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May 2011

May 30, 2011

Spring Back to Vail Contest Winner Writes About Her Experience

By Guest Blogger

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Spring Back To Vail_Train Concert
Train performs at Spring Back to Vail in Vail, Colorado (Laura Parrington)

The Spring Back to Vail contest winner has accepted her prize and returned to tell the story. This past February, users were eligible to win by writing a review of their favorite ski/snowboard resort in's Ski & Snowboard Resort Guide. Our winner, Laura Parrington, wrote the best resort review and in return attended Colorado's premier end-of-season event, Spring Back to Vail (April 15-24). In addition, she received two round-trip flights to Vail (provided by and Orbitz), two nights at RockResort's The Lodge at Vail, and two days of lift tickets provided by Vail Resorts. Here is what our winner had to say about her days spraying powder in Vail, Colorado. 

People didn't believe me when I say I won this trip to Spring Back to Vail all by submitting a travel review online. But that's exactly how it happened. was holding an online contest that entered you to win a trip to Vail if you submitted a review of a ski resort. I wrote about Winter Park, one of my favorite resorts. Several weeks later, I was notified that my review won. It was that easy.

Continue reading "Spring Back to Vail Contest Winner Writes About Her Experience" »

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May 19, 2011

Top Five Montreal Musts

By awayblog

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Hotel Nelligan (Hotel Nelligan)
(Hotel Nelligan)

5. Hotel Nelligan
The luxurious boutique hotel is conveniently located in the historic district of Old Montreal, a quaint area of cobbled streets and some of the oldest architecture in North America. Keep warm from the harsh, yet beautiful, Montreal winters in one of their 59 suites. Blazing fireplaces, down comforters, red brick walls, and glass showers add the extra something that has made Hotel Nelligan a staple since its opening in 2002. Charming boutiques run rampant in Montreal, as do small dining establishments with to-die-for menus and unmistakable European charm. Other boutique hotels worth mentioning: Place D’Armes, Hotel St Paul, The Gault, and The Chateau Versailles.  

4. Montreal Jazz Festival
Local Montreal residents love their jazz, as do the thousands of visitors who flock to the French-speaking city across the border, especially in late June and early July during the renowned Montreal Jazz Festival. Since its first showing in 1980, the festival has been a major tourist draw for the city. In 2004, the festival earned a Guinness World Record for the largest jazz festival in the world after the 25th Anniversary event brought in nearly two million attendees.

Parc Mont Royal(aechempati,Flickr)
Mount Royal Park (aechempati/Flickr)

3. Mount Royal Park
Mount Royal Park is the lung of Montreal, sitting proudly atop the majestic cityscape of one of Canada's hippest cities. Mount Royal is capable of transforming itself to cater to any visitor, for any season—hiking, biking, paddle-boating in the warmer summer months, and sledding, ice skating, or snow shoeing in Montreal’s snowy winters. Make your way to the Chalet lookout; from here, on a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of Vermont in the States.

Continue reading "Top Five Montreal Musts" »

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Related Topics: Canada Travel

May 16, 2011

The Great Gear Scavenger Hunt: The Final Days

Lovers of all things gear-related, please take note: you’ve got two weeks left to follow the clues that lead to a Sylvan Sport Go trailer filled with gear. Find it first, and it's yours. We're talking about more than $15,000 in products from Sylvan Sport, Yakima, SPOT, Kelty, Niner Bikes, Emotion Kayaks, Grand Trunk, Black Diamond, and Keen. The nation-wide treasure hunt started on April 4, and for the last eight weeks video clues and geo-coordinates have been posted on, leading participants closer to the final location of the goods. So far, six clues have been revealed—which narrows things down from almost all of North America to…well, we won’t offer our guess. You’ve got till May 26 to get in on the action.

