Travel


Safari West a free-range zoo family adventure

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — A dazzling herd of zebra thunder across the valley, their stripes shimmering in the blazing sun. A rowdy gang of Cape buffalo hold court on a hilltop and a fuzzy baby giraffe wobbles near its mother. Cheetahs warily prowl nearby, eyeing each other. Behold the wilds of Safari West, a 400-acre nature preserve tucked amid the golden hills of Santa Rosa. The next best thing...
Dangerously cheesy? Cheetos pop-up restaurant opens in NYC

Dangerously cheesy? Cheetos pop-up restaurant opens in NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — Gourmet fun or just plain cheesy?  A three-day pop-up restaurant devoted to Cheetos, yes Cheetos, opened in Manhattan on Tuesday, with every table already booked with diners ready to pay between $8 and $22 for such creations as Cheetos meatballs, Cheetos crusted fried pickles, Cheetos tacos, Mac n' Cheetos and even Cheetos cheesecake.   "I worked hard to incorporate...
8 reasons to make Sarasota a Florida vacation destination

8 reasons to make Sarasota a Florida vacation destination

SARASOTA, Fla. — The Sunshine State has so many attractions that it’s difficult for potential visitors to know where to start. Should it be the beaches of the Panhandle or Miami’s South Beach; the horse country around Ocala or the Mouse Kingdom in Orlando; the Florida of yesterday at Captiva or the Florida of tomorrow at Cape Canaveral? For this reason, one might be excused for not...
From canopy walk to gator-filled waters, this Florida park offers wildlife aplenty

From canopy walk to gator-filled waters, this Florida park offers wildlife aplenty

The only thing more worrying than seeing a bunch of alligators around your canoe is not seeing them but knowing darn well they are there.  I am with my two kids, Kai, 8, and Christina, 5, and my sister Gina and her 5-year-old son Quincy, in Florida's Myakka River State Park. It's a moss-and-vine-draped domain of birds, mammals and Jurassic-spiked reptiles covering 29,000 acres about 20 miles...
Casa Palopo: a jewel on Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan

Casa Palopo: a jewel on Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan

Some days at the office, as every member of the work force knows, are better than others. As a travel writer, the world is my office and this was definitely one of the better days. Upon arrival at the airport in Guatemala City, I was whisked off to lunch at the colorful La Esquina, a combination bistro and marketplace in the city’s vibrant Zone 4 neighborhood. A veritable riot of color and design...
In Vegas, some bars work with machine-like precision

In Vegas, some bars work with machine-like precision

LAS VEGAS—They will make your drinks, but they won’t listen to your problems. Robot bartenders have made their way to the Las Vegas Strip — evidence perhaps that Skynet is closer to becoming self-aware and will have a convenient place to take the edge off. Bar owner Rino Armeni swears this isn’t yet another move to replace human beings. “No, no, no,” he said gamely...
We took our 12-week-old to Cuba. Here's why, and how you can travel with a baby, too.

We took our 12-week-old to Cuba. Here's why, and how you can travel with a baby, too.

"We will never travel again!" Those were the first words out of our mouths as my wife and I watched the fourth pregnancy test turn positive. (Yes, it took four tests to believe it.)  Coming as a complete surprise, joyous thoughts of raising a beautiful family together were far from our minds. Instead, we were grieving how our lives would drastically change. Having grown up traveling...
Iconic Yosemite National Park is seeing more vehicles than ever clogging its roads

Iconic Yosemite National Park is seeing more vehicles than ever clogging its roads

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Pierre Celotto and Aurene Humbert had a definite vision in mind when they booked a summer vacation that included a day in Yosemite Valley.  Urged on by breathtaking photographs and nature documentaries, the Parisians said, they looked forward to serene walks along trails where pine trees threw shadows across streams and picturesque meadows teemed with wildlife...
A perfume devotee in the land of French fragrance

A perfume devotee in the land of French fragrance

Before I became a perfume devotee a dozen years ago, my lexicon for describing scent was limited to words like “woodsy” or “flowery.” Later I found myself craving the dexterity of language that could match the increasingly complex perfumes arriving at my house in tiny decanted samples.  At the time, perfume blogs and a few books were lifting the veil off a closely guarded...
Dressed to impress? Unofficially, the airline may take note

