Category Museums

How to Weekend in the Hamptons: where to stay and what to do

A classic cedar shingled beach house in the Hamptons on Long Island

A classic cedar shingled beach house in the Hamptons

If you don’t have your mansion, summer share house or cottage, it can be difficult to access the Hamptons for just a weekend. Luckily there a few new artful country inns and boutique hotels so now we can all escape New York and enjoy a Hamptons weekend getaway. Here is the rundown on where to stay and what to do.

I checked out a couple recently with my oldest daughter, grown up and living in New York, to see if the weekend boutique hotel experience is all its cracked up to be. They may be a bit pricey but it’s nothing compared to summer house rentals.

Prices in the Hamptons can really take your breath away….Beyonce paid US$400,000 to rent a 14-bedroom mansion for one month; if you were so inclined, you could have bought the same five hectare estate with pool, tennis court, bowling alley, theater and eight-car garage for US$43.5 million. Yet, in spite of its excesses, much of The Hamptons’ appeal is priceless.

Vistas of translucent light over dune grasses to the sea attracted artists more than a century ago to this 50-kilometer stretch dotted with a handful of villages on the eastern end of Long Island. New York Society followed, building grand cedar-shingled mansions on the potato fields and riding horse buggies down its rose-rimmed country lanes to the beach.

In additio...

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What to do with Kids in Vienna: cakes, carriages, choirs, castles

The Prater is one of the world's oldest amusement parks

There is so much to do with kids in Vienna in both summer and winter that you’ll have your clan clamoring to move to this pretty baroque capital of Austria with its elaborate cafes serving gorgeous cakes and pastries, its horse drawn carriages, exquisite palaces to explore and of course the famous Vienna Boys Choir. And teenage girls could get in a tizz about getting all dressed up and going to one Vienna’s winter balls.

Is it when my youngest daughter Julia conducts the philharmonic orchestra or perhaps when my teenage tom boy Claire waltzes in the arms of a handsome young man?  Or then again, is it the look of sheer astonishment in the eyes of the oldest Alice as she gazes at a ferris wheel made completely of sugar? Whatever tips the scale, I fall in love with Vienna as the perfect place to visit with kids AND teenagers, as I found out a few years ago.

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Tasmania’s radical contemporary Museum of Old and New Art

Tasmania's Museum of Old and New Art.

Tasmania’s MONA on the banks of the Derwent River.
Photo credit: Leigh Carmichael

Tasmania’s $75 million Museum of Old and New Art is the must-see destination in the island state once more famous for its dramatic landscapes and outdoor adventures. It seems like everybody, from European art buffs to everyday mums and dads, is abuzz about MONA, located in a subterranean sandstone structure on the banks of the Derwent River in Hobart. The largest private museum in Australia, MONA offers indoor adventures that rival New York’s edgiest galleries.

It is also no one trick pony since it is wedged into cliffs on the vine-dotted grounds of the Moorilla Estate winery which has a wine bar, cellar door for wine tastings and Moo Brew beer tastings, a fancy French-inspired restaurant and eight contemporary accommodation pavilions.

MONA has also spawned a slew of fabulous festivals and markets that bring a kaleidoscope of locals, interstate and international visitors to this creative mecca that just so happens to be located in an industrial suburb on the outskirts of a small city on the tip of the Southern Hemisphere.

 

David...

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Brisbane is Australia’s New World City with great food, shops and culture

Overlooking the Brisbane CBD as it wraps around the Brisbane River

There’s an old joke that does a pretty good job of describing Brisbane compared to Australia’s other major capital cities. It goes something like this. In Melbourne, people ask where you went to school. In Sydney, they ask what suburb you live in. But in Brisbane they say, ‘Come and have a beer mate!’

Brisbane has always had a big country town demeanour, which of course has its plusses and minuses. Growing up here in the 1970s, it felt like I was drowning in its laconic torpor with not much more going on than the horse races and cricket on muggy weekend afternoons. Fast forward forty years and Brisbane is now marketing itself as Australia’s New World City and there are plenty of cultural and culinary adventures in store.

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Darwin’s Top Attractions: crocodiles, markets, and World War II

Darwin's Mindil Street Markets

As the gateway to Asia and Aboriginal Arnhem Land on the northernmost tip of Australia, Darwin exudes a laid back tropical style and a fascinating multicultural mix. Closer to Jakarta than to Sydney and with vibrant Greek, Indonesian, Thai, Indian, Aboriginal, East Timorese, Malay and African communities, Darwin is no white bread movie set. Here is the definitive insider’s guide to make the most of your visit to the capital of the Northern Territory.

History

Darwin was founded in 1869, its harbor named after Charles Darwin by his one-time shipmate the surveyor John Wickham.

An ob...

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US National Constitution Center: the American Museum of Democracy

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A spotlight picks out an actor, arms outstretched.

I am sitting with my American-born, Australian-raised daughter in a theater-in-the-round at the fascinating US National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

We the People

“We the People… Who are we and what makes us a people?” She continues, “The American Revolution saw a home-grown army of shopkeepers and farmers take on the massed forces of the most powerful nation on earth.”

Rousing music fills the hall, dramatic images of 250 years of a revolutionary story are projected on the floor, on a screen around the perimeter, even on our faces.

More evocative words and images show how the definition of citizenship expanded to include women and African Americans and how the constitution has shaped the United States and other countries around the world.

“The most powerful vision of human freedom ever expressed and it begins with three words…We the people.”

The show ends as it began, with a question, “What will we do with the f...

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