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Top 4 Places to Spend a Romantic New Year's Eve

December 26, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Countdowns, midnight kisses, champagne toasts and fireworks are what make New Year’s Eve one of the most romantic holidays of the year. For couples, finding a setting to ring in the New Year can be a challenge each and every year. If you are looking for a New Year’s Eve destination heavy on the romance, try these four spots for a starry-eyed New Year’s Eve getaway.

New Orleans, Louisiana

For the romantic couple who also delights in music, food and fun, New Orleans fits the bill for New Year’s. This city is rare, one of French Quarter beauty, jazz, blues, glowing gas lamps and generous cuisine. New Orleans is a culture waiting to be opened, specifically for New Year’s Eve. The city features a wealth of events couples can enjoy such as a fleur-de-lis drop, fireworks over the Mississippi River and live entertainment in Jackson Square. Even if you don’t fancy the ragging party scene that is New Orleans, you can take your romancing on a fireworks cruise on the Creole Queen paddlewheeler or the Steamboat Natchez.

New York City, New York

Easily one of the most famous destinations in the U.S. for New Year’s Eve celebrations, New York City is much more than just the Times Square ball drop. Couples can romance the city without going elbow to elbow with crowds even if the city is one of the most popular New Year’s Eve destinations in the U.S. Aside from catching the ball drop, New York also boasts fireworks at Long Meadow, and the show is best seen from Grand Army Plaza. The city is also full of romantic attractions - beginning with a stroll through Central Park. Couples can then make the trip up to the top of the Empire State Building or go on a date on ice at the rink at Rockefeller Center. When you are exhausted from New York’s wealth of romantic attractions, you can rest up at Extended Stay America New York, where comforts and amenities reign supreme.

San Francisco, California

There is a reason San Francisco takes many hearts. The city by the bay is also incredibly romantic for New Year’s Eve. If you are seeking a city that offers a taste of a little bit of everything without too much pretention, San Francisco meets the expectation. It is hard not to be romanced by fog draped over the Golden Gate Bridge or a ride through downtown on a cable car. New Year’s Eve celebrations in San Francisco include a spectacular fireworks show along the Embarcadero, hotel parties, restaurant gatherings and even museum celebrations. One not-to-be-missed venue…The Asian Art Museum, which puts on a New Year belling ringing ceremony.

Charleston, South Carolina

When you can’t whisk your loved one out of the country for New Year’s Eve, Charleston answers with that history and old world charm most travel across oceans to find. The romantic Southern city is draped in stately homes, delicious and fulfilling cuisine and a history you just can’t manufacture. Founded by English colonists in 1670, Charleston takes pride in how it has preserved its history rather than destroy it. Couples can stroll through that history, popping in an antebellum mansion or two. A romantic New Year’s Eve in Charleston brings themed balls and countdown parties, specifically with the Yorktown Countdown[SG2] . Charleston’s largest annual New Year’s Eve celebration features a ball drop on the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier in Mount Pleasant.

New Year’s Eve is romanticism personified - this year hit a spot that will provide memories that will last a lifetime.

Best Places to Experience a Wintery Christmas

December 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

They say there’s no place like home, especially during the Christmas season, but sometimes you just want to go somewhere special during the holidays. Whether you are looking for a place to spend the holidays away from home or you are heading to an appealing wintry destination to see family, here are a few spots around the nation that are sure to make being away from home for the holidays downright magical.

Denver

If you’re looking to get away for Christmas, Denver is ideally located right in the heart of America. With easy flight connections all across the country, snagging a flight to the Mile City during the holidays rewards family travelers with plenty of festive events, from lighting displays to plays and shows. However, one of the main advantages to basing yourself in Denver for Christmas is to play up in the mountains. Denver sits in easy reach of ski towns like Vail, Breckenridge and Aspen.

Chicago

If you’re planning to spend Christmas in a hotel in Chicago, the Windy City delights visitors with its wealth of Christmas cheer and spirit. Ice skaters can twirl in the outdoor skating rinks around town - there’s a rink at the Lincoln Park Zoo and also one at Millennium Park with a view of the downtown skyline. In addition to skating, Chicago turns up the holiday spirit with its Christkindlmarket, a large open-air market, modeled after the German Christmas market in Nuremberg. The outdoor market is full of German food and holiday items like nutcrackers and cuckoo clocks available for purchase. Travelers can find the European style Christmas markets in the Chicago Loop. Christmas in Chicago also entails a number of plays dealing with the holiday season. The Goodman Theatre has put on A Christmas Carol for over 35 years.

Boston

For a wintry escape packed with New England historic charm, Boston is a popular Christmas destination for families. Across cobblestone streets, Christmas in Boston has an old-world vibe during the holidays. Families and travelers can marvel at all of the lights around town. Stone Zoo boasts the ZooLights display while Faneuil Hall lights up with the city’s largest Christmas tree. And be sure to hit up Boston Common, perhaps the most popular spot to experience Boston during the holidays. When you need to retire for the evening, you can rest up at Extended Stay America Boston for that home away from home for the holidays.

