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Archive for the ‘U.S. Destinations’ Category

Jul
15

I’m taking a mini road trip to Los Angeles with my younger brother next weekend. Between gas money, hotel costs and feeding ourselves, I was worried that we were going to be stuck with no money to see any of the the City of Angels’ infamous attractions. But Los Angeles is not just for the rich and the famous to enjoy. There are many incredible free activities to partake, much to my relief. Vacation saved! Here are five free top attractions that I plan to check out on my trip. What are you favorite things to do in Los Angeles for free?

The Getty Villa. Photo: brewbooks

The Getty Villa. Photo: brewbooks

1. Home of the Oscars

If you’re a movie buff (or even if you’re not), be sure to check out the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Grand Lobby and Fourth Floor Galleries. The Academy’s headquarters is located in the heart of Beverly Hills and its galleries feature impressive exhibitions that highlight the best of Hollywood’s movie magic and history. 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. Tel. 310-247-3000. www.oscars.org

2. The Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Trust is one of the largest supporters of visual arts in the world, and its two Los Angeles locations, the Getty Center Los Angeles and the Getty Villa Malibu, feature an incredible collection of European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illustrated manuscripts and photography, all housed in breathtaking indoor and outdoor settings. Although reservations aren’t needed at the Getty Center, visitors to the Getty Villa Malibu must have advance, timed tickets to gain entry, and only a limited number of tickets are offered daily. Getty Center. 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles. Getty Villa Malibu, 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades. Tel. 310-440-7300. www.getty.edu

3. South Bay Bicycle Path

Taking a ride or stroll down the South Bay Bicycle Path is probably the best way to sample Los Angeles’ beaches. Despite its name, this 22-mile bike path is frequented by movers of all types and passes through must-see beach community highlights such as the Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach’s ever-present alternative culture and Redondo Beach’s Pier Avenue. To get the most out of your coastal stroll start at the bike path’s northernmost point, Will Rogers State Beach, where Temescal Canyon Road meets Pacific Coast Highway. www.santamonicapier.org, www.venicechamber.net, www.redondo.org

4. Griffith Observatory and Griffith Park

Located within Los Angeles’ famous Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory has been a highlight of Los Angeles for nearly 75 years. After recently undergoing an extensive six-year renovation and expansion, the observatory offers visitors a state-of-the-art planetarium, presentation theatre, public telescopes and multiple indoor and outdoor exhibits. Griffith Park is packed with attractions aside from the observatory, so consider spending a day on the park’s grounds. Griffith Park. 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles. Tel. 323-913-4688. www.lacity.org/rap/dos/parks/griffithpk. Griffith Observatory. 2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles. Tel. 213-473-0800. www.griffithobs.org

5. The Grove and Farmers Market

Looking for a true L.A. shopping experience without the fuss of Rodeo Drive? Then head to The Grove and Farmers Market located in Los Angeles’ Fairfax District. This outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex is riddled with SoCal ambiance, which means you’ll love it whether you splurge on souvenirs or just window shop. For an “organic” experience spend your time at the historic Farmers Market, where you’ll find fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, as well as restaurants and a wide variety of clothing, gadgets and other service vendors. 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles. Tel. 323-900-8080, www.thegrovela.com. Farmers Market. 6333 West 3rd St. Tel. 323-933-9211, www.farmersmarketla.com.

Plan your trip to Los Angeles on TravelMuse.

Post derived from “5 Free Los Angeles Attractions” by Teresa Basich.

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Jul
06

Kara from the Capital is our newest winner of Trip of the Week and a recipient of a Frommer’s day by day guide to Italy, which will be perfect when she starts helping her sister plan a trip to celebrate their dad’s 75th birthday.

Kara built this relaxing trip to Calistoga, Calif., on TravelMuse to take some time for herself (no kids!) and relax with her girlfriends.

trip o week getaway pic 1

Why are you taking this Trip?
I’m planning the trip as a girls’ getaway from the kids.

What are you most excited about seeing/doing?
I’m most excited about the mud baths and soaking in the swimming pool. I remember the water in the pool seemed to have more viscosity. It felt fabulous. I’m also looking forward to returning to the Greystone for dinner. My last time [there] was off the charts delicious.

Any other interesting facts/ considerations about the trip?
Hiking to the top of Mount St. Helena should be fun. I hope we have a clear day. If not, an Old Vine Zin might help; it couldn’t hurt.

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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!

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Jul
01

Fourth of July really snuck up on me this year, as it seems to do every year. If you’re in the same boat as me (read: have no idea what to do for the holiday), here is a list of great events and fireworks displays going on in some major U.S. cities.

Photo: ** Maurice **

Photo: ** Maurice **

San Francisco

Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration
Head down to the touristy, but always fun, Pier 39 for a day of clam chowder in bread bowls, free live music (80s hits and soft rock), street performers and, of course, the city’s annual fireworks display. You can’t really beat watching fireworks over the San Francisco Bay.

