Archive for September, 2012

Top 10 Places to Travel According to Pinterest

Friday, September 28th, 2012

What are the most popular destinations according to one of the fastest growing social media channels around? This week, we compiled the Top 10 Travel Destinations According to the Hotels.com Pinterest page to gauge where people most want to go by looking at the top repinned pins. Take a look at the pins and see if you’d like to travel to those places as well! Visit the Hotels.com Pinterest to gather more ideas on where to travel next, and repin your favorites on your boards. Happy Pinning!

10) Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (Photo courtesy of Shawn Park)








9) Minnamurra, New South Wales, Australia (Photo courtesy of SoniaMphotography)











8 ) The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye, Scotland (Photo courtesy of Mary McGee)











7) Turquoise, Lake Sauris, Friuli, Italy. (Photo courtesy of Doc. Ing.)











6) Emerald pool at Subway, Zion National Park, Utah (Photo courtesy of Long Nguyen)











5) Glow Worm Caves in New Zealand (Photo courtesy of wayfaring travel guide)









4) A must-do in Hawaii: tubing down the canals and tunnels of an old sugar plantation. Real cool and so lusciously green! (Photo courtesy of Bun Boy Eats LA)











3) Glacier National Park in Montana (Photo courtesy of dreamwhisperer)











2) Chimney Rock, North Carolina (Photo courtesy of Darryl Montgomery)











1) Maracalbo, Venezuela. (Photo courtesy of AgusValenz)








 
 

 

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Travel Smart Blog Itinerary: If you Only Have One Day in Maui…..

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

You can stay longer, you’ll want to for sure, but if you need a plan to jump-start a visit to Maui, add the following “Day in Maui” to your vacation itinerary:

*You will need a car to get around the island. But plan to get out of the car as much as possible.

Morning: WAKE UP EARLY for a drive up to the 10,000-foot dormant volcano, Haleakala. Experience the sunrise and tour the crater before making your way down. Try to arrive early to avoid the crowds. It is cold at the summit compared to the rest of the island so be sure to dress accordingly.

Travel down (about 2.5 hours) in the historic whaler’s village of Lahaina.  There you can have lunch, do a little shopping and go whale watching! December to May is peak whale watching season.

Afternoon: A two-hour afternoon whale watching tour departs Lahaina Harbor at either 1:30 or 2:00 PM. You’ll be mesmerized by the humpbacks dancing in the ocean and longing for more as you return to the dock.

Evening: Ready to be entertained? Go to the Old Lahaina Luau at sunset for a traditional Hawaiian luau and feast. Festivities begin at 5:15P each evening. Reservations are recommended.

Whew! That’s a full day. Don’t forget time to just relax and unwind! After all, it is a vacation.

Other things to do in Maui:

Drive the legendary Road to Hana (it will take you all day)

Visit a working Pineapple Plantation

Visit the beautiful red sand beach of Kaihalulu

Kaanapali sunset luau

 
 

 

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Win a Four Night Stay for Two to Your Favorite Hawaiian Island!

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Few need convincing to visit Maui's beautiful beaches.

I don’t think many people need much convincing when considering a vacation to Hawaii. From the hula to Hollywood sets, the Hawaiian Islands are a dramatic departure from our “mainland” lives.

Maui is consistently voted the best island by top travel publications and visitors year after year. The weather is always welcoming and warm. However, if you plan to visit higher elevations pack a light jacket (which is great in the evenings, too). Accommodations range from the super-affordable to ultra-luxurious; and getting around is easy too, but I do recommend renting a car.

Things to do in Maui:

1. Haleakala National Park is home to Maui’s highest peak. Watch a memorable sunrise from 9,740 feet atop Haleakala Crater.

2. Whale Watching from Lahaina Harbor. In the winter months, the Auau channel between Maui, Lanai and Molokai is one of the best places to whale watch in the world.

3. Go the Beach – Maui has more than 80 incredible beaches with a combined shoreline that spans 120 miles of black, white and red sand beaches.

4. Take Surf Lessons – Don’t worry, there are some great spots for beginners that will have you surfing like the Big Kahuna in no time.

Win a Hawaiian Getaway from Hotels.com

Starting today, Hotels.com® is giving travelers a chance to say “Aloha!” to their next vacation by giving away four hotel stays in four tantalizing Hawaiian destinations via the Hotels.com Twitter page.

From September 25-28, participants can enter the #HEAD2HAWAII Sweepstakes by tweeting to @hotelsdotcom about why they would like to go to Hawaii, along with the hashtag #HEAD2HAWAII. Four winners will be selected to snag a four-night stay for two to one of Hawaii’s finest resorts in Oahu, The Big Island, Maui, and Kauai. One winner will be selected per day during the entry period in a random drawing of all entries received on that day. Each four-night stay also includes two $80 vouchers for an excursion such as a sunset cruise, zipline adventure or helicopter rides from Expedia Local Expert® Destination Services.

