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Top 10 Sunny Vacation Destinations to Escape Winter

January 31, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

While pegged as the most wonderful time of year, the winter months can lead to cold weather blues. With each falling snowflake, swimsuit weather seems like a far off dream. In some parts of the country, snow is a curiosity that seldom, if ever, occurs. The temperatures stay mild and warm throughout the winter months, making for prime winter destinations. To beat the cold, try to escape to these idyllic and sunny vacation destinations in the winter.

Los Angeles, CA

If you’ve been to the Golden Coast in winter, then you know that a coat in Los Angeles is really more of a light sweater. If you want to flee below zero temperatures at home, Los Angeles makes for an easy warm weather escape. There are plenty of beaches to roam and nearby seaside communities to explore. If you are traveling with the whole family, Los Angeles has plenty of museums and theme parks to keep everyone happy.

Atlanta, GA

There is a reason why birds fly south for the winter. Balmy temperatures in America’s south translate to sunny vacation destinations to beat the cold. Atlanta in particular doesn’t disappoint. It might not be your traditional sunny getaway with sandy beaches and turquoise waters, but the city yields parks aplenty to enjoy the great outdoors, like Stone Mountain. Families will also appreciate its legendary museums and attractions like the Georgia Aquarium and the Coca Cola Museum.

Orlando, FL

Situated in central Florida, Orlando is the perfect southern getaway for the holiday season. Post-hurricane season, which ends in September, the dry and cool winter months can prove to be a calm, mid-70s temperate retreat where you can hang your hat for a long weekend or extended vacation. Home to the famed Walt Disney World, its nickname of “The Theme Park Capital of the World” is well-earned.

Maui, HI

To truly feel like you are nowhere near snow and ice, Maui, Hawaii is the epitome of the tropics. Littered with cute towns, organic cuisines, sparkling beaches and out of this world sunsets, Maui is an easy choice for a warm weather getaway in the dead of winter.

San Diego, CA

It has only snowed a handful of times in San Diego over the last 150 years. For travelers seeking sun, that’s a pretty good statistic. Pockets of the city and neighboring communities such as La Jolla and Coronado present once-in-a lifetime experiences, like spotting whale migrations, during the winter months. There are also over a dozen museums to visit in Balboa Park alone.

Miami, FL

When most of the country is blanketed in snow, Miami is almost laughing out loud at your weather report. Down the Florida coast, this metropolis is enjoying perfectly warm temperatures and sandy beaches. From peddling along the oceanfront by bike to taking in Miami’s Art Deco architecture, the city lends an idyllic sunny escape.

Scottsdale, AZ

In terms of tropical vacations, Scottsdale, Arizona probably isn’t on the list. It might not be tropical, but the area known as the Valley of the Sun doesn’t get its nickname for nothing. If you are in need of a winter thawing, Scottsdale answers with its desert-like conditions. When you aren’t hanging by a pool or playing 18 holes, you can visit a wealth of cultural attractions such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West and the Musical Instrument Museum.

Gulf Shores, AL

Gulf Shores won’t rival the likes of Miami and Los Angeles in size, but it’s generally balmy in the winter months. The small community sits on the Gulf of Mexico in Alabama with its powder soft sandy beaches. Bird watching, state parks, golf courses and even swimming are all possible in Gulf Shores.

Palm Springs, CA

When you are in search of warm weather vacations, the beach frequently comes to mind. However, Palm Springs, California should be on your list simply for its pleasant temperatures. This desert town experiences a very mild winter, making it possible to dine outdoors while feasting on the city’s rich food scene. You can also make the climb up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway or, of course, you can always just sip a beverage and lounge by the pool.

Charleston, SC

A visit to Charleston, South Carolina in the winter can offer a touch of warmth and a dash of old world charm. The city infects with a rich history, seen through its architecture and attractions. Being by the water also allows you to dip your toes in for a taste of what summer once felt like before all of the parkas, ice and snow banks.

From the shores of Florida to the California coast, Extended Stay America hotels are conveniently located in all of your favorite warm weather destinations. You can take a dip in the hotel pool, relax with some premium television channels or simply enjoy the extra space each suite has. 

5 Reasons Why You Need AAA For Your Next Road Trip

January 28, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Flat tires, dead batteries, expensive hotels, even running out of gas can all plague the road-tripper. While road trips can be appealing for their cost savings, they can also be met with several bumps in that proverbial road. Founded in 1902, AAA, also known as the American Automobile Association, set out to help travelers with those bumps. The company provides different memberships that, for an annual fee, give travelers the peace of mind knowing they have someone to call when their safety and security on the road is called into question. Providing members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive services, many road trippers carry a AAA membership every time they hit the pavement for the benefits they receive. If you aren’t a member, here are a few reasons why you might want to join before your next road trip.

 

1. Expansive Coverage

If you’re taking a cross-country road trip, the last place you want to be is stranded due to car trouble. One of the benefits for travelers who do have a AAA membership is that they don’t have to worry about trying to get help in places they aren’t familiar. AAA membership covers you across the U.S. and Canada. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the territory, there is a constant reassurance in knowing you can call for help no matter where you are.

