360 Magazine Culture Editor, Tom Wilmer explores Knoxville—the third largest city in Tennessee.
When people think of Tennessee, Nashville and Memphis get the prime spotlight, and they most often make the top of the to-do list for travelers. But Knoxville has an abundance of attractions that are alluringly unique.
Knoxville’s first iteration as a world-class travel destination happened with a bang when the town hosted the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair. Today the two remaining iconic vestiges are the Sunsphere tower, and a stunningly beautiful riverside performance amphitheater.
Knoxville is graced with historic architecture, both in the urban core, and surrounding residential neighborhoods, but its the friendliness of the people is an essential ingredient that makes the town so attractive.
Most of the businesses are locally owned. There’s been a recent explosion of new upscale eateries (more than 80 in the urban core) and trendy brew pubs that keep the downtown core hopping in to the wee hours of the night. Festivals like the annual Rhythm and Blooms Blues Festival in May is just a sampler of the live events that take place downtown throughout the year.
Outdoor hiking, biking and kayaking are viral endeavors for locals and visitors alike. Knoxville rightfully touts its super popular Urban Wilderness with more than 1,000 unspoiled acres right in the heart of the city.
Carol Evans shares insights about the city’s Urban Wilderness adventures for hikers, bikers. and kayakers. Sam Carlton at the four-star The TENNESSEAN Hotel talks about the Knoxville World’s Fair back in 1982, and how the momentum instilled by the fair continues today.
Tom Bugg, general manager at the city’s two historic theaters—the Tennessee and the Bijou Theatre—paints a vivid picture of Knoxville’s past and present, and how the renovation of the theaters served as an economic stimulus for other downtown revitalization projects.
David Butler, executive director at the Knoxville Museum of Art talks about community engagement through showcasing regional art, educational outreach and gratis admission.
The 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair “Sunsphere”still graces the skyline in the heart of town
360 Magazine Culture Editor, Tom Wilmer explores Lodi, California’s exemplary wine, cuisine and culture.
Lodi has been chugging along as a major wine and grape producer for more than a Century.
Located in the San Joaquin Valley a hundred miles inland from San Francisco and a five-hour drive from Hollywood, Lodi is a highly recommended weekend wine getaway.
Why? You’ll discover truly world-class family run wineries and businesses with the added allure of a small town innocence where the people are friendly and welcoming.
Liz Bokisch savors her wine at Bokisch Vineyards. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Lodi has long been legendary for their Zinfandel—producing more than 40 percent of all premium Zin sold in California. But, Lodi does not get the media-buzz like Napa Valley—and in a way that’s a good thing as it offers an opportunity to experience a world-class wine region that has not gone over the top.
Word Class? Yes. In 2015 the prestigious Wine Spectator proclaimed Lodi as the Wine Region of the year.
Michael David;s brilliant Seven Deadly Zins label propelled the winery from a boutique operation to 700,000 case production in 2018. Today FreakShow is a star label. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Lodi winemakers regularly walk away with double-golds at wine competitions. Mettler Family Vineyards’ winemaker Adam Mettler, was recipient of Wine Spectator’s prestigious 2018 Winemaker of the Year award.
Mettler Family Vineyards tasting room in Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
There are also delightful upstarts like Ms. Sue Tipton. She didn’t even think about becoming a winemaker until she was 50 years-old—and when she did, she decided to only craft white wines.
Everyone told her she wouldn’t make a go of it unless she also made reds.
Tifton plowed ahead in spite of the naysayers and it wasn’t long before her Voignier won the “Best in the State of California” at the 2016 California State Fair.
Just a sampler of Acquiesce Winery’s award winning white wines. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Come for a visit and you will be pleasantly comforted by the absence of bumper-to-bumper traffic—it’s stone cold refreshing—and savor the preponderance of laid back family run wineries.
It’s no accident that Lodi Wine is slated to be the official wine of the 2019 Amgen Tour of California.
Lucas Winery”s old-vine zin planted in 1933 aren’t the oldest zinfandel vines in Lodi–some date from the 1880s. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Wine is just one of the many cool ingredients that make Lodi such a tempting destination—there’s also a burgeoning culinary scene with, of course, a downtown microbrewery.
At Wine & Roses Inn and Spa—you’ll meet, and hopefully have time for dinner prepared by James Beard award-winning chef—Bradley Ogden, a true California culinary legend and trendsetter.
Chef Bradley Ogden in the kitchen at Wine & Roses Inn, Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Lodi Wine Commission
Chef Ogden came to national attention in the early 1980s at Kansas City’s famed The American Restaurant shortly after graduating from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.
Ogden served as executive chef at San Francisco’s Campton Place Hotel before opening his first restaurant, The Lark Creek Inn, in 1989.
Over the years, he’s been involved in dozens of legendary California restaurant operations, including One Market in San Francisco, his namesake eatery in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, The Lark Creek Inn, Larkspur, and Root 246 in Solvang.
Chef Bradley Ogden dinner at Wine and Roses Inn, Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Sunset in the fields at Acquiesce Winery Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Old water wagon at Oak Farm Winery Lodi, California. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Lodi Wine Trail. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Back in the day in Lodi, California. Photo Courtesy Lodi Wine Commission
You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel show podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast Directory, Apple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C.
Music segments included in the Podcast: An Early Thursday Morning, The Ride, and Making Good Time used with permission of the artist, John Arthur Martinez.
