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Hotels with the Best Views in America

Posted July 30, 2014 by


Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California (Photo: Preferred Hotel Group)

A perfect view is a priceless hotel amenity. It allows you to enjoy a perspective of a landscape or monument that's, for the time being, yours alone. You get to maintain a visual connection to your destination even after you've retreated to your room with a bottle of wine and the room-service menu. And it affords the opportunity to take some pretty impressive pictures without battling crowds of camera-wielding tourists.

Some of the greatest views of America's most spectacular sites—the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, the rugged beaches of California's Central Coast—are available from the guest rooms of hotels. Here are 10 U.S. properties that overlook superb vistas and offer guests a picture-perfect point of view.


(Photo: Ian A Gratton via flickr/CC Attribution)

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, New York City, New York

New Yorkers are knee-deep in marvelous views, from teeming Times Square to the high-flying city skyline to the emerald-green expanse of Central Park. But at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, telescopes in harbor-view rooms help you get a special perspective on one of America's icons: the Statue of Liberty. One of two Ritz-Carlton properties in New York City, the Battery Park Ritz property is located about 100 yards from the harbor, giving guests an unobstructed look at Ellis Island. Plus, the port for Statue of Liberty tours is a stone's throw away.


(Photo: Grand Canyon NPS via flickr/CC Attribution)

Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The astonishing views are what draw many to the rim of the Grand Canyon. So why not stay in a place that's as close to the powerful landscape as you can get? The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim is the only lodging inside the park that's located at the North Rim. (This means you should book your stay far in advance.) The lodge consists of cabins and motel rooms; the prime spots to book are the cabins close to the rim of the canyon. For best results, be sure to ask for a cabin with a North Rim view.


(Photo: Hotel Vitale)

Hotel Vitale, San Francisco, California

The Golden Gate isn't the only San Francisco bridge worth looking at. Last year, an enormous installation comprised of 25,000 LED lights was hung on the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Oakland. The Bay Lights make up the world's largest LED sculpture. And Hotel Vitale, which sits on the San Fran waterfront across from the Embarcadero promenade, offers guests perfect Bay Bridge views. When booking your stay, ask for a bridge-view room. You'll get to see the Bay Bridge sparkling with more than a mile of glittering lights from dusk until dawn, right from your room. Some guest rooms also offer views of the Ferry Building Marketplace along the Embarcadero.


(Photo: Preferred Hotel Group)

The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport, Rhode Island

Enjoy a view fit for a gilded-age baron in … where else but the former home of a gilded-age baron. There's little argument that this gorgeous historical property offers the best ocean views in Newport. The Chanler at Cliff Walk, a mansion constructed in the 19th century by Civil War-era congressman John Winthrop Chanler, is the only hotel located on Newport's celebrated Cliff Walk. It's perched directly on the trail that snakes between the Atlantic Ocean and a sequence of ornate gilded-age manors. Grab an Ocean Villa to enjoy unforgettable views of the ocean and the historical town of Newport directly from your room.


(Photo: Far View Lodge)

Far View Lodge, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

This hotel's name says it all. The only lodging available inside Mesa Verde National Park, Far View Lodge sits amidst miles of arid sagebrush-blanketed wilderness on the Colorado Plateau. All rooms at the lodge have private balconies from which guests can stargaze, search for wandering Rocky Mountain elk, black bears, or coyotes, or simply enjoy the rolling cuesta landscape that seems to extend forever.


Corner Executive Suite (Photo: Swissotel)

Swissotel Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

This Magnificent Mile property affords views of the best of both Chicago worlds: Lake Michigan and the city skyline. Certainly, the finest viewpoints are available via Swissotel Chicago's corner king rooms; these accommodations have wide windows that allow guests to enjoy full views of water and city in two directions. Need an excuse to work out? The property's fitness center, located on the 42nd floor, also offers panoramic Windy City views.


