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nov 30 2015

Holiday Festivals Worth Traveling To

Think your New Year's Eve party rocks? You haven't really rung in the New Year till you've sung "Auld Lang Syne" at Edinburgh's super-rowdie Hogmanay, a three-day festival that culminates with a jump in the icy River Forth!

(Robbie Shade/Wikimedia Commons)

My buddy Rick Crandall, host of KEZW's "Boomtown" radio show in Denver, recently asked me to share my favorite holiday festivals and events with his audience. His inspiring question led me to compile a short "2015 holiday bucket list" of sorts. I heartily recommend that you incorporate at least one of these unique traditions into your holiday plans!

nov 18 2015

Insider Tips for Enjoying the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Kermit the Frog balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in New York City
(Courtesy Macy's)

Budget Travel is based in New York City, and we get just as swept up in the city’s holiday lights, music, and energy as any visitor. With the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade coming up, we decided to take a peek behind the scenes to provide you with some of the best advice for getting the most out of this annual extravaganza. Here, the best insider intel from Bill Schermerhorn, vice president of creative for annual events at Macy’s.

nov 06 2015

The Rockefeller Center Tree Arrived Today!

This 10-ton, 78-foot Norway Spruce made a dramatic entrance at NYC's Rockefeller Center this morning after an 80-mile journey from Gardiner, NY.

(Robert Firpo-Cappiello)

Budget Travel was on the scene as this year's Rockefeller Center holiday tree made an impressive arrival in NYC this morning!

Actually, I happened to be at 30 Rock for Budget Travel's AMHQ segment, "Take Control of Weather-Related Travel Delays." But as a native New Yorker who grew up visiting Rockefeller Center as a little boy (my dad worked for NBC TV), it was a thrill to see the freshly cut behemoth up close like this.

oct 27 2015

Hop on This Amtrak Flash Sale Now!

(Courtesy Amtrak)

My favorite way to explore the Northeast (where I live and work) is by train. For my money, there’s a convenience, comfort, and, yeah, even romance to riding the rails.

Some of the most delightful East Coast adventures I’ve had started out by boarding an Amtrak train in New York City’s Pennsylvania Station (which everbody here calls “Penn”) and riding down to Baltimore to visit my cousins, explore the Inner Harbor, the aquarium, and discover one of the tastiest Little Italy neighborhoods I’ve ever eaten in. (And, in case your wondering, my cousins frequently ride up to NYC for holiday window-shopping, skating in Bryant Park, and the other myriad possibilities my native city offers visitors.)

oct 21 2015

Back to the Future Day Travel Deals

Back to the Future movie

Catch a free ride in a DeLorean on Back to the Future Day, among other cool travel deals.

(Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection)

Today, the red-letter day of October 21, 2015, you're going to see some serious stuff in the travel world, from free DeLorean rides to 1985-era hotel prices, in honor of Back to the Future Day, the precise day that Marty McFly, Doc Brown, and Jennifer Parker zoom to in Back to the Future Part II—30 years after 1985. Yep, it's finally here!

oct 09 2015

Fall Festivals Worth Traveling To

The Mendocino Mushroom, Wine & Beer Festival is a countywide celebration in early November, including mushroom dinners, winemaker dinners, and brewmaster dinners, among other delicious events.

(Courtesy Mendocino Mushroom, Beer & Wine Festival)

Celebrating America’s best food, wine, beer, and music, amazing fall festivals are happening over the next few weeks. Here, a look at some of the best!

NEW YORK CITY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL happens next weekend, October 15 through 18, with a wide variety of price points from downright indulgent to stylish steals. All proceeds benefitting Food Bank for New York City and No Kid Hungry. Amazing demonstrations and food and wine tastings at NYC’s Piers 92 and 94, with celebs like Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray, Mario Batali, and Emeril Lagasse hosting events.  You have never tasted anything like this concentration of culinary talent all in one place! It’s a foodie convention like no other! We’re especially excited about the “under $100” events, starting at just $20, which include panel discussions and hands-on classes on Italian cooking, making jam, wine-tasting, home-brewing beer, and cocktail mixology.

sep 30 2015

Fall Weekend Getaways Your Kids Will Love, Too


Take the kids to Colonial Williamsburg this fall. They'll love it!

(Courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

This article was written by Hallie Lavine and originally appeared on Yahoo Travel.

Now that school’s back in session you can breathe a sigh of relief—and contemplate how to keep the rug rats entertained over long weekends and mini breaks. We’re here to help. These are 10 awesome autumn excursions guaranteed to be educational and fun (for the whole family!).

