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New Murals Bring Color to Philadelphia Amtrak Route

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A new set of murals are making a colorfusl splash along a stretch of Amtrak lines in Philadelphia.

As part of the city's Mural Arts Program, German artist Katharina Grosse painted warehouses and abandoned lots visible from the tracks. Around 34,000 rail passengers will see the project every day from their seats on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor route between Philadelphia and New York, as well as from several local commuter lines.

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Foursquare Launches New App Swarm For Global Networking

foursquare_appjpgYesterday Foursquare pushed its new app, Swarm, to the iTunes and Google Play stores, revealing to the world what it had been teasing for weeks: a tool to help you connect with friends globally, in a way that’s more socially-driven than the Foursquare we’ve long known and loved. Swarm differs from Foursquare by focusing on interactions, and not solitary check-ins or points, which were hardly being used in the competitive, socially-charged way that had once been intended.

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Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage Opens

Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage

There’s a noteworthy new spot worth considering for your next weekend getaway. The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, set on a bluff above Palm Springs and California’s Coachella Valley, has thrown open its doors again today after a seven-year closure (you can thank the financial crisis for the delayed debut).

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Four New Apps Make Google Glass a Traveler's Best Friend

201405-hd-google-glass-for-traveljpgPop up notifications about your flight status. Instant visual translations. Directions to your hotel within seconds of your asking. Google Glass has been targeting travelers for months, with an arsenal of tools that intend to get you looking away from your smart phone and around at world. Today, the company is making a bigger push than ever into the travel space, with the release of three new apps that any jetsetter will no doubt recognize—TripIt, Foursquare, and OpenTable—plus a smart re-release of the exploration tool, Field Trip, which now lets you ask for sightseeing suggestions based on its eclectic catalogue of local sites and venues.

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Marriott's New PlusPoints Will Turn Your Tweets into Loyalty Points

201405-hd-marriott-pluspoints-socialjpgSocial media engagement has become increasingly valuable to hotel brands and travel companies—look no further than our own SMITTY Award winners—but today, Marriott is becoming the first company to place a real dollar value on customers’ tweets, check-ins, and likes. With PlusPoints, a new feature of the brand’s much loved rewards program, visitors who download the Marriott Rewards app and synch their social media accounts will now see their points balances increase with every digital interaction—up to 2,000 points each month. Says Rich Toohey, VP of Marriott Rewards, “It’s a way to provide immediate gratification for our members, who happy to be very active on social media channels.” Immediate is right: most interactions (geo-tagged Instagram pics; Facebook comments; check-ins and tweets) will yield an automatic deposited of 25 points to your Marriott Rewards account, while one-time activities, such as liking a property page on Facebook, will boost your balance by 250 points.

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Google's Self-Driving Car Makes The Road Trip of Tomorrow

201405-hd-google-self-driving-carjpgSomewhere in Google’s hometown in Mountain View, California, there is a car navigating the suburban streets without a driver. 

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Jet-Set Like Brangelina Without Breaking the Bank

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Sleep Above the Lions in These Luxe African Treehouses

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It goes without saying that, even as an adult, there are few places to spend the night as cool as way up in a tree. How else do you explain the popularity of these 10 insane treehouse hotels?

But what if you're looking for something more exclusive than your standard arboreal accommodation? This trio of tree huts on the Lion Sands Game Reserve in South Africa offer privacy, luxury, and a 360-degree view of the beautiful, sometimes frightening natural world below.

SEE MORE AT THRILLIST

Photo courtesy of Lion Sands

Alaska Airlines Invests in Seattle’s New Bike Share Program

201405-hd-alaska-airlines-seattle-bike-sharejpgBiking will meet air travel this September in Seattle, when the Pronto! Emerald City Cycle Share program launches with Alaska Airlines-branded wheels. The airline contributed $2.5 million to the program; in exchange, its name will appear on the first 500 green-and-blue bikes, which will initially be available in the U District, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and Downtown. The price structure is $8 for a 24-hour membership, $16 for three days, or $85 for a year, and every station will have a kiosk to rent or buy helmets.

