United States Travel Guide

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Travel Contest Alert: Be One of the First Inside the Reopened Washington Monument

April 9, 2014 at 1:06 PM | by | Comments (0)

You'd think, with Instagram celebrating its fourth birthday this year, that the limits of intriguing new accounts would be stretched. Alas, we still find new and interesting people to follow, and one such account is @usinterior. It's actually the official account of the US Department of the Interior.

They've been active on the app for nearly two years, but only now are they taking the step to get interactive, announcing a contest to join in their first Insta-Meet for the reopening of the Washington Monument on May 12. You see, the monument closed after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the DC area in 2011. This caused cracks near the top of the monument, closing it indefinitely...or at least until May 12.

The opportunity to be among the first back into the national landmark sounds awesome, but there is a major catch:

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The Mother of All Gardens Remains Santa Barbara's Best Kept Secret

April 9, 2014 at 12:34 PM | by | Comments (0)

Santa Barbara distracts many with its beaches, wine country, and ocean-hugging mountains, but amongst the protective landscaping that hides the estates of neighboring Montecito sits the area's best kept secret: Lotusland, a 37-acre outdoor garden containing 3,000 plant species from all over the world.

Originally designed to be a retreat for Tibetan monks, the property features about two dozen unique garden plots that allow you to immerse yourself in different ecosystems. One minute you're strolling through an arid, hardy cactus garden, and the next you've entered a peaceful, Japanese-themed plot of land, an aloe garden, or are walking under tropical trees. One of the crown jewels of Lotusland is its Cycad Garden, a species that dates back nearly 300 million years.

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Three Food Festivals Laying the Table in April

April 9, 2014 at 10:21 AM | by | Comments (0)

After a long winter it’s finally time to come out of hibernation, and there’s no better way to celebrate the season and warmer weather than with a little food and a little wine. April is packed with food festivals for the next few weekends, so now’s the time to cancel those plans with the family and head out on your own getaway. Here’s three spots worth checking out.

Pebble Beach Food & Wine – April 10 – 13

If you’re not already in California you have until tomorrow to get there, as the events surrounding Pebble Beach Food & Wine kick off tomorrow and run throughout the weekend. Expect celebrity chefs, cooking demonstrations, plenty of sips and samples, and of course event after event tailored to your food favorites. Most of the cooking demonstrations start at around $100, and things go up from there.

Plenty of tickets are still available on what they call an “a la carte”—ha—basis, but you can also go all in an order a package of events. Things start off at around $1,000 for their magnum set of events, and things get pricier as you select from the jeroboam or imperial options.

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The Three Best US Lakes for Summer Swims This Year

April 8, 2014 at 4:17 PM | by | Comments (0)

People who live in proximity to the coasts have their summers planned out with visits to the Atlantic or Pacific, but those caught in the middle might find a trip to a local lake to be more accessible and more affordable. From Nevada to New York, there are hundreds of lakes to choose from, so be sure to investigate what lies within a few-hour drive of wherever you call home. Below, we feature three that we can recommend as great weekend getaways:

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How to Get Last-Minute Tickets to the 2014 Kentucky Derby

April 8, 2014 at 2:34 PM | by | Comments (0)

With the Kentucky Derby only 25 days away, tickets are running out fast.

Procrastinators have just three ticket options left. The first is to sit in the new second floor grandstand that overlooks the Kentucky Derby starting gate, Section 228. These tickets include stadium seating for both Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby days, and entry into Taste of Derby on Thursday, May 1 for $590 per person.

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Small Town Travel: Four of America's Most Iconic Trails Converge in Damascus, Virginia

April 8, 2014 at 11:03 AM | by | Comments (2)

When this writer went to the small town of Damascus in western Virginia to research a few stories, I basically ran myself into the ground, hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail in the morning and biking the Virginia Creeper Trail in the afternoon. Before my visit, when I was explaining to friends where I was going, I told them that Damascus sat alongside the App Trail. I was wrong about that. Turns out, the trail goes right through it.

Like, really through it, as in the sidewalk down the center of town is part of the trail. This in itself is what makes Damascus such an interesting place. Every person that hikes the Appalachian Trail - which is 2,184 miles from Georgia to Maine and takes the average person 6 months - must walk through the town of Damascus. You meet some interesting characters to say the least, from the hikers to the people in the town who help them out. It's not unusual to see tents set up in front yards, locals taking in the weary walkers for a night or two.

