Viva Mexico!

There’s never a bad time to travel to Mexico because the weather is always great and there’s something for everyone to enjoy, from vibrant culture to fascinating history to relaxing beaches. Mexico has been inhabited for more than 13,000 years, with rich and varied cultures that are still visible today.

Mexico City is a great place to start your visit. A capital long before it was colonized by the Spanish in the 1500s, the city was built largely on an existing lake to fulfill a prophesy given to the Aztec people. Now, Mexico City is a thriving city of about 9 million people, with more than 21 million in the surrounding area, making it the largest metro area in the western hemisphere!

Zócalo

The Zócalo, or Plaza de la Constitución, is the central plaza in the heart of the downtown historical district. Its importance predates settlement by the Spanish, and is very large, able to hold about 100,000 people at a time. It is the center of politics in the city, and the blocks around the plaza are full of entertaining activities and nightlife. Tourists love to gather here and see indigenous dancers perform, listen to musicians, eat delicious food and enjoy the atmosphere of the city.

Zócalo, Mexico City (Google Maps)
Zócalo, Mexico City

Metropolitan Cathedral

On the north end of the plaza is Mexico City’s great cathedral, the Metropolitan Cathedral. It is the largest cathedral in North and South America, and is the center of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico.

La Catedral Metropolitana (Google Maps)
La Catedral Metropolitana

Construction on top of an existing holy site started in 1573 and was completed in 1813. It has a clearly Spanish Gothic design and is an architectural treasure in the city.

"Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral" by Claudio de Arciniega (StreetView)
"Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral" by Claudio de Arciniega

Templo Mayor

Also downtown is the Templo Mayor, the region’s main temple of the Aztec people, who predated the Spanish conqistadors of the 1500s. The massive temple was dedicated to multiple Mexica gods.

The temple was partially destroyed by the Spanish and largely forgotten for hundreds of years, but better technology and an increased interest in the region’s indigenous history led to its discovery and excavation in the 20th century.

It is now a museum and a must-see for any visitors. It provides a thorough history of Mexico.

Aztec ruins of Templo Mayor (Google Maps)
Aztec ruins of Templo Mayor

Chichén Itzá

The Mayan people were a pre-Colombian people who lived in southern Mexico who constructed large temples and buildings from stone. Their sturdy construction has outlasted their civilization, and because they are so well-preserved we can learn a lot about these people who met an unfortunate and calamitous end at the hands of Spanish colonizers.

Chichén Itzá is a well-preserved Mayan city on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Millions of tourists flock there each year to see the temples and ruins.

Mayan ruins of El Meco (Bing Maps)
Mayan ruins of El Meco

Temple of Kukulcan, or El Castillo

The Temple of Kukulcan is a tribute to Kukulcan, the feathered serpent. Snake designs are carved along the steps leading up to the platform at the top of the temple.

View of Chichen Itza from El Castillo (StreetView)
View of Chichen Itza from El Castillo

The 91 steps on each of the four sides, plus the platform total 365, the number of days in the year. This, plus the interesting illuminations and shadows caused by the sun that are visible during the spring and autumnal equinoxes, lead many to believe the Mayan people had an advanced understanding of science and astronomy.

Temple of Kukulkan (StreetView)
Temple of Kukulkan

Cancún

Of course any trip to Mexico would not be complete without a trip to the beach, and there’s no more spectacular beach city than Cancún. It borders the Caribbean, and is famous for its beautiful beaches, excellent SCUBA diving and fabulous nightlife and entertainment.

Cancun (Google Maps)
Cancun

Hotels are built right on the waterfront, so you can go from your high rise hotel room to the ocean in a matter of minutes!

Hotel Riu Cancun (StreetView)
Hotel Riu Cancun

If you don’t want to spend all your time in Cancún at the beach, there are plenty of Mayan ruins you can visit, including El Meco, which have only recently become available for tours. Like other sites, there are large temples and pyramids that provide an excellent insight into Mexico’s rich history.

Mayan ruins of El Meco (Bing Maps)
Mayan ruins of El Meco

From fast-paced city life in the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere to ancient wonders to relaxing beaches, you cannot go wrong with a visit to Mexico! Viva Mexico!

 

 

The 91st Academy Awards

The Academy Awards, often called the Oscars, is Hollywood’s night to shine. All the industry’s elite, the actors, directors, musicians, and behind the scenes talent, gather together to recognize the best work produced in movies in the last year. They walk the red carpet and discuss their wardrobe, thoughts on nominees and celebrate a year of fabulous films.

Holywood Sign (StreetView)
Holywood Sign

The industry’s most coveted awards will be given out this Sunday, February 24, at the Dolby Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The theater, which opened in 2001, was designed with hosting the Oscars in mind.

Originally called the Kodak Theater, the Dolby Theater got its new name from a sound company that works closely with the movie industry.

