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New York Rooftop Gardens, teNeues

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, May 26 07:00 AM

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New York is one of those cities where, even if you're having the time of your life, you can't help but wonder if you're missing out on something even more fabulous (you probably are). But here's one way to see something that visitors hardly ever get to access: NYC's rooftop gardens.

New York Rooftop Gardens, a coffee-table book with 200 stunning color photographs by Charles de Vaivre gives you an eyeful of the oases nestled high above the concrete jungle. While most of these leafy, lofty spots are reserved for Manhattan's lucky few, don't despair--there's always the egalitarian elevated gardens of New York's High Line to stroll along (Section 2, from West 20th to West 30th Street, opens in June).

New York Rooftop Gardens, teNeues, available early summer. Click here to preorder.

Photo: © 2011 Charles de Vaivre. All rights reserved. www.charlesdevaivre.com

't Zilte Restaurant, Antwerp, Belgium

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, May 20 07:00 AM

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Back when the world was flat, the spice trade was the peak of culinary adventure. So it seems fitting that Belgium's Michelin-starred powerhouse 't Zilte restaurant--where classic cuisine is given a modern twist--has made a new maritime, ethnographic, and folklore institution, Antwerp's Museum Aan de Stroom, its second home.

Occupying the entire ninth floor of the hulking rust-colored stone-and-glass sentinel, the restaurant overlooks the city and river Schelde through floor-to-ceiling windows. 't Zilte may be sitting on top of some noteworthy exhibitions, but we're guessing chef Viki Geunes' creations, including five inventive variations on foie gras, are likely to be the most enticing of all.

Photo: Courtesy of 't Zilte

ArtPad SF, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, May 19 07:00 AM

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When you go on vacation to relax, running around a city trying to catch all the latest art exhibitions can be counterproductive. But what if all those events were brought to your hotel? Well, lazy traveler, you're in luck. Starting tomorrow, the new ArtPad SF art festival is checking in to San Francisco's Phoenix Hotel until May 22.

You can watch performance pieces as you sit by the pool, and see the work of emerging and established artists from some of the Bay Area's top galleries, including the White Walls Gallery, which is showing Shepard Fairey's work. And those suckers who decided to pursue a culture fix all over town will end up at your hotel for video art screenings, live bands, and DJs. 'Cause after the art party, there's the after-party.

Photo: Clockwise from left, Alexis Laurent, Les Chardons, Courtesy of LTMH Gallery; Aaron Parazette, Color Key 16, Courtesy of Gregory Lind Gallery; Shepard Fairey, Rise Above Fist, Courtesy of White Walls Gallery; EINE, The Bigger, Brighter, Louder, Faster, Courtesy of White Walls Gallery.

De L'Europe Hotel, Amsterdam

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, May 16 07:00 AM

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Amsterdam has always been an ideal destination for immersing yourself in art. Case in point, the $87-million gut-to-garret renovation of the 19th-century De L'Europe hotel. The grande dame reopens on June 1 with furnishings that juxtapose Art Deco chic with Renaissance frills, by modern master Cees Dam.

Bold colors (blues, greens, golds) lead the musty-to-modern charge across 88 expanded rooms and 23 loftlike suites. But the coup de grâce? Artwork--six-by-nine-foot detail shots of Rijksmuseum masterpieces, to be exact. And while some may call sleeping under the massive, steady gaze of Jan Cornelisz Verspronck's Girl in Blue creepy, you can paint us impressed.

Photo: Courtesy of De L'Europe 

See! Colour! Jarna, Sweden

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, May 05 12:31 PM

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Sweden is tripping the light fantastic this year with a contemporary art exhibit called See! Colour! (May 15 through October 2). Set near a fjord south of Stockholm in the town of Järna, the indoor/outdoor exhibition explores ideas of light, color, and space in bold installations and art works spread over the Kulturforum campus. Featured are the noted American artist James Turrell and, representing Europe, the late Hilma af Klint and Rudolf Steiner.

