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Take the Kids to Cape Cod for Winter Break

cape cod beach hotel

Winter break has a way of sneaking up on parents anyway, but a couple of snow days spent shooing kids away from computer screens makes the spectre of another long stretch of empty days at home unthinkable.

Arriving on the scene like a spandex-clad superhero is Cape Cod’s Sea Crest Beach Hotel. The recently renovated low-rise beachfront property ticks all the boxes for a winter family stay:

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onefinestay.com Now Offers Private Apartment Stays in Paris, London, NYC, and L.A.

onefinestay's listing for cliveden place, london

onefinestay—which is kind of like airbnb.com’s wealthy Auntie Mame—offers posh private apartments for short-term rentals.  If you're a well-heeled traveler interested in privacy and space without sacrificing the services of a hotel, they've got the digs for you. Fine linens, fluffy towels, discreet maid service, and even a iPhone fully loaded with local recommendations will make you feel right at home, or even better, during your stay.

Until recently, onefinestay limited its offerings to homes in London and NYC (some of which, we’re told, belong to celebs, so check the family photos for familiar faces), but has now extended its boundaries to include Paris and Los Angeles. So if you’re planning a trip to those cities, peruse some of their swank—and sometimes surprisingly affordable— possibilities for accommodations.

onefinestay.com 

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Image of Cliveden Place apartment, courtesy of onefinestay.com

Arrive Like LiLo: Ride in a Police Car at Hotel ZaZa

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Hotel ZaZa, a Texas mini-chain of boutique hotels, retains a fleet of vehicles available to guests at their Dallas and Houston properties. The kooky lineup includes an art car, a hearse, a car with Texas longhorns mounted on the grill, and a police cruiser.

If you want to make a dramatic entrance, the ZaZas will squire you there in idiosyncratic style. No one will forget your name after you pull up to a trade show in a hearse. 

Why settle for a plain old limo when you could join the ever-growing list of former teen stars slumping in the backseats of patrol cars?

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: Courtesy of Hotel ZaZa

 

Summer Travel-Themed Gift Idea: Map Coasters

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This weekend at NYC’s Hester Street Fair (Saturdays, 10am-6pm, Hester Street and Essex Street, hesterstreetfair.com), amid the foodcarts and vintage clothes vendors, a booth featuring travel-themed homegoods called On the Fringe, caught my eye. Decoupage artist Wendy Howard transforms old travel brochures and maps into trivets and coasters, ideal host/hostess gifts for summer travelers, or for graduates taking off for points unknown. (I kept picturing them arranged side-by-side behind my kitchen sink as a map-themed backsplash…)

On the Fringe (onthefringe.ws, coasters $6 each or 4 for $20; trivets from $15- $25.)

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Photos by Ann Shields

L.A. by the Book: Los Angeles Times Literary Map

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If, like me, you’re as likely to read a novel about a city as a guide book when preparing for a visit, the Los Angeles Times book staff has pieced together an excellent resource for you.Their Literary L.A. map pinpoints bookstores and lit landmarks around town (the library at UCLA where Ray Bradbury tapped out Fahrenheit 451 on a coin-operated typewriter!), and also includes passages from great fiction inspired by the the city and includes hardboiled L.A. classics like Double Indemnity and The Black Dahlia to more modern works like Steve Erickson’s Zeroville. The map has been released in time to accompany this weekend’s Festival of Books at USC.

LA Times Festival of Books, April 20-21, 2013, at USC, free. (events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/)

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of L.A. Times

Chicago with Kids: Spring Break in the Windy City

visiting chicago with family

Perhaps not the most obvious choice for a spring break, Chicago can keep a family happy—if not warm and dry—when school lets out. The city welcomed us with open arms during a blustery spring break week when our 'Plan A' vacation fell through. Here are some basic tips for a terrific time with the kids in the Windy City:

If you’re planning on hitting more than a few museums and skyscrapers, buying the Chicago CityPass ($94 for adults, $79 for kids, 11 and under) not only makes economic sense but it allows you to skip the lines at most of the participating venues. The passes saved us from standing in line in the sleet outside the Shedd Aquarium one day and we felt pretty smug sweeping past the hour and a half wait at the Skydeck. Waltz up to the desk and buy the passes at the first venue you visit, and they're valid for the next nine days.

