Category Archives: Travel Plans

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Making Romantic Moves in Nashville, The Music City

Nashville is the city that provides visitors and inhabitants with an unparalleled world of access to America’s greenest parks, freshest eats, and twangiest, tune-blaring venues. Dress to impress and call that friendly passenger you met on the plane, the fellow traveler who accepted your card at baggage claim, or the bright-eyed receptionist in the lobby of your fashionable hotel. Invite that kindred spirit to join you for the a date night to remember. Nashville awaits, y’all, and we’ve rounded up the best spots to kindle new romance (or re-spark old flames).

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Warner Parks

Treat your date to an afternoon at Warner Parks. Located 9 miles south of downtown Nashville, Warner Parks — comprised of Edwin and Percy Warner Parks, both historic sites divided by Old Hickory Boulevard — includes 2684 acres of deciduous forest and green meadows. Enjoy a romantic hike on Warner Woods Trail or on Mossy Ridge Trail, and savor breathtaking views of rolling hills, winding wood streams, and old limestone walls and staircases. Stretch out on a blanket next to Willow Pond, and bask in the golden rays of a Nashville sun. Feed your date sweet spoonfuls of pomegranate seeds and liberal chunks of dark chocolate at the Indian Springs Picnic Area. Play a competitive game of hide-and-go-seek in Basswood Hollow, and belly laugh as confused passersby — perhaps skeptical of blissful young lovers and their whimsical ways — quicken their pace and avoid eye contact. Whisper sweet nothings into the wind: Bonus points if you can make ‘em rhyme! Go in for the kiss on Flag Pole Hill at sunset.

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Bella Napoli

Nestled in a cozy, unassuming back alley off Music Row in Edgehill Village, Bella Napoli boasts the “Best Pizza in Nashville,” thanks to the the restaurant’s pizza-making virtuoso, chef/owner Paolo Tramontano. Like a perfectly orchestrated piece of music, the composition of each pie includes ingredients good enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand tall: dough imported directly from the Caputo Mill in Italy, beautiful, ripe tomatoes from the majestic San Marzano region, and flavorful and refreshing Mozzarella di Bufala. Start the night off with a couple fresh caprese salads (dressed with a delicious homemade balsamic vinaigrette!) and a bottle of 11 Albini Armani Organic Chardonnay. For the main course, order a Parma Pizza (fresh mozzarella, diced tomatoes, arugula topped with Parma prosciutto and parmigiano), and for dessert, indulge your tastebuds in the sublime sweetness of tiramisu. Pretend to go to the restroom and intercept the waiter on the way. Pay the whole bill, but not before ordering two double espressos. The night is young!

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Mercy Lounge

Half a mile from downtown Nashville, on the second story of an old and rickety brick building, the city’s hippest music lovers shuffle into the beloved Mercy Lounge. Equipped with the most state-of-the-art sound system on Cannery Row, Mercy Lounge has attracted a diverse array of acts since its founding in 2003, including The White Stripes, Beach House, Dr. Dog, and She & Him (Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward). Between sets, shoot a competitive game of pool in the cozy back bar area, or sink into some booth seating with a couple sizeable beers. Invite your date to go with you to the dance floor for a whirl. When your feet start to hurt, take a short cab ride to the nearby Courtyard By Marriott Nashville Downtown. Bid each other a good night (or perhaps a good morning) and show some gratitude to the music city for keeping the dream alive!

 

Finding cheap hotels in New York isn't the only way to travel on a budget.

7 Tips For Traveling Across The Country On A Budget

If you’re going to try to see the countless amazing sites across America, you’ll need to get started now. And if you’re hoping to remain within a budget, you should definitely follow these tips.

Invest in a Federal Recreation Pass

Some cities are always going to be expensive, but if you think ahead and buy a Federal Recreation Pass, you can enter federally-funded recreation areas throughout the United States for free. This includes places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park. You can even have some friends tag along!

Bring Your Own Groceries

If you’re driving across the country, a cooler with lunch meats, soda and condiments can come in handy at rest stops. Even when you’re staying at a hotel, it’s best to have food stored in the refrigerator. Save eating out for those special restaurants that you just have to try.

Check out Free Sites

Even if you don’t pay for a pass to see national landmarks, there are countless sites you can visit for free. From the National History Museum in D.C. to the French Quarter — which also has low cost hotels in New Orleans like Historic Streetcar Inn — there are definite stopping points that can be accessed on a shoestring budget.

Bring Friends Along

If you’ve opted to see the country via automobile, one of the best ways to stay within your budget is to bring friends along. Not only will you get a better value on your Federal Recreation Pass, but you’ll also be able to split the cost of fuel and your lodging. Just imagine, for instance, how much more affordable a trip to The Big Apple would be if you weren’t footing the bill for New York hotels and taxis alone.

Utilize Travel Aggregation Sites

Online travel sites have become a popular way of saving money. Using travel aggregation sites like Hipmunk, which seek out the lowest prices from all the top travel sites, is an ideal way to save money on traveling.

