ART, COLLECTIBLES and HISTORY
- Web Gallery of Art
This remarkable art history destination boasts more than 10,000 high-resolution images of artwork from A.D. 1100 to 1800, complete with helpful commentary. The alphabetical Artist Index features 1,205 artists, along with time lines and nationalities. Search by time period, school, medium, subject matter and location. Digging for 16th-century Flemish master Pieter Brueghel the Elder, for example, returned a learned biography and more than 50 images, including details of his large seasonal and religious paintings. Don't miss the guided tours on topics like Flemish Altarpieces or the Sistine Chapel.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
This site dazzles the eye. Even the newly added NGA kids has Adventures in Art games, where they hunt for figures hidden in complex portraits. Tons of information about exhibitions is presented in a stylish, easy-to-use format.
Pining for a vintage Ford Thunderbird? Hemmings.com had more than 300 when we visited, including a flawless '57 convertible, whitewall tires and all, for $40,000. Need some spare T-Bird parts? Hemming's search returned 20 dealers who specialize in them from '55 to '65. Hemmings also boasts a directory of more than 9,500 car clubs, including 138 devoted to the venerable Thunderbird.
- American Memory
The Library of Congress offers this comprehensive site with more than 100 digital collections from the National Digital Library. The site is easily searchable--by topic, time period and place--and many collections provide time lines, picture galleries and narrative text, as well as suggestions for outside reading and links to related collections. You'll find information on popular culture ranging from the Emergence of Advertising in America to Baseball and Jackie Robinson, as well as more standard historical features. There are extensive documentary photos in many categories; Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings turn up dozens of collections, from Vaudeville acts to films of the Spanish-American War. New collections include Chicago Anarchists on Trial: Evidence from the Haymarket Affair, 1886-1887.
HOUSING and LIVING
This has all kinds of stats on places to live, including a best place finder to help find the perfect place for you. It also has a cost of living and salary calculator, school & crime statistics, climate info -- all kinds of stuff.
Although Life magazine has not selected an annual winner of its Dream House competition since 1999, you can still view the selections dating back to 1994. The choices range from the modern two-story Michael Graves mansion to the ranch-style five bedroom design by Robert A.M. Stern. Each of the plans comes with biographies of the architects including their vision of the house, illustrations, and suggestions for color schemes and landscaping. A single set will cost you $534. If you can't decide on a single plan, a set of four only costs an additional $30. You must call the 800-number found on the site to order.
THE real estate site.
TRAVEL, ADVENTURE AND RECREATION
Elderhostel is America’s first and the world’s largest educational travel organization for adults 55 and over. Adventures in Lifelong Learning
We are a not-for-profit organization that provides exceptional learning adventures to nearly 200,000 older adults each year. Elderhostel offers nearly 10,000 programs a year in more than 90 countries. We believe learning is a lifelong pursuit that opens minds and enriches lives. We believe sharing new ideas, challenges, and experiences is rewarding in every season of life. Our participants come from every walk of life to learn together, to exchange ideas, and to explore the world.
- Spa Finder
This site, from Spa Finder magazine, lets you search by spa type, location, price, activity and lifestyle. Choose a vacation spot for yoga, golf or smoking cessation. Each spa is described according to price, philosophy, facilities and treatments, but photos are scanty and uneven. Descriptions of day and cruise spas are less informative than resorts and hotels, and offer no photos. Special travel offers list current deals and gift finder allows you to order products for pampering at home. Turn to the glossary to learn basic terms like aerobics and watsu. Check out the library for articles on the latest health trends, spa specialities and treatments to try on your own. Consult the concierge to help plan your travel by e-mail or phone.
- Last Minute Weekend Getaways
Specializes in last-minute vacation packages from 37 cities in the U.S., bookable from three hours to 14 days in advance. A search for weekend jaunts out of Boston yielded over 200 options, from nearby Portland, Me. ($312) to Vancouver, Canada ($544) to Puebla, Mexico ($532). Itineraries offer not only airfare and hotel, but sightseeing tips as well. (In Memphis? Tour the famed Sun Studio, recording home to Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.) A weekly Top Picks e-mail offers a customized selection of "spontaneous escapes" from your closest airport.
For the more luxury minded traveler. An auction site for upscale travel enthusiasts.
