TIME Food & Drink

These Are America’s Best Coffee Cities

Coffee
Henglein and Steets—Getty Images/Cultura RF

Whether you’re looking for single-origin beans, personalized pour-overs, or carbonated iced coffee

When they took a train trip along the West Coast a few years ago, Stephanie Mantello and her husband got off at Portland on a mission.

It was for coffee.

“We sprinted off the train with only a 45-minute stop to get a coffee at Stumptown,” says the Sydney-based travel blogger. “It was well worth the potential of missing the train.”

Like many travelers, Mantello loves to try local java in a new place. And no surprise, Portland, OR—home of famed roaster Stumptown—was yet again in the running this year for the top city for coffee among Travel +Leisure readers. In the America’s Favorite Places survey, readers voted on the most magnetic features of major metro areas, from the quality of local coffee to the live-music scene.

Find out where to get your fix in the best coffee cities across the country—and make your opinions heard by voting in the America’s Favorite Places survey.

No. 1 Portland, OR

The Northwest city known for its latte-friendly (read: misty) weather won the coffee contest again this year—and not just forStumptown Coffee Roasters, which continues to expand beyond Oregon. Two lesser-known local favorites are in the city’s Central Eastside. One is Coava, a single-origin roaster whose beans are regulars at the Northwest Regional Barista Competition, and whose Zen-feeling Brew Bar shares space with a sustainable bamboo company. The other, micro-roaster Water Avenue Coffee, offers such barrel-aged coffees as Oak and Pinot Noir; one of the most popular menu items is a $1 sidecar shot of espresso.

No. 2 Seattle

The city that gave the world Starbucks fell to No. 2 again—perhaps because some T+L readers think only of the coffee giant when they come here. But Seattle, which also ranked well for bookstores and boutiques, supports plenty of smaller coffee operations (some even dubbed “nana-roasters”) that roast their own beans. Consider Slate Coffee Roasters in Ballard, or Convoy Coffee, a bike-powered coffee cart that does pour-overs, AeroPress, and iced coffee. If you can’t come to Seattle without visiting the mother ship, check out the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, a 15,000-square-foot flagship that will offer small-batch roasts when it opens December 2014 in Capitol Hill.

No. 3 Providence, RI

The coffee culture in this state capital—populated by a lot of artists and geeks, according to T+L readers—runs deep. To understand one reason why sweet “coffee milk” is Rhode Island’s state drink, go toDave’s Coffee, which sells a high-quality espresso-based coffee syrup that locals often add to a glass of milk or use to lace their morning joe. Dave’s also does a cold-brew coffee on tap and boasts of having the state’s only Slayer machine—which helps baristas better control the temperature and pressure during espresso making. One of the best up-and-comer coffee places is in the Dean Hotel: Bolt Coffee Company, where the top order is a Chemex-made pot of coffee for two. And since nothing goes better with coffee than a little pastry, pick up some cookies from North Bakery, or scones and sticky buns from Seven Stars Bakery (Providence ranked at No. 1 for its baked goods).

No. 4 Albuquerque

The New Mexico city made the top five for its distinctive local flavor. Case in point: the New Mexico Piñon Coffee Company, offering blends made with local pine nuts, which fans say add a vaguely cocoa or hazelnut flavor. On Saturdays, the roaster offers a short coffee history class with a roasting demo and cupping. Ask Albuquerqueans for their other favorite local coffee drink, and they may send you to Golden Crown Panaderia, where you can indulge in the signature Coffee Milkshake with vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, and a generous dousing of espresso.

No. 5 Houston

This business hub is one of four cities designated as a green coffee exchange port on the New York Board of Trade. For a purist’s cup, check out Siphon Coffee, in Montrose, where your coffee is prepared using the vacuum process, which promises to extract the best flavor from the beans. While Siphon’s baristas may discourage cream or sugar, they do condone snacks (like breakfast tacos and empanadas) and trying your luck on the coffee bar’s Ms. Pac-Man and Frogger machine. To taste other local brews, go to Revival Market, which offers local cheeses, charcuterie, and coffee by Houston-based roaster Greenway. Another reason to stop in: Houston also scored near the top of the survey for its foodie-friendly specialty grocery stores.

