Get Up Close And Personal At The Kennedy Space Center
It’s no secret that in addition to world–class beaches and the unparalleled opportunity to overdose on theme parks, Florida also offers the opportunity to tour the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. The center includes the Rocket Garden, which features rockets from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, including a model of the Apollo 11 spacecraft that first put people on the moon; the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame; and live programs such as Lunch with an Astronaut and Exploration Space: Explorers Wanted, which immerses visitors in a blend of live theater and interactive, multimedia presentations in a 10,000–square–foot exhibit space.
Now, visitors can boldly go where few have gone before, with behind–the–scenes tours of rarely seen areas, such as Firing Room 4, with its countdown clock and video monitors, where all space shuttle launches were controlled from 2006 on. The tours will also include a drive past Launch Pad 39, a visit to the Apollo/Saturn V Center, and into the Vehicle Assembly Building, where shuttles and Apollo rockets were assembled. Here, you can see items such as the 6–million–pound "crawler" that moved the Space Shuttle to the launch pad.
The center is currently undergoing a major renovation, and next summer the Atlantis, the last Space Shuttle assembled at the VAB, will be on display to the public in an innovative $100 million exhibit that will display the shuttle as if it were orbiting the earth, according the a spokesperson for the center. Interactive programs will take visitors “up close and personal” with the shuttle and allow them to learn the 30–year history of the shuttle program.
The Kennedy Space Center is about an hour’s drive from downtown Orlando and is also a popular stop for cruise passengers from nearby Port Canaveral.
MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL:
New Wales Hiking Trail Lets You Walk The Entire Coast
The newly opened Wales Coast Path connects the nation’s entire coastal perimeter—a first for any country. At 870 miles, it’s no walk in the park, so try one of these easy–on–the–feet day trips. FOR ROMANTICS Rhoscolyn to South Stack Lighthouse (11 miles) When Kate and William tied the knot, they named the 30 tables at their reception dinner after their favorite places. The village of Rhoscolyn, on Holy Island at Wales’s northwestern corner, made the list. It’s easy to see why: This rugged stretch of the path leads past sea arches, tidal pools, and an 1809 lighthouse with views of Ireland. Where to Stay: The Edwardian Ingledene B&B;, which offers bay views. Ravenspoint Rd., Holyhead, ingledene.co.uk, from $103. FOR POETRY LOVERS Llangrannog to New Quay (9.4 miles) With its dramatic cliffs and “folded rock” formations, it’s no wonder the Ceredigion coast has inspired its share of poets. In the 1940s, Dylan Thomas lived—and drank—in the seaside resort of New Quay (where a bar fight at the Black Lion pub led to shots being fired). Offshore near the harbor wall, the dolphins also drink like fish, but then again, they’re supposed to. Where to Stay: The three–suite Wellington Inn, where the restaurant serves Welsh lamb and seafood fresh from the bay. Wellington Place, New Quay, wellingtoninnwales.co.uk, from $110. FOR MARITIME HISTORY BUFFS Newport to Goodwick (14 miles) The southwest coast has always been a favorite stop for invaders, from the Romans to the Vikings. Starting in Newport, hikers head west past Celtic monuments to Fishguard, where a 100–foot tapestry immortalizes France’s failed invasion of the town in 1797. Don’t miss the lighthouse at Strumble Head, which looks out onto the shipwreck–prone sea. Where to Stay: The cottage–like Glanmoy Lodge Guest House, where the owners set up nightly badger feedings. Tref-Wrgi Rd., Goodwick, glanmoylodge.co.uk, from $102. FOR CLIMBERS Solva to St. David’s (12 miles) You might say it’s all uphill from Solva. In Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which turns 60 this year, more adventurous climbers tiptoe around nesting seabirds and wildflowers and follow the steep path to the Gribin, a rocky ridge topped with an Iron Age settlement. Reward yourself with a pint in the 6th–century cathedral town of St. David’s, one mile inland from St. Justinian’s chapel ruins. Where to Stay: The seven–room Grove, which has a charming back patio. High St., St. David’s, grovestdavids.co.uk, from $95. FOR BIRDWATCHERS Llanelli to Kidwelly (11 miles) You’d never suspect that the land west of Llanelli hasn’t always been this pastoral. But before the 10–mile Millennium Coastal Park revitalized the area, in 2000, this stretch was cluttered with derelict steelworks. Now the horizon features replanted reed beds, wild orchids, and beaches that attract over 100,000 wading birds. Where to Stay: The homey four–room Kidwelly B&B;, where breakfast includes Welsh specialties like cheesy potato–leek cake and grilled kippers. 62 Causeway St., Kidwelly, stayinkidwelly.com, from $110. FOR ARCHITECTURE LOVERS Oxwich to Mumbles (13 miles) Heading east along the surfing beaches of the Gower Peninsula, you’re treated to a tour of the country’s windswept castle ruins. Beginning at Oxwich’s Tudor–era manor house, continue past the remains of Pennard Castle, perched above Three Cliffs Bay. Just west of Swansea, the town of Mumbles contains the grandest gem, the largely intact, Norman–era Oystermouth Castle. Where to Stay: The Langland Road B&B;, a restored Victorian villa. 17 Langland Rd., Mumbles, langlandroad.co.uk, from $95. —Bob Cooper MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 12 Most Beautiful Paths—No Car Required The World's Most Beautiful Castles 6 Foolproof Tricks for NOT Embarrassing Yourself in a Foreign Language
Get to Know America's “Land of Dreams”