Dressed to impress? Unofficially, the airline may take note

It may matter what air travelers wear on the plane.  That’s not just the case for the legging-wearing teenage girls denied boarding on a United Airlines flight this spring. The two girls were flying on United’s pass program, which lets friends or relatives of airline employees fly free or at discounted rates. The catch is a dress code.   But even for those paying regular...
A tranquil oasis in Greece

A tranquil oasis in Greece

Check In  Casa Cook Rhodes, Greece   Rates   From 101 euros (about $120).   Basics   Casa Cook Rhodes opened a year ago as the first Greek hotel by Thomas Cook, a tour operator based in Britain. With the rugged Tsambika Mountain as its backdrop, the 95-room bohemian resort for adults only has a minimalist, contemporary style. A garden with bright flowers...
In Breezewood, Pennsylvania, the truck stops here

In Breezewood, Pennsylvania, the truck stops here

I expected to live my entire life without price-shopping for truck-stop showers. Then I spent the night in Breezewood.  The adventure began last August when my main squeeze James and I drove to Colorado. We passed through Breezewood, Pennsylvania, as do many drivers heading to the Rust Belt and beyond.   "What do you think about vacationing here for a week," James asked. I...

Family travel: Some tips on how to make this experience eclipse all others

Soon, the United States will experience its first total solar eclipse in 99 years. On Aug. 21, the sky will go dark, the air will cool and stars will be visible as a shadow falls across a narrow sliver of land called the Path of Totality. From Oregon to South Carolina, eclipse enthusiasts will be celebrating this celestial wonder. If you have yet to make plans for the big event, here are five ideas...
Plenty of legroom on Boeing 777 tailored for the world’s richest

Plenty of legroom on Boeing 777 tailored for the world’s richest

SEATTLE—On commercial airlines today, traveling in coach is a pain, while the wealthy are well looked after in first class. But for the ultrawealthy, there’s a whole other level available.  For China’s “Golden Week” holiday at the beginning of October, a group of rich Asians will take off from Hong Kong on a lavishly appointed Boeing 777 for a nine-day tour with...
Santa Fe Indian Market fuses tradition with contemporary art

Santa Fe Indian Market fuses tradition with contemporary art

For nearly a century, American Indian jewelers, potters and other artists have been gathering in the heart of northern New Mexico to show off their creations at one of the nation's most prestigious art markets.  The annual Santa Fe Indian Market begins Saturday as organizers push ahead with raising the bar for showcasing what they say are the best examples of art that has evolved from centuries-old...
Traveling together? Apps to help split (and pay) the bills

Traveling together? Apps to help split (and pay) the bills

Traveling with a group — friends, extended family, a bachelor party — makes for some of the best summer vacations. It can also make for some of the most complicated vacations when it comes to splitting the costs of dinners, museum admissions, rental homes and cars.  Digital wallets and peer-to-peer payment apps, however, are aiming to make it easy by allowing users to pay one another...

Thinking of visiting that hot new vacation destination? Think again.

Daniel Threlfall remembers his visit to Chichen Itza, Mexico, a destination billed as one of the wonders of the world. It isn't a good memory.  Threlfall, an Internet consultant from Greenville, South Carolina, expected to be wowed by Mayan temples and natural beauty when he traveled to the Yucatan with his family last year. "Instead, we were met with sky-high prices, in-and-out access and...
Tips for women traveling solo, from dining out to hotel safety

Tips for women traveling solo, from dining out to hotel safety

Suzanne Randolph, 60, knows firsthand that it can be daunting for women to travel on their own. Randolph, a former art adviser, says that in her more than two decades of frequent solo travel, she has encountered her fair share of challenges. “Finding a place to eat and getting plugged into the local scene of your destination isn’t easy when you’re alone,” she said.  Her...

How to vacation with your parents for less

As my parents have grown older, my desire to haul them around to far-flung places has only grown.  Since my dad turns 75 this year and my mom turns 70 the next, I know our time together could easily come to an end in the next five-to-20 years. So, of course, I want them to relax on beautiful beaches, enjoy delicious dinners and forget about their worldly troubles for a while.   Unfortunately...

