places to visit

Off the Beaten Path: Museums

Chances are, if you’ve traveled a bit, you’ve visited your fair share of museums. Art Museums, Natural History Museums, Wax Museums, or my personal favorite, Science Museums. Is it just me, or do the all start to look the same? The same dinosaur skeleton in the lobby, the same mummy in the basement, the same famous painters in the hallway.

For those of you who feel the same way, I have started making it a point to find some really off-beat and fun museums. Ones where you can do more than walk through a labyrinth of paintings and display cases on the wall. Here’s a list of some of them you should check out if you are ever in these areas.

Museum of the Moving Image – Astoria, NY

Vintage Games - MotMIThis is a fun little place outside of Queens. It’s a museum dedicated to all kinds of film, animation, and video games. And, like all my favorite museums, it is interactive! You can make a stop motion video, record a voiceover from famous movie scenes, change the soundtrack on some classic films and even play Mrs. Pac-Man on an original stand alone arcade console! There is also a part of the museum that hosts changing exhibits on certain filmmakers and animators (when I visited it was all about the creator of Looney Toons!) There’s a small entrance fee, but it provides hours of entertainment on a cold or rainy New York day. They even offer an internet center and a small café in the lobby.

Museum on the Mound – Edinburgh, ScotlandSafe

If you are coming from the central train station and likely visiting Edinburgh Castle, you will walk right past this fine establishment. It’s a small little building, but free to enter (as most museums in the UK are). The museum is all about the history of British currency, but you can see what a million pounds looks like, take your photo as the face of a tenner, and even practice cracking a safe to receive a little prize. It’s certainly worth an hour of your time on your way to Edinburgh’s bigger touristy sites.


Science Museums – Science museums are especially my favorite, as they are usually interactive and fun.

The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has, among other things, a three story indoor rainforest (Biodome, anyone?) They also turn the museum into a themed club one night each week (think Speakeasy or 70’s Disco). Highly worth a visit.

The Shanghai Science and Technology Museum is also a fun stop. It features 3 large levels of interactive exhibits. They are mostly in Chinese, but there are a quite a few in English. It covers all aspects of science and technology, including meteorology, biology, genetics, robotics, and even natural history. They even feature a little ride, where you ride in a fruit shaped cart and enter through a large mouth, in the end you come out…. well, the other end. It’s all in Chinese, but you can get the gist of what is going on. It is quite funny to hear everything in a language you don’t understand a word of!

I’m also told that NEMO in Amsterdam, The Netherlands (where they have museum for everything) is a great science museum, but I have yet to make it there.

Another museum I have not yet made it to but intend to one day is the Spy Museum in Washington, DC. It’s supposed to be one of the best museums in the world (so a little more on the beaten path, I guess, but hey!)

Any great museums in your city? I’d love to hear about them!


The Ultimate Travel Checklist

There are many different apps and sites and lists out there that help you track all of the places you’ve been.  But I’ve found that some are too basic (the US is a big country!  And Hawaii is very different than New York!) and some are too detailed (like if you pin every city you’ve been to in Italy, you can’t even see the boot anymore!)  Somewhere along the line, someone told me about the perfect list.

It is from Traveler’s Century Club (insert unsolicited promotion here!)

Their list includes every country, as well as geographically/culturally/politically different regions of those countries.  For example, the United States is listed, but Hawaii and Alaska are included separately.  All in all, there are between 350 and 400 countries/territories.  The best part is, after you’ve been to 100 of them, you can join their club, if you so choose.

You can view the most up to date list here (I prefer to view it by region, but they also have an alphabetical list).  I’ve included a handy checklist format here on my blog.  And you can compare your travels to mine right here!

For those of you who insist on having an app – I like the “Countries Been” app for Android and the “been” app for Apple.

ABC Travel

The post that started it all….

Life Happens

I love travelling, obviously, or I wouldn’t be in the industry that I am in.  I love travelling by sea, waking up in a new place every day.  But sometimes, you wake up in a place where you’d like to stay for a few more days.  And there are so many places that aren’t even accessible by sea.  The more places I visit, the more places I realize I want to visit.     [I think this must be some corollary to Socrates’ “The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know” theory.]

When I was younger, I wanted to be a travel agent for a while (of course, I also wanted to be a lawyer and a pop star).  As I got older, and with the advent of the internet and bargain travel sites like Expedia and Travelocity, I thought travel agents were becoming obsolete.  But I…

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