(Photo: Ryan Harvey via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike)

Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Arizona

Tucked amidst the multihued red rocks of Sedona, Enchantment Resort has a well-deserved reputation for stunning views. The property is located on 70 pristine acres at Boynton Canyon, where a mix of forest, desert, and canyons forms a unique and visually stunning ecosystem. Trails are accessible for those who want to explore the extraordinary natural setting. Or you can order room service from one of a handful of on-site restaurants and dine on your own private terrace in full view of the Sedona scenery. For the best perspective, request a room with a view of the canyon face or a room on a higher floor.


(Photo: Four Seasons)

Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, Lanai, Hawaii

The secluded Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is one of just a few hotels on Lanai, so you won't see any other properties from your window; that equates to pristine, unobstructed views of red lava cliffs and blue ocean. Even if you don't snag a room with an ocean view, you won't have to worry about getting stuck with concrete high-rises in your visual field. There's not a bad view in the house: You might have a view of the sea. You might have a view of the property's lush tropical gardens. Either way, you'll be hard-pressed to spot any signs of commercial development from your accommodations on this calm, quiet island.


View from Peak House Guest Room (Photo: Preferred Hotel Group)

Port Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California

At Post Ranch Inn, secluded cliff-side dwellings offer expansive views of the Pacific Ocean. Take in the sea view from a private porch, a living room warmed by a crackling fire, or a roomy jetted tub positioned before a wall of glass. (The windows facing the ocean hang above a steep incline, which supplies the requisite privacy for large-windowed bathrooms.) You'll also find amazing views in the property's restaurant, Sierra Mar, where walls and floors made entirely of glass extend over the sloping cliffs, creating the perfect visual setting for an unforgettable meal.


(Photo: brianandjaclyn via flickr/CC Attribution)

Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana

It's generally agreed upon that Many Glacier Hotel offers the best views of all the lodgings in Glacier National Park. And what views they are: Lake-facing windows at this Swiss-style property provide a flawless perspective on glacier-carved mountainous landscapes. See the jagged peaks reflecting onto the clear water of Swiftcurrent Lake right from your room. But book early. There are only a handful of hotels within the national park, and lake-facing accommodations fill up especially fast.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Hotels with the Best Views in the U.S.

Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at

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What Not to Do in New York City

Posted June 23, 2014 by

(Photo: Thinkstock/Creatasx)

New Yorkers aren't exactly famous for being polite to tourists, but that's just because most tourists don't know how to act in the Big Apple. The good news: It's not so hard. Just follow these simple rules of conduct—from how to behave on the subway to when it's actually okay to ask for help—and you'll blend right in on your next trip! Here's the inside scoop on what you shouldn't do in New York City.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Stop in the Middle of the Sidewalk

The majority of city residents don't drive, so the sidewalks are like streets, with the same type of "traffic" laws. Respect them and don't stop dead in the middle of the street to take a picture or to consult your map. Instead, "pull over" to the side so that pedestrian traffic won't run into you.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Get on an Empty Subway Car

It's rush hour on a hot summer day, and a subway train pulls up to the station with every car packed, except for a single empty one. Score, right? Wrong—odds are, that train car is empty for a reason, be it broken air-conditioning or a spilled bodily fluid. Never go in the empty subway car … trust us on this one.


(Photo: Thinkstock/Hemera)

Block the Subway Doors

New York City subways can get crowded! Respect the other travelers and move into the center of a subway car when you board a train. Don't cluster near the doors for 10 stops, making it hard for other people to get on and off the train. We promise that people will move and let you off when it's your stop.


(Photo: Thinkstock/Photodisc)

Walk in a Group That Takes up the Whole Sidewalk

New Yorkers are speed-walking pros—they have places to be, and walking is the best way to get there fast. It's understandable that tourists want to walk slowly and take in the scenery, but please don't block the entire sidewalk doing it. Walk on the right side in small groups—and don't hold hands doing so. You'll take up the entire sidewalk and slow everyone down behind you.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Pay for a Statue of Liberty Cruise

Don't waste your money on an expensive boat cruise that goes past the Statue of Liberty. Instead, take the Staten Island ferry, which is totally free and goes past most of the same sights. The ride takes about 50 minutes round-trip, and you can even purchase food and beverages onboard. Snag a seat outside, buy a cheap beer, and get amazing city views!