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Related Topics: Free Stuff · From Around the Web · Travel Gear

May 13, 2011

Summer's Best Sports Events

Cyclists in the Tour de France (PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Getty)

Summer means that there's no football to watch on Sundays, the hockey season is basically done, and college basketball is just a leftover thought from March. But some of the biggest outdoors sporting events are just heating up. From tennis to racecars, here are just a few of the best sports events worth a trip this summer:

UEFA Champions League (May 28, 2011)-London, England
On May 28th, 86,000 spectators will pack into Europe's second largest stadium, Wembley Stadium, to watch as Barcelona and Manchester United contend for the UEFA Champions League Trophy. Hyde Park will host the UEFA Champions Festival, which will have something for everyone during the week-long celebration of football leading up to the final at Wembley. The festival is free for all visitors and activities include meeting legendary former players, football skills clinics, photo opportunities with the trophy, and more. If you have time, hop over to the City of Westminster and visit Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.

Indianapolis 500 (May 29, 2011)-Indianapolis, Indiana
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Indy 500 back in 1911. Considered "the Greatest Spectacle in Racing," the Indianapolis 500 is the world's largest single-day spectator sporting event. The Indy 500 has also been deemed the world's most famous and prestigious auto race, covering 500 miles during 200 laps on the 2.5-mile oval track. When the green flag drops from the glass Pagoda, some 400,000 fans will rise to their feet to watch as 33 of the best drivers start their race to the checkered flag and that famous bottle of milk. If you have time while you're in town, check out the Indianapolis Zoo, which features 2,000 animals, or the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, one of the largest children's museums in the world.

Wimbledon Championships (June 20- July 3, 2011)-London, England
The 125th Championships will be held over a two-week period at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club in Wimbledon, London, England. Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and considered the most prestigious. The nineteen courts used for Wimbledon are composed of rye grass, which was the game's original surface and gave lawn tennis its name. The grounds of the club will also be used to host the tennis events of the 2012 Olympic Games. If you're one of the lucky ones to land a golden ticket to Wimbledon, then be sure to also check out The Championships the Museum, free to any ticket-holder.

Tour de France (July 2-July 24, 2011)-France/Italy
Ever think about running a marathon several days a week for three weeks? Or climbing Mt. Everest three times? These feats are equivalent to racing in the Tour de France, arguably the most physiologically demanding athletic event. Twenty-plus teams will spend three weeks riding approximately 2,000 miles. Millions of fans will line the route, many of whom have camped out for the best spot, to watch as the cyclists speed by in the 98thTour de France. The race ends in Paris, so while you're there, be sure to discover the City of Light. Classic sights include the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame.

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Related Topics: Holidays, Events, & Festivals

May 11, 2011

Top Ten Surf Spots

By awayblog

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Banzai Pipeline - PhotoDisc 877925-001
Banzai Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii (Photodisc)

All waves are not created equal. If they were, surfers would never leave their home breaks. Thankfully, each surf spot has its own distinct personality and style. Some, like California's San Onofre State Beach, are mellow and cruisey, while others, such as Oahu's famed Banzai Pipeline, are high-performance, teeth-gnashing barrels. On this list you'll find ten of our favorite worldwide surf spots. These aren't simply great waves. They're iconic spots that have kept surfers coming back for generations. Think of this list as a menu. Whether you're a beginner or a salty surf veteran, there's something here to suit your taste. Pick your favorites and hit the road…and then the beach.

10. Old Man's, San Onofre State Beach, California
If you want a taste of classic SoCal beach culture, head 80 miles south of Los Angeles to San Onofre State Beach. San-O is home to a thriving longboard scene with a rich history that rivals Oahu's Waikiki in terms of aloha.'s Guide to Surfing California

9. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Outer Banks, North Carolina
Once known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" because of its treacherous waters and frequent shipwrecks, North Carolina's string of narrow barrier islands, including Cape Hatteras, rope in some of the East Coast's punchiest beach-break surf. By far, the most consistent spot on the Outer Banks is the Hatteras Lighthouse, which picks up swells from every direction and works on all tides.'s Outer Banks Beach Travel Guide

8. Les Cavaliers, Anglet, France
Surfing in France? You bet. Actually waves like Anglet's Les Cavaliers in the South of France boast peeling rights and lefts that would make any Californian surfer salivate.'s France Travel Guide

Continue reading "Top Ten Surf Spots" »

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Related Topics: Surfing · Top 10 Lists

May 06, 2011

"An Idiot Abroad" Offers New Insight Into Travel

Okay, sure. We admit it. We here at tend to wax philosophic about the revelatory experience of travel...the joy of finding yourself in a foreign land, of discovering something previously unknown (sans trendy new-age "transformations"), of facing the elements of the extreme—and being better because of it. 