Brooke Porter
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.

Photo courtesy of Pronto Cycle Share

Cape Air Launches Direct Service from New York to the Adirondacks

201405-hd-cape-airjpgStarting June 26, Cape Cod-based airline Cape Air is launching a new seasonal route connecting Westchester County Airport in White Plains, NY, to Adirondack Regional Airport in Saranac Lake, NY.

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Lyft Introduces New Premium Cab-on-Call Service

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There’s a new ride in town, though you may recognize it by its signature facial hair. Lyft Plus, a new premium offering by Uber’s quirky, mustachioed competitor, is now piloting service in San Francisco before rolling out to all of its 60 cities coast to coast. As the name would suggest, the new model offers a more souped-up cab-on-call experience--while there’s nary a Mercedes-Benz in sight, the premium experience features custom-outfitted Ford Explorers, each decked out with custom under-car LED lights, 20-inch sport wheels, quilted leather seats for six, and (our favorite) Spotify Premium access. It’s less expensive that Uber Black by about a 20% margin, and roughly twice the cost of a regular Lyft ride, running $3.00 a mile or fifty cents a minute. As for the token mustache found on all of Lyft’s regular cars? You’ll find it affixed onto the grille in brushed steel—trés classy.
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Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Lyft

AirBnB Introduces Last-Minute Booking

Airbnb

AirBnB is taking a page out of the HotelTonight handbook today, opening their network of apartment rentals to the last-minute market. But unlike every other booking tool for spontaneous travelers, this one’s not focused on markdowns. Says an AirBnB spokesperson, the new feature responds to a “lifestyle shift” among travelers, who are more willing than ever to plan getaways on the fly. But it’s also thanks to an increasing number of AirBnB listings featuring “instant booking,” a one-click checkout system that requires no back-and-forth messaging between the traveler and host (the company says they’re up to 90,000 such listings, from just 30,000 last year).

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Travel For Teachers Program Offers Discounted Stays for Summer Break

201405-hd-travel-for-teachersjpgWith the school year winding down, kids of all ages are counting the days until summer vacation. But when the last bell rings, no one’s more deserving of a little rest and relaxation than the teachers.

For the second year in a row, Austin-based website bedandbreakfast.com is honoring these educators’ hard work by offering them a host of discounted summer getaways.

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Stephen Colbert's Favorite Things to Do in Charleston

Stephen Colbert

Long before he agreed to take over as host of the Late Show, Stephen Colbert was just another Charleston boy—swimming, fishing, and skateboarding down the quiet streets of what he recalls as a “sleepy Southern town.” Today, the South Carolina city is still one of his favorite vacation spots. Read on for Colbert’s down-home haunts.

Stay: Growing up, Colbert helped his mother run a now-defunct B&B in their house in the South of Broad neighborhood. “Back then, if I booked a guest, I got ten percent. A kid could have a whole weekend of fun on fifteen bucks.” Hotels he remembers from boyhood: the Francis Marion Hotel ($)—with views of the harbor—and 1853’s Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel ($).

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A Sweet Stop for Art in Brooklyn

201405-hd-kara-walker-sculpture-pulled-backjpgSince 1974, Creative Time has been bringing innovative art to the public from New York to Hanoi. This spring, chief curator Nato Thompson commissioned artist Kara E. Walker to create a monumental work appropriately titled A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.

Tucked away, just off the beaten path in New York’s favorite hipster haven: Williamsburg Brooklyn, you’ll find a procession of fifteen 5-foot-tall molasses and resin boys carrying baskets and bananas towards Walker’s piéce de resistance—a 35.5 foot tall and 75.5 foot long sphinx made with 80 tons of sugar. A pungently sweet smell hangs throughout the space, and contributes to the arrestingly evocative work.

