Shermanstravel Blog

San Francisco

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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

620x400_FlickrEric Kilby_GoldenGateBridgeSFOIf you’ve ever taken a Disney vacation, you’re probably familiar with the company’s focus on customer service, and its commitment to helping you make lasting memories. Clearly, there’s a reason why families head to Walt Disney World and Disneyland over and over again. But everyone could occasionally use a change of pace. (After all, you can only ride Dumbo so many times.)

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Peak season doesn’t always mean exorbitant rates – especially with the latest series of Kimpton hotel deals. You do need to be an InTouch member and book by May 31, but the loyalty program is free to join (and includes perks like free WiFi and $10 minibar credit). Some of our favorites:

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ShakespeareThis year marks William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. If you can’t make it to England to honor the Bard with a pilgrimage to his hometown of Straford Upon Avon, or to the Globe Theatre in London, you can catch a free summer performance in these cities across the U.S.:

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Skellig MichaelBarcelona has its Sagrada Familia. Sydney has its white-hooded Opera House. And other places? Well, they’ve got steps – lots and lots of them. As the examples illustrate below, epic staircases aren’t just a way to reach higher ground. They can be major attractions unto themselves. From the fabled Ha’iku Ladder in Hawaii, to Norway’s never-ending Flørli Steps, these jaw-dropping ascents aren’t for the faint of heart. But once you get to the top, we think you’ll agree the views more than make up for the effort. Read more

Musee MechaniqueTuck your wallet back into your pocket, because these San Francisco experiences are either completely free, or are nearly so. If you’ve already seen the city’s tourist icons on your San Francisco vacation, check out these six offbeat budget attractions for a different take on the city: Read more

American AirlinesA newly-launched service on American Airlines makes travel between New York and Los Angeles easier than ever, thanks to a compact, efficient in-flight experience aboard the Airbus A321T. Earlier this year, the airline introduced the planes to its fleet in an effort to cut down on fuel costs (the A321 is small, with only 66 seats) and offer a more intimate flying experience for the many travelers shuttling between East and West coasts.

At $472, a roundtrip Economy ticket is comparable to similar flights on Delta and United. What makes the A321T special – aside from the super sleek interiors, free WiFi, and the fact that it’s specifically designed for the transcontinental route that it flies – is its seat configuration. It’s currently the only domestic carrier offering three cabin options for flights between new York and Los Angeles, as well as New York and San Francisco.

So how does this benefit you, the traveler? Read more

Blue SmokeAfter the ride to the airport and the wait to get through security, the least you can expect from your airline of choice is a decent meal. But it rarely gets better than watery stir-fries or flavorless salads in the air. Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a good cookie. So we were pleasantly surprised to learn that a few airlines are making a concerted effort to bolster their food options by teaming up with reputable restaurant brands that seriously know their food. Here’s what’s being served up in the skies right now: Read more

FlightCarOne of the best things about boarding a plane to…well, anywhere, and getting away from it all, is leaving behind the nagging concerns of daily life. But a new peer-to-peer website is offering a way for travelers to make a little extra cash while they’re on the road by renting out one of their most basic domestic necessities: their car. Read more

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