Save up to 50% on Hotels
The "Professional Hobo’s" 8 Unconventional Money-Saving Travel Tips
Nora Dunn, aka The Professional Hobo, traveled full-time for 12 years. During that time she discovered how to travel on a budget without sacrificing style or comfort. Today she's sharing her top advice with us. As a former financial planner, I was accustomed to a certain level of comfort when I traded it all in for full-time travel. But without the accompanying income, I had to be creative about how to travel in style. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get the most value for the least money! Here are some ideas. Let Hopper Tell You When to Book Flights I recently discovered Hopper, and it's the first app I check when planning a trip. It helps you select the best dates to fly, then tracks the flight and alerts you when it's at the lowest predictable price. In one case, I noticed that booking my flight directly through the app also saved me money in comparison to booking directly with the airline. Fly in Business Class for Less Than Economy While I use Hopper for domestic flights, I strategize more for long-haul flights, which are consistently in business class for less than the price of an equivalent economy ticket. This is through the strategic use of frequent flyer miles and credit cards. It's not rocket science, but there's definitely a learning curve. You can start here. Become a Mystery Shopper Fancy a train trip across Canada for 50% off? How about a free night or two at a hotel? Or half price flights, restaurant discounts, and spa packages? Mystery shopping for travel isn't a scam, and it's a great way to save a ton of money. Be prepared to work for it by filling out a (very) detailed report, but for higher-priced items like flights and hotels, it can be worthwhile. Get Free Accommodation I saved over $100,000 on accommodation expenses in my 12 years abroad. One year, I spent $173 in accommodation – for the entire year abroad (and that was for two nights at the Hilton in Stockholm)! All this was thanks to free accommodation opportunities like house-sitting, volunteering, hospitality exchanges, and helping out on boats. You can also do home-exchanges (if you have a home to exchange, which I didn't). One of my favorite volunteer gigs involved spending a week in Spain speaking conversational English with locals. In exchange for a free hotel and meals, I chatted informally with dozens of interesting locals I'd never otherwise have met. Between the locals and fellow volunteers, I had new friends – and places to stay throughout Europe for the next three months. Book Local Experiences By booking tours with locals, you not only get a more authentic experience, but your money goes directly into local hands. It's a win-win for everybody! Two websites to search for local experiences are WithLocals.com and GrassrootsVolunteering.org - which in addition to featuring global volunteer opportunities, also has the world's largest social enterprise database, featuring tour operators, homestays, coffee shops, restaurants, and more. Get the Inside Scoop If you want to dive into even more local experiences, then meet locals on their turf! Global organizations like Rotary and Toastmasters have local chapters and warmly greet members from other countries. Not a Rotarian or a Toastmaster? Check out Meetup to find a special interest group that matches your lifestyle. Couchsurfing also isn't just for free accommodation; they have meetups around the world. Lastly, check out GlobalGreeters to get together with a local who can show you a piece of their hometown in the name of cultural exchange. Take a Free Walking Tour If attending a local meetup or doing a one-on-one with a stranger isn't your style, try a free walking tour. It's a fabulous way to get an overview and local perspective of your destination. You can find free walking tours by searching for “[your destination] + free walking tour”, or checking out walking tour aggregate sites like Guruwalk. Remember however, that free walking tours aren't entirely free; it's often customary to tip your guide. Don't Overbook With the best of intentions, while sitting at home and trip planning, we can be dazzled by the amazing activities and overbook. This becomes problematic in three ways; first off, returning home from a vacation exhausted and overwhelmed is no fun. Secondly, the more you do, the more you spend. Lastly, you may discover some better (and cheaper!) activities while you're there; if you've scheduled everything already, you won't have a chance to take advantage of them. With these 8 unconventional travel strategies, may your next trip fulfill your dreams without emptying your wallet!
Top 10 Most Visited Cities in the World
Where do Americans travel most outside the states? That was the question asked when compiling Budget Travel's Top 10 Most Visited Cities by U.S. Travelers. Paris? Definitely, no doubt. Florence? Maybe… what about Bermuda? Thanks to the travel experts at Expedia and their analysis of U.S. hotel bookings and flights abroad, we now know the answers. And to go along with our Top 10 Most Visited list, we've created a mini-guide for each city with the three must-see, must-do attractions for both new arrivals and return visitors. Can you guess all 10 top cities? Some of the answers may surprise you.SEE THE CITIES AMERICANS LOVE #10 NASSAU, BAHAMAS The Bahamas attracts millions of U.S. visitors to its busy capital ever year with picture-postcard promises of beautiful beaches and lazy seaside resorts. The reality—a busy capital filled with cruise ship day-trippers and beaches that are sometimes less than pristine—is a bit different, but the city still has its historic charms and the real paradise is just a boat ride away. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERSBay Street The main concourse of downtown Nassau is a pleasant waterfront promenade with great dockside cafés and shops, although it can get overcrowded with tourists when cruise ships are in port.Beaches of Andros Island Sadly, the beaches in Nassau leave much to be desired, with the exception of Saunders Beach and Cable Beach to the west. Going further west, off the island and out to sea, a fast ferry ride to Andros Island (around three hours) will deliver you to the castaway beaches you were promised when you booked your trip.Queen's Staircase & Fort Fincastle Built by freed slaves in honor of Queen Victoria for emancipating the islands, the 65 limestone steps off an alley in downtown Nassau are a journey back to the 18th-century Bahamas, rising to Fort Fincastle, a defense fort for the British Royal Navy during the Caribbean's pirate days. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORSFishing on the Bahamas The Bahamas is big fish country, with blue marlin, wahoo, billfish, and tuna all offshore and waiting for a lure. Renting your own charter boat for fishing is a bit pricey, but you can jump onto a group trip with other anglers through local companies like Born Free Fishing. Graycliff Manor The famous Graycliff Manor is a bit formal (jackets required for the gents). But for a taste of the Bahamas high life, it's an enchanting setting to enjoy an evening cocktail or glass of wine on the terrace of the 18th-century plantation house and watch the sun set over the Caribbean sea.Atlantis Resort Okay, so you skipped it last time, but if you have the cash ($100 for a non-guest day pass), head across the Nassau causeway to the ridiculous mermaid castle/casino/resort that occupies Paradise Island. Atlantis is a must-see for the sprawling extravagance of the beachfront megaplex, with many secret beaches for relaxing in the sun. OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: The antithesis of the big-money resorts in Nassau, Orange Hill Inn on West Bay Street is a quiet family-owned inn right on the beach (orangehill.com; doubles from $135). #9 PUNTA CANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC The secret is out on Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Already a popular beach destination for Europeans, the beach town is now on the American holiday radar as an inexpensive paradise within flight-hopping distance (it's just a two-hour flight from Miami). 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERSBavaro Beach It's the busiest beach in Punta Cana, crowded on the weekends with resort guests and lively with restaurants and shopping plazas along the shore. But it's also one of the prettiest—a white-sand beach of crystal-clear water and offshore coral reefs that stretches for six miles, so there are plenty of opportunities for you to claim your own private spot in the sun.Santa Domingo The historic capital is a must-do day trip for any first-time visitor to the Dominican Republic. As evidenced by the numerous statues of Ponce de Leon and Christopher Columbus, the city takes its history seriously and many of the Spanish colonial buildings date back to the discovery of America, in 1492, when Columbus made landfall on Hispaniola (the island shared by Dominican Republic and Haiti).Indigenous Eyes Park Just inland from the beaches in Punta Cana is this jungle park of beautiful waterfalls and lagoons for swimming. It's a private nature reserve run by Punta Cana Resort & Club (non-guests can buy a pass, for $65, to spend the day hiking and swimming in the lagoons, which are also known as "indigenous eyes"). 