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December 07, 2012

Make It a Bowl Game Vacation

Aerial view of Downtown Miami, Florida (Ingram Publishing) 122564103
Aerial view of Downtown Miami, Florida (Ingram Publishing)

Whether you're a fanatic who shaves your college team's logo into your back hair or just someone who likes a little football incorporated into your vacation, here's a look into the top bowl games this season and some other things to do while you visit the host cities.

Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
January 1, Pasadena, California, 5:00 p.m. EST
Wisconsin vs Stanford
2012 Winner: Oregon Ducks
The Rose Bowl has been a New Year's Day tradition since the early 1900s, which is why it's nicknamed "The Granddaddy of them All." Many Heisman trophy winners and national champions have showcased their talent at these games. This year, fans should expect an exciting game as the Big 10 Wisconsin Badgers take on the Pac-12 Stanford Cardinals in Pasadena, California, for the 99th playing of the Rose Bowl. Be sure to arrive in Pasadena a few days early, as there are many other events such as Bandfest on December 29 and 30, which features performances from all the bands in the 2013 Rose Parade; the Equesfest on December 29, which showcases many of the equestrians seen in the parade New Year's Day; and, of course, The Rose Parade held before the game-day kickoff. Also, while in the City of Roses, take note of the historic buildings filled with local shops and eateries along Colorado Boulevard and the prominent architecture throughout the area. And if you like culture, check out the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens... but most of all, if you do just one thing, stop and smell the roses.

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

December 06, 2012

Plan a Warm-Weather Holiday Getaway to Arizona

By Guest Blogger

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Phoenix, Arizona at dusk (iStockphoto) 118267678
Phoenix, Arizona at dusk (iStockphoto)

December is here, and like many people I'm already dreaming of warm weather. Luckily for me, my family lives in Phoenix, Arizona, so I get to escape the cold for a week and visit a warm weather destination during my holiday vacation. With average winter temperatures in the 60s, the Phoenix metro area has so much to offer. I'm already planning my week of activities, so I thought I would share some of my favorite things to do while in Arizona.'s Phoenix Travel Guide

Shop 'til You Drop
If you enjoy shopping, Phoenix and Scottsdale are some of the best vacation spots in Arizona. Be prepared to drop some coin because Scottsdale and Phoenix are home to a number of great indoor and outdoor shopping promenades. In Phoenix, your best bet is Biltmore Fashion Park, a luxury outdoor retail and dining plaza located in the upscale Biltmore area of Phoenix. In Scottsdale you have a number of options. Kierland Commons is an upscale sidewalk shopping center located on the border of North Scottsdale that offers fabulous restaurants and a bustling bar scene. If you head south to downtown Scottsdale you'll find one of the Southwest's premier shopping destinations, Scottsdale Fashion Square, which houses many luxury retailers. If high-end designers aren't your thing, there is a little something for everyone along the 5th Avenue shopping district. You'll find a mix of trendy boutiques, art galleries, jewelry stores, and Native American gifts. With all the options, you might need to bring an extra suitcase to bring home all of your loot from your Arizona vacation.

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

August 13, 2012

The Idiot's Guide to Taking Your Kids to an Outdoor Music Festival

Main stage at FloydFest 2012 (Roger Gupta)

I recently took my kids camping to FloydFest, a four-day music festival located off Milepost 170.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in southwestern Virginia. This was my first outdoor music festival, so I went with some trepidation given it was just me, my budding young rockers, and a stack of gear to supply our camping foray amid a crowd of dyed-to-the-core hippies, teenage flower-power wannabes, yoga-loving urbanites, and plenty of other families. The good news is we had a great time, enjoying an eclectic lineup of artists ranging from alt-rock to bluegrass to American folk. And between the acts, we literally never had to make a plan, drifting from jugglers to trapeze school to climbing wall and back to magicians. So don't be shy about taking your kids to a music festival in your neck of the woods. But if (or when) you do, here are some tips to help you make the most of the mayhem.

