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Tiger & Turtle, Magic Mountain, Duisburg, Germany

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, December 19 01:31 PM

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Step right up! Ladies and gents, we present Tiger & Turtle--Magic Mountain, now open on a hill a half hour north of Düsseldorf, Germany. Standing at 148 feet tall with nearly 1,000 feet of zinc-plated steel track, it is the world's first roller-coaster for the acceleration-averse, with speeds of up to two miles per hour.

Built by artists Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth, the walkable sculpture has paths and stairs that careen and curve, plus views of the Rhine from the top. Unlike a typical roller-coaster, this one offers a climb that will get your heart pumping with effort rather than adrenaline. Gotta love art that keeps you in the loop.

Photo: Courtesy of Heike Mutter and Ulrich Genth

The Dutch, Miami Beach

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, November 23 12:10 PM

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When New York City's arty set flies south for Art Basel Miami Beach next month, it'll feel right at home at the new South Beach outpost of the Dutch, Andrew Carmellini's Soho restaurant. Located in the glitzy W South Beach, this cool spot combines driftwood beams with white brick and vintage photos of old Florida to create a homespun cocoon of class.

As at the Soho original, the focus here is a cross-cultural stew of culinary influences, from Morocco to Italy and the coastal South, sourced locally and tweaked to a Miami Latin palate. Think Florida avocado and citrus smoked pepper salad, lobster in a spicy coconut sauce, and sour orange pie for dessert. Cocktails nod to SoBe with pineapple-infused mezcal, house-made jerk bitters, and fresh-squeezed cantaloupe juice. A perfect toast to the avant-garde.

Photo: Courtesy of The Dutch

Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, November 03 11:52 AM

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Los Angeles's edgier side sometimes gets lost among the Botox and bling of tabloid Hollywood. Yet SoCal has long been a locus of left-field creative endeavors. That's why we're loving Pacific Standard Time, an ambitious six-month project exploring the often turbulent history of art in L.A. Sixty cultural institutions in the area are taking part by hosting exhibitions, performances, and concerts now through March 2012.

The Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival, meanwhile, slated for January 19-29, will restage performance pieces and seminal works. For Accidents in Abstract Painting at the Armory Center for the Arts, for example, Richard Jackson will load a large-scale model airplane full of paint and then crash it into a wall. We can't wait to see whether the performance--originally staged in 2003 at Zurich's Hauser & Wirth gallery--makes as much of a splash this time around.

Photo: Courtesy of Harry Gamboa, Jr.; © 1974 Harry Gamboa, Jr.

The Real Cuba, Austin-Lehman Adventures

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, November 01 11:14 AM

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For decades, American citizens with a hankering to see Havana had to engage in some serious (and not recommended) 007 business to make that happen. But now, with the launch of Austin-Lehman Adventures' "the Real Cuba" itinerary, visiting Castro country is easy and--more importantly--legal.

The ten-day trip, a far-ranging intro to Cuban life, includes visiting private homes, helping out with community projects, and meeting artists, artisans, and Santería practitioners. After exploring Old Havana, you'll travel via old steam train, vintage car, and even horseback to tobacco farms, coffee plantations, and rural villages. Best of all, Austin-Lehman arranges the charter flight from Miami or Cancún and handles the visa process.

Austin-Lehman Adventures' ten-day trips starting February 2012, from $4,998 per person

Photo: Courtesy of Austin-Lehman Adventures

Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, October 27 07:00 AM

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It's impossible to guess what lies beneath the new Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (opening November 2) when viewing it from outside. Architect Preston Scott Cohen's prismatic shiplike structure, made of 430 polished cement and glass panels, hides a library, an auditorium, and almost 30,000 square feet of gallery space in its unassuming angular belly. Ramped promenades and staircases spiral around a top-lit 87-foot-high atrium, its complex geometric surfaces bouncing the Mediterranean sun three floors below ground.

A temporary exhibit of works by Anselm Kiefer plus 250 pieces from the museum's permanent collection (prints, drawings, photography, design, video, and sculpture from 1906 to the present) will inaugurate the $55 million cultural hub--as well as Tel Aviv's Art Year festival.