Use Technology for Cheap Gas

Imagine if you knew which gas stations along your route had the lowest-priced fuel. Just think of how much you could save! That’s exactly what GasBuddy does. You can check out their website or download the app, and never overpay for gas again!

Avoid Dining In When Eating Out

When you do opt to buy food from a restaurant, it’s best to place your order to go. This will minimize the necessity of tipping. Even if you find a cheap hotel in cities ranging from Chicago to El Paso, tipping can quickly wipe out the money you’re saving on a low-cost hotel.

Traveling across the country doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. There are now many methods for saving on cross-country trips. Fortunately, this means great travels without breaking the bank.

Visitors have myriad options with hotels in Dallas and Fort Worth.

Top 7 Best Hotels in the Dallas – Ft. Worth Area

Dallas/Fort Worth is the nation’s fourth-largest metropolitan area and boasts an exciting mixture of cowboy and cosmopolitan lifestyles. Home to a wide array of cultural attractions and entertainment, it is also one of America’s most visited regions. You have plenty of choices with hotels in Dallas and Fort Worth. Consider one of these top hotels if you want something special for your trip to the city where big things happen.

Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek

Situated just two miles from the center of Dallas, the Rosewood Mansion is ideal whether you want to enjoy the marble bath or go out to experience a show at the Dallas Performing Arts Center. This five-star accommodation is near a host of eateries, shops and other attractions, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the American Airlines Center (go Mavericks and Stars!).

Omni Fort Worth Hotel

You are centrally located at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel. However, you may delay visiting nearby attractions like the Fort Worth Water Gardens and Saint Patrick Cathedral when your room has high-end furnishings and a 42-inch LCD television. On-site amenities, such as the poolside bar, full-service spa and five restaurants, also make it hard to leave. You have endless entertainment within a short distance, from drinks at the T&P Tavern to events at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

Omni Dallas Hotel

Located in the Dallas Arts District, the Omni Dallas Hotel lets you walk to sights like Pioneer Plaza, the JFK Memorial, and Old Red Museum of Dallas County History and Culture. Take a tour of the arts, as long as you’re not too busy enjoying pillow top mattresses, city vistas, terrace pools and other amenities.

The Joule Hotel in Dallas

This four-star hotel has enough to make you yell “Yeehaw!” From the custom Italian woodwork to the rain forest showers, everything is designed for comfort and unique experiences. Merbau floors, majestic artwork and boutique shops give The Joule Hotel unmatched originality. Proximity to attractions like the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, the Dallas World Aquarium, and tons of popular local dining makes it one of the more practical hotels in Dallas.

Fort Worth Stockyards Hotel

When considering hotels in Dallas and Fort Worth, few boast Texan authenticity like the Fort Worth Stockyards Hotel. Situated in the Stockyards National Historic District, this hotel showcases a distinct Western vibe and architecture. The West-style suites will bring you back in time, and attractions like Billy Bob’s Texas and the Texas Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame will offer you plenty of fun. It should be noted that Bonnie and Clyde once stayed here, too.

Hotel ZaZa

With artfully decorated rooms and on-site amenities like a Roman-style spa tub, massages and fine dining, Hotel ZaZa lives up to its unforgettable name. This boutique hotel is also near sights such as Meyerson Symphony Center and the Crow Collection of Asian Art, among many others.

The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel

Walk to the Sundance Square entertainment district, or simply enjoy city views from your room’s terrace at The Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel. The on-site tennis court, bar and indoor pool gives you plenty to do after a day exploring Fort Worth.

Regardless of whether you’re searching for accommodation that is top-notch luxury or something uniquely Texan, you can find it in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Many of the best hotels in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex are within a short distance of city attractions.

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How To Beat Boredom And Anxiety During Solo Traveling

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Traveling solo can elicit a mixed bag of emotions: Excitement, happiness, fear, boredom, stress… the whole gamut. Still, traveling alone is well worth it. Don’t let the fear of boredom or anxiety prevent you from reaping these benefits. Instead, follow our tips for coping with stress and getting the most out of your solo adventure.

Nix Anxiety

  • Create an itinerary. Detailed trip planning can create a sense of security. If nothing else, consider booking accommodations in advance—it’s a huge stress reliever to know there will be a roof over your head come nightfall. Also read up on how to pass through customs and the rules for duty-free shopping. Knowing the regulations for your destination(s) will help you arrive prepared.
  • Make new friends. Nothing beats loneliness like not being alone. It’s easy to meet new people on organized tours, in internet cafes, or through volunteer activities. Get a head start by connecting with fellow travelers on travel forums prior to the trip.
  • Designate an emergency contact. Keep their contact info handy at all times. Also be sure to let someone know your general whereabouts each day. The knowledge that someone is looking out for you can do a lot to ease anxiety.
  • Reach out to loved ones. Skype, write an email or postcard, or make a quick international call to a friend or family member. Hearing a familiar voice can be grounding and will help settle any nerves that arise during travel.
  • Bring a memento. Create a tangible connection to home by bringing along something comforting, whether that’s a playlist of favorite songs, photos of friends and family, a favorite item of clothing, or a lucky pebble.
  • Practice self-care. Travel can disrupt normal routines (and that’s often a good thing). But don’t let self-care slip through the cracks. Get enough sleep, eat well and exercise, and seek out comfort if anxiety flares up. Taking good care of yourself will make it that much easier to cope with any stressors that arise during travel.