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORSSurfing on Macao Beach The sea may be rougher at Macao Beach, a stretch of golden sand shaded by palm trees to the north, but it's a much calmer and quieter beach than Bavaro. It's better for surfing, too; you can rent gear and take lessons at Macao Surf Camp (two-hour lessons from $60 per person) and afterward reward yourself with fresh grilled fish, fried plantains, and cold El Presidente beer at one of the local beach shacks on the sand.Canyoning in Cordillera Septentrional Adventurous travelers should head into the Cordillera Septentrional mountains for a chance to rappel down waterfalls into the gorgeous river canyons. (Tour outfitter Iguana Mama runs trips from $195 per person.)Casa Ponce de Leon Ponce de Leon may be buried in Puerto Rico, but the best museum dedicated to his life is located in his historic house in Santa Domingo (011-809/551-0118, $1.27 to enter). OUR FAVORITE HOTEL NH Punta Cana is a colorful and stylish resort on Bavaro Beach with plenty of modern perks like complimentary Wi-Fi and satellite TV (nh-hotels.com; doubles from $60). #8 BARCELONA, SPAIN Barcelona beats Madrid for the top city in Spain visited by U.S. travelers, especially 20-somethings on holiday in Europe. It's an arty, youthful city on the sea with a labyrinth of narrow streets and gorgeous plazas, branded by fairy-tale architecture from the quirky godfather of modern Catalonian architecture, Antoni Gaudi. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERSLas Ramblas This wide boulevard slopes through Barcelona from Plaça de Catalunya in the city center all the way to Port Veil on the shore. The tree-shaded sidewalks are lined with shops, cafés, and souvenir kiosks; in the center of the road, street performers entertain the daily parade of tourists. Barceloneta The seaside neighborhood of Barceloneta is a perfect spot for an afternoon of wandering the quaint channel streets with a view of the ocean through gaps between tenements. Once you find your way to the beach, sit down and enjoy a glass of vino and tapas at Bar Electricitat in the market square.Parc Güell Set on the outskirts of the city, Barcelona's version of Central Park is a storybook land of strange stone pavilions designed by Gaudi among the green hills and trees. The park trails meander through the 37 wooded acres with mythical mosaic sculptures and curved terraces that look out over the city. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORSEl Born This lovely neighborhood of narrow labyrinthine streets is a great spot to hang out with the locals, shop for vintage fashions, and taste the best of Catalonian cuisine at cubby-hole cafés and bars such as Casa Delfin.Sagrada Familia Love it or hate it, there's no escaping the sight of Gaudi's gargantuan drip-castle cathedral wherever you are in Barcelona. So if you skipped a visit the first time, it's worth a trip to the neighborhood of Exiample for a view of Sagrada Familia up close. It's a playful and profound structure that blends the whimsical curvature of Art Nouveau with the dark angularity of Gothic architecture. Barri Gotic This historic neighborhood of Gothic monuments reminds visitors of Barcelona's medieval past, before Gaudi put his stamp of eccentric modernity on the city. The wide plazas provide impromptu venues for Dark Ages-themed street performers. OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: Hotel Curious is a friendly boutique hotel near Las Ramblas in central Barcelona (hotelcurious.com; Doubles from $115). #7 MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA The all-inclusive resorts on Montego Bay (and a chance to experience Rastafarian culture) make Jamaica one of the top Caribbean destinations for U.S. travelers. "Liming" (otherwise known as relaxing) on the beach is the order of the day and many vacationers don't venture far from their umbrella-shaded lounger. But if you do, there's plenty to explore on this Caribbean island. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERSLiming on Doctor's Cave Beach and Seven Mile Beach Doctor's Cave Beach is the most popular beach in Montego Bay and chances are your hotel will be within flip-flop distance. If you have wheels, Jamaica's most famous stretch of sand, Seven Mile Beach, is a short drive away in Negril. On either beach, be sure to look out for the famous jerk stands and kick back Jamaica-style with spicy grilled chicken and the national beer, Red Stripe.Montego Bay Marine Park The coral reef from Tropical Beach to Rum Bottle Bay is an underwater nature reserve that's shelter to a wide array of exotic fish and sea anemones… and great snorkeling territory for visitors. Watch out for the Lion Fish, cute but poisonous!Dunn River Falls Nearby in Ocho Rios, a short adventure into the rain forest will bring you to Dunn River Falls, a 180-foot waterfall that you can climb down, passing from lagoon to lagoon as the river rambles downstream. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORSLiming in Port Antonio So you've seen the tourist beaches of Montego Bay and you're looking for something more low key? Head east to Port Antonio and its magnificent beaches for a day in the sun.Rose Hall Great House One of the oldest plantation estates on the island, the 18th-century Georgian mansion on the hill is a glimpse at the colonial past of Jamaica when it was a British stronghold for the export of sugar cane. Beware: The house is said to be haunted by the ghost of Annie Palmer, a voodoo practitioner and wife of the plantation owner, who was murdered in her sleep during the slave uprising of 1830. If you're feeling brave, book the night tour ($30 per person for a two-hour tour).Blue and John Crow Mountain National Park A hike through the forests of this misty mountain park will introduce you to the oldest inhabitants of Jamaica—its species of exotic birds, monkeys, lizards, and the rare Giant Swallowtail Butterfly. OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: Casa Blanca Beach Hotel is a classic Jamaican hotel with old-world styling situated in the middle of Montego Bay's Hip Strip near Doctor's Cave Beach (876-952-0720, doubles from $80). #6 ROME, ITALY A modern city risen among the ruins of the greatest empire in history, Rome is No. 6 on our list as Italy's most popular destination for U.S. travelers. From the stone amphitheater of the Colosseum to the Roman Forum, where Caesar once spoke, and the immaculate Vatican City, Rome is a living monument to the ancient history of Europe. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERSAncient Highlights: the Colosseum, the Forum, and the Pantheon Follow the shouts of the tour guides and trinket hawkers to the ruins of the Colosseum, where the spectators of ancient Rome cheered on gladiator death matches and lion fights from the stands. The historic steps of the Roman Forum and the House of Nero just around the corner, and the massive temple dome to the pagan gods, the Pantheon, is a short walk west with many lesser ruins along the way.Vatican City One of the most beautiful plazas in Rome leads to St. Peter's Basilica and the entrance to Vatican City. Of course, we sinners aren't allowed inside the Holy See, but the soaring marble interior of St. Peter's Basilica is a marvel worth its copper and no stop to Rome would be complete without a gander inside the Sistine Chapel at Michelangelo's Last Judgment.Villa Borghese North of the city center is Rome's largest public park, which is just as grandly designed as any of Rome's wonders, with 148-acres of trees from all over the world, lakes, and ancient villas. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORSMAXXI The 21st Century of the Arts museum, designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid and opened in 2010, is Rome's grand foray into the modern art world. There are two museums here: the MAXXI collection of contemporary art featuring the likes of Maurizio Cattelan, and the MAXXI museum of architecture, dedicated to the art of architectural design and the modern-day wonders of the world (entrance $14 per person).Circus Maximus & Avertine Hill The former chariot-racing grounds aren't much to look at these days when compared with the other ruins, but the verdant Avertine Hill above Circus Maximus is an amazing lookout perch and great retreat from the tourist hordes.Testaccio & Ostiense These twin neighborhoods across the aqueduct from the ancient city center are the perfect place to wander, eat, drink, and experience modern-day Roman life (click here for a quick guide to the neighborhoods.) OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: Hotel Mimosa is a cheery 14-room palazzo within a short stroll of Vatican City (hotelmimosa.net; doubles from $92). #5 TORONTO, CANADA The modern city of Toronto straddles the shore of Lake Ontario with its blocky downtown of skyscrapers and needle-nose CN Tower. The fifth largest city in North America, the diverse population creates a vibrant cultural scene with many culinary delights. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERSKensington Market Squared between Dundas Street W. and Spadina Avenue, this market neighborhood lined with ethnic groceries, fresh produce and spice stands, and tiny cafés is a great place to taste Toronto's amazing food scene. Be sure to stop by on Sunday when Kensington Market becomes a no-car zone.CN Tower The CN Tower, an olive-on-a-toothpick skyscraper rising 1,122 feet up into the Toronto skyline, has breathtaking views over the city, especially from a glass-walled elevator that takes you to the top at a snail's pace. There's even a rotating 360-degree restaurant for a sit-down meal afterward, if you can stomach it without getting dizzy.Distillery District The 19th-century warehouses and distilleries that once produced the famous Gooderham & Worts Canadian whiskey have new life as a meandering 13-acre complex of vaulted-ceiling restaurants, patio cafés, and art galleries set inside the historic brick buildings. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORSHockey Hall of Fame Even if you're not a fan of the game, this hallowed hall of hockey inside Brookfield Place is a uniquely Canadian experience. Moody lighting fits the cathedral-esque interior, where visitors wander halls of lithograph portraits of NHL greats like Wayne Gretsky, gander at trophies and jerseys from championship games, and perhaps try their puck skills in the Be a Player exhibit (entrance $18 per person.)Queen Street West The center of the Canadian broadcast television and film industry, the neighborhood of Queen Street West has more than its share of artsy cache in a clutch of contemporary galleries, hip bars and restaurants, and trendy boutiques.Art Gallery of Ontario The turn-of-the-century museum holds the largest collection of Canadian art in the world, with more than 80,000 works from the first century A.D. to today, including a sculpture center dedicated to the work of Henry Moore. Especially impressive is the new glass-façade by Frank Gehry on Dunda Street West. OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: Hotel Victoriais a century-old grand dame with a modern interior in central Toronto (hotelvictoria-toronto.com; doubles from $130). #4 PARIS, FRANCE Millions of U.S. travelers flood the city of Paris every year to walk the romantic cobblestone streets of the Latin Quarter, kiss on the pedestrian bridges over the River Seine, marvel at the Gothic facade of old Notre Dame, or ride the elevator up the elegant iron legs of the Eiffel Tower for a grandstand view of the City of Light. And then, of course, there's the food… whether it's nibbling a fresh baguette from a riverside bakery or tucking into steak béarnaise at a tiny Montmartre bistro, everything tastes better in Paris. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERSExplore the Latin Quarter It's hard not to fall in love with Paris's famous Latin Quarter. Whether you're sipping espresso at the Café de Flore (once the squatting grounds of Simone de Beauvoir and John Paul Sartre), listening to jazz at the underground club on Rue de la Huchette, or browsing books at Shakespeare & Company, you'll soon be lost in the nostalgia of Paris's storied past.Visit the Eiffel Tower You don't have to visit the Eiffel Tower to appreciate its 1,050-foot-high majesty of iron; it can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. But you should: The lines can be long and the surrounding area mobbed with tourists, but it's worth a ride to the top to see the City of Light from above ($11 to the 2nd floor observatory, $18 to the top). Wander Jardin des Tuileries and check out the Louvre (if you can get in) Musée du Louvre is by far the most famous museum in Paris (if not in all of Europe), so don't be surprised if you wait for hours to explore the Egyptian collection or for that glimpse of Mona Lisa behind glass (entrance $13 per person, closed Tuesdays). If you tire of the wait, don't distress: the grounds of the Louvre Palace and its adjoining Jardin de Tuileries is one of the most beautiful spots in Paris. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORSNotre Dame The cathedral of Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité is something to behold even if you're just passing by on your way to the Latin Quarter. Inside, the soaring Gothic chamber of stained glass, pillars, stone crosses, and statues of the saints high above the grand altar are a treasure that the city holds dear.Rodin Museum The Rodin Museum is elegant in its simplicity, especially when compared with the Louvre Palace across the River Seine (entrance, $8). The 18th-century mansion of Hotel Biron holds a collection of Rodin's greatest work inside and out in the estate's gardens where visitors can explore and ponder for a while with The Thinker and other sculptures. Nightlife in La Bastille Still an icon of the French Revolution, the neighborhood of La Bastille is a nightlife playground for the youth of Paris, chockful of bistros, bars, music venues, and tiny nightclubs, especially along Rue de la Roquette. OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: But wait, what about the Montmartre? Well, if you take our advice, you'll be staying in Montmartre at Ermitage Hotel Sacre-Coeur, a 12-room B&B set inside a turn-of-the-century apartment building that's within walking distance to that beautiful white cathedral on the hill, the Sacre-Coeur (ermitagesacrecoeur.fr; doubles from $130). #3 SAN JUAN, PUETRO RICO Yes, it's a U.S. territory, but Puerto Rico can feel like a world apart. The laidback atmosphere of San Juan with its narrow cobblestone streets and pastel-color houses will make any traveler feel at home, especially after a night in Old San Juan, where young and old drink, play music, and dance to salsa music until the early hours. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERSNightlife in Old San Juan It can get rowdy late at night in Old San Juan, especially on weekends, when everyone and their uncle mobs the streets for a wandering bar crawl with drinks in hand. But there's no better time to drink up the culture alongside the locals—join in with the locals at bars like Bodega Chic and Nono's and possibly get silly enough to participate in a sing-along in Plaza del Mercado (a.k.a. La Placita).El Morro This beautiful old citadel fort commands a sweeping view of the Caribbean Sea on the northwest tip of Puerto Rico and has held its own against time and the island's seaborne enemies since the 16th century (entrance $3). Beaches of Condado The seaside neighborhood of Condado has the most popular beaches in San Juan proper, a stretch of golden-sand shore on the eastern side of the city. Arrive early on the weekends to claim your beach-towel territory against the droves of resort guests and local families. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORSSalsa Dancing at the Nuyorican Café Hidden off an alley inside a former Spanish convent, this tiny nightclub has been an Old San Juan institution for decades, renowned for its jazz music and weekend salsa dancing. A eclectic crowd of locals and tourists brave the crowds on the weekend to test their moves on the dance floor; if the line is too long or too tedious, pop over to Rumba, a newer salsa club down the street. Catedral de San Juan Bautista The second oldest Cathedral in North America is a rather modest Spanish colonial structure. Inside, you'll find the hallowed chambers of stained glass and statues worthy of worship (and the tomb of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon underneath). Day trip to Vieques Island In a paradise like Puerto Rico, where do the locals go to vacation? The answer is the castaway island of Vieques, a 45-minute ferry ride from the port of Farajado on the east coast. The main town of Isabella is quiet and pretty, but the real reason for the trip is the pristine beaches on the south coast (be sure to pack a picnic basket… there are few places to eat nearby the beaches). OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: Numero Uno Guesthouse is a darling 15-room inn right by the beach in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan (numero1guesthouse.com; doubles from $99). #2 LONDON, ENGLAND London certainly hasn't lost its regal charms in the long march to modernity. And because the city is a gateway for further excursions into Europe, millions of travelers spend at least a day or two visiting the historic sites on the red double-decker lorries, attending theatre performances by Britain's greats, and enjoying a cool English pint (or three) while munching on fish-and-chips at one of the city's famous pubs. Just remember to mind your manners and your wallet: The British pound reigns supreme, at nearly twice the value of the U.S. dollar. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERSRoyal Highlights: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the Tower of London The throne of the British Empire and the city's most famous historic sites are clustered within a short walk of one another in central London. Commoners can tour Buckingham Palace from July through September (or sneak a peek through the gates any other time of year); just down the road is Westminster Abbey, the iconic Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. A short cab ride along the Thames brings you to the Tower of London (which arguably offers the best tour and a chance to see the Crown Jewels).West-End Theaters London's West End neighborhood is the Broadway of England, known affectionately as "Theaterland." New London Theatre and Queen's Theatre are two great venues for new plays performed by Britain's greatest thespians, while smaller theaters like the Noel Coward Theatre often showcase well-known plays by British playwrights (like, say, Noel Coward), including new productions of Shakespeare plays. British Museum It was once said that the sun never set on the British Empire, and this museum dedicated to British history is true to that globe-spanning scope, with a collection that ranges from the armor of William the Conqueror to the 19th- and 20th-century colonial history of British ambitions. