In a city known for its gloomy weather, you'll also find an intense passion for life exemplified by the bounty of local produce at Seattle's Pike Place Market. It's amazing how this place that began with an argument over the price of onions has become one of Seattle's top attractions, thriving for nearly 100 years. And it's the only spot we know of where you can dart among flying fish, dote on a brass pig, and gain 20 pounds by inhaling the aromas alone.
Eat The Crumpet Shop: The British may have invented the crumpet, but this little Pacific-Northwest shop at Pike Place Market has perfected it. Each day, crumpets—airy and crisp, still warm from the oven—are smothered in mounds of whatever you fancy, for only about $5. The ricotta cheese and gooseberry jam is a favorite, but some of the other savories like parmesan, tomato, and pesto can tug at your mid-afternoon heartstrings. Choose a nice cup of tea for dipping, and you'll be transported back to jolly old England while taking in the sea air of Seattle.
Stay The Moore Hotel: Most people consider it good luck to find a downtown hotel for less than you'd spend on an airport hotel. It's not luck. It's about knowing where to look. Just two blocks from Pike Place Market, in Seattle's bustling downtown area, you'll find the Moore Hotel, which has shared the same building as the historical Moore Theatre since 1907. Be sure to take in a dance performance or a concert before hitting the sack. Rooms start at $59 (European style), and they are about as cozy as a convent, in the most charming way, of course.
Play Pike Place Fish Market: No, your nonfat mocha Frappucino wasn't spiked; you really did just see a salmon soar through the air and land lovingly in the arms of a shouting man wearing an orange jumpsuit. This daily routine has become quite a spectacle at the Market, where these well-trained fishmongers rarely miss a beat. The entertaining show doesn't cost a thing, plus you can snack on samples of salmon jerky while you watch.
Lake Tahoe attracts visitors year-round, and the Lake becomes a wonderland of activities in the winter. You can take a gondola ride for the best views, or visit a Swiss chalet for fondue. And then after a day out, return to your cozy hotel, where the price is almost as nice as the location.
Play Heavenly Tahoe scenic gondola ride: Take a ride high into the sky on a Heavenly gondola. The 12-minute journey takes you nearly two-and-a-half miles up the mountain, where the eight-passenger car stops at an observation station known as the Deck. From here, you'll encounter sweeping views of Lake Tahoe, Carson Valley, and Desolation Wilderness, and you can grab a quick bite to eat or drink. Rides cost $30 per person.
Eat Tahoe Swiss Chalet: This restaurant brought Switzerland to Lake Tahoe 50 years ago, and it's been a hit with locals and out-of-towners ever since. In addition to its famous fondue, you'll find a range of regional Swiss specialties, such as wienershnitzel and raclette. Come out of the cold into a friendly European atmosphere, and enjoy the warmth of gooey cheese. Entrees start at $19.95.
Stay Alpenrose Inn: Less than 10 minutes from the gondola, you'll find a comfy place to kick off your ski boots and relax. Each room at the Alpenrose is decorated to capture a different style, such as the English Tea Room or the Tahoe Cabin, and some come equipped with a kitchenette for longer stays. Rooms start at just $49 per night, and include continental breakfast.
To search for flights and compare prices to Reno, which is home to Lake Tahoe's closest airport, please use our price-comparison tool.
Park City seems worlds away from the everyday ordinary, even though this mountain ski town is only a half-hour drive from Salt Lake City. People come year-round for its outdoor activities, comfortable lodging, and great eats. However, Park City is in full glory when ski junkies hit the slopes.
Play Utah Olympic Park: If you've ever dreamed of competing in the Olympics or just want to taste what it might be like, then you must pay a visit to the 389-acre Olympic Park facilities, which was home to 14 events during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Self-guided tours are free, and you might catch the next gold-medal winner in training as you tour the six Nordic jumps or the 1,335-meter sliding track. Rides such as zip-lining and bobsledding cost extra.
Stay Washington School Inn: Originally built in 1889 as a schoolhouse, the Washington School Inn can't be beat when you need to rest your aching muscles after a long day on the slopes. And since it's only a few blocks from the Town Ski Lift and downtown Main Street, you're certain to be the first in line to ski the mountain or grab an "early bird" cup of coffee. Your hosts go to great lengths to make you feel right at home, offering breakfast, evening cookies or hors d'oeuvres, and plush bedding. Rooms start at $140, and include the aforementioned perks.
Eat Morning Ray Cafe: Nothing says "good morning" like a breakfast overflowing with fresh pancakes, bacon, and eggs, and the Morning Ray Cafe is an old pro at welcoming the new day. For more than 18 years, the restaurant has served winter-sports enthusiasts their morning fuel in the form of coffee or breakfast foods, and even late risers can get their pancake or omelet fix until 4:00 p.m. Breakfasts start at $6.25.
With lofts housing the tortured artistic elite, cafes fueling their creativity, and shops designed to capture their spirit around every corner, the Pearl District is Portland's premier arts area. Wander the stacks of dreams fulfilled and lost in a giant bookstore. Or take inspiration from contemporary artwork displayed in a local gallery. After you've spent the day appreciating the visual arts, you can indulge in creative concoctions at a trendy bar.
