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December 28, 2012

Five Must-Try Activities in the Sea of Galilee

By Guest Blogger

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Sea of Galilee, Israel (Zoonar) 126838891
Sea of Galilee, Israel (Zoonar)

Constantly mentioned in the world's bestseller, the Bible, the Sea of Galilee is more than just a beauty of nature but also an oasis overflowing with history and culture. Fed by the Jordan River, it is the largest fresh water lake in Israel and is visited by more than one million local and foreign tourists annually.

If you're planning a trip to see the lake and its surrounding towns, here are five things you must see and do upon your visit to the historic Sea of Galilee.

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April 13, 2012

Run the Borders: Top Ten Destination Footraces

By awayblog

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Marathon de Paris in Paris, France (ASO/Maindru)

Some people’s idea of a vacation is a weekend spent stagnant next to an infinity pool—and there is nothing wrong with that. For others, it means logging some serious miles in crowded city streets, on pink-sand beaches, and through Kentucky’s Bourbon Country. Here are our top ten destination marathons (whether full or half, and even less) from New York to Paris.

10. Wineglass Marathon in Bath, New York
If you’re done with overcrowded marathons and overwhelmed host cities, get to Upstate New York’s charming Wineglass Marathon, and soon. Just hours from the largest marathon in the United States, Wineglass made this top-ten list for its small-town hospitality and immense history, gentle downhill course (a favorite for Boston qualifiers), and natural scenic beauty, which really pops in the fall.

9. Bermuda Triangle Challenge in Bermuda
Winter presents a challenge to many runners; we don’t always love the cold and the dreary scenery. We need diversion and sun, long runs, and an absence of arctic blasts to the face. This is precisely why January’s Bermuda Triangle Challenge is nothing short of a gift from the running gods.

8. Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia
The ninth-largest marathon in the world and the only sizeable one to not offer prize money, the Marine Corps Marathon draws 20,000 participants each year for one reason: heart-thumping patriotism (that, and the fact that it is one of the cheapest marathons in the U.S., costing only $92 to participate). It’s called “The Marathon of Moments,” and you’ll succumb to the inspired feeling sooner or later, whether it’s upon witnessing military units running in formation or U.S. monuments like the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial.

Continue reading "Run the Borders: Top Ten Destination Footraces " »

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December 23, 2011

The Most Exciting New Resorts and Hotels of 2012

By awayblog

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Rendering from Revel, Atlantic City, New Jersey (Revel Entertainment)

While resort development has certainly slowed due to the global recession, with many projects shelved these past two years, 2012 will be a banner year for the unveiling of new properties. Billion-dollar mega-resorts, ultra-chic honeymoon hotspots, and boutique hotels in downtown centers will all open their doors to the public this coming year.

In some instances, cost has not been spared. Take, for example, the $2.4 billion Revel, set to open on 1,000 feet of Atlantic City boardwalk this spring. Built to delight all Boardwalk Empire fans and folks who like their casinos to display Vegas-style flair, Revel will occupy more than enough space to entertain guests for a weekend of gaming. The 47-story tower will house 12 restaurants, six pools, a 5,800-seat theater, close to four dozen retail stores, and one massive casino.'s Atlantic City Travel Guide

As one would expect, London is gearing up for the 2012 Summer Olympics with a slew of new hotel construction. Yet two of the most exciting openings have pushed their launch dates beyond the Games. Near Hyde Park Corner, in the upscale neighborhood of Knightsbridge, the Wellesley Hotel London is now scheduled to debut in November 2012. Next door to the Lanesborough Hotel, the Wellesley will feature 36 spacious suites, including the largest suite in the city, and is billing itself as the first six-star lodging in London.

