16 Top Poconos Resorts to Visit | Travel


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(Courtesy of The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort)

Resorts in the Poconos Mountains provide everything from family fun to romance and relaxation.

Sandwiched between New York City and Philadelphia (about 100 miles from each), the Pocono Mountains sit within driving distance of most East Coast travelers. Four counties filled with numerous towns comprise the Northern Pennsylvania region, and the types of accommodations run a similarly wide berth. Many of the resorts appeal to couples or families with amenities like heart-shaped hot tubs, water parks, ropes courses and more. Parsing through the different options proves challenging, but U.S. News has done the major lift for you. Read on to learn about the top resort properties in the Poconos. (Note: Some of the amenities may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. New policies may be in place, including capacity restrictions and dining reservation requirements. Check with the official resort website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before traveling.)
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(J.C.Getz Creative/Courtesy of Mount Airy Casino Resort)

Mount Airy Casino Resort: Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania

Rooms at Mount Airy Casino Resort combine cozy and contemporary design. Large headboards sport geometric patterns, while earth-toned color schemes are pulled from the surrounding mountain environments for inspiration. All accommodations offer flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi access and pillow-top beds. Additionally, guests can select from a menu of welcome amenities, ranging from Champagne to macarons, to give their stay a personalized feel (for an additional fee). Outside their digs, guests have access to a casino with more than 70 table games and 1,800-plus slot machines to try to find a hot streak. Other amenities include an 18-hole golf course, a spa and salon, a pool and bar, and a fitness center. As for dining, Guy Fieri’s Mt. Pocono Kitchen steals the show with flavorful comfort food, while the other on-site restaurant options offer everything from pasta, seafood and vegetables to Asian cuisine, pizza and a buffet.

Resorts in the Poconos Mountains provide everything from family fun to romance and relaxation.

Sandwiched between New York City and Philadelphia (about 100 miles from each), the Pocono Mountains sit within driving distance of most East Coast travelers. Four counties filled with numerous towns comprise the Northern Pennsylvania region, and the types of accommodations run a similarly wide berth. Many of the resorts appeal to couples or families with amenities like heart-shaped hot tubs, water parks, ropes courses and more. Parsing through the different options proves challenging, but U.S. News has done the major lift for you. Read on to learn about the top resort properties in the Poconos. (Note: Some of the amenities may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. New policies may be in place, including capacity restrictions and dining reservation requirements. Check with the official resort website and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before traveling.)

Mount Airy Casino Resort: Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania

Rooms at Mount Airy Casino Resort combine cozy and contemporary design. Large headboards sport geometric patterns, while earth-toned color schemes are pulled from the surrounding mountain environments for inspiration. All accommodations offer flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi access and pillow-top beds. Additionally, guests can select from a menu of welcome amenities, ranging from Champagne to macarons, to give their stay a personalized feel (for an additional fee). Outside their digs, guests have access to a casino with more than 70 table games and 1,800-plus slot machines to try to find a hot streak. Other amenities include an 18-hole golf course, a spa and salon, a pool and bar, and a fitness center. As for dining, Guy Fieri’s Mt. Pocono Kitchen steals the show with flavorful comfort food, while the other on-site restaurant options offer everything from pasta, seafood and vegetables to Asian cuisine, pizza and a buffet.

Woodloch Pines Resort: Hawley, Pennsylvania

The massive Woodloch Pines Resort appeals to families with a laundry list of activities designed to entice all age groups. Competitive visitors can spend their days participating in scavenger hunts, baking competitions and various athletic contests. Meanwhile, bumper boats, a climbing wall and go-carts are sure to satisfy any adrenaline junkies. Adults can go golfing or enjoy spa treatments on-site, while those looking for a romantic retreat should explore The Lodge at Woodloch (an adults-only enclave). Indoor and outdoor pools, mini-golf, a small water park, tennis courts and more supplement visitors’ daily options, and nightly programming of magicians, musical acts and comedians ensures guests have something to do between dinner and bedtime. Meal plans cover two or three meals daily, which are served in one of three dining rooms and feature regionally grown products. Two a la carte dining options are also available. Rooms and suites at the Woodloch Pines Resort all feature views of Lake Teedyuskung. Meanwhile, vacation rentals are available at the Woodloch Springs campus, which sits less than 3 miles southwest.

The Lodge at Woodloch: Hawley, Pennsylvania

Guests can choose from a handful of different packages, all of which include access to numerous activities and health and fitness facilities, when planning a stay at The Lodge at Woodloch. Visitors are free to tailor their time; the property offers expansive weekly programs that detail their offerings. Scheduled activities run the gamut from classes on pairing wine with grilled food to hatchet-throwing. Meanwhile, activities like biking, birding and archery are available daily (reservations are not required) for guests who shirk at the idea of preplanning their stays. Between adventures, visitors can savor gourmet cuisine at the on-site restaurant; the property’s packages cover three meals per day. Spa packages include additional spa credits for anyone in search of deeper relaxation. Accommodations at The Lodge at Woodloch aim to evoke a country estate, complete with private verandas and furniture that draws inspiration from the surrounding region. Sister property to the larger Woodloch Pines Resort, The Lodge at Woodloch only welcomes guests 16 and older.

Silver Birches Resort: Hawley, Pennsylvania

The oldest structure at Silver Birches Resort is The Inn, a farmhouse that dates back to the 1920s. Since The Inn finished construction, Silver Birches Resort has expanded to encompass 13 total structures (five of the buildings house guests) on the shoreline of Lake Wallenpaupack, many of which have undergone recent renovations. While amenities vary between rooms, private porches and electric fireplaces are potential perks. What’s more, all options come well appointed with picturesque views. The property’s outdoor amenities appeal to families and include a seasonal pool, a shuffleboard court, lawn games, fire pits and more. Two grills are available, and guests can also eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the on-site restaurant, The Dock on Wallenpaupack, which offers an expansive menu. Silver Birches Resort’s location on the lakefront also means that guests can rent boat slips and boats for a more maritime vacation.

The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort: Shawnee on Delaware, Pennsylvania

The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort offers various types of accommodations for guests to choose from when booking their stays. The Main Inn was built in 1911 and consists of 80 guest rooms that showcase the resort’s historical features. Five houses provide more secluded stays for families and other small groups while also offering distinct amenities, such as private Jacuzzis or heated floors. Beer lovers will appreciate the property’s ShawneeCraft Brewery and Taproom, which serves pizza alongside cold brews. Two additional on-site restaurants and a cafe mean you’ll never have to worry about leaving the resort for your next meal. The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort’s namesake course offers 27 holes, 24 of which are located on an island in the middle of the Delaware River. An indoor pool and Jacuzzi, live music five days a week, seasonal hayrides, sand volleyball courts, a fitness center, a game room and numerous additional amenities are also available, ensuring there’s something to entertain every type of traveler.

Skytop Lodge: Skytop, Pennsylvania

Accommodations at the Skytop Lodge are divided into four categories: The Lodge, The Inn, The Cottages and Streamside Cottages. This variety means the Skytop Lodge is ready to accommodate all sorts of travelers, from couples looking for romantic retreats in The Lodge’s traditional rooms to families seeking space in the interconnecting Streamside Cottages. The Skytop Lodge’s activities are equally varied, with options like lawn bowling, estate hayrides and guided bike rides. For more relaxing options, visitors can book massages and various treatments at The Nest, a boutique spa within the main building. In contrast, an on-site adventure center outfits guests for everything from rock climbing to snow skiing. Finally, the Skytop Lodge’s golf course boasts a mountain-style layout that snakes through the region’s rolling hills. When guests have worked up an appetite, they can head to Windsor for farm-to-table cuisine. A handful of additional dining options, including a bistro and a seasonal Italian restaurant, round out the property’s offerings.

Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark: Tannersville, Pennsylvania

Considering its name, it should come as no surprise that Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark’s most notable attraction is its indoor water park. The large water park boasts 13 different waterslides, numerous poolside restaurants and shops, and indoor cabanas for families and small groups. Still, keep in mind that guests must purchase passes or packages to gain access to the water park. Rooms sport a modern design and come equipped with standard amenities like Wi-Fi access, minifridges and flat-screen TVs. Even if you have a family of picky eaters, you’re sure to find a restaurant everyone loves at Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark: The property is home to a smorgasbord of eateries that specialize in everything from Italian to barbecue. Meanwhile, guests 21 and older can take advantage of the swim-up cocktails available at Oasis. Camelback Mountain features the rest of the property’s attractions, offering activities like snow tubing and skiing in winter and zip lining and mountain coaster rides during summer.

Paradise Stream Resort: Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania

Romantic cliches are thoroughly woven into every aspect of Paradise Stream Resort. For example, the resort’s 143 suites feature a variety of whirlpool tubs that are either heart-shaped or in the form of massive 7-foot-tall Champagne glasses. Unsurprisingly, various romance packages are available to add to the sensual vibes, with extras like Champagne to sip, rose petals and chocolates. Outside the accommodations, guests can enjoy four on-site eateries. Red Apple Nightclub offers games, drinks and dancing, while Huntress Dining Room serves all-you-can-eat meals from themed menus. Two grills, including a poolside restaurant, round out the options. After dining, regularly scheduled nightly events of music, magic and more keep romantic vacations exciting. Finally, daytime outdoor activities include tennis, biking, archery and water sports (like kayaking and banana boat rides) during summer and snowshoeing in winter.

The Village at Pocono: Long Pond, Pennsylvania

Located adjacent to Pocono Raceway, The Village at Pocono appeals to a much broader group than just those interested in high-octane races. On-site amenities include a heated indoor pool and aquatic center, locker room saunas, a billiard parlor, a game room, a tennis court and a basketball court. Accommodations at The Village at Pocono are all villas, with options for a studio, one bedroom or two bedrooms. Wi-Fi access in villas costs $5 per day (free Wi-Fi access is available in public areas), while dogs are welcome for an additional daily fee of $10. Unfortunately, there isn’t a restaurant located on-site, but guests can stroll about a half-mile south to Pocono Organics for groceries and cafe items. In fact, The Village at Pocono offers a package that includes discounts at Pocono Organics, as well as packages with discounts for a stock car driving experience at Pocono Raceway.

Mountain Springs Lake Resort: Reeders, Pennsylvania

Ringing picturesque Mountain Springs Lake, 39 distinct cottages comprise this resort and provide guests with a range of accommodation options. The family-owned resort sprawls across 325 acres of land and has welcomed guests for more than 60 years. While exact amenities vary among cabins, all feature complimentary internet access, charcoal grills and picnic tables, and air conditioning. Past visitors lauded the property’s cleanliness and the fireplaces in the accommodations. Outside their digs, guests can hike the 2-mile-long trail around the lake, which is stocked for fishing. (Each cottage comes with a rowboat.) The resort also boasts two beaches with games like tetherball and volleyball, an area with a basketball hoop and swings, and a fire pit available to guests for a rental fee.

Cove Haven Resort: Lakeville, Pennsylvania

Hot tubs modeled as Champagne flutes tower 7 feet into the air in some suites at this romantic lakefront Poconos retreat. Guests who don’t splurge for a Champagne tower tub will be treated to a heart-shaped alternative, while all rooms come with wood-burning fireplaces and numerous additional romantic touches. Special packages are available for every imaginable occasion, where you can surprise your sweetheart with chocolates, rose petals, candles and more. Cove Haven Resort‘s all-inclusive plans cover breakfast, dinner and nonalcoholic drinks at the property’s two restaurants and five bars. The bars feature frequent live performances of music, magic and comedy. During the day, guests can opt for additional relaxation from an extensive menu at the on-site spa or take advantage of activities like bicycling, swimming, laser tag and snow tubing.

Great Wolf Lodge: Scotrun, Pennsylvania

One of a handful of Great Wolf Lodge locations, this Poconos Mountains property boasts a bevy of amenities. The much-loved indoor water park offers numerous rides classified by thrill level, as well as pools, hot tubs and aquatic play areas. Dry activity options include a bowling alley, a ropes course, mini-golf, an arcade and multiple interactive exhibits. When it’s time for a bite to eat, an assortment of dining options provides ample opportunities for refueling. All accommodations include access to the water park (day passes are also available), while supplemental passes cover other attractions. Each standard suite at this Great Wolf Lodge comes with a balcony or patio, plus modern amenities like a flat-screen TV, a minifridge and internet access. A variety of themed suites up the ante with fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and whimsical sleeping areas of bunk beds or cabins.

Lukan’s Farm Resort: Hawley, Pennsylvania

While a stay at Lukan’s Farm Resort technically falls into the category of agritourism, the property beats the trend by a few decades and has been welcoming guests since 1951. Guests can interact with the farm’s animals, including honeybees, peacocks and goats, as well as tour the property’s gardens. Nature walks through the rest of the property, plus marshmallow roasts some evenings, complement the farm’s offerings. Visitors can enjoy additional fun activities like horseshoes, basketball, tennis, volleyball and fishing when they’re not swimming in the outdoor pool. Breakfast and dinner are served daily in a family-style dining room, and many of the meals include vegetables grown on-site. Guests can choose between a deluxe or poolside room, which continues the property’s unpretentious vibe.

Kalahari Resorts & Conventions: Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania

This Kalahari property welcomes families with a laundry list of activities, regardless of the season. A 220,000-square-foot indoor water park provides an excellent option during inclement weather with an assortment of slides, pools and indoor cabanas. Meanwhile, outdoor aquatic offerings include a large pool with a handful of waterslides, a sun deck and outdoor bungalows available to rent. The room rate covers access to both water parks. For additional activities, Gorilla Grove Treetop Adventures offers mini-golf, a ropes course and zip lines, though all incur additional fees. Visitors can also enjoy eclectic indoor fun, such as an arcade and escape rooms. For dining, options range from a steakhouse to an Italian eatery to an ice cream shop. This Kalahari Resorts & Conventions property offers accommodations for groups of up to 22 people, and all rooms come with modern amenities like complimentary Wi-Fi access, minifridges and flat-screen TVs.

Pocono Palace Resort: East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Couples-only Pocono Palace Resort sits on the shores of private Echo Lake. The property continues the romantic theme of its sister resorts, Cove Haven and Paradise Stream, with massive Champagne flute or heart-shaped hot tubs in all of its accommodations. A whirlpool tub comes standard in each room, and some suites feature extra perks like log-burning fireplaces and private balconies. Activities like paintball, water skiing and snowmobiling are available at Pocono Palace Resort, plus travelers can enjoy a bevy of standard amenities like a swimming pool and bike rentals. All-inclusive rates cover unlimited breakfast and dinner at the property’s on-site eateries, which include a lounge, a grill, a dining room, a nightclub and a combination bar and grill.

