Shermanstravel Blog

San Francisco

Palms Casino Resort

Are you attracted to cities like a siren? Whether you love popping in and out of museums in the nation’s capitol or romping along neon-studded Las Vegas Boulevard, cities across the U.S. are offering plenty of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year. You’ll find discounts as steep as 90 percent off, and rooms as low as $39 per night. 

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Flickr Anthony Quintano AulaniWalt Disney World and Disneyland are clearly the top places to visit to get your Disney fix. But if you’re not craving a trip to either California or Florida — or you’ve already been — there are other places to have a top-notch Disnified experience — besides your local Disney store.

From three stand-alone resorts, where the company’s legendary service and hospitality are at the forefront, to a museum dedicated to all things Disney, here are four destinations where you can get your Disney fix.

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Flickr Steve Montgomery National Gallery London 2

As tourism destinations, many major cities across the globe — New York and Paris, Stockholm and Sydney — are certainly monumental or historical or beautiful or all of the above. What they often aren’t, however, is cheap. The good news is that if you’ve got your mind set on visiting any of these metropolises, you can often find free activities to enjoy when you’re there. We’ve built a list of museums, cultural events, and even transportation that won’t cost you a thing in 10 notoriously pricey locales.

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We’ve all heard the familiar adage it’s the journey that matters, not the destination — at least when it comes to crazy travel stories. With all of the globetrotting that the staff here at ShermansTravel does throughout the year, we certainly have more than our fair share of hilarious (and somewhat awful) tales. So we thought we’d share the best (and the worst) with our readers to keep in mind the next time you take off in an aluminum tube full of strangers.

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Hotel Vitale, San Francisco

In a bustling city like San Francisco that’s an icon for tourists worldwide, scoring a hotel room for under $250 is nearly impossible. But as the city’s “Indian summer” — the months of September and October when temperatures hike into the 80s — tapers off, hotel rates plummet.

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Flickr Aaron Fulkerson copy

Free breakfast, iPod docking stations, and coffee makers are nothing compared to some of the whacky hotel amenities we found. From vintage record players to pet psychologists, here are five quirky — and dare we say somewhat outrageous — amenities that can be found at hotel chains across the country.

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National Park Service

When you think of whale watching, you might imagine sitting on a boat with a pair of binoculars, waiting for the world’s biggest creatures to appear before your eyes amidst the waves. But this isn’t the only way to see whales up close and in their natural habitat — without having to see them in a tank.

Typically known as a winter pastime, you can go whale watching almost any time of the year in places like California and Oregon’s Depoe Bay. Specific regions of the Golden State, including San Diego, Monterey Bay, and San Francisco experience larger numbers of whales mid-December and January to mid-March and April.

If you can’t wait that long, you can spot whales in Maui and Vancouver in the fall. Sightings in Maui start as early as October, running to March or April. There’s still time left to find them in Vancouver, where the season starts in March and ends in late October.

Here’s where and how you can see whales, on boats and from shore, both with and without a tour package.

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Airport terminals around the globe are stepping things up a notch with high-tech designs, indoor art museums, and speedier ways through passport control. Here are seven new(ish) airport terminals we love flying in and out of:

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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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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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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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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

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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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orcaBy now you’ve likely heard about the controversy surrounding SeaWorld. As a result of the documentary film Blackfish, and its exposure of what animal rights advocates claim is mistreatment of the orcas used in SeaWorld shows, calls for a boycott of the marine mammal theme park chain have grown. The debate goes on: SeaWorld released an open letter stating that, among other things, their research on captive whales benefits those in the wild, but the Oceanic Preservation Society then rebutted the claims.

And there are signs that public opinion is turning against the theme parks. The company recently posted a 13 percent drop in attendance. If you the claims have gotten the better of your conscience and you’re looking for an alternative, here are seven places in North America where you see the same animals that you’ll find at SeaWorld, but in their natural habitats. Read more

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Finding an affordable hotel in a big city isn’t always easy. When you do somehow win the lottery and locate one, there are often a number of extra fees tacked on, or the hotel has absolutely no personality. That’s where this handy guide of budget-conscious but tasteful options come in. Bookmark it for your next San Francisco visit. Read more

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