 
 

 

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Part 2: Travel Smart Blog’s Favorite College Towns

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Boston is a picturesque college town especially on the Charles River at Harvard University.

Yesterday I shared my favorite college towns part 1 with you. Read on for more of my favorite college towns across the US!

Berkeley, CA Free speech, flower power and tie–die may forever be a part of Berkeley’s genetic makeup with remnants of the old hippie spirit on famous Telegraph Avenue, which is lined with indie bookstores and music shops, ethnic eateries, and street vendors. Once you’ve soaked up some 1960′s spirit, check out the University of California campus (which includes a botanical garden), break out your credit card at the upscale boutiques on Fourth Street or enjoy a local organic meal at one of the city’s many restaurants.

  • Sure Beats the Dorm: The Claremont Club Hotel & Spa is close to the Gourmet Ghetto district with all the yummy restaurants. But what you’ll remember it for is its amazing fitness facility!

Boston, MAThere are some 80 colleges and universities within the Boston metro area, including Harvard, MIT, and Boston University. Visiting Boston is fun for all ages. The city is well known for its historic attractions along the Freedom Trail, but visitors should also make sure to check out the city’s more contemporary neighborhoods — like the South End, known for artists’ lofts and interesting boutiques, and Cambridge (actually a separate city just across the Charles River) with its indie bookstores, cafes and music clubs. If the weather’s fine, don’t miss a stroll through the Boston Public Garden or along the Charles River Esplanade.

  • Sure Beats the Dorm: Need to say that you’ve slept on the grounds of Harvard (at least for a night)? Then stay at The Inn at Harvard. You may wake up smarter!

Boulder, CO - Boulder was recently rated the #1 Sports Town in America by Outside magazine, but hikers, cyclists and mountain bikers, skiers and rock climbers aren’t the only people who flock to the city. You can begin your explorations with a wander downtown on Pearl Street, a pedestrian mall. Here you’ll find yourself shoulder to shoulder with the whole range of Boulder’s population, from families and college kids to street performers. Don’t miss a stop at Boulder Book Store, a local institution. Take a break from your shopping at one of many sidewalk cafes lining the street. If you’re visiting in the summer, catch an evening concert at Chautauqua Park — which is also a great place to hike.

  • Extra Credit: The Boulder Boulder is a zany Memorial Day 10K run that is so much more than a foot race.
  • Sure Beats the Dorm: Stay at the historic Hotel Boulderado just one block from Pearl Street and some of Colorado’s best dining.

Have a favorite college town? Tell me about it here on the Travel Smart Blog!

 
 

 

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Part 1: Travel Smart Blog’s Favorite College Towns

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Taking a photo at the Arch is a UGA Tradition - and the official welcome to Athens.

What makes a college town something special? What makes it the kind of place you want to return to long after your college days are done? Is it the scenery? The sports? The best college towns offer lively local scenes with good, affordable restaurants, independent boutiques, and they often support the arts.

I just returned from a quick fill-my-soul visit to Athens, GA with all three kids in tow. You can never start too early indoctrinating your children with college propaganda (just kidding). Chances are there’s a great college town not too far from where you are. And, you don’t need the excuse of taking your teen on a college road trip to visit. So what are you waiting for? Book it to a college town near you!

Travel Smart Blog’s Top Picks For Visiting a College Town (Part 1):

Ann Arbor, MI – They say in Ann Arbor “every corner plays a new song”. And they must because Ann Arbor ranks high on every “best” list year after year. The fall is most memorable for University of Michigan fans. Sure it has a historically great football team, but Ann Arbor is also beautiful, easy to walk around and full of great restaurants.

  • Extra Credit: Don’t miss Zingerman’s Bakehouse that keeps the locals licking their fingers. It just may be the reason you go back to this beloved city.

Athens, GA – Athens is home to the University of Georgia and one of the best music scenes in the US. A number of famous bands and recording artists have developed their sound here: Jennifer Nettles, R.E.M, Widespread Panic, The B-52s, Dave Matthews, Vic Chestnutt, and so many others.

  • Extra Credit: Grab a table at Five & Ten, where chefs Chuck Ramsey and Hugh Acheson turn out seasonal dishes worthy of their own theme songs.
  • Sure Beats the Dorm: The modern Hotel Indigo is perfectly situated in downtown Athens and offers free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, and a cozy bar/lounge.