Chateau Resort and Conference Center: Tannersville, Pennsylvania

Past guests said Chateau Resort and Convention Center’s pet-friendly policy, where dogs stay for an additional $25 a night, serves as the property’s primary selling point. The resort’s slightly dated accommodations do include modern amenities like complimentary Wi-Fi access and flat-screen TVs. Its proximity to Camelback Mountain means that the peak’s ski runs and hikes are easy to access for adventurous travelers. When the weather proves uncooperative, guests can take advantage of the resort’s indoor pool, sauna and exercise facilities. A small arcade and an outdoor pool round out Chateau Resort and Conference Center’s offerings. The property’s eatery, Mountainview Restaurant and Lounge, serves American fare (sandwiches, steaks and salads) for breakfast and dinner.

Top Poconos Resorts to Visit

  • Mount Airy Casino Resort
  • Woodloch Pines Resort
  • The Lodge at Woodloch
  • Silver Birches Resort
  • The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort
  • Skytop Lodge
  • Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark
  • Paradise Stream Resort
  • The Village at Pocono
  • Mountain Springs Lake Resort
  • Cove Haven Resort
  • Great Wolf Lodge
  • Lukan’s Farm Resort
  • Kalahari Resorts & Conventions
  • Pocono Palace Resort
  • Chateau Resort and Conference Center



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Tip Top Has Released A Cinnamon Doughnut Flavoured Bread


Friends, I require you to avert your eyes right over here and prepare your mouths to water like they’ve never watered before. I’m talking Warragamba levels of liquid. Why? Because Tip Top has launched cinnamon doughnut flavoured bread. Read it again and weep.

You may be thinking, Pedestrian writer, isn’t that just cinnamon toast? And you’d be absolutely fkn correct in thinking that. The difference is it’s made from that super fluffy Tip Top bread that they make all their good shit from, like their Golden Circle crumpets.

It’s also got a little bit of a sugary hit to it, making it taste just like a warm cinnamon doughnut when you toast it. Sounds like perfection because it is.

Now you don’t need to go to all the trouble of buying a new pack of Woolies cinnamon doughnuts every week just to watch them become empty in record time. Instead, you can buy a pack of this, and watch it disappear even faster.

Something we’re also not acknowledging is how incredible Tip Top toast tastes with butter. A cinnamon doughnut with butter is blasphemous. Mix the two, however, and I’m sure you can overcome all hindrances and reach complete nirvana.

tip top cinnamon donut flavour
Rumour has it this is how they look in the Woolies aisle.

Here’s how Woolies describes the yummo new product:

“This scrumptious loaf is soft in the middle but also crunchy on the outside when toasted. Each slice is slightly sweetened and made with delicious bursts of Cinnamon flavour.

“Toast a slice and it will fill your house with an irresistible aroma of freshly baked cinnamon doughnuts… or eat it straight from the pack… Just as yummy!

“Made with Cinnamon Bursts.”

It’s that last part that has sent me into a hungry spiral. Cinnamon bursts? So, like, delicious clumps of cinnamon? My belly rumbles and my mouth hungers. Masks on girls, gays and theys, we ride at dawn to the nearest Woolies.

You can catch this delisho new product at your local Woolies for just $5. Despite the fact that I’ve written over 300 words about a slice of bread, you better believe that I did it all of my own accord.

Tip Top, if you’re reading this, love your work. Send me some bread, this is fkn genius.

More Stuff From PEDESTRIAN.TV

Image:
Getty Images / Romolo Tavani





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American Airlines to Cut 1% of July Flights as Travel Rebound Strains Operations | Top News


(Reuters) – American Airlines on Sunday said it would cancel around 1% of its flights in July to serve a surprise uptick in travel demand at a time when the airline struggles with unprecedented weather and a labor shortage at some of its hubs.

American Airlines said the move would bring additional resilience and certainty to its summer operations.

“(We) feel these schedule adjustments will help ensure we can take good care of our customers and team members and minimize surprises at the airport,” the company said in a statement.

The airline said its cancellations were targeted at impacting the smallest number of customers “by adjusting flights in markets where we have multiple options for re-accommodation.”

The announcement was first reported by the WSJ.

Airlines and other transportation operators have seen a quick ramp up in demand as U.S. COVID-19 vaccination rates increased and travel restrictions lifted in recent weeks.

According to data from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, nearly 50 million airport passengers were registered in May, up 19% from April. So far in June, the TSA has registered nearly 35 million air passengers.

American Airlines said the incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand also came at a time when bad weather caused multi-hour delays over the last few weeks, disrupting flight and crew work hours. The company said some of its vendors were also struggling with labor shortages, impacting the airline’s operations.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.



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AP Top Travel News at 12:25 a.m. EDT


The Daily Beast

American Student and Former Marine Catherine Serou Found Brutally Murdered in Russia

Catherine Serou/Screenshot/VKMOSCOW—The U.S. Marine forces trained Catherine Serou to survive in combat, and she did during in the war in Afghanistan. The 6-foot-tall blonde was athletic, hard-working, intellectual, an artist, a photographer and studying law at a Russian university. But it was a car ride in a sleepy provincial Russian town, Bor, in the region of Nizhny Novgorod that she did not survive: after going missing on Tuesday, her body was found in the woods this weekend. The car’s drive



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5 Top Vacation Scams to Watch When Making Travel Plans


When planning your next trip, be wary of false promises and a sense of urgency that can fool you into paying for something that doesn’t exist. 

1. Vacation Rental Con: 

Vacation rentals are a great option to travel and have the comforts of home. Watch out for listings for properties that either aren’t for rent, don’t exist, or are significantly different than pictured. These con artists lure in vacationers with the promise of low fees and great amenities. The “owner” creates a false sense of urgency – such as telling potential clients that another vacationer is interested in the rental – to get payment up before doing sufficient research or questioning the legitmacy of the ad.

Keep these tips in mind: 

  • Talk with the owner by phone. If you are not using a service that verifies properties and owners, do not negotiate a rental solely by email. Many scammers don’t live locally. Speaking with the owner on the phone, asking detailed questions about the property, and local attractions will clarify if the listing is true. An owner with vague answers is a clear red flag.
  • Check public records. Investigate online by looking up the address and use Google Street View to confirm the property matches the one advertised. Also, verify distances to beaches, attractions and airports while on the site.


2. “Free” Vacation Scams: 

When a cruise or travel company advertises a vacation as “free,” it does not necessarily mean the trip is entirely without cost or restrictions. Watch out for add-on fees for air transportation to the port, port charges, taxes, tips and other undisclosed fees. Learn more about these cruise scams, and for the following red flags: 

  • If you are told that you’ve won a trip without actually entering a contest, be very suspicious.
  • Pricing, accommodations, and several amenities that seem extremely reasonable are probably not true.
  • Pressure to accept the offer now or it’s gone forever. Instead. walk away, hang up the phone, delete the email or text message.


3. Hotel Scams

When staying in a hotel, beware of these techniques used to get ahold of credit card information. Scammers count on travelers – tourists and business people alike — being tired or in a hurry. Pay close attention and watch out for these tricks: 

  • Fake Front Desk Calls:  Scammers call late at night impersonating the front desk person. The caller claims there’s a problem with the card on file and asks the traveler to “re-verify” the credit card information.
  • “Free” Wi-Fi Connections: Wi-fi “skimming” is a growing scam that targets travelers with the promise of free Internet access. Scammers set up a fake connection that appears to be free, but it’s not safe. They will control the connection through their computer, collect all the data the traveler transmits including passwords, card information, and more. Avoid doing any banking transactions or checking personal accounts when using an open wifi network. Use a secure, private network if it is absolutely necessary to access personal or financial accounts.
  • Fake Food Delivery: Scammers will distribute fake menus to hotel rooms. When a traveler calls the phone number and orders delivery, they collect the credit card information and never deliver the food.


