There’s Never Been a Better Time for a Rock-Music Vacation

June 28, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

There are some cities in the US that just seem to live and breathe great music. Sometimes the popular press and major record labels get excited about these towns, but the great music seems never to go away. It just changes a bit from year to year. And that’s a good thing. That keeps it from getting stale and boring. You could write a great book driving around the country and visiting all these towns that are so rich in musical heritage and contemporary music—both the well-known and the not-so-well-known ones. And anything that would make for a great book would make for an equally great vacation. Why spend this summer experiencing the world through books when you can get out there and live it?

Athens, Georgia

Athens burst onto the scene in the ‘80s through the irresistible bands The B-52s and R.E.M. There’s a great, obscure documentary from this period called Athens, GA: Inside Out where you can see the folks in R.E.M. and The B-52s before their rock-star days, just being fun-loving kids. In the late ‘90s and the first decade of the 2000s, it was the music of bands associated with the indie-rock collective known as the Elephant 6 and the DJ experimentation of Danger Mouse that characterized the Athens scene. This period was all about experimenting with well-known rock styles. Elephant 6 groups like Olivia Tremor Control and The Apples in Stereo did new and intriguing things with styles created and honed by The Beatles and The Beach Boys, while Danger Mouse put his name on the map by creating The Grey Album, which wittily mashes together The Beatles’ White Album and Jay-Z’s The Black Album. The town is still all about re-imaginings and remixes of old musical formulas. And some of the trailblazing bands are still blazing. This year will see the long-anticipated reunion of Neutral Milk Hotel (whose second album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Pitchfork named the fourth best album of the ‘90s). The shows at the 40 Watt Club (one with Elf Power and the other with Circulatory System) in Athens should be the most memorable ones of the whole tour.

San Francisco, California

In recent years, a vibrant retro-rock scene has sprung up in San Francisco. It’s not wear-some-flowers-in-your-hair retro-rock. It’s not that obviously derivative. The music draws on a variety of rock influences. The ‘60s and ‘70s are the most obvious decades in the mix, but the ‘80s and ‘90s are there as well. Psychedelic dance-rock diva Ash Reiter, fresh from organizing and playing the rock festival Hickey Fest, is on a hot streak. She’s probably the hardest working woman in rock-and-roll. If she’s not on tour, she’s playing shows in the Bay Area. And if you go see her, you’re guaranteed to have a great time and take home some souvenirs—that is, get some of her songs stuck in your head. The Family Folk Explosion is a Bay-Area/Los Angeles collective that involves a number of talented, exciting musicians who have bands of their own. The most notable members are Mark Matos, who also fronts the spiritually-inclined rock band Os Beaches, and Annie Girl, a very talented singer-songwriter who is making a big name for herself with her group Annie Girl and the Flight.

After you have rocked to your heart’s content, you’ll be ready for some world-class R&R—at an affordable price, of course. There’s only one hotel that fits that description—Extended Stay America

Summertime is a Great Time for Sports Fans

June 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Summertime is a great time for sports. People everywhere are getting out there for the love of the game. The recent NBA and NHL championships proved to be nail-bitingly exciting, and while the NFL season may not have started up yet, but baseball is in full swing. Summertime is the perfect time for living out your gridiron, court, and baseball-diamond fantasies. There’s no reason to leave playing make-believe, pretending that you are your favorite sports stars, in childhood. Why not trot onto the driveway b-ball court as Kobe Bryant to the adoring screams of the crowd or into your backyard as Eli Manning to a spirited New York cheer? Dreaming is the first step in accomplishing anything—whether it is becoming a professional athlete or having a perfect day playing the game you love with your friends. There are a number of destinations where you can get inspiration for your dreams.

