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September 2012

September 26, 2012

Virginia Beach: An Off-Season Travel Guide

Virginia Beach's King Neptune statue (Mark Atkinson) and turtle at Virginia Aquarium (courtesy, Virginia Beach CVB)

A summer trip to Virginia Beach can be maddening if you happen to hit the traffic that clogs the I-95 corridor south of Washington, D.C., and as you close in on the Chesapeake Bay through the snarl of Hampton Roads and Norfolk. Of course, the sunny delights of Virginia Beach's pristine stretch of sand and its festive boardwalk quickly wash away the lingering effects of a long day in the car, but for a totally refreshing take on this popular resort town, now's the time to make the trip. Here's our guide to the best of Virginia Beach in the off-season.

Rip the Boardwalk
Virginia Beach's three-mile boardwalk is the obvious centerpiece of all that happens here throughout the year, lined with hotels, restaurants, fairground rides, and historic attractions like the Old Coast Guard Station. Recently renovated, the boardwalk is broad and nicely landscaped, with a dedicated two-lane trail for bikes and surreys. However, in summer, there's no escaping a steady blitz of rollerbladers, skateboarders, joggers, and even errant bikers on the pedestrian portion of the boardwalk. Naturally, without the crowds, you'll get to enjoy even more of this pleasant oceanfront stretch to yourself, not to mention easy access to more crowd-free sand than you'll know what to do with.

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Family Vacation

September 21, 2012

Vieques By Day and Night: A Guide to Puerto Rico's 'Little Girl Island'

By Lacy Morris

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Red Beach, Vieques Island, Puerto Rico(iStockphoto,Thinkstock)138011976
Red Beach on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

The island of Vieques belongs to the territory of Puerto Rico, and sits as a buoyant landmass just eight miles off the coast of the PR mainland. In fact, the name Vieques is a translation of a translation (Spanish spelling of a Native American word) that is thought to mean "small island." And it's nickname "Isla Nina," meaning "Little Girl Island" in Spanish, refers to its relationship to Puerto Rico. But if you've spent any time there, you know that the island's rightful owners are the wild horses that fill in for the lack of traffic lights on the 21-mile-wide by four-mile-long island. These Paso Fino horses were brought over by the Spanish, and though many of them are owned by locals, they're free to roam about the tree-shaded streets that cover less than half of the island--the rest is virtually untouched by modern construction.

Vieques, once used as a Navy testing site, started to boom for other reasons in 2003, when all military operations ceased and left the island to the locals. It's then that the full potential of the white-sand beaches and near-constant sunny days was realized. Now the island resembles more a barefoot beach resort than a nuclear waste ground, being triumphantly led by the addition of the W Hotel on the island's east side.

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Related Topics: Travel Tips · Trip Ideas

September 19, 2012

Hot Spots and Highlights of Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon-145902329(iStockphoto,Thinkstock)blog
Portland, Oregon skyline (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Portland, Oregon, might be nicknamed the City of Roses, but after vacationing there I think it could also be called the City of Beer, the City of Coffee, or an all-encompassing City of Food. Having lunch on my first day in PDX with a local Portlander, she told me that I better enjoy eating and drinking because that is what Portland does well. Thankfully, those two activities are high on my list of 'Things I Like To Do While On Vacation,' so I knew I was going to be just fine. Though I certainly did enjoy the local fare, I also found there was a ton to see in this easy-going town, and a good excuse to work off your dinner.

The city is very walkable, but if you want to conserve energy, it has a MAX light rail system that runs anywhere you'd like to go, and usually for free. And even though you might see people walking around in their pajamas, the city itself is very clean. Upon my arrival, one of the first things I saw was a city worker Windexing the trash cans and recycle bins... sparkling trash cans... yes, Portland has them.

So with map of downtown in hand, hit some of these hot spots and highlights of Portland, and, of course, stop and smell the roses.

Visit Powell's Bookstore
1005 W Burnside Street
Powell's is the largest independently owned bookstore in the world; it takes up an entire city block (68,000 square feet to be exact). The store has been around for more than 40 years, and, on average, 6,000 people walk through its doors each day to get a cup of coffee and browse the selection of nearly one million books that line the shelves.

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Related Topics: Trip Ideas · US Travel

September 07, 2012

Chicago at Night: Meet August's Photo Contest Winner

By awayblog

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Chicago skyline at night (Goran Tripunovski)

For the first few weeks of August, asked readers to send in their favorite photos of City Destinations in competition for a $100 VISA gift card toward their next dream vacation. For the first time, readers were able to rate the finalists' photos, and by just a .02 margin, the winning photo was picked. Congrats to Floridian Goran Tripunovski and his winning photo of Chicago during the glowing hours of night. Chicago might be known for its 5,000-calorie deep-dish pizzas and its many sports teams, but the architecture throughout the city is something to stop and take in, too. Chicago was the first city to build skyscrapers, and early editions are on display through downtown. Once you tire of the artistic views outside, head into The Art Institute, one of the world’s best art museums, with exhibitions changing frequently.

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Related Topics: Travel Photography

September 06, 2012

Some of the Coolest Modes of Transportation Around the World

By Lacy Morris

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Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok, Thailand-55844195(Medioimages,Photodisc,Thinkstock)
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Bangkok, Thailand (Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock)

Planes, trains, and automobiles are universal, but in some reaches of the world, moving parts are put to new uses. Sometimes visitors find them strange, or downright unsafe, but for whatever reason, be it history or recent culture, these interesting vehicles define a country, a city, or a countryside. These unique transporters bring new meaning to the notion that it's not the destination, but the journey, that really counts. Here is just a glimpse of some of the coolest modes of transportation you could find yourself flagging down, jumping on, or jumping off when traveling the world.

Thai-Style Canoe
The gondola rides in Venice's famed canals are epic. Though a boat trip in Bangkok is roughly the same concept, the experience doesn't relate. The city's floating markets are a chaotic mix of haggling and boating, traffic jams of a different sort. Lined along the side of the canal, sellers hawk from canoes filled to the brim with fresh fruit and vegetables. There are many located around Thailand, though the biggest and most popular are within a day-trip's reach of the country's capital city.'s Bangkok Travel Guide 

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Related Topics: Trip Ideas

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