Built in 1826 to commemorate the Duke of Wellington's victory at the Battle of Waterloo, the Wellington Arch is one of London's most recognizable landmarks. But decades of abuse and neglect (the neoclassical stone arch was topped by a large statue; dismantled and moved to allow for road widening; used as a police station; and marooned in traffic after Hyde Park Corner was remodeled as a roundabout) took their toll: in 1997 English Heritage declared the arch a "monument at risk." After a $3 million restoration, visitors can now enter the arch to view (Wednesdays to Sundays) three floors of exhibitions on London memorials, and, from an external gallery, magnificent vistas of nearby parks and the city skyline.
The staff aren't wearing clown outfits, but a new venture by the Swiss arm of the world's biggest fast-food chain lets visitors eat-and sleep-under McDonald's distinctive double arches. Located near Zurich airport and at Lully, near the French border, the four-star Golden Arches hotels are aimed at business travelers during the week and families on weekends. Amenities include adjustable beds, high-speed Internet access and ensuites providing "separate spaces for immaculate hygiene." Naturally, the hotels have McDonald's restaurants, as well as Aroma Cafès (the chain bought by McDonald's last year) and bars. For details and to book see .
For budding Charles Darwins, a breakthrough experience could be a nature-writing workshop on the Midway islands, a national wildlife refuge in the Hawaiian archipelago. In addition to the usual holiday luggage, participants in this Oceanic Society expedition (May 19-26) will bring what they need to document the islands' abundant fauna, which includes endangered monk seals and spinner dolphins. For those lacking confidence in their writing, journalist Pam Frierson will be on hand to give pointers on style. The $1,190 price includes air fare from Honolulu and all meals. See .
When Australia flopped at the 1976 Montreal Olympics-winning just five medals, none of them gold-dejected citizens urged the government to pour more money into sport. Its response was to set up the Australian Institute of Sport, which played a key role in Australia's record haul of medals at the 2000 Games in Sydney. Sports lovers visiting the national capital can now tour the 65-hectare facility in the company of champion Australian athletes like volleyballer Tammy Curtis and Paralympian power lifter Richard Nicholson.