TIME Travel

The 20 Quirkiest Towns in America

Cape Cod And Outer Islands Exteriors And Landmarks
A general view of Provincetown on June 22, 2013. Paul Marotta—Getty Images

Introducing the artists, foragers, pirates and shrine-builders who populate quirky small towns across the U.S.

Travel + Leisure readers ranked hundreds of towns for such magnetic qualities as vibrant main streets, coffee bars, and an eco-friendly vibe. And while plenty of those features may contribute to a town’s unique personality, the top 20 winners in the quirky category take it a step further. One highly ranked town is an unlikely hotbed for Tibetan monks, while another largely forgoes Valentine’s Day to celebrate Charles Darwin instead.

No. 1 Asheville, NC

Is it the thinner mountain air or that the locals are standing too close to a vortex? Either way, these North Carolinians are tops for eccentricity thanks to both old and new charms: the vortex-laden terrain, which purports to send off good energy; the Friday night drum circle in downtown’s Pritchard Park; and the seemingly bottomless love of local beer. To tap into their vibes, try the beer-and-moonshine “hoptails” at Grove Park Inn’s Great Hall Bar, the BRÖÖ shampoo at the Earth Fare shop, or the port cake at Short Street Cakes. Asheville also ranked in the top 10 for great bakeries;Vortex Doughnuts offers a local beer-of-the-day donut.

No. 2 Provincetown, MA

With its history of artists and theater types—Eugene O’Neill, Al Pacino, and Barbra Streisand all cut their teeth here—Provincetown has always provided a colorful contrast to the otherwise seersuckered Cape Cod. For a suitably quirky place to stay, check in at the Salt House Inn, where each room has a “wall of curiosities” featuring vintage art or interesting objects found along the beach. The longtime gay-friendly destination also impressed readers with its seafood shacks (such as the Red Shack, which does Mexican and Moroccan lobster rolls) and cool souvenirs, such as a photo of your aura, done by Whaler’s Wharf psychic Carolyn Miller.

No. 3 Ithaca, NY

This upstate New York college town has deep hippie roots—it’s the home of legendary vegetarian restaurant Moosewood—but these are not your typical flower children. Come February, instead of celebrating Valentine’s, the town makes a big to-do over Charles Darwin’s birthday, in its Darwin Days. Thanks to the area’s Cayuga Wine Trail, Ithaca also scored in the top five for vino. Start your taste testing withSix Mile Creek, which uses grapes even for distilled spirits like its Chardonnay-based gin.

No. 4 Boulder, CO

This lovable mountain town is so outdoorsy (and granola) that each July, locals hold a Tube to Work Day. And while Colorado has recently become more famous for its smokable “herbs,” you can still explore the town’s original herbal high on a free tour of the Celestial Seasonings tea factory, or sit down for afternoon tea and samosas at the elaborately hand-carved Boulder Dushanbe Tea House, originally built in Boulder’s sister city in Tajikistan. To see why the town also ranked well for burgers, check out the grass-fed wonders at The Sink, which is completely wind-powered.

No. 5 Lambertville, NJ

To folks in this quaint town along the Delaware River, the real weirdos may be the motorcycle riders and Wiccans across the bridge in New Hope, PA. Still, these Jersey denizens—artists, gardeners, and perhaps actors gunning to play General Washington in the next historical reenactment—get props for their serious attitude toward antiques. The four-story People’s Store has been selling treasures since 1832 (when such things weren’t old). For people-watching, go to coffee and gourmet shop Lambertville Trading Company, where the java is old-school, too: iced coffee served with frozen cubes of coffee and a full range of bone-china mugs.

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TIME Food & Drink

The 13 Best Cheese Shops in America

Star Provisions, Atlanta Heidi Geldhauser

Travel + Leisure names the shops that stock the finest local and imported cheese

Cheese—in all its gooey, crumbly, farm-fresh, or cave-aged incarnations—is having a moment. Thanks to the restaurant trend of gourmet mac and cheese and the opening of at least one grilled cheese truck per town, even kids are learning to distinguish Emmentalers from Edams, Goudas from Gruyères. Historic or hip, America’s best cheese shops are as widely varied as the dairy products they peddle.

