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No-drama llamas: Therapy animals are coming to a Portland, Ore., hotel for the holidays

The holiday season is fraught with cliches (albeit cliches we love). Everywhere you turn, you see the same lights, hear the same songs and drink the same eggnog. And then there’s Portland, Ore., a city so unique that it got its own show ("Portlandia") to lampoon its many quirks. You can now add this to the list: festively dressed therapy llamas in a hotel lobby.


see more stateside travel
see more stateside travel
  • Nine tips to keep friendships intact while vacationing with pals

    In theory, a vacation with close friends — known as a friendcation — sounds like a great idea. But while you might enjoy someone's company over dinner, on the tennis court or while cheering on children from the soccer sidelines, a getaway with the same person or people could be a recipe for disaster.


  • 6 tips for scoring housesitting gigs that will let you travel the world

    In the past four years, Toni and Peter Farmer have visited France, England, Scotland, Wales, Spain, Switzerland and Australia, as well as a number of cities in the United States. For the most part, they haven’t paid a dime for accommodations. That’s because the two decided, in their retirement, to become housesitters.


  • Light stations offer accommodations to travelers across the country

    According to the U.S. Lighthouse Society (USLHS), a nonprofit organization that helps preserve these landmarks and their legacies, about 70 are available for lodging in 18 states, Puerto Rico and Canada.


  • Why women-only adventure travel is surging

    Registrations for REI's women-specific travel adventures — which launched two years ago — more than doubled from 2018 to 2019. Women are experiencing the world like never before — and in the company of other women.


  • Hate on the Hudson (Yards): How bad can it be?

    If you listen to New York media, the gaping maw of hell is a neighborhood just south of its kitchen. Hudson Yards is the "Horror on the Hudson," a "real estate grift" with buildings that are "pointy and shiny and pointless." It has the Vessel, a Thomas Heatherwick architectural sculpture that is a "gaudy monument," that "looks like an unfortunate misshapen thing produced by your 10-year-old at summer camp, except it cost $200 million," and has been nicknamed "The Wastebasket." It has a shiny new mall, "a shopping centre as prosaic as they come."


  • Tank America in Melbourne, Fla., offers a 17-ton tank-driving adventure

    There I found myself, in the jungle, in a situation I never thought I’d find myself in: Surrounded by signs of impending danger, sitting in control of a 17-ton tank and covered from head to toe in brown, gooey mud. But it was by my own free will that I put myself in this situation at Tank America in Melbourne, Fla.


  • Tasty, fun and cheap: It's easy to see why Wisconsin is hooked on Friday fish fries

    In America's Dairyland, folks have about as much love for their Friday fish fries as they do for the Packers, cheese and beer. And leading the cheering squad -- for the fish, not the football -- is a Milwaukee guy named Caleb Westphal. "I have eaten a fish fry every Friday night for at least 279 weeks," Westphal said in an email in mid-May, meaning the number of consecutive weeks has likely grown by a few. He started keeping track in early 2014 but said that his streak actually extends back to the summer of 2013.


  • On Nevada’s Electric Highway in a Tesla, a Wild West ethos versus a techie future

    We were taking a smarty-pants car through honky-tonky country -- Reno to Las Vegas. Our route: U.S. 95, Nevada’s Electric Highway, a mostly two-lane road that has been peppered with charging stations to meet the growing demand of electric vehicles, or EVs.


  • 2019 Florida Theme Park Guide

    A look at everything new coming to Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens ... and more

    Every theme park in Florida has a significant new attraction opening this summer, and most involve walking into the worlds of your favorite fictional characters.


  • How much are people willing to spend at theme parks? More every year

    The pull of the new Star Wars land, Harry Potter and wild coasters at Busch Gardens has guests willing to overlook constant price hikes.


  • Wooing visitors to Star Wars land is easy. But shooing them?

    "Star Wars" fans have spent years waiting for Disneyland to let them enter a galaxy far, far away. How then does the Magic Kingdom get them to leave? Disneyland's May 31 launch of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge will test the park's efforts to open a highly anticipated expansion without the crushing crowds, frustration and chaos that can accompany a new attraction.


  • The best times to visit DC's monuments and memorials on the National Mall

    With so many people jostling for space in the strip of green running between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the key to an enjoyable visit is finding the right time to go.


  • A closer look at Kennedy Space Center’s immersive Astronaut Training Experience

    If you’ve ever wondered what the process of becoming an astronaut is like, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex now has an experience that puts visitors in the shoes of a space explorer in training.


  • The reimagination of San Diego's iconic Hotel del Coronado

    San Diego's Hotel del Coronado is a legendary property, one that has hosted a long list of presidents over the years and even served as the backdrop for Marilyn Monroe's "Some Like it Hot." The iconic property is synonymous with luxury and elegance. But even the most revered hotels need a facelift now and then.


  • Beyond Yosemite: State parks to seek out off the beaten vacation path

    The government shutdown earlier this year brought with it many hardships for millions of Americans who depended on those missing pay checks to feed and clothe their families. On a less drastic note, it also brought -- among a laundry list of other things -- the closure of the country's national parks.


  • A backcountry refuge in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Somewhere along the precipitous gravel road that leads to the Cataloochee Valley, a sign looms large. "No cellphone service." For hyper-connected, news-addicted individuals such as ourselves, this could have caused panic. But on this humid summer day, we tried not to bat an eye. Our mission? Escape Parisian civilization for a few days ... on the densely populated East Coast of the United States.


  • Legoland: Walk where the actors walked in 'Lego Movie 2' set

    Fans of all things Lego may have already seen the recently released "Lego Movie 2," but for a more up-close experience, Legoland enlisted its master builders to bring a part of the movie directly to the theme park. Visitors to the Carlsbad, Calif., park can now experience key scenes from the film at the new Lego Movie 2 Experience, which re-creates a set from the film.


  • Paintings of the Obamas bring a million more people to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

    WASHINGTON -- Justin Philip was back in line for the second time that day, waiting for another chance to snap a selfie with Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of Barack Obama.


  • Some stops on a black history tour of Philadelphia

    This year’s Black History Month is nearing its end, but that’s not a reason to stop celebrating. Many of Philadelphia’s historical markers honor influential African Americans and their achievements 365 days a year.


  • Migrating birds of prey draw visitors to the Florida Keys

    Luis Gles and two other experienced birders count raptors as part of the Florida Keys Hawkwatch, an annual census of migrating birds of prey. For the past 12 years, Curry Hammock State Park on Little Crawl Key has hosted this Hawkwatch, one of more than 100 fall ones conducted around the country in collaboration with the Hawk Migration Association of North America.


  • 'You can’t go home again': A one-time Denver local confronts a gentrifying city

    I used to think my neighborhood of Five Points in Denver was unique. Of course, years after I left the Five Points I grew up in, I discovered that not only were there many other neighborhoods across the U.S. called Five Points, but there were also thousands of communities that were like mine in more than name.


  • Raleigh, NC: Where the cool sneaks up on you

    The City of Oaks is growing swiftly, with a population of nearly 500,000. As I explored, I found a progressive city in a state that often isn't, a place full of public art and bike paths and a university-inspired hub of innovation and design. Locals are at once excited about growth and worried about how it will change their city.


  • SeaWorld doubles down on thrill rides, with third roller coaster in three years and its tallest yet

    SeaWorld San Diego has announced plans to add in 2020 its tallest roller coaster yet as the once beleaguered marine park continues to invest more heavily in attendance-building thrill rides.


  • In the Salt Lake tabernacle Brigham Young built, 360 voices blend with frontier history

    There’s nothing particularly Mormon, or American, about "Ubi Caritas." It’s a Gregorian chant at least 11 centuries old, was rearranged by French composer Maurice Durufle in 1960 and has been sung by church choral groups around the world. But I can tell you that when it is performed by a certain famous choir in a certain quirky old building in downtown Salt Lake City, that melody works a particular magic.


  • Two Harvard guys based their million-dollar business on a whole lot of nothing

    When I think about entrepreneurs and Harvard, I think about Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook mob, who started their little dorm project for kicks and turned it into something that’s worth more than a small country. Pete Davis and Jon Staff aren’t the Facebook guys. Davis and Staff are the anti-Facebook guys.


  • What's it like to touch a nuclear missile? Find out at the Titan Missile Museum

    The Titan Missile Museum, in Sahuarita, Arizona, is offering a new tour of the deactivated Titan II missile facility. It is the Director’s Tour, and it is an opportunity to view the site through the eyes of its director, Yvonne Morris, who was a U.S. Air Force officer and a missile combat crew commander at that very site from 1980 to 1984.


  • Near Niagara Falls, U.S. and Canadian forts from the War of 1812 still face off

    Dan Laroche holds a slight grudge against the United States. Every day when he goes to work as site supervisor at Fort George in southern Ontario, he can stare across the Niagara River and into western New York, and think to himself, "Those Americans stole our flag."


