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24 Great Places to Grab a Beer When Hiking in California’s Gold Country

Pull on your hiking boots, get out the trail maps, and pick out the perfect place for a beer. Afterall, our mantra is that the tastiest beer every is the one you quaff after a hike. And what better place to do so than in California’s gorgeous and historic Gold Country.

Known for its rolling hills dotted with forests and scenic vistas as well aits many artisan breweries, Placer County is an outdoor adventurer’s – and a beer lover’s – dream. With 30 miles of trails,

Hidden Falls Regional Park is a great stop for a leisurely hike before checking out the local breweries such as HillenbrandGoathouse and Dueling Dogs. Near the Auburn State Recreation Area, the 10.8-mile Quarry Trail will take you along the American River, surrounded by sheer limestone.

Then head to Moonraker Brewing for renowned lagers, IPAs, sours and hard seltzers. Also popular trail is the 4.5-mile Lake Clementine Trail, which passes under the highest bridge in California. Post hike, stop by Crooked Lane Brewing for their fruit infused beer such as their Fruited Sour with Raspberry, Tangerine, and Pineapple as well as Mandarin Pale Ale.

Photo: Erik Bergen, Placer County

While you’re at the Auburn State Rec Area, take the easy Olmstead Loop Trail that parallels historic Highway 49 near the town of Cool on one side and the American River Canyon on the other. The trail passes through rolling oak woodlands and includes canyon descents, climbs and water crossings, with elevations ranging from 1,350’ to 1,500’.

Three minutes away, Cool Beerwerks offers cold beer in warm environs with occasional live music. The Monte Vista Trail, located in El Dorado Hills near Folsom Lake, is a scenic three-mile loop that boasts various views, including the South Fork of the American River as it curves toward Folsom Lake. You may see wildflowers, green meadows, and birds depending on the time of year. Off Salmon Falls Road, the trailhead also accesses the Brown’s Ravine trail and New York Creek for a longer hike. Either way, a cold beer awaits just seven minutes away at Mraz Brewery.

Closer to Sacramento, many trails including the American River ParkwayLake Natoma Trail and Hidden Falls Regional Park offers trails for all levels of hiking experiences.After visiting these awesome trails, head on over to the Rancho Cordova Barrel District and experience six breweries (as well as local distilleries), including Burning Barrel Brewing Co.Claimstake Brewing CompanyFort Rock Brewing, LogOff BrewingMovement Brewing Company and hard kombucha brewer Shorebirds Brewing Company.   

In Calaveras County, after exploring the Arnold Rim Trail, go for a cold brew at the Watering Hole and or the Pour House in Murphys for an eclectic list of rotating local, regional and international craft brews

Finish your Gold Country Hike & Beer tour around Yosemite National Park. In the park, you can cap off a hike on virtually any trail with a cold one Mariposa’s own 1850 Restaurant and Brewery which has taps at The Mountain Room at the Yosemite Valley Lodge.

Outside of the park, 1850’s tap house in downtown Mariposa is a great spot to grab a burger and brew after a day at the park or a hike at Stockton Creek Preserve, which is just a three-minute drive away.  The Lewis Creek National Scenic Trail is a popular trailhead in the Oakhurst area and South Gate Brewing is a perfect place to grab a cold one after this four mile trek.

What’s New and Happening in Chicago – Winter/Spring 2023

The New Year brings a plethora of new opportunities to explore Chicago. Whether it’s the host of new, hot restaurants, haute shopping experiences, or high-energy, immersive shows and attractions,

it’s clear: the Best Big City in the U.S. (six years running!) isn’t resting on its laurels. In fact, it’s just getting started.

January signals the triumphant, sold-out comeback of First Bites Bash after a three-year hiatus. The all-inclusive January 19 event inside the iconic Field Museum kicks off the 16th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, celebrating the area’s acclaimed culinary scene across 17 days and more than 300 top restaurants. Restaurant Week includes special prix fixe menus ($25 for brunch or lunch and $42 and/or $59 for dinner).

These signature events are a great way to indulge in around-the-world delicacies without leaving the city. Immersion takes on a new form with Stage 773’s WHIM, a walk-thru experience inviting guests to partake in a whimsical night out inside a world where every art form comes together – paintings, music, sculpture, street art, and live performance – all by Chicago artists.

And, on the heels of Black History Month, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center debuts The Negro Motorist Green Book, an exhibit dedicated to African American travel in the Jim Crow era.

February is well-known for being a month dedicated to and all about love, and this year, there’s no shortage of events to fall in love with.

This month marks the beginning of a bevy of bold performances at stages across the city, from Broadway in Chicago, the Belmont Theatre District and the Joffrey Ballet. And with the return of Chicago Theatre Week (now in its 11th year), that means these can’t miss live performances are available from February 16-26 for $30 or less!

The Chicago Auto Show, the largest auto show in North America, returning to McCormick Place Feb. 11-20. And throughout the month, raise a glass to great American writers at the American Writers Museum’s new Get Lit happy hour series.

Complete with the 60-plus-year tradition of dyeing of the Chicago River green, March makes a colorful point to the world that no city celebrates St. Patrick’s Day quite like we do. From the signature parade downtown to neighborhood-specific festivities, Irish history and culture run deep in neighborhoods like BeverlyAlbany Park, and Mt. Greenwood.

With so much in store this year, go ahead: Discover big-city culture, Midwestern hospitality, and urban adventure. Come explore the city that feels like home! Visit ChooseChicago.com for more information.

