Bike rentals now available at the Grand Canyon

By Brad Tuttle
October 3, 2012

Have a great ride, but don't get too close to the rim!

Starting on Saturday, May 1, there's a new option for getting around at Grand Canyon National Park. A vendor called Bright Angel Bicycles is renting bikes for men, women, and children -- trailers for especially young kids are also available -- at the Grand Canyon Visitor Information Center, near Mather Point on the South Rim.

As the parks' website says, bicycles are can be ridden on all roads and on the park's greenway trail system. What's especially cool is that bikes are even allowed on the shuttle bus roads, where passenger cars aren't allowed for much of the year, and that the shuttle buses are equipped with racks that accommodate three bikes. So if you've pedaled to your heart's content and aren't exactly in the mood to get back by your own leg power, you can wait until a shuttle comes along and catch a ride.

Bikes are rented on a first-come, first-serve basis for $10 an hour, $25 per half day, and $35 for full day; those are adult rates, and child prices are cheaper. For more info, call 928/814-8704, or check out

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New York City: 5 best May values

2-for-1 museum admission It's not easy to compete with the likes of the Met and MoMA. But New York City supports dozens of fascinating, less crowded museums worth a look, especially this month. Through May 31, the Museum Discovery Pass offers unlimited 2-for-1 admission to the following: the American Folk Art Museum ($9); the Asia Society Museum ($10); the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art on Staten Island ($5); the recently expanded and relocated Museum of Chinese in America ($7); the Noguchi Museum in Queens, whose collection encircles a sculpture garden ($10); the Rubin Museum of Art devoted to Himalayan works ($10); and the Studio Museum in Harlem ($7 suggested donation). Print out the pass from a museum website before you go. One more deal worth flagging: the Museum of the City of New York is free on all Mondays in May. The return of Water Taxi Beaches Get your Memorial Day beach-and-burgers fix without the traffic by heading to one of these free urban beaches accessible by public transportation, including water taxi. The original Water Taxi Beach—a sandy stretch of Long Island City, Queens, facing midtown Manhattan—reopens for its fifth season on May 1. The South Street Seaport outpost at Pier 17, in view of the Brooklyn Bridge, is re-branding as Water Taxi Beach & Beer Garden as of opening day April 30. So you can expect a more expansive beer list and lots of communal tables set up near the Fish Shack. Guest DJs get the party vibe going on nights throughout the summer (mostly free, $10 cover for Turntables on the Hudson series, ages 21+ at night). The third beach location, on Governors Island, won't open until June 5. A botanical garden's tribute to Emily Dickinson For its ambitious new show, the New York Botanical Garden filled its Haupt Conservatory with daisies, tulips, roses, jasmine, and other varieties that the 19th-century poet so lovingly tended at her Massachusetts home. Thirty-five of her poems, full of floral imagery, are placed near corresponding plants and act as a guide as you stroll through the show (free audio tours are also available). Gardening demos and poetry readings continue through the closing weekend of June 13, with special plans for Mother's Day Weekend, May 8-9, and Ballet and Poetry Weekend, May 15-16. The All-Garden Pass isn't cheap, but its $20 cost covers the Emily Dickinson show, all other exhibits and garden areas, events, activities, and tram tours. Bronx River Pkwy at Fordham Rd, the Bronx. Free theater before it's famous Earn some bragging rights by attending a free reading at York Theatre Company; these in-the-works musicals sometimes go on to win awards and sell out theaters on and off Broadway. Two of the three developmental readings slated for May are New York-centric. Trav'lin recounts the romantic ups and downs of three couples in 1930s Harlem with a fitting jazz soundtrack (May 20, 7 p.m.), while The Age of Innocence takes on Edith Wharton's tale of repressed love in the insular high-society world of 1870s Manhattan (May 27, 7 p.m.). Reserve in advance, and stick around for a post-reading discussion. The Theatre at Saint Peters, 619 Lexington Ave., 212/935-5824, ext. 524. Food vendors take over Ninth Avenue Dime-a-dozen street fairs shut down city streets frequently in summer, filling the air with music and the smells from sizzling food stalls. The Ninth Avenue International Food Festival is one of the standouts and comes early in the circuit, when the weather is just getting gorgeous and before street-fair fatigue sets in. This year, the festival takes place the weekend of May 15-16, 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., with folk performances on the 16th. Come hungry so that you can sample treats supplied by neighborhood businesses, for instance, pork with mole sauce from Tacocina, phyllo pastries from Poseidon Greek Bakery, and gumbo from Chantale's Cajun Kitchen. Proceeds go to support community programs. Ninth Ave., 42nd to 57th Sts., rain or shine.

