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With frostbite creeping up on us all over the continental U.S., cities sitting well south of the Mason-Dixon are looking increasingly inviting. As the winter convention season heats up, you may find yourself traveling down to southern Texas, with Houston next up in our continuing series of business travel destinations ripe for some personal time. In an effort to get you outside of the boardroom and into the wilds of Space City, we’re offering up two restaurants, two attractions, and one bar that you can hit with just a few extra hours between meetings.
The Republican National Convention is under way in Tampa, Florida (with a watchful eye on Hurricane Isaac). Next week, Democrats will descend on Charlotte, North Carolina for their quadrennial festivities. When it’s all over, the two host cities will join a fairly short list of places that have welcomed the two major political parties. We decided to take a look at that list and see which cities have hosted the most national conventions, what presidential history has been left behind, and what kinds of attractions continue to make those destinations such fantastic vacation spots.
There are some surprises in our Top 10 National Conventional Host Cities. Denver hosted its only two conventions 100 years apart. Cincinnati had its number called to host the parties three different times (granted, all between 1856 and 1880). The Democrats didn’t hold a convention in the South after the Civil War until 1928′s affair in Houston.
Which city has hosted the most conventions? Which president was the “second-most hated man in Miami” (according to those in Little Havana)? And what can you do now in all of those cities to enjoy a great vacation? All of the answers are waiting for you here.
Beginning June 19, customers who book early can secure dollar seats from Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio to locations like Austin and other states like Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana. While prices go up as the traveling date gets closer, Megabus is giving away 10,000 free seats and capping the price of its tickets at $1 during the first week of sales to promote its new service. Read more
Though it’s winter, there’s no reason to miss out on outdoor activities with the Winter Solstice Package from the 4-star La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa in Montgomery, Texas, just 50 minutes north of Houston on the shores of Lake Conroe. Choose from a luxury suite or villa accommodation, both featuring private balconies, with prices starting from $179 per night. Included in the package is breakfast for two at the Prime Restaurant, a chef welcome amenity, a discount pass for 25% off at the 18-hole Club at La Torretta golf course as well as 25% off a one hour massage at SpaTerre, and waived resort fees! Plus, guests have access to the aqua park, featuring multiple pools (open year round), as well as the Lake Conroe’s kayaking and fishing. Travel now through January 31, 2012.
THE VALUE: This package offers well over $100 in amenities and savings, including the breakfast valued at $48!
THE CATCH: There is no book by date but the package is subject to availability.
THE DETAILS: To book your stay, visit www.latorrettalakeresort.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find low rates on flights to Houston.
Realistically, Earth Day can be celebrated any day when dining out. It’s easy to find eco-friendly eateries around the country that serve sustainable food and embrace environmental business practices – online directories like the Green Restaurant Association (www.dinegreen.com) even provide state-by-state listings.
But many of these restaurants and cafés step it up a notch on Earth Day itself by offering special menu items and discounts, and producing special events and entertainment. On April 22, dine out and do good at these eight locations nationwide.
Red Stag Supper Club: Start the day with breakfast at Minneapolis’ Red Stag Supperclub (www.redstagsupperclub.com), where all money raised from 8am to 12pm benefits the Land Stewardship Project (www.landstewardshipproject.org). Minnesota’s first LEED-certified restaurant will serve up locally-produced and organic ingredients, while the LSP will give brief presentations.
Eco-Cafe: Write your pledge to go green on the chalkboard in front of New Orleans’ Eco-Café (www.ecocafeno.com) and you’ll get a free cup of organic coffee. That Friday, featured menu items – like the soup and salad combo – will be made exclusively with ingredients from Holly Grove Farm, just three miles away.
It’s tournament time in Texas! Want to be in Houston for the NCAA finals on April 2 and 4? Or just want a southern spring break, but spent all your money on a losing bracket? Continental has you covered: Travel now through June and get low round-trip fares starting from just $148 on routes from select cities nationwide (including New Orleans, Indianapolis, Newark, Hartford and more) to Houston. Whether you’re coming for basketball or just for great dining in the nation’s fourth-largest city, these cheap fares (not including taxes) are super rates for this time of year.
Sample Fares (R/T)
* New Orleans – Houston: $183+
* Orange County – Houston: $238+
* Indianapolis – Houston: $248+
* Hartford – Houston: $308+
* Newark – $398+
THE VALUE: This sale can save you more than 40% on regularly priced round-trip flights to Houston
THE CATCH: There’s no book-by date, so grab these deals while they last. Also, taxes and fees are not included.
THE DETAILS: Click here to book your flight with Continental.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Visit our Southern Hotel Deals pages to find a hot Houston hotel.
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This holiday season everyone is family at La Torretta Lake Resort & Spa. Between now and December 30, 2010, the resort is extending their Friends and Family Discount to everyone, lowering suite and villa accommodations to as little as $119/Night (Reg. $250)! Located an hour north of Houston on beautiful Lake Conroe, La Torretta offers a unique mix of relaxation and adventure. Visit the SpaTerre for a day of total rejuvenation or take off to the lake for some of the best fishing in East Texas, where guests can make use of the resort’s own 300-slip marina by renting a boat.
THE VALUE: This deal saves guests 48% a night!
THE CATCH: There’s less than two weeks left to receive this discount.
THE DETAILS: To book, visit www.latorrettalakeresort.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to book a flight Texas.
Check out our Houston Travel Guide for more great ideas in the area.
While the JW Marriott just barely misses the number one spot in ShermansTravel.com’s current Houston hotel rankings, the property is easily the top pick for families this fall with a package running through the end of the year with rates starting at $189 a night. Two grownups will not only dine at the breakfast buffet free for each day of their stay (kids under 12 eat as well as stay free, too) but will also get free adult admissions to the Children’s Museum of Houston (www.cmhouston.org), one of the better hands-on kids museums anywhere. Being as you’re in a state that makes lots of buildings and energy, two popular exhibits here focus on construction and hydropower. Not as expected are two new interactive areas that’ll give the kids glimpses of what life is like in Hangzhou, China and Oaxaca, Mexico. Read more
Car rentals, parking, and taxi rides can be quite costly when traveling around major cities. You can opt for public transportation, but we’ve found hotels that offer guests a lift to their destination—for free—and in some pretty spiffy rides to boot. See the savings for yourself; it might make sense to skip that taxi ride altogether.
The Hotel: W Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The Wheels: The 300-horsepower Acura MDX’s take guests to destinations within a 5-mile radius of the hotel. Just dial the Acura Experience desk, reserve your personal driver and the fully stocked SUV is yours.
Room Rate: $249
Taxi cost from hotel to the Museum of Art: $6
Hotel parking fees:$30 per day
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