Best Cities to Celebrate Independence Day

It is a day for barbecues, fireworks, music and being outside. Donning their festive red, white and blue, millions assemble across the nation for the 4th of July to celebrate American pride. However, you don’t have to be at home to have a fulfilling 4th of July. From Boston to Los Angeles, the country is riddled with 4th of July destinations.

Chicago, Illinois

In an all American city like Chicago it’s no wonder that the 4th of July is done in style. As the smell of barbecue fills the air, you can follow your nose to Windy City Ribfest. The event is just one of the many festivals taking place for the holiday. Windy City Ribfest features some of the best local and national rib experts along with music. In addition to Ribfest, Chicago offers Fourth of July Fireworks off of Navy Pier. For 4th of July in Chicago, many flock to a rooftop or to Millennium Park to take in the free fireworks display. Other events this year around the 4th of July in Chicago include catching the Chicago Cubs series with the Marlins or sticking around for Taste of Chicago, a taste of Chicago’s Street fare in Grant Park.

New York, New York

No one quite does the 4th of July like New York. The holiday in the city consists of plenty of celebrations and events, but perhaps most notable is the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks. One of the largest displays in the country, the event features fireworks launched off of the Brooklyn Bridge and three barges in the Lower East River. If you’d rather spend the 4th of July in New York in true foodie fashion, you can head to Coney Island to see Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Boston, Massachusetts

In a patriotic and historical city like Boston, you go big for the nation’s Independence Day. 4th of July in Boston revolves around Boston Harborfest and the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. Boston Harborfest is one of the city’s best festivals. It showcases colonial and maritime heritage with reenactments, concerts and historical tours. The events are concentrated in Boston’s historic downtown and waterfront districts. Boston Harborfest is an annual tradition in the city. In addition, visitors can attend the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. The premier Independence Day celebration takes place on the banks of the Charles River. Travelers can expect concerts and fireworks for the celebration.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles is home to many different celebrations for the 4th of July holiday. Some popular events include 4th of July AmericaFest at the Rose Bowl. Travelers can see one of the largest fireworks displays in the area at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. If you are around the LA Civic Center, you can also find the July 4th at Grand Park event, a four-block block party that also includes fireworks. And for a truly spectacular 4th of July in Los Angeles experience, travelers can head aboard the Queen Mary for the Queen Mary BBQ, Brews and Red, White and Blues event. The entire ship details various eras throughout the U.S. Attendees of the event can experience live music, family friendly activities and fireworks.

 

While many prefer to have 4th of July celebrations at home with family and friends, spending the holiday on the road can be an enriching experience. These places across the country pack in the punch with fireworks, food and music.

June 29, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Best Lawn and Beach Games for the Summer

As summer begins, many families and friends hit the road for destinations where being outside is practically mandatory. If you are planning some road trips this summer, you can keep all parties entertained by tossing a few fun beach and lawn games in the trunk. Not only are these games easy to pack, they also involve the whole family.

Kubb

Even if your road trip this summer is taking you to U.S. destinations, you can still play the part of a Swede by packing Kubb in your vehicle. Often referred to as Viking Chess, the Swedish lawn game has been played in Sweden for more than one thousand years. The components of Kubb are pretty easy to assemble if you know a little bit about woodworking. The game consists of throwing short dowels at your opponent’s pieces to knock them over. Kubb can be played on sand or a lawn and with as few as two people to as many as 12 players. The game is easy to pack on a road trip, as there are just small wood pieces required for Kubb.

Horseshoes

If you are looking for summer beach games or summer lawn games to play on a trip to Los Angeles or down to Orlando, horseshoes are always a classic game to play. With origins probably during the Roman Empire when soldiers used to throw horseshoes for distance, the game has become a classic backyard summer activity. At the same time, horseshoes can be played on a beach in the sand. Horseshoes are also easy to pack, as all you need are four horseshoes and two stakes. Players simply drive the stakes into the sand or grass with the goal of ringing the stake with the horseshoe. Games can be played in rounds with usually the goal of reaching 15 points before the opponent.

Baggo

Not to be confused with cornhole, baggo is practically made for travel. One of the great summer activities for kids, Baggo features boards with a hole in which opposing teams attempt to knock beanbags into the hole for the most points. The easily portable beanbag game requires a flat surface like a lawn to play and generally two teams of two. Many baggo boards fold up like a suitcase, making them easy for travel.

Bocce Ball

Always part of fun summer activities, bocce ball can also be played while on a road trip. All ages and varying skill levels make bocce ball a very universal game. You will merely need a flat area to play and a bocce set. Players can assemble in teams of one, two three or four people to play. Each team receives four balls with the goal of rolling your ball closest to the pallino or jack ball. Travelers should look out for designated bocce ball courts as they usually provide the ideal surface to play, a court composed of sand.