  • 'It's a Wonderful Life' — all December — in this New York town

    Early each December, a magical transformation takes place in Seneca Falls, N.Y., as the classic Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life" leaps off the screen. The word "Bedford" replaces "Seneca" on signs marking the city limits. The tavern at The Gould Hotel becomes "Martini's." Along Fall Street, the main drag, George Bailey shouts, "Merry Christmas! Hello, Bedford Falls!"


  • Leavenworth it? Assessing 2 new spots in the Pacific Northwest's little Bavaria

    Leavenworth is a trip. Nestled against the far side of the Cascade mountains just a few hours east of Seattle, this little town does an impression of a Bavarian village with all its might. The beer flows freely and the music is oompah; buildings are decorated with wooden beams, family crests and gingerbread trim (or their trompe l'oeil versions). The HeidleBurger boasts "Best Burgers in Town," and even the 76 station, Starbucks and Howard Johnson's are in on the illusion, their corporate identities trumped, for once, by a civic thematic mission.


  • Camp out in a tree house or a goat farm; Hipcamp site lets you rent hidden gem campsites

    Looking to rent a tree house with a slide-down pole and space for nine? A tent site on a private horse farm? A riverfront spot to park your RV near a half-dozen natural springs? You can find all these -- plus 300 other campsites -- in Florida thanks to Hipcamp, a website that has just launched in the Sunshine State.


  • New hotel in St. Louis aims to match room color to guest’s mood

    Looking for a romantic getaway? Or maybe you just want to go somewhere to relax and unwind? A new hotel in St. Louis aims to match travelers’ moods with the type of room they get, and it’s all based on color.


  • Resorts are moving family time from apres-ski to the slopes

    Family time may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of terrifying downhill runs like Corbet's Couloir in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Highland Bowl in Aspen, Colorado, or the Big Couloir at Big Sky, Montana. This is precisely why so many ski destinations celebrated for their daredevil Instagram feeds are ramping up features to better engage and excite families with beginner skiers -- on the slopes and off.


  • What to see at the National Air and Space Museum before its renovation

    On Dec. 3, the National Air and Space Museum will close two galleries -- "Apollo to the Moon" and "Looking at Earth" -- as it begins a seven-year renovation project. Seven more galleries shutter in early January. Most of the museum's major attractions, such as the Spirit of St. Louis and the moon rock, will still be on display, but hundreds of other artifacts will disappear from view.


  • The Oregon Desert Trail is just that, complete with canyons and rattlesnakes

    I felt every drop of sweat make its way down my face, neck and back as I stared down the rattlesnake, its beady eyes locked with mine, daring me to move. At this point, a few miles into my solo-backpacking trip through Oregon’s remote desert, I considered turning around and heading the several miles back to my car. After I caught my breath, I shook off the idea. Testing myself, I thought, is exactly what I signed up for.


  • Off the grid: Exploring the San Juans' most remote islands

    You don't go to the most isolated islands in the San Juans for the amenities. You go for the quiet, for pitch-black nights with the sound of waves hitting the beach. You go for the rare opportunity to disconnect from your modern, plugged-in life.


  • ANALYSIS

    A look at the things passengers steal from planes

    What do passengers steal from planes? Anything that isn't bolted down. Among the items snatched from commercial flights: coffee mugs, cutlery, blankets ... and even life jackets.


  • Soaking up an Alaskan adventure, unswayed by the rain

    A torrential downpour lulled me to sleep the night before my all-day kayaking expedition in the waters around Fox Island off Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Through the cracked windows of my log cabin, I watched the waves slap the slate beach as rain pounded the roof. I had come to southwestern Alaska with three friends to cap off the summer with an ocean adventure.


  • Boo-crative strategy at California theme parks

    In years past, Six Flags Magic Mountain's annual Halloween celebration isolated the monsters and ghouls to certain areas of the amusement park while keeping other parts, such as the kid-centric Bugs Bunny World, as a scare-free sanctuary for parkgoers who wanted no part of what the Southern California park calls Fright Fest. Those safe zones are gone this year. During the 19-night Fright Fest, the entire park in Santa Clarita is turned over to costumed maniacs, bloodsuckers and creeps. Even Bugs Bunny World goes dark.


  • Disney extends military ticket deal to Department of Defense civilians, contractors

    Disney has extended its Military Salute Tickets to include Department of Defense civilian and full-time military contractors. The tickets were previously been limited to active duty and retired military personnel only.


  • Aretha Franklin exhibit debuts with eye toward her legacy

    The Detroit museum that hosted Aretha Franklin’s public visitations after her death is again holding space for her — this time with an exhibit featuring photographs, videos and the red shoes she wore at the first funeral viewing that drew global attention.


  • On Colorado-New Mexico border, the trainspotting is transporting

    There are hundreds of railroad museums and scenic train rides all across the United States. Many of them offer the opportunity to "step back in time" or "relive yesteryear." But few deliver on that promise quite like the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad -- a 64-mile, narrow-gauge route across the rugged San Juan Mountains of New Mexico and Colorado that has gone nearly unchanged since the last freight train rumbled over Cumbres Pass 50 years ago.


  • Duluth, Minn., bets on a new wave of cruise ships

    With the cruising industry booming across the globe, officials in Duluth, Minn., are betting that someday soon their ships will come in, too.


  • 10 things I never knew about Las Vegas until I ran a high-roller suite

    In Las Vegas, the ultimate sand trap-turned-capital of capitalism, there’s no better byword for sophistication than the Cosmopolitan. Its 20-plus suites, known as the Boulevard Penthouses, are the most coveted rooms in town, largely because they’re priceless. The only way in is by invitation, which means fronting over a million dollars (and preferably two) at the Reserve, the hotel’s private, three-room casino on the 75th floor. It’s a gaming experience so exclusive that not even James Bond could charm his way through the door.


  • Beads, bourbon and … babies in New Orleans?

    The family stepped warily onto Bourbon Street and hurried past a burlesque joint, an absinthe bar and neon signs touting "Leather Lingerie Love Toys" and "Hunk Oasis Male Strippers." Heather and Chad Bruton, a clean-cut couple from Texas, didn't want to visit this historic city for the first time without witnessing its famed promenade of debauchery. But with three young children in tow, they didn't want to see too much. "How come that guy died on the street?" 3-year-old Cooper said as he spotted a barefoot man passed out on a sidewalk. It was still well before noon, and the air reeked of stale beer, grease, vomit and bleach.


  • Airports open gaming parlors to occupy travelers

    As airport time killers, cocktails will never lose their most-favored status. But the race for novel concessions inside the terminal is becoming more, well, playful. Especially when it comes to mollifying less-than-happy passengers.


  • Military families offered deal on Universal Orlando Resort vacation

    Universal Orlando Resort is offering active-duty and retired troops and their families a four-for-one deal through the rest of the year.


  • From boom to bust and back again, Astoria appeals as gateway to the Oregon coast

    Founded a little over 200 years ago as America's first settlement in the West, this port city finds itself buoyed these days by a tourist-fueled revival. Yet history lingers here, palpable and powerful, just a two-hour drive from the state's metropolitan center of Portland.


  • DIY Network fans can live a 'Salvage Dawgs' life - for a night

    Navy veterans Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp started salvaging together in 1999 and opened shop as Black Dog Salvage later that year. Their warehouses in Virginia have become bucket-list destinations for fans of "Salvage Dawgs." Now, those fans have a place to stay.


  • A guide to Portland, beyond the birds and beards

    Portland may have a reputation for putting birds on things and performative quirkiness, but, as with most things, the reality is a lot more complicated. That's a good thing, and it should be the guiding principle for your next visit to the city.


  • Feel the pull of the prairie on a uniquely American safari in Montana

    Few places remain where you can witness American bison roaming fenceless in their native habitat. Yellowstone National Park is such a destination, with more than 4 million visitors a year and bumper-to-bison traffic through summer. The American Prairie Reserve is a lesser-known site, a bit more off the beaten path, but utterly immense in its scope and vision.


  • Hawaii is about to ban popular sunscreen brands to protect its coral reefs

    From Banana Boat to Coppertone, major sunscreen brands will soon have to revamp their products or stop selling them in Hawaii. State lawmakers passed legislation in May that would ban skin-care companies from selling and distributing sunscreens on the islands that contain two chemicals deemed damaging to coral reefs. The bill is opposed by various companies and business associations and even some dermatologists, who worry that the ban may discourage people from wearing sunscreen at all.


  • Give me a decaf mocha frappuccino — and hold the fish

    A prudent first consideration when trying to understand Seattle is that it is not Athens, Rome or, for that matter, Stratford-upon-Avon. Although Seattle remains heavily European in population and influence, it doesn't completely fit a classical definition of what is Western; in fact, it doesn't quite fit any classical definition. It is, in a word, "whatever," in the very contemporary use of that word to mean, "If that works for you, I'm OK with it."


  • Leaving technology behind on vacation in Lancaster County, Pa.