 The Sports Museum: Boston, Massachusetts

You would be hard-pressed to find a town that takes its sports more seriously than Boston. This amazing city is both quite refined and tougher-than-nails, like that memorable fictional Bostonian, Will Hunting. Bostonians can wax philosophical about the games they love and then pummel you on the field without mercy. The Sports Museum is Boston-centric. Would you expect anything else from a city that cherishes its character so much that even public figures with national profiles speak in thick, almost affected-sounding local accents? Boston is a world-class city, and it is a world unto itself.

At the museum, you can see the Bruins’ penalty box from the Boston Garden, which was torn down a few years ago. This is an appropriate object to have on display. The Bruins have traditionally been one of the most bruising teams in the NHL, and they have made ample use of the penalty box—hanging out there joyfully, like high school delinquents in detention. Boston so loves its Celtics that there is an exhibit for every era in which a championship was won. The highlight is Larry Bird’s locker. Bird is not a Boston native. He is from French Lick, Indiana. But he was adopted by the city and made an honorary Bostonian upon his arrival because of his blue-collar attitude and his no-frills work ethic. The reason he had to retire from the NBA prematurely was not a basketball injury, as one would assume, but a driveway-asphalting injury. Bird is so blue-collar that he wouldn’t hire someone to re-do his driveway. And that was music to the ears of the true-blue Boston fans.

Newport Sports Museum: Newport Beach, California

On the other side of the country from New England, in expansive Orange County, is the Newport Sports Museum. This collection is both erudite and exciting. On view is Babe Ruth’s last homerun ball, which is autographed by the Bambino himself. Looking at this now aged and cracked ball, you get a feeling for the vast history and life of the game. There is a great exhibit on hometown heroes the Los Angeles Dodges. You will learn of the team’s interesting history. They were, of course, not always the LA Dodgers. They started out in Brooklyn, where they were affectionately nicknamed “the Bums” and sometimes gave Babe Ruth’s Yankees a run for their money.

When the sun sets on your sports-filled day, you’ll likely be ready to retire to your hotel and trade stories of the day. There’s no better hotel for doing this than Extended Stay America, where you can chat over a meal prepared in your suite’s kitchen and enjoy free Wi-Fi. 

Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World!

May 23, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

In one wonderful respect, the United States is becoming much more European. The summertime music festival, a mainstay of European culture for quite some time, is spreading across the US. There are now a bunch of festivals where you can see your favorite bands under an open sky. Seeing a concert in a hall is great for powerful acoustics and light shows, but it’s not so great for hanging out. Outdoor festivals are perfect for both—seeing music and spending quality time connecting with your friends. Because you feel a greater connection with the crowd, you feel a greater connection with the musicians, too. And since the musicians have a ton of fellow performers to hang out with, they feel more connected, as well. An outdoor festival is conducive to overall community in ways that a concert at an indoor venue can never be.

 The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival: Manchester, Tennessee

 This festival is imbued the spirit of the 1960s and the sounds of now. In fact, the spirit of the ‘60s at Bonnaroo is even better than it was in the actual ‘60s. Stephen Stills, who famously left the Woodstock Festival in 1969 after playing with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, in order to jet off to the Dick Cavett Show and talk about how great the festival was, declared from the Bonnaroo stage in 2011, in between Buffalo Springfield songs, that had Woodstock ’69 been as good as Bonnaroo ’11, he would have blown off the Cavett Show and stayed for the whole festival. Every year, the folks at Bonnaroo improve on an already great thing. This year’s festival, which takes place from June 13th-16th, features a startling line-up of legends who are as relevant now as they ever were: Paul McCartney, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and Swans among them. There is also, of course, a whole slew of innovative contemporary acts: Mumford and Sons, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Matt & Kim among them. Then there’s the comedy stage, where you can laugh like a rock star to the jokes of David Cross, Bob Saget, Eric Andre, and others.

