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Tax day is here, and you're probably excited...but not because you love sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" tripa Tax Refund Vacation.
In case you didn’t hear, today’s the day you'll need to finalize your tax return and, if all goes according to plan, your refund should be arriving by check or direct deposit within the next few weeks. At last update, the friendly folks at the IRS report that the average refund this year is just shy of $3,000, so we say it’s time to take that money and head out of town.
Affordability is key during tax season, so today we're featuring a domestic destination, to Texas' capital of cool—Austin. Now’s the time to visit before the sweltering summer weather rolls in, and with an average April temperature of nearly 80 degrees, you can enjoy the sun without the humidity of the tropics.
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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.
Austin Travel / South By Southwest / Texas Travel / Festival Travel / Food Travel / Lists / Music Travel / → All Tags
In case you've been living in a cave (without WiFi, naturally), the South By Southwest festival is in full swing right now, with networking, screenings and, of course, partying. Austin, Texas is abuzz with people from all over the planet and, even though SXSW has plenty of things to keep visitors occupied for 10 days, not everyone is interested in visiting the city during this time of the year.
Thus, we've come up with a hearty list of things to do if you're headed to Austin when the city isn't packed with conference attendees.
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Even though the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival doesn't begin until this weekend, the city of Austin, TX was already in quite a flutter yesterday, with the arrival of their first transatlantic flight. Even better is that the airline is British Airways, who've put their brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the nonstop route. Right now, the flight only operates five times a week, but will increase to daily service as soon as this May.
Texans used to flying other airlines and connecting to London can check out a sample of one of the plane's seats as part of a pop-up British Airways experience in the lobby of Austin's Driskill Hotel. Of course, there's always our own 40-image photo gallery and a few things the BA 787 has that other airplanes do not.
There’s all kinds of water parks across the globe, but there’s only one brand that truly exceeds the expectations of those looking to slip, slide, and swim all summer long. There’s no argument that Schlitterbahn has some of the best water parks in the world, and with locations across Texas and even in Kansas City, there are several options from which to choose. However, 2014 is unique in that they’re bringing in a new $500 million park into the family, as Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi should be turning on the faucet in just a few more months.
Many of the signature rides and attractions will make an appearance at the new water park. Visitors can expect things like a Torrent Tidal Wave River, swim-up bars, and beaches. There will even be something called Boogie Bahn—according to them it’s basically the world’s best inland surfing ride. There will be places to stay the night as well, as it looks like they’re trying to get Schlitterbahn Corpus Christi up and running as a full-fledged resort.
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Did y’all cowpokes know there’s a newly crowned “World’s Longest Nonstop Flight?” With the retirement of Singapore Airlines flight 21/22, an unnaturally long 18hr 50min nonstop flight between Singapore and Newark, comes the new champion of distance: Qantas Airlines 7's 15h 25min nonstop from Sydney, Australia to Dallas, Texas.
It doesn’t take a math genius to realize that the flying time difference between the newcomer and the old-timer is a dramatic 3hr 25min. You could watch “Titanic” from start to finish in that exact time (the movie is literally 3 hr 25 min long). However, we certainly don’t want to make light of a 15-hour flight.
Let us not forget that while Singapore’s flights were longer, they were also running a completely business class cabin with no economy option. For Qantas, a few hundred passengers on the new longest flight will be spending their 15+ hours sitting upright in economy, chewing Xanax to make the pain go away. Just kiddingEconomy in one of Qantas’ 747-400ERs really isn’t all that bad (though we’d still suggest spending a little extra for Premium Economy like we did).
The tale of Bonnie & Clyde was resurrected last night in Part 1 of a new TV miniseries about the real-life couple and the infamous crime spree that cost them their lives nearly 80 years ago.
The continued fascination with history's most wanted couple keeps Bonnie & Clyde tourism going strong in Texas and Louisiana.
In Dallas, TX, local Freda Dillard gives a four-hour Bonnie & Clyde Tour that includes the location where they first met, Bonnie's former workplace Hargraves Cafe, and the Grapevine location where they murdered two highway patrolmen. The group tour, which can accommodate up to 57 people, costs $240.
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It might have one of the worst names in festival history, but it sure has caught on and gathered attention as a pretty big deal in Austin, a city that doesn't take its music lightly. The Fun Fun Fun Fest returns for its 8th year on November 8-10 with a lineup that goes well beyond music to showcase stand-up comedy, alternative sports, and the local food scene.
In addition to big acts like Snoop Dog (Lion), M.I.A., and Slayer, the FFF Fest will feature dozens of musicians as well as comedians, led by Sarah Silverman and Tenacious D. You can see the full lineup here. There will also be some extreme sports on site, including vert ramp skating and biking, wrestling (there's apparently a ring), and the good ole' fashioned Texas favorite, the mechanical bull.
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This week’s a big deal for the planes and people over at Southwest Airlines, the week that the countdown to the end of the Wright Amendment finally begins. The 1979 federal law limited where planes could fly out of Dallas-Love Field to cities in and around Texas and a few neighboring states, but once it expires, the airline will have a lot more freedom when it comes to where the blue-bellied planes can fly.
This marks a continuation of good news for Southwest in the Lone Star State. Just the other day we mentioned that the carrier was hard at work building its first international terminal over at Houston-Hobby, which seems to go hand-in-hand with the flight freedom that’s on the horizon at Love Field. We’re now one year away—October 13, 2014—from the day when the wing-clipping rules and regulations will be in the past.
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Houston has a problem.
Or, rather, Houston had a problem, as their bitterness from being passed over when NASA handed out Space Shuttles may be staunched by the delivery of the special 747 carrier plane instead.
Okay, so the home of Mission Control will likely never heal from the pain of the Shuttle decision, but a consolation prize does mean the city's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center will have something other than laboratories, training rooms and the mission control center to show off to visitors. According to Space.com, the modified 747 "Shuttle Carrier Aircraft" will be disassembled with Boeing's help, shipped to Houston, and reassembled within a brand new, $12 million, six-story building at Space Center Houston, adjacent to Johnson Space Center.
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The summer heat has been kind to many areas across the country the last couple of weeks, but that’s not necessarily the case over in Austin, Texas. A quick look at the extended forecast shows high temperatures flirting with almost 100 degrees well into the weekend. The warm weather is a great excuse to take a break with a sweet treat, so it’s perfect timing for the area’s annual ice cream festival.
The seventh scoop is taking place this weekend on Saturday, August 17, and the fun is scheduled to run between 10am and 7pm at Fiesta Gardens right at the shores of Ladybird Lake. The city’s ice cream festival is exactly what you’d expect, but we say that in the best way possible. Games, activities, contests, and plenty of live entertainment, and of course all the ice cream you care to enjoy—it’s all included with the cost of admission. Even your dog is welcome to tag along as well, and we’re pretty sure someone will be there with some pet friendly deserts.
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August is, in many parts of the country, a miserable month. The weather is hot, humid, and - if you're lucky - punctuated by thunderstorms. But it still counts as summer, which means summer travel, which means zoo travel. All of which is a roundabout way of saying here are some U.S. zoos with baby elephants that you can go visit:
· The Fort Worth Zoo's social media people have been having a lot of fun with their new baby elephant, Belle. We've embedded a couple of videos below that showcase the newborn. The first is a news video with footage of Belle playing in a kiddie pool. The footage was produced by the zoo and published by the Associated Press. It quickly went viral, mostly on account of how it's a video of a baby elephant playing in a kiddie pool. The second video is an ad produced by the zoo, and if you watch it through the end you'll see even more baby elephant footage.