Please click here for the full list of What’s New in Chicago for Winter/Spring 2023: https://www.choosechicago.com/press-media/whats-new-in-chicago/whats-new-and-happening-in-chicago-winter-spring-2023/

Experience the Magical Harry Potter Realms at Universal Orlando Resort

Award-winning author and travel writer Kathy Witt is again a Special Guest Blogger. Enjoy her blog post about Universal Orlando Resort below.

It does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Universal Orlando Resort (www.universalorlando.com) walks the Dumbledore talk.

Having already made magic with its Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter, the park keeps cranking up the enchantments. The latest? Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure—what Universal calls a “story coaster”—set in the Forbidden Forest and replete with ruins, dragon eggs and Skrewts.

Play:

Standing in line for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure following the passing of Robbie Coltrane might be a bittersweet experience for some Harry Potter fans. Wait times can clock in by as much as 185 or more minutes—plenty of time to remember the actor who brought such humanity to the role of the gentle giant. But this adventure is an unabashed tribute to Harry’s beloved friend—and it just might be the best ride you ever experience.

Located at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure, Hagrid’s is a hair-raising three-minute hurtle traveling up to 50 miles an hour and featuring the first free-fall vertical drop in the USA. (Yep, that was your stomach that just dropped.) The ride shoots forward like a bat out of Azkaban, dips, spirals, accelerates, reverses, drops and revs up again . . . and again. Surely Hagrid himself is at the wheel.

There are three rides in this world—the other two being Flight of the Hippogriff and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey—but each is a major attraction combining thrills and theatricality. Also in Hogsmeade: the Triwizard Spirit Rally and Frog Choir, which bring to life the music of the Harry Potter movies, and foodie fave Three Broomsticks.

Board the Hogwarts Express to reach Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. The train travels between Hogsmeade Station and King’s Cross Station (a Park-to-Park admission ticket is required) and guests are either treated to Harry meeting up with Ron and Hermione or tortured by Dementors, depending on the direction of the journey.

At Diagon Alley, swap Muggle currency for Gringotts with the goblins of Gringotts Money Exchange; step into movie history by boarding the Knight Bus—an actual prop vehicle used in the series’ third film, “Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban”; and keep a wary eye out for Voldemort, Bellatrix and a gang of trolls on the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts rollercoaster ride. (The vault is inside the building with the giant fire-breathing dragon perched atop.)

In either land, visit Ollivanders to purchase a wand for the park’s interactives and to see a wand choose a wizard—who gets to keep it. (The lucky wizard chosen will save more than $50.)

Visiting the Wizarding Worlds of Harry Potter is like stepping into the book or movie—and a true bucket list adventure for fans, many of whom dress in their house robes and other such attire when visiting the parks.

Stay:

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort (www.universalorlando.com, click “Places to Stay) is one of eight Universal hotels, each offering free and convenient transportation to the parks and early park admission, among other benefits). With a gorgeous lobby overlooking the lagoon, the largest hotel pool on the campus and Strong Water Tavern, which serves up more than 100 types of rum along with tasty tapas, this Caribbean-inspired oasis casts a magic spell all its own.

The hotel has 1,000 rooms and suites, including Kids Suites with separate nautical-themed bedroom for the little ones, and four dining options, including the poolside Drhum Club Kantine, plus room service. The lavish tropical-themed pool area has sandy beach, hot tub, waterslide, firepit, children’s play area, cabanas (for rent) and more.

Guests can park their car and forget about it, traveling to the park by complimentary water taxi by way of Universal CityWalk, a shopping/dining/entertainment complex tucked between Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Those counting their steps can trek the walking paths to the parks.

Eat:

For breakfast, lunch or dinner, head to the Leaky Caldron in Diagon Alley. It’s the restaurant come to life, complete with a patina of dinginess that befits its centuries of use. (It was built in the 1500s, after all). Amidst the glowing chandeliers, cubbyholes and old pictures askew on the walls, tuck into British fare such as Toad in the Hole, Bangers & Mash and a Ploughman’s feast of English cheese, crusty bread, salads and Scotch eggs—those deep-fried sausage snack sensations swaddling soft-boiled egg so beloved by the Brits. The only thing missing is Tom the Innkeeper.

Treat:

Guests staying at one of Universal’s hotels will pass through Universal CityWalk to and from the parks. Take time to explore, catch a show, play miniature golf or test your skills at Universal’s new Great Movie Escape (www.universalorlando.com, click “Things to Do”), the first-ever escape room experience that features two rooms with interactive state-of-the-art missions, elaborate storytelling and intricately detailed sets.

Go head to head with Biff, the bully from “Back to the Future,” in Outatime or run for your life from an apex predator on the loose in Jurassic World: Escape. Inspired by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s blockbuster films, “Jurassic World” and “Back to the Future,” these missions are a fun group activity for all ages.

Read:

The Unofficial Universal Theme Parks Cookbook by Ashley Craft. The 240-page book includes 100 recipes from the world of Universal—from snacks to main dishes to desserts and drinks—including Fish and Chips from The Three Broomsticks and Pumpkin Juice from Hog’s Head.

For more information about visiting Universal Orlando Resort and Orlando and for trip planning assistance, click into www.visitorlando.com.

Recipe

Love Potion

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes at Universal Studios Florida

Serves 4

In introducing the Love Potion recipe in her book, The Unofficial Universal Theme Parks Cookbook, Ashley Craft writes: “Love Potion, or ‘Amortentia,’ is a powerful agent of magic in the Harry Potter books and movies, as it causes the drinker to be intensely infatuated and obsessive. The scent of the potion morphs and changes to match whatever the subject loves best.” Hmm. Feeling emboldened? Craft cautions all to “enjoy in small quantities because the flavor is powerful.”