From bocce ball to kubb, lawn and beach games are a fun way to spice up a road trip. Not only can you keep everyone entertained, but also you can be outside, enjoying the warmth of summer.

 

June 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Celebrating Father's Day on the Road

As soon as Mother’s Day passes, many families shift their focus to Father’s Day. Unlike Mother’s Day, Father’s Day falls in the heart of June, when many families are on their summer vacations. Celebrating dad on the road tends to be a little less expected than those Father’s Days at home. If you are planning on being out of town for Father’s Day, here are a few ideas as to what you can do with dad to treat him.

Father’s Day Tip #1: Take Dad on a Brewery Tour

Most dads can appreciate a fine brew. As craft breweries have exploded across the country, there always tends to be a brewery tour at your destination. Brewery tours educate visitors on the brewing process and usually provide samples. You can often bring the whole family but of course, tastings are limited to those over 21. Brewery tours can provide a fun activity for the whole family and something every beer-loving dad can appreciate.

Father’s Day Tip #2: Take a Hike

If you are short on Father’s Day ideas, most destinations across the country naturally have a little something dads can enjoy. Many fathers would prefer to spend Father’s Day in the great outdoors. Families can do a bit of digging to find the nearest state park or hike to take dad on for his day. In terms of Father’s Day activities, going on a hike is something the whole family can do and an activity available in most destinations.

Father’s Day Tip #3: Plan a Trip to Golf-Friendly Destinations

 Golfing is often a favorite pastime for dad. If the whole family wants to take a vacation and you need Father’s Day gifts from the kids, everyone can pick out a golf course where dad can spend the day playing. For those families who haven’t already selected a summer vacation destination, you can always lump Father’s Day gifts into the mix by selecting a golf friendly destination. Places like Hilton Head, South Carolina, Florida and Southern California make for perfect golf and family friendly destinations. Dad can enjoy a round in a place the whole family can appreciate. Plus, if you book a reservation at an Extended Stay America in one of those golf friendly destinations, dad can enjoy the lessened strain on his pocketbook, as kids stay free.

Father’s Day Tip #4: Stay Connected

In some cases, dads can’t be with their families for Father’s Day. If your dad is on a business trip for the holiday, the important thing is to stay connected with him. No matter where your dad might be for Father’s Day, technology makes it easier than ever to keep in touch. Hotels virtually everywhere have Wi-Fi so you can Skype or FaceTime with dad on his special day to let him know you’re thinking of him.

Father’s Day on the road can be a disaster if not planned just right. Before you forget it’s dad’s day during your family vacation, it never hurts to schedule in a few activities and attractions just for him. 

June 19, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

4 Los Angeles Hidden Hot Spots

Like most major cities, Los Angeles juggles a busy agenda. The City of Angels crowds with landmarks, attractions and cultural givings famous all over the world. While most lists outline the must see attractions in Los Angeles, many visitors want to get to the core of the city. If you would rather seek out Los Angeles’ lesser known, hidden gems, here are four that are sure to give you that sense of Los Angeles off the grid.

Hidden Hot Spot #1: Virginia Robinson Gardens

If you’re trying to figure out what to do in Los Angeles, a fine place to start is the Virginia Robinson Gardens. Many don’t know about this gorgeous six-acre property right in the middle of Beverly Hills. The estate was built in 1911, making it the first estate in Beverly Hills. Named after the department store giant’s wife, the Virginia Robinson Gardens has even made it on the National Register of Historic Places. Located just behind the Beverly Hills Hotel, the property shows off a display garden, mansion and pool pavilion. Visitors can imagine the space decades ago when it functioned as the site of many lavish Hollywood parties. Tours of the estate include a walk through of the famous mansion’s buildings and gardens. However, like all respectable secret Los Angeles attractions, you must make an appointment to visit. The Virginia Robinson Gardens recommend reserving a tour at least two weeks in advance.

Hidden Hot Spot #2: The Museum of Jurassic Technology

Los Angeles features countless famous museums, but if you seek a more off beat museum space, the Museum of Jurassic Technology is for you. If you are staying in Los Angeles for a few days, you can catch one of the city’s most intriguing and strange exhibition spaces. The Museum of Jurassic Technology combines myths, superstition and natural wonders. Located on Venice Boulevard in Culver City, exhibits tend to have nothing to do with dinosaurs or technology. One of those weird and wacky displays includes the Garden of Eden on Wheels, a collection from Los Angeles area mobile home parks.

