Travel Advice: Thanksgiving Vacation Tips

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14
Nov

The Thanksgiving holiday is a special time of year to give thanks and spend time with family. Whether traveling to an adjacent state or across the United States to celebrate the holiday, here are a few vacation tips that you may find helpful for easier holiday traveling, especially while traveling for a vacation over Thanksgiving.

Planning

Planning ahead for Thanksgiving travel is a huge indicator in cost difference for your vacation. Early fall and the first two weeks of October are the best time to buy airline tickets because more seats are available (due to many people not yet booking flights) and rates are lower. The same goes for hotel, rental car, airport parking lot and attraction bookings.

Planning ahead also allows for price comparison and avoidance of peak holiday travel days. The peak days are the Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving. Traveling on the actual holiday or celebrating a week after or before Thanksgiving allows for avoidance of crammed airports and roadways as well as fully booked hotels. Airlines also provide costs lowered by roughly 30% for travelers who travel the week before or after Thanksgiving. Avoid peak days to save in sanity and stress during your Thanksgiving travels.

Flight

During the Thanksgiving holiday traveling season we recommend using lesser known airports. In Chicago, many people travel through O’Hare but the Midway airport is less crowded and more convenient for many people, similarly using the Long Beach Airport for traveling to or from the Los Angeles or Anaheim areas saves on costs and time compared to the busier and better known LAX airport.  These airports have smaller security lines, faster boarding, less delays and smaller costs compared to traveling through larger airports within the same areas. 

Another plus of using lesser known airports is that there is less traffic in the routes to the airports and in the drop off lanes. If you are planning on driving yourself to the airport, we recommend making an early reservation for airport parking lots. During the Thanksgiving traveling season, many parking lots fill up fast and by reserving a spot early you can prevent costly fees and time looking for a place to park. If at all possible use public transportation or have a friend take you to the airport. This eliminates parking fees and stress about leaving your car for a long period of time in an unknown place.

Through traveling light, you can save time in airport security and save costs by not having to check baggage. Larger items that can be shipped, such as gifts, should be sent on ahead to prevent large unnecessary traveling items.  If you must take gifts with you on your Thanksgiving travels, do not wrap them until you’ve arrived at your destination to prevent TSA problems. Also bear in mind the TSA regulations on containers with liquid, food and other items.

And as with any traveling, remember your ID and leave early for airports or long drives to prevent delays. When flying, print out your boarding pass at home so you may head straight to security when arriving at the airport. When driving, be sure to map out your drive and be aware of construction, high traffic and delay filled areas.

Roadways

Along with knowing possible problem areas on your preferred driving route, it is important to avoid heavy traveling days. As discussed above, avoid traveling during the evening on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after the holiday. These days are filled with holiday drivers and carry increased accident rates. These accident rates can also be increased by road conditions, so be sure to become aware of the road conditions along your driving route while preparing for all possibilities. Have snacks, drinks and emergency items within your car along with pillows, blankets, jumper cables, tire chains and other possible necessary car tools.

It is wise to carry emergency car items, but to also have your car checked before traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. This provides peace-of-mind for you as travel and ensures you will reach your destination safely.

Thanksgiving Vacationing

By planning ahead and using common sense while traveling for the Thanksgiving holidays, you can save money and your sanity during this family oriented vacation season.

Category : 2012 | Travel Blog | Blog
7
Nov

One of the best things about traveling is the opportunity to taste the destination’s culture through the wonderful world of food. Throughout the United States, there are a few cities and regions that are known for their spectacular food, moreover their soups. The northern states are known for their fantastic potato soups, and the South for their seafood gumbos. The East Coast boasts their clam chowder and the Southwest raves about their tortilla soups. And to the rainy Northwest, not unlike the East Coast, they have chowder as their staple soup. Within these regions there are few standout restaurants that serve the best regional soup and attract foodies from all over the country.