Cured, Boulder, CO

Leave it to an active town like Boulder to support a cheese shop owned by a professional cyclist: Will Frischkorn, who oversees Cured with his wife, Coral, rode in the Tour de France before going to culinary school. Although the Frischkorns are partial to American creameries, each summer they honor Will’s past life with a Tour-themed tasting series, featuring a regional cheese and a beer or wine from each leg of the race.

Cheesemonger’s Choice: Fruition Farms’ sheep’s-milk ricotta, from nearby Larkspur, which is available seasonally, while its flock is at pasture from spring to late fall, and is delivered still warm from the farm ($28/pound).

Star Provisions, Atlanta

Atlanta is considered the capital of the New South, so it’s only right that its best gourmet market stocks the largest selection of southern cheeses in the U.S.—made in Georgia, Tennessee, the Carolinas, and beyond. Its Cheese & Crackers program lets members sample three regional offerings per month. Located in the Westside, Star Provisions is attached to fine-dining spot Bacchanalia and also includes a butcher, a bakery, and a seafood counter.

Cheesemonger’s Choice: Hunkadora, an ash-covered, farmstead chèvre round from North Carolina’s Prodigal Farm, where goats live in and around old school buses ($9).

Formaggio Kitchen, Cambridge, MA

Renowned for its rare selections, Formaggio Kitchen was opened in 1978 by Ihsan Gurdal, a former member of the Turkish Olympic volleyball team. In 1996, the store added America’s first man-made cheese cave, constructed in a subterranean office space to mimic the same cool, damp environment used to age cheeses throughout Europe.

Cheesemonger’s Choice: Ekiola Ardi Gasna, which takes its name from the Basque for a mountain hut—the sort that husband-and-wife owners Désiré and Kati Loyatho take turns sleeping in during the summer while their sheep graze in the high Pyrenees pastures ($31/pound).

Fromagination, Madison, WI

Nicknamed America’s Dairyland, Wisconsin produces more than a quarter of the nation’s cheese. Fromagination (est. 2007) stocks a wide assortment from the state’s creameries, plus Madison-made items, such as crackers, charcuterie, preserves, and relishes—perfect ingredients for a picnic just across the street in Capitol Square.

Cheesemonger’s Choice: Martone, a mixed-milk cheese from LaClare Farms in the nearby town of Malone, which features a mild, buttery flavor imparted by cow’s milk and a tangy citrus note from goat’s milk ($19.99).

James Cheese Company, New Orleans

Richard and Danielle Sutton opened their Uptown shop in 2006, a year after Hurricane Katrina, when the city was still in its rebuilding phase. But it wasn’t the first time they took a major risk in the name of cheese: in 2002, they left their jobs and moved to London, where Richard became manager of the 200-year-old Paxton & Whitfield cheese shop. The store’s location in the St. James neighborhood inspired the name of their cheese company upon their return to the Big Easy.

Cheesemonger’s Choice: Dancing Fern from Tennessee’s Sequatchie Cove Farm, a delicately grassy Reblochon-style wheel with a slight walnut flavor ($26.95/pound).

READ THE FULL LIST HERE.

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TIME Travel

15 Truly Bizarre Vacation Rentals

The Boot, Tasman, New Zealand Harriette Richards

From a Hello Kitty apartment to a bed and breakfast in the shape of a boot, these hotels and rentals think outside the box

Travel lets us escape everyday routines, and these wonderfully weird rentals are no place like home.

