Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanksgiving Getaway - Northern California Coast

Saw this little blurb from iLoveInns.com and thought I'd pass it along to all those looking for a lovely, yet relatively inexpensive Thanksgiving getaway along the Northern Coast of California.
The Country Inn Bed and Breakfast in Fort Bragg is offering a Thanksgiving package which includes the following:
three nights lodging
home-cooked Thanksgiving meal
two tickets to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens

This special is only $340 for a non-fireplace room and $430 for a fireplace room.

The Country Inn Bed and Breakfast is located in Fort Bragg, along the Mendocino coast in Northern California, within walking distance to Glass Beach and the Skunk Train, which takes passengers on a sightseeing tour through coastal redwoods. Antiquers will also love the close proximity to some of the wonderful antique stores in Fort Bragg.

If you care for a walk after Thanksgiving Dinner, you're also close to the Ten Mile Coastal Trail, which offers a great spot for ocean-front walking, jogging, or cycling.

Mendocino Botanical Gardens

This special offer includes two tickets to the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, which is the only public garden in the continental United States that sits directly on the Pacific Ocean. There you will find, manicured gardens, as well as a coastal pine forest, with bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

For more information about this Thanksgiving Special, you can email them at info@beourguests.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Top U.S. Hotels According to Conde Nast

If you wanted to vacation at one of the top 3 U.S. hotels, you might want to take a look at what the readers of Conde Nast have chosen in the latest Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards:

The Peninsula - Chicago
Elizabeth Point Lodge - Amelia Island, Florida
Stephanie Inn - Cannon Beach, Oregon
What better way to get to know some of them than to sample one of the many specials, promotions and packages they offer:

Elizabeth Point Lodge Package

The Elizabeth Point Lodge on Amelia Island also offers many wonderful packages. One I like is the “Thanksgiving Package” which is a 4-night vacation package in an oceanfront King Superior room for $1,551, and includes (among other things):

  • Wine and hors d’oeuvres reception each evening
  • Full oceanfront breakfast each morning
  • Thanksgiving dinner for two at Beech Street Grill with choice of preferred seating (dinner, gratuity, and tax included)


  • You can find more packages at Elizabeth Point Lodge by going to ElizabethPointeLodge.com. Their phone numbers are Toll Free: 800-772-3359 800-500-9620 and 800-544-2704. You can also email them at info@elizabethpointelodge.com

    Stephanie Inn Specials

    The Stephanie Inn offers numerous specials and packages, including

    Good Things Special

    This special runs from October 1, 2008 through October 31, 2008, and is as follows: Stay one night at full rate Sunday through Thursday and receive the second night at half price. This special includes a country-style breakfast buffet, afternoon wine and evening night cap. Minimum 2-night stay. There is a 7% lodging tax.

    This special must be requested at time the reservation is made. , so be sure you mention the October Internet Special to the reservationist at the Stephanie Inn.

    The Golden Sand Dollar Special

    Exclusively for seniors 55 years or older, and is as follows: For $189-$199 per night plus tax, you can choose from a $25 dinner credit in their dining room, a bottle of champagne, wine or cider, a "Stephanie Inn Cookbook", or a one pound box of chocolates in your mountain view guest room on the first night of your stay.

    This includes a complimentary country-style breakfast buffet, afternoon wine gathering and evening night cap. This special is available Sunday through Thursday, October 16, 2008 through December 30, 2008.

    For more info on Stephanie Inn specials and packages, go to: stephanie-inn.com. You can also call The Stephanie Inn at 1-800-633-3466 or email: info@stephanie-inn.com

      Tuesday, October 14, 2008

      Things to do in Scottsdale, AZ

      Visiting Scottsdale, Arizona any time soon? Well, Scottsdale.com has come up with a list of "10 Best Things To Do In Scottsdale Arizona." What do they recommend?

      1. Golfing at one of the numerous golf courses around Scottsdale: Troon North Golf Club with two 18-hole courses and fabulous views and JW Marriott Wildfire Golf Club come recommended by them.
      2. Humvee and ATV Tours of the surrounding Sonoran Desert.
      3. Viewing open houses around Scottsdale.
      4. Scottsdale FBR Open beginning the end of January through the beginning of February. The Scottsdale FBR is one of the first PGA golf events of the calendar year.
      5. Visiting the Scottsdale Desert Botanical Gardens.
      6. Taking a ride on a hot-air balloon.
      7. Attending a Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks or Phoenix Coyotes game.
      8. Helicopter Tour of the Grand Canyon. They recommend Papillon Helicopters Tours.
      9. Hiking the local mountains in Scottsdale. Camelback Mountain offers hikers of all levels fabulous desert mountain hikes.
      10. Visiting Old Town Scottsdale & Art District. If you're there on a Thursday night from 7-9PM, you can take part in ArtWalk, which allows you to experience the galleries of Old Town, "one of the most prominent and respected art districts in the nation."

      What did they leave out? Well, restaurants, of course! What are some of the top restaurants in the Scottsdale area you won't want to miss? (Unless otherwise indicated, the restaurants are located in Scottsdale)

      Furio
      7210 East Second Street

      Centro Paninoteca
      7120 East Becker Lane

      La Torretta Ristorante
      16640 North Scottsdale Road

      Medizona
      7217 East Fourth Avenue

      Capital Grille
      16489 North Scottsdale Road

      Un-Bacio Ristorante
      7704 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd.

      Gardunos of Mexico
      8787 N. Scottsdale Rd, Ste. A-102

      Asia de Cuba
      7353 E. Indian School Rd.
      (Inside the Mondrian)

      Pink Pony Steak House
      3831 N. Scottsdale Rd.
      (between 1st St. and Main St.)

      Zinc Bistro
      15034 N. Scottsdale Rd.
      (Scottsdale Rd. and Greenway Pkwy.)

      Binkley's Restaurant
      6920 E. Cave Creek Rd.
      Cave Creek, AZ

      Rancho Pinot Grill
      6208 N. Scottsdale Rd.
      (Scottsdale Rd. and Lincoln Dr.)
      Paradise Valley, AZ

      Tuesday, September 30, 2008

      Win a Trip to Australia - SoCal residents only

      Normally I wouldn't promote a sweepstakes with so limited entry qualifications, but, since there are so many Southern California readers who visit this blog, I decided to include it.

      The sweepstakes is put on by Qantas Airlines and awards five (5) grand prizes of:

      • Round-trip Economy airfare for two (2) aboard Qantas A380 from Los Angles to Melbourne

      • $1,000 in cash

      • Seven (7) nights accommodations in Melbourne, Australia
      Who can enter:

      Sorry, but only legal U.S. residents of the following Southern California counties are eligible to participate:

      Los Angeles
      Orange
      Riverside
      San Bernardino
      Ventura

      How to enter:

      just go to www.qantas.com/win and enter online. (remember, that's qantas.com, not quantas.com). You'll have to act fast because the deadline for entering is 11:59PM on October 5, 2008. You can enter once per day.

      Saturday, September 20, 2008

      Celebrate Oktoberfest in Tempe and Renew Your Vows

      Oktoberfest celebrations are coming up fast! And, this year's celebration in Tempe, Arizona (near Phoenix) is including a new festivity: vow renewals.

      Why vow renewals? Well, it seems Oktoberfest started out in 1810 in Munich as a wedding celebration, when Bavaria's Crown Prince Ludwig married Therese of Saxon-Hildburghausen. The celebration lasted five days (imagine that wedding bill!), and they had so much fun they repeated the celebration the next year, and the next, and, well, you know the rest of the story. Now we all celebrate Oktoberfest.

      For the celebration in Tempe, couples are invited to register for a chance to renew their vows on Saturday, Oct. 4, at 5 p.m. in the Oktoberfest Polka garden at Tempe Beach Park. (Tempe has a Beach Park? Yeah, that surprises me too.)

