Category Archives: Bonus

America’s Most Important Whiskey Bars

Whiskey — like many spirits that rely on an element of craft — is experiencing a full-blown renaissance. As the number of small-batch distillers increases, it seems like whiskey-centric bars are popping up all over the country. This is a good thing for the drinking public. If your local saloon has an extensive whiskey collection, you’ll obviously get to try some truly unique whiskeys (without spending a mortgage payment on a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle).

But not all whiskey bars are created equal. That’s why we asked Michael Neff— a whiskey expert who has created bar programs for such notable spots as Holiday Cocktail Lounge, Ward III, and Rum House in NYC and Three Clubs in Hollywood — to tell us his choices for the most important whiskey bars in America.

It should be noted that Neff’s choices aren’t necessarily the bars that have the biggest whiskey lists or the most expensive selections. They’re also not bars that you would necessarily see on every round up of “best whiskey bars.” That’s because Michael took the time to dig deeper. In some cases mere geography is what makes a bar important. In another, it’s a well-known bar whose whiskey selection is often totally overshadowed by other elements that made it famous.

Far Bar (Los Angeles, CA)

“Far Bar is a gem. You would think that their location — in the heart of Little Tokyo on the outskirts of Downtown Los Angeles — would mean that they specialize in Japanese and other Pacific Riwhiskeyses, and you would be right. That said, they clearly have a healthy respect for whiskey in general, and their sprawling collection winds throughout the space.”

Dead Rabbit Grog & Grocery (New York, NY)

deadrabbitnyc It takes a lot of work to start the day looking like this picture. Work that begins with the night porters in the kitchen from 3am, before they move on to deep-cleaning all three floors of the building. The barback arrives at 8.30am and starts checking, filling, replenishing everything from the juice bottles (with freshly squeezed juice, of course) to the straw caddies and beer lines. Then at around 10am the bartender checks, fills and replenishes everything else – menus, till rolls, coasters. Eveything.
That takes her up to 11am, when she opens the doors – and welcomes the first customers to another day at the Dead Rabbit. Photo by

Whether or not this Downtown destination is the “Best Bar in the World” is a matter for debate. It is, however, a great joint and much celebrated for its cocktails. Their acclaim often overshadows the part that impresses me the most—their Irish whisky collection is unmatched. They clearly have a love of the spirit, and their international notoriety gives them access to bottles that normal humans can’t hope to taste on this side of the Atlantic.”

Haymarket (Louisville, KY)

Great whiskey, particularly great bourbon, isn’t meant to be fancy. Whiskey has historically been a working-stiff’s drink, and bars like Haymarket are there to remind us of that. It has the eclectic feel of a fan-boy’s fantasy basement bar — coupled with an impressive collection of whiskey that spans the economic spectrum. It’s in Louisville, so bourbon prevails.”

We don’t talk about context enough when we talk about whiskey. The environment in which we drink can have an outsized impact on how we feel about what it is we’re drinking. Case in point. Blue Sky Bar is unusual in that it is a). attached to a Quizno’s franchise and b). located on the second level of Terminal A in the Denver airport. Their whiskey collection, however, rivals that of much fancier joints bragging trendier addresses, and their staff is knowledgeable and informed (if a bit surly with it).

The experience of choice and discovery makes any whiskey bar a joy to experience. Having that experience on a layover makes it that much more memorable.”

Delilah’s (Chicago, IL)

“You almost can’t create a bar that would be more perfect for me than Delilah’s. Part punk rock. Part dive. Cheeky and irreverent. And it sports one of the country’s most thorough and well-curated whiskey selections. Mike Miller is one of the great bar creators in the country, and I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather drink whiskey than his fantastic bar.”

“Reserve 101 is a study in picking something you love and doing that to the best of your ability. This unassuming little gem loves whiskey from top to bottom, and their commitment to the spirit is evident in everything they do. The collection of house-selected barrels is impressive, served by bartenders that are knowledgeable and hospitable in equal measures. Texas pride is the clear subplot—whiskey distilled in the Lone Star State is served with extra loving care.”

Poison Girl (Houston, TX)

If you’re detecting a theme in this list, Poison Girl will confirm your suspicion—whiskey bars that masquerade as punky dives hold a special place in my heart. Dark wood, surly regulars, broken pinball machines. A back patio that looks like a sculpture garden created from a pop culture graveyard. None of that distracts from an American whiskey-focused program that rivals almost anything I’ve seen outside of Kentucky.”

Mercury Bar (Omaha, NE)

“Part of opening a great spirits bar is curating your list with what you have available, and Mercury Bar is a great example of this. Nebraska doesn’t always get every spirit the country has to offer, and bars there can only sell what’s available in their state, which means that even their most thorough whiskey collections can’t match those in larger markets in terms of bottles on offer. The folks at Mercury combat this dearth of availability with passion for what they can get. Education is a focus, and they’ve curated a wonderful spirits list with an impressive selection of whiskey from around the world.”

Daddy-O (New York, NY)

“Daddy-O has been a staple in the West Village for over a decade, and it has quietly evolved into a legitimate whiskey destination. The back bar collection of bottles sprawls upward, with a surprising number of independent bottlings sprinkled throughout the stack seemingly at random. Whiskey features behind the bar, sure, but I’ve been to dinners there where every dish is modified to highlight a whiskey ingredient. A great experience that is past due for more attention.”

Gardiner Liquid Mercantile (Gardiner, NY)

“Nestled in the picturesque Hudson Valley, Gardiner Liquid Mercantile is a bit of a dark horse when you’re talking about whiskey bars. It operates under a very specific set of limitations—they can legally only serve spirits that are 100% produced in the state of New York. Aside from its very charming hand-made feel (it occupies the ground floor of a Victorian house), it has two things going for it: New York is starting to produce some very good and unique whiskeys, and the owner of this fine establishment is the great Gable Erenzo, of Hudson Whiskey fame.

“GLM is a great whiskey bar because it was built by a whiskey maker. The staff is incredibly well informed about what they like and what they sell, and if you’re lucky, you might end up sitting next to Gable or one of his cohorts at the bar. Engage one of them in a discussion about whiskey, and you will learn more than a lifetime of tasting mats and marketing material can ever teach you. That possibility alone is enough to make Gardiner Liquid Mercantile one of my favorite whiskey bars not just in the country, but anywhere at all.”

Top 10 Whiskeys of 2017

There have been plenty of reasons to drink plenty of whisky in 2017, and I’ve done my best to honor all occasions. For the new year, I’ve resolved to drink more whiskies in my tireless quest to make as many new discoveries as one fan can responsibly and humanly do.

But the memories of the 2017 finds linger, and I’d like to share the best of them with you.