Beat Boredom

  • Make a list. Research the destination in advance to learn what kinds of exciting opportunities are available to tourists, from amazing hotel breakfasts to city-wide scavenger hunts. Outline everything you want to see and accomplish during a trip, and focus on crossing off each of the items on the list. Staying busy is a sure-fire way to fend off boredom.
  • Ask questions. Take an interest in other people’s stories, whether you’re talking to an airplane seatmate, fellow travelers in a café, or locals at market. Conversation is a great way to gain exposure to new people and ideas, learn about a destination, and pass the time.
  • Invest in gadgets. It’s okay to take the easy way out sometimes. A book, a deck of cards, a Gameboy, or an iPad queued up with a favorite TV show are all simple ways to kick boredom to the curb. And of course, take advantage of in-flight entertainment whenever it’s available.
  • Plan for evenings. Nighttime can be hard on solo travelers because many sites are closed, other travelers have gone to bed, and there are fewer distractions. Expect that evenings may bring on boredom and plan accordingly. Consider going to theater or film events, get absorbed in a book, or take care of housekeeping like doing laundry or repacking a messy suitcase.
  • Assign a project. This great idea comes from The One Percent Club: Assign yourself a project for the trip, whether it’s keeping a travel journal, taking five high-quality photographs every day, reading a certain number of books, blogging, etc. Having a sense of purpose will keep you focused and keep boredom at bay.

The Silver Lining

Believe it or not, anxiety and boredom come with some real benefits. While traveling alone might be a bit stressful, focus on the fact that it allows an almost unheard-of amount of freedom. It affords the opportunity to rediscover what makes you tick—you get to decide what to do, where to go, and when to do any and everything. Similarly, research shows that a little boredom is actually a good thing: It can boost creativity, encourage daydreaming, and foster the growth of new goals.

Instead of viewing anxiety and boredom as negative states to be avoided at all costs, look for the positives. Keeping an open mind and practicing the strategies outlined above will ensure that any solo traveler can cope with boredom and anxiety in constructive ways. And just think of the stories you’ll be able to tell upon your return!

 

7 Ways to Save on Your Edinburgh Vacation

Full of history and many famous attractions, Edinburgh is a must-see city on any visit to Scotland. It is renowned for its famous landmarks like Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, and the Royal Mile. Visitors to Edinburgh can stand on the remains of an ancient volcano, see where Mary Queen of Scots resided, and view the new Scottish Parliament- all within a short distance. However, the strength of the British pound sometimes makes it difficult to visit the UK without leaving an arm and a leg behind. Here’s how to enjoy “Auld Reekie” on a budget.

Visit the Museums

Most of Edinburgh’s museums are free to visit. Consider booking the Scotsman hotel in Edinburgh for easy access to nearby museums, and spend the entire day exploring exhibits and old buildings. Try the Writers Museum on the Royal Mile or the Museum of Scotland for details of local history.

Take a Hike

Escape from your base at the Haymarket Hotel in Edinburgh at dawn and head for Arthur’s Seat, the prominent crag overlooking the city that was once a volcano. From there, you’ll have an amazing view of Edinburgh from a fantastic vantage point.

Spot Statues

Famous monuments and statues are all over the city of Edinburgh; walk around town and you’ll find memorials to Adam Smith, David Hume and Sherlock Holmes, for example. Don’t forget to visit Greyfriars Bobby, the delightful dog statue commemorating the local Skye Terrier who lived beside his deceased master’s grave.

Pack a Picnic

One of the cheapest ways to eat out is to grab some picnic ingredients from a local deli and head for one of the viewpoints or gardens in the city. Try Princes Street Gardens or Calton Hill with its lovely views. For a quieter spot to eat, check out the secret garden behind Dunbar Close on the Royal Mile.

Use Public Transportation

Edinburgh is an easy city to walk around, but if you need a ride, make use of the cheap and efficient public transportation system. Bus service from the airport to the center of town is quick, and cheaper than a taxi. Trams have recently been reintroduced to Edinburgh, and are another fun and cheap way of exploring the city.

Tour the Parliament

Scotland has its own parliament building at Holyrood, and the question of independence from the rest of the United Kingdom has been an issue for several years. You can take free one hour tours of the Scottish parliament building, though they must be pre-booked.

Have a Swim and a Soak

Edinburgh has its own beach at Portobello, and although it may not have the warm waters of the Mediterranean, it is nonetheless popular in summer with swimmers. Nearby are some traditional Turkish baths, which are the perfect antidote to an energizing day sightseeing in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh has many attractions which are within walking distance of many of the good hotels. Take a look at the diverse attractions in Scotland’s capital city!

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Celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month With This Three-Day Kentucky Bourbon Tour

In 2007, Congress declared September to be America’s National Bourbon Heritage Month—so it’s time to get sipping.