      To be part of the vow renewal, couples have to register at ArizonaWeddings.com by Monday, September 22, 2008. Thirty-six couples will be chosen to win food and drink at the festival, plus gifts and a entry into a drawing for a special prize. You have to a legally-married couple in order to participate, as well as be a resident of Arizona. When you go to the website to register, you'll find the Oktoberfest banner at the bottom right of the page. Click it and go to info on how to register.


      But, even if you don't plan to renew your vows, you still might want to check out the Oktoberfest festivities. Tempe Beach Park at Tempe Town Lake is located at 80 W. Rio Salado Parkway near downtown Tempe and near Arizona state University.

      Wednesday, September 03, 2008

      Win a Car, a Cruise, or a Bunch of Other Stuff

      Okay, all you "win a vacation" aficionados, I've got a real gem for you this time!

      Here is a sweepstakes which has a car as the First Prize and a cruise (4 in all) as the Second Prize!

      How Do I Enter to Win These Fabulous Prizes?:

      You can go to the following websites and enter online (You are allowed to enter one time per day):

      http://www.bhg.com/win

      http://www.lhj.com/win

      www.parents.com/win

      www.fitnessmagazine.com/win

      www.more.com/win

      www.betterrecipes.com/win

      www.hearthealthyonline.com/win

      www.countryhome.com/win

      www.remodelingcenter.com/win

      www.kitchenbathideas.com/win

      How Long Do I Have to Enter?:

      This fabulous sweepstakes begins on August. 15, 2008 and ends on February 15, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

      Who Can Enter:

      This sweepstakes is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States (including District of Columbia) who are at least twenty one (21) years old at the time of entry. Yes, that means you Alaska and Hawaii! Many sweepstakes are only open to the "lower 48," but not this one!

      What Can I Win?:

      First Prize:

      Car or cash equivalent of $25,000. Winner must be a licensed driver and will be required to provide proof of insurance at time of delivery.

      Second Prize:

      Four (4) second prizes of a cruise for the winner and one (1) guest to the Caribbean valued at $12,500, or $12,500 cash. If you choose the cruise you will be awarded: roundtrip, coach-class air transportation for two (2) to Miami, FL (port of departure); seven (7) days and six (6) nights accommodations aboard a Cruise ship; and $7,700 spending money that can be used toward taxes. Your travel companion must be 18 years of age or older, unless he or she is the child of the winner.

      Other Prizes Include:

      25 shopping sprees or cash equivalent of $1,000
      500 BP gas cards valued at $50
      150 Cooking.com gift certificates valued at $50
      300 Tastebook.com gift certificates valued at $29.95
      2,250 Coverleaf Digital Magazine gift certificates valued at $25
      710 Decorating Inspiration memberships valued at $14.85

      These are the same people who put on the $50,000 Dream Vacation sweepstakes a few months back, but there are tons more prizes. And, what's better than a new car or cruise to the Caribbean? One you don't have to pay for! So, go and enter.

      Friday, August 29, 2008

      One-Tank Trip from Cleveland, Ohio

      Okay, all you folks from Cleveland looking for a little one-tank trip this Labor Day weekend (or, any weekend for that matter).

      Here are a few choice places you could go that won't cost you much in gas, and that will be fun for you and your family:

      Toledo

      Yes, Toledo. It's only a couple hours away by car, and has some fun things to do, like:

      Toledo Lake Erie and Western Railway Museum

      Like trains? Then you have to stop at the Toledo Lake Erie and Western Railway Museum to take a ride on the historic Bluebird passenger train. This train takes passengers on a 90-minute journey through the scenic Northwest Ohio countryside, passing the Maumee River and historic buildings. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $6.50 for children 3-12.

      SS Willis Boyer Museum Ship

      From trains to ships. The SS Willis Boyer is a restored Great Lakes ore freighter which has been turned into a museum, docked in downtown Toledo. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $4 for children under 16.

      Maumee Bay State Park

      A little camping, a little fishing, a little hiking. Then top it all off with a little golf or a swim in Lake Erie. While the camp sites and cabins are probably all taken this Labor Day weekend, there looks to be many availabilities in September.

      Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

      Another one-tank trip from Cleveland to consider is to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where you'll find:

      Pittsburgh Family District

      If you have kids you'll want to check out the Pittsburgh Family District, which is a collection of kid-friendly activities all within one neighborhood. Your kids will love the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh; the National Aviary, which is the premier bird park in the U.S.; the Carnegie Science Center (check out the Miniature Railroad & Village and the USS Requin submarine); and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

      Kayak Pittsburgh

      Want to try your hand at kayaking? Then head on over to Kayak Pittsburgh Downtown (nearest PNC Park) and Kayak Pittsburgh North (North Park Boathouse along North Park Lake) to rent a flat-water kayak for fun on the water. There's no better way to see Pittsburgh than from a kayak.

      Mt. Washington

      Well, actually, there might be a better way to see Pittsburgh. From atop the beautiful 367-foot-high Mt. Washington! A great way to climb Mt. Washington is to take one of the funiculars to the top; the Mon Incline and the Duquesne Incline. Once there grab a bite and a fabulous view of Pittsburgh at one of Mt. Washington's many restaurants.


      Detroit, Michigan

      Huron-Clinton Metroparks

      A collection of 13 different parks covering almost 24,000 acres, located along the Huron and Clinton rivers. If you're looking for something outdoorsy to do, you can find it at one of these 13 parks. You can explore many different hiking and biking trails, golf courses, camping, canoeing, etc. Oh, and nature and activity centers with activities going on all year long. If you are longing for some winter activities, you'll be pleased to know that 10 of the 13 Metroparks offer cross country ski trails, with 5 of those renting ski equipment.

      Henry Ford Estate - Dearborn, MI

      Okay, not technically Detroit, but close enough; just 8 1/2 miles away. Here you'll find the Henry Ford Estate, with an amazing mansion built in 1914. But, there's not only the mansion, there are sculpted gardens and riverwalks, all available to visitors. If you only want to tour the grounds it's just $2. Otherwise, the regular house tour (including grounds) is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, and $6 for children 5-12. Children under 4 get in free.

      Thursday, August 21, 2008

      BugFest Sponsored by Terminix - Raleigh, NC

      Saturday, September 20, 2008
      9AM - 9PM
      North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
      Raleigh, North Carolina

      Okay, you gotta love a festival devoted to bugs sponsored by a company that kills bugs. But, here you go, BugFest, billed as "the nation's largest single-day bug event," held at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.

      This event is perfect for a weekend getaway for families with kids, or anyone who enjoyed watching people eat bugs on "Fear Factor." Personally, I never like watching people eat bugs, especially when they're still moving around.

      But, if you want the experience of eating bugs, you can taste some dishes featuring bugs as a major ingredient at Cafe' Insecta. Their 2007 offerings included such dishes as:

      Buggy Bean Dip with Crackers
      Hoppin’ Hunan Stir-fry Grasshoppers over Rice
      Mealworms Marinara
      Hush Grubbies
      Critter Fritters
      Waxworm and Watercress Salad
      But, that's not all, for dessert, you could choose from:

      Wormy Watermelon & Mint
      Bug Bite Cookies
      Ants in Amber
      Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm. Wonder what's on the menu for 2008?

      Of course, food's not the only highlight of BugFest 2008. There will displays, exhibits and presentations all geared towards arthropods (bugs). Their website, bugfest.org, didn't have a schedule for 2008, but did give 2007 exhibits and presentations to give you an idea of what to expect this year.

      2007 Presentations and Exhibits included:

      Cooking with Bugs
      Alberti Flea Circus
      The Bug Doc: Veterinary Medicine for Arthropods
      Creeping Crawlies: Centipedes and Millipedes
      Pine Stakes Thoroughbred Termite Races
      Tarantulas and Other Spiders
      If it was me, I'd definitely check out the Termite Races; so I hope their included this year.