Mirrored House, Pittsburgh

An artsy local couple dreamt up this house within the upscale suburb of Fox Chapel. They covered the exterior with reflective surfaces, while the inside of the house features original artwork and, yes, more mirrors. It’s a fitting base for travelers in town to visit the Andy Warhol Museum or Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater masterpiece (90 minutes by car). One reviewer says: “Staying with Martin was a lesson in living. Every detail of his home communicates a passion for art and design, and my short stay was a chance to realign my own aspirations for home life.” How many vacation rentals can be so transformative? $165 per night with a two-night minimum; airbnb.com

Survival Cave, Tarancón, Spain

About 4.5 miles from the tiny Spanish town of Belinchón (population 376), this cavernous retreat is for travelers who truly aspire to get away from it all—including electricity and running water. To their credit, Airbnb hosts Lucía and Paloma are pretty direct about the rental’s lack of amenities. The property description reads: “Enjoy a simple holiday! … If you succeed, you will be a real survivor.” Looks like no one’s taken them up on the challenge yet…or at least endured to tell the tale. The Survival Cave has zero reviews.$49 per night with a two-night minimum; airbnb.com

Hello Kitty Apartment, Kunming, China

Near the Chinese metropolis of Kunming, known as the City of Eternal Spring for its idyllic climate and gorgeous flowers, awaits one cute—and cultish—vacation rental. Fans of the Hello Kitty brand have a reputation for being hard-core enthusiasts, inspiring branded items ranging from slow cookers and electric guitars to EVA Air’s Hello Kitty jet. Invented by the Japanese company Sanrio in 1974, Hello Kitty now rakes in $5 billion a year. So it’s no surprise, really, that someone would deck out an entire apartment with the pink pop icon. $28 per night; roomorama.com

Concrete Boombox, Kehena, HI

Hawaii’s Kehena Beach is known for its black sand, lava, frequent dolphin-sightings, and an unofficial “clothing optional” policy.But that’s not where the exotic attractions end. The beach is also the site of one of the most unusual vacation rentals around: a two-bedroom concrete home shaped like, well, a 1990s-era boom box. Featuring panoramic windows so that guests can enjoy the gasp-inducing views from everywhere in the house, it’s the ultimate beach getaway. $175 per night with a three-night minimum;homeaway.com

The Boot, Tasman, New Zealand

Straight out of a Dr. Seuss illustration, The Boot is a private bed and breakfast located within a short drive of New Zealand’s best wineries, beaches, and famed Abel Tasman Park. Reviewers frequently laud owners Judy and Steve for their attentive hosting skills, as well as the quirky architecture. Guests enjoy many components of the quintessential B&B experience, such as chocolates on the pillows and breakfast delivered straight to the door. According to Judy and Steve, The Boot offers “complete privacy for a truly romantic getaway.” At the very least, it’s a chance to knock boots in, well, a giant boot. $221 per night; 9flats.com

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TIME Travel

The 20 Most Beautiful Libraries in the World

George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore Johns Hopkins University

Travel + Leisure has catalogued cutting-edge and historic libraries, from Australia to Vienna

George Peabody Library, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore

The Peabody Stack Room’s five-tier soaring atrium has wrought-iron balconies and columns so graceful that Nathaniel H. Morison, its first provost, called it a “cathedral of books.” It’s one of America’s most beautiful college libraries, with a setting so gorgeous that weddings and special events are often held here. Bibliophiles come not only for the design but to browse 18th- and 19th-century volumes of archaeology as well as British and American history and literature.

The Royal Library, Copenhagen, Denmark

Known as the Black Diamond, this neo-Modernist building was built in 1999 as an addition to the Royal Library’s original complex. Its striking steel, glass, and black granite structure contains a concert hall, a popular café, and exhibition spaces. The Black Diamond treats visitors to spectacular harbor views and a ceiling fresco by one of Denmark’s most famous artists, Per Kirkeby. Guided tours are available on Saturdays.

Clementinum, Prague

The baroque Library Hall, with its rare gilded globes and spectacular frescoes depicting science and art, is just one building in the vast Clementinum complex. Legend says the Jesuits had only one book when they started building the library in 1622; when they were done, the collection had swelled to 20,000 volumes. Labels on the bookshelves are original to the library’s opening, as are volumes with “whitened backs and red marks,” markers left by the Jesuits. Tours run daily.