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News Update: World Cup 2014, California's Redwoods, and Airports Impacted by Climate Change

This week's video news round-up includes the latest on preparations in Brazil for World Cup 2014, details on an attack of California’s giant Redwood trees, President Obama's warning for many U.S. airports, and details on a new resource for traveling seniors.

China Considers High-Speed Railway to U.S.

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If a fear of international flights has long kept you from exploring China's Great Wall or visiting Xi’an’s famed terracotta soldiers, it's time to reconsider your boycott on traveling abroad—a high-speed railroad may soon connect Beijing to the United States.

The Bejing Times reports Chinese officials are currently in talks to construct an 8,000-mile railway connecting north-east China to the United States. The proposed route would cross Siberia, and then cut through Alaska and Canada before entering into the continental US. With trains traveling 220 miles per hour, it would take passengers approximately two days to complete the full trip.

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Family Travel Twitter Chat on Tuesday, May 20

Traveling with your family? We'll be discussing packing tips, strategies for keeping kids happy en route, and how to save on hotels, airfare, and activities in a Family Travel Twitter chat this Tuesday, May 20th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Join our chat and ask the experts for their insider advice!

The Host:

T+L Senior Digital Editor, Ann Shields, @aegisnyc

The Panelists:

Real Simple, @RealSimple

Dylan's Candy Bar, @DylansCandyBar

Orbitz, @Orbitz

JetBlue, @JetBlue

All You, @allyou

Trip Advisor's Travel Advocate, Wendy Perrin, @wendyperrin

Kyle Richards of  “The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills”, @KyleRichards18

Little Passports, @littlepassports

T+L A-list Agent, Julia Douglas, @JetSetWorldTrvl

EverythingMom.com, @EverythingMom

Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner, Authors of @ShttyMom

Abercrombie and Kent, @AKTravel_USA

Amy Tara Koch, @AmyTaraKoch

Chef Ludo, @chefludo

How does it work?

1. Log in to Twitter before the chat starts at 2pm ET and be sure to follow @TravlandLeisure.

2. Head over to http://twitter.com. Enter the hashtag #TL_Chat into the search bar and select the "All" search option to follow the chat in real time.

3. Remember to always add the hashtag #TL_Chat to your tweets.

4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own responses. Or ask questions of your own! 

All tweets are subject to our social media terms and conditions and may be used in any and all media including editorial. See full social media terms and conditions.

Gabrielle Blitz is Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Film "Tracks" Follows One Woman Across Western Australia

Follow a woman’s incredible 1,700 mile, solo journey through the Australian outback in the upcoming film, Tracks.

In 1977, Robyn Davidson made a 1,700-mile trek across the deserts of Western Australian with her dog and four camels. Davidson had no intention of documenting her adventures until she eventually agreed to write about her trip in National Geographic magazine.

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Prabal Gurung Designs Uniforms for All Nippon Airways

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Prabal Gurung’s latest designs are hitting the runway — the airport runway, that is. The designer and FLOTUS favorite recently designed uniforms for Japanese airline All Nippon Airways. Now, cabin attendants and ground staff will be decked in en vogue attire.

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Bespoke Tour Company Audley Travel Launches in the U.S.

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The U.K.-based Audley Travel, known for creating bespoke vacations in more than 80 countries, recently launched in the U.S., with a new website and an office in Boston. Every trip is completely tailor-made with the help of what the company calls Country Specialists, who act as concierges and hand pick experiences, hotels, restaurants, guides, and more.

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Daily Transporter: Istria's Truffle Season

adriatic

After Italian soldiers discovered truffles growing on Croatia’s Istrian peninsula during WWII, the prized fungus found its way into the regional cuisine. When white truffles are in season (mid-September to mid-December), the Istrian beaches empty out and the focus of 800 licensed truffle hunters, and thousands of amateurs, shifts to the forest.