I’ve had the good fortune to sample many whiskies as one of my job duties, so what follows is a list of the standouts I had last year. (I did the same in 2016).

Some of these have graced this blog before, and some haven’t. Like last time, my only two selection criteria for these choices is that I tried them in 2017 (even if they were released before then), and that they were able to be bought by the bottle.

I’ve split this list into two parts. Part one, Accessible Whiskies, are bottles that you can still get hold of either online or in specialist shops, and shouldn’t present a challenge to find and buy. Part two, Tricky Whiskies, are are rare, limited or expensive drams (sometimes all three) that I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy.

And so, in alphabetical order, here they are:

Bruichladdich Octomore 8.3

The Octomore range from Bruichladdich comprises some of the peatiest whiskies in the world, but this particular release may be the record holder, at 309.1 ppm (parts per million) of peat. To compare, a heavily peated whisky like Laphroaig tends to clock in at 50-60 ppm. This whisky was a deeply meaty, monstrous pleasure and I feel privileged to have tried it.

Paul John – Classic Select Cask

Paul John is an Indian whisky distillery that deserves to be considered as seriously as the most well-known scotches, and all its whiskies are excellent. I think this one is the best from its core range, though. It’s crisp, creamy, and nutty. Vanilla and bananas are bursting out, complemented by a citrus zing.

Lost Distillery Company – Jericho Archivist

The LDC uses historical research to unravel the taste of whiskies from now-closed distilleries, and then creates blends that match that reconstructed taste profile. To me, this one is their very best release. It’s what us geeks call a “sherry bomb,” comprised of whiskies aged in Spanish sherry casks that deliver deep rich flavours. Caramel, toffee, plums and prunes all shine through with a little ginger tang.

Rabbit Hole Distillery – Straight bourbon whisky finished in PX casks

I’ve heard of a couple distilleries in the U.S. starting to age their bourbon in sherry casks to give extra fruity flavours. This is the first and only one I’ve had of its kind so far. I find it’s superbly balanced. The sweetness of the bourbon is given a lovely depth by the sherry casks where it’s been aged. I really enjoyed trying to pick out elements of each.

Royal Salute – 21 years old

As I wrote previously about this bottle of blended whisky, whatever you may imagine delicious old whisky to taste like, this ticks the box. The perfect choice of drink while surrounded by leather bound books in an apartment that smells like rich mahogany. Bow before royalty.

Tricky Whiskies:

Golden Decanters – The Tight Line

An independent bottler that sells a high-end, four-bottle collection consisting of single cask whiskies, Golden Decanters has bottled one of the best bourbon cask whiskies – a Glenlivet – that I’ve ever had. Extremely sugary and full of citrus.

Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength batch 9

Laphroaig 10 is one of the great standard scotch whiskies out there. Its cask strength version is phenomenal. The 9th batch is my favorite of the lot so far, and beats some other amazing and older Laphroaigs I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. A perfect combination of sea breeze and smoked meat. There’s a few specialist stores that still have it available. Make a quick google search and snatch up a bottle before they’re gone for good.

Bunnahabhain Eich Bhanna Lir

As more distilleries are looking to enter the ultra-luxury whisky market, Bunnahabhain has dipped its toe in the water by releasing its oldest-ever whisky, a 46-year-old single cask beauty. It’s thick, creamy and full of orchard fruit. It also avoids the strong oak often present in really old whisky and that can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.

  1. Compass Box No Name

Compass Box has made a name as one of the top artisanal whisky blenders. Its No Name release is a limited edition from this year, and it’s a rare peated release. Compass Box should do these more often because it’s absolutely delicious. Thick yogurt, meat and tar all through.

  1. Scotch Malt Whisky Society 66.36

One of my all-time favorite whiskies. I bought several bottles when it was released in 2012 and a precious half bottle remains. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is an independent bottler that bottles almost exclusively limited edition single casks. It’s had a busy year, opening many new clubhouses (or working with partner bars to serve their special whiskies) around the world. The 66.36 is an Ardmore aged in a sherry cask that is described on the label as “Milano sausage with a tropical fruit kebab.” That’s pretty accurate.

To keep up with more whisky posts and news, follow me on Twitter at @schriebergfr


Upgrade to a Better Whiskey

When I met Patrick Marran, it was a cold December night in New York City. My girlfriend and I had just given up on trying to break through the crowd at Rockefeller Center to see the big tree and we were in desperate need of a drink. We made our way down 49th Street to escape the masses, rounded the corner of 10th Avenue, and there it was, our saving grace, a whiskey bar.

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We were immediately drawn to its low-key lighting and relaxed atmosphere, so we walked in, took off our coats, and Patrick, the bartender, immediately greeted us with a hearty “Welcome to On the Rocks.” The bar itself isn’t a big place, but it’s overflowing with every kind of whiskey you could ever want served neat, up, on the rocks, or even in specialty cocktails. And their goal at On the Rocks is simple: they want you to try whiskeys you’ve never tasted before. Marran will ask you what you’ve had and what you’ve liked, then try to show you a better version of your affordable go-tos. After sampling a few glasses of Japanese whiskeys and American ryes I’d never heard of, I was sold, so I asked Patrick if he’d help me offer some useful recommendations to other whiskey fans out there who are looking to upgrade.

Like Maker’s Mark? Try W. L. Weller Antique

What most people don’t understand about their bourbon preferences is the ingredient percentage. Marran explains that Maker’s falls under the category of “wheated bourbon,” which means that after the required 51% corn, wheat makes up a majority of the other grains used during the distillation process. It makes wheated bourbons a very smooth, accessible drink. That’s why W. L. Weller Antique (Old Weller Antique) from Buffalo Trace Distillery is the perfect upgrade for Maker’s fans, and it’s a great stepping stone toward the mythical Pappy Van Winkle. It’s not too expensive either. You can find bottles for around $30.

Like The Macallan 12 Year? Try the Yamazaki 12 Year

The Japanese have been crafting award-winning whiskey for decades, forcing die-hard Scotch drinkers to take notice. Marran says that the Yamazaki almost always wins the blind tastings he does at the bar if someone asks for a Scotch whiskey flight. I’ve had a couple bottles of the Yamazaki 12 myself and can attest to its superior quality. Grab a bottle for around $100.

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Like Jameson? Try Some Green Spot

Marran describes Single Pot Still whiskey as a bridge between blended Irish whiskey and Scotch whiskey, and Green Spot from Mitchell & Son is an affordable way to dip one’s toes into the quality improvement over regular blended whiskeys. Marran says:

So many people stroll into a bar and dismiss the Irish whiskey as somehow inferior. That’s about as wrong as snow in July. This is my hands-down favorite option to break someone’s misconceptions.

If you want to go up in price from there, Midleton’s Redbreast isn’t a bad option either. You can find bottles of Green Spot for around $70.

