Not too long ago, we’d never dream of eating outside in the winter. Hot food instantly turns cold along with your fingers, toes and nose. Can you say unpleasant? But with all of the new rules surrounding Covid-19 safety like limited seating or full-indoor closures, resort restaurants have been forced to get creative or lose their businesses.
No indoor dining, you say? We’ll do you one better and offer really expensive indoor-outdoor dining for your vacation pleasure. How’s that for finding a silver lining to the Covid-19 ski season circus? Enter tent, yurt, igloo and dome dining. Even old gondolas find a new home this winter.
Colorado Dining Cabs
In Steamboat Springs, Mountain Tap Brewery has taken three, bright purple gondolas and repurposed them with electric heating, Bluetooth speakers, twinkly lights and room for up to six friends to safely dine and drink.
Telluride also has set out 20 newly refurbished, heated, ventilated and socially distanced buckets. Up to eight guests can sit on plush seats, and order from 12 different restaurants around the plaza.
At Aurum Food and Wine in Breckenridge and Steamboat, you can climb inside a yurts, bundle up with quilts and lanterns and feast on a special chef’s multi-course meal.
Vail, Colo., restaurants have also gotten into the game by adding heated tents and igloos.
Utah’s Yurts Igloo and Dome Dining
Courtesy of Stein Eriksen Lodge
Speaking of igloos, Alpenglobes are all the rage in the Beehive State. The Utah-based company designs these clear domes to offer diners a 360-degree, panoramic view from posh spot like the deck of the Stein Eriksen Lodge and Butcher’s Chophouse in Park City. It’ll cost you $200 for 90 minutes but what’s that kind of money compared to the company of good friends and family on vacation. Plus you get adjustable heating, Bluetooth music dimmable chandeliers, mountain views and cocktails.
The Wasatch Brew Pub at the top of Main Street in Park City erected their own cool little igloos to serve Covid-conscious diners. Each dome seats up to eight people and reservations are required.
And at the bottom of Main, you’ll spot another Alpenglobe for whiskey fans. The High West Distillery’s Nelson Cottage . The eight guests not only get those panoramic views, heat, and ventilation but variable mood lighting as well. They won’t be able to dine off a full menu but can get sips and snacks.
The Yurt Village at The St. Regis Deer Valley is quite the spectacle over at the hotel’s “Ski Beach.” Three custom-made yurts feature mahogany lattices, plexiglass for stargazing and radiant heat. They are themed based on the 2002 Olympics events that were held at Deer Valley (Aerials, Moguls and Slalom) and seat eight for a gourmet mountain meal.
All of these unique dining spectacles come with a high pricetag, demand and limitations. Most can seat only 6- 8 guests and are booked up well in advance. There is also a food and beverage minimum ranging from $200 – $400 (depending on the date and time) plus tax and gratuity. But getting engaged, having a birthday, only taking one vacation during a pandemic? If you can score one just once, it might be totally worth the splurge.
If you live in the west, you might think that Louisiana is immune to winter but the folks of Shreveport beg to differ. Starting November 30, 2019, the first floor of Sci-Port Discovery Center will transform into a winter oasis.
A new exhibit called Sno-Port: The Science and Wonders of Snowflakes blankets the first floor of the 92,000-square-foot Discovery Center, and will include interactive exhibitions and activities. The installation includes a blizzard tunnel, “Make-a-Flake,” ice fishing, and a chair lift ride, to bring winter to visitors of the Pelican State. The interactive displays will run for 10 weeks.
Why Winter in Lousiana?
“Sno-Port is a perfect example of how Sci-Port serves as an anchor to bring the resources of our community together to provide unique educational opportunities,” said Dianne Clark, executive director of Sci-Port Discovery Center. “We’re so excited to be included in this year’s holiday activities in Shreveport-Bossier.”
Throughout the month of December, Sci-Port Discovery Center will collaborate with local organizations and businesses to host pop-up shops and restaurants. Learning Express Toys will set up a gift shop near Sno-Port that will feature a variety of snow-related toys and games. Shreveport’s Milam Street Kitchen Incubator and Community Kitchen will curate a series of pop-up restaurants during the month of December. A different pop-up being featured each week during Sci-Port’s regular hours of operation on Thursdays through Sundays.