Royal Portuguese Reading Room, Rio de Janeiro

A group of far-from-home Portuguese immigrants banded together to create a Portuguese library in 1837, although construction on the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura didn’t get going until 1880. The neo-Manueline building’s limestone façade showcases Portuguese explorers like Prince Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama, and Pedro Álvares Cabral in sculpture. The cathedral-like reading room has a stained-glass dome and wooden galleries. Its ornate bookshelves hold the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside of the motherland. Open Monday to Friday.

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

When the original library burned down in 1814, Thomas Jefferson seeded a new one with his own much broader collection of books. Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, stands guard in mosaic form above the main reading room, and scrolls, books, and torches pop up throughout the Library of Congress. Highlights include the main reading room, the Gutenberg Bible (one of 42 left in the world), and free classical concerts. Open Monday to Saturday.

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TIME Travel

50 Best Apps and Websites for Travelers

457979051
Tom Merton—Caiaimage/Getty Images

There's an app for just about everything, from making the most of an extended flight delay to tapping into local culture. Here are the best digital tools for travelers, all tested by Travel +Leisure's tech correspondent

Everyone has an airport horror story. But you can make the most of a bad situation with apps likeFlight+, which will keep you abreast of the latest delays and gate changes. And if you need a shower, unlimited Wi-Fi, or a work space during your extended layover, LoungeBuddy will alert you as to which free and pay-as-you-go lounges are available.

These are just two of the digital tools that can improve your experience on the road—among the 100,000-plus travel apps on the market. No need to feel overwhelmed, though. We spent the past year travel-testing apps and websites, everywhere from airplanes and buses to airport lounges, cars, and remote camping sites across the globe. The resulting list represents the best of the best, with runners-up in categories where the competition is fierce.

Find Rock-Bottom Fares: Adioso

Don’t know where you want to go? This flexible search tool lets you browse airfares by continent, country, region, or type of trip (say, adventure) to find deals that fill the bill. The site also delivers inspiration in the form of “Wanderlists,” which show you what it might cost to get to the best cities for art lovers (London; Miami) or top beach destinations (St. Bart’s; Hawaii), among other categories. Free; adioso.com.

T+L Tip: You can shop Adioso with specific dates in mind, though you can also look for departures “any Friday” or “sometime this fall.”

Pick a Pain-Free Flight: Routehappy

Cheap tickets can come with high hassle factors (impossibly short connections; multiple stops). Enter Routehappy, which uses “Happiness” scores to prioritize itineraries that are shorter, have the simplest layover logistics, and the best prices. Its user-friendly design makes it easy to see the benefits of each route and book your favorite in just a few taps. Free; routehappy.com.

Track Fares: Yapta

Not only does this scrappy site watch your airfares and alert you when the price drops but it also monitors your ticket (or hotel) after you’ve booked, up to the day you depart. Should it fall further, Yapta automatically helps you secure any rebates you’re eligible for; the average user saves $335 annually. Free; yapta.com.

Runner-up: Trip Watcher

Compare Vacation Packages: Kayak

The flight aggregator you know and love has a new feather in its cap: the package search now lets you know whether bundled deals for airfare and hotels are actually more affordable than the sum of their parts. Make reservations directly on Kayak, or click through to third-party providers­; the site that offers the best price will be shown front and center. Free; kayak.com.

T+L Tip: Kayak’s app includes loads of valuable extras, such as an itinerary manager, a flight tracker, and a currency converter.

Runners-up: Momondo, GetGoing

Don’t End Up in a Bad Seat: SeatGuru

News flash: you don’t have to pay for a costly upgrade to get extra legroom on your next flight. SeatGuru’s search tool lets you look for seats with maximum pitch, power outlets, in-flight entertainment, and Wi-Fi. Want to shop like a pro? Check the site’s plane charts before booking your ticket to make sure you’re not sacrificing precious inches for a slightly lower fare. Free; seatguru.com.

