Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Las Pozas a surreal art garden amid Mexican jungle ]]> Lead story image

XILITLA, Mexico — At the end of a long, dirt road in Mexico’s northeast jungle, two spiral staircases appear, leading nowhere amid an ornate concrete structure. Giant concrete fleur-de-lis flank a pathway, and tall bamboo-shaped columns surround a house with no walls. Oversize plaster orchids are in permanent bloom, while a natural waterfall ceaselessly flows down a mountain. This is Las Pozas, a dreamy, little-known garden of surreal art, where sculptures evoke the ruins of ancient Greece but are overrun by exotic jungle plants. It was created by the late Edward James, a British multimillionaire and arts patron who favored … ]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:24:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ Disney’s ‘Small World’ celebrating big anniversary ]]> Lead story image

NEW YORK — Disney on Friday launched a website to create a global sing-along for “it’s a small world,” marking 50 years since the classic attraction with the unforgettable earworm of a song opened at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The “it’s a small world” ride became a centerpiece of Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., in 1966, and the famous song still plays in a continuous loop at “small world” rides in Disney parks. The new website,, invites the public to submit videos of themselves singing the song. Fans can also create virtual dolls on the site, mixing … ]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 14:30:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Dine in fine style while in New Orleans for Mardi Gras ]]> Lead story image

Visiting New Orleans for Mardi Gras season? You’ll find pizza, hot dog stands and rolling carts of cotton candy galore along the parade routes, but some of the city’s finest fare can also be consumed along St. Charles Avenue, the main drag for the biggest and glitziest star-studded processions of Carnival. ]]> Wed, 19 Feb 2014 18:59:21 -0500 <![CDATA[ Island hopping made easy — Enjoy Hawaii via cruise ship ]]> Lead story image

ABOARD PRIDE OF AMERICA — A great way to sample the many wonders of the Hawaiian Islands without the hassles of island-hopping by plane — like going through security and carting your luggage on each flight — is to instead take a cruise. My wife and I did just that when we escaped the winter cold to sail with friends on Pride of America, a classy Norwegian Cruise Line ship that sails year-round from Honolulu. We embarked from Honolulu, Oahu, and traveled to the ports of Kahului, Maui; Hilo and Kailua-Kona, also known as Hawaii’s Big Island, and Nawiliwili, Kauai, … ]]> Wed, 29 Jan 2014 17:22:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jennifer Hudson, Styx, Lady Antebellum headlining Carnival Cruises ]]> Lead story image

NEW YORK — Back when she was a nobody, long before she blasted to stardom on “American Idol” and “Dreamgirls,” Jennifer Hudson sang on a cruise ship. And on Wednesday, the singer said she would do it again — this time as the headliner for a new concert series on Carnival Cruise Lines called Carnival Live. “I used to work on a cruise ship, a long time ago,” said Hudson before performing at a Carnival news conference in midtown Manhattan. “That’s what I did before I did ‘American Idol.’” Her stint aboard a Disney cruise ship was “my test,” she … ]]> Wed, 29 Jan 2014 16:30:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ Diagon Alley to open at Universal Orlando; requires additional ticket ]]> Lead story image

The new Harry Potter area opening at Universal Orlando Resort this summer, called Diagon Alley, will offer fans a new thrill ride themed on Gringotts bank from the Harry Potter book series, along with more than a half-dozen eateries and shops selling souvenirs like wands. But the location of Diagon Alley will also require tickets for both of Universal Orlando’s theme parks if guests want to see both the new and original Harry Potter attractions. Diagon Alley will open at the Universal Studios park. The original Wizarding World of Harry Potter area, which opened in 2010, is located at Universal’s … ]]> Wed, 29 Jan 2014 16:24:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ Ancient sites beckon travelers to Jordan ]]> Lead story image

AMMAN, Jordan — If you are keen on getting your Middle Eastern fix of ancient sites, sun, mint tea, and falafel, the Arab Spring may have challenged your travel plans. Although tourists have stayed largely safe in the Arab world in the past several years, the turmoil in Egypt, war in Syria and spill-over in Lebanon have kept some visitors away. But fear not. Jordan is a world removed from the instability that has engulfed the region and Jordanians warmly welcome tourists year-round. On a recent visit, my first to Jordan, I found myself falling in love with its tranquility … ]]> Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:34:06 -0500 <![CDATA[ Vegas ‘Jubilee’ to close for makeover ]]> Lead story image

LAS VEGAS — “Jubilee!,” the campy Las Vegas show with elaborate sequined costumes, chorus boys and, of course, showgirls, will close on Jan. 30 for a complete makeover. The show at Bally’s Las Vegas hotel-casino is expected to reopen with a more contemporary feel in March, under the direction of Frank Gatson Jr. The show opened in 1981 under the direction of choreographer Donn Arden, an old-school showman credited with helping invent the Las Vegas showgirl. Gatson Jr. claims responsibility for developing the hand gesture from Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” music video. He was nominated for a Grammy last year for … ]]> Fri, 03 Jan 2014 17:43:51 -0500 <![CDATA[ In search of Sicily’s best ice cream ]]> Lead story image