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORSTate Modern Converted from a riverside power station on the Thames, the Tate Modern is a marvel of contemporary architecture and one of the most impressive art museums in the world, famous for its enormous (and often interactive) art installations and a collection of modern art from the early 1900s to today (entrance is free).East End Nightlife The once-gritty East End has been gentrified into the new epicenter of London nightlife—a haven of hip pubs, edgy art galleries, and nouveau restaurants, especially in the neighborhoods of Shoreditch and Hoxton. The London Eye Who wouldn't want to get into a Ferris wheel that soars up over 400 feet in the air? Don't worry, the wheel moves at a turtle speed and the bird's-eye views over London from the enclosed-glass observatories are absolutely spectacular ($24 per person). OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: Umi Hotel is a simple and fashionable hotel comprised of adjoining 150-year-old townhouses in London's Notting Hill neighborhood (umihotellondon.co.uk; doubles from $99). #1 CANCUN, MEXICO Cancun remains the No. 1 top destination for U.S. travel abroad, thanks to cheap flights from the States, 14 miles of beaches, and carnival-style nightlife that transforms the Z-shaped islet off the Yucatan Peninsula into a 24-hour party scene for college students every Spring Break. But if you think this former Mayan trading city is just a sloppy boozefest on the beach, you haven't experienced the real Cancun. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR FIRST-TIMERSSun, Sand, and Waves at Playa Tortugas and Playa Delfines The beaches of Playa Tortugas and Playa Delfines offer the full-spectrum of the Cancun beach scene: Playa Tortugas is a festive party beach with calm, tranquil water and bungalow restaurants/bars under the palms; Playa Delfines is an escapist beach with white sand for travelers looking to get away from the crowds (and perhaps catch a few waves).Day Trip to the Mayan Ruins Integrated into the downtown area, the plaza ruins of El Ray remind travelers of the city's ancient history as a Mayan trading port and give the urban layout a uniquely mythic look (and a kitschy cache to bankroll tourist dollars). But for a more immersive experience, take a day trip drive down Riviera Maya to the beachfront ruins of Tulum and the jungle temples of Coba (they're far less crowded and closer than Chichen Itza).Coco Bongo It would be a shame to leave Cancun without a glimpse of the most explosive, extravagant club the party city has to offer. Coco Bongo is a temple of excess to ridiculous proportions—a massive 1,800-person nightclub with nightly trapeze acts, rock-star impersonators, a rainbow blitz of roving spotlights, and hundreds of partiers dancing to DJ-spun hits on any platform they can climb onto. 3 MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS FOR RETURN VISITORSIsla Mujeres This tiny island off the coast of Cancun is a quiet escape from the madness of the mainland. The palm-shaded beaches are perfect for laying out in the sun after an intimate lunch at one of the island's restaurants, and the azure water seems made for an afternoon swim.Dipping Into the Cenotes The rain forest of the Yucatan peninsula creates a unique experience for travelers looking for adventure in the form of sunken cenotes—subterranean rivers and lakes that you can access via rappelling into caverns.Underwater Museum of Art Sure, Cancun and the Riviera Maya have plenty of offshore dive sites. But if your tank skills are up to par, one of the coolest spots to scuba dive is the Underwater Museum of Art, designed by British artist Jason de Caires Taylor, which, true to its name, is an underwater museum of sculptures laid out at the bottom of the sea. New to scuba? No problem. Scuba Cancun can set you up with a beginner's diving lesson and then a museum dive for $80. OUR FAVORITE HOTEL: The Royal Islander is a beachfront resort with humdrum décor but a great location (and a seaside pool) in the Zona Hotelera of Cancun (royalresorts.com; Doubles from $120).
50 States of Great American Wine!
TEXAS HILL COUNTRY Even wine production is bigger in Texas. Take Hill Country, a 14,000-square-mile expanse in the center of the state. With 32 wineries, it’s America’s second-largest AVA (American Viticultural Area, or grape-growing region with unique geological features)—and one of the nation’s fastest-growing, too. Vintners can thank the hot, dry weather, which is perfect for growing Mediterranean-style grapes such as tempranillo and syrah. Visit: One of the state’s oldest wineries, Becker Vineyards has had its bottles opened at both the Super Bowl and the White House (beckervineyards.com, tastings $10, open daily). Eat: At Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, the meat is smoked for five-plus hours over mesquite coals and sold by the pound (coopersbbq.com, pork ribs $11 per pound). Do: Grab an inner tube and hit the horseshoe-shaped Guadalupe River, where you’ll find the locals floating away their lazy summer days (shantytubes.com, four-hour tube rental $15). Stay: Fredericksburg’s Full Moon Inn plays up the town’s German roots with its breakfast menu of sweet-potato pancakes and German sausages (fullmooninn.com, from $150). Other notable wineries: Fall Creek Vineyards (fcv.com, tastings from $5, open daily). Flat Creek Estate (flatcreekestate.com, tastings from $7, open Tuesday-Sunday). Fredericksburg Winery (fbgwinery.com, up to five tastings free, open daily). Spicewood Vineyards (spicewoodvineyards.com, tastings $5, open Wednesday–Sunday). PASO ROBLES, CALIFORNIA It’s roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and 240 miles south of Napa, but “Paso,” known for its zinfandel and syrah, might as well be on another planet. It’s uncrowded, unpretentious, and, best of all, unlikely to drain your wallet. Most of its small, family-run wineries charge just $5 to $10 to taste six wines—if they charge at all. Visit: At Eberle Winery, visitors can roam the 16,000-square-foot cave where its award-winning zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon are aged (eberlewinery.com, tastings free, open daily). Eat: Farmstand 46 in Templeton embodies Paso’s agricultural bent, growing much of the produce that tops its wood-fired pizzas (farmstand46.com, pizzas from $10). Do: Tour the olive mill at Pasolivo, a local farm that’s been pressing handcrafted oils for over a decade (pasolivo.com, tours and tastings free). Stay: The just-remodeled Paso Robles Inn has a heated pool and a central downtown location (pasoroblesinn.com, from $141). Other notable wineries: Justin Vineyards & Winery (justinwine.com, tastings $10, open daily). Pipestone Vineyards (pipestonevineyards.com, tastings $10, open Thursday–Monday). Tablas Creek Vineyard (tablascreek.com, tastings $10, open daily). Tobin James Cellars (tobinjames.com, tastings free, open daily). CENTRAL VIRGINIA It’s been more than 200 years since Thomas Jefferson planted vineyards at Monticello. Now, with six AVAs and 206 wineries, Virginia is the country’s fifth-largest producer of wine—including some of the best Viognier made outside of France’s Rhône Valley. Visit: Built on the grounds of a Thomas Jefferson-designed mansion and owned by Italian winemakers, Barboursville Vineyards is one of the state’s most renowned wineries (barboursvillewine.com, tastings $5, open daily). Eat: In Charlottesville’s historic district, Brookville specializes in contemporary American food, from braised pork breast to spicy raspberry jelly doughnuts (brookvillerestaurant.com, braised pork breast $22). Do: Explore Monticello, which contains Jefferson’s furniture, art, and books (monticello.org, tour $24), and scope out the University of Virginia, which he also designed (virginia.edu, tours free). Stay: Guest rooms at Dinsmore House Inn are named after presidents (including Madison, Monroe, and, yes, Jefferson) and have hand-carved mahogany beds (dinsmorehouse.com, from $109). Other notable wineries: Blenheim Vineyards (blenheimvineyards.com, tastings $5, open daily). Chrysalis Vineyards (chrysaliswine.com, tastings from $5, open daily). Horton Vineyards (hortonwine.com, tastings free, open daily). RdV Vineyards (rdvvineyards.com, tours $40 including food, by appointment only). LEELANAU PENINSULA, MICHIGAN This low-key Michigan spot sits on the 45th parallel, which also happens to run through France’s Bordeaux region. Adding to the peninsula’s appeal: an exploding food scene (Mario Batali owns a home here) and powdery beaches. Visit: At Black Star Farms, you can pair pinot noir and merlot with fromage blanc from the on-site creamery (blackstarfarms.com, five tastings $5, open daily). Eat: The Cove serves local seafood several ways, including in pâté form and as a garnish for Bloody Marys, a Batali favorite (thecoveleland.com, Bloody Mary $12). Do: Take in the 64 miles of public beach at Sleeping Bear Dunes (sleepingbeardunes.com). Stay: The 32-room, Bavarian-style Beach