T+L Tip: If the best spots on the plane are unavailable, try Seat Alerts by ExpertFlyer(free; expertflyer.com). It e-mails you when better options open up on your scheduled departure.

READ THE FULL LIST HERE

By Tom Samiljan

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TIME Travel

13 Celebrity Homes You Can Rent

Denzel Washington and Jimmy Page have lived in this Malibu estate Airbnb

From NYC to Los Angeles, famous celebrity-home listings that provide A-list vacations—entourage not included

Are stars just like us? It doesn’t feel that way when gazing at some celebrity’s multimillion-dollar estate through the window of a star-map tour bus.

But thanks to the rise of peer-to-peer vacation rental sites, staying in a legend’s current or former home is now sometimes just a click away. These properties offer travelers the chance to live vicariously—and, sure, lavishly.

Denzel Washington/Jimmy Page: Malibu, CA

Celebrity history runs deep at this estate, infamous for its parties in the ’60s and ’70s. (According to the current owners: “Captain & Tennille, a pop music duo from the 1970s, were one of the first occupants and lived here, we were told, with a chimpanzee.”) Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the three-bedroom, three-building property with natural light. It sprawls over eight acres up in the bluffs overlooking Broad and Zuma beaches; some guests have reported seeing dolphins and breaching whales. $490 per night with a two-night minimum; airbnb.com.

Jim Morrison: West Hollywood, CA

Rocker Jim Morrison slept here—and gave interviews, jammed on his guitar, and wrote poetry. His former home is decked out with The Doors memorabilia, vintage furniture, and a bit of retro ’60s style: beads hanging in a doorway, a trippy floral shower curtain, colorfully painted walls. The two-bedroom is a short walk from the Sunset Strip. $3,180 with a 30-night minimum; airbnb.com.

Bode Miller: Carroll, NH

Olympic skier Bode Miller and his wife, Morgan Beck, a professional beach volleyball player, own this cozy estate in New Hampshire’s ski-resort territory. Beck tweeted about the home in 2013 and touts its “gorgeous views of Mount Washington.” Guests can also expect stone fireplaces, deep-soaking tubs, hand-carved wood furnishings, leather sofas, and four bedrooms that accommodate up to 10. $800 per night with a two-night minimum; airbnb.com.

Paula Deen: Tybee Island, GA

Y’all Come Inn includes, naturally, with a stellar kitchen stocked with all of Paula’s cookbooks—one of which will be signed for guests as a souvenir. The 2,000-square-foot house also features three cheery bedrooms and a front porch with picnic-table seating. It’s located on Tybee Island, 20 miles from Savannah and four blocks from the beach. It’s a neighborhood that’s also attracted homeowners John Mellencamp and Sandra Bullock. $295 per night with a two-night minimum; vrbo.com.

Bing Crosby: Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs has attracted enough legendary residents (among them Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra) to inspire multiple celebrity-home tours. For a truly immersive experience, settle in to Bing Crosby’s 1934 hacienda in the old Movie Colony. The Spanish-style four-bedroom villa has the original tiled floors, vaulted ceilings, and a wood-burning fireplace. Modern amenities include a projector in the screening room as well as an updated kitchen. You’ll be tempted out of doors by the heated pool, surrounded by bougainvillea and citrus trees. $675 per night with a three-night minimum; airbnb.com.

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TIME Food & Drink

The Ultimate Bacon Guide

Karin Swann

Travel + Leisure dishes on where to satisfy your craving for all things bacon, from the best BLT to the best bacon-infused cocktail

Talk about pigs: Americans ate 1.1 billion bacon servings during the 12-month period ending April 2014, about 6 percent more than the previous year, according to market research firm the NPD Group.

