White Sox. Hot dogs. The longest street in the world (within one single city). The Bulls. 15 miles of public beach. Chicago-style pizza. Yes, the Windy City is home to many things, and it's important to experience and indulge in as many of them in as possible while here. If you've only got time for a short trip to Chicago, overabundance is the key.
When it comes to Chicago cuisine, hot dogs are one of the city's most iconic dishes. Part of this is undoubtedly a result of Oscar Mayer getting its start way back in 1900. And while they still have a factory here, in this post-9/11 world we live in now, it no longer offers tours. (Because we all know that's the first thing the terrorists will go for, our wieners.)
However, thankfully Chicago style dogs can still be found throughout the city. The battle for Chicago's best dog still rages strong, but that doesn't mean you cannot partake in a few selective battles. Jimmy's Red Hots usually tops most people's top three lists of hot dog joints in Chicago, and for good reason. For over 50 years they've been perfecting that art of the dog and still stay true to tradition by serving all its meals through a small walk-up window.
On the other end of the spectrum is Franks 'N Dawgs, which despite the rough name is actually a rather refined hot dog joint. They've elevated hot dogs to a gourmet level. You have to taste them to believe them! Try the Lamb-orghini, or for a Vietnamese-infused flair, the Banh Mi.
Pizza in Chicago also has its own unique flair. And much like the rivalry between Nathan's and Oscar Mayer, the feud for the best rages not just between restaurants within the city but also between the cities themselves. While New York goes thin and wide, Chicagoans do like they do with everything and overload it.
The most popular of all Chicago-style pizzas is known as "deep dish," and it is exactly what it sounds like. It's pizza so hefty you can eat it with a fork. It's the pie of pizzas. And there are far too many amazing pizza joints doing phenomenal things to mention. The Art of Pizza is one such place that is doing great things -- you can tell that by the name alone. Another is Burt's Place, which thanks to Anthony Bourdain is now so popular you have to place a reservation -- not for seats but for a place in the oven for your pie.
Other versions of Chicago-style pizza include the stuffed pizza, a mid-1970s evolution of the deep dish, and thin crust -- with crust so thin it's crispy, unlike New York-style thin crust. (It is also cut into small squares, as opposed to gigantic slices.)
Of course, great Chicago food isn't limited to purely dogs and deep dishes. They also have fabulous Italian beef and a wealth of great Polish and Mexican restaurants. If all else fails, just go out and explore whatever establishments are nearby. And don't forget to book a cheap Chicago hotel to save some extra cash and put it toward that amazing Chicago-style food.
Turkey is a country with a diverse historical past, stretching back 4000 years and has played roles in major historical events including the founding of the Great Hun Empire, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, WW1 and many more until they became the Republic of Turkey in 1923. So with all these huge historical events under their belt, if you’ve just booked some last minute deals to Turkey for you and your favourite history buff then let us suggest some great historical landmarks you should definitely visit on your next trip.
Nestled in the Aegean Coast, Bodrum was originally called Halicarnassus of Caria in ancient times and was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The Mausoleum of Mausolus. Famed for its architectural beauty the Mausoleum was unfortunately destroyed by an earthquake in the 13th century and if you visit the Castle of St Peter you can see where parts of the tomb were reused to strengthen the castle walls when it was but by the knights of St.John in the 15th century.
The castle itself is situated by Bodrum’s harbour and if you climb to the top you are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of the city and surrounding waters. The castle also offers excellent value as it also contains the Museum of Underwater Archeology which is easily one of the best museums in the Mediterranean, the castle itself was used to store items found on underwater expeditions and as such, now the museum is dotted around the castle. Displaying fascinating archaeological finds it should be added to the top of any sightseers list.
The Ancient Amphitheatre is another impressive sight in Bodrum, completed by the Romans and with the capacity to seat 13,000 the Amphitheatre is still used for events and festivals today, like the Turkbuku Culture and Art Festival held every September.
Looking for something a bit different to do while on holiday in Turkey? Then why not take a gulet (a traditional Turkish boat) from Marmaris to Rhodes to experience some Greek culture first hand. A mere 50 minute boat ride away and history fans will love wandering around the Old Town which is home to such wonderful sights as, the Palace of the Knights, Museum of Decorative Arts, the Archaeological Museum, and the Church of our Lady of the Castle. If you plan on visiting all of these sights you can buy a single ticket to cover admission for all of them.
For those of you that thought there was nothing more to Turkey than beaches and nightlife then you should definitely have a better idea of what to do on your last minute holidays now, this gem of the Aegean has a fascinating past, just waiting for you to explore it.
Image by Harvey Barrison used under the Creative Commons License.