Haus Resort fronts East Grand Traverse Bay (thebeachhausresort.com, from $90). Other notable wineries: Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery (fortyfivenorth.com, three tastings free, open daily). L. Mawby (lmawby.com, two tastings free, open daily). Peninsula Cellars (peninsulacellars.com, up to four tastings free, open daily). Two Lads (2lwinery.com, six tastings $5, open daily). FINGER LAKES, NEW YORK Long eclipsed by West Coast wine hubs, upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region is finally snagging some acclaim. With good reason: The country’s largest wine producer east of California, it’s also a prime travel destination, with green forests, glistening waters, and a smattering of charming small towns. Visit: Unlike many wineries, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards harvests all the grapes for its celebrated Rieslings by hand (wiemer.com, tastings $3, open daily). Eat: The menu at Red Dove Tavern, a gastropub in Geneva, changes weekly to highlight the freshest seasonal ingredients—such as an appetizer of duck leg in rhubarb-barbecue sauce, paired with green-chile grits (reddovetavern.com, duck leg $10). Do: Go waterfall-spotting. Among the most impressive (and accessible) of the area’s cascades: the towering, 215-foot Taughannock Falls near Ithaca (taughannock.com). Stay: The wide porch at Magnolia Place B&B, in an 1830s farmhouse, overlooks Seneca Lake (magnoliawelcome.com, from $140). Other notable wineries: Bloomer Creek Vineyard (bloomercreek.com, tastings free, open Friday-Sunday). Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars (drfrankwines.com, tastings free, open daily). Heart and Hands (heartandhandswine.com, tastings free, open Saturday-Sunday). Heron Hill (heronhill.com, tastings from $3, open daily). WALLA WALLA, WASHINGTON Tucked away in remote southeastern Washington (more than 150 miles from Spokane), Walla Walla is a farm town traditionally known for wheat and onions. But its current cash crops are the ones squeezed into its excellent cabernet, merlot, and syrah. In the past two decades, the number of area wineries has shot up from six to about 125—they’re everywhere from Main Street to the local airport. Even actor (and Washington native) Kyle MacLachlan couldn’t resist: He cofounded a label (named Pursued By Bear, a Shakespeare reference) here in 2005. And thanks to a $53 million facelift, the city’s downtown is lined with cafés, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants. Visit: The family-owned L’Ecole No. 41, run out of a 1915 schoolhouse, is prized for its signature red blend Perigee (lecole.com, tastings $5, open daily). Eat: For greasy goodies, locals love the divey Green Lantern, where MacLachlan swears by the burger (509/525-6303, burger $10). For more highbrow eats (house-cured duck prosciutto, yellowfin tuna crudo), visit the tapas-style Jim German Bar in Waitsburg (jimgermanbar.com, tuna crudo $14). Note to java junkies: Get your fix at Walla Walla Roastery, where the coffee beans are roasted on-site (wallawallaroastery.com, latte $3.50). Do: Meander through mountains of the Umatilla National Forest, which offers 19 trails of varying difficulties; the scenic, 2.6-mile Jubilee Lake path is good for beginners (541/278-3716). Stay: Exposed-brick walls and loads of original art create a cozy vibe at Walla Faces, in a 1904 building on the town’s main drag (wallafaces.com, doubles from $145). Other notable wineries: Buty (butywinery.com, tastings $5, open daily). Dunham Cellars (dunhamcellars.com, tastings $5, open daily). Gramercy Cellars (gramercycellars.com, tastings free, open Saturdays). Woodward Canyon (woodwardcanyon.com, tastings $5, open daily). 44 OTHER NOTABLE WINERIES Alabama (13 wineries): Until 2002, vineyards here were limited to the “wet counties,” where alcohol sales were legal. Now vintners make sweet wine from heat- and humidity-friendly muscadine grapes grown statewide. You can pick them yourself in September, when Morgan Creek Vineyards in Harpersville hosts an I Love Lucy-style stomping party. morgancreekwinery.com, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $10–$20. Alaska (8 wineries): Grapes don’t fare well in Alaska, so Bear Creek Winery, in Homer, imports concentrate to blend with local fruit (gooseberry, black currant) for hybrid concoctions like Blu Zin, a zinfandel infused with wild blueberries. bearcreekwinery.com, open daily, bottles $18–$27. Arizona (48 wineries): Arizona’s high-desert climate is similar to that of wine mecca Mendoza, Argentina. At Caduceus Cellars in the Verde Valley, Maynard James Keenan (better known as the singer from the band Tool) cranks out robust reds such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and Sangiovese. caduceus.org, tastings $10, open daily, bottles $17–$28.Arkansas (15 wineries): Some of Arkansas’s oldest vines belong to Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, founded by a Swiss winemaker who settled in the Ozarks in 1880. The winery is even listed in the National Register of Historic Places. wiederkehrwines.com, open daily, bottles $5–$18. Colorado (107 wineries): Colorado’s wine industry is flourishing in the Grand Valley, a trio of quaint towns 250 miles southwest of Denver. Canyon Wind Cellars offers gorgeous mountain views along with its award-winning Petit Verdot. canyonwindcellars.com, open daily, bottles $13–$40. Connecticut (24 wineries): No matter where you are in Connecticut, there’s a winery within a 45-minute drive. A must-try is Hopkins Vineyard, set among scenic hills in a converted 19th century barn and known for its sweet ice wine, made when grapes—though not the sugar inside—freeze on the vine. hopkinsvineyard.com, tastings $6.50, hours vary, bottles $12–$17. Delaware (3 wineries): This tiny state isn’t big on wine production—craft beer is more its speed—but 18-year-old Nassau Valley Vineyards wins awards for its merlot, pinot grigio, and cabernet sauvignon. nassauvalley.com, open daily, bottles $13–$30. Florida (31 wineries): Florida’s muggy climate and intense rainfall plague most grapes, so vintners have started replacing them with the state’s favorite export: citrus. Florida Orange Groves Winery in St. Petersburg makes their wines from key limes, tangerines, and other tropical fruits. floridawine.com, open daily, bottles $18–$23. Georgia (30 wineries): Three Sisters Vineyards in Dahlonega is the state’s good-time winery. Come in September and October for its Swine Wine Weekends, complete with BBQ and live music. threesistersvineyards.com, tastings $5–$25, open Thursday–Sunday, bottles $10–$45. Hawaii (3 wineries): Two miles outside Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Winery is a popular post-climb spot for thirsty adventurers. The 64-acre winery uses macadamia nuts and guava in some wines, as well as muscat and Grenache Gris grapes that thrive in volcanic soil. volcanowinery.com, open daily, bottles $18–$24. Idaho (48 wineries): Most of Idaho’s wineries sit in the Snake River Valley, where blazing days and chilly nights make for well-balanced bottles. The Cinder Winery, located in a warehouse outside Boise, is known for its rosé, named Best in the Northwest in 2009. cinderwines.com, tastings $5, open Friday–Sunday, bottles $18–$27. Illinois (98 wineries): In 1979, Fred Koehler, then a country-club manager, turned a basement booze-making hobby into the state’s first wine label. His Lynfred Winery has classier digs now—a mansion with a four-suite B&B. lynfredwinery.com, tastings $9, open daily, bottles $10–$30. Indiana (63 wineries): Bloomington’s Oliver Winery specializes in strawberry, mango, and black cherry wines (many grapes can’t survive Indiana’s winters), plus Camelot Mead, made from fermented orange-blossom honey. oliverwinery.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $10–$14. Iowa (82 wineries): In the past decade, the number of Iowa wineries has jumped nearly sevenfold. Perhaps the quirkiest is the Renaissance-themed King’s Crossing Vineyard & Winery, dotted with faux medieval torture devices. kingscrossingvineyard.com, open Saturday–Sunday, bottles $13–$28. Kansas (22 wineries): Every bottle at Oz Winery is a friend of Dorothy’s—after all, this is Kansas. Best of all, you can sample wines such as Drunken Munchkin, Auntie Em’s Prairie Rose, and Yellow Brick Road for free—Kansas law prohibits tasting fees. ozwinerykansas.com, open daily, bottles $18–$30. Kentucky (61 wineries): Be warned, bourbon: Earlier this year, Lexington-based Jean Farris winery snagged a gold medal at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for its cabernet sauvignon—the highest honor for a Kentucky grape to date. jeanfarris.com, tastings $5–$12, open Tuesday–Sunday, bottles $11–$65. Louisiana (6 wineries): Sixty miles north of New Orleans, Pontchartrain Vineyards is the only Louisiana winery using exclusively European-style grapes. Bonus for foodies: Its wines pair well with spicy gumbo, crawfish, and shrimp. pontchartrainvineyards.com, tastings $5, Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $10–$20. Maine (20 wineries): In the coastal town of Gouldsboro, Bartlett Maine Estate Winery incorporates local, hand-raked blueberries into its acclaimed Blueberry Oak Dry wine. bartlettwinery.com, open Tuesday–Saturday, bottles $16–$45. Maryland (51 wineries): Maryland wineries largely depend on out-of-state grapes (California, Virginia, New York). Black Ankle Vineyards, founded in 2008, is leading the charge for homegrown fruit, producing 12 varietals on its land 35 miles from Baltimore. blackankle.com, tastings from $7, open Friday–Sunday, bottles $28–48. Massachusetts (40 wineries): Since the small, family-owned Westport Rivers opened on Massachusetts’s southeastern coast 25 years ago, its wine has been poured at both the real White House (courtesy of Bush Sr. and Clinton) and the smallscreen one (via The West Wing). westportrivers.com, tastings $8, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $20–$45. Minnesota (38 wineries): At Carlos Creek, Minnesota’s largest winery, wines are made from Frontenac grapes, developed by the University of Minnesota to withstand temperatures as low as 20 below. carloscreekwinery.