Each immersive, interactive exhibit incorporates different fields of science, including geoscience, biology, physics, mathematics, architecture, engineering, computer science, and chemistry. Educational aspects of this exhibit directly relate to the emphasis on S.T.E.M. learning in American education.
What Does Winter in Louisiana Look Like?
Morph into a snowflake in the Blizzard Tunnel. Make a snowflake as individual as you are to hang in the sky with hundreds of other snowflakes. Grab a pole and go ice fishing in the digital ice pond. Toss a “snowball” into the snow castle windows to make the bells ring. Hang out in an over-sized igloo where you can “chill” and use your imagination to create your own objects made from foam ice blocks.
End your snowflake journey in the Sci-Port Planetarium on the Red River Rocket. Feel the excitement of take-off with the sensation of cool wind on your face as you trek your way through a virtual reality snow blizzard in downtown Shreveport and Bossier City.
Winter continues through Jan. 30, 2020, but throughout the month of December, Sci-Port Discovery Center will collaborate with local organizations and businesses to host pop-up shops and restaurants.
Tickets and times to Sno-Port: The Science and Wonders of Snowflakes are here. For more information on Sci-Port Discovery Center or Sno-Port: The Science and Wonders of Snowflakes, visit http://www.sci-port.org.
It doesn’t take long for an inquisitive visitor to Park City to hear tell of the little resort town’s storied past. The remnants surround you; of the silver mine boom and bust, the historic structures that pepper Park City Mountain and multi-colored “shacks” built into the hillsides. Eventually, history buffs find their way to the unique museums like Park City’s for a nostalgic immersion of all things turn of the century.
Museums are often overlooked in small towns but some of the most fascinating artifacts are curated by locals with a passion for everything from bullets to bugs and they can’t wait to show you around. Here are some of the more unusual collections found in Utah.
Tom Whitaker’s Cowboy Museum- Ol’ Tom Whitaker, the founder of the Heber Valley Cowboy Poetry Gathering, opens his Cowboy Museum in Midway to the public only twice a year- during the Gathering and on the Fourth of July. But if you just can’t wait to walk through time into the railroad room, Indian and cowboy room, western brothel housed in a restored pioneer cabin, then send him an email. Tom and wife Linda are happy to show you around. Even the exterior with cactuses and windmill from Iowa reflects the wild west. Free Admission 510 N. River Rd Midway next to Midway Memorial Hill. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heber Valley CAF (Commemorative Air Force ) Wing Air Museum The Utah wing of the national non-profit aviation association exists solely to immortalize the big birds of WWII and share the past with plane buffs. The focus of this museum is on aircraft like the Boeing PT-17/N2S Stearman but volunteers will graciously tour you through displays on women in aviation and commercial aircraft as well. You can also book a ride in a bi-plane if you plan ahead.
CAF Hangar on the Russ McDonald Field, Heber Valley Airport. Open Thurs.-Sun. May 1- Oct. 31. 435-709-7269
Price Museum of speed (SLC) – For those with a thing for wheels over wings, there’s this ode to vintage race cars. The more than 30 international speedsters housed in this downtown Salt Lake City space either won or placed well in renowned events like the Grand Prix and Le Mans and date back to 1904. Ogle the 1929 Bugatti 35B Racer and 1938 Mormon Meteor III by appointment only. 165 E 600 S; Salt Lake City, (801) 906-0157.
Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage – The west was won by John Ford and John Wayne if you ask the curators of this museum inside the Red Cliffs Lodge in southern Utah. The area served as a backdrop to cowboy classics like Wagon Master, Rio Grande, and Son of Cochise and hosted golden era stars like Rock Hudson, Henry Fonda, Maureen O’Hara and more. The self-guided, free unique museum displays memorabilia like movie posters and costumes from the early films to the present, all shot in the Moab area. When you’re done looking around, cozy up to the Castle Creek wine bar, also inside Red Cliffs, for free wine tasting from noon- 7 p.m. The museum is open 8 a.m.- 10 p.m. (866) 812-2002.