 Lollapalooza: Chicago, Illinois

During the ‘90s, Lollapalooza brought indie music to the people in a manic, sometimes carnival-esque roadshow. Started by Perry Farrell in 1991 as an epic, rolling swansong for his band Jane’s Addiction, the festival introduced many teenagers to such essential ‘90s acts as Pavement, Beck, and Nine Inch Nails. Just like the people in those bands and their fans, the Lollapalooza festival has grown up. Like many grown-ups, Lollapalooza has settled down. No longer going from town to town to spread its rock-n-roll fairy dust, Lollapalooza now calls the city of Chicago home—taking place in spacious, green Grant Park, which commands a great view of Chi-Town’s skyline. Despite being older and settled, Lollapalooza is as hip as ever—if a little less hyperactive than it was in its younger years. This year’s festival features mope-core legends The Cure, Afro-pop influenced songsters Vampire Weekend, and full-on rockers Band of Horses. And since this is a late-starting festival, you can explore Chicago during the daytime. Rock on!

 

When the rocking-out day is done, nothing is more satisfying than laying your head on a comfy pillow and calling it a night. The perfect place to unwind and recharge is a hotel with the feel of home but none of the chores—like an Extended Stay Hotel.      

I Love Los Angeles!

May 13, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When most people think of Los Angeles, they think of the things that Woody Allen focuses on in his film Annie Hall—the weather and the stars. But LA has so much more going for it than that. Which is not to discount the weather and the stars—or Annie Hall. The weather is consistently comfy, just to Goldilocks’ liking—rarely too hot or too cold. And if you find it thrilling to see famous people doing regular-people stuff, LA is the place for you. You might see Ashton Kutcher buying a cucumber or Miley Cyrus rocking out to her iPod. But the stuff to do in the City of Angels doesn’t stop there. Not by a long shot!

Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach is the best place in the country for singles, according to Money magazine. So if you’re looking for love, or you’re just looking to soak up some rays on a beach that is not packed with families, this is the place for you. There is a classic beach-boy/beach-girl vibe here. There are enough shaggy surfers and fun-loving volleyball players to make it feel like you’re hanging out in a Saved By the Bell episode. Indeed, hanging out in Hermosa Beach, you begin to feel like you’re in a TV show. As on a lot of TV shows, many people seem like they don’t have jobs. Despite the fact that a lot of Hermosa Beach residents have high-pressure finance careers, they seem to be living the good life without a care in the world. That’s how powerful the laid-back vibe is here.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall 

The Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, is a space that is stunning both inside and out. Outside, the building looks, in typical Gehry fashion, like something you’d see on the horizon in a dream. Inside, the Yasuhisa Toyota-designed acoustics are truly cathedral-like. Angelinos hope and pray that when their favorite musicians come through town, they play this venue, because it is here that musicians can realize their full live potential. Just as Walt Disney was a perfectionist about the look and sound of his animated films (famously drawing far more frames than his competitors or experimenting with stereophonic sound not long after the invention of talkies), there is an obvious perfectionism about the Walt Disney Concert Hall—which was built with money donated by Lillian Disney, Walt’s wife. The young and exciting music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, will be conducting a program of Tchaikovsky and Carl Nielsen, played by the much-praised pianist Lang Lang.

LA Loves Food!

If you’re looking for great food at a casual LA restaurant, I recommend Food. Their no-nonsense name is indicative of the seriousness with which they take their craft. If you’re looking for upscale dining, look no further than Patina—the last word in fine French dining in LA. Conveniently located in the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Patina offers the finest wines, cheeses, chocolates, meats, vegetables, fruit, and caviar in Los Angeles. It is appropriate that the restaurant is in the building where the Philharmonic plays, as its plates are simply symphonic.

At the end of your wonderful LA day, you’ll be ready to kick back. I recommend a hotel with everything you’ll need on-site (like a kitchen and laundry), so you won’t have to run out for anything.           