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $15–$25. Mississippi (6 wineries): At the Old South Winery in Natchez, wine is made exclusively from Mississippi muscadines and not barrel-aged, which would interfere with the candy-sweet, fruit-forward taste. oldsouthwinery.com, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $8.25–$11.25. Missouri (118 wineries): Home to the country’s first Viticulture Area in 1980, Missouri has added 30 wineries in the past three years alone. The 165-year-old Stone Hill, in the German-style town of Hermann, brought home over 100 medals just last year, at competitions from New York to California. stonehillwinery.com, open daily, bottles $8–$25. Montana (8 wineries): Montana’s short growing season means its handful of wineries have to get creative with their recipes. Flathead Lake Winery—the only state winery to exclusively use native fruit–finds its preferred grape substitutes in local cherries and huckleberries. flatheadlakewinery.com, open daily, bottles $10–$20. Nebraska (25 wineries): Founded in 1997 with 100 grapevines imported from New York, James Arthur Vineyards has grown into Nebraska’s largest winery—and has one of its coziest tasting rooms, too. There, visitors can warm up by a roaring fireplace with a glass of semi-sweet Vignoles, named the best white wine at 2010’s Monterey (California) Wine Competition. jamesarthurvineyards.com, tastings from $4, open daily, bottles $10–$25. Nevada (3 wineries): Parking is never a problem at Pahrump Valley Winery–if you have a helicopter. The mom-and-pop spot, which has won more than 300 national awards, has its own landing pad for high-rollers visiting from nearby Las Vegas. pahrumpwinery.com, open daily, bottles $12–$25. New Hampshire (25 wineries): After demand shot up for LaBelle Winery’s fruit wines (like cranberry and apple), the owners traded their 1,500-square-foot barn for a facility 13 times the size; the new space opens this September. labellewinerynh.com, open Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $14–$25. New Jersey (34 wineries): At Unionville Vineyards, set on an 88-acre farm, the head winemaker is a Napa expat fond of European-style grapes like syrah, grenache, and mourvedre. One to try: The Big O, a blend of merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon. unionvillevineyards.com, tastings from $5, open daily, bottles $12–$46. New Mexico (46 wineries): New Mexico’s hot, arid climate and high elevation give a boost to its prolific wine industry (production is expanding by nearly 15 percent annually). Sparkling wine is the main draw at Albuquerque’s Gruet Winery, owned by a pair of siblings from France’s Champagne region. Gruet’s bottles, many of which retail for less than $20, have graced wine lists at restaurants in all 50 states, including many with Michelin stars. gruetwinery.com, tastings from $6, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $14–$45. North Carolina (109 wineries): The number of North Carolina wineries has more than quadrupled since 2001, but the most popular is Biltmore, on the picturesque, 8,000-acre Asheville estate of the same name. In fact, it’s the most visited winery in the country, with roughly 60,000 folks dropping in each year. The sparkling Blanc de Blanc has been served at New York’s James Beard House. biltmore.com, tastings from $49 including guided tour and access to the historic Biltmore House, open daily, bottles $10–$25. North Dakota (9 wineries): In 2009, less than half of 1 percent of the wine sold in North Dakota was made in-state. But in tiny Burlington, the owners of Pointe of View aim to change that. Their Terre Haute Rouge, a semi-sweet blush, is made entirely from local grapes. povwinery.com, open daily May–December, bottles $12–$14. Ohio (148 wineries): Ohio’s winemaking history dates to the 1820s, and the state now churns out more than 1 million gallons annually. Most Ohio wineries are in the northeast, where Lake Erie tempers the cold, but don’t miss Kinkead Ridge down south. Its Viognier-Roussanne and cabernet franc were featured in the 2011 book 1,000 Great Everyday Wines from the World’s Best Wineries. kinkeadridge.com, tastings from $3, hours vary, bottles $10–$23. Oklahoma (21 wineries): Sleek and urban, Girouard Vines in downtown Tulsa plays up the city’s Art Deco history. The labels on the five award-winning Tulsa Deco wines feature local landmarks like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Westhope residence, built in 1929 on the city’s southeast side. tulsawine.com, tastings from $10, open Thursdays, bottles $18–$25. Oregon (450 wineries): Oregon is responsible for some of America’s best wines—in particular, the pinot noirs of the Willamette Valley. Left Coast Cellars in Rickreall uses only estate-grown grapes to make theirs—in a winery partly powered by solar energy. leftcoastcellars.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $16–$55. Pennsylvania (180 wineries): Thirty years ago, Pennsylvania had 20 wineries; now, it counts 180 (plus five AVAs and 11 wine trails). About 30 miles west of Philadelphia, Chaddsford Winery’s colonial-era barn is a cozy spot to taste award-winning merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and Naked Chardonnay, which foregoes oak-barrel aging to let its citrus flavors shine. chaddsford.com, tastings for sweet wines free, dry wines $10, open Thursday–Sunday, bottles $13–$50. Rhode Island (5 wineries): Portsmouth’s Greenvale Vineyards capitalizes on southeastern New England’s coastal climate to produce subtle chardonnay and crisp Vidal Blanc. Its sprawling Victorian farm also makes a lovely setting for Saturday jazz concerts from May to November. greenvale.com, tastings from $12, open daily, bottles $15–$28. South Carolina (12 wineries): Don’t be fooled by the name: The vineyards at Victoria Valley (elev. 2,900 feet) claim some of the state’s highest turf. The altitude aids in making European-style chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. victoriavalleyvineyards.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $8–$25. South Dakota (19 wineries): The rural Strawbale Winery combines unorthodox ingredients—currants, coffee, and jalapeños—and unconventional packaging: Wine bottles can be dipped in a half-pound of gourmet chocolate around Valentine’s Day and Christmas. strawbalewinery.com, tastings $5, open Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $12–$13. Tennessee (41 wineries): Founded by country-music star Kix Brooks (of Brooks and Dunn), Arrington Vineyards, set among verdant 25 miles south of Nashville, puts a Southern spin on grapes imported from the Napa Valley. Their spicy red Antebellum, for one, is aged in Tennessee whiskey barrels. arringtonvineyards.com, open daily, bottles $18–$50. Utah (8 wineries): Tours of Moab’s Castle Creek Winery, on a working ranch 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, are enhanced by its views of rugged red-rock cliffs and swirling white-water rapids. castlecreekwinery.com, open daily, bottles $9–$13. Vermont (24 wineries): Northern Vermont’s bracing winters produce fantastic ice wine. Some of the best is made at Snow Farm, on an island in Lake Champlain: It’s wowed the critics at Wine Spectator and the judges at 2011’s Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition. snowfarm.com, tastings from $1, open daily May–December, bottles $12–$45. West Virginia (14 wineries): West Virginia makes up for its short supply of grapevines with a bounty of pears, apples, and peaches—which are made into sweet, all-local wine at the 22-year-old Forks of Cheat, in the Appalachian Mountains. wvwines.com, tastings free, open daily, weather permitting, bottles $10.50–$15.50. Wisconsin (90 wineries): Hungarian immigrant Agoston Haraszthy–often called the father of California viticulture–spent two years planting grapes in Prairie du Sac, Wisc., in the 1840s before he ever set foot in Sonoma. Today, you can imagine what the fruits of his labor might have tasted like at the family-owned Wollersheim Winery, built on his former stomping grounds; the winery has won raves for its Fumé Blanc and Riesling. wollersheim.com, open daily, bottles $6.50–$22. Wyoming (2 wineries): When University of Wyoming student Patrick Zimmerer planted grapes on his family’s farm in Huntley (population: 30) as part of a school project in 2001, he singlehandedly doubled the tally of Wyoming vineyards. Eleven years and a $10,000 business-school grant later, his Table Mountain Vineyards has graduated to making 10-14 varieties of wine. wyowine.com, open by appointment, bottles $15.
