Shermanstravel Blog

New York City

Woolworth Building NYCHow are you celebrating National Skyscraper Day tomorrow? Most of us here at ShermansTravel will take the festive step of… coming to work. Given that our offices are perched high above Herald Square in New York City, it’s an easy enough thing to do.

More distinctly iconic buildings in town, however, have other plans for guests. Take the historic Woolworth Building, for example, which is leading a special 75-minute lobby tour tomorrow. This tour in particular allows for an up-close-and-personal examination of the hand-painted murals on the mezzanine level.

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Not long ago, the idea of staying in Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx instead of Manhattan during a New York City visit would’ve been met with disbelief. One, who stayed overnight in the outer boroughs unless a flight was involved? Two, no one could name a decent hotel because…well, there weren’t many.

But times have definitely changed. Visitors and businesses alike have been flocking to nifty-sounding neighborhoods — and to more palatable prices. The outer boroughs’ new hotels have been varied, ranging from well-known chain properties to offbeat boutiques. Here are a few on the scene that we love, plus a couple more to look forward to in the future.

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ShelteringSky2We’re into our last few weeks of summer, but before you start dusting off your coats and settling in for the winter, let’s wrap up the season in style with one last go around of all the things that make a New York summer great.

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Sandito Mojito, Cuba Libre OrlandoWe’re game to celebrate nearly every food- or drink-focused holiday (National Margarita Day, anyone?), so we’re excited that August is Rum Month. Rum is the elixir of both swash-buckling pirates and bleary-eyed Caribbean travelers alike. But some folks have rum misconceptions: They think only of umbrella-topped super-sweet frozen drinks or unimaginative soda mixes from their young-adult years. We’re here to open your eyes to a brave new world of this sugar cane-based liquid miracle. Beyond plain Bacardi, there are hundreds of varieties of rum — some as premium as any top-shelf cognac.

These 21 bars from coast-to-coast (and points in between) are serving up choice cocktails this month using rums you may not have heard of before. And don’t forget that Saturday, August 16 is officially National Rum Day. So raise a glass and say, “Aaar!”

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Switzerland, ZurichSwiss Air Lines is offering some good fares to a number of European cities for the fall and winter, but you will have to make your mind up quickly as the sale ends at midnight tonight. If you’re wondering whether you’re ready to make a spontaneous booking, take a look at our handy checklist. Otherwise, you can book through our Travel Search tool, or visit the airline’s web site directly.

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At the beginning of the boutique hotel boom, luxury was defined by money; how much of it you had and what it could buy you. But that has long since changed. The emergence of creative “lifestyle” hotels have transformed the industry — as the annual LE Miami trade show in South Beach pointed out — with rising demand in experiences that are unique and culturally connected. These days, rather than high prices, luxury is about authenticity, storytelling, and innovation.

So how does this shift in the very definition of luxury translate to a more authentic, value-driven experience on your next trip? 

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We may have missed National Ice Cream Day (it was on July 20), but National Ice Cream Month continues. Why not celebrate with a couple of scoops of something more adventurous than vanilla? Read more

SolomarWineHourHere’s one hotel trend we love: free wine. Often billed as a chance to meet your fellow guests and say hello to hotel management, these informal mixers let you grab a drink before you head out to dinner, and save a few dollars. Here are some hotels, and hotel chains, that are looking to  make their guests happy by providing a happy hour:

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Last week, Norwegian Air Shuttle launched non-stop service between New York and London, as the first budget airline to fly the route since Laker Airways in 1977. And it’s not a huge surprise — the low-cost market is the fastest growing airline sector, with other budget carriers rumored to be keen on grabbing a piece of the transatlantic market, too. This is partly due to the emergence of more fuel efficient, economically viable, long-range aircrafts. Norwegian’s new long-haul routes to the U.S., for example, will run on the airline’s new 787-8 Dreamliner.

But the all-important question remains: How competitive will travel costs on these budget carriers’ transatlantic services be?

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The movies we watch, the toys we play with, the fun foods we eat — these elements of every day life and entertainment define every society’s culture. To celebrate the American way of life this summer, take a day trip to one of these seven pop culture museums worth the drive.

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Hampton_Jitney - Adam E. Moreira - 620 2Crowded and exclusive, the Hamptons — the beach destination of choice for many in the New York City area in summer — aren’t exactly a cheap getaway. If you’re planning to head out to this ever-glamorous hotspot, whether you live in the NYC area or just want to get a taste of the Hamptons while you’re passing through, getting there  can be a challenge. Here, six ways to get to the Hamptons — and what it’ll cost you.

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breakaway - norwegian cruise line - 620If you’re headed to New York City on your next getaway, why not get out on the water? Manhattan is an island, after all, and the city offers a wealth of boat tours and packages that will give you breathtaking views of the skyline and the harbor. Here are three of our favorites.

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the scene of airport building in shanghai chinaNew York City has an extensive public transit system, and budget-conscious, savvy travelers often avoid spendy taxis when they’re traveling to or from the airport. Taking the subway, after all, is much cheaper and often more reliable. Still, there are days when you might not want to jump on the train, whether you have an extremely early flight, are hauling a lot of luggage, or don’t want to deal with pesky transfers. Enter what are known as Chinatown car services — essentially Chinese-owned private car companies that save you a considerable amount on cab fares, and transport you in cars that are often much nicer than a basic taxi. Here’s what you need to know about booking one:

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In Europe, when temperatures drop, so do the prices. Traveling to Europe outside of the summer season almost always guarantees savings — but this year you can get an even earlier start by jumping on this special offer from Lufthansa. The respected airline, a member of the Star Alliance, is offering low rates starting at $532 round-trip between the United States and a number of European cities, including Istanbul, Vienna, Berlin, Warsaw, Prague, and even Moscow. Read more

Locals can usually deduce at some point that you’re not one of them, but there are still ways to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb when you travel.  And blending in has a more practical purpose than just making you feel comfortable — it can open the door to better interactions with locals and make you less vulnerable to pickpockets and other scammers who specifically target travelers. Here are 10 dead giveaways that you’re a tourist… and what to do about it.

1. Unfurling a paper map in the middle of the sidewalk.

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Yes, sometimes it’s easier to carry a paper map (see tip #4  here). But there’s nothing else that screams “I don’t know where I’m going” more loudly. Here’s where it’s useful to have a smartphone or a tablet. Even if you’re in a foreign country without a data connection, it’s possible to download detailed maps with just a little planning and forethought. We’ll even go as far as to say that, with Google’s Offline Maps feature, it’s pretty easy. Of course, there are instances where you won’t want to be brandishing a shiny phone in public either. Use your judgment.

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