Take a Hollywood Blockbuster-Inspired Vacation

May 7, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Get ready for the season of blockbuster movies. This year, Hollywood is pulling out some really special stuff. A lot of people get down on Hollywood for working with stories that have already been told—like Spiderman, King Kong, and Arthur. But I think it’s really interesting seeing new spins on old tales. The same way that no two people will tell a story the same way (different people will emphasize different details, tell different jokes, etc.), no two directors will tell a story on film the same way. Directors are like snowflakes—all very different from one another. The movies they make, despite family resemblance, are like snowflakes, as well. This year, there’s a veritable snowstorm of great films to see. Two that I’m really looking forward to are Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) and Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger (starring Johnny Depp). In celebration of these two exciting films, I’m going to discuss vacation possibilities inspired by them.

 Great Gatsby Vacations

 Have you ever dreamed of visiting East Egg and West Egg, the rich towns on Long Island (the island that juts out eastward from New York City) where the action of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby takes place? Well, you can’t—not exactly. Fitzgerald made those cute town names up. But they are based on actual places. East Egg is based on the village of Sands Point, and West Egg is based on the village of Kings Point. If you want to get up close and personal with this area and its relation to the novel, I recommend the Great Gatsby Boat Tour, given seasonally by Great Gatsby and western Long Island expert Eleanor Cox. Cox will point out all the mansions and the yacht clubs on shore that date from the Jazz Age days of Prohibition, when The Great Gatsby is set.      

The Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, in Montgomery, Alabama, is housed in the only residence in Montgomery where F. Scott and his wife Zelda lived that is still standing. All the others have been demolished. This museum honors their life together as well as the writing of both (Zelda was as novelist as well) though photographs, paintings, letters, and excerpts from their writing.   

Lone Ranger Vacations

A lot of the filming of The Lone Ranger took place in Cimarron Canyon State Park and in the town of Angel Fire—both in New Mexico. The film is the story of the Lone Ranger told through the eyes of Tonto, his companion. As Tonto is a Native American, the film tries to communicate a Native American point of view. In the town of Taos, only twenty-four miles from Angel Fire, there is a magnificent collection of Native American art at the Millicent Rogers Museum. Expressing the ways of life and outlooks of the tribes of the southwest, the beautiful objects in the collection were both practically and spiritually useful for the tribes who owned them. On view are a variety of baskets, clothing, jewelry, and pottery.

 After a day of living the movies, you’ll be ready to kick back at a cozy hotel and maybe watch some movies. That’s why you want a hotel with a TV, a kitchen to pop some popcorn, and free Wi-Fi. That way, you can watch exactly what you want.       

Philadelphia Is an All-American City

May 1, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Philadelphia is foundational for our country. It was a center of learning and progress before the Revolution—largely because of the efforts of Benjamin Franklin, who founded the country’s first lending library and fire department in Philadelphia, as well as societies for the promotion of civic and intellectual virtues. There is a staggering amount of history and culture in Philadelphia—a city whose grid layout provided the blueprint for a number of other great American cities. Its historical charms, though plentiful, are not its only features. You can really feel the love in Philadelphia. There is a lot of hometown pride, and Philadelphians love to show their city off to visitors. It is not for nothing that Philadelphia translates to “the city of brotherly love.”

 African American Museum in Philadelphia  

 Philadelphia is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the nation, with a sizable African American community. Forty-three percent of the residents of the city are black. Philly has a long history of vibrant black culture—particularly music. From John Coltrane and Sun Ra to the Philly soul of the 1970s through the Philly neo-soul of the ‘90s and 2000s and the city’s vibrant hip-hop scene spearheaded by The Roots, Philadelphia has contributed to black music as much as any American city. Come See About Me: The Mary Wilson Supremes Collection is an exhibition that concerns the importance of African American music in American culture at large. Mary Wilson, one of the original Supremes, has curated this exhibit—making it a very personal exploration of a very public phenomenon. Somewhat like the film The Runaways (which was about the band The Runaways and about the coming of age of a member of that band, Cherie Currie), this exhibit chronicles both the rise of The Supremes (notable for hits like “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “You Can’t Hurry Love”) and Wilson’s coming into her own. Through The Supremes’ clothing (which is stunning), photographs, 1960s news articles, and obscure film footage, the story unfolds with the grace of a top-notch biopic.