Shop Powell's City of Books: You'll find a contender for the world's largest bookstore straddling downtown and the Pearl District on Burnside Street. Housing 68,000 square feet of new, out-of-print, and long-forgotten titles, Powell's City of Books is where hardcovers and paperbacks are given a second chance at a new life. The store buys and sells books of all shapes and sizes for all tastes. You can get lost in the maze of massive shelves overflowing with the written word for months, even years. It's free to browse, and most used books are marked way down from the original price.
Play Froelick Gallery: Museum admissions can add up, but it doesn't cost a thing to go to an art gallery. Since 1995, the Froelick Gallery has exhibited and represented contemporary artwork from different regions of the world, and includes a strong Pacific Northwest influence. The inviting and sparse display space highlights the work and encourages you to view each artist's talent free from distraction. Exhibits change monthly, with a public reception on the first Thursday of each month.
Drink Vault Martini: If you've ever wondered what sloth, wrath, envy, or greed might taste like in liquor-form, Vault Martini is here to quench your curiosity. With more than 44 diabolical and angelic elixirs, this hip lounge turns martinis into an art form. The menu features concoctions named after the seven deadly sins, along with sweet and savory tastes like banana bread and cilantro. And, you can sip your drink next to the fireplace for warmth or at the 18-foot ice-glass bar if you need to cool down. Happy hours martinis cost $4 Mondays through Fridays from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.
No, that's not a typo. Portland, Oregon, is the first U.S. city to launch a Twisitor Center, which allows visitors to communicate with Twisitor Center staff members and receive all sorts of tips and ideas for fun Portland activities and money-saving vacation deals—all via the micro-blogging tool Twitter.
The Twisitor Center is operated by Travel Portland, and even allows residents who aren't affiliated with the agency to answer questions, giving the program a local's-eye view as well. Visitors seeking information can add "inpdx# to their tweets, which alerts Travel Portland staff and signals to other users that someone has a question.
Travel Portland will also send out several tweets each day, covering topics from dining tips to green travel ideas and travel deals.
Visitors can hook up with Travel Portland's Twitter stream directly from the agency's website, and then follow the stream to read Travel Portland's messages along with tweets posted by visitors.
Fresh seafood and a great location draw visitors to Fisherman's Wharf. Easily reachable by cable car, the wharf stands minutes from popular attractions like Coit Tower, and a few splashes across the bay from Alcatraz. The boardwalk can't be beat as a jumping off point for popular city tours.
Eat Boudin Bakery: It's doubtful that the Boudin family could have guessed in 1849 that the yeast in the salty San Francisco air would give rise to such a popular bread. However, fast-forward more than 150 years, and people are still addicted to the tart flavor of Boudin's serendipitous sourdough. At the flagship store on the wharf, you can tour the museum and bakery, watch the masters in action, grab a full course meal at the bistro, or enjoy clam chowder in a bread bowl for about $6.
Play GoCar GPS-Guided Tours: Take the wheel and be in control of your own tour with these nifty yellow convertibles. They may not look like much, but they're equipped with a talking GPS system that helps you navigate through the city streets, and tells stories about the sights along the way. With several guided tours to choose from, and the option to stop for a picnic or to explore the area, there's no better way to get to know San Francisco. The vehicle seats two people and costs $46 for the first hour. Pick up your GoCar at Fisherman's Wharf, but be sure to make reservations in advance.
Stay Golden Gate Hotel: Some hotels are simply a place to rest your head, while others are so comfortable you'll never want to leave. The Golden Gate Hotel makes each guest feel like he or she is in a fairytale, with plush mattresses, hypoallergenic down pillows and comforters, and homemade cookies at tea time. A short cable-car ride from Fisherman's Wharf, this 1913 Edwardian inn has been kept in tip-top shape for 25 years by third-generation innkeepers. Rooms with a shared bath start at $95 per night, and include continental breakfast and afternoon tea.
If enough NBA owners vote in favor of it on April 18, the Seattle SuperSonics will be moving to Oklahoma City. This got me wondering: Why would a professional sports team leave the Emerald City in favor of the Sooner state?
According to league commissioner David Stern, the Sonics are going because the city of Seattle won't pony up the funds necessary to build a new arena. I'm thinking that's not all there is to it. Here are a few alternative theories:
5. Players sick of smelly salmon jerky locker-room snacks.
4. Team tired of being asked for directions to Kurt Cobain's house.
3. Players prefer dust-bowl peace and quiet...
...to lame-ass view of Mt. Rainier.
2. Rookie star Kevin Durant's shot has been way off due to excessive pregame coffee consumption.
And the number-one reason the team is leaving Seattle? Do you even have to ask? Blame It On The Rain!
Quick, when I say “fashion,” what do you think of? Mr. Giorgio Armani? Marc Jacobs? Icons like Grace Kelly and Katherine Hepburn? Flight attendants? Umm, what? The navy polyester-clad crew who dutifully bring us Diet Cokes and show us how to strap on oxygen masks? I don’t think so. Well, The Museum of Flight is looking to change that. Their new exhibit, Style in the Aisle: The History of Fashion in Flight, features flight attendant uniforms from the 1930s to the 1990s. And let me tell you, the goods are hot. For example, when Alaska Airlines introduced charter service to Siberia in 1970, the flight attendants were in Cossack costumes (think big furry hats). And when Hughes Airwest flew to Mexico, you were guaranteed to have a flight attendant decked out in a cheery pastel poncho (and knee-high boots, for whatever that’s worth). Not to mention that Emilio Pucci designed all the unis for Braniff. Ah the days of flying as a glamorous endeavor. If only we still had it as good!