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We may have missed National Ice Cream Day (it was on July 20), but National Ice Cream Month continues. Why not celebrate with a couple of scoops of something more adventurous than vanilla? Read more

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It’s no surprise that vacation rentals have stolen the hearts of savvy travelers everywhere. Great savings, extra amenities, even the chance to get some local advice…what’s not to love? The fact that HomeAway has hit one million listings — making its inventory almost twice the size of other similar companies — just comes to show how this once-alternative means of accommodation is going mainstream. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up five affordable rentals that you can book this summer and beyond, for a taste of something different:

1. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: $80/night
For the design enthusiast, this Costa Rican rental delivers on one-of-a-kind digs with a futuristic, geodesic design. Sleeping four to five with two bedrooms spread over two floors, this villa is less than a five-minute walk to Santa Teresa Beah and the area’s shops and cafes. We recommend getting out early to beat the heat, then settling in for an afternoon siesta if the rain hits. And, don’t worry, the AC units are well-equipped to keep you cool. 4-night minimum.

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Texas - Dallas - Aerial View - 620x400 - flickr nffcnnrPop quiz: flying to which of the following cities from New York costs the most, round-trip? San Juan, Puerto Rico? Dallas, Texas? Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas? Or, Phoenix, Arizona?

The answer is… Dallas. Of the four choices, air from New York to Dallas is the most expensive — and the $467 price tag, courtesy of Spirit Airlines, does not include baggage fees. Add $70 for a carry-on and $60 for a checked bag for a $587 grand total. (In case you were wondering, air to Phoenix is the next most expensive at $430 on Delta; followed by St. Thomas at $369 on JetBlue; then San Juan at $331 on JetBlue.)

If this is enough to make you scrap your Dallas travel plans (or stay home, if you’re based in Dallas), consider postponing them instead. Come fall, the price of flights to and from D-Town to major U.S. gateways will be much more competitive, thanks to the end of the Wright Amendment. This pesky federal law limited air traffic in and out of Dallas Love Field airport to interstate and neighboring state flights. Read more

vinyls - steve snodgrass - 620A big part of the travel experience is bringing a piece of it home, so you can remember where you’ve been long after you’ve returned. We recommend skipping the chintzy souvenir shops and loading up on genuine local goods instead. Here, four ways to find items that really represent the destination, wherever you are.

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state fair 1What is it about state fairs that fill us with glee? Is it the chance to see our favorite local bands? Mental images of deep fried butter? The smells of food, cattle, and sweat simultaneously wafting through the air?

Whatever it is, hundreds of thousands of people travel to state fairs every year in the hopes of indulging in a few highly calorific snacks and celebrating Americana. While these fairs typically happen in the late summer through the fall, we thought we’d get a head start with 10 quirky attractions that help make this country a little weird, and a lot of fun.

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Looking to cool off this summer? We already introduced Europe’s most beautiful public pools last year, but we thought we’d take a look at the aquatic offerings a bit closer to home. Whether you’re looking for a basic soak, a serious workout, or theme park-style entertainment, here are five fantastic (and inexpensive) public pools where you can make a splash.

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ShakespeareThis year marks William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. If you can’t make it to England to honor the Bard with a pilgrimage to his hometown of Straford Upon Avon, or to the Globe Theatre in London, you can catch a free summer performance in these cities across the U.S.:

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South PadreSpring breakers have been invading South Padre, a small island along the Texas gulf coast, with their beer-guzzling antics for years. But families, too, make good use of the island’s beaches and the Schlitterbahn Water Park. Really, though, most vacationers in the laid-back resort town are just looking for some R&R and an icy margarita. In our mini-guide below, we’ll help you avoid the spring break din (think 50,000-watt sound systems) in favor of a quieter, crowd-free slice of island life. Read more

OmniBostonLooking for a last-minute getaway? Omni Hotels & Resorts invites you to “Spring into Action” with its 72-hour flash sale. From April 1-4, rooms at the brand’s Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Boston properties will be available for less than $200 per night. Read more

charreada san antonio charros - 620Chances are, you’ve heard of that little landmark called the Alamo in San Antonio, the city that’s also home to the beautiful five-mile Riverwalk. Here are some affordable ways to enjoy the city’s history, nature, and cuisine, right in time for the April Fiesta – a celebration that feels a lot like a slightly less debauched Mardi Gras.

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The great American road trip has captured travelers’ imaginations for decades. For your next jaunt, give the bland chain motels a miss and pick one of these unique hotels to rest up while you are on the road.

For West Coast Road Trippers:

The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo CAMadonnaInnThe iconic bright pink sign of the Madonna Inn beckons roadtrippers toward a slice of Americana that befits its Highway 101 location. The bright color scheme extends into this 50-year-old hotel and through many of the 110 individually themed guestrooms. Rooms on offer include the “Caveman” room, “Swiss Chalet,” “Country Gentleman,” and “Love Nest.”  Rates start at $189.

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Mardi Gras

Is it possible to do Mardi Gras on a budget? Adding up the cost of hotel rooms, frequent beer stops, bead attire, and indulgent, post-boozing meals, a simple trip to New Orleans can easily exceed several thousand dollars. Yet, that same festive spirit can be found in small-town carnival celebrations like the ones we’ve listed below – twice the fun, for half the price. Read more

Joule DallasA century ago, hotels were simply places to sleep during your travels.  Maybe there was a fancy bar in the lobby, or a nice pool. These days, an increased focus on younger travelers seeking unique cultural experiences means hotel public spaces are doubling as live music venues, social media nerve centers, and, in some cases, contemporary art galleries. The following properties give you extra bang for your buck by including some free visual stimulus built into the cost of your stay: Read more

Roccos TacosLike a beautiful beach, margaritas come in all shapes and sizes. Some are poured like a martini, some are rimmed with a spicy-salt mixture. And some forsake the traditional ingredient, tequila, altogether in favor of more experimental spirits. This National Margarita Day (yes, that’s a holiday that exists, and where would we be without it?), which happens on February 21, we’re not looking to get tipsy on just any old cookie-cutter cocktail. We want to be wowed by some of the most inventive margaritas out there. Without further ado, here are 9 infusions guaranteed to wow your taste buds and satisfy your sense of adventure at the same time… Read more

620x400_FlickrMariosp_SFOWho needs five star resorts, marble bathtubs, and caviar dinners? Sure, those perks are nice, but for travelers seeking a quick, easy getaway that won’t leave them in the financial lurch, there are better ways to go about it. Rather than overindulge, focus instead on fun, practical activities that are unique to the destination, whether that means hiking in a state park or snagging $9 seats to a symphony orchestra. To get you started, here are ten US cities perfect for budget travelers, plus tips on what to do when you get there: Read more

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