Like Bulleit Bourbon? Try Michter’s US 1 Bourbon

A lot of people enjoy Bulleit bourbon and regard it as one of the best, but Marran suggests Michter’s US 1 Bourbon is a little more balanced in its taste. It’ll cost you a few more bucks, but Marran says it’s ideal for bourbon fans who know that a high-corn ratio in the mash bill is their “problem with whiskey.” And if you’re interested in a whiskey education, he recommends their Rye and American varieties to give you a good example of how different whiskeys taste. You can usually find bottles between $50 and $60.

Like Four Roses Yellow Label? Try Sons of Liberty Uprising or Stranahan’s Yellow Label

If you’re always on the lookout for a “super smooth whiskey,” Marran suggests you stay away from bourbons and go for some American single malts. Both Sons of Liberty Uprising and Stranahan’s Yellow Label will have you covered for younger, full-bodied whiskeys that always go down smooth. You can find a bottle of Sons of Liberty Uprising for around $50 a bottle (hard to find in the West), and you can find Stranahan’s Yellow Label for about $65 a bottle.

Like Laphroaig 10? Try Bruichladdich Octomore

According to Marran, Laphroaig Scotch seems to be the go-to for most novice peaty (type of smokiness) drinkers, but there are a dozen other Islay distilleries that deserve your attention. Bruichladdich Octomore is a higher-end smokey whiskey that comes in a few styles and showcases the artistic way the distillers make the flavors pop. Marran recommends you have it neat or with a few drops of water (even an entire ice cube is too much for the peat). You can find a bottle of Bruichladdich Octomore for around $60 to $80.

Like Dewars or Johnny Walker? Try The Shackleton Whiskey

This blended Scotch is easy to spot thanks to its robin’s egg blue box and label. Marran describes it as a blended whiskey that’s “designed” to taste like a single malt, so it’s the perfect whiskey to help ease your transition to a single malt palate. It has a full body, but it’s smooth on the tongue and easy going down. Plus, the recipe has some interesting history behind it. It’s based on the Scotch Sir Ernest brought with him during his 1907 expedition to Antarctica. You can find it for about $40 a bottle.

Like Old Overholt? Try Ragtime Rye

If you’re a rye kind of guy (or gal), Marran says the jump from a basic well rye to a three-year rye is going to knock your socks off. New York Distilling Company’s Ragtime Rye is part of a new whiskey movement in New York City where nine different distilleries are rolling out ryes that are 75% rye compared to the required 51%. This is your chance to upgrade to a “real rye,” as Marran puts it. You can find bottles for around $45.

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Like Bulleit Rye? Try WhistlePig Farmstock

According to Marran, people like Bulleit Rye because it’s an affordable, mellow rye that eases them into the world of decent whiskey after their college whiskey shooting days. If you’re ready to upgrade to something that’s just as mellow, but with more rye and a better bite, WhistlePig’s Farmstock is the way to go. There are notes of vanilla and toasted honey, and runs for about $90 a bottle.

Already like Yamazaki 12 Year? Try Amrut Single Malt Cask Strength

If you’ve already tasted the greatness that is the Yamazaki, Amrut should be your new best friend. Marran says it’s something all whiskey enthusiasts should try:

Whether you’re in it to show you know more about whiskey, or you merely want to continue building your exotic Single Malt collection, this single malt from India is a must-have in order to see why so many companies are taking the barley approach from Scotland and giving it a whirl.

Amrut’s whiskeys are a bit younger than others, but they’ve got full flavor and have been winning awards. You’ll probably have to order it online (prices can range from $60 to $100 a bottle), but it’s a tasty international whiskey that you can definitely show off to your friends.


The 10 Most Useful Things in Excel

Every Excel user has their own favorite tip. So we decided to bring some method, data, and science to bear in this hotly debated topic.

We consulted the research of 30 of the world’s leading Excel experts, our own internal Excel experts, grouped up and consolidated the emerging features, and applied a scoring methodology and index to produce a definitive ordered list of the 100 most useful Excel features, hacks, tips and tricks.

These are the top 10 Excel tips as determined by our ranking.

Skills are ranked by usefulness and given a score out of 100. Each skill also has a difficulty rating (out of 5) based on the complexity and sophistication of the feature. Finally, we provide the average time in minutes it takes the average learner to go from no knowledge to proficient.

The videos and gifs inserted in this list were created by Business Insider.

1. Conditional Formatting

Utility: 100
Difficulty: 3
Learn in 180 mins

Making sense of our data-rich, noisy world is hard but vital. Used well, Conditional Formatting brings out the patterns of the universe, as captured by your spreadsheet. That’s why Excel experts and Excel users alike vote this the #1 most important feature. This can be sophisticated. But even the simplest colour changes can be hugely beneficial. Suppose you have volumes sold by sales staff each month. Just three clicks can reveal the top 10% performing salespeople and tee up an important business conversation.

2. PivotTables

Utility: 95
Difficulty: 3
Learn in 240 mins

At 4 hours to get to proficiency, you may be put off learning PivotTables but don’t be. Use them to sort, count, total or average data stored in one large spreadsheet and display them in a new table, cut however you want. That’s the key thing here. If you want to look only at sales figures for certain countries, product lines or marketing channels, it’s trivial. Warning: make sure your data is clean first!

3. Paste Special

Utility: 88
Difficulty: 3
Learn in 10 mins

Grabbing (ie Copying) some data from one cell and pasting it into another cell is one of the most common activities in Excel. But there’s a lot you might copy (formatting, value, formula, comments, etc) and sometimes you won’t want to copy all of it. The most common example of this is where you want to lose the formatting – the place this data is going is your own spreadsheet with your own styling.

4. Add Multiple Rows

Utility: 87
Difficulty: 0
Learn in 10 mins

Probably one of the most frequently carried out activities in spreadsheeting. Ctrl Shift + is the shortcut, but actually it takes longer, so Right Click is what we recommend. And if you want to add more than one, select as many rows or columns as you’d like to add and then Right Click and add.

5. Absolute References

Utility: 85
Difficulty: 2
Learn in 15 mins

Indispensable! The dollar in front of the letter fixes the column, the dollar sign in front of number fixes the row F4 toggles through the four possible combinations.

6. Print Optimisation

Utility: 84
Difficulty: 3
Learn in 120 mins

Everyone has problems printing from Excel. But just imagine if what you printed were always just what you intended to print. It IS actually possible. There are a few components to this though: print preview, fit to one page, adjusting margins, print selection, printing headers, portrait vs landscape and spreadsheet design. Invest the time to get comfortable with it. You’ll be carrying out this task many, many times in your working life.

