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Melanie Renzulli

Melanie's United States Travel Blog


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Top 100 Restaurants for Outdoor Dining

Wednesday May 28, 2014


From long, lazy lunches to romantic dinners, dining outdoors can make a meal memorable. With this in mind, the online restaurant reservation service OpenTable combed through five million reviews of 19,000 restaurants across the USA to come up with its list of the Top 100 Outdoor Dining Restaurants.

Reading and Reflecting on Memorial Day

Monday May 26, 2014

National World War II Memorial in Washington, DC

Memorial Day is a time when the U.S. commemorates the sacrifices of fallen soldiers who served in all wars, from the Civil War to Iraq and Afghanistan. Commemorations around World War II will be particularly poignant this year as it is the 10th anniversary of the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, and the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the decisive battle around which the National World War II Museum in New Orleans was originally founded to honor.

It is with these anniversaries in mind that I wanted to bring to attention several New Yorker pieces that are worth a read if you have a subscription. In 2011, Amy Davidson summarized A.J. Liebling's 1945 piece "Quest for Mollie." Liebling's initial Reporter-At-Large piece about D-Day, written in July 1944, is also available from the archive. Per Davidson's summary:

A Silver Star fades to gold. Glory involves an acknowledgement not only of loss but of regret; that is a proper sentiment, on any day.

Seven American Beaches Where You Can Bare It All

Sunday May 25, 2014


Always wanted to try nude sunbathing or skinny dipping but didn't know where to go? Here are seven U.S. beaches where you can shed your clothes among similarly open-minded travelers. Read more...

Common Travel Dilemmas: What Would You Do?

Wednesday May 21, 2014

Hotel Room with Laptop

How long would you wait to take over a "saved" beach chair at a resort?

A Travel Leaders Group survey recently asked nearly 3,000 Americans about their responses to some small dilemmas they may face while traveling. When asked how long travelers would wait before taking over a beach chair that another resort guest had indicated was occupied, more than 50 percent claimed they would wait an hour or less to claim the chair, while almost 30 percent (29.8%) of respondents said they would wait more than four hours.

When to tip hotel staff is a question about which many travelers are confused. While nearly 50 percent of travelers said that they would tip a bellboy "the usual amount" if he helped them with their luggage upon arrival, nearly 20 percent (18.8%) said they would not tip because "I didn't ask for assistance." Respondents were even more stingy with maid service: 26.3% claim they never tip their hotel maids, no matter their length of stay.

Other questions on the TLG survey deal with children using "adult only pools"; where and when to stow carry-on luggage; re-using hotel towels; and what to do if a hotel neighbor is too loud. More details on the survey are here.

Related: Top Hotel Apps | Dos and Don'ts for USA Travel

9/11 Museum Opens So We'll 'Never Forget'

Thursday May 15, 2014

9/11 Museum in New York City

Today is the ceremony marking the long-awaited opening of the museum portion of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. While the museum doesn't open to the public until May 21, it has already proven to be overwhelming as well as a "powerful and necessary experience."

The 9/11 Museum is located beneath the 9/11 Memorial on the very site where the World Trade Towers once stood. On display in the museum are deeply personal artifacts ranging from charred firefighter gear and a hull of a crushed firetruck; a window from the wreckage of American Airlines Flight 11; structural elements from the WTC towers, such as crumpled steel beams and a severed elevator cable; the preserved storefront of a clothing store damaged by the dust from that day; and even the last words of some of the victims, which were captured in voicemail and donated to the museum by loved ones. Not on view but within the museum (and not without controversy) are 8,000 unidentified remains from the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 terrorism attacks.

Overwhelming may not be a strong enough word to describe this museum.

Those who wish to learn more about that fateful day, its victims, survivors, perpetrators, and saviors, can visit the September 11 Museum beginning May 22, 2014 (opening day is already sold out). Tickets are $24, but there are discounts available for youth, seniors, and military personnel. The museum also offers "Free Admission Tuesday," with free admission for all visitors Tuesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The last entry is at 7 p.m.

Washington Monument By the Numbers

Monday May 12, 2014

Washington Monument from an 1885 Harper's Weekly illustration

The Washington Monument re-opens today after being closed for three years for repairs following the 2011 earthquake. As I did when the Statue of Liberty re-opened in 2013, here's a "by the numbers" post on the Washington Monument. You can learn more about the Washington Monument from the National Park Service website.

Photo: New York Times/Harper's Weekly Archive

Behind the Book: NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette

Monday May 12, 2014


Anyone who has lived in or frequently visited New York knows that the city has many unwritten rules, secrets, and social cues. After living in New York City for several years, illustrator Nathan Pyle decided to draw a few of these tips, to hilarious--and often helpful--effect.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Pyle about his new book NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette. Read more...

Photo: Nathan Pyle/HarperCollins

Celebrities Stage Protest at Beverly Hills Hotel Over Sharia Law

Wednesday May 7, 2014


Celebrities and human rights organizations are calling on travelers to boycott the world famous Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air. Read more...

Photo: Facebook/Human Rights Campaign

Visiting the Most Remote Places in the United States

Wednesday April 30, 2014

Redwoods National Park

"Getting away from it all" is a common travel dream, but one that is not logistically easy. Understanding that it is "no longer possible to be more than 5 miles from a road within the vast majority of the conterminous 48 United States," Ryan and Rebecca Means created Project Remote, an initiative to visit and document the most remote places in every one of the 50 states.

Tempting as it would be to provide a list of each state's most remote spot, that would be disingenuous to the spirit of Ryan and Rebecca's project. So, I urge you to take a gander at the Remote Footprints website to see where the Means have been and plan to go. While not a comprehensive source of info, Remote Areas Near You has become a sort of message board for the Remote Project, as visitors drop by to provide tips on virtually untouched spots from New Mexico to North Carolina. Donations are welcome.

A Celebration of Jazz

Tuesday April 29, 2014

Duke Ellington

The companion website for Ken Burns' PBS documentary "Jazz" is a rich source of information about America's most universally respected indigenous music form. Not only can you read the biographies of greats like Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker, and Louis Armstrong, to name but a very few legends, you can also hear music clips and spoken word memories in context with the four main jazz centers in America: New Orleans ("The Birthplace of Jazz"); Kansas City ("A Wide Open Town" and the home of the American Jazz Museum); Chicago ("Where Jazz Grew Up"); and New York City ("The Jazz Capital of the World").

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, culminating in the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (typically the last week of April to the beginning of May) and, on April 30, in International Jazz Day, a UNESCO-sponsored event. In addition to promoting the preservation of physical sites of cultural heritage (of which the U.S. currently has just over 20), UNESCO encourages peace, tolerance, and understanding through an American art form with universal appeal. Read More...

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