Viewers tap into Technicolor experiences via interactive exhibits such as Turrell's Skyspace, a room open to the air whose light sources morph colors in conversation with the sky. Or you can sit inside Turrell's one-person spherical chamber for a color-and-light show, your own personal rainbow connection.

Photo: Bridget's Bardo, (Ganzfeld Piece), James Turrell

St. Regis Washington Ballet Package, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 29 04:21 PM

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When Natalie Portman pirouetted onto the ballet scene in Black Swan, the dance world was spun into the spotlight. Now you can go behind the scenes (minus the feather freak-outs) courtesy of a partnership between the St. Regis and the Washington Ballet, in D.C.

Hotel guests will attend a private dress rehearsal and the opening night performance of Carmen on May 19, plus a backstage tour by the Washington Ballet's artistic director, Septime Webre. You'll party afterward at a gala reception with company dancers and ballet VIPs. Then you'll debrief with Webre the next day over lunch at the hotel's Alain Ducasse restaurant, Adour.

The $5,000 price tag includes four nights in a swanky St. Regis suite with private butler service, so you know your stay will be en pointe.

Washington Ballet Aficionado Experience, $5,000 for four nights, May 17 to 21, 2011.

Photo: Sona Kharatian by Steve Vaccariello

Ralph Lauren's Classic Sports Cars, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 22 01:27 PM

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The fashionable set rarely summers in Paris (that's what the Riviera is for). But Ralph Lauren is breaking with tradition by sending some of his favorite cars for a summer sojourn at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the western wing of the Louvre.

Starting this weekend and running through August 28, the museum will exhibit 17 automotive gems from the designer's extensive collection, including a 1938 lipstick red Alfa Romeo 8C (pictured), and a 1955 Jaguar XKD that would look right at home in the Batcave. Still in perfect working order, the cars are more than worthy companions to the museum's more famous masterpieces. It's not like the Mona Lisa can take you for a spin along the Champs-Élysées.

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Furman

The National Museum of China, Beijing

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, April 14 03:20 PM

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China has always been a nation of superlatives, and it just added another to the list: world's largest museum. The National Museum of China, in Beijing, is the result of a decade-long, $380-million project that combined the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution.

The more than 1 million artifacts in the museum's collection provide an epic survey of Chinese history, from Yuanmou Man, who walked the land 1.7 million years ago, to current president Hu Jintao. With over 2 million square feet of galleries to cover--three times the size of the Louvre in Paris--we suggest you extend your trip and wear comfortable shoes.

Photo: ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images

Museo Soumaya, Mexico City

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, April 07 03:57 PM

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Greedy, greedy Mexico City. Not content to merely inspire architectural envy with your Aztec ruins, you had to go and conquer modern times with the new home of Museo Soumaya, too.

A passion project of Carlos Slim, the world's wealthiest man, and son-in-law architect Fernando Romero, the surreal, 150-foot-high structure is pure design fantasy. Windowless, except for the skylights on the top floor, the organic shape (reminiscent of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim in Bilbao) is wrapped in hexagonal aluminum plates.

Inside, you'll find Slim's eclectic 66,000-piece collection of religious relics, pre-Columbian gold coins, Diego Rivera murals, and plenty of European masters, including the world's largest private reserve of Rodins. Want to ponder The Thinker? Commune with Eve? They're here. And unlike at the Aztec empire's temples, there's no sacrifice necessary for this pilgrimage: Admission is free.

Photo: Courtesy of Museo Soumaya

Orient-Express Art of Travel, Europe

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, April 05 04:01 PM

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Seeing a masterpiece is one thing, but living it is another. That's the idea behind a partnership between the National Gallery in London and Orient-Express, which has launched 13 new train journeys this spring that expose travelers to famous paintings and the regions that inspired them.

You might view Monet's soft-focus landscapes before chugging through the French countryside to the artist's home in Giverny. Or perhaps you'll get lost in the vibrant Venetian cityscapes of Canaletto before riding the rails down to those self-same canals and waterways. National Gallery experts travel with you on Orient-Express's gilded Art Deco train--a masterpiece in itself.

