By means of a strange acculturation process while growing up, I'm more connected to the American culture than I am to the Portuguese. As a result, the United States is high on my list of countries to visit (and the list of offbeat attractions grows with it). I'm still in the romancing phase, but I'm already liking my odds in Arizona and in Pasadena. I have my eye on several attractions in these areas and more, and I'm interested in the best hotels in each area.

1. Experience Space, the Final Frontier

  Flagstaff, Arizona

I love a good alien story, especially if it mixes an “X-Files” vibe with some futuristic storytelling like H.G. Wells' “War of the Worlds”. However, you can visit some “other-worldly” attractions without leaving this planet. The Lowell Observatory and the Cinder Lake Crater Field are two offbeat must-sees in Flagstaff. I wonder if I can find an alien-themed hotel in Flagstaff? Or at least one with a mysterious alien story behind it.

Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona
Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona via James Jones

2. The Most Famous Canyon in Arizona

  Page, Arizona

The Antelope Canyon is hardly a secret and it's very high on my list of beautiful sights. The most photographed rock formation in the American Southwest is one guided tour away when you visit Page. To continue exploring the scenery beyond the canyon, check with your hotel in Page for tour recommendations.

Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona
Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona via Todd Petrie

3. A Bridge (Not) Over Troubled Waters

  Yuma, Arizona

Do you know the Talking Heads' song “Road to Nowhere”? Well, in Yuma, things go a little further with a “bridge to nowhere”. No, it's not a metaphor. The Gila River was diverted in 1968, and today the McPhaul bridge crosses (oddly) over sand and rocks. I have a series of postapocalyptic-themed photos for that bridge in mind, meaning the visit could be emotionally draining. Finding a hotel in Yuma for some well-deserved R&R would do the trick.

4. A London Bridge in Arizona?

  Lake Havasu City, Arizona

Did London Bridge really fall down like in the nursery rhyme? Technically, it was sinking due to structural problems, and in the late 1960's, the city sold the bridge to the highest bidder — a local entrepreneur in Lake Havasu City. Booking a romantic stay at a Lake Havasu City hotel and a stroll on the bridge shipped overseas, block by block, sounds like a great story to tell.

London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona
London Bridge in Lake Havasu City via Ken Lund

5. Doc's House and Strange Sodas

  Pasadena, California

Hoverboards are not a real thing (yet) but Dr. Emmet Brown's house is. Fans of “Back to the Future” wouldn't the Gamble House be an offbeat must-see? This could (probably) only be topped by a Buffalo Wing soda. I'm not entirely sure I would handle the sugar rush at the Rocket Fizz, the place where these strange soda flavors come from. Tasting wouldn't be a problem; narrowing down the weirdest ones to taste would. How do you top this off? Perhaps with a stay at a Hollywoodesque hotel in Pasadena, where you can pretend to be a star with a quirky taste for strange sodas.

The Gamble House in Pasadena California
The Gamble House in Pasadena, California via Ken Lund

  Cover Photo by Ken Lund via flickr.
  This is a post written in collaboration with the Hipmunk Hotels campaign. It was originally published on Tripper by Sandra on June 29th.

Published in United States

When planning family trips, it's best to keep kids busy with activities from crafting and music lessons to hiking and swimming. (No one wants to hear, "Mom, I'm bored" while lounging beach side with a cocktail in hand.)

Travel is one of the most fun ways for a parent to share the cultures and natural wonders of the world. These destinations are safe for kiddos, catering to the picky eaters, adrenaline junkies, nature lovers, and beach bums too. Not only will kids be welcome, they'll find programs and excursions designed just for them on each of these global adventures.

Adventurous Resorts

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Koloa, Hawaii

While it may sound like a lazy beach vacay, this beautiful resort is on one of Hawaii's most exciting islands – and one of the world's top resorts for families. The resort offers tons of kid-friendly activities (think ukulele lessons and lei making) in-house. But families can also find breathtaking hikes, ziplines for the token daredevil, horseback riding and kayaking to name a few. For something more low key, splash in a two-tiered pool or the saltwater lagoon that meanders through the hotel's property. By nightfall, kids will definitely be ready to crash.