7. Extend formula across/down

Utility: 84
Difficulty: 1
Learn in 5 mins

The beauty of Excel is its easy scalability. Get the formula right once and Excel will churn out the right calculation a million times. The + cross hair is handy. Double clicking it will take it all the way down if you have continuous data. Sometimes a copy and paste (either regular paste or paste formulas) will be faster for you.

8. Flash Fill

Utility: 84
Difficulty: 2
Learn in 30 mins

Excel developed a mind of its own in 2013. Say you have two columns of names and you need to construct email addresses from them all. Just do it for the first row and Excel will work out what you mean and do it for the rest. Pre-2013 this was possible but relied on a combination of functions (FIND, LEFT, &, etc). This is much faster and WILL impress people.


Utility: 82
Difficulty: 4
Learn in 45 mins

This is one of the most powerful combinations of Excel functions. You can use it to look up a value in a big table of data and return a corresponding value in that table. Let’s say your company has 10,000 employees and there’s a spreadsheet with all of them in it with lots of information about them like salary, start date, line manager etc. But you have a team of 20 and you’re only really interested in them. INDEX-MATCH will look up the value of your team members (these need to be unique like email or employee number) in that table and return the desired information for your team. This is worth getting your head around this as it is more flexible and therefore more powerful than VLOOKUPs.

10. Filters

Utility: 81
Difficulty: 2
Learn in 60 mins

Explore data in a table quickly. Filtering effectively hides data that is not of interest. Usually there’s a value e.g. ‘Blue cars’ that you’re looking for and Filters will bring up those and hide the rest. But in more modern versions of Excel, you can now also filter on number values (e.g. is greater than, top 10%, etc), and cell color. Filtering becomes more powerful when you need to filter more than one column in combination e.g. both colors and vehicles to find your blue car.


8 Free Excel Add-Ins to Make Visually Pleasing Spreadsheets

Microsoft Excel has an array of useful features for creating powerful spreadsheets with charts and tables. But, when you want to take your spreadsheet to the next level, beyond fancy text or themes, you may need the help of an add-in.

With these handy tools, you can create more visually stimulating representations of your data. For printing, presenting, or providing a better view of your spreadsheets and what they contain, check out these awesome Excel add-ins.

1. Excel Colorizer

For an easy way to add color to your spreadsheet data, the Excel Colorizer add-in works great. To make your data simpler to read, just pick the colors and pattern and let the add-in do the rest of the work.

You can choose a type from uniform, horizontal, vertical, or matrix and pick your four colors. Then, adjust the interpolation to smooth or linear and the color space to RGB or HSV. You can also pick the pattern from interlaced or waves. So, select your data, make it look amazing, and hit Colorize! to finish.

2. Radial Bar Chart

While Microsoft Excel offers many chart options, Radial Bar Chart gives you one more. This add-in follows its name in providing exactly what it says: a radial bar chart. Access the add-in, select the cells containing your data, and then adjust the chart as you like.

You can pick the labels, numbers, and set a title. Hit Save and your chart will be created automatically. Move or resize your chart and run your mouse over the bars to display the data for each. The add-in is quick, simple, and gives you another chart style option for your data.

3. HierView

For displaying an organizational chart, HierView is the add-in for you. Your data should include a row identifier with the information included across the columns. Then, configure your data with filtering, automatic refreshing, column names, and data per node.

Once your chart is complete, you can zoom in or out, move in all four directions, or fit the chart to the plotted area. You can also move the entire chart or resize it if needed. Adjust the settings or get help at any time with the convenient buttons at the top of the chart.

4. Bubbles

Would your data look better in a bubble? If so, then Bubbles is the add-in you should try. This interactive bubble chart tool lets you display information in a unique way. Just open the add-in and select your table of data. When the chart is created, you can move the bubbles around while presenting or leave them as they are.

8 Types of Excel Charts & When You Should Use Them

Bubbles has a few settings you can adjust for basic or detailed mode, color range, and the title and column displays. You can also use the keyboard shortcuts shown at the bottom of the chart for things like hiding or showing more information or bouncing the bubbles about.Graphics are easier to grasp than text and numbers. Charts are a great way to visualize numbers. We show you how to create charts in Microsoft Excel and when to best use what kind.

5. Bing Maps

If adding a map to your spreadsheet is useful, the Bing Maps add-in makes it simple. Your data can include addresses, cities, states, zip codes, or countries as well as longitude and latitude. Just open the add-in, select your data cells, and click the Location button on the map.

The Bing Maps tool is ideal for displaying numeric data related to locations. So, if you work in sales, you can show new markets to cover or if you work for a company with multiple locations, you can present those facilities to clients clearly.

6. Geographic Heat Map

When a heat map is what you really need, the Geographic Heat Map add-in is terrific. From the same developer as the Radial Bar Chart add-in, you have similar settings. Select your data, choose a U.S. or world map, pick your column headings, and add a title.

You can reselect the data set if you add more columns or rows and if you change a value already in the set, you will see the heat map update automatically. For a fast glance at data related to countries, states, or regions, you can pop this heat map into your spreadsheet easily.

7. Pickit Free Images

For adding photos and other images to your spreadsheets, Pickit Free Images is the perfect tool. Once you access the add-in, you have a few options for finding the image you need. You can do a keyword search, browse through collections, or pick a category from a huge selection.

Click a spot to put it in your spreadsheet, select the image you want, and hit the Insert button. You can move, resize, or crop images as needed. And, if you create a free Pickit account, you can mark favorites to reuse and follow fellow users or categories to stay up-to-date on new uploads.

8. Web Video Player

Maybe your company has videos on YouTube or tutorials on Vimeo that would be beneficial to your workbook. With the Web Video Player add-in, you can pop a video from either of these sources right into your spreadsheet.

Open the add-in and then either enter the URL of the video or click to visit YouTube or Vimeo to obtain the link. Hit the Set Video button and you are done. Then, when you open the spreadsheet, the video is there and ready for you to click the Play button.

For a one-time $5 fee, you can set your videos to play automatically or start and end at specific spots in the clip. This option is included within the add-in.

Find, Install, and Use Add-Ins

You can access the add-ins store easily from within Excel. Open a workbook, select the Insert tab, and click Store. When the Office Add-Ins Store opens, browse by category or search for a specific add-in. You can also visit the Microsoft AppsSource site on the web and browse or search there.

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When you find the add-in you want, you can select it for further details or simply install it. However, it is wise to view the description first to check the terms and conditions, privacy statements, and system requirements.


The Smart Move to Make After The Equifax Breach

With the angry glare of the public eye squarely focused on Equifax after announcing a massive breach and blamed it on a computer server flaw other companies had fixed months before, the company is waiving fees on credit freezes. Which is good news because it’s the only thing that’s going to save your bacon.

