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Checking In: The Palomar Philadelphia, a Kimpton Hotel

August 28, 2014 by

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The Kimpton Hotel Group pioneered the boutique hotel concept in the U.S. when it opened its first property in San Francisco in 1981. Since then, its stylish hotels have popped up in 29 cities across the country. And there’s more on the way: Properties will open in Pittsburgh, Austin, Chicago, and even the Cayman Islands, to name a few, within the next two years.

With two hotels welcoming visitors in the “City of Brotherly Love,” we took the opportunity to check in at the Palomar, Kimpton’s first Philadelphia hotel, which which debuted in the Rittenhouse Square area in 2009.

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It’s Possible: Staying Fit on a Cruise

August 28, 2014 by

royal caribbean oasis of the sea climbing wall

Being healthy during a cruise vacation is typically a foregone conclusion. Cruise lines make food almost constantly available to their guests, making it as easy as pie to lay on a few extra pounds between the gourmet meals, overflowing buffets, and tasty midnight snacks. And guests certainly take advantage, considering the treats are mostly already covered in their cruise fare.

But for a growing number of cruisers, staying fit has become a significant part of their vacation plans. The good news is that in recent years, cruise lines have created innovative ways to help their passengers both have their midnight feasts and keep their waistlines, too.

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Nation’s Best: 8 State Fairs that Deserve a Blue Ribbon

August 28, 2014 by

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It’s fair time! As we mourn the end of summer, the nation’s great state fairs give us something to look forward to in the fall. And we suggest getting out your calendars, because some of the best fairs are either under way right now or coming up soon. Here are the eight we feel deserve blue ribbons.

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Where to Find the Cheapest Flights on Every Continent

August 27, 2014 by

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Outside of the U.S., there are literally thousands of airlines, some catering to multi-million dollar business travelers, others just to families, and some target the ultimate budget traveler. It’s the last one that we’re more interested in, especially for short international flights and travel during holidays and peak seasons, when airfares on traditional airlines tend to soar. Low-budget carriers usually take a no-frills approach, but then, who really needs frills on a short flight?

You probably already look to the likes of Southwest, JetBlue, and maybe even Spirit here in the States — but if you ever find yourself in need of a cheap flight anywhere else in the world, these are the names you want to know.

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iPrefer: a Loyalty Program for the Brand Disloyal

August 27, 2014 by

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As much as we appreciate hotel loyalty programs, accumulating points from just one hotel brand can feel like quite a slog, and a little uninspiring — who, besides the very frequent business traveler, wants the same brand experience each and every time they check in?

Just over a year ago, Preferred Hotel Group introduced a loyalty program, iPrefer, that honors stays at the more custom, bespoke hotels over the big box brands; it’s the world’s only loyalty program available at a global collection of truly independent hotels. Here’s how it works, and how you can join.

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New York’s Finger Lakes: Natural Beauty, Warm Hospitality, and Lots of Vino

August 27, 2014 by

dr franks vinifera wine cellars - christine wei - 620In upstate New York, there’s a 2.6 million-acre region characterized by rolling green valleys and sprawling open space, and it’s just four hours from Manhattan. Yet, Finger Lakes wine country doesn’t receive nearly the attention it deserves as a breezy summer escape or a fall foliage getaway — or an excellent anytime jaunt for wine lovers.

While sweet Rieslings and Cabernet Francs are the hallmarks of the region — the climate is nearly identical to that of Germany’s Mosel region — more refined reds are also starting to take hold. This quirky destination draws a savvy crowd of visitors with an appreciation for natural beauty and laid-back hospitality. Those who prefer a more personal experience, and a slower pace, will find few highly commercialized experiences in its 11,000 acres of vineyards. Instead, small estates, run by multi-generational families, each boast their own flair and character. A wealth of independent museums, state parks, and other attractions round out any trip.

Wine country is divided into three distinct trails, along Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes. Like the individual wineries, each of these lakes have a vibe and history of their own. Here’s a guide to finding your ideal trail, plus some of our favorite spots along each lake.

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Deal Alert: Curaçao Hotels & Packages for Fall

August 27, 2014 by

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Autumn is an underrated time to be in the Caribbean, including Curaçao. During this shoulder season, the Dutch island’s 35 beaches are rarely crowded, hotel rates are unbeatably low and, most importantly, the weather is divine. Whether you’re strolling cobblestone streets in the capital city, admiring an ancient fort, or diving in one of the world’s best spots, there’s an activity for every interest.