We’re not just eating more bacon, we’re also making better bacon (consider the proliferation of artisanal bacons and chefs curing their own bacon in house) and finding creative ways to enjoy it. There’s bacon butter, bacon soda, bacon-infused booze, and bacon ice cream, to name a few inspired iterations.

All-Bacon Meal: Sage General Store, Queens, NY

Bacon is always on the menu at this new American café in Long Island City, but diehards show up for the three-course bacon brunch. It kicks off with a trio of bacons: Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon, Dewig’s slab bacon, and Ham I Am! peppered bacon. Diners have their choice of mains like grilled bacon-and-cheese, mac-and-cheese-and-bacon casserole, and Wisconsin breakfast pizza with caramelized onions, ricotta cheese, crème fraîche, and (naturally) bacon. A sweet-and-savory bacon brownie finishes the meal off.

Bacon Happy Hour: Bad Decisions, Baltimore

Chef-owner John Reusing describes his Fells Point spot as a bar with a bacon addiction. The low-key neighborhood joint is known for its monthly bacon nights, when offerings might include bacon-wrapped Vidalia onions with bacon onion dip, baconsatays, and bacon Bloody Marys. Even the non-bacon drinks are quirky; the Bee Sting is mixed with mead and cider.

Bacon on Wheels: Bacon Bacon, San Francisco

This food truck doles out bacon-accented comfort foods like bacon burgers; bacon fried chicken; and bacon, belly, and butt tacos, plus sweet treats like chocolate-covered bacon and bacon caramel corn. No wonder its Bay Area–wide reach stretches as far north as Larkspur and as far south as Sunnyvale.

Bacon Challenge: Paddy Long’s, Chicago

Five pounds of ground sausage, pork, and beef wrapped in brown sugar bacon and slow cooked, the bomb is intended to serve a table of six to eight—unless you’re after bragging rights. If you can eat the entire thing in 45 minutes or less, the glory of a Paddy Long’s T-shirt, a place on the wall of fame, and a free meal (the bomb) are yours. Warning: many (89) have tried; only six have succeeded.

Bacon Cocktail: Grange Restaurant & Bar, Sacramento, CA

Ryan Seng, the adventurous barman at the Citizen Hotel’s Grange, loves to get crafty with his seasonally driven cocktail menu. A crowd favorite? Tusk, a twist on a Boulevardier that pairs bacon-infused vermouth, Angostura bitters, and Buffalo Trace bourbon with a garnish of candied bacon.

READ THE FULL LIST HERE.

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TIME Travel

Travel + Leisure Names World’s 50 Best Hotels

Four Seasons, Gresham Palace Budapest Courtesy of Four Seasons

The magazine's annual ranking includes more U.S. hotels than last year's list

For 19 years and counting, T+L readers have voted for their favorite hotels and resorts, evaluating them in categories like value, food, service, rooms, and location. More than just a list of the best properties, the World’s Best Awards results also highlight bigger travel trends. A significant number of this year’s winners are close to home, with the share of U.S. properties growing by more than 19 percent over last year.

No. 1 Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, MT
Score: 97.44
A luxurious mountain retreat, Triple Creek Ranch knows how to pamper its guests (adults only). Itineraries are tailored to fit your preference of activities, among them, scenic hikes, wildlife spotting, wine tastings, cattle drives, and helicopter tours above Glacier or Yellowstone National Parks. When you’re ready to come indoors, upscale log cabins set a romantic mood with wood-burning fireplaces, hot tubs, and locally woven woolens. And staffers are on hand to welcome you with fresh-baked cookies—or recommend a bottle from the 2,000-strong wine cellar. Don’t be surprised if you feel one stay wasn’t enough; approximately half of all visitors are repeat guests.

No. 2 Nayara Springs, La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Score: 97.00
At Nayara Springs, each of the 16 villas comes with its own plunge pool, drawing on mineral-rich spring waters from Arenal Volcano next door. Venetian mirrors, hand-loomed rugs, and hammocks add to the easy-breezy vibe at this secluded jungle retreat, complete with a spa and yoga or Pilates offered daily. Get to know your neighbors—namely howler monkeys and blue morpho butterflies—on a tour with one of the local guides. It’s just one of the experiences that your personal host can coordinate.

