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The Grand Circle – originally a loop to the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon national parks — covers much of northern Arizona and southern Utah as well as portions of Colorado, New Mexico, and a sliver of Nevada. Unless you have weeks to explore the area and a hefty travel budget, you can’t even begin to see it all. So how do you tackle it on a budget?
The storied Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland is celebrating its 90th birthday with the launch of an exclusive partnership with Virgin Balloon Flights to become the only Scottish hotel to offer guests hot-air balloon rides. For £2,100 ($3,595) groups of between ten and 16 can book a sunrise or sunset ride and get a bird’s eye view of the 850-acre estate and the surrounding countryside.
In the U.S., you can book hot air ballooning packages over Napa Valley at The Meritage Resort; over the Temecula Valley Wine Country at Pechanga Resort and Casino; over the desert floor at the Palm Springs Hyatt; over the canyons of New Mexico with El Rancho Hotel; or the Finger Lakes with Chalet B&B.
Take a look at our slideshow to get a bird’s eye view of some of these packages.
Summer’s the time to get out and get on the trail – but why share a popular hike with the massive crowds when there are more serene paths to follow? For an outdoors experience that truly allows you to appreciate nature in all its glory and in ultimate peace, here’s where you should go:
One of the nation’s first highways, Route 66, will be getting a modern new addition: a $1 million roadside park in Springfield, Missouri, which will commemorate the road’s history. Though portions of the nearly 90-year-old Route 66 are no longer passable, it still stands as an important monument to cross-country travel in the U.S. by car. Featuring replicas of landmarks, old fashioned fueling stations, and a history plaza, the first phase of the Birthplace of Route 66 Roadside Park will be complete in August. In the meantime, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite ways to enjoy what remains of Route 66:
There’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:
There are lots of reasons to take the train: amazing views, no security lines, no need for GPS, and you can even stretch your legs or get a snack. But a big pitfall is that tickets can be pricey. That’s why we’re happy to see these Amtrak deals, which are available right now:
Beloved for their ability to bring new worlds and characters to life, movies – like travel – help us escape the often mundane reality of day-to-day life. Although they exist only on the big screen, occasionally, you can experience a piece of these worlds in person. Here, seven stunning movie sets you can visit today:
Hotel Sidi Driss, Tunisia (above): Located in southern Tunisia, Hotel Sidi Driss served as the Lars Family Homestead in “Star Wars IV.” Admittedly, even at $10 per night, staying at the hotel isn’t for everyone. The rooms are basically caves dug out of the ground with a simple mattress on the floor, but hey, if it was good enough for Luke Skywalker, it’s good enough for the diehard fan. If you don’t want to spend the night, you can stop for lunch or beer at the bar. Read more
Santa Fe isn’t exactly known as a budget destination, but don’t let that deter you from exploring the 400-year-old city’s art galleries, stores, museums, and restaurants. With a little planning, you can visit on a budget – and still experience all that “The City Different” has to offer.
Whether you’re splurging or saving on your hotel, there’s a way to get more out of your stay. A property that offers free, outdoorsy perks is perfect for guests who favor an active getaway for spring. From complimentary rounds of golf at a lakeside resort in Wisconsin to paddleboarding classes at a Chesapeake Bay retreat, here are our favorite hotel freebies this season: Read more
Skiing can be glamorous and exciting, and unfortunately, expensive. But as the season wears on, discounts start to pop up for both lodging and lift tickets. Since it looks like most of the major ski destinations will have snow through the beginning of April, here are a few deals to consider for a March trip. This is only a selection, so if your favorite destination isn’t listed, be sure to dig deeper at your favorite area or mountain to see what’s on offer.
New Mexico is the only state with an official state question: “Red or green?” The query, of course, refers to what kind of chile you’ll have with your meal. If you’re like the sound of a spicy travel experience, hit up Albuquerque for your next adventure. The city is a hipper, more budget-friendly alternative to sophisticated Santa Fe – and it’s heating up with new hotels, restaurants, and other attractions.
Sadie’s of New Mexico: Nothing beats this hotspot for traditional New Mexican fare made with fresh ingredients and made according to family recipes. Sadie’s serves one of the hottest salsas in the state – don’t even bother asking for mild – and their chile-infused menu will have your lips tingling. Try the house enchiladas made with spicy ground beef; slow-cooked beef brisket with chile; carne adovada marinated in red chile; tamales stuffed with red chile-marinated pork; and chile con queso accompanied by fresh toastados. Appetizers start at about $4 and mains start around $11. Read more
Good luck heading to the American West without a car. Outside of the major urban areas, the U.S. hasn’t exactly embraced the idea of mass transit. There are some exceptions, however. New Mexico in particular offers public transportation that’s not only convenient but affordable, meaning that you can finally have that ski weekend in Taos or jewelry shopping marathon in Santa Fe without driving. Read more
What could be more fun than a daytrip through Area 51? Or a road trip through Dracula’s hometown? On the eve of the season’s spookiest holiday, we’re looking back on our recent travel stories that made us go “Aah!” (or, at the very least, contained awesome photos of electric guitar-playing skeletons and UFOs). Now, grab your passport – and a flashlight – and read on! Read more
The summer of 1947, a ranch foreman in New Mexico discovered some peculiar wreckage in a field. The Airforce initially reported the existence of a “flying disk”. Extraterrestrial “experts” claim that aliens and UFOs from this crash and others have been housed in Area 51, a military base in Nevada. The military quickly changed its story and said the wreckage was a weather balloon. It also denied the existence of Area 51, but just this year the CIA admitted that Area 51 really exists. If you’re not a believer, all the more reason to visit the many extraterrestrial sites in the regions to see if you can be convinced – or, at least, take some campy pictures with aliens to show your friends. Read on for some great (and cheap) roadside attractions for your next long drive through the desert.
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
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