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When the temperatures drop and the chill sets in, travel dreams often involve beaches and bathing suits. However, come winter time, there’s no reason why your perfect vacation can’t be to a cold-weather destination – in fact, there’s nothing better than cozying up by a roaring fire with a hot cocktail in hand and watching the snow fall from the comfortable indoors.
At these five warm and welcoming hotels, you can catch up on your much-needed R&R while doing nothing more than watching their glowing fires. Bonus: someone else gets to sweep out the ashes afterwards.
Forty 1° North, Newport, Rhode Island
While this seaside resort town is often thought of as a summer destination, winter is a great time to experience the charm of New England minus the crowds. At its chicest (and only LEED-certified) hotel, sitting directly on the water, each of the 28 rooms and suites has its own gas fireplace. Should you desire a reclusive retreat, you never have to leave the room. Simply lounge around in the bathrobe and slippers provided by the hotel, order one of their five signature spiked hot chocolates (dark chocolate raspberry, anyone?), and let the fire work its magic.
Not long ago, New York’s Central Park Zoo said a sad farewell to one of its own: Gus the polar bear. He was a fixture at the zoo for more than 25 years and had some…well, problems. Sure, he was neurotic (like a true Manhattanite), but he was beloved by many. (It’s reported that nearly 20 million people visited him during his time at the zoo.) On a happier note, we can’t help but think about the new baby animals that draw visitors to zoos across the country each year. And let’s face it, no matter how young or old we are, it’s hard not to ‘ooh and ahh’ over a cute baby cheetah (or elephant, or snow leopard). If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, here are some new furry friends that have recently arrived at America’s zoos…
It doesn’t get much cuter than these adorable kittens. At the Memphis Zoo, a male leopard was born in July, and while he doesn’t have a name yet, the public will have a hand in picking it from seven choices. Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo also welcomed a male cub in June, and he’s set to make his public debut this month when he turns three months old. Poaching and other factors have lead the species to be listed as endangered and only about 3,500 to 7,000 exist in the wild.
When to go: While you can’t see the Memphis cub just yet (the zoo is reconfiguring the cage so there are no spaces in the caging where he could slip out), stay tuned for updates on their Facebook page. In Chicago, you’ll be able to see the newborn by the end of next week. Read more
The Los Angeles River’s concrete-paved waterways play pivotal roles in many unforgettable movies (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Grease, The Italian Job, Gone in 60 Seconds, to name a few). What you may not know, though, is that it’s “banks” have been closed since the 1930s due to multiple floods – the river is actually considered an Army Corps of Engineers flood control channel. But this week, Californians were eager to grab their paddles and kayak on the newly free waters. But the summer fun isn’t just for them. You, too, can head to one of these scenic rivers across the U.S. for a day trip of lazy tubing, boating, or thrilling white-water rafting. Read more
Hot-lanta is actually pretty temperate in December, making it a premiere location for conferences, events, and even a personal trip down to enjoy the best of what Georgia’s biggest peach has to offer. In an effort to get you outside of the boardroom and into the wilds of Atlanta, we’re offering up two restaurants, two attractions, and one bar that you can hit with just a few extra hours between meetings.
If your second home for the week is the Georgia World Congress Center, you may need a spot to take a client for a taste of what’s local. If so, there’s a spot called Glenn’s Kitchen just a quick hop away. It’s upscale local, with items like bread pudding and North Georgia Trout. As a bonus, those that can’t get enough can return and ask for the wine menu – it’s even bigger than the the grub menu, if you can believe it. Read more
Making sure the kids (and adults) are entertained while on a summer road trip can really make or break your vacation. The new book What’s Great About . . . I-95 by road trip expert Barbara Barnes offers a fun and educational way to pass the time while cruising down one of the U.S.’s most-traveled stretches of highway.
“It really does make [the ride] go faster,” says Barnes of the book. “It keeps the driver alert, and it makes the drive more fun.”
