Shermanstravel Blog

Arts & Culture

sunset in kauai, a romantic destination that's great for solo travelers

Flickr/Nicki Dugan Pogue

Traveling by yourself? One great thing to note about some romantic travel destinations is that they can also be fantastic places for solo travelers. And just think — nobody will be harping on you about whether you got him or her something for Valentine’s Day. Here are some sweet destinations where it doesn’t matter if you have a plus-one:

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Beyond Belfast: Northern Ireland on a Budget

Steve Larese

Northern Ireland teems with castles, ancient sites, and natural beauty. After you’ve explored Belfast, set off to see the stunning landscape and history of the rest of this beautiful land. Here are just a few Northern Ireland attractions that are as inexpensive as they are impressive.

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MardiGrasNewOrleans.com

MardiGrasNewOrleans.com

The city of New Orleans is known for its delicious food, world-famous cocktails, and, of course, wild Mardi Gras celebrations. More than one million spectators throng the French Quarter each February for the colorful costumes and an excuse to party — but that’s only a small portion of what the city has to offer during Mardi Gras. Look beyond the vividly colored feathered boas and tourist-filled bars lining Bourbon Street to discover that the locals have plenty of other great ways to celebrate. Here are some insider tips to help you experience a more authentic Mardi Gras in NOLA, like the locals do. Let the good times roll!

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Adobe in Santa Fe, NM

Flickr/Laszlo Ilyes


Santa Fe, New Mexico, is known for its luxury hotels, fine dining, high-end spas, and art galleries. While this all may come at a price, there are plenty of things to see and do in Santa Fe that are nearly — if not totally — free. Here’s a rundown.

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graffiti art tours in los angeles, london, nyc, and more

Flickr/Allan Harris

Want to explore a city from a unique perspective? Sign up for a graffiti tour. You’ll learn the rich history of street art, view the community’s best tags and murals, and maybe meet some of the local artists. Some tours even conclude with a workshop that lets you create your own masterpiece. Here are our favorites from around the world.

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TEST

www.monsoursphotography.net

The parades are just as colorful, the costumes just as lavish, and the music and food are just as non-stop. But Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, Louisiana is more civilized (and more suitable for all-ages fun) than the bigger and more famous one in New Orleans, just 90 minutes away. Here are the highlights of the celebration, plus the multitude of things to do, eat, and drink beyond the festivities.

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Field Museum

Flickr / Jessica

Can’t wait for the Jurassic Park sequel, “Jurassic World,” to hit theaters in June? Have your own prehistoric adventure at one of these fun-packed dinosaur destinations.

The Field Museum, Chicago
Home to “Sue,” the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurs rex ever found, The Field Museum is a must see for budding paleontologists and adventurers. After you’ve gawked at Sue’s 42-foot long frame and 58 dagger-like teeth, explore the museum’s dinosaur collection, part of the Evolving Planet exhibit. $31 adult, $25 students, $21 children 3-11.

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Han River and Floating Islands

Lane Nieset

South Korea’s capital has come a long way since the Korean War. These days, Seoul mixes its storied history of temples, palaces, and empire, with more modern day delights from a nonstop nightlife to a thriving shopping scene. And while prices can teeter on the expensive side, there are plenty of ways to soak up the culture — and incredible Korean cuisine — while traveling on a budget. Here’s how:

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Shenandoah National Park Road Trip

Flickr/David Fulmer

The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs between Virginia and North Carolina, is one of the country’s most scenic drives. The 105-mile road was built by the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps under President Franklin D. Roosevelt — taking more than 52 years to complete and encompassing over 11,000 square miles of land. We suggest spending at least a few days driving the parkway, stopping in the small towns along the way to soak up the Appalachian Mountains’ art, culture, and music. Here are nine highlights to consider for your itinerary.

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unique souvenirs - best museum gift shops

Clockwise from left: Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Anthropology, Museum of Modern Art, Musical Instrument Museum, Dali Museum, Musical Instrument Museum

Most vacations aren’t complete without a little shopping, whether for yourself or for friends and family back home, right?

A survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association revealed 63 percent of travelers said their vacation wasn’t complete without including some shopping. For a one-stop shop experience, whether you’re looking for a gift for a loved one or a memento of your trip, museum gift shops hold the key. There you’ll find handcrafted, high-quality souvenirs, in a wide range of prices. We’ve gathered some suggestions from a few great museums. (Some items you can even order online without leaving home, but what fun is that?)

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top cruise trends 2015 - hong kong - facebook-princess cruises

facebook.com/PrincessCruises

Here at ShermansTravel, cruise expert Donna Tunney has been sharing the inside track on trends and updates to help readers plan the perfect vacation at sea. With the start of the new year, we thought it’d be a great time to pick her brains on excellent cruise trends that she’s loving right now. Here are some of her favorites:

1. More deals, better prices.
We all love a good deal, and happily we’re seeing more and more chances to save money on a cruise. It used to be that the cruise lines waited until “wave season” — typically the first quarter of a new year — to roll out discounts and perks aimed at jumpstarting advance bookings. But now we’re seeing many more discounted cruises and lots of free amenities being offered throughout the year, especially on Caribbean and Europe voyages. For examples from the past year, Princess Cruises launched a suite and balcony cabin sale in July, while Royal Caribbean held two of its signature Wow sales in late summer and early fall. In October, MSC Cruises offered weeklong Caribbean voyages for an eye-popping $299 per person. One note: These deals always have a short booking window, so be ready to put down your deposit when a great discount, an onboard credit, or other valuable offer comes along.

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Highclere Castle1

Highclere Castle

What Downton Abbey fan wouldn’t want to stay with the wealthy Crawley family for a night or two? For Valentine’s Day this year, that wish is coming true for lucky guests who will (finally!) be able to sleep over at the Highclere Castle estate made famous in the PBS show.

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03_Second_Floor

Museum of Innocence

For culture hounds who like the nostalgic, the romantic, and the unexpected, check out the beguiling Museum of Innocence. In the midst of the twisty streets of Istanbul’s Çukurcuma neighborhood — in between antique shops, cafes, and crumbling wooden buildings – it’s just won the title of the 2014 European Museum of the Year. It’s no ordinary museum, despite the focus on everyday Istanbul life between the 1950s and the 1990s.

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The holiday rush is over. The gifts are given. The resolutions are made. Now it’s time to take a break — or at least plan one. Here’s a list of some travel destinations that we’re excited about in 2015. We think the following places embody the best that the world has to offer — expansive beaches, small-town charm, under-the-radar restaurant scenes, and much more. The best part? These destinations were chosen because they offer travelers something special at a price that won’t destroy their bank accounts. Here at ShermansTravel, we firmly believe that Europe doesn’t always have to be expensive, that the South Pacific can be considered a “budget” vacation, and that America’s cities are teeming with culture at an amazing price. Here’s where our budget-conscious selves are looking for value in 2015. We hope that these surprise and inspire you…

Portugal CREDIT Flickr Natalia

Flickr/Natalia

Algarve, Portugal
Considering its cost of living is roughly 30 percent lower than all of Western Europe, it’s no surprise that Portugal is a very budget-friendly destination. But why Algarve in particular? We love its off-beat feel — while Portugese locals flock here in June and July, it’s virtually unknown to most American travelers — and lodging along this beautiful beach is extremely affordable. Hotel and apartment rentals go for less than $100 per night in peak season or even under $50 in low season. Come and you’ll be rewarded with blue-green vistas and craggy rocks that form stunning cave-like structures. Beyond the breathtaking sea views, cafes serving fresh seafood line the streets, castles fill the historic town, and plenty of hiking can be had in-land. It helps, too, that the town, just a short train ride from Lisbon, is small enough that you don’t need a car to get around.
[Read more about Portugal here]

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Downtown Phoenix - Alan Stark

Flickr/Alan Stark

Phoenix has always been a popular winter destination, but this year it will be even more so as it hosts Super Bowl XLIX and the 2015 Pro Bowl. While you’ll probably need a small fortune to attend either event, Phoenix is one of the most affordable large cities in the nation. Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck in Phoenix, whenever you go.

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