    Children are welcome at Iron Stone Acres, the bed-and-breakfast that Sharon Zimmerman has been running for nearly 30 years in rural Narvon, Pa., but they'll need to entertain themselves. The Mennonite-owned dairy farm has no internet connection and no TVs, and you'll have to head into town to find a newspaper. The severed connection to technology in favor of the farm's peace and quiet is exactly what draws many of Zimmerman's visitors.


  • DC's secret Navy museum is amazing - if you can figure out how to get in

    The National Museum of the United States Navy is free and open to the public, but it's on the Washington Navy Yard - a military base that intentionally deters casual visitors.


  • Canoeing in the wilderness of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters

    Every paddle stroke sprinkled water drops, reflecting the setting sun like sparklers across the black, glacier-carved lake. Just a few hours earlier, I had been portaging on an ankle-deep muddy trail with that 55-pound canoe balanced over my head, shielding me from a chilly downpour. That contrast is the essence of the wilderness experience in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. The physical effort required to explore its off-the-grid remoteness — including carrying a canoe solo on slippery, rocky trails — makes every worry evaporate like steam off woolen socks strung over a campfire.


  • SeaWorld announces free tickets for military personnel through July 4

    SeaWorld officials have announced United States military veterans and up to three guests will receive free admission to its theme parks through July 4. Veterans will be able to gain free tickets to SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio and SeaWorld San Diego by redeeming admission through the Waves of Honor website.


  • Exploring the spectacular landscape of south-central Utah

    Like most hikes and drives in south-central Utah, Lower Muley Twist Canyon is both heavenly and hellish for someone curious about what's around the next corner - and I definitely am. It's possible to hike down the canyon, in Capitol Reef National Park, for 12 miles and turn at least three times as many corners.


  • It's time to reconsider Vegas

    The Las Vegas you know and love (or hate) is in the midst of a reinvention. The convention center is being overhauled and expanded at a cost of $1.4 billion, and hotel mainstays, from the Palms to Caesars, are getting nine-figure renovations.


  • New Orleans turns 300, and you're invited to the yearlong party

    As if New Orleans needed to give visitors another reason to party, the city celebrates its 300th birthday this year. That means non-stop tricentennial events, parades, exhibits and more on top of the Big Easy's already packed calendar. America's most unique city draws tourists for its culture, food, cocktails and festivals -- and keeps them coming back by embracing its rich history while continuing to evolve.


  • Florida roadside attraction: Gators to the left, crocs to the right

    There's a fine line between alligators and crocodiles. At Gatorama, a roadside attraction in Palmdale, Fla., off U.S. Highway 27, that line is a boardwalk.


  • How to plan your next 'walk-cation'

    On my latest trip to Chicago, I consumed nine tacos, three doughnuts, an Indian crepe, a giant tamale, a mound of carnitas, a bowl of pasta and a table full of Vietnamese food. How did I not gain 15 pounds? Well, I also walked 8 to 10 miles per day -- which is typical for me when I travel.


  • It’s leisure as usual for travelers to Hawaii despite lava flow

    While the photos and videos of the popping, churning, spewing lava from Kilauea volcano look post-apocalyptic, officials with the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau say that the danger zones are isolated to private, residential areas and they don’t expect an impact on travelers. "Really, almost 90 percent of the island is unaffected," says Ross Birch, executive director of the Hawaii Island Visitors and Convention Bureau.


  • To bring back visitors, museums are having to draw on their own creativity

    We’re standing in front of the painting "Black Cross, New Mexico" by Georgia O’Keeffe at the Art Institute of Chicago when our animated tour guide, Jessamyn Fitzpatrick, asks what O’Keeffe is known for. One woman in our group of eight says flowers. Another pipes up with the female anatomy. Fitzpatrick nods to both and smiles.


  • World-class heritage -- in the US

    Most likely, you have been to a UNESCO World Heritage site in the United States without knowing it. Remember that Griswoldian summer vacation to the Grand Canyon? The high school field trip to Independence Hall in Philadelphia? The college tour of the University of Virginia? Congratulations! That’s three in your pocket. But don’t stop now. You can collect all 23, intentionally or accidentally.


  • Tired of the Smithsonian? These small, quirky DC museums are worth a visit

    Washington is known for its museums. But venture beyond the Mall, which is home to four of the 20 most-visited museums in the world, and you'll find plenty of smaller, quirkier institutions.


  • Alaskan illuminations

    Where were they? The hour was closer to midnight than noon, and the sky above the small Alaskan town of Talkeetna was as black as a bear’s button nose. Several stars twinkled their encouragement. Before stepping out in the minus-numbing-degree air, I had checked the Aurora Forecast. The rating was a 5, which the Geophysical Institute described as meaning “Auroral activity will be high.” I had even brought along my lucky charm, Aurora Dora. So I ask again: Where were they?


  • In a DC museum, a sense of no-holds-barred Burning Man desert art

    In the low-lit, second-floor room of Washington’s Renwick Gallery, a cluster of three ceiling-height plastic mushrooms glows in a shifting kaleidoscope of neon colors. At each mushrooms’ base is a pad that users can press, causing the sculptures to heave, sigh, and expand in and out. The installation, "Shrumen Lumen" by the FoldHaus Art Collective, was initially on view under the night sky at Burning Man, a weeklong annual festival in the Nevada desert that celebrates the various joys of communal living, 24-hour dance parties, public art, provocative costumes, substance use and a potpourri of spiritualties.


  • Avocados, okra, wine: some of this traveler's favorite souvenirs

    I was on the hunt for the perfect souvenir. Standing over a collection of gorgeous specimens, I knew just what I was looking for: something smooth and flawless. I wasn't perusing a high-end boutique or rifling through antiques; I was staring into a bin of beautiful avocados. And for less than a dollar apiece? I couldn't think of anything I'd rather bring home from California.


  • Social media has turned this sticky alley into one of Seattle’s top tourist destinations

    It’s the photo every tourist visiting Seattle has to have: the gum-wall selfie. The quirky oddity at Pike Place Market, for years just 15 feet wide, has turned into a canyon of chewing gum. On a sunny weekend day, hundreds of people can be found crammed into Post Alley — chewing gum, blowing bubbles and documenting the entire experience.


  • TSA agents have been asking some travelers to remove snacks from carry-ons

    You've taken off your shoes and removed your laptop from your carry-on bag to go through airport security screening. You candy bar may be next.


  • In Virginia, Henry’s ’Give me liberty or give me death!’ lives on

    I knew Patrick Henry gave the famous "Give me liberty or give me death!" speech -- but that’s all I knew. Curious about this hero of the American Revolution, my wife, Carol, and I traveled to Richmond, Virginia, and nearby Hanover County to visit several historical sites associated with the fiery Virginia orator. Using the "Road to Revolution Heritage Trail" website - one of 13 Virginia State Heritage Trail guides - we curated our own Henry history tour.


  • How tall passengers cope with air travel

    Jim Fox dreads flying. With good reason. At 6-feet-10, the former NBA player has to squeeze himself into economy class seats, which isn’t always possible.


  • Tech expert takes on Six Flags' new VR coaster in Arlington, Texas

    When I saw the news a year ago that Six Flags Over Texas and Samsung were teaming up to bring a new virtual reality roller coaster experience, I wasn't exactly rushing to be the first in line. In fact, I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it. I was wrong.


  • Sacramento plays its role well in 'Lady Bird' film

    "You clearly love Sacramento," says the Catholic nun and high school principal as she looks over the college essay written by one of her students. The teenager, who clearly thinks the city is uncool, shrugs and says she just pays attention to her surroundings. "Well, it comes across as love," says the nun. "Don't you think maybe they are the same thing, love and attention?"


  • Culture vulture, foodie gets her fix in New York City

    New York is a city I've always had something of a love/hate relationship with. First the hate: the noise level, which most Manhattanites seem not to notice, has me ready to chew off my own ears after a day or two -- the incessant drilling of jackhammers; cabbies sitting on their horns even when it's obvious they are going nowhere fast, and angry babel from multilinguals resulting from seemingly inane disagreements.


  • How I lived it up in Vegas without breaking the bank

    I took a breath, buried my pride and slid the $20 bill across the counter, suggestively. "Are there any complimentary upgrades available?" I asked the woman working the check-in at the Luxor Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. I was in town for four nights and on a mission to live it up in Las Vegas while keeping my bank account in check -- so I'd packaged my flight and hotel, chosen the cheapest room available and hoped for a little of that Sin City sleaze to make my stay a little more lavish. Simple bribery? Unabashed passing of the cash? I'd heard that worked. Sometimes, anyway.


  • America's industrial past is drawing tourists in increasing numbers

    Trip-planning multiple choice: a) Mountains b) Sand c) Surf d) Factories. If you picked the last vacation option, you've got company.


  • The acceleration of #vanlife

    Years before #vanlife took on a life of its own across social media in the United States, Bill Staggs was onto something. He had fond memories, dating to his late-1950s childhood, of family trips in a Volkswagen van. In the early 2000s, he started thinking that others might like to dip their toes into that nomadic lifestyle, chugging along behind the wheel of a rented classic vehicle with a cult following.


