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April 17, 2012

Visit the Space Shuttle Discovery at Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum

(Jennifer Maltba)

This morning, the Space Shuttle Discovery was carried on a Boeing 747 from its former home at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to its new home at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia (near Dulles International Airport). The decommissioned shuttle soared over the massive crowds that gathered on the National Mall to say farewell. As the longest-serving orbiter, Discovery took 39 flights over 27 years, with its last flight as recently as February 24, 2011. According to a press release from the National Air and Space Museum, Discovery orbited the earth 5,830 times, spent 365 days in space, and traveled a total of 148,221,675 miles. After 30 years, NASA has ended the space-shuttle program (for now) to focus on destinations beyond the Earth’s orbit. The Space Shuttle Discovery can be seen at its final resting place inside of a hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located about 25 miles west of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Admission to Udvar-Hazy is free, but parking is $15 (free after 4:00 p.m.).

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February 06, 2012

Six Weird & Unusual U.S. Hotels

By BootsnAll

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Liberty Hotel - CLINK
Prison decor (The Liberty Hotel)

When you're tired of the cookie-cutter sameness of hotel rooms, you can escape the I-could-be-anywhere boredom by staying in a hotel that offers a serious change of scenery indoors as well as out. There are weird hotels all over the world, but you don't even have to leave the United States to experience this kind of flair for the unusual. Here are six unusual hotels right here in the land of the free.

Jules Undersea Lodge
Key Largo, Florida

Going diving or snorkeling while on vacation isn't unusual, but having to go diving in order to reach your hotel room? That certainly qualifies as strange. Primarily a research facility, Jules' Undersea Lodge does have two underwater rooms guests can book. There are, as you might expect, big windows in the rooms, allowing you to watch the sea life go by, but despite its underwater location you're not completely cut off from the outside world. Visit the common room with an entertainment system and a mini-kitchen, and dinner is brought to you for a communal dining experience. This mermaid-esque classic has been in operation for more than 25 years.'s Key Largo Travel Guide

Aurora Express
Fairbanks, Alaska

They do things a little differently in Alaska, and the Aurora Express B&B is no different. As the name "express" implies, this B&B is housed entirely in old railroad cars. There are four train cars in all, each of which has been beautifully restored, plus a diner car that serves as the hotel restaurant. The railroad cars that make up this B&B have been in service as hotel rooms since the early 1970s, when they were part of the old Denali Park Hotel. The Aurora Express owners bought the cars from the hotel when it burned down, and carefully renovated them to today’s splendor.

Continue reading "Six Weird & Unusual U.S. Hotels " »

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November 28, 2011

I Heart NYC: A Big Apple Holiday for Every Kind of Traveler

Rockefeller Center of Christmas,NY(Top Photo Group,Thinkstock)
Rockefeller Center during Christmas, New York City (Top Photo Group/Thinkstock)

If one city in the continental U.S. represents everything the holidays stand for, New York City is that place. It has vibrant colors, soft white blankets of snow, beautifully decorated trees, ice skating rinks, and store window treatments that come straight from all of our childhood dreams. In our opinion, NYC is iconic and whimsical during the holidays, a place where even the most Grinchiest can find some sort of joy.

For The Dancer
Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Say the word Rockettes and you automatically think of high kicks, glitz, and glam, which is why Radio City's Christmas Spectacular is a must-see over the holidays. The Rockettes dance and dazzle their way through The Twelve Days of Christmas Carol, the Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, the Living Nativity, and more. Each 90-minute performance showcases 36 Rockettes (who are all between 5'6" and 5'10.5") and 1,300 costumes. Live animals such as donkeys, camels, and sheep are a part of the cast as well. Get your jazz hands ready!

For The Shopper
Holiday Window Displays
Many high-end stores on Fifth Avenue, such as Sak's, Lord & Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, and others off 5th Ave, such as Barneys, Bloomingdale's, and Macy's have display designers working for months on the creations that they place in their store windows.  Long ago, Macy's started this tradition of creating magical tales of the holidays in their windows and the other stores have since followed. Children will be in awe of the displays and adults will appreciate the show of artist ability as well. Best of all, window shopping is free!