No. 3 Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest
Score: 96.91
Once an apartment complex during Hungarian Communist rule, this 179-room hotel is now one of the Four Seasons’ grandest properties. The luxury brand gave new life to the 1906 Art Nouveau structure with a $125 million restoration, and ever since, the hotel lobby has wowed visitors with its stained-glass windows, mosaic tiles, and custom-made crystal chandelier. Opt for a Danube-facing room, and plan your visit during summer to check out the nearby Festival of Folk Arts at Buda Castle.

No. 4 Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Australia
Score: 96.27
At Southern Ocean Lodge, each of the 21 suites is outfitted with limestone floors, works by local artists, and an outdoor terrace. Don’t look for an AC switch—it’s unnecessary here: the lodge was built to take advantage of natural weather patterns on Kangaroo Island. Book the glass-walled Osprey Pavilion suite for a private plunge pool and hand-carved granite bath, or try your luck fishing Hanson Bay. Chef Tim Bourke will incorporate your catch into a dish along with local produce.

No. 5 Ocean House, Watch Hill, RI
Score: 96.20
A Victorian oceanfront hotel renovated to the tune of $146 million, this 1868 property is as grand as ever. Croquet lawns nod to old-world glamour, while 49 light-filled guest rooms and 22 private villas feature modern bathrooms and custom-made furnishings. Consider visiting in the off season—moody skies, long walks on the private beach, and cozy treatments at the hotel spa make for a romantic stay. We recommend requesting the Grand Deluxe Room 301 for its ocean views, freestanding tub, and blue-tiled fireplace.

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TIME Food & Drink

America’s Coolest Rooftop Bars

Frolik Kitchen and Cocktails, Seattle Courtesy of Frolik Kitchen and Cocktails

Soak up the scenery and the creative cocktails at these cool new rooftop bars

When the golden hour hits on summer evenings, a ritual unfolds in cities across America: cubicle dwellers rush for the exits; lines form waiting for elevators to open; and social media is flooded with images of backlit skyscrapers and bright cocktails. It’s rooftop time.

Frolik Kitchen and Cocktails
Seattle
Summers on the Puget Sound are downright idyllic, and downtown Seattle’s new—and only—rooftop bar breaks with the city’s rough-hewn mold. On the fifth floor of the artsy, just-opened Motif hotel, Frolik’s splashes of bright color (purple stools, yellow-accented couches) and modern flourishes (LED-lit bar) evoke Hollywood glitz more than Pacific Northwest chill. The patio is more playful, outfitted with orange Ping-Pong tables and shuffleboard courts. And if it does get damp and chilly, huddle up next to one of the glass-walled fireplaces and order another Dark and Stormy.

The Skylark
Manhattan
A slew of chic rooftop openings—including the Refinery Hotel in 2013 and the Archer Hotel’s Spyglass—has revived a once-dormant section of town with some after-hours buzz. And newcomer The Skylark is the crown jewel. Nightlife veteran David Rabin (Lambs Club, Jimmy at the James) is behind the concept, which pairs an upscale summer cookout menu (mac and cheese cupcakes, root beer Old-Fashioneds) with 270-degree views encompassing the Hudson River, Empire State Building, and Times Square. Raining? Head downstairs to the Mad Men–mod lounge outfitted with Midcentury Modern furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows.

MORE: America’s Coolest Breweries

High at Hotel Erwin
Venice Beach, CA
Did the moniker of Venice’s only rooftop bar come from High’s enviable post above the legendary boardwalk or the ever-present wafts of California’s famous cash crop? Ponder it over a double IPA from San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. or a jalapeño strawberry margarita alongside the beachy-bro Angelinos who spend languid afternoons watching sailboats ply the Pacific.

