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July 2012

July 31, 2012

Introducing Tara Artner, the June Photo Contest Winner

By awayblog

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31943_dsc1856_City Lights of NYC_Tara Artner
During the month of June, the readers of sent in their most inspirational photos of American destinations in hopes of winning a $100 VISA gift card to put towards their next dream vacation. Our winner, Tara Artner, submitted her photo of the bright and busy Times Square in the heart of New York City. We we're impressed. Times Square is the definition of sensory overload. There are so many lights, marques, and people to watch that it is nearly impossible to see it all, but if you have time and can find a seat on the bleachers above the TKTS office, take a moment and look around to what some call the center of the universe.


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July 27, 2012

Four Fun Facts on U.S. Cities & How to Explore Deeper

By Lacy Morris

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Houston, Texas-86528269(Jupiterimages,Comstock,Getty,Thinkstock)
Houston, Texas (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty/Thinkstock)

Going to Houston: A Travel Guide

Fun Fact: The first word spoken on the surface of the moon was this city's name: "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."

Though the headquarters of NASA are located in Washington, D.C., Houston has gained quite a bit of popularity with the flightless public due to that line and the infamous problem whispered in countless Hollywood blockbusters. Get in on the trend with these city attractions.

Space Center Houston
One of Texas's top-ranked tourist attractions, it serves as the official visitor's center for NASA's Johnson Space Center, where the majority of American astronaut training takes place. Geared toward both children and adults, there are more than enough options for the space cadets. Watch movies on the five-story-tall Northrup Grumman Theater screen, or get a glimpse into what life is really like for astronauts in the Living in Space module. The Kids Space Place is a massive playground where tots can command their own space shuttle and make-believe orbit.

Continue reading "Four Fun Facts on U.S. Cities & How to Explore Deeper" »

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July 25, 2012

Hurricane Season Travel 101

By Kate Chandler

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Hurricane Ivan, 2004 (Stocktrek/Thinkstock)

Summer just begs you to hit the beach. But as the months wear on, you need to be aware of how hurricane season can affect your travel plans. Here are the basics:

Where? We're talking about hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean (which is what pretty much everyone means when they say "hurricane season"). Hurricanes here can affect the Gulf Coast and East Coast beaches, plus those in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.

When? Officially, hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30, with August through October being peak season. The real hot spots come between late August and early September, so perhaps hold off on you dream Caribbean vacation during those weeks. 

What? This year is predicted to be an average year by NOAA, calling for four to eight hurricanes, with one to three of them predicted to be big (category three or higher). 

Continue reading "Hurricane Season Travel 101" »

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July 18, 2012

Hotel Spotlight: Hacienda Tamarindo

By Lacy Morris

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Vieques Island
Pool overlooking the water at Hacienda Tamarindo, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

The lifeline of Vieques Island, Puerto Rico's Hacienda Tamarindo is the ancient Tamarind tree growing through all three stories of it; the tree is also the muse for the inn's name. Each of the 16 rooms are the decorative brainchild of former interior designer Linda Vail, the female half of the inn's husband and wife team. Along with views of the Caribbean, each room features unique décor, from private patios with 180 degree views to French doors and floor-to-ceiling windows. Step down from the hill where the inn is perched and take a dip in the fresh-water pool surrounded by coconut palms and mahogany trees, and one of the best views on the island. Visit the lobby's library and borrow a book to read while lounging in a hammock or relax on the lobby's patio with sweeping views of the Caribbean sunset. For breakfast, join all of the guests in the communal, open-air dining room for a homemade meal any way you like it. By the end of your stay, you'll be calling the cooks by name. The entire place runs on an honor system; you're likely to find an envelope with a welcome letter and a key if you arrive late at night. If you want a beer, take it. Need Tylenol? You'll find it, and other necessities, in a small hut out front, along with snorkel gear and beach chairs. There isn't a single detail overlooked here; it's designed to make you feel like part of the family in no time. And you will.

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July 13, 2012

More Travelers Have Guilt about Leaving Their Pet than Their Kid

By Kate Chandler

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According to a summer travel survey conducted by Orbitz (our parent company), 33 percent of travelers feel guilty about leaving behind their pet, compared with 30 percent who feel guilty about leaving their children behind. With kids out of school for the summer, it's probably no surprise that parents responded this way! And for those who feel guilty about leaving their pets behind.. come on, have you seen the doggie day-spa options out there? They are arguably much nicer than any daycare for a child.

