Soho House Chicago
     

Soho House Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

You don't need to have a membership to enjoy a stay at Soho House Chicago, but it certainly doesn't hurt. The newest member of the Soho Group, which runs 12 houses in places like Berlin, Miami, and London, this new establishment offers tiny, small, medium, and medium plus bedrooms to non-members, with guest status granting them access to the club's bars, restaurant, spa, screening room, and rooftop pool. Should you feel like becoming a member — potential members are vetted and normally come from creative industries — you'll also get access to the drawing room, library, and 15,000 sq ft gymnasium, and, depending on your membership, will be welcomed at all other Soho Houses worldwide.

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The Pastry War
     

The Pastry War

Houston, Texas

Those of you who aren't well versed in your Mexican history might not realize The Pastry War is named after an 1838 conflict between Mexico and France, but it makes perfect sense when you realize this mezcaleria sports subtle French details throughout. The menu includes everything you'd expect, like margaritas, a healthy mezcal and tequila list, Mexican beers, and snacks including tamales and chips and salsa. What you might not expect? Several intriguing cocktail selections, craft beers from both the US and Mexico, a short menu of French wine, and, of course, pastries. Short on dough? Show up for happy hour, when house margaritas are $5, Mexican beers are $3, and games of pool are free.

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Poler Flagship Store
     

Poler Flagship Store

Portland, Oregon

Outdoor stuff purveyor Poler's original store was great, if a little cramped. That's not a problem anymore. The new Poler Flagship Store is a spacious 3,000 sq ft space where you can grab, tug on, chew, and otherwise test out their tees, bags, tents, jackets, beanies, hoodies, hats, and other goods before you decide to buy. There's also a selection of collabs with the likes of Raen, Stance, and Nike SB, camp-friendly goods from Juniper Ridge, Pendleton, Leatherman, and Airblaster, a playful mural by Lori D, and a gallery to serve as a pop-up exhibition space. Basically it's everything the old space was, just bigger and better.

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Edmund's Oast
     

Edmund's Oast

Charleston, South Carolina

Named for an English-born patriot nicknamed "The Rebel Brewer" and the European term for a kiln used for drying hops, it's little surprise that Edmund's Oast is a restaurant that takes its beer seriously. They're so serious, in fact, that they have a small brewery on-site, and boast an impressive list of draught beers from around the globe. The food is is designed to be authentic and thoughtfully-sourced, with selections including fresh seafood, farm-fresh chicken, and fantastic charcuterie, and an inventive cocktail menu with two punches available on tap provides several options for those who want something a bit more powerful than beer.

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Aquarius Records
     

Aquarius Records

San Francisco, California

The Bay Area has been synonymous with great music since the '60s, and one of its best record stores has been around nearly as long. Established in 1970, Aquarius Records is the oldest independent record shop in the city, offering up a selection of music that's as eclectic that the folks who shop there — they claim to only stock records they love, and thanks to an interest in everything sludge metal to bluegrass, that makes for a fantastically weird selection. As you'd expect, the staff is friendly and helpful, and explain perfectly how the store has managed to thrive for over four decades.

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Urban Cowboy
     

Urban Cowboy

Brooklyn, New York

Looking for a more authentic Big Apple stay than a chain hotel can provide? You'll find it at Urban Cowboy Bed & Breakfast. Designed to offer guests the feeling of staying in a modern Brooklyn townhouse, this unique accommodation offers four bedrooms in the freestanding townhouse as well as a rustic cabin the backyard and an open parlor floor that combines both modern and rustic elements — just like the rest of the property — and offers a place for guests to meet and mingle, possibly with native Brooklynites on nights when the owner is throwing a dinner party.

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Portland Hunt & Alpine Club
     

Portland Hunt & Alpine Club

Portland, Maine

Yes, it sounds like a cabin-based club set into the mountains — but while the interior design might sport some rustic flair, the Portland Hunt & Alpine Club is far from remote. Set in the town's Old Port area, this intimate establishment boasts an eclectic cocktail menu featuring classic drinks dating all the way back to the 1850s, as well as many modern creations — including three available on tap. There's also an impressive list of whiskeys and other spirits available, and a short food menu specializing in Scandinavian fare, heavy on sandwiches and charcuterie. Like many great cocktail bars, they also provide educational events on occasion, so if you're looking to expand your mixology knowledge, keep your eyes open for any upcoming classes.

Photos: Ted Axelrod
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Electronic Sriracha Festival
     

Electronic Sriracha Festival

San Jose, California

Yes, you read that correctly. Labor Day weekend — Saturday August 30 from Noon to 8pm, to be more precise — St. James Park will play host to one of the most interesting culinary/musical mashups of the year. The Inaugural Electronic Sriracha Festival will occupy two city blocks, and feature three stages of electronic music from some of the Bay Area's best, four bars, over 40 food trucks and tents with all dishes priced at $6 or less, and reasonable tickets that likewise won't break the bank.

Photos: Ted Eytan
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El Camino
     

El Camino

Louisville, Kentucky

Enjoy a taste of Mexico in the heart of bluegrass country at El Camino. This unusual restaurant features a menu of authentic Mexican cuisine that's heavy on seafood but still includes staples like tacos, enchiladas, and tortas, and a Tiki-inspired drink menu boasting classic cocktails like the Hemingway Daiquiri, Mai Tai, Zombie, and Scorpion punch, as well as healthy selections of tequila, mezcal, rum, and beer. As for the decor, it's a mashup of Mexican, mid-century retro, and surf shack, the latter of which makes even more sense when you first hear the surf music being played inside — the majority of which is on vinyl.

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The Boston Shaker
     

The Boston Shaker

Somerville, Massachusetts

There's no shortage of great places to grab a drink in Boston, but if you're the type who'd rather be mixing your own drinks, plan on stopping by The Boston Shaker. This Davis Square store is dedicated to the art of crafting cocktails, and as such stocks a ton of quality tools, ingredients, drinkware, and books. And if you're looking to expand your drink-making abilities, they also host classes on a regular basis to help you hone your craft.

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Mara Toto
     

Mara Toto

Maasai Mara, Kenya

Think staying in a tent is unsuitable for a high-end safari? Then you're obviously never seen Mara Toto. Nestled in the 70,000 acre Mara North Conservancy on the banks of the Ntiakitiak River, this luxury camp features five spacious canvas tents, complete with en-suite bathrooms with huge brass "safari showers", 24-hour electricity, fine dining, and designs drawn from the romantic era of East African exploration. While you enjoy the wild surroundings, you might also catch a glimpse of the leopards who live nearby, or perhaps even wildebeest and zebra on their annual migrations, which is more than we can say for your average posh hotel.

Photos: Lorna Buchanan-Jardine
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Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room
     

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room

Berkeley, California

As one of the pioneers of the industry, there are few craft breweries more well-known than Sierra Nevada. And while you can certainly sample some of their beers at their Chico, California headquarters, you can now get access to some of their limited brews in the Bay Area at the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room. This smallish space features 16 taps, many of them dedicated to rare, small-batch Sierra Nevada beers that you can't get anywhere else, as well as a friendly, vibrant atmosphere. Belly up to the bar for an informative flight, fill a growler to take home, or just grab yourself a six-pack of your regular favorite.

Photos: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
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