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August 2010

August 31, 2010

History Meets Hollywood: Colonial Williamsburg's Guest Artist Program

By awayblog

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Colonial williamsburg In Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, the sparkly world of Hollywood is melding with the town's deep dedication to history. With the Guest Artist Program, Colonial Williamsburg has created a draw for people who might otherwise not think to visit this historically rich area. And with the less than stellar economy, these affordable gems in our own backyard are not to be missed.

On September 25, Guest Artist Jesse Williams, a Grey's Anatomy heartthrob, will perform from 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in What Holds the Future, a story of a group of slaves fighting for their freedom. The show takes place in the Historic Area, a  301-acre encampment of 88 original 18th-century structures, and hundreds of original houses, shops, and public outbuildings. The Guest Artist Program was created to showcase the talents of young actors along with Colonial Williamsburg’s own actor-interpreters in scenes depicting pivotal moments in 18th-century Colonial history, a subject a lot of American kids are missing out on.

Continue reading "History Meets Hollywood: Colonial Williamsburg's Guest Artist Program" »

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Historical Travel · Trip Ideas

August 30, 2010

Great American Beer Festival

By Lacy Morris

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Beer Fest(Daniel Spiess)
Great American Beer Festival, Denver, Colorado (Daniel Spiess)

Its website calls it a ten-day celebration of "all things beer." I call it the single most brilliant idea the Mile High City has ever had. Being an ex-Denverite myself, and a lover of "all things beer," the Denver Beer Fest is right up my alley, and apparently also up the alley's of the thousands who descended on last year's event. Tourists and locals (the earthy folk who roam the city love their brewskis) rub elbows and vie for bar space in the hundreds of microbreweries, brewpubs, and beer cafés that Denver plays mother hen to. Beer Fest is only in its second year of beer-ations, developed in 2009 to help "build camaraderie and unique experiences" in the city, as well as expand on the already intact and highly engaging Great American Beer Festival and Oktoberfest. That is why I love Denver.

Denver's rich tradition of brewing has placed it as one of the world's greatest beer cities, earned it nicknames like the "Napa Valley of Beer," and placed numerous hometown brews on lists in Maxim, GQ, and Outdoor Life. Celebrate with the masses September 10-19 with a "Suds Safari" in the Denver Zoo, a barnstorming beer garden at Elitch Garden amusement park, or a day of fly-fishing the stream one-handed, beer in the other—just to name a few of the week's many events.  

Check here for hotels offering special Beer Fest Packages and here for city coupons. 

Continue reading "Great American Beer Festival" »

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Related Topics: Food and Drink · Holidays, Events, & Festivals

August 27, 2010

Good Times in Greenwich, London

Greenwich Park and the London skyline beyond (Anne Marie Briscombe/The Royal Parks)

I recently visited London with my family and spent a week based out of Greenwich, the leafy borough along the banks of the Thames River in the southeastern quadrant of the British capital. I must admit to not really expecting much from London after having lived and visited there extensively over the years: too busy, too expensive, too many hassles when navigating with kids...

Happily, our sojourn in Greenwich washed away my familiarity-breeds-contempt apathy about the Big Smoke, notably because Greenwich provided welcome respite from the hubbub in central London. Transit connections are easy via overland rail from London Bridge or the Docklands Light Railway (via the Tube), though it was the river-taxi jaunts up and down the Thames that won gold with my kids. Thames Clippers operates a fleet of sleek catamarans that glide past major sights including Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Tate Modern, and St. Paul's Cathedral, with easy-to-access piers on both banks of the Thames. Service is frequent throughout the day, albeit a shade more expensive and slower than comparable commutes by rail. (Bus is another option, though it's the slowest of your choices.)

Continue reading "Good Times in Greenwich, London" »

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Related Topics: European Travel · Family Vacation

August 26, 2010

Vacation Impatience: Flight-Voucher Giveaway Winner Announced!

By awayblog

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"How do I make the time pass quickly when I'm waiting for my vacation?"