Other insights from the summer travel survey include:
*77 percent of Americans have some kind of summer travel planned.
*And they plan to spend more this year than they did last year. More than half of respondents said they will spend at least $1,500 on their vacation this year (compared to 39 percent who spent that much last year).
*More people plan to travel by car than by air. This isn't too surprising, given that gas prices are down from where they were this time last year (though we've seen the national average price creep up in the last week or so).
*81 percent of those surveyed plan to travel domestically. Looks like even though the economy is stabalizing a bit, no one's ready to break out the big travel guns just yet.

It's a good thing people are planning to spend more money this year, because it's going to be more expensive to travel. Hotel rates in Orbitz's top ten markets are up 12 percent, and airfare is up slightly (from 1 to 3 percent, depending on which source you use). But there are still some affordable spots out there: Las Vegas and Denver hotel rooms go for less that $100 per night, and there are rooms to be had in Orlando, Los Angeles, and Seattle for less than $150 per night.    

As for me, I'm staying put this summer, with my pets and my kid. We'll hit the road in the fall, when high temperatures relent, airport lines shorten, and kitty day-spas slash their rates.

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Related Topics: From Around the Web · Travel News · Travel Trends · US Travel

July 11, 2012

Hot Spots and Highlights of Charleston, South Carolina

Historic Main Street at night, Charleston, South Carolina-80466001(Design Pics,Thinkstock)
Historic Main Street at night, Charleston, South Carolina (Design Pics/Thinkstock)

Every year, nearly four million tourists flock to Charleston, South Carolina, originally called Charles Town when it was settled in the 1600s. Charleston's entire downtown is considered a National Historic Landmark, and it's here where the visitors can take in a bit of history, as well as a plethora of dining, shopping, and cultural options. And that's not to say anything of the nearby beaches. If you're planning a trip to this charming southern gem, there are certain things to do/see/eat that are very Charleston and worthy of any traveler's "must" list. In no particular order, here are some of the highlights...

Take a carriage ride through historic downtown
Five carriage companies operate in the district, and many can be found lining North Market Street near their stables on Anson Street. In an effort to cut down on too much carriage traffic, the city instituted a lottery system to determine which neighborhoods and historic buildings a particular carriage ride will cover. So you may need to take a few rides to see everything on your list. Reservations are usually not needed.

Have a drink and appetizer at The Gin Joint on East Bay Street
You'll find a pre-Prohibition menu, so vodka is not behind the small bar, but locals say you won't even miss it. I recommend trying the Gin and Basil Smash drink with an order (or two!) of the homemade soft pretzels with sriracha cheese. Both of these items are delicious and addictive, so be careful!

Continue reading "Hot Spots and Highlights of Charleston, South Carolina" »

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Related Topics: Trip Ideas · US Travel

July 02, 2012

2012 London Olympics Preview: Eight Great British Trip Ideas

HOWZAT?!: Game of village cricket in England (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Choreographed by Oscar-winning British director Danny Boyle (of Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting fame), the opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London promises to be a full-on tribute to Britain's green and pleasant land—complete with live cattle, a village cricket game, and farmers plowing their fields. However, don't let the silver-screen impresario leave you thinking your work is done once the pageantry fades on Friday, July 27. Here's our guide to getting out and actually exploring this green and pleasant isle before, during, or after the 2012 Summer Olympics.

1. Watch a Real Village Cricket Game
Rain be dammed, sipping a hand-pulled ale while watching a game of cricket unfurl on some bucolic village green is one of England's summer rites of passage. Finding a game may require some legwork on your part, but they can be watched on parks and commons throughout the metro London region, mostly at weekends. Shoreham Cricket Club is one such local club, tucked amidst the picturesque fairways of Kent's Darenth Valley golf course.
Travel: Victoria or London Bridge to Shoreham
Duration: Day trip

Continue reading "2012 London Olympics Preview: Eight Great British Trip Ideas" »

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Related Topics: European Travel · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Trip Ideas

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