Waterfalls at Erawan National Park in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

River Kwai Floating Hotel, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

For the boy (and girl) scouts who are looking for a back-to-nature experience, this Thai getaway won't disappoint. Thailand is one of Asia's best destinations for kids. With a drive and boat ride to this hotel, they may start to feel a bit like Mowgli in The Jungle Book. Bamboo guest rooms float on top of the River Kwai and offer visitors a taste of Mon culture. It's a bit rustic (as in there are wick lamps instead of electricity. But don't worry, in-room bathrooms are a part of the deal). Kids love exploring the nearby jungles atop of a gentle elephant, or visiting natural wonders such as the Lawa Cave or the Sai Yok Waterfall. Get a few thrills without leaving River Kwai by river jumping or bamboo rafting — something to excite even the most adrenaline-seeking tweens.

Morgan's Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Nicaragua makes for an affordable, and adventure-filled, Central American trip (and many parents are choosing it over the equally kid-friendly Costa Rica). Visitors won't see nearly as many expats and will get a great taste of the local culture, plus tons of hiking and swimming! In a bungalow at Morgan's Rock, guests are nestled in the treetops and have easy beach access. One of the more exciting excursions to make is to Ometepe Island, formed by two volcanoes, which can be reached by ferry. Explore ancient rock art and petroglyphs and brave the hike up the dormant Maderas Volcano. Parents will appreciate the beaches known for waves that are safe for first-time surfers, zip-line excursions, and an insider look at the lodge's sustainable farm where kids get to collect farm eggs and milk the cows for an awesome family breakfast!

The beaches of Queensland, Australia are a great way to relax

One&Only Hayman Island, Queensland, Australia

A trip to the Great Barrier Reef is an incomparable adventure. While a flight to the Aussie coast may not be ideal for many faraway travelers with tiny tots, the experiences offered through resorts like One&Only can change a nervous parent's mind. If your bucket list includes snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, water skiing or a helicopter adventure above the reef (which is the largest living thing on Earth, mind you), then book a few tickets to Hayman Island. Of course One&Only also offers an entirely kid-centric program called KidsOnly full of excursions and meals from 9am to 6pm if parents need a break.

Traveling Adventures

Camping and cruising may appeal to families that seek adventure on-the-go. Many of these trips welcome first-time campers and those who are especially interested in learning the lay of the land, whether that's in sunny California or rugged Maine. Nature lovers, budding botanists and eager explorers will get animal interactions, sparkling night skies and a new set of skills when signing up for one of these trips.

Trekking the Appalachian Trail in the United States of America

Appalachian Trail

For North Easterners, this trip will make an exciting escape from the bustling city, but any visitors will be in awe of the natural beauty of the Appalachian Trail. Eager hikers can find programs like the Appalachian Mountain Club's Family Camps, which take families with kids as young as five years old around New Hampshire and Maine, near beautiful mountains and full of sleepaway camp-style fun. Expect canoeing, fishing, stream exploration and a classic campfire sing-a-long.

Galapagos Islands

While this isn't exactly a family vacation, road trip style, there is so much kids can learn by a trip to this incredible archipelago. National Geographic is one of the few to organize a cruise to these islands near South America that is geared specifically at budding scientific minds. In the day, kids can snorkel in crystal blue waters and hike the shores among animals like giant tortoises and sea lions, all of which are completely unphased by the presence of humans. Parents will leave with zoologists and nature photographers on their hands.

Klamath River, California is perfect for family camping and trekking

Klamath River, California

This is a fabulous spot to dive into the world of camping as a family for the first time. Whether you're interested in nesting up in an unassuming lodge or setting up a tent under the stars, a trip to this natural Cali beauty guarantees great views and swimming. Several programs like Orange Torpedo and Oars set up multi-day whitewater rafting ventures, but there are hikes to take and plenty of beach lounging to be done as well. On Orange Torpedo's Klamath River Wild and Scenic trip, kids will get to swim in warm water and calm side creeks (the rapid on this trip is exciting, but never dangerous) and the guides will introduce anyone from five years old to the basics of both rafting and camping. These trips can also be as short as two or three days, ideal for any locals or those not wanting to commit to any extensive travel with kids.

