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Sep
21

If you’re wondering what to do this weekend, why not celebrate Museum Day 2010 and plan a trip to a local museum for FREE!

Over 1,200 museums across 50 states are taking part in Smithsonian magazine’s Sixth Annual Museum Day, on September 25, 2010. These institutions will follow the Smithsonian Institution’s free admission policy and open their doors gratis to visitors nationwide.

Smithsonian ticket

There are a wide range of museums to choose from. Here are some of our picks:

Check out the map to see what museums in your neighborhood have already signed on and easily print out an admission card, good for two people.

smithsonian museum map

If you love to plan trips to art galleries and museums, explore more options on TravelMuse.

Sep
07

Congratulations to Jose, Coral Gables, Fl.,  who is the lucky winner of our “Create a Trip on TravelMuse, Win your perfect moment in Hawaii” sweepstakes!  We had a great response to the contest with thousands of entries and know that Jose is excited to plan his luxury trip to the tropical island of Oahu.

 

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Surfing in Wakiki. Photo: Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau

Thanks to our partners in Hawaii for providing this amazing trip to paradise!

- Roundtrip air travel and ground transportation, courtesy of the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

- 5-night stay at the exquisite Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach resort & Spa, Waikiki, Complete with a Waikiki Starlight Luau.

- Dolphin Swim Adventure Program at Sea Life Park Hawaii,
Sea Life Park offers a variety of marine-life shows, exhibits and educational programs for all ages and is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Among its most popular features are the swim-with-dolphin programs.  The Park is a member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.  Sea Life Park is owned and operated by Parques Reunidos Group.  For more information, visit the Park’s Web site at www.sealifeparkhawaii.com.

- Atlantis Submarines sub tour off Waikiki,
Atlantis Submarines has nine locations worldwide including Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico and Guam. In Hawaii, Atlantis operates five submarines in Kona, Lahaina, and Waikiki. The company also owns Honolulu-based Atlantis Navatek Cruises, offering sunset dinner cruises aboard the high-tech revolutionary Navatek I, along with seasonal luncheon whale watch cruises from December to April. For more information, visit www.atlantissubmarines.com.

- Premium Battle Station Tour at the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pearl Harbor.
Located a mere ship’s length from the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial completes a historical visitor experience that begins with the “day of infamy” that saw the sinking of the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor and ends with Imperial Japan’s unconditional surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Walk the decks of America’s last battleship as knowledgeable guides share stories from the Mighty Mo’s astounding career spanning five decades and three wars — from World War II to the Korean conflict to the Liberation of Kuwait — and her transformation into a floating historic attraction and memorial, standing perpetual watch over Pearl Harbor. Call toll-free 1-877-MIGHTYMO (1-877-644-4896) or visit www.ussmissouri.org.

- Polynesian Cultural Center, “Ha:Breath of Life“ evening show and buffet dinner.
Immerse yourself in the diverse cultures and customs of Polynesia at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Join in an array of interactive activities and shows in eight island villages and exhibits. Watch the Rainbows of Paradise canoe pageant on the lush lagoon winding through the grounds. Enjoy Hawaii’s best Lu‘au experience at its award-winning Ali‘i Lu‘au dinner and show. Experience the spectacular “Ha: Breath of Life,” Hawaii’s newest Polynesian night show featuring a cast of more than 100 performers. Call toll-free 1-800-367-7060 or visit www.polynesia.com.

If you’d like to plan a similar trip you can check out this itinerary to Hawaii on TravelMuse.

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May
25

Congratulations,  Carrie, Montara, Calif. Our first winner of Trip of the Week and recipient of a Frommer’s day by day guide to Hawaii.

Carrie and her daughter are about to embark on a trip from Chicago to California and recently built out this fantastic Road Trip together on TravelMuse!


Trip Chicago to California

I asked Carrie a few questions about her upcoming trip:

Why are you taking this trip?

My 19-year-old daughter has been less than enthusiastic about the prospect of getting her driver’s license. This is in no small part because my car is difficult to learn on since it has a standard transmission. When my aunt decided that she wasn’t going to use her car anymore, we jumped on the opportunity to buy it. Not only does her car have an automatic transmission, but it’s only $1,000. The catch? She lives in Chicago and we are in California. With a cry of, “Road trip!” we decided to fly one way to Chicago and then see as many sights as we could, both big and small, as we drove the newly acquired car back to our home in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

What are you most excited about seeing/doing on your trip?