A Southwest airfare sale and $100 off a Caribbean vacation

This week's best travel bargains around the globe:  --Peregrine Adventures, a small, group-adventure-travel company, is offering 20 percent off most of its international trips, including those to Egypt, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica and Tuscany in Italy. For example, the 15-day Explore Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia itinerary, which departs Oct. 7 and 14, costs $2,792 per person double, down from...
North Korean tensions aren't deterring tourists from Guam

North Korean tensions aren't deterring tourists from Guam

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — Tourists haven't been deterred from visiting the tropical island of Guam even though the U.S. territory has been at the center of North Korean and U.S. threats during the past week.  Won Hyung-jin, an official from Modetour, a large South Korean travel agency, said several customers called with concerns, but they weren't worried enough to pay cancellation fees for their...
In France's Dordogne region, a land of castles and caves calls for deep exploration

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...
A classic London restaurant gets a makeover and a new mission

A classic London restaurant gets a makeover and a new mission

The rubbery corporate mascot we know as the Michelin Man actually has a name: Bibendum, drawn from a Latin phrase once used in the tire company’s advertising: “nunc est bibendum,” best translated as “time for a drink” — odd advice, perhaps, for drivers, but good news for diners.  Bibendum is also the name of the restaurant that the designer and tastemaker Terence...
Milwaukee welcomes visitors with lake views, stellar food, never-ending brews

Milwaukee welcomes visitors with lake views, stellar food, never-ending brews

There's always something to celebrate in Milwaukee. And I'm not just talking about the music, food and art festivals that fill the summer, or the azure views of Lake Michigan, or even the city's beer-steeped history. I'm talking about the jovial bands of people walking the streets of downtown every time I visit - bachelorette parties (so many bachelorette parties!), bachelor parties, wedding parties...
Travel tips: Luxury for less in New York City

Travel tips: Luxury for less in New York City

A luxury vacation to New York City on a budget? It can be done, according to Eric J. Gordon, the owner of Beyond Times Square, a company that plans high-end New York City trips. “An upscale New York getaway can be several thousand dollars, but with a few money-saving tricks, you can have a similar experience for far less,” he said.  Here, Gordon shares his tips:   Hotel...

Airlines are bumping fewer passengers, U.S. report says

Domestic airlines are bumping passengers off flights at the lowest rate since 1995, according to a new federal report — a decline that may be partially attributable to the fallout from an April episode in which a man was dragged off a United Airlines flight.  The 12 domestic carriers that report data on the number of passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding posted a bumping rate...

Affordable trips to South Africa

South Africa is a coveted destination this year for travelers from the United States: According to data from South African Tourism, the first quarter of 2017 saw a 6.3 percent increase in visitors from the United States to South Africa, compared with the first quarter of 2016. Also, the airfare prediction app Hopper saw a 36 percent increase in flight searches this spring for travel in the fall to...
Travel goods for today: Packing for a dual-purpose trip

Travel goods for today: Packing for a dual-purpose trip

If anyone knows how to pack for a trip that begins as business and segues into leisure, it is a member of a flight crew. Travelpro, a company founded by an airline pilot, knows this and has designed many bags that are stylish yet sturdy, and perfect for professionals presiding over a board meeting or presenting at a conference and then downshifting to a weekend of leisurely pursuits.  Travelpro&rsquo...

How to survive a long flight with a baby or preschooler

Flying with babies and small children is an activity most of us wouldn't wish on our worst enemies. Yet sometimes, it has to be done - especially if you consider the alternatives - the car ride from hell? A slow boat to China? Horse and buggy? One dad admitted that on one plane trip, he let his kids drop items on the floor and then kick him in the head when he went to retrieve them. They got a big...
8 ways to tackle long-haul flights with children

8 ways to tackle long-haul flights with children

Whatever the mode of transport, traveling with children is often no picnic. The long-haul flight (five hours or more) offers up a special brand of hell, a smorgasbord of meltdowns, impromptu maladies and indiscriminate peevishness. I don’t blame them. Being caged like the class gerbil for hours can be tedious. They can’t seem to help upchucking on you and whining. A carefully plotted parental...
Solar eclipse could create once-in-a-lifetime road hazards

Solar eclipse could create once-in-a-lifetime road hazards

WASHINGTON — The moon will block out the sun, and day will plunge into night. Birds will stop singing, crickets will start chirping, and many people will gasp, weep, or even howl when they see the sun’s corona shimmering in the darkened sky.  And some drivers, inevitably, will stop in the middle of the road to take a selfie.   The Aug. 21 total eclipse will cut directly...