Dolby Theatre (Birds Eye)
Dolby Theatre

Everyone will be hoping that the Academy recognizes their hard work and talent. Most will go home empty handed, honored just to have been nominated; let’s look at some of the celebrity homes that might have a new statue on the mantle come Monday morning.

Christian Bale

Christian Bale, a constant presence in film since his youth, has already won one Oscar, in 2010 for Best Supporting Actor in The Fighter. This year he has been nominated for Best Actor for his performance in Vice.

He has multiple homes around the world, including two homes in the Los Angeles region. He has a home in Brentwood Park, which he purchased in 2017 for about $9 million.

Christian Bale's House (Google Maps)
Christian Bale's House

He lives with his family in a Sullivan Canyon ranch, which he purchased for $13.5 million in 2008.

Christian Bale's House (Google Maps)
Christian Bale's House

Amy Adams

Amy Adams has been both critically acclaimed and loved by the public for her roles for decades. She has been nominated for six Academy Awards but has yet to win, including this year for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Lynne Cheney in Vice. Hopefully this year she won’t go home empty handed.

No matter what, she’ll be returning to an awesome home, a mansion in the enviable Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles.

Amy Adams' House (Birds Eye)
Amy Adams' House

Spike Lee

Spike Lee, a famous director and producer, has been nominated for Oscars before but this is first Academy nomination for directing, for his movie BlackkKlansman, which has several other nominations. If he wins, it will be his first Oscar.

Lee, in spite of his Hollywood career, spends most of his time in New York City, where he cheers for his beloved Knicks and Yankees. He has a nice townhouse in New York, as well as other homes in Massachusetts and California.

Spike Lee's House (Former) (StreetView)
Spike Lee's House (Former)

Rachel Weisz

British actress Rachel Weisz is nominated alongside her castmate Emma Stone for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Favourite. Rachel already has an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, which she won in 2005 for her role in The Constant Gardner.

While Rachel is British, she spends most of her time in New York, and sometimes on her farm outside the city. She bought the 1700s era farm house and surrounding land in 2008. While she doesn’t spend most of her time here, it would be an ideal place to retreat from the media and enjoy a little quiet time after the Oscars, with or without a statue to take home.

Rachel Weisz's House (Birds Eye)
Rachel Weisz's House

It will be exciting to watch the Academy Awards, admiring the amazingly dressed celebrities, rooting for your favorite films, stars and directors as awards are given out.

The 61st Grammy Awards

The 61st Annual Grammy Awards, or Grammys, will air on CBS this Sunday, February 10. It’s the night when musicians and artists from every current genre are honored and the best of the best are recognized for their efforts and success.

Check out some of the venues and homes associated with this year’s awards show.

Staples Center

The Staples Center is the go-to facility for sports in Los Angeles, but on Sunday it will be the epicenter of the music world as it hosts the Grammy Awards. This will mark the 17th time the center has hosted the show since it opened in 1999.

Staples Center (Birds Eye)
Staples Center

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys is hosting the awards show for the first time this year, and after hosting the hit television show The Voice, she will be a natural on stage for “Music’s Biggest Night”.

She bought this Englewood, New Jersey home in 2013 for around $10.5 million from actor Eddie Murphy.

Alicia Keys' House (Birds Eye)
Alicia Keys' House

Diana Ross

Diana Ross is one of the industry’s most beloved and talented singers and performers. She has a long history in the music business, starting out in Detroit with Motown as part of the Supremes, and moved on to have an extremely successful solo career.

She is performing at the Grammys as a tribute to her 75th birthday and significant contributions to the industry.

She spends much of her time in this Belle Haven, Connecticut estate, which she has owned since 1980. After putting the home on the market in 2008 for more than $39 million, she has since delisted the home and continued to live there.

Diana Ross' House (Birds Eye)
Diana Ross' House

She also maintains a home in Los Angeles, as most celebrities do. The five bedroom, seven bathroom home was purchased in 1996 for $725,000.

Diana Ross' House (Birds Eye)
Diana Ross' House

Another view can be found here.

Diana Ross' House (StreetView)
Diana Ross' House

Drake

Drake has been nominated seven times for various works this year, including his record “God’s Plan”. He is one of the most successful artists in history, having sold over 150 million digital songs, and having three albums go platinum. He has won three Grammy awards and been nominated 27 times.

Drake owns an awesome home in the Hidden Hills area of Los Angeles, with a full tennis court and out of this world landscaped pool complete with grotto, which he says was a big reason for purchasing the $8 million home.

Drake (rapper)'s House (Birds Eye)
Drake (rapper)'s House

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar is in the lead with nominations this year, with eight nominations for record, album, song and more. He is known as the “new king of hip hop” by many for his artistic success and ability  to work with so many other famous musicians.

Lamar started his career as a teen in Compton, California, where he grew up. Lamar’s childhood had all the markings of what people stereotype when hearing about Compton, including drug-related murders taking place outside his small apartment complex.