      Wednesday, August 13, 2008

      Win a Trip to the Pepsi Smash Concert in New York

      You have until August 28, 2008 to enter this sweepstakes for a getaway to New York to attend the 2008 Pepsi Smash Concert on October 4, 2008. If selected you will receive:

      >> Two (2) round-trip coach class airfares to New York City from the closest major airport

      >> Two (2) nights hotel lodging (double occupancy)

      >> Two (2) tickets to the Pepsi Smash Concert

      Approximate Retail Value of this trip is between $1,000 to $2,500. (If the winner lives within 75 miles of New Ork City, then you'll receive ground transportation.)

      Who can enter:

      Those 21 years or older as of Monday, June 16, 2008, anad who are legal residents of the United States (excluding Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and other commonwealths, territories, and possessions).

      How to enter and win:

      The rules state you go to www.bet.com/Contests, but if you go there you will get an error page. The correct page is Enter to win

      Sweepstakes is limited to one entry per person.

      Thursday, July 24, 2008

      African Photo Safari Tips

      Considering an African photo safari? Here are some things you may wish to consider:

      1. When choosing a camera safari travel package, make sure you book at least a 10-day trip so that you can really experience all that Africa has to offer for your camera.

      2. Try for a package that includes some of these great spots: The Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Amboseli National Park, Arusha, Lake Nakuru, Thompson’s Falls, The Rift Valley, Mt. Kenya, Samburu, and Tsavo National Park.

      3. Definitely you'll want to go to Lake Nakuru, located in Central Kenya, 140km north-west of Nairobi. The special treat here are the numbers of pink Flamingos you'll see - perhaps in the thousands, walking along the shore. And, these are not the plastic kind. They're real. And, they fly. And when they all take flight at once it's a photo that's definitely worth the cost of the trip. You'll also be treated to white rhinos and the Makalia waterfall.

      4. Ngorongoro Crater is another must-see. Located at the eastern edge of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania, it's home to thousands of wildebeests, lions, zebras, elephants, rhinos, and Thompson’s gazelles.

      5. Try for a package that includes a night at the Treetops Hotel, overlooking a waterhole and salt lick (not for you, for the animals!) in the Aberdare National Park in Kenya.

      The Treetops Hotel is literally built on treetops and offers excellent viewing of the animals that come to the waterhole. In addition to its open balconies, they also have an underground passage where you can look up at the waterhole. If you like, they give you a buzz during the middle of the night when the animals can be seen. Who knows, you may get a great photo of a rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion,or waterbuck.

      The original Treetops Hotel was built in 1932, burnt down in 1954, and rebuilt in 1957. A visitor there not only gets great photo opportunities, but also gets a chance to stay in a hotel which played a great role in British history: in February 1952, while staying at the Treetops Hotel, Princess Elizabeth became Queen upon learning of the death of her father, King George VI.

      Thursday, July 03, 2008

      Thinking of a Beach Getaway? Think Aruba

      It's summer. Must be time for a trip to paradise. Well, of course I'm talking about Aruba, where you can find one of the best beaches in the world (according to Travel + Leisure), casino action, and great food.

      Approximately four and a half hours from New York, you can wing your way to a tropical paradise and hit the beach upon arrival. The Americana Aruba Beach Resort and Casino is only three miles from Oranjestad airport. The hotel is nestled further inland than most hotels, which decreases the amount of wind that is associated with Palm Beach.

      The rooms are wonderful and the hotel has such amenities as a pool, Jacuzzi, and open air dining with entertainment. You can settle in and never stray far from your hotel while still enjoying the benefits it has to offer.

      But, if you want to explore...

      There are fabulous beaches, as well as great spots for scuba diving, and some awesome places to explore nature, like Arikok National Park, or perhaps take a tour on horseback.

      I just added a page on Aruba on my destinations website, so if you want to find out more about what Aruba offers, and why it should be added to your list of "must see" destinations, go to things to do in Aruba.

      Monday, June 30, 2008

      Best Places for Beginning Surfers in U.S.

      For those of you just learning to surf, here are a few surfing spots you might want to consider:

      Cowell's Beach, Santa Cruz, California
      Some say Cowell's Beach in Santa Cruz is one of the best places in the world to learn how to surf, with long, gentle, easy waves.

      Corolla Beach, Corolla, North Carolina
      Located on the northern end of the Outer Banks. Nice, warm water; gentle surf during the summer.

      Folly Beach—South Carolina
      Located twelve miles south of Charleston, Folly Beach's surf is perfect for beginner's learning to surf.

      Sebastian Inlet, Florida
      The Sebastian Inlet in Florida has a beautiful beach known for its small to medium sized waves, which range from 4 feet all the way up to 10 feet. The beach is great and the waters can be rather warm, the average temperature remains around the 80s F. Great place for beginners and intermediate surfers.

      Malibu Beach, Malibu, California
      Malibu is definitely a prime surfing location, with almost-perfect conditions for beginners to learn how to surf. The waves are not extremely high and in most places vary between 4 feet and 6 feet. The conditions may vary according to the weather of course.

      San Onofre State Beach, California
      Some call San Onofre State Beach the "Waikiki of the California Coastline," offering the beginner gentle breaking waves and long sandy beaches.

      Cocoa Beach, Florida
      The average temperature at Cocoa Beach varies from the mid 70s all the way up to the high 80s so the weather in this area can be classified as subtropical which is a great surfing combination.

      A Few Things to Consider for Beginning Surfers:

      1. Try renting your board at first. At the surf shop ask for a foam longboard to start out on. These are sometimes called foamies or softboards and are far safer and easier to start out on than a short fiberglass board. The foam boards are wider and longer and therefore more stable. This makes them easier for a beginner to be able to get up on and stay up on.

      2. Wearing a leash which ties you to your board is important because it keeps it from becoming a hazard to other surfers.

      3. Avoid surfing in crowded areas if you are a beginner, this will keep others away from your board if you lose control.

      4. Never try to ride a wave which is beyond your abilities. If you feel uncomfortable try to stay away until you gain more experience. This will help you avoid injuring yourself or someone else.

      5. If you are paddling out you need to know that a surfer who is actively riding a wave has the right of way. Try to avoid crossing his path for your safety and his. Incidentally, do not try to position yourself in front of a surfer who has the right of way (sneaking).

      6. Always pay attention to weather conditions. If you constantly visit your local beach you know how fast the weather can change. This is highly relevant in places with huge waves such as Hawaii.

      7. All surfers should know CPR.

      Friday, June 13, 2008

      Fun Stuff to do in San Francisco

      Looking for some fun stuff to do this summer, and a fun place to do it in?

      Go to San Francisco.

      The real appeal of San Francisco as a vacation destination is that it has a little something to offer everyone. From families with small children, families with teens, young couples, older couples, gay couples, gay singles, girlfriends on a getaway, etc., etc., etc.

      What's happening during the months of June, July and August in San Francisco?

      Stern Grove Festival
      Sundays, 2:00 p.m.
      June 15 – August 17, 2008

      For over 70 years now San Franciscans and visitors alike have been treated to free concerts in Stern Grove, located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard. This year's concerts include the San Francisco Symphony on June 29, Allen Toussaint on July 6 and Voices of Latin Rock on July 27.

      Dolores Park Movie Night 2008
      Once a month during the summer

      Enjoy free movies in Dolores Park, located in the Mission District at Dolores and 20th St. Future dates are July 10, August 14, September 11, and October 9. As of this writing the future movie titles have not been released, but you can check doloresparkmovie.org later and see if they're up there.