Product Reviews

In search of app-y travelers

Right now, my mind is in a very appy place. As a traveler, I find myself turning to my iPhone as a tool every chance I get. I use it for weather forecasting, mapping, translating, converting, finding restaurant recs, tweeting, and much much more. And I'm remarkably willing to pay (a little bit here, a little bit there) for useful, clever, or just plain fun apps. It should come as no surprise that we're working on developing an app (or three) of our own here at Budget Travel. We have a number of ideas we think you'd like, but considering that you always have incredibly well-considered thoughts, we'd like to go straight to the source and hear from you.a) What travel apps do you currently use? b) What sort of tool would you love to hold in your hand on your next trip? (Don't hold yourself back! Dream big!) c) Are there any apps you've been using that you find disappointing? Thanks in advance for your comments…

United and Continental may merge. But should they?

That's what the Wall Street Journal is reporting. If true, that could mean higher prices for tickets (as there will be less competition). But it could also mean more streamlined routes and better connections. What do you think? Should they merge? UPDATE May 1: United will merge with Continental, creating the world's largest airline--named United--and proving that there really are more ways to make things worse at O'Hare. UPDATE: April 30: For the first year after the mergers happen, fares will jump, especially on routes that serve smaller cities. If you have travel plans in mind, book those tickets now. But over time, low-cost carriers like Southwest will swoop in and serve these markets, bringing fares back to their current levels. Unlike Continental and United, Southwest posted a profit last quarter. Plus: The discount carrier has a record of jumping into routes and airports that are abandoned during airline mergers. As expert Joe Brancatelli has pointed out, countless mergers in the past 30 years have not caused fares to stay high for the long term. The merger would have some pros and cons, of course. Pros: Connections will be easier to make, as airlines coordinate their flight times and routes. United has a strong network of flights to Asia, while Continental is strong in routes to Europe and Latin America. Cons: Many planes on popular routes will be even more crowded. But flight delays shouldn't increase, except for the first few days of the mergers. Many towns and small cities will either lose routes or face higher ticket prices, at least for a year after the mergers. As a rule, on routes where United and Continental each fly a plane, there will now only be one plane flying. Obviously, the reality for any particular route is more complicated, but that's the general idea. Larger cities will also see fewer planes on routes to smaller destinations, again, at least for a year after the mergers. Expect changes for Atlanta, Chicago, Newark, Houston, and San Francisco, in particular. Frequent-flier mile options will change, too. Many experts expect that budget-conscious, leisure travelers will find that it will be even harder to redeem frequent flier mile awards. On the flip side, business travelers who fly hundreds of thousands of miles a year may receive more perks and find it easier to redeem award miles. (More details for frequent fliers are available at Airline Examiner.) Why are the airlines merging now? Two main reasons. No one wants to lend them cash because they have such a bad history of getting into bankruptcy and there's not a lot of free capital floating about right now. The airlines want to pool their capital funds together so that they can finance the purchases of new planes, especially during the aftermath of a recession. One more caveat: The government will also have to approve any merger, of course. This will be the first high-profile test of the Obama administration's attitude to mergers that will likely raise prices for consumers, especially in Obama's hometown of Chicago. What do you think? Should United and Continental merge? MORE Find a listing of the Internet's top travel blogs at Alltop