  This post was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on July 19th.

Published in Travel Inspiration

Some time ago, we posted a list of 16 must-see places before you die—or, in other words, an ideal travel bucket list. But while it can take a lot of time, money and effort to check these places off, it's also never a bad idea to add a few more destinations to the list. You might live to be 100, but you're not going to see too much of the world. That's just not really possible!

So here are five more must-see places to include in your plans.

1. Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, Cambodia, a destination that should be on everyone's travel bucket list

Often mysteriously ignored as one of the world's most incredible sights, Cambodia's Angkor Wat is an ancient temple of the Khmer Empire that at one point lorded over a vast portion of Asia. Although, as Nomadic Matt points out, it's not a lone tourism destination. That site offers detailed travel tips for a huge range of places all over the world, and notes that there are several temples in the area worth visiting. But the chance to tour Angkor Wat in particular is breathtaking. It's a massive, ornate temple built into a jungle landscape, and you can actually take a tour through it, rather than simply look at it from afar. The article from Nomadic Matt also mentions that a nicer hotel room in Siem Reap, the closest major city, will only cost about 50,000 KHR, or roughly $12 per night.

2. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful places in the USA

As far as travel destinations go, the U.S. is known largely for its big cities and fun beaches. Too often the beauty of the country, particularly in the western and northwestern regions, is ignored. And nothing exemplifies that beauty quite like Lake Tahoe. Known for some of the best skiing in the U.S. and as a pristine natural getaway during the rest of the year, it truly is a stunning place to visit. Accommodations are expensive pretty much across the board, but no matter when you go it's a trip you won't forget.

3. Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal in Agra, India, a destination that should be on every travel bucket list

The Taj Mahal is frequently mentioned as a bucket list destination, though it didn't make our last write-up. It's recognized all over the world as a stunning feat of architecture—but it's more than a fancy building. Lottoland's hub for the EuroMillions lottery recently wrote up its own bucket list travel article, and pointed out that the Taj Mahal is actually a tomb (whereas many might assume it's a palace). The construction was completed by Shah Jahan in the 1630s to honor his wife. Now, it stands as one of the true wonders of the world, and a must-see stop on any trip to India.

4. African Safari

An African safari should be on every travel bucket list!

Simply put, an African safari is one of the most incredible experiences you can have while traveling. You'll encounter gorgeous landscapes and fascinating wild animals, and ultimately feel a sense of both peace and adventure that's difficult to find anywhere else. Different countries and national parks throughout Africa provide different sights, but with a little bit of research into the country's best safari destinations, you can likely find something that appeals to you. Sometimes that might mean a traditional safari with a chance at seeing all kinds of animals; sometimes it means a trek to observe a specific type of primate; and sometimes it may even mean a river cruise where you'll spot crocodiles, hippos, and elephants cooling off.

5. Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands, Denmark, a top-rated destination for your bucket list

Iceland has been mentioned so often as an up-and-coming travel destination in recent years that it's hard to imagine it being underrated any longer. The word is out about Iceland. So if you like the idea of a northern Atlantic island getaway, but you prefer someplace off the beaten path, you should probably check out the Faroe Islands. Located almost exactly at the midpoint between the UK, Iceland, and Norway, these beautiful little islands are more accessible than they might sound. Rugged coastal areas, winding roads, and gorgeous seaside (and lakeside) views pretty much set the tone for a vacation focused on hiking and sightseeing, though the islands are also known for their own cuisines, as well as occasional events like music festivals.

Published in Travel Inspiration

Another year, another multitude of Comic Cons to attend. Whether you're hitting up the mother of all Cons in San Diego, cosplaying in NYC, or attending a smaller Comic Con in Grand Rapids or Amarillo, the following strategies will help ensure that you have a truly delightful time.

comics-1239698_640

Buy tickets early.

Whenever possible, buy tickets online before the event. You'll save money and avoid the heartbreak of arriving at Comic Con only to find out that the special event you needed to see has already sold out.

Make a plan in advance.