4. Third Party Booking Site Scams:
 

If you book your airfare, hotel or other travel through a third-party website, be sure to use caution. BBB Scam Tracker continues to receive reports of scammers pretending to be online airline ticket brokers. In the most common version of the scam, traveler’s pay with a credit card and shortly after making the payment, receive a call from the company asking  to verify name, address, banking information or other personal details – something a legitimate company would never do. Learn more about these booking scams

5. Timeshare Reselling Cons:

Another common travel scam is the timeshare resale con. A timeshare owner who is looking to sell gets a call from someone claiming to be a real estate broker or agent. These scammers claim to specialize in timeshare resales and promise they have buyers ready to purchase. To secure this service, the scammer pressures the target into paying an upfront fee. The timeshare owner pays up, but the reselling agent never delivers.

General Tips to Avoid Vacation Scams: 

Scammers are always devising new ways to fool consumers, however, there are ways to protect against them by following these tips:

  • Look for reviews and ask for references. While vetting hotels, travel companies, vacation rentals and more, check BBB.org for reviews and complaints. Look for photos and a variety of reviews. If the property or company doesn’t have any online reviews, ask for references and call them. 
  • Avoid wiring money or using a prepaid debit card. These payments are the same as sending cash. Once the money is sent, there is no way to get it back. Paying with a credit card the charges can be disputed and dramatically limit  liability from a fraudulent purchase.
  • A great deal probably isn’t the truth. Scammers lure in targets by guaranteeing an amazing trip at a very low price. Research it first. If the hotel, travel or tour is much cheaper than similar options, be suspicious. 
  • Do some snooping. Check the website for links to the company’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. Often, scam artists will link to Facebook.com instead of Facebook.com/THEIRCOMPANYNAME. If they do have social media accounts, check their activity and see if any other users have left reviews or voiced complaints. Also, look for typos and pixelated images. These mistakes are signs of a scammer, not a company that cares about their online presence. 


For More Infomation:

See BBB’s article for advice on planning your next vacation. Also, check out BBB’s tips for protecting your personal information when traveling

To report a scam, go to BBB.org/ScamTracker.  To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams.”

BBB Serving Central SC and Charleston and BBB of Northeast California contributed to this article.





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Top ways to cool off with a summer vacation in Frisco



Beat the Texas heat this summer with a cool road trip — Frisco is just north of Dallas, and it offers plenty of ways to stay cool. From pools to sweet treats to splash pads and more, there’s no shortage of refreshing things to do.

Dive in

Pool days are a necessity here in Texas, especially when the temps start climbing.


Many hotels are offering great rates and deals, and be sure to get the most out of your hotel stay by taking a dip in the newly renovated pool at The Westin Stonebriar Golf Resort & Spa, which now sports an adjacent bar called Ranch Water that features craft cocktails with regional spirits and light poolside fare.


Or take in the views from the rooftop pool at the Omni Frisco Hotel, which is located at The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ headquarters and training facilities.


Speaking of sports, catch a Frisco RoughRiders ballgame at Rider’s Field, where you can blissfully float throughout the innings in the Lazy River.


If you’re looking for a little more splashy action, head to the Frisco Athletic Center Water Park where seven water features await, including the Preston Plunge and The Fort. It’s open through the end of September, and day passes are only $11 for youths, $13 for adults, and children 2 and under are free.

Splish splash

Some days a pool is too much of a commitment, so how about a splash pad instead? You’ll find some excellent ones at Frisco Commons Park, Shepherd’s Glen Park, and J.R. Newman Park.


For a true hidden water gem, head down the unmarked path through the trees at Limestone Quarry Park and discover a small swimming hole fed by a creek — there’s even a waterfall. Be sure to wear water shoes or sneakers that can get wet, because the limestone rocks are rough on bare feet.

Cool treats

Pause your playtime for some icy refreshments, like snow cones from the Frisco Snow Cone Lady, a summer staple in the area.


Or order up a Stacker at Cow Tipping Creamery for a Texas-size sundae that layers homemade toppings between freshly churned ice cream.


At the small-batch coffee shop and bakery La Finca, each bean is roasted in-house with its specific flavor profile in mind. An iced latte or shakerato — or even a good ol’ iced coffee — will provide the delicious buzz you’re craving.

Soak up the AC

You’ll need a break from all the sun, so head inside and enjoy that sweet, sweet air conditioning. Collect clues and solve the puzzle at Countdown 2 Escape, visit the National Soccer Hall of Fame, or bowl a few games, rack up points in the arcade, or play laser tag at Strikz.


The Frisco Discovery Center houses three museums in one building: TrainTopia, National Videogame Museum, and Sci-Tech Discovery Center. Here’s a pro tip: You can save 25 percent and experience all five of Frisco’s museums with the Frisco Museum Pass.


Soak up all Frisco has to offer this summer — visit the website for more vacation ideas.





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Summer tradition in Europe, Travel News & Top Stories


The summer solstice on June 21 marks the longest day and shortest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. It is also the symbolic start of the summer months.

In Europe, the day has a spiritual dimension because of its association with St John the Baptist, whose birth on June 24 fell close to the summer solstice. Pagan rituals are also performed that day.

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What to do and where to go in Australia – travel influencer-style!, Travel News & Top Stories


Victoria Cheng, TV host/presenter and founder of tech and gaming portal SupNerd.tv, @victoriacheng

When did your love affair with Australia begin?

My first visit to Australia was as a teenager, and I had brilliant memories of the Great Barrier Reef back then. It made me fall in love with diving.

I’ve travelled to most parts of Australia now, but I went to South Australia (SA) for the first time in October 2019 to film a travel series with my co-host Justin Bratton.


Visit Softfoot Alpaca Farm to get up close and personal with rescued and endangered native wildlife. PHOTO (TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19): ELVINA FARKAS/ANUE STUDIOS

What was most memorable about your South Australia trip?

Definitely the outdoors, but also the incredible number of wineries.

While neighbouring states have vineyards as well, the ones located in SA are incredibly creative and quirky. You can really see how the next generation has put a less traditional touch on the experience. One example is the family-owned d’Arenberg Cube winery in the McLaren Vale wine region, with an unexpected experience as you walk through the interior. I also enjoyed my visit to Down The Rabbit Hole – it’s very photogenic and hipster, with lovely rosé wines.

What must-do experiences in South Australia would you recommend?

Softfoot Alpaca Farm on the Fleurieu Peninsula was one of my favorite animal-related excursions. It spans 600 acres in Hindmarsh Valley, and we took a 4×4 to explore the estate and see purebred Alpacas from Latin America. It was a great way to experience Australian farm lifestyle. They also have an orphanage for Australian wildlife and I got to bottle-feed an orphaned joey. It was definitely not your average experience.

Monarto Safari Park, the largest safari park in the world outside of Africa, is a must-visit for the experience of getting to feed the lions. And for those who wish to spend a night, there are even glamping facilities that are currently being built.