Museum of Science and Industry This magnificent edifice in Hyde Park, between Lake Michigan and the University of Chicago campus, is one of the last remaining buildings of the 1893 Columbian Exposition (you know, from The Devil in the White City!). The museum offers engaging high- and low-tech exhibits—from the physics of basketball (kids pre-set the velocity and angle of a cannon that launches a ball across the grand hall and into a basket on the far balcony) to how cow manure can be turned into fuel (From Poop to Power!). A longtime favorite of Chicago kids, the museum was fully interactive before the word involved touchscreens. You can easily find enough varied and interesting activities to fill an entire day. Don't miss the retro make-your-own-molded-plastic-souvenir machines at the submarine, farm, and space exhibits.

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Tech Thursday: 360° Grand Canyon Panoramas Added to Google Maps

This morning on Lat/Long, the Google Maps blog, a proud product manager unveiled new eye-popping, wig-launching Grand Canyon imagery that will be added to the region in Google Maps. (The shots, taken by hikers wearing 40-lb. packs mounted with Google 360-degree cameras, cover 75 miles of trails.)

Take a stroll through some of these spectacular panoramas while solemnly humming This Land Is Your Land. Kind of beats the pants off finding your childhood home on Google Streetview, eh?


View Larger Map

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Kids Fly, Stay, Eat Free at Atlantis

atlantis resort bahamas

Am I the only one who hears Donovan and remembers that scene in Goodfellas everytime I see Atlantis mentioned?

Okay, ridiculous confession aside, there’s good news for families looking for getaway ideas. (And really good news: this one doesn't involve Joe Pesci.) JetBlue is briefly offering a big deal: book at minimum 3-night vacation to Atlantis in the Bahamas, and your kids fly free, stay free, and eat free. Book before midnight Sunday (January 20) for travel before March 7.

There are some restrictions, natch: one kid per paying adult; blackout dates from February 13-26; maximum 2 adults and 2 kids per room; etc. But you KNOW how much it costs to fly the whole family anywhere—the airfare alone represents a big savings.

Hail, Atlantis! And JetBlue.

For more information or to book, please visit JetBlue Getaways.

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo of Atlantis: Floto+Warner

Score! Visit Cooperstown with Ken Burns

babe ruth

Are you ready for some baseball? Tauck Tours has drafted documentary filmmaker Ken Burns to host 4-day trip to Cooperstown, New York, in late June.

Participants will be invited to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame after-hours for some private worship at the high church of America’s favorite pastime. Ken Burns will give a keynote address and then hang around to talk ball during a cocktail reception (I hope the ghost of center fielder and bar-keep Mickey Mantle will not permit any craft cocktails made with Gatorade).

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Jackson Hole Gets Big Snow (and Direct Flights)

Jackson Hole

The mountain is open at Jackson Hole and eager skiers who’ve been watching the Wyoming weather (to summarize: snow and snow and more powdery snow) will be happy to hear that getting to the Tetons is easier this winter. United is flying directly from Newark and San Francisco and Delta has added direct flights from Minneapolis, bringing the number of cities with direct service to the valley up to nine.

Intermediate skiers (me!) get a little love from the notoriously Black Diamond-heavy resort, too. A recently completed detachable quad lift opened last week to sweep Blue Trail skiers (me!) up to mid-mountain in just three and a half minutes. The Casper trail network has been expanded and buffed and more than half the blue trails are open, even this early in the season, because of the benevolent snow gods have dumped over 130” so far—more than at any other Rockies resort.

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