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Atlanta Streets Closed to Cars on Sunday

Atlanta Streets Alive

The streets of Atlanta close down to automobile traffic and open up to all sorts of new possibilities at this time of year for Atlanta Streets Alive.

Inspired by “open streets projects” from across the globe, the idea for ASA stems from a project in Bogotá, Colombia, where neighborhood activists opened the streets for people to bike, skate, or use any human powered means of transportation, while temporarily closing them to motor vehicles.

The vision for Atlanta Streets Alive, which is being held this Sunday, Sept. 28, is to encourage Atlanta to develop living streets — streets that appeal to pedestrians, bikers, businesses and neighbors. On this day, people can regain ownership of the streets for which they pay taxes to build and maintain, and participate as the streets come to life for all to enjoy.

This 'living' transformation is brilliantly exemplified by one of the buildings nestled along the ASA route. A once forgotten, former Sears, Roebuck & Company building has been resurrected as one of the largest historic projects in Atlanta and the nation. Now named Ponce City Market (PCM), this historic mixed-use community hub is focused on artisanal food, fashion and technology. Steeped in local history, PCM is also moving forward toward a bright and shiny new future.

PCM, located on Ponce de Leon Avenue Northeast, is linked directly to the Atlanta BeltLine, situated just across from Old Fourth Ward Park. It’s within easy walking or pedaling distance to Atlanta neighborhoods, including Virginia Highland, Poncey Highlands and Midtown. It's also an incredibly short distance from many of Atlanta’s top attractions that are featured in Atlanta CityPASS.

Atlanta Streets Alive

Ponce City Market pairs accessible and artisanal food with a balanced mix of local and national retail, in conjunction with loft office space and the next generation of loft dwellers. PCM will redefine how Atlanta lives, eats, shops, learns, works, commutes and plays, as it fills a hole in the community where there once sat a neglected and silent building.

Within its repurposed walls, Ponce City Market will cater to all ages, from preschool-aged children at The Suzuki School to burgeoning entrepreneurs at General Assembly. It already has a handful of early adopters open and will continue to open organically with the main food hall and retail opening in spring of 2015, followed by the roof in late 2015, or early 2016.

Currently, PCM is home to a fine arts supply store, a coffee bar, and the "Flats", which features 259 residential studios up to 3-bedroom apartments. The Central Food Hall is slated to open in 2015 and will offer many types of food options, including take-out, sit-down dining and over-the-counter service, etc.

Atlanta Streets Alive is on Sunday, Sept. 28 from 2-6 pm. The route is a 5-mile loop. For specific street locations, read more here. Ponce City Market is located at 675 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE.

Coffee Tour of Seattle

When you’re planning your travels to the great Northwest and Seattle finds its way onto your itinerary, remember that the Emerald City is known for far more than overcast days. It’s a central location for one of our favorite morning beverages: that perfectly brewed blend, warm to the touch and easily customizable, serving as the caffeinated spark to your daily hustle – coffee.

The capital of Washington state is the world center for coffee roasting. The city streets are permeated with the aromas of wonderfully cultured beans from all over the world. Park yourself at one of the city’s many coffee houses and you’ll be surrounded by enthusiasts dissecting their unique cup of Joe. Seattle consumes more coffee than any other American city, and for good reason. Independently owned roasters line city corners, and every urban avenue boasts a different taste. Coffee and The Rain City are synonymous with each other, so when you’re looking for things to do in Seattle, we have a few java-centric ideas for you.

Victrola Coffee Roasters

With multiple locations in Seattle, Victrola has been a long-time local favorite for various reasons, the most obvious being their high quality coffee. Victrola’s farm-direct connection allows them to roast some of the best beans on the planet. The Victrola cafés sprinkled throughout Seattle offer a wealth of familiar-yet-slightly-different places to try new roasts, enjoy a book and listen to relaxing tunes.

Slate Coffee Bar

Featuring some of the city’s most esteemed baristas, Slate brings an elegant twist to a traditional cup of coffee. Fairly new to the seasoned coffee scene of Seattle, this coffee bar serves high quality roasts from a number of countries, with the goal of providing the most unique flavors through a philosophy known as exposure roasting. By perfectly highlighting each blend’s unique characteristics, Slate Coffee Bar mixes science and innovation to create fresh blends of goodness.

Seattle Coffee Works

Located just up the street from the acclaimed Pike Place Market, Seattle Coffee Works provides a special experience with their tasting room and roaster. Catering to your every need, Sebastian and his team split their coffee-quarters into two separate sections; the “express bar,” for those seeking a grab-and-go beverage, and the aptly named “slow bar,” for those looking to enjoy a relaxed cup while getting geeky with the baristas.

Analog

If you’re looking for something cold and caffeinated, Analog is Capitol Hill’s go-to café. Known for their cold brew coffee and plethora of vintage magazines and comics, Analog is the perfect place to spend a rainy day. The interior of the coffee shop offers a vintage nautical feel, while the aroma of Herkimer beans makes this spot a must-stop on your Seattle coffee tour.