For The Arborist
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
A world-wide symbol of the season, the Rockefeller Christmas tree has been a tradition for over 75 years. This year it stands tall, bright, and beautiful; lit by 30,000 LED lights on five miles of wire and topped with a Swarovski crystal star. If trees are your thing, also hop around the city and check out the trees at Madison Square Park, Wall Street, South Street Seaport, Botanical Gardens, and a few of the museums like the MET.

Continue reading "I Heart NYC: A Big Apple Holiday for Every Kind of Traveler" »

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Related Topics: Budget Travel · Christmas Vacation · Family Vacation · Holidays, Events, & Festivals · US Travel

November 22, 2011

Win Two Free Nights at a Courtyard Marriott!

Airline travelers get a first look at Courtyard Marriott's new lobby concept.

Heading through Houston, Phoenix, or Baltimore/Washington airports this holiday travel season? You might find an out-of-place hotel lobby smack dab in the middle of the concourse. Courtyard by Marriott is debuting a new lobby concept in the airport terminals of these three major hubs, hoping to introduce business travelers to what it sees as the future of the hotel lobby.

As we've reported recently, there are big changes underway in the public spaces at Courtyard by Marriott hotels nationwide. First, it has overhauled its food and beverage offerings. Now, Courtyard by Marriott is hoping to create a communal and helpful atmosphere for travelers by way of its lobbies. The idea is to allow guests to stay "connected, productive, and balanced." But the concept goes beyond WiFi hotspots. "Media pods" allow guests to hold mini meetings with up to three other people. Communal tables are designed to entice business travelers to enjoy a glass of wine while checking their email at happy hour, and to meet other guests also in town on business. Interactive television screens called GoBoards, developed by Courtyard and FourWinds Interactive, let users send directions to their smartphones or check flight information before heading to the airport.

“We are thrilled to present this new technology to our guests,” said Janis Milham, vice president and global brand manager for Courtyard by Marriott. In fact, the company is so excited to show off the new spaces, it's giving away two free nights in a Courtyard by Marriott to one lucky reader. All you have to do is answer one simple question:

What is your least favorite part about business travel?

Simply post a comment in the Comments section of this blog post answering that question. We'll pick the most useful comment, and that reader will get a free two-night stay at a Courtyard by Marriott anywhere in the continental U.S. Restrictions apply. Click here for terms and conditions.

For a list of properties with the new lobby, check here. Courtyard Marriott is also providing a free stay to to check out the new lobbies.

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October 13, 2011

Six College Football Tailgates Worth a Trip

The aftermath (Flickr)

Thankfully football has become more than just a game. There's the mascot, the choosing of the gameday outfit, and most importantly the tailgate...the all day (sometimes days) celebration of 22 men in tight pants chasing the ole pigskin. If you like football, drinking, and food, pack up the cooler and put the rubber to the road, all you need is a pack of brats and a truck load of optimism. Of course, everyone does it a little different, and everyone thinks their way is the best, just ask any diehard wearing full body paint perched on the back of an F150. Here are our six college football tailgates worth traveling for.

University of Mississippi (Ole Miss)
Oxford, Mississippi
There is no doubt that these Rebels know how to tailgate; their unofficial motto is, "We may not win the game, but we never lose the party!" Named "The Holy Grail of Tailgating Sites" by Sporting News and featured by the New York Times, Boston Globe, and ESPN, the ten-acre plot called "The Grove" is a sea of red, white, and blue on game day.  Under the tents (that have sometimes been set-up as early as 2 p.m. the day before) a visitor will find all things southern: fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fine china, chandeliers, and football fans in their Sunday (err, Saturday) best.  But before you visit, make sure to learn the Hotty Toddy cheer, so when someone yells "are you ready?" you know the appropriate way to answer.

Louisiana State University (LSU)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Tiger Stadium, aka "Death Valley," is legendary for the crowd noise created by the fans (the rumble is said to register on a seismograph), but do not think this electrifying experience only exists within the 92,500-seat stadium. Eighty miles northwest of New Orleans, these fans know how to party and, of course, eat. But it's not about the hotdogs and hamburgers here. Drop by on a Saturday morning and you'll follow your nose to gumbo, crawfish, spicy alligator, Cajun sausages, grilled duck, po'boys, and a beignet (deep-fried dough with some sort of sweet topping) for dessert.  Did we mention LSU usually has night games? So you have all day long to indulge; and all night long to forget.

