Shermanstravel Blog

Arts & Culture

Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a Mexican holiday celebrated on November 1 to honor the deceased. The festivities run from October 31 through November 2 and are also observed outside of Mexico in other Latin American countries such as Guatemala and Ecuador — as well as in regions with large Latino populations, such as the U.S. If you haven’t yet had the chance to see the revelry in person, these stunning photos will give you a taste of the lightheartedly macabre celebration.

DayoftheDeadZocaloAn observer took this colorful photo bursting with fresh fruit and bright sweets in Mexico City’s Zócalo, the city’s main plaza located in the historic center.

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atacama - Flickr-Jim Trodel

When visiting South America’s Atacama Desert — considered to be the driest place on earth – you have little choice but to make the small village of San Pedro de Atacama your home base. Such isolation typically leads to high costs of living (and visiting), but San Pedro has an impressive range of lodging options, from hostels costing a few bucks a night to luxury resorts with thousand-dollar price tags. And with a surprising amount of competition among tour companies, there are affordable options for all budgets. With that in mind, here’s a look at how you might want to allocate your dollars.

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Temecula Creek Inn Restaurant via TCI

Travelers love California for its amazing wine and golf offerings, but there are even more reasons to visit some of the state’s lesser known cities. About an hour outside of San Diego, Temecula appeals with a laid-back artisan culture and a focus on the natural landscape. A rental car is really all you need to explore — and here are five reasons why you should.

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michigan island resized

As Michigan’s supremely serene and car-free getaway, Mackinac Island is characterized by the ubiquitous clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages and a history rich enough to excite any U.S. travel nerd. The island, which is accessed via ferry during the warmer months and snowmobile during the coldest months, offers so much in its relatively small 3.8 square miles of space, including a former military fort and several well-known hotels (you may have heard of The Grand Hotel, which was the setting of the film Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve). It also features too many fudge shops to count and a biking/walking circumference (Lake Shore Boulevard) that offers idyllic views of lighthouses and the often moody Haldimand Bay.

If you have just a weekend to spend on Mackinac, there are plenty of ways to get maximum mileage of this car-free getaway, and to experience the island as the Islanders do. Here are a few suggestions.

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Daytona Beach2

After shedding an unfortunate reputation for being a go-to destination for raucous spring breakers in the ‘90s and early 2000s, Daytona Beach has become a year-round destination for couples and families. And it’s more than just sand and strip malls — there’s visiting the Museum of Arts and Sciences, working on your swing at the many mini golf courses, tackling a zipline course, and getting suited up like a professional racecar driver during the Richard Petty Driving Experience at the Daytona International Speedway.

As guests of the Daytona Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, we recently got the chance to taste the destination’s revival for ourselves. Here are the highlights of what we found:

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We love Austin for its loud bars, its excellent and cheap food, and its amiable locals. And more, we love that the city has a specific look, that its neon signs, low craftsman-style houses, and distinctly throwback-y flavor could exist almost nowhere else. Here are six of our favorite places in Austin — all of which show different sides of this utterly original city.

1. Antebellum-Style Opulence
austin_ella2You probably think of Charleston or Savannah as the places for sprawling historic homes, but Austin has one that easily competes — and you can stay in it. Hotel Ella, which opened in 2013 in a Greek revival mansion, doesn’t feel stuffy or pretentious, either. The hotel’s interiors reflect a modern take on a traditional aesthetic. Think artfully distressed mirrors, tufted velvet in bright colors, and modern sculpture by the pool. In fact, our favorite spot on the property is the ultimate mix of old and new: a classic set of wrought-iron chairs, perfect for an outdoor cocktail, that sits under a tree hung with an enormous glass chandelier. Locals and out-of-towners alike flock here in high season for weddings, so book early if you’re staying April through September. Rooms average about $279 per night.

Saver tip: Stay before the end of the year. We found some midweek rooms in October, November, and December going for as low as $219 — a great price for a luxury property.

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VisitYork.com - Gareth Buddo - 620

We have lots of love for London, but there’s much more to England. If you’re looking to explore further, consider York, less than two hours away by train. Given its proximity, this historic walled city can easily be a day trip — but with its affordable B&Bs, free activities, and other cheap thrills, we suggest thinking about an overnight.