Hidden Hot Spot #3: The Underground Tunnels of LA

Created during prohibition when 11 miles of service tunnels became passageways to speakeasies, the Underground Tunnels of LA present yet another off the beaten path attraction in town. The pedestrian tunnels stretch from Spring and Temple Streets to First Street and Grand Avenue. The surviving tunnels run under many of the city’s main government buildings and have even been featured in films. While the Underground Tunnels of LA boasts a history for transporting mobsters, murderers and cash, today, travelers with a sense of adventure can explore the tunnels by way of a hidden entrance behind the Hall of Records.

Hidden Hot Spot #4: Time Travel Mart

If you fancy yourself a time traveler, Los Angeles has another hidden attraction for you. The Time Travel Mart is touted as a convenience store for time travelers. It features goods for sale from virtually every era. Filled with oddities, the space offers the chance to see Barbarian repellent, primordial soup in a can and dinosaur eggs. All of the proceeds from Time Travel Mark fund a non-profit.

Figuring out what to do in a major city like Los Angeles isn’t always easy. However, if you have a sense of adventure, a want to see the quirky and off beat, Los Angeles doesn’t disappoint with these quirky and hidden gems. 

June 17, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Three of the Best Stadiums to Visit This Season

With whiffs of peanuts and hot dogs in the air, it’s the sound many long for all winter, the whip of the baseball as it meets the glove. With Major League Baseball well underway, now is one of the best times to visit a ballpark. Even if you aren't a baseball fan, these stadiums provide an ideal space to soak up the local culture and root root root for the home team. And due to the history of baseball as America’s pastime, there are a number of ballparks across the country that evoke the past, spaces that shouldn't be missed when you are in town.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards - Baltimore, MD

In terms of best baseball stadium in the country, Oriole Park at Camden Yards tends to always make the list. Built over an old railroad station, the park was revolutionary when it opened in 1992 as it ushered in a new wave of ballparks. Setting the trend for future stadiums, Oriole Park at Camden Yards blends the old with the new in a decidedly retro feel. Visiting Oriole Park at Camden Yards presents not just a chance to see a game but to also experience baseball history. The birthplace of baseball great Babe Ruth is just two blocks from the stadium.

Fenway Park - Boston, MA

The oldest ballpark in the majors needs no introduction. Fenway Park is not just home to the Boston Red Sox, but it is also a venue showcasing the rich history of the game. Its first structure is still in existence today, albeit some modifications have been made. Smaller than modern major league ballparks, Fenway Park doesn’t necessarily lend the most comfortable perch to watch a game, but the historic value more than makes up for it. Some major icons of the ballpark include the scoreboard, which is still hand operated, and the 37-foot high left field wall known as the Green Monster. If the Red Sox aren’t in town but you are visiting Fenway Park, you can always take a tour for an inside look at the press box, Red Sox Hall of Fame and even a walk on the warning track. Post Fenway Park visit, travelers can get a hotel in Boston to experience more of the city’s historic offerings.

Wrigley Field - Chicago, IL

While not technically the oldest ballpark in the majors, Wrigley Field is very much a museum to baseball. Built in 1914, the second oldest ball park in the majors was constructed on grounds once occupied by a seminary. Today it acts as the home of the Chicago Cubs. While currently experiencing renovations, visitors can still marvel at the historic touches like an original scoreboard from 1937 and the famous ivy covered outfield wall. If you can’t catch a game, Wrigley Field also offers tours of the ballpark on both game days and non-game days. On non-game days, the sky is the limit for tours where you’ll head to the seating bowl, press box, bleachers, visitors and Cub’s clubhouse, the Cubs dugout and the field. While you’re visiting Wrigley Field you can also stay awhile in Chicago as the city crawls with museums, attractions and delicious cuisine.

Traveling for the love of the game is always a good idea. If you tire of your home ballpark and want to see something different, perhaps a park with some history, these major league ballparks are a home run. 

June 11, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

5 Benefits of Solo Traveling

Getting away from it all can do wonders to rejuvenate your mind and spirit, and traveling solo can do even more for your soul. Whether you’re on your own for a business trip, or just decided to plan a spur of the moment road trip to self reflect, there are several reasons why traveling alone can be more relaxing and peaceful than trying to coordinate every step of the way with a group.

 

BENEFIT #1 - IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU: Coordinating everyone’s time off from work, school and other obligations can be challenging, even with a small group. Planning a relaxing vacation or extending a business trip for a few days of exploration can be simpler when it doesn’t involve multiple people. Take advantage of the stress-free process. You don’t need to coordinate with anyone else for anything. Leaving when you want, making pit stops as you please and lingering along the way wherever you are, moving at your own pace is definitely rewarding.