With sections broken down by state and points of interest designated by mile marker, Barnes maps out all 1,925 miles of I-95 from Houlton, Maine to Miami. The book highlights sights to look out for from the highway (like the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania and the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia) while providing little-known facts about notable people and places (The first woman to run for president? Victoria Woodhull, in 1872).
Now that you’ve got the car ride entertainment covered, we asked Barnes for her advice on planning the rest of your vacation. Here are five tips for the perfect I-95 road trip:
The historic Jekyll Island Club Hotel, situated on Georgia’s nature-rich Jekyll Island, has reduced rates on all of its rooms to just $125/night for the month of January – a savings of as much as 70 percent – in celebration of the property’s 125th anniversary. Former playground and hunting retreat for the likes of the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, the property was fully restored and converted in the mid-80s to a luxury hotel. The only four-star resort on the island, the Jekyll Island Club Hotel’s 157 rooms and suites unfold in five historical structures, along with a day spa, lending library, putting green, croquet lawn, heated outdoor pool, fitness room, and more.
THE VALUE: Book any room for any night during the entirety of January for just $125/night – this is the first time the resort has ever offered such a low property-wide rate. Nightly room rates in January would normally run from $169 to $419, translating to a savings of anywhere from 26 to 70 percent with this promotion. Choose from one of the opulent cottages or even the Presidential Suite, tucked into the hotel’s signature turret, for the most spectacular savings. Lock in even more value, courtesy of the hotel’s historic weekday hotel tours, intra-island transportation, and WiFi, all offered on a complimentary basis.
THE CATCH: An additional resort fee of $10.60 per day applies.
THE DETAILS: Visit www.jekyllclub.com for more information, then call 800-535-9547 or email email@example.com and mention the 125th anniversary promotion to book.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights to nearby nearby airports like Brunswick’s Golden Isles Airport (BQK), Savannah (SAV), or Jacksonville (JAX).
Why should Cinderella get to hog up all of the fairy-doled out fun? Upscale Barnsley Gardens Resort in Adairsville, Georgia (set about 60 miles north of Atlanta), strives to share the fairy wealth with its guests, courtesy of the services of their very own on-site Fairy Godmother. Don’t believe it? Just check out her special wand that’s on display in the reception area. Need more proof? Well just let her work her magic – the Fairy Godmother (we’ll call her “FG”) is equipped with a bag of tricks designed to make guests’ wishes come true. Read more
Even though we’re no longer kids, Halloween makes us feel nostalgic for that spooky feeling that ghost stories inspire. If you want your romantic getaway to give you goose bumps, consider a visit to Savannah (shown at left) or Charleston – or even both as they are just a 2.5-hour drive apart. In these charming, but undeniably haunted, historic Southern cities (Charleston dates to 1670, Savannah to 1733), the weather in November is still mild and once all the kitschy Halloween décor is taken down, their authentic ghostly pedigree shows. I have visited both cities twice and would return to either in a heartbeat – knowing it will certainly beat faster when the sun goes down and the spirits come out to play!
Every spring, hundreds of hikers tackle the Appalachian Trail, which stretches 2,175 miles from Georgia to Maine. Those who make it the entire length are called thru-hikers, and they usually complete their expedition in five to seven months.
Not Asheville-based hiker, ultra-marathoner, and author Jennifer Pharr Davis, who, starting in Maine next week, will attempt to break her own women’s record for an assisted thru-hike on the AT, which currently stands at 57 days, 8 hours and 35 minutes. (Just five men have finished faster.)
Supported by her husband, Brew, and several friends, Pharr Davis expects to set off from Maine next week, depending on the weather forecast, and average 46 miles a day before wrapping up in Springer Mountain, GA, sometime in early August.