Kendrick Lamar's Childhood Home (StreetView)
Kendrick Lamar's Childhood Home

He has risen far from that small apartment, and has been able to share his financial success with his family. He reportedly purchased a mansion in Calabasas, California for his mother and sister in 2014, for more than $2.5 million.

Kendrick Lamar's House (Google Maps)
Kendrick Lamar's House

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande has been nominated six times for Grammy Awards, including three this year. She is a powerhouse musician, often compared to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. She has a strong reputation as a pop artist, and has been at the center of both controversy and tragedy as an artist. In May 2017, a suicide bomber killed 23 people after her concert in Manchester, England.

Grande grew up in Boca Raton, Florida, and maintains strong connections to her family and hometown. She grew up with her parents and siblings in this home before they divorced when she was young.

Ariana Grande's house (Birds Eye)
Ariana Grande's house

Like most celebrities, she maintains at least one home in the Los Angeles. As of 2016, she was renting this 8,000 square foot mansion in Sherman Oaks, California.

Ariana Grande's House (leased) (Birds Eye)
Ariana Grande's House (leased)

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is one of the most talented, and most outspoken, musician of our time. She has tone, pitch, volume and charisma that make her a star! Since 2008, she has been nominated 24 times and won six Grammy Awards. She is one of the best-selling musicians in history, and has had success in EDM, pop music, soft rock and jazz.

Her nominations this year are related to her critically-acclaimed movie A Star is Born, in which she stars with Bradley Cooper as an up-and-coming musician. Nominations include Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

Lady Gaga, born Stefani Germanotta, grew up in an apartment in this beautiful building on the Upper West Side, and still spends plenty of time in New York City.

Lady Gaga's House (Birds Eye)
Lady Gaga's House

She also owns a mansion compound in Malibu, California. She paid more than $22 million for the six acre property, which includes 10,000 square feet of living space, stables for animals and even an underground “batcave”.

Lady Gaga's House (Google Maps)
Lady Gaga's House

As you watch the Grammy Awards this weekend, you can have fun knowing where these celebrities will be headed after the show, and rest assured that they will have plenty of space to store any awards they are lucky enough to bring home.

NFL Stadiums

If the commercials, game and epic snacks weren’t enough to keep you entertained this past Super Bowl Sunday, check out some of the stadiums from around the league. The stadiums for the 32 teams are as unique and varied as are their fans, but here are just a few of the most interesting.

MetLife Stadium

The MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands located in New Jersey, just outside New York City, is home base for not one but two NFL teams, the New York Giants and the New York Jets. It’s design allows for both fan bases to feel right at home even though they have to share the stadium throughout the year.

MetLife Stadium (Birds Eye)
MetLife Stadium

The stadium was built in 2010, and at $1.6 billion, is the most expensive stadium ever built. It has one of the largest seating capacities as well. Because the stadium houses two teams, it has several unique designs to allow for the separate logos, lighting and mascots, including separate locker rooms for each of the home teams.

MetLife Stadium
Photo Credit: Stadiums of Pro Football

Mercedes-Benz Superdome

The Superdome has always been a popular destination for football, as well as college basketball and football in the sports-crazed south.

Louisiana Superdome (Google Maps)
Louisiana Superdome

However, it gained national fame in 2005 when it served as a refuge of last resort for thousands of New Orleans residents stranded during and after Hurricane Katrina. Flooding, the roof caving in, thousands of families stranded for days without plumbing or electricity or shelter took their tool on the structure.

Superdome
Photo Credit: USA Today

Nonetheless, the stadium reopened one year later, after a nearly $400 million cleanup and restoration effort. The symbol of the disaster of Katrina and the New Orleans spirit of triumph are embodied in the Superdome to this day.

Lambeau Field

Lambeau Field, the outdoor arena in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is arguably the best stadium, and for a variety of reasons including the passionate fan base, historical stadium and community feel. At over 80,000, it has the largest crowd capacity. Constructed in 1957, it is also the oldest continually in use.

Lambeau Field (StreetView)
Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field (Birds Eye)
Lambeau Field

The fans at Lambeau Field are among the most dedicated fan bases. Diehard Cheeseheads cheer on their beloved Packers in the open air arena, even if there’s a blizzard, it’s below freezing or both! Games have been played in temperatures as cold as 2° F, and on several occasions, fans have helped to shovel out the stadium on game day!

Lambeau Field
Photo Credit: Fox Sports

AT&T Stadium

Home to the Dallas Cowboys, one of the most loved or hated teams in the NFL, the AT&T Stadium is either loved for its sleek design and enhanced features or loathed for its distractions from the game itself.

AT&T Stadium (StreetView)
AT&T Stadium
AT&T Stadium (Dallas Cowboys) (Birds Eye)
AT&T Stadium (Dallas Cowboys)

Second only to the MetLife Stadium in cost, the AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas was opened in 2009, and has every amenity a fan could dream of. A 160 foot jumbotron, over 300 additional television screens throughout the stadium and two end zone displays ensure you don’t miss a minute of action.