      Yerba Buena Gardens Festival
      From May to October

      The Yerba Buena Gardens is a two-block complex bordered by Mission, Folsom, 3rd and 4th Streets, and is a great place to enjoy some free entertainment all summer long, including music, theater, dance, and children’s programs. Parents with children under 10 will enjoy the Children's Garden Series on Fridays and Saturdays in the Children's Garden, Howard and Fourth Streets, near the Zeum Carousel. Programs are approximately 30 minutes, two performances each day. Adults will enjoy the Latin Jazz Series which take place throughout the summer, including Homenagem Brasileira on Thursday, August 7. You can find a more complete schedule at ybgf.org.

      San Francisco Pride 2008
      June 28 and 29, 2008

      This 2-day event is one of the largest lesbian and gay pride celebration in the world, with a festival as well as a parade, which takes place along Market Street on June 24, 2008. The festival takes place in the Civic Center area of San Francisco, starting each day at noontime. The parade begins at 10:30AM. You can get more information at sfpride.org.

      4th Annual Pinot Days Grand Festival
      June 29, 2008 - 1p to 5p

      Do you love pinot noir? If you do (and if you don't, why not?) then you'll have to head on over to Fort Mason in San Francisco to taste some really fabulous pinots. The cost is $65, and you'll be able to sample up to 400 pinots from California and Oregon.

      For more great things to do in San Francisco all year long, do check out our website for
      things to do in San Francisco.

      Tuesday, June 10, 2008

      Dog Days of Summer at Laguna Beach


      Okay, it's really too early for the "dog days of Summer," but you'd never know it looking at these three relaxing on a recent summer day at Laguna Beach. Don't forget your sunscreen!

      Thursday, June 05, 2008

      Win a Golf Getaway Vacation to Orlando, Florida

      Love golf? Need a getaway? Don't want to pay for it? Then enter to win a 3-night, 4-day getaway to the 2008 Golf World Invitational on November 13-16, 2008. Included in this prize are 2 round-trip air tickets to Orlando, Florida, 3 nights at the Ginn Reunion Resort, and participation in the 2008 golf World Invitational you and your guest.

      How do you enter?

      By going to www.golfworldreaderschoice.com and following the entry instructions.

      Who can enter?

      Legal residents of the 50 United States and Distric of Columbia who are at least 18 years of age at the time of entry.

      When does the sweepstakes end?

      September 1, 2008 at 11:59 PM ET (yeah, they're that precise!)

      Golfing in Florida is always a treat, but even better when you don't have to pay for it, right? So, go now and enter. Who knows, you just might win!

      Saturday, May 24, 2008

      Fast Flying Fish Video - See it Here!

      Okay, now, isn't fishing supposed to be somewhat relaxing? You know, just like the beginning of Andy Griffith, where he and Opie have their fishing rods, walking along a country path to the local creek (crick as some people say?)

      Imagine many people's surprise when they saw that now famous video of the "fast flying fish" on their local news. The video was taken in Southern Japan, and recorded a flying fish sailing by a ferry, airborne for 45 seconds. They say that's the longest recorded flight of a flying fish. Amazing. To be honest, however, if I saw one of those flying fish zipping by my canoe I think my moment of "fishing zen" would be broken.

      But, yes, it was interesting to watch. And, in case you haven't seen it, here it is - the infamous "fast flying fish" of Japan:

      Saturday, May 17, 2008

      Hey, I Apologize About the Beaches Lists

      Recently I posted a few top beaches lists. One of those lists included beaches where one was free not to wear anything. (meaning top (plus the word) less).

      Well, guess what? The very next day my blog traffic fell by over half!!! And it's still low, a couple weeks later! Sure, there were some people who came looking for those types of beaches. But the other people stopped coming by! Some search engines stopped sending me people! So, I can only conclude that somehow that post was the culprit.

      Anyway, I WANT MY VISITORS BACK! So, yes, I've dropped that list in my beaches list. Not that wanting an all-over tan is wrong! So, if you came looking for that particular list, I do apologize that it's no longer on this site.

      Yeah, I know what you're thinking: what a weenie. (Uh, oh, weenie, will that lose me people too?)

      Win a Trip to Chicago!

      I came across this vacation sweepstakes and was totally "jazzed."

      Enter to Win:

      Enter to win a trip for two to the Chicago Jazz Festival (August 28-31, 2008), including round-trip airfare, four nights lodging, tickets for two to all evening performances in Millennium Park and Grant Park, two Chicago Jazz Festival t-shirts, and, as the rules state "other surprises." (No, I don't think they're going to let you play at the Festival).

      Who Can Enter:

      The "usual suspects," legal U.S. residents, 18 years or older.

      How to Enter:

      You can enter to win this great getaway prize by clicking on the "Sweepstakes" link www.jazztimes.com. Just follow the on-line instructions.

      How Many Times Can I Enter:

      Just once.

      When Does the Sweepstakes End:

      You have until 11:59 a.m. Eastern Time on 6/27/2008.

      Hey, and while you're at the website, enter to win a saxophone. Two, actually.

      Monday, May 12, 2008

      My Savannah, GA Vacation

      Just got back from a week in Savannah, Georgia and thought I'd share a few photos.

      First, we stayed on Tybee Island, just about 20 minutes from Savannah. Coming from the West Coast, it was a little shocking how warm it was at the beach. In California you go to the beach to cool off. No cool ocean breeze there! But, the water was gentle and warm, and the view was gorgeous!



      When in Savannah you gawk! There are historic buildings everywhere, all surrounding lovely city squares. And, no picture represents Savannah more than this fountain in Forsyth Park, which is a copy of one in Paris.




      Another thing you do while in Savannah is take a tour. There are tours everywhere in the historic area, whether they be walking tours, bus tours, trolly tours or carriage tours. You can't look anywhere in Savannah without seeing some sort of tour. That's good news for people who like tours. Bad news if you're taking your own walking tour of the city and constantly being bombarded by competing tours.

      Two of the most popular types of tours are the foody tours and ghost tours. One tour takes you to some of Paula Deen's favorite places (yep, that's Paula Deen from Food Network fame), with a stop at her brother's restaurant Uncle Bubba's Oyster House on the road from Savannah to Tybee Island. Another takes you to different food destinations, including Paula Deen's restaurant, Lady & Sons.

      There seem to be more ghost tours in Savannah than there are ghosts. I think they're all pretty much the same, although some are walking tours and some are by trolly. We took a walking ghost tour and bumped into several other walking ghost tours. You're supposed to take your camera and hope you catch an orb in the photo. Orbs are supposedly the energy of a ghost which can show up as a spot of white light, or other colors. They say Savannah's the most haunted city in America, so it follows that orbs should show up everywhere. Some people in our group reported several orbs in their photos. No such luck in my photos. But, it was fun snapping pictures and learning about Savannah history.



      What restaurants would I recommend you go to? Definitely check out The New South Cafe, 2601 Skidaway Road. The food there was outstanding and the service was incredibly friendly. If you're a meat eater, try the coffee crusted tenderloin of beef. Truly outstanding.

      Thursday, May 01, 2008

      Woman's Day Boston Getaway Sweepstakes

      Here's one more Women's Day vacation sweepstakes to tell you about (those people love sweepstakes!)

      This one is a quick getaway to Boston, with the winner receiving two nights at Boston's historic Park Plaza Hotel & Towers, including a complimentary meal at celebrity chef Todd English's Bonfire Steakhouse. It doesn't look like airfare is included, so getting there is on you.

      How to Enter:

      You can enter by going to WomansDay.com/giveaways.

      Who can Enter:

      Legal residents of the 50 United States and Washington D.C., 18 years of age and older, except the employees of the sponsors and their immediate family members.

      When Does Sweepstakes End?

      You must enter by noon ET on May 30, 2008. You can enter once per day.


      Remember, you will have to pay taxes on the amount of the prize, which is between $800 and $900.

      Poppy Reserve - Antelope Valley, California

      A Couple days ago I found out another reason why California is called "the Golden state." It's the poppies! Thousands of them. Millions of them! Okay, I have no idea how many poppies there are, but if you want to see the golden side of California, now's a great time of year to go to the Poppy Reserve in the Antelope Valley in Southern California (Los Angeles area).