You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel show podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast Directory, Apple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Underwriting support provided by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Culture Editor Tom Wilmer explores Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a city of 68,000 that has rapidly evolved to become a trend-setting cultural mecca.
EAU CLAIRE abounds with classic architecture melded with cutting-edge street art Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
The driver behind the city’s renaissance has everything to do with the passionately engaged locals, including a 39-year-old tech executive who’s invested millions of his own money revitalizing his hometown’s anchor hotel-conference center, and millions more in Eau Claire’s new performing arts center, the Pablo Center at the Confluence in the heart of town.
The cutting-edge facility’s inaugural season includes dance productions, literary and film events, along with a series of musical events performed in the 1,200-seat main theater. Mack John, Public Relations Manager at Visit Eau Claire, notes, “there are multiple art galleries featuring regional and national visual art displays representing an array of mediums. And in keeping with Eau Claire’s emphasis on community engagement, the galleries are free and open to the public.”
Workers installing finishing touches at the Pablo Center in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin in preparation for opening day festivities September 22nd 2018 Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
John added that there are also multipurpose spaces on the third floor that offer dramatic vistas of the Chippewa River and the city’s lighted Phoenix Park Bridge.
A line up of the 2018-2029 live performances includes: Cloud Cult, Ganavya Doraiswamy, Tony Jackson, Ailey II, Kate Lindsey/Baptiste Trotignon, The Oak Ridge Boys, Blind Boys of Alabama, Kodo Taiko, Erth’s Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure, La Caverne (torch Sisters), Aaron Diehl, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, and Farewell Angelina.
Mack John at the Eau Claire Farmers Market Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Kristin Dexter, co-owner of Forage EC Community kitchen in Eau Claire is a prime example of why the town is thriving. Listen to her conversation in the NPR.ORG Podcast Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Eau Claire’s proud multi-ethnic pride is exemplified by the Hmong seller at Farmers Market in the heart of town. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
Trend-setting Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s hip and happening Shift–it’s a combination coffee house and bicycle repair place Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
tranquility is mere feet away from the heart of downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Photo Credit: Tom Wilmer
You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast Directory, Apple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer
“Pure Land” is about this tragedy. But it is also the story of how McGivney’s quest to understand Hanamure’s life and death wound up guiding the author through her own life-threatening crisis.
On this journey—stretching from the southern tip of Japan to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and into the ugliest aspects of human behavior—”Pure Land” offers proof of the healing powers of nature and the resiliency of the human spirit.
McGivney is Southwest Editor for Backpacker Magazine and professor of journalism at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.
You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning podcast travel show, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast Directory, Apple Podcast, the NPR One App & Stitcher.com. Twitter: TomCWilmer.Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer.
360 Magazine’s Culture Editor Tom Wilmer reports from the Hilton Waikoloa Village
More often than not, the coolest stories about upscale hotels and resorts are often untold. While resorts are quick to tout their alluring amenities such as a new spa, or rebranded restaurant, they too often take for granted the unsung, behind the scenes transformative environmental initiatives implemented by management teams.
A classic example is the litany of game changing environmental initiatives spurred by 42 year-old Simon Amos, Hotel Manager at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Amos noted that more than 800,000 plastic straws were eliminated from the waste stream by switching to a compostable alternative.
Simon Amos’s white board hit list of sustainability initiatives for 2018 at the Hilton Waikoloa Village
Another industry game changer was when Amos and his associates decided to install water bottle refilling stations around the Hilton property–mitigating the wasteful use of individual, disposable water bottles—eliminating as many as 250,000 plastic bottles from the waste stream annually.
Complimentary refillable water containers save hundreds of thousands of plastic bottles from the waste stream
Equally engaging but again not the stuff that a marketing firm would likely select for a glossy advert in a travel magazine is the incredible life journey of a hotel manager such as Simon Amos.
The hospitality industry started coursing through Amos’s veins as a 13 year-old in England when he was washing dishes and bussing tables.
Earning a National Diploma in Hotel and Catering from Hasting College of Arts and Technology, Amos’s early career path included the honor of serving Queen Elizabeth, a stint as assistant food and beverage manager at the iconic Hilton Park Lane, and working at the Cumberland, and Cadogan hotels in London.
He also worked a as headwaiter aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2, training in food and beverage at the Ritz in London, and working at the fabled Lancaster in Paris. His term at Hilton’s flagship property the Park Lane in London led Amos to accept a position with Hilton Hotels & Resorts in China where he served for five years. He started in food & beverage before accepting the role as Hilton Beijing’s Operations Manager.
During Simon Amos’s tenure at the Hilton Beijing was creating a special off-site catered dinner for 1,000 guests at the Great Wall of China
A Hilton Beijing Pole Competition instituted by Simon Amos was so successful that it went for five seasons
Simon Amos instituted a super popular Black Tie Charity Brawl during his tenure at the Hilton Beijing featuring eight U.S. fighters matched against eight Chinese
Amos departed China five years ago to work at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii, commencing with a position in food & beverage before assuming the duties as Hotel Manager.
Cherished time off for Simon Amos at the Hilton Waikoloa Village includes deep sea fishing expeditions along the Kona Coast
Amos retains a lifelong passion to source and showcase local culinary offerings, along with a never-ending quest to implement environmental solutions and initiatives at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, even though it’s not the stuff that typically makes the cover of The Sunday Times Travel Magazine or Condé Nast Traveler.
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