In April, the United States launched its first–ever global marketing campaign, "Come and Find Your Land of Dreams," aimed at attracting international travelers, who on average spend about $4,000 per trip to the U.S. An initial wave of television ads began in May in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada, and a second wave will target Brazil and South Korea. With a theme song, “Land of Dreams,” written and performed by Roseanne Cash, the campaign, developed under the U.S. Travel Promotion Act of 2010, includes not only television but also social media. A website, DiscoverAmerica.com, offers a surprisingly deep well of information for trip–planners—both foreign and domestic. The site is so rich, you might consider bookmarking it and returning often for its concise overviews of American cities and states. The homepage features a rotating set of images of states, giving users not only the option to click on the image to learn more but also to hit a “more like this” button that helps the site zero in on what a user is most interested in. (In this respect the button is like the thumbs–up on the music site Pandora.) Hitting “More like this” on an Acadia National Park image, for instance, yielded a new set of homepage image, dominated by travel destinations that featured either mountains or ocean or were situated in New England. Hitting “More like this” on an image of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the other hand, caused the homepage to fill with images of other art museums around the U.S. and other locales within New York City. DiscoverAmerica’s social media campaign includes a Summer Guide on Facebook, which encourages you to choose from four travel experiences: “See It” delivers links to events like art installations and fireworks displays; “Feel It” offers you a choice of outdoor activities such as camping, canoeing, and sailing; “Hear It” presents concert options like the Pitchfork Musical Festival in Chicago, and the All Good Music Festival in Thornville, Ohio; and “Taste It,” of course, links to food events such as the National Buffalo Wing Festival in (where else?) Buffalo, and the Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland. The heart of DiscoverAmerica is the various pages dedicated to states and cities. Each section is unique, with some states having developed their own original content and others featuring material re–purposed from travel guidebooks and other sources. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with far–flung destinations or just delve deeper into your own backyard. (For instance, I just learned that the Museum of Modern Art, just a short walk from Budget Travel’s offices, has 23,000 films in its collection; I’m going to check and see what’s playing tomorrow night!) —Robert Firpo–Cappiello MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: One–Tank Escapes for 8 Cities National Parks (Minus the Crowds) 8 Ways to Save Big on Summer Travel
Would you Put Your Vacation on Layaway?
When you hear the word layaway, you probably think about flat–screen TVs or cartloads of holiday gifts. A new site launched by Sears adds vacations to that mix. Through Sears Vacations you can book hotels, cruises, flights, and even European tours. The site has introductory offers of 100 vacations for $399 or less, including Caribbean cruises and hotels around the world, and a "best price guarantee" (alas, this does not apply to flights and rental cars). And you can put them on layaway and pay that trip off in installments. Of course, putting something on layaway isn't always the best way to pay off your vacation (or a new TV for that matter). According to Time, even a high APR credit card will charge less interest than a layaway program. How good are the deals? Not knocking our socks off. For a four–day Bahamas cruise on the Carnival Sensation sailing in November, Sears was offering an interior cabin for $179 per person, while Carnival's website had the same cruise and cabin class for $189 (prices for ocean view cabins and suites were the same on both sites). A Pyramid room at the Luxor Vegas was offered for $35 a night in July through Sears, while booking the same room through Luxor's site cost $37 a night for the same time period. A deluxe Tower room was $56 a night through Sears, but a dollar less a night on the hotel's site. For flights, we priced out a non–stop, round–trip itinerary between New York and New Orleans in October, and found the exact same price through both Sears Vacations and Delta's site. What about you? Would you put a vacation on layaway, or would you rather just put in on your credit card? MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 7 Common Expenses That Take Travelers by Surprise 10 Best Budget Friendly All-Inclusive Resorts 8 Ways to Save Big on Summer Travel
Would You Decline an Upgrade to Be Closer to a Travel Companion?
Not that long ago, we did a story on how to get a free upgrade—a worthy endeavor, for sure. But now I am wondering—what if you received an upgrade, but your travel companion did not? Would you take it? Or would you politely decline? if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget('abe9dc84-535a-4bdd-9fae-252c0737af68'); Get the Poll Creator Pro widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox! Not seeing a widget? (More info) I used to travel with a friend who was an elite flyer. Most of the time the two of us would get upgraded together, but every so often he would be upgraded and I would not. More often than not, he would accept the offer to move to first class, while I stayed behind in coach. I tried to be understanding—he was 6'2" and needed the extra leg room—but it was hard to feel happy for him when he would stroll back into coach, cocktail in hand, while I was still struggling to fit my luggage in the overhead bin and make myself comfortable in the middle seat in the middle row. As with so many things in life, this situation reminds me of a hilarious Seinfeld episode where Jerry gets upgraded to first class while his friend, Elaine, suffers in coach. To this day I do not begrudge my friend the decision to upgrade, even though it stung a little to be left behind—as I said, he was tall and I am not. But I don't know if I could upgrade and leave my travel companion behind. I would feel too guilty. Then again, if it were him I was leaving behind in coach, I might enjoy turning the tables—just once. So what would you do? Vote in our poll or tell us below. SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: 11 Surprisingly Lovable Airlines 6 Graceful Strategies for Dealing With an Annoying Seatmate 4 Most Common Reasons Airlines Lose Luggage