      There are many miles of trails to walk to view the fields of poppies, ranging from mild to moderate. Do bring sunscreen and definitely bring a camera.






      That last picture shows three monks in orange robes walking the trails. The Reserve is located at 43779 15th St. West, Lancaster, CA. You can get more info at californiapoppies.com

      Wednesday, April 30, 2008

      Top 10 Beaches Lists

      Hello, all! Just a quick note about TripAdvisor's newest Top 10 Spring Beach Destinations list. They are:

      1. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

      2. Maui, Hawaii

      3. Outer Banks, N.C.

      4. Bahamas

      5. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

      6. Key West, Fla.

      7. Bermuda

      8. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

      9. Santa Monica, Calif.

      10. Turks and Caicos


      Other "Best Beaches" lists of note include:

      Yahoo Travel's Best Beaches list:

      1. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
      2. Miami, Florida
      3. Cancun, Mexico
      4. Kaanapali, Hawaii
      5. Honolulu, Hawaii
      6. San Diego, California
      7. Boracay Island, Philippines
      8. Key West, Florida
      9. Sydney, Australia
      10. Santa Barbara, California

      New York City Bus Tour Savings

      If you plan on going to New York anytime soon, you'll want to save some money on a combo New York Pass and double-decker bus tour. If you're not familiar with the New York Pass, it's a pass you buy which lets you into the most popular New York City attractions, such as:

      • Empire State Building
      • Statue of Liberty
      • Madame Tussaud’s
      • New York Skyride
      • Circle Line River Cruise
      • Guggenheim Museum
      • Natural History Museum
      • Museum of Modern Art
      • Rockefeller Center Tour
      • New York Aquarium

      What's great is that you can buy the pass to cover many different days, such as a 1-day pass or a 3-day pass or 7-day pass, which means you can tailor it to your own New York City Getaway. And, at some of these attractions, you can even skip the wait in line!

      Well, now, New York Pass has teamed with some of the New York City tour bus companies to bring you a combo tour! You can choose from a 2-Day Grayline Double-Decker Hop-on Hop-off combo tour with 2-days of unlimited hop-on, hop-off bus service, or a 3 Day CitySights NY tour, which gives you a downtown tour, Harlem tour, Brooklyn tour and a night tour. And, remember, you still have the New York Pass which lets you in on all the attractions as well.

      To get a special combo price, just click the following link:

      Save big on our New York Pass and Double-Decker Bus Tour combo!

      Shopped for Mother's Day Yet?

      Mother's Day is just around the corner. If you haven't bought your gift yet you might consider giving her the gift of a getaway. Get her a hotel gift card from Travelocity that she can use wherever she pleases. Here's the link for you:

      Get Mom a Gift She'll Love for Mother's Day with Travelocity's Hotel Gift Cards!

      Whether you get her a hotel gift card, jewelry or whatever, just put a little thought into it. You know those people who stand on the street corners on holidays selling those cellophane-wrapped baskets with a cheap stuffed animal and who-knows what else? Don't be one of those last-minute people and get your mother one of those! Really. She gave birth to you. Give her something better than a cellophane-wrapped afterthought. Just my little commentary. Carry on!

      Friday, April 18, 2008

      TravelSmith Vacation Sweepstakes

      Another fabulous vacation sweepstakes for you to enter, this one called "TravelSmith Outfitters $20,000 Custom Trip of a Lifetime Sweepstakes"

      What do you win?

      There will be one grand prize winner, who will win his or her choice of:

      a) a $20,000 dream vacation package, which consists of $20,000 in travel services from R. Crusoe & Son travel and $2,000 gift coupon worth of TravelSmith products, or

      b) a $17,000 dream vacation package, which consists of $17,000 in travel services from R. Crusoe & Son travel, $3,000 spending cash, and $2,000 gift coupon worth of TravelSmith products.

      The Winner will work with R. Crusoe & Son to design and book his or her dream vacation to any destination in the world. The value of this trip will not exceed $20,000.

      Just in case you were wondering: If you (you hope you're the winner, right?) selects a trip which costs less than $20,000 or $17,000 depending on the prize option you select, you will not receive the difference between the actual cost of the trip or $20,000 or $17,000. Meaning, you can't book a trip to Boise for $1,000 and pocket the rest.

      Now, if it was me, I'd choose option B, the $17,000 vacation. With that option you get $3,000 cash. Whenever cash is offered, take it. Remember, you have to pay taxes on the total amount of your winnings, which in both cases total $22,000.

      Who can enter?

      Legal residents of the 50 United States (including District of Columbia) who are at least 18 at the time of entry. So, you people from Alaska and Hawaii, this one's for you, too. Employees of the sponsors are ineligible.

      When does the sweepstakes end?

      You have to get your entry in by May 31, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

      How do you enter to win?

      You can enter to win this fabulous prize by going to www.travelsmith.com/greatescape or travelsmith.eprize.net/dreamtrip

      Good luck!

      Thursday, April 17, 2008

      Win a Vacation to St. Lucia

      Who wants to enter to win a trip to St. Lucia? That makes two of us.

      Luckily, I happen to have come across a vacation sweepstakes with the fabulous grand prize of:

      5 days, 4 nights for two at The Landings St. Lucia, including air transportation on American Airlines, a 50-minute massage, and breakfast for two at the Beachfront Club Lounge.

      You will love The Landings St. Lucia. A new resort (opened in December 2007), The Landings is located on the absolutely gorgeous beachfront property of Rodney Bay in St. Lucia. The Landings offers 62 one-, two- and three-bedroom suites with kitchens and water views.

      Do bring a good book to read while you're lounging around the pool, although you may not finish it because you'll be too busy with all the other activities St. Lucia offers: hiking, diving, snorkeling, sailing, getting spa treatments, etc.

      So, how do I enter this fabulous sweepstakes?

      Go to www.shape.com/bikinibodycountdown. Once there, go to the very bottom of the page and you'll see a notice about the sweepstakes on your right. Click on the link and you'll have to fill out a short survey, then enter. That's it. Remember, you don't have to buy anything or agree to receive their mailings to win. So, if you don't want to be bombarded by their emails, just click that you don't want any further info.

      Who can enter?

      Legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, 21 years or older. Certain employees of certain companies can't enter (but, you'll read that when you enter).

      When does the sweepstakes end?

      You have to enter by 11:59 p.m. (EST) on June 8, 2008.

      Monday, April 14, 2008

      10 Best Places to Visit in the USA

      Let's be frank. With the dollar as weak as it is, a European vacation this year may not be in the cards for many people. What to do? Well, visit one of the many wonderful places in the U.S.!

      Here is my list of "10 Best Places to Visit in the USA"

      Savannah, GA

      History, mystery and food. The city made famous with the book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" is a top destination for those into great architecture, good food and interesting walking tours. Be sure to take in one of the many ghost tours. Top off your visit with a day on Tybee Island.

      Sedona, AZ

      Sedona is one of my all-time favorite places, not so much for the "New Age" vibe (I do believe that's a bit overdone), but for the red rock and Oak Creek Canyon. You can just bring a chair and a book and sit by Oak Creek all day, or take a creek-side hike. It's just a couple hours to the Grand Canyon, which makes a wonderful day trip. Be sure to explore nearby Flagstaff while you're there.

      San Francisco, CA

      San Francisco really suits all budgets. If you're flush stay in Campton Place or Grand Hyatt on Union Square. If your budget's tight, pick a hotel or motel on Lombard Street going towards the Golden Gate Bridge. There are many moderately-priced hotels and restaurants which give good value for your money. Great shopping on Union Street and Chestnut Streets. Many walking tours in this great city. While you're there, take a ferry to Angel Island for wonderful walking and views of San Francisco.