A few other experiences I enjoyed are strawberry picking at Beerenberg Farm in Hahndorf, eating my way through Adelaide Central Market, driving through the rolling hills of Adelaide Hills, and getting to feed and snorkel with bluefin tuna at Victor Harbor!

If we only had time to spend three days in South Australia, what would your curated itinerary be like?

Day 1: Arrive at Bellwether Wines and spend a night under the stars while glamping. For something one-of-a-kind, you can book a stay in the Coonawara Bubble Tent. Yes, it is completely see-through (but they do come with privacy screens).


Pick fresh, juicy strawberries to your heart’s content at Beerenberg (meaning Berry on the Hill, in German) Farm, one of Australia’s oldest family-run farms. PHOTO (TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19): ELVINA FARKAS/ANUE STUDIOS

Day 2: The next morning, make your way to Mayura Station in Millicent for its famed, melt-in-your-mouth Wagyu beef. Continue your journey down to Cape Dombey in Robe and drink in a stunning cliffside sunset.

Day 3: Make your way to Adelaide – stopping first at Monarto Safari Park, before moving on to Adelaide Hills to spend your last day in the picturesque town of Hahndorf. If your flight the next day is in the late afternoon, you might even be able to fit in a spot of strawberry picking!

If you have more time, I recommend driving along Great Ocean Road from Victoria, then making your way through South Australia for the above recommendations. Plan your route from Limestone Coast, Adelaide, the Fleurieu Peninsula, Hahndorf and end at Victor Harbor.

Vickii Ma, food and lifestyle content creator, currently based in New York City, www.vickiima.com, @vickiima

When did you last visit Sydney?

It was in 2018 and my fourth visit. I did a road trip with girlfriends and we loved the dining scene – excellent bakeries, coffee spots and farmers’ markets.

Sydney is bustling and very walkable. There are also beaches and other spots just one to three hours’ drive away. Port Stephens’ beaches and stunning sand dunes are worth a stopover.


Perfect for a leisurely breakfast or tea, The Grounds of Alexandria is a landmark cafe, roastery, florist and sustainable garden all rolled into one. PHOTO (TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19): VICKII MA

What are some of your favourite places?

Mine are mostly food stops. Devon Cafe for brunch – try the salmon – and Black Star Pastry’s strawberry watermelon cake for tea. I also like Firedoor in Surry Hills, Bourke Street Bakery’s sausage rolls and Toko Sydney for an izakaya dinner and cocktails. Then there are Cuppa Flower, a cafe-florist, and The Grounds of Alexandria for brunch and petting animals.


Don’t forget to pencil in a visit to New South Wales’ famed wine region Hunter Valley, home to spectacular food and wine. PHOTO (TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19): VICKII MA

If there’s time, also try horseback riding in Glenworth Valley or hit the Tyrrell’s Wines and Tempus Two vineyards in Hunter Valley for wine and cheeses. More favourites: the weekend farmers’ markets, Eveleigh Markets and The Rocks.

Ng Sock Peng, founder, mylovelybluesky.com, @sockpeng

Where have you been in Australia?

In 2004, I visited the Gold Coast. I have also travelled to Perth and Melbourne. In 2013, I did eight days in the Northern Territory and loved the idyllic environment and abundance of nature. It’s a welcome respite, whether you’ve been cooped up at home or are tired of staring at high-rises.


The largest national park in Australia, Kakadu National Park boasts a rugged beauty, with its lush rainforests and wetlands, exotic wildlife and ancient rock landscapes. PHOTO (TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19): NG SOCK PENG

The bonus: it is less than five hours from Singapore and the time difference is 90 minutes.

What’s a great three-day itinerary of the Northern Territory?

Day 1: Rent a car at the airport for a two-hour self-drive to Kakadu National Park, the biggest in Australia, for some hiking. There are gorgeous sights along the route.

Day 2: Enjoy the waterfall and catch the sunrise from Yellow Water Billabong.


Take a cruise on a wild side on the Yellow Water Billabong and spot crocodiles in their natural habitat. PHOTO: TOURISM AUSTRALIA

Day 3: Take a city tour of Darwin and visit Rapid Creek Market, Crocosaurus Cove, Stokes Hill Wharf and Mindil Beach Sunset Market.

Daniel Goh, certified wine specialist and editor, Spirited Singapore, @spiritedsg

You’ve visited Western Australia many times for work and leisure. What keeps you returning?

The idyllic setting and slower pace of life. There’s also great wine and other excellent produce within reach, and beautiful beaches for surfers.

My first trip to Margaret River was in 2016 when my wife and I attended the Margaret River Gourmet Escape on our annual vacation. In 2019, I swung through Swan Valley and Margaret River on the way to the Great Southern for a business trip.

What is one must-see in Western Australia?
Busselton Jetty, 150 minutes south of Perth and 49km from Margaret River, is the longest timber jetty (1,841m) in the Southern Hemisphere. If you love beer, the taproom of award-winning brewery Rocky Ridge Brewing Co with 25 taps is close by.


At the family-owned Sittella winery and vineyard, just a 30-min drive from Perth, visitors can savour award-winning handcrafted Western Australian wine and fine food. PHOTO: DANIEL GOH

You’re a wine expert. Any recommendations?
One of the most eminent wine producers in Margaret River, Voyager Estate makes some of the finest chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon in the Western Australia winemaking region. Think beautiful, sprawling estate, well-kept vineyards you can stroll through, a well-stocked cellar door, plus an award-winning restaurant.

Another is Sittella, one of Swan Valley’s more progressive wineries with a modern approach to winemaking that respects tradition. It makes a mighty fine verdelho, one of the classic white grape varieties in the Swan Valley, and great shirazes. But what makes Sittella worth visiting is its excellent sparkling chenin blanc produced with the champenoise method and fortified wines.

What’s a good spot for beer?
The Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle. Besides being a fully-operational brewery, it also has a massive dining hall with a huge open kitchen churning out excellent wood-fired pizzas and fabulously fresh seafood. Walk your meal off along Fremantle’s scenic wharves.


Grab a signature Pale Ale to go with your pizza and unwind with your mates at Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle. PHOTO (TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19): DANIEL GOH

If one had only three days in Western Australia, what would you suggest?

A wine adventure! Upon landing in Perth on Day 1, head to Swan Valley’s The Colony in Mandoon Estate, a full-service accommodation within the winery that’s also home to Homestead Brewery. It’s a great spot from which to explore the region.

Besides Sittella, stop and sample the pours at Sandalford Wines and Riverbank Estate Winery. To satisfy a sweet tooth, there’s Mondo Nougat and Margaret River Chocolate Company.

Day 2: Head to Busselton after breakfast and stop at Bunbury Farmers Market for local produce and snacks. Aim to arrive in Busselton in time for a scenic lunch at The Goose Bar & Kitchen and leave time to explore Busselton Jetty.

Next, head towards Margaret River to your next accommodation: the rustic Riverglen Chalets on the edge of town.

Day 3: Make sure this falls on a Saturday because that’s when the Margaret River Farmers’ Market opens in a field packed with booths peddling all sorts of local produce, from fresh vegetables and deli products to delicious confectionery and other baked goods. I recommend you hunt down the creme brulee tart from the Margaret River Bakery’s stand.


Voyager Estate is one of the founding wine estates in Margaret River, and prides itself on its sustainable winegrowing efforts. PHOTO: VOYAGER ESTATE

Start your wine journey from here. I recommend wineries like Voyager Estate, Leeuwin Estate, Cullen and Vasse Felix. For more boutique operations, I like Fermoy Estate and Woodlands Wines. And, if you love craft beer and Aussie-inspired beer food, The Beer Farm, Cheeky Monkey Brewing Co and Colonial Brewery Co are great options.