BENEFIT #2 - GAIN CONFIDENCE: Eating alone in a restaurant or ambling along by yourself through a museum may seem daunting at first. But stepping out of your comfort zone will help you build confidence and feel more at home with yourself. You’ll also learn to trust yourself. It’s a skill that will cross over into your daily life, too. Being ok when you’re alone will give you a sense of peace and confidence like nothing else can.

BENEFIT #3 - STRETCH YOUR DOLLAR: Solo travel can be cheaper than traveling in a group. Rather than being forced into a situation where you’re spending money when you normally wouldn’t, you can budget and splurge where you really want to, and make up for it on things that you’re ok skimping on. If you’re fine in a less-than-5-star hotel, but really want to take that 2-day side trip to see a village not originally on your itinerary, you can do it.

BENEFIT #4 - CHECK THE DRAMA AT THE GATE: Traveling on your own means no silly disagreements and arguments about all the little things. The who, what, where, when, why and how are all on you. You don’t have to compromise or give in on things that are important to you, but may not be as significant to your companion.

BENEFIT #5 - MAKE MORE FRIENDS: When you travel in a group, you have a built in sense of security and comfort. Traveling alone gives you the opportunity to see your experience through unbiased, uncomforted eyes. Seeing your new environment without a support system allows you to be more open to it all, and to see everything with an open heart. You also open yourself up to making new friends in new places that you may not have otherwise made if you were with a group.

 

Some of the best trips you can take may be on your own. Though it may force you to step outside your comfort zone, traveling on your own can be a worthy experience. Of course you’ll want to take some extra precautions to stay safe, but being aware of your surroundings is the first step. So whether you’re extending a business trip for some solo sightseeing, or you’re just feeling adventurous, traveling alone can offer you the experience of a lifetime. Make the most of every day, and when you’re done with the sightseeing, make your way to the comforts and warmth of a friendly Extended Stay America room. After all, a little familiarity is never a bad thing, right?  

June 8, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

3 Things to do in NYC This Summer

Being bored in New York City is never an option. Not only is it the city that never sleeps, but also New York City always has something on the agenda. For travelers, one of the most popular times to visit is in the summer, when New York City attractions come alive and many events kick off for the season. If you are plotting a trip to New York City or even already have your New York City hotel booked, add these three events to your list of things to do in NYC.

New York Museum Mile Festival

If you are seeking free things to do in NYC, you can look no further than the New York Museum Mile Festival. Proud to be New York’s biggest block party, the event opens up the doors to several museums on Fifth Avenue from 82nd Street to 105th Street. The festival’s origins date back to the 1970s with the goal of attracting new museum audiences and increasing support for the arts. The participating museums include The Africa Center, El Museo del Barrio, Museum of the City of New York, Jewish Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Niue Galleries New York, National Academy Museum and School and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Held this year on June 9th from 6-9PM, the event brings nine museums to one destination.

Northside Festival

If you happen to be in Brooklyn in June, you can attend the Northside Festival. Held this year from June 8th through June 14th, the event celebrates the artists and thinkers moving us forward. Visitors can expect to find 400 bands, 150 speakers and 50 films in the area for the festival. Spread out over 7 days, the Northside Festival might not feature New York City museums on display like the Museum Mile Festival, but it does offer a chance to see many emerging artists in action. Founded by Northside Media Group, the event takes place in North Brooklyn. Virtually every venue, concert space and screening room in Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods in Brooklyn fills with artistic greatness.

Big Apple BBQ Block Party

Museums and concerts are all fine and well, but if you are hungry for fun things to do in NYC, the Big Apple BBQ Block Party is for you. Held in Madison Square Park, the annual carnivore convention brings some of the best pit masters from across the country right to New York City. Just as the city has been a melting pot for cultures and people, the Big Apple BBQ Block Party brings in esteemed barbecue experts from all over the United States. Festivities also include seminars, cooking demos and live music. If you can appreciate the craftsmanship of barbecue, you will want to make your way to this NYC event, held this year from June 13th through June 14th.

 

Finding something to keep you busy in New York City in the summer is an easy challenge. With events like the Northside Festival, Museum Mile and barbecue block parties, the city fulfills all needs for culture, museums and fun.