There is so much to see at Comic Con, and it's physically impossible to see it all. For this reason, it's important to study the schedule and venue maps in advance so that you can plan out each day around your must-see events. If you want to see one of the major presentations (say, Game of Thrones in San Diego's Hall H), keep in mind that you'll need to budget in hours (and hours) of time for waiting in line. And because there are no guarantees that you'll actually make it into the room you're waiting in line to enter (especially because many venues don't empty rooms after panels), it's a good idea to have a backup plan (or several). One last tip: If you're traveling with friends, remember to designate a meeting place before you split up for the day.

Bring cash.

Some vendors don't accept credit cards, and ATM machines are few and far between. (And the ones that do exist are guaranteed to have insanely long lines). Spare yourself headaches and lost time by bringing plenty of cash with you to the venue.

superhero-534120_640

Avoid parking (if possible).

It will come as no surprise that parking at Comic Con can be a major headache. In the rare cases that you do manage to find a spot near the venue, it's likely it will cost you—some lots have been known to charge upwards of $50 per day. If at all possible, ditch the car and arrive at the venue via public transportation or on foot. If you must drive, be sure to arrive early in the day for the best chance at finding a spot.

Be social.

It's a smart idea to download the venue's app, which is an indispensable resource for navigating any Con. It can also be helpful to create a list on Twitter that includes the official Comic Con Twitter handle, any vendors that you want to see, and people whom you know will be present. Don't underestimate how valuable real-time updates can be when you've been standing in line for three hours.

This tip also extends beyond the digital space. There are tons of great connections to be had at Comic Con, so don't be shy about approaching people. Bonus: Chatting up fellow comics fans is a great way to pass the time while waiting in line. Which brings us to…

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Prepare to wait.

We've mentioned that you'll spend a lot of time waiting in line at Comic Con, right? We're not kidding. Instead of hoping that it won't happen to you, accept that it will—and then plan accordingly. Download podcasts to listen to, bring a book or journal, play games on your phone (just make sure it's fully charged before Con), or simply settle in and enjoy the time to let your mind wander. Just remember to make sure you're actually in the right line—sometimes lines bend and merge together, so check to be sure you aren't wasting your time in the wrong place.

Practice self-care.

As always, you'll be much more likely to enjoy yourself if you do what you can to avoid getting sick or burnt out. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, wash your hands often, and pack healthy snacks—healthy food can be hard to come by at Cons, especially when you're stuck waiting in line. Having snacks on hand can provide the blood sugar boost you need to continue having a great time.

batman-1126127_640

Ask permission.

A common phrase heard round Con is that “Cosplay is Not Consent.” What this means is that just because someone is cosplaying (or simply present at Comic Con), that does not give you the right to touch them, harass them, or photograph them without their permission. If you want a picture, just ask—most people are more than happy to indulge. Be polite, keep your hands to yourself, and remember that everyone there is a human just like you.

Consider cybersecurity.

Wi-Fi is often available in most convention centers, but you're likely to find that it's painfully slow (or completely jammed) because of the sheer number of people trying to log on. You may see free networks available, but be cautious—some of these may be malicious. It's a good idea to always practice good cyber-security strategies (even if this means you have to hold off on uploading photos to social media until you get home).

Above all else, remember to enjoy yourself. Though the lines may be long and your plans may change, the sheer number of interesting people and panels to see means that you'll have a great time at Comic Con simply by going with the flow.

  Featured photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr.

  This article was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on April 13th.

Published in United States

With an official slogan of "Like No Place Else," Palm Springs sets the bar high for itself. Thankfully, this glistening jewel in the desert never disappoints. From hip hotspots to fine dining, with luxurious spas and world-class golfing, Palm Springs has something to cater to everyone. There are hotels in Palm Springs for all types of travelers.

For the Discerning Traveler

Won't sleep on anything with a thread count of less than 400? Well, then the Movie Colony Hotel is the place to be. This mid-century hotel has a long and rich history, with stars such as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra having stayed here in the past. Movie Colony Hotel was designed by the renowned Swiss architect Albert Frey, father of the "desert minimalism" style. Opt for either a traditional room or poolside townhouse. Just keep in mind that all guests here must be 21 or over.

