leisure

John Wanamaker, New York, NY. Spring & Summer Catalog (1915), front cover.

Smithsonian Voices

Looking at Leisure Through Early 20th-Century Trade Catalogs

How did people a 100 years ago spend their free time outside? The Trade Literature Collection offers a few clues to some very recognizable pastimes

The Dollar lift was 2,360 feet long and rose 634 feet in elevation.

How a Railroad Engineer From Nebraska Invented the World's First Ski Chairlift

The device was part of an elaborate plan on behalf of Union Pacific to boost passenger rail travel in the American West

Magnavox’s Odyssey cost $99.95 in 1972—about $625 in today’s money. By comparison, today’s web-ready, famously portable Nintendo Switch sells for around $300.

The Failure of the Magnavox Odyssey Led the Way for the Future of Gaming

The first console reached homes 11 years before Nintendo, marking the beginning of a multibillion-dollar industry

People enjoy a picnic at the Zeytiburna coastline in Istanbul, Turkey, on August 23, 2020.

How Do People Picnic Around the Globe?

Outdoor dining is having a moment. Let these traditions from eight different places help you put together the ultimate open-air meal

From wineries to llama farms, a growing number of private lands are opening up to RV and tent camping.

Covid-19

Taking a Road Trip During the Pandemic? Consider Camping (Legally) on Private Land

These five sites will help you find the perfect spot to avoid the summer crowds

It won’t be surprising if 2020’s “quarantine summer” sees even higher than usual sales for the toy.

The Accidental Invention of the Slip ‘N Slide

A young boy's summer antics 60 years ago inspired his father to create the timeless backyard water toy

Signs on the floor encourage social distancing.

Covid-19

The New Normal of Dining Out

Restaurants and bars worldwide are instituting unique safety measures against the spread of COVID-19. But will they be effective?

A Ludus Latrunculorum board found in Roman Britain

The Best Board Games of the Ancient World

Thousands of years before Monopoly, people were playing games like Senet, Patolli and Chaturanga

Gallup found that the youngest age bracket—covering 18- to 29-year-olds—visited the library the most, possibly because this group included college students.

Americans Went to the Library More Often Than the Movies in 2019

A new Gallup poll suggests that even in the digital age, libraries remain an important fixture in communities across the country

Monon and Ottily Bayer, the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Otto Bayer of Costamesa, California, pose in a small, "bunk bed" trailer at their campground in the Shasta National Forest. California, August 1953.

Ten Inventive Attempts to Make Camping More Comfortable

Making a stay in the great outdoors more luxe isn’t new—even if glamping and #vanlife are

How the History of Merit Badges Is Also a Cultural History of the United States

Over the years, scouting has encouraged boys and girls to be prepared for the world around them

Anderson Valley Vineyards

This Secret Corner of California Is a Paradise for Lovers of Great Food and Top-Notch Wines

Jody Rosen meets the free spirits giving shape to this flourishing wine region with a soon-to-be-legendary culinary scene, California’s Mendocino County

The Desert Pavilion at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

This Friday, You Can Visit More Than 150 of the Best Gardens in the U.S. for Free

Celebrate National Public Gardens Day May 11

Why Winter Is the Perfect Time to Visit Bavaria

This corner of Germany is the ultimate cold-weather playground, a place where sledding down a mountain, or knocking back beers are equally worthy pursuits

The World’s Steepest Zip Line Offers Breathtaking Views Over St. Martin

"The Rush" lampooned in an 1870 issue of Harper's Magazine

The Minister Who Invented Camping in America

How William H.H. Murray accidental bestseller launched the country's first outdoor craze

Despite Road-Closing Landslides, You Can Still Take a Big Sur Road Trip This Year — Here’s How

This gorgeous stretch of coastline is harder to get to these days, but it's not impossible

Synchronous fireflies put on a show each spring in the Great Smoky Mountains. Photinus carolinus is the only firefly species in the U.S. that flashes in unison.

National Parks

If You Want to See Thousands of Fireflies Light Up at Once, Head to the Great Smoky Mountains

A firefly mating ritual turns into a synchronized light show

12 Cafés Every History Buff Needs to Visit

The best historic coffee shops around the world, from Paris to Buenos Aires

This Mesmerizing World of Miniatures Will Soon Take Over 50,000-Square-Feet of Time Square

The magical new attraction spans an entire city block

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