SYRACUSE, Sicily — Sicilians pride themselves on their contribution to the world of ice cream. History may not credit them definitively with the invention of the frozen treat, but it turns out that nature allowed them to have ice long before electricity made its way to the Mediterranean island. If you visit Mount Etna, the region’s famous volcano, you can find ice trapped below layers of volcanic ash, insulating it from warm weather. In a region known for its cuisine, the ice provided an option for chilling and preserving food long before modern refrigeration. And within Italy, which already takes … ]]> Tue, 31 Dec 2013 13:42:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Korean restaurant spicing up Memphis food scene ]]> Lead story image

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — This Mississippi River city is proud of its barbecue, its fried chicken, its soul food. But the food scene here is often stereotyped because of it. Those foods are what tourists typically obsess over, standing in line at Central BBQ for smoky ribs or Gus’s Fried Chicken for juicy drumsticks. When told that there’s a place in Memphis that makes standout Korean food like soups and noodle dishes with meat and seafood, some may scoff. But Crazy Noodle is real, and it might be proof that people in intensely Southern cities like Memphis, where collard greens are … ]]> Tue, 31 Dec 2013 13:16:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ These books can guide your 2014 travels ]]> Lead story image

NEW YORK — Whether you’re planning a trip in the new year and need some practical advice, or you’d like to give a coffee-table book filled with inspirational photos to someone on your Christmas list, there’s a travel-themed book for you. Here are a few recently published books to consider, including the relaunch of Frommer’s guidebooks. FOOD AND TRAVEL Many travelers are passionate about food, whether it’s enjoying that perfect meal on vacation or hunting down authentic local cuisine. Travel + Leisure magazine’s “Where to Eat Around the World” ($35) spotlights food in 27 destinations in a coffee-table book, from … ]]> Wed, 11 Dec 2013 15:27:59 -0500 <![CDATA[ 5 free things to do in Aspen ]]> Lead story image

DENVER — A trip to Aspen during peak ski season is going to set you back some cash. But even those who can afford the posh Colorado mountain town will enjoy checking out what’s free, from high-altitude adventures to creature comforts. ASPEN ART MUSEUM The Aspen Art Museum hosts a steady rotation of exhibits of contemporary art from around the world, and it doesn’t cost a thing to see them. The institution’s influence can be felt around town. Through one project, it has collaborated with Aspen Skiing Co. on limited-edition lift tickets adorned with images of works by different artists. … ]]> Wed, 11 Dec 2013 15:18:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Kayaking through canyon near Las Vegas not a mirage ]]> Lead story image

BOULDER CITY, Nev. — It’s easy to trade the wild ways of Las Vegas for the wilds of the nearby Colorado River: All it takes is a call to a boating outfitter and a federally-approved form of ID. That’s because the overnight float trips in the Black Canyon put in just below the Hoover Dam, 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The massive power plant, which produces enough electricity for 1.3 million people, is located in a security zone enforced by its own federal police force. Those wanting to paddle this stretch of river must have a launch permit, and … ]]> Mon, 23 Sep 2013 16:00:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ ‘Absinthe’ shocks and awes in Las Vegas ]]> Lead story image

LAS VEGAS — Don’t let the unassuming white circuslike tent fool you. For inside the enclosure, ensconced Strip-side at Caesars Palace since 2011, resides the world of “Absinthe,” the totally off-the-wall, sexy, funny, unabashedly raunchy and absolutely adults-only cabaret/circus sideshow/variety production that will either entertain you immensely, or send you running for the exits blushing in shock. While it conjures memories of “La Soiree,” a bawdy cirque/cabaret production that made its way to Chicago last year, “Absinthe” is its distant, very twisted cousin. You have been warned. Everything about “Absinthe” — inside its lavishly decorated climate-controlled tent (glorious chandeliers, antique … ]]> Mon, 07 Oct 2013 16:38:45 -0500 <![CDATA[ Savannah and Charleston still offer plenty of southern comfort ]]> Lead story image

In “Gone With the Wind,” Scarlett O’Hara, comparing Savannah and Charleston to the much younger city of Atlanta, called the older locales “aged grandmothers fanning themselves placidly in the sun.” Today the two waterfront cities are among the South’s most popular tourist destinations. ]]> Wed, 02 Oct 2013 18:54:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ Kyoto offers plenty for family vacations ]]> Lead story image

KYOTO, Japan — Rocks to the left of us, rocks to the right. With the Hozu River rushing in between, our oarsman swung the boat hard, threading the boulders as water splashed overboard — and on to my 10-year-old daughter’s lap. You never know how kids will react to new experiences, but not to worry. “Daddy,” my daughter said, beaming as we headed for more rapids, “this must be the best summer ever!” Any parent who has charted a family vacation hopes for that kind of reaction. But when my wife and I made plans to take our son and … ]]> Wed, 15 May 2013 06:09:15 -0500