 Philadelphia Museum of Art

  You’ve got to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the “Rocky Steps”—the iconic steps that Rocky Balboa runs up in Rocky, the song “Gonna Fly Now” seemingly impelling him. The metal likeness of Rocky that was featured at the top of the steps in Rocky III, to symbolize the fact that Rocky was no longer an underdog, is now located at their bottom (perhaps symbolizing the fact that Rocky will forever be our underdog hero). After you pose for a photo with the brazen Rocky and run up the stairs singing “Gonna Fly Now” to yourself, it’s worth checking out the museum.

 The exhibit The Art of Golf is timely and unique. Timed to coincide with the U.S. Open, which takes place in Ardmore, Pennsylvania this year, this exhibition can only benefit from the excitement over the return of Tiger Woods to the top of the game. The central work of art in the exhibition is Charles Lees’ painting The Golfers, which depicts the sport as it was played in the mid-nineteenth century in Scotland (which is the land of the sport’s birth and development).  

 After a day soaking up all of Philadelphia’s cultural and historical wonders, you’ll likely be ready to indulge in some family time. The ideal place for that is an Extended Stay Hotel—where every suite has, free of charge, a kitchen, a flatscreen TV, and Wi-Fi.

Textile Museums: Fashion and More

January 8, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Right after food and shelter, clothing is our most immediate and pressing concern. That’s the way it started, anyway—as a basic necessity to be met in a basic way. When people settled down and left their old hunting-and-gathering ways behind, wearing clothes became much more than a way to keep from freezing to death. Throughout the history of human cultures, what people wear has been very important for structuring society. The reason that Crayola makes a royal-purple crayon is that the royalty of ancient Rome and Persia wore purple garments to distinguish themselves from their subjects. The sumptuary laws of Shakespeare’s England forbade lower-class people from wearing clothing designated for the upper classes. And today, of course, wealthy people try to distinguish themselves from the crowd by wearing designer and tailored clothes. The history of clothing can give us great insight into the history of humankind and its consistently hierarchal organization.

American Textile History Museum: Lowell, Massachusetts

The mission of the American Textile History Museum is not to tell the history of clothes. Its mission is to tell the history of America through its clothes. We can tell a lot about people by the clothes they wore. Modern people are often shocked by the conservatism of the full-cover dresses that women wore in the nineteenth century—even in the full blare of summertime.

A current exhibit at the museum, Suited for Space, explores clothing of a decidedly more modern type. The exhibit explores the history of space travel by looking at the history of American spacesuits—with a focus on the suits of the 1960s. There is a replica of the iconic Apollo-era spacesuit donned by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on display.

These spacesuits represent the sixties in popular culture as much as peace symbols and love beads do. When MTV was trying to associate itself with the spirit of the sixties during its early days, it used an image of one of these suits in an ad. The exhibit features x-ray photographs of the spacesuits. While you can’t climb inside them, you can get inside the suits with your eyes.

The Textile Museum: Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.’s Textile Museum takes the investigation of textiles global. A current exhibition, The Sultan’s Garden: The Blossoming of Ottoman Art, discusses the history of this erstwhile continent-spanning empire by discussing the clothing associated with it. The distinctive floral arabesque patterns that Ottoman clothing makers put on their clothes were like the empire’s stamp of power. If people in your country were wearing garments embellished with Ottoman floral arabesques, chances are that you’d been conquered. It is remarkable that their symbol of power is a design of such great beauty. The exhibit discusses the surprising fact that these arabesque designs can all be traced back to one ingenious textile designer based in Istanbul—Kara Memi.