But what about the unconvinced? Those who don’t see the value of roughing it, wrestling with communication in a foreign tongue, or eating anything that can’t be grabbed from the corner store? Turns out these types might offer an entirely new way to see travel. And that’s why I love An Idiot Abroad.

Conceptually it's a fish-out-of-water TV show with arguably the world's most curmudging of traveler, Karl Pilkington. Those already familiar with the man's name know him, no doubt, from the wildly-successful podcast he did with British comedians Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant (or from the more recent HBO illustrated version of those recordings).

Well, the duo pooled their resources, put Carl on a plane to tour the Seven Wonders of the World (among other locales), and sent a TV crew to film the results. What goes on is truly mad and wonderful and comical and just a little bit insane. You likely won’t agree with a lot of Carl’s insights into the experience of travel, but sometimes his idiot-savant ramblings break through and hit like a Zen koan, and more than once or twice you’ll actually agree with his disinteresting musing. On top of the gut-busting humor, you also get virtual tours of places like Rio, Machu Picchu, China, and Europe.

The second season—which focuses on the Bucket List concept Carl himself defined—airs in early 2012 on Science. Season one can be viewed on the Science website; below is a highlight from his trip to China.


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May 05, 2011

The Best American Craft Beers & Breweries: Cheers, Slainthe, Prost, Kanpai to All That!

BEER HERE: Tasting room at Portland's Upright Brewing (Annalou Vincent)

American Craft Beer Week—the "mother of all beer weeks," according to event organizers—kicks off on May 16. To slake your thirst, we present five great places to celebrate all that is good, creative, and downright delicious about the American craft-beer movement. (Disclaimer: you don't have to be over 21 to continue reading.) We've come a long way since the bland ubiquity of all those barrels of Coors, Budweiser, and Miller in the latter half of the 20th century. Trust me, I visited the U.S. as a backpacking student from the ale-soaked hinterlands of Yorkshire, England, during the '90s and can attest to the impressive rise in quality and choice of what's on tap Stateside these days!

Upright Brewing (Portland, Oregon)
Marcus Hibdon of the Portland tourism bureau put me on to this spit-and-sawdust place when I was researching ideas for this post. "They're brewers, so these guys have to work on their customer-service skills," he jokes, "but the beers they're putting out are unbelievable." Gone are overhopped IPAs and flamboyant bottle labels. Upright's year-round pours are simply labeled Four, Five, Six, and Seven, referring to the starting gravity in Belgian brewing degrees, a traditional technique still employed by some brewers in Belgium today. The tasting room is a no-frills cellar of benches and upturned barrels, surrounded by the tools of the brewer's craft. And let's not forget Portland's place at the forefront of America's craft-brewing renaissance. Nicknamed "Beervana" and "Munich on the Willamette," Portland boasts more than 30 breweries within city limits—more than any other city on earth.

Top Ten Wineries, Breweries, and Distilleries

Abita (Abita Springs, Louisiana)
My neighbor, a born-and-bred New Orleanian and someone whose tastes I trust, named his dog after this brewery, located in St. Tammany Parish across Lake Pontchartrain from the Big Easy. Featuring barley sourced both domestically and internationally, plus hops from the Pacific Northwest, it's the pure, unadultered spring water drawn directly from the ground beneath the brewery's piney woods that gives Abita its distinctive local flavoring. Oh, and let's not forget the cypress-framed Abita Brewpub, site of the original brewing operations from 1986 till 1994. This popular locals' hangout also just so happens to look out over the Tammany Trace rail-trail for bikers looking for refreshments.

Top Ten Ski Resorts to Down a Local Beer

Continue reading "The Best American Craft Beers & Breweries: Cheers, Slainthe, Prost, Kanpai to All That!" »

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · Holidays, Events, & Festivals

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