Mark Your Calendars: Must Attend 2016 Festivals

March 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Whether you're interested in food, music or cultural celebrations, we've gathered an exciting list of festivals in the US for you to peruse. Book your hotel in advance and start exploring!

Make Music — A Road Warriors' Insider's Tip!
You can always count on us to bring you the most new and exciting travel information, and so we've scoured everywhere to bring you the hottest 2016 music festivals in the US. Avoid the heat, drama and cancellations of Coachella or Bonaroo, and try the up-and-coming KaaBoo Music Festival in San Diego instead. From September 16-18th of 2016 (the earlier you start planning and getting tickets, the better!) you and a group of friends can enjoy the music of Jack Johnson, the Avett Brothers, and even throw it back with the Goo Goo Dolls. Since its inception last year, KaaBoo has been celebrated for bringing a cleaner, more pleasant experience that has something for dancers, comedians and artists alike — so you can enjoy great music in a venue that touches all aspects of creativity. There are a variety of different festival passes available, so, whatever your budget, KaaBoo has something that will work for you.

Find a New Art Piece
Do you love fine art, but lack the budget for a Sotheby's estate sale? Great art doesn't have to cost as much as a down payment on a house — and it should be accessible to everyone. That's where New York City's Affordable Art Fair comes in. Taking place from March 30th to April 3rd of 2016, the art fair features works in a variety of lower price ranges from over 1,000 artists. So whatever your style is, which room of the apartment you're looking to improve or how much money you have, you're guaranteed to find something that works for you.


No matter what your interest, whether you're a social butterfly or a brooding solo traveler, hitting up a festival is the ideal way to celebrate yourself and your passions.

Traveling to Houston for the Final 4

March 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

It's almost that time of year again — are you ready for March Madness 2016? We know that some other, more "low-key" fans are content to just watch the games on their TVs all cozied up on the couch, but not you. You're heading to the final four in Houston to experience the madness firsthand. Looking for some of the best sports bars in Houston, or in need of a list of what to do in Houston before, in between or after the games? Keep reading. You know we've got you covered. So book your hotel room and get ready for a great time.

Lucky's Pub

If your team lost and you find yourself needing to blow off some steam, or if your team won and you’re looking to celebrate, head over to Lucky's Pub downtown. With over 250 beers to choose from, a reputation for enormous portions, and skee-ball, darts and — did we mention? — one of the biggest TV screens of any bar in the city, you are sure to find a way to either lick your wounds or clink glasses in celebratory pride. There's great music, even better company and a kitchen that's open past midnight. Lucky's is the perfect way to experience the city like a local.

Heights Cigar Lounge

When you’re tired of the sports bar scene, an afternoon or evening at Heights Cigar Lounge should do the trick. Celebrated for its friendly staff that’s more than willing to make recommendations for amateurs and aficionados alike, Heights Cigar Lounge refers to itself as "your den away from home." Packed with (what else?) leather sofas and recliners, plenty of card game tables for you to meet — and challenge — new friends, and, of course, wifi, TV and the all-important fireplace, Heights Cigar Lounge is the perfect way to really unwind in Houston. Don’t worry if you don't have time to stay to enjoy a smoke before the game; you can pick up a cigar for that win you're counting on later and even speak with one of the bar's knowledgeable tobacconists for advice on something new to try. You can head in, pick up your cigars and walk out just in time for the tipoff. Discover new flavors, find that cigar you enjoyed years ago, or simply enjoy the lingering scents in the air.

While we can't guarantee that your favorite team will walk away with the championship, we can pretty confidently promise that you'll have an amazing time and have no problem finding fun activities in Houston to keep you and your group entertained. Be sure you check out our tips on hot margarita spots in town, too. One thing you can count on when you visit gorgeous Houston is you’re sure to find out just how much this vibrant city has to offer — from basketball to margaritas, day lunching to cool evening vibes, this hip town has something for everyone.

