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Yosemite to Cut Down Trees to Preserve Views

Yosemite falls

This fall, after many of the 3.7 million annual tourists have packed their cameras and left Yosemite National Park, the National Parks Service will begin culling young trees to open up views of the iconic granite faces and dramatic waterfalls that ring the valley.

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Carmageddon Brings Hotel Discounts

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Because so many big media outlets are based in New York and Los Angeles, the rest of the world gets to hear the minutiae of our local news (Blackouts! Blizzards! Brushfires!) as though it’s their own.  Thus, this weekend’s closing of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles—dubbed Carmageddon—is internationally known, if only locally dreaded.

A few Southern California hotels have offers for those Angelenos hoping to bypass the panic of Carmageddon with a weekend escape.

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New Dutch Coins Include Digital Codes

coins with qr codes

The Dutch government yesterday began circulating a commemorative coin that features a scannable QR code on one side and a 3D portrait of Queen Beatrix on the other.  Scanning the QR code, one of those black-and-white squares that resemble Space Invaders, brings you to the website of the Royal Dutch Mint for a helter-skelter video tour of the building.  The coins, available in silver-tone €5 and gold-tone €10 denominations, were minted in a limited run to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Mint building.

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Buy Dad an Airline Beverage Cart on eBay

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Ever wonder what happens to the bits and bobs of airplanes after they’re decommissioned?  You can find them on eBay.

Universal Asset Management buys retired planes and strips them to recycle their components.  The company runs an eBay storefront where you can shop for all your engine aft thrust fitting needs—from an entire A320 lavatory (!) to cockpit seats, galley carts, overhead bins, first aid kits, a row of luridly colored 747 seats, to more technical items like circuit panels, wheels, assembly valves, tail cones, and oil gauges.  The products that make the eBay store are not longer flight-worthy, of course, except for flights of fancy.  Those overhead bins would look cool mounted over a airplane-crazy child's bed...

Ann Shields is an online senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Universal Asset Management.

15 New York Luxury Hotels Offer 3rd Night Free

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Sarah Palin was in NYC yesterday, as part of her not-a-campaign bus tour. I doubt that she’s a fan of a city with so few hunting opportunities and so many liberals (yes, there’s a joke waiting to be made right there), but I doubt even she can deny the thrill of being in a city so chockablock with culture and food and people and ideas. Last year’s almost 49 million visitors can’t be wrong.

While ex-Governor Palin’s accommodations have certainly been taken care of (no overnight bus parking, sorry!), you may find the search for a hotel room daunting. Fear not: NYC & Company’s Third Night promotion gets underway on June 27 and runs through September 5. Fifteen big-name hotels, the kind of places that almost never offer discounts, are participating in their Signature Collection promotion.

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Where are America's Worst Drivers?

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You clicked on this headline because you already knew which city has the worst drivers, right?  Go on, share your opinion. (Even though we know you’re going to say Boston, you should tell us anyhow.) Our annual America’s Favorite Cities poll is officially open and now’s the time for you to speak up about the cities with the worst drivers, the most rabid sports fans, the most outlandish people-watching, and more.

Thirty-five U.S. cities are just waiting to be rated on their food scene, their weather, how expensive and clean and safe they are—all those characteristics that can really make or break a visit. 

Last year, in a surprise upset, Charleston snatched Miami’s long-standing first place prize for most attractive people, but Philadelphia gratefully allowed Memphis to take last place.  NYC came in dead last as a destination for peace and quiet (Yeah? So what?), while both visitors and residents ranked Santa Fe number one for its blissed-out atmosphere.

Whether peace and quiet or attractive locals or great coffee or pet-friendliness is important to you in a place, at the very least you know what you like.  Head over to the survey and rate the cities you love (and loathe).   When you finish, enter for a chance to win a $25,000 Dream of a Lifetime trip.

Ann Shields is Online Senior Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Fly Business Class to Paris for $701

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OpenSkies, the all business-class airline that flies to Paris, is celebrating the first anniversary of its Washington, D.C. route with a sale.  Fly to Paris and back in a cushy business seat for just $701, each way, based on roundtrip purchase. Book before May 20 for travel between May 16 and July 9.

OpenSkies flights carry just 84 passengers at a time, in comfortable seating (with not just personal entertainment systems and lots of legroom, but electrical outlets as well), and gourmet in-flight dining complete with wine and Champagne.  This kind of civilized treatment makes it hard to return to economy.

Book before Friday midnight by visiting FlyOpenSkies.com, or call (866) 581-3596.

Ann Shields is Online Senior Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: iStock

How to Take a Luxury Cruise For Less

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Crystal Cruises, the #1 large-ship cruise line in our annual World’s Best Awards since 1996, is re-introducing the idea of stand-by travel on five of their sailings in May and June. The potential savings from the brochure price are a mind-boggling 70%, bringing the cost of a 12-day cruise to $2,995, or $250 a day.

The itineraries available for standby are pretty exciting: three 12-day Alaska cruise out of San Francisco, an 11-day Scandinavia and Russia trip  (Hamburg to Stockholm); and a 14-day North Cape/Arctic Circle cruise (Copenhagen to Stockholm).

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Can’t Book at Room at the Uffizi? Stay at the St. Regis Florence

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Florence’s stately Grand Hotel closed for renovations last September and is slated to reopen quietly on May 1 as the St. Regis Florence. The already 5-star hotel’s re-branding from Luxury Collection to St. Regis signals the arrival of butler service, fewer but larger guest rooms, 19 luxury suites, a spa (individual spa suites are the thing here; no more stripping down in a locker room before your massage), and all sorts of sterling silver bells and whistles.

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Royal Wedding Hotel Packages in London and U.S.

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While big, lavish nuptials hold limited charm for me (I eloped, and recommend it for its romance and intimacy), plenty of people are mad for all things wedding, and especially all things William and Kate. Even Dunkin Donuts, friend of the common man, is offering a heart-shaped tribute to the royal couple.

If you’re looking to celebrate the Royal Wedding with something more decadent than a doughnut, we’ve gathered some hotel package options.

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