IO Urban Roofscape
Chicago
Acidic-level testing, measuring ingredients by weight, infusing drinks with exotic hybrid fruits and habanero salt air foam—chef Riley Huddleston’s affinity for experimentation is on display at the Windy City’s most eye-catching new addition, the retractable-roofed IO Urban Roofscape, in River North. After an education in molecular mixology at Grant Achatz’s Aviary, Huddleston conceived “cocktails from the kitchen,” a philosophy that turns to obscure methods and mixers (mangorange, mandarinquat) for inspiration. Its location in the new cubist, ultramodern Godfrey Hotel is a fitting match. The solarium-esque space is embellished with video installations, a waterfall wall, and soaring stingray-shaped canopies.

Juvia
Miami
The coterie of chefs at Juvia may hail from royal culinary houses—Boulud, Morimoto, Ducasse—but it’s the sleek aesthetic that earned this quintessential SoBe spot a James Beard Award. On the penthouse level of a Herzog & de Meuron–designed parking garage, Venezuelan architect Alejandro Barrios-Carrero channeled Miami’s Latin spirit: Brazilian wood floors, a violet amethyst-topped bar, and a spectacular 22-foot vertical garden. At night, the South Beach It List comes out for house-music DJs and overflowing bottles of Veuve Clicquot. Bring your black card.

FOR THE FULL LIST, CLICK HERE

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Nate Storey, Travel + Leisure

TIME Food & Drink

The 22 Best Donuts in America

Doughnut Plant Sarah Lemoncelli

Celebrate National Donut Day with the cream of the crop

We’ve all been there. That alarm clock goes off, the questionable outfit’s been picked, the dreary commute commences, and we’re craving a small treat—something familiar and delicious—before the workday begins. Enter: donuts. Here are the best from around the country, selected by the editors of Travel + Leisure:

Peter Pan Bakery

Brooklyn

Looking for the ultimate ice cream sandwich? Look no further. This modest-size Polish bakery, in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, will slice a donut of your choice in half and stuff it with a generous scoop of ice cream. (They recommend the red velvet donut with strawberry ice cream.) The freshly made donuts are so good (perfectly chewy and just the right amount of glaze), 30 Rock’s Tina Fey gave Peter Pan her thumbs up in an Esquire interview. If you want your pick, get there early.

Voodoo Doughnut

Portland, OR

There’s a good reason Voodoo is such a huge hit with all donut fans: the Bacon Maple Bar. It’s a yeast donut topped with maple glaze and not one, but two strips of crisp bacon. Beyond that, much of Voodoo’s eclectic donut varieties can’t be found anywhere else. Not only are the toppings unique—bubblegum, cereal, or M&Ms, anyone?—but since the shop is in eco-friendly Portland, there’s even a series of vegan donut options.

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Randy’s Donuts

Los Angeles

Most patrons swear by the face-size apple fritter served here, with its melt-in-your-mouth glaze and soft chunks of apple-cinnamon inside. The 32-foot donut adorning the roof of Randy’s—conveniently located minutes from Los Angeles International Airport—is like a beacon calling out to hungry commuters and weary travelers needing a sugary pick-me-up.

Spudnut Shop

Richland, WA

If you really want to make the most of your experience here, order your donut à la mode. The variety of toppings isn’t what makes these donuts special (because there aren’t many choices), but rather the main ingredient: potato flour. The result is a spudnut (do not call it a donut!) that will not only result in a much lighter treat but, according to the owners, immediately turn you into a regular (read: addicted) patron.

Bob’s Donut & Pastry Shop

San Francisco

You have to try the giant, cakey glazed donut that is literally the size of your head. (We can’t guarantee you’ll finish it all, but at least you’ll enjoy trying.) This old-fashioned spot serves up freshly made donuts 24 hours a day; go early in the morning for a guaranteed super-fresh batch. The staff—all of whom have a reputation for being just the right amount of sweet (much like the donuts)—only add to the experience.

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