Although we’ll be going to some big attractions — Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons — I’m most excited about visiting the campy roadside attractions like the SPAM museum (the canned meat, not the electronic junk mail) in Austin, Minn.; the Potato Expo, Blackfoot in Idaho (motto: We give taters to Out-of-Staters); and the almost indescribable Thunder Mountain Park in Imlay, Nev. My daughter has a great sense of humor so I know that these offbeat attractions will be the foundation inside jokes and for stories that we tell and retell.

Any other interesting facts you care to share?

Normally, I’d plan a road trip that allowed for more spontaneity — stopping when we were tired and finding cheap motels along the way. But we are working with some firm deadlines. The day before we leave my daughter is taking her last final exam and has to move out of her college dorm. The day after we arrive home, my daughter is flying to Armenia where she will spend six weeks doing a summer program at an archeological dig site.  The upside about having this trip very planned is that we will be able to do things that require reservations, such as going white water rafting in the Grand Tetons and taking a Segway Tour in Chicago. The downside is that not only are we spending only one day in places that most people spend a week visiting, but we will be feeling the pressure of racing against the clock since we must make it home in time for her to make her flight the next day!

Wishing you safe and happy travels, Carrie!

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Tell us about your Trips and you could be featured in Trip of the Week–win one of the new Frommer’s Day by Day Guide Books and be entered to win a FREE, luxury Trip for 2 to Waikiki!

TravelMuse Sweepstakes Win a Luxury Trip to Hawaii

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May
21

We’re giving away a weekly prize to the best Trip created on TravelMuse in “Trip of the Week” for the next 10 weeks, in conjunction with our amazing Create a Trip on TravelMuse, Win Your Perfect Moment in Hawaii contest!

Create Trips for destinations you plan to visit or share your experiences and recommendations on places you’ve already been.

What you Win:

Winners will receive a copy of their choice, of one of the latest Frommer’s Day by Day Guide books to Hawaii, Ireland or Italy each week (value ~$30)!

Win Frommer's new day by day guide books to Hawaii, Italy or Ireland

Win Frommer's new Day by Day Guide books to Hawaii, Italy or Ireland

See our recent review of Frommer’s Day by Day Guides.

How to Enter:

  • Create a Trip with at least five (5) saved items to qualify. If you’ve entered our Hawaii contest you’re already eligible for Trip of the Week.

Tip: To create a quality Trip remember to include a description and add more items (don’t forget to try the TravelMuse Bookmarker).

Results:

We’ll publish our Trip of the Week pick every Tuesday, and will announce our first winner next week on Tuesday, May 25.

Good luck and happy Trip planning!

Rules:

The contest runs from May 6, 2010 until July 20, 2010. Qualifying Trips must contain at least five (5) items. The winner will be selected by a judging panel comprised of TravelMuse staff and other employees. Winners must claim their prize within three (3) business days after the date of notification of such prize. A winner’s failure to respond to the prize notification within the specified three (3) business days will be considered such winner’s forfeiture of the prize and an alternate winner may be selected from the pool of eligible entries. If an entrant is found to be ineligible, an alternate winner may also be selected from the pool of eligible entries. To enter, you must be a U.S. resident, age 18 or older. Employees, partners and vendors of TravelMuse and their immediate family members are not eligible to enter. When applicable, the winner may be required to execute and return within five business days an Affidavit of Eligibility and a Liability and Publicity Release to be eligible for the prize or an alternate winner will be selected. All prizes will be awarded. No substitutions including for cash are permitted, except that TravelMuse reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater monetary value for any prize. Winners shall be responsible and liable for all federal, state and local taxes on the value of their prize.

Also, don’t miss your chance to WIN a FREE, Once-in-a-Lifetime Luxury Trip for 2 to WAIKIKI!

Win a luxury trip to Hawaii on TravelMuse!

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May
06

We’re excited to announce today a next generation Travel Planner and a chance to escape to a tropical paradise!

homepage

We know that planning a trip can be an overwhelming experience and although the internet is the go-to place for all your information these days, it can be a real challenge to collect and organize your research. The new TravelMuse Planner makes the chaos of travel planning easy and fun by providing a central place to save, organize and share all your research for any destination.

So what have we changed?

•    New TravelMuse Bookmarker
•    New TravelMuse Planner
•    New Destination Guide section
•    New Ask Friends on Facebook integration
•    New TravelMuse Trip Widget
•    New Contest to Win a Trip to a Tropical Paradise!

You might ask what haven’t we changed!