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME Travel

World’s Creepiest Attractions

FRANCE-TOURISM-CATACOMBS
Photo taken on August 7, 2014 at the Catacombs of Paris shows bones stacked and arranged. These underground quarries were used to store the remains of generations of Parisians in a bid to cope with the overcrowding of Paris' cemeteries at the end of the 18th century, and are now a popular tourist attraction. DOMINIQUE FAGET—AFP/Getty Images

Whether you’re spooked by skeletons, ghosts, mummies, or murderers, get ready to cover your eyes at the world’s creepiest attractions

Capelados Ossos, Evora, Portugal

From the outside, the Royal Church of St. Francis, located in the picturesque Portuguese town of Evora, seems like any other shrine to piety. But looks can be deceiving. Inside is the Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones. Short on space to bury the dead, enterprising monks in the 16th century moved the remains of 5,000 corpses into a consecrated chapel—and, like medieval Martha Stewarts, decorated the space with their bones.

Truly Creepy: Two rotted corpses, of an unknown man and a young child, dangle precariously from nooses.

Torture Museum, Amsterdam

This small and unabashedly lowbrow museum chronicles historical torture methods in displays that are not for the squeamish. Fans of Middle Age brutality can admire the agonizing “skull cracker,” the limb-dislocating rack, and that most efficient of killing machines, the guillotine.

Truly Creepy: The disturbing illustrations include one of a naked man hung from his ankles like a wishbone and being sawed in half lengthwise.

Port Arthur Historic Sites, Tasmania

This 19th-century Australian penal colony was once home to thousands of violent convicts sentenced to “hell on earth,” and the dissection rooms here are evidence to that. Awful conditions, vicious floggings and isolation in dark, dank cells led to as many as 2,000 deaths. Tragedy made its comeback in April 1996 when a deranged gunman killed 35 workers and visitors in the country’s worst mass murder to date.

Truly Creepy: The most-often reported ghost sightings are not of convicts but of a crying woman and young child.

The Museum of Death, Hollywood

This stomach-churning homage to murder, dismemberment, and rigor mortis houses (among other things) a collection of serial killer artwork, photos of horrific accidents and famous crime scenes, and the guillotine-severed head of the murderous Bluebeard of Paris.

Truly Creepy: The self-guided tour takes only an hour, but the truly gore-obsessed can linger over videos of autopsies and actual death footage.

Museo delas Momias, Mexico

This Guanajuato museum’s 111 remarkably preserved mummies were exhumed from the Santa Paula Pantheon between 1865 and 1989. Their facial expressions are especially scary—many seem to be shouting “No!”—and clenched fists protrude from the tattered clothes. It’s like the prop room for a zombie movie—only real.

Truly Creepy: The tiny baby mummies, dressed in local tradition as “Little Angels.”

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME Food & Drink

The 14 Best Breakfast Restaurants in the U.S.

The Mud House, St. Louis, MO
The Mud House, St. Louis, MO Tim Gebauer

With piled-high pancakes and hearty egg sandwiches, these breakfast spots will give you extra motivation to roll out of your hotel bed

If you’ve demoted breakfast to slamming a glass of orange juice and rushing out the door with a granola bar, Travel + Leisure invites you to savor Cajun staples like shrimp and grits, a stack of pancakes made in California with a secret ingredient, or even a liquid breakfast of build-your-own Bloody Marys.

Read on for our favorite places to start the day across America.

Russ & Daughters Café, New York City

One of the most exciting food announcements to hit Manhattan in 2014 was the opening of Russ & Daughters’ sit-down café. A visit to the original appetizing store (est. 1914) has been a New York breakfast rite of passage for four generations. At the café just around the corner, you get all the beloved Jewish standards—from whitefish to caviar to the famous cream cheese spreads—without having to grab ’n’ go. Park on a barstool and order the popular Lower Sunny Side. It’s Gaspe smoked salmon with sunny-side-up eggs and plump potato latkes.

