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June 2009

June 30, 2009

Beach Bytes: Beach Tips--Be a Good Guest

Keep-off-dunes When visiting a beach, please let's all remember to treat the beach with the utmost respect. Whether it’s a public beach or a privately owned resort property, different beaches may have different rules and restrictions.  But a few tips should be remembered as common courtesies:

Dunes: Nature’s plan for protecting the shore is washing sand up to create dunes. Whether or not signs are posted as reminders, dunes are easily damaged by walkers, sunbathers, or pets.  In many locations, law prohibits walking on the dunes.

Sea oats: Sometimes planted or growing naturally, the lovely swaying grass holds the sand in place along the dunes, and it should not be disturbed.

Space: An American custom, more so than in many other countries, is to allow personal space. Park your chair, umbrella, kids, or general spread of stuff at a reasonable distance away from others. It’s good manners to allow privacy for conversation and to keep your own music or phone calls to yourself.

Dogs: Allowed on some beaches, and often with leashes required, dogs sometimes annoy non-owners, and pet waste should be collected and disposed properly. Otherwise, it’s a serious health hazard.

Holes: Digging in the beach sand seems to be a natural pastime for kids and dogs, but holes should be filled when they have served their entertainment purpose. Otherwise, a runner or other beachgoer could miss seeing a deep hole and be hurt by a fall.

Trash: Leave the beach cleaner than you find it, and dispose of trash properly. 

Private property:  Straying onto, or purposely trying to enter, the posted property of a neighboring resort or private owner may be illegal as well as bad etiquette.

Let's enjoy our beautiful beaches and be sure we can continue to enjoy them for many years to come!

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Travel Tips

June 29, 2009

More Than Just a Package Trip: Fairmont Hotels Teams Up with National Geographic Society

African savanna (courtesy, Fairmont Mara Safari Club)

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts—one of the biggest players in properties that qualify as destinations in their own right—have teamed up with the National Geographic Society to present the Global Explorer Series, offering guests the opportunity to engage with Nat Geo experts in a range of activities. Three 2009 programs remain:

- Attend a gala event in Monte Carlo, including a private excursion with a marine ecologist on Prince Albert’s Tuiga, one of the world’s most beautiful historic yachts (July 19-19; $1,125).

- Join a Nat Geo wildlife photographer in Kenya for a multi-day luxury safari with tour operator Micato, which includes a hot-air balloon ride, a visit to a Masai village, luxe accommodations in Samburu National Reserve and Fairmont’s three East African properties, and a day-long photo safari drive (September 1-10; $7,690).

- Explore the pyramids of Egypt with the country’s head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities  (November 27-30; $960).

Our pick? The priciest of the bunch—but all would make for memories that would last a lifetime.

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Related Topics: All Inclusive Vacation · Exotic Escapes · Places to Stay · Travel Photography

June 27, 2009

Top Ten 4th of July Celebrations

By Karen Chen

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July-4-Fireworks-over-Bosto Fireworks, barbeques, parades, and live music—no other holiday spells summer fun quite like the 4th of July. Since the 4th falls on a Saturday this year, most people get Friday, July 3rd off from work, giving you a long weekend to celebrate America's birthday—and that means the perfect opportunity to take a road trip.  Although you could just as easily watch the festivities on TV or set out some lawn chairs and a grill in your backyard, some Independence Day celebrations are worth the trip, especially if they're right up the road from you. Here are our picks for the country's top ten places to ring in the 4th.  Make sure to tell us if we've missed any of your favorite local July 4th celebrations in the comments section—we're always up for a new party suggestion!

Top Ten 4th of July Celebrations

10. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
9. Greater Williamsburg, Virginia
8. Miami, Florida
7. San Diego, California
6. New Orleans, Louisiana
5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
4. New York City, New York
3. Chicago, Illinois
2. Washington, D.C.
1. Boston, Massachusetts
Bonus: U.S. Virgin Islands

If you want to spend your July 4th weekend in one of America's smaller coastal towns, check out the Best Beaches for a July 4th Celebration. Or if you want more Top Ten travel ideas, get some inspiration here.

PHOTO: The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular over Boston Harbor (Jay Connor/courtesy, B4 Productions)

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Top 10 Lists

June 26, 2009

New Habitat Opens at the International Crane Foundation, Wisconsin

HOME ON THE RANGE: Grey-crowned crane (Mike Endres/Wanderlust Photos)

This past Saturday, the International Crane Foundation (ICF) unveiled a new 15-acre Spirit of Africa habitat at its headquarters in Baraboo, Wisconsin. I happened to be up in the area for a visit to nearby Wisconsin Dells with my family, so we dropped by the woodlands facility for a closer look at these majestic birds on the opening day of the new exhibit. The ICF is the only place in the world where you can see all 15 species of cranes, including the endangered whooping crane and red-crowned crane.