AT&T Stadium
Photo Credit: ThrilList

Over 100,000 seated and standing fans can watch the game, making it the largest overall capacity venue. Fans say that the retractable dome that opens allows God to watch football on Sundays, but that’s assuming God is a Cowboys fan. Love them or hate them, the Cowboys have a fun stadium they call home turf.

Next time you’re watching a game being played in any of these stadiums, look for the interesting features, like the Cowboys jumbotron or the freezing crowd at Lambeau Field, and share with your friends what you know during time outs, commercials and half time!

Stars of the NFL Postseason and Their Awesome Homes

Only one team will be going home champions at the end of Super Bowl 53 this Sunday, but all the stars who played and fought hard in the 2019 postseason will be going home to awesome mansions that most of us can only dream of. So, if you’re curious about the star players and coaches, and not watching commercials during the championship game between the New England Patriots and recently returned Los Angeles Rams, check out these mansions owned by a few post-season players and coaches.

Tom Brady

One of America’s favorite quarterbacks, and sometimes favorite hated quarterback, is hands down Tom Brady. But love or hate him, his talent, staying power and ability to lead the New England Patriots is remarkable. He has led his team to eight Super Bowls, winning five times. Super Bowl 53 on February 3, 2019, will be his ninth appearance.

Not only is he famous, he is married to one of the world’s most famous supermodels, Gisele Bündchen . Brady has three children, including two with Bündchen. They live in a $4.5 million mansion in Brookline, Massachusetts. The 14,000 square foot house is a luxurious mansion built specifically to support Brady’s career, with a recovery spa, home theater and even a special safe to store his five Super Bowl rings.

Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen's House (Google Maps)
Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen's House

The celebrity couple also maintains an apartment in New York City, on the 47th floor of the One Madison Building, which set them back $14 million.

Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen's Apartment (Google Maps)
Tom Brady & Gisele Bundchen's Apartment

Nick Foles

Nick Foles rose to fame and fandom in the 2017-2018 postseason, rising from second string quarterback to take the Eagles to the Super Bowl and triumphing against the New England Patriots in dramatic fashion. He has played for multiple teams, including the Los Angeles Rams, who released him shortly after he bought a house in Newport Beach, California.

Nick Foles' House (Birds Eye)
Nick Foles' House

He’s settled into life in Philadelphia, and his heroics in helping the team to their first franchise Super Bowl victory in 2018 and determined effort in 2019 have earned him lifelong legend status for many Eagles fans.

Drew Brees

Drew Brees has spent most of his career leading the New Orleans Saints as their quarterback. He has set so many NFL records it’s hard to keep track. He even took the team to their first Super Bowl victory ever, in 2010. He has become a hometown hero, giving back to the community and becoming an important part of the city’s identity. He and his family live in a $1.5 million mansion that they purchased in 2006.

Drew Brees' House (Google Maps)
Drew Brees' House

Jason Garrett

Jason Garrett is the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, a team with a fan base as solid as any in the country. Garrett played in the NFL as a quarterback, including for the Cowboys, before getting into coaching. He and his wife Brill purchased their current home in Dallas in 2011, and have been there happily ever since.

Jason Garrett's House (Google Maps)
Jason Garrett's House

Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick didn’t begin his coaching career in New England, but since coming to the Patriots in 2000, he has dominated the coaching world. He, along with quarterback Tom Brady, have set records, and crushed the dreams of opponents for nearly two decades. The stern, no-nonsense coach has proven he will do anything to win, and that he takes the game very seriously.

He also takes owning homes seriously, and he is the owner of multiple residences in Massachusetts, including a compound on Nantucket Island.

Bill Belichick's House (Google Maps)
Bill Belichick's House

Rob Grownkowski

Since being drafted by the Patriots in 2010, Rob Grownkowski, or “Gronk”, has been a critical part of the team’s success. The team failed to make the playoffs only once since he started with the team (one season he didn’t play due to injury though). He has taken to living in Massachusetts and has become an important part of the community of Foxborough, where the tight end lives with roommates in a mansion. Sadly, the home was burglarized while he was playing in Super Bowl 52. Hopefully, this year the thieves will stay away!

Rob Gronkowski's House (Google Maps)
Rob Gronkowski's House

These are just a few of the many men and women who will take to the field on February 3, fulfilling lifelong dreams, and hopefully making dreams come true for their fans at home.

Celebrity Honeymoon Destinations

Celebrities are known for their elaborate lifestyles, and that extravagance often extends to weddings and honeymoons. These celebrity honeymoon destinations show us that if you can, you should certainly do what these newlyweds did—dream big and enjoy every minute of the vacation!