Ingredients

  • 4 TBSP corn syrup
  • 1 TBSP rose water
  • 1 TBSP pure honey

Instructions Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Decant into four small vials or bottles and serve.

About Guest Blogger Kathy Witt

Award winning writer and author Kathy Witt is a member of SATW Society of American Travel Writers and the Authors Guild

She is the author of Secret Cincinnati; The Secret of the Belles; Atlanta, GA: A Photographic Portrait

NEWCincinnati Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for Cincinnati’s Hidden Treasures is now available.

NEWPerfect Day Kentucky: Daily Itineraries for the Discerning Traveler arriving Fall 2023

Le Relais de Venise’s Secret Sauce: A Parisian Mystery Solved

 Little did we know that when we dined at the corner restaurant near our hotel in Paris that we were eating at a place where for years there’s been a fight over the secret sauce that’s served with their steaks.

        Maybe it’s a French thing.

        For some background. My husband and I were on our honeymoon and had booked a Viking River Cruise on the Seine and then added some before and after stays in Amsterdam where it is more easy to get run over by a bicyclist then a car and Paris where we stayed at a little hotel near the metro in the 17th arrondissement, known as  Batignolles-Monceau, so we could visit other parts of the city without spending a fortune on cabs. Though we didn’t plan it this way, Hotel 10 Le Bis, our hotel was near numerous little cafes and a little grocery store where we could easily—and cheaply–buy food for quick meals and snacks.

        One intriguing café was Le Relais de Venise (the name translates to Venetian Inn)where every night we would see long lines of people waiting to eat either in their dining room or on their outdoor patio. Though the interior of the restaurant looked so French bistro with its polished dark wood, tiny tables with crisp white table cloths, and servers dressed in black uniforms, the outdoor section was right on a busy corner filled with traffic and pedestrians, noise, and the rumbled of trucks and sounds of horns honking.

        What could be so great about lining up to eat there, we wondered. But one evening, after climbing up from the metro station and seeing there was no line, we decided to give it a try. The only tables available were outdoors and so we sat at a very small table next to another small table where a single woman sat, smoking a cigarette. That turned out to be a very lucky thing.

        When our server arrived I asked to see a menu and she (we would find out later her name was Gertrude) abruptly told us she was the menu. Well, what could we order? Steak frites, she replied—either “bloody or well done.”

        We told her “bloody”, and she gave us an approving look. But we were a little baffled. Was there really only one dish on the menu?  It turns out that at this restaurant which opened in 1959, there was only one entrée and steak with French fries was it. When our waitress returned with a salad topped with walnuts (no one inquired whether we had a nut allergy—which fortunately we don’t) and a crusty French baguette, I saw there wasn’t butter on our table and asked for some. Oops, one would think I had tried to order a Big Mac.

        “No butter,” Gertrude told us.

        “There’s no butter?” I asked.

        “No butter,” she replied.

        “How about olive oil?”

        “No olive oil,” she told us.

        Now, I knew that in a French restaurant there had to be both in the kitchen, but I guess neither butter nor olive oil was allowed to be carried into the dining area, so we ate the bread—which was very good—without either.

        This is when the woman at the table next to us decided to intervene. She lived in Paris she told us but had spent years in the United States working as a publicist for musicians in New York. Le Relais de Venise was unique, she continued, because they only served one dish—steak with French fries served with Le Venise’s Sauce de Entrecote.  I guess that makes decided what to order for dinner super easy. If you’re wondering what entrecote is, as I was, it’s a cut of meat like a New York strip or strip steak. Or at least in it is in Paris.

        Since the creation of the sauce, its exact ingredients have been kept secret and that probably worked until the invention of the internet.  After some type of family squabble and a going of separate ways, the sauce itself became a battleground so complex and full of intrigue that the Wall Street Journal did a lengthy article about it all six years ago.   I guess when you serve only one dish and the sauce is a necessary part of it, feelings about who owns the recipe loom large.

        Anyway, after we ate our salad (no choice of dressing as it already was dressed with a vinaigrette which was very good), our steak with fries arrived—with the sauce spooned over the meat. It was delicious.

        What’s in it? I asked the woman next to us.

        “It’s a secret,” she said. “But I’ve been eating here for decades so I know it. But it’s really better to come here.”

        She promised to give me the recipe, but I think she changed her mind because she never sent it. She may have been afraid that Gertrude would get mad at her or maybe the restaurant owners wouldn’t allow her back in. Neither would surprise me.

        I noticed, as we were eating, that the servers were moving through the crowded café with platters of meat and piles of crisp, hand-cut pomme frites or French fries. Almost as soon as I had cleared my plate, Gertrude showed up again, heaping—without asking but that was okay—more French fries and slices of steak and then poured the secret sauce on my plate. At no charge. but no ketchup or mayonnaise either, for dipping the fries Gertrude informed us.

        “They’ll do that until you say you don’t want anymore,” the woman told us.

        “Is there a charge?”

        “No, it’s all part of the meal.”

        Which was a deal as the tab wasn’t very high even with the addition of a glass of the house wine which is made at the family owned vineyard Chateau de Saurs in Lisle-sur-Tarn, 30 miles northeast of Toulouse. Indeed, the restaurant was opened by Paul Gineste de Saurs as a way to help market the wines but now there are at least three more—in New York City, Mexico City, and London. As for the sauce there are several stories. A rival restaurant said to serve a similar sauce says that it is not new but instead wis one of the classic sauces that are the backbone of French cuisine.