Continue reading "Six College Football Tailgates Worth a Trip" »

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September 01, 2011

Events to Remember the 10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001

By Lacy Morris

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Rendering of the completed National September 11 Memorial (National September 11 Memorial & Museum)

This September 11 marks the 10th anniversary of the devastating terrorist attacks on America. Across the country, events are being planned to commemorate loved ones who were lost in the World Trade Center, in the Pentagon, and on Flight 93, and the brave men and women who fought to save them. Many of the ceremonies will be televised if you aren't near a memorial event. Here are a few options on the East Coast planned to remember 9/11 and the way it has shaped our lives. 

National Museum of American History
Washington, D.C.
More than 50 objects will be on display on open tables, taken from the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The open display containers are meant to give visitors an intimate experience when combined with stories of how American life has changed since that day. The exhibit will run September 3-11, 2011.

The National September 11 Memorial
New York City, NY
Set in the exact space that the World Trade Center once stood, this memorial has been a long time coming. Two reflecting pools fill the footprints where the two towers once stood, with the largest man-made waterfalls in the world pouring into both. They stand in the middle of nearly 400 swamp white oak trees. Opening day will be on September 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Flight 93 National Memorial
Shanksville, PA
Flight 93 was scheduled to land in San Francisco when it was overtaken by terrorists and eventually crashed into a Pennsylvania field, killing everyone on board. There has been a temporary memorial several miles from the crash site, which will shut down for good on September 9. The dedication for the new memorial will begin on September 10, culminating on September 11 with a ceremony to honor the men and women who were on the flight. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to pay their respects at the memorial on September 11, though the time of their arrival has yet to be released.

Continue reading "Events to Remember the 10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001" »

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August 18, 2011

Las Vegas Bachelor Party Options

(courtesy Las Vegas Convention and Visitor's Bureau)

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and when it comes to bachelor parties, most of it probably should. But there are plenty of options in Las Vegas for bachelor parties that won't burn a hole in your wallet (or your sense of self-worth). 

I recently attended an old friend's marital send-off in Sin City and, at first, was totally against it. I wanted to go whitewater rafting in West Virginia instead, spending some days out on the river doing man-things like chopping wood and heckling day-trippers from Philadelphia. But popular favor among the other attendees wound us up at Planet Hollywood, and I was shocked to come back with a few stories I could share in pleasant company. Here are some ideas for fun-yet-innocuous things to do in Vegas. After all, you'll need something to tell the fiancé when you get back, right?'s Las Vegas Travel Guide

1. A Guy's Gotta Eat
For all its reputation as a desert outpost, many of the world's best chefs have joints in Las Vegas, and nothing makes a bachelor feel more like a VIP than strolling into a fine restaurant, sitting in the corner booth, and ordering his fill of steak. We hit up Craftsteak at the MGM Grand, run by New York celebrity-chef Tom Colicchio. It wasn't cheap (we each got the $115 "we pay, you fill the table with steak and vegetables" prix fixe), but there was more meat on the table than... well, it was a lot of meat. 

2. Shoot Guns
With so much desert around, I guess it makes sense that Vegas would be home to several firing ranges, where you can fire off M-60s, AKs, and Desert Eagles, as well as pose for funny pictures with heavy artillery that your future mother-in-law will use against you someday. We woke up too late to make this happen, and opted to hang out at the pool at Planet Hollywood instead, which is another good, low-key option. You're in Vegas; you're allowed to bail. 