Unlike a zoo, where you can sometimes feel quite distant from the animals, the ICF's holding pens and open habitats allow you to get fairly close to these statuesque birds, which have become potent symbols for conservation because of threats to their survival that include habitat loss, predation, and pollution. Being there with small kids was a stark reminder that some of the species we were viewing might not even be around by the time my kids become adults. The ICF is dedicated to worldwide efforts to conserve the species as well as the grasslands and wetlands on which they depend for survival.

Continue reading "New Habitat Opens at the International Crane Foundation, Wisconsin" »

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Related Topics: Dispatches from the Road · Family Vacation · Travel News

June 25, 2009

New Airline Targeted Towards Pets!

By Erin Pak

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Pet Airways Turboprop (courtesy, Pet Airways)

Pet fanatics rejoice! Your pet can now enjoy the luxury of traveling in the main cabin rather than in cargo on Pet Airways, the first airline to dedicate itself to pet-friendly travel. I'm not a pet owner, or even a fanatic, but I do believe that animals should enjoy a safe and comfortable ride, just like us humans. So it's about time something like this arrived, although today's current economic climate makes it an interesting time to launch such a venture.

So here’s how it works. First, buy your ticket on the Pet Airways website, where you also specify the animal’s height and weight. Sample round-trip fares for small- to medium-sized dogs traveling between New York City and L.A. in September cost $698 round-trip (a lot of dough to throw down for your pet!). That would also include a no-fee overnight stopover for your pet in Chicago. Shorter flights are direct and cost upwards of $300 round-trip, depending on your pet’s height and weight. For extra comfort, you can upgrade your pet’s carrier for an additional $50.

Continue reading "New Airline Targeted Towards Pets!" »

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Related Topics: Air Travel · Travel Websites

June 24, 2009

Beach Bytes: Best Beaches for a July 4th Celebration

HAPPY FOURTH!: Holiday decorations at a coastal celebration (Liz Mitchell)

It’s not too late to plan a beach trip for the July 4th weekend, when Independence Day is celebrated in thousands of coastal towns throughout the United States. You’ll find the biggest festivals and warmest welcomes—sometimes hot—during this prime summer holiday when Americans celebrate the birth of their country (or at the very least, celebrate a day off from work!).  A few suggestions for events follow, and I would be excited to join any of them for fireworks and festivities.

- Visit the coast of New Hampshire for a unique, historical day of festivities. An American Celebration at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth is a fabulous old-fashioned way to celebrate July 4th, offering an opportunity to experience four centuries of New England life. One of the highlights of a New Hampshire summer, this event includes a children’s bike and wagon parade, games and crafts, historic garden tours, live music, living history, hands-on activities, and lots of food.

- Off the coast of Massachusetts, Nantucket's July 4th Celebration includes face painting, watermelon and pie-eating contests, a dunk tank, children's parades, three-legged races, tug-o-war, music, and a huge water fight. Fireworks set off from Jetties Beach, a family-friendly spot on the North Shore. 

Continue reading "Beach Bytes: Best Beaches for a July 4th Celebration" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · California Travel · Family Vacation · Florida Vacation · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Trip Ideas

Give Us Your Packing Tips and Enter to Win a TimBuk2 Travel Bag!

By awayblog

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From all those times you've packed and stuffed and restuffed, and then packed for the return trip home, you've probably picked up a few tricks and pointers for how to make the most of your luggage space (especially now that airlines have slapped all these fees on travelers who—god forbid—like to bring ample clothes and toiletries when they travel).  So here at we want to hear about your best packing and travel tips! You might just win a TimBuk2 travel bag, which you can use to put your creative packing skills to the test the next time you travel.

To enter our bag giveaway, become a fan of on Facebook, and then post your favorite packing tip (or general travel tip, if you just can't think of one for packing), in 60 words or less, to our Facebook Wall (and not as a comment on this blog).  We'll select the best two entries to win a chic and trendy TimBuk2 travel bag.  But we're sure we'll receive a bunch of valuable travel tips, so we'll share them with you all right here on the blog. 

Entries must be posted to's Facebook Fan Page no later than 11:59 p.m. ET on July 8, 2009, to be eligible. Click here to download the Official Contest Rules.

See the TimBuk2 bags (that you could win!) after the jump. 