Even better news: As part of a Dare to Explore promotion, a curated collection of hotels are slashing their rates this fall, by as much as 50 percent. To be booked through various vendors like Costco Travel and Funjet Vacations, are good for travel between September 15 and December 15 — and need to be booked by September 15.

Here’s a sampling:

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Slideshow: 48 Hours in St. Kitts

August 26, 2014 by

Nevis 620x400Located in the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands, St. Kitts and its sister island Nevis are relatively new to the tourism circuit. We put together a slideshow of activities — whether it’s on the beach, or in the rainforest, or at a great restaurant — that we hope will inspire you. Check out our slideshow here.

Found a Hot Airfare? Here’s How to “Hold” It Before You Book

August 26, 2014 by

britishairwaysMany of us have had this experience: You see a good fare for a flight you want to book, but first, you need to talk to friends or family, or maybe book the days off work. A day or two later, when you return to the booking site to complete your reservation, the flight has jumped in price and you are left kicking yourself for not having just booked when you first saw it.

Last week, a new holding fee service was announced by British Airways that should help avoid this very situation. The new fee allows customers up to 72 hours of consideration time before deciding whether or not to go ahead to book a flight. You pay $5 per person to put a hold on a short-haul flight or $10 for long-haul, then, if you do go ahead and book, the fee is refunded. Read more

7 Best Spots for Beginners to Learn Stand-Up Paddling

August 26, 2014 by

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The fastest-growing water sport in the world, stand-up paddling (also known as SUP) is an easy sport to learn, despite looking like you need to be a master of balance to even think about it. Sure, balance is an important element, but if you can walk down the street without falling over, you’ll usually be fine. Want to learn the basics on your next vacation? Here are the best places to try it out:

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5 Ways to Explore Bergen (on the Cheap)

August 26, 2014 by

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Ever since Bergen was the inspiration for the kingdom of Arendelle in the hit Disney film Frozen, this Norwegian town has been getting a lot of attention from travelers. But the city is more than a fairytale setting — although the vibrant colors on the historic buildings in Bryggen wharf may seem straight out of a storybook. Teeming with culture, nature, and adventure alike, some of Bergen’s other proud badges include Norway’s second largest city, the Gateway to the Fjords, and a European City of Culture. Here are five ways to experience the best of all that on a budget:

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How to Make the Most of Your B&B Stay

August 25, 2014 by

A.G. Thomson House, Deluth, MN

We’ve always been big fans of bed and breakfasts for their cozy, personal feel, not to mention the amazing first meals of the day that you’re always treated to. But beyond that, staying at a B&B also means access to localized advice on what to do, being able to borrow trip essentials that you might have forgotten, and getting the opportunity to meet smart people from all over the world. While it typically requires a bit more effort to book  yourself into a B&B — they aren’t listed on traditional hotel search sites, though the likes of bnbfinder.com are starting to try to address that — the rewards can be tremendous. Here’s how to make the most of your stay the next time you check into a B&B:

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10 Free Attractions in Little Rock, Arkansas

August 25, 2014 by

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Long known for its political prowess as Arkansas’ capital, the riverfront city of Little Rock is now showing off a softer side, with an eclectic mix of history and nature that appeals to travelers. Surprisingly, some of the biggest attractions at this offbeat destination are also the free ones. Here are 10 of them to add to your itinerary:

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Q&A with Ciara: How to Travel Like a Pop Star

August 25, 2014 by

Ciara Degree DO:MORESince breaking onto the scene in 2004 with her album Goodies, recording artist Ciara has traveled the globe — while on tour and during time off. This new mom has teamed up with Degree’s DO:MORE campaign to take her performances to the next level and challenge people everywhere to accomplish their goals.

In an exclusive interview, Ciara shares where she wants to travel next, what’s in her carry-on, and the scoop on a sweet treat she picked up in Asia.

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Orbitz Rewards Dining: Getting Cash Just For Eating Out

August 22, 2014 by

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These days, many loyalty programs are being scaled back and points or miles being “devalued.” But Orbitz is bucking that trend in a major way with its latest announcement: Rewards members are now able to earn cash to spend on travel by dining out. You’re probably wondering what the catch is, but, truthfully, there isn’t one.

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