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Colleges and universities aren’t just institutions of higher learning. Some of them are itinerary-worth destinations, even for those who haven’t stepped foot into a classroom for a long time, thanks to stunning architecture, fragrant gardens, impressive museums, and great history. Here are 10 schools that get an A+ on all these fronts.

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You may have already figured out that flying in and out of smaller airports is often more affordable than traveling between major city airports, but have you ever looked for a clearer picture of how local airports stack up? Read more

state fair 1What is it about state fairs that fill us with glee? Is it the chance to see our favorite local bands? Mental images of deep fried butter? The smells of food, cattle, and sweat simultaneously wafting through the air?

Whatever it is, hundreds of thousands of people travel to state fairs every year in the hopes of indulging in a few highly calorific snacks and celebrating Americana. While these fairs typically happen in the late summer through the fall, we thought we’d get a head start with 10 quirky attractions that help make this country a little weird, and a lot of fun.

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RouletteWhile Pennsylvania awaits a verdict on the state’s proposed second casino, a recently-added feature at the ever-popular Valley Forge Casino (about 30 minutes northwest of Philadelphia) is making poker chip-wielding travelers around the country take note. Announced early last month, a new “Points for Miles” program offers gamers the chance to redeem casino player points for – get this – airline miles with US Airways.

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portland head lighthouse 1Before defined ports and shipyards, mariners guided their ships to, well, any visible land. Eventually, to help these men see at night, cities built fires on hilltops to guide the ships and to alert sailors to dangers at sea. Centuries passed, and we slowly perfected the lighthouse.

Though lighthouses now are no longer lit by candlelight, and lighthouse-keeping has become an antiquated profession, there’s still something about these marvelous towers that bring a sense of adventure and nostalgia. So in the spirit of exploration, we’ve rounded up 13 still-standing structures that once guided sailors home, and remain amazingly scenic today. See them here.

maple-sugar-making-QUOI-media-620Get excited, sweet tooths of America: It’s maple sugaring season in New England. Here are some places to indulge in both Vermont and New Hampshire – two of the region’s most popular maple getaways – plus affordable places to stay nearby.

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The Best College Campus HotelsIt’s that time of year again: the time when fresh-faced, idealistic college freshman descend upon the campuses of America. For the rest of us, whose college years are far behind us, there’s nothing like a trip to a college town to rekindle old memories. Whether you’re headed to a university town on vacation, or visiting a studious young friend or relative, these hotels let you enjoy the college atmosphere in a way that doesn’t involve dorms and frat parties. Read more


What do you think of when wines from the United States come to mind? Our first guess is Napa Valley. But the North American wine industry is much more than just Northern California (some spots on our list even have more history). From New England, all the way south to Texas and west to Colorado, wine regions are popping up all over the place. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and the often-jaded (or is it stuck-up?) vibe present in some popular wine destinations, venture outside the box (ever been to an urban winery?) and step into one of these regions where it’s not uncommon for the winemaker to serve you him or herself.
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A week after Superstorm Sandy descended, people of the East Coast, many still without power, are attempting to return to normalcy. For a bulk of the area, this means braving the elements to venture back to work. Commuting can be frustrating, and in the wake of the storm, travelers have myriad obstacles to deal with: overcrowding, hours-long waits, limited schedules, downed lines, gas shortages, the list goes on. The most efficient solution is to, well, not travel at all, working from home as long as possible. But for those who need to present at the office, construction site, or space station to put in a 9-5, there are a few things to reduce stress.

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marriott-mystic-penguin-adoptionTom Popper, as portrayed by Jim Carrey in Mr. Popper’s Penguins, puts himself through considerable hassle before becoming comfortable with the idea of adopting six penguins.

Knowing a good marketing opportunity when they see one, the Marriott Hotel & Spa in Groton, Connecticut, and the Mystic Aquarium have teamed up to demonstrate that adopting a penguin need not be a hassle. It’s as easy, in fact, as booking a room.

Through the end of the year, if you book the Marriott’s Adopt a Penguin package (promo code FML), the main inclusion is one of the aquarium’s African Penguin adoption kits (a $50 value) that includes an adoption certificate, a photo of your adoptee, and some informational materials. Also part of the deal is one aquarium adult admission ticket (a $29 value; you can purchase additional tickets at the front desk) as well as your own copy of the Mr. Popper DVD, which has a list price of $29.98.

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What's Great About I-95Making sure the kids (and adults) are entertained while on a summer road trip can really make or break your vacation. The new book What’s Great About . . . I-95 by road trip expert Barbara Barnes offers a fun and educational way to pass the time while cruising down one of the U.S.’s most-traveled stretches of highway.

“It really does make [the ride] go faster,” says Barnes of the book. “It keeps the driver alert, and it makes the drive more fun.”

With sections broken down by state and points of interest designated by mile marker, Barnes maps out all 1,925 miles of I-95 from Houlton, Maine to Miami. The book highlights sights to look out for from the highway (like the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania and the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia) while providing little-known facts about notable people and places (The first woman to run for president? Victoria Woodhull, in 1872).

Now that you’ve got the car ride entertainment covered, we asked Barnes for her advice on planning the rest of your vacation. Here are five tips for the perfect I-95 road trip:

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G Spa FoxwoodsWhile the obvious lure of the AAA Four Diamond Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, is gaming and entertainment, there’s enough demand for not just one, but two full-service spas. To escape sensory overload, guests can choose the G Spa or The Norwich Spa at Foxwoods.

Each spa has a distinctly different vibe, yet both offer treatments inspired by Native American heritage. Foxwoods, North America’s largest casino, is owned and managed by the Pequot tribe on its reservation, which just 20 years ago was nothing more than woodland.

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When we asked readers to recommend restaurants so delectable they’re worth a plane trip for our Mohegan Sun SunWine Fest giveaway last month, we received dozens of mouth-watering responses. The winner, Kevin OMaley, suggested two restaurants: Blue Ginger in Massachusetts and Morimoto Napa in California. Below are some additional restaurants, from the shores of New England down to the Gulf Shores. Check out our readers’ comments on the restaurants and let us know if you’d travel to any of these! Read more

Mohegan Sun2 ResizedWhen we posted news last month of the delectable upcoming Sun WineFest event – featuring culinary bigwigs like Bobby Flay, Todd English, Ben Ford, and more – at the upscale Connecticut casino-resort Mohegan Sun, we were pleased to hear back from more than two dozen enthusiastic, epicurean-minded Smart Luxury readers in response to our question-driven giveaway. The contest, with a prize that includes tickets to a duo of culinary and wine-tasting events during the late-January foodie festival, along with overnight accommodations at the resort, is valued at $560, and was just awarded to reader Kevin OMaley, of Quincy, Massachusetts, who gave us his two savory cents – and the following winning response that left ShermansTravel editors drooling – in response to the question below: Read more

Mohegan Sun ResizedSwanky Connecticut casino-resort Mohegan Sun (celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2011) is set to kick 2012 off with a culinary-themed bang, thanks to its superlative Sun WineFest event that will have wine and food enthusiasts salivating well into the new year. Scheduled for late January, the celebrity chef-helmed weekend will benefit from the direction of such A-list culinary stars as Bobby Flay, Todd English, and Ben Ford (to name but a few), and highlight a delectable roster of events including bourbon and champagne tastings, celebrity chef demonstrations, and much more. What’s more, readers can enter here for a chance to win a one-night stay and a pair of tickets to two of the major Sun WineFest events (a package valued at $560), just by sharing some of their foodie travel tips below! Read more

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