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  • Beth Harpaz and her family saw the holiday lights in Medellin, Colombia, with a private guide who drove them around the city. Private tours are no longer the exclusive domain of wealthy travelers as websites make it easy for tourists and local guides to connect.

    Private tours no longer just for wealthy travelersJun 27, 2014 12:00 AM
    I had one night only in Medellin, Colombia. It was Christmas and I was determined to see Medellin’s famous holiday lights. An online search led me to LandVentureTravel.com, which specializes in private Medellin tours. By email, I booked a guide to meet my family at our hotel and take us to see the lights. We were lucky: Our guide was phenomenal.

     
  • Highways will be packed once again this July Fourth weekend, with 41 million Americans predicted to travel at least 50 miles or more.

    41 million expected to drive July 4 weekendJun 26, 2014 12:00 AM
    Highways will be packed once again this July Fourth weekend, with 41 million Americans expected to travel at least 50 miles or more. That’s up about 2 percent from the 40.3 million who traveled during last year’s Independence Day weekend, according to auto club AAA.

     
  • Children ride free bicycles as part of the Little Velib system experiment on the Seine river banks in Paris.

    Kid-sized bike share? Giving it a spin in ParisJun 26, 2014 12:00 AM
    Not every 6-year-old can tackle the distractions of bike riding along the Seine, which on weekends and sunny days in Paris can include thousands of other cyclists, roller bladers and oblivious tourists with cameras. It’s enough to give a parent palpitations. But the city of Paris, in a bid to train the next generation of cyclists, has added a range of kids’ bikes and gliders to its bike-sharing program, devices that could be theoretically used even by children as young as 2. And to ease parents’ minds, they even offer helmets.

     
  • Artist Gregg Moore, left, and chef Pierre Calmels sit at a table set with Moore’s fine ceramic pottery for a show called “Heirloom” in Philadelphia. Calmels serves a seven-course, $150 dinner called “Table d’Hote” at the museum using Moore’s pottery.

    Dinner at the museum: Real meal on fine ceramicsJun 25, 2014 12:00 AM
    Five nights a week at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, 16 people sit down to dinner. They’re in the exhibit space, at a long pine farmhouse table set all day long with platters, bowls and vases made by a ceramic artist. The seven-course meal, which costs $150 a person, was created to showcase pottery by artist Gregg Moore, and the meal has drawn rave reviews from foodies. The art, Moore says, is created by the experience: the food, ceramics, museum space and people who dine there together.

     
  • Illinois historic sites planning to reduce hoursJun 25, 2014 12:00 AM
    Illinois’ historic sites aren’t expected to close because of budget cuts but are planning to curtail visiting hours after Labor Day.

     
  • Visitors walk around one of the rooms that has been reopened to the public at the Louvre museum in Paris. Paid for entirely by private patronage, the 9-year works have seen the creaky halls restored, corridors modernized and new rooms constructed to fit over 2,000 design objects that span the reigns of the most lavish kings of Europe. They start with France’s Louis XIV who actually lived in the Louvre, to his successors Louis XV and Louis XVI.

    From the dust, glittering Louvre show emergesJun 24, 2014 12:00 AM
    For nearly a decade, one of the world’s greatest palaces has also housed a dusty building site. Now, thanks to a $35.4 million restoration, one of the Louvre Museum’s most exciting collections, the 18th-century decorative arts wing, has been reopened to its full glory. Paid for entirely by private donations, the nine-year restoration modernized creaky halls and corridors and built new rooms for over 2,000 design objects. They start with the reign of France’s Louis XIV, who lived in the Louvre, to his successors Louis XV and Louis XVI.

     
  • Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” is one of 58 works of art chosen by the public to appear on billboards and signs in cities across the U.S. later this summer.

    Artworks chosen to be displayed across U.S.Jun 23, 2014 12:00 AM
    Online voters have chosen dozens of works of art to appear on billboards and signs in cities across the U.S. later this summer. The 58 works picked were announced Friday. The works will begin appearing Aug. 4 in as many as 50,000 displays in all 50 states as part of the “Art Everywhere” initiative organized by five U.S. museums.