Presidential Trivia & Road Trip Guide

February 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

There's no doubt that we all appreciate President's Day for the time off from work, but with an election right around the corner, there’s never been a better time to start taking the day a bit more seriously than we normally do. If the last time you cracked open a history book was your senior year of college, or if you're a history buff who hasn't had the time to indulge in your interests lately, why not use this President's Day to brush up on your Presidential facts? We've combined some of the greatest historical landmarks in the US alongside fun bits of trivia about our nation's leaders. There's more to Presidential memorials than Mount Rushmore. Let's explore some new sights together.

Atlanta, Georgia
We can’t think of a better place to start your journey than Atlanta, Georgia, known for its hospitality and irresistible food! And after you check in to your Atlanta hotel, head over to check out Jimmy Carter's Presidential Library and Museum! Home to over a half a million photographs and 27 million pages of notes and memos from Carter's Presidency from 1977-1981, you'll never run out of things to see. The museum has something for everyone — and don’t count it out just because you don’t consider yourself a bookworm; take in the stunning Japanese garden designed by Kinsaku Nakane, or explore the rest of the property's 35 acres on foot. Part research library, part museum and total historical landmark.

A fun fact about Jimmy Carter? He was a speed-reader himself, enrolling in a speed-reading course and famously devouring about four books a week. Sounds like the library is a perfect tribute to him.

Augusta, Georgia
Since you're already in Georgia, why not take a little detour to Augusta. Just a couple hours east of Atlanta, Augusta boasts childhood home of President Woodrow Wilson, who governed our country from 1913-1921. Built in 1859 with red brick and gorgeous green shutters, the house is done in perfect Southern style, and is one of the best-restored presidential homes in the country — the Wilsons lived in the historic home during the Civil War, adding an extra element of historical awe. Take in a huge piece of our country's history during your stay in Augusta.

A fun fact about Woodrow Wilson? He was the first US President to obtain his PhD, so technically, he's Dr. Wilson!

Pineville, North Carolina
The often-overlooked 11th President of the United States, James K. Polk, was born in scenic Pineville, just an hour or so outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. His birthplace home has become a memorial and educational site to showcase what life was like in the late 1700s. An ideal place for curious children, you’ll learn how to churn butter, sew and even hear about how people dressed in Colonial times. The house has several staff members who participate in historical reenactments.

A fun fact about James K. Polk? His nickname was "Young Hickory," as he supported the "Old Hickory," Andrew Jackson.

Whatever your interests are, make this President's Day a trip to remember by visiting some of the country's most beautiful and moving historical landmarks and sites.

Mush! Hike! All Right! Let’s Go...Dog Sledding

January 26, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Have you always wanted to go to Alaska? Are you a dog lover? Can't get enough of the wintertime? Currently living in a part of the country where it’s considered “cold” when the forecast is 60 degrees and sunny? If you answered yes to any of these questions, why not think about booking a hotel in Anchorage, Alaska sometime in March? Why March? There’s no better time to gear up and get out there so you can attend the 1,000+ mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race!

Intrigued? Read on for information about the famed race and other activities in Anchorage you can enjoy afterwards. One thing is pretty certain…it’ll be an action-packed trip of a lifetime, unlike any other you’ve probably ever experienced!

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

As everyone knows from Hollywood and bedtime stories, dog sledding in Alaska is as commonplace as, well, snow is! No race is as eagerly anticipated each year as the world famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which was originally established in 1973. Initially, the event was more of a test, and less of a race for dogs and their mushers. Today, though, it’s competitive and is hardly open to amateurs: to compete, you'll need a team of at least 16 dogs, the strength and willpower to last up to nine or ten days in the wind-whipping conditions and most importantly, the desire to race right on through dangerous blizzards and snowstorms! So, the race, while open to all spectators, is clearly not for the faint of heart. Think of the childhood book and movie Balto, times ten. The heart-stopping, ultra-competitive "Last Dash" portion of the race cuts through territory that is home to one of Alaska's largest native populations. Teams are required to rest at least eight hours before embarking on the infamous "Last Dash," and once they're back on the ice, it's anybody's game.