Love Thy Neighbors
Forget the primordial instinct to be the sole provider of food and shelter to your offspring. If you, like me, have only one pair of hands to erect a tent while your kids roam the campground, then just strike up a conversation with your fellow campers. There's something to be said for the communal aspect of driving into the woods to listen to music and howl at the moon for a few days. We didn't meet an unfriendly soul, and all were happy to lend a hand stretching out a rainfly or chat with the kids while I fussed around. (OK, I confess, maybe the friendly vibe occasionally had something to do with the exotic scents filling the air.)

Read's guide to the best summer music festivals

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Outdoor Adventures · Travel Tips

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

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

May 23, 2012

Ships Invade Baltimore to Remember the (Sometimes Forgotten) War of 1812

Baltimore's Fort McHenry, Site of the Celebration of the American Flag Festivities on June 16 (Visit Baltimore)

The Civil War may have resulted in more American deaths than any other conflict, and the World War II Memorial now dominates a large section of the National Mall, but this summer Maryland proudly turns our attention the War of 1812, the conflict that solidified the United States’ independence from the British and gave birth to “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The biggest celebration takes place in Baltimore, June 13-19, with the Star-Spangled Sailabration in Charm City’s famed harbor. The free week-long celebration includes ship tours of more than two dozen boats from the U.S. Navy, Canadian warships, and tall ships from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, and Mexico. The Blue Angles will conduct the Star-Spangled Air Show on June 16 and 17, a two-day festival held at Martin State Airport where you can meet the Blue Angels. And the world premiere of the “Overture for 2012” composed by Philip Glass will take place on the 17th at the Meyerhoff Symphonic Hall. Fort McHenry, the place that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” sits at the mouth of the Baltimore Harbor, and on Saturday the 16th, a fireworks display will be staged as part of the Celebration of the American Flag.

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Related Topics: Historical Travel · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · Last Minute Trips

April 16, 2012

Get Outta Town: Top Ten Memorial Day Destinations

By Lacy Morris

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Bourbon St, Richard Nowitz_New Orleans CVB
New Orleans' Bourbon Street at night (New Orleans Convention and Visitor's Bureau)

Let's take our hats off to our country and those who have served for it. With the holiday fast encroaching, plan to head to any of our top ten Memorial Day getaways and enjoy what the long weekend is all about—good food, good friends, and celebrating freedom. Here is our guide of where to go, where to stay, and, perhaps most importantly, where to eat.

10. Kansas City, Missouri
Around Memorial Day each year, the Paris of the Plains hosts The Great American Barbeque Festival, where the savory juiciness of America's favorite meat is held high above all others. With events like a Sauce, Baste, and Rub Contest, the festival showcases the who's who of Kansas City BBQ.'s Kansas City Travel Guide

9. New York City, New York
New York celebrates the holiday weekend through fireworks, Hamptons' getaways, and Fleet Week. This annual event docks hundreds of sailors for a week off of their deployed ships in the Big Apple. The vast greenery of Central Park is open for picnics, bike rides, and outdoor concerts.'s New York City Travel Guide

8. Freeport, Maine
Surrounded by the Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, Freeport is a tranquil retreat with a back-to-nature vibe. Take a drive down U.S. 1 Coastal Highway stretching over 200 miles from Freeport to Quoddy Head, Maine. The sites along Maine's coastline are breathtaking, and U.S. 1 is ideal for meandering off onto side roads leading down the coast for a closer view of lighthouses, rocky cliffs, fishing boats, and the shoreline.'s Freeport Travel Guide

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

March 23, 2012

The Best of Easter: Five Places to Seek the Golden Egg

Decorated Easter eggs(Thinkstock Images,Getty Images,Comstock)
(Thinkstock Images)

Easter usually brings a break for school, basket's full of Cadbury eggs, and of course Easter egg hunts! So to help you decide which way you want to hop, we've found some unique egg hunts and other fun activities along the bunny trail.