A San Francisco hotel wired for a tech central crowd

— Check In  Axiom Hotel   28 Cyril Magnin St., San Francisco; 415-392-9466; axiomhotel.com    From $279.   The Axiom Hotel aims to reflect the city that it’s in. Being tech-forward is the focus of this six-story, 152-room hotel, which opened in February 2016. Developed by Host Hotels & Resorts and managed by Kokua Hospitality, this property in the...

Are 'schedule changes' just a chance for an airline to improve their on-time record?

The Washington Post's travel writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:  Q: I nearly panicked when I saw "Schedule Changes That Impact Your Upcoming Trip" in the subject line on an email from the airline where I recently booked a round-trip to Boston for connecting flights to/from Europe. As luck would have it, the only changes...

In an era of on-demand food delivery, hotel room service is forced to evolve

CHICAGO — Hotel room service has always been a tough sell.  It’s expensive both to order and to operate, looks extravagant on a business traveler’s expense report, and for most people, goes against the very point of travel: to get out and explore new sights and cuisines. Room service revenue industrywide is down more than 25 percent since before the recession, according to CBRE...
Embracing farm-to-table at Mohonk Mountain House

Embracing farm-to-table at Mohonk Mountain House

Can you create a farm-to-table restaurant if you have 100 tables in an 8,750-square-foot main dining room, 80 more tables downstairs, nine in a cozy lounge, 50 outside overlooking an Arcadian lake and, on certain nights, eight in a capacious kitchen?  That is the question that Jim Palmeri, the executive chef at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, spent several years contemplating. ...
Donald Trump's childhood digs now available to rent on Airbnb

Donald Trump's childhood digs now available to rent on Airbnb

Looking for a rental home? Now you can stay at Donald Trump's place.  No, not 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. - but Trump's childhood home in Queens, New York, now available on Airbnb.   Trump's father Fred built the 5-bedroom, 3 1/2-bath home, dubbed "Jamaica Estates." The circa 1940 Tudor-style house is available for $725 a night. "Not much has been changed since the Trumps...

The 5 words you never want to say when paying by credit card in a foreign country

Question: We recently traveled to Spain and Portugal. When paying by credit card, we were given the option of paying in euros or dollars. It was unclear which was more advisable. I carry a co-branded airline credit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee, so if you can pay in dollars and not incur a foreign transaction fee, then there is no reason for us to be paying $95 for a card...

What is turbulence? It's scary, but no cause for alarm.

Patrick Smith compiled a list of the five things that worry him the most when flying. Bird strikes and cargo fires made the cut; turbulence did not.  "Most of us in the cockpit are thinking, 'This is really annoying,' and not, 'I hope the wings don't rip off,'" said Smith, a veteran commercial air pilot who hosts the website Ask the Pilot.   Flight-crew members are not typically...
Disney plans ‘Star Wars’ virtual reality attraction

Disney plans ‘Star Wars’ virtual reality attraction

LOS ANGELES — There’s about to be a new way to experience the “Star Wars” universe.  An attraction that blends virtual reality and real-world elements will open at the Disney resorts in California and Florida this holiday season, Walt Disney Co.’s Lucasfilm unit has announced.   Lucasfilm and its ILMxLAB immersive-entertainment unit are working with the...
Travel tips: How to navigate art galleries in any city

Travel tips: How to navigate art galleries in any city

Whether you’re vacationing in a big city or a small town, checking out the local art galleries makes for an enjoyable day out, said Natasha Schlesinger, an art historian who created ArtMuse Discover Galleries, an app that guides users through New York City’s more than 1,000 art galleries. “So many places around the world have a gallery scene that’s either burgeoning or established...
New San Diego Zoo bridge eliminates uphill climb

New San Diego Zoo bridge eliminates uphill climb

SAN DIEGO — Traversing a hilly portion of the 100-acre San Diego Zoo just got measurably easier, thanks to the recent Friday of a long-planned pedestrian bridge linking the west and east sides of the Balboa Park attraction.  Canopy Bridge, as it is being called, is elevated 70 feet above the canyon floor and spans 450 feet between Elephant Odyssey on the west and the Treeptops area near...
Call of Colorado River leads to a family pilgrimage

Call of Colorado River leads to a family pilgrimage

“Whoa, that’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” my 9-year-old nephew Deegan whispered, staring at a night sky that was pitch black and dotted with starlight. Worn out after a day of rafting, nearly a dozen of us were zipped into sleeping bags, strewn about the sandy banks of the Colorado River like pieces of driftwood tossed ashore. The wild river bubbled...