Cutty’s, Brookline, MA

Cutty’s elevates the sandwich to an art form, with the crowd favorite containing a piquant Oaxacan chorizo on black-pepper brioche, scrambled eggs, melted farmer cheese, a cold smear of mayo, and several sprigs of cilantro. And, like any work of art, the beauty is in the fine details. The Egg Benedict Sandwich gets brown-butter hollandaise. The Red Flannel Hash has co-owner Charles Kelsey’s famous truffle ketchup or the house spicy mayo. “We make a couple quarts of each daily,” explains Kelsey. For a 16-seat establishment, that’s considerable sauce sales.

Blacksmith, Houston

Open daily at 7 a.m., this cool coffeehouse showcases the talents of Underbelly chefs Victoria Dearmond and Chris Shepherd and Greenway Coffee & Tea’s David Buehrer. Dearmond developed her own special recipe for from-scratch, square-cut biscuits, and in a true kitchen collaboration, Shepherd then came up with an irresistible redeye gravy made from smoked hock, cream, Benton’s country ham, and a measure of the house coffee. You’ll want a double shot of this pour over.

Griddle Café, Los Angeles

Jump-start your day here on Sunset Boulevard with what Griddle Café calls “over-sized originals.” It serves a variety of hotcakes (batter calling for corn rather than flour), flapjacks (starch-based batter cooked on a griddle), and old-fashioned pancakes. The dozens of pancake recipes alone call for everything from bittersweet chocolate chips to red velvet to pumpkin pie filling. The Golden Ticket is the most popular stack: a banana batter hits the griddle, with caramel, walnuts, and streusel ladled in as it cooks. It’s topped with whipped cream, caramel, and more streusel (you can never have too much streusel).

Little Goat, Chicago

The domain of Top Chef/James Beard Award superstar Stephanie Izard, Little Goattakes breakfast global. You can start your day with a kimchi, bacon, and eggs dish or an Indian flatbread burrito. Yet the grandest ode to excellence is the Fat Elvis Waffle. Developed with the King’s favorite sandwichin mind, the sourdough waffle is topped with crispy bacon and sliced bananas. It’s then drizzled in melted peanut-butter butter and a bacon-laced maple syrup.

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME Travel

The World’s 50 Greatest Dream Trips

Dream Trip: Berlin
Berlin Dagmar Schwelle

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?

That’s what Travel + Leisure editors asked travelers on the streets of New York City, as well as their followers on Twitter and Facebook. Their answers spanned the globe—from the beaches of Brazil to a South African safari to the Canadian Rockies.

Berlin

“I would visit the Berlin Wall and try new foodie hot spots.” —Victor Au Yeung, 28, Doctor

The former West is buzzy thanks to Bikini Berlin, a new cool-kid shopping center full of local high-design brands such as Gestalten. Next door, there’s the whimsical 25 Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin, whose rooftop restaurant Neni and Monkey Bar lounge are the city’s hardest-to-get reservations. November 9 marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. See it via a new food-focused tour from Berlinagenten, which includes meals at three restaurants along or near the wall.

St. Lucia

“My husband and I would relax by our in-room pool with a view of the Piton mountains, and then enjoy a couples massage.” —Jen Christiansen, via Facebook

At the Piton-facing Jade Mountain, all but five of the 29 open-air suites come with private infinity pools. (You’ll have to tear yourself away to make it to the beach.) As for that massage: we suggest the neighboring Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort, where the Rainforest Spa has seven tree-house treatment rooms.

Argentina + Chile

“I could really get into a #SouthAmerican #food tour.” —@IMJPRO

We’ve narrowed it down to two culinary capitals. Here’s how to tackle them, one meal at a time.

