Travel Desk

Travel Ideas: USA Issue

July 2014

Sit back and have a read about the latest, the hottest and the oddest from all over the USA, by Tatyana Leonov.


Get to know Curtis Stone

Originally from Melbourne, Curtis has lived in Los Angeles for eight years and is chef and owner of Maude, one of beverly hills’ top restaurants.

My favourite place to brunch in LA is The Oaks Gourmet because I love rolling out of bed on a Sunday and picking up one of their insanely good brekkie burritos. Oh my God I want one right now, slathered in hot sauce! The best coffee in LA can be found at Short Order, a coffee shop located within Farmers Market at The Grove. When I need some downtime, I head to The Village Idiot in West Hollywood. The vibe is fancy-free and fuss-free and suits me because they play plenty of sports on big screens! I also love Miami. I’ve been there plenty of times; I love the water – it’s so great with the beautiful beaches and it’s great for scuba diving. You can do so many different things there. You travel about 20 minutes and you’re in the swampland. Or you go the other way and find all these beautiful caves. I also love the atmosphere; there’s a very South American feel to it. And the food is delicious! I opened the 25-seat Maude because it has been a dream of mine for many years to have a tiny restaurant that I could just work with a group of talented guys on. The whole goal of it is just to create a super comfortable environment and serve incredible food. I choose to focus on one ingredient every month because California is rich with incredible fresh produce and I want to pay homage to the ingredients the farmers work so tirelessly to produce. Surprisingly, people aren’t scared of having morels and artichokes in their dessert!

Flying high

Thrillseekers in Las Vegas can now zip between two of Rio Hotel and Casino’s towers, taking in the expansive views of the famous Vegas strip as they hit speeds of 53 kilometres per hour. Opened in May 2014, Voodoo Zipline is the second zipline to start operating in Vegas this year (SlotZilla at Fremont Street Experience opened in April). There must be something in the air.

Boston's seaport district

Once a booming maritime district, Boston’s southern waterfront was almost forgotten, until the tides turned and multimillion-dollar development plans began to revive the area with trendy hotels and chic fashion outlets. Since The Institute of Contemporary Art moved into its modern digs some years ago, it has welcomed sold-out performances and world premieres. On the food front, the swanky Empire Restaurant & Lounge serves diverse Asian fare, while the slightly more low-key Rosa Mexicano shakes up pomegranate margaritas. Then there’s Tamo, which recently christened its bistro redesign with a menu featuring food-truck-inspired dishes. When you’re done, wander to the Seaport Boston Hotel to catch one of its fully electric water taxis.

Record breakers

The largest hamburger you can buy weighs 352.44 kilograms and you can get it (and try to eat it) at Juicys Outlaw Grill in Corvallis, Oregon.

San Francisco is home to the world’s most crooked street (Lombard). It’s famous for a steep section that has eight sharp turns, so make sure you have a valid driver’s licence if you want to test your skills as a driver. Good luck!

The world’s first modern steel-framed skyscraper was the 10-storey Home Insurance Building in Chicago. It was built in 1885, but was demolished in 1931.

Located in northern California, the tallest living tree is a Hyperion (a type of coast redwood). Discovered in 2006, it was confirmed to be 115.73 metres tall and is estimated to be 600 years old. But you can’t go see it – its location is kept a secret.

In the North Pole (a town in Fairbanks, Alaska), you’ll find the biggest Santa Claus statue in the world, standing at about 15 metres tall.

Hitting almost 140 metres at its highest point, the tallest steel rollercoaster in the world is Kingda Ka at Six Flags in New Jersey.

Calling all shopaholics!

These shopping centres are so big, you’ll need a day – or three – to get through them all

Mall of America: This is the biggest mall in the USA. It’s so huge that it’s almost a kilometre walking distance around just one level (and there are four levels). There’s even an indoor amusement park – Nickelodeon Universe – there too.

King of Prussia Mall: There’s more retail space in this mall than in any other shopping centre in the whole of the USA. As it’s divided into two main sections (The Plaza and The Court), it’s fairly easy to navigate around – but there are still more than 400 shops to explore.

South Coast Plaza: With more than 250 stores, this mall is one of the highest grossing shopping centres in the USA. Why? A surplus of luxury brand shops (think Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co, Gucci, Hermes, Rolex and the like) and people willing to splash some cash.

Obama’s monumental decision

In May this year, President Obama declared the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks (spanning nearly 500,000 acres) in New Mexico a national monument. This was his 11th national monument designation. Near Las Cruces in the south of the state, the region comprises canyons with Native American petroglyphs, petrified forests, and animal species like pronghorn antelope, peregrine falcons and mountain lions.

A century remembered

To commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the First World War, Cincinnati Museum Center in Ohio is hosting an art exhibit called World War I Propaganda Posters: Art That Shaped Our History. Meanwhile, the National WWI Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri will host two exhibits – Over By Christmas: August-December 1914, which highlights the first five months of the war, and On the Brink: A Month That Changed the World, which looks at the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Culture corner

Use: Launched in August 2012, Roadtrippers is a free iPhone app and website made for travellers who want to get off the beaten track. Create road trips quickly using all kinds of fun criteria.

Read: When southern Colorado was only home to a few villages and a surplus of mines, photographer Ory Thomas Davis captured unique moments in history. Be taken on a journey like no other in Arcadia Publishing's Images of America: Southern Colorado.

Buy: MoMA Store has made it possible to literally take a piece of New York City home with you. Consisting of 14 iconic pieces, New York in a Bag (US$18) is made with wood from sustainable forests.