That North Korea vacation? It’ll soon be out of the question for Americans

The U.S. government has decided to bar Americans from visiting North Korea, the first time in years that the State Department has moved to block travel to another country.  The restriction comes amid rising tensions between the United States and North Korea, which has been testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and threatened to attack the United States with nuclear weapons. The ban also...
12 things I learned by working as a butler at the Plaza Hotel

12 things I learned by working as a butler at the Plaza Hotel

Old-school service is alive and well at the Plaza: High tea treats are served in brass birdcages, tuxedo-clad bellman whisk away luggage to gilded suites, and chefs bear toques that tower above their heads. But in the age of Amazon Prime-when we all want everything now -what is it really like blending vestigial aristocratic assistance with light-speed wish fulfillment?  In order to properly find...
How a tenderfoot’s horse trek showed him the magic of pristine Sierra

How a tenderfoot’s horse trek showed him the magic of pristine Sierra

Shane was a strong, sure-footed horse, about 20 years old, raised in Texas. He had plenty of ideas about how an excursion into the Eastern Sierra should go, especially the grazing and drinking between meals. I had different ideas, and the reins. Occasionally, there was friction. But for four days in late June, we were a team clambering up switchback trails and crossing creeks full of rushing water...
What performer Big Freedia can’t travel without

What performer Big Freedia can’t travel without

Musician and television star Big Freedia — the best-known name in the energetic New Orleans style of hip-hop called bounce music — performs around the world and appears in Beyoncé videos and Terrence Malick films. But she always comes home to New Orleans. The sixth season of her reality show, “Big Freedia Bounces Back,” has its premiere Sept. 12 on Fuse.  All of...

Trending: Want to book a secret?

When Veronica Hershey was planning a trip to Las Vegas, her friend told her about an unadvertised suite at the El Cortez Hotel and Casino.  It was the former penthouse of Jackie Gaughan, a famed Las Vegas casino owner with eccentric taste. After a renovation, the owners decided to preserve the 2,700-square-foot space in his honor. The bathroom has a pink marble tub with gold swan faucets. The...
Looking for love? You’re not alone at this matchmaking festival

Looking for love? You’re not alone at this matchmaking festival

LISDOONVARNA, Ireland — Once a tranquil backwater a few miles off the rugged Atlantic coast, Lisdoonvarna landed on the map thanks to its mineral springs, which drew visitors seeking the curative powers of these sulfur- and iron-rich waters. Lisdoon — as it’s known locally — sprouted up from the karst limestone landscape in County Clare to become one of Ireland’s earliest...
Britain's oldest roller coaster is ready to ride after a $30 million park makeover

Britain's oldest roller coaster is ready to ride after a $30 million park makeover

The young man checking tickets looks at me with a quizzical tilt of the head: "Just you is it, mate?"  Apart from me, the queue for the Scenic Railway roller coaster in Margate is composed of teens and young families. I don't like his intonation but I can see his point. As a 37-year-old man, I stick out like a sore thumb.   What that insouciant youngster doesn't know, though...
Santa Barbara: Exploring surf and turf along America’s Riviera

Santa Barbara: Exploring surf and turf along America’s Riviera

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — For someone with only one cup of coffee in her system and a steep, craggy trail run into Rattlesnake Canyon looming, it was not the best way to greet the morning. “Keep an eye out for loose rocks,” a pair of passing hikers called out as I rounded a turn on the switchback path. “Oh, and rattlesnakes!” they added with a nonchalant air, as they scrambled...

Tips for parents of children flying solo

Recently, an unaccompanied 15-year-old traveling from London to meet his grandparents in France was bumped from an oversold easyJet flight and essentially treated as an adult, left to deal with rebooking on his own, according to a report by the BBC.  Though the episode ended with the boy taking a flight 10 hours later, it shows a weakness in a system intended to care for children unaccustomed...
5 last-minute vacations this summer

5 last-minute vacations this summer

Although the last two weeks of August are a peak time for summer getaways, plenty of properties in appealing places still have availability during this busy period.  Here are five vacation possibilities for late August:   Variety Cruises is offering the Adriatic Odyssey, departing Aug. 20 from Dubrovnik for a seven-night itinerary on a 24-cabin motor sailer, with stops in Croatia, Greece...