For the Romantic Getaway

Just the two of you looking to go somewhere for the weekend? Check out the Ingleside Inn. This boutique hotel has 30 lavish, sumptuously designed rooms that instantly make guests feel right at home. The hotel's meticulously manicured grounds and stunning interior design will leave you speechless. Weddings happen here on a regular basis, including several celebrity weddings over the years. Even Frank Sinatra and Barbara had their pre-wedding dinner at the Inn's famous restaurant, Melvyn’s Restaurant.

For the Action Lover

Theatres and museums. Live music and art exhibits. World-class shopping and plenty of nightlife options. This is downtown Palm Springs. And for those who want a hotel just a couple of minutes' walk away from the action so they don't miss a beat, look no further than the Garden Vista Hotel. The 124 rooms and suites are spacious and come with a refrigerator, microwave, and flat screen television. Of course, with so many amazing things to do nearby, don't expect to spend much time in the room.

Downtown Palm Springs, heart of the action
Downtown Palm Springs. Photo by Prayitno via flickr

For the "Less is More" Traveler

Not a fan of massive hotel chains or sprawling, expansive grounds? Like staying places where the employees actually remember your name? Then the place for you is the Avanti Hotel. With only 10 individually designed studios and suites, this hotel makes guests part of an exclusive minority. Although small, the Avanti is one of the nicest hotels in town. Rooms are stocked with modern furniture and appliances, including flat screen televisions and wi-fi. Private patios, kitchenettes (available in most but not all suites), and in-room massage options further make this little star shine.

For the Quiet, Peaceful Traveler

If all you want out of this vacation is to find a peaceful hotel that will cater to your every whim, head on over to the Andreas Hotel & Spa, a local landmark that is over 80 years old. Its plush and cozy suites come with exquisite marble and stone bathrooms, as well as all the modern amenities one needs to be comfortable. The rooms so quiet you would never imagine that you were located right in the heart of downtown. The hotel also has a spa, pool, jacuzzi, and large courtyard. Definitely a great place to unwind for a day or four!

  Featured photo via flickr // Chris Goldberg

Published in United States

The winter months of December through February — and sometimes through March — are notorious for flight delays due to bad weather. People risk delays during the holidays because they have long periods of mandated time-off and want to spend it with their families. But no one wants to request time off in February only to spend half of the vacation managing flight delays and bad weather.

But while February isn’t the best travel month for every destination, airlines offer some pretty sweet deals on flights during the year’s shortest month. With some trips discounted as much as 79%, travelers should take airlines up on their offers. We analyzed a year’s worth of Hipmunk flight and hotel pricing data, and the following February destinations are worth the bargain.

New York, NY

Whether covered in snow or sunshine, New York is New York — a magical amusement park for both kids and adults. There will never be a shortage of indoor and outdoor winter activities. With flights and a three-night hotel stay averaging $962 in February, the Big Apple offers a steal. Take a horse carriage ride through Central Park as you admire the snow-covered terrain and monuments that make the city so enchanting. Ice skating is available through March at parks including the Wollman Rink in Central Park and Rockefeller Center. If it gets too nippy, be entertained at a Broadway show as you stay warm.

Philadelphia, PA

With 67 National Historic Landmarks, Philly ranks third in the country for most landmarks, including the famous cracked Liberty Bell and the house of poet Edgar Allen Poe. But the city is also a modern metropolis with a striking skyline, impressive street art murals, and rich pop culture. Run up the long steps to the main entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and recreate the famous opening of the cult classic film “Rocky.” Philly has one of the oldest outdoor markets in the U.S. — Italian Market — and also boasts Terminal Market, a great indoor destination. Both sell everything needed to make delicious meals. An average flight and three-night hotel stay in February averaged $819, a savings of up to $80 compared with spring months.

Sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California

San Francisco, CA

Much like San Francisco’s weather stays constant, so do flight and hotel prices, averaging more than a $1,000 most of the year for a flight and a three-night hotel stay. But in late spring, the average was $953, making it the ideal time to head west. SF offers a multitude of varied activities sure to entertain all personalities. Pier 39 alone offers shopping, restaurants, Aquarium of the Bay, and a two-story carousel. But the most endearing attraction is simply observing the quirky sea lions lounge by the pier. In 2015 Walkscore.com gave San Francisco a score of 83.9, making it the second most walkable city in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Walk or ride the cable cars to get around.