The most popular type of whiskey in the U.S., bourbon is made from a grain mixture (aka “mash”) that’s at least 51 percent corn. Federal law also mandates that bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels and bottled at 80 proof or stronger, and nothing other than distilled water can be added to the bottles.

There’s no better place to celebrate this American spirit than in its birthplace: Kentucky’s Bourbon Country. Fly into Lexington and prepare to drink up on this multi-day tour.

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Day One: Buffalo Trace Distillery – Frankfort, KY

Where else to start exploring the history of bourbon than at America’s oldest continuously operating distillery? For over 200 years, Buffalo Trace has been distilling bourbons—the distillery even remained open during Prohibition in order to make bourbon for “medicinal purposes.” In the past decade alone, the family-owned bourbon producer has earned more awards than any other distillery in the world.

Take part in Buffalo Trace’s award-winning history by embarking on the Trace Tour, a free, hour-long tour that walks visitors through every stage of the bourbon-making process, from aging barrels to packaging (and, of course, tasting the finished product). You’ll also be able to taste the exclusive Pappy Van Winkle or George T. Stagg (both are bottled at Buffalo Trace)—but for a price.

Where to Stay

Nearby Lexington, KY is the state’s second-largest city and is considered the Horse Capital of the World. The city is also home to a wide range of budget-friendly hotels; check out the Hyatt Place Lexington for easy access to restaurants and downtown attractions, or the University Inn Hotel, which offers quiet lodgings and a continental breakfast.

Day 2: Woodford Reserve to Wild Turkey

After waking up in Lexington, prepare to visit two distilleries over the course of the day (don’t worry; they’re not far from each other).

Woodford Reserve Distillery – Versailles, KY

Start off at one of the country’s smallest and oldest distilleries. To this day, Woodford Reserve is crafted in small batches in order to enhance the flavor of each of the bourbon’s ingredients and developmental stages—grains, water, fermentation, distillation, and maturation. The distillery builds and chars its own barrels and boasts one of the longest fermentation processes in the country, all of which contributes to the bourbon’s complex flavor profile.

The daily tour ($10 per person) at Woodford Reserve explores the history of bourbon and details the distillery’s unique approach to the bourbon-making process. Or take an even more in-depth approach on the Cork to Corn Tour ($30 per person), a two-hour session that covers the mechanical, chemical, and technical processes that contribute to making great bourbon.

Wild Turkey – Lawrenceburg, KY

Located just 16 miles down the road from Woodford Reserve is the distillery for Wild Turkey, one of the country’s most popular bourbons. The original distillery was founded in 1869 and then modernized in 1933 once Prohibition had ended. It sits atop a limestone shelf on the Kentucky River, which provides water for the distillery. In order to keep up with high demand, in 2010 the brand created a new, larger distillery nearby. Just how big is demand? The new warehouse can hold 20,000 barrels.

The free tour allows visitors to watch mash being made, peruse the original fermentation room, and witness the bourbon-making process from filling the barrels to bottling the aged bourbon.

Where to Stay

Head back to the hotel in Lexington for the evening and rest up—you’ll be traveling partway across the state the next day.

Day 3: Jim Beam to Bulleit

Wake up for the approximately 1.5-hour drive from Lexington to Clermont—perhaps better known as the home of Jim Beam. You’ll be visiting two distilleries again today, so be sure to pace yourself. On the way to Clermont, stop for lunch in Bardstown, the official Bourbon Capital of the World. Shop for souvenirs (and, of course, bourbon) at the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace before driving on to Jim Beam.

Jim Beam – Clermont, KY

Another of America’s most popular bourbons, Jim Beam was founded in 1795 and has been family owned and operated for seven generations. The distillery is known for aging its bourbon twice as long as the standard aging process and has used the same strain of yeast for more than 75 years.

The Jim Beam American Stillhouse tour ($10 for adults 21 and over, free for anyone under 21) allows visitors to actively participate in the bourbon production process, from mixing grains to bottling your very own product from Jim Beam.

Bulleit – Louisville, KY

Twenty-nine miles away from Jim Beam sits the Bulleit Distilling Company. Despite being the baby of the bunch (the distillery was founded in 1987), Bulleit Bourbon has already made quite a name for itself. The company’s founder, Thomas E. Bulleit, Jr., quit his job as a successful lawyer and pursued his lifelong dream of reviving his great-great-grandfather’s bourbon recipe, which was produced between 1830 and 1860. The distillery maintains the family tradition by creating a spicy-yet-smooth flavor that’s earned accolades across the country.

The Stitzel-Weller Distillery tour ($10 for adults 21 and over, free for anyone under 21) takes place in a beautiful old building that first opened on Derby Day in 1935 and was reopened to the public in 2014. Learn about Bulleit’s distinctive family recipe while strolling through the distillery, then finish things off with (you guessed it) a tasting.

Where to Stay

Head to Louisville, which is just a few miles away from Bulleit’s distillery. The city is packed with fun things to do; not least among those activities is the Urban Bourbon Trail, a bar-hopping adventure among the self-dubbed “world’s best bourbon bars,” each of which serves at least 50 different bourbon varieties.