Buenos Aires: In Monserrat, Gonzalo Aramburu puts a “Nueva Cocina” spin on traditional dishes such as gnocchi soufflé and suckling pig at Aramburu Bis, whileSucre Restaurant Bar & Grill reflects chef Fernando Trocca’s global sensibility (think risotto with Black Angus osso buco).

Santiago, Chile: Boragó is the top table in a city that’s just beginning to celebrate its culinary roots. Chef Rodolfo Guzman turns native ingredients—shellfish, mushrooms, herbs, and highland flowers—into edible bonsai. 99 is young, radical, and market-fresh. Don’t miss the wild-boarcaldo if it pops up on the three-course lunch menu.

Petra, Jordan

“Ever since seeing Indiana Jones, I’ve wanted to visit the historic sites of Petra.” —@sarahjenksdaly

You should follow Indy’s footsteps through the slot canyon, or siq, that leads to the Treasury building, hewn by hand from a sandstone cliff. But there are many worthwhile sites, including cave dwellings and a massive colonnaded Monastery that sits atop the highest peak (it’s a steep hike, so hire a horse or donkey). Our tips: start early to avoid the afternoon heat; use a guide, who can explain Petra’s architecture and mysterious history (we love Mahmoud Ahmed); and stay at the Mövenpick Resort Petra, with a pool and prime location just outside the entrance.

Paris

“It’s the ideal city for romance. I’d love to visit museums and eat amazing food.” —Angela Harry, 47, Patient-Care Technician

The city’s smaller museums are quieter, and much more romantic. A short walk from the Jardin du Luxembourg, Musée Maillol is a love letter to the artist Aristide Maillol founded by his muse, Dina Vierny; you’ll also see works by Henri Matisse and Paul Gauguin. The gardens of the Musée Rodinare intimate and peaceful—and right next door to Alain Passard’s L’Arpège, which offers a poetic and refined twist on farm-to-table eating. And the Jacquemart-André Museum—set in a 19th-century mansion—has works by everyone from Botticelli to Boucher.

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME Family

World’s Coolest Playgrounds

MonstroCity in St. Louis, Mo. Mike DeFilippo

These will make you wish you were a kid again

For families on vacation, a playground provides a welcome break from sightseeing, a chance for little ones to burn off some energy. It can also provide a glimpse into the local culture, from the setup of the park to the ways families interact.

“The world is a truly fantastic, colorful, and thrilling place for kids to grow up,” says Monstrum designer Monique Engelund. “Playgrounds need to be equally inspiring.”

Here are the designs from San Francisco to Santiago to Sydney that live up to that challenge.

MonstroCity, St. Louis

Built from reclaimed materials—including two airplanes and a fire engine—MonstroCity is a four-story interactive sculpture and play space designed to thrill both children and adults. Feel your heart race as you climb through sky-high tunnels, dive down slides, and leap into oversize ball pits. Then head inside the adjacent City Museum to explore enchanted caves, ride in a human-size hamster wheel, and venture into the World Aquarium’s shark tunnel.

Fruit and Scent Park, Stockholm

Have a picky eater on a steady diet of chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese? Perhaps a trip to Sweden’s Fruit and Scent Park will change his or her culinary tune. This produce-themed playground just south of downtown Stockholm features a banana slide, an orange seesaw, pear huts, a watermelon jungle gym, and a pair of cherry swings, all designed by public artist Johan Ferner Ström. Now, who said you can’t play with your food?

Nishi Rokugo Park, Tokyo

Located between central Tokyo and the city of Kawasaki, Nishi Rokugo combines recycled rubber tires with traditional playground equipment (jungle gyms, steep slides). In total, more than 3,000 tires of varying sizes are used to create tunnels, bridges, towering sculptures for climbing—a giant robot and Godzilla are local favorites—and, of course, tire swings. There’s little shade, so stop by in the early morning or late afternoon for the most comfortable weather, and be sure to wear your play clothes; it’s known to get quite dusty.