     
  • Beachgoers enjoy a sunny day on the beach in Atlantic City, N.J. The city is one of five Jersey shore beach towns that don’t require visitors to buy beach badges.

    Jersey shore: 5 free things for visitors to doJun 23, 2014 12:00 AM
    The Jersey shore’s main attraction is undoubtedly its 127 miles of beautiful beaches. And even with its reputation as one of only a tiny handful of spots in the country that make you pay for the privilege of dipping your toes in the surf (or even sitting on the sand), there are still a few beaches in New Jersey that you can use for free.

     
  • Game of Thrones fans stop for a picture on their way to Audleys field and castle in Strangford, Northern Ireland. Audleys field and castle was used for filming season 1 as King Robert Baratheon and his retinue arrive at Winterfell.

    ‘Game of Thrones’ puts Northern Ireland on the mapJun 22, 2014 12:00 AM
    Giants, dragons and vengeful queens have for generations populated Northern Ireland’s folk tales. Now, such creatures are visiting the land in a different version — on the sets for the hit TV show “Game of Thrones.” But rather than spells and destruction, they’re bringing an economic boost to this British province still healing from its past of political violence.

     
  • Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace and Oak Park home, where the author lived as a young boy, can be visited along with a nearby museum. It’s one of a number of sites Hemingway fans can visit in Florida, Idaho, Arkansas and Cuba.

    Oak Park home among 5 Hemingway hauntsJun 22, 2014 12:00 AM
    Ernest Hemingway lived, drank, fished and wrote in many locales around the country and the world. One of his most celebrated haunts is Key West, Florida, where the late writer’s birthday is marked each July with a Hemingway look-alike contest. But fans following the Hemingway trail will also find museums, homes and other places connected to him in Oak Park and Idaho, Arkansas and Cuba.

     
  • Grand Traverse Resort's Beach Week runs June 27-July 6.

    On the road: Celebrate Beach Week at Grand Traverse ResortJun 21, 2014 12:00 AM
    Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in northern Michigan celebrates Beach Week for its guests with kayak races, candy bingo, 5K run, pottery painting and tons of activities for families and couples. The Chicago Botanic Garden offers a full schedule of musical entertainment Mondays through Thursdays through the summer. And revel in the arts of Michigan at Ann Arbor's annual summer festival, showcasing performances and fine arts downtown and on the University of Michigan campus.

     
  • A lounging robe in printed rayon, a U.S. garment, circa 1942, from Jay Thorpe. From a 1770 corset to a 2014 bra-and-panty set in lacy stretch silk, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology has taken on lingerie and ladies foundation garments as the focus of a new exhibition.

    Fashion museum exhibit looks closely at lingerieJun 21, 2014 12:00 AM
    From a 1770 corset to a 2014 bra-and-panty set in lacy stretch silk, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology has put the focus on lingerie and ladies foundation garments in a new exhibition. The exhibition, which spans the 1760s to present day, opened June 3 and runs through Nov. 15.

     
  • The 1967 Andy Warhol-designed album called “The Velvet Underground and Nico” will be among those on display starting Saturday at an exhibition of Warhol’s album covers at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

    Detroit-area museum shows off Warhol record coversJun 20, 2014 12:00 AM
    Along with his Marilyn Monroe portrait and the Campbell Soup cans, Andy Warhol’s album covers have their own place in the pop-art pantheon. The Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, is kicking off what it says is the most comprehensive exhibition of authenticated Warhol record covers to date — including three recently discovered albums that never before have been shown in such a setting.

     
  • The new Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando features shops, dining experiences and a next generation thrill ride. It will officially open on July 8.

    5 first impressions of the new Harry Potter area at UniversalJun 20, 2014 12:00 AM
    The Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando will delight fans of the hit book and movie series with a marquee ride, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts. But Diagon Alley is also heavy on experiential retail, with stores so entertaining and visually stimulating that you almost forget you’re shopping. Diagon Alley opens to the public July 8.

