Traveler’s Guide To Quirky Indiana

pork tenderloin Want to make your trip to Indiana more unusual? Simply add some of these quirky activities to your itinerary.

Follow The Tenderloin Trail

Indiana is famous for deep fried pork tenderloin sandwiches. In fact, they have a food trail that winds through the state called the Tenderloin Trail. The route hits the restaurants serving the best tenderloin sandwiches in Indiana. For example, The Mayberry Cafe in Danville offers a flavorful pork tenderloin sandwich the size of your head. Additionally, the eatery immerses guests in quirky nostalgia, as it used to be featured on the old Andy Griffith TV show. You’ll see a vintage squad car outside, while re-runs of the show play on a continuous loop inside. For a full list of Tenderloin Trail eateries, click here.Dine At A 5-Star Restaurant…In A Cornfield

Located in the small, rural Indiana community of Roanoke, Joseph Decuis is a fine dining establishment surrounded by cornfields. The only 5-star restaurant in the area, their mission is to retain the quality of food and company during the times when people only ate what they “hunted, raised, bartered for, or bought from someone nearby.” This restaurant provides a true farm-to-fork experience, as you’ll be served foods fresh from their farm while sitting in an upscale dining area. While Jospeh Decuis focuses on locally-sourced, organic ingredients, it also boasts being the only restaurant in the United States to raise their own Wagyu Beef in an all-natural, humane way.

ball of paint Make Your Mark On The World’s Largest Ball Of Paint

Located in Alexandria, this Guinness Book of World Records holder has sat since 2004. Today, visitors can still go and paint a layer on the ball. It’s not hollow like a normal paintball, but a complete mass of paint from the inside out. The birth of the giant oddity was an accident, as owner Mike Carmichael dropped a baseball into a bucket of paint in the 1960s. Intrigued, he continually dipped the ball until it was the size of a football, and donated it to the “Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home Museum.” Unable to get the idea out of his brain, he started a new ball with his son, which is the one you can see, and paint, today. As of now, the ball of paint is at 24,400 coats of paint and weighs about 4,000 pounds.

Get Into The Holiday Spirit Every Day of The Year

While it’s not uncommon to see Christmas-themed shops once in awhile, Indiana is home to a Christmas-themed town, aptly called “Santa Claus.” In the town, you’ll find the world’s only post office with the name Santa Claus, so you can imagine how many letters to Santa it receives each year. As not to disappoint, a group of volunteers known as “Santa’s Elves” works to answer these letters and keep the world’s children smiling. When in Santa Claus, you can visit holiday attractions all year long, including Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa’s Candy Castle, Santa’s Stables, Frosty’s Fun Center, the Santa Claus Museum and more.

gummi bears Eat Lots Of Candy

The town of Merrillville is home to the largest producer of gummy bears on the planet, Albanese Candy Factory. Here, you’ll not only be able to sample the colorful bears, but also chocolates, retro candy, jelly beans and a chocolate fountain. If you like fluffier treats, the town of Ligonier is the marshmallow capital of the world. In fact, the annual Ligonier Marshmallow Festival has been a destination for lovers of everything marshmallow for more than 60 years. Visitors can take part in marshmallow roasts, live music, marshmallow games, talent shows, marshmallow bake-offs, eating contests and more.

Experience The Phenomenon Of “Mystery Spots”

For those who’ve never heard of mystery spots, they’re areas all over the country that defy the laws of nature and physics. Water may flow up an incline, people are able to stand on walls and balls roll uphill. You can experience this in Indiana with a trip to Gravity Hill in Mooresville. While driving in your car you may want to go downhill; however, the vehicle will actually be pulled uphill. To test it out, put your car in neutral and see what happens. The hill is not marked, so you may need to ask a local for help. To get there, you’ll get off at Exit 59 from I-70. You’ll drive about a mile heading south before turning left onto Keller Hill Road. Head east about 4 and a half miles until it ends, and near here is where you’ll find Gravity Hill.