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons via CC Attribution/Share Alike)

Neglect the Outer Boroughs

Sure, Manhattan is what most people think when they think of New York City, but it would be a shame to miss out on the other boroughs when you visit. The four other boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx) have their own unique charms and are definitely worth a visit. Plus, they're all easily accessible on the subway (or aforementioned Staten Island ferry). Bonus: Restaurants and shopping are usually cheaper in the outer boroughs than in Manhattan!


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons via CC Attribution/Share Alike)

Eat at a Chain Restaurant

Most New Yorkers go out of their way to avoid Times Square—it's hectic, full of tourists, and teeming with chain restaurants. If you came to experience the city, why would you eat at the same Red Lobster that you can eat at back home? Live a little and patronize local restaurants instead of chains.


(Photo: Thinkstock/Photodisc)

Be Afraid to Ask for Help

New Yorkers may be rude to you if you get in their way, but they'll be nice if you politely ask them for help. Most locals pride themselves on their direction-giving skills (it's a sign that they really know the city), so don't be afraid to stop and ask them which direction is Fifth Avenue or how to get downtown. They really are friendly!


(Photo: Thinkstock/Photodisc)

Rent a Car

Real estate is pricey in New York City, and that goes for parking spaces as well. New York City has an amazing 24/7 public transportation system, so use it! Don't waste your time fighting traffic or searching for parking spaces. Take the bus or subway, or hail a taxi instead. You'll save time and money and prevent aggravation—plus you'll get a better feel for the city once you experience getting around like a local.


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons via CC Attribution/Share Alike)

Skip a Museum Because You Can't Afford It

It's not always advertised, but the admission price at many museums in New York City (even the big ones) is actually just a suggestion—meaning that you pay what you can afford, even if it's only a dollar. If your budget is tight, consult this list of New York museums where you can pay what you wish before deciding to skip a museum for money reasons.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title What Not to Do in New York City.

Follow Caroline Morse on Google+ or email her at

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10 Unique City Tours Around the World

Posted May 5, 2014 by

(Photo: Magic Bus)

See a completely different side of a city when you break away from the mob of tourists following the guide with the red umbrella. On these 10 unique city tours, you'll venture into the Bronx with an old-school rapper, see abandoned buildings in Portugal's second city, and go longboarding through Amsterdam's most famous park. You're sure to come home with a camera full of authentic experiences that most visitors miss.


(Photo: Bats Over Congress Avenue Bridge via Shutterstock)

Never Unpack Your Travel Items

Crowds gather from March through October on the Congress Avenue Bridge to see a natural spectacle that has earned the resident bat colony celebrity status in Austin. Each night at dusk, 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from beneath the bridge, swirling like a black ribbon into the sky. For a unique perspective on the mass exodus, watch it from the water on a Congress Avenue Kayaks bat tour. With a small group of 10, you'll paddle under the bridge in sit-on-top kayaks. After encountering the bats, you can venture out on your own to see other sights on the water.

Details: The 90-minute kayak bat tour departs at sunset in season and is $30 for a two-person kayak.

Insider Tip: You can also watch the bats from the Four Seasons Hotel Austin's lobby lounge, which serves a "Batini" cocktail. Plan an August visit to coincide with the city's annual bat festival.


(Photo: Magic Bus San Francisco Tour)

1960s Summer of Love Tour, San Francisco, California

It's all peace, love, and bubble-spewing on this psychedelic hippie bus that takes you on a trip back to San Francisco's 1960s counterculture. The Magic Bus Tour stops at landmarks of the city's hippie movement; you can even join in a drum circle (this time without the purple haze). On the bus, a groovy guide/actor will share interesting stories and rock out with you to the music of the era. It's a multimedia adventure that evokes the decade's politics and attitudes through live action and video projections on the bus's retractable window screens. The tour hits Chinatown and the North Beach spot where Jack Kerouac hung out. You'll see Golden Gate Park and the crossroads of Haight and Ashbury streets, home of the Summer of Love, in a whole new light.