10 Stylish Steals in the Caribbean!
Admit it—you've had the Caribbean on your must-see list for years. What's stopping you? For starters, the very word may inspire you to keep one hand on your wallet. But the truth is there's never been a better time to take the plunge—both figuratively and literally—into those turquoise waters. Here, words of wisdom from your favorite experts—the editors of Budget Travel—about enjoying the white sand, world-class restaurants, and rich culture of the Caribbean without breaking the bank. Plus, for each destination, we share a Stylish Steal that will help you book a stay that feels luxe at a smart price. SEE THE ISLANDS! 1. BAHAMAS From northernmost Grand Bahama, with its three national parks, underwater caves, and urbane nightlife, to the bustling port of Nassau, home to gorgeous Cable Beach and historic Bay Street lined with shops and cafes, the Bahamas remain a favorite for savvy travelers (airfares fell 4 percent in 2012 and hotel prices fell 2.5 percent from 2011 to 2012). While in Nassau, you can hop a three-hour ferry to the beach of your dreams on Andros Island, join a deep-sea fishing trip for blue marlin, wahoo, billfish, and tuna, and get a taste of authentic Bahamas cuisine at Twin Brothers with its grilled seafood combo platters including conch, snapper, and grouper starting at $20.50. Stylish Steal: Wyndham Nassau Resort & Casino, on Cable Beach, is a good home base for exploring Nassau and New Providence Island. Three bars and four restaurants are onsite and the casino offers table games and slots (wyndhamnassauresort.com, from $112). 2. ARUBA Sure, the western side of this Dutch island is dominated by high-end hotels, casinos, and chic shopping. But venturing off the ritzy path, Aruba offers staggering natural beauty and outdoor activities. Take a jeep tour of cactus-studded Arikok National Park, go snorkeling, horseback riding, or get a bird's-eye view of it all on a skydive. Near the island's northwestern tip, Malmok Beach is a mecca for snorkelers and divers thanks to the sunken Antilla, a 400-foot German World War II freighter that is now a diverse mini-ecosystem that includes ruby sponges, colorful coral, and tropical fish. Take a detour from the wreck to swim in secluded Boca Catalina Bay. Stylish Steal: MVC Eagle Beach is a 19-room inn with ocean-view terraces, all-white bedding, and dark-wood furniture (mvceaglebeach.com, from $95). 3. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Punta Cana has been a popular beach destination for Europeans for years, but Americans are now getting in on this inexpensive paradise just a stone's throw (well, a two-hour flight) from Miami. Bavaro Beach is the area's busiest, but its white sand, clear water, and offshore coral reef make it worth a visit. Take day-trips to the country's historic capital, Santa Domingo, with its Spanish colonial architecture, and Indigenous Eyes Park, a private nature reserve and jungle park featuring waterfalls and lagoons for swimming. You can also try a surf lesson at Macao Beach, explore the Cordillera Septentrional Mountains, and soak up some history at Casa Ponce de Leon, a museum dedicated to the explorer. Stylish Steal: NH Punta Cana is a colorful and stylish resort on Bavaro Beach with plenty of modern perks like complimentary Wi-Fi and satellite TV (nh-hotels.com, from $130). 4. JAMAICA "Liming" in Jamaica means relaxing. And with miles of beaches, Rastafarian culture, and amazing food, this is the place to lime! Doctor's Cave Beach is the most popular beach in Montego Bay, a short walk from many hotels, and Seven Mile Beach is a few minutes' drive away. Jamaica's beaches offer not only the sun and fun you'd expect but also tasty jerk chicken and the national beer, Red Stripe. Montego Bay Marine Park is an underwater nature reserve with tropical fish and anemones; it's an ideal place to try snorkeling. Up for something more adventurous? Venture to 180-foot Dunn River Falls in the rain forest in nearby Ocho Rios. Stylish Steal: Casa Blanca Beach Hotel is a classic Jamaican hotel with old-world styling situated in the middle of Montego Bay's Hip Strip near Doctor's Cave Beach (Casa Blanca Beach Hotel, from $80). 5. PUERTO RICO One of the delights of visiting Puerto Rico is that you're still in the U.S. yet a world away at the same time. Old San Juan's narrow cobblestone streets and pastel houses—not to mention its salsa-driven nightlife—invite you to join the party. Stop in at Bodega Chic or Nono's for a drink, or join in a public sing-along in Plaza del Mercado, nicknamed "La Placita." For a great view of the Atlantic, head to El Morro, an old fort that's stood here since the 16th century. The most popular beaches in San Juan are in the Condado neighborhood on the eastern side of the city; get there early to grab a prime spot on the golden sand. Stylish Steal: Numero Uno Guesthouse is a darling 15-room inn right by the beach in the Ocean Park neighborhood of San Juan (numero1guesthouse.com, from $149). 6. MEXICO Quick! What's the number one overseas destination for Americans? Venice? Paris? Guess again. It's Cancun, on Mexico's Caribbean coast. Here on this islet, 14 miles of beach and legendary nightlife draw hordes during Spring Break, but the real Cancun, with its Mayan roots, offers something much deeper than a party scene. The beach at Playa Tortugas is festive, with bungalow restaurants and bars under the palms; Playa Delfines, in contrast, is an escapist white-sand beach for aspiring surfers and those who crave some quiet. Don't miss a day-trip to the Riviera Maya with its beachfront ruins at Tulum and the jungle temples of Coba. If you insist on indulging in Cancun's nightlife, head to Coco Bongo, a 1,800-person temple to excess with dancing, nightly trapeze acts, and rock-star impersonators. Stylish Steal: The Royal Islander is a beachfront resort with humdrum décor but a great location (and a seaside pool) in the Zona Hotelera of Cancun (royalresorts.com, from $120). 7. U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS St. Croix is a bit of a curiosity in the Virgin Islands. It's bigger than St. Thomas and St. John put together, but draws the fewest visitors because of its remoteness and relatively undeveloped landscape. It also happens to be the easternmost point of the United States. That means that, without a passport, you can immerse yourself in a culture that blends Caribbean, Dutch, French, British, Spanish, and Danish influences all in a package less than 23 miles long and eight miles wide. With all the expected to-dos you associate with an island paradise (swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, fine dining, and golf), St. Croix also offers the old-world architecture of Christiansted, with homes dating back to the 18th century, and a "rain forest" near the western shore. (It's not technically a rain forest, but private land open to visitors, with a bounty of tropical flora and colorful hummingbirds, warblers, and other birds.) Stylish Steal: Hotel Caravelle is near Christiansted's historical sites and has a restaurant, bar, outdoor pool, and spa onsite (hotelcaravelle.com, from $136). 8. BERMUDA Sitting all alone in the Atlantic Ocean 650 miles east of North Carolina, Bermuda is a true outlier. It's not anywhere near the Caribbean Sea, and its food, architecture, and customs are far more British-colonial than tropical paradise. Still, the island (actually an atoll) has found an easy alliance with its neighbors to the south, sharing in tourism efforts and reaping the benefits of their counterbalanced seasons: The Caribbean booms in the winter, while peak season in Bermuda runs from spring through fall. Though Bermuda is always pricey—four of the five most expensive destinations in the Caribbean are here—visitors traveling off-season can find lower airfares, reduced golf fees, and hotels that may be more than 40 percent off summer rates. It's not quite sunbathing weather: December days average 70 degrees. Stylish Steal: The 200-year-old main house of the Greenbank Guesthouse & Cottages incorporates cedar beams that were used as ballast in transatlantic trading ships (greenbankbermuda.com, from $145). 