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A Travel Blog from the Editors of T+L

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Contest Watch: $100K for a Year Off, Maui Vaca, Australia, More

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With school in session and the autumn holidays just around the corner, this month’s Contest Watch is all about escaping obligation. Ikea wants you to take a whole year off to pursue philanthropic work, but for those just looking to avoid a mother-in-law, Turks + Caicos has a better alternative to Thanksgiving dinner—the islands' Conch Festival!

So start entering—before you get seated at the kid’s table.

Ikea’s Life Improvement Sabbatical Contest
Now – November 8th
The Swedish furniture company is giving one winner the opportunity to take a year off to pursue their passions (volunteering, starting a non-profit)—a prize worth $100,000. Entrants must submit their proposal to www.thelifeimprovementproject.com. Five finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges, and announced on December 13, 2010. The winner will be determined by public vote, and announced on January 31, 2011. The winner is not required to take a leave of absence from work but, come on, why wouldn’t you?

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TV Trip: HBO’s "Boardwalk Empire"

The Jersey Shore has received a ton of press lately—be it MTV’s cringe-worthy guilty pleasure of the same name or Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey (they taped their explosive reunion in Atlantic City). On September 19th, HBO is hoping to add some highbrow coverage to A.C.’s lowbrow past with the premier of the new series, Boardwalk Empire at 9 p.m.

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Vino Vacation: Boston Wine Week

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From September 20th through 26th Boston is home to wine tastings and pairings at over a dozen restaurants in Beantown.

During the seven-day extravaganza, visit T+L favorites The Beehive, Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro, Bin 26, and Locke-Ober.

Visit bostonwineweek.com for updates on events. There's even a mobile site for on-the-ground directions, pairings, and ratings.

For more upcoming events in Boston or around the United States, visit our new events calendar.

Charlotte Savino is the online listings editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photos courtesy of Boston Wine Week

NYC Hotels Gear Up For Fashion Week

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This year's New York Fashion Week won't be at the iconic tents at Bryant Park but will instead move up to Lincoln Center—a cultural destination all its own. Fashionable hotels city wide are embracing the change.

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Trend Alert: Artisanal Ice Pops to Beat the Heat

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Want a way to maintain your highbrow tastes while cooling off this summer? Gourmet and artisanal ice pops are popping up across the country. These aren’t your kids’ red dye #5 white-shirt-oblitterating coolers either—they’re high-class, big-flavor and the most fun you can have on a stick.

Loco Pops, Chapel Hill, NC
This triangle area—that’s Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill—establishment serves a daily selection of both water- and dairy-based pops to satisfy every palette. Adventurers should try the Mango Chile pop for a sweet and spicy treat. Follow them on twitter @locopops for daily flavors and promotions.

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Game! Set! Save! US Open Deals

cookie_close_up.jpgFrom Aug. 24 through Sept. 12, 2010, tennis greats from around the globe will descend on Flushing, Queens for the US Open. Here are a few deals and promotions to get you in the swing of things:

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Haute Hotel Deal: Elysian Partners with Marc Jacobs

This summer, The Elysian hotel in Chicago is celebrating America—and great American designer, Marc Jacobs—with a complimentary limited edition towel and tote:201007-b-usatotejpg

From now through Labor Day, book a room at the Elysian and receive a super-cute USA totebag and American Flag beach towel from Marc Jacobs. They're the perfect accessories to bring to North Avenue Beach.

The bag (just $18) is also available at Marc Jacobs stores (the only one in Chicago is at the Elysian Hotel). Book at ElysianHotels.com. Rates start at $495 and include breakfast in bed.

Courtesy of Elysian Hotels/Marc Jacobs

Contest Watch: Eat, Pray, Love and Win

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It’s mid-summer and the season’s blockbusters are out (or forthcoming). While we don’t have an Inception contest, Pixar hit, Toy Story 3 is giving away a Disney cruise and the much-anticipated Eat Pray Love inspires a 3-week vacation giveaway. This Contest Watch wants to make your movie dreams a reality.

STA Travel – Eat Pray Love Sweepstakes
Enter Now – August 27th


STA Travel, a student and budget travel operator, is giving away a 21-day trip to Italy, India, and Bali inspired by the novel Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. The movie adaptation starring Julia Roberts opens August 13th. To enter, simply sign up at http://eatpraylove.statravelpackages.com/win/. The grand prize includes all airfare, tours, and accommodations, movie tickets and a copy of the book, and Lonely Planet Travel guides.

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Honeymoon Dispatch: Bodrum, Turkey

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I just returned home from my 12-day honeymoon in Turkey and had to share a gorgeous vacation spot. Bodrum, on the western coast, is a lovely enclave of beach resorts and whitewashed cliff-side architecture.

After six days in Istanbul and two nights in Kusadasi (a similar resort town near the historic ruins of Ephesus – our reason for the sidetrip), we decided to rest for three days at Casa dell’Arte, a T+L It List Hotel of 2008 located in Torba (a hamlet of Bodrum) known for its vast private art collection and breathtaking Aegean views.

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Giveaway: The Keys to NYC

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What do the Dalai Lama, A-Rod, Nelson Mandela, Placido Domingo, and countless tourists have in common? They all have keys to New York City. Well, kind of.

From now through June 27th, anyone can get a “Key to the City” in Times Square as part of Paul Ramirez Jonas’ public arts project. The free keys, handed out at a kiosk between 43rd and 44th streets, open 25 gates, doors, and cabinets throughout the five boroughs.

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