Espresso Vivace

First located in the Capitol Hill section of the Emerald City, Espresso Vivace is locally and nationally known as the establishment that brought espresso to the next level. Owned and operated by coffee prophet David Schomer, Espresso Vivace offers some of the finest blends and beverages in the city and serves as a staple in the Seattle coffee scene.

No matter what the weather brings, Seattle’s attractions make the metropolis a wonderful city to visit. When your appetite calls for an enjoyable sip of mojo in a cup, our Seattle coffee tour will hit the spot!

Beautiful Boston Views From Skywalk Observatory

View from Skywalk Observatory

I was about 11 or 12 when, on a family day trip to Boston, I first experienced a bird’s eye view of the city from the top of a skyscraper. We’d gone to the observation deck of the 60-story John Hancock Tower, and I was awestruck at the vast panorama of streets and buildings that spread out below. Something about the experience affected me deeply, and I still remember it vividly over 25 years later.

The Hancock observatory closed right after 9/11, but the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center has taken its place where Boston’s visitors go to experience the thrill of the city laid out at their feet. “The Pru,” as it’s known, is easily recognizable in the city skyline; even though it was Boston’s first skyscraper, built in the 1960s, it’s still the second-tallest building in the city today. Having never been to the Prudential, and wanting my kids to experience the city as I did at their age, my sister Lisa and I planned to visit with our combined brood of four kids, ranging in ages from 6 to 11, as part of a day trip into the city this past July.

As it turned out, the Pru was the last destination of the day for us. Lisa and I debated the pros and cons of walking there versus taking the T (Boston’s subway system); we opted to walk, seeing as it was only about 2.5 miles from where we were at Quincy Market. In hindsight, covering that distance was asking a lot of the kids, who were dragging their feet after having visited the Museum of Science, Quincy Market, New England Aquarium and Quincy Market (again). Between a few rest stops and some piggyback rides, though, we made it there, and as a bonus, we were able to see a lot of the city on our route. We passed through the financial district and downtown and cut up to Boylston Street, which then brought us along the southern perimeter of Boston Common and the Public Gardens, and finally along Boylston Street to Back Bay. It was a great opportunity to point out numerous landmarks to the kids, like the Old South Church and the Swan Boats; that said, taking the T definitely would have been faster and less whine-filled, and there’s a T stop (Green Line) right in the Prudential Center.

Feeding time at Boston Gardens

Upon entering from Boylston Street, we found ourselves in the Shops at Prudential, a beautiful, modern shopping mall with lots of upscale retailers, including L’Occitane, Kate Spade, lululemon and Free People. After crossing through the mall (now it was MY turn to reluctantly drag my feet as my practical-minded sister towed the group through), we found the tower’s lobby and took the elevator to the 50th floor.

After a day filled with the loud chaos of the science museum, Quincy Market, the aquarium, and the city streets, it felt like a considerable – and welcome – change when we stepped off the elevator into the hushed, removed-from-it-all atmosphere of the observatory. At the welcome desk, we exchanged our CityPASS tickets for audio tour handsets. And then we were free to wander throughout the four sides of the observatory, taking in the sweeping panoramas of the city, which, even on a not-quite-clear evening, stretched for miles and miles around us.

There were two versions of the audio tour – one for adults, one for children. Our group split up, each of us following the audio tour, or just walking and looking, at our own pace. I thought the audio tour was a great enhancement to the experience; each station described the buildings and neighborhoods you could see below and gave some of the history of each of them. Among the notable ones, we saw the John Hancock Tower, the Christian Science Plaza with its reflecting pool, Back Bay, Fenway Park, the Boston Common and Public Garden, Logan Airport, the Esplanade and Hatch Shell, the Charles River, Massachusetts General Hospital (with its famous “Ether Dome”), MIT, Harvard University, and many other landmarks. There were high-power binoculars – always a favorite with the kids – stationed around the observatory. We looked, meandered, listened, and took it all in.

Boston Harbor

Even though it was the last experience of an incredibly busy and site-filled day, there was something very peaceful and fitting about the Skywalk. For me, it was a sense of coming full circle; it had to do with seeing the places we’d visited and the streets we’d traveled from 750 feet in the air, and it gave me a sense of how all of the various pieces – the buildings, the monuments, the neighborhoods, the stories – fit together to form a larger tapestry of the city.

The Skywalk Observatory is located at 800 Boylston Street, Boston. They occasionally close for private events, and hours change depending on the time of year. Please visit www.skywalkboston.com for more information.

Congrats to the #1 Museum in the World, the Art Institute of Chicago!

Confirming what many art aficionados and museum-goers already knew, TripAdvisor just gave the Art Institute of Chicago the number one spot in its Travelers’ Choice Awards, ranking it the top museum in the world. read more »

Unusual Museums Throughout the US

Unusual Museums Throughout the US Most museums are buildings that serve as vaults for some of humanity's most culturally significant art and artifacts. Places like the Louvre in Paris, which houses the Mona Lisa, and the Museum of Natural History with its fantastic dioramas are classic examples of what most people think of when museums come to mind. Unfortunately, there are a large number of items and industries that have cultural significance that just can't find a home in a “normal” museum. Luckily, instead of being lost to history forever, there are plenty of unusual museums across the U.S. that cater to even the most obscure interests and cultural taste. read more »

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