Sharing economy catching on with summer travelers

Travelers are much more familiar with sharing economy services than they were two years ago and the result is an increased willingness to utilize platforms such as Lyft, Uber and Airbnb for summer travel.  According to Allianz Global Assistance USA's third annual Travel Insurance Sharing Economy Index, 50 percent of Americans are either somewhat or very likely to use sharing economy services...

Still checking your work email on vacation? You're not alone.

If you're planning to leave your smartphone or laptop at home when you go on vacation this month, you might want to think again. The unplugged getaway is so last year.  More than 62 percent of travelers say they plan to check their work-related email and voice mail, according to a new poll by the travel agency network Travel Leaders Group. Just 37 percent of respondents say they unplug, a precipitous...
How to avoid overpacking

How to avoid overpacking

International travel requires a lot of patience and meticulous planning. Sometimes, that means bringing a whole lot of stuff.  When you’re traveling overseas for weeks at a time, you might feel the need to bring everything but the kitchen sink. While packing a lot isn’t a problem in itself, lugging all your belongings around isn’t the way to go. On a long international trip...
Cannabis company plans to turn desert town into pot paradise

Cannabis company plans to turn desert town into pot paradise

NIPTON, Calif. (AP) — Now that one of the nation's largest cannabis companies has bought the entire California desert town of Nipton, a question remains: Will the new owners rename the place Potsylvania?  The name Weed already belongs to an old mill town in Northern Calfornia.   American Green Inc. announced Thursday it is buying all 80 acres of Nipton, which includes its Old...
(Final) exit through the gift shop

(Final) exit through the gift shop

The wind is so fierce that the bear on the California Republic flag outside my window looks like it's having a seizure. The strongest storm system to hit California in years is here and I should stay put, but I just can't. I'm determined to go to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office - to buy presents.  "Bring me Charlie Chaplin's mustache!" my friend says as I leave, but celebrity...

Save 30 percent on a family trip to Orlando, Fla., plus sale fare to London

This week's best travel bargains around the globe:  --Perillo's Learning Journeys is offering $100 off the Holi Festival 2018: Colors of India tour. The nine-day trip, which departs Feb. 25, 2018, costs $1,850 per person double and includes eight nights' lodging in Delhi and Rishikesh; daily breakfast, lunch and dinner; transportation, including round-trip train from Delhi to Hardiwar; entrance...

Making the most of a trip to the beach with your dog

You can have an incredible beach day with your canine companion as long as you do a little extra planning.  To help owners have the best beach experience possible with their dogs, the American Kennel Club offers the following safety tips:   — Bring plenty of water. Be sure to bring plenty of fresh water for your dog to keep him from drinking the ocean water. The high sodium content...

Can vacationers affected by the Outer Banks power outage get a refund? It depends.

When the order came down to evacuate Ocracoke Island last week, some guests at the Ocracoke Harbor Inn informed the staff that power was not one of their vacation requisites. They could beach without it.  "I had people standing in front of me saying, 'I don't need air-conditioning. We can light candles in the windows,' " recalled Brenda Lea, a front-desk clerk.   Unfortunately...

A Facebook post about flesh-eating bacteria at Myrtle Beach has gone viral. The city has its doubts.

The account of the episode has the makings of a vacation horror story.  Bonita Fetterman, a grandmother visiting South Carolina's popular Myrtle Beach with her family last week, was standing on the balcony of their hotel when she cut her leg on a chair, her granddaughter told local NBC-affiliate WMBF. The injury wasn't serious, so she didn't seek medical attention, and later went down to the...
In Gold Butte in Nevada, ancient rock art and rugged beauty

In Gold Butte in Nevada, ancient rock art and rugged beauty

It was 105 degrees, and I was in the Mojave Desert looking for ancient images of goat-like creatures. I scanned the rock formations with my binoculars and then scrambled over some boulders and descended into a wash that was once a river. I guessed that only a handful of people in the world even know about the goats — they are that obscure. In the wash, I noticed the fine gravel was disturbed...
A hot destination: Radioactive Ukraine

A hot destination: Radioactive Ukraine

The button that could have started a nuclear holocaust is gray -- not red.  I learned this after climbing into a nuclear rocket command silo, 12 floors below ground, and sitting in the same green chair at the same yellow metal console at which former Soviet officers once presided. Here, they practiced entering secret codes into their gray keyboards, pushing the launch button and turning a key...