Details: The two-hour tour is $55 and starts at Union Square.

Insider Tip: Bring a jacket or sweater. It can be chilly at Golden Gate Park even if it's warm downtown at the tour's start.


(Photo: Rob Moody)

Downtown Yoga Tour, Asheville, North Carolina

Take your downward dog downtown in Asheville, North Carolina. On this Travelling Yogini Tour, you'll strike a pose and connect with your breath in several of the city's iconic spots. A yoga guide will start with beginner-level stretches and, as you move from Pritchard Park to the Flat Iron Building to the artsy Chicken Alley district, the poses will become more challenging. By the time you finish with a cooldown and meditation, you'll have heard about Asheville's history and architecture. Between flowing in and out of poses, you'll meet street performers, artists, and others who are out exploring the city.

Details: The 90-minute downtown tour is $20.

Insider Tip: Along the way, the yoga guide will point out funky boutiques and specialty shops, giving you interesting tidbits on the history and products so you can plan your apres-yoga shopping route.


(Photo: Berlinagenten)

Urban Home-Visit Tour, Berlin, Germany

Want an invitation to sit in a Berliner's flat and chat over coffee or beer? The Urban Living Tour, the ultimate insider's tour, will introduce you to three different Berliners in three different neighborhoods. You'll get to go inside their homes and spend an hour visiting and checking out their decor. The hosts you'll meet will depend on who is in town on the day you're visiting. It could be a set designer in an underground courtyard apartment or a photographer with an uber-luxe pad on a main thoroughfare built in the Stalin era. While you snoop around and see how they live, you'll hear about what drew them to the city and what they love about it.

Details: The 4.5-hour tour includes visits to three private apartments, drinks and sweets, sightseeing between the visits, transport, and a private guide. Prices vary based on how many people are taking the tour; see website for details.

Insider Tip: Keep an open mind and come with questions.


(Photo: Dominic Stevenson)

City Tour Led by Homeless Guide, London, England

See London through the eyes of someone who lives on the city's streets. Unseen Tours hires and professionally trains homeless and formerly homeless people to lead its walking tours of London Bridge, Camden, Shoreditch, and Convent Garden. See the stark contrast between historical landmarks and sites where the guides have slept, hear riveting personal stories, and discover tucked-away places few others ever experience. The tour ends at either a pub or a cafe, so you can carry on with your guide or group in a discussion that ebbs between the politics of street begging and the effects of gentrification on the East End.

Details: The tour runs $9 to $14 per hour and usually lasts about 90 minutes.

Insider Tip: On each tour, the company reserves two free spots for those who are either unable to pay or are accompanying someone as a caregiver. Wondering how much of the ticket sales goes back to the guide? About 80 percent. Unseen Tours was the winner for best tour operator for local experiences in the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2011.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

'Worst' Walking Tour, Porto, Portugal

This tour in Portugal's second-largest city is the antithesis of a tourist trap. Avoiding all of Porto's polished postcard-perfect sites, it takes visitors past decrepit homes and crumbling shops. Started by three out-of-work architects who stuck around after the country was hit hard by the recession, The Worst Tours will show you the not-for-tourists sites and guides will tell stories about the old markets and abandoned buildings, helping you understand what's behind Europe's economic crisis. Learn about Porto's architecture, history, politics, and urbanism from a few people who are "OK with not being popular or cool or the best in anything, least of all touring."

Details: Tours are two to three hours and are free.

Insider Tip: Let your guide know which parts of the city you've already visited and what your interests are, and he or she will create a route that shows you things you haven't seen.