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux—Bora Bora

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux were engaged for years before secretly tying the knot at their Bel Air mansion in front of a surprised but celebratory audience who arrived at their house expecting to attend a surprise birthday party put on by the happy couple.

Jennifer Aniston's house (Google Maps)
Jennifer Aniston's house

After their backyard wedding, Aniston and Theroux were off to Bora Bora, with several of their closest friends including Courtney Cox, Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher, Jimmy Kimmel and his wife, Chelsea Handler and Jason Bateman.

Once in Bora Bora, the entourage stayed at the five-star Four Seasons Bora Bora, which has individual bungalows for residents, catamaran tours, water activities, SCUBA diving and more. The island paradise was the perfect getaway for the happy couple and their friends to really celebrate their love and marriage.

Photo Credit: Four Seasons Bora Bora
Photo Credit: Four Seasons Bora Bora
Four Seasons
Photo Credit: Four Seasons Bora Bora

George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin Clooney—North Island Seychelles

George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin Clooney are the epitome of class, style and luxury. When you have a four day wedding celebration in Venice, Italy with all the A-list celebrities from around the world, you have to do something spectacular for your honeymoon.

That mission was accomplished when they headed over to the Seychelles, a group of islands made famous in the United States when Prince William and Kate Middleton honeymooned there after their 2011 wedding.

George Clooney's House (Google Maps)
George Clooney's House
George Clooney's house (StreetView)
George Clooney's house
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's House (Google Maps)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's House

Their Seychelles destination was the exclusive and secluded North Island resort that advertises a unique, private and extraordinary vacation. Guests arrive at the North Island via helicopter, which provides a grand entrance worthy of such a remote, breathtaking and all-encompassing experience sure to be enjoyed at the resort.

Seychelles
Photo Credit: Martin Harvey

Once on the resort, guests have every need and want catered to by a well-trained and extremely professional staff. Hotel suites are designed for privacy, integrating their design into the tropical environment of the island.

Villa North Island
Photo Credit: North Island Seychelles

Guests have their choice of many activities, from relaxing massages and spa treatments to catered beach activities, jungle excursions and water activities. The area boasts incredible warm water SCUBA diving, shark tours, snorkeling and other water activities.

North Island Scuba
Photo Credit: North Island Seychelles

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West—Ballyfin Demesne, Ireland

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West do everything big. Even Kanye’s wedding proposal was big! He rented out AT&T Field in San Francisco, hired a 50 piece orchestra and had a fireworks show just to propose to her in October 2013.

Kim Kardashian & Kanye West's House (Google Maps)
Kim Kardashian & Kanye West's House

So when after their wedding they took off for their destination in Ireland, some were quite surprised. Ireland doesn’t seem like the first choice for the scene-seeking Kardashian and West. However, their honeymoon was remarkable nonetheless.

Ballyfin Ireland
Photo Credit: Courtesy Ballyfin Demesne

Their Irish destination was the historic Ballyfin Demesne, an 18th century hotel near the mountains, declared the best hotel in the world by Conde Nast travel magazine. The five-star hotel has only 20 rooms, with an incredible staff that caters to every need of their guests, ensuring they have an experience worthy of the reputation.

Ballyfin Ireland 2
Photo Credit: Ballyfin Demesne

The hotel was opened in 2011, after being painstakingly decorated in the romantic style, with imported 19th century Italian mosaic tile, a medieval inspired castle tower, small lakes and 614 acres of gardens perfect for guests to explore and enjoy.

Ballyfin Ireland 3
Photo Credit: Ballyfin Demesne

The hotel is located near many fun outdoor activities, including rowing on serene lakes, meandering through landscaped and wild gardens, golfing, mountain biking and socializing with locals at pubs.

Reese Witherspoon and Jim Toth—Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Reese Witherspoon has a reputation as an all-American girl, but after she and agent Jim Toth married at their California ranch, the two flew to the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

Reese Witherspoon's House (former) (Birds Eye)
Reese Witherspoon's House (former)

Positano is a small village on the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy, built on the steep mountainside rising up from the Mediterranean Ocean. The couple stayed at the award winning hotel Sirenuse, in the high cliffs of Positano. American writer John Steinbeck stayed there in his Italian travels in the 1950s. His article for Harper’s Bazaar turned Positano from a poor fishing village to a tourist hot spot for visitors from around the world.

Sirenuse
Photo Credit: Sirenuse Hotel

Steinbeck wrote that the hotel, creating an international reputation for history, magnificence and romantic memories that has only grown since his writing. “We went to the Sirenuse, an old family house converted into a first class hotel, spotless and cool, with grape arbors over its outside dining rooms. Every room has its little balcony and looks out over the blue sea to the islands of the sirens from which those ladies sang so sweetly”.

Sirenuse 2
Photo Credit: Sirenuse Hotel

In recent years, the hotel has developed a more high-end reputation, including adding an oyster and champagne bar, five-star spa and ensuring the hotel rooms and customer service are worthy of the hotel’s international acclaim.