1.    New TravelMuse Bookmarker
We believe that the Web is the platform for planning your trip, and although we have great content on TravelMuse, we know from industry research that people search about 22 different sites to gather research. We also know that with the existing Bookmarker, TravelMuse members have already saved over 5,000 different websites to their Trips!

The new Bookmarker now allows you to save pages, photos and text from any website into your personal Trip folder. If you include the address, we’ll plot it on an interactive map. Learn more and watch the demo video.

Bookmarker
2.    New TravelMuse Planner
You can now view your research on an interactive map, create a schedule and find other popular items based on the research you have saved. This will make planning your trip on TravelMuse more intuitive and rewarding.

Organize

Map View
You asked for it, we built it. Being able to use maps to plan your trip came out as a top request, so we’ve built out some cool interactive maps to help plan your trips.

•    Saved items are plotted on a map.
•    The Most popular drop-down menu shows attractions, hotels, restaurants and shopping items saved by other TravelMuse members.
•    The More… drop-down menu shows photos, videos and Wikipedia entries from Google.
•    The Google search box at the bottom of the map also lets you search for items from Google Local and save these directly to your Trip.

Item View
On the “Items” view the research cards are now easier to read and expand to show more detail. We also added:
•    Sort by Most Recent, Added By, Category, Location and Schedule
•    Click on the icons on the right of the card to edit, schedule or delete.
•    Ask Friends on Facebook from an Item view (see below for details on this).
•    Click on the destinations to explore destination guides on TravelMuse or the items to see more detail.

Schedule View
Not everyone wants to plan every day of vacation, but some trips call for more organization than others, so we changed the scheduling view to be more calendar based.
•    Now on the calendar view you can open items in the right hand Trip list and select the day or date they want to add the item to.
•    On the calendar itself you can drag and drop items between days.

3.    New Collaborate and Share
You can still invite friends to join you on TravelMuse to help plan your trip. We’ve also further integrated with Facebook to develop the “Ask Friends” feature. Now for every item you can ask for specific advice. Requests are posted to your wall and then the respective comments are incorporated back into your trip.

Share

4.   New Destinations
We reorganized the key destination landing pages which you can navigate to from the Destinations header or to a particular destination highlighted in your trip.

It’s now easier to navigate between guides, hotels, attractions, restaurants, shops and Trips. You can explore items on the map and scroll down the page to see popular Trips, Most popular attractions, themes and activities and articles.


destinations

5.    New TravelMuse Trip Widget
We  introduced the TravelMuse Trip Widget so you can share and showcase Trips on your website, blog and across your social networking sites, based on your Member ID or Trip ID.  Learn how to create your Trip Widget.

6.    New Win a Trip to a Tropical Paradise!
We’re really excited to have partnered with the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau to give away a fantastic luxury trip for two to the tropical island of Oahu!. Join TravelMuse and create a Trip to any destination for a chance to win this amazing prize. Enter now!

contest

Lastly, stay tuned for details on our “Trip of the Week” giveaway with Frommers.

We hope you enjoy taking the new site for a spin and please give us any feedback—be sure to use the new feedback tab on the right side of the page!

Phew, right time for a beer or two, I think…

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Mar
02

eyefortravel_social_media_sfo

TravelMuse is excited to take part in the EyeforTravel’s Social Media Strategies for Travel USA 20010 conference, which will be held in San Francisco from March 24 to 25 at the Hyatt at Fisherman’s Wharf.

We’ll be making a short presentation and participating on a panel focusing on the Best Practices to Get the Highest ROI on Your Social Media Initiatives alongside Henry Harteveldt (Forrester Research), Brandie Feuer (Tropicana Las Vegas) and Yvonne Chen (Facebook).

Last year I attended and presented at the conference and came away armed with lots of ideas, so I am looking forward to this year’s event. The conference is aimed at travel marketers who want to learn more about social media and how to generate leads, drive traffic, boost conversions and ultimately grow sales. Here’s a taste of what will be covered this year:

  • Analyzing the Advancing Social Media Landscape
  • Managing the Strategic Importance of Social Media in Your Business
  • Managing Your Brand Reputation Online
  • Social Media Metrics and Meaning
  • Twitter and the Rise of Micro-blogging
  • What Extent are Travelers Influenced by Social Media?
  • Boosting CRM and Loyalty Results

There’s a wide range of leading industry experts from new and established companies presenting, including Facebook, Hilton, Virgin America, Orbitz, Yapta, Uptake, Tripology, SouthWest and more.

To find out more and register, go to http://events.eyefortravel.com/social-media

To receive a 15 percent discount on your conference pass, send an e-mail to Gina Baillie (gina@eyefortravel.com) and tell her that TravelMuse referred you.

