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Travelers seeking cultural connections might want to roll up their sleeves on an upcoming trip. In big cities and small towns, a variety of hands-on classes are linking curious visitors with local experts. Whether you want to learn about cheesemaking or butchery, there are many opportunities to get your hands dirty and meet locals at the same time.
Many of these classes are focused around food, a pleasure that connects us no matter where we call home. Not only do the following classes teach us something new and provide the framework to connect with locals, but they are also delicious. With every class there is the reward of tasting what you made and feasting with new friends. Here are four of my favorite ways to get your hands dirty around the globe. 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:
Stay at The Attwater (formerly the Attwater Villa) in Newport, Rhode Island, and enjoy 20 percent off a chic boutique stay in New England. The hotel is currently closed for renovations, but to celebrate its June 1 reopening you can enjoy the redesigned rooms at 20 percent off from June 1 to June 20. The 20/20/20 Special offer includes not just 20 percent off the room rate, but also a $20 gift card to a nearby restaurant and a $20 room credit for future stays. Discounted room rates start at just $143.20/night for a Petite Queen – and compared to the $209/night starting rate you’ll see for the same room in July, that’s a real steal.
The renovated hotel’s 12 rooms will be decorated by award-winning Rachel Reider Interiors of Boston with bold colors and fabrics, contemporary furniture, and nautical touches. They’ll feature deluxe amenities like designer linens, waffle robes, personalized concierge service, flat-screen TVs and DVD players, and even iPad 3s equipped with info on local attractions. You’ll also get free Wi-Fi, free parking, and three complimentary items a day from the all-day coffee bar and café – think espresso, lemon-ginger scones, and macaroons with bittersweet chocolate ganache. Plus, The Attwater is within walking distance of beaches (for which you’ll get beach chairs and bags), dining (did we mention that $20 gift card?), shopping, and Newport’s Cliff Walk.
The 20/20/20 Special has no blackout dates or restrictions and can be booked by calling 800-392-3717 and asking for the 20/20/20 Special package or by making a reservation online. (Note that to reserve the package online you’ll need to mention it in the “Additional information” section and you won’t see the discounted price, so you might want to book by phone to be sure of the exact cost of your room.)
Remembered as a Gilded Age getaway for New York’s elite, today Newport, R.I., is an easy escape for anyone from the Big Apple or Boston. We’ve put together the perfect 1-2-3 Weekend – 1 hotel, 2 restaurants, and 3 things to do – that will show the best of what Newport has to offer.
Stay at the Mill Street Inn in Newport’s Historic Hill district for ultra-modern digs with lots of plum extras. The 23 suites (all of which sleep up to four) feature cozy seating areas and über-comfortable feather beds, not to mention marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. Book a duplex townhouse suite for your own private roof deck. In summer months, a hearty breakfast spread – complete with fresh-squeezed juices, gourmet coffee, and homemade smoothies – is served on the communal rooftop terrace. 75 Mill Street; 401-849-9500; www.millstreetinn.com
Don’t let the Mill Street Inn’s National Register of Historic Places status fool you – the hotel’s interiors are completely modern, with spacious suites and marble bathrooms, along with amenities like flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. Even the word “inn” is a bit of a misnomer, given that the 23-unit, all-suite property lacks any of the quaintness you’d find at a traditional New England bed-and-breakfast.
On the other hand, Mill Street Inn is a proper B&B with a generous breakfast spread – in the warmer months, it’s hosted on the inn’s gorgeous rooftop – with gourmet coffee, fresh-squeezed juices, a half-dozen cereal choices, yogurts, fresh fruit, and even homemade smoothies.
For a small rooftop terrace of your own, book one of the townhouse suites (shown above). These 2nd/3rd-floor duplex units sport comfortable sitting areas downstairs and king-sized feather beds on the upper level. All suites can sleep up to four people.