Whether taking a trip to London or just looking to find a romantic getaway without having to go to far, London has plenty of romantic hotels perfect for couples. Whether you crave elegant romance on the River Thames, an in-suite massage for two, or just a quiet, refreshing weekend for two, rest assured that these three spectacular hotels will be just what the two of you need to escape the stress of the work week.
With a name like Plaza on the River, you already know this hotel will be grandiose. And thankfully it does not disappoint. This five-star hotel and residence boasts immaculate suites, most with river views, and each individually furnished with a sleek and contemporary look. They even come with a kitchenette!
One of the biggest perks of staying at the Plaza on the River is the in-suite spa treatments and massage services they offer, perfect for pampering on a romantic weekend getaway. Wind down with a quiet evening at the hotel's cocktail bar or go out for a show. The hotel also sits within minutes of several prominent shopping areas and within a 15-minute walk of most everywhere else guests would like to visit, such as Big Ben and the London Eye.
Effortlessly blending classical design with contemporary style, the Arch London Hotel is one of the nicest hotels in the Hyde Park area. This hotel is actually composed of seven Georgian townhouses, as opposed to one modern highrise. Here the standard practice is "nights in" rather than nights out. This is in part thanks to the Arch's mouth-watering restaurant, elegant bar, sophisticated champagne salon and a martini lounge as well.
Each of their 82 rooms is tastefully decorated with artwork that perfectly complements the color and style of the room, and furnished with nothing but the best in furniture and linens. The luxurious bathrooms feature upscale, state-of-the-art fixtures, black granite countertops and even a flat screen TV within view of the bath!
Few hotels in London stand on such a historic plot of land. Imagine the people throughout history who have walked the same footsteps! Located right in central London just south of the River Thames, the London Bridge Hotel is in a building constructed in 1915, although it didn't become a hotel until 1998. Many archeological finds unearthed during the construction of this building are still on display in the Museum of London.
As romantic as that history is, we all know that the real romance happens in the bedroom. With the stylish suites at the London Bridge Hotel, as well as the even more stylish executive suites, combined with room service and all the amenities, there is no reason to even leave the hotel. But should you decide to, guests will find that they are located in one of the best areas of London, with a seemingly never-ending amount of nearby ways to pass the time.
Nowadays traveling without a smartphone is rare. The abundance of useful travel apps has completely revolutionized modern travel. From currency converters to language translators, there's an iPhone app for that.
Backpackers have a tendency to collect SIM cards like bracelets as they wander from country to country. While this is great for staying connected, the biggest downside is that your number constantly changes. WhatsApp solves that by giving you one number that never changes, regardless of country. You can also share photos, videos, audio notes and even your current location, making it an invaluable tool when trying to meet people in a foreign country where addresses are not readily available -- or readable. Group chats make it easy to stay in touch with other travelers you meet as you each blaze your own trail through the country, meeting up again whenever -- and wherever -- your paths should cross.
One of the best things about traveling is trying new local restaurants and bars. Yelp has amassed over 70 million reviews, photos and information on businesses, stores and venues worldwide. Their innovative search features make finding exactly what you crave as easy as a couple of taps. Want to know where the nearest open bar is? How about the most popular restaurant with locals? Let Yelp help. But the best part? Their reviews are more honest and contain much more useful information (such as wifi passwords, dish reviews, and recommended employee names) than those found on TripAdvisor.
For less than the price of one of those antiquated pocket translation guide books -- which by the way only work in one country -- iTranslate Voice allows you to instantly speak in over 40 different languages from around the world. Over the last few years the app has consistently gotten better and better and recognizing words and providing accurate translations. It also acts as an electronic dictionary, allowing you to look up definitions for individual words or quick translations for simple phrases. Users can also save important or frequently used phrases to their phrasebook, allowing for quick access to key phrases that might be difficult to remember or tricky to pronounce. As soon as you begin traveling with this app, it becomes indispensible!
Since long before their were even smart phones, I've used XE for all my currency conversions. Their app offers up all the information of their site in a streamlined, easy to navigate way. Check current conversion rates between any two currencies on the planet, even track back through the weeks, months or years to see how a particular currency has performed over time. But beyond all that, with XE Currency you'll never be screwed over by a tricky salesman, dishonest currency exchange shop or shady taxi driver again.
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Postagram is one of the coolest apps you've probably never even heard of. What it allows you to do is take any photo from your iPhone -- or Facebook, Dropbox and a variety of other sources -- and turn it into a glossy, professional-looking postcard. This postcard is printed out and can be mailed anywhere in the USA for only $0.99 and is delivered in as little as two business days. Need to mail it elsewhere in the world? That's only $1.99, although delivery can take a couple of weeks depending upon the destination. I have an iPhone 5C with T-Mobile's ultra-fast wireless and with Postagram I can take a selfie while hiking, add a quick message and send it off to friends back home in less than a minute.
