Readers' best coastline photos
From the Italian town of Vernazza (above) to the beaches of California, here are 28 picturesque reasons to plan your next trip to the coast. See the slide show.
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We're collecting your photos of cherry blossoms. Upload them through myBudgetTravel, tag them, and check back in the coming weeks for a slide show of the best submissions.
Ask Trip Coach: Farmstays
It's time to get your hands dirty: In an upcoming Trip Coach column, we're digging into farmstay vacations. As always, we want to hear from you first so we can put together a story that'll address all of your questions and concerns. If you've ever had questions big or small regarding farmstays, farm visits, or agritourism operations of any kind, now's the time to ask. You might be wondering: What are the best resources for finding and evaluating farmstays? Do guests really have to do chores? What kind? How "hands-on" are the activities? What happens if I don't want to milk a cow? What kind of lodging can guests expect? Are certain farms better than others for families? Or couples? Or solo travelers? Are certain parts of the world more likely to have farms that welcome travelers? How much do farmstays cost? Is it cheaper if guests work in the fields or tend to the animals? Now's your turn. Fire away with any questions you have about farmstays, and we'll do our best to answer your most pressing concerns in an upcoming issue of Budget Travel. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: A Farmstay in St. Croix The Farm Stay: Perfect for Families with Young Kids Farm Tours Where You Can Pitch In
Experience Mardi Gras like a rock star
Why party like a rock star when you can hang with the rock stars instead? The latest trend in travel—musician and celebrity-led trips—is hitting Mardi Gras this year, as alt-rockers Better Than Ezra announce a personally-guided weekend tour of their home state's annual festival. The band, famous for 90's hits such as "Good" and "Desperately Wanting," will host a 3-day event, dubbed the Krewe of Rocckus, during the last weekend of Carnival, from Thursday, March 3rd to Saturday March 5th. (Mardi Gras officially kicks off Friday, February 25th and runs through Fat Tuesday, on March 8th.) Lead singer Kevin Griffin told us by phone this week that he got the idea after seeing the success of musicians John Mayer's and Kid Rock's cruises last year. Kid Rock's 2010 trip was such a hit, in fact, that the sponsor company, Sixthman, is already planning a 2011 sailing. "We're neophytes in the travel industry," Griffin said, "but New Orleans is our town, and what better way for visitors to experience it than with insiders like us? I want to take people to the neighborhoods I love, the restaurants where I eat, and the music venues I like best." In many ways, the Krewe of Rocckus package is like a fast-pass to the rock star treatment. Tickets grant guests the kind of exclusive access that would be next to impossible for most to come by on their own, like admission to private balconies on Bourbon Street and stands on historic St. Charles Avenue to watch the parades. Also included are tickets to two nights of concerts by Better Than Ezra and other Louisiana musicians at the House of Blues. Griffin said his "love affair" with New Orleans began when he lived there after college, right around when he founded Better Than Ezra with fellow Louisiana native Tom Drummond. "The architecture, the music, the literature, the food—there's just something inherently inspiring about New Orleans," he said. After Katrina, Griffin and the other members of Better Than Ezra established a non-profit called The BTE Foundation and raised more than $2 million to help rebuild the city and restore the coastline. "Rebuilding post-Katrina is still ongoing, but New Orleans is in a much better place today than it was before," Griffin said. "So now I want to get people down here to show them what the city's all about. Mardi Gras is not just some college party weekend—it's a beautiful cultural event, with incredible music and food and pageantry. We're going to be bending over backwards to make sure people have a good time and see that side of it." If this year's Krewe of Rocckus is a success, Griffin said he hopes to make the trip an annual tradition. Krewe of Rocckus packages start at $695 per person, including meals, open bars, all tickets, and three nights' stay at the Hilton Riverside Hotel. Airfare not included. Booking details can be found here. Vote for America's Coolest Small Towns 2011 Mardi Gras: Still America's Best Party Photos: Mardi Gras floats on 25 Reasons We Love New Orleans
Readers' best sign photos
Instead of dreamy destination shots, this time we're embracing the funny side of travel. From your submitted photos of bizarre, evocative, and lost-in-translation signs, we selected 27 that range from retro neon lettering in Utah to a Mumbai warning to curb honking addition. See the slide show. RECENT READER SLIDE SHOWS Japan | Skylines | Caribbean Sea STILL IN SEARCH OF... We're now collecting your photos of coastal views. Upload them through myBudgetTravel, tag them, and check back in the coming weeks for a slide show of the best submissions.
Summer's harvest in the middle of winter!
You could spend the winter holed up at home, or you could relive the glories of summer's harvest by heading to these indoor markets. Nature has spoiled us. First there were those summer tomatoes, then August's sweet corn, September's apples, and October's pumpkins. Now, the Northeast winter chill has officially arrived; the pickins' at our farmers markets are slim, and our beloved pick-your-own orchards are closing shop. So what's a harvest-lover to do? Take the produce party inside. On October 15, Harry and David launched pop-up "orchards" in cities across the country. The company—known for gourmet gift baskets—is transforming urban retail spaces in cities like Boston and New York to mimic country stores (think: wooden decor and fresh hearth scents). Patrons can peruse the fresh fruit and sample seasonal treats. Foodshed Market also recently opened in Brooklyn. Each Sunday, two-dozen vendors set up their regional produce in The Commons - an indoor community center. Fresh food? Yes. Frostbitten fingers? No. Then there is the mother of all new food destinations: New York's Eataly, a vision of gourmands Mario Batalli, Joe Bastianich, and Lidia Matticchio. Opened in September, this indoor food market of everything Italian serves up the raw goods and prepared dishes. On a cold winter day, browse the specialty purveyors and get cozy with a bottle of wine and a hunk of cheese (and some pasta and pizza and gelato and—well, you get the picture). There are also the oldies but goodies. Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market bustles with food peddlers all year. Highlights include the seasonal fruit pies offered by numerous Amish vendors and the fresh-churned ice cream Bassetts has been scooping since 1861. To make a day of it, hop on a market tour or sign up for a cooking class. Stew Leonard's (in Connecticut and New York) has been dubbed the "Disneyland of Dairy Stores" by The New York Times; animatronics power singing cows in the dairy section and a dancing Chiquita Banana in the produce section. Winter activities don't have to be limited to movies and museums. With this bounty of indoor food destinations, you can make a day of your meal. —Jessica Campbell SEE MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL: San Francisco: The 5 Best Farmers Markets 5 Tasteful US Trips Farm Tours Where You Can Pitch In