Bicentennial Children’s Park, Santiago, Chile

Set atop San Cristóbal Hill, the Bicentennial Children’s playground in Metropolitan Park was built to both celebrate 200 years of Chilean independence and improve the lives of Santiago citizens. Dozens of slides are built into the slope, creating a design completely complementary of the surrounding landscape; spherical fountains offer some relief from the sun, and ample seating gives parents a place to relax. Plan to spend a summer afternoon in the park, exploring the play space’s custom jungle gym and the nearby National Zoo.

Jungle Gym, Nashville

Come “swing like a gibbon” at Jungle Gym, a 35-foot-tall tree house, cargo-net climbing area, slide, and giant snake tunnel at the Nashville Zoo. It’s the largest community-built playground in America (perhaps there’s something to that Volunteer State nickname), and a perfect stopover between the African Savannah exhibit—teeming with giraffes, elephants, river hogs—and the Jungle Loop, where leopards, lemurs, and antelopes run wild.

Read the full list HERE.

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TIME Culture

Best Countries for Solo Travelers

Tourism New Zealand

Taking off on a journey alone? Have no fear. Here are the safest, friendliest countries for your solo adventure

Solo travel is the ideal opportunity to try something new, like a surf camp in Central America, a bike trip in Southeast Asia, or a visit to a classic European spa town. Despite the dreaded (and often costly) single supplement, bona fide single accommodations are both affordable and available in many parts of the world.

Travel + Leisure crunched the numbers from the Global Peace Index, which ranks 162 nations for their peacefulness, and the Happy Planet Index, which looks at environmental impact and human well-being in 151 countries to measure where people live long and happy lives. The resulting 20 best destinations for solo travelers present an amazing mash-up of geography along with radically different cultures, languages, and customs.

No. 1 New Zealand

Safety Ranking: 4
Happiness Ranking: 24

In New Zealand, the lush setting of the Lord of the Rings films, travelers can look forward to adventures on glaciers, in rainforests, and on the peaks of the Southern Alps, not to mention bungee jumping, jet boating, and hiking on the legendary Milford Track. All while meeting some of the friendliest and most open-minded people in the world—a major plus for those going solo.

No. 2 Norway

Safety Ranking: 10
Happiness Ranking: 22

The best way for solo travelers to experience an expensive country that’s 1,000 miles long: aboard one of the Hurtigruten coastal steamers that sail up the coast of Norway, into the city of Bergen, and through some of the country’s most beautiful fjords, stopping at dozens of ports along the way. Or sign up with a local outfitter for a multiday trek along the fjords, with accommodations ranging from comfortable hotels to mountain huts. The northern lights are gratis.

No. 3 Switzerland

Safety Ranking: 5
Happiness Ranking: 30

Switzerland, a place known for people who mind their own business, is a natural choice for solo travelers. Equip yourself with good hiking boots and a Swiss Rail Pass—good for every train, tram, and lake steamer. You might start with a couple of days in stately, pedestrian-friendly Zurich and then head south to the shores of Lake Geneva for the bistros, nightlife, and museums of Montreux and Lausanne before carrying on to the Italian-speaking Ticino region.

No. 4 Costa Rica

Safety Ranking: 42
Happiness Ranking: 1

You could argue that the concept of adventure travel was born here in Costa Rica, a.k.a. the world’s happiest country. This Central American destination has been drawing Americans for decades to surf on the Pacific coast or join a rafting company for a day on the white water of the Reventazón or Pacuare rivers. If comfort is a priority, book one of the country’s storied adventure lodges and head out for day trips in the cloud forest.

No. 5 Austria

Safety Ranking: 3
Happiness Ranking: 42

Small and compact, Vienna is one of the easiest European cities to navigate as a solo traveler. Start with an abundance of concert halls, dozens of museums, and cafés where you are expected to linger, a tried-and-true Viennese tradition. Salzburg is even smaller but equally welcoming to singles. A superb rail network means that getting anywhere else in the country, from Innsbruck to Kitzbühel to Graz, is easy.

Read the full list HERE.

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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.

Read the full list HERE.

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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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