Turn in for the night at the luxurious and stylish 21c Museum Hotel, which also includes an on-site modern art museum. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option after sipping on bourbon all evening, check out the Econo Lodge Downtown.

Three days, five distilleries, and a whole lotta bourbon—after touring some of America’s best bourbon distilleries, you may just want to go ahead and declare October (and November, and December…) your own personal bourbon appreciation month.

In 2007, Congress declared September to be America’s National Bourbon Heritage Month—so it’s time to get sipping.

The most popular type of whiskey in the U.S., bourbon is made from a grain mixture (aka “mash”) that’s at least 51 percent corn. Federal law also mandates that bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels and bottled at 80 proof or stronger, and nothing other than distilled water can be added to the bottles.

There’s no better place to celebrate this American spirit than in its birthplace: Kentucky’s Bourbon Country. Fly into Lexington and prepare to drink up on this multi-day tour.

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Day One: Buffalo Trace Distillery – Frankfort, KY

Where else to start exploring the history of bourbon than at America’s oldest continuously operating distillery? For over 200 years, Buffalo Trace has been distilling bourbons—the distillery even remained open during Prohibition in order to make bourbon for “medicinal purposes.” In the past decade alone, the family-owned bourbon producer has earned more awards than any other distillery in the world.

Take part in Buffalo Trace’s award-winning history by embarking on the Trace Tour, a free, hour-long tour that walks visitors through every stage of the bourbon-making process, from aging barrels to packaging (and, of course, tasting the finished product). You’ll also be able to taste the exclusive Pappy Van Winkle or George T. Stagg (both are bottled at Buffalo Trace)—but for a price.

Where to Stay

Nearby Lexington, KY is the state’s second-largest city and is considered the Horse Capital of the World. The city is also home to a wide range of budget-friendly hotels; check out the Hyatt Place Lexington for easy access to restaurants and downtown attractions, or the University Inn Hotel, which offers quiet lodgings and a continental breakfast.

Day 2: Woodford Reserve to Wild Turkey

After waking up in Lexington, prepare to visit two distilleries over the course of the day (don’t worry; they’re not far from each other).

Woodford Reserve Distillery – Versailles, KY

Start off at one of the country’s smallest and oldest distilleries. To this day, Woodford Reserve is crafted in small batches in order to enhance the flavor of each of the bourbon’s ingredients and developmental stages—grains, water, fermentation, distillation, and maturation. The distillery builds and chars its own barrels and boasts one of the longest fermentation processes in the country, all of which contributes to the bourbon’s complex flavor profile.

The daily tour ($10 per person) at Woodford Reserve explores the history of bourbon and details the distillery’s unique approach to the bourbon-making process. Or take an even more in-depth approach on the Cork to Corn Tour ($30 per person), a two-hour session that covers the mechanical, chemical, and technical processes that contribute to making great bourbon.

Wild Turkey – Lawrenceburg, KY

Located just 16 miles down the road from Woodford Reserve is the distillery for Wild Turkey, one of the country’s most popular bourbons. The original distillery was founded in 1869 and then modernized in 1933 once Prohibition had ended. It sits atop a limestone shelf on the Kentucky River, which provides water for the distillery. In order to keep up with high demand, in 2010 the brand created a new, larger distillery nearby. Just how big is demand? The new warehouse can hold 20,000 barrels.

The free tour allows visitors to watch mash being made, peruse the original fermentation room, and witness the bourbon-making process from filling the barrels to bottling the aged bourbon.

Where to Stay

Head back to the hotel in Lexington for the evening and rest up—you’ll be traveling partway across the state the next day.

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Day 3: Jim Beam to Bulleit

Wake up for the approximately 1.5-hour drive from Lexington to Clermont—perhaps better known as the home of Jim Beam. You’ll be visiting two distilleries again today, so be sure to pace yourself. On the way to Clermont, stop for lunch in Bardstown, the official Bourbon Capital of the World. Shop for souvenirs (and, of course, bourbon) at the Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace before driving on to Jim Beam.

Jim Beam – Clermont, KY

Another of America’s most popular bourbons, Jim Beam was founded in 1795 and has been family owned and operated for seven generations. The distillery is known for aging its bourbon twice as long as the standard aging process and has used the same strain of yeast for more than 75 years.

The Jim Beam American Stillhouse tour ($10 for adults 21 and over, free for anyone under 21) allows visitors to actively participate in the bourbon production process, from mixing grains to bottling your very own product from Jim Beam.

Bulleit – Louisville, KY

Twenty-nine miles away from Jim Beam sits the Bulleit Distilling Company. Despite being the baby of the bunch (the distillery was founded in 1987), Bulleit Bourbon has already made quite a name for itself. The company’s founder, Thomas E. Bulleit, Jr., quit his job as a successful lawyer and pursued his lifelong dream of reviving his great-great-grandfather’s bourbon recipe, which was produced between 1830 and 1860. The distillery maintains the family tradition by creating a spicy-yet-smooth flavor that’s earned accolades across the country.

