The Daily Traveler: Urban Gardens

You don't have to choose between bustling city life and serene nature. Next time you need a botanic pick-me-up, duck into one of these (gorgeous) public urban gardens—from Barcelona to Singapore, Rio to Rome. The roses and orchids are waiting...

Singapore

Orchids have been hybridized at the Singapore Botanic Gardens since 1859, and now more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids are on display in the National Orchid Garden (including one named in honor of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Vanda William Catherine). That’s just one of the dazzling sights here: There's also a Swan Lake, a Fragrant Garden (known to attract butterflies as well as visitors), outdoor sculptures and sundials, and a section of rainforest home to 314 plant species. It’s no wonder that the garden is Singapore’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site nominee.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo courtesy of National Parks Board (NPARKS)

The Daily Traveler: 10 Weird Tourist Attractions


An homage to Stonehenge made of classic cars. A museum devoted to instant noodles. A gnome reserve. We track down some of the world’s wackiest tourist attractions, for our amusement and yours.

Thailand’s Hell Garden
Saen Suk, Thailand
The sign that greets visitors entering this sculpture garden pretty much says it all: “Welcome to Hell.” The Wang Saen Suk’s “hell garden” depicts, in garish detail, the punishments in store for those who transgress in life. If the statues are to be believed—with impaling, transfiguration, and disemboweling all represented—the tortures for sinners are pretty gruesome, so you might want to bank a few good deeds before you visit.

Click through to see the full slideshow at The Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Amos Chapple / Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images




The Daily Traveler: Amazing Observation Decks

These incredible viewing platforms located atop soaring skyscrapers offer 360-degree views over cities like Paris, New York, and Shanghai.

London
Opened in February 2013, the main observation gallery at this Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper is 800 feet high—the tallest in Western Europe—which is enough to see 40 miles around the city on a clear day. (And, if it's really foggy, you'll be able to return for free). Can't tell what you're looking at? High-tech digital telescopes come with touch screens that'll give you information about 200 London attractions below. When you're finished, you can ascend even higher to the 72nd floor, which is open and exposed to the elements so you can hear the din of the city below.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: The View from The Shard 2014




The Daily Traveler: Glass-Floor Attractions


Embrace the vertigo—the view from these skywalks, glass bridges, and see-through observation decks are worth it. Check out the slideshow for dizzying images of the Alps, the Grand Canyon, New Zealand, and more.

Chamonix, France
Okay, you may not be stepping into the void, per se, but this outing does require an extra bit of courage. Visitors enter a glass cube the size of a phone booth that extends off the edge of Aiguille du Midi in the French Alps. The elevation: a staggering 12,605 feet. From there, you can see Mount Blanc and other alpine peaks, the mountain climbers trying to summit—and a 3,300-foot drop immediately below. 

Click through to see the rest of the slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo © Robert Pratta/Reuters/Corbis

The Daily Traveler: The World's Most Beautiful Cemeteries

Cemeteries So Beautiful, You Wouldn't Mind Spending Eternity in Them


CIMITIRUL VESEL
Săpânţa, Romania

When you put the words "death" and "Romania" together, it usually conjures up images of dark, gothic, Dracula-inspired scenery. But Săpânţa's Cimitirul Vesel—or the "Merry Cemetery" in English—is actually anything but gloomy. The sky-blue graves here are marked with hand-carved, intricately-painted crosses, then adorned with an image of the person below and a poem about his or her life.

But there's no hagiography here: the poems seek to represent the true life of the deceased, and drinking problems, infidelity, and other less-than-flattering traits are fair game for Dumitru Pop, the crosses' creator.

Tour: The Merry Cemetery is often a stop on larger tours of Romania; visit romaniatourism.com for more information.


Photo: Funky Food London/Paul Williams/Alamy 

The Daily Traveler: Amazing Observatories Around the World Perfect for Stargazing

Amazing Observatories Around the World Perfect for Stargazing

If Cosmos has piqued your interest in the stars, then you need to add one of these incredible observatories to your bucket list. Perched upon mountaintops and even volcanoes, these high-tech towers are perfect for studying the heavens from behind a telescope.

Antofagasta, Chile
Chile has become a hotspot for the science, and there are at least a dozen observatories—at various levels of tourist-friendliness—working within the country's borders. Operated by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), Paranal is open to weekend visitors, who come to see the simply named Very Large Telescope (VLT). The VLT is actually comprised of four smaller telescopes—named Antu, Kueyen, Melipal, Yepun, meaning Sun, Moon, Southern Cross, and Venus in the indigenous Mapuche language—which can be used in tandem to create an interferometer that allows astronomers to see details up to 25 times finer than they could with individual telescopes.
Visit: Free, guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 10 am and 2 pm. There is no charge, but reservations are required.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: Gabriel Brammer/dpa/Corbis




The Daily Traveler: Inactive Volcanoes You Can Visit


Enjoy the drama of nature's violent geological history—without the fear of molten lava—by visiting one of these extinct, inactive, or dormant volcanoes. Plus, they're all just stunning.

MOUNT EDEN
Auckland
Mount Eden, also known as Maungawhau, is the tallest of Auckland's 50-plus volcanic peaks. From the 643-foot-high summit, you can get a 360-degree panorama of the city and harbor. You can also see a now grassy, well-preserved crater, along with the ruins of a Maori settlement. Locals use this as a fitness trail, so suit up and join them for a jog to the top. Others say that the best views are had at night, with the illuminated city below.


