Shermanstravel Blog

Chicago

Palms Casino Resort

Are you attracted to cities like a siren? Whether you love popping in and out of museums in the nation’s capitol or romping along neon-studded Las Vegas Boulevard, cities across the U.S. are offering plenty of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year. You’ll find discounts as steep as 90 percent off, and rooms as low as $39 per night. 

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Last month, Hilton Worldwide announced its latest foray into the lifestyle category with Canopy by Hilton, a new concept from the international hotel behemoth that will localize the guest experience. Poised to open its first set of doors in 2015, we spoke with Gary Steffen, the brand’s global head, who shared five things you should know about Canopy by Hilton.

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If Andrew W.K.’s hits “Party Hard” and “Party Party Party” are any indication, the rock star definitely knows how to have a good time. In true festive fashion, he recently served as Stoli Vodka’s Resident Professor of the Party, celebrating 35 years of nightlife at The Pyramid Club in Manhattan on October 28. During an exclusive interview, Andrew tipped his party hat to us by sharing his top 10 places to throw it down in America.

See below for Andrew’s top picks, and check out the ScenesbyStoli website to nominate your favorite bars and nightlife destinations if they didn’t make his list!

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JW Marriott Chicago

Four years ago, JW Marriott Chicago opened its doors, snug in Chicago’s Loop and only a few blocks west of the lakefront and Michigan Avenue. To celebrate its anniversary, the 610-room hotel on West Adams Street has unleashed a major deal, slashing the standard nightly rates of up to $309 down to $110.14.

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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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Jenny McCarthy is a Chicago girl at heart, but now, her heart belongs to Boston-born hubby Donnie Wahlberg. And it’s no secret she loves to eat, so we had to ask what her favorite spots are back home as well as in Donnie’s hometown. Check out Jenny’s restaurant recommendations, must-shop stops, and more in our exclusive interview.

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Any good hotel can offer high end amenities, plush mattresses, and fine linens. But to truly capture the tastes and textures, history and culture, and people and personalities of a city is a much harder feat. Sometimes, it’s impossible.

That is, unless the hotel is ingrained in the founding and very being of that city. Then the hotel is no longer just a nice place to sleep within it, but a living part of it and a representation of what makes that city what it is. Such is the case with Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton, a true Grande Dame hotel that is as much a part of Chicago as deep dish pizza and Wrigley Field — and is affordable to boot.

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Free breakfast, iPod docking stations, and coffee makers are nothing compared to some of the whacky hotel amenities we found. From vintage record players to pet psychologists, here are five quirky — and dare we say somewhat outrageous — amenities that can be found at hotel chains across the country.

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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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Panera

We’re a fan of pay-as-you wish restaurants, both as a way to avoid marked-up prices and as a chance to give back to the destinations on our travels. Here’s how it works: nonprofit restaurants encourage customers to pay for their meal based on what they’re able to afford, and/or give free meals in exchange for volunteer work at the restaurant. For travelers who do have a meal budget, it’s nice to know that our dollars are going toward establishments that provide resources and job training for the local community, and you can always take it a step further by volunteering as well has making monetary donations if you have the time and desire (free meals are meant for those who really can’t afford to pay). A number of establishments in the U.S. have successfully adopted this model. Here are four across the country to check out the next time you hit the road.

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park-hyatt-maldivesIt’s fairly easy to make travel happen — be it a business trip, a jaunt to see a family member, or a bona fide vacation — when you’ve spare cash laying around. It’s a little tougher when you don’t, but loyalty programs and the ability to collect miles and points have made it possible to enjoy a bit of travel-related adventure, if you’re willing to have patience and put in the effort. Understanding and managing miles and points across various platforms, services, and credit cards is no easy task, but here are a few tips on making the most of those unused travel currencies. Read more

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Exclusive and sometimes quirky, pop-up restaurants offer a festive alternative to the traditional, reservations-needed dining experience we’re accustomed to when we got out for a gourmet meal. These underground experiences can be trick to plan for on vacation, considering the location is often undisclosed until right before the event, and there’s only one seating. But for friendly foodies, it’s absolutely worth pursuing — it’s a great way to interact with locals, taste ingredients sourced from the area, and be a part of the fun experiments that up-and-coming chefs are dreaming up. Here’s how you can secure your place at the table:

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hyatt regency chicago -- big bar

National Skyscraper Day, which falls on September 3 this year, is a bit obscure as most holidays days go. But here’s a related celebration that any traveler can appreciate: a Chicago hotel that’s commemorating the day with a week of $99 rates.

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Private tours come in all shapes and sizes. One can be a scheduled time and date for your group, like a more intimate version of a regularly scheduled public tour. Or it can be an independent adventure based on your interests — think: a public art tour under the guidance of a street artist, or a Rio favela tour in Rio with a rapper. More to the point, “independent” doesn’t need to mean “expensive.” Whether it’s a result of technology that helps connect travelers and locals, or because there’s been a general growth of interest in experiential travel, private tours are now a viable option for any travelers who might want to see their destination in a different way. Here’s a guide for finding one for your next trip:

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The Guesthouse Hotel lobby - 620

Chicago has never been a cheap city to stay in for a night or two. As a continual haunt for architecture fans and foodies alike — not to mention a popular host for conventions — the Windy City is as hot a destination as ever. Fortunately, there are a few hotels that won’t blow your budget, with home-away-from-home appeal as well as posh perks like a rooftop deck. Book one of these under-$170 a night rooms, and you’ll have plenty of funds for a jazz or blues show or some deep dish pizza (we love Giordano’s and Gino’s East of Chicago).

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