New York

It could easily be argued that no other city in the U.S. does Christmas like New York. Christmas in New York dazzles with holiday window displays to marvel at, Christmas trees seeming to almost tough the skyscrapers behind them and ice-skating in the middle of it all. After checking into your New York accommodations, you can get acquainted with the city’s magic during the holidays, beginning with Rockefeller Plaza’s towering tree. Visitors can also explore Sixth Avenue during the spirited season to see its over-the-top light and holiday displays. And of course, the season in New York wouldn’t be complete without a Rockettes show at Radio City Music Hall.

Wherever you end up for your snowy holiday trip, Christmas in a white winter wonderland is sure to be nothing less than a dreamy get away.

 

The Complete Guide to Packing for Family Road Trips

December 15, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The classic road trip can be one of the most memorable trips a family can make, not to mention, in comparison with the alternatives, it tends to be fairly budget-friendly. The entire family can pile into the car without having to buy individual tickets for each person. Also, families can see a great deal more when they go by car. However, packing for family road trips is not always a picnic. To make the process easier, be sure to add these items to your road trip packing list.

1. Baby Wipes and Hand Sanitizer

Road trips can be messy and germy. If you stop at gas stations to fill up, or at rest areas to allow the kiddos to get some air, they are probably going to end up touching very germy surfaces. Hand sanitizer can help keep the germs away. Also, it’s a good idea to have baby wipes on hand for spills if mom or dad hits a bump in the road.

2. Healthy Snacks

While it might be tempting to load up the cooler with sugary sodas and salty bites, healthy snacks are always best for keeping energy levels up on long road trips. Not to mention, if you avoid all of the sugar and salt, you help to eliminate the likely possibility of upset tummies when stuck in the car for hours on end.

3. Pillows and Blankets

If you hope to keep the backseat quiet, it helps to make sure those little road warriors are comfy before they start complaining. One of the easiest ways to eliminate the whines about being uncomfortable is to bring pillows and blankets from home. Not only will these keep the whole family cozy, but your clan will also be better rested as you stop at attractions along the way.

4. Something Educational

While the family road trip should be fun, you also want to pack something educational such as your child’s favorite book or a little homework if they need to attempt to keep up if they’re missing school days for the trip. When everyone’s mind goes into zombie mode, an entertaining read can kill several hours in the car.

5. Color-Coded Packing Cubes

One of the hardest aspects of packing for a family road trip isn’t so much about determining what to bring, but more so about how to keep everyone’s belongings organized. For bigger families, you can keep track of every child’s clothing and belongings by assigning each family member their own set color of packing cubes. Packing cubes can keep everyone organized when the road trip grows a little chaotic with each stop.

6. Chargers

When the tablet runs out of juice or your smartphone dies in the middle of nowhere, the car can turn into every parent’s worst nightmare. If your child reads or plays games on a handheld device, be sure you have the car charger for it. Also for safety reasons, it is always a good idea to have a phone charger in the car.

7. Children’s Travel Books

The road trip will be much more bearable if your kids are excited about where they are going. Parents can pick up a few child travel books about their destinations so that the backseat can get excited as to why they are logging all these miles for the endpoint.

8. Disposable Cameras

Part of the fun of a road trip is the places your child will get to see and experience along the way. While outdated to some, disposable cameras allow your little one to capture what they are seeing through their own eyes. It’s always a treat to come home and develop the film to find out what, exactly, intrigued your little one along the way.

9. A Paper Map

While you might have a fancy pants GPS system built into your vehicle, it’s always fun for kids to know where you’re headed on a family trip. A paper map is the best to show the whole car where you are and where you need to travel. If you’re a AAA member, you can probably pick up maps for free from your local office.

10. A First Aid Kit

While you would hope that you never have to open a first aid kit on your family road trip, accidents can happen, and it seems they most often do at the worst possible moment. When someone needs a band-aid, you will want to have a first aid kit ready and accessible.

One thing you won’t have to pack with a car full of kids is loads of extra money to pay for the little ones at your hotel. Extended Stay America offer a kids stay free policy, cutting down the costs of that family road trip.

 

Top 10 Winter Driving Tips

December 11, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When the weather outside is frightful, the last place you want to be is behind the wheel of a car. Driving in adverse weather conditions, whether it’s for holiday travel or for a simple weekend getaway, requires some essential preparation and education. Don’t leave home in the winter without these 10 frosty driving tips.

1. Don’t Use Cruise Control

While it might be convenient for road trips, you never want to use cruise control in poor conditions. On snow and ice, there’s the risk you will not be able to control the speed of the vehicle as quickly as you may need to if your cruise control is turned on.

2. Pack a Prepared Car

Bad things can happen when it comes to driving in wintry conditions. Ice can develop. Snow can pile up. Your battery could die. It is always best to pack a prepared car with items like jumper cables, a shovel, an ice scrapper and blankets. Some extra food and snacks can be helpful too.

3. Don’t Brake Suddenly on Ice and Snow

If you brake hard for that yellow light in snow and ice, the chances are great you will either slide or fishtail into another lane. Braking suddenly in winter weather conditions can cause a loss of control. You’ll want to be even more focused than normal on what’s ahead, so you will have a better chance of anticipating and reacting to changes in speed.