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To the North

For those looking to experience the best potato soup you can find towards the north, Chicago is the place to go. Many of the northern states are known for having amazing potato soups but the Sweet Potato Soup found at Macku Sushi in Chicago is the soup to beat all others. Served at eight dollars a bowl, this soup has a sweet combination of lobster broth, black tiger shrimp, chives and pureed sweet potatoes.

In the South

The South is known for its wonderful and almost exotic tasting food and many travel to the South to experience the delights of gumbo. The best gumbo of the South can be found at Mr. B’s Bistro in New Orleans at six dollars and seventy five cents a bowl. This Seafood Gumbo is a classic gumbo served with a wonderful blend of gulf shrimp, okra, crabmeat, and oysters.

On the East Coast

Clam Chowder is a common soup but along the East Coast, clam chowder is a way of life. Of course the best New England clam chowder is found in Boston at a restaurant called the Atlantic Fish Company. New Englanders and tourists travel for miles to taste the award winning New England Clam Chowder soup dished up in a bread bowl at seven dollars a serving.

Towards Southwest

The desert Southwest is home to Poco and Mom’s restaurant in Tucson Arizona and their famous Chicken Tortilla Soup. Served at five dollars and twenty five cents a bowl, this mouthwatering delight is topped with guacamole, sour cream and sweet southwest melted cheddar cheese. This soup is a local favorite and icon of southwest flavor.

In the Northwest

Much like the East Coast, the Northwest is known to serve chowder in all of their restaurants. Combating the rainy weather and cloudy skies, local Seattle natives partake in eating clam chowder from a restaurant called Pike Place Chowder. Pike’s chowder won the “Nation’s Best” at the Rhode Island Great Chowder Cook-off with their New England Clam Chowder served at seven dollars and forty five cents a bowl. A special bland of herbs and spices mixes with hearty pacific clams, bacon and cream creating this perfect Northwest soup.

No matter where you are in the United States, these five soups and the amazing cities they are from are worth traveling to. Taste the flavors of the Southwest, the Northwest, the North, the East Coast and the South in these amazing and savory soups.

Category : 2012 | Blog
11
Sep

Who doesn’t love a steaming hot slice of tomatoey, cheesy, delicious pizza? Pizza was brought to the United States by Italian immigrants in the late 19th century, and since then Americans’ love affair with this dish has only grown with whole legions of fans devoted to geographically-specific pizza varieties.

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If you’re searching for the best place to grab a pie in the U.S., here’s a list of some of our favorite towns and cities for pizza goodness:

New Haven

New Haven-style pizza, or “apizza” as it’s known locally, is so good that Frank Sinatra used to send a driver from New York (which itself has no shortage of famous pizzerias) to this Connecticut city whenever he had a pizza craving. New Haven pizza is unlike any other pizza out there—it is brick-oven baked and comes topped with garlic, oregano, tomato sauce, and hard cheeses like pecorino romano (mozzarella is considered a topping—you have to ask for it you want it).

People are sharply divided as to whether Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana (Pepe’s) or Sally’s Apizza (Sally’s) serves the best pie, so you’ll just have to try them both to find out for yourself. Be sure to check out the white clam pie—it’s a local favorite that’s made with fresh little neck clams and grated cheese.

Miami Beach

A good case for the best place to get authentic Italian pizza anywhere can be made for Miami Beach. While this burg is better known for its party atmosphere, there are several great restaurants here that serve incredibly delicious Italian fare.

Piola on Alton Road serves up genuine thin-crust pizza like no other. Choose the toppings you want or go for a classic Neapolitan. While you’re there, order up a Sgroppino—an Italian cocktail and the house’s specialty drink. Spris is another favorite for thin-crust lovers with pizza that’s made in a wood-burning oven.

Old Forge, PA

This small town in Lackawanna County is the self-proclaimed Pizza Capital of the World. With a population of a little over 8000 people, Old Forge is home to at least 20 different pizza cafés (as they’re called locally), which makes it a serious contender for most pizza per capita.

