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New York City
UPDATE: Five national parks in Utah have re-opened, though the government shutdown remains in effect. CNN reports that since October is one of the busiest months for visitors exploring Utah’s stunning canyons, deserts, and million-year-old rock formations, the state has decided to fund the re-opening of five national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion), plus three other sites (Natural Bridges, Cedar Breaks national monuments, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area) with its own money. The sites are scheduled to re-open fully on Saturday October 12 for at least the next 10 days, with plans to continue funding the parks if the shutdown drags on further.
Of the many facets of day-to-day life that will be directly affected by a government shutdown (healthcare, IRS, the military) that begins today, travel and tourism concerns are relatively low on the list. However, for travelers who booked their trip months ago – not to mention tourism offices who rely on those visitors actually showing up – the closures can seriously upset your plans. Though flight and hotel bookings (and, thankfully, public transportation) remain unaffected, some itineraries (especially to destinations in the Western U.S.) will have to be re-arranged entirely.
Of the thousands of worthy sightseeing spots in the U.S., 401 of them are national parks. These include everything from preserves like Florida’s Big Cypress Swamp to monuments like the Statue of Liberty to the massive, hugely popular Yellowstone National Park, which receives over 3.5 million visitors per year. A full database of sites can be found here. Below, we’ve compiled five of the most-visited national park sites, coupled with alternative sites you can visit instead. Read more
Hilton New York made headlines earlier this summer when it decided to do away with room service and focus instead on a new grab-and-go dining concept that offers “quick, gourmet food options” in a self-service format. For many, the move was seen as a way for the company to skimp on food costs, but a recent visit to the space suggests otherwise.
I stopped by Herb N’ Kitchen, as it’s officially known, after its grand debut this week , and was impressed by what I found. Piping hot, mouth-watering BBQ pork belly flatbread fresh out of a brick oven? Check. Cozy, intimate dining areas with marble-topped tables? Check. Tiny boxes of chocolate-covered animal crackers? Grass-fed beef jerky locally produced in Brooklyn? Double check.
On my way back to the office, I passed the Sheraton New York, which sits one block away. Though rates for both hotels fall into a similar range (for select dates in November, Sheraton was $355 a night, while Hilton was a little higher at $399 a night), it’s clear that each is doing very different things with their dining. So, how does room service at the very comparable Sheraton compare to Hilton’s shiny new cafe? Read more
New York City flipped over the cronut – a sweet cross between a croissant and a donut created by pastry chef Dominique Ansel. But the Big Apple isn’t the only city that that has a signature sweet. (Or a series of signature sweets ; we remember when people in New York waited around the block for cupcakes, too.) Here’s a look at some other tasty treats that are satiating sweet tooths around the world.
When looking for an unusual brunch treat in Sydney, try the Dogg’s Breakfast at Reuben Hills in Darlinghurst. This hand-crafted ice-cream sandwich is served with salted caramel sauce. (The whole Reuben Hills menu follows suit, with some salty language.)
If you’re looking for a more traditional Australian treat, keep an eye out for lamingtons. The spongy yellow cake covered in coconut and chocolate is available at most bakeries and cafes.