Couchsurfing began as a web site that revolutionized the way backpackers travel around the world by putting travelers in touch with locals in 120,000 cities around the world. Locals, many of whom are travelers themselves in between trips, open up their house to foreign guests. Both gain knowledge and information about the other's culture, plus the backpackers get insight and tips directly from a local -- and a free place to stay! Win-win.
On the surface Carlsbad appears as little more than a typical family resort town, perfect for an ideal summer vacation or as a pit-stop on the next family road trip. After all, it's the home of Legoland, California, one of the coolest amusement parks for kids in the world, and K1 Speed, a racetrack designed for the kid in all of us. However, beneath the surface sights are some amazing hidden gems and awesome activities that will make your next trip to Carlsbad more memorable.
Carlsbad is home to around a dozen different hiking trails located around the city. The Aviara Trails, a collection of six diverse hiking paths on the southern side of town, offer the best scenery. Each trail is named after one of its primary features, making it easy for first-time visitors to pick a trail that is appealing to them.
Tip: The Lagoon Trail and the Eucalyptus Trail are the two most scenic walks, with the latter being my personal favorite.
The New Village Arts Theatre is an intimate and artistic theater that has been a favorite among Carlsbad locals for over a decade. Plays vary throughout the year but the cast is always top-notch and never disappoints. Although there are only 99 seats, the theater positioned them perfectly so all guests have a great view of the stage. For a full schedule or to book tickets, please consult their website.
Tip: Wine and beer are served at the theatre, so come eager for a drink. Also, there is usually a surprisingly good food truck out front to satisfy any appetites.
Read More: Carlsbad California's Hidden Gems
Take the family over to the Museum of Making Music for a unique and educational experience. As the name implies, this museum is a hands-on experience that is designed to be fun for the whole family. It covers over 100 years of musical instruments, history, displays, and stories in a way that is both entertaining and informative.
Tip: Check their upcoming events schedule to time your trip with an exciting live performance.
While the winner of the coveted "best burger in Carlsbad" award may never be officially declared, that doesn't mean you can't take the challenge and proclaim your own winner. Three of the traditional top spots vying for the title are Pure Burger, Notorious Burgers and Craft Burger. All three are quite delicious but Craft Burger is my personal favorite.
Another noteworthy burger joint is Ty's Burger House, located on the northern side of Carlsbad. They have made a name for themselves recently thanks to their extensive menu of exotic meats such as kangaroo combined with craft beer, an outdoor patio and great music. Of course Ty's also serves all the traditional burgers as well -- perfect if not everyone in the group is an adventurous eater.
Tip: Visit on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowds.
These are but a fraction of the exciting things Carlsbad offers, so get off the beach and go explore the city! Want some extra cash to throw around town? Make sure to book a cheap Carlsbad hotel.
Beautiful natural scenery and sights, fun water-based activities, top-notch shopping, addictive nightlife, amazing food, and so much more: Just because you only have a short time in New Zealand's most impressive city doesn't mean that you should miss out on some of the best things the city has to offer.
Auckland is home to a whopping four dozen volcanoes! That means no matter where in town you are staying, there is a nearby volcano that you can hike up and enjoy the breathtaking 360-degree view. Don't expect lava flows though -- these volcanoes have erupted only once in history and are now dormant. In fact, most are lush green parks.
Read More Free Things To Do In Auckland
Water plays an important part in the weekly life and fun of Auckland residents thanks to the Auckland Bay. Hop a ferry and explore some of the nearby islands. Get your adrenaline pumping with activities like surfing, kayaking, jet-boating, diving, and windsurfing. Or if relaxation is the name of your game, enjoy some peaceful morning fishing or soak up the sun on a beach.
Insider tip: Nestled in the countryside west of Auckland is Karekare Beach, overlooked by most tourists and much more refreshing than the crowded beaches at the heart of town.
Unlike anything else I have ever experienced, the Odyssey Sensory Maze is exactly what the name suggests: an invigorating journey that will stimulate all of your senses and leave you wanting more. Each section features unique obstacles, lighting, music, and yes, even smells. There is a jungle zone, a cave zone, a space zone, and...well...you'll just have to discover the rest for yourself.
Photo courtesy of Peter Mackey
The Polynesian settlers who originally settled in New Zealand became known as the Māori. Their rich cultural history shaped and still plays a part in New Zealand culture, despite making up only 15% of the country's population. Learn more about the Māori by visiting one of Auckland's many museums, art galleries, or cultural attractions.