        Another has it that the restaurant where we ate was modeled after Cafe de Paris bistro in Geneva which has served this dish since the 1940s. The sauce, according “The History and the Development of the L’Entrecote Secret Sauce,”  a Facebook page devoted to the subject, was developed by the owner’s father-in-law.

        I told you it was complicated.

        Of course, as soon as we got back to our room, I Googled the restaurant and the sauce. It took some digging, but I found recipes for both the secret sauce and the salad. Or so I think. I’m planning on trying them soon along with a French baguette or two from Bit of Swiss Bakery which I will be serving with butter.

Le Relais de Venise-Style Salad Dijon Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
Kosher salt to taste (nutritional info based on 1/4 tsp)
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or walnut oil)

Whisk or shake in a mason jar until mixture is homogenous.

Serve on a bed of mixed salad leaves topped with some chopped walnuts and shaved Parmesan.

Serving Size: 4

Le Relais de Venise’s Steak Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 bunch tarragon
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Peel and slice the shallots.

Peel and roughly chop the garlic.

Add the olive oil to a small pot over medium heat.

Add the garlic and shallots and cook until soft and slightly colored.

Add the chicken stock. Simmer for three minutes.

Pull the tarragon leaves off of the stems and put them in a blender.

Add the remaining ingredients to the blender.

Carefully pour the chicken stock mixture into the blender.

Puree until completely smooth.

Pour back into the pan and bring to a boil. Cook for one minute. If the sauce is too thin simmer for a few more minutes.

Pour over slices of rare or as Gertrude calls it “bloody” or however you like your steak. Serve with potatoes or French fries.

6 Unique Things to do in Chicago That Every Local Should Know About

Check out the recent Redfin article written by Ana Guzman that Travel/Food was featured in.

If you’re living in Chicago, chances are you’ve seen popular tourist attractions like Cloud Gate, also known as the Bean, or have walked around the Navy Pier. Although these attractions make Chicago unique, have you ever wondered what else is out there? If that’s the case, we’ve got you covered. We’ve gathered Chicagoans to share their favorite unique things to do in Chicago to give you some fresh ideas. So whether you’re ready to shake up your routine or new to the city looking for apartments for rent in Chicago, check out locally approved attractions you want to take advantage of.

Are you looking to step back in time? The Art Institute of Chicago will help transport you as you like. The museum houses one of the country’s largest permanent collections and other centuries-old artwork.

1. You can’t go wrong with the Art Institute of Chicago

Martin, a local Chicagoan from SmartMoneyMatch, a network that connects the global investment community, recommends the Art Institute of Chicago when the weather is terrible. “It’s always worth a visit. It’s filled with masterpieces from every era, from Georges Seurat’s iconic painting A Sunday on La Grande Jatte to Andy Warhol’s print of actress Elizabeth Taylor.”

2. Visit the Chicago River in the summer

In the summertime, Chicago becomes an outdoor oasis for all residents and visitors. From the various parks and the waterways, you’ll find a place you’ll love to explore.

“My favorite unique thing to do in Chicago is to go kayaking on the Chicago River in the summer,” says May, a Chicago local from Nutrition Happens, a space dedicated to health, wellness, and nutrition. “Whether you’re a resident or just visiting, there’s nothing better than soaking in the famous skyline views with a peaceful paddle down the river.”

Chicago local Jane Simon Ammeson agrees. “Rivers were the highways of the past, but the Chicago River offers uniquely modern adventures for me. I can paddle its waters and shiver at scary stories during a Ghost and Gangster kayak tour, and sip a Spanish Rioja while gazing at the city lights. I love to stroll along the Riverwalk, choose a favorite place to dine, and plan my next adventure while watching the boats go by.”

3. Take a visit to the Shedd Aquarium

A unique helicopter view of the John G. Shedd Aquarium on Lake Michigan, Chicago.

Bungee QC Fitness shares that their favorite unique thing to do in Chicago is visiting the Shedd Aquarium. “With over 1,500 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates from around the world, the Shedd Aquarium showcases an impressive array of aquatic life. 

The Shedd Aquarium is one of the country’s oldest and most respected aquariums. If you’re in the area, you don’t want to miss it.

4. Explore nearby neighborhoods

Chicago is full of charming neighborhoods like River North and Edgewater. You’ll indeed find beautiful places in Chicago that will blow you away within a matter of minutes from each other. So grab your shoes, head out the door, and get ready to explore.

“Chicago is a great city for food and family fun,” says Jenny and Sheena, local Chicagoans from “And Then We Had Kids” Podcast. “Park & Field, located in the Logan Square neighborhood, is an excellent restaurant for all ages, and they even host fun family events and a bottomless boozy brunch on the weekends. If you’re looking for a place to host your event, Park & Field features fee-free party rentals. And the best part is they’re dog-friendly.

5. Dine in local favorite restaurants

Whether you’re searching for homes for sale in Pilsen because of the authentic eats or just looking for hidden gems in Chicago, you’re sure to find something that will make your mouth water. 

If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to check out the Irish Nobleman Pub on the West Side. Enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine while enjoying the lush foliage, flowers & hummingbirds in the summer. The patio is lined with AstroTurf, so it’s like a green oasis near downtown Chicago – and that also makes it super comfortable for bringing my dog along. It’s not just a Chicago favorite spot to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day; the summertime patio is an attraction on its own.