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Feb
11

We’re counting down the hours with only two days until the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games!

If you’re heading to Vancouver, Whistler or Richmond, British Columbia, download this FREE, handy guide packed full of restaurants, attractions, nightlife, shopping and event suggestions near the main venues, including: BC Place Stadium, Canada Hockey Place, Pacific Coliseum, Richmond Olympic Oval, Whistler and more.

Winter_olympicsDownload pdf

Whether you’re planning on getting in on the live action between Feb. 12 to 28 or you’re inspired to visit the beautiful province of British Columbia at a later date, we hope this helps you plan a great vacation.  Plan your trip to Vancouver and check out more Vancouver trip information on TravelMuse.

Guide courtesy of WCities

Note: If you have trouble downloading this pdf in your browser, right click on the “Download pdf” link and save the file to your computer.

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Jan
28

Glancing at my Facebook feed, I noticed that the official U.S. Snowboarding team had been chosen for the  Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Will the reining half-pipe champ Shaun White defend his title?

With the countdown to the Games (February 12 to 28) underway all eyes will be on Vancouver and Whistler.

I took a ski vacation to  Whistler Blackcomb in 2007 and this resort ranks as one of my favorites. It offers more mountain than you can possibly cover, great après ski and friendly people. Even three years ago there was a huge amount of construction underway in preparation for the games, so I’d love to return to see what changes have been made.

Fiona heads down the Women's Downhill and Super G

Fiona heads down the Olympic Women's Downhill and Super G.

Highlights of our trip:
What struck me soon after driving out of the airport was the gorgeous scenery of the Rocky Mountains and dramatic backdrop it provided to Vancouver itself. As you make the two-hour drive up to Whistler, the scenery just gets more impressive! As well as the phenomenal skiing, I can recommend:

1. The Westin Resort and Spa Whistler: Located right next to the gondola, this is a great place to stay—especially because they offer suites which made it ideal for preparing food for our 9 month old infant outside of regular eating hours. The FireRock Lounge provides a good après ski hangout and with great tapas. The Aubergine Grille also offers fine cuisine with a good of range of seafood.

2. Peak to Creek and Dusty’s Bar: One of my favorite runs on Whistler mountain was Peak to Creek—a seven kilometer (over four miles) groomed, intermediate run with over 5,000 feet of continuous vertical. After heading down without stopping, what better place to go than Dusty’s Bar.  A great place to kick back, relax and enjoy a well earned beer!

3. Infant Daycare, Creekside: This was the only one in the resort when we visited and we loved it. However, when I tried to find contact information to share I discovered that it’s no longer available. There are options for children ages 18 to 48 months with Whistler Kids Winter Childcare, including a daycare at The Westin. For children younger than 18 months, the resort advises contacting Babysitting Whistler.

4. Whistler Village: Offers great restaurants, bars and shops. The place really comes alive later in the afternoon as everyone descends from the mountain providing an après ski vibe reminiscent of European resorts. Check out places to eat in Whistler.

5. Granville Island, Vancouver: Only five minutes from downtown Vancouver, this area is not to be missed with a great food market, shops, restaurants, cafes, galleries, etc.

What do I dream of doing on my next visit to Whistler?

1. Try out the new Peak-to-Peak gondola that connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.

2. Go helisking!  Maybe I’ve been watching too many extreme ski/board Warren Miller movies, but I’d love to try helisking –packages start at $795.

3. Stay at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler—consistently rated as one of the top 50 ski resorts by Condé Nast Traveller.

Typically host resorts of the winter Olympics have fewer skiers and snowboarders the entire season of the Games, so don’t rule it out as a place to visit this year—plan a trip to Whistler and/or plan a trip to Vancouver.

For more tips and advice read related articles on TravelMuse:

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Jan
21

With over three feet of fresh snow in Lake Tahoe this past week, it’s time to plan your skiing or snowboarding getaway for Presidents’ Day weekend, February 13 to 15! Enjoy some great conditions, mountain air, and fun with your family and friends.

We have been lucky enough to take a couple of trips this year to North Lake Tahoe, and since our daughter is 3 years old (and potty trained) she was excited to try ski school.

Alpine Meadows offers a great kids ski and snowboard program that spans ages 3 to 12 years old. We signed up for two half days of the Munchkins 3 to 4 years program starting at 9 a.m. From the minute we stepped into the indoor sign-up area, the instructors were upbeat, friendly and helpful. Given the fun environment, our daughter had no hesitation waving goodbye to mum and dad. The nursery slopes are close to the main building, so it’s easy to sneak-a-peek. After the instructors get the kids comfortable wearing their skis, they mainly focus on the “pizza” (snow plow—so you can stop) and ”french fries” (parallel) and let the kids go up and down a shallow slope on the magic carpet.