Don't be turned off by this site's minimalist design. If you're a college or graduate student-or just someone with a semester's worth of time on your hands-this should be your first stop. IIE Passport lets you create your own profile and customize your search of its 5,000 programs. Search by field of study, housing type, minimum GPA and other criteria. Passport is operated by IIE, the principal administrator of the prestigious Fulbright Program. Many resources include a guide to coping with culture shock.
Comprehensive travel information.
If it's got anything to do with snow, you'll find it here. Offers nearly 8,000 links to mountain resorts, ski news, gear sites, vacation-planning resources, even ski history. Check out conditions at any resort in the world. View snowcams from Aspen to Zermatt. Link to more than 100 magazines ranging from Big Flakes to XGirlSport. Plus you'll find extensive special-interest sections dedicated to everything from cross-country and disabled skiing to snowboarding and Telemark.
Vacation rentals, around the world.
Bed and breakfast finder.
The American Hiking Society. Trails, where to go, etc.
Universal currency converter
Use it to buy and sell a horse, answer veterinary questions, track the thoroughbred-racing market, purchase barn equipment and tack or kibitz with other horse owners. You can even plan that riding vacation in Ireland.
Looking to buy a J-24 gudgeon? Can't navigate your way out of a bathtub and need some advice? SailNet covers both ends of the spectrum, combining a 40,000-product online store with some of the best free sailing content out there. Dive into the dozens of articles and graphic tutorials on topics like Learning to Sail and Seamanship. Extras include a nautical dictionary and a long list of sailing schools. Looking to buy or sell? Consult BoatCheck, a collection of owner-posted boat reviews searchable by model, then head over to BoatSearch, the extensive list of easy-to-search classifieds.
So you thought tennis and golf were outdoor sports? Not anymore-at least not entirely. Want to work on that nasty slice in your swing? Perfect your overhead smash? Online instruction by pros offers a free alternative to expensive clinics and self-help videos.
An auction site for unusual trips and eco tours from around the world.
FOOD, GIFTS and ENTERTAINMENT
The world's greatest recipe collection.
- Surprise Gifts
Creative ideas without the hard sell. Click here to find more than 4,000 unique gift suggestions in over 200 categories. Since surprise.com doesn't sell, each item description comes with links to online stores that do. Search by recipient, occasion or the What are they like section for innovative categories like Always Cold, Lives in a Small Apartment, and Krispy Kreme Maniacs. Gift ideas come from the site's own community of shoppers and can be ranked by popularity and price. Categories serve everyone from the homesick Former Pacific Northwesterner (rain sounds and smoked salmon) to the ever-hopeful Dating Again (dancing lessons, car wash service). BEST: WORST:
Tickets to entertainment events.
Simple and easy-to-use Web-based party invites. Choose from predesigned templates from a host of categories, from dinner party to baby shower to reunion. Well-thought out invitations include a meal-choice planner and thank you postcards. A party-generator tool queries you on the age range of guests, desired size and type of party (An Escape from Reality or Over the Top, Baby!).
A global approach to partying. Explore the world region by region, or choose one of six categories--arts, culture, sports, kids, music, motor--each with its own home page, where you'll often find a list of recommended events. Search by location, keyword, or subject. (Hint: key in 'food' under subject and you'll hit the jackpot in chili cook-offs and crayfish fiestas.) Information in festival listings can be minimal; on the other hand, there are thousands of them, from Australia Day Cockroach Races (under Sports) to the Songkran Festival, a ritual country-wide water fight in Thailand (under Culture). U.S. festivals are well represented, too.
VOLUNTEERING AND CHARITABLE GIVING
Find a volunteer opportunity for whatever you like doing.
This complete giving site allows you to donate online to more than 850,000 organizations. But how to choose from so many? Its JustGive Guide has 2,000 prescreened charities. It also has helpful information on specific sectors: Why donate to animal causes? The Guide explains that three of ten animal abusers eventually hurt people. What about children? One in every five in the U.S lives in poverty. Engaged couples can register at the site instead of asking for wedding gifts.
Let TPS be your Administrative Family Office! Keeping up with your lifestyle isn't easy. At times, the surprisingly large number of tasks involved can seem overwhelming - mail must be attended to, income/expenses and payroll must be managed, items must be purchased and maintained and decisions must be made regarding everything from club memberships to insurance coverage . . .
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