Are you looking for a fancy night on the town? Vess, a local from Bus Connection, a sophisticated transportation service, recommends stopping by Bavette’s Bar and Bouf. “One of Chicago’s finest steakhouse restaurants, Bavette’s Bar and Bouf is truly a hidden gem. Feel the swanky ambiance of a prohibition-era speakeasy, softly lit with red velvet wraparound booths and sultry jazz music soundtracks. It’s the most unique and intimate place to wine and dine.”

6. Go to any event hosted by Sofar Sounds

Sofar Sounds connects the community with secret concerts in unique spaces. You’ll receive the address of the event within 36 hours before the event. You’ll experience different shows, from musical genres and comedy to dance. 

“My recommendation for a unique thing to do in Chicago is to go to events hosted by Sofar Sounds,” says Emily from Mezz Entertainment. “Through this experience, you can attend intimate gigs throughout the city, like the loop and Lincoln Park. I love discovering new artists to listen to from these shows.” 

About Ana Guzman

Ana is part of the Redfin content marketing team and enjoys writing about home improvement and life & style. Her dream house would be a contemporary style with lots of natural light.

Lone Mountain Ranch’s 11th Annual Authentic Wild West Rodeo Week

Dust off your boots and don your cowboy hat for a step back in time at Lone Mountain Ranch’s 11th annual authentic wild west PBR week. Taking place from July 17th – 23rd, 2023, the action-packed Touring Pro Division PBR week is Big Sky’s biggest week of the year, as the community events and fun winds up to a weekend of world-class bull riding.

Exclusively available to guests of Lone Mountain Ranch, this all-inclusive Rodeo Week Package offers guests authentic ranch lodging at this luxury historic Montana guest ranch with three meals a day at the farm-to-table Horn & Cantle restaurant, and special dinners around the ranch each night, including a barn party one night, and live Western music in the rustic saloon. Guests also receive tickets to the PBR events on Friday and Saturday nights, with VIP access to event seating, food, and drinks.

Lone Mountain Ranch guests who join the Rodeo Package enjoy a six-night ranch experience, and scheduled daytime activities including horseback rides, naturalist hikes, mountain biking, canoeing, paddleboarding, archery, fly-tying course, yoga, axe throwing, guided Yellowstone tours, high ropes course, history hikes, photography hikes, yoga, axe-throwing, and more. In addition to the scheduled activities, other exclusive events on property include an on-ranch professional Rodeo with PBR qualifiers, followed by an exciting concert.

Besides that, Lone Mountain makes it easy to get around the local Big Sky area with transfers to and from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, as well as in-person and text service from a personal Ranch Concierge for the optimum rustic experience during this year’s Rodeo Week.

2023 Rates:

July 17, 2023 – July 23, 2023: Adult, $1500* Child, $1200*

*Rates are per person per night, minimum occupancy applies per cabin

 *All package rates are subject to a 6% tax and a 15% Resort Fee (resort fee is taxed by 12%)

*6-night minimum

For reservations and availability call 406-995-4644 or email reservations@lonemountainranch.com

About Lone Mountain Resort

Celebrating more than a century as a symbol of the American West, Lone Mountain Resort was around during the early days of Yellowstone Park, the formation of the town of Big Sky, the evolution of ranching and logging in the Northern Rockies and the preservation of this magnificent wilderness.

Ever since it was homesteaded in 1915, Lone Mountain Resort’s story practiced real Western-style hospitality, welcoming to all. This is truly the Old West and for those staying at Lone Mountain Resort, it’s like turning the clock back more than century.

We call it the Real Montana and you’ll see what we mean when you arrive.

TCM Prime-Time Host Ben Mankiewicz Dazzles Fans at the Stunning “Art of the Hollywood Backdrop”

Blockbuster Museum Show Breaks Attendance Records . . .

Ben Mankiewicz, the prime-time host of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), greeted hundreds of fans and kicked off a series of Holiday events at the Boca Raton Museum of Art’s nationally acclaimed exhibition “Art of the Hollywood Backdrop,” now in its final five weeks of a spectacular run (on view through Jan. 22).

“I am honored to have been invited by the Boca Raton Museum of Art to be part of the Art of the Hollywood Backdrop, before this stellar museum experience concludes its successful debut,” says Mankiewicz. “There are so many avid film lovers and TCM fans in South Florida who loved seeing this exhibition, a testament to the power of classic Hollywood films.”

Joining Mankiewicz at the Museum event was one of the exhibition’s co-curators, Thomas A. Walsh, the Emmy Award-winning Art Director from Hollywood who served as President of the Art Directors Guild of America for three consecutive terms (the union representing Hollywood’s art directors, set designers and illustrators).

The Boca Raton Museum of Art presents the world premiere of this larger-than-life show, the first dedicated museum exhibition of its kind honoring the unsung heroes of Hollywood’s artistic DNA, going back through time almost 100 years.

“Through this singular exhibition, art lovers and film fans of all ages are embracing this collection of Hollywood backdrops almost lost forever,” says Irvin Lippman, the Museum’s Executive Director. “The world premiere of Art of the Hollywood Backdrop has shined the global spotlight on South Florida. We have seen a significant increase in visitors from throughout the U.S. and abroad.”

Art of the Hollywood Backdrop: Cinema’s Creative Legacy is on view through January 22, 2023 and honors the unsung heroes who created these monumental canvases for the camera, going back almost 100 years.

These are literally some of the largest paintings ever created in the world, similar to cyclorama paintings. Aside from the original cast and crew working in the sound stages when these Hollywood classics were made, no one else has set eyes upon this collection.