There’s the vacation, but then there’s always the... waiting. But in a response to how to deal with this dilemma in our travelers’ forum, Florida-based Courtenay O. was a fount of practical travel-planning wisdom, from making lists to getting the right gear to backing up your travel documents. Here's her full answer:

"Create a notebook to write about places you’ll visit on your vacation. Visit websites - print materials. Keep in your notebook for note taking once you’re there. Need tickets to an event? Need to remember hotel or car rental information? Print & put in your notebook. Watch DVDs of the places you’ll visit. Visit your local library or AAA to borrow films. Print maps & write notes concerning the distance from your hotel to destinations - by foot, car, or public transportation. Start looking for apparel that lends itself to your destination. Shop for what you need; clean & repair what you are taking. Take snapshots of everything you’ll bring to re-evaluate your choices prior to packing, & for documentation if your luggage is lost. Copy all personal documents: one to store at home & one to give to a family member or close friend. Create address labels for everyone you’ll send postcards. Buy stamps now."

Talk about organized! To thank Courtenay for her thoughtful response, we’re awarding her one of four free flight vouchers for the best user-submitted answers to our site. For your chance to win our next airfare giveaway, share your best travel advice with your fellow travelers today! For more information about this giveaway, check out our contest-detail page here.

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Related Topics: News · Travel Tips

August 24, 2010

Au Pair Adventures: The Greek Fountain of Youth

By Guest Blogger

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Kos Beach
Healing waters of Kios beach (

As tourists head for sunsets in the Cyclades, the native Greek go to Kios (also known as Kos). The pebbly beach in the finger of the Peloponnese isn't much to see. The semi-smooth rocks are separated from the sea in a thick line of seaweed, dead bugs, and the occasional floating plastic bottle. The boulder-sized submerged rocks come next, followed by the demi-jungle of long, stringy seaweed covered in unidentifiable brown goo. At waist deep you can almost see your toes—it certainly doesn't compare to the crystal clear waters of nearby Nafplion.

But on any day of the week this beach is filled with elderly locals seeking the healing power of this Greek fountain of youth. It is the murkiness of the extra-salty water that gives this part of the ocean power—the plants and mud give the water life. In what I have come to call the Peloponnese retirement center, it is here in the grime and grit that people wade out to 100 meters where the water is waist deep. There they dig up earth from the bottom and slather their bodies with the ashy mud.

Continue reading "Au Pair Adventures: The Greek Fountain of Youth" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · European Travel · Travel Trends

August 23, 2010

Midwest Girl's First East Coast Fall

By Lacy Morris

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Birch trees & Red Maple Leaves,Maine(Jake Wyman,Photodisc,Getty)
Birch and Red Maple trees, Maine (Jake Wyman)

Early signs of fall have been creeping into the lives of east coasters. In the last week I've grabbed an extra blanket in the middle of the night, sat comfortably without air conditioning, and noticed a slight tinge of changing colors around me. Growing up in Kentucky, "up a holler" in the Appalachian Mountains, I basked in the beauty of fall and learned to cherish the season for the feeling it brought into my home. Cuddles, fireplaces, and cozy sweaters replaced the go, go, go of summer. Photos of a young me swimsuit-clad sprawled head-first on a slip-n-slide were replaced with a gleaming smile adjacent a five-foot pile of colorful leaves.

Not too long after those enthusiastic photo ops, my family moved to Kansas to take over my father's family farm. Photos took on a whole new meaning now—instead of documenting my attempt at mastering the tire swing, it became a game of capturing my "firsts”—the first time climbing into my dad's John Deere combine, my first birthday cake in a field (my birthday is in July, right in the middle of wheat harvest), and my first time chasing a tumbleweed. Except for the temperatures, nothing much changes during a Northwest Kansas fall. Trees are scarce, therefore so are the massive piles of kaleidoscope foliage. Though life had veered sharply away from an east coast autumn, I never forgot the elegance and hominess of the season. Now grown and newly transplanted back on the east coast, I have reclaimed two childhood memories that had been lost in time: 1. I hate humidity and 2. I love fall. Now I'm the one capturing my first fall back on the coast. Here are my top three must-sees of East Coast Fall Foliage:

Continue reading "Midwest Girl's First East Coast Fall" »

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Related Topics: Trip Ideas · US Travel

August 19, 2010

Do the Great Barrier Reef in Style

Great Barrier Reef(Jeff Hunter,Photogs Choice,Getty)
Great Barrier Reef divers (Jeff Hunter)

If the Great Barrier Reef is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, then spending the night on a boat above it should be the eighth. Unlike other live-aboard experiences being offered up and down Northeastern Australia, Fantasea Adventure Cruising is less about how many dives you can log a day and more about having a good time. The docked pontoon is located 45 miles off the coast of Queensland and sleeps a maximum of six guests. Every Reef Sleep booking comes with your own host who is on hand to prepare your first-class meals and to organize activities (snorkeling, scuba diving, or extras like helicopter rides and massages). The Fantasea is also open every morning to a boatload of day-trip guests shuttled from shore to the pontoon, where they can explore the reef and enjoy the submarine viewing station, waterslide, and buffet meal. But when the boat pulls out after lunch, the only people left are the overnight guests.