The Stitzel-Weller Distillery tour ($10 for adults 21 and over, free for anyone under 21) takes place in a beautiful old building that first opened on Derby Day in 1935 and was reopened to the public in 2014. Learn about Bulleit’s distinctive family recipe while strolling through the distillery, then finish things off with (you guessed it) a tasting.

Where to Stay

Head to Louisville, which is just a few miles away from Bulleit’s distillery. The city is packed with fun things to do; not least among those activities is the Urban Bourbon Trail, a bar-hopping adventure among the self-dubbed “world’s best bourbon bars,” each of which serves at least 50 different bourbon varieties.

Turn in for the night at the luxurious and stylish21c Museum Hotel, which also includes an on-site modern art museum. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option after sipping on bourbon all evening, check out the Econo Lodge Downtown.

Three days, five distilleries, and a whole lotta bourbon—after touring some of America’s best bourbon distilleries, you may just want to go ahead and declare October (and November, and December…) your own personal bourbon appreciation month.

 

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Traveling with Pets: How to Make Your Pet’s Hotel Stay Awesome

When it comes to traveling with pets on vacation, a little research can go a long way. It can be easier than one might expect to bring furry friends along on your trip and keep them happy and comfortable.

Before Arrival

Hipmunk has your back, as always, with your hotel search. Filter your results by amenities offered, or check out our Pet-Friendly Hotels Index to get a good sense of which cities and destinations offer the most pet-friendly options.

Communication with the hotel is essential for an easy and stress-free trip, and much of it can take place before arrival. When investigating a possible hotel, keep in mind that not all hotels accept pets, and that some may charge extra fees per night for furry companions. On the other hand, many hotels offer amazing pet perks for a small per stay fee. The Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego, for example, charges $100 per stay for pet-walking and pet-sitting services and a room service menu for cats and dogs, as well as helpful items such as bedding, litter boxes, and leashes.

When making a reservation, requesting a ground floor room is a good idea for dogs — it will enable easy walks and potty breaks, and will avoid disturbing downstairs neighbors with scurrying. For cats, a handicapped accessible room is ideal because of the larger bathroom, which offers easy clean up for a litter box.

What to Bring

There are a few essential things to bring along when traveling with pets. Identification tags and medical records are particularly important, especially if traveling by air. Bringing pets’ favorite toys will help them feel more at home in the new environment, and chewing toys for dogs and scratching toys for cats especially will distract them from chewing or scratching any hotel furniture. To make pets comfortable and avoid GI distress, keep them hydrated with bottled water and bring some of their normal food from home.

Many hotels require that pets be kept in a crate when left alone in the room, and even if it isn’t required, it’s a good idea for the happiness of travelers, pets, and hotel staff. It will avoid unwanted accidents in the room and prevent animals from rushing out the door if housekeeping visits the room.

Helpful Tips

Just in case, it’s a good idea to leave a cell phone number with the front desk staff of the hotel so that they can alert pet owners to any complaints or mishaps. For the general well-being of pets and owners, making sure that pets get a little exercise before arriving at the hotel can make them much happier and calmer once in the room. Maintaining a steady routine on the trip can also help make them more relaxed in a new atmosphere. A little advance preparation and communication with hotel staff can make traveling with pets an easier than expected experience for everyone involved, and can ensure a happy trip for both humans and animals.

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6 Cool Vacation Spots To Beat The Heat

There’s no denying that it’s extremely hot outside, and it will only continue to get hotter as we make our way deeper into summer. To beat the heat, or at least take a break from the high August temperatures, check out our list of some great cool weather vacation spots. Stay a week or maybe even a month in some of these locales, and enjoy the crisp and refreshing weather!

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1. A Cross Gulf Cruise of Alaska

What better way to beat the heat than by spending two weeks traveling through the icy waters of the Gulf of Alaska? Besides getting to stop in at Alaska’s main port cities, cruisers get to spend a lot of quality time exploring Alaska’s glacial landscape. To get there, travel first to Vancouver or Seattle, and then hop on board one of the many available cruise ships. After a few days of soaking in the cool sea breeze while standing on the ship’s deck, it’ll be hard to remember the scorch of summer heat.

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2. Camping at Glacier National Park

For outdoor enthusiasts, there’s no better place to enjoy cool temperatures than at Glacier National Park in Montana. Snowfall persists late into the hottest parts of August, which means that hikes and camping in this park are guaranteed to be chilly and refreshing. And if the cold air of the mountains gets to be too much, visitors can always retreat to the mild warmth of the park’s meadows and creek beds.

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3. A Stay in Reykjavik, Iceland

A trip to Iceland’s beautiful capital city is a no-brainer solution to beating summer woes. In fact, Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city, which means that temperatures are guaranteed to be low and cool. Venture out for a snowy hike or simply enjoy being able to walk outside in a city without having to be on the constant lookout for AC.