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tourism fiji

As the days continue to get colder, you may find yourself fantasizing about your next tropical getaway. While the Caribbean islands are a popular choice, it’s worth the extra hours on the plane to head to the South Pacific instead.

Of the thousands of postcard-perfect islands in this vast region of the Pacific Ocean, it quickly became clear to me on a recent trip why Fiji is one of the most popular tourist spots here. You’ll discover the white sand beaches, turquoise waters, top rate scuba diving and snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs — and so much more. With 333 islands, only a third of which are inhabited, Fiji is diverse not only in its environment, but also in its culture.

Here are some reasons to consider Fiji the next time you’re craving a real escape.

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new bedford - ma - whaling museum - connie hum - 620

Most travelers taking a weekend trip outside of Boston typically head to Cape Cod, Newport, or Provincetown. But just two hours south by car, New Bedford boasts an enthralling history for an unexpected escape. Hiding in the restored cobblestone streets of downtown — designated a national park less than ten years ago — is a trove of whaling history, a thriving art community, and an international dining scene. The diverse population is made up of 100,000 friendly locals with a strong pride in their hometown, and while they dislike the term “up-and-coming” for a city that was once one of America’s wealthiest and most progressive cities, New Bedford has all the makings of the next great weekend destination returning to its former glory.

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aceLondon

In these days of AirBnB and Couchsurfing, travel that highlights the local experience is becoming more attractive. Traditional travel companies need to compete; this is how some hotels are doing just that.

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facebook.com:BulldogUptown 2

If you’re headed to New Orleans, do yourself a favor and don’t spend all your time in the French Quarter. Just across Route 90 and down the famous St. Charles Avenue, the uptown neighborhood offers parks, stunning architecture, and river views as well as some of the city’s best in food, drink, and music. Here are a few laid-back restaurants and bars for any foodie itinerary.

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oktoberfest

Oktoberfest – officially kicking off in Munich today for a week — is expensive. From the €10 euro beers to three-foot pretzels to $100+ costumes, if you’re going to do it right, the celebration isn’t anywhere near cheap. So why would any thrifty traveler include this Germany pitstop on their itinerary?

In short, it’s an unbeatably festive, uniquely preserved Bavarian tradition. When else do you get to join thousands dressed in traditional garb clanking steins and singing to the accordion tunes of a live Lederhosen-clad band? And it’s much more than just guzzling beer. These tents are surrounded by an incredible array of amusement park rides, food vendors, and grassy knolls for breaks (or naps).

The better question, we think, is: How to experience this be on a budget?

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Casa Pueblo, Punta del Este, Uruguay, architecture

Lots of hotels have impressive art collections, but these ones go a step further and function as stand-alone museums as well as accommodations.

Benesse House, Japan
The Tadao Ando-designed Benesse House is located on the tiny Japanese island of Naoshima, a fishing community turned “art island” that hosts the Setouchi Art Triennal and is home to several permanent art installations and excellent museums. Guests of the Benesse House are granted access to the museum even after typical hours and have exclusive access to a six-seat monorail that runs up to the hotel’s Oval annex. Guest rooms in the museum are available in four styles and are decorated with drawings, paintings, and prints from the artists on exhibit. Rates start at $330.

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falmouth - cape cod - the knob - christine wei

Just a 90-minute drive from Boston, Falmouth and its neighbor Wood’s Hole are two of the most accessible destinations on Cape Cod. While Wood’s Hole is largely characterized by its ferry to Martha’s Vineyard and the academic presence of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Falmouth boasts a historic downtown area that’s laid-back but not boring. Between these towns, and the endless stretches of beach and ocean — plus the possibility of day trips — you’ll have plenty to do, whether you’re staying for a day, or a week.

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ringling miniature - zinnia jones - 620

There’s something about entering a big top tent, smelling fresh popcorn, and watching acrobats fly through the air that appeals to the child in all of us, no matter our actual age. In Sarasota, Florida — known as the Circus Capital of the World — the unique thrills of “The Greatest Show on Earth” can be enjoyed every day, not just when the circus trains roll into town. Put yourself in center ring with these interactive destinations.

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