      San Juan Islands

      Never been to the San Juan Islands? Then go! When you do you'll be visiting a destination which is consistently ranked high by Conde' Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure. The islands are part of the San Juan Archipelago, which is split into two groups, the San Juan Islands, which are part of the state of Washington, and the Gulf Islands, which are part of British Columbia. While there are a number of named islands, the most popular are Lopez, Orcas, Shaw and San Juan Island. If you're into whale watching, the best time and place to spot Orcas is May through September at Lime Kiln Point State Park on the west side of San Juan Island.

      Mount Desert Island, ME

      Why is Mount Desert Island so special? Among other things, Mount Desert Island has consistently been voted one of the top islands in North America by Travel and Leisure and Conde' Nast Traveler magazine. There you'll find Acadia National Park and the town of Bar Harbor. There are many different types of accomodations on the Island, from the expensive and ritzy to camping spots with million-dollar views.

      Santa Fe, NM

      There are many reasons to go to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I go for the food. But, you might also enjoy the many galleries and the Native American jewelry you'll find. There's also a great deal of history in Santa Fe, as well as ancient ruins nearby. Take a side trip to Bandelier National Monument, 48 miles miles north of Santa Fe, where you can view Anasazi cliff dwellings. There are 70 miles of trails, so bring your hiking shoes.

      San Diego, CA

      A visit to San Diego provides something for everyone. Families with small children have LEGOLAND close by, and people of all ages will enjoy SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Old Town and, of course, the beaches. Take a side trip to Coronado Island and visit the Hotel del Coronado, a historic resort which has hosted numerous presidents. If you're in the mood to propose to your sweetheart, do it on a gondola in Coronado Bay at sunset.

      Asheville, NC

      Asheville, North Carolina is beginning to make it on many a travel-lover's radar. In fact, the Asheville area has been named a must-see destination by Frommer's in 2007. Attractions include the Biltmore Estate, which is not only America's largest home, but has also just been named one of the top 10 architectural wonders by the American Institute of Architects. Outside Magazine has also ranked Asheville as “Best Southern Town” in August, 2007. What makes Asheville a great destination includes its location near the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountain National Park, where you can hike, explore waterfalls, bike, fish, and just take in the beauty of the mountains. Asheville has also become quite the artists' community, with numerous art galleries and art events.

      Chicago, IL

      I never had a desire to visit Chicago until I did some research and found out all the many different things there are to do there. Stay within the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago. Here along North Michigan Avenue (and the streets that intersect) you have a mecca of shopping, dining and cultural experiences, with theaters, museums and galleries. When the weather's right, go relax and get some sun at one of Chicago's many beaches. One of the more popular beaches is Oak Street Beach at 1001 N. Lake Shore Dr. You'll find a wide, sandy beach for sunning, and a lakeside path for biking and running. Just north of Chicago is Illinois Beach State Park which you'll definitely want to visit. The beach features 6 1/2 miles of sandy shore along Lake Michigan.

      Boston, MA

      Don't just take it from me; Boston is one of the most popular cities in America to visit, receiving over 16 million visitors a year. Most tourists visit Boston between May and September, with the best weather in early to mid summer. What's the best way to see Boston? Start with one of the many different tours available, from walking tours to trolley tours to boat tours. My favorites include the Old Town Trolley Chocolate Tour and walking the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail which takes you to 16 historic sites, including the Paul Revere House. The Chocolate Tour? That's pretty self-explanatory. But, you can get more info at trolleytours.com. Sorry to say, but the chocolate tours are only available from January through April.

      I'm sure I missed some favorites on my "10 Best Places to Visit in the USA" list. If I missed yours, drop me a comment and let me know some of your favorites.

      Friday, April 11, 2008

      Hurry and Enter to Win a Vacation

      Time's running out to enter the $50,000 vacation to Florida sweepstakes put on by Family Circle and several other magazines. You have until April 15, 2008, which is also tax day. So, if you have to choose to do your taxes or enter this sweepstakes, what will you do:) Okay, okay, you'll do your taxes. The sweepstakes doesn't take that long to enter, so you can do that too.

      Anyway, if you win you and three guests will have use of a 9,000 sq. foot home in southerm Florida. Of course that comes with a private chef and housekeeper. Oh, and you'll get $20,000 to spend (which you'll have to claim on your taxes, don't you hate it?) So go and enter now before the deadline. Here are the links:

      www.familycircle.com/win

      www.bhg.com/win

      www.traditionalhome.com/win

      www.countryhome.com/win

      www.kitchenbathideas.com/win

      La Jolla California Getaway

      It's that time of year again. Time for a beach getaway! And, what beach getaway is one of my favorites?

      La Jolla, California.

      La Jolla is an upscale beach community located 12 miles north of downtown San Diego. Yes, it's often referred to as the "Beverly Hills" of San Diego, but don't let that turn you off. (Oh, it didn't? Sorry, just not that fond of Beverly Hills).

      La Jolla is more than just an upscale resort area to shop and eat. You can do those things, but you can do a whole lot more. My favorite: Relaxing and playing on the spectacular sandy beaches, like Windansea Beach, La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Beach, and La Jolla Shores.

      If you're into exploring, you'll want to take one of the tours offered by Hike Bike Kayak of San Diego. One of their more popular tours is the kayak tour of the well known La Jolla Sea Caves. Or, you can experience La Jolla from the air. The Torrey Pines Gliderport offers instruction on hang gliding, pargliding and sailplane flying. If you want just a taste of it, you can also sign up for one of their tandem flights with an instructor.

      As you might expect, you can find some pretty pricey hotels. But, you'd also be surprised at some of the more modest offerings in La Jolla, such as the La Jolla Village Lodge and the Travelodge La Jolla. FYI, the La Jolla Village Lodge is ranked higher in user surveys on TripAdvisor than Travelodge La Jolla. Don't know if that means anything to you or not. You'll find more hotels in our post on La Jolla lodging at

      http://vacation-getaway.blogspot.com/2007/07/best-hotels-in-la-jolla-california.html .

      We also have more information on La Jolla and the entire San Diego area on our website. Check out our pages on:

      San Diego Attractions

      San Diego Beach Vacations

      You really will find a great amount of things to do in La Jolla and nearby San Diego. But, at the end of the day, it's the sunsets you'll remember the most. I'm including this YouTube video on La Jolla sunsets just to give you a taste of what to expect. If the music's a bit much, you can just turn it down.

      Monday, April 07, 2008

      Magnificent Mile in Chicago

      Searching for a great place for a girlfriend's getaway? A spring vacation? A place to just shop till you drop? A place to go yachting in the morning and take in a great play at night? Then you must make it to Chicago's famed "Magnificent Mile." Magnificent Mile is the term used for a mile of North Michigan Avenue (and the streets that intersect) north of the Chicago River in downtown Chicago, with over 460 exclusive stores, 200 restaurants and a host of other cultural and recreational activities.

      What will you find along the Magnificent Mile? Well, besides the usual upscale suspects (Bloomindales, Saks, Nordstrom's, Cartier, Burberry, Armani and Nieman Marcus) you'll find such specialty clothing stores as Ermenegildo Zegna, Fogal of Switzerland, Luca Luca and Anne Fontaine. Not to mention something for the chocolate addicts: Lindt Chocolates and Vosges Haut Chocolat.

      You'll also find something for the pet you left back home at "Tails in The City," a pet boutique. You'll find everything from dog sweaters to gourmet dog treats. Surely Max (one of the most popular dog names, by the way) would love a carob peanut butter pie made just for him. Or maybe Fluffy would like little treats shaped like martini glasses. That way you two can toast your return.