Certain things always tend to be better in big metropolises, primarily shopping, nightlife, and food. Thankfully, Auckland excels at all three. If it's shopping you crave, there are numerous hotspots around town, such as Queen Street, Ponsonby, Newmarket, the Britomart Precinct, and of course Takapuna up on the North Shore.
When it comes to nightlife, many of the same areas known for spectacular shopping are always home to the city's best bars and clubs. Britomart is a popular favorite with both locals and foreigners, but Ponsonby and Parnell are where the stars shine. However, there are also other offbeat after dark Auckland areas, such as K Road and High Street.
As far as great food, that can be found throughout the city. Just ask a local! Or check out this list of the Top 50 Restaurants in Auckland.
Ready to visit yet? Just make sure to find a cheap Auckland hotel, and put all that money you save to good use having fun around town!
Few forms of travel involve more excitement, unpredictability, and opportunities to connect with the locals than road trips. Whether in a car, motorcycle, RV, or even a converted school bus (yes, I've done it!), nothing beats a good old-fashioned road trip! This summer, why not hit the road on one of these epic routes and see what you find:
One of Southeast Asia's most popular motorcycle routes is the famous Ho Chi Minh Trail that runs north to south through this elongated nation. I spent three months in Vietnam in 2014 and this was one of the highlights of my time there. The countryside of Vietnam is gorgeous and most of the roads were smooth sailing.
Along the way there are tons of small villages to stop at and meet locals, as well as plenty of sights to see that are off the main tourist trails. One example is the Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng National Park, home to over 300 caves, including the largest one in the world, Sơn Đoòng Cave. Back in 2003 the park earned itself a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List and although tourism has been slowly increasing ever since, most visitors to the park are Vietnamese.
Back in 2010, I spent six months on a 32-state United States road trip and had an unforgettable experience. We went from California to Washington, D.C., and then back to California. It was amazing to see the way the terrain, roads, people, and food varied state to state.
Most people always assume that life in the United States is the same throughout the country; however, nothing could be further from the truth. But the only way to experience this is to travel cross-country for yourself!
If that's too grand of a road trip for this summer, check out the 7 Best American Road Trips for Last Minute Getaways.
flickr // auspices
Iceland is a majestic and beautiful country, and one of the best ways to experience it is to spend a couple of weeks circling the entire island in a rented car. As my friend Liz of Young Adventuress describes it, Iceland's Ring Road (also known as Route 1) is "830 miles of adventure and surprises." Just be sure to read all the do's and don'ts of an Iceland road trip before you go!
India's diversity cannot be understated. From the deserts of the west to the lush and rainy mountain hills in the far east, the climate, flora, and fauna change as dramatically across the country as do the people and the food. While some of this is seen when traveling the country by bus or train, only when you navigate the roads yourself does this become clear.
Earlier this year I traveled 3,000 kilometres from the far west of India to the far east ... by rickshaw! With a top of only 55 km/hr (around 35 mph) it took us two weeks, but was absolutely incredible. Highly recommended — and possible for you to do. Learn more here.
One of the most popular year-round beach destinations in Texas is South Padre Island. Although the island is most known for being a party haven of college students every spring break, it is also popular with families all summer and snowbirds all winter. The island may be small but is perfect for relaxing (as long as you are not trying to do that during spring break, of course). So the next time you need a quick weekend getaway, South Padre Island is where to go -- and this is how you make the most of it in just 48 hours!
Beaches are fun, but don't spend all your time lying around on them. Get up and go try something new. There are plenty of fun and exciting water-based activities available in South Padre, from kiteboarding to wakeboarding, kayaking, parasailing, snorkeling, scuba diving (and certification), even surfing. Pick one or two that you have never tried before and give it a shot!
Most visitors come to South Padre Island for its beaches, obviously, however there is more to do than that. The island boasts several great parks and nature centers, such as Andy Bowie Park and the SPI Birding and Nature Center. Or for those looking for a bit more adventure, consider trying fly boarding while in South Padre, a hot new water-based activity that you may recognize from TV or the movies. It is essentially a water-powered jetpack that propels the wearer into the air and is wicked fun!
One of the best things about all islands is the abundance of good seafood. Thankfully South Padre is no exception to the rule. Blackbeards' restaurant is a laid-back and affordable place with great seafood. They are also the proud home of the best onion rings on the island. Don't believe me? Try them for yourself!
