Express Ride that showcases the natural wonders along the area’s snow-capped peaks. Just outside the train’s windows visitors can witness amazing scenes recreated from the enchanting film ‘The Polar Express.’
For more great seasonal entertainment, check out the city’s world-renowned live holiday shows featuring many talented musical legends. You can also enjoy some antique and holiday gift shopping in the historic downtown district, or take a driving tour of the holiday lights at the Promised Land Zoo and Gift of Lights Trail. The fun-filled Silver Dollar City Amusement Park’s Old Time Christmas festival runs from November 3rd through December 30th. It has an astounding 6.5 million sparkling lights–and some of the season’s best children’s plays and sing-a-longs.

Frankenmuth, Michigan: Best Town for an Authentic European Christkindlmarkt

Popularly known as “Little Bavaria” because of its historic German heritage, this town of 5,000 residents in central Michigan boasts 2 million annual visitors, a breathtaking Christmas Lane filled with 100,000 lights, and the quaint Old Christmas Station Restaurant that sits on sight of a former 1920’s train station. Perhaps its most beloved tradition is the European-style ‘Christkindlmarkt‘ featuring mouthwatering delights such as their fresh, locally sourced apple cider, open-fire roasted chestnuts, and delectable holiday pastries.
This enticing European-style market isn’t the only big draw for holiday lovers. Frankenmuth holds bragging rights to the world’s largest store dedicated exclusively to all things Christmas. The family owned and operated Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland was opened in 1945 and features 100,000 twinkling lights, 2.2 acres of indoor displays, 27 acres of outdoor landscapes, and 50,000 unique gifts and trims. It even has a replica of Salzburg, Austria’s Silent Night Memorial Chapel complete with a breathtaking walking path and quaint educational signposts. For dedicated Christmas fans who like to start the season early and extend the holiday spirit into the warmer months, you’re in luck. The store is open 365 days a year!

Taos, New Mexico: Best Locale to Experience Cultural Unity

This vibrant desert city offers a unique holiday experience that blends different cultural practices to showcase a beautiful pageantry of unity. On Christmas Eve, the Christian and Native American communities come together at the 1,000-year-old Taos Pueblos adobe settlement for the Procession of the Virgin. This unique event is open to the public and includes the lighting of ‘farolitos’ or paper lanterns, massive bonfires that are part of a blended Catholic and Native ceremony, and celebratory gunfire salutes along the parade route at this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Within the architecturally unique city limits, you’ll find a vibrant artistic community that plays host to the annual Yuletide Arts and Crafts Fair from November 23rd through the 25th. There is also a one-of-a-kind ‘pop-up, pop-down’ Taos Folk Store which appears at the Stables Gallery every November 25th through December 24th, and includes an incredible array of locally crafted items, from jewelry and journals to tea sets and totem poles. Here you’ll find unforgettable gifts for even the most discerning people on your holiday list, and beautiful items for yourself as well!

Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii: Best City for an Eco-Holiday in Paradise

The small island hamlet of Lihue hosts an awe-inspiring December-long Festival of Lights that takes place at the Historic 1913 County Building located on Hawaii’s ‘Garden Isle.’ Its grand scope belies its humble beginnings as a recycling project by a local artist who decided to turn other people’s trash into gifted treasures at her home, which came to be known as ‘The Christmas House.’
In 1997 her treasured creations came into the hands of her niece, also an artist, who chose to donate them to the county. The mayor asked her to create a fun-filled holiday display from them that has since transformed into a colorful celebration which draws international visitors and community members alike. Here you’ll find magical indoor and outdoor light displays, interactive installations featuring out-of-this-world artist-designed recyclables, and fun photos with Santa set against a panorama of eco-inspired design.
If you’re ready to raise a glass of cheer to a new adventure filled with time-honored traditions, head on out to one of these lively yuletide destinations this holiday season!
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How to Eat Like a New Yorker in New York City

Feast Through New York City

Let’s take a look at some of the best places in the city to relax and enjoy the delicious foods that New York City is known for.

Start the Day Deliciously

You definitely need to fuel up for a day in New York City. It all starts with breakfast. Whether you are craving an egg dish, or you prefer something from the griddle, this city has it all. Diners and cafes are plentiful, so no matter which neighborhood you are in, there will be somewhere great where you can eat.