scuba diving Scuba Diva Off Indiana’s Coast

While scuba diving itself may not be quirky, it’s usually not on most people’s itineraries for Indiana. Many picture Indiana to be landlocked, although the coastal waters of Lake Michigan in northern Indiana are becoming a scuba diving destination and hub for archaeologist’s. In fact, in the Indiana coastal waters of Lake Michigan 14 shipwrecks can be found. From East Chicago, Indiana, divers can take a charter boat to visit the wrecks, many of which happened due to winter storms. On Lake Michigan, it’s not uncommon for 2-foot waves to become 20-foot waves when bad weather hits.

Visit An Unusual Grave

Nancy Kerlin Barnett’s grave is often touted as the most unusual in the country. Located on Country Road 400 just over a mile east of U.S. 31 in Amity, her grave sits smack in the middle of the road. While officials have tried to move it many times, her family has been adamant about keeping it put. Her grandson once even camping out near it with a shotgun to prevent it from being moved.

indiana See A Tree Growing Out Of A Clock Tower

On the courthouse roof in Greensburg, Indiana, is a tree that never seems to die. It is said there is never a new one planted, but that this one just keeps growing and regrowing. It is for this reason Greensburg is know as the “Tree City.”

Watch A Calf Being Born

About 80 calves are born every day at Fair Oaks Farms. Sit back and relax in their state-of-the-art Birthing Barn, where a Fair Oaks expert will explain the birthing process and assist when needed. After you’ve witness the miracle of life, you can go enjoy a grilled cheese sandwich and milkshake in the café.

[Images via Glane23, Ball Of Paint, Lennart Tange, Jessie on a Journey, Dopey9928]

Yelp Uses Public Shaming To Dissuade Fake Reviews


Yelp


While social travel review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor can be helpful for trip planning, one constant criticism is how easily it is for business owners to write or pay for fake reviews of their establishment to boost its rating. In Yelp’s latest effort to discourage this kind of manipulation, they will be publicly shaming these businesses by displaying warning signs to readers (shown above).

The travel site is putting on their detective hats and watching for suspicious activity by business owners. For example, if many reviews are being submitted from the same Internet Protocol (IP) address, this can be an indicator. Once they find these “rogue solicitations,” they warn users. According to Digital Trends, the alert will stay active for 90 days and will be removed after this period, as long as the business quits gaming the system.

“We want to make sure consumers are making informed decisions,” said Eric Singley, Yelp’s VP of Consumer & Mobile Products. “Yelp’s automated review filter is working around the clock to flag these types of biased reviews, and we believe that you deserve the right to know when this type of activity is taking place behind the scenes.”

Although this new idea has only been in place for a couple days, it’s already working. For example, a Texan business owner who had purchased 200 positive online reviews was caught in Yelp’s filter due to its overly “impressive results.”

Mr. Singley notes that, while Yelp does have to be aware of these scams, for the most part their travel community is full of honest business owners.

For more information, check out Yelp’s official blog post on the new initiative.

[Image via Yelp]

10 Remote Travel Destinations From Around The World


easter island


As technology and transportation advance, the world becomes smaller and smaller; however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still out-of-the-way destinations with well-preserved history and culture worth exploring. Although tricky to get to, these 10 remote spots are worth the journey.

Easter Island

One of the most famous remote islands in the world, Easter Island, a special territory of Chile, is well known for its iconic moai statues (shown above). Located 1,289 miles from the closest inhabited island and 2,400 miles from Chile, it’s one of the world’s most isolated inhabited islands. To get there, flights run to and from Santiago, Chile, Lima, Peru and Tahiti, although check with LAN Airlines ahead of time as they don’t run daily from each location.


robinson crusoe


Robinson Crusoe Island

The largest island of the Chilean Juan Fernández Archipelago, Robinson Crusoe Island is 419 miles west of South America in the South Pacific Ocean. In 1704, a man named Alexander Selkirk asked to be put ashore here after a dispute with his ship’s captain, and spent four years living on the island alone. This lonely man on a lonely island gave Daniel Defoe the inspiration for one of the most famous literary characters in history. With less than 900 inhabitants, the community depends heavily on the spiny lobster trade. The main reason to visit this island is its unspoiled beauty, with excellent diving and hiking and an array of landscapes like mountains, valleys, rainforests and rugged terrain from ancient lava flow. ATA runs flights there from Santiago depending on the weather. Fliers will descend on a small landing strip on the Aerodrome Robinson Crueson, and will then be taken by boat to the village of San Juan Bautista.


greenland


Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

Although Greenland is large in size, it’s home to numerous remote areas, the most remote being the settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit. With less than 500 inhabitants, locals have ample space to roam around. Visitors can take part in activities like dog sledding, trophy hunting and sailing the largest and longest fjord system in the world, Scoresby Sund. To get there, you can take a flight with Air Iceland, Iceland Express or Iceland Air, although flights aren’t daily. Once you arrive in the destination airport of Constable Point, you’ll take a helicopter to Ittoqqortoormiit.


pitcairn island


Pitcairn Islands

These tiny islands are the last of the British colony in the South Pacific and the most isolated British dependency. Of the four islands, Pitcairn is the only inhabited island of the group, with Adamstown being the capital and only settlement containing the islands’ entire population. Visiting Pitcairn is extremely difficult due to irregularity of transport. First you’ll need to pay a $100 fee and get a license from the governor by showing proof you’re in good health, have a way to leave the island and have at least NZ$300 (about $246) per week to cover your cost of living. To actually get there, you’ll take a plane to Mangareva in the Gambier Islands, 330 miles away from Pitcairn. Then you can catch a charter vessel, which takes 32 hours. Once you are there, you’ll be able to see the shipwreck of the “Bounty” in Bounty Bay, Polynesian petroglyphs at Down Rope cliff, a Galapagos tortouise named Mrs. Turpin and the sea-level cave and picturesque beach of Gudgeon.


macquarie island


Macquarie Island

Located about halfway between Australia and Antarctica in the Southern Ocean, Macquarie Island is a Tasmanian State Reserve managed by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site for two reasons. One, it is the only place in the world where rocks from the Earth’s mantle, nearly four miles below the ocean floor, are actively exposed above sea level. Additionally, the fact it’s so remote allows the island to have a windswept landscape featuring dramatic changes in flora, unspoiled beauty and huge colonies of penguins and seals. To get there, travelers can get a boat from Hobart in Tasmania or Bluff in New Zealand, which takes three to four days. Some transportation companies that do the route include Quark Expeditions, Aurora Expeditions and Heritage Expeditions. Because there is no port on Macquarie Island, visitors are brought to shore on small boats.


concordia


Concordia, Pakistan

Residing on the border of Pakistan and China, Concordia is the meeting point between Baltoro Glacier and the Godwin-Austen Glacier, in the center of Pakistan’s Karakoram range. Around Concordia, you’ll also find four of the world’s 14 “eight-thousanders.” These include the mountains of K2 at 8,611 meters, Gasherbrum I at 8,080 meters, Broad Peak at 8,047 meters and Gasherbrum II at 8,035 meters. In fact, Concordia is the only place in the world where four peaks higher than 8,000 meters can be seen. While a beautiful place, you’ll have to walk for about 10 days until you reach the foot of K2. You’ll first fly into Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, to fill out the necessary trekking papers, then fly or drive for two or three days as for as you can toward Askolie, the last village before Concordia and K2.


barrow alaska


Barrow, Alaska

Barrow, the largest city of the North Slope Borough of Alaska, is the ninth northernmost city in the world and the northernmost city in the United States. It’s a great place to enjoy the Iñupiat Heritage Center, bird watching, experience an unusual tundra tour, browse traditional markets and visit the northermost most point in the U.S., Point Barrow. While remote, you can into Wiley-Post Will Rogers Memorial Airport via Alaska Airlines and Era Airlines.


deception island


Deception Island, Antarctica

Located in the South Shetland off the Antarctic Peninsula, Deception Island is the caldera of an active volcano. People visit this remote island to view wildlife like fur seals, sea birds and Chinstrap penguins, swim in Pendulum Cove’s volcanically-heated waters, take in ash-layered glaicers and sometimes even experience an icy scuba dive into the restless volcano. There is also history and ruins, as the island was once home to the whaling and Antarctic bases of many countries until violent volcanic eruptions pushed them out. The island was named after a pilot who misjudged his landing and crashed, killing four passengers and leaving one to die waiting for help on the isloated island. To get to Deception Island, you’ll need to arrive by ship via a cruise or tour.


tristan de cunha


Tristan de Cunha

Located 1,750 miles from the nearest mainland of South Africa‘s Cape of Good Horn, Tristan de Cunha is another world. This group of remote volcanic islands in the south Atlantic Ocean is the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, with a population of less than 300 people. Reasons to visit include the brilliant basalt cliffs and a volcano reaching 6,760 feet above sea level, the most isloated settlement in the world, bird watching and coins and stamps, one of the island’s main sources of income. Because there is no airport, Tristan da Cunha can only be reached by taking a six day journey from Cape Town.


Svalbard, Norway


Svalbard, Norway

This Artic archipelago is the northernmost part of Norway, located above the Arctic Circle about 400 miles off Europe’s mainland. Out of Svalbard’s 2,700 residents, about 2,000 live in the town of Longyearbyen (shown above), with the rest of the population being scientists and miners. One special facet to the destination is it houses the Global Seed Vault, an underground cellar that safely stores the planet’s plant seeds in case of a global emergency. Reasons to visit the destination include exploring untouched arctic wildnerness, seeing polar bears, bird watching, visiting national parks and seeing Norway’s largest glaicer, Austfonna. To get to Svalbard, you can fly into their airport in Longyear, located about two miles from Longyearbyen.

[Images via Shutterstock, Pato Novoa, Hanes Grobe, Shutterstock, Shutterstock, sjorford, Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Michael clarke stuff, Shutterstock]

Bizarre Trampoline Bridge Proposed In Paris, France




Visitors to Paris may soon find themselves bouncing across the River Seine on a giant inflatable bouncy bridge. According to news.com.au, the idea was proposed by Paris-based architectural firm Atelier Zündel Cristea (AZC) during a local design competition.

“Our intention is to invite its visitors and inhabitants to engage on a newer and more playful path across this same water,” AZC writes on their website. “We propose, now, a distinctive urban feature: An inflatable bridge equipped with giant trampolines, dedicated to the joyful release from gravity as one bounces above the river.”

Not only that, but the structure is more environmentally friendly than putting up a new traditional bridge. The bizarre bridge features enormous trampolines in the middle of three 98-foot-round sections, with everything being held together with a cord. When the right amount of tension is present, the sides of the structure flip up to keep walkers, or bouncers, from tumbling over the side.

We’re not sure how safe this is, but it sure looks like fun.

[Image via AZC]

How To Stay In A Castle On Your Next Trip

castle When trying to make your travels extra special, the accommodation can really make or break the ambiance of your vacation. Vacation rentals can help with this by allowing you to stay in all types of unique properties, from the bizarre and architecturally innovative to luxurious and historical castles.

While some of these properties feature rich history, others are more modern with medieval architecture and luxurious amenities. Either way, these castle vacation rentals will make you feel like a king or queen.

For a more visual idea of some top castle vacation rentals from around the world, check out the gallery below.

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[Image above via Airbnb; Gallery images via FlipKey, HomeAway, OwnerDirect, Airbnb, Gary Heatherly, Cottages and Castles, Think Sicily, Beautiful Places]