Western Mining and Railroad Museum– The Denver and Rio Grande railroads established Helper, Utah, as a hub for coal miners and their families in the late 1800s and their story continues to be told through the exhibits housed in the Old Helper Hotel building, built in 1913. You get three stories plus the basement of railroad and mining memorabilia, as well as exhibits on the company store life and the war years. The third floor is said to be haunted. Free tours upon request, Mon.- Sat. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Utah State Railroad Museum – This one is for the kiddos, fantasy conductors and general train buffs. Outside Union Station is a free exhibit of full-sized rare locomotives and autos including a gas-turbine train. Inside are more displays and stories of the development and construction of the transcontinental railroad. Union Station, 2501 Wall Avenue, Ogden, Utah. (Inside) $5, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mon. – Sat.
Utah Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum– Yes, this is Utah so there must be an authentic Utah Cowboy Hall of Fame. It’s tucked inside the heritage museum amid the exhibits that honor artists, entertainers, musicians, ranchers, and writers that celebrated those true western values. Union Station, 2501 Wall Avenue, Ogden, Utah. $5, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mon. – Sat.
John M. Browning Firearms Museum– Also inside Ogden’s Union Station is a tribute to Mr. Browning and his original firearms from mini pistols to sporting rifles. Winchester, Colt, Remington have all based their guns on Browning’s designs. Give yourself time to wander among the tremendous array of guns and family history. Union Station, 2501 Wall Avenue, Ogden, Utah. $5, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mon. – Sat.
Art Robinson Transport Museum – When you love trucks as much as Art does, you set up five barns’ worth of all makes, models and years. This truck fancier’s paradise is a must see and houses such lovelies as a ’72 Brockway and a ’44 Mack. 875 W Main St., across US50 from the Robinson Transport Yard, Salina, Utah. 435-529-4354.
Goulding’s Trading Post Museum– This small museum in Monument Valley tells the story of trading post days, the corralling of famous western films of the time, as well as Navajo tribal art history. For anyone visiting the area, old west film buffs and John Wayne fans (they show classic John Ford films in the Movie Room), take an hour from your day for a free self-guided tour. Inside Goulding’s Lodge, 1000 Main Street Monument Valley, Utah. (435) 727-3231.
John Wesley Powell River History Museum– Ever heard of Lake Powell? Well, this compact but unique museum in Green River celebrates the explorers who first discovered and mapped the Colorado and Green rivers and canyons in Utah, and all things related- geology, navigation, environmental impacts. There are photos and interactive displays, as well as dinosaur replicas and fossil records in the basement. Admission is $6. 765 East Main Street, Green River, Utah. 435-564-3427. Open daily in the summer.
Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum– The irony for this free educational “life science” museum is that the large collection of animals aren’t alive. The taxidermied zoo impresses with full-sized giraffes and a bull elephant. There’s also a touch and feel area for kids and free weekly shows with live animals at 7:30 p.m. Open Mon.-Sat. 645 E 1430 N, Provo, Utah, Brigham Young University. (801) 422-5050
If you’re like me- constantly looking for summer fun- then check out this latest entry that seems to be an off-the-hook gathering of beach bums. The Santa Monica Pier in Southern California is officially putting summer on notice. The first-ever Pier 360 Ocean Sports & Beach Festival, June 23-24, will crush the Santa Monica Pier.
On the deck, down to the shore and into the waves, the Pier will offer a complete 360° of California beach culture. A spin around the festival grounds presents a full slate of marquee ocean races, beachside tournaments, immersive art, music, surf history and activities for all ages. The event is totally free whether you’re a regular surf rider or can’t swim a length.
What began in 2010 as the single-day Paddleboard Race at the Santa Monica Pier has continued to evolve into one of California’s largest ocean festivals, drawing thousands of spectators each year. Pier 360 is summer’s kickoff celebration.
“Pier 360 combines all of the beautiful things about beach life and rolls it into one epic happening,” says SMPC Executive Director Negin Singh. “As we turn up the volume on all of our Pier-produced events, our team is super excited to show the world what we’re all about with this summer kickoff. There truly will be something for everyone!”