The company had previously offered victims a free year of credit report monitoring — but customers and advocates were quick to point out that this wouldn’t actually stop anyone’s identity from getting exploited from the data heist affecting nearly 143 million Americans. Hackers would still be able to open up new credit cards and go on spending sprees, apply for other loans or mortgages, and leave you holding the bag for the debt or the bad name.


Source :

10 Traits of Successful People

Those who enjoy success, financial or otherwise, have a different perspective to the rest of us. They do not tolerate people who do not support their success, people who are not on their team. They take the long term view, often forgoing short term benefits, like holidays, for long term achievements, the result of hard work. They never stop learning and are not afraid to ask for help and are willing to make mistakes and take responsibility for them.

They could come from any background but these qualities make them successful over time.

1. They Are Driven
They obsessively pursue their goals achievement by achievement, iteration by iteration until they are in no doubt that their goal has been achieved. They do not have time to watch TV and all the simulations it hypnotizes people with. They are driving energy into their financial success.

2. They Sacrifice Present Comfort for Future Success
Often wealthy people started with low income and made space in their finances for some investment, whether in their education, financial instruments, property or some other asset that will add value over time. To make that space they often forgo the attractions of the latest fancy car or restaurant dinner.

3. They Are Self Confident
Self Confidence means never playing the victim, recognizing, instead, that attributing negative emotions to the actions of others disempowers them. Victims blame others for their circumstances and so they place all their power with others. Successful people realise that their power lies within them and that they must act to make changes. People who experience business success will always have to be tough in taking criticism and rejection, and you have to be self confident to do that.

4. They Limit Debt
Debt is a thorny issue. It is hard in the modern business environment to avoid debt, but expensive, unproductive debt is a millstone around the neck. Credit cards, over droughts, car loans, house loans, all these are profoundly unproductive and expensive. The value of what is bought with the money often depreciates, sometimes immediately after you’ve bought it, and the interest is expensive. Financially successful people will only borrow money to invest in assets that will yield a return in the future and in this way the cost of credit will pay for itself.

5. They Take Responsibility for Their Circumstances
Business success is dependent upon accepting that there will be bumps in the road, obstacles in the stream and difficult people in their lives. Financially successful people know that to blame others for the circumstances they find themselves in, especially bad circumstances, is self defeating, placing the power to effect change on others. Even if circumstances are difficult, there are always options. Taking responsibility opens them up to those options.

6. Long Term Perspective
The long term is the future, where we all end up. Planning for the long term future will help you make stable investment and business decisions. We have all heard of lottery winners whose wealth evaporates before them with nothing to show for it afterwards. This is the result of spending for the short term. Money invested with the long term in mind will generate wealth over time.

7. They Give Value
The essence of what people want from their wealth is value. Those who give value can expect to receive wealth in return for that value. Those who consistently give value can consistently expect to receive money in return, whether it is a business making a product or a craftsman plying his or her trade or an employee doing the best job possible.

8. They Know Education Is An Investment
Education can take the form of an expensive course or simply reading a book, listening to an audio book in the car on the way to work or asking for advice from a trusted source. Either way knowledge is the product and knowledge allows you to learn from others so that you can take the shortcuts and not make as many mistakes as if you did not have the knowledge. It’s simple really.

9. They Are Goal Oriented
There are those who, in their jobs, are only willing to do just enough to avoid being fired and they spend their lives veering from one dead end job to another. Financially successful people are goal oriented and pursue that goal with all the energy they can muster, and if that means working extra hours or travelling or getting advice from a mentor then they will do that to achieve the goal.

10. They Are Passionate
Their drive to achieve success is fueled by passion, the excitement, fulfillment and intensity of self actualization. The passionate pursue success not merely for themselves but for the service of all.

Financially successful people are driven to succeed by their passionate desire to provide service to the world. They do this by offering value, going the extra mile where it is never crowded. They take the long term view, avoiding debt and they constantly update their knowledge with education.


Schools are Banning Fidget Spinners

As if worrying about funding and quality teachers weren’t enough, now schools on both sides of the Atlantic are dealing with a mighty serious problem of another sort: fidget spinners and their cousins, fidget cubes.

The little gadgets supposedly meant to help kids focus in school are bothering teachers and administrators so much that they are being banned or otherwise restricted in classrooms in the United States and the United Kingdom. Why? Because they can be distracting when kids use them as toys to do tricks — such as trying to balance them on their noses — and, some say, because they can be dangerous if the tricks go awry and the spinning gadget hits someone.

Fidget spinners are little devices with a bearing in the center of shaped material — plastic, stainless steel, etc. — that can be spun by the holder. They are often marketed as a stress-relief device for people who can’t sit still, and some companies directly appeal to kids who have a hard time focusing in class. Some of the devices make noise when they spin; others don’t.

Invented more than a dozen years ago, the toys have suddenly become so popular that “Saturday Night Live” made them the focus of a skit on a recent show. Popular online videos explain how to do tricks (one has more than 5 million views; another posted just a week ago about music to go with your fidget spinning already has more than 600,000 views) and stores can’t keep them in stock.

Schools and individual teachers in Florida, Illinois, New York, Virginia and other states are banning them from classrooms, while others are taking the fidget spinners away from kids who seem too distracted by them — or are distracting others. According to Working Mother, schools in at least 11 states have banned them and more are likely to do so.

On April 24, the Carroll Gardens School for Innovation/M.S.442 in Brooklyn posted this on its Facebook page, reflecting the concerns of administrators at other schools as well:

Dear M.S. 442 Families,

The safety, well-being and education of your children has always been our main concern. Occasionally, there are toys and gadgets that are trending in the media that all the kids seem to want. The latest is an object called a “fidget spinner” that kids are bringing to school.

Although seemingly harmless, these items are being taken out during class causing a distraction to students and staff. They are also being thrown around during transition in the hallways to and from class and in the cafeteria and at recess. They are small in size, but can seriously hurt someone.

In an effort to prevent injuries, we must officially ban these fidget spinners from being brought into our school. Please discuss this matter with your child, as we have, so they understand how important it is that all students and staff remain safe at MS 442. We will ask your child to surrender the item to an adult if it is brought to school and in turn, a staff member will call to advise you of the situation.
Please note that if your child has a sensory issue and needs a fidget, we have them on hand.

Thank you for your continued support.

In Virginia, a petition was started on to persuade officials at Holman Middle School in Glen Allen to reverse a ban on fidget spinners and cubes. One student who signed it wrote:

I’m signing because fidget spinners help and need to be unbaned. They help you stay awake during class


The 5 Best & Worst States for Retirement

When you picture retirement, you might imagine yourself soaking up the sun in Florida, moving to California to enjoy summer year-round, or even spending your days in tropical Hawaii.