Sirenuse 3
Photo Credit: Sirenuse Hotel

A beach vacation with friends, an exclusive island, a castle in the European countryside and a romantic hotel on the cliffs of Italy, it’s clear these celebrities know how to live! Here’s to hoping they keep the romance of these destinations alive and remain as happy as the day they said “I do”!

Famous Hotels Around the World

On your next family vacation, you’re a lot more likely to stay in a Holiday Inn Express than in a five star luxury hotel, but if you’re lucky enough to travel on an unlimited budget anywhere you want, you should definitely check out these famous hotels.

The Ritz Paris

One of the most iconic hotels in the world, the Ritz Paris in the heart of the City of Lights is at the top of any luxury traveler’s list. Established in 1898, the hotel quickly became one of the grandest hotels in Paris and the world.

The likes of Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway lived here, and Princess Diana dined here right before her death. Rooms in the 18th century-styled hotel start at $1,400 and go up to nearly $30,000.

Hôtel Ritz Paris (Google Maps)
Hôtel Ritz Paris

Plaza Hotel New York

The Plaza is located in prime New York real estate, along 5th Avenue and Central Park South. It is designed in a French Renaissance style, and rooms go for at least $1,000 per night.

Donald Trump bought the hotel in 1988, but had to turn many of the suites into condominiums in an effort to pay off debt. The hotel offers babysitting, butler service, grand ballrooms and luxury suites for its guests.

The Plaza Hotel (StreetView)
The Plaza Hotel

Chateau Marmont

The Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles is famous for being famous, and catering to the rich and famous. It has been the scene and setting for movies, the place where stars live, famous gather to party, and some have even taken their last breath there, like John Belushi in 1982.

Standard rooms start around $500, but penthouses go for a few thousand a night. If that’s too rich for your budget, you can dine at the famous Restaurant at Chateau Marmont.

The Chateau Marmont (StreetView)
The Chateau Marmont

Beverly Hills Hotel

Located in the center of Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard, the Beverly Hills Hotel caters to the rich and famous, and those who want to be near the rich and famous. It has both hotel rooms and bungalows, which often cater to those wishing spend time away from their homes while remaining in the city, for parties, affairs and discreet meetups.

The reclusive Howard Hughes kept a permanent room there, but only the hotel chef would know when he was on site, as he had to prepare midnight meals to serve the oddball billionaire.

Beverly Hills Hotel (Birds Eye)
Beverly Hills Hotel

Raffles Hotel Singapore

The uniquely named Raffles Hotel was named after the British founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Raffles. The hotel design is classic British colonial, and has been expanded several times over its 150 year history. During its occupation during World War II, the staff buried the hotel valuables, including the silver collection.

The hotel is under renovation at the moment, but when the work is completed, it will continue to live up to its reputation as one of the most luxurious and desirable hotels in the world.

Raffles Hotel (StreetView)
Raffles Hotel

There are luxury hotels around the world, but if you have a chance to stay in one of these, you should put it at the top of your to do list; and if not, at least enjoy imagining what it’s like on this virtual tour.

Infamous Murder Sites across the US

Some people like to tour national parks or go to Disney World on their family vacations… for those who want an unorthodox vacation, and don’t scare easily, these murder sites that you can visit might make for a more exciting road trip this year.

Villisca Ax Murder House

The murder of eight people, six members of the Moore family and two overnight house guests, during the night in Villisca, Iowa on June 9 or 10, 1912 has remained unsolved for more than a century.

When a neighbor noticed that no one had begun farm chores on the morning of the 10th, it was discovered that each person had been bludgeoned to death with an ax. While there was a lengthy investigation and even two trials, no one was ever convicted for the murders.

The house is open for tours, and those who are brave enough can even spend the night there!

Villisca Ax Murder House (Birds Eye)
Villisca Ax Murder House

Lizzie Borden’s Home

“Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done she gave her father forty-one.”

Lizzie Borden was a 32 year old woman living with her father and stepmother when they were found bludgeoned to death by an axe. She was tried and acquitted of the crime, and it was never solved.

Tourists can view the inside and outside of the house, as well as stay the night, if they’re brave enough.

Lizzie Borden axe murder home (Birds Eye)
Lizzie Borden axe murder home

Lizzie Borden lived out the remainder of her days in the community, in spite of the reputation that followed her around for the remainder of her days. She is buried in the local cemetery, and the site is often visited by those who stay at the house.

Lizzie Borden's grave (Google Maps)
Lizzie Borden's grave

Black Dahlia’s Murder Site

Elizabeth Short was a young woman living in Los Angeles when she went missing in 1947. She was found several days later, having been murdered and mutilated and left to the elements.

Her beauty and reputation for wearing black earned her the nickname “Black Dahlia” in the media during a very long and public investigation that never resulted in any viable suspects.