Overlooking the Thames in London, the 70-story building dubbed "The Shard" is supposed to be completed by the end of the year, but Hong Kong hotelier Shangri-La reportedly won't move in until early 2013. Once finished, the Renzo Piano-designed building will be the tallest structure in the European Union. Shangri-La will occupy floors 34 to 52, so rest assured that you'll have glorious vistas of the city's skyline.'s London Travel Guide

Assoufid, Marrakesh (Rocco Forte Hotels)

Continue reading "The Most Exciting New Resorts and Hotels of 2012" »

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December 14, 2011

2012 International Hotspots: Life List Locales for the New Year

By awayblog

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Ice berg of arch and row of houses,Greenland(Top Photo Group,Thinkstock)
Greenland coastal homes as an iceberg floats by (Top Photo Group/Thinkstock)

They're melting and sinking. They're booming—or busting. They're jaw-droppingly scenic and cosmopolitan. One thing that's clear about our nods for the best travel destinations of 2012 is that they're changing, and fast, which means the coming year is perfect for a trip of a lifetime. Now that we've spun the globe and picked our top spots, it's your turn to make it happen—and, of course, to let us know which ones we missed.

Thanks to climate change, this enormous country (which has a human population of 57,000 and a sled-dog population of 30,000) might soon become too hot for its own good—in more ways than one. Rumor has it that Greenland could be sitting on some 47 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. Temps are trending five degrees above normal. And the number of people visiting on cruise ships has doubled since 2004. Yes, it might be year-round Northern Lights. It might be restaurants reachable only by helicopter. Or the world's biggest and least-visited protected park. Our bet? Greenland is starting to live up to its unlikely name, and people want to catch it while it's still under ice.

Weekend Guide: Defying Expectations in Greenland

This tiny archipelago of 1,200 islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean is the epitome of paradise: coral reefs, constant sunshine, bathwater lagoons, and opulent resorts going up as fast as couples can say "I do." It's also the lowest country on the planet, with an average elevation of five feet above sea level and a high point of seven feet, seven inches. Think about the threat of sea level rise, then do the math: You can tell your grandchildren that you saw a disappearing nation way back in 2012.'s Maldives Travel Guide

Once virtually ostracized and still a land of red flags (in the form of tyrannical rule), this magical country is open for business. In fact, our own State Department says, "After a long period of isolation, Burma has started to encourage tourism." There is much to take in, and it all has the feel of olden-day adventure travel: thousands of stupas, golden pagodas, floating gardens, creaky river steamers, and fortune tellers. Whether travel will help locals or pad the pockets of corrupt generals remains to be seen. The wonder of Burma, however, is ever clear.

A Country in Photos: Burma

Continue reading "2012 International Hotspots: Life List Locales for the New Year" »

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August 11, 2011

Five Seriously Awesome Places to Say a Prayer

By Lacy Morris

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Russia, Moscow, St. Basil's Cathedral at moonrise(Grant Faint,Photogs Choice,Getty)
(Grant Faint/Photographer's Choice)

5. St. Basil’s Cathedral
Red Square, Moscow, Russia
The official name is the “Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat,” but we simply call it St. Basil’s Cathedral. Built in the 16th century by Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral was a symbol of the country’s capture of Kazan. The nine ornate “onion domes” are the lids to underlying chapels, the ninth and lastly built of which houses the tomb of St. Basil, a loved Russian Orthodox saint, or yurodivy,  a “holy fool for Christ.” Legend has it that aptly named Ivan the Terrible insisted that the architect responsible for the creation had his eyes removed to ensure he never out-built the cathedral’s beauty on another structure. The cathedral is usually open to visitors every day except Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.'s Moscow Travel Guide

Las Lajas Cathedral(Martin St-Amant,Wikipedia) 4. Las Lajas Sanctuary
Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia
Located in a canyon of the Guáitara River, the building of Las Lajas Sanctuary began in 1916, not completed until 33 years later. Legend has it that an image of the Virgin Mary appeared on a steep cliff-side wall above the river below, which prompted its construction as a way to commemorate. The image is still visible today. Walking down the arduous path toward the gateway, you’ll notice thousands of shrines and plaques placed there as a thanks by believers on holy pilgrimages. The easiest way to get there is by taxi from the nearby town of Ipiales. 