But these states may end up costing you big-time, because they’re not the most retiree-friendly, financially speaking.

In a recent report, Bankrate ranked each state in America based on how comfortably someone could retire there. Using data from the Council for Community and Economic Research, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Tax Foundation, Bankrate included important factors such as the cost of living, healthcare quality, tax rate, crime rate, and overall community well-being to determine which states offered the best retirement environment and which ones should be avoided.

So where does your state (or preferred state) land on the list? Here are some of the best and worst places to retire.


The top 5

The best states to live during retirement may come as a surprise, as they’re not areas that are normally considered retirement havens. Nevertheless, they’re states you may want to consider if you’re thinking about retiring soon.

First, though, let’s take a look at the different factors that go into these rankings:

  • Cost of living: The cost-of-living factor is based on information from the Council for Community and Economic Research.
  • Crime rate: Using data reported by the FBI, the crime rate is a measure of both property crime and violent crime reported by police departments.
  • Community well-being: This measure is based on the results of satisfaction surveys for each state, and it’s meant to gauge a community’s overall happiness.
  • Healthcare quality: This measure is based on information from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which studies each state’s performance on roughly 160 healthcare-related issues and how they compare to other states.
  • Weather: While this is a subjective topic, Bankrate’s study used both data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (average temperatures, humidity, sunshine levels, etc.) and public opinion to determine which areas of the country were the most desirable to seniors.
  • Tax rate: This factor is based on a variety of taxes paid by state residents, including sales tax, income tax, and property tax.

1. Wyoming

Wyoming may seem like an odd retirement destination, but it ranks the best in the nation overall. The tax rate is unbeatable, partly because the state has no income tax, and the sales tax and property tax are among the lowest in the nation at just 5.40% and 0.51%, respectively.

Also, the crime rate is among the lowest in the country (ranking No. 5 among all states), and the weather is pretty nice, too (at least according to the survey respondents), with average high temperatures peaking in the low 80s in the summer.

2. Colorado

Colorado is not the cheapest place to live, ranking 30th out of the 50 states in terms of overall cost of living. The average home price in Denver reached a record high of $487,974 in April, and even in the less expensive city of Colorado Springs, the average price for a single-family home is $298,774.

Yet there’s a reason why people are flocking to Colorado: the gorgeous weather and the wonderful sense of community, based on resident satisfaction surveys. The healthcare quality is also fantastic, ranking 14th in the nation.

3. Utah

Utah makes the list for several reasons: the low cost of living (the state ranks at No. 7 overall in the country), the quality healthcare (also ranking at No. 7), and the great weather.

The median home value in Salt Lake City is about $281,000, according to Zillow. And in less expensive cities, such as Ogden, the median home value is just $145,000. Utah also has one of the healthiest populations in the country, and it has some of the lowest healthcare costs per capita, based on data from the United Health Foundation.

4. Idaho

While most people don’t dream of moving to Idaho the minute they retire, it does offer the distinct advantage of having one of the lowest costs of living (coming in at third in the nation) and a low crime rate (second only to Vermont).

The median home value in Idaho is just under $190,000. In more expensive areas — such as Boise — the median value is around $214,000, according to Zillow. And in less expensive areas — such as Idaho Falls — housing is even more affordable, with a median value of $140,000.

5. Virginia

Virginia shines with its low crime rate (ranking 4th in the country), and it also has quality healthcare (ranking 13th, just above Colorado) and great weather (at least according to Bankrate’s survey respondents).

Smaller towns and suburbs in particular offer attractive benefits for retirees. In the small town of Cedar Bluff, for instance, the population is just over 1,000 people, crime is virtually nonexistent, and the median home value is just $100,500.

The bottom 5

Every state has something to offer, and where you choose to spend your golden years is a deeply personal decision. That said, the states below don’t hold as much appeal for retirees, whether it’s because of a high cost of living, low quality of life, or high crime rates.

46. Louisiana

Louisiana is one of the lowest-ranking states for crime rate (at No. 49, above only New Mexico), and it’s also not known for its community well-being (ranked 48th) or healthcare quality (tied with Kentucky for 45th).

The sales tax in Louisiana is also the highest in the country (at 9.98%), but the state shines when it comes to property tax. Ranked third in the country for its low property tax of just 0.50%, Louisiana may help homeowners save some money.

47. West Virginia

West Virginia, unfortunately, is ranked dead last for both community well-being and healthcare quality. It’s also ranked 32nd for its tax rate and 23rd for its cost of living.

The state has earned the (unfortunate) title of “Most Miserable State” six years running, according to the yearly Well-Being Index by Gallup-Healthways. The survey cites the dying coal industry and lack of jobs as possible reasons why residents are so unhappy. It also noted that the state’s population is one of the least educated in the country, which could be a contributing factor, and many of the respondents in the survey said they lacked the motivation to achieve their goals.

48. Alaska

Alaska may be beautiful, but the harsh winters aren’t for everyone. It also takes the No. 49 spot for cost of living (just above Hawaii) and the No. 46 spot for its crime rate.

The high crime rate may seem surprising for a state where moose outnumber people, but while crime in the country overall has decreased in the last 20 years, the violent crime in Alaska continues to increase. It’s also not the cheapest place to buy a home, with the average home value in Anchorage at just under $300,000.

49. New York

New York has many great qualities, but its tax rate isn’t one of them. It ranks 50th in the country for its taxes, and it ranks 47th for cost of living and 42nd for sense of community.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that there’s a huge difference between living in New York City and living in the rest of the state. For example, the median home value in Manhattan is over $1.3 million, while the median value of a home in the less expensive city of Albany is only $169,500. And while there may be less sense of community in New York City (where it may be harder to get to know your neighbors), that’s not the case in other parts of the state.

50. Arkansas

In unfortunate news for residents (or potential residents) of Arkansas, the state was ranked as the “worst” state to retire in. While it did rank well for its cost of living, it also ranked 45th for crime rate, 47th for community well-being, 44th for healthcare quality, and 39th for tax rate.

Arkansas also ranked poorly in Gallup’s Well-Being Index, and Fort Smith in particular was named the most miserable city in the country. The survey pointed to high poverty rates, financial stress, and poor health as a few of the reasons cited for residents’ low levels of satisfaction.

As you decide where you want to retire, keep in mind that there are dozens of other factors that you should consider before packing up and moving. But before you make any big decisions, it’s a good idea to make sure the state you’re considering spending the rest of your life in fits your lifestyle and financial needs.

The $16,122 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,122 more… each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we’re all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.


The Most Romantic Cities in the World

When we asked Travel + Leisure readers to rank their favorite cities in the world for romance in our 2016 World’s Best Awards survey, the 20 results covered more than 7,840 miles, ranging from the palm-fringed beaches of Hawaii to the luxury hideouts of Monte Carlo.

