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There are subtle ways and not-so-subtle ways to attract travelers. Some places - say, Mexico - struggle with image problems, and before they can pitch anything fun they have to rebrand themselves.. Other countries and organizations have it a lot easier. Zoos, for example, can do the equivalent of waving their arms in the air and shouting: "Hey, look over here! There are cute baby things over here!"
Our beloved San Diego Zoo knows what works, which is why they kicked off the summer travel season this morning by opening up their new Conrad Prebys Australian Outback exhibit to the public. The 3 acre exhibit is meant to model what you might see in Queensland. At the entrance is a cluster of 8 to 15-foot-tall totems depicting a koala, a platypus, a crocodile, a kangaroo, a Tasmanian devil, and a kookaburra. They call it the exhibit's "welcoming committee."
It's been a while since we've written about our beloved San Diego Zoo, and even longer since we've written about it as anything but an exercise in kind of entertaining but also sort of unseemly schadenfreude. Let us remedy that with background and a video of the zoo's new baby panda making his public debut.
The toddler's name is Xiao Liwu. He first met the public last Wednesday, which is when the video below was taken. The San Diego Zoo - which is one of only four American zoos with pandas - has now had six successful panda births. That makes the park the single most successful panda breeding facility outside of China.
San Diego Zoo / Animals / Los Angeles Zoo / Texas Travel / Texas / San Diego Travel / San Diego / Zoos / Green Travel / Nature Travel / → All Tags
Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered subspecies of tiger from the Indonesian island of Sumatra. There are less than 300 of them left in the wild, and all known population clusters are in decline. So when you have a chance to see one under any circumstances you should avail yourself of the opportunity. And if that chance somehow involves seeing a bunch of baby Sumatran cubs wrestling, that should conclusively settle whether it's worth your time to go wandering around the zoo for an afternoon.
This is all by way of saying that we realize it's been almost a month since we posted about zoos, and we owe you some cute things. Herein are three different parks across two different states, each with a pair of baby Sumatran tigers. We've even included embedded videos and links to picture galleries, because it's Monday and you deserve it.
The San Diego Museum of Art lobby
The San Diego Museum of Art smells amazing. That's because the flower-filled museum is holding its 29th annual Art Alive fund-raiser, where the city's top florists offer floral interpretations of famous works of art.
It may sound kind of gimmicky, but it's a way to offer a different spin on the artwork and get people into the museum. And they will comeómore than 13,000 people are expected to stop and smell the roses, calla lilies and other blooms at the four-day floral festivities, which end May 2.
Prime-Plane-Spotting-Map / Plane Spotting / San Diego Travel / San Diego / SAN / Southwest Airlines / → All Tags
Plane spotting everything from legacy carriers to LCCs isn't all that difficult outside of San Diego International Airport with the hilly terrain, but there's one specific spot that lines up so well with the end of one of the runways that we simply must tell you about it. It's a parking garage.
Specifically, it's Aladdin's Parking Garage, at Kettner Boulevard and West Laurel Street, and it's a multi-level airport parking structure situated so perfectly for watching the activity on the runways at the airport. That said, the parking garage doesn't particularly like their reputation as a prime plane spotting location, and there are signs warning of "no loitering." But until they put up signs that warn "no making out," we'll keep coming back for a little literal Kiss-and-Fly.
Last week, the final schedule was released for the 2009 Comic-Con International, taking place in San Diego next week, sending fans who still hadn't bought their tickets into a frenzy.
The mayhem is for good reason. This year's celeb-filled schedule includes a panel with the stars of Twilight on Thursday, July 23rd, a peek at the upcoming movies Sherlock Holmes and A Nightmare on Elm Street on Friday, July 24th, and several TV panels with the casts of Fringe, Chuck, Heroes and more on Saturday, July 25th.
Comic-Con has of course been sold out for weeks, but fans who procrastinated still have one more chance to see their favorite stars at the convention. For the first time ever, Comic-Con is selling tickets on Ebay, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. So now you can bid away, but beware of scalpers. There is a unique bar code on all of the tickets sold by Comic-Con and you won't get in with any ticket that doesn't have it.
You can also follow Comic-Con on Twitter for updates on any possible last minute ticket sales or changes in the con's schedule.
· Comic Con Internationalís Saturday Schedule Revealed [OLV]
· 2009 Comic Con: Thursday and Friday Schedule Highlights [OLV]
· How to Get Tickets to Comic-Con 2009 [NBC Bay Area]
[Photo: L.A. Times]
Nothing's better than getting some sweet, sweet Airport WiFi tips in our inbox, and thanks to an eagle-eyed (or rather, eagle-laptoped?) reader, we can add San Diego International to our growing list of WiFi-equipped airports.
It doesn't stop at simply providing a signal however, since San Diego goes all the way and gives their travelers Free WiFi in all terminals. This is well and good, but don't expect to download much or visit flash-heavy sites since the connection is rumored to be weak and, depending on how busy the airport is, approaching low dial-up speeds.
Still, any internet is better than no internet and free internet is better than pay internet, so San Diego beats most other airports in our books.
Fireworks Travel / Fireworks / New York City / Events / Lists / San Diego / Washington DC / → All Tags
New York City: Along the Hudson Riverfront
This year just happens to be the 400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson's sailing up the river which would eventually bear his name, and to celebrate this, Macy's is moving their notoriously festive fireworks celebration from the East River to the Hudson. This means that the nation's largest fourth of July display will practically pair up with the Jersey City celebrations, which blast over Liberty State Park, to create one awesome night along the river.
Best viewing of the Macy's display at 9pm will be from the Hoboken waterfront, and Liberty State Park's is obviously best seen from the park. We're going to compromise and hit up the pier jutting out from the Starbucks near the Pavonia/Newport PATH subway station in Jersey City.
So even if the weather is fair in your 'hood, you still have to admit: now that it's January, it's winter. Right? Not if you're in San Diego, one of the country's biggest outdoor playgrounds. If you're out west on a sunny day, there's nothing better than a nature trip out to the Chula Vista Nature Center. The facility--part of the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge--is the city's prime spot for birdwatching, hiking and guided nature walks. (And despite the photo, it's not just for kids.)
With roughly 300 bird species living in the area or flying through, you're guaranteed to spot something unique. (For some of us that would amount to anything that's not a dirty, smog-breathing pigeon.) If you aren't really into birds--and that's OK--the hiking trails are a great way to get closer to coastal nature. There's also a huge aquarium complex full of sharks and rays. No matter what sort of animal adventure you get into, the CVNC is a steal at $6 compared to $33 for the San Diego Zoo.