For more information, visit www.pier39.com/Events/events.htm.

Las Vegas
For the more adult crowd, hotels and casinos galore will be featuring fireworks displays, from Caesars Palace to the Las Vegas Hilton to Mandalay Bay and many others, as you can easily imagine. Parties are also abundant and many feature celebrity hosts, DJs or performers.

For more information, visit www.vegas.com/july4th/.

Los Angeles

July 4th Fireworks Spectacular
Have a star-studded Fourth of July at the Hollywood Bowl. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket and watch LA’s largest fireworks displays. Add in performances by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West, special guest Vince Gill and more, and you’ll have a rockin’ Fourth of July celebration.

For more information, visit www.hollywoodbowl.com.

Seattle
Beer fanatics be aware, July 2 to July 4 is the Seattle International Beer Fest! With approximately 130 different beers from 15 counties, Beer Fest is a great place to spend the earlier hours of Fourth of July. By nightfall, you’ll be warm and content watching the fireworks over Lake Union.

For more information on Lake Union’s fireworks display, visit http://family4th.org/.

Chicago
Head down to the Windy City’s Navy Pier to check out three simultaneous fireworks shows. In addition to downtown, the fireworks will also be visable from the north and sides of Chicago.

For more information, visit www.navypier.com/things2do/fireworks.html

Washington D.C.

The National Independence Day Parade

For those looking to really connect with the true meaning of Independence Day, The National Independence Day Parade is a great event to attend. The annual event takes place at 11:45 a.m. on Constitution Avenue, from 7th to 17th, and includes invited bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military and specialty units, giant balloons, equestrian, drill teams, VIP’s, national dignitaries, and celebrity participants.

For more information, visit www.july4thparade.com

New York City
Macy’s Annual Fourth of July Fireworks

Head to the Hudson River for the nation’s largest fireworks display—Macy’s Annual Fourth of July Fireworks. More than 40,000 fireworks shells at a rate of 1,500 per minute will quell any pyrotechnic lover’s desire to see elaborate and beautiful explosions in the sky.

For more information, visit www.nyctourist.com/macys_fireworks.htm.


Boston

Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular

The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular dates back 37 years and continues to be one of the most beloved Fourth of July celebrations in the United States. Featured guests include Toby Keith, Craig Ferguson, Keith Lockhart and more. So head down to Charles River on the 3rd and the 4th to enjoy the concerts and the amazing fireworks display.

For more information, visit www.july4th.org/.

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Jun
29

Happy Fourth of July and congrats to Gina L. from New Orleans, our newest winner of Trip of the Week and recipient of a Frommer’s day by day guide to Italy.

Gina built this trip to Chicago on TravelMuse to enjoy with her fiancé. Her mother is meeting them for the last few days to celebrate her birthday on the ninth. There are definitely some great dining spots on this itinerary—you two must be foodies.

mp and gi(2)

Trip of the Week winner Gina and her fiancé

Why are you taking this Trip?

We are taking this trip because Michael has a conference, we love to travel and vacation, and we just got engaged!

What are you most excited about seeing/doing?

Being from New Orleans, we are complete foodies, so we are excited to go to one of the few other places in the United States that has lots of food choices. This will be my first time to Chicago. We love the arts, culture and city life. I am excited to see Millennium Park and really want to embrace Chicago culture and do things the way a local would do them.

Any other interesting facts/ considerations about the trip?

I’m hoping that it’s not as humid as it is here in New Orleans. It will also be nice to get away from the sadness of the oil spill.

Have fun in Chicago and congrats on your engagement!

*****

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!

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Jun
22

Congratulations to Nick from Lancashire, England, our third winner of Trip of the Week and recipient of a Frommer’s day by day guide to Italy.

Nick built this family-friendly trip to Orlando, Fla., on TravelMuse to enjoy with his spouse and two sons. It definitely looks like fun!

orlando11
Why are you taking this trip?
We have two sons, ages 15 and 10, who are pretty active and aren’t the types to laze by the pool for two weeks baking under the sun. After doing the Disney bit back in 2007, we realized that this style of holiday provided just the right mix of relaxation and excitement that would give the whole family the kind of break that we all needed, so we returned in 2009, this time focusing more on the non-Disney side of Orlando.

When considering the cost to take our family of four from England to the usual hotspots of Europe, a trip to Orlando, when planned right, can be more cost effective and we get to stay in a top class accommodation too. It was pretty much a no-brainer where we would end up in 2010. Add to the mix the new Harry Potter attraction and we’re sure to have a great time

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

I’ve always loved Sea World and the great conservation work that they do there, plus the kids are quite looking forward to the new Harry Potter attraction at Universal. We have some friends staying a short drive away when we are there and we intend on taking a drive down to their villa to spend some time with them before they set off home.