9. CAYMAN ISLANDS The Caymans are practically synonymous with two wealthy pursuits: deep-sea diving and offshore banking. Dive 365, an initiative launched by the islands' Tourism Association, inspired by the notion that the Cayman's should provide a unique diving experience for each day of the year, is making at least one of those more accessible to regular folks. One of the most noteworthy dive projects is the decommissioned U.S. naval ship Kittiwake, a 251-foot submarine rescue vessel that now sits in 62 feet of water off Seven Mile Beach. Because the top is only about eight feet below the surface, the vessel is also accessible to snorkelers. Stylish Steal: Affordable hotels on Grand Cayman are rare, but one good pick is 130-room Sunshine Suites, just a stone's throw from the Ritz-Carlton; each room has a fully equipped kitchen (sunshinesuites.com, from $158). 10. TRINIDAD & TOBAGO Tobago is like Trinidad's backyard, a 116-square-mile haven just a 20-minute flight on Caribbean Airlines from its bigger, noisier sibling. Where Trinidad has restaurants, nightclubs, and 96 percent of the country's population, Tobago has empty beaches, calm bays, and spectacular brain-coral reefs. There are also almost three times the number of exotic bird species as there are hotels, and the birds have free rein in the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, one of the oldest protected forests in the western hemisphere. Stylish Steal: When it comes to human nesting, it doesn't get more peaceful than the four-room Gloucester Place Guest House in Parlatuvier, on the island's north coast. Shaded by coconut palms and mango trees, the guesthouse even has its own natural waterfall and an infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean (gloucesterplace.com, from $100).
Spring Food Festivals You Must Taste to Believe
Admit it. The words food and festival make your mouth water. I know, I know. You're picturing yourself balancing a plate of, say, gulf shrimp with a nice cool glass of local chardonnay. Add a balmy Southern breeze in your hair and you've pretty much got a perfect afternoon. Here, four of our favorite American food festivals coming up in May, served with a heaping side order of affordable hotels. Bloomin' Barbecue & Bluegrass (May 17 to 18). Sevierville, TN, has a lot going for it. Located in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and a short drive from Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Dollywood, the town is also host to an annual BBQ and bluegrass blast. Here, you'll meet barbeque cook teams who have been featured on the Food Network, free bluegrass concerts (including the Mountain Soul Vocal Competition featuring finalists from around the U.S. competing for a Nashville recording session), and witness an epic cook-off involving more than 2,800 pounds of meat that includes pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and ribs. Where to stay: La Quinta Inn & Suites Sevierville (2428 Winfield Dunn Parkway, Sevierville, TN, lq.com, doubles from $89) is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, near Dollywood, Dixie Stampede, and offers a free breakfast. New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (May 22 to 25). You already know this town knows how to throw a party. Now celebrating its 21st year, the NOWFF will include wine dinners hosted by more than 30 NOLA restaurants, the Royal Street Stroll through the French Quarter, and wine tastings from more than 175 wineries (including food pairings from local chefs). The event will also include the 7th annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, whose winner will represent the state in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off, plus seminars about international cuisine. Where to stay: Holiday Inn French Quarter—Chateau Lemoyne Hotel (301 Rue Dauphine, holidayinn.com, doubles from $167) has a prime central location near Bourbon Street. Atlanta Food & Wine Festival (May 30 to June 2). The organizers of this fest in Midtown Atlanta like to say "the South never tasted so good," and you'll catch their enthusiasm quickly when you immerse yourself in a lavish extended weekend of learning experiences (cooking and cocktail demos, tasting seminars, and panel discussions), tasting experiences (chef-curated tasting tents serving Southern meals, snacks, sweets, sandwiches, and wines and spirits), plus evening dinners and other events. With an advisory council of more than 60 award-winning food pros from 14 Southern states and the District of Columbia, this festival has an additional "southern" angle—it celebrates the food of other southern regions of the world, including Southern Europe, South Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Mexico. Where to stay: Westin Peachtree Plaza (210 Peachtree Street, starwoodhotels.com, doubles from $173) is in central Atlanta, near its Museum of Design, Centennial Olympic Park, and a short distance from the outstanding Georgia Aquarium. Taste of Cincinnati (May 25 to 27). America's longest-running culinary festival, dating back to 1979, this Memorial Day weekend bash celebrates the Cincinnati area's great restaurants and attracts 500,000 foodies each year. More than 40 locals restaurants typically participate, and in the weeks leading up to the event there is a Best of Taste Awards competition in which menu items are previewed and judged. This year's offerings are in the works, but last year's winners included Shrimp & Crab Dumpling with Noodle (deemed "Best Damn Dish" of the year), Fried Peanut Butter & Jelly, and Banana Cream Pie. Where to stay: Wingate by Wyndham Cincinnati (4320 Glendale Milford Road, wingatehotels.com, doubles from $92) is located in the Blue Ash business district. TALK TO US! We want to know: What's your favorite food festival?
More Places to go
Johnston County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 168,878. Its county seat is Smithfield.Johnston County is included in the Raleigh, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Combined Statistical Area, which has a population of 1,998,808 as of U.S. Census 2012 Population Estimates.
Smithfield is a town in and the county seat of Johnston County, North Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 10,966, and in 2019 the estimated population was 12,985. Smithfield is home to the Ava Gardner Museum and is situated along the Neuse River, where visitors enjoy the annual Smithfield Ham and Yam Festival, walks along the Buffalo Creek Greenway, and the historic downtown district. The town is located near North Carolina's Research Triangle and is approximately 30 miles (48 km) southeast of downtown Raleigh. The Raleigh-Durham-Cary Combined Statistical area has a population of over 2 million residents.
Fayetteville () is a city in Cumberland County, North Carolina, United States. It is the county seat of Cumberland County, and is best known as the home of Fort Bragg, a major U.S. Army installation northwest of the city. Fayetteville has received the All-America City Award from the National Civic League three times. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 200,564, with an estimated population of 211,657 in 2019. It is the 6th-largest city in North Carolina. Fayetteville is in the Sandhills in the western part of the Coastal Plain region, on the Cape Fear River. With an estimated population in 2019 of 526,719 people, the Fayetteville metropolitan area is the largest in southeastern North Carolina, and the fifth-largest in the state. Suburban areas of metro Fayetteville include Fort Bragg, Hope Mills, Spring Lake, Raeford, Pope Field, Rockfish, Stedman, and Eastover. Fayetteville's mayor is Mitch Colvin, who is serving his second term.