If you’re heading out for a cocktail in New York City, chances are, you’ll be spending more than a few bucks. Lucky for tourists and locals alike, though, the Harlem nightlife scene has been making a big splash uptown. It seems like everywhere you turn, a trendy new bar or restaurant is opening in the neighborhood, and with fewer crowds and lines to compete with more traditional late-night joints further downtown. And while many New York City neighborhoods are known for catering to a certain clientele (Murray Hill is for recent grads, Meat Packing is for big spenders), one of the best things about Harlem is that there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re in the mood for a casual beer, an artisanal cocktail, or a quiet glass of wine, these five Harlem hotspots are definitely worth a trip uptown:
Ginny’s Supper Club
Directly downstairs from Red Rooster, chef Marcus Samuelsson’s ode to American soul food with a Swedish twist, you’ll find its sister venue, Ginny’s Supper Club, a warm, intimate lounge buzzing with live jazz, soul, and R&B. This speakeasy’s subtly retro décor evokes the spirit of a hopping Harlem Renaissance nightclub, and the drink menu pays homage to the neighborhood’s rich heritage. Try the signature cocktail Langston’s Muse, a blend of chamomile-infused Bulldog gin, honey, and lemon bitters ($14), or the Harlem Mule, featuring Ballantine blended scotch, ginger, basil, and Peychaud’s bitters ($15). A selection of soul food-inspired snacks and small plates, including corn bread, roast pork belly sliders, and bourbon beans, completes the vibe. Read more
With Brooklyn’s wealth of cultural attractions, top-notch restaurants, and lush parks, it’s no wonder that visitors are starting to take a bigger interest in this outer borough. But when it comes to actually staying in Brooklyn? Well, that’s another story. Several factors contribute to travelers’ general weariness around committing to Brooklyn as their home base. For example, suppose you plan on seeing sites in both Brooklyn and Manhattan: won’t it be difficult shuttling back and forth between the two boroughs? How will you navigate the streets without a grid system? Where are the decent hotels, and are they close to the subway?
Much like Manhattan, Brooklyn is divided into smaller neighborhoods, some of which are more ‘visitor-friendly’ than others: in Williamsburg, you’ll find trendy bars, restaurants, shops, and live music venues right at your fingertips. For many, this is an ideal introduction to Brooklyn, as it connects to lower Manhattan through the L subway line (Union Square is a ten-minute ride away), and though it doesn’t exactly mirror Manhattan’s hyper-logical grid system, the streets are indeed numbered; plus, you never have to walk more than fifteen minutes to access any of its attractions.
Meanwhile downtown Brooklyn (otherwise known as Atlantic Yards) offers a central location perfectly suited to daytime sightseers. If any of the following are on your to-do list – Barclays Center, the 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown – you’re actually better off staying here, as all of those sites are closer to this part of Brooklyn than, say, Times Square, where the majority of tourists usually stay. (Consider, too, that almost every subway line passes through Atlantic Terminal, making it super-easy getting in and out of Manhattan, or connecting to other parts of Brooklyn.)
Below, you’ll find recommendations on where to sleep, what to eat, and how best to spend your time during a visit to NYC’s best-loved outer borough.
We have already detailed the good reasons to book into a brand new hotel, but how about up-and-coming neighborhoods? Areas that, until recently, didn’t offer much in the way of quality lodging options? It’s in these emerging neighborhoods that you will find some of the city’s newest and hippest hotels — and, most likely, a good deal.
(Note: All rates quoted are for late October weeknights)
Have you ever looked down on Manhattan from a rooftop hotel bar 54 stories above ground? Well, thanks to a new Hyatt opening this fall, you and your friends will be able to do just that.
The ShermansTravel team recently got an exclusive first look at a brand new 487-room property that’s scheduled to open right in the heart of Times Square, on 45th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. The tall, slender building will have the highest rooftop hotel bar in the city (and with all the pre-existing hotel rooftops, that’s saying a lot), and rooms will be apportioned at 11 per floor, which maximizes the limited square footage available. As they say, build up! Read more
In order to access New York City’s brand new visitor’s center, you’ll have to walk through the 34th Street entrance of Macy’s, hang a left, and ascend a flight of steps near the handbags department until you reach a small mezzanine-level area populated by an information counter, a wall of brochures, and 4 large touch-screen kiosks.
Having officially opened on Wednesday, this visitor’s center is the result of a new collaboration between NYC & Company and Macy’s – the first of its kind between a city tourism bureau and a retailer. It’s a great idea: Macy’s is one of the most visited attractions in midtown, with an estimated 6 million visitors per year.
First off, the center is chock full of information on all the city’s attractions, restaurants, hotels, public transportation, and more. Depending on the length of your stay – and your familiarity with New York – you can research which visitor’s pass yields the best discounts, find the best subway route to get where you’re going, or get tips on what Broadway show to see (and where to find tickets).
And we love how modern and efficient it feels: several attendants stand by to answer questions, but another option is to simply poke around on one of the four touch-screen kiosks. Powered by Google Maps and organized into categories like “Attractions,” “Dining,” “Nightlife,” and “Resources,” the kiosks contain valuable information, whether it’s your first or tenth visit to NYC.