Cook Inlet — A Sight You'll Never Forget

After you’ve experienced the race, be sure you make time for one of the most beautiful places to visit in Anchorage — the stunning Cook Inlet, a 180-mile waterway from Anchorage to the Gulf whose views captivate travelers and residents alike. It's even got its own little dash of excitement, an active volcano! Don't worry though, the volcano hasn't erupted in quite some time and isn't expected to anytime soon.

Home to tidal boors, huge waves crashing against the current and exotic wildlife, the truly breathtaking views are perfect if you're planning a proposal or special celebration. If you have any commemoration in mind, this is certainly the place to do it. Plus, it's rich with history, from conflicts with Russian fur traders of centuries past, to explorers who risked their lives to, quite literally, put Alaska on the map. And if you really want to take in the views and are up for some serious adventure, flying tours are both breathtaking and a true once-in-a-lifetime experience.

If you’re looking for a unique vacation this winter, this could be the perfect adventure. Because especially in the winter, Alaska is the ideal spot to get in touch with nature, escape the city or really see what snowfall means!

The Best Christmas Markets in NYC

December 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

What if you found a way to get all of your holiday shopping done in one place — without the hassle, parking spot-fights and stress of a shopping mall? Enter the Christmas Markets of New York City, where artisan craftsmen, painters and mini booths from major retailers alike all come together to make one of the best Christmas markets in the US. So book a New York hotel room for a few nights in December, and get ready for a shopping experience you'll never forget.

Some of the best Christmas markets in New York City are directly across from The Shops at Columbus Circle, on the West Side. Whether you're looking for a customized Christmas ornament, the perfect candle to gift to your coworkers or neighbors or some stunning jewelry for the special sparkly one in your life, head to the Columbus Circle Holiday Market where you’ll find something for everyone on your list — and of course, a few little things for yourself. Afterwards, you and your family can even take a carriage ride across Central Park, and check out the incredible holiday window displays of Fifth Avenue.

If you're looking for something for the fashionista in your life, another great option to find local designers and more is a trip to the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park. Open from the end of October to January 3, the shops here cater equally to those who want to get their shopping done early as well as those who are chronically late. The Bryant Park Winter Village is especially loved for its international flair, so if you're looking to impress the people on your list, you don't actually have to fly all the way to Istanbul to find the perfect gift. Afterwards, you can go for a spin on the famous Bryant Park Ice Skating Rink, where, best of all, admission is free.

Are you looking for German Christmas markets in the US? Luckily for you, Manhattan still has a thriving and welcoming German community. Check out the Upper East Side neighborhood of Yorkville, home to some of the earliest immigrants to Manhattan, whose descendants still sell the holiday wares their grandparents taught them to make. And you can enjoy traditional treats such as Stollen cake and gingerbread cookies while sipping on a cup of Christkindl’s Winterdrink at any of the four German Delights Christmas stands across the city. Also, be sure to check out the one and only Schaller and Weber, where you can pick up the best in German Christmas fare to take back to your hotel room for snacks when you’re too tired to go out again!

Holiday shopping doesn't have to be exhausting, even in New York City, home to the best Christmas markets in the US. You’re sure to find what you're looking for, whether it's one-of-a-kind jewelry, a craft from an international artisan or even some handmade soaps from a local vendor, you're sure to actually enjoy your Christmas shopping this year at the holiday markets

 

'Tis The Season For...Santacon!

December 10, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The holiday season brings last minute shopping, the chance to catch up with friends, and a pass on all those extra sweets we indulge in over the course of a couple months. For many of us, it also brings a certain amount of stress into our lives. But for those in the know, taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday and spending a day in celebratory cheer can be just the thing that the doctor…err, Santa, ordered. If you're in New York City or San Francisco this December, you'll have the chance to participate in one of the most fun-filled events of the Christmas season — the annual Santacon!