Or if you want to treat yourself or take your loved one out somewhere nice to enjoy a romantic sunset dinner and a cocktail or two, look no further than the Sea Ranch Restaurant, the island's premiere dining establishment and a local favorite for nearly 40 years. Try the Ahi Tuna, my personal favorite. Or if you've been out fishing recently, bring your catch in here and their chefs will turn it into a delicious dinner.
Just because the sun has set doesn't mean the fun has to stop. If you still have energy left before heading back to your South Padre hotel, consider heading over to Clayton's Beach Bar & Grill. The serve both seafood and traditional American staples such as burgers and buffalo wings, however their real claim to fame is being the largest beach bar in all of Texas. Live music and concerts are regular events here that definitely help make for a memorable South Padre experience!
As a native Texan, I've been to Padre more times than I can count. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask away!
The beautiful island of Ko Samui is one of Thailand's most popular islands with tourists. As such, it's important to know a few key details when planning your trip, such as the right time of year to visit, where to stay and how to avoid the crowds. And that's exactly why I am here!
Ko Samui was a self-sustained island with no roads at all until the 1970's, when the first few adventurous backpackers started arriving one at a time via local boats. It was in the 1990's that the island started to gain an international reputation as a beautiful luxury travel destination, a reputation that has only gotten stronger since.
The weather in Ko Samui is slightly different from the mainland of Thailand. During April through September, when its monsoon season throughout the bulk of mainland Thailand, Ko Samui receives very little rain. Their rainy season is October to December. January through March is the sunniest time of year, and the peak tourist season. Consider planning your trip around the beginning or the end of the wet season to avoid the crowds and save a few dollars by paying off-season prices.
The easiest way to reach Ko Samui is via plane. There are daily flights from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and several other prominent Thailand destinations, as well as international flights available. However, ticket prices for these flights are noticeably higher than flights to and from other Thai destinations.
An alternative option is to travel to Ko Samui from Surat Thani, on the southern mainland of Thailand. Tickets are available at both the train station and airport for around 300-500 Bhat and include the bus ride to the Don Sak Jetty and 45-minute ferry ride to the island. (Find out more information here.) Or for those who like to take the scenic route, consider departing from Chumphon. The combined bus and fast boat ride takes close to 12 hours but passes through both Ko Tao and Ko Phangan. It is definitely an enjoyable option for photographers or anyone not in a rush.
The bulk of Ko Samui hotels and resorts are located on the northern and eastern sides of the island. So, when choosing a location the first thing to consider is do you want to be in the heart of the action, or further away on the more subdued, peaceful western side of the island.
As Ko Samui is a primarily luxury travel destination, there is no shortage of high-class resorts and hotels from $100 on up to $1,000 a night. Zazen Boutique Resort & Spa is one of the island's most popular and highly rated accommodations, and is a steal of a deal at around $200 per night.
There are also quite a few mid-range lodging options throughout Ko Samui that range from $35 to $100 a night, and a few budget options even cheaper than that (for all you backpackers out there). Browse all the cheap Ko Samui hotels on Hipmunk.
Many of the major cities across the United States play host to annual gay pride events, often a parade that encourages solidarity, fun, and comradery. Members of the LGBT community may travel far and wide to attend these events, so they want to make sure they will have the experience they are seeking when they go. Here are some of the top gay prides that are known for their memorability.
There are dozens of gay pride festivals and parades that happen in New York during the summer months, so visitors really have their pick of which to attend. Of course, there is one in Manhattan that’s pegged to the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village in 1969. It’s really the event that started it all. However, there also are celebrations in each of the other boroughs of New York, as well as smaller events in several city parks. Just check a list of events here to get a feel for all the options in New York.
Of course, the LGBT community is huge in this iconic city, so it stands to reason that it would boast the largest gay pride gathering in country. Starting where pioneer Harvey Milk addressed the crowd in the early 1970s, the parade routinely draws more than a million marchers. There really is a whole month of tangential events, and visitors can be part of one or many of them. Find out more about what makes the event so popular by clicking here.
This city really goes all out for the members of the LGBT community and includes not only a Gay Pride march attended primarily by men, but also an event for lesbian marchers and one for the trans community. Many of the city’s business owners show their support of the marchers with sponsorships, partnerships, and special events during the annual Gay Pride Festival. Plus, the Atlanta event has the bonus of being held at the end of summer instead of at the beginning as a lot of other cities do. This means the heat is more tolerable and visitors don’t have to miss another great city’s event in order to attend.
There are hundreds of gay pride events held throughout the country every year, even in cities one might not think would be a likely place to host a festival. For people who want to attend an event as part of their travel plans this summer, all that’s required is a perusal of this master list in order to find the right fit for them.