(Photo: Urban Adventures)

Gwana Music Tour, Essaouira, Morocco

New this spring, the Gnawa Music Experience tour gives you a unique encounter with one of Morocco's off-the-charts popular trends: trance-like Gnawa music and its acrobatic dance moves. You'll be introduced to the addictive music's Afro-Moroccan culture and customs in the medina, where musicians will be jamming. Then, you'll step inside hidden domains typically inaccessible to visitors: You'll go into the home of a dancer to see him perform, watch a troupe master play a traditional lute-like instrument in his private quarters, and visit a temple where sacred rituals drive out evil spirits.

Details: The evening tour costs around $100 and lasts two to three hours.

Insider Tip: Both men and women should dress with respect, covering everything from the shoulders to the knees. At the end of the tour, your guide can recommend places to go dancing where you'll hear Gnawa music fused with Western and Latin music.


(Photo: TripAdvisor LLC)

Hip-Hop Tour, New York, New York

With a legendary hip-hop artist as your guide, Hush Tours will give you a truly entertaining experience in the Bronx and Harlem, the birthplace of the culture. Here, people on the street might recognize and give shout-outs to the Hush Tours guides—Grandmaster Caz, Kurtis Blow, and others—as they delve into four aspects of hip-hop culture: DJing, MCing, B-boy and B-girl dancing, and graffiti artistry. You'll see the important landmarks and check out where Biggie, Nas, and Jay-Z grew up on this fun tour.

Details: Tours range from two hours ($32) to four hours ($75).

Insider Tip: Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. At one point on the tour, you'll learn hip-hop moves and try them out on the streets.


(Photo: LiveToronto)

Date-Night City Tour with a Photographer, Toronto, Canada

Nothing against snapping a selfie with your iPhone, but on LiveToronto's Date Night Tour, you'll get enviable pics (without your arm) for posting on Facebook or printing in a photo book. Depending on your interests (sports, architecture, music, etc.), your personal paparazzo will plan a walking route to hit Toronto's key sites and set up photo ops. As you explore downtown's icons and hidden gems, your photographer guide will share interesting details about each landmark while capturing everything from classic poses to silly shots. Choose your own adventure: You can include the Harbourfront, the base of the CN Tower, Osgoode Hall, Roundhouse Park, and others.

Details: The 60-minute private tour is $100 to $200 per couple and includes 50 fully edited digital photos, which will be delivered within 24 hours.

Insider Tip: Don't surprise your significant other with this date-night tour—there are too many things to consider beforehand (including hair, nails, and a second outfit or pair of shoes for another look). The company runs tours for families and corporate groups, too.


(Photo: Vondelsurfing)

Longboarding Tour, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

You won't find this longboard tour through Vondelpark in your guidebook or officially operated by any local tour company. But check and there it is: Vondelsurfing, offered by a "semi-professional amateur" longboarder named Milan V. In the new sharing economy, websites like connect you with a vetted local guide. Here, Milan V. puts you on a long skateboard in the middle of Amsterdam's most popular park, hands you a rope, and pulls you behind a fixie bicycle for a couple of hours. It's a chance to see the park like a true hipster Amsterdammer, says Milan V., who has hosted beginners as well as seasoned longboarders.

Details: The two-hour tour is $24 and includes all gear, a drink, and photo/video of your ride.

Insider Tip: Vondelsurfing is fun in pairs of two, so you can switch and watch how the other is doing.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Truly Unique City Tours Around the World.

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Choose the (Frank Lloyd) Wright Vacation in Buffalo

Posted March 22, 2010 by Amy Westervelt

Buffalo Most architecture buffs know that Buffalo is a great place to see the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Once inspired by Wright, you can explore other aspects of Buffalo's art and design scene by walking through nearby Delaware Park, planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, and then head to the theater district for dinner.

Darwin D. Martin House Complex
: If you see just one of Wright's houses while in town, it should probably be the Darwin D. Martin. Considered the greatest example of Wright's "Prairie" style, the stunning complex comprises five separate structures sporting 394 art glass windows. In 2009, a new visitor's center designed by well-known Japanese architect Toshiko Mori was completed. A one-hour tour costs $15.