Photo © Amit Geron. Courtesy of Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Gerhard Richter at the Tate Modern, London

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, October 14 11:08 AM

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What better way to wish artist Gerhard Richter happy birthday (it'll be his 80th come 2012) than by paying homage at Tate Modern? The London museum is fêting the contemporary master's work with a new retrospective, Panorama.

Over the course of his 50-year career, the German painter has explored pretty much every significant art movement of the 20th century, from squeegee-painted abstraction to hyperrealism and classic portraiture. Expect to encounter delicate watercolor portraits alongside gritty social commentary, such as Richter's series on the Baader-Meinhof Gang. We're especially smitten with his 1960s-era Everyday Life paintings, in which scenes and people are subtly blurred, creating hauntingly beautiful snapshots of loss and dislocation. Who knew melancholy could make us so happy?

Gerhard Richter: Panorama at Tate Modern, through January 8, 2012

Photo: Courtesy of Tate Modern

Young & Free Exhibition, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, September 27 07:00 AM

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Australia, it seems, is a hotbed of street art. But if a trip down under is looking unlikely anytime soon, you can check out the U.S.A.'s biggest exhibit of Aussie urban art at San Francisco gallery 941 Geary. The Young & Free show brings together a diverse group of mixed media artists, wheat-pasters, and spray-painters.

Running through October 22, the exhibit includes mixed media pieces by Reka, haunting aerosol portraits by Ha-Ha, and gold-leaf skulls by Vexta. Those who wish to take one home, be forewarned: Taggers' work commands a high price these days--possibly as much as a plane ticket to Melbourne.

Photo: The Kelly Gang series, from left: Steve and Ned by Reka, courtesy of 941 Geary

stillspotting: nyc, To a Great City, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, August 22 11:35 AM

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Quiet. Respite. Solitude. Not words usually associated with New York City. But from September 15-18 and 22-25, stillspotting: nyc, To a Great City, a conceptual art collaboration between the Guggenheim Museum, Estonia-born composer Arvo Pärt, and Snøhetta (the architecture firm behind New York City's National September 11 Memorial and Museum) will redefine your aural perceptions of the city.

A walking tour takes you to five "galleries" around lower Manhattan--including a green labyrinth in the Battery, an underground chamber at Governors Island, and off-limits rooms in landmark skyscrapers--where the interactive installation marries architecture with Pärt's signature minimalist compositions. Buy a ticket, get your map, and follow the three-hour route, or choose your own adventure throughout the day. Loop back. Meditate. Make it your own. In the city, finding peace and quiet is indeed an art.

Route starts at Castle Clinton National Monument in Battery Park, 11 am to 7 pm (ticket sales close at 4 pm), $10. Advance reservations suggested.

Photo: Courtesy of Snøhetta 2011

They Draw & Travel

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, August 08 11:07 AM

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A journal, a sketch, scribbles on a napkin. HDSLR gizmos are great and all, but sometimes it takes putting pen to paper to truly capture the essence of a destination. And for that, brother-and-sister duo Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell launched They Draw & Travel, an online gallery of illustrated maps.

Artists submit maps of locations they have a personal connection to, adding local color, literally, via vibrant free-form cityscapes and sketches. For example, a quirky Antarctica map includes a clothesline of frozen laundry and a snorkeling seal, while a Kyoto map displays a huge bowl of noodles with a smiling face, indicating a tasty ramen stop-off. The site features more than 300 maps and is searchable by destination, style, and interest. Starting next month, you'll be able to order high-quality prints of the artwork (photographic prints from $63, canvas panels from $109; sizes range from 36 x 13 inches to 90 x 33 inches). Consider us drawn in.

Photo: Charleston map by Jessica Pollak, Williamsburg map by James Gulliver Hancock; courtesy of They Draw & Travel

Holey Books at The Hole, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, August 03 07:00 AM

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If your bookcase is begging to be adorned with a confetti-filled egg or a plastic breast--or you just want to do some arty gawking--get thee to the Hole, a spunky gallery and purveyor of oddball objets d'art that just soft-launched on the Bowery in NYC.

Founded by refugees from the former Pop art/fashion/party powerhouse Deitch Projects, the Holey Books store is like a museum shop stripped of pretense and injected with DIY downtown grit. The evolving collection of items currently includes rare zines and comics, art books, limited-edition hoodies by Dearraindrop, tees from Terence Koh, and a selection of Native Shoes (a fashionable Franken-sneaker that's part Top-Sider, part Croc).

