Shermanstravel Blog

Food & Wine

Federal Donuts Philadelphia - Lisa HubnerFor a city mostly known for its cheesesteaks, Philadelphia has recently caught up with the nation’s most famous food capitals, offering a range of culinary experiences in its diverse neighborhoods. On a recent trip, we chatted with Kristin Huxta, a Philly native and a communications pro at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, to get the inside scoop on where the locals wine and dine.

Here are her suggested (and tested) tips for great foodie finds, taking you beyond the popular downtown area into up-and-coming neighborhoods in North and South Philly:
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Disney Cinderella Castle at ChristmasTo say that Disney World in Orlando, Florida pulls out all the stops for the holidays is an understatement. Starting in September, the Magic Kingdom is decked out in fall and Halloween décor. The entire resort, including the parks and hotels, later makes the transition to Christmas decorations in November through the first couple days of the New Year. Wreaths, lights, garland — you name it, they’ve got it.

The holiday festivities alone are enough to draw in thousands of visitors during the last few months of the year. Here’s what you should know when traveling there during this season.

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Hakkasan Beverly HillsWhen you’re on vacation, the restaurants where you choose to dine can be as much a part of your experience as your hotel, or the sites you visit. If you’re heading to Los Angeles’s Beverly Hills neighborhood and want to splurge on a meal that truly suits the neighborhood’s ambiance, try the local outpost of Hakkasan. With locations in such far-flung locations as Dubai, Mumbai, and Las Vegas, the restaurants are known as much for their low-lit, dark-wood interiors and chichi clientele as for high-end Chinese cuisine.

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iStock/SydneyYou may have dreams of visiting Sydney, the Australian city that’s home to the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but if you’ve done even a little bit of research, you know that this is one of the most expensive places to visit in the world for U.S. travelers. Factor in flights (think $1500-$2500) and the costs can be prohibitively high. But you can keep to a budget if you know where to go, and where to cut costs. For example, don’t be afraid to splurge on once-in-a-lifetime experiences like the Bridge Climb, but save on eating out and other activities. Here are some more suggestions…

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iStock/Lake Tahoe in AutumnReady to drive? America in fall is marvel: cooler weather and colorful foliage spread across the northeast; comfortably sunny days are the norm from Vegas to Miami; and there’s perfect hiking weather in the west. Over the past few months, we’ve highlighted dozens of destinations that are perfect for a road trip, whether you’re looking to discover a new beach in Florida, visit a winery in upstate New York, sail on Lake Tahoe, or delve into an American classic — the Grand Canyon. Here are some ideas that we hope will inspire you — and persuade you to fill up the tank and go.

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Downtown Denver Sign

If you think of Denver as a convenient gateway to an amazing mountain or nature trip, you’re right. For skiers and hikers, it’s the closest major city to such perennial favorites as Telluride, Aspen, and Breckernridge. But with breweries galore, a charming restaurant district, affordable hotels, and a mile-wide cultural streak, the Mile-High City is developing into a travel destination unto itself. Here’s how to eat and drink your way through this affordable, good-natured city. In fact, you may never even make it to the mountains.

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Small-batch, artisanal spirits have made a big splash on the cocktail scene. Most of the micro-distilleries that produce these flavorful pours offer onsite tastings, but quite a few now give tours. Here are 10 stellar micro-distilleries around the nation that not only offer tasty products but serve up offer fun tours with great stories behind each bottle.

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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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If there’s one responsible thing you do over Labor Day weekend, let it be solidifying your Thanksgiving plans. We know it’s difficult to think ahead to the next big holiday while you’re still working on taking advantage of the current one, but we hear from our friends at Hipmunk that airfare is expected to rise significantly after the holiday. If you don’t already have a destination in mind, consider some of our favorites for Thanksgiving.

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Flickr/Anna Fox - Epcot Flower Festival

Any trip to Disney World usually feels like a special event, but did you know that the resort hosts unique parties and festivals all year long? Here’s what you can expect from six of the most popular celebrations.

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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 sweeter and lighter varietals like 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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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.

Bergen-Harbour Credit Bergen Tourist Board _ Willy Haraldsen - visitBergen.com - 620 - 3

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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seredipity-dessert

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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suite threeohsix

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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