Dublin, Ireland

Flying to Europe from the U.S. in the summer will typically cost around $1,000 or more. But flights to certain European destinations are quite affordable in the coming months. Dublin is small and easy to walk around, ensuring travelers can see and do most of what the city has to offer in a single weekend. Admire the beautiful architecture of the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Walk east for nine minutes to reach St. Stephen’s Green and appreciate the park’s original Victorian layout. Trinity College Dublin, one of Dublin’s most prestigious universities, is only a six minute walk north of the park. The college’s Long Room is eye candy for book nerds.

For the beer and whiskey enthusiasts visit to the Guinness Storehouse brewery or the Jameson whiskey distillery.

Sunset over the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

Paris, France

Visiting Paris in the springtime is recommended, but it’s so much more affordable in February and March, with some flights ranging between $500 and $600 dollars. Much like New York, there is always plenty to see and do in Paris. Must do outdoor activities include riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower, admiring Notre Dame Cathedral, visiting at least one historical Parisian cemetery. Keep out of the elements at one of Paris’ many museums, the Louvre Museum being one of the most famous for housing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Louvre Pyramid. For modern art lovers, visit the Pompidou Center or the Jeu de Paume.

  This article was posted on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by The Hipmunk on February 2nd.

Published in Travel Inspiration

There are few things more quintessentially American than the landscapes of the West and the emotions they evoke. Whether you come for the pink sunsets, the forlorn-looking cacti or the abandoned ghost towns, traveling in the western part of the U.S. will leaves its mark on you. No matter where in this picturesque region you travel, choose a hotel that matches the rusticness of the surrounding scenery.

Spanish Colonial Santa Fe

Santa Fe has a population of under 70,000, but it's so full of amazing attractions that there are almost as many reasons to visit as there are people from living there! Tour historical structures like Loretto Chapel or the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis, or marvel at something more modern as you walk in the footsteps of Georgia O'Keefe. Many Santa Fe hotels are as scenic and picturesque as the city itself, from the El Rey Inn to the Eldorado Hotel & Spa.

Laughlin's Colorado River Chill

Laughlin is no Las Vegas, but there's still plenty of excitement to be had in this Nevada town—and yes, a couple casinos as well! The Davis Dam, for example, is a smaller answer to the Hoover Dam farther down the Colorado River, while theGrapevine Canyon Petroglyphs document a time long before modern gambling. Hotels in Laughlin tend to be as simple as the desert scenery that envelopes them, but because of this they're cheap, with rooms at Edgewater Hotel & Casino, for example, costing as little as $18 per night.

Bend: Oregon Starts Here

The Oregon town of Bend hasn't achieved the ubiquity of Portland or even Eugene, but there are few better spots in the state to start your trip. Discover the nearby Deschutes National Forest, hike to the top of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, or immerse yourself in the history of the High Desert Museum. Sleep in a spot as stunning as your surroundings, like the Sonoma Lounge or Pronghorn Resort.

Skiing is Just the Beginning in Aspen

Aspen has gained infamy as a ski hub for the celebrities, but in reality, you don't need to be savvy on the slopes in order to enjoy this Colorado town—you don't even need to be into the outdoors! Aspen has its fair share of culture, for example, such as the Wheeler Opera House and the Aspen Art Museum. Season shouldn't be a deciding factor for you either, as year-round hiking spots like Independence Pass and Maroon Bells prove. Hotels in Aspen aren't cheap, but the views they offer are priceless.

Central California Starts in Fresno

In spite of great attractions like Forestiere Underground Gardens and Chaffee Zoo, the city of Fresno pales in comparison to many of the sights around it, namely Yosemite National Park. The city makes a great hub for exploring that region, however, whether you head inland toward the Sierra Nevada or outward toward the coastal Highway 1 Discovery Route. Fresno is also a low-cost destination, with prices on hotels like Days Inn Fresno as low as $50 per night.