While there are hundreds of towns throughout the world hosting the cheery event, a couple locations are known for an off-the-charts good time. If you're planning a trip to the Big Apple over the holidays, be it for work or for pleasure, take advantage of one of the many amazing deals on hotels and mark your calendar for December 12, when Santacon New York City takes over! According to the event's website, participants can "paint the town red and white" by dressing up in a full Santa costume (you won't be allowed in with just a hat, so enjoy the chance to really go for it) and joining others on a day-long pub-crawl around the city. Meet new people, bring a crew of your closest friends, and get ready for an event you'll never forget! It's much better than the hours-long wait at Macy's for five minutes with the Big Guy, and who wouldn’t want to partake in a gathering with thousands of fellow Santas?


The level of secrecy and excitement is another part of what makes Santacon so much fun. As a part of the rules, the bars and pubs that are opening their doors to Santacon revelers are not revealed until the night before — mum's the word until Santacon Eve!

For our friends on the West Coast, don’t feel left out…Santacon San Francisco is actually the birthplace of this 21-year tradition. The rules are similar to those in New York, except for the fact that you might be a bit warmer in your Santa suit in Sunny California! You are sure to have fun — within reason, the Golden Rule still applies — and you can take advantage of this opportunity to really get into the spirit.

Best of all? Since Christmas is, after all, the Season of Giving, both Santacon locations allow you to crawl for charity, helping to feed the hungry by giving you the option to donate on their website. In the past three years, Santacon has raised $150,000 for charity. Now you can do good for others while enjoying your day, and step in Santa's shoes!

Whether you're a native New Yorker who wants to plan a festive staycation, or a first-time visitor to San Francisco, make this Christmas one for the books. Enjoy great drinks, stellar company, and, best of all, a totally ridiculous and fun day by signing up to participate in Santacon New York or Santacon San Francisco!

The Nutcracker Comes Alive this Winter

December 7, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

No Christmas is complete without a family outing to see Tchaikovsky's breathtaking ballet, "The Nutcracker." From the Russian nesting dolls to The Rat King to Clara's dance with the handsome doll that’s come to life, even people who normally wouldn’t consider themselves fans of dance or classical music tend to love this ballet. But for those who are sure they couldn’t possibly enjoy a 2 hour dance performance on stage, luckily many versions have been created to appeal to even the most modern of audiences. Still not quite convinced? Think about these acclaimed takes on the traditional performance — you can now enjoy an über chic rock or hip-hop version that is sure to impress. Regardless of if you love the classic Nutcracker, rock version or hip-hop version, we’re sure these two performances will leave you jumping out of your seat to give a standing ovation at the end.


San Francisco, California: Celebrate the City
One of the best Nutcracker performances we’ve found is the classic one by the iconic San Francisco Ballet Company in northern California. If you're planning to spend Christmas vacation with your family in San Francisco, be sure to book tickets to this performance of the world famous ballet. Under the direction of famed choreographer and artistic director Helgi Tómasson, this version takes place in contemporary San Francisco — so when you’re not in awe of the stage, you can hit the roads and explore attractions like The Golden Gate Bridge and The Aquarium of the Bay. Book your vacation to San Francisco for the Christmas holidays between December 16th and the 31st to be sure you don’t miss this ballet.

 

New York, New York: The Rap Nutcracker
It's no secret — there's nothing like a family Christmas vacation in New York. The city is known for innovative dance and theatre productions that combine the classics with new cultural influences, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that The United Palace of Cultural Arts has created "The Hip-Hop Nutcracker" to reach a wider audience. Since its debut last year, the version has garnered international attention for its updates to the classic score. With additions like the electric violin, onstage DJs and backbeats and even special appearances with stars like The King of Rap Kurtis Blow, choreographer Jennifer Weber has created a version of the ballet that uses break dancing, contemporary costumes and even urban rapping to bring a new audience closer to the magic of the story. The ballet has toured around the country in eleven different cities, and was even given the rare and prestigious opportunity to perform as a part of the Moscow Ballet in Russia. For the most impressive and memorable performance, be sure to book your Manhattan vacation for November 20th, when Kurtis Blow will revive his role in the ballet. And don’t forget to stop by the magical Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center while you’re in the Big Apple!