Some new slides in Aquatica should help keep us entertained, and we can’t wait to get back on the Rip Ride Rocket at Universal, as it had only just opened last time we were there and we only got one ride.

Any other interesting facts you care to share?
Plan, plan, plan.

I’ve learned through plenty of research that you can have a great holiday at the Orlando theme parks without a great deal of waiting in line. The secret is to go on the right days because some parks are busier on certain days than others. The time of day is also important, so plan carefully.

Though it may sound ridiculous, many of the top restaurants like the fabulous California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Mama Melrose at Disney’s Hollywood Studios book up well in advance, so we phone ahead months before traveling to reserve our place.

Have fun in Orlando with your family, Nick! Sounds like you are quite the Orlando expert. Great tips!

*****

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!

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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!

*****

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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Apr
23

Trip Photos: Central Park

Few things are more representative of New York City than Central Park. Created in 1857 by Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, Central Park is located in the heart of Manhattan. From carriage rides to picnics and jogging  to open air concerts, the park is enjoyed in a variety of ways. What is your favorite way to enjoy Central Park? Personally, I like finding the perfect hot dog and eating it while I people watch.

Central Park. Photo: Brian Struble

Central Park. Photo: Brian Struble

Plan your trip to New York City on TravelMuse.

Want to share your recent Trip photos and have them featured on TravelMusings? Add your photos to our TravelMuse Flickr group or TravelMuse Facebook page, and we’ll publish our favorites.

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Apr
21

In the midst of the “go green” revolution, people are really starting to appreciate the environment on levels once unprecedented. While there is still much to be done in terms of reducing our carbon footprint, let this Earth Day (April 22) commemorate the steps we have started to make (and hopefully will continue to make) toward preserving the world for years to come.

Coinciding with Earth Day is Nation Park Week, which began on April 17 and will continue until April 25. For these days, all 392 national parks have waived their entrance fees.

Don’t live near a national park or can’t make it out to any this week? Don’t worry; there are two more fee-free days this year: Public Lands Day on Sept. 25 and Veterans Day on Nov. 11. Start planning your national park vacation now. Here are some sample trips created by local experts to some of the nation’s most popular national parks. Check them out, use them or create your own.

The Grand Canyon. Photo: Paraflyer

The Grand Canyon. Photo: Paraflyer

Yosemite National Park
Itinerary for Yosemite

Plan a trip to Yosemite on TravelMuse.

Grand Canyon National Park
A Grand Canyon Adventure Itinerary

Plan a trip to the Grand Canyon on TravelMuse.

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone and Grand Teton Adventure Itinerary

Plan a trip to Yellowstone National Park
on TravelMuse.

Zion National Park

Utah National Parks Itinerary

Plan a trip to Zion National Park on TravelMuse.

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Apr
15

Traveling to a new country or state can be intimidating, especially if you’re going by yourself or with a group of people as unfamiliar with the territory as you. Trying to create the perfect itinerary can be overwhelming—how can you be sure that you’re seeing the best sights versus getting sucked into touristy gimmicks? Frommer’s to the rescue!

Italy Day by Day. By Sylvie Hogg. Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2010. Photo courtesy of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Italy Day by Day. By Sylvie Hogg. Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2010. Photo courtesy of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Everyone’s favorite travel guide Frommer’s has recently followed up their successful Day by Day travel guide series with the release of three full-sized Day by Day guides for Italy, Ireland and Hawaii.

Travelers take heed—these are much heavier than the Day by Day guides you’re used to. So if you’re planning to backpack around Ireland or be carting your children’s stuff around Hawaii, these might not be the most practical guides. That being said, what they lack in portability and convenience, they make up for with incredible photography, detailed maps (including a pull-out map in the back of each book), in-depth information and easy-to-follow itineraries. These Day by Day guides are a blast to look through, in particular thanks to the color photos on every page.

Ireland Day by Day. By By Christi Daugherty. Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2010. Photo courtesy of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Ireland Day by Day. By By Christi Daugherty. Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2010. Photo courtesy of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

From business travelers who want to pack in some sightseeing in their downtime to families who want to ensure their travels are enjoyable for the kids, and everyone in between, Frommer’s new Day by Day guides to Italy, Ireland and Hawaii will help you plan an amazing vacation that allows you to see the best of each location. Each guide has customized itineraries based on how long you plan to be in a certain region, what activities you want to partake in and what cities you want to visit. Only have a day to spend in Rome? No worries—Italy Day by Day has an itinerary to maximize your experience. Going to spend two weeks in Ireland and what to see as much as the country as possible? Check out one of the “The Best of Ireland in Two Weeks” in Ireland Day by Day.

While these guides are a little on the expensive side (approximately $30 each), they’re definitely worth it. Just don’t shove them haphazardly in your backpack or suitcase.

Read our book review on Frommer’s Hawaii Day by Day.

Plan your trip on TravelMuse.

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