Photo: Doug Pearson/Jai/Corbis 

The Daily Traveler: What to Do After the Whitney Biennial


The Whitney Museum of American Art may be leaving the Upper East Side for new downtown digs, but that doesn't mean that you have to follow. Before or after you're done browsing the museum’s Biennial exhibition—held for the last time at its current uptown location—visit these neighborhood spots for shopping, food, live music and, of course, more art.

...SEE MORE ART

The Leo Castelli Gallery
If you didn't get your fill at the Whitney, head over to this gallery, which was founded in the '50s by an art dealer who was one of the first to catch on to the likes of Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns. The gallery still exhibits art titans of that era, and it's currently hosting an exhibition of works by Robert Morris, including two of his iconic felt sculptures. 
18 E 77th St (212) 249-4470; castelligallery.com.

...SHOP AROUND

Fivestory
You can find a little of everything at Fivestory: some women's fashion, some men's fashion, and some housewares—all of it from high-end, hard-to-find lines—displayed in an UES brownstone that's made to look like a scaled-down luxury department store. If you see something you like (and can afford), better snap it up, as the store prides itself on carrying items that, if not one-of-a-kind, are stocked in very limited quantities. 
18 E 69th St (212) 288-1338; fivestoryny.com.

...GRAB SOME DINNER

Hospoda
The word "hospoda" means "pub" in Czech—and that pretty much tells you all you need to know about this restaurant. The cuisine here is "beer-inspired"—think beef tartare served on a pretzel bun, or crescent duck with red cabbage, potato, and quince—and the menu offers beer-pairing suggestions for each dish from a list of more than a dozen different brews. If your thirst for suds still isn't quenched, order the draft tasting. It comes with mugs of Pilsner Urquell served four ways, from "neat," which has no head, to "sweet," which is all foam. 
321 East 73rd St (212) 861-1038; hospodanyc.com.

...GO FOR A COCKTAIL

Bar Pléiades
You can't get a table at Café Boulud without a reservation, but you can visit Daniel Boulud's swanky bar next door for a drink or two. The mixologist here offers a far-ranging menu of cocktails, from the seasonally inspired Shiver Me Timbers (JM Gold Rhum, Ramazzotti, pine liqueur, tiki bitters, maple syrup candied walnut, and foraged pine) to the timeless Scofflaw (Cocchi Americano, rye, lemon, grenadine, as found in The Savoy Cocktail Book from 1930). Just make sure you hit the ATM before you go, as cocktails here cost between $16 and $22.
20 E 76th St (212) 772-2600; barpleiades.com.

...LISTEN TO MUSIC

Café Carlyle
Reserve a table at The Carlyle hotel's Café Carlyle for a supper-club experience, where you can knock back a martini, eat dinner, and be treated to a cabaret performance. (Fellas, jackets are recommended.) Woody Allen and his New Orleans Jazz Band have a standing engagement here on Monday nights, and Shirley Jones, John Pizzarelli, and Alexa Ray Joel all have upcoming gigs that fill out the rest of the week. If you want to skip the "supper" part and concentrate on the drinks and music, there's The Carlyle's Bemelmans Bar, named after the famed Madeline creator, which also hosts live music.35 E 76th St (212) 744-1600; rosewoodhotels.com.

...TAKE A STROLL

Central Park
For walking, biking, people watching, or any of New York City's other free pleasures, the Whitney is just a quick stroll away from Central Park. Enter at 60th St to see the newly installed cloud sculptures by Swiss artist Olaf Breuning, then head north to see sculptures dedicated to Hans Christian Andersen and Alice in Wonderland and take a lap around the picturesque Conservatory Water pond.
60th St and Fifth Ave (212) 310-6600; centralparknyc.org.

Click through to read the story on the Condé Nast Traveler's website.

Image: Olaf Breuning, Clouds, 2013, COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND METRO PICTURES
Photo: Liz Ligon, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY


The Daily Traveler: Where Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Royals Vacation


You might be going on vacation this Presidents' Day weekend, but not the kinds of vacations that President Obama, Prince Charles, and other world leaders take. These are the favorite vacation spots of presidents, prime ministers, royals, and other heads-of-state.

President Barack Obama
Martha's Vineyard

The first family has made repeated trips to Martha's Vineyard throughout Barack Obama's presidency. When on the island, they used to stay at the 28-acre Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, until the property was sold to architect Norman Foster in 2011. Last summer, they downgraded to a smaller house—but with a pool and views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Click through to see the full slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Time Out New York: Winter Activities in the New York Area

What a perfect day to post this...

Outdoor Adventures in New York

Tackle the snow with an inner tube, cross-country skis or an ice ax (yes, really) on these intrepid outdoor adventures this winter

Snow tubing

Hunter Mountain

2½ hours by car or bus

This downhill sport has all the screaming momentum you crave sans the need for skill or coordination: Just settle in and let gravity do the work. Hunter Mountain recently gave its tubing park a major makeover—it now boasts 24 shoots, each 1,000 feet long, and a new carpet lift to take you back to the top when you’re ready for another go. 7740 Main St, Hunter, NY (800-486-8376, huntermtn.com). Two-hour session $20. 

Where to stay: For a dose of kitsch, try Kate’s Lazy Meadow (5191 Rte 28, Mount Tremper, NY; 845-688-7200, lazymeadow.com; from $175/night)—founded by B-52’s singer Kate Pierson—whose suites are done up in “atomic” midcentury style.

Read the rest either by downloading the above PDF, or by clicking through to read the full list at Time Out New York.