The exhibition was originated by the Boca Raton Museum of Art and is co-curated by Thomas A. Walsh and Karen L. Maness, who played pivotal roles among a group of passionate Hollywood insiders to salvage these American treasures.

The result in the Museum’s galleries is a magical portal that takes the terms “large-scale,” “immersive,” and “virtual reality” to a whole new level.

Mankiewicz, an award-winning television personality, film critic, writer and producer, made his TCM debut in 2003 becoming only the second host hired in the network’s history.

During his career at TCM, Mankiewicz has introduced thousands of movies on the air and has become one of the most renowned interviewers in the business, leading thoughtful and entertaining conversations with more than two hundred of the movie industry’s top talents, including Mel Brooks, Bruce Springsteen, Sophia Loren, Martin Scorsese, Warren Beatty, Ava DuVernay, Annette Bening, Robert Redford, Quentin Tarantino, Jodie Foster, Brad Bird, Faye Dunaway, Lou Gossett, Jr., and Michael Douglas.

The Museum has created a series of events for film lovers throughout December and January, more details at bocamuseum.org/visit/events. This exhibition of 22 scenic backdrops, made for the movies between 1938 and 1968, celebrates an art form nearly forgotten.

This is a well-deserved moment in the spotlight for the dozens of unidentified studio artists. Their uncredited craftsmanship made scenes of Mount Rushmore, Ben Hur’s Rome, the Von Trapp Family’s Austrian Alps, and Gene Kelly’s Paris street dance possible.

Art Directors’ Guild Archive Backdrop Recovery Project

Twenty of these backdrops, including the famous Mount Rushmore, are being loaned by the Texas Performing Arts Hollywood Backdrop Collection at the University of Texas.

In addition, a 1952 backdrop for Singin’ in the Rain and the tapestry backdrop for Marie Antoinette (1938) are on loan from the Motion Picture Academy in Los Angeles.

These creations were painted for the camera lens itself, not for the human eye. It is a very impressionistic style of painting ― not really photo-realism, but it snaps together as photo-realistic when viewed from a distance.

Up close they look totally different. When visitors to the Museum take selfies with their phone cameras, the resulting image will look very different from what they see in person in the gallery.

This unique concept of “photo-realism for the camera” was spearheaded by George Gibson, he took scenic art to an entirely new level of artistry. In the hey-day of MGM, they had three shifts of scenic artists working day and night, non-stop.

Some of these artists who created the Hollywood Backdrops came from a family tradition of the craft, with lineages spanning three generations of painters through several decades. The craft stayed within the family.

Most were trained as professional artists, yet they remained uncredited, sometimes because of union agreements, and mainly because the studios wanted to keep a firm grip on the secret techniques that were handed down from master to apprentice on the backlots.

The show’s immersive components include interactive video reels created in Hollywood specifically for this exhibition, telling the stories behind each backdrop.

Soundscapes have been engineered to surround visitors in the museum, including atmospheric sound effects related to the original movies, and to the scenic vistas.

About the Museum

Founded by artistsBoca Raton Museum of Art was established in 1950 as the Art Guild of Boca Raton. The organization has grown, now in its eighth decade, to encompass a Museum, Art School, and Sculpture Garden. As one of South Florida’s leading cultural landmarks, the Museum provides educational programs and a robust exhibition schedule to the community, and to visitors from around the world.

Support for #BocaMuseumatHome and #KeepKidsSmartwithArt virtual programming is provided by Art Bridges Foundation and PNC Grow Up Great.

See the Movie; Book the Trip: Film Destinations Are In

Special guest blogger Michal Laszuk has done an amazing amount of research to put together this fantastic coop on film tourism. Take a look at his post and for more info on Michal, see below.

We’ve all fallen in love with a TV show or movie at least once.  

Whether it’s Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, or Breaking Bad, there’s something about getting sucked into a good story that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

But—

Did you ever consider traveling to a place you saw on Netflix?

If so, you aren’t alone.

That’s because film tourism (also known as film-induced tourism, screen tourism, and set-jetting) has been all the rave lately, with more and more people planning vacations around their beloved shows and movies. 

So at PhotoAiD, we’ve decided to reach out to 1,000+ Americans to unpack their experiences with this phenomenon, their attitudes toward it, and much more.

Let’s dive right in:

Key Takeaways

  • 96% of Americans have visited places associated with their favorite television shows or movies at least once in their lifetime.
  • 78% of travelers are likely or very likely to opt for TV- or movie-themed trips in 2023 and beyond.
  • The most common reason to engage in film tourism (35%) is to enjoy an immersive experience that lets you live out shows’ or movies’ storylines and follow in the footsteps of famous characters.
  • Lodging is the most frequently mentioned film tourism expense (60%), followed by transportation (53%) and sightseeing (50%).
  • Globally, the UK and Ireland are the most desirable screen tourism destinations owing to the success of Harry Potter.
  • Thanks to the Jurassic Park franchise, Hawaii was picked as the US’ most desirable film tourism destination, according to 31% of respondents.
  • 68% of Americans have a negative or very negative attitude toward fellow travelers striking irreverent poses or otherwise misbehaving when visiting the sites of actual tragic events depicted in shows or movies.

Film Tourism Is Gaining Momentum

For starters, we wanted to gauge the popularity of film tourism in the US at the end of 2022.

It turns out 96% of Americans have visited places associated with their favorite television shows or movies. This includes locations and destinations, popular due to their appearance on TV or themed sites built upon the fictional world.