On the return drive to Perth the next morning, drop by Caversham Wildlife Park before your flight home.

Karen Ashley Ng, entrepreneur, renzze.com, @renzze

You are now based in Melbourne because of Covid-19 travel restrictions. What do you like most about it and the Victoria region?

Melbourne is a vibrant city with a soul, amazing art and culture. Whether it’s the sophisticated, curated art at the National Art Gallery (NGV) or the ever-changing graffiti art in Hosier Lane, there is always something reflecting the diversity of culture.


Hosier Lane in the central business district of Melbourne is celebrated for its vibrant display of colourful street art. PHOTO: VISIT VICTORIA

Victoria’s culinary scene is an explosion of choices for foodies. The exceptional skills of the chefs, the quality of fresh local produce and access to one of Australia’s finest wine-growing regions allow for a never-ending supply of inspiring meals.

Of course, as the Coffee Capital of Australia (and maybe the world), the coffees here are delicious, too.

Finally, I can’t tell you what I love about Victoria without gushing about the immense beauty of the untouched bushland and coastline. I have one of the world’s best beaches on my doorstep!

From iconic bayside strips to secluded coves, there is always a strip of sand to wow your socks off any time you need a breather. For those hunting down a good trail, world-class national parks like Wilson Promontory and the Grampians, or the Yarra Ranges, offer a multitude of terrains, misty waterfalls and clifftop views. In Victoria, there’s a road trip waiting for you every weekend.

Tell us more about your favourite places in Victoria.

Melbourne’s Brighton Bathing Boxes have been a part of the bayside landscape for over 100 years. The vibrant hues are a wonderful backdrop for photographers and travellers, and couples’ wedding photos.


Each of the 82 distinctive, multi-hued Brighton Bathing Boxes has its own unique characteristic, so make time to take them all in. PHOTO (TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19): KAREN ASHLEY NG

For art aficionados, the NGV is a must-go. Founded in 1861, it is the oldest public art museum in Australia that regularly hosts blockbuster exhibitions and has one of the world’s finest art collections. On the ever-popular NGV Friday Nights, special events feature music, bars, dining and late-night access to feature exhibitions.

If you happen to be in Victoria in March, make a day trip to the gold town of Ballarat and stop by the sunflower fields on Dunnstown Road on the outskirts. The one million blooms are bound to brighten your day. At AU$2 each, cut some to go.


The little-known sunflower fields along the countryside stretch of Dunnstown Road is a stunning vision bathed in golden yellow. PHOTO (TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19): KAREN ASHLEY NG

Another iconic heritage landmark, the inner-city Queen Victoria Market is 140 years old. The locals love to shop there as much as tourists do. For those who love discovering fresh, seasonal and speciality produce, this is your mecca.

I love making my poke bowls and purchase my sashimi from fish stalls here. You can also find many unique products, great coffee and food, souvenirs and clothing. During summer and winter, the market becomes an eclectic night market (only on Wednesdays) after 5pm.

Family and friends visiting Australia always ask for recommendations on where to see animals native to Australia. While there are many zoos and animal sanctuaries that are really fun, Churchill National Park has free-roaming kangaroos and wallabies.

To forget about city life, take a leisurely hike to Trig Point Lookout and bask in nature. Along the way to the peak, keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife that tend to show up in greater numbers (and are thus easier to spot) at dusk or dawn.

What would the perfect three-day itinerary be like in Victoria?

Day 1: Start with breakfast at Lune Croissanterie for the world’s best croissants. Then explore the many lanes and alleyways filled with graffiti art. Stop for coffee at Dukes Coffee Roasters before a day at NGV or enjoy a picnic on a small boat down the Yarra River. The choices for dinner in the city are endless. I recommend a meal at Attica or Tipo 00.


A breakfast for champions is pretty much what Lune Croissanterie has to offer. PHOTO: VISIT VICTORIA

Day 2: Bag a bird’s eye view of Yarra Valley from a hot air balloon before a hearty champagne breakfast when you land. Spend the afternoon picking fruits – depending on the season, it could be cherries, strawberries or apples – or visit one of the 70 wineries in the region. And stop at Yarra Valley Chocolaterie for some sweet treats.

Day 3: Welcome to Mornington Peninsula. Start your morning with yoga at Hot Hut. Then drive to Pt Leo Estate to explore the outdoor sculptures. Enjoy lunch at the award-winning Laura restaurant. Make your way to Cape Schanck to appreciate the sweeping views of the rugged coastline.


Cape Schanck is located at the southern tip of the Mornington Peninsula, with some of the best views in Victoria. PHOTO: VISIT VICTORIA

By late afternoon, check into the Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs, Victoria’s first natural hot springs and day spa centre with thermal pools of varying temperatures, saunas and private bathing areas.

I recommend the topmost pool at sunset to catch the sun going down. It’s an especially calming way to end the trip.

Sunetra Biswas, travel blogger and content creator, Globetrotting Su, @globetrottingsu

What do you like most about Sydney?

While living in the US, I always wanted to visit Sydney. After I relocated to Singapore in 2018, I planned my first trip – a five-day vacation. Sydney is very reminiscent of my New York life.


The view of Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background will make for a most memorable snapshot of your trip. PHOTO (TAKEN BEFORE COVID-19): SUNETRA BISWAS

I love its amazing food scene, abundant nature in beautiful botanical gardens, epic views of iconic landmarks, close proximity to amazing beaches, and an overall relaxing and happy vibe. It’s a fabulous city with so much to offer every traveller.

What did you discover in Sydney?

The amazing architecture of Sydney Opera House. There’s a guided tour of this famous landmark to understand the intricacies of this artistic building.


When visiting Sydney, don’t miss the chance to take a dip in one of the most photographed pools in the world, the iconic Bondi Icebergs. PHOTO: TOURISM AUSTRALIA

Sydney has so many amazing beaches to surf and swim in. The famous Bondi beach with its Bondi Icebergs pool is a must-visit.

Visit the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, an exposed sandstone rock cut into the shape of a bench in Sydney Harbour. The garden is home to so many varieties of plants and flowers and offers an amazing walk with great views overlooking the harbour.

To enjoy uninhibited views of the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the beautiful harbour city, take the picturesque 30-minute ferry ride to Manly Beach. Manly, a suburb in the northern part of the city, has amazing nightlife and beautiful coastal walks that should not be missed.


The magnificent Blue Mountains is a World Heritage wonder, with impressive rock formations and underground caves to explore. PHOTO: TOURISM AUSTRALIA

Lastly, a short day trip to Blue Mountains is ideal for captivating views of sandstone cliffs, forests, canyons and waterfalls. This region is particularly famous for the views of the Three Sisters, an unusual rock formation especially during sunset.

Nur Hazirah Jamaludin, brand communications strategist at HalalTrip.com

When did you first visit Melbourne and what was so enjoyable about that trip?

I first visited Melbourne with my family in 2009 and was really impressed by the many family-friendly activities – such as road trips, nature explorations and wildlife encounters.

In 2019, for our graduation trip, my friends and I wanted a destination that’s laid back and has good weather. Being students, we also wanted a place that wouldn’t bust our budget. We felt Melbourne was the ideal destination because it’s easy to navigate our way using public transport, has plenty of accommodation options, attractions and, of course, fulfils the “great vibe” criteria.