Works by up-and-coming artists on display in the gallery don't come cheap, but all you need to bring home one of the 200 custom-commissioned posters from the likes of Harmony Korine and Assume Vivid Astro Focus is $75 burning a hole in your pocket.

Photo: Courtesy of The Hole

L'Opéra Restaurant, Paris

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, July 07 11:32 AM

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After 136 years on the drawing board and three near launches, L'Opéra Restaurant at Paris' legendary Palais Garnier finally opened to the public on Monday. And it's every bit as theatrical as you'd expect.

Starchitect Odile Decq's huge white-plaster shapes curve organically around the restaurant's columns, and deep ruby chairs and carpets add Puccini-esque drama. The food from chef Christophe Aribert of Grenoble's two-Michelin-starred Les Terrasses is equally showstopping. Star dishes include roasted guinea fowl, creamed artichoke and foie gras soup, and two versions of house-smoked salmon (classic, with blini and caviar, and contemporary, with brioche and a horseradish and mustard sorbet).

Our inner fat lady ain't singing here. She's eating.

Photo: Courtesy of L'Opéra Restaurant

StandART 2011, The Standard Hotels

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, June 29 07:00 AM

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Feeling guilty for spending your trip shopping and boozing instead of getting your culture on? Well, the fine folks at The Standard Hotels have partnered up with arty nonprofit Creative Time to absolve you of your vacation sins with StandART 2011.

Contemporary artists including Terence Koh and Slater Bradley have created a video art installation to run on all televisions in The Standard's hotels in New York City, Miami Beach, Downtown L.A., and Hollywood until the end of the year. From social commentary to bunny narratives, they're a real trip.

Photo: Allison Schulnik's Forest, courtesy of The Standard Hotels

Cox & Kings' Wonders of Georgia

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, June 28 07:00 AM

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You've done Paris, Rome, and London, but where next on your grand tour? We suggest it's time to venture off the beaten track to the crossroads of Europe and Asia. The folks at travel company Cox & Kings have launched a tour of Georgia as part of a new package of undiscovered destinations across the pond.

The eight-day trip goes from a fourth-century fortress in Tbilisi to the birthplace of Stalin to the underground monasteries of Davit Gareja and the famed vineyards of Kakheti, the oldest wine-producing region in the world. Medieval churches, Soviet-era history, and ancient booze? That's enough to get Georgia on anyone's mind.

Cox & Kings' Wonders of Georgia tour, from $1,735. 2011 departures: July 17, September 4, October 2.

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Runkel / Robert Harding World Imagery / Getty Images

Shanghai Museum of Glass

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, June 08 11:31 AM

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China isn't exactly known for transparency, but the country is making one thing clear with the opening of a new museum dedicated entirely to glass.

Housed in a former factory in Shanghai's Baoshan industrial district, the 53,000-square-foot institution explores the production, history, and applications of glass in the worlds of science, art, architecture, and astronomy. The collection and visiting exhibits include Han dynasty earrings made of glass and contemporary art by international and Chinese glass sculptors, all reflected in the striking black crystal interior. There's a space for glass-blowing demonstrations, too.

But you could just focus on the building itself, a sparkling example of glass craftsmanship in all its carved, faceted, stained, and lacquered glory. It's clearly worth the trip.

Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Museum of Glass

Avalon Hotel, Göteborg, Sweden

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, June 01 07:00 AM

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Design exhibitions can be a bit frustrating, especially when the works on show--say, an Eames lounge chair just pleading to be sat on--are behind glass. But now that the fashion-, design-, and decorative arts-focused Röhsska Museum has paired up with Sweden's Avalon Hotel, you can look, touch, and swivel with verve.

In conjunction with the museum's Past-Present-Future exhibition (through September 30), design covetables from the collection have been replicated in the hotel's public areas and key guest rooms. Our faves include a tangerine Verner Panton Cone chair, a classic of late 1950s Scandinavian modernism; the full-size Horse lamp and Pig tray tables, quirks of design stars Moooi; and a DVD of Swedish FRONT design group's Blow Away Vase, showing in the elevators. Free workshops and design tours are offered for the truly obsessed. How novel: design that's actually within reach--at least for a night.

Photo: Courtesy of the Avalon Hotel

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Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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