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December 09, 2010

Spring Break already? Yes, please!

By Kate Chandler

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Basse Terre, Guadeloupe (Guadeloupe Islands Tourism Board)

We at hope you have something fabulous planned for the upcoming holidays, even if it means a staycation with delicious food and (non-stressful) family. It's a fun, if not busy, time of year.

But it's not too early to start planning an awesome spring break vacation. For some, that's only three months away...surely you will have recovered from the holidays by then. The first choice you need to make is beach or ski. Those of you who think it's ridiculous to waste away on the beach while there's still snow on the slopes should check out our Top Ski Resorts for Spring Skiing.

For the rest of you who are ready to get somewhere warm pronto, start with our guides to Mexico and the Caribbean. You can also look at Florida, but it isn't unheard of to hit a cold-snap in the panhandle area in March (for those of you with an early spring break). We have the beta on all the top beaches in these spots, but we also have ideas for the whole family and for the active crowd.

If you need a bit more direction, our top ten lists are your go-to. Top Ten Alternative Spring Break Vacations offers ideas beyond the typical Cancun and Panama City-type choices. If you have the kiddos in tow, pick from our Top Ten Spring Break Destinations for Families. And if you need more than warm beaches and cool cocktails (really, you need more than that?), our Top Ten Active Spring Break Vacations should do the trick.

So instead of biding you happy holidays, I'll wish you happy spring break planning!

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Caribbean Travel · Florida Vacation · Mexico Travel · Skiing & Snowboarding

September 02, 2010

Hit the Gulf Coast this Labor Day

By Kate Chandler

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Beach at Sandestin, Florida (Kate Chandler)

If you're still undecided about a vacation spot for the upcoming long Labor Day weekend (a bit of a procrastinator, are we?), I have to suggest giving Florida's Gulf Coast some thought. I visited Sandestin, part of the Beaches of South Walton, a couple of weeks ago and was pleased to see that the beaches at one of my fave vacation spots were untarnished by the oil spill.

Even more amazing was the lack of crowds on these typically uber-popular beaches. This, of course, isn't good for the local economy, but it's great for someone looking for a gorgeous white beach with a clear blue-green ocean to enjoy. I mean, I only had to wait 15 minutes to get a table for four at the Red Bar...that's unheard of in August. I also uncovered a culinary gem in Vin'tij, a wine bar with southern flair right across the from the Silver Sands outlet stores. Don't let the Subway sandwich shop next door fool you, Vin'tij is the real delicious deal.

Continue reading "Hit the Gulf Coast this Labor Day" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Florida Vacation · Last Minute Trips

August 11, 2010

Obama's following me to Florida...

By Kate Chandler

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Dune Allen Beach (courtesy, Beaches of South Walton)

...maybe you should, too! Oil spill be damned, I'm heading to Florida's gulf coast this Friday for four days of heaven on the beaches of South Walton. The leak is plugged, the beaches are beautiful, and the new airport is open (thank you, Southwest!).The Obamas are following suit, with a family vacation planned to the area this Saturday and Sunday. Check back here next week for pics of me swimming with Michelle and the girls! Right.

Don't be skeptical about the conditions on the gulf coast. And you don't even have to take my word for it. Tons of websites have popped up to document through blog posts, photos, and videos that the beaches are clean and open: South Walton Update, Visit Pensacola Updates, and Florida Live.

School's heading back to session in the southeast, which means the beaches will be even less crowded. Plus, many of the resorts are offering enticing packages to lure tourists. I'm staying in Sandestin, part of the beaches of South Walton, where booking three or more nights between now and September 30 will earn you a $250 gift card good at Silver Sands Outlets or on Southwest Airlines.

Besides parking it on the beach, I plan to try Yolo Boarding, hit the Serenity Day Spa, and eat at the Red Bar, Bud & Alley's, and Basmati's. Top that, Obama!