Which five go-to places would you recommend in Melbourne?

We booked our Airbnb accommodation in St Kilda and it is one of the best neighbourhoods to stay in and explore.

It is close to many attractions in Melbourne, and is a great way to get a taste of Australia’s laid back culture while enjoying vibrant attractions such as Luna Park – an old-school carnival-style theme park with the wackiest rides – weekend markets, seasonal events and small indie shops, and riding a bike along the beach. In St Kilda, it almost feels like every day is the weekend.


St Kilda is a picturesque beachside suburb with something for everyone, from its diverse variety of food options, trendy shopping streets, art galleries and even a historic amusement park. PHOTO: VISIT VICTORIA

If you are on a road trip in Victoria, Mansfield Zoo is worth a visit. It has lions, camels, kangaroos and reindeer, some which roam freely around the zoo.

Queen Victoria Market is a must-visit to experience the Melbourne culture and indulge in the local food scene.

If you fancy the arts, check out Hosier Lane with its graffiti scenes within the alleyways.

And while I’ve never tried glamping in Melbourne before, I think it’s an experience that anyone should try while there. It’s a great way to be surrounded completely by nature without compromising on comfort.

What is one tip you’d like to share with fellow Muslim travellers?

While Melbourne increasingly has more halal restaurants and halal options now, I would definitely recommend booking self-catering accommodations because it’s a lot easier to manage your meals. It may take some time to work your itinerary around getting groceries when you first arrive, but it helps to know that you don’t always have to be on a lookout for halal restaurants.

Another tip I have for Muslim travellers is to have instant gravy mix on hand. These are helpful for when you need to prepare quick meals with basic ingredients you buy from the store such as milk, water, rice and noodles.

We were lucky to be staying in a neighbourhood where the Coles supermarket there offered kosher meat to meet the local community’s needs.

If you could curate the ideal three-day itinerary in Melbourne, what would it look like?

Day 1: Explore the city in the free tram zone, where you can board and alight anywhere in the zone – very wallet-friendly. Visit the Queen Victoria Market and check out the local produce, homemade soap bars, souvenirs and clothes. Try the fresh oysters (less than AUD$5 for a large one).

Also, make sure you get there early enough to wait in line at the American Donut stand. End your day with dinner at Betty’s Burger, which has Muslim-friendly options like the Betty’s Burger Classic. If you want chicken, have it grilled, as the batter used for fried chicken is not halal.

Day 2: Wake up early and go to the beach. There are rows of shops with unique souvenirs. For lunch, there is a whole stretch of halal dining options in the suburbs of Coburg and Brunswick.


One of the most well-known highlights of the Great Ocean Road is The Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone pillars rising majestically from the sea. PHOTO: VISIT VICTORIA

Day 3: Embark on a one-day trip of the Great Ocean Road or stay within the city and check out Melbourne’s wildlife at the Werribee Open Range Zoo or Phillip Island for the much-loved Penguin Parade.

All set to plan a trip to Australia? Click here for more holiday inspiration and to help you plan your itinerary when the time is right.

 





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The top U.S. travel destinations you shouldn’t overlook


It’s never too early to start planning that next trip.

Do you have a destination in mind?

Sure, Mexico is gorgeous and everyone seems to dream of Europe or Australia … but what about the good old U.S. of A.? Have you visited the following spots? Some are a bit more obvious as tourist hotspots, while others remain more obscure.

So before you apply for a passport, we recommend you check out somewhere in our very own backyard, so to speak. We asked around, and here were the spots people were loving:

How about …

A view of Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in Washington. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)

Have you heard of San Juan Island — not to be confused with San Juan, Puerto Rico — in northwest Washington, not far from Seattle? The island, which has a temperate, year-round climate, offers whale watching, kayaking, hiking, zip-lining, horseback riding, paddle boating, horseback riding and sailing, just to name a few activities. If you’d prefer something a little calmer, try visiting the alpaca ranch, a lavender farm or a winery with an historic tasting room.

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The views look simply stunning.

Perhaps it’s time to check out the great state of Montana. Bozeman comes highly recommended, as it’s known as a splendid little town close in proximity to Yellowstone. If you’re up for a drive, Glacier National Park is within about four hours, and it’s guaranteed to take your breath away.

What about Boston? This is a city truly steeped in history. It boasts chowder, an incredible atmosphere, Fenway Park and the New England Aquarium, just to name a few attractions. Those are truly the tip of the iceberg, as there’s likely something for everyone in Boston.

Lobstermen use a skiff get to their boat moored before heading out into the Gulf of Maine in Deer Isle, Maine. (Getty Images)

How about Maine? Bar Harbor is gorgeous, particularly if you climb the hills outside the town in the fall and look toward the coastline. Another Maine advocate recommended Stonington, on Deer Isle, saying you can even take a mail boat out to the surrounding islands. Acadia National Park is pretty close, as well.

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Or you could visit Savannah, Georgia: A friend described it like this — it’s beautiful in a very timeless, storybook way, with Spanish moss hanging from the trees over cobblestone pathways and the smell of pralines in the air. (What more could you ask for, really?)

How about an outdoor lover’s paradise? That brings us to Utah. The state boasts five national parks, including Zion, and it also has the Flaming Gorge Recreational Area. The journey there from Salt Lake City is a gorgeous mountain drive that you won’t want to nap through. Once you arrive, there’s Utah red rock, a pretty reservoir, fly-fishing, rafting and horseback tours along the Red Canyon Rim. You’re welcome!

A view from the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island. (Getty Images)

Have you heard of Mackinac Island, Michigan? Clearly people in the Mitten State have — but in other parts of the country, perhaps it’s a bit more obscure.

You’ll have to leave your car behind, much like San Juan Island, because there are no vehicles on Mackinac. But there are horses!

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Mackinac is beautiful — located right on the Great Lakes, offering bike rentals, fudge, quaint little shops, Fort Mackinac, golf and the Grand Hotel. (Even if you can’t afford to stay there, a walk on the porch is worth it). If you’re in the Midwest or up for a bit of a trek, give it a shot!

Or try Hawaii: Not that we’re throwing a curveball at you with this recommendation. Hawaii doesn’t exactly fly under the radar as far as gorgeous travel destinations are concerned, but we couldn’t justify leaving it off the list. Each island offers something uniquely different, so depending on whether you’re traveling with friends, family or a significant other, you can customize your experience to fit your vacation needs. And the waterfalls in Kauai look pretty epic.

Visitors drive into the Badlands National Park near Wall, South Dakota. (Getty Images)

And then there are the Badlands, also known as Badlands National Park in southwest South Dakota. One enthusiast put it this way: “(Visiting is) a completely otherworldly experience where it’s both uniquely U.S. and yet you feel so far away from the U.S. It’s almost like a different planet entirely.”

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This is a bit of a college town (home to Cal Poly) and a bit of a beach town. What a fun, picturesque city!

Now, obviously California has a LOT to offer. The Golden State is known for big places such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. But SLO, as it’s called, flies under the radar a bit, while still offering the beach, sun, wine and some excellent tri-tip (particularly at a restaurant called Firestone Grill). Hop to it!

New Orleans: Who could forget the Big Easy? Again, this is one of those cities where you’ve likely heard of the major attractions and draws — the French Quarter, Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, etc. But if you’ve never been, perhaps now is the time. Who doesn’t love beignets and jambalaya? Get to this culinary capital, with iconic dishes and nightlife, before you even think about venturing out of the U.S.