  • The 'emotional support animal' travel debate is tougher than you think

    Some of us might have gotten a good chuckle when a woman tried to bring her "emotional support peacock" on a flight. All humor aside, however, the incident served to reveal an elephant in the cabin and a far more complicated debate about how airlines treat animals, disabled passengers and those who abuse either.


  • 'Home of Sliced Bread': A small Missouri town champions its greatest thing

    U.S. Route 36 stretches for 200 miles across the flat farmland of northern Missouri, connecting Kansas to Illinois. The route is called "The Way of American Genius" because some of the nation's best-known innovators, creative minds and a military hero spent parts of their childhood near towns along the route. For ages, Chillicothe, a town of 9, 500 along the route, felt left out. As far as anyone knew, nothing had been invented there of equal stature.


  • Aloha, partner: Riding the Hawaiian range

    Concho wants to gallop. I can tell. He's a horse, after all, a headstrong one, and rippling green hills spread in every direction. Every so often, a break in the clouds reveals the barren summit of Mauna Kea to the south. But galloping is still a little ways outside my skill set, so with a twinge of guilt I pull the reins to keep my mount at a slow trot. He makes his disappointment clear with a snort and a toss of his head. The pace does make it easier to soak in the landscape of the 300-acre Dahana Ranch in the upcountry of Hawaii's Big Island.


  • After the wildfires, raising a toast in Sonoma, Calif.

    Chris Morano settled into the pillow-strewn bench in the lobby of the Sandman, surprisingly relaxed after all he has been through. Behind him, singed shrubs appeared through the hotel window. Near the swimming pool, a concrete wall bore the black eye of a fireball. On the coffee table, by his knees, sat the most recent issue of Sonoma Magazine, which was dedicated to the October wildfires in Northern California. The cover featured a first responder standing on a mountain engulfed in flames. The headline read, "The Fight of Our Lives. What Happened and What's Next." "How we escaped the devastation is beyond me," said Chris, the hotel's front office manager and chief concierge. "Mr. Sandman was watching over us."

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pacific travel

This restaurant opened by an airline will cater to your secret love of plane food

Just what everyone thinks when they’re digging into an airline meal: Man, I wish I could order this even when I’m not flying. At least that’s how AirAsia, a low-cost carrier based in Malaysia, hopes its customers feel. This week, the airline opened the first restaurant inspired by its in-flight food offerings at a mall in Kuala Lumpur.



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see more pacific travel
  • Cuddle Australia’s cutest creatures during your next trip or deployment Down Under

    Before I traveled to Australia, the extent of my knowledge about the land Down Under consisted of koalas and kangaroos. So, I figured, what better way to start a vacation than to meet the beloved creatures at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary near Brisbane?


  • More than just a drink: ‘Japanese Whisky’ takes a deep dive into spirit’s Far East history

    Ashcraft writes that to “truly understand Japanese whisky, you must understand Japanese culture. The country’s whisky tradition is a reflection of everything from national identity and industrialization to art and even religion. It’s more than just a drink.”


  • Singing its praises: Singapore should have been Asia tour’s grand finale, not its first stop

    A 30-foot-long, red and yellow cloth dragon with daggerlike white teeth blocked our way as my wife, Shirin, and I strolled down Singapore’s famed Orchard Road, a tree-lined boulevard known for its upscale stores and hotels. Drums beat rhythmically as a dozen men maneuvered the undulating dragon along the broad sidewalk. This symbol of strength, power and good luck in Chinese culture was part of the lingering festivities following the Chinese New Year 10 days earlier. As we paused to watch the colorful show, I thought to myself, “You have to expect the unexpected in Singapore.”


  • In Japan, tourists are fueling a boom in personal translation devices

    Takehiko Fujita wouldn’t be able to do his job selling eye drops and pain relievers without his pocket translator. Instead of an app, language dictionary, or call-in translation service, the clerk in a Japanese drugstore uses Pocketalk, a 25,000 yen ($230) device made by Sourcenext Corp. that looks like an oval puck. The gadget translates phrases to and from 74 languages, helping Fujita communicate with customers from Sweden, Vietnam and other countries.


  • Finding Fiji (and each other)

    We could never be lonely on Matamanoa Island, in the Mamanuca Archipelago, in the central South Pacific. If we needed company, the resorts’ other guests were on hand, not to mention our family, three generations of us on vacation together.


  • Water parks and pools in Japan and Okinawa

    A calendar of nearby water parks and pools of interest to people living on U.S. facilities in the Pacific.


  • Hawaiian island of Kauai has become a world-class golf destination

    Hawaii has some of the most beautiful and memorable golf courses in the world. And the quiet island of Kauai may have the most picturesque courses on the islands — or anywhere else.


  • Tokyo exhibit in Odaiba demonstrates construction equipment, educates visitors

    An exhibition featuring heavy machinery used at construction sites is being held at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in the Odaiba area of Koto Ward, Tokyo.


  • Well-traveled historic section of Japan’s Old Tokaido Road invites visitors to step back in time

    The long history of Japan is told in many historic sites around the country — and at sightseeing spots along Hakone Hachiri in Kanagawa and Shizuoka Prefectures, visitors can step back in time to experience what it was like to travel the country almost 400 years ago.


  • Walking on fire the focus of Buddhist festival in Tokyo

    At a festival near Yokota Air Base, ascetic monks walked barefoot across hot embers to rid themselves of bad luck and evil spirits.


  • How a trip to Japan can provide what’s missing back home

    Whenever I fly a long distance I read a book or two rather than watching the in-flight movies and TV shows. Without realizing it, the two books I brought on my recent trip to Japan, neither of which mentions Japan, helped me understand why I was going there again.


  • Learning to make Nepalese dumplings with help of Backstreet Academy

    Dil Kumari Maharjan looked at my misshapen dumpling and said with a deceptive smile, “You made an American momo.”


  • Discovering hawker food in Singapore, a culture worth preserving — and devouring

    There’s little that can prepare an outsider for the onslaught of food in Singapore. Every stroll through this city shrouded in tropical heat is interrupted by open-air food centers, coffee shops and restaurants vying for your stomach’s attention. Dining out is a way of life in Singapore.


  • Bali an idyllic island struggling to maintain its identity

    Given the situation, I was moving as fast as I could. I was walking cautiously on a foot-wide earthen berm separating water-soaked rice paddies. A big cross-body garbage bag banged against my hip as I clutched a 6-foot pole with a pointed metal tip. Rivulets of sweat ran down my back as I speared yogurt cups, candy wrappers and plastic bags. And then I lost my balance.


  • From war to wonderland: Solomon Islands still whispering secrets 75 years after WWII

    If it weren’t for the potholes, cavernous pits slowing us down on the road to Honiara, in the Solomon Islands, I might have missed the sign, “Dolphin View Cottage.” But Andrew, our guide, knew the road by heart.


  • Seeking the wild side of Maui? Easy; it’s everywhere

    I wanted to find wild Maui — so naturally, I piled my family into a rental car for a five-hour drive on a narrow road with single-lane bridges and curves so sharp that I sometimes lost sight of the pavement.


  • Tattooed bathers in Japan find their way to welcoming sento

    Following an increase in the number of foreigners visiting Japan, operators of bathing facilities throughout the country are facing difficult decisions as to whether they should accept foreign customers who have tattoos.


  • Go to Kobe for the beef, stay for the pork buns and European cityscapes

    Located just one hour by train from Kyoto and just 30 minutes by train from Osaka, Kobe offers the perfect mix of vintage allure and 21st century excitement.


  • Nature nurtures at inn near Hilo, Hawaii

    If you arrive here on a moonless night, you can hear the water before you can see it rushing to seek its lowest point, as water always does. At first, it sounds like a hose that’s been left on, but as you try to track down the source, it begins to sound like a horrendous water main break.


  • How to travel the new, $800 billion Silk Road

    Thanks to more than a trillion dollars of prospective investment, led by China’s $800 billion Belt and Road Initiative linking countries stretching between East Asia and Europe, the Silk Road is rising again.


  • Soaking up an Alaskan adventure, unswayed by the rain

    A torrential downpour lulled me to sleep the night before my all-day kayaking expedition in the waters around Fox Island off Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Through the cracked windows of my log cabin, I watched the waves slap the slate beach as rain pounded the roof. I had come to southwestern Alaska with three friends to cap off the summer with an ocean adventure.


  • GALLERY

    Getting creepy and kooky at Yokota Air Base

    A theater troupe hopes to get folks into the Halloween spirit with a snap of their fingers during free performances of “The Addams Family” musical at the home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo.


  • Beyond the beach: Take your taste buds on a tour of Kauai

    Floating on the waves and hiking through the jungle are must-do activities on Kauai. But to better commune with the westernmost of the well-populated Hawaiian Islands, I also wanted to taste the local bounty. Fortunately, there are great ways to savor what makes Kauai unique without breaking the bank at gourmet restaurants.