Wow.

Although we expected the number to be high, we had no idea it’d be THAT high. 

It may be because we’re watching more TV than ever before, with the average person likely to stream 437 hours of content in 2023 (=18 full days).

Film Tourism is Gaining Momemtum

Here’s also a look at the extent to which respondents’ favorite movie or show was a reason to visit a particular spot:

For starters, we wanted to gauge the popularity of film tourism in the US at the end of 2022.

It turns out 96% of Americans have visited places associated with their favorite television shows or movies. This includes locations and destinations, popular due to their appearance on TV or themed sites built upon the fictional world.

Wow!

Although we expected the number to be high, we had no idea it’d be THAT high. 

It may be because we’re watching more TV than ever before, with the average person likely to stream 437 hours of content in 2023 (=18 full days).

Here’s also a look at the extent to which respondents’ favorite movie or show was a reason to visit a particular spot:

It was the main reason44%
It had some influence39%
It had no influence17%

At this point, we also decided to ask survey takers to rate their most recent screen tourism experience.

So—

About four in 10 Americans (42%) consider it positive, and 31% describe it as very positive. As a follow-up, we asked respondents how likely they are to pick one of their next vacation destinations based on their favorite TV show or movie in 2023 and beyond.

The results are in:

Likely45%
Very likely33%
Neutral16%
Very unlikely5%
Unlikely2%

As you can see, 78% of Americans are likely or very likely to opt for TV- or movie-themed trips in the upcoming years. 

Thus, it’s not surprising that companies like Airbnb and Netflix have already started to capitalize on the opportunity. 

The former has launched thematic accommodation options based on Scooby Doo, Moulin Rouge, and Queer Eye. In turn, Netflix partnered with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to “help destinations realize the potential benefits of screen tourism.”

Even governmental bodies aren’t lagging.

In fact, the official “Visit Albuquerque” site makes it easy for Breaking Bad fans to plan location tours and visit popular spots, such as Los Pollos Hermanos, Walter White’s house, and the car wash.

That shows just how much the likes of HBO and Apple TV are changing the tourism industry and travelers’ habits.

Scroll on to see what’s fueling this trend.

Key Reasons to Engage in Screen Tourism

People travel for all sorts of reasons.

Some want to check off their travel bucket list. Others are looking to dive under the radar and escape it all.

Yet—

When it comes to film tourism, here are the TOP five motivators, according to our respondents (the text version is below, just in case):

To emotionally immerse oneself in a place where the TV show/movie was filmed35%
To experience the city’s scenery shown in the movie or TV show34.9%
To visit restaurants featured in the movie or TV show34.4%
To discover a meaningful place with a story rather than visit a trendy destination33.9%
To visit a location one’s admired celebrity has once been to33.6%

The data shows that the most common reason to engage in film tourism (35%) is to enjoy an immersive experience that lets you live out your favorite shows’ or movies’ storylines and follow in the footsteps of famous characters.

It’s closely followed by the desire “to experience the city’s scenery shown in the movie or TV show” at 34.9% and to visit depicted restaurants, as 34.4% of respondents indicated.

These make sense, particularly if you consider TV shows.

Their slow-paced plot progression, long runtime, and character development often foster a deep connection between the viewer and the story. 

So—

It’s no wonder many people want to go and see the spots on their own.

Top Film Tourism Destinations, Ranked

So far, so good.

Now that we’ve answered some of the why questions, let’s move on to the where part.

To uncover the most desirable film tourism destinations in North America, we gave respondents a list of places famous because of a movie or TV show and asked them to indicate which one was their favorite OR which they’d like to visit the most.

Below are the results:

Jurassic Park (Hawaii)30.6%
Friends (NYC, New York)30.5%
Joker [2019] (NYC, New York)28.6%
Home Alone 2 (NYC, New York)27.9%
Big Little Lies (Monterey, California)25%

Thanks to the Jurassic Park franchise, Hawaii was picked as the most desirable film tourism destination in the US, according to 30.6% of respondents.

How does it translate into real numbers? 

Consider this:

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom alone has given Hawaii’s economy a $31M boost and more than $6.9M in wages to 1,200+ Hawaii workers. 

So you could say the movie has had a T-Rex-sized impact on the islands.

Now—

We also wanted to unveil the most desirable screen tourism destinations globally. Like last time, we gave respondents a hefty list of places and prompted them to make a pick.

See the TOP five results below:

Harry Potter (UK, Ireland)20.2%
The Lord of the Rings (New Zealand)18.1%
Game of Thrones (Northern Ireland, UK, Croatia)17%
Squid Game (South Korea)16.7%
Sherlock (UK)15.9%

The UK and Ireland took the cake as the most desirable screen tourism destinations globally (20.2%), thanks to Harry Potter. It’s followed by New Zealand courtesy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Northern Ireland, the UK, and Croatia close the top three owing to Game of Thrones’ success.

Needless to say, all the destinations ​​saw a significant, lasting increase in demand after said movies and TV shows came out. 

To this day, tourists take photos at London King’s Cross railway station, famous for featuring a fictional section known as platform 9¾ in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Biggest Expenses Associated with Screen Tourism

Travel isn’t exactly cheap these days.

A pilot shortage, COVID-19-induced demand for travel, and higher fuel prices have all contributed to the recent rise in tourism costs.

So much so that ~9 in 10 vacation-goers (88%) had to downgrade their vacation plans in 2022, according to one of our recent studies.

That’s why we wanted to ask the respondents about their biggest expenses regarding film tourism.