      Magnificent Mile in Chicago also offers an antique store, 6 art galleries and too many museums to mention (and you'll get bored reading them and click out of my site, and I don't want that, right?) Okay, I'll list some of them: The Field Museum, John G. Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Contemporary Art and the International Museum of Surgical Science (seriously, you should check out their gift shop where you'll find "giant microbe plush toys" and the "Mr. Thrifty Skull with 8-Part Brain" model).

      If you're in the mood for a show, there are also numerous theaters to choose from. Now playing at the Drury Lane Water Tower is "Shout - the Mod Musical," which is a musical celebration of the 60s. "The Ballad of Emmett Till" is playing at the
      Goodman Theatre from April 26 - June 1. If you're into comedy there's also The Second City.

      The Magnificent Mile is also full of tour companies if you want sightseeing tours of Chicago, as well as boat charters for tours of Lake Michigan.

      Where to Stay Near Magnificent Mile

      Take your pick. You have choices within the Magnificent Mile area for all budgets, from the Holiday Inn to The Four Seasons to the Omni. We took a look at Frommers.com and found they gave 3 stars (the most they give) to several hotels in the Magnificent Mile: the Park Hyatt Chicago, Ritz-Carlton Chicago, and Four Seasons Hotel.

      For all you into quality and lower prices, they also gave 2 stars to a couple more moderately-priced hotels: The Tremont Hotel in Chicago and the Chicago City Center Hotel and Sport Club. For the lowest-priced hotel in the Magnificent Mile area, Frommer's suggest you go with the Red Roof Inn, which they say "is your best bet for the lowest-priced lodgings in downtown Chicago."

      Monday, March 31, 2008

      Win a Trip to Kissimmee, Florida

      Who wouldn't want to win a vacation to Kissimmee, Florida? Well, okay, maybe people who live in Kissimmee, Florida. But, if you're not one of those people, then listen up. Women's Day is sponsoring a sweepstakes with the grand prize of a 6-day/5-night Kissimmee vacation for four, which inlcludes the following:

      ..:: Lodging in a fully-furnished, two-bedroom, two-bath condominium at Parkway International Resort.

      ..:: Tickets for four (two adults, two children) for the following activities: one day at one Disney theme park of winner’s choice, golf at Falcon's Fire Golf Club including lunch, Gatorland, Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, Full Speed Race & Golf, Fun Spot Action Park, and Skycoaster of Florida.

      There is no purchase necessary, but you do have to be over 18 years of age to enter, as well as a legal resident of the 48 contiguous United States and Washington, D.C. If you are an employee of the sponser, Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., Inc., or are an immediate family member, you cannot enter.

      Your entry has to be received by the end of the day (Eastern Time) on April 25, 2008. Here's the good part. You can enter to win once per day at www.womansday.com/wdextras.

      Good luck! We list other vacation sweepstakes on this blog at: http://vacation-getaway.blogspot.com/search/label/win%20a%20vacation

      Monday, March 24, 2008

      Hot Air Balloon Ride Over California Wine Country

      I saw this YouTube video about hot air ballooning over the wine country of California and just had to put it on this site.

      Several years ago I tried to take a hot air balloon ride over Northern California wine country leaving out of Santa Rosa, but it was cancelled due to rainy weather. Later that year I did take a sunset hot air balloon ride outside of Del Mar in Southern California, which was absolutely gorgeous.

      For those of you who are leary of taking a hot air balloon ride, let me say that the one I took was very gentle. A little too gentle for me. I was kind of hoping for a bit of a thrilling ride. But, hot air balloon rides are actually really calm and peaceful. The views, though, are really nice.

      The ride I missed was a sunrise flight, while the one I took was a sunset flight. If you don't like getting up at an unGodly hour, then you may want to choose a place which allows for sunset flights.


      Wednesday, March 12, 2008

      Win a Mediterranean Cruise

      Have you always wanted to go on a Mediterranean cruise, but couldn't afford it? Then try winning a cruise! Holland America is having a sweepstakes, with the winner receiving a 10-day Holland America Line Mediterranean Enchantment Cruise for two aboard the MS Noordam departing in 2008. (If you're here looking for the Family Circle sweepstakes info, scroll down, you'll see my entry about that sweepstakes. Or, you can click this link: http://vacation-getaway.blogspot.com/2008/02/vacation-sweepstakes.html).

      The lucky winner may select any one of 6 HAL Mediterranean Enchantment cruise departures on the Noordam between May 9, 2008 and September 14, 2008, subject to availability at time of confirmation.

      This sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the United States, District of Columbia and Canada (with the exception of Quebec) who are 21 years of age or older, and who register to win by april 30, 2008. You can enter online, but you can only enter once, by going to www.requesthal.com/europe.

      The winner is responsible for non-discountable amounts and taxes (as those terms are used in the HAL brochure) before the tickets will be issued. The prize includes stateroom accommodations for 2 guests in the same stateroom and most shipboard meals. The cruise prize DOES NOT include airfare, ground transfers, shore excursions, hotel services charges, other onboard expenses, and applicable passport, visa and entry/exit fees. (Is it just me, or is Holland America cheap for not paying your airfare? Oh, well, a free cruise is still a nice way to spend a vacation).

      Oh, one odd thing about this sweepstakes is that if it's won by a Canadian, he or she will have to answer an unaided, time-limited math skills question by phone before he or she can claim the prize. So, if you're from Canada, enter then hone up on your math skills. Have no idea what the test is all about; have never seen such a requirement before.

      So, there you go all you cruise lovers. Go there now and enter.

      Monday, March 03, 2008

      Win a Trip to Santa Monica, California

      I know, I know, another vacation sweepstakes for you to enter. (see my previous entries of the Family circle sweeptakes and the Frommer's Sweepstakes). But, who knows, maybe you'll win a free trip, right?

      Okay, this one is for a trip to Santa Monica, California. Not that exciting for people who already live in Los Angeles, but a great trip for all the rest of you.

      This sweepstakes looks pretty cool, co-sponsored California Tourism and Conde' Nast Publications. Here's what you get if you win:

      **2 coach roundtrip airfare ticket/s from the winner’s primary residence in the U.S. to Los Angeles and 1 standard hotel room (double occupancy) for 2 nights at the Viceroy Santa Monica.

      **Dinner for 2 at Katsuya in Brentwood - not to exceed $300 (that's right, $300 dinner for 2)

      **2 tickets to the latest show at The Pantages, not to exceed $500

      **A private, 1-hr. yoga session for 2 at Maha Yoga

      **1 $500 American Express gift card for a Katharine McPhee–inspired shopping spree

      **Dinner for 2 at Il Ristorante de Giorgio Baldi, not to exceed $250.

      The sweepstake's open to U.S. and District of Columbia residents 18 and older. Now, here's how you enter. Go to www.visitcalifornia.com/vanityfair and enter. That's it. The sweepstakes ends on 4/30/08, so go there now to enter.

      Monday, February 25, 2008

      Enter to Win a Trip to Australia

      Hey, we have another vacation sweepstakes to tell you about, with an opportunity to win a trip to Brisbane, Australia. This one does end on March 8, 2008, but you can enter once a day, so you have the opportunity to put in a few entries before the end of the sweepstakes. And, you never know...

      The sweepstake's winner will receive a four-night getaway for him/herself and a friend, and includes roundtrip economy class tickets from the US to Brisbane on Qantas, plus 2 nights accommodations at Mantra Circle on Cavill, Surfers Paradise, then 2 nights at Mantra Mooloolaba.

      The sweepstakes is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States (and the District of Columbia) and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are at least 18 years of age. The sweepstakes ends at 11:50 p.m. ET, February 29, 2008, so go to www.frommers.com/register and follow the links to register.

      Now, I'm a big believer in sweepstakes, having won several in my life. You may not win, but you definitely won't win if you don't enter. Australia can be an expensive place for Americans to visit, so if you can visit for free, take the chance. It doesn't cost anything.