  • New Zealand’s popular Milford Sound extends from mountaintops to the deep sea

    We were on top of the world at the bottom of the world, encircled by a 360-degree panorama of mountain peaks. My husband and I had reached Key Summit, the pinnacle of a half-day hike in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park. I wanted to lollygag and drink in the views, but the weather had other ideas. The temperature plummeted about 30 degrees and a blustery wind threatened to whisk us away. Andrew and I started back down the path. With bent heads, we pushed through the wind — extreme for us, but weather as usual for a Kiwi.


  • A breathtaking Himalayan journey to ’the rooftop of the world’

    Tibet. Nepal. Bhutan. The names rolled of my tongue like a timeless Himalayan mantra. I was itching to go, but after decades of solo rambling, I was done with handling tricky logistics. Let someone else — preferably an established tour company — arrange flights, guides, hotels, baggage and, most important, assorted visas and travel permits.


  • Okinawa’s Tokashiki Island a snorkeler’s paradise with beautiful beaches

    Just a quick ferry ride from Naha, Tokashiki Island is part of the Kerama archipelago and is famous for its white, sandy beaches and diverse marine life.


  • In Japan, boat tours of fanciful formations

    “Everybody, that is Fukuro [owl] rock. It’s a work of art created by nature,” said pleasure boat guide Yoshiteru Mizuguchi, 79, as he pointed to a rocky area sticking out into a blue sea. Passengers aboard the boat, the “Pearl Queen,” exclaimed, “It’s the spitting image!”


  • Defense Department-owned Hale Koa pumps $14M into its new pool area

    The Hale Koa Hotel’s swimming pool complex on Waikiki Beach, including its popular Barefoot Bar, is getting a $14 million makeover.


  • Waikiki Beach is only two miles of Oahu. The rest is well worth checking out.

    The towers of Waikiki Beach cast such long shadows over Oahu that it seems daunting, in the mind’s eye at least, to escape them when weighing a visit to Hawaii’s most populous island. But it can be done, and we did.


  • Hawaii is about to ban popular sunscreen brands to protect its coral reefs

    From Banana Boat to Coppertone, major sunscreen brands will soon have to revamp their products or stop selling them in Hawaii. State lawmakers passed legislation in May that would ban skin-care companies from selling and distributing sunscreens on the islands that contain two chemicals deemed damaging to coral reefs. The bill is opposed by various companies and business associations and even some dermatologists, who worry that the ban may discourage people from wearing sunscreen at all.


  • All aboard Hello Kitty: Pink bullet train debuts in Japan

    A Hello Kitty-themed “shinkansen” bullet train has debuted in Japan. Adorned with the cartoon icon inside and out, it’s a dream ride for fans of the internationally popular character.


  • Explore an abandoned Chinese village now engulfed by nature

    Blanketed with greenery, the ghost town is perched atop cliffs looking west into sea mists obscuring the horizon. Abandoned homes ravaged by weather and creeping vines stand silent but for the surf, the whine of mosquitos, and birdsong. This is Houtouwan — “Back Bay” in Mandarin — an abandoned fishing village engulfed by nature on the far eastern island of Shengshan, 90 kilometers off the coast of Shanghai.


  • It’s leisure as usual for travelers to Hawaii despite lava flow

    While the photos and videos of the popping, churning, spewing lava from Kilauea volcano look post-apocalyptic, officials with the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau say that the danger zones are isolated to private, residential areas and they don’t expect an impact on travelers. "Really, almost 90 percent of the island is unaffected," says Ross Birch, executive director of the Hawaii Island Visitors and Convention Bureau.


  • The Maldives’ new star villa is underwater

    On a recent trip to the Maldives, my itinerary was planned around a single hotel amenity: a bungalow with a two-story waterslide. In the luxury-friendly Maldives, more than anywhere else on Earth, it’s extravagant design features rather than location or good restaurants that make a hotel.


  • Hiking the authentic Great Wall of China, without the crush

    Tires crunch the gravel as our driver turns around and makes his way back down the narrow access road, leaving my fiance, his mother and me alone in front of an empty building. The air is cool and fresh, and a few white clouds move briskly across the blue sky. Beijing, with its more than 20 million inhabitants, gleaming skyscrapers and intermittent layer of smog, is a safe 50 miles to the south. All being well, we’ll see the driver again in about four hours, at our pickup location.


  • Alaskan illuminations

    Where were they? The hour was closer to midnight than noon, and the sky above the small Alaskan town of Talkeetna was as black as a bear’s button nose. Several stars twinkled their encouragement. Before stepping out in the minus-numbing-degree air, I had checked the Aurora Forecast. The rating was a 5, which the Geophysical Institute described as meaning “Auroral activity will be high.” I had even brought along my lucky charm, Aurora Dora. So I ask again: Where were they?


  • Solomon Islands: A deep dive, and WWII artifacts

    If a remote South Pacific destination with lots of World War II artifacts and world-class diving appeals to you, check out the Solomon Islands. This 992-island archipelago sits northeast of Australia, about 6,100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Most of its 550,000 citizens are Melanesians and almost everyone speaks English.


  • Blossoming cherry trees serve as reminder of allies’ colorful history

    More than 100 years ago, Japan sent more than 3,000 Japanese cherry trees to Washington. In 1982, that symbol grew even greater meaning.


  • Cambodia up close: River cruise on the Mekong makes for immersive experience

    "Life is not staying still," Vuthy spoke softly to me, like a kind older brother. "It is moving from one place to the next." I followed his rhythmic breathing -- in, out -- inhaling the lotus air and untangling my own breath from the outside Cambodian breeze, flowing in through the open temple doors.


  • A wintry windfall in Japan's heavenly ski region

    There are 195 countries in the world, many that can be envisioned before ever stepping foot on foreign soil. And then there's Hokkaido, a destination within a destination that will take every preconceived notion you have about Japan and crumple it into a little ball. In its place will be snow, more snow and the champagne powder that has turned sleepy farm towns into the next big thing since Whistler.


  • A region on New Zealand’s North Island is the Southern Hemisphere’s take on Yellowstone

    I’d been warned about the stink. It hit me the instant I stepped off the plane in Rotorua: a mix of bad egg and warm sewer gas that has earned this city on New Zealand’s North Island the nickname "Sulphur City" -- or, less kindly, "Rotten-Rua." I sucked in a deep breath and smiled. That subterranean scent meant I would soon be soaking in curative hot springs, smothering my body in primeval goo and exploring a land of burping mud pots, prismatic pools, boiling rivers and shooting geysers.


  • Disney family magic wanes in Hong Kong as Macau's lights dazzle

    When Chinese tourists choose a family travel destination, Hong Kong Disneyland would seem like a logical choice. But it's the nearby gambling hub of Macau that has all the momentum.


  • Fiji pride: Where paradise is more than sand and sea

    If Fiji was nothing more than sand and sea, palm fronds and flowers, it wouldn’t matter which South Pacific beach resort you visited. Every vacation would be just another ho-hum adventure. But after 15 years and as many visits to this 333-island nation, I’ve got a pretty good idea why each destination promises a unique experience. What’s the secret? It’s the Fijians themselves, proud to be Fijian and proud to show you their country.


  • Aloha, partner: Riding the Hawaiian range

    Concho wants to gallop. I can tell. He's a horse, after all, a headstrong one, and rippling green hills spread in every direction. Every so often, a break in the clouds reveals the barren summit of Mauna Kea to the south. But galloping is still a little ways outside my skill set, so with a twinge of guilt I pull the reins to keep my mount at a slow trot. He makes his disappointment clear with a snort and a toss of his head. The pace does make it easier to soak in the landscape of the 300-acre Dahana Ranch in the upcountry of Hawaii's Big Island.


  • Beyond the musts: 3 free sites off the beaten path in Maui

    If you’re visiting Maui, a few sites are musts. You must visit Haleakala. You must enjoy the dancing — and the food — at the Old Lahaina Luau. You must walk through the branches of the Banyan Tree in Lahaina. And don’t drive past the Maui Ocean Center, especially if you love turtles. My husband and I had two weeks on the island paradise, so we could afford to indulge in some of the sites less traveled. Once we’d seen the “must” places, we dove deeper into the island’s history and wildlife.


  • Proposal aims to reduce Mt. Fuji climbers by up to 25 percent

    Japan's Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures proposed reducing congestion on Mount Fuji by 12 to 25 percent per day during the peak period by lowering the number of climbers using two of the mountain's four trails.


  • After their town was relocated, they found an uneasy truce with the Pyeongchang Games

    One by one Friday, in new living room after new living room, the television sets flicked on in this village of 12 homes, just in time to watch the opening ceremony for an Olympics that had changed everything here. "Live," it said in the upper right corner of Nam Jae-hwan’s television screen, and he sat down with his wife on a linoleum floor.


  • During Japan's tourism boom, try these off-the-grid locations

    Travel to Japan showed double-digit growth in 2017 from 2016, so you’ll want to take advantage of this development and escape the crowds by hitting the stunning countryside.