Italy, unsurprisingly, holds fast to four spots on this year’s list: one even claims the No. 1 title. Paris is a close second, and almost a requisite for any couple traveling in the name of love.

Beyond the beautiful but somewhat obvious picks, there are exciting new spots that ascended onto the list. The lavender fields of Aix-en-Provence, for example, and musical hills in Austria’s Salzburg. Cliffside Carmel-by-the-Sea took bronze this year, beating other romantic Californian destinations like San Francisco and Santa Barbara.

A popular Hawaiian honeymoon spot climbed the ranks, propelled by a winning combination of flourishing city culture and eternal island beauty. And this year’s No. 1 city in the world, Charleston, didn’t disappoint travelers seeking an easy, romantic weekend getaway.

Couples seeking cityscapes and wild nightlife, or those yearning for rugged coasts and uninterrupted countryside, can easily find a destination on this list that satisfies their unique passions.

Turn your one-on-one time into an adventure of a lifetime with these most romantic cities in the world.

No. 20 Lucerne, Switzerland

Nestled between the snowcapped Alps and Lake Lucerne, the city of Lucerne is a charming Swiss hideaway with medieval flourishes. Like Chapel Bridge, for example, which was built in 1333 and is often decorated with flowers. Visit charming old city squares and the Jesuit Church (the first Baroque church in Switzerland). For the most romantic place to bed down, Villa Honegg is just outside of the city center. This 1905 mansion-turned-hotel sports an outdoor heated pool with a full view of the mountains and lake below.


No. 19 Aix-en-Provence, France

As the birthplace of Cezanne, it’s easy to visit the places that brought the master’s paintings to life. Relax at cafes and local haunts like the Morning Market, though the best croissants can be found at Farinoman Fou. Check out the Aix vineyards, fragrant lavender fields, or head to the hot springs-fed baths first tapped by the Romans thousands of years ago. Southern France is like a pleasure garden, with pretty, moss-covered fountains spouting around every corner. Snack on calissons for a treat (candied fruit and almonds topped with a layer of icing). Because all romantic outings require a little something sweet.

No. 18 Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is as storied as it is picturesque. With thousands of years of musical history (think: Julie Andrews and Mozart), the operas, musicals, and concerts held in the city will make your heart flutter. Tour Schloss Mirabell—a 17th-century palace with the famous Marble Hall—and the Baroque-style Mirabell Gardens, which feature the Pegasus Fountain, and Rose and Dwarf Gardens. The Renaissance-style Schloss Hellbrunn, on the other hand, houses the gazebo that wooed many a lover in the Sound of Music. Climb to the cliff-top fortress, Festung Hohensalzburg, to see the glimmering city lights below (it’s also one of the most stunning medieval castles in Europe). Looking to take your love even higher? Grab a cable car up on the Untersberg for an unparalleled view of Salzburg and the Salzach River.

No. 17  Savannah, Georgia

There is magic in the coastal city of Savannah, Georgia. The storied antebellum buildings and ancient oak trees draped with Spanish moss make it at once both quaint and bewitching (there are of course the ghost stories). City squares are peppered with azaleas, statues, and benches: including the one where Forrest Gump explained life’s beautiful unpredictability. Pirates once used Savannah as a smuggling post, but today the cobbled River Street is ripe with cute candy stores brimming with homemade saltwater taffy and pralines, as well as bustling bars and restaurants serving the best regional fare (think: buttery biscuits, fresh-caught shrimp, and sweet tea). Handcrafted leather shops, charming apothecaries, and even a honey store, it’s easy to see how the “hostess city of the south” lives up to its sweet reputation.

No. 16 Seville, Spain

Seville is the star of Andalucía, with its purple jacaranda and perfuming orange trees lining the cobblestone streets. Wander in and out of the famous ceramic shops in Triana, and ascend La Giralda tower at the Cathedral of St. Mary (the second largest in the world, after the Vatican) for photo-worthy panoramas. The gelaterias here are legendary, so grab a scoop and stroll the Plaza de España, or nap at the Parque María Luisa during siesta time. Spend an afternoon together at El Alcazar palace, with its Moorish architecture and gorgeous gardens (the filming spot for Dorne on Game of Thrones, no less). Grab handfuls of Marcona almonds and fresh fruit from the market to enjoy as you wind through labyrinthine side streets to find a traditional flamenco performance. When night falls, the city seems to glow warm gold, with buildings like the Torre Del Oro seemingly lit from within. Dine al fresco with locals at one of countless open-air restaurants. Try the Jamon Iberico with a pitcher of sangria, and dip warm churros into melted chocolate. It’s a decadent way to conclude a trip to Seville with your significant other.

No. 15 Monte Carlo, Monaco

For a dose of romantic Hollywood glamor on the French Riviera, look no farther than Monte Carlo. Its extravagant hotels, stunning coastal views, and some of the best restaurants and spas in the Mediterranean make Monaco a staple on our list for romantic destinations every year. Fly in via helicopter (just a seven-minute ride from the airport) for the most memorable views, and stay at the lavish Hotel Hermitage (its glass cupola was designed by the Gustave Eiffel). Get your heart racing at the racetrack, or take a chance on a good hand at the famous Casino de Monte Carlo. And if you rent a classic car to drive along the Grand Corniche, we promise you’ll feel like a famous couple plucked from the silver screen.

No. 14: Siena, Italy

Offering visitors the beauty of Tuscany without the massive throngs of tourists, Siena is a delightful destination for lovebirds. An archetypal medieval city, forged before the lavish Renaissance, makes the green, red, and white-marble Duomo somehow more striking. It houses masterpieces by 40 Italian artists, including Donatello, Michelangelo, and Bernini. The whole city is built around the Piazza del Campo, a UNESCO heritage site where you can people watch while sipping Campari. Drive out to the wineries just outside the city limits to taste the best of the Sangiovese grapes and share a perfect Tuscan sunset.


No. 13 Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan couple’s dream. Fuel up on tapas in La Barceloneta’s seaside cafes before walking through the winding Barri Gòtic and climbing Gaudi’s surreal Sagrada Familia or the vibrant Parc Guell (both offer great city views). Stop by one of the city’s famous markets, La Boqueria or Santa Caterina, for fresh foods and great coffee. Reserve a room at Hotel Neri (an 18th-century palace where breakfast is served on the rooftop) or the luxurious all-suite El Palauet. You’ll fall in love with this city—and each other—every time.