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Related Topics: Florida Vacation · US Travel

December 08, 2009

Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival

By Lacy Morris

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FL_bocaratonresortclub_Palm Beach County CVB
Palm Beach at dusk (courtesy, Palm Beach County Convention and Visitor's Bureau)

While the majority of the country is bundled and bracing for Christmas snow, Palm Beach, Florida, is basking in the sun. As if to rub it in, the city is hosting its annual Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival for three days starting this Thursday (December 10-12). Held on Worth Avenue, Palm Beach's own version of Rodeo Drive in L.A., the uber-fashionable four blocks are transformed into an outdoor festival where guests graze on the best cuisine that local Palm Beach chefs have to offer. More than 40 tasting stations are set up along the courtyard at 150 Worth Avenue, featuring scaled-down yet exquisite versions of the menus at some of Palm Beach's most exclusive restaurants. If you're a oenophile, foodie, or social butterfly in or around the Palm Beach area, mark your calendar. Tickets are $50 for general admission or $75 for V.I.P.—which allows access to tasting sessions for this year's featured chefs and gets you in the door an hour early at 6 p.m.

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

October 03, 2009

Get a Free Day at Disney by Volunteering Your Time

Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World, Orlando (courtesy, Walt Disney News)

Disney has just announced a new "Give a Day, Get a Day" program that will reward up to one million people who volunteer a day of service in participating programs with a free one-day admission ticket to a Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort theme park. The program kicks off next year on January 1, but you can sign up now at

Interested in giving back when you travel? Visit's Volunteer Vacations Guide to learn more.

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Related Topics: Disney Vacation · Family Vacation · Florida Vacation · Free Stuff · Travel News

August 05, 2009

Beach Bytes: Saturday Night Alive in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale beach (Mark Lewis/Digital Vision/Getty)

Fort Lauderdale is a popular strip of Florida’s east coast just north of Miami and near the Everglades.  I probably don't have to tell you that it's got a reputation for big time fun along its 23 miles of beaches, and has lots of attractions for all ages.

But if you think you’ve been there and done that, it’s time to revisit and see what’s new. On the scene this year is a series of block party-like events every Saturday in August, showcasing new venues and improvements around the business district, which have been created to attract new and returning visitors.

Continue reading "Beach Bytes: Saturday Night Alive in Fort Lauderdale" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Florida Vacation · Food and Drink · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Trip Ideas

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

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 03, 2009

Beach Bytes: Discover St. Augustine, Florida

The beach at St. Augustine, Florida (courtesy, St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches VCB)

One of my all-time favorite beach locales is St. Augustine, Florida. As the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the continental United States, it's an obvious choice for history lovers. But the 42 miles of Atlantic beach outside the historic town invite relaxing walks along the shore, water sports, and a sunny slowdown from our normal hectic lives. The friendly town on this northern strip of Florida’s coast welcomes guests year-round.  Here are some of my favorite spots around town for lodging and dining.

Continue reading "Beach Bytes: Discover St. Augustine, Florida" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Florida Vacation · Food and Drink · Places to Stay · Trip Ideas

May 26, 2009

Top 10 U.S. Beaches: Dr. Beach's 2009 Picks

POT OF GOLD: Hanalei Bay on Kauai, Hawaii (Thinkstock/Getty)

Florida International University's Dr. Stephen Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, has released his 2009 list of top beaches (note that past winners are ineligible for inclusion). Here are his top ten beaches:

1. Hanalei Bay (Kauai, Hawaii)
2. Siesta Beach (Sarasota, Florida)
3. Coopers Beach (Southampton, New York)
4. Coronado Beach (San Diego, California)
5. Hamoa Beach (Maui, Hawaii)
6. Main Beach (East Hampton, New York)
7. Cape Hatteras (Outer Banks, North Carolina)
8. Cape Florida State Park (Key Biscayne, Florida)
9. Coast Guard Beach (Cape Cod, Massachusetts)
10. Beachwalker Park (Kiawah Island, South Carolina)

Tell us about your favorites in the comments section. My fave U.S. beach is probably the pristine stretch of sand at the bottom of the road in Carmel (amazing sunsets); outside the U.S.—and this one's way off the beaten track—it's Mogushi Beach in southwestern Japan. (For more of staffers' far-flung beach favorites, check out our interactive Google Map here.)

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · California Travel · Florida Vacation · Hawaii Vacation · Top 10 Lists

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