The town is famous for a pizza style called “white” pizza that is essentially a rectangular, double-crust pizza that’s stuff with a blend of soft cheeses and topped with rosemary and olive oil. There are variants on this theme, of course—“red” pizza starts out with inch-thick dough and is topped with tomato sauce and a blend of American, Provolone, Monterrey Jack, and Scamorza cheeses.

Trenton, NJ

You won’t find pizza in Trenton, but you will find “tomato pies.” What’s a tomato pie you ask? Most pizzas are made with crust first, then tomato sauce, then cheese, then toppings. In Trenton, they like to put their cheese directly on the crust, then toppings, and only then, the tomato sauce.

Two of the best places to go for tomato pie are two restaurants named De Lorenzo—one on Hudson Street and the other on Hamilton Avenue. Which is better? Again, there are strong opinions on either side of this pizza debate—De Lorenzo on Hamilton has crisper crust, while Hudson’s is thinner and smokier in flavor.

Seattle

Seattle-ites may be better-known for their love of coffee, but that doesn’t mean they can’t put away a pizza when the occasion arises. In fact, foodies looking for A LOT of pizza, can find a little slice of heaven in this city. Local favorite Talarico’s offers up tasty pies for extremely hungry customers—their slices are 14 inches long (for those of you keeping track at home, that’s longer than most people’s forearms) and topped with delicious things like kalamata olives and goat cheese in addition to the standard fare.

If that’s not enough pizza for you, you can always take on the “28-inch” challenge where you and a friend must chow down on an entire 28-inch pie (find a great one at Seattle’s Ballroom Bar) in under an hour. It’s not an easy feat, to say the least.

Detroit

Detroit pizza is rectangular and more Sicilian in nature than other pizza styles. Its crust is deep-dish thick and slightly chewy in texture. Like Trenton, many Detroit pizzerias like to put the sauce on top. Many of the best-known American pizza chains got their start in this part of Michigan, including Little Caesars and Domino’s.

For a taste of real Detroit pizza, go to Buddy’s Pizza (there are locations all around the city) to try their award-winning “square” pizza. The Green Lantern Lounge serves both deep and flat dish pizza with a variety of usual and unusual toppings.

New York City

How could we create a best-pizza-city list without including the most famous location to get pizza outside of Italy—New York City? NYC is home to a reported 3000 pizzerias, most of which serve up the city’s famous thin crust style favorite.

Lombardi’s Pizza is arguably the most famous—it was opened by an Italian immigrant in 1905, thus earning it the title “America’s First Pizzeria.” The fact that this place has been in business for more than 100 years should tell you something about the pizza—delicious. Be prepared to wait to get in, though, this New York favorite is always full.

Chicago

The debate over whether New York City- or Chicago-style should hold top honors for most delicious pizza is still raging among pizza lovers, so it’s only natural that Chicago should earn a spot on this list. We’re not playing favorites, though. The Windy City’s deep-crust style pizza is seriously good eating.

If you’re traveling to Chicago for the pizza, check out Lou Malnati’s. It has more than 30 locations in and around the city, but for good reason—their Chicago Classic is the quintessential deep dish that everyone should try. The Art of Pizza on Ashland Avenue has a seriously good stuffed pizza and a wide variety of toppings and is worth a visit.

Where would you travel for the best pizza?

Category : 2012 | Travel Blog | Blog
7
Aug

No matter what season you visit New York, the city that never sleeps has something a little different to offer. In the Summer you’ll enjoy free events, concerts, baseball games and an exciting nightlife. Fall in New York offers visitors cooler temperatures, fall foliage, sporting events and fewer crowds. Winter in New York is a magical wonderland with an unmatched holiday cheer and Spring gives visitors a chance to enjoy the outdoors without dealing with the heat. Here’s a look at how to map out your New York vacation for any season:

Summer

Summertime and the living is easy in New York. With so many free activities and concerts it’s quite possible to visit New York City on a shoestring budget.

