Shermanstravel Blog

Romance

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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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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 sweet 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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Cruise lines lure couples onto their ships with promises of romance for all ages. After all, what could be more lovely than watching the evening sky turn pink across a calm sea with your loved one?

Indeed, cruisers typically travel in pairs, says Cruise Lines International Association, with married couples representing 80 percent of the passengers. We can think of a few ways to kindle the fire on any itinerary — like cozying up with a room service dinner or making a reservation at an intimate specialty restaurant. You can always spring for a side-by-side massage at the spa and try the hot tub after dark (when kids who run around during the day will be all tucked in). Or, during a port of call, why not take a horseback ride on the beach or sign up for a two-person parasailing excursion?

But for those who want to take romance to the next level yet, cruise lines also offer many romance and special event packages that feature amenities designed to create just the right mood:

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Captiva Island, Phil BramwellWhen it comes to island vacations, the fun begins before you even get to your hotel, or to the island itself: first, you have to cross the water that surrounds it. The hour-long drive to South Seas Island Resort over the Sanibel Causeway is a picturesque introduction to what’s to come: exotic birds, other-worldly plant life, and dramatic sky.

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PIazza_Mattei

If you’ve been to Rome, you probably visited Piazza di Trevi, Piazza di Spagna, or some of the other, more popular public squares. But Rome’s other piazzas offer just as much culture and history as their touristy counterparts. Here are five lesser-known piazzas worth seeking out:

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Volcanoes and tropical rainforests are all well and good, but to get a taste of Costa Rican culture at its core, head into the countryside. That is, after all, where fiestas and horse parades came to fame. It’s where the only “traffic” might come from a feisty cow that’s strayed from its cattle, with a sabanero (cowboy) hot at its heels — where horseback actually is a popular mode of transportation, and where any local can howl exactly like the ubiquitous monkey clans that rove the trees.

If this sounds like a far-reaching haven, don’t worry. Along the northern Pacific Coast, Guanacaste is easily accessible via Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, serviced by 12 airlines from North America. (JetBlue, for one, flies direct from New York JFK from less than $400 roundtrip.) For an affordably pampering home base, check into JW Marriott Guanacaste. With its spacious rooms and tropical hacienda look — not to mention palatable off-season rates right now — it’s a fine extension of the laid-back, grounded spirit of the region.

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hawaii islands - kauai

Beaches and forests. Hiking and surfing. Volcanoes and luaus. These are some of the delights found all over Hawaii.

But each island is a little different, each famous for its own flavor. Kauai treats visitors to lush landscapes and secluded peace, for example — whereas Oahu is perfect for cramming culture and dining and shopping all in one. To discover which island is best suited to your travel style and interests, take our newest quiz. (Note: You must like ShermansTravel on Facebook in order to see your results.)

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It’s no surprise that vacation rentals have stolen the hearts of savvy travelers everywhere. Great savings, extra amenities, even the chance to get some local advice…what’s not to love? The fact that HomeAway has hit one million listings — making its inventory almost twice the size of other similar companies — just comes to show how this once-alternative means of accommodation is going mainstream. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up five affordable rentals that you can book this summer and beyond, for a taste of something different:

1. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: $80/night
For the design enthusiast, this Costa Rican rental delivers on one-of-a-kind digs with a futuristic, geodesic design. Sleeping four to five with two bedrooms spread over two floors, this villa is less than a five-minute walk to Santa Teresa Beah and the area’s shops and cafes. We recommend getting out early to beat the heat, then settling in for an afternoon siesta if the rain hits. And, don’t worry, the AC units are well-equipped to keep you cool. 4-night minimum.

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©2012 Red Square, Inc.

When anyone comes to us looking for a summer deal, we’ll always point them to getaways in the Caribbean. Summer either means high heat or rain showers, and then there are the risks inherent during hurricane season, which lasts from September to November. Of course, this means great deals all around, as long as you’re open-minded to a bit of unpredictability and can schedule your beach outing around the weather. Whether you’re looking for dirt cheap vacations or unbelievable luxury for less, these 10 deals for summer and fall run the gamut:

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Absolutely Chicago SegwayA Segway tour is a great way to get an overview of a new city or region. You’ll cover more ground than you would on foot, and your guide can teach you about the local history, suggest restaurants, and refer you to other great tours in the area. Plus, Segways are just fun to ride. Here are 10 awesome Segway tours to add to your bucket list.

Chicago: Several companies operate in Chicago, but Absolutely Chicago Segway offers a few unique options in addition to the standard tour past Grant Park, the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Soldier Field. We like the Chicago Gangster tour ($65) featuring the hangouts of Al Capone and other wise guys and the Chicago Haunted Tour ($65) that glides you past haunted hotels, murder sites, and even a morgue. If you are in town during Halloween, the guides dress up as ghouls for the haunted tour.

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Biras Creek ResortThere’s something universally mysterious and appealing about a full moon. Across the globe, it makes its way into legends, folk traditions, and spiritual practices. And now hotels all over are beginning to feel the vibes, too, offering everything from specialty cocktails, to yoga, to sailing under the stars at the end of each lunar cycle. Don’t worry, you don’t have to believe in werewolves or astrological predictions to enjoy these activities:

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One of our favorite off-the-beaten-path Caribbean islands just got a lot more accessible, thanks to the recent opening of Sandals LaSource Grenada. The brand’s first outpost on Grenada, the resort brings 225 guestrooms to the island; not to mention increased, and more competitive, flight options which are highly likely to follow.  Read more

Utah Mighty FiveEver heard of the “Mighty 5?” You will this year, if Utah’s tourism office has anything to say about it. This quintet of famous national parks – Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyon Lands, and Arches – is the focus of a massive new ad campaign run by the state. Whether you’re newly convinced to head to the rugged West, or you’ve had Utah on your travel bucket list for years, here’s our guide to help you choose where to go first…

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Mexico Verana HotelHuge, high-rise hotels have their benefits, but sometimes you just want an escape from the crowds, and a more intimate experience. Mexico’s Pacific Coast has a number of small, secluded boutique resorts where you can limit your exposure to others without limiting your choices of things to do. For your next trip, here are a few places to check out:

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i-stockThere are many reasons to visit Cartagena, Colombia’s Caribbean gem, from its stunning old town, to its proximity to tropical islands and white-sand beaches, to its incredible Creole cuisine. For lovers of stylish boutique hotels, this fairy-tale city impresses with a wealth of affordable options, all of which offer great style (from traditional to quirky), impeccable service, and great rates.

Here are our three favorite Cartagena boutique hotels that won’t break the bank:

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