The Fabergé Big Egg Hunt
London, England
The world's largest Easter Egg hunt began on February 21st in London and will go through Easter Sunday on April 8th, hosted by Russian jeweler, Fabergé. Over 200 two-and-a-half-feet-tall eggs were designed by famous artists, designers, and jewelers and have been placed throughout 12 "Egg Zones" in central London. So grab your Easter basket (or more likely your cameras and your phone to text each egg's keyword) and get to hunting. At the end of the egg hunt, the eggs will be auctioned off for charity and one lucky egg hunter will win the Fabergé Tribute Egg: The Diamond Jubilee Egg. Travel Guide: Going to London

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March 12, 2012

The Unofficial London 2012 Summer Olympics Guide to the East End

Museum of the Docklands near Canary Wharf (courtesy, Museum of London)

Walking down from Canary Wharf through the Isle of Dogs on a crisp winter afternoon last month, it was hard to imagine that this part of London will, in mere months, become the center of the sporting and cultural galaxy with the arrival of the 2012 Summer Olympics. Yes, construction cranes dot the skyline, workers scurry to complete renovations to the Cutty Sark exhibit over in Greenwich, and vendors are starting to hawk overpriced London 2012 Olympics regalia. But the overall impression I got was of a city that's still busy with other affairs. In fact, a palpable British restraint hangs over getting too excited about the event until it actually starts; for now, there's moaning to be done about cost overruns, the ability of the Tube to handle all those visitors, and the fact that Brits just don't do extravaganzas.

Let's face it, though, London is used to tourists. Millions upon millions each year. But those same tourists aren't quite so familiar with the side of London where the Olympic events will take place. The London Olympic Stadium is located in the east London borough of Newham, which is a world away from the tony Kensington or Notting Hill neighborhoods with which so many North Americans tourists are familiar. The East End has historically been the poorer, working-class side of this sprawling capital city, a place that was blackened by factory soot in the Victorian era and leveled by German bombers during World War II.

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

February 23, 2012

Best Places to Get Your Green On: St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

Scottish Marching band(iStockphoto,Thinkstock)
Scottish marching band (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

St. Patrick's Day is much celebrated, but few know what exactly they're stomping up and down the streets celebrating. Here's a history lesson: Back in the 4th Century in Roman Britain, there was a saint born on March 17 named Patrick. At age 16, Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland to be a slave. After escaping his captors, he made his way back home. Years later, after becoming a bishop, he traveled back to Ireland to teach the Irish people about the Christian doctrine. Saint Patrick was held in high regard in the Irish Church, and his birthdate became an internationally celebrated holiday in his honor.

So now that you know what you're toasting to, let the green beer, four leaf clovers, and kegs and eggs begin. Here are our top seven places to celebrate St. Paddy's Day.

Scranton, Pennsylvania
Home to the infamous Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Scranton surprisingly draws in close to 150,000 attendees for its St. Patrick's Day celebrations. The day starts with mass at St. Peter's Cathedral and is followed by one of the country's largest St. Patrick's Day parades, complete with bagpipes, floats, dancers, and musicians.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia's first St. Patrick's Day parade was back in 1771, and is said to be one of the oldest on record. Today, more than 500,000 watch the parade and then continue the celebrations in the pubs of South Philly and Old Town.

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February 13, 2012

Cold Beer, Fake Celebrities, and Stinky Sneakers: Spring's Best Festivals

By Kate Chandler

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Washington DC cherry blossom festival(iStockphoto,Thinkstock)
Washington D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival(iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

As far as festivals go, Mardi Gras (or Carnival, depending on where you are) gets all the love this time of year. But with Fat Tuesday quickly approaching on February 21, if you haven’t already made plans to get down to NOLA (or, we suggest, Mobile), then you’re probably out of luck. Here, instead, are some other interesting festivals and events happening in February and March. Enjoy!

Animal sexpert Jane Tollini headlines Woo at the Zoo, a Valentine’s Day dinner event at the San Francisco Zoo. For you East Coasters, the National Zoo in D.C. has a similar event on February 11. Maybe you’ll finally learn the origin of the phrase “spank the money.”

If animal love doesn’t ignite any romance, it might be time for more drastic measures. Book a flight to Japan for one of many festivals in February and March that celebrate the male form. Whether you go to the Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival) in Okayama, the Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) in Kawasaki, or the Chiwawa Matsuri (Penis Festival) in Komaki, you’ll probably never be able to go into a sushi bar with a straight face again. Real mature, I know.

Continue reading "Cold Beer, Fake Celebrities, and Stinky Sneakers: Spring's Best Festivals" »

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