The two-day beach bonanza officially begins Saturday at 7 a.m. with a Hawaiian blessing on the sand before diving into the first of 13 competitions. Over 500 athletes will compete for cash prizes, and victorious high school and collegiate beach volleyball teams will earn points towards the national championships. Later, thousands of spectators will line the sand and the deck as lifeguards compete in dory races; and elite stand-up Paddleboard (SUP) racers compete in a challenging course around the Pier. And, if that’s not enough, spectators can catch skaters busting 360’s on the pop-up skate ramp. Hands-on activities include assisting the build of a colossal sand sculpture with the art collective, Think Tank Gallery.
Up on the Pier deck, live music takes center stage, anchored by music festival mainstay Brownies & Lemonade (high off its Coachella Heineken House takeover). Of course, Pier 360-goers can groove with drink-in-hand at the Beer & Spirits Garden, which will be pouring beer and cocktails from 10 a.m. to sunset both days.
While you’re there, cruise the Museum of Beach Life and its collection of antique surfboards, paddleboards, and lifeguard equipment celebrating the long history of beach life at the Pier that dates back to the 1940’s.
The experiential rundown:
On the Pier deck, the festival vibes. Top experiences: • Beats by Brownies & Lemonade • Beer & Spirits Garden by Kona Brewing Co., Aperol, Patron and White Claw • Live Polynesian Band & Hula Dancing • Immersive Art Installations by Think Tank Gallery • Eats by The Albright and Seaside on the Pier • Skate Experience thanks to Red Bull
On the sand, the activities heat up. Major spectacles: • Beach Volleyball AAU & 4-Man • Beach Volleyball Doubles • Kids Activities
In the water, the paddle battles rage. Marquee competitions: • Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Surf Competition • Paddle Cross Race • Dory Sprint & 3-Lap Dory • 1 Mile Ocean Swim • Long Course Paddle Race • Splash n’ Dash • Junior SUP Race
The festival benefits The Surfrider Foundation and The Bay Foundation, two non-profits dedicated to preserving coastal access, protecting the environment and improving the health of the ocean environment. Shore to be a good time.
It’s about time Disney reimagined Star Tours. The seats are tattered, the seat belts stick, and the technology feels dated despite the 1987 getting an update in 2011. So it’s epic news that a full-on Star Wars Land is coming to Hollywood Studios and Disneyland.
Each park will grow 14 acres to accommodate the themed area (sure hope they come up with a better label though; maybe Intergalactic World?) where guests will find themselves on an unfamiliar planet, in a trading port and the last stop before the final frontier.
The two main attractions will involve flying the Millennium Falcon on a customized secret mission and participating in an epic battle between the First Order and the Resistance. The immersive environment of Star Wars Land will also include stores manned by “locals” and a Cantina. There’s no timeline yet for these rides which are said to be located in the Big Thunder Ranch Area but that doesn’t mean there won’t be something new for Star Wars fans sooner rather than later.
Star Tours itself was renovated to feature the creatures and worlds from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the Jedi Training Academy; which includes new characters and a new villain from the Disney XD series, “Star Wars Rebels.”
Disneyland’s Tomorrowland has all sorts of Star Wars galaxy twists already with special entertainment, themed food locations and a suped-up Space Mountain called Hyperspace Mountain, to takes guests on an X-wing Starfighter battle.
This December, Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort will debut a virtual galaxy far, far away at the VOID Experience Center. ILMxLAB, Lucasfilm’s Immersive Entertainment division, created this first of its kind experience, in collaboration with The VOID. Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire will plunge guests directly into the iconic Star Wars galaxy where they will move freely throughout the untethered, social, and multi sensory experience as they interact and engage with friends, family and Star Wars characters.
Disney CEO Bob Iger announced the addition of Star Wars Land at the D23 Fan Expo August 15, 2015, but it wasn’t until this year that the dream leapt from a design to a build. It will be the biggest single-themed expansion/refurbishment ever at Disney.
By the way, Pandora opened this summer in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. The homage to Avatar is filled with jungles, floating mountains, those blue-skinned Na’vi, and two signature rides: AVATAR Flight of Passage will transport guests on dragon-like Banshee creatures over Pandora, and the whole family can take a gentle boat ride through Pandora’s bioluminescent rainforests.
And just to get you amped, take a look at the latest Star Wars Teaser. It’ll send chills up the limbs of any fan: