Photo of the Day (9.1.10)

You can schedule yourself into oblivion when you travel and tick off every major sightseeing spot in your guide, but sometimes it’s the quiet moments that are the most memorable. This tranquil scene of Florence at dusk — shot by Flickr user Justin Delaney — reminds me that it’s important stop and take a good look around every once in a while. After all, isn’t that why we travel, anyway? It’s not just about checking tourist spots off a list: It’s actually getting a different viewpoint.

Have any travel photos that prompt whimsical musings? Upload them to our Flickr pool and we just might select one for our Photo of the Day feature

Bayless hits O’Hare with two new restaurants

Dining at Chicago’s O’Hare airport just got bumped up a notch or two: master Mexican food chef Rick Bayless announced he’s opening two new restaurants in Windy City’s major airport this fall.

The restaurants will feature Bayless’s signature Mexican cuisine, and will be located in terminals 1 and 3 — not a bad way to kill a an hour or so while on an endless layover.

Bayless owns several restaurants in the Chicago area, including the much-lauded Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and most recently, Xoco, which opened in September 2009 in the city’s River North neighborhood. Bayless is a highly respected chef who competed against Bobby Flay on “Iron Chef America” in 2005, and most recently caught national attention when he competed and won Bravo TV’s “Top Chef Masters.”

[Image credit, Getty Images]

Fed up like Steven Slater? Get a SlipQuit!

The Jet Blue Steven Slater story just won’t die — not if the makers of “SlipQuit” have anything to say about it. The “SlipQuit” is a diabolically hilarious take on Slater’s inflatable slide plane escape, and comes complete, says the ad, with “two cans of Blue Sky beer.” The ad promises it’s great for escaping boring parties and avoiding awkward conversations. We like the sound of that. If only it were real. [via Xeni @boingboing]

Vote: the best bathrooms in America (and Canada)

Ever popped a squat at a particularly pristine public restroom? You can now vote for it in the “Best Restrooms” competition. Sponsored by restroom supply company Cintas, users submitted their favorite stalls and ten finalists were chosen in both the U.S. and Canada.

Many of these restrooms are nicer than our apartments. The opulent bathrooms at the China Grill at Mandalay Bay Hotel, in Las Vegas, NV, include fountains and individual pods with televisions. The Fountain on Locust, in St. Louis, MO, boasts designer mirrors and hand-painted murals. And the Grand Hotel America, in Salt Lake City, UT, includes bronze and crystal chandeliers, commodes with inlaid African Anegre Wood and hand-painted walls.

Voting is on through August 31 and both the Canadian and U.S. winners will be announced next month.

Mall of America gets luxury hotel on the Fed’s dime

Good news for mall junkies: Bloomington, Minnesota’s vaunted Mall of America will get a luxury hotel in the near future — thanks in part to federal stimulus funds.

Plans for the hotel have been in the works for several years, but had to be quashed two years ago due to lack of funding, says USA Today.

Now, Hennepin County officials have granted the Bloomington Port Authority the ability to issue $40.3 million in tax-free bonds to help fund the $130 million venture. The hotel is set to be 12 stories, and connected to the MOA via a skyway. And though it’s not yet clear who will manage the property, Starwood, Radisson and Marriott are all up for the gig.

The federal stimulus funds were made available to projects that were “significant and shovel ready” and located in economically depressed areas. Proponents of the hotel say it will bring much-needed jobs to the area, and will pay for itself in revenue. But critics argue that building a luxury property probably isn’t the best use of federal funds. What do you think, Gadling readers?

[photo by Flickr user cliff1066]