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4. An Antarctic Cruise

Though travel to Antarctica is not cheap, a once-in-a-lifetime excursion to the land of ice, polar bears, and penguins might be just what some travelers need to recoup after sweltering summer temperatures. Grab passage on an Antarctica cruise and trade in those swim floaties for some warm fur gloves.

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5. Hiking in Patagonia

While it may be deep summer for countries north of the equator, there’s a whole world of pleasant and temperate weather waiting way down south. One great destination to visit below the equator is the Patagonia region of South America, which straddles the border of Chile and Argentina. A popular site for backpackers, spend a few weeks or a month traversing the cool, icy landscape. Make sure to check out the Perito Moreno Glacier and the Argentine Lake District.

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6. A Restful Visit to Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

Lunenberg is the perfect spot for the tourist looking to escape the heat for weather that is cool, but not frigid. This beautiful waterfront town in Nova Scotia is a UNESCO World Heritage sight and boasts a bevy of exciting water activities and quaint B&Bs. Temperatures in the summer hover between sixty and seventy degrees, which makes for a calm and serene atmosphere.

 

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4 Gluten-Free Hotel Groups That Care About Your Health

Though more people are embracing the gluten-free lifestyle, it can be difficult to find hotels that cater to specific dietary needs. Luckily, a few hotel chains have rolled out gluten-free menus in all of their hotels, so travelers with gluten sensitivities can be taken care of.  Here our four gluten-free hotel groups perfect for those with special dietary needs.

Fairmont Hotels and Resorts

At Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, chefs have been trained specifically to offer up a wide variety of special dietary and allergy specific meals. Fairmont now offers a new menu called Lifestyle Cuisine Plus, available upon request. Lifestyle Cuisine Plus not only offer gluten free options, but heart healthy, vegan/vegetarian, and macrobiotic meals as well. Guests may speak with the chef directly to plan their meals for the entirety of their stay. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts can be found in major cities such as Chicago, Toronto, Dallas, and Santa Monica.

Grand Hyatt/Hyatt Regency Hotels

Hyatt hotels are committed to using only the healthiest locally sourced ingredients. They design their menus to be portion controlled and while regulating fat and sodium contents (without sacrificing flavor!).  Not only that, they have gluten-free and vegan options on every menu. With 587 properties worldwide, Hyatt prides themselves on bringing hospitality and health all around the globe from New York to Chicago to Orlando.

Sandals Resort

Gluten free travelers looking for a more tropical destination will find what they need at Sandals Resort. With multiple locations all with sun and sand, relax knowing that Sandals works with guests to fit their individual dietary needs. Sandals’ Gourmet Discovery Dining culinary teams are responsible for offering gluten-free and lactose intolerant options, as well as options for guests with specific food allergies — 24 hours a day. Find Sandals resorts in Negril Beach, Montego Bay, and St. Johns.

Omni Hotels and Resorts

With over 45 Omni Hotels and Resorts nationwide, each one has been equipped with gluten-free options for even the most sensitive of travellers. Breakfast includes an assortment of gluten-free breads and muffins, and even includes protective sleeves for toasting. Even more impressive, Omni Hotels take care to keep gluten-free foods separate from non gluten-free food in order to prevent any cross contamination. While each Omni Hotel and Resort is different, the gluten-free options are always available. Omni Hotels and Resorts can be found in major cities such as Atlanta, San Diego, Houston, and Boston.

 

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Backpacking the Havasupai trail in the Grand Canyon

Navajo falls, Havasupai

Within 36 hours, we were as far away from civilization as possible. From San Francisco, we had flown 500 miles to Las Vegas, driven 220 miles to Hualapai Hilltop, hiked 12 miles along Havasupai trail and were now standing at the rim of a gorgeous blue-­green waterfall named Navajo falls. We were in the heart of the Grand Canyon near a village called Supai and this was our first sight of the blue-­green waters of Havasupai. My first thought was, we should jump in now! In front of me lay a surreal but thrilling sight. A pool of water as clear as glass, shining with the iridescence of emerald-sapphire in the sunlight. But let me not get ahead of myself, I should first explain how we found ourselves in this paradise.

Hiking the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim might be more popular, but surely most people would find it impossible to forget their first sight of turquoise-blue Havasu Falls. It’s no surprise that Havasupai is also known as the Garden of Eden. It’s famous waterfalls – Navajo, Havasu, Mooney and Beaver form lush oases of blue-green beauty which are in surreal contrast with the red-rock desert.

View of the canyon from Hualapai Hilltop, Havasupai

Hiking on a Native American reservation is a unique experience. When hiking in a national park, we are aware that no human actually lives inside the park. What we see and experience is inside a protected area, kept pristine by limiting human activity. But a Native American reservation like Havasupai is home to many people. People who live and work on the land, reside in villages, have families, build communities – same as what we do. But what makes this unique is the remote nature of their lifestyle. Supai village is far away from anything resembling urban modernity. In fact, Supai is the only place in the entire United States which still receives its postal mail by mule! Which is not to say that the locals do not live comfortably and have access to internet. But for a village which is deep in the valley of the Grand Canyon where the only way in and out is by hiking, riding a horse or taking a helicopter, the sense of remoteness becomes part of it’s identity. For me, coming from a lifestyle where I was used to being online and available every waking moment, I was looking forward to experiencing this remoteness firsthand.


