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It’s always a struggle for culture-enthusiasts in the summer: Go to the park and soak up the sun, or go to the museum for some arts. If that’s an argument you always enter with your travel companion, we have the answer for you. Visiting any of these six sculpture parks in the United States is guaranteed to solve your dilemma. The pictured Storm King Art Center in the lower Hudson Valley of New York state, for example, is a 500-acre landscape of fields, hills, and woodlands that provides the setting for more than 100 large-scale abstract sculptures. More here.
Flight: booked. Hotel: reserved. Language podcasts: Completed. What else do you need to prepare before jetting off on vacation?
Most of us would probably never think that feeding pigeons in parts of Venice could get us fined as much as our plane tickets there cost. Likewise, while we always leave a substantial tip after dining at a restaurant in North America, the practice is a foreign concept to many international visitors. Needless to say, very diverse cultural customs abound around the world. Here are a few quirky ones that we love and think are useful to know for preventing cultural mishaps abroad.
We can think of three good reasons for making a trip to Chicago soon: winter is drawing to a close; April 4th sees opening day at Wrigley Field (which turns 100 years old the same month), and stylish accommodations have just been made more affordable with this deal from the architecturally stunning Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago. Read more
On vacation, we tend to keep different schedules. That’s why, at 1 a.m., with all the regular restaurants closed and the bar having stopped serving food, you may decide you’re ready for dinner number two. Offering unique insight into local culture, late-night eats can enhance your travel experience as much as they can satisfy your craving. For a few bucks, you can fill up on local dishes like tacos, oyster omelets, and crepes, and get a candid glimpse into a city’s after-hours culture. Every country has a specialty; here are the best bites served past midnight in cities all over the world. Read more
Most of you probably recognize Detroit from its so-called “post-apocalyptic” ruins. At first glance, it’s easy to be taken aback. The city’s not the cleanest. It’s not the prettiest. And while many focus on the city’s murder rate and recent bankruptcy, Detroiters remain stoic and optimistic. In fact, it ranks among the happiest cities in the U.S.. From burgeoning art installations to urban gardens, artisan markets, trendy music scenes, and hot dogs done right, Detroit’s dusting off its reputation and clamoring for attention. In a city known for its recent descent into nothing, here a look into its best “somethings:”
At the extreme northern edge of Minnesota, there are a series of bays – Buffalo Bay, Muskeg Bay, and Fourmile Bay – which together constitute over 65,000 miles of shoreline, and provide one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations. On a map, everything north of these bodies of water would appear to be Canadian territory, but look more closely and you’ll see there is actually a small piece of Minnesota awkwardly wedged between Manitoba and Ontario. The Northwest Angle, as it’s known, is the northernmost point in the contiguous 48 states – not to mention one of the coldest places to visit in America during the winter.
The southwest sun is probably reason enough to look forward to an escape to Albuquerque, but there’s plenty more to enjoy in New Mexico’s largest city than warmth. In an effort to get you outside the boardroom and into Burque (as the locals say), we’re offering up two restaurants, two attractions, and one bar that you can hit with just a few extra hours between meetings. Read more
Winter time can prove to be an even bigger headache than usual for air travel. Blustering winds and pesky snowstorms regularly clog major air-hubs from New York City to Chicago (and everywhere in between), causing frustrating flight delays and cancellations. Spare yourself the stress of lengthy, invasive security procedures, and unreliable service by taking the train for your next getaway.
Fares for many of North America’s regional train lines are available for less this season. Here’s some of our favorite deals on rails.
If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the brass bands warming up. Outside of Bavaria, it’s not the kind of music you’re likely to encounter at other times of year, but for the next two weeks, there’s a good chance the autumn air will be filled with the sounds of accordions, tubas, and clarinets. That’s because at noon on September 22nd, the Mayor of Munich will tap the first keg of Oktoberfest beer, ceremonially initiating a 16-day party on the Theresienwiese. Since October 1810, when the first Oktoberfest celebrated the wedding of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen with free food and drink, Germany’s third-largest city has marked the occasion with bratwurst, brezeln (Bavarian pretzels), and lots and lots of beer. Read more
My globetrotting ambitions should have been clear to my parents when at age 13 I chose as my bat mitzvah theme “Around the World with Liz.” The place cards looked like miniature passports, and each table represented a different country. Now that I’m twice as old as I was when I was called to read from the Torah for the first time, I decided to look back on that fateful day and count off how many of those “tables” I’ve actually visited:
We’ve all read the doom and gloom surveys: Americans are less likely to travel this summer because of the high price of gas, the state of the economy, or maybe because Venus is in retrograde (can’t be too careful with your horoscope). It seems hotels have read these surveys, too, and have devised ways to entice you to stay by footing part of your gas bill or even doling out cold hard cash.
Perhaps the most generous offer comes from InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), which will give you a $75 prepaid MasterCard for every stay of two consecutive weekend nights (Friday-Sunday) through September 3. You will have to wait 6-8 weeks to receive the gift card, but the deal applies to all IHG brands, from InterContinental to Holiday Inn.
While local economies in our favorite travel destinations may still be feeling the pinch of the global recession – especially in international locales – the hotel industry continues to bounce back (though prices have yet to reach pre-recession levels). According to the annual hotels.com Hotel Price Index the cost to book a room increased by 4 percent worldwide from 2010 to 2011, with the biggest jumps in the Pacific (8 percent) and North America (5 percent).
What really struck us about this year’s survey, however, was the comparison of what different nationalities tend to pay for a hotel room in their own countries versus what they shell out while abroad. Turns out Americans are the second thriftiest when it comes to what they’ll plunk down for a hotel in the U.S. – paying an average of $120/night – while at the same time splurging when traveling outside the country, where they pay around $171/night. (Only Australians, the Japanese, and the Swiss pay more.)
When it comes to summertime fun, not every town is satisfied with state fairs and carnivals. These intrepid communities celebrate quirky bits of history and time-honored traditions that make simple petting zoos seem boring. While some of these festivals might look bizarre at first glance, they serve the same purpose as the more run-of-the-mill gatherings: Get a bunch of people together to have fun. Read more
Truth be told, my only experience with a repositioning cruise was as a precocious 6-year-old sailing Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 instead of flying when my family moved back to the U.S. from Paris. Our week at sea was spent watching the newly released Beauty and the Beast and splashing in salt water swimming pools. Even our poor cat, Fuzzy, came along for the ride, although I think she had significantly less fun than we did. (Apparently this trip made quite the impression on me, as the parent volunteers from my first grade class still to this day remember how I regaled them with tales of the QE2.)
Fond childhood memories aside, these types of cruises generally offer the best deals around, since cruise lines need to move their ships from one place to another and offer significant discounts on “one-way” passages. The itineraries can cost as little as $42/night – though note since you spend less time in port you’re more apt (so the cruise lines hope) to open your wallet for the ship’s onboard activities and specialty restaurants.
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:
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