The classic cities are considered classics for a reason, right?

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A family plays on the beach in Destin, Florida. (Getty Images)

Destin showcases powder-like sand and crystal clear water. The city, and its surrounding towns, look like Pleasantville, basically. You can rent out beach cruisers, there are plenty of stands selling ice cream cones and food, and everyone seems happy, as one Destin fan said.

How about Nashville, better known as Music City? Between the live shows (which seem to be everywhere), the booming food scene, the incredible nightlife and the legendary venues, there is truly NO shortage of places to check out in Nashville.

Are you into small-town charm? This might be the place for you!

Deep in the heart of Texas lies the beautiful city of New Braunfels. The live music is top notch, and you can find a concert every day of the week. If you’re outdoorsy, the area is perfect for tubing and fishing. There’s also an award-winning farmers market held every Saturday, rain or shine, and the Craft Beer Trail.

What did we forget? Drop your favorite U.S. travel destinations below!



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Yummy travel shows to dig into, Travel News & Top Stories


1. J-STYLE TRIP

Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou and his pals travel the world in this celebrity-studded series on Netflix, which flies to cities such as Paris, Taipei, Tokyo, Vienna and even Havana in Cuba.

While food is not the main focus – music and magic are Chou’s two true loves – there are quite a few scenes in this 2020 series which feature cooking and eating, such as one with Japan’s Mount Fuji as the stunning backdrop.

Soba, milk tea, yabbies and a fish dinner by Chou are some of the items that appear in the 13 episodes.

However, the real scene-stealers are the stars such as Singaporean singer JJ Lin, Hong Kong actor-chef Nicholas Tse and Chinese classical pianist Lang Lang.

2. FLAVORFUL ORIGINS


PHOTO: NETFLIX

This Chinese series on Netflix takes viewers on a journey through the cuisines of Gansu, Yunnan and Chaoshan in short, easy-to-digest episodes.

Each episode is no longer than 15 minutes and focuses on one ingredient or signature dish, such as the Chaoshan kitchen essential of fish sauce and the sheep offal of Gansu.

Flavorful Origins (2019) is food porn at its best, with lingering, loving shots guaranteed to make your mouth water.

You can easily binge on all 40 episodes in one weekend, but it might leave you very hungry.

3. ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN


PHOTO: CNN INTERNATIONAL

No list of travel food shows is complete without a mention of the late chef-turned-author Anthony Bourdain, who transformed the travel-and-food genre into something bigger than the sum of its parts.

CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, which aired for 12 seasons from 2013 to 2018, covers almost every place you can think of.

Congo, Libya, Honduras, Beirut, Madagascar – he had been there, eaten that.

Before this series, he hosted Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (2005 to 2012) and A Cook’s Tour (2002 to 2003), so his experiences have breadth and depth.

Graze on best-of-Bourdain moments on CNN’s YouTube page, where you can search for highlights of episodes, such as the one in which he and former United States president Barack Obama had bun cha (Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle) in Hanoi in 2016.

It is poignant knowing he committed suicide in 2018 as you listen to his laconic drawl and watch how he interacts with locals with humour and humanity.

4. UGLY DELICIOUS


PHOTO: NETFLIX

Sink your teeth into popular food in this globe-trotting documentary. Celebrity chef David Chang of Momofuku fame takes on pizza, tacos, dumplings and more in Netflix’s Ugly Delicious (2018 to 2020). The food may not look pretty, but it sure looks delicious.

The star power is boosted by a diverse slate of guests such as actors Steven Yeun, Aziz Ansari and Ali Wong, model-author Padma Lakshmi and chef Sean Brock.

There are two seasons with a total of 12 episodes available for streaming, but if you cannot get enough of Chang, check out his other Netflix series, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (2019).

More location-centric than Ugly Delicious, the four-parter sees him going to places such as Marrakesh in Morocco with model-cookbook author Chrissy Teigen and Phnom Penh with Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon. But do not worry, there is still good grub involved.

5. TRAVEL MAN


PHOTO: TRAVEL MAN/YOUTUBE

British actor-comedian-writer Richard Ayoade lends deadpan humour and a deliberately awkward persona to this fresh, irreverent series which visits various cities, mostly in Europe, for an action-packed 48 hours.

While the focus of Travel Man is not solely on food, various popular dishes do crop up in each episode, such as dumplings in Krakow and fondue in Zurich.

As the host for 10 seasons from 2015 to 2019, Ayoade, best known for his role as the dorky Maurice Moss in sitcom The IT Crowd, is paired in each episode with a celebrity traveller to comedic effect. These include actors Jon Hamm, Paul Rudd, Dawn French and Chris O’Dowd.

The Travel Man’s official YouTube channel has some full-length episodes as well as hilarious compilations and bloopers.

6. KOREAN PORK BELLY RHAPSODY


PHOTO: NETFLIX

The title of this two-parter says it all – this is a delicious culinary journey around South Korea, centred on its people’s favourite food, pork belly.

Available on Netflix, the documentary goes the whole hog in presenting every aspect of the ingredient, from its humble origins 50 years ago to its current sizzling success as it became a staple on the table barbecue.

Host Baek Jong-won, a popular chef and cooking show presenter, explores a metal workshop where hundreds of different grills are made, finds out how different regions produce different pigs and tastes some funky pork that has been aged for a year.

Be prepared to salivate over your screen over scenes of fatty, layered pork glistening on the grill.

7. SOMEBODY FEED PHIL


PHOTO: NETFLIX

Best known as the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, Philip Rosenthal has stepped in front of the camera since the popular sitcom ended in 2005 after nine seasons.

Over four seasons of Netflix series Somebody Feed Phil (2018 to 2020), the genuinely affable host gamely chows down on ostrich and antelope in Cape Town and learns how to make tortillas in Mexico City, among other face-stuffing exploits.

Along the way, he also introduces viewers to his family, notably his hilariously bickering parents as well as his wife Monica, who appears in the Dublin episode to trace her Irish roots.

His sitcom experience also comes in handy as he hams it up for the camera.

8. MARK WIENS


PHOTO: MARK WIENS/YOUTUBE

One of the top food vloggers on YouTube with more than 7.68 million subscribers to his channel, Mark Wiens posts videos of his eating adventures around the world, with an emphasis on street food.

The American of mixed Chinese-Hawaiian heritage has munched and chomped his way across numerous countries, including Jordan, Pakistan, Tanzania and Turkey.

Married to a Thai woman, he is based in Bangkok, so naturally, Thai cuisine is heavily featured on his channel.

His wide-eyed enthusiasm for food is contagious and the adventurous eater goes beyond well-known dishes.

For instance, he ventures to Mae Hong Son, a town in the Shan Hills in north-west Thailand, where he slurps up different types of noodles from the region.

Not one to shy away from chilli, he often wears a T-shirt which says: “If it isn’t spicy, I’m not eating.”

9. JAPAN HOUR


PHOTO: CNA

An oldie but goodie, Japan Hour is a long-running weekly staple on CNA on Saturdays at 7pm (repeats on Saturdays at 11pm and Sundays at 1pm).

Even though the hosts are usually obscure celebrities and the production values are not quite slick and snazzy, it is always a pleasure to spend an hour visiting far-flung corners of Japan.

Invariably, one or more of these things will occur – the hosts will embark on a train journey, they will relax in a steaming onsen, they will partake of local traditional delicacies and the word “oishii” will be uttered frequently and with great gusto.





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