The inn offers free parking in a small adjacent lot and underground garage. Note there is no elevator, so request a ground-floor room if stairs are an issue. Rooms start at $225/night in the summer months, but spike sharply on weekends. www.millstreetinn.com
For general trip-planning information, see our Rhode Island Travel Guide.
Following up on a $35-million overhaul in 2010, Hyatt Regency Newport rolled out the next phase of renovations last week with the debut of the new Pineapples by the Bay outdoor seasonal restaurant (open every day starting June 10). What was once a small grilling shack is now a full-service bar and kitchen, with seating for 17 at the wraparound bar and additional tables set up on the adjoining patio.
Thanks to the new digs, Pineapples’ menu also received an upgrade. Options range from casual burgers and apps (be sure to try the lobster quesadillas) to full meals like swordfish and grilled rib-eye steak. Don’t skimp on dessert – the bittersweet chocolate cake and Key West cake (a twist on Key Lime pie, with a ginger spice cake instead of crust) are phenomenal.
The latest renovation also doubled the size of the outdoor pool deck.
Those in need of a quick, romantic getaway can head to picturesque Providence, Rhode Island for a night to relax in quiet comfort. The 4-star Renaissance Downtown Hotel’s romance package starts at just $159 per night and includes a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries delivered to the room upon arrival, and breakfast for two at the Temple Restaurant. Guests won’t feel rushed the next day, instead they can lounge around until the 2 p.m. late check-out time or take advantage of the hotel’s convenient downtown location with the Providence Place Mall and historic sites just steps away. Travel is valid through September 4, 2011.
THE VALUE: Room rates are regularly $209 per night and the breakfast and champagne are a $50 value!
THE CATCH: Available Thursday through Sunday.
THE DETAILS: To book the romance package, visit www.marriott.com using promo code ROM.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find great rates on flights to Providence, Rhode Island.
If lobster is one of the your favorite foods (and you enjoy sharing it with someone special) mark your summer travel calendars for these four very different opportunities – from romantic to rowdy – to indulge in all the tender, buttery crustaceans you can eat.
Lobster Lovers Itinerary from Absolute Belize: Belize, a friendly, sunny Central American country, marks the beginning of its annual lobster season each June (Belize lobsters are shown above at left) with the weeklong San Pedro Lobsterfest (www.sanpedrolobsterfest.com) on Ambergris Caye.
The thought of Newport, Rhode Island, in the summer conjures all kinds of timeless seaside images – sailboats, surfers, bathing beauties, and flip-flop-chic couture. A few of its iconic establishments have recently undergone face-lifts and are giving travelers a fresh reason to visit the city and nearby Watch Hill.
They say a business often takes on the personality of its owner. For proof, look at Vanderbilt Hall (www.vanderbilthall.com), whose new proprietor, English entrepreneur and philanthropist Peter de Savary, is infusing the 100-year-old mansion hotel with a whimsical and warm character. While the 33-room edifice still shows its historic roots, de Savary has hung up his personal collection of American illustration art (picture Gidget-esqe 1950s pinups) and created a British-style pub named after his longhaired chihuahua, Monty. Located just steps from the cobblestones of Thames Street, the hotel also offers superb service. What you get in the end feels something akin to a Jay Gatsby party meets buttoned-up Brideshead Revisited. Read more
Tapas, the little plates served with sample-size morsels, aren’t just popular on the dining scene. They’re all the rage in the spa world, too. That’s probably because the recession-friendly mini treatments, called Spa Tapas, appeal to two main concerns of spa-goers or those who want to be: lack of time and money.
Stand-alone Spa Tapas services can last about 15 to 25 minutes and are priced to match at around $50 or less. They might include a 15-minute poolside massage at the Four Seasons Houston for $30 or a 25-minute facial for $50 at the Hyatt Regency Newport in Rhode Island. A 20-minute blackhead relief facial at the Dermalogica Spa in New York City just clears and prevents breakouts, and dispenses with everything else normally included in a facial to keep the price tag at a super-reasonable $30.
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