Backpacking on the Havasupai trail

We drove from Las Vegas to Hualapai Hilltop and started hiking before noon. The trail is rough and strewn with rocks and pebbles. Watch out for fragrant mule dung! We walked through tall narrow canyons with walls pressed in closely on us. We watched the red-rock desert sand glint in a thousand different shades of gold and vermilion as the sun shone brightly overhead. The crunch of sand underneath our feet echoed off the canyon walls. We scrambled aside on hearing the thundering hooves of a fast-approaching mule train. To truly experience Havasupai, it is imperative that one hike it.

There are no evident signs on the trail so most people try to complete the hike in daylight. As we walked, the night got darker and once familiar sights & sounds took on a scary life of their own. Even though we were a large group, there was silence as everybody focused on walking. All was well until a horse neighed loudly in a field next to us and made us all jump out of our skin! Soon a signpost encouragingly informed us that we were a mile away from the village. As we approached Supai, it appeared completely deserted and empty. A few dogs howled loudly, raising a racket as they sensed strangers passing by. It was a spooky welcome but we were looking forward to a good night’s rest after backpacking 10 miles!

Rejuvenated the next morning, we headed out to explore Supai’s famed blue-green waters. Geared up in swimsuits and daypacks we hiked to the nearest falls a mile from the village – Navajo falls. The original Navajo falls used to be 75 foot high, but the present falls were created by the 2008 flash floods. The destructive nature of the floods is evident by how the earth’s crust has been ripped apart and the river has made its way through, as a gentler waterfall. The area is now surrounded by a lush green oasis in the middle of the desert landscape.

Havasu falls, shades of turquoise and blue

From Navajo we continued hiking to Havasu falls which is half a mile away. You’ll hear Havasu before you see it! The water leaps off from a height of 100 feet, crashing into the canyon below. Nearby, Havasu Creek makes a perfect swimming spot with it’s warm mineral-rich waters. The sight of these turquoise-blue waters was so tempting that we jumped in without hesitation for a lazy afternoon swim.

An afternoon swim in one of the many mineral-rich pools formed by Havasu Creek

After swimming and a picnic lunch we had time left for one more waterfall. Beaver falls is stunning, but a good hike away. We decided to visit Mooney instead. Mooney is well known for it’s treacherous and exhilarating climb down the vertical canyon walls to get to the base of the falls. All we could grab onto as we slid down the slippery red-rock canyon walls were rusty chains and huge nails hammered into the canyon. I don’t recall why we were insane enough to do this, but once we started, pure adrenalin just kept us going.

Hiking down the slippery vertical canyon walls of Mooney Falls – Adrenalin rush!

The canyon walls are slick with water since the falls are right next to us. There is no actual path, except for chains and nails. A few wooden sticks and planks are strewn across resembling makeshift ladders. At one point I was swinging from one chain to another like a monkey! Glad to report that this monkey and her monkey friends made it down to the base of the waterfall safely.

We made it! Ecstatic at the base of Mooney Falls

Supai village has a population of approximately 200+ people who live and work on the reservation. They own horses and mules which are necessities for getting around in the desert. Incoming tourists help to keep business going. We saw several locals who were busy driving the mule trains and carting tourists back and forth on horses or flying them in helicopters. They always gave us shy smiles and friendly nods.

Supai Village scene: horses grazing, wooden cabins, red-rock canyon walls

Our day in Havasupai was so wonderful that we did not want to leave! But as it always does, morning came all too soon. As we started hiking back on the trail slowly and steadily, several mule trains passed us. It was a surreal wild west scene, cowboy hat clad locals on horses and mules, galloping along at a hurried trot.

A mule train kicks up dust as it thunders past us on the trail

An old Native American man I met on the trail told me he did this hike twice or thrice every week. He was used to it by now and said he enjoyed the exercise. Since he couldn’t afford a horse, this was the only way for him to commute. I was in awe of his endurance and energy to be able to walk 18 miles round trip every time he needed to go into town!

As we made our way back to Hualapai Hilltop, I looked back and marveled at how even a short time spent in any place, no matter how remote and desolate, opens up its beauty to us. Hiking in the desert, swimming in the waterfalls, talking to the locals, watching out for mule trains and experiencing the raw beauty of Havasupai will stay with me forever.

If you go:

Make sure you get a permit to hike in the reservation. More information here.

What to see: Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, Beaver Falls
Where to stay: The Havasupai Falls Lodge
Photo credits: All photos are by Trupti Devdas Nayak

Trupti Devdas Nayak

Trupti Devdas Nayak is a freelance writer and photographer who is as passionate about travel as she is about writing. Her greatest joy is when she combines these interests to craft a story that is both compelling and evocative. Among other things, Trupti has trekked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, snorkeled with sharks in Oahu, witnessed horses dancing flamenco in Andalusia and has hiked in over 30 national parks around the world and counting. She writes about her experiences at Exploring the Blue Marble.

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