After a long day of learning about clothes, you’ll probably want to take yours off, get into your pajamas and take it easy—just like you do at home. If you want to do this at a true home-style hotel—with a fully equipped kitchen and free in-room Wi-Fi—look no further than Extended Stay Hotels.

Save 20% - Select Weekends at Extended Stay Hotels

May 31, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Last minute deals for new bookings this weekend (stays 06/01 through 06/04) and next weekend (stays 06/08 through 06/11) at select Extended Stay Hotels(sm) locations. Visit our Weekend Deals section by clicking here.  From there, you can book and save at least 20% on stays this weekend or next at your favorite destinations, like Denver, Jacksonville, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis and many others.

For Arrival Dates 06/01/2012 and 06/02/2012

* Denver, CO - Rates from $35.99/night
* Jacksonville, FL - Rates from $35.99/night
* Chicago, IL - Rates from $43.99/night
* Boston, MA - Rates from $59.99/night
* Minneapolis, MN - Rates from $47.99/night
* Seattle, WA - Rates from $51.99/night
* See all locations >

For Arrival Dates 06/08/2012 and 06/09/2012

* Phoenix, AZ - Rates from $27.99/night
* Sacramento, CA - Rates from $31.99/night
* Atlanta, GA - Rates from $31.99/night
* St. Louis, MO - Rates from $23.99/night
* Dallas, TX - Rates from $31.99/night
* Washington, DC Area - Rates from $47.99/night
* See all locations >

Save 20% - Select Weekends at Extended Stay Hotels

May 23, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Last minute deals for new bookings this weekend (stays 05/25 through 05/28) and next weekend (stays 06/01 through 06/04) at select Extended Stay Hotels(sm) locations. Visit our Weekend Deals section by clicking here.  From there, you can book and save at least 20% on stays this weekend or next at your favorite destinations, like Denver, Orlando, Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle and many others.

For Arrival Dates 05/25/2012 and 05/26/2012

* Denver, CO - Rates from $30.99/night
* Orlando, FL - Rates from $39.99/night
* Boston, MA - Rates from $59.99/night
* Minneapolis, MN - Rates from $51.99/night
* Seattle, WA - Rates from $39.99/night
* Washington, DC Area - Rates from $43.99/night
* See all locations >

For Arrival Dates 06/01/2012 and 06/02/2012

* Los Angeles, CA - Rates from $53.99/night
* Atlanta, GA - Rates from $31.99/night
* Chicago, IL - Rates from $39.99/night
* Houston, TX - Rates from $31.99/night
* Salt Lake City, UT - Rates from $39.99/night
* Washington, DC Area - Rates from $47.99/night
* See all locations >

Rates from $30.99 /night - Weekend Stays at Extended Stay Hotels

May 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Last minute deals for new bookings this weekend (stays 05/18 through 05/21) and next weekend (stays 05/25 through 05/28) at select Extended Stay Hotels(sm) locations. Visit our Weekend Deals section by clicking here.  From there, you can book and save at least 20% on stays this weekend or next at your favorite destinations, like Los Angeles, Orlando, Minneapolis, Dallas, Seattle and many others.

For Arrival Dates 05/18/2012 and 05/19/2012

* Los Angeles, CA - Rates from $47.99/night
* Orlando, FL - Rates from $39.99/night
* Minneapolis, MN - Rates from $39.99/night
* Dallas, TX - Rates from $31.99/night
* Seattle, WA - Rates from $47.99/night
* Washington, DC Area - Rates from $43.99/night
* See all locations >

For Arrival Dates 05/25/2012 and 05/26/2012

* San Francisco, CA - Rates from $51.99/night
* Denver, CO - Rates from $30.99/night
* Miami, FL - Rates from $55.99/night
* Chicago, IL - Rates from $43.99/night
* Boston, MA - Rates from $59.99/night
* Houston, TX - Rates from $31.99/night
* See all locations >