Photo: Courtesy of Orient-Express

Electric Literature Broadcastr App

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, March 29 07:16 PM

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There's nothing quite like eavesdropping on an interesting story. Electric Literature's new Broadcastr app plugs you into some really juicy tales, making it both socially acceptable and useful to "listen in" while traveling.

The free app uses a geolocator to find and play stories about your location, anywhere in the world. Some come from famous writers and comedians such as Michael Showalter, some from oral history organizations, including the project run by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. But most are insights from local folks who really know the neighborhood you're in. And if you have a good tale to tell, you can submit it, too.

It's like having a tour guide, a friend, and a window into all the little heartbreaks and triumphs that make up the life of a destination.

Photo: Courtesy of Broadcastr

Ray's and Stark Bar, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, March 11 07:17 PM

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Los Angeles
has its fair share of beautiful people. So it makes sense that one of the city's top museums would want to put that beauty on display. Enter Ray's and Stark Bar, the newest addition to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, named for Ray Stark, the late film producer and former LACMA trustee.

Ray's glass-box design, by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, makes people the exhibit. Outside, museumgoers observe diners noshing on seasonal Mediterranean fare prepared by chef Kris Morningstar (formerly of District and Mercantile). Inside, diners survey museumgoers frolicking in Chris Burden's famous lamp-post installation, Urban Light. The open-air Stark Bar offers similar people-watching opportunities as well as market-fresh cocktails. Just don't overdo it and make an exhibition of yourself.

Photo: Courtesy of Dustin Downing

Snow-, Skate-, and Surfboards, Maker USA

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, March 10 07:04 PM

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When the last flake has melted, snowboards generally get shoved into the attic to collect dust until next season rolls around. No longer, thanks to the folks at Maker USA. The Philly-based company produces intricately inlaid snow-, skate-, and surfboards that look so good, the last thing you'll want to do is hide them away.

Made from salvaged wood, the boards feature motifs that often nod toward Americana via stars and stripes, galloping mustangs, and Airstream trailers. The company gathers the designs from a collective of graphic designers, street artists, painters, and tattooists. So even if you never saw a mogul you liked and prefer hanging out to hanging ten, these boards make for unique art pieces.

Photo: Courtesy of Maker USA

Railroad Revival Tour, Southwestern United States

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, March 09 06:56 PM

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This April, rock will roll into six southwestern towns courtesy of the Railroad Revival Tour. Indie darlings Mumford & Sons (pictured), Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are taking over a 1,500-foot-long train comprised of 1950s and '60s railcars. They'll eat, sleep, and record on board as they chug across the American Southwest, playing outdoor concerts along the way.

Tickets go on sale today for music fans who want to catch the show when the train stops at an Airstream trailer campground in Marfa, Texas; a railway museum in Chandler, Ariz.; and additional spots in Oakland and San Pedro, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and New Orleans. Great tunes in the great outdoors? That's something we can always get onboard with.

Railroad Revival Tour, April 21-27, 2011; tickets, $55

Photo: Courtesy of Rebecca Miller

Uniworld River Cruises, S.S. Antoinette, Germany

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, February 24 03:18 PM

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The 82-room S.S. Antoinette, Uniworld River Cruises' newest boutique vessel, is a ship of firsts. It's the first river vessel to have an on-board cinema. The first to have deck-level guest rooms with open-air private balconies that convert to enclosed conservatories. And it makes a majestic first impression: The two-story lobby is lit by a 10-foot Baccarat crystal and sapphire chandelier; Brazilian marble shines on the walls and floors; and a 19th-century Venetian glass mirror multiplies all the sparkle.

Like the ship itself, the Antoinette's inaugural itinerary, Castles Along the Rhine, promises to be a regal affair when it launches on March 27. The eight-day journey includes Alsatian wine tastings, excursions to the medieval town of Koblenz, and walks through the Black Forest. Or you can simply size up the royal competition through windows framed by Figueroa silk-taffeta drapes.

Photo: Courtesy of Uniworld River Cruises, Inc.

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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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