Lonni Delane

The 4th of July falls on a Friday this year, so it’s the perfect excuse to turn the holiday into an extended weekend vacay! We’ve honed in on some cities that are fun to visit at just about any time of year, but if your trip falls over the long weekend, it’ll be amped up by fireworks, festivals, and fabulous food as these destinations get in gear to celebrate the red, white, and blue. These six cities pull out all the stops and bring you great entertainment, including free concerts by artists that would normally cost a pretty penny to see in your local arena — but in the spirit of patriotism and community, they’re free! Round up your crew because it’s time for a road trip.

Atlanta Lights Up in the Laser Show Spectacular

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Photo Credit: Stone Mountain Park

There are 4th of July celebrations going on all over Atlanta next weekend, including festivities at Lenox Square Mall and a fireworks display at Centennial Olympic Park. However, Stone Mountain Park offers the ultimate display with a combination laser and fireworks show. Make sure you get to the park super early and enjoy a day with attractions such as Sky Hike and the 3-D/4-D show “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.”

Where to Stay: Loews Atlanta Hotel

The 414-room Loews Atlanta brings style and luxury to Midtown. Rooms are bright with floor-to-ceiling windows, and spacious bathrooms have soaking tubs and TVs. Upscale amenities include a modern spa and fitness center, along with a swanky cocktail bar in the lobby. Convenient dining options range from an innovative restaurant to a gourmet snack bar, but many restaurants and bars are in walking distance as well. Wi-Fi is available for a fee and parking is pricey, although free transportation is on offer within a three-mile radius in a stylish Mercedes GL450.

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Oftentimes a movie, TV show, or music video can suck you in with its gorgeous sets and shooting locations. They can feel so real, you  just wish you could be there. Well, you probably can’t live the fictional lives portrayed on the big and small screen (and sometimes, you probably don’t wan t to), but you can catch a bit of the magic with a visit to the set locations. We’ve found some real-life places that set the scene for some of our favorite on-screen moments.

Mad Men Goes For Drinks at P.J. Clarke’s in New York City

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Mad Men is an amazing show for many reasons, including it’s incredibly detailed portrayal of the 1960s in New York City. When Peggy gets promoted to a copywriter position, she invites everyone for a round of drinks at P.J. Clarke’s. This landmark New York pub has been around since the 1800s and it is still a popular after-work spot. Back in the day, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra were frequent patrons.

Where to stay: The Waldorf Towers

The Waldorf Towers occupies the top floors of the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel in Midtown East. It is an exclusive boutique with 117 classic, individually decorated rooms, some of which have a rich history of famous guests and long-term residents. Most amenities are shared with its sister property — including the great (but pricey) restaurants, high-end Guerlain Spa, and beauty salon — but the hotel has its own lobby, fitness center, elevators, and concierges.

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Barcelona is a city steeped in culture and rich in history. Art is more than just a scene here: It’s a heritage, which comes as no surprise since this city is where Salvador Dali and Picasso would meet for lunch and forever cement their friendship. Okay, so now we’ve covered the cultural bases — onto the shopping! When it comes to a European shopping expedition, Barcelona delivers without a doubt. Check out our shopping guide to Barcelona below before flexing that plastic!

Where to Shop for Luxe Goods: Passeig de Gracia 

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Paris has the Champs-Elysees — and Barcelona has Passeig de Gracia. Along this shop-lined street, you’ll find all the usual suspects of international luxury shopping such as Chanel and Gucci, but there are plenty of brands and stores that are unique and distinctly Spanish. International brand Zara has plenty of stateside locations, but none compare to the huge flagship Barcelona store. Not only does it have the hip fashion you would expect, there’s also housewares. It also offers affordable shopping compared to its high ticket neighbors, but everyone can afford to drool over the spectacular turn-of-the-20th-century architecture that populates the iconic Passeig de Gracia.

Where to Stay: El Palace Hotel

The Palace oozes elegance and old-world charm. Housed in an early 20th-century building a few blocks from the Gothic Quarter, the hotel is popular among well-heeled families, couples, and business travelers. The property boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant, Caelis; car service to the airport and major attractions; and a small but modern fitness center. The exclusive spa features the only Temazcal sauna in Spain, Anne Semonin products, and traditional treatments. 

Budget-Friendly Option: Petit Palace Museum

This 61-room hotel, part of the tech-savvy Petit brand, is a no-frills but contemporary choice located in Barcelona’s city center, a few blocks from Plaza Catalunya. There isn’t much to the property (it lacks any outdoor space — a rarity for Barcelona) but it’s a good value, especially for families. Rooms are starting to show wear and tear, but high-tech amenities such as flat-screen TVsiPod docks and laptops help compensate. 

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As we all know from the weekly tabloid headlines, plenty of rock stars have done their damnedest to live out the expected lifestyle with non-stop partying, outrageous demands, and the whole sex-drugs-and-rock-n-roll thing. The rock star-hosted hotel party is perhaps the most cliche of all of these antics, but fortunately celebs do not disappoint, and we’ve heard plenty of stories of wild nights in some of the world’s most beautiful hotels — that, after visits from rock stars, have also become some of the most notorious. Here we bring you five hotels that have hosted rock star parties that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

The Rolling Stones Trash Andaz West Hollywood

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When it comes to living the rock n’ roll lifestyle, few bands are as committed as The Rolling Stones were in their heyday. Front man Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards were the dynamic duo that primarily built the band’s song catalog, and they were also a diabolic pair when they got some free time on their hands. Destroying  hotel rooms was their tradition, and chucking a TV from the hotel window was their calling card. During a 1972 stay at the Andaz West Hollywood (formerly the Continental Hyatt House), Richards and saxophonist Bobby Keyes tossed a TV from stories above and documented the event for posterity.

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A city with a vibrant artistic community can mean lots of fun with great live music, terrific street fairs, and a laid-back vibe.  After all, the art scene of a city can define its very culture – and can make for a great getaway. You can stock up on one-of-a-kind artisanal goods by day and take in a different show every night. Or crawl through pubs and rock out to local bands after dark, while gallery-hopping during the day. We picked out our five favorite artsy cities, home to creative communities that deliver a unique flavor. And of course, we tell you where to stay in each!

1. New Orleans

Photo Credit: Katie Harbath, Flickr Photo Credit: Katie Harbath, Flickr

 

New Orleans has always been a cultural mish-mash with Latin, French, African, and Caribbean influences. The bright colors of Mardi Gras only scratch the surface of what this city has to offer. There’s plenty of experimental theater, live music (jazz!!!), and great artistry, as well. Visitors would be remiss if they didn’t check out the art galleries of St. Claude Avenue, especially on Second Saturdays when many galleries showcase their newest and boldest exhibits. If you’re looking to shop or take in some live music, start at the Frenchmen Art Market to pick up some one-of-a-kind jewelry or spectacular wall art and then drift over to Frenchmen Street for a show.

Where to Stay: Royal Sonesta Hotel

After a long day of artistic revelry, relax in some of Bourbon Street’s swankiest hotel digs.  This hotel is home to a hopping pool scene complete with a cabana bar, and live jazz is performed on the premises. You can also do plenty of people watching from a balcony room.

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