Handmade in Buffalo
: If you're looking for artisan goods that are uniquely Buffalo, look no further than Handmade in Buffalo, a cluster of six shops offering genuine craftsman goods. Take home a one-of-kind piece of furniture from Thomas Stender Designs or a hand-built serving bowl fired at Cone Five Pottery. Or, go window-shopping (literally) at Glass Roots Stained Glass Studio. Whether you're looking for a souvenir for yourself or as a gift, these artists offer nationally renowned goods that represent the city as much as Wright's architecture.

Rue Franklin
: Not too far away, the Rue Franklin, located near Buffalo's theater district, is the sort of place arts enthusiasts may enjoy. Fresh ingredients highlight a seasonal modern French menu that includes everything from a light filet of sole with lobster sauce and rice pilaf to a perfectly cooked filet mignon with red wine shallot sauce and potatoes Anna. The prix-fixe, three-course meal served Tuesdays through Thursdays is a fantastic deal at $28 to $32 a person. In the summertime, opt for an outdoor table in the garden for optimal charm and romance.

You can use our tool to compare airfares to Buffalo from multiple travel providers.

(Photo: Courtesy Buffalo Niagara CVB and Biff Heinrich)

Toast to Great, Affordable Wine in the Finger Lakes

Posted February 24, 2010 by Amy Westervelt

Finger Lakes Good wine, crystal clear lakes, and beautiful hillsides without the cost of a flight to Italy? I'll drink to that! Located a stone's throw away from Cornell and Syracuse universities in New York State, the Finger Lakes have earned the reputation as one of America's up-and-coming wine regions in recent years, thanks largely to the quality of wine produced. Several charming villages dot the area, offering quaint historic inns and shops, and direct access to the region's wine trails.

New York Wine & Culinary Center
: Not sure where to begin? Head first to the New York Wine & Culinary Center, a stunning $7.5 million beauty completed in 2006, where you can try an assortment of local wines, learn about food and wine throughout the state, and even take a cooking or wine-tasting class from the experts. If you get tired of all the wine, the Center also offers a Taste of New York dinner that pairs beer and wine from New York State with several courses incorporating locally available produce, meats, and seafood (dinner entrees start at $23; wine tastings range from $5 to $8).

Bully Hill Vineyards: There are dozens of worthy wineries in the Finger Lakes, but Bully Hill, with its quirky labels and laid-back attitude, is probably the most fun. It also happens to be home to one of the best restaurants in the region. Sit out on the deck to enjoy views of the vineyard and take a free tour of the vineyard before or after feasting on the chef's famous crab cakes. Dinner entrees start at $17.

Blushing Rose Bed and Breakfast: Just down the road from Bully Hill Vineyards in the tiny hamlet of Hammondsport, the Blushing Rose Bed and Breakfast is everything you'd want from a countryside inn—19th-century charm; extra large rooms with sitting areas and big, comfy beds made up with old-fashioned quilts; and pleasant innkeepers happy to point you in the direction of their favorite local sights. Rates start at $135 per night.

You can use our tool to compare airfares to Rochester or Syracuse, the closest major airports, from multiple travel providers.


Baseball Nirvana in Cooperstown

Posted July 9, 2009 by Jamie Moore

Ny-cooperstown-strike3-def Extend your baseball viewing addiction with a visit to the little town that loves America's pastime more than you do: Cooperstown, New York. Walk the hallways of the best-known sports shrine in the world after suppertime, when corridors are quiet and the ghosts and legends of baseball past stare back. Grab an enormous burger at a die-hard fan's diner, and take home a souvenir from a one-of-a-kind memorabilia shop.

National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum: The museum's postseason exhibit, with World Series moments and artifacts from the last 100 years, is meant for junkies like you. Explore other exhibits and hear stories about Babe Ruth, women in baseball, and African-American players. Check out a ticket booth from Yankee Stadium and other pieces from ballparks of the past. Plus, your kids will love the scavenger hunts and sandlot clubhouse with a mini Miracle League field, games, and toys.