Historical Boston

Even if your kid detests history class, he or she will be enthralled by the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile, red brick road that takes you past historic churches, burial grounds, and even Paul Revere’s house so you can learn the story of the American Revolution and beyond. You can explore on your own, or you can take a 90 minute tour led by 18th century costumed guides. (For the easily bored, there’s a Pirates and Patriots version and also a Pub Crawl version.) Tickets are just $12 for adults, $6.50 for children. Once that’s over, it’s a quick walk to the Boston Tea Party Museum, a floating museum that has live actors and interactive exhibits (including allowing your little ones to toss tea into the harbor). Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for children. If your kids are yearning for more historical re-enactments, drive an hour out of the city for an overnight getaway at Sturbridge Village, an 1830s New England living history museum. Tickets are $24 for adults, $10 for kids. Otherwise, consider the whale watch at the New England Aquarium. You’ll have to shell out a tad more dough at $49 for adults, $33 for children ages 3-11. Or check out the many interactive exhibits at the Boston Children’s Museum. It’s $16 for all ages. 

Related: Get Your Kids Ready for School: Amazing Educational Trips

Family space camp

Does your little guy pretend to be Buzz Lightyear? Consider booking the whole family at U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. You’ll go on simulated mission training and operations, learn how rockets are constructed, and get a crash course in on-site space history. One highlight: the 1/6th gravity chair, which simulates walking on the Moon, and the Manned Maneuvering Unit, which simulates astronaut spacewalks outside the shuttle. The jaunt will cost you $449 per person for three days, $499 per person for four days, with meals and lodging included.

Colonial Williamsburg

There’s no shortage of educational opportunities at this living history museum and historic district, which includes Revolutionary War reenactments, hands on opportunities at brick-making and digging for artifacts, and even dressing up as soldiers or undercover Colonial spies. You can easily spend two days here, then head over to historic Jamestown, which recreates life in the 1607 settlement, or visit one of the three plantations. Seven-day ticket pass for all is $89 for adults and $41 for kids. Balance it out with a day at nearby theme park Busch Gardens, where your littles can participate in the Animal Ambassador program and learn about the lives of critters ranging from eagles to wolves and foxes.  

Sleepover at the Smithsonian

Bring your sleeping bag and flashlight and head over to one of three Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian museums—American History Museum, National History Museum, or the National Portrait Gallery—for an evening of entertainment that includes a nocturnal tour, craft activities, and various educational games. At night’s end, you “camp out” in the museum. The cost? $135 per person for kids ages 8-12. The next day, check out the National Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the National Zoo, where you can say hi to three world famous pandas and stop by the Kid’s Farm, where children can groom donkeys, goats, alpacas, and hogs.

Related: Tuck in Your Favorite Animals at These Zoo Sleepovers

Digging for dinosaur bones

The casino capital of the world also gives a great glimpse of what life was like when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The Las Vegas Natural History Museum boasts a prehistoric life gallery of critters who once roamed the Nevada deserts, including a 35-foot-long Tyrannosaurus Rex that lowers its head and roars, a Triceratops, Ankylosaur, and the giant marine reptile, ichthyosaur. The Nevada state museum offers a Dino summer special through September 20, which features an animatronic Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops, a Jurassic Park-style jeep journey through a virtual dinosaur world, and the opportunity to dig up life-sized dinosaur bones. Then hop in a car and drive either to Red Rock Canyon for a hike to check out fossilized Dinosaur tracks, or to Tule Springs to see Ice Age fossil beds—both are less than 20 miles away. Finish up with a visit to the Historical Techatticup Mine, the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada and a 45 minute drive from Vegas. ($12.50 for adults, $7.50 for kids.)

Related: Dino Digs, Museums, and More: 10 Places to Get Your Paleo On

Maritime adventures

Head straight to sea with tickets to San Diego’s USS Midway Museum ($20 adults, $10 kids), a floating city that allows you to walk in the footsteps of 225,000 Midway sailors who served our country. Highlights include over 60 interactive exhibits, like playing on flight simulators and climbing aboard aircraft. Then head on over to the Maritime Museum ($16 adults, $8 children) which includes kid-friendly, seafaring-inspired exhibits. It has one of the world’s biggest collection of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship the Star of India, as well as educational excursions such as whale watching. Other non-nautical city highlights: animatronic dinosaurs at TheNAT San Diego Natural History Museum, hands-on science exhibits at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and the San Diego Air & Space Museum, where kids can dress up as astronauts.

Connor Prairie

This interactive history park in Indiana ($16 adults, $11 kids) is a recreated 19th-century village on 200 acres. Among its highlights: an autumn headless Horseman ride, Civil War re-enactments, classes in blacksmithing, hearth cooking, and an “Indian camp” where you can recreate living like as Native Americas did 200 years ago. Once you’ve had your fill, drive to the Indiana Transportation Museum and take a spin on one of the vintage railroad trains, or the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis.

Corning Museum of Glass

A perfect East Coast weekend getaway, this museum, located in Corning, New York, in the Finger Lake region upstate, allows your kids to explore 3,500 years of glassmaking history while watching glass come to life during hot-glass demos. They’ll then make their own glass creations from ornaments to night lights. Cost: $18 for kids and adults. Afterwards, since you’re right in the neighborhood, you can pop into the Norman Rockwell Museum, or, if your kids are tuckered out, wake them back up with an invigorating hike on the Haunted History Trail or an apple-tasting tour.