Hallgrímskirkja church(Molechaser,Flickr) 3. Hallgrímskirkja
Reykjavík, Iceland
In 1937, the designer of this Lutheran church had Iceland's iconic basalt lava columns in mind when he set about creating the one-of-a-kind place of worship. It is the tallest building in Iceland, standing nearly 245 feet, and took 40 years to complete. Perhaps the most famous aspect of the structure is the massive organ it houses. Weighing in at 25 tons, the instrument has 5,275 pipes and rises 49 feet high. Overlooking the city of Reykjavik, the view from the bell tower is one of the best you can get in the city. The three bells in the tower represent the architect, his wife, and their young daughter.'s Colombia Travel Guide & Iceland Travel Guide

Continue reading "Five Seriously Awesome Places to Say a Prayer" »

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August 09, 2011

Top Ten Landscapes of the Silver Screen

By awayblog

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Petra, Jordan renaissance tomb,Photodisc, andrea Pistolesi 10130830
'X' MARKS THE SPOT: The ruins of Petra are so surreal it could be mistaken for a man-made movie set (Andrea Pistolesi)

Every so often there comes a movie that is an instant classic and a landscape forever reminiscent of its moment on the big screen. Completely parti pris, though open for dispute, here is writer Laura Kiniry's list of the top ten iconic landscapes of the silver screen.

10. Location: Jordan's Ancient City of Petra
Movie: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

9. Location: Greater Salzburg, Austria
Movie: The Sound of Music

8. Location: The Chattooga River, Georgia
Movie: Deliverance

7. Location: Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Movie: The African Queen

6. Location: Halona Cove, O'ahu
Movie: From Here to Eternity

5. Location: Devil's Tower, Wyoming
Movie: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

4. Location: Bodega Bay, California
Movie: The Birds

3. Location: Sicily, Italy
Movie: The Godfather

2. Location: Southern Tunisia
Movie: Star Wars

1. Location: New Zealand
Movie: The Lord of the Rings

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June 23, 2011

Top Ten Places to Ring in the 4th of July

By awayblog

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July 4 at the Hatchshell on the Esplanade in Boston (Mary Giordono_courtesy, B4 Productions)
Boston celebrates the Fourth at the Edward A. Hatch Memorial Shell adjacent the Charles River Esplanade (Mary Giordono/B4 Productions)

Fireworks, barbeques, parades, and live music—no other holiday spells summer fun quite like the 4th of July. Although you could just as easily celebrate America's birthday by watching the festivities on TV or setting out some lawn chairs and a grill in your backyard, some Independence Day celebrations are worth the trip, especially if they're right up the road from you. Here, Karen Chen counts down our picks for the country's top ten places to ring in the 4th.

10. Mount Rushmore
With the faces of our country's most venerated presidents etched indelibly in the stone of the Black Hills, this national monument epitomizes American history and pride.'s Mount Rushmore Family Travel Guide

9. Great Williamsburg, Virginia
Celebrate July 4th with living history in the Greater Williamsburg area, the center of political events leading up to the American Revolution.'s Williamsburg Family Travel Guide

8. Miami, Florida
A holiday smack dab in the middle of summer just begs for a beach party.'s Miami Family Travel Guide

7. San Diego, California
Okay, so make that two beach parties. During the day, Pacific and Mission beaches will be packed with holiday sunbathers.'s San Diego Family Travel Guide

6. New Orleans, Louisiana
Like every festival N'awlins hosts, it's always a roarin' good time, and the 4th of July is no exception. The city's Go 4th on the River festival offers concerts at the French Market and a free Mardi Gras-style party with live music, food, and door prizes.'s New Orleans Family Travel Guide

Continue reading "Top Ten Places to Ring in the 4th of July" »

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June 03, 2011

Top Ten Spots for 4th of July Fun in the Nation's Capital (And Free!)