     
  •  A view from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. The National Park Service is taking steps to ban drones from 84 million acres of public lands and waterways.

    Government moves to ban drones in national parksJun 20, 2014 12:00 AM
    Two large national parks, Grand Canyon in Arizona and Zion in Utah, have already changed their rules to ban drones. Some other parks have interpreted existing regulations to permit them to ban drone flights, but Jarvis said each park must change its “compendium” — a set of regulations unique to that park — if a ban is to be enforceable.At Yosemite National Park in California, where officials announced last month they would adopt a policy prohibiting drone flights, hobbyists have been using unmanned aircraft to film the park’s famous waterfalls and capture close-up shots of climbers on its granite cliffs.

     
  • “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley,” which features shops, dining experiences and the next-generation thrill ride at Universal Orlando, will officially open on July 8.

    Universal: New Harry Potter area will open July 8Jun 18, 2014 12:00 AM
    Universal officials announced Wednesday that the new Happy Potter attraction at Universal Studios Park will open July 8. It will double the size of the Harry Potter landscape in the park and will be tied via the Hogwarts Express train to the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Island of Adventure.

     
  • A father and son watch Thomas the Tank Engine roll down the track at an annual Day Out with Thomas event at the Edaville USA theme park in Carver, Mass. Groundbreaking for the first permanent Thomas Land in the U.S. is set for July 2014 at Edaville USA, and is expected to be open for business in the summer of 2015.

    Thomas the Tank Engine chugs its way to EdavilleJun 18, 2014 12:00 AM
    Thomas the Tank Engine, the iconic talking cartoon train that has thrilled millions of children around the world, and Edaville USA Railroad, a favorite destination of generations of southeastern New England families, are teaming up on a permanent Thomas-themed park. Thomas Land, being built on about 11 of Edaville’s 250 acres, will have 14 rides based on the television show, with the highlight being a 20-minute train ride on a life-sized Thomas the Tank Engine.

     
  • A Bosnian woman passes by the corner where Gavrilo Princip fired the bullet that killed the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s crown Prince Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914. The assassination soon set in motion a series of events that would eventually lead to World War I.

    Stories of Sarajevo, where World War I beganJun 17, 2014 12:00 AM
    If you find yourself on Ferhadija street behind the old synagogue at noon, close your eyes and listen to the bells from the Catholic cathedral and the Serb-Orthodox church mixing with the Muslim call for prayer. They call this the sound of Sarajevo. And yet, Sarajevo is also known for the sound of a gunshot that led to World War I a century ago on June 28, 1914. The city will host a number events around the Centenary of World War I, including a conference of historians and a concert.

     
  • State Street runs about three-quarters of a mile from the state Capitol to the University of Wisconsin campus. The thoroughfare is car-free except for delivery trucks and buses, attracting a mix of undergrads, locals and government workers for shopping, dining and people-watching.

    5 free things in Madison, from campus to CapitolJun 15, 2014 12:00 AM
    Nestled on an isthmus that’s home to both buttoned-up politicians in the state Capitol and more liberal-leaning college students just a short walk away, Madison lives up to its endearing unofficial motto as “77 square miles surrounded by reality.” Madisonians proudly ride their bikes all year, cheer for the University of Wisconsin Badgers and liberally consume Wisconsin-made cheese and beer. Here are five ways to experience Madison as a visitor, all of them free.

     
  • Lynn Jones, left, takes a photo of a 2001 Corvette that fell into a sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky. Jones, from Collierville, Tenn., came to the museum to see the smashed cars and the sinkhole, which opened up and swallowed eight cars in February.

    Gearheads, gawkers drawn to Corvette museum sinkholeJun 15, 2014 12:00 AM
    For years, just enough hardcore classic car lovers and curious travelers wandered through the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky to keep the doors open. Now, after a massive sinkhole swallowed eight pristine models of vintage muscle, attendance has skyrocketed. And visitors are as eager to peer into the chasm as they are to see the ‘Vettes, if not more so.

     
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