  • Tokyo studios photograph clients as samurai and courtesans

    Studios where visitors can have themselves dressed and photographed as samurai warriors or high-ranking Japanese courtesans are becoming increasingly popular in Tokyo.


  • Famous Maui road leads to enchanting, rarely visited Kahanu Garden

    Kahanu Garden was to be one of our two stops along the Hana Highway. The site would be the best of all worlds for us — native plants and flowers for me, and history for my husband.


  • Singapore: The world's newest great cocktail capital

    For a place that’s known to be quite conservative, Singapore offers cocktails that have a tendency to make your heart race.


  • World’s largest, most lavish Starbucks opens in Shanghai

    Starbucks once made waves with the indulgent sizes of some of its drinks, such as the Trenta, which contains a staggering 31 ounces of joe. Now, as part of the company’s aggressive expansion in China, the Seattle-based coffee retailer opened its largest store in the world: a nearly 30,000-square foot compound that does much more than simply serve coffee.


  • South Korea’s Jeju Island attracts tourists with Hawaii-like scenery

    Volcanic mountains, waterfalls and scenic beaches are among the many reasons Jeju Island is known as the Hawaii of South Korea.


  • On Molokai island, the site of an 1860s leper colony draws determined travelers

    The isolated historic leper colony of Kalaupapa is the No. 1 tourist destination on the untouristy Hawaiian island of Molokai.


  • Night market re-energizes Hawaii's lava-buried village of Kaimu

    What remains of this Big Island village south of Hilo has re-energized with a weekly night market that draws lines of cars to fill a parking lot edging a sprawling black field of lava rock.


  • A visit to Japan's space center can be out of this world

    The Tsukuba Space Center is the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s version of NASA mission control.


  • Secret Garden lets tourists follow in the footsteps of Korea’s kings and queens

    Visitors used to require permission from the king to enter the Secret Garden, a lush park behind the Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul. Now you can book a guided tour online.


  • The Kingdom of Tonga offers unspoiled beauty, a slow pace and expressive locals

    As I stepped off the little boat after 48 hours of travel, I felt a little like Tom Sawyer. Mostly because my family would be staying in a treehouse. But also because the island looked like something out of a storybook.


  • Maui's Lahaina boasts some of the best attractions in Hawaii

    Lahaina is better known for its modern-day touristy souvenir shops and cafes, but a stroll along its waterfront yields a glimpse into Hawaii’s past, from its whaling days to King Kamehameha’s extracurricular activities.


  • Maui’s heavenly Hana is more than just a road trip

    Hana is most famous not on its own merits, but for the coastal road to it, which is a winding, unbelievably gorgeous tropical adventure of two very narrow lanes.


  • Skip the taxis; enjoy Kyoto by rail, foot or bicycle

    Many foreign visitors see getting around Kyoto as a problem rather than an opportunity. Instead of walking, biking and riding Kyoto’s working museum of train lines, they turn to taxis (expensive and slow) and buses (extensive but even slower).


  • Modern architecture makes for eye candy in Osaka, Japan

    Visitors will be able to look inside some of Osaka’s premiere buildings at the fourth-annual Living Architecture Museum Festival Osaka, set to take place Oct. 28-29.


  • Temple in Sasayama, Japan, opens up to anime and video game subculture

    Daikokuji temple in Sasayama is dubbed the “Shoso-in of the Tanba area” after the repository in Nara that dates back to the eighth century. Tanba is the area in Hyogo Prefecture where Sasayama is located. The temple is said to have been opened by a hermit sometime between 645 and 650, during the Asuka period, to pray for the nation’s peace and security.


  • Hawaii center lets kids learn while having fun

    Let’s from the get-go concede one problem with Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center: It’s hard to get a kid to leave this prepubescent paradise.


  • A curious journey through southwest China

    It was a road trip through one of China’s most tightly controlled regions. We were closely monitored. Each time we stopped at an attraction, two to five SUVs full of brooding middle-aged men would park behind us.


  • 9 fun things in Honolulu: Foodie finds old favorites and new

    Here are nine ways to help make a weekend or so here great — centering on eating and drinking that's not the Cheesecake Factory.

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europe travel

Following the DNA trail through Sweden

Smoke billowed out of a hole at the center of a grass-covered tepee as I passed plates of cured moose sausage, flat bread, cheese and cloudberry jam to the seven other strangers gathered in this traditional Sami home in Sweden’s northernmost Lapland region.



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see more europe travel
  • Escape Venice’s tourist crush with a trip to Vicenza, home of Renaissance great Palladio

    If you want to break away from the crowds that make Venice a poster child for the term “overtourism” and you love architecture, there is one place you must go: nearby Vicenza, a showcase for the work of the renowned Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. Palladio, who lived from 1508 to 1580, drew inspiration from the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome, transforming these models into masterpieces that influenced everything from English country houses to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.


  • Battle tested: For military history buffs, France’s Sedan delivers

    Although Sedan is somewhat removed from France’s main tourist routes, a visit to this industrial town near the Belgian border is a must for military history buffs.


  • This U.K. hike is sublime. Just avoid the bombs, tides and quicksand.

    The path crosses a still-active military test-firing zone, pelted with bombs since World War I.


  • White-hot Refshaleoen: Meet the trendiest neighborhood in Europe you’ve never heard of

    The Oxford Dictionary defines hygge as “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment.” The Danish concept has become so popular that it made the dictionary’s word of the year shortlist in 2016. I first discover the true meaning of hygge at La Banchina, a 16-seat farm-to-table pescatarian restaurant overlooking Copenhagen Harbor.


  • Heat wave arrives in Europe, just in time for tourists

    The recent record-smashing heat in parts of Europe is running smack into the continent’s peak tourist season, adding crowds of visitors to the sweltering mix as cities try to care for their most vulnerable residents. Parts of France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and the Czech Republic have seen temperatures soar into the 90s and even past 100 degrees Fahrenheit -- at least 20 to 30 degrees above normal. The extreme heat was expected to last into the weekend in some areas.


  • Seeing Paris, baguette by baguette

    I am in love with the art and heritage of French bread. Fortunately I’m not alone. Each year one chef is chosen in the Grand Prix de la Baguette de tradition francaise, an accolade bestowed each April for the past 25 years. The winner goes to a handcrafted baguette that beats out dozens of entrants from across Paris and tops a list of 10 finalists; all compete for a cash prize of 4,000 euros ($4,900) and -- most importantly -- mass recognition for superior artisanal baking.


  • One-day bike races have a passionate following in France, and amateurs can pedal the same route

    In a remote corner of northern France, three farm fields intersect. On a cold morning in mid-April, the crops that border a narrow crossing of rough-hewed cobblestoned paths barely reach ankle high. But three pop-up bars are doing a brisk cash-only business, and it’s clear that some of the hundreds of rowdy, flag-draped cycling fans who have gathered here have been drinking for hours.


  • Leonardo devotees flock to artist’s hometown of Vinci

    There are no more maps available. But it’s not a problem, says the woman at the front desk of our hotel. She takes out a piece of paper and rapidly sketches the almond-shaped town — just a couple of curved streets around the castle walls, with an “X” at the church and a dot at the museum ticket office. “I’m a descendant of Leonardo,” she jokes as she hands it over. That’s probably not the first time someone has used that line in Vinci, Italy, a hamlet perched among the Montalbano Hills known for producing Chianti, artichoke-scented olive oil and a certain genius who was born here in 1452.


  • The North remembers: In Northern Ireland, 'Game of Thrones' leaves a lasting legacy

    The Europa Hotel was once known as the most bombed hotel in Europe, but on a Friday morning in April, it's bustling with tourists and weekenders enjoying a hearty breakfast buffet. Almost no one recognizes Conleth Hill, the actor who plays Varys, the bald eunuch and royal adviser whose cunning enabled him to survive nearly eight seasons on one of TV's bloodiest shows, "Game of Thrones," without ever lifting a sword. The anonymity (aided by the reappearance of his thick, silver hair) doesn't appear to faze him. Here he's just another local who lives an hour away in Ballycastle, the seaside town where he grew up.


  • A solo quest to find the source of the mighty Rhine

    It's a solitary quest, indulging a fantasy of being reincarnated as a 19th-century explorer discovering the source of a mighty river. That the Rhine has been well-mapped for millennia doesn't matter; there are still personal discoveries to be had.


  • Here's why it's worth hiring an expert to plan your family trip to Italy

    Do you enjoy travel planning? Are you exhilarated by spending weeks or months scrutinizing every possible hotel, restaurant, tour, train schedule and other specifics of your vacation? If so, this story is not for you.


  • Make Reims a pit stop on the way home from Normandy

    Reims is in the middle of France’s Champagne country. Many of the bubbly’s makers have their headquarters here and vineyards surround the city. But Reims is probably best known for its magnificent Cathedral of Notre-Dame.