The unsolved case has become a part of LA lore, and curious visitors still visit the murder site, which is now a front yard in a middle class neighborhood.

Visiting this site would make an excellent and unconventional side visit if you’re already in the area.

Location where the Black Dahlia's body was found (StreetView)
Location where the Black Dahlia's body was found

Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman Crime Scene

Often referred to as “the crime of the century”, the murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, allegedly by Brown’s husband, football legend O. J. Simpson, incited a nation to follow the arrest, prosecution and aftermath of O. J. Simpson’s life.

On June 13, 1994, the two were found stabbed to death in her home, and the events at the crime scene kicked off the infamous police chase of O. J. Simpson in a white Bronco, and the globally broadcast trial of Simpson. While Simpson was acquitted, the story has remained a part of the cultural psyche for the last two decades.

True crime fans visiting the LA area often make a trek to the Brentwood neighborhood to see the home where the biggest media circus crime all started.

Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman murder site (Birds Eye)
Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman murder site

John Lennon’s Home and Murder Scene

John Lennon, lead singer of the world’s most famous and beloved band The Beatles, lived with his wife Yoko Ono and son Sean in The Dakota, a posh coop building in the desirable Central Park West area of New York City.

He and Yoko were returning from a recording session when he was shot dead by stalker Mark David Chapman, who after the shooting waited for police nearby reading Catcher in the Rye, claiming the reason for his crime was “in the book”.

Site of John Lennon's murder (StreetView)
Site of John Lennon's murder

Fans of Lennon and the Beatles often visit Strawberry Fields, a memorial site established in Central Park near his home and murder site. It is a peaceful place for fans to pay respects to Lennon and enjoy tribute music played by talented fans and musicians.

Strawberry Fields (John Lennon memorial) (StreetView)
Strawberry Fields (John Lennon memorial)

Unfortunately, there are many more places to visit if you’re interested in seeing the darker side of society, but these are some of the more popular, and more famous, crime scenes in American history. Have fun, and watch your back!

Everyone Should Visit the Emerald City

Seattle, known as the Emerald City, is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and a dynamic, vibrant and growing city. It is a major business hub; Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Costco all have their headquarters in or near the city.  It has long been a center for the American jazz scene, the start of the grunge music scene, as well as a huge sports city, with successful NFL and MLB franchises.

Seattle has a unique history, culture, and economy, and it all comes together in an amazing blend that is entertaining and fulfilling for residents and tourists alike.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Seattle, be sure to check out these places!

Seattle skyline view from Kerry Park (StreetView)
Seattle skyline view from Kerry Park

Space Needle

Seattle’s most famous site, the Space Needle was built in 1962 when the city hosted the World’s Fair. It is over 600 feet tall and serves as an observation tower.

Seattle Space Needle (Birds Eye)
Seattle Space Needle

It has an observation deck at the top, as well as a rotating restaurant so diners can have a full view of the city. Renovations due to be complete in mid-2018 will include a glass floor so diners can even enjoy the view below them!

Space Needle (StreetView)
Space Needle

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is over 110 years old, and is Seattle’s top tourist site. It is a fully functioning farmers market, with produce, meats, seafood and other food, as well as artisan crafts and wares for sale, entertainment always on hand, and a fun atmosphere for everyone who visits.

Pike Place Market Sign (StreetView)
Pike Place Market Sign

It is particularly famous for the fishmongers who have a reputation for throwing large fish across counters rather than walking around the stalls with their wares, keeping business moving and entertaining the customers at the same time.

Pike Place Market (Birds Eye)
Pike Place Market

First Starbucks

Baseball and apple pie may be America’s past time and favorite food, but coffee, and Starbucks coffee at that, is possibly America’s favorite, and most famous beverage. The green logo is an internationally recognized symbol, and it all started in Seattle.

It was founded in 1971, and moved locations in 1976 within the Pike Place Market. The storefront has not changed since that time, and is so famous and important to Seattle that it is now officially historically significant to the city.

Anyone can stop by this place credited for the resurgence of good coffee and the establishment of the coffee culture in the United States.

First Starbucks (Google Maps)
First Starbucks

Safeco Field

Whether you’re a huge baseball fan or just a curious tourist, stop by Safeco Field in the summer to catch the Mariners play a home game. The stadium has a unique design, with a retractable “umbrella” roof that covers the field and players while leaving the sides open to allow the team to play outside even in the rain. That’s a perfect stadium for “Rain City”.

Safeco Field (StreetView)
Safeco Field

Seattle Public Library

All libraries are institutions of knowledge and learning on the inside, but some like Seattle’s Central Library are also breathtaking marvels of architecture and design on the outside.

Seattle Public Library by Rem Koolhaas (Birds Eye)
Seattle Public Library by Rem Koolhaas

It is an 11 story structure of steel and glass, with “floating platforms” that extend beyond the floors below them. Tours of the architecture and design are available, or visitors can walk through the halls, quietly of course, on their own.