My husband and I did this during our travels through Australia, and because of the unseasonal weather we had the place to ourselves, with the exception of the staff. One staff member was a 27-year-old American who had been living in Australia for the past six years, the last three working as Fantasea's onboard marine biologist. We asked Dominique about her experience and what it was like living and working Down Under.

What brought you to Australia?
I came here for school. I'm originally from Tucson, Arizona, but I did my post grad and two masters (one in ecotourism and the other in marine biology) nearby in Townsville at James Cook University.

Continue reading "Do the Great Barrier Reef in Style" »

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Related Topics: Exotic Escapes · Scuba & Snorkeling

August 18, 2010

To Hop or Not to Hop? That's the Question.

By Guest Blogger

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Wooden Boat in reflection Hora Harbor,Greece(Darrell Gulin,Photodisc,Getty)
Hora Harbor, Greece (Darrell Gulin)

"Hopping" between the Greek Islands is a sensory overload of beauty and a way to experience a different atmosphere each day. You'll get a sense of freedom from creating your own itinerary—waking each morning with the option to stay or move on. Some of the many pluses of this getaway include that English is widely spoken, cheap rooms are easy to find, and ferries are frequent. Make sure you bring your sea legs with you as the boat rides have been known to get the less experienced sailors seasick—highspeed boats and catamarans are also used to transport if you're looking to veer from the norm. It's also best to consider how many, and in which order, you're going to take on the islands, as you may find yourself going the long way around otherwise. Most visitors start in Athens, though Crete, Rhodes, Kos, Santorini, Mykonos, and Skiathos have international airports and make for an equally picturesque holiday kickoff.

Rhodes, like the other Greek islands, uses the euro as its currency. This means your foreign currency exchange will be fairly simple before you leave for your destination, as most bureau de change outlets in the UK have Euros on hand.

Continue reading "To Hop or Not to Hop? That's the Question." »

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Related Topics: European Travel

August 17, 2010

Safari Essentials: Your Guide to Packing for the African Plains

By Guest Blogger

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Safari(Tom Powell)
(Ziara Safaris)

So, you've booked that safari that you have been planning and plotting for years. I know from experience that the excitement can hardly be caged, as you tell everyone you meet about the destination you are soon to visit, the scenery that exists there, and the wildlife that you're sure to spot.

But stop some of that gloating and take advantage of the weeks leading up to your departure to buy any last-minute essentials. Of course, knowing exactly what to take can be tricky. Over packing= paying excess baggage fees at the airport. Under packing= the potential to be stranded without some bare necessities.

As a seasoned veteran, I've put together a guide of the most essential items to take with you on an African safari. Pack accordingly and you can't go wrong.

Continue reading "Safari Essentials: Your Guide to Packing for the African Plains" »

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · Travel Tips

August 16, 2010

Climb Kilimanjaro—For Free!


Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa, is widely considered the easiest climb of the seven summits—which isn't to say that the climb is a cake walk. But now you have a chance of at least getting to the base of the famed mountain—for free—thanks to a new sweepstakes brought to you from Polarmax and Backpacker Magazine.

The winner (and one guest) will receive round-trip airfare, ground transportation, four nights at a Tanzania hotel (meals included), and a six-day guided round-trip trek to the summit with author Macon Dunnagan. You also get a cache of technical base layers from Polarmax, featuring their new TransDRY wicking cotton fabric, a revolutionary move on the gear front that aims to bring all the tech-savvy features buttery soft cotton apparel.  (Editor's Note: We've tried the stuff—and this kind of cotton doesn't kill; it wicks and dries like the best of the synthetic varieties out there.)

Enter now through October 11, 2010, by visiting Polarmax.

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · All Inclusive Vacation · Free Stuff · From Around the Web · Outdoor Adventures

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