Then again, the American west is as limitless in destinations as the horizon line you see driving through it. Can you think of any other can't-miss places to visit in the Western U.S.?

  Article posted on Leave Your Daily Hell by Robert on February 10th.

Published in United States

Summer is coming, and the beaches are calling. Whether it be on the east coast, the west coast, or the Gulf, get ready to feel the sand between your toes. These five destinations are family friendly but also offer plenty of activities that will appeal to adults of all ages--but especially those still young at heart. Get ready for a fun summer!

Gulf Shores, Alabama

When it comes to overlooked family destinations, Gulf Shores should be at the top of everyone's vacation list, with 32 miles of pristine white sands. It's the home of both the Gulf State Park and the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, as well as more than half a dozen different golf courses--even a mini golf center for the kids. There's Waterville USA and the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, not to mention a seemingly never-ending number of water-based activities in the warm Gulf waters. What are you waiting for? Get packing and come on!

Marina del Rey, California

The beachside Los Angeles suburb of Marina del Rey is small but beautiful. The area gets its name from the marina, which is actually the world's largest small boat marina in the world. Marina del Rey is home to over 5,000 boats and yachts, Burton Chace Park, Mother's Beach, and Fisherman's Village, which has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows over the years, including one of my favorites, Arrested Development. Other must-visit attractions include the famous Venice Beach and refreshing Yvonne B. Burke Park.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Known for its many miles of boating canals and iconic riverwalk promenade, Fort Lauderdale has long been a popular year-round destination. Besides all the obvious aquatic activities, there is a sprawling city to explore full of museums, parks, shopping districts, casinos, live music venues, delicious restaurants, and sports arenas. The area is also home to hotels of all budgets, including the immaculate Lago Mar Resort Hotel & Club for discerning travelers, as well as several more affordable chain options.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

For those looking for a romantic luxury getaway, look no further than Hilton Head Island. This upscale island paradise is full of beautiful beaches, meandering rivers and streams, relaxing parks, lavish resorts, 24 sprawling golf courses, and over 350 tennis courts. While these are all perfect for couples, those traveling with children might consider checking out Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort. Located on an island within a river, this is arguably Hilton Head's most impressive resort.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Everyone in America knows the name Myrtle Beach, but the city is popular with international tourists as well. Beyond the 60 miles of soft beaches lies an exciting and fun-filled city to explore. For adventurous travelers, there are adrenaline-packed activities like NASCAR races at the Myrtle Beach Speedway, ziplining, and even skydiving. Water lovers will find that their days are full of parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking, and scuba diving. Are arts and culture more your thing? Myrtle Beach is home to a wide array of museums, historical tours, live music venues, and, of course, the Duplin Winery.

Published in United States

Smack dab in the center of California's west coast lies Monterey, another of the state's amazing year-round destinations. The city was the capital of California back in the early 1800s when it was part of Mexico. Nowadays however Monterey is known for outdoor activities like golfing, sailing and biking, not to mention its many vineyards and fine dining options. With so many diverse reasons to visit the area attracts all types of visitors. As such, here are the best hotels for every kind of traveler:

For the Explorers

Eager to make the most of your time in Monterey and don't plan on spending much time at the hotel? Consider staying at El Castell Motel just off the 101. Not only is it affordable but all rooms are soundproof and come standard with blackout drapes, making it the perfect place to take that much-needed rest once your explorations are done, regardless of the time of day. The Monterey County Fairground is only steps away and the Monterey State Beach not much further than that.

For the Ocean Lovers

Situated between El Estero Lake and Monterey State Beach lies Monterey Bay Lodge, just 150 steps from the Pacific Ocean. Here is where convenience and affordability mix. Rooms here are decorated in modern minimalist theme and all furnished with a refrigerator, microwave and, of course, a TV with premium channels, including HBO. Luxury suites with a fireplace and spa are also available, as are family suites with video game entertainment systems to keep the children amused.