 

2. Hotel Discounts

Having a AAA membership goes beyond the uses for your vehicle. You can also often score hotel deals when you book reservations using your AAA card. Many hotel chains like Extended Stay America offer discounts on hotel rates to AAA members. Having a AAA card may allow you to enjoy saving here and there on your hotel nights.

 

3. Roadside Assistance

While of you hope your family road trip won’t be filled with any unexpected breakdowns, car trouble frequently throws a vacation into a tailspin. Having a AAA membership lends members nationwide road service, 24 hours a day. Many common problems on a road trip such as a flat tire or a dead battery can be solved in an instant if you are a member. If you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, it’s nice to know that someone can come help you get on your way again.

 

4. Towing

Depending on your AAA membership level, you may be entitled to towing services. For business travel, this can be essential when you need to get on your way quickly. Waiting for a tow can be the most maddening (and time consuming) part of unexpected roadside troubles. AAA memberships offer towing services, generally a set number per member and to a set distance. You can always pay extra if your tow exceeds the mileage limit.

 

5. More Travel Deals

In addition to hotel discounts, AAA memberships also produce discounts on restaurants, entertainment and even car rentals. Road warriors often find the journey can still be an expensive vacation once you account for gas, eating out and accommodations. By having a membership, travelers going by car can save throughout most areas of their road trip spending.


 

5 Easy Exercises You Can Do on a Business Trip

January 22, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Business trips can consist of far too much stationary activity. It’s not unusual to be sitting on long flights or in meetings, getting minimal, if any, exercise throughout the day. As a result, business professionals can go home feeling even more run down because they aren’t working out and exercising like they normally do at home. While it makes sense that business trips will take away from your normal fitness routines, they don’t have completely wipe out your healthy routine. Here are a few simple exercises business travelers can do while on the road.

 

Squats and Lunges

For the business traveler lacking room in their luggage to haul exercise equipment, their greatest access is bodyweight exercises. These exercises involve merely using your own weight to help work out certain areas. Two easy exercises that are hotel-room-friendly are squats and lunges. Both require no equipment but lead to a more toned lower body and core.

 

Climb the Stairs

Business travelers don’t have to wait to get to the hotel for the chance to exercise. Every trip through the airport, journey up to the hotel room or visit to an office building can prove to offer one of the easiest exercises to do while traveling. Climbing the stairs rather than taking elevators can be an easy way to workout without doing too much thinking or setting aside time to exercise. Moving those legs can also be a nice cardio exercise after you have been sitting on flights for hours on end.

 

Take Advantage of Fitness Centers

Most hotels have fitness centers with basic gym staples like a treadmill, elliptical and weights. As part of healthy travel, you need to walk, jog or run every once in awhile. For the business traveler, the hotel fitness center is a saving grace when you only have free time at the beginning or end of the day to exercise. It is worth it to look for accommodations with fitness centers as part of their hotel amenities. By spending just 15 minutes in the hotel gym, you will surely feel healthier and restored.

 

Pushups

Pushups are one of the simplest exercises to do while traveling. They provide a big impact on the body, and you only need a small space to carry out this upper body exercise. Pushups work the shoulders, chest, arms and even the core. By doing at least 10 reps in conjunction with other exercises like jogging, you can keep your upper body toned as you travel.

 

Swim Laps

For some business travelers, at the end of a long flight or day of meetings, you don’t really want to head to a hotel fitness room. Luckily, you can still do an exercise without having to hit the treadmill. If your accommodations have a pool, you can swim a few laps. Swimming not only burns a ton of calories, it is also quite refreshing when you have been confined to a chair all day. It’s easy to squeeze in a few laps here and there if you have a pool onsite at your hotel.

4 Road Trips Every Family Should Plan For in 2015

January 14, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

For families, road trips are often the best way to get out and see the country without overspending. Where are you planning to hit the road to get to next year? If you still haven’t finalized your destinations, consider these four road trips to make for iconic and rewarding travels in 2015.

 

Trip #1: California’s The Pacific Coast Highway

If you don’t know where to begin in 2015 with your family travels, California road trips are a good place to start. With a number of appealing hotels chalk full of amenities for family travelers throughout California, the state presents a wealth of landscapes and attractions that the whole carload can appreciate. One of California’s most memorable road trips is that down the Pacific Coast Highway. A stunning trip spanning 123 miles, this California jaunt highlights Monterey, Carmel and Big Sur. The cliff hugging journey presents varying landscapes in California, proving rewarding for the entire family. Designated an All-American Road, the Pacific Coast Highway road trip can take around 5 hours total, leaving plenty of time to stop for a few days here and there along the way.

 

Trip #2: North Carolina’s Outer Banks

In terms of otherworldly road trips, North Carolina’s drive along the Outer Banks tends to take the cake. The 114 miles drive stretches from the north coast town of Corolla down to Ocracoke. The road trip mostly covers Highway 12, including a car ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island. Along the way, the whole family can admire ocean views, sand dunes and history lighthouses. This North Carolina road trip can also include a visit to see the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills and a journey along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, a protected coastline from Nags Head to Ocracoke. The North Carolina’s Outer Banks journey lends an end of the Earth feel without being too far removed from civilization.