  • In London, eat your way through the history and future of Britain’s iconic dish

    Frank Dobson Square, a brick-paved chunk of East London, has seen better days. Its centerpiece, Dobson’s 1951 sculpture “Woman With Fish,” was vandalized beyond repair and removed in 2002. Those sitting on the benches around the square — who number three, including me, this Thursday morning — have only its former home, a forlorn metal plinth, to look at now. I haven’t come to see the sculpture, though, or its plinth. I’m searching for something else, something that records this locale’s unique place in British history. This is where the world’s first fish and chip shop, Malin’s, was founded in the early 1860s.


  • Touring the French Riviera on foot reveals what ships, buses would never let you see

    Warned of absurdly high cab fares, I shrugged off another warning about Nice — its robbers and pickpockets — and decided to walk to my hotel from the train station.


  • Relaxing in Spa, the Belgian town that started it all

    “Thirsty?” asks the flight attendant as she hands me a blue bottle. I twist the cap and sip the crisp, slightly acidic water. One look at the label, Spa Reine, and I wonder if the advertising gods are tracking me. Spa. That’s where I am headed. No, not to the spa — to the Belgian town.


  • Connecting past, future on a pilgrimage to Vienna’s Jewish Quarter

    On an unseasonably warm night the week August turned into September, every table at Pizza Quartier on Vienna’s Karmelitermarkt was filled. Pizza after pizza emerged from the wood-burning oven as parents sipped white wine while half-watching children -- mine included -- playing elaborate games of tag in the 19th-century market square. Come morning, it would be packed with the organic food vendors, pastry makers and florists that dot this little corner of Vienna’s Second District, Leopoldstadt.


  • Centuries of history come to life on a verger tour of Westminster Abbey

    I am a cathedrals nut. In France, in England -- and anywhere else I can follow a tall spire to a historic cathedral. Often, I design a cathedrals itinerary. And when I'm in London, I never pass up Westminster Abbey, one of the greatest.


  • In Albania, age-old traditions and Mediterranean beaches on the cheap

    Outside, the cicadas loudly buzzed and the scent of sun-baked oregano wafted through the car window. We descended from the clouds onto the Albanian Riviera. A pearl-like string of beach towns extended south toward the Greek border. The Albanians can be a party-loving bunch with electronic club music shaking up the beach clubs until the wee hours.


  • Ancient Sibenik’s latest rebirth marks it a Croatian leisure capital

    It’s just past noon as I gaze at the Adriatic Sea from St. Michael’s Fortress, a medieval bastion atop the old town of Sibenik, a coastal city that sits poised roughly at the center of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. Late September bura winds have cleared the skies, making the horizon crisp and the sea cerulean. I can smell cypress trees and hear the rustle of the soft sea-scented breeze. Only a handful of other visitors stroll around the fortress, looking out over the Sibenik Channel, the islands of the archipelago and the rooftops of the old town below.


  • Travel highlights in Europe for 2019

    Was your New Year’s resolution to take advantage of your time stationed in Europe by traveling around the continent as much as possible? You’re in luck, as the year 2019 is shaping up to be yet another great one for tourism.


  • Berlin leaves its mark on this visitor

    In the shadow of the ruined spire of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a platoon of protesters lifted banners and voices in outrage. Their grievances were with the policies of Recep Erdogan, the president of Turkey, who would be arriving in Berlin the next day for a state visit. Erdogan would tie up traffic during his stay, which coincided with mine, rather as happened during the visit of the last dignitary who came to Berlin the same moment as I had, the Dalai Lama -- but for very different reasons.


  • gallery

    German exhibit gives an in-depth look at the life of an American icon

    Who was Marilyn Monroe? A new exhibit at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz in Speyer, Germany, tries to answer the question with clothes, photos, letters and close to 400 items from her estate.


  • Turkey’s terrain, people, history make colorful trip

    I’ve either been pixie dusted or turned into Barney Rubble. Everywhere I look, towering rock “fairy chimneys” dot Turkey’s fantastical wonderland of Cappadocia. I’ll also explore mystical age-old cave churches, sleep in a “cave hotel” that entombs guests and wine, and scoot-duck-gasp my way through a spooky ancient underground city, one of dozens burrowed here. And wait until I dreamily float over it all in an Oz-like flame-breathing balloon.


  • In Edinburgh, ceilidh dancing is a great way for travelers to reel in new friends

    The cheerful melody bellowed from the accordion across the dimly lit room, filling me with jittery anticipation. Holding a hand of each stranger on either side of me, I bounced in a circle to the left and then to the right, doing my best to remember the steps that had just been explained.


  • Prague, Vienna and Budapest -- by road instead of river

    It’s no surprise that central European river cruises are booming. Gliding along the Danube or the Elbe through the countryside, perhaps topside with a glass of wine, is a lovely image. But my wife Eileen and I instead chose a "road cruise" from Budapest to Vienna to Prague last September. And we’re glad we did.


  • A hiker explores his father’s homeland peak by peak

    My son, Marc, and I had tromped through shin-deep snow for several hours, and by the time we reached the blustery top of the peak, we couldn’t see more than 25 feet because of a whiteout.


  • Berlin memorial to murdered Jewish victims of Nazis an unsettling must-see

    On Nov. 9, 1938, the paramilitary Nazi thugs of the Sturmabteilung attacked Jewish synagogues and shops across Germany. It was the first large-scale incident in what would lead to the death of six million Jews throughout Europe. To remember the dead, Germany created the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in central Berlin near the U.S. embassy.


  • A new river line hopes to redefine cruises for millennials

    Boris, a U Host, stood before a group of river cruisers relaxing in the U Lounge, a gathering space seemingly designed by Alice’s Wonderland of Furnishings. He wore all black, as if he had just rolled in from a night of chasing the White Rabbit around Paris. While he spoke, hands wrinkled with age and smooth with youth lifted glasses of riesling to their lips. Then arms slowly began to rise in response to his question.


  • Sweet discoveries: Nothing compares to eating fresh stroopwafels in Amsterdam

    My introduction to stroopwafels, the gooey caramel waffle sandwich from the Netherlands, was in a small village in the south of Spain, where I live. A Dutch couple had opened a small bakery tucked among the winding cobblestone streets. One morning, I stumbled into their store and watched as they cut a slab off a log of fragrant dough, pressed it with a waffle iron, separated the top disk from the bottom, spread the inside with caramel sauce and put the halves back together.


  • Italy’s Dolomites a pleasure to explore in the offseason

    I had two challenges to overcome when planning a late-May trip to Northern Italy’s Trentino-Sudtirol region: a major snow year and the offseason. The first meant that the thousands of miles of trails in the rugged Dolomite mountains were still buried. The second meant that many of the high-alpine refugios, famed for hearty food and rustic lodging, were closed between winter and summer. One more thing — I arrived in the rain, and the forecast called for more storms throughout my trip.


  • In Germany, two delightful destinations for dachshund lovers

    Outside the Dackelmuseum in Passau, Germany, I dropped to the cobblestone pavement to greet its four-legged ambassadors, year-old siblings Moni and Little Seppi. The black-and-tan short-haired dachshunds sniffed me, then Little Seppi reached up to gently lick my face. A kiss so soon? I felt special, though I’m guessing I was one of hundreds he’d smooched since the Dackelmuseum, or Dachshund Museum, opened in April.


  • Tour company helps hikers go it alone, with local support, along Spanish coast

    Serendipity — an unexpected delight — is the word that comes to mind when describing the seven-day hike my wife and I recently did in the wild and undeveloped northwest coast of Galicia, Spain. Simply put, anyone who is adventurous, loves traveling to Europe and is fit enough to do 10-mile hikes should seriously consider doing this hike.


  • Trying on a farmhouse in Northern Italy for size

    Framed by a mountainous horizon, the farm fields are littered with hay bales, both round and rectangular, and I’m reminded of the Virginia Piedmont, where I grew up. Such a gentle, pastoral landscape seems imprinted in my spiritual DNA, and is the real reason I’ve journeyed here, to Northern Italy’s Piemonte region: to discover whether the two places have more than similar names in common.


  • europe travel

    Sibiu, Romania: On the vampire trail to Dracula’s castle — and so much more

    Sibiu is the place to start a journey through Transylvania, but there’s plenty more to discover wandering through the city.


  • In Seville, Spain, young chefs are creating the next generation of tapas

    The first time I encountered tapas, I was 6 and didn't like them. My head was level with a huge wooden bar, and all I could see was a school of shiny silvery fish languishing near slices of bread. I've grown some since then; my head clears the bar most days. Meanwhile, tapas have become an international phenomenon.


  • In the south of France, a city is still ruled by ancient Rome

    A funny thing happened on the way to the Airbnb. As we dragged our suitcases along the cobblestones in the southern French city of Nimes, we saw a gladiator on a cellphone. The helmet-wearing warrior, looking straight out of ancient Rome, winked at my kids and kept marching toward the amphitheater.


  • video, gallery

    Visiting American WWI sites a century after conflict ended

    A century after World War I, you can visit the places where the Americans fought and died. The landscape is still pockmarked with craters from artillery shells. Monuments honor those who fought. And white marble crosses and Stars of David, in well-groomed cemeteries, mark where many of those killed still rest.