      Thursday, February 14, 2008

      Vacation Sweepstakes

      How would you like to win a vacation to Florida? I just opened up a copy of "Family Circle" and found this vacation sweepstakes you might like to enter. If you win you will get the use of a 9,000 sq. foot home in southerm Florida for you and three guests for 5 nights, complete with a private chef, chauffeured limo airport service and a housekeeper. The home has over an acre of gardens, with multi-level pools. On top of all that you'll get $20,000 to spend. The whole thing's worth $50,000, so you will have to think about that for taxes (yes, I think about those things).

      Anyway, go on over to www.familycircle.com/win and enter. Good luck! Oh, and entries have to be received by the end of the day (Eastern Standard Time) on April 15, 2008)

      You can also enter at:

      www.bhg.com/win

      www.traditionalhome.com/win

      www.countryhome.com/win

      www.kitchenbathideas.com/win

      Thursday, February 07, 2008

      Bodie Ghost Town in California

      Are you into ghost towns? If you are you must, absolutely must
      make it on over to Bodie State Historical Park, located northeast
      of Yosemite, 13 miles east of Highway 395 on Bodie Road.

      I haven't thought about Bodie for awhile, but when I saw a
      question posed in my Squidoo Group (my Squidoo lens is, by the
      way, http://www.squidoo.com/thingstodoinlosangeles ) about your
      best travel experience in California, I immediately thought of
      Bodie.

      Bodie is one of the largest, and certainly most preserved, ghost
      town in America. It's kept in a state of "arrested decay,"
      meaning it won't deteriorate any further. There are numerous
      streets with buildings as they were when they were deserted; you
      can look inside and see things left as they were. Really
      fascinating, and a little spooky. Some say it's haunted.

      The streets go into the hills, so it's weird to look up at the
      buildings on the hillsides in the distance and know they too sit
      abandoned. There are also a couple cemetaries on the outskirts
      of town. The last time I visited there were fresh flowers on
      some of the graves.

      When you visit be prepared to walk. It can get windy at times,
      which just adds to the surrealness of it all, as the wind howls
      through the deserted, haunted (again, some say) town.

      Bodie was a booming gold mining town at one time. And it had a
      reputation of being a mean town. Really mean. How mean? There
      is this famous quote by a little girl in her diary after learning
      her family was moving to Bodie. She wrote: "Goodbye God, I'm
      going to Bodie." And so should everyone. It's a great visit.

      The town is open all year round, from 8AM to 7PM in the time
      between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and from 9AM to 4PM the rest
      of the year.

      Found this great YouTube video about Bodie. It focuses mostly on
      the haunted side of Bodie, but you get a good idea of the town by
      watching it. Enjoy.

      Thursday, January 31, 2008

      Most Romantic Weekend Getaways

      Anytime's a good time for a romantic getaway. But, with Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's an even better time.

      What are the most romantic weekend getaways?

      How about Whidbey Island, Washington, or Lovers Key, Florida? These two destinations are on the list of "Top 10 Romantic Retreats" by Coastal Living Magazine.

      And, do you know what the "Most Romantic B & B" in America is? Well, according to BedandBreakfast.com, that would be:

      Mount Victoria Bed & Breakfast Inn
      28 Fairmount St.
      Eureka Springs, Arkansas

      What about the most romantic hotel? According to Mobile Guides that would be The Point at Saranac Lake in New York.

      These are must a few of the most romantic weekend getaways you and your sweetheart might consider. Want more? Go to our website page at Romantic Vacation Getaways. Enjoy.

      Wednesday, January 30, 2008

      Pacific Grove Getaway

      Looking for an interesting California getaway? Try whale watching. A whale watching tour can add excitement to any California getaway.

      One place you might consider is California's Monterey Bay area. Monterey Bay is situated near the mid-section of California's coastline. The bay not only has a shallow shelf by the shore, it also has an enormous and deep submarine canyon. These extremes in habitats permit a large variety of marine creatures to live there.

      The entire Gray Whale population migrates past the Monterey coastline every winter and spring, and are present off Monterey from mid-December through mid-May. This time is also perfect for spotting several species of dolphins and porpoise, as well as sea lions, sea otters and harbor seals.

      To ensure a pleasant trip, do be sure to dress in several layers of warm clothes as it can be pretty windy and chilly on the ocean.

      There are certainly plenty of places to stay in the Monterey Bay area, but I prefer to stay in Pacific Grove, which is a little quieter and less touristy than neighboring Monterey, yet close enough to enjoy all that Montery Bay has to offer, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Point Lobos State Reserve and Fisherman's Wharf.

      Another reason to stay in Pacific Grove is for a chance to see the Monarch butterflies. You see, whales aren't the only creatures you can spot migrating. The beautiful Monarch butterflies migrate to Pacific Grove from October until March, so if you schedude your getaway from January through March, you can witness grey whales in addition to Monarch butterflies. That's right, a 2fer. Oh, and yes, Pebble Beach is nearby too.

      Where might you stay in Pacific Grove? One place to consider is the Martine Inn, a 24-room villa built in 1890 that Bon Appetit magazine has considered "one of the best B&B’s in historic homes." The Martine Inn offers authentic Victorian-era antiques, with some rooms boasting fireplaces, claw foot tubs and Bay views. And, it's only 3 blocks from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

      Monday, January 28, 2008

      Fun Stuff to do in Arizona

      I just had a couple friends go to Phoenix for a week getaway and they wanted to know of some fun stuff to do in Arizona. There's plenty to do, but here are my "Top 5 things to do in Arizona," all of which can be done on a day trip from Phoenix. (Oh, and you'll want to read the end of this post as I just added some fun stuff to do in Phoenix this June and July):

      1. Visit the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 North Kinney Road, in Tucson. It's really a fabulous place, with a zoo, living desert museum and botanical garden. You'll walk a lot, so wear good shoes.

      2. Hike South Mountain Park in Phoenix. You'll love the view of Phoenix at the summit.

      3. Visit Sedona. Sedona's only a couple hours north of Phoenix, and certainly worth the drive. If you love hiking, then you'll want to hike Boynton Canyon in western Sedona.

      4. Visit Oak Creek Canyon. Oak Creek Canyon's really part of your Sedona visit, but it's so special that you may want to just devote a day to visit the creek.

      5. Visit the Heard Museum, 2301 N. Central Avenue, which has a fabulous collection of Native American art and artifacts.

      Tuesday, January 22, 2008

      Last Minute Getaway Deal to Mexico

      I have a link here which will save you $75 off a getaway package to Mexico. The code is valid through 11:59 PM, March 31, 2008.




      Where might you want to go on your Mexico getaway? How about Cancun? With its blue lagoons and sandy beaches, it will help banish those winter blaahs. Stop shoveling snow and start building sand castles!

      If you do decide to take a Cancun getaway, be sure to tear yourself away from the beach and head to downtown Cancun for some authentic Mexican food and flea market shopping.

      If you're into tequilla, you'll also want to do some tequilla tasting while you're there. And, by tasting, I mean tasting, not slugging it down. When you go on a tequilla tasting in Mexico it's like sampling wine, you savor the taste and all the time it took to achieve that wonderful taste.

      A great place to sample tequilla is La Destileria. Here you'll find over 100 kinds of tequilla. Ask the concierge at your hotel and you'll be pointed in the right direction.

      Saturday, January 12, 2008

      Australia Travel Destinations

      It may be winter in the Northern Hemisphere, but in Australia, it's still summer, which means it's the perfect travel destination for those of you wanting some sun and fun.

      What Australia travel destinations are a perfect fit for you? Of course there's the Gold Coast and Sydney, but did you know that Victoria has some of the finest sightseeing in all of Australia? Go for the wine country, but do plan on staying for a glimpse of a Fairy Penguin on Phillip Island. We have more information for you at our Top Vacation Spots website, so if you're interested in all that Australia has to offer you, go to Australia Travel Destinations.