Ski School at Alpine Meadows

Ski School at Alpine Meadows.

With a happy munchkin, we enjoyed grown-up playtime and hit the front and backside of the hill. This year we joined the Alpine Members club. For a one time fee of $15 you can pre-load your ticket online for $59 (incl. holidays) versus $69/$74 (holidays) at the resort—they also offer $44 select days. This program is a great deal and, more importantly, saves time waiting in line.

For our afternoon activity we strapped a harness onto our munchkin and had fun on the larger magic carpet and on a couple of the green runs with chair lifts (Meadow and Subway). The harness worked out well, although someone enjoyed the need for speed and was reluctant to practice her “pizza” position!
Read more about tips for teaching kids to ski.

Afternoon ski fun at Alpine.  Photo: Fiona Ashley

Afternoon ski fun at Alpine Meadows.

Where to Stay?
Stanford Alpine Ski Chalet: It is reminiscent of European-style ski accommodations with 14 family rooms (queen + bunk bed) downstairs,  while upstairs you can enjoy a shared communal room with comfy sofas, a roaring fire, and a bookcase full of kids games, books and activities. A set menu ($25 per adult) is offered every night in the adjoining dining room with communal tables. The food is good, staff are friendly and it’s the perfect setting to let kids back to play after dinner, while the adults can continue chatting. The chalet runs a complimentary shuttle bus to the resort only a couple of minutes away. (Note: affiliation with Stanford University is not required).

More places to stay in Lake Tahoe .

Where to Eat?
Rosie’s is good for a hearty breakfast.
River Ranch Lodge offers great pub lunches, dinners and also has a fine dining restaurant.
Christy Hills offers a great menu if you’re looking for fine dining.
More restaurants in Lake Tahoe.

What to Do?
If skiing’s not your thing, you can also have a great time snow tubing, sledding and taking winter walks. Bring your own sled or rent one for $9 at Granlibakken resort. Tahoe City and nearby Truckee also have great local shops.

Dad and daughter sledding at Granlibakken resort. Photo: Fiona Ashley.

Dad and daughter sledding at Granlibakken resort.

Childcare Options
If you’re looking for baby sitters or childcare here are some useful sites:
Interactive Childcare
Tahoe Kids Guide

Other Ideas on Where to Plan a Ski or Snowboard Trip
Check out our ski and snowboarding articles and destinations on TravelMuse

See Fiona’s Trip:  Skiing and Sledding in Lake Tahoe.

Photos: Fiona Ashley

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Jan
04

Happy New Year! We hope you had a great holiday season. As soon as one vacation is over, I usually start plotting my next getaway–so what are you waiting for? It’s time to start thinking about your travel plans for 2010!

British Virgin Islands:Best Virgin Gorda resorts, restaurants, attractions

British Virgin Islands:Best Virgin Gorda resorts, restaurants and attractions. Photo courtesy of the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board.

Here are 10 New Year trip-planning resolutions for you to consider:

1. Give up your daily Starbucks, stop buying shoes you’ll only wear once or forgo another indulgence so you can take a vacation.
Use the Trip Budget Calculator to find out what you could give up!

2. Don’t go back to the same destination again! Get inspired and go see the world.
Use the Inspiration Finder to match what you like with where you should go.

3. Get organized!
Start a new Trip with the TravelMuse Planner so you can keep all your travel ideas and information in one place.

4. Save bookmarks from other travel Web sites.
Add the TravelMuse Bookmarker to your browser so you can easily save Web pages to your Tripfolio.

5. Collaborate with your co-travelers on planning the ideal Trip.
Invite friends and family to join your Trip so they can add items, comments and contribute.

6. Avoid relying on random reviews written by people you don’t know; get advice from friends you trust.
Ask Friends on Facebook for ideas and advice on where to stay, eat and play.

7. Cut through the clutter and read useful travel information.
Read articles guides and tips from local experts and seasoned travel writers. View other member’s Trips and bookmarks.

8. Easily take your travel information and notes with you.
Create and print a free custom pdf travel guide with all your travel information.

9. Have fun, save time and plan your best trips ever in 2010.
TravelMuse is here to help!

10. Let us know how we’re doing so we can make your travel-planning experience even better!
E-mail support@travelmuse.com

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