At Berryessa National Monument, wildflowers and rebirth

The sideways dawn light as it winks across the vineyards from the east: It was the first thing I noticed as I pulled off a California freeway.  As I drove, the vineyards gave way to wheat-gold foothills, black cows in fields.   The fields gave way to darkly arching oaks, tree tunnels shading a narrow country road outside Winters, California. The early-hour brightness indicated the nearness...
For travelers, monastery stays offer peace and quiet, regardless of faith

For travelers, monastery stays offer peace and quiet, regardless of faith

The word retreat never seemed to fit into my life. As someone who isn't religious, doesn't do yoga and struggles to disconnect and slow down, the concept of just being somewhere solo never really crossed my mind. It took spending a night at Holy Wisdom Monastery, a Benedictine monastery outside of Madison, Wisconsin to realize I'd been missing out.  On a Friday in April, I check in to my hermitage...

Family travel: Trade the rapids for a relaxing day on the river

Here are five places where you could tube today:   1.San Juan River. Pagosa Springs, Colo. Float the scenic San Juan River through this historic small town known for its rich geological and cultural history. Surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, the Southwestern Ute originally called the town Pagosah that means “healing waters.” If you enjoy your first one-hour float, circle back...
Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula is hard to get to, easy to love

Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula is hard to get to, easy to love

PERCE, Quebec — This was going to be a story about lighthouses … until I met a peony named Elsie. And the world’s ugliest fish. And winkles in garlic-butter sauce. And a dented World War II German torpedo. And galleries. And whales. And waterfalls. And a moose. And 50,000 northern gannets on an island. And cod tongues in sea-urchin butter. And a very big box of live lobsters in...
Rural towns in the eclipse's path are bracing for a flood of smartphone-toting visitors

Rural towns in the eclipse's path are bracing for a flood of smartphone-toting visitors

Nestled in the southwest corner of Kentucky, about an hour west of Bowling Green, is the city of Hopkinsville. Ordinarily known for its historical landmarks and hot, humid summers, Hopkinsville is home to about 32,000 people on a normal day.  But "normal" is about to go out the window.   More than 100,000 visitors are expected to descend on Hopkinsville and the surrounding...
A long haul to Alaska from San Diego on a motorbike

A long haul to Alaska from San Diego on a motorbike

Ever since my husband’s love for motorbikes resurrected from the dust, riding from San Diego to Alaska sat at the top of our bucket list. The dream paced like a caged tiger, anxious for the gate to open on the road-trip adventure.  Three weeks were set aside in May and June for the 4,000-mile journey that would take us through seven states, two Canadian provinces and the Yukon Territory...

More than 1 in 5 travelers knowingly or unknowingly carried prohibited items onto aircraft, survey finds

A survey of airline passengers found that more than 20 percent had knowingly or unknowingly smuggled prohibited items past Transportation Security Administration checkpoints onto the aircraft, including at least 6 percent who boarded the plane while unintentionally carrying prohibited knives or other bladed objects.  Less than 1 percent claimed that they discovered belatedly that they had mistakenly...
Botswana safari is an eye-opener

Botswana safari is an eye-opener

We were eyeing one another. I didn’t blink. Wrong move, Elicious said. Leopards leap at stares. Good to know, I said somewhat annoyed at myself, after all as former director of program acquisitions for Animal Planet and Discovery Channel in Canada, I thought I had learned the do’s and don’ts of animal “etiquette.” Not so! Watching these magnificent beasts on TV, film...
In Mexico City, a child-friendly culture that adults will love, too

In Mexico City, a child-friendly culture that adults will love, too

It is 248 steep steps to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, but the views are worth the exertion.  From the pinnacle of the third-largest pyramid in the world, you can see the unearthed complex of Teotihuacan (the City of the Gods), located 30 miles outside Mexico City. At one point, it covered eight square miles and was home to 100,000 people, making it the largest city in the pre-Columbian...

Traveling with kids to developing countries is worth the risk

In the heat of the Ecuadorian Amazon, my 10-year-old son and I followed a farmer named Mr. Bargas along a dusty path, past groves of coffee, cacao and banana trees, and down a hill where, after about 20 minutes of walking, we arrived at a slow-moving stream.  "Here is where I come every morning at 4 a.m. to collect clean water," Mr. Bargas told us through an interpreter provided by...