In honor of Great Outdoors Month and National Camping Month in June, I spoke to 28-year-old Pharr Davis – who, after logging close to 9,000 miles hiking and backpacking on six continents, could be the poster girl for both – about her upcoming adventure. (You can follow her journey at www.blueridgehikingco.com.)
The Luxury The modern boutique AVIA Savannah burst onto the scene in January 2009 with a brand-new building in the city’s historic district. The 151 sleek rooms and suites have 9-foot ceilings, minibars stocked by upscale provisioner Dean & Deluca, and free Wi-Fi. Though late fall is a bit chilly for swimming outdoors, a spacious second-floor terrace offers an excellent lounging space around an outdoor pool and a fire pit. AVIA Kitchen serves a hip take on Southern cuisine, while the AVIA Lounge wine bar is an ideal place to while away an evening.
The woman most associated with green in Savannah? The easy answer is Paula Deen, raking it in with a culinary empire that includes local eatery The Lady and Sons. The less obvious answer is a source of great pride to Savannahians and a potential fun fact for any ladies in your brood who have worn the green Girl Scout uniform: Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Scouts, was born in Savannah and her home became the city’s first National Historic Landmark in 1965.
Deen’s restaurant and Low’s house are two of the more touristed points of interest in Savannah, but your green tour shouldn’t end there. General James Oglethorpe not only named Georgia “Georgia” when he sailed there in 1733, but he also envisioned Savannah as a city with some shade. Of the 24 squares in the general’s urban plan, 22 of them remain for family-friendly strolls. Read more
Normally, we’re all about bringing you news of exciting new hotel openings, updates, expansions – but what of the hotels that haven’t made it through the economic storm? Despite the influx of good news on the travel front – destinations bouncing back (hello, Mexico), beaches seemingly unscathed along the Gulf, spurts of hotel openings in cities across the globe (New York’s 2010 hotel boom alone brings over a dozen newbies) – there is also the sad reality that some great properties are on the fast road to ruin. Herewith, the ugly truth . . . Read more
The ShermansTravel Deals team hand-picks the special breed of deals that promises free perks ? no strings attached. Enjoy the rest of summer and fall at Callaway Gardens, a resort in Pine Mountain, Georgia, where luxury meets a gorgeous natural backdrop. Priced from just $99/night, The Get Outside and Play Package includes the following: A free round of golf at the Lake View Course, a free two-hour bike rental, a free two-hour boat rental, a free hour of tennis court time, free admission to the gardens which include a butterfly center, and use of the Callaway Fitness Center. The package is valid now until through November 30 and can be booked at www.callawaygardens.com.
Enjoy total relaxation when visiting the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in California where guests booking a Shangri-La room or higher (starting at $400/night) will receive free, unlimited golf as well as a free 50-minute spa treatment. This deal is valid through September 2 and can be booked at www.ojairesort.com.
Escape to picturesque Maine this summer and fall with the help of Amtrak. Now when purchasing an adult ticket to Maine, travelers will receive a second ticket absolutely free. Tickets are available for select Downeaster trains (which provide service between Boston and Portland) and valid for coach seats only. Tickets can be purchased at www.amtrak.com for travel through December 31 and they must be booked three days in advance.
WEVE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find great flight deals to your destination.
Check out our Hotel Deals Page to find more accommodations.
Found a freebie? Tell us about it!
Enjoy a “peachy” vacation in Hotlanta through August 31 and stay at the Glenn Hotel, a downtown boutique property, where you’ll be showered with extras that are only available to ShermansTravel.com readers! For a measly *$259/night, or 32 percent off standard rates, the Glenn Hotel will upgrade you to a 450-square-foot one-bedroom Dream Suite ($100 value), as well as provide you with breakfast for two, and free valet parking.
THE VALUE: This value-packed deal also includes two tickets to the Georgia Aquarium and one 55-minute guided walking tour with behind-the-scenes views of Atlanta’s CNN studios, as well as a glimpse of news and broadcasting in action from the world headquarters of CNN (normally $26/ticket).
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