Sarabeth’s

1295 Madison Avenue (and more locations) 

This upscale restaurant is one of the trendiest eateries in Manhattan. At Sarabeth’s, you’ll find a modern vibe that goes along with the excellent food and service. With locations on the Upper East Side, Central Park South, Park Avenue South, Tribeca, and the Upper East Side, it is easy to enjoy everything that this restaurant has to offer. Come in and be greeted by the comforting aroma of mouthwatering dishes that you won’t find anywhere else. Try the Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes, Salmon Eggs Benedict, a Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelet and much more. The amazing food will keep you full and satisfied until lunch!

Clinton Street Baking Company

4 Clinton Street

This cozy restaurant is known as one of the premier spots in the city. Clinton Street Baking Company got its beginnings as a small storefront establishment and continued to grow. The eatery serves dishes such as pancakes with warm maple butter, Brioche French Toast, and Fried Chicken and Waffles. You’ll savor every bite!

The Midday Meal

When afternoon comes, you’ll need to take a break from the fun of New York City and enjoy a delicious lunch. Here in the Big Apple, there are places that delectable lunch dishes that you won’t soon forget.

Bleecker Street Pizza

69 7th Avenue South

The pies at Bleecker Street Pizza are like nothing you’ve ever tasted. Prepared with the freshest ingredients available, the pizza here is sure to please everyone. Try the Nonna Maria Pizza, Chipotle Chicken Pizza, the White Pie, and many others. Bleecker Street Pizza will be on your list of favorites with just one bite.

Brooklyn Diner

212 West 57th Street

At the Brooklyn Diner, you’ll get an authentic taste of New York with dishes that no one can resist. With an old-school vibe, customers receive friendly service and can choose from many different menu items. Try their award-winning comfort foods such as chicken pot pie, the Old-Fashioned Brooklyn Burger, or perhaps the fish tacos. Whatever you choose, it will truly be one of the best meals you’ve ever had.

At the End of the Day

Whether you’ve spent the day sightseeing, shopping, or taking in a show on Broadway, you are sure to be hungry for dinner come early evening. New York City is just the place to enjoy some excellent cuisine, so head over to one of the restaurants, and prepare to be delighted.

Tony’s Di Napoli

147 West 43rd Street

When Italian is what you are craving, look no further than Tony’s Di Napoli. Since 1959, this restaurant has been serving excellent food and making memories. The food is Southern Neapolitan style, and the service and atmosphere are unbeatable. Try the Veal Piccata, Twin Lobsters, Shrimp Scampi, or many other selections and see what made this restaurant all that it is.

Royal 35 Steakhouse

2 East 35th Street

This restaurant is one of the most delicious that you will find in New York City. At Royal 35 Steakhouse, you’ll find an atmosphere like no other, with high ceilings, wood walls, and elegant seating. On the menu, you can choose from selections such as a Grilled Norwegian Salmon Fillet, Prime New York Strip Steak, and the Royal 35 Seafood Tower. Come and see why the Royal 35 Steakhouse is a New York City favorite!

A Sweet Ending

When you choose to end the day with something sweet, you may be wondering what the best selections are. New York has it all, from cake to ice cream, so head out and get that treat that you deserve!

Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream

2 Rivington Street

When you are looking for the tastiest, creamiest ice cream in the city, Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream is where you need to be. Unique flavors are what this establishment is known for, so get ready for something delicious. Enjoy ice cream in flavors such as Salt and Pepper Pinenut, Burnt Sage, Banana Curry, and much more. With ice cream this good, the only problem will be deciding what you should have!

Two Little Red Hens

1652 2nd Avenue

At Two Little Red Hens, you can sit back and enjoy the sweet treat of your choice. This bake shop is cozy and relaxed, and you’ll feel right at home every time you come in. Choose from creations that include the Brooklyn Blackout Cake, Lemon Gingerbread Cake, and the Pumpkin Harvest Cake. Of course, you must try cheesecake when you are in New York, and at Two Little Red Hens, you’ll find selections that include Classic New York Cheesecake, Cherry, or Pumpkin Flavors. This bake shop is also known for cupcakes, so make sure to pick up some Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl, Boston Cream, or Key Lime while you are there.
There you have it! Some of the most incredible places to enjoy a meal or dessert while in New York City. There are so many fun things to do in this incredible city, and visiting the best restaurants in the city should be a priority for anyone who visits.