Blog Posts by ForbesTraveler

  • Bizarre Spa Treatments

    In the market for a little new-fangled spa therapy? Gone are the days of simple cold cream and Swedish massage. Nowadays, ailments like sore muscles, lank locks and sallow skin are being remedied with diamond elixirs, full-body fish therapy, and - yes - golf ball massages. Spa culture has moved Cedar Enzyme BathCedar Enzyme Bathfrom basic treatments, such as classic facials and massages, to a growth industry where, it seems, anything goes, from goat yogurt facials to products with unexpected ingredients, such as maple syrup, olives and dates. But before spending a fortune on a treatment, it pays to ask the therapist about the ingredients and find out if any studies are available to confirm (or deny) what the treatment promises to accomplish.

    From birth to adulthood, there are a wealth of healthy spa options, many of them bizarre beyond borders. Make that "before" birth. For the unborn spa goer, there is a prenatal 50-minute Mammina massage for Mom-to-be at the Meritage resort in Napa, CA. It's part of the "babymoon"

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  • 10 Celebrity-Watching Restaurants

    By John Mariani

    Dining spots where stars are spotted

    Remember that "I Love Lucy" episode when the always star-struck Lucy eats at Hollywood 's Brown Derby and finds William Holden sitting in the next booth? Hilarity, of course, ensues, with Lucy making a fool of herself trying to get Holden's attention-not the first fan to try interacting with a celebrity trying to have a quiet dinner at a restaurant.

    It's always been that way, since the days the French aristocracy used to line up at the dining room at Versailles just to watch Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette eat. Things became far more proletarian when grand restaurants like Delmonico's and Rector's opened in New York in the 19th century, drawing everyone from Diamond Jim Brady and Mark Twain to Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. People gawked.

    In Pictures: 10 Celebrity-Watching Restaurants

    So they did at New York 's Barbetta (opened in 1906), which drew every opera singer and musician from around the world,

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  • Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

    By Jennifer Murphy

    So good they're rationed!

    When it comes to finding-and devouring- America 's best chocolate chip cookies, sweet-toothed connoisseurs know no limits. At Al's Deli, a French-inspired under-the-radar treasure in Evanston , Ill. , the demand for freshly-baked cookies is so high customers are limited to buying four cookies of each type per day. "Otherwise," says co-owner Bob Pottinger, "People would come in and buy a whole tray of cookies first thing in the morning. We have to limit it so there's enough for everyone."

    In Pictures: The Best Cookies

    What makes the chocolate chip cookies at Al's Deli some of the most sought-after in the Chicago area? "The ingredients," Pottinger says. "Our cookies are made with tons of real butter, Bourbon-Madagascar vanilla, and Ghirardelli chocolate. They taste like they're made at home."

    Indeed, whether it's the six-ounce indulgence from New York's Levain Bakery, the soft oatmeal-chip concoction from the Bay Area's

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  • America's Most Bizarre Restaurants

    Goats on the roof, ninjas in castles and more.

    Sometimes, food alone cannot make a meal. A significant part of tasting a meal is the mindset you are in. This means flavors, even from a simple dish, and your overall enjoyment in a restaurant can be radically enhanced by the right atmosphere and setting. For example, many believe that fish and seafood taste better in view of water. It's not that the composition of the food is actually any different, but rather that when your brain is stimulated your reception to seafood is altered.

    In Pictures: America's Most Bizarre Restaurants

    Wise restaurants can put a smile on your face or get you excited as soon as you walk in the door, and well before you take your first bite. As the percentage of independent restaurants in the United States grows smaller and corporate chains modeled after just a handful of concepts explode, offbeat and non-traditional concepts tend to stand out even more.

    At San Francisco 's Supper Club you are treated

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  • Top 10 International Food And Wine Festivals

    Wining and dining galas worldwide.

    In recent years, the food and wine festival has become less of an industry-insider event and more of a chance for civilian epicures, inundated with endless food blogs and the popularity of the Food Network, to mingle with chefs, vinters and restaurateurs. What Julia Child started, Rachel Ray proselytized, and most people now probably spend more time watching cooking shows than in the kitchen cooking. It's the era of the celebrity chef, and what better arena for some of that stardust to rub off than at an event where these "personalities" are giving classes, imparting kitchen wisdom and even handing out their freshly made delectables?

    In Pictures: Top 10 International Food And Wine Festivals

    The South Beach Wine and Food Festival and the Aspen Food and Wine Classic (sponsored by the Food Network and Food + Wine magazine respectively) are the most publicized on the circuit, but there are countless others both in the U.S. and abroad. In fact, the beauty

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  • 8 Most Common Travel Illnesses

    ...And how to prevent them.