For the Peace and Quiet Lovers

With only 22 rooms, Merritt House Inn is in no danger of becoming a loud or crowded party house. Relaxation comes first here, as quickly becomes evident to guests thanks to the lush gardens, outdoor dining area, and spacious suites. In-room massages and a concierge service that goes above and beyond further add to the peaceful nature of this B&B. Merritt House Inn is even on the National Register of Historic Places.

For the Luxury Travelers

Located right in the heart of downtown Monterey, discerning travelers need look no further than Spanish-style Hotel Abrego. Exquisitely designed rooms come fully loaded with premium bedding featuring Italian linens, high-end toiletries, a gas fireplace and mini refrigerator. Other hotel amenities include terrace dining, an outdoor pool and hot tub, as well as an exercise studio to never miss a workout. The ocean is a half-mile away and Monterey's world-renowned aquarium just two miles.

For the Budget Travelers

California is one of the most expensive states in the United States so if you don't plan on spending much time in your hotel room, why get an expensive one? Save that money for all the stuff to do in and around Monterey! Carmel Hill Del Monte Pines offers clean, comfortable rooms with spacious bathrooms. Each room comes standard with a microwave, refrigerator and coffee maker, plus the entertainment that comes from premium TV channels and free in-room wi-fi. There are also barbecue grills and tennis courts on the grounds, allowing you to soak up that California sun without having to leave the hotel.

  Feature photo by mtch3l via Flickr

Published in United States

Palm Springs is a modern oasis in the desert of Southern California, a jewel that beckons to all those looking for a hip yet laid-back retreat from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. The city is known for its breathtaking beauty, natural hot springs, stylish hotels, gorgeous golf courses, and amazing spas. But it isn't all luxurious resorts and high-end lodging. There are several amazing boutique hotels in Palm Springs that offer affordable luxury, such as:

Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs

Hard Rock is synonymous with great music, hip style and good times. Guests of their hotels and restaurants know what to expect. Thankfully the Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs maintains this level of superiority and does not disappoint. Their spacious rooms feature hand-picked artwork, custom-designed furniture and luxurious amenities and toiletries. Plus the entire property is full of the obligatory nostalgia-inducing musical memorabilia that guests have come to expect from Hard Rock.

Vagabond Inn Palm Springs

Vagabond Inn in Palm Springs, California

Vagabond Inn is a budget hotel chain that first started in California in 1958. Now they have locations in a half dozen states throughout the West Coast, however the Vagabond Inn Palm Springs is one of my favorite locations. Why? As a solo traveler and with most of the accommodation options in Palm Springs are geared towards expensive romantic getaways, finding an affordable, comfortable place to stay always makes the journey easier -- both on myself and my wallet.

Alcazar Palm Springs

Opened in 2011, Alcazar Palm Springs is a sleek 34-room boutique hotel perfect for those who want a quiet, comfortable stay without having to spend excess money on unnecessary luxury frills. Their rooms feature a minimalist design with a focus on unique, modern artwork and stylish furnishings. Italian linens, flatscreen TVs, fireplaces and mountain views, the rooms here have everything you need! Complimentary pastries from Cheeky's and bicycles plus a pool, jacuzzi and pet-friendly rooms seal the deal.

Royal Sun Inn

Discreetly tucked away in a quiet residential neighborhood in downtown Palm Springs, Royal Sun Inn is the ideal hotel close to the action but away from the loud, busy streets. Their comfortable rooms come standard with a flat screen TV, private balcony or patio, free Wi-Fi and free breakfast. It's also a great place to stay for families because of the large outdoor pool and barbecue pits. The best part, however, is the price. Royal Sun Inn is one of the least expensive hotels, given its many amenities, making it the perfect choice for budget conscious travelers.

Caliente Tropics

Palm Springs ... or Polynesia? Why choose between the two when there's the unique fusion that is Caliente Tropics. Staying here is like stumbling into a lush tropical oasis at the edge of the desert. Sure, it may take you by surprise — but 5 minutes later you are calling it home and never want to leave. Guests can partake in less stereotypical Palm Springs activities such as shuffleboard, frisbee, or a backyard barbecue. All the other activities are still around, but for those who crave the laid back island lifestyle, this is the place.

  Featured image by docentjoyce via Flickr

Published in United States
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