 

June 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Flying with Children? Bring These 5 Items in Your Carry-on

It is not always the most desirable of scenarios, flying with children that is. Add the holiday rush and cranky travelers and it’s a recipe for a stress-induced trip. Airports and planes can be unchartered and intimidating territory not just for a youngster, but also for the parents traveling with their little ones. In particular, parents struggle with packing the right items for every age and stage from doorstep to doorstep to ensure there isn’t a meltdown in the middle of the flight. Every parent’s worst nightmare is being “that person” on the plane - the one with the screaming child. Nothing’s worse than a five-hour flight with neighboring passengers giving you the constant stink eye. In order to truly fly through the airport with your kiddos, bring these five items in your carry-on bag.

 

1. Extra Diapers

If your little one is still in diapers, you might think a 2-hour flight requires the same amount of diapers as two hours just sitting at home. Sometimes the air pressure on planes can do a number on small stomachs. Your carry-on bag should have double the amount of diapers you think you’ll need for your time in the airport, the flight and when you touch down.

2. A Change of Clothes for Everyone

The whole family should have a change of clothes in their carry-on luggage. You never know if your bags will be lost for days or if a spill will occur mid-flight. It is a good idea to have a spare change of clothes for all parties. If your child is old enough to handle their own backpack or carry-on, you can slip a change of clothes in their bag to save on space in your own.

3. Gum

If you have ever been on a plane with small children, you know how the air pressure can really hurt those little ears during takeoff and landing. While not always a cure, many recommend using gum to help with the air pressure. Before takeoff and landing, parents should pass out gum to kids if they’re old enough to chew it. Include pacifiers if the child uses one and is too young for gum.

4. Entertainment

Whether it’s your child’s favorite book, or a game they have been longing to play, you will want some form of entertainment in your carry-on bag for the family trip. Traveling can be a long process, especially if flights are delayed, which tends to happen more often during the cold weather months. You will keep everyone happy if the little ones are entertained and don’t notice how long everything may be taking. Games, books and coloring supplies will all help pass the time at the airport and in flight.

5. Snacks

With airlines handing out next to nothing in the way of snacks and meals unless you pay up, parents should have an ample supply of snacks with them at the airport. It never fails when flying with children, they always seem to be “starving” at the most inopportune time, like when you are in line to board. Snacks in individual Ziploc bags make it easy to grab and pass out snacks.

After you have survived the plane ride and airport madness with your little ones, you can make some time for relaxing in your Extended Stay America suite. Not only do suites feature a home-like layout with separate eating, living and sleeping spaces, but the whole family can appreciate amenities like premium TV channels, pools and hot tubs. 

June 3, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wear Blue! June is Men's Health Month

Celebrated across the country with health fairs, outreach programs and screenings, June ushers in Men’s Health Month. But even before June begins, men can start addressing their health and raising awareness about common issues they face. If you’re a traveling man or like to travel, it’s important to still maintain your health as you enjoy your home away from home. Before you take off, men should practice these tips for remaining in good health on the road.

Tip #1: Find Hotels With Gyms

Exercise is essential for men to keep up a healthy lifestyle. However, when traveling, men might have a tendency to leave their running shoes at home. Especially if you travel for business, this lapse in exercise can be detrimental to your health. To make it easier to exercise while you travel, men should seek out hotels that offer gyms. Eliminating the excuse that it’s too hard to get a work out in while traveling gives you a better chance of maintaining an exercise routine even if you are away from home. Extended Stay America not only makes it easy to exercise while traveling with gyms on site but also the hotel company offers plenty of promotions and specials to keep those room rates low. If you truly don’t have time to go to the gym while you travel, you can always exercise by doing the little things like carrying your luggage up to your room, taking the stairs when you see them and parking a little bit further away while sightseeing to get in some extra exercise.

Tip #2: Prepare As Many Meals as You Can

Poor health in men can often be linked to a poor diet. As part of Men’s Health Month, traveling men should examine what they eat. It never hurts to keep a log of what you eat on the road so you can notice where you need to make changes. Diets can go right out the window the minute you leave home. To maintain some semblance of staying healthy on the road, try to prepare as many meals as you can while traveling. If your hotel has a kitchen, this can be much easier to accomplish. While it might seem like eating out every night for a week won’t harm your health, poor eating can lead to a number of health issues later for men.

Tip #3: Know Your History

Your medical history can often be an indication of health issues you might face later in life. As part of healthy living on the road, you should be aware of the genetics and the problems and issues your loved ones have faced, problems that could hereditarily become issues for you as well. One of the most important steps for staying healthy on the road is merely getting screened and checked by your doctor for any known family health issues. Pre-detection is always better than finding out about a major health problem after it’s too late. Also by knowing your medical history, you can make smarter choices while traveling.

Traveling can be an enriching experience for both men and women. However, as Men’s Health Month kicks off, it’s important for men to remember the importance of remaining healthy even when home is very far away. 

June 1, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)