  • Central Park Summerstage Concert Guide: This series features different music events, dance and spoken words performances throughout the summer. The park is an outdoor venue located at Rumsey Playfield. For more information visit: http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage/
  • 2012 Bryans Park Movie Schedule: Bring your blankets and enjoy movies on a giant screen on Mondays from June- August. Films begin at sunset, between 8-9p.m. but you can claim your spot at early as 5 p.m. For more information, call: 212-512-5700.
  • Beaches: Escape the heat of the city and head to a popular beach like Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach Park or Breezy Point Beach.


Fall

As temperatures drop and leaves start to change, Fall is one of the best times to visit New York City. Crowds leave and you have a good chance of finding a deal on a cheap hotel.

  • San Gennaro Festival in Little Italy: This festival is worth planning a trip around. From Sept. 13-23, 2012 you’ll enjoy a little glimpse into Italian life in one of the most preserved parts of New York: Little Italy. Enjoy traditional Italian foods like tiramisu, gelato and sausage and peppers. For more information visit: www.sangennaro.org/
  • NY Marathon: Even if you don’t compete in the marathon, the first Sunday in November is fun for both fans and participants.
  • Pizza Tours: Fall is the best time to enjoy a delicious hot piece of New York pizza, or five. There are several Pizza tours around the city, including Scotts Pizza tour which goes to Brooklyn, Greenwich Village and even has a bus tour.


Winter

Winter in New York is a magical time to visit the top tourist spots in New York. Remember to bundle up because the wind and cold temperatures will get you.

  • Ice Skate at Rockefeller Center: The Rockefeller center ice rink is in the middle of all the action and is a quintessential NYC winter experience. Adult admission is typically $10-19 and children are $7.50-12.50, not including skate rentals. An added bonus is that you’ll see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree from a whole new angle.
  • Broadway Shows: Broadway plays or musicals like the Christmas Story will add to your New York experience.
  • Times Square: Visiting Times Square to experience the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps.
  • Holiday Windows: Department stores like Lord & Taylor, Barneys, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Ave., all put beautiful displays in their windows that aren’t to be missed. You can also go inside for some holiday shopping!


Spring

As the winter turns warm again, Spring time in New York brings a new energy and life to the city.

  • Guided Tours: Some popular guided New York Tours include bike tours, food tours, walking tours and bus tours. You have a chance to learn interesting tid-bits about the city. For a list of fun tours visit: http://gonyc.about.com/od/toursbr/tp/best_nyc_walking_tours.htm
  • Fleet Week: On May 23-30, visitors can see extensive military demonstrations and tour some of the visiting ships. Since 1984, New York City has held Fleet Week to honor the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

After you pick a season, mapping out the perfect New York City Vacation should be easy. Know that no matter what time of the year you go, there will always be something to do.

What’s your favorite season to visit New York?

Category : 2012 | Travel Blog | Blog
31
Jul

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The Story of the Seattle Space Needle

One of the most striking architectural accomplishments in the western United States is the Space Needle in Seattle. Originally inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany, Edward E. Carlson first sketched out his version for the 1962 World’s Fair on a napkin. Of course, since it’s hard to get all the necessary details out of a napkin, an architect, John Graham, changed the original “tethered balloon” appearance to the flying saucer that has become so famous.

The Space Needle stands 605 feet tall and was built for just $4.5 million. In the year 2000, though, another $20 million was spent on revitalizing the tower. This included the pavilion level, the SpaceBase retail store, the SkyCity restaurant, and much more. The support for all this runs pretty deep, and the foundations go 30 feet down and 120 feet across. All together it weighs 5,850 tons, which is more than the above-ground portion of the Space Needle. This, however, is one of the reasons why the tower can stand up to a wind velocity of 200 MPH.

Category : 2012 | Travel Blog | Blog