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With the Summer Olympics upon us, the already swarming city of London will be flooded with visitors. It behooves those planning to attend to take a word of advice from those in-the-know. On my recent trip to London, I sat down with Sophie Campbell, journalist, Daily Telegraph travel columnist, and Blue Badge Tourist Guide for London to learn how to navigate London amidst the frenzy.
Do you have any tips for out-of-the-ordinary and unique things to do while visiting London for the 2012 Olympics?
Take the District Line on the Underground to Bromley-by-Bow station and, instead of walking up to the Olympic Park, walk south down the Limehouse Cut to Limehouse Marina, where you can see multi-million pound yachts moored and watch boats leaving the marina via the huge lock. Then go and have lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s pub, The Narrow, which has a huge terrace overlooking the lock entrance.
Also, on August 2 make for the Whitechapel Gallery – celebrating its 101st year in the East End this year – for the Time Out First Thursdays night, when East End contemporary art galleries open their doors late and there are talks, walking tours, discussions, and plenty of eating and drinking options on offer.
Finally, anyone going up to the canoe and kayak events further up the Lee Valley at the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre should go to Waltham Abbey just down the road. Get the train from Liverpool Street Station out to Waltham Cross. It’s one of the least visited and most fascinating churches in England: parts of it date back to Anglo-Saxon times, King Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon monarch, is supposed to be buried here and the abbey itself is just stunning. Read more
Were you to plot family camping on a spectrum, on one end there would be traditional camping, with cookware, pitched tents, sleeping bags, and the hard, cold ground. Way over on the other end of the spectrum would be The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe’s Indoor Campout Package, where for a hundred bucks per child, hotel staffers will pitch a 3’ x 5’ tent – equipped with a feather bed and Ritz-Carlton linens, of course – inside your room. Read more
Romance is revving up all over the place during the month of February, from sun-kissed beaches to sophisticated big cities. Here are 25 deals and packages – from Fort Lauderdale to Fiji, Maine to Madrid, and St. Kitts to Sedona – that you can still book to make this Valentine’s Day the most memorable ever:
IN THE U.S. & CANADA
The Grand Del Mar: Unplug and relax with the “Disconnect Package” at the luxurious The Grand Del Mar near San Diego (shown above at left) and you’ll get one night’s accommodations (with the room TV unplugged and upgrade upon booking if available), berry-infused champagne cocktail upon arrival, choice of a 60-minute couples massage, or a 2-hour horseback ride for two, breakfast in bed for two, and late checkout, from $795/night. Read more
Both TripAdvisor.com and the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA) are among the sponsors of the relatively new reality travel series Getting Away Together – airing on PBS stations nationwide – so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the vacation rental homes featured on each episode are pretty darn sweet.
A Kissimmee, Florida, rental property, which would have been nice enough with an outdoor pool, also has a game room equipped with video arcade machines; an Outer Banks, North Carolina, home is shown with a cavernous entryway, as well as a pool table; and a property in Oceanside, California, is not only tony, but it comfortably accommodates a group of 46 travelers. Read more
?If you adore the turquoise surf, tangerine sunsets, and dreamy steel drum tempo of the Caribbean, but you get bored after a single day in a beach chaise, sampling four or five different islands on a cruise might be the right romantic getaway for you. Just remember that cruise ships are pretty much floating resorts, each with their own ambience (from intimate to expansive) and clientele (from couple-centric to multi-generational). Here are four great ship options (all of which I have cruised on over the past two years) offering very different cruise experiences for couples. Each is sailing a Caribbean itinerary through early spring and last-minute fares are still available. Or, if you prefer to stay on dry land, check out last week’s blog on “Five Easy Caribbean Island Combos.” Read more
The fact that math and I don’t quite get along has never inhibited my fondness for making up equations, including this one: Cold off-season destination + solid indoor attractions = value family vacation.
It’s this thinking that has inspired my non-sequential series on the Midwest, including a post last winter about Chicago, more recent looks at Columbus, Milwaukee, and South Dakota, and today’s stop, the often underrated Kansas City. Should you wish to pull together a KC jaunt over the next several weeks, sub-$250 per person round-trip airfares are easy to come by, as are value-priced air-and-hotel bundles. Read more
If you’re thinking of heading to the Caribbean for a romantic, week-long winter getaway, here’s an idea: Instead of spending all seven nights on one island, why not split your time between two? Island hopping is easier in some destinations than others, so here’s a roundup of five two-island options that are not only easy to combine logistically, but also feature varied landscapes and ambience. Note: Caribbean resorts do command premium rates until mid-April or so, but if you check deal-finder sites, including ShermansTravel.com’s nifty price-comparison tool, you may be able to score some last-minute price breaks. Or, if you want to see multiple islands, you can always take a cruise. Check back next week for details on my favorite ships and itineraries. Read more
For some families, a fleeting nod to the Midwest (or cows) might be enough. But here’s an idea for 2012: Don’t fly over South Dakota. Land there.
With the summer Rushmore hordes and Black Hills leaf peepers long gone, think about paying a quiet off-season visit to southwestern South Dakota, where several parks and caves are conveniently clustered. One manageable trip is a circuit of Mount Rushmore, Jewel Cave, and Wind Cave, sprinkling in overnights as you see fit and ending up back in Rapid City for the flight home. Read more
The 2012 ski season has kicked into gear, so if you’re looking to hit the slopes with your partner, but are also seeking romantic aprés-ski ambience and excellent dining, here are my suggestions for the best U.S. ski resorts for grown-ups – from the Adirondacks to the Rockies.
Jackson Hole, WY: Combine a funky cowboy-town vibe with world-class resorts – and add in a majestic setting against the stunning Grand Teton peaks – and you have Jackson Hole. Read more
Of all the 2012 family vacation ideas offered up last week, Milwaukee quickly emerged as the pick that generated the most smiles, but then it’s a city that always seems to do that. Knowing sequel fodder when I see it, I wanted to elaborate on some Milwaukee points of interest (initially suggested by my colleague Beth Blair) and continue to make a case for why the city could be an easy choice for one of your family getaways this year. Read more
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