    The most contagious travel illness news of late was, of course, all about the swine flu. But good old Montezuma's Revenge-and in no way does that refer only to the Mexican strain of travel-induced diarrhea-is by far the most common travel illness threatening a carefree vacation.

    "It's very hard to avoid. About 40 percent of people will get diarrhea when traveling in an undeveloped country, which covers most of the world," says Dr. Stephen Berger, founder and medical advisor for GIDEON, on online infectious diseases database. Exposure to different strains of the E. coli bacteria, present in all of our bodies, says Berger, is what usually causes diarrhea in travelers, and it can happen in any country.

    In Pictures: 8 Most Common Travel Illnesses

    "Americans are very insular and can see these conditions as other people's diseases, hence the term Montezuma's Revenge," says Berger. "But when Mexicans go to America they get diarrhea, too, since

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  • America's Best Street Food

    It's not just soggy hot dogs anymore.

    Sometimes a city's best food isn't at that five-star, impossible-to-get-a-reservation restaurant. Instead, it might be located just down the street-literally the street-from your hotel. From public health concerns to a presumed lack of choices, street food has traditionally gotten a bad rap in the United States . In fact, the thought of street food may conjure images of dried-out pretzels and waterlogged hot dogs, but that's not true any longer. Across the U.S. , curbside chow has been taken to a new level in many cities, while long-established street food staples elsewhere in the country are still gobbled up with gusto.

    In Pictures: America's Best Street Food

    As the unofficial street food capital of the country, options in the Big Apple range from fresh tamales to exotic gelatos. New York 's streets are a serving platter for all ranges of ethnic food. The city's Street Vendor Project estimates that more than 80 percent of the street

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  • 10 Best U.S. National Parks

    Wilderness excellence.

    Author Wallace Stegner (echoing Englishman Lord Bryce) famously declared national parks "the best idea America has ever had." Travelers wholeheartedly agree: there are nearly 300 million visits to parks each year. In tough economic times, they're one of the best vacation bargains on the planet.

    But in summertime, when schools are out and families are on holiday, the nation's most popular parks get downright crowded with motorists, hikers, and sightseers.

    Luckily, you can navigate the summer crowds.

    In Depth: 10 Best U.S. National Parks

    Advance planning can put you on the right track, especially when visiting a superstar park like Yosemite in California . Park campgrounds and hotels fill up fast, says Scott Gediman, Yosemite park ranger. "Have a good plan and flexibility regarding accommodations. Advance planning is really important." If possible, simply avoid the weekends. "It's as simple as coming midweek," he says.

    Avoiding the

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  • 10 Great Family Vacations

    Pack your bags, grab the kids, save money.

    If you only take one family vacation this year, make it count. Summer 2009 has some of the best-value deals we've seen in years, as the luxury travel industry works overtime to compete for their most valued clients-you and your family. Whether you're planning on a full week of sun and sailing in the Caribbean, or an educational weekend in our nation's capital, you'll reap the benefits of an industry that's scrambling to get your attention.

    In Pictures: 10 Great Family Vacations 2009

    Weeklong rate reductions are biggest at specialty outdoor retreats, which are now competing with oh-so-cheap national parks like Yellowstone and Acadia, whose approximately $15 a day price tag can give you camping amnesia-what bugs? What moldy sleeping bags? What freezing lakes filled with leeches? As a result, luxury camp-style options are bringing out the big guns to remind you that there's no place like R&R under the stars. In some cases, it's an enormous

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  • New York's Hidden Gem-Restaurants

    Tasty bites of the Big Apple--off the beaten path

    Many visitors to the Big Apple seldom stray from the city's Midtown district or (or if they do, it's not principally to eat). That's not to knock its myriad attractions, famous restaurants among them, but there's more to the Big Apple's dining scene than the tried, true and traditional. The culinary dividends of venturing south of Times Square and even-gasp!-to its outer boroughs can be high indeed, if you know where to look.

    In Pictures: New York's Hidden-Gem Restaurants

    In a city which has 18,500 restaurants (according to NYC & Company), there's no excuse for not expanding your dining horizons. But the real secret to a memorable experience is to follow the buzz instead of the herd. In other words, shun the over-the-top, Las Vegas-sized restaurants (with the exception of the surprisingly sophisticated Buddakan) in favor of smaller but more interesting digs, whether that means up on Tenth Avenue or down in the far West

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