Below are the results:

Lodging60%
Transportation53%
Sightseeing50%

As you can see, lodging was the most frequently mentioned expense (60%), followed by transportation (53%) and sightseeing (50%).

So—

If you plan to fly thousands of miles to get epic Instagram snaps from Squid Game in South Korea, be prepared to open your wallet a little wider.

The Dark Side of Film Tourism

It’s no secret:

Many popular movies and TV shows depict or are based on true events. As a result, some locations can grow popular among travelers.

BBC’s Poldark is a good case in point.

While the series boosted Cornwall’s economy, influencing 14% of all visitors to the county, it also gave rise to the so-called “Poldark effect.” 

The phenomenon caused bumper-to-bumper traffic making some communities feel unsafe, and potentially affected the sense of the Cornish identity.

So—

Our study also wanted to see if Americans know that film tourism can cause over-tourism to some of the most in-vogue destinations.

A total of 95% of respondents do.

Although we were pleasantly surprised by such a high number, it’s important to remember that awareness doesn’t always translate into action (after all, the “Poldark effect” came about for a reason). 

Now, as our last question, we asked the survey participants about their attitude toward fellow travelers striking irreverent poses or otherwise misbehaving when visiting the sites of actual tragic events featured in a movie or TV show (e.g., Chornobyl).

Below are the results:

Negative41%
Very negative27%
Neutral24%
Positive5%
Very positive4%

The takeaway?

Always respect the site’s rules and only take pictures when allowed. Otherwise, you won’t only make others blow a fuse but also give film tourism a bad name.

Stacking It All Up

There you have it.

A comprehensive look at screen tourism to help you stay ahead of the curve.

Now—

Did you ever engage in film tourism? Which TV or movie universe would you want to travel to?

Let us know in the comments below.

Methodology

We conducted an online survey of 1,060 US respondents via a bespoke online polling tool in October 2022.

The respondents were 66.8% male and 33.2% female. 7.6% of respondents were 25 or younger, 70.01% were aged 26–38, 17.1% were aged 39–54, and 5.2% were 55 or older.

This survey has a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of 3%. Given the gender and age makeup of our sample size, the study’s findings are statistically significant for the population at large.

This study was created through multiple research steps, crowdsourcing, and surveying. Data scientists reviewed all survey participants’ responses for quality control. ​​The survey also had an attention-check question.

About Michal Laszuk

Michal Laszuk is a writer at PhotoAiD by day, an aspiring novelist and an avid traveler by night. Always eager to travel to the most underrated and less popular destinations, he now looks to the far east after seeing almost everything Europe has to offer.

Salamati: Hamed’s Persian Kitchen: 70 Recipes and Stories from Iran to the Other Side of the World

for the adventuresome home chef, Allahyari offers a world of flavors.”

In mortal danger for his beliefs, Hamed Allahyari and his pregnant girlfriend fled their homeland of Iran, first spending two months in Indonesia and then, after grueling hours long by truck over badly paved back roads and then days crammed aboard a boat another five months on Christmas Island before being granted asylum by the Australian government. Once there, life remained extremely difficult for the young couple who were now parents of two young children, and though Allahyari had been a chef and restauranteur in Iran, no one was interested—or so it seemed—in Persian cuisine.

Unable to find work Allahyari began volunteering at the Resource Center, an organization that provides support, legal advice, and other assistance including meals to refugees and people seeking asylum.

“Every day they feed 250 people a free lunch,” Allahyari writes in the introduction to his cookbook Salamati: Hamed’s Persian Kitchen: Recipes and Stories from Iran to the Other Side of the World. “I started cooking there two days a week, making Persian food for people from all over the world: Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Miramar, Sierra Leone, all kinds of places, and most of them had never tried Persian food before. But when they tried it, they liked it. They talked to me about it, asked me about it, and it made me happy.”

Culinary Connections

At the recommendation of others, Allahyari also began teaching cooking classes, demonstrating how to make such dishes as Zeytoon Parvadrah (Olive and Walnuts Chunky Dip), Abdoogh Khiar, Yogurt and Cucumber soup, Sabzi Pofow Ba Mahi (Fish with Herb Pilaf), and Persian Love Cake. Over the years, Allahyari taught more than 2500 people how to make Persian food. Now, he caters and is chef/owner of SalamiTea, a restaurant located in Sunshine, an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Melbourne. The name is a play on “salamati,” the Persian word meaning both “health” and “cheers.”

Salamati is more than just a cookbook, it’s also a memoir and homage to the country he had to flee. The introduction to the featured recipes in his book might offer a personal connection to the dish, a description of a unique ingredient that helps define it and bring out its best flavors—though he also offers a substitute for such items as Persian dried limes, which might be difficult to locate outside of a major city, and/or puts the food in context with the scenes to Iran.

This dish is traditionally served in Iranian shisha shops, the cafes where older men gather to smoke water pipes, drink tea and solve the problems of the world,” he writes about Ghahve Khunee Omelette (Street-Food Tomato Omelette). “Shisha shops don’t really serve food but inevitably people get hungry while they’re hanging around, so it’s become traditional for staff to whip up a quick tomato omelette for customers and serve it with bread, raw red onion, herbs and lemon. If you want one, all you ask for is ‘omelette.’ There’s no menu as such.”

Not all the recipes are easy but for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, there are enough simple ones to get started. Full-color photos of each recipe show what the finished product will look like. And for the adventuresome home chef, Allahyari offers a world of flavors.

This review originally appeared in the New York Journal of Books.