See Istria in Europe’s Secret Hot Spots

Editor’s Picks: Istria
Best Life-Changing Trips
Best Places to Rebound
Wackiest Cruise Shore Excursions

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo: David Alexander Arnold

Daily Transporter: Re-seeding the Great Barrier Reef

coral like jewels

When the Great Barrier Reef's coral spawned last year, scientists harvested enough sperm samples to start a cryogenically frozen coral sperm bank. They hope to use it to replenish failing reefs in the future. (Since 1985, 50% of the GBR's coral has been lost to disease, cyclones, and pollution, among other causes.)

See the Great Barrier Reef in Fastest Disappearing Natural Wonders

Editor’s Picks: Great Barrier Reef
World’s Best Islands
World’s Coolest Helicopter Rides
Great Adventure Cruises

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the NYC World's Fair

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More than two thousand visitors, near and far made the trek to Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York last month for a special, limited public viewing of the New York State Pavilion’s interior. 

The rusting monument, designed by acclaimed architect Philip Johnson for the World’s Fair, was recently recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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Daily Transporter: Washington Monument Reopens

washington monument

Washington goes Wonka—twelve lucky followers of the Department of the Interior's Instagram feed have been chosen as winners. The prize? To be among the first to the top of the Washington Monument on May 12, its reopening day, so they can document the festivities on their own feeds.

See the Washington Monument in America’s Most Beautiful Landmarks

Editor’s Picks: Washington, D.C.
Best Indian Restaurants in the U.S.
America’s Best Spring Drives
America’s Best Margaritas

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Daily Transporter: Little Big Cat

dreamy puss

Last week, guests at Kenya’s Olare Mara Kempinski safari camp didn’t need to join game drives to see lions up close—a lioness gave birth to two cubs under the platform of one of the luxury camp’s twelve tents.

See Masai Mara in Best Life-Changing Trips

Editor’s Picks: Kenya Game Parks
World’s Greatest Animal Migrations
World’s Most Romantic Sunsets
World’s Coolest New Tourist Attractions

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

A Kid's Guide to New Orleans

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New Orleans is famous for bar-lined Bourbon Street and the Mardi Gras celebrations along it. But is it a family getaway? Liz Vilardi and Nick Zappia, owners of Cambridge, Massachuetts restaurants Belly wine bar and The Blue Room, decided to find out with their five year old son, Lucian.

Here, Liz shares Lucian's Guide to New Orleans:

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Daily Transporter: Yosemite

glorious national park view

Cameras mounted on unmanned drones have found a place in nature photographer’s arsenal (case in point: this breathtaking GoPro video taken at Arches NP in Moab) but as of last week, the National Park Service has banned the use of drones inside vast Yosemite, saying that they disrupt both peace and emergency services.

See Yosemite in World’s Scariest Hikes

Editor’s Picks: Yosemite
Ultimate Adventure Travel Bucket List
Super-Short Travel Disaster Stories
Great National Park Lodges

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Daily Transporter: Elephants in China

yunnan's mountain lakes

The wild elephant population of China’s lushly forested Yunnan Province has grown to nearly 300, thanks to strict laws—poachers are subject to the death penalty—and feeding programs funded by the government. (China also compensates local farmers for sugar cane, rice, and banana crops lost to snacking pachyderms.)

See Yunnan Province in Best Life-Changing Trips

Editor’s Picks: Western China
New Wonders of the World
Newest Wonders of the World
It List: Best New Hotels

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @aegisnyc. Get the Daily Transporter newsletter in your in-box.

Photo courtesy of T+L Photo Contest

Cooking Where Cultures Meet in New York City

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It was that anxious feeling when you are outside of your comfort zone that I felt walking up to the apartment building in Queens, New York. However, as soon as my host Nawida opened her door with a warm smile and welcoming hug, I settled into a sense of excitement for a culinary adventure.

Four weeks prior to this moment, I came across the company League of Kitchens, which offers cooking classes demonstrating authentic cuisine from various regions around the world. The instructors are women, living in New York City, who have immigrated to this country with a mastery of cooking in the style of their homeland. Today's cooking class: Afghani.

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