No. 12 Victoria, British Columbia

Victoria is a Canadian stunner in beautiful British Columbia. Located on the inner tip of Vancouver Island, the city’s Neo-Baroque architecture is decidedly British. Admire the Parliament Buildings, the Fairmont Empress hotel (peek inside to see the Edwardian interiors), and the famous Butchart Gardens. And just 30 miles north is the Cowichan Valley, which boasts vineyards, art galleries, and hiking trails—perfect for lighting sparks.

No. 11 Santa Barbara, California

Santa Barbara—fondly referred to as America’s Riviera—is a great escape for those looking to stoke the flames. The weather here is consistently perfect, so it’s easy to visit any time of year (even gray, dreary February). It’s 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles, tucked between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific, and famous for its Spanish architecture. Hop on the open-air trolley down State Street to discover new restaurants and galleries. The 200-year old Santa Barbara Mission and its rose garden are worth a tour, as well. And Shoreline Park’s bluff-top views and Butterfly Beach are perfect for sunbathing with your partner. Just keep an eye out, because there are often dolphins and whales that come to play in the surf.


No. 10 San Francisco, California

On a romantic getaway to San Francisco, head to the Pacific Heights neighborhood to see those iconic Victorian homes, or take a bike ride through Golden Gate Park for the best views of the bridge. Couples should consider taking a day trip to nearby Napa or Sonoma to enjoy some of the best wineries, not just in the country, but on Earth. Doc Rickett’s is a local favorite for underground comedy and music acts, and for museums, the de Young’s American art collection is a must-see. Park yourself at Cupid’s Span on the Embarcadero to watch the sunset and check out the Bay Lights show before dining in the trendy Mission District.

No. 9 Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

The landmark Fairmont Le Château Frontenac looks like a fortress guarding Quebec City, a spot that fiercely puts the “French” in French-Canadian. Considered the oldest European settlement on the continent, Quebec overlooks the beautiful St. Lawrence River and is packed with boutique and luxury hotels. Meander in and out of trendy shops and jazz bars, or go ice skating at the outdoor rink at Palais Montcalm. Afterwards, warm up with hearty Québécois cuisine or the province’s famous greasy spoon-style poutine.

No. 8 Bruges, Belgium

Old World European charm is the defining feel in Bruges, just an hour by train outside of Brussels. The 13th-century village has cobblestone streets extending over misty canals, and endless examples of Gothic architecture. Quaint houses, windmills, and medieval streets set a fairy tale scene. Share a traditional Belgian waffle with powdered sugar or sip Lambics at one of the village pubs. Bruges is also known for its vast collections of Flemish artworks, though it’s hard to pull away from the 50 different chocolate shops (one per square mile) sprinkled throughout the city.


No. 7 Charleston, South Carolina

Friendly locals and quintessential Southern charm recently gave Charleston the No. 1 spot on our list of the best cities in the world. And it didn’t under perform for romance-seekers, either. Antebellum architecture and art galleries are framed by wisteria, sabal palmettos, and ancient magnolia trees. Couples who love eating out will adore this city’s food culture: reserve a spot at Husk, the most talked-about restaurant in Charleston and the South, share brunch at Kitchen 208, or linger over an intimate meal at Peninsula Grill. Walk King Street for antiques and boutiques of all sorts, stop by Marion Square for the weekend farmer’s market, or take an early morning stroll down pastel-colored Rainbow Row.


No. 6 Honolulu, Hawaii

On the island of Oahu, Honolulu has become more than just a tropical tourist destination—it’s cosmopolitan and has a stylish vibe all its own. Salty sea breezes, miles of turquoise waters, and an onslaught of new boutiques and restaurants make this a hot honeymoon spot. A trip to Hnolulu is relaxing, but there’s plenty to do for the restless. Try surfing at bustling Waikiki Beach, hop on a jet ski together and cruise the waves, or go snorkeling at the many reefs full of Pixar-worthy fish and seascapes. Most importantly, share a sunrise together after a hike up Diamond Head, and a sunset on a veranda sipping Mai Tais.

No. 5 Rome, Italy

There are an infinite number of opportunities to be awed in the Eternal City. Visit the Basilica Santa Maria and the Sistine Chapel, admire the Pantheon and Colosseum, and take in the artworks at the Borghese Gallery. Afterward, head to the Trevi Fountain to wish for a return trip with your partner, and admire thousands of other fountains scattered across the city. Rome’s history seems limitless (a 2,700-year-old city has that effect) and so does its cuisine. Try the pizza at Il Forno Roscioli near the Campo de’ Fiori Market, eat the traditional cacio e pepeat Sora Margherita, or go to Prati on the Tiber to share the best gelato.

No. 4 Florence, Italy

A trip to Florence is a necessity for a pair of fashion or art lovers. Venture together to see masterpieces like Michelangelo’s David, or the homes of Gucci and  Ferragamo. Almost every hotel here boasts marble fireplaces, classical sculptures, paintings, and frescoes. Visit the new Mercato Centrale for the best souvenirs (cheese, wines, and pasta), and climb the steps to the Duomo’s terrace. Visitors can also ascend Giotto’s Campanile bell tower to share the view of the dreamy terracotta-topped cityscape.

No. 3 Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

About an hour south of San Jose, voters declared this small California town the best city for romance in the country. Drive through redwood forests or winding vineyards to get to Carmel-by-the-Sea’s picturesque cliffs dotted with cottages and isolated beaches. You won’t find much in the way of street signs, traffic lights, or billboards here, where quaintness is practically cultivated. Go for a drive along the rugged coast to discover tasty bistros, cool boutiques, and petite wineries. End the day watching the sun set over the Pacific with your special someone.

No. 2 Paris, France

Could there be a list of romantic destinatinos without the City of Light? Paris is ever-changing and yet always true to its lovers. Bike through Le Marais and try as many of the city’s legendary patisseries as you can. However touristy, the staples never disappoint. Lovebirds should explore the endless corridors of the Louvre and picnic with fresh crepes on the lawn by the Eiffel Tower (or with a bottle of wine, at night, when it’s a twinkling glow). Take the metro up to the cobblestone streets of Montmartre and see the view from Sacre Coeur, spend a day marveling at the Latin Quarter’s architecture, or take a stroll through the Tuileries Garden dotted with bronzed sculptures and fountains. Paris is never short on beauty, history, or diversions for even the most discerning couple.

No. 1 Venice, Italy

Winding waterways and pastel piazzas make Venice an obvious choice for the world’s most romantic city. Cruise the canals by water taxi or take it slow on a quintessential gondola past the Bridge of Sighs. Sip one of the oldest hot chocolate recipes at Cafe Florian, and enjoy the unusual silence permitted by the absence of cars. First-time visitors should hop over to Murano to learn the history of the city’s stunning glassworks. Return travelers, however, should try to get lost off the beaten track. Find your own favorite charming spot to share a pizza and watch the watercolor sunset reflecting over the canals.

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