Continue reading "Give Us Your Packing Tips and Enter to Win a TimBuk2 Travel Bag!" »

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June 22, 2009

Miami's Art Scene

By Karen Chen

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LARGER THAN LIFE: An artist in front of his painting at the ArtCenter/South Florida (Karen Chen)

No one really goes to Miami for the art, do they? It's the beaches, the bars, the booze, and the... bikini-ed babes... that draw hordes to South Beach's golden shores.  But as I'm always on the lookout for great places to satisfy my culture craving—even when my main objective is to get a tan—I'm happy to report that Miami's actually got an art scene that is alive and flourishing.

One of the coolest places in South Beach—and one of the coolest places I've stumbled upon in a long time—was the ArtCenter/South Florida on the popular Lincoln Road pedestrian mall.  We happened upon the unassuming art depot while strolling along the road looking for a place to eat.  If you manage to get away from all the hawkers vying for your business at the restaurants, stop in at these collective artists' studios for a break from the crowds.

Continue reading "Miami's Art Scene" »

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Related Topics: Florida Vacation · Travel Raves

June 19, 2009

From the Road: Cultural Diversity in Penang, Malaysia

By Guest Blogger

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Penang,-malaysia-spice_gard In this series of posts, our roving guest blogger Dave Zuckerman reports back from the road as he explores Malaysia. We hope you'll enjoy reading about his experiences as much as we did.

I’m now on the island of Penang and finding it a great place to get acquainted with Malaysia’s cultural diversity. Penang’s historic Georgetown district, a UNESCO World Heritage site as of 2008, is a microcosm of the nation’s multiethnic heritage. Wandering its streets you find mosques, Hindu temples, Chinese clan temples, and plenty of evidence of the colonial past (the British first arrived here in 1786). You’ll also see a wealth of vernacular architecture in a variety of styles and states of disrepair. The stunning Blue Mansion, a fantastically elaborate home built in 1898 by Cheong Fatt Tze, “the Rockefeller of the East,” is one of Georgetown’s treasures. True feng shui principals permeate every aspect of the Mansion’s design. Builders even oriented the house at a 45-degree angle to the street so it would, according to the dictates of a proverb, face the sea with the mountains (in this case Penang Hill) behind. More pedestrian (but no less interesting) are the abundant shophouses. Residents have restored a number of these traditional mixed-use structures, building them into galleries, cafes, and boutique hotels.

Even experiences that seem to offer only sensory stimulation are, in Penang, steeped in history. The Tropical Spice Garden, a lush, verdant garden devoted to brightly colored wild spice flowers (the blade-like ginger flowers are stunningly beautiful) was once a rubber plantation. At the top of Penang Hill, the Bellevue Hotel offers beautiful views of Georgetown. The hotel dates back to the days of the East India Company, when it was the home of William Halliburton, sheriff of Penang (then known to the Brits as Wales Island). A collection of prints depicts colonial-era Georgetown from the same vantage. Comparing them to the view, you can see how the city has grown.

Continue reading "From the Road: Cultural Diversity in Penang, Malaysia" »

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Related Topics: Asia Travel · Dispatches from the Road · Food and Drink

June 18, 2009

Notaviva Vineyards: A Story of Reinvention

By Guest Blogger

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Notaviva-tasting-bar-VA Recently a few friends and I visited Notaviva Vineyards, a new winery in Loudoun County, Virginia, just an hour’s drive from Washington, D.C. The sign for Notaviva Vineyards on Sagle Road in Purcellville is small and inconspicuous (we drove by it at first and had to turn around). And the place doesn’t look like much from the parking lot—just a decent-sized house overlooking some farmland. Once inside, though, undoubtedly someone from your group will remark that they want their next house to look exactly like this. Consisting of hardwood floors, plum-colored walls, and lofty ceilings that invite guests to look up to see two more floors overlooking the tasting area, the house’s unexpected quirk was that it was held together with wooden pegs—a bit like Lincoln Logs.

Our rag-tag group was a far cry from the jacketed thirty-somethings who ducked into a “StretchUV” as we pulled into the Notaviva parking lot. We had just come from a morning of picking apples at a farm down the road. We were underdressed and young and weren’t about to spend a ton of money on several bottles of wine. But, among the five vineyards that we visited that day, we were welcomed above and beyond the rest. Notaviva gives wine-lovers something novel: an invitation into the winemakers’ home. The woman pouring our tasting, we quickly found out, was one of the owners.  Our friendly hostess invited us into her kitchen and chatted with us over the long U-shaped counter about her family’s story, and it’s one she tells with a glow.

Continue reading "Notaviva Vineyards: A Story of Reinvention" »

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Related Topics: Food and Drink · Trip Ideas

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