No matter how many times you've seen The Nutcracker, and whether you’re a true traditionalist at heart or dying to see one of the new innovated versions of the performance, you aren’t going to want to miss the familiar and beloved childhood tale of Christmas. If you plan to travel to San Francisco or New York City for the holidays this year, be sure to check out at least one of these performances. 

Honor our Veterans in Washington DC

October 30, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Veteran’s Day in Washington D.C. can be one of the most meaningful and memorable experiences for families traveling during that time. The day, reminds us all to pay our respects to fallen soldiers and to those who have served our country. The nation’s capital offers a number of memorials, museums and events that make Veteran’s day all the more impactful for the whole family. If you’re headed to Washington D.C. for this special day, here are a few ways to honor our veterans while in town.

The National Museum of American History

For those staying in Washington D.C. over Veteran’s Day, you can spend some time at the National Museum of American History. A fine place to begin Veteran’s Day with the family, the museum summarizes the history of America’s military from the French and Indian Wars to present-day conflicts. In addition to chronicling the world events involving our soldiers, the museum details the ways in which wars have come to define American history. Exhibitions include remarkable artifacts such as George Washington’s sword and the chairs that Civil War generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant used during the surrender ceremony at the Appomattox Court House.

The Concert for Valor on the National Mall

If you truly want to celebrate Veteran’s Day in Washington D.C., think about attending the Concert for Valor on the National Mall. The free concert honors American military service men and women with pop concerts. With the goal of raising awareness for veteran service organizations, the concert brings in big names in music, with past hosting acts including Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, The Black Keys and Carrie Underwood. 

American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial

Are you looking for other Veteran’s Day activities? You may want to head to the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. The memorial is the newest in D.C. and lends visitors the chance to honor some of America’s bravest. The memorial features a star-shaped fountain with a constant ceremonial flame. You can find the latest memorial near the Botanic Garden.

Arlington National Cemetery

Many Veteran’s Day events occur at Arlington National Cemetery. Even if you aren’t in D.C. on the actual day, a visit to the national military cemetery can be a meaningful experience. Recently celebrating its 150th year, Arlington National Cemetery provides a look at the true costs of war. Visitors can roam the historic park and see notable sites such as the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, the John F. Kennedy Gravesite and the Memorial Arboretum.

This year, you can honor our veterans in Washington D.C. by visiting memorials, museums or merely taking some time to ponder those stars and stripes. If you can be in our nation’s capital for the special day, or if you’re traveling during this time to D.C., these memorials, museums and cemeteries can provide the whole family with a well rounded, moving tribute and picture of national sacrifice.

Watch the Final Pitch in These Cities

October 25, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Baseball fans rejoice! The most exciting time of the year is here… the World Series is the few weeks that every true fan lives for each year. And if you're an honest baseball aficionado (or even just friends with one!) you've probably already started planning where to watch this year's big World Series games. But this year, why not go for more than just a game on TV? Have you thought of planning a trip to tour some of the best baseball cities in the country? We've tried to make the job a little easier by narrowing down the list with these three must-see stadiums. If you’re the kind of fan who would plan a vacation solely in honor of America’s favorite pastime, book that hotel room now and hit the road!

Yankee Stadium in New York
In this case, we've saved the best for first! New York's Yankee Stadium is one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the country. Whether you're an avid baseball fan or just on a family vacation in New York, a visit or a guided tour at the famed Yankee Stadium has something for everyone. And after you get your fill of the stadium, a favorite hot spot is The Yankee Tavern — a classic joint in the Bronx that, while decorated with the baseball team's paraphernalia, is celebrated for making a mean cocktail. And for those who aren't the biggest fans of baseball? Don't worry, the city offers plenty of other options once your favorite fan gets their fill of dugouts and bases.