In Southeast England, white cliffs, fish and chips, and deals

Much pleasure in life can be derived from the simple act of discovery: finding a good band, an exciting restaurant or a secluded park. Frequent travelers live to unearth those gems, too. Sometimes, though, travel is as much about shared experiences as it is about striking out on one’s own.  To wit: When in Southeast England, depriving yourself of a chance to see Dover’s famous white...
Horsing around in Kentucky’s Bluegrass

Horsing around in Kentucky’s Bluegrass

LEXINGTON, Ky. — I’m as giddy as a teenager at her first concert, waiting to catch a glimpse of her rock star crush. I am not alone. Some 20 of us are gathered around — cameras poised — waiting for the arrival of our hero. When he comes out, he is just as handsome and regal as I knew he would be, and just as accommodating, standing patiently until all of us get a chance to...
Newport, R.I.: Indulge in luxury living and the best of jazz

Newport, R.I.: Indulge in luxury living and the best of jazz

If you’re looking for a vacation with sights and sounds you won’t find elsewhere, Newport, R.I., is hard to beat. Throughout the year, “the city by the sea” as it’s called, draws fans of “Downton Abbey” and the Gilded Age, who come to tour spectacular turn-of-the-century mansions, feast on fresh seafood, ogle luxury sailboats in the picturesque harbor and...
Innovations to help speed up your travel planning

Innovations to help speed up your travel planning

Travel is supposed to be about the journey. The goal isn’t to get there first. Yet a variety of new services are aiming to speed things along, be it automatically checking you in for your flight, accompanying you through security, reserving a car or hotel with voice commands, or whisking you to the French countryside on new high-speed trains. Here’s a look at some of the latest innovations...
Inn-Escapable: Big Sur River Inn

Inn-Escapable: Big Sur River Inn

Nestled on the banks of a meandering river, the historic Big Sur River Inn has welcomed visitors since 1934, and the 20-room inn has long been famous as “the place with the chairs in the river.” These iconic Adirondack chairs, plunked down smack in the middle of the river are emblematic of the laid-back and rustic charms of this picturesque hotel.  Stay in one of the two-room suites...
In solar eclipse’s ‘path of totality,’ rooms go for $1,000 and vendors sell every trinket under the sun

In solar eclipse’s ‘path of totality,’ rooms go for $1,000 and vendors sell every trinket under the sun

Hotels have been sold out for years. Eclipse viewing glasses are back-ordered on Amazon. People are charging thousands for a one-night stay in their homes. There are T-shirts, mugs, posters, books, iPhone cases, pillows and leggings.  The Great Solar Eclipse is coming, and there’s money to be made.   With more than 12 million people living in the so-called path of totality, and...

Power outage hits Outer Banks, may keep tourists out for two weeks

Cheri Crossley and her husband loaded up the car with luggage, extra batteries, flashlights and their two children before setting off on a 15-hour drive from their home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to North Carolina's Outer Banks.  Crossley, a math teacher, and her husband had been saving for the vacation since January and had spent $4,000 to rent a five-bedroom house with a pool on Hatteras Island...
Travel tips: Studying up for a college town vacation

Travel tips: Studying up for a college town vacation

Whether you are a student or not, college towns make for enjoyable vacation destinations, said Ben Weprin, the chief executive and founder of Graduate Hotels, a collection of nine hotels in the United States in places with large universities (Graduate Berkeley in Berkeley, California, is one).  “College towns are rich with history and culture,” he said, “and offer lots of great...

Talk travel: Where to find accommodations for a crowd, what to see in Jakarta

The Washington Post's travel writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:  Q: I'm trying to find a place that can house eight adults and two teens in January somewhere in southern Florida. I've tried Airbnb and I'm not finding what I need, mostly because we need six bedrooms. The guest of honor, who is celebrating his 90th birthday, doesn't...
The sweet scent of the suburban American casino

The sweet scent of the suburban American casino

OXON HILL, Md. - The suburban casino smells like vanilla.  Trust us, it does. And not some lowbrow, bodega-incense vanilla, either. It smells like a Diptyque candle or fancy shampoo. Like vanille, sourced from some formerly colonized nation. Like rich people.   If you do not come from wealth, it's intoxicating, this scent that permeates the MGM National Harbor. It sticks to your hair...