National Pastime: This Main Street institution is one of Cooperstown's oldest memorabilia stores. For serious baseball fans, browsing these crowded aisles is like a visit to the Hall of Fame, except here you can take home whatever you like. Get baseball cards, photos, vintage jerseys, posters and other items you won't find anywhere else. If you're lucky enough to still catch them before they're snapped up, check out the sea-green Comiskey Park stadium seats or 1930s Cookie Lavagetto model split-finger glove. There are also broadside posters and stadium pins from the Negro League, or less expensive game patches and T-shirts from recent years.

Cooperstown Diner: Don't leave town without downing the softball-sized half-pound burger at this tiny diner. It's your basic greasy spoon with character … and the occasional hungry Hall of Famer. The owner, who used to live in the Bronx near Yankee Stadium, loves talking to customers about baseball and sharing insider tips on Cooperstown.

To search for flights and compare prices to Albany, which is home to Cooperstown’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Cindy H., Landisville, PA/This is Cooperstown)

Caribbean Dreamin'

Posted June 8, 2009 by Katie Blais

Starting July 13, Air Jamaica will add a red-eye flight from New York City to Grenada. Just think about it: you head home from your busy day, hit the airport, take a snooze, and wake up on a gorgeous Caribbean island … not too shabby if you ask me!

Flights leave Kennedy airport at 12:15 a.m. and arrive in Grenada the following morning at 6:30 a.m.  I think it’s a novel idea for a last-minute vacation, and I can imagine it would unfold something like this. You hit the bar after happy hour; enjoy some half-price appetizers and pitchers of margaritas when someone brings up how they didn’t think they would be working in a cube day in and day out. You chime in saying, "let’s go somewhere, let’s go somewhere tropical and warm and open up a smoothie shop and just live without the man infringing on our basic human rights to enjoy life."  You cab it back to your apartment, throw some mismatched (sort of) clean clothes in a bag, grab your passport, trek out to JFK, and hop on a last-minute flight to the islands to start your new life.

You wake up the next morning at the airport with a slight headache realizing it might be a little harder to open a smoothie shop in a place you have never been before. But you enjoy beaches, the laid-back vibe of the island (you might even get your hair braided and buy a crocheted beret a la Bob Marley) and return to NYC at 11:30 a few days later before heading to your stuffy office job relaxed and ready for the man to beat you down a little more.

Enjoy the Finer Things in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Posted June 5, 2009 by Kate Hamman

Canada-ngraonlke-shawcfe-de Welcoming visitors like a breath of fresh wine-scented air, Niagara-on-the-Lake sits among rolling vineyards just a few miles from the neon lights and kitschy entertainment of Niagara Falls. This English-influenced town—with nods to British royalty on street and hotel names—is maturing into a proper getaway for wine, theater, and food. Come experience the finer things in life.

Peller Estates: Peller Estates turns its tasting room into a classroom, and helps everyone become a valedictorian when it comes to wine. If you've ever wondered whether to serve a Cabernet or a Chardonnay, or which glass to serve which wine in, then the interactive Wine Experiences may be the answer. Classes covering subjects from entertaining to food pairings start at $15 CAD (about $13.50 U.S. dollars; see for current exchange rates). Tours of the wine-making facilities cost $10 CAD.

Shaw Café & Wine Bar: Bacchus would feel right at home in this European-style cafe in the heart of the town center. Guests are encouraged to sample regional wines from the extensive menu, while grabbing a gourmet bite to eat. Be sure to say hello to playwright George Bernard Shaw, the cafe's namesake, whose statue welcomes visitors on the patio out front. If the meal prices seem a bit too steep, then take in the Old-World ambiance with just a dessert—such as the Toblerone Cheesecake for $7.95 CAD—and a glass of wine.