Chapel Hill, NCNicknamed “the Southern Part of Heaven,” Chapel Hill is classic Americana with its outdoor cafes and public art murals to formal colonial residences fluttering Stars and Stripes. This University of North Carolina home boasts The FRANK (Franklin Street Arts Collective) and museums, a planetarium, sports memorabilia and performing arts—all within walking distance from one another on the Mile of Culture.

And, getting around Chapel Hill couldn’t be easier: Chapel Hill Transit services run approximately 25 miles throughout the Chapel Hill, UNC and Carrboro communities. And everyone rides free!

  • Extra Credit: Satisfy your sweet tooth with a scoop of gelato–24 flavors, such as caramel fleur de sel–at the cheerful coed favorite Sugarland.
  • Sure Beats the Dorm: A stay at the 185-room The Carolina Inn is like a night at a museum. Hand-painted French wallpaper adorns some first-floor walls.

Check back tomorrow (9/21) for part 2 of my favorite college towns!

 
 

 

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Discover Your Wanderlust with the Hotel Price Index

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Today the latest edition of the Hotels.com® Hotel Price Index™ (HPI®) was released. The HPI tracks real prices paid per room by Hotels.com customers at approximately 140,000 properties within the Hotels.com network in major destinations around the world. It can also show you how to pursue your wanderlust, whether it’s art, food or entertainment. Below you can check out recommended travel itineraries for key cities from the latest edition of the HPI. Which itinerary speaks to your inner wanderlust?

 
 

 

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Take The TSB College Town Poll!

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Next week I’ll share some of my favorite college towns with you. But for now, I want to know:

What's your favorite college town to visit?

View Results

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What makes this town your favorite?

View Results

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Your Traveling Food Guide: Where to Find the Best Pizza

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Who doesn’t love a hot slice of delicious pizza? Not only is it yummy, but it’s also cheap, easy to grab on the go and even tastes good the next morning. Did you know pizza was brought to the United States by Italian immigrants in the late 19th century? And ever since then, Americans’ love affair with this dish has only grown. Check out the hotels.com guide to the best slice by city before your next vacation. What’s your favorite city for a pizza pie?

 Food Guide To Travel: The Best City Slices

 
 

 

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Culinary Tour of Peru

Monday, September 10th, 2012

A guest post by chef Richard Sandoval of Richard Sandoval Restaurants.

Lima is the ideal hub for foodies with limited time in Peru.  Miraflores, the city’s chic dining and cultural center, should be your home base.  It’s excellent restaurants showcase Peru’s best cuisine and culinary adventures are a day trip away.  Just outside of Miraflores is Chorrillos, known for its massive, open air market.  On a recent visit with my team of chefs, we tasted everything from fish liver to the tiny Pejerrey fish used in Chicharron de Pescado – deep fried fish – that are common in local cevicherias.  Pachacamac is also accessible from Miraflores.  There we toured a goat farm famous for Pachacamac cheeses.  We sampled the fresh milk before production and the cheeses that it produced.  The flavors were very grassy, redolent of the animal’s diet on the farm.

A fantastic fish market in Chorrillo.

We also visited Don Torcuato, one of the region’s organic farms, and learned about Peru’s unusually fertile soil.  We tasted some of the incredible fruits and vegetables and that thrive in the region alongside Cuy – a traditional dish of guinea pig cooked in pork fat until crispy.  Miraflores’ hip restaurants offer the best of Peruvian cooking.  Don’t miss Pollo a la Brasa – the country’s ubiquitous grilled chicken, often marinated up to 24 hours. We tried the chicken at Don Titos.  Fiesta serves Northern Peruvian cuisine, including their tableside Collar de Hero – a whole roasted collar of sea bass, cooked crispy and smothered in aji sauce.  Truly an amazing experience!

Delicious Seafood Chufa.

For Anticucho de Corazon – grilled beef heart skewer with criolla sauce – try Gloton, which stays busy well into the night.  It’s an excellent stop after sampling Piscos, which we did at Mayta.  The restaurant offers over 30 pisco infusions, including the daring coca-steeped pisco. Salud!

 
 

 

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Extend Your Summer Vacation Sweepstakes

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Want to keep your summer sprit going before the days get shorter? Hotels.com wants to help extend your summer vacation by providing you with a chance for one final getaway.

From now until October 3, 2012, check out the Hotels.com Facebook page for the opportunity to win up to $2,500. Simply like the page and fill out the contest entry form for your chance to win. You can only enter once, so share this with your friends and family for extra luck!

Cross your fingers on October 4, because three lucky dogs will be selected for the amazing prizes. The biggest one will be a check for $2,500. We will also award $1,000 as the “First Place Prize” and $500 for the “Second Place Prize.” Winners, after you receive that fat check, you know what to do! Book your trips at Hotels.com and enjoy the last summer getaway of the year!

Where will you go if you win the sweepstakes?

 
 

 

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