From the category archives:

Lodging

Amazing Astronomy: Three Extraordinary Stargazing Experiences

by Alan Rider

While wandering around aimlessly online last night, I discovered that today is the 446th birthday of Galileo Galilei, the guy widely considered to be the father of modern astronomy.  Which got me to thinking about some of the amazing stargazing experiences I’ve had over the years.
My all-time favorite has to be the weekend we spent at Benson, Arizona’s Astronomers Inn.  This four-room bed-and-breakfast located an hour southeast of Tucson isn’t much to look at.  But its amenities—including an in-house observatory where your own personal astronomer will roll back the roof and take you on an eye-opening tour of the galaxy using one of their eight telescopes—made for one of [...]

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3 Ways To Sleep Cheap

by Alan Rider

In the two decades I’ve spent traveling the world to dig up new and unusual experiences for my readers, I’ve spent the night in everything from ridiculously expensive hotels where my personal butler left plush slippers next to the bed each evening to low-budget motels with filthy orange shag carpet so gross I was afraid to take my shoes off.  And here’s what I learned:  That it usually doesn’t make much sense to shell out a ton of dough for a room where all I’m going to do is sleep and shower.
Fortunately for frugal types like me, there are more affordable lodging options out there than ever before.  Which brings [...]

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San Diego: 3 Ways To Stay

by Alan Rider

As someone who’s spent the night in thousands of hotel rooms over the years, I’m not easily impressed. So when I discover places that turn out to be more than just another generic place to lay my head at the end of a long day, I figure I ought to share the wealth.
Which brings me to these hot tips on three great lodging options I discovered on my recent visit to San Diego:
Marriott Courtyard/Liberty Station
Located on the grounds of the former Naval Training Center, this year-old waterfront hotel combines an ideal location with a super-friendly staff, surprisingly attractive and well-kept rooms and public spaces, and an on-site restaurant (serving up [...]

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Paranormal Activity Anyone?

by Alan Rider

Maybe you’ve heard about this new movie Paranormal Activity, which is supposed to be the scariest new movie to come along since The Blair Witch Project made us all think twice before heading into the woods with a video camera back in 1999.
Of course, watching a  movie like this is just one way to get that spooky feeling that makes a shiver run up your spine.  For a more authentic paranormal experience, I’d highly recommend you spend the night at St. Francisville, Louisiana’s Myrtles Plantation.
This grand 1796 antebellum home has seen so much tragedy over the past two centuries that it’s no wonder many paranormal experts believe it [...]

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Hugs & Kisses

by Alan Rider

Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to have had several truly remarkable wildlife encounters with everything from a 400-pound Alaskan grizzly to a 24-ounce Harris hawk.  And now I can add another extraordinary experience to that list thanks to folks at Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys.
Hawks Cay, which is located on Duck Key about 90 minutes south of Miami, has all the things you’d expect at an upscale resort, including a wide array of watersports activities (Hot Tip: Check out their jet ski tours where we saw both dolphins and sea turtles in their natural environment).  But the hotel also has something you’re not likely to find [...]

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9 Things I Learned At Mardi Gras

by Alan Rider

Having lived in New Orleans in the mid-1980s, I’ve been to my share of Mardi Gras parades.  That said, I just came back from the biggest Mardi Gras weekend since Hurricane Katrina blew through The City That Care Forgot and I have to admit that I learned a few things (or at least remembered some things I’d forgotten).  In no particular order they are:
1.  New Orleans is back as a world-class destination.  While there are still many neighborhoods that remain devastated, all the things that make this town such a great place to visit—the food, the music, the friendly people—are still here and as enjoyable as ever.
2.  Everybody you meet [...]

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Way More Than A Hotel

by Alan Rider

As someone who spends a lot of nights away from home every year, I admit I’m a little jaded when it comes to hotels.  Whether it’s a Four Seasons or a Motel 6, to my mind they’re all pretty much the same—a rectangular box with a bed, shower, and cable TV. Which makes it all the more surprising how impressed I am with the Nickelodeon Family Suites here in Orlando. 
The 777-room property is unique in a number of ways.  Not the least of which is the fact that—as far as I can tell—it’s the world’s only hotel with a theme based on a kids television network. 
For starters, all of [...]

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