Of particular note to shoppers, the kiosks offer an exclusive 10% discount card that can be used toward select Macy’s purchases. That’s kind of handy, considering you’re already standing inside the store! Simply swipe your passport or a qualifying government-issued ID, and let the shopping begin!
Booking a room in a brand new hotel can be a nerve-wracking experience – you’re just not sure what you’re going to get. Moreover, that brand new hotel might not even really be open yet. Often in the hotel world, prior to the grand opening, there is what’s called a “soft opening.” This refers to a period of time – weeks or months – when the hotel is not fully open but is renting rooms anyway. Soft openings are rarely announced, and sometimes not all of the facilities (such as the spa, the pool, or the restaurant) are up and running. The soft opening (and also sometimes the very early period after an official opening) is the time in which staff and management can work through the kinks before formally inviting the world inside. So should you take a chance and book a room in a brand new hotel? We say yes, definitely. Here’s why… Read more
This year, Europe’s third largest low-cost carrier, Norwegian Air Shuttle began a new transatlantic service with non-stop flights from New York City to Oslo and Stockholm, and they’re set to add services from Fort Lauderdale to the two Scandinavian capitals in late November, too.
Early 2014 will see an even bigger expansion for the airline, with flights from New York to Copenhagen launching in February; Los Angeles to Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen in March; Orlando to Oslo in May; and Oakland to Oslo and Stockholm, also in May. The airline will also offer connecting fares to dozens of other European cities –and even beyond Europe, to Bangkok.
We’re pretty excited about these new flights, which will offer the first non-stop service by a low-cost carrier on the Boeing Dreamliner 787, and even more excited by their fares! We did a little digging around on Norwegian’s website, and here’s what we found: Read more
Seeing all of Central Park in one trip is impossible – it is six percent of Manhattan’s total acreage, after all. That’s why the Central Park Conservatory offers 13 themed tours of the park to focus your visit. We’ve narrowed down their offerings to the most interesting options that are still free of charge (a rare find in NYC). Visit their online calendar to see tour schedules, and don’t forget to donate what you can to the conservatory afterwards – the organization cares for all 250 acres of lawns, 150 acres of lakes, 9,000 benches, and 36 bridges in the park. Read more
Escape on an end-of-summer getaway, or start planning your fall and winter travel early, with this sale from Virgin America. Fly one-way, nonstop to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and more. While travel for these low rates is valid for a while (August 24–December 3, 2013), booking ends on August 8, at 11:59 CT. Certain day-of-week restrictions and blackout dates from November 21–December 3, 2013 also apply. Check out some of these great fares below! Read more
Back in May, during the Cannes Film Festival, thieves ripped a safe from the wall of the Novotel hotel and made off with around $1 million worth of jewelry – less than a week later, a de Grisogono necklace worth over $1 million was stolen during a festival party at a hotel in nearby Cap d’Antibes.
The biggest heist came in late July when a brazen, baseball-cap-clad thief, thought to be part of the infamous Pink Panther jewel thief ring, walked into the Carlton Hotel in broad daylight (where, ironically, scenes from Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief were filmed). He brandished a gun at staff and swiped $136 million worth of jewelry. The heist was one of the biggest in history.
And that’s not even mentioning the Kronometry watch store, which was robbed twice in the last five months.
If your traveler’s curiosity has you wondering about other hotel heists, here are a few others that made news — and some that made history. Read more
The Syracuse Arts Festival is much like any small town art fest – jewelry stands are bordered by art displays and an array of pottery pieces. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find demonstrations and talks about what goes in to make these masterpieces.
I came across a six-foot-three bearded man who was working with a sheet of copper. Dennis Heaphy, a fourth generation tin smith, spoke about the art of repoussee, or the shaping and strengthening of malleable metal by hammering. Resident tin smith for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Heaphy started working in the family business when he was 11 and has been working at Lady Liberty for 14 years (he also incorporates the dying trade into his acting career with educational programs about the statue). I sat down with Heaphy to get the inside track on the statue; here are six things you might not know about Lady Liberty. Read more
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