Continue reading "Las Vegas Bachelor Party Options" »

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July 20, 2011

Tips for Traveling Stress-Free

By Erika Lloyd

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(Allan Ferguson/Wikipedia)

Most of us have faced stressful situations while traveling—from dealing with delayed or canceled flights to jet lag, traffic, or sitting in a cramped seat for hours. Whether you're exploring a far-off destination for the first time, or just getting some new scenery on a business trip, travel is exciting and fun, but it also has the potential to wreak havoc on our emotional and physical wellbeing. A recent article on looks at the causes of travel stress and offers some insightful tips on how to make your next journey more enjoyable. Here are the highlights:

A healthy mindset
It’s easy to get agitated when the person in front of you at security thinks they can convince the TSA agent to let them through with their family-size containers of shower gel, perfume, and duty-free rum. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that this is an expected part of travel. Arrive at the airport early and free yourself of expectations that everything will be on schedule.

Nonstop flights
They may empty the wallet a bit more, but nonstop flights will alleviate a lot of the stress surrounding travel. Decreasing your chances of a delayed or cancelled flight is worth the extra cost. Also try to avoid peak travel hours: 7:00-9:00 a.m. and 4:00-7:00 p.m.

Avoid jet lag
Help your body overcome jet lag by trying to adapt to the sleeping schedule of your travel destination as soon as possible. Natural sleep aids will help you sleep at night and don’t have the side effects of pharmaceuticals. Try a supplement like Rest Easy or Melatonin that will help your body adjust to the new sleeping schedule.

Stay physically healthy
A cold, flu, or even allergies can put a huge damper on your travel plans. Pack a pocket-size container of sanitizer and wash your hands often. Don’t forget your regular allergy meds, and try taking a multivitamin or a natural supplement that will strengthen your immune system, such as Echinacea or Olive Leaf Extract.

Read more helpful tips about how to avoid travel stress at

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July 15, 2011

The Mural Project: San Francisco's Balmy Alley

Oscar Romero by Juana Alicia

The Mission in San Francisco is arguably one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods, its narrow sidewalks densely populated with taco joints, head shops, dive bars, and street vendors cooking bacon-wrapped hot dogs on makeshift grills propped next to a station wagon. Even the alleyways compete for your attention—and none more so than Balmy, a block-long stretch off 24th Street. Mural painting has a decades-long history in the Mission, and Balmy boasts some of the city’s best urban art, with pieces that range from classical visages of the Virgin Mary to contemporary pieces that address the ‘hood’s struggles to retain its identity in the face of burgeoning gentrification. Here's a preview of just a few of the sights in Balmy Alley.'s San Francisco Travel Guide

Continue reading "The Mural Project: San Francisco's Balmy Alley" »

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July 01, 2011

Five Summer Beer Fest Options—And Their Nearest Campgrounds

By Lacy Morris

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Oregon Brewers Festival(Phillie Casablanca,Flickr)
Tasters at Oregon Brewers' Festival (Phillie Casablanca/Flickr)

A sure sign that the sun is here to stay a while? The desire/need to cool off with beer and road trips—though not at the same time. Also known as a rich excuse to revert back to your 20-somethings, where the best option of breaking the heat that is retaliating against the cool spring days of yore involves a cooler and a full tank of gas. Whether you're a fan of the light lager or rich dark ale, lining up for the keg stand or just imbibing a night cap before bed, summer beer festivals are prime time to taste the unknown or to discover your new favorite vice. So pack up your Pinto, clear the front seat for a buddy, and take a beer run; let's make it a sudsy summer. Here are six summer beer fests and options of beds to stumble to.

Sunfest Summer Beer Festival
July 9
The Midwest has a lot to offer: farmers' daughters, a huge percentage of astronauts, and Omaha, Nebraska, where one Sunfest ticket gets you five hours with more than 170 different varieties of beer. Camping: Glenn Cunningham Lake

Nebraska Travel Guide

Vermont Brewers' Festival
July 15 & 16
Vermont may have been the last continental state to welcome a Wal-Mart (they did so in 1996), but they aren't losing in the race that really matters. With the largest amount of breweries per capita, the Green Mountain State has one brew pub for every 32,698 people. To celebrate, Vermont is in its 19th year of pouring, one of the longest-running festivals in the East. Highlights? It's dog-friendly, uses no plastic bottles, and offers as much free water as you can drink. Camping: North Beach Campground

Burlington, Vermont Travel Guide

Continue reading "Five Summer Beer Fest Options—And Their Nearest Campgrounds" »

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