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The Beverage Selection Gets an Upgrade with New Microbrews on Three Airlines

April 8, 2014 at 9:16 AM | by | Comments (0)

Treat yourself during your next flight, as airlines are adding better beers and beverages suitable for an in-flight toast. Here’s a few of the carriers doing the microbrew thing at 35,000-feet, and their newest additions to the up in the air menu:

Delta & SweetWater Brewing Company

No offense to the Budweiser and Coors Light crew, but there’s better things brewing in Delta’s beverage cart. Last month the carrier introduced a little local flavor to their in-flight menu, as they’re offering up something from Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company. Thanks to some new canning techniques sky-high distribution is now available, and you can enjoy some 420 Extra Pale Ale on select Delta flights. These will set you back $6, but for now are limited to flights between Atlanta and New York-LaGuardia.

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AMC's 'Turn' TV Series Motivates Virginia to Debut New Revolutionary War Trail

April 7, 2014 at 3:31 PM | by | Comments (0)

AMC is hoping it will have the same luck with its newest series, Turn, that it's had with the pop culture phenomenons Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.

Turn is a Revolutionary War period drama based on Alexander Rose’s book Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring.

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Small Town Travel: The Energy Vortex and Citrus Orchards of Ojai, California

April 7, 2014 at 12:25 PM | by | Comments (0)

As far as the central coast of California goes, the small town of Ojai often gets lost in the shadows of destinations such as Santa Barbara, Paso Robles, and Big Sur. It’s a bit understandable given the reputations of those latter towns, but a look at Ojai reveals its value as a weekend getaway for those living within driving distance and as a stopoff for travelers driving Highway 1.

Though not on the coast, the “Valley of the Moon” is considered by many to be an energy vortex, similar to Sedona in that people find its aura to be powerful and even healing. This is one reason why the town is known as a rejuvenation and relaxation destination with many spa and retreat facilities. Its position in a valley adds to that charm, comforting visitors into a rural California nest of citrus farms.

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April's Most Instagrammable Festival is Found in Washington State

April 4, 2014 at 10:52 AM | by | Comments (0)

When it comes to fields of tulips and the scent of spring, your mind may first go to the Netherlands. However, if an international journey isn’t in the cards this time of the year there’s always tulips to be seen here at home in the nifty fifty, as Washington state is pretty good at showing off their green thumb.

The Skagit Tulip Festival runs all month long around Mount Vernon, Washington, but obviously a lot of the blossoms and what not depend on how Mother Nature is feeling. Things are a little bit different than most festivals, as there’s not really just one location or thing to see—you visit to kind of see everything. Drive through the area and the different fields and farms, and enjoy the tulips as they make their debut after a long winter. There’s hundreds of acres of fields and flowers, so we don’t think you’ll be disappointed that there’s no food court.

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Don't Sleep on Small Towns as You Plan Your Summer Trips

April 3, 2014 at 1:27 PM | by | Comments (0)

We know how tempting large-scale trips to sexy-sounding destinations can be. The thought of summer in Paris or a weekend in New Orleans is totally understandable and, if you can swing it, we support you hundred percent.

But for those of you whose budget and time allowance clash head on with your wanderlust, we offer a friendly reminder: Don't forget about the small towns hiding all across the country that are typically cheaper, require less time to fully explore, and often provide just as many unique experiences as mass tourism destinations.

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Read the Fine Print to Beat High Vendor Prices at Sports Stadiums

April 3, 2014 at 11:19 AM | by | Comments (0)

Baseball is officially back, and along with it comes a summer full of sports travel, groups of friends and families making their way across the country to visit different stadiums. Some make it their life goal to visit them all, others simply try to catch a game as an activity while in town. Either way, donning the hometown jersey is a great way to fit in and experience a little local flavor.

Yet the reality is that sporting events are expensive, and the ticket is only part of the problem. Once inside, street-level pricing goes out the window, and you pay dearly as a captive audience. For a solo traveler only responsible for himself, it might not be the end of the world. But a family of four? With tickets and food/drink, a trip to the ballpark all of a sudden becomes a $200 night out.

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