 

Trip #3: Texas’ Big Bend

The borderlands of Texas present a true adventure for your family road trip in 2015. Part of the appeal of venturing down to Big Bend National Park is the journey in just getting there. This road trip takes visitors through rugged mountains, desert and grassland. Families can begin the trip to Big Bend in Fort Stockton, heading through Alpine into the Park. Carloads can then loop out of the park by heading up to Marfa. The journey showcases Texas at its most remote and arguably most beautiful.

 

Trip #4: Michigan’s Shipwreck Coast

While not as famous as the likes of Route 66, Michigan’s Shipwreck Coast should make it into your family vacation plans in the New Year if you seek out an unusual journey. The route stretches from the Upper Peninsula, in between Marquette and Whitefish Point. The road almost rides on the water, leading to the wondrous Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The 40-mile stretch is exactly why many venture up here. The route highlights Lake Superior and the toll it has taken on more than 300 ships, leading to its title of Shipwreck Coast. Key stops along the way include the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and Whitefish Point Light Station.

 

10 Best Boston Restaurants Every Top Chef Fan Should Try Out

January 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bravo’s Top Chef set the table in Boston for its twelfth season. It’s no wonder why. Boston has built up the reputation not just for thick accents and baseball, but also for its tasty cuisine. Top Chef fans visiting Boston will not want to miss feasting at these Boston restaurants that are either linked to the television series or most simply famously delicious in Bean Town.

 

Sweet Cheeks Q

If you have been a Top Chef fan from the beginning, you’re probably familiar with the finalist of the first season, Tiffani Faison. Faison spearheaded one of Boston’s favorite restaurants, Sweet Cheeks Q. The establishment aims to perfect Texas style barbeque, despite being very far north of the Mason Dixon line. When you hit Sweet Cheeks Q, a must-have, not-to-miss is the mouth-watering pork belly.

 

Coppa

Located in Boston’s South End, Coppa bears a Top Chef Boston connection. Many of the star judges of the series dined at Coppa while filming in Bean Town. Coppa is known by locals for being a delicious and creative enoteca run by Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette.

 

No. 9 Park

Located in Boston’s Beacon Hill, right across from the Boston Common and the Massachusetts State House, No. 9 Park is overseen by the legendary Boston native, chef Barbara Lynch. Lynch appeared on the Top Chef Boston season to advise contestants. And it’s no wonder why, with restaurants like No. 9 Park under her belt. The Boston establishment serves up a blend of regionally inspired Italian and French cuisine. Adding to its acclaim, the restaurant has won several fine dining awards.

 

Rialto

Boston doesn’t mess around with Italian food. Need convincing? Check out Rialto in Harvard Square. The upscale Italian eatery features local ingredients with regional Italian culinary traditions. To further cement their credit in the world of authentic Italian faire, Chef Jody Adams even appeared on the second season of Top Chef Masters.

 

B&G Oysters

It wouldn’t be a visit to Boston without sampling some New England classics like oysters. No. 9 Park’s chef Barbara Lynch also runs B&G Oysters. Her modern take on a classic oyster bar in Boston’s South End frequently receives awards and accolades.

 

The Regal Beagle

Executive chef Stacy Cogswell at The Regal Beagle in Brookline might sound familiar to Top Chef fans. Cogswell is a contestant on the Top Chef Boston season. She also runs the Regal Beagle in Boston, serving up a menu of upscale comfort food with an added twist.

 

Tico Boston

When you are staying in Boston, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to an establishment run by Michael Schlow, one of Boston’s most prized chefs. Schlow not only runs things at Tico Boston, but he has also appeared on Top Chef Masters. The establishment is all about having a good time while enjoying American cuisine sprinkled with the influences of Schlow’s travels and love for Spain, Mexico and South America.

 

The Kirkland Tap and Trotter

Quickly garnering fame as one of the best Boston restaurants open today, the Kirkland Tap and Trotter will appeal to Top Chef fans for its simple, hearty yet approachable cuisine. James Beard award winning chef Tony Maws leads the show at the Kirkland Tap and Trotter, presenting a funky take from a friendly neighborhood spot.

 

M.C. Spiedo

The fourth season of Top Chef Masters featured the culinary duo of Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier. The team has moved into Boston’s M.C. Spiedo in the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. Acclaimed for its farm fresh ingredients and old world Italian dishes, the restaurant is also a delight for its Renaissance-inspired décor.

 

Oleana

Continuing the Top Chef restaurants’ tour, Oleana should also make a traveler’s culinary list. Headed by Ana Sortun, the Cambridge eatery specializes in Turkish and Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. Top Chef watchers might recognize Sortun’s name from the second season of Top Chef Masters.

 

A trip to Boston could easily be filled with nothing more than eating your way, one amazing restaurant after another, through the charming historic town.