Getting the flavor of...
America’s finest beach
On a barrier island off the coast of Sarasota, Fla., there’s a beach where the sparkling white sand “is as fine as powdered sugar and soft as kitten’s fur,” said Tamara Lush in the Associated Press. Recently rated the U.S.’s best beach by Stephen Leatherman, a coastal expert at Florida International University, this stretch of sand is exceptionally silky because it’s composed of 99 percent pure crushed quartz. Leatherman, who’s made a career of studying and ranking beaches around the country, uses some 50 criteria to assess seashores. Siesta Beach earned his top mark this year thanks to its cleanliness, convenient facilities, natural dunes, and placid, shallow turquoise waters. It’s often busy—even on weekdays—but since the beach is 200 to 300 feet wide in places, you can stretch out and not feel crowded. “Added bonuses include lots of parking, a trolley service to and from the island’s adorable downtown area, and plenty of lifeguards.”
Chicago’s high-tech writers museum
Think of Chicago’s new shrine to our nation’s great writers as a “populist literary arcade,” said Deanna Isaacs in the Chicago Reader. The American Writers Museum, which opened last month in an office building near Millennium Park, is stuffed with high-tech toys: Push a button, spin a wheel, or tap an icon and a screen or speaker will spit out a quote or a chunk of trivia. The museum has one significant, but loaned, artifact: the long roll of tissue-thin paper, brown with age, on which Jack Kerouac typed On the Road in 1957. Some visitors might enjoy the Nation of Writers hall, with its informative time line charting the big names of American letters, from Mark Twain to David Foster Wallace and beyond, or the Mind of a Writer gallery, where you find out “which author fired up with a brownie or with alcohol.” But if you’re looking for real paper books by those authors, well, they’re mostly used for decoration and out of visitors’ reach.