Britaly Bed and Breakfast: Finding a place to curl up after a day of wine tasting may sound simple, but very few places exude the homey atmosphere, and price, of this three-bedroom B&B. Hosts Graham Hall, Aldo Petronelli, and Rufus the Lab treat guests like royalty. Visitors are instantly drawn to the impressive back garden, where they can relax by the pond. The cozy bedrooms, decorated to capture the spirit of England, Canada, and Italy, come en suite or with a private bathroom just steps away. Prices start at $110 CAD during high season, and include a homemade breakfast fit for a king. Note that weekend stays require a two-night minimum.

To search for flights and compare prices to Buffalo, which is home to Niagara-on-the-Lake’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Shaw Cafe & Wine Bar)

Tip Your Hat to Lady Liberty's Crown

Posted May 8, 2009 by Katie Blais

Statue-of-liberty_formattedI cannot wait for summer. I need to get a tan and eat lobster up in Maine (a summer tradition like no other!) ASAP.  On the 4th of July, I typically want to be sitting on a beach with a rum punch in my hand, but New York City, with Lady Liberty as its siren, is calling my name on this patriotic holiday.

It was announced today that the Statue of Liberty’s crown will reopen to the public starting July 4th— the first time since 9/11. Ten people will be allowed to enter at a time to catch glimpses of New York Harbor and Ellis Island. 

The warmer months are the perfect time to break away from your regular schedule and relax with your friends and family.  And with the economy being (let’s be honest here) a bit depressing, there’s no better time to visit that first beacon of hope and freedom that so many of our ancestors encountered when they arrived in this country. Plus, many hotels are offering Lady Liberty specials and the Ritz-Carlton even has a “libertini” cocktail in honor of the reopening.

So whether you usually jet to St. Barts (I had to give up my private beach house this year to cut back, hee hee) or choose a cheap summer vacation like staying in your own backyard and BBQ with friends, you need to find some way to soak up the summer and enjoy yourself.

Sadly, I have never been to the Statue of Liberty since I missed the school field trip and my brother would never take me there when I visited him in New York. This year, however, I may have to skip the beach and make my way down to the Big Apple to fight the crowds myself.


Continental Offers Manhattan Chopper Service For Regular Joes

Posted October 10, 2008 by Nicki Krawczyk

Ushelicopternewyork In my experience, it’s been mostly high-rolling corporate tycoons who have ready access to helicopters. Donald Trump. Steve Jobs. Lex Luthor. But now, to make up for insanely bad cab lines and followed by crazy-long rides, Continental is offering helicopter rides between Newark Liberty International Airport and Manhattan for a mere 45 bucks.

With a major Wall Street meltdown going on and a degree in finance no longer worth the bearer’s weight in gold, there are going to be some big changes in the big cities. Friends, it’s time for the little guy to start living large.

Even before your helicopter ride, plan to take advantage of head-honcho perks as you fly to Newark: All of those first- and and business-class seats that used to be taken up by traders and analysts and fund managers are pretty certain to be open and available. And when no one’s there to fill them, the price is sure to go down; that’s just simple supply and demand. (Thank you, Ben Bernanke.) Heck, if the airline tanks, the FED might have to bail them out, too, and, as a taxpayer, you’ll own those seats! Nice.

So then you’ll land in Newark, saunter over to the helipad, and take your big-shot ride into the Isle of Manhattan. And where are you going to go once you’re there? Forget Midtown, forget SoHo – get yourself down to Wall Street. It’s a ghost town! All of those high-end sushi places and $80-steak joints are going to be giving that stuff away. I’m willing to bet bargaining tactics will get you pretty far, too. As in, “My bill comes to $175. How’s about I give you $26.50?”

The middle class is rising to the top! Which may sound historically familiar, but this is waaaaay better than Communism because you’ll actually get to enjoy the bourgeois benefits instead of decrying them and moving to the tundra to raise potatoes. And stay tuned, because if things stay shaky overseas, there’s bound to be a little class disruption over there, too. Want to take a trip to London? Great, because if things continue as they have, Buckingham Palace might just be available for rent. Pip pip!

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