4. Slow and Steady Wins The Race

One of the easiest tips to keep in mind for driving in the winter is to merely slow down. In adverse conditions, it always takes longer to accelerate, stop and turn. Speeding makes it harder to slow down if you hit poor conditions suddenly.

5. Clear Up Your Exhaust Pipe

When it’s snowing, there is more of a potential for your exhaust pipe to clog with mud, snow and ice. Before you start driving, be sure the pipe is free and clear. If it isn’t, you could face a carbon monoxide problem.

6. Steer and Look Where You Want To Go

When you hit icy driving conditions, you might have a tendency to over-correct where the car is headed. Rather than jerking the wheel in one direction or another, it’s best to steer where you want to go - be sure to also look in that direction as well.

7. Use a Lower Gear After a Stop

When you come to a stop on icy and snowy roads, you might be worried about spinning out when you try to accelerate after the light turns green. Rather than stepping on it, it is best to use a lower gear to get going again.

8. Be Particularly Cautious on Bridges, Ramps and Overpasses

Bridges, ramps and overpasses are always the first to form ice in a winter storm. While you might be cruising along a road and have no problem, once you hit a bridge, there is a greater possibility of spinning out as you hit a patch of ice. When you approach bridges, overpasses and ramps, always try to slow down gradually in anticipation of hitting ice.

9. Get Some Rest

A fatigued driver is one of the biggest dangers when driving in winter conditions. As a general rule for winter driving safety, you need to be extremely alert when you are driving in snow and ice. If you are headed on a family road trip or business trip, get some rest. Being tired never mixes well with winter driving.

10. Don’t Go Out If You Don’t Have To

It might sound simple, but one of the best winter driving tips is merely to avoid the roads altogether. If you don’t think your vehicle is suited for winter driving, stay home if you can. If you’re on the road and find yourself in unexpected nasty weather conditions, consider pulling off and checking into a nearby hotel until it is safe to drive again. With Extended Stay America’s convenient locations across the country, you could be cozy in a warm room no time, safely waiting for the storm to pass. 

5 New England Towns with the Most American History

December 2, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New England, the Northeastern corner of the United States, boasts a rich and colorful sense of history that is unparallel to any other region in the country. The area was an integral component in the shaping of our country’s history. The six states that make up the region, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, are full of history that any traveler can appreciate. But, when planning your New England vacation, which spots are must-sees? We cover five towns every history buff must visit at least once.

 

#1. Castine, Maine

Home to Maine Maritime Academy and a plethora of old forts, Castine is one of the oldest towns in Maine. The historic Fort George State Park marks the site of the last post that was surrendered by the British during the Revolutionary War - you can just envision the battle that took place while standing on the grounds.

DON’T MISS: The Wilson Museum - witness a cultural collection of artifacts spanning centuries. Be sure to check out their hours before planning your trip, though. The museum isn’t open year-round.

#2. Weston, Vermont

Tiny Weston, Vermont is seeped in history. In fact, the entire town itself is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. The town common is gorgeous, and while small, definitely worth a stroll. The local shops and historic houses of the town are a walk through time.

DON’T MISS: The Vermont County Store - the store with something for everyone. You’ll feel like you walked back in time.

#3. Portsmouth, New Hampshire

If touring over 40 historic buildings that date back to the late 1600s sounds intriguing, you won’t want miss Portsmouth. This seaport town is a summer destination for tourists all over.

DON’T MISS: The Strawbery Banke Museum. You can explore historic buildings and gardens and experience what lives up to a live interactive history lesson, an outdoor museum of sorts. This trip needs planning too, though, as the museum isn’t open year round.

#4. Mystic, Connecticut

With a quaint combination of ancient coastal life and modern appeal, Mystic is a stop on the New England tour you should make. Olde Mystick Village has shops, museums and eateries that are the epitome of New England coastal life. The Charles W. Morgan, a historic whaleship, is the oldest commercial ship still in water and resides at the Mystic Seaport.

DON’T MISS: Mystic Pizza - Grab a delectable slice of pie (cheese, not fruit) from the now-famed pizza joint - yep, the one from the movie. Mystic Pizza will fuel you for the rest of your trip.

#5. Boston, Massachusetts

Taking a tour of the capital city of Massachusetts is a must. Known as the birthplace of the American Revolution, Boston has something for everyone. From Fenway Park to appease sports enthusiasts, to The Boston Common for general history buffs, this is one town that must be crossed off your bucket list.

DON’T MISS: The Freedom Trail - Take a self-guided tour or journey with a costumed-donned guide, leading you on a 2 ½ mile tour, visiting sites like Paul Revere’s home and The Boston Common.

The vast history of New England is something that everyone can appreciate, from the scholarly history enthusiast to the young child. Take the time to plan your New England road trip so you get the most out of the experience. And when you’re weary from exploration, head back to the comfy confines of your Extended Stay America hotel room to rest up for your next adventure.