Independence Parade(ElvertBarnes,Flickr)
Independence Parade, Washington, D.C. (ElvertBarnes/Flickr)

Influential lobbyists, political consultants, and patrons of the arts are no doubt sitting pretty having already firmed up plans for the impressive Independence Day fireworks in Washington, D.C., in a few weeks' time. Choice invitation-only venues may include the Kennedy Center rooftop, private balconies in the National Gallery of Art, hallowed chambers in the U.S. Capitol building, and, yes, for the chosen few, a spot on the White House lawn. For the rest of us unconnected mortals, the choice can range from dropping a hefty cover on the best hotel and restaurant rooftops, or sweating it out with the masses in any number of public spaces around town. Happily, though, this city of open green spaces and low-level buildings proffers many choice (and free) spots to enjoy the show. Here, we guide you through ten of the best.

1. U.S. National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Ground Zero for the big show, there is nominally lots of green space here for watching the Fourth of July fireworks, although you'll need to arrive early to claim the best spots. The Smithsonian's annual Folklife Festival—this year featuring Colombia, the Peace Corps, and Rhythm & Blues—offers events and exhibits to while away the pre-display hours. The fireworks go up over the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial, so the prime spots are on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and points east along the U.S. National Mall from 14th Street toward the U.S. Capitol. The White House Ellipse is also a good spot that usually has a few open patches of ground a little closer to the kickoff just after 9 p.m. Plan on walking down to the Mall from Metro Center or Farragut West to avoid the crush of Metro riders getting off at the Smithsonian. The NPS' National Mall website offers some useful planning tips, including info about a free bike-valet service and advice for staying hydrated in the area's often-fierce summer heat.'s National Mall Travel Guide

2. George Washington Memorial Parkway, Arlington
Fireworks-viewing real estate doesn't come much more prime than here, with the Arlington stretch of the George Washington Memorial Parkway offering the best riverside views of the D.C. monuments and skyline. You won't miss a single explosion, though, of course, this place is no secret. Pack a picnic and get there early; limited public parking is available at various points along the roadway, though a much safer bet is to ride your bicycle along the scenic bike trail (an option that will also offer a swifter mode of escape once the fireworks end at around 9:30 p.m.).'s George Washington Memorial Parkway Travel Guide

Continue reading "Top Ten Spots for 4th of July Fun in the Nation's Capital (And Free!)" »

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Top Ten Summer Music Festivals

By awayblog

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VENUE WITH A VIEW: Ben Harper performs at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival (Benko Photographics/courtesy, Telluride Bluegrass Festival)

The unfailing popularity of weekend-long destination concerts featuring dozens upon dozens of bands shows a promising message in these tough economic times: Music fans—from die-hard groupies to casual listeners who just like the idea of an outdoor music fest—will come out in droves if you've got the right mix of bands and fun. And why not? Music festivals make a good reason to hit the road and travel. An emphasis on camping gives some festivals the feel of a modern-day Woodstock, where you can find acts ranging from punk to bluegrass to the remaining members of the Grateful Dead. But if you're not keen on sleeping outdoors, events in Chicago, Austin, and just outside New York City provide alternatives if you want your music with a side of city. And despite tight budgets for travelers all around, festival organizers are offering layaway plans and early-sales discounts. So if you've really got your heart set on attending a music festival this summer, start making plans. Here's writer Dan Oko's roundup of what's happening where, from beginning of the season until the end, and some helpful hints for making the most of your music fest excursion.

1. Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California

2. Sasquatch! Music Festival at the Gorge in Washington

3. Wakarusa in Arkansas

4. Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee

5. Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado

6. Rothbury Music Festival in Michigan

7. 10,000 Lakes Festival in Minnesota

8. Lollapalooza in Illinois

9. All Points West Music and Arts Festival in New Jersey

10. Austin City Limits in Texas

Like top ten travel lists? So do we. Find more of's Top Ten Trip Ideas here.

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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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