  • In Slovenia, a ski and a swim make an unusual pairing

    As an American expat happily living in Slovenia for many years, I love exploring my adopted country and looking, more deeply than perhaps even locals do, into what makes it such a wonderful place to visit and reside. One line I hear frequently, and which guidebooks like to boast about, is that the country is so compact, with such a diversity of terrain, that you can ski in the morning and swim in the ocean in the afternoon. Would it be any fun? Only one way to find out.


  • Forget spritzes, shopping and fancy hotels. The best part of Lake Como is being on it.

    “Mom! Do you have the permit?? WHERE IS THE PERMIT???” I yelled above the engine of our custom Cantiere Ernesto Riva motorboat while zooming along Italy’s Lake Como. I had just gotten comfortable in my captain’s perch. Then, a gust seemed to sweep away the paperwork required for taking out this stunner of a boat, at a whopping $190 an hour.


  • You ate what?! A fearless foodie’s foray into the bouchons of Lyon

    Andrew picks up his beer and leans back against the red banquette seating at Le Romarin, a tiny bistro-bar in the heart of Lyon. Over the next 48 hours, we’re planning to eat our way across this famously gastronomic city, but something is worrying him. “I’m looking forward to the wine,” he says. “I’m looking forward to the cheese. I’m just not sure about the innards.” Most people would see his point. Not me. I love offal.


  • The next ferry you board might run on batteries

    Not far from Norway’s North Sea oil rigs, shipbuilders are assembling some of the first ferry boats ever to be powered entirely by batteries.


  • Northern Ireland’s lake lands: Rain, history and the Mellons

    We stood at the bar of the grand Lough Erne Resort, looking out at the driving rain. “You see that lake out there,” mused the barman wryly. “That was a field this morning.” This was my first trip to Northern Ireland’s lake lands in the western region, two hours by car from Belfast and a slightly longer drive from Dublin.


  • Europe Travel

    Switzerland-Italy train ride traverses different worlds

    The new Gotthard Base Tunnel is a 35-mile stretch through a mountain of granite. The scenery transforms from mountainous Alpine stretches to palm tree-dappled Mediterranean landscape. Even the outside temperature is a few degrees warmer than it was where the tunnel starts.


  • Medieval meets modern in charming Kilkenny, Ireland

    On a sunny Friday afternoon in April, the sleepy city of Kilkenny, Ireland, began to wake up. Chattering students filled the sidewalks, their book bags slung across school uniforms, many of the boys carrying the short, hockey-like sticks used in hurling. Locals hurried through Butter Slip, a narrow passage between two streets where butter vendors set up stalls in medieval times. And shoppers ducked into the small stores that share a main street with a 17th-century merchant’s house and an 18th-century town hall building that was served as a customhouse.


  • Biking Britain, end to end

    Our three-week British bike trip last spring could be called a series of literal highs and lows. We cycled what’s called the End to End: from Land’s End on the southwestern tip of Cornwall in England to John O’Groats in the northeastern corner of Scotland.


  • Don't overlook Germany's second-largest city

    Germany’s second-largest city, Hamburg, is awash with history, and played especially key roles in the stories of 19th-century emigration, World War II and the Beatles.


  • European war museums echo 'Never again'

    All over Europe, there is little stomach for war. The motto of one military museum I visited in Vienna says it all: “War is something for museums.” And many European countries have followed this advice — creating fascinating exhibits about their military heritage.


  • Air travelers on layovers see Frankfurt on foot thanks to walking tour

    In the just-waking hours of a cool, misty morning, we slipped into Frankfurt, Germany, the way dreams slide between vivid reality and hazy memory: surreal and ephemeral.


  • How to foil Europe's clever pickpockets

    I don’t give much thought to petty crime when I travel abroad. I’m well aware that it happens: I’ve been preaching about the importance of wearing a moneybelt for decades. And for decades — probably about a total of 4,000 days of travel — I’ve never been hit by a thief. Well, my happy streak finally ended: I was pickpocketed in Paris last summer.


  • Some European travel cliches are worthy experiences

    Amped-up Spanish flamenco bars, dirndl skirts in Germany, ape tours of the Rock of Gibraltar — when does something slip from authentic to cheesy?


  • Europe travel

    Record-breaking cable car to Zugspitze opens near military recreation center

    A world record-breaking gondola is set to open Friday on Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze, just outside the Armed Forces Recreation Center Edelweiss Lodge and Resort.


  • Sweden's glass country sparkles with pride

    You can’t say you’ve seen Sweden if you’ve only been to Stockholm. Rural Sweden, especially the province of Smaland, is a worthy addition to any Scandinavian itinerary.


  • Europe Travel

    Nuremberg’s Christmas market is nutcracker sweet

    With no canned music, fake greenery, plastic kitsch or war toys, Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt feels classier than your average crafts fair. With all these goodies, it’s no wonder that the market attracts more than 2 million people annually.


  • Three of Europe's most stunning journeys

    Sometimes in travel, the journey is the reward. And that is particularly true in Europe, where trains, buses and boats link destinations near and far, high and low, urban and rural, often through spectacular scenery.


  • Passengers enjoy scenery and pampering on a train from Dublin to Waterford

    There is something about trains that has captivated me since childhood. Alas, living in the U.S., I’m not able to indulge my passion for them much, which makes it all the more wonderful when I’m somewhere where I can. That most recent somewhere was Ireland, and the train wasn’t your garden variety type, but rather the Belmond Grand Hibernian.


  • Winter is a cool time to go local in Paris

    The City of Light shines year-round, but Paris has a special appeal in winter. Sure, the weather can be cold and rainy (the average high in January is 43 degrees Fahrenheit), but if you dress in layers, you’ll keep warm and easily deal with temperature changes as you go from cold streets to heated museums and cafes.


  • There's no place like Rome for the holidays

    I find the holiday season in Rome a joy: crisp air, stylish big-city Italians sipping hot cappuccino in corner cafes, and hurried shoppers thoughtfully pausing at grand manger scenes. The season in the Italian capital stretches for more than a month — not to maximize shopping days, but to fit in the season’s many holy days.


  • Free as the breeze: A chartered sailboat beats a cruise liner when hopping Greek islands

    To go where cruise ships don’t go was perhaps the biggest advantage of a sailboat charter in the Greek Cyclades.


  • Portugal's Nazare upholds ancient seaside traditions

    Just two hours north of Lisbon, Portugal, is one of my favorite beach towns: Nazare, an Atlantic Coast fishing village turned tourist retreat.


  • Double identity: Strasbourg is French, but it's German, too

    Strasbourg is the capital of France’s Alsace region and just a two-hour train ride from Paris. But it’s also just 2 miles from the border of Germany, and a popular port of call for cruises down the Rhine River.


  • Rural Romania: A land that time forgot

    Romania is full of surprises and wonderful people. And as you leave the capital of Bucharest, it gets even better. In the Romanian countryside, the nation’s unique history and traditional culture live on vividly.


  • Travel among epochs while roaming in Rome

    Within Rome's ancient walls, just 12 miles around, lie many of the city’s iconic gems: the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain. We walked nearly everywhere, moving between epochs in a matter of minutes.


  • Luther's moment approaches: Oct. 31 marks 500th anniversary of Protestant Reformation

    For the world’s roughly 800 million Protestants, a small corner of eastern Germany is their spiritual home — a place that takes on added importance this year, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.


  • Tiny island nation of Malta deserves more than just a stopover

    For travelers today, Malta’s proximity to Europe’s glamour destinations is a definite plus, if not a widely appreciated one. Often experienced as a day stop on Mediterranean cruises, Malta greatly rewards a longer stay.


  • Edinburgh's alleys hold a trove of historical treasure

    In long-ago days, this venerable town became known — oddly, affectionately — as “Auld Reekie.” It’s believed the nickname came, in part, from the smell generated as residents of yesteryear greeted each new day by opening their windows and flinging the contents of their chamber pots into the street below. This was before indoor plumbing — if you get my drift.


  • Birmingham museum and gallery offers a world-class collection

    I recently spent a peaceful afternoon at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, marveling at its impressive collection of art and artifacts, many of international importance.


  • Europe Travel

    Exhibit in Speyer, Germany, tells true tale of Richard the Lionheart of ‘Robin Hood’ fame

    Historical Museum of the Palatinate's display covers the details of King Richard I’s life and legend with more than 150 objects borrowed from renowned museums, libraries and even the queen of England.


  • In France’s Dordogne region, a land of castles and caves calls for deep exploration

    When our children were 11 and 9, young enough to still be entirely inside the family circle but old enough to remember, we splurged on a “once-in-a-lifetime vacation” and rented a small farmhouse in Southwestern France outside the village of Saint-Cyprien. Each day, our son and daughter would say goodbye to the donkey that hung around our patio and we’d climb in the tiny rented Renault and drive somewhere in the fairy tale-beautiful Dordogne River region.

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