Fun with sea turtles

Nesting season for sea turtles in Florida is May through October, so if you’re planning a trip to the Sunshine State this fall, your kids will love some close-up encounters with these critters. The Little Loggerhead Package at Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa includes a visit to see the sea turtles at Loggerhead Marinelife Center, while adventurous kids over age 10 can search for turtles and other marine life with the Beginners Dive Package. Acqualina Resort and Spa in Miami offers Acquamarine, a complimentary, marine biology-inspired program for kids which also includes a sea-turtle-based outreach program during the summer and early fall. But if you’re planning a Florida trip after sea turtle season, don’t fret: Acqualina offers its sea learning program all year round, while other hotels such as the Ritz Carlton in Naples has a Nature’s Wonders camp, led by a professional conservationist and featuring 11 aquariums with sharks, crabs, turtles, and eels, as well as a kid-sized lab with microscopes for budding marine biologists. All these programs are stimulating enough that you won’t feel guilty about taking some alone time to lounge poolside.

Safari at Grand Teton National Park

You don’t have to schlep your entire crew to Africa to give your kids the educational experience of a safari. Instead, book a morning or all-day trip through the nonprofit Wildlife Expeditions in Jackson, Wyoming, which offers an introduction to the wildlife of Grand Teton National Park, part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Trained biologists will point out the best viewing spots for Park critters such as elk, moose, big horn sheep, bison, mule deer, foxes, and eagles (You may even be able to see wolves hunting during the winter months!) and give your kids a crash course in ecology and animal behavior. Then, explore on your own with your kids through the park’s Junior Ranger program, where you learn about the natural world of the park on an easy 2-mile hike with a ranger. Resorts like Hotel Terra also offer in-house naturalists who can also organize smaller wildlife safaris or take your family on a nighttime stargazing tour.

sep 22 2015

5 Blissful Spa Week Escapes You Can Actually Afford

Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Relax at the spa and admire the scenery afterward during Spa Week in locations across the country, including Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

(Courtesy nancyb926/myBudgetTravel)

At BT, we love indulging in affordable spas when we travel. If you do too, now is a great time to take that relaxing spa vacation you've been dreaming about: October 12–18 is Spa Week, a magical time when mega-expensive treatments—think fancy pumpkin facials and soothing Swedish massages—are offered at deep discounts at luxe spas across the country. Most services are just $50.

sep 17 2015

Leaf-Peeping Escapes from NYC!

As lovely as New England's forests and charming small towns are in autumn, the region has not cornered the market on fall foliage. A short road trip or train ride away, the NYC metro area has colors as vibrant as anyplace in America. I shared these four "weekend escapes" with PIX11 Morning News co-host Sukanya Krishnan today:

Sleepy Hollow, NY: Yes, that Sleepy Hollow! Trace the ride of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman through the blazing autumn finery of Rockefeller State Park Preserve, take a lantern-light cemetery tour (if you dare), tour Historic Hudson Valley sites such as Washington Irving's Sunnyside and Philipsburg Manor along the river, and chow down at one of the outstanding nearby eateries in Tarrytown.

Planting Fields Arboretum, Oyster Bay, Long Island: Sure, we think of beaches when we think of a Long island weekend, but you can make like a millionaire when you stroll the grounds of Planting Fields Arboretum, a Gatsby-esque “Gold Coast” estate and botanical gardens, whose trees burst into full-on autumn colors.

Natchaug State Forest, Eastford CT: New Yorkers sometimes forget that New England is closer than it might seem: Northern Connecticut is home to authentically rustic New England forests, including Natchaug State Forest and others, and charming small towns that are close enough for a weekend drive with affordable vacation rentals.

New Hope, PA: Just over the Delaware River from New Jersey, Bucks County’s trees light up in autumn, and the town of New Hope, with its galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and artsy vibe, will impress even Manhattanites.

sep 10 2015

Save Money on Off-Broadway Shows This Fall

Blue Man Group Off Broadway

See the Blue Man Group perform for less during Off Broadway Week in NYC Sept. 21 thru Oct. 4.

(Courtesy NYC & Company)

You can save big on buzz-worthy Off-Broadway shows thanks to two-for-one ticket deals on select shows from Sept. 21st thru Oct. 4th. Which show will you see?

Show options this year include Avenue Q (note: this show may feature puppets, but I assure you, it's NOT for youngsters), The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, 39 Steps, Bésame Mucho, Black Angels Over Tuskegee, The Christians, Clever Little Lies, Daddy Long Legs, Cloud Nine, Desire: An Evening of Plays Based on Six Stories by Tennessee Williams, Drunk Shakespeare, En el Tiempo de las Mariposas, The Fantasticks, Fondly Collette Richland, Fuerza Bruta, Gazillion Bubble Show, The Humans, In Bed With Roy Cohn, Iphigenia in Aulis, La Nena Se Casa, Laugh It Up Stare It Down, The Legend of Georgia McBride, A Midsummer Night's Dream, My Son The Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy, Naked Boys Singing, The New Morality, NEWSical The Musical, Perfect Arrangement, Perfect Crime, Ruthless! The Musical, Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man, Sistas: The Musical, Sleepy Hallow The Musical, That Bachelorette Show, Trip of Love, and The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

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