Angels Stadium in California
If you’re hanging out on the Golden Coast, be sure to check out the Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California. Nicknamed "The Big A," the set of the hit film "Angels in the Outfield" has a seating capacity of nearly 46,000. It's also known for the many historic moments in baseball that took place there: you and your family will be able to stand in the same place where Nolan Jackson struck out nine Red Sox players in a row and where Reggie Jackson hit his 500th home run.

Fenway Park in Boston
Last but in no means least is the iconic Fenway Park stadium in Boston, Massachusetts. One of the best baseball stadiums to visit in America, the stadium, which is now over a hundred years old, has seen some of the greatest plays, most incredible home runs and stellar historic wins (and losses!) of all time on its sprawling field. Home to the Boston Red Sox, you can take a seat in the famous "Lone Red Seat," which was created to honor the longest home run ever hit at the stadium by Ted Williams in 1946.

Whether you're a baseball fan who has collected cards and jerseys for decades, or are just looking to brush up on your knowledge of the game, a trip to New York, Anaheim or Boston will put you up close and personal with some of the most beautiful and iconic baseball stadiums in the country. Check this one off your bucket list and plan to your trip today. 

Halloween Party for the Whole Family

October 5, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

While Halloween is overwhelmingly deemed a “holiday for kids,” it’s somewhat ironic that the parties geared toward the candy-filled dress-up day often aren’t always catered to families and the little ones. Some events across the country can be downright scary for your kids, and parents seem to find it increasingly difficult to find a family friendly Halloween event. Luckily for families with small children, Louisville, Kentucky hosts the World’s Largest Halloween Party. More merry than scary, the event takes place at the Louisville Zoo. With trick-or-treating, costumed characters and plenty of storybook scenes that come to life, this Halloween event is one the whole family can appreciate. Here’s your complete guide to attending this special Halloween party everyone in the family will enjoy.

Who’s it For?

If you aren’t sure if you should grab a hotel in Louisville just yet, rest assured that the Louisville Zoo’s Halloween Party remains one of the best events for families in town and nationwide. Mostly for kids 11 and under, the event boasts of being a not-so-scary Halloween party. Parents don’t have to worry about the little ones becoming too spooked, as all of the activities and events at the party are completely G-rated and intended for the enjoyment of children.

What’s the Trick-or-Treating Like?

Available for those 11 and under, trick-or-treating at the Louisville Zoo event features a number of themed areas. Rather than worrying about spooky neighborhood yard displays, you can be assured your kids will enjoy trick-or-treating and many storybook scenes including a Winter Wonderland area, a yellow brick road to the Land of Oz, Super Hero City and Toyland.

Are There Rides?

If you’re looking for different Halloween ideas for the family, you can take advantage of the several rides. The zoo’s Halloween Party offers a number of rides and attractions including the Warthog Express Train, a 20-minute ride, the “Mary”-Go-Round and Handimals, where artists help turn children’s handprints into any desired animal. In addition, kids can also add to their costume with awesome face painting.

What Animals Can I See?

Aside from the Halloween attractions, you can typically also view some of the zoo’s night owls, and if you’re lucky, some other animals will also stay up late for your enjoyment. Most likely, you’ll be able to see some wolves, jaguars, bongos, rhinos and giraffes. In addition, the zoo’s Herpaquarium remains open during the event so you can see some truly creepy and crawly Halloween-esque creatures, if you dare…

When, Where and What Time?

While most family friendly Halloween ideas take place just on Halloween, Louisville Zoo’s Halloween Party spans across several dates during the month of October. The event runs from:

  • October 2nd through the 4th,
  • 8th through the 11th,
  • 15th through the 18th,
  • 22 through the 25th, and
  • 29th through the 30th.

The party begins at 5PM with the last entrance at 8:30PM. The Louisville Zoo is just 15 minutes from downtown Louisville. Ticket options can be found on the Louisville Zoo website.

If you’re looking for a Halloween party for kids this year, your options can be surprisingly be limited. Luckily for families, Louisville has a kid-safe Halloween event that everyone can enjoy throughout October.