'Seattle Central Library' by Rem Koolhaas (StreetView)
'Seattle Central Library' by Rem Koolhaas

Mt. Rainier

Visible from Seattle on a clear day, and about an hour south of the city is Mt. Rainier, an active, and potentially deadly,  mountain volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range. Because of the significant amount of ice on the mountain, if it were to erupt, it would pose a grave threat to the Seattle metropolitan area.

But that doesn’t deter visitors from flocking to the mountain to appreciate the glaciers and snow capped peak, as well as the amazing hiking the mountain provides. It takes about two days to summit the mountain, and only about half of those who start the hike complete it successfully. But even if you don’t climb, you can enjoy the mountain from whatever vantage point you select.

Mount Ranier (StreetView)
Mount Ranier

Seattle is a fabulous place to visit, and is easily accessible with the SeaTac Airport close by. So, take some time to plan a trip to this energetic, unique and growing city.

Whether you’re there for a few days or few weeks, you’ll find so much to see and enjoy, you’ll be planning your next trip before you leave!

Romantic Cities Around the World

Ah, true love. No matter where you are, when you’re with the one you love, it feels like you’re in paradise. Everyone knows Paris is a great place for lovers, but it’s not the only place in the world that two can fall more in love. If you’re in love, visit one of these cities. Your love will feel even stronger because of the magic in the air.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

With tango as the city’s unofficial pastime, how can Buenos Aires not be on the list of romantic destinations?

Nothing is more romantic than strolling through a beautiful park, and Rosedal de Palermo is one of the best. With a combination of manicured paths, secluded corners, rose gardens and fountains to enhance the romance, this is one place to be when you’re in love.

Rosedal de Palermo (Google Maps)
Rosedal de Palermo

After your stroll, you and your love might spend a romantic evening at the theater. Teatro Colon, built at the turn of the last century, has grandiose chandeliers, raised balconies, vaulted ceilings and beautiful detailing that inspire romance and connection no matter where you sit.

Teatro Colón (Google Maps)
Teatro Colón

Kyoto, Japan

Smaller and more intimate than than Tokyo, Kyoto is the perfect place for lovers because of the unique combination of history, delicate architecture and natural beauty.

Sakura Alley, also known as Cherry Blossom Alley, is a veritable tunnel of trees, especially when the trees blossom in the spring. Imagine two lovebirds walking hand in hand down the lane, blossoms above them, falling from the trees and pooling at their feet. It’s picture perfect!

Sakura (Cherry blossom) alley (StreetView)
Sakura (Cherry blossom) alley

Jishu Shrine may be the most important place for lovers in Japan. Known as “the Cupid of Japan” the shrine has two stones where, if a person can walk from one to the other with their eyes closed, their wishes for love will be fulfilled. It has so much success that there are plaques from grateful couples who have visited the shrine.

Jishu Shrine
Photo Credit: Fast Japan

Marrakesh, Morocco

Located at the feet of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh seduces all who visit with it’s beautiful vistas, lush greenery and exotic smells and sounds.

The Majorelle Gardens are an oasis in the desert of Marrahesh. Visitors can experience much of the native flora and fauna, including rare bird species native to North Africa. They can also rest at pools full of beautiful lilies and enjoy the smells of a lush African garden.

Majorelle Garden (Yves Saint-Laurent's retreat) (Google Maps)
Majorelle Garden (Yves Saint-Laurent's retreat)

Jemaa el-Fnaa is the ancient city’s town square and market. During the day, visitors can mix with locals, buy juice or water and be entertained by trained monkeys and snake charmers. In the evening, the market becomes more animated, with food stalls, retail shops, cafes and entertainment taking place all around. The dynamic feeling of the square makes you feel more alive and more in love than ever before!

Jemaa el-Fnaa (StreetView)
Jemaa el-Fnaa

New York City, New York

New York is always the place to be, and there’s no exception for lovers! The energy and spirit of the city can’t help but energize visitors and leave them feeling passionate about life and love.

Central Park is the perfect place for lovers. A refuge in the middle of the city allows lovers to relax, focus on their emotions and make memories among beautiful landscapes. There’s no bad time to visit the park, and couples will always leave with greater passion for one another.

The Blockhouse (Oldest Building in NYC's Central Park) (Google Maps)
The Blockhouse (Oldest Building in NYC's Central Park)

The Empire State Building does love well. Each Valentine’s Day it lights up with a heart to celebrate love.

Empire State Building and One World Trade Center at night (StreetView)
Empire State Building and One World Trade Center at night

Visitors can go to the top and take in the breathtaking views of the city, or they can spy the landmark throughout the city, taking in the building’s grandeur from wherever they are in the city.

Empire State Building (Birds Eye)
Empire State Building

If you’re in love, whether it’s new or old, visiting these cities will be sure to increase the passion, love and companionship that you and your partner share.