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Just Back: San Francisco and Wine Country

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Earlier this year, I took a weeklong anniversary trip to San Francisco, Napa, and Sonoma with my husband, Lee, an academic who gets hives at the thought of anything luxurious. Keeping him comfortable meant mixing extraordinary meals with unexpected finds and cheap local favorites. Here’s the best of our high-low itinerary that kept both of us satisfied.

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TODAY Show Video: Easy Fall Weekend Getaways

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

We’ve found five easy big-city escapes, whether your perfect fall weekend involves hiking among changing foliage colors or joining in the wine harvest.

Easy Getaway from NYC and Boston: Litchfield County, CT
Stay:
The Falls Village Inn
You can really get off the grid here: cell phone reception is almost non-existent. Recently redesigned, the four guestrooms and suites have botanical prints, crisp linen upholstery, and bathrooms with black-and-white tiles. The dining room showcases the work of local artists and the casual table coverings are brown butcher paper. Food is sourced locally, including hamburgers made from the grass-fed beef of nearby Whippoorwill Farm. Walk it off on the Appalachian Trail, which is right outside the door. Doubles from $199/night.

Related: America’s Best Fall Color Drives

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Tech Thursday: Road Trip Stopovers Made Easy

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One of my biggest regrets is having never done an epic U.S. road trip when I was in college. Of course, there’s still plenty of time for me to pack up and hit the road, whether it’s a cross-country trek, a tour of the northeast…whatever I feel like, really. But, now that everyone I know is busy with full-time jobs, the trouble is finding a partner-in-crime who can also get away for an extended period of time.

While finding a friend to tag along on my hypothetical road trip may be tricky, I have found a companion that will most definitely be at my side when that day finally comes. Roadtrippers is a relatively new site that cuts down the research time for road trip stopovers because, one of the most important parts of a road trip. Why? Because let’s face it: a road trip is not just about getting from Point A to Point B…it’s about all the sites and sights in between.

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TODAY Show: Family Travel Tips for Summer

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Traveling with kids doesn’t always feel like a vacation, but these tips for summer flights and road trips will make things easier for your family.

Plane Travel

When/What To Book: To pick the best seats for your family consult a site like SeatGuru.com. Planes will be more full this summer than before, so book your flight early—six weeks or more is a good rule of thumb—to improve your odds of getting seats together. If you use social media, follow @airfarewatchdog and @smartertravel on Twitter to learn about last-minute deals. Both carefully vet price drops and unadvertised sales. As for flying, Saturday mornings at airports are more quiet and flights can often be cheaper. Plus, the first flight out in the morning usually takes off on time.

Related: America's Best and Worst Airports

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Cape Town Food Find: Home Cooking from a Top Chef at his Beach House

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Here’s a first-visit-to-Cape Town mandate: you must do the scenic Cape Point drive. If you enjoy views, or fresh air, or anything good in life, this is surely one of the world’s most epic routes. Leave the city by looping around the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and head south along the coast, with stops at Maiden’s Cove and Chapman’s Peak for some stellar photo ops. You’ll pass lovely towns, and may want to drop by the Bay Harbour Market at Hout Bay or the salty waterfront at Kalk’s Bay, where a visit to Olympia Café & Deli is preordained. Beware of baboons—they’re known for letting themselves into passing cars in hopes of relieving people of their snacks—but the ostriches you might spot on the side of the road are harmless.

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8 Gadgets to Keep Kids Busy While Traveling

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More than 34 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home this Memorial Day weekend—and most are be driving. Pack these eight gadgets to keep your kids entertained while you’re on the go. 

Travel Kiddy Kids Travel Journal: Ages 5+
Older kids can personally document their journey with this customizable journal. With pages for maps, favorite places, daily activities, and favorite events kids can create their own unique souvenir of their adventure. $10
Travelkiddy.com


> Related: America’s Best Family Hotels

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Mom, Are We There Yet? 135+ New Theme Park Attractions Coming This Summer

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Huffington Post  |  At least 135 new attractions are coming to America's theme parks this summer, a trade industry group says, with new roller coasters, water rides and a Legoland among the highlights.

The thrill rides and attractions will touch 24 states and more than 50 theme parks, museums and other destinations represented by the IAAPA, an industry group representing more than 4,000 members.

Disney, for its part, announced plans to expand its offerings at Disney World this spring, while over in California, Disney Land plans to open "Cars Land" in June.

Here's a small sampling of the attractions to come, and where you can check them out this summer... READ MORE.

Photo courtesy of whomanbc

Related:
Coolest New Disney Vacations
World's Strangest Theme Parks
Coolest Disney Rides
Scariest Thrill Rides on the Planet

Weather Channel: Weekend Getaways From Miami

This morning, T+L's digital projects editor, Sarah Spagnolo, launched a new series on the Weather Channel, Get Up and Go with Al Rocker. Twice a month, we'll feature weekend getaways from a U.S. city. First up: Miami.

A Mini-Adventure: The Everglades

Just an hour and 40 minute drive west of Miami, the Everglades is a 1.5 million acre National Park on the southern tip of Florida—it’s the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. WHERE TO STAY Ivey House Inn, a modern eco-lodge that dates back to the 1920’s, when outdoorsmen came to the area to build the Tamiami Trail (the 275-mile route is still a great road trip). PRICE Less than $200 a night.

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Beloved Austin Band The Gourds Dishes on BBQ Joints, Travel, and Its New Album

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Austin’s roots rock veterans the Gourds are no strangers to the road. For seventeen years they’ve toured the U.S. and abroad with their sweet and spicy brand of southern country-blues-rock. With a new record out, Old Mad Joy, and a whopping nine other studio albums under their belt, the band shows no signs of slowing down. The Old Mad Joy tour takes the Texans from San Francisco to Philadelphia and dozens of towns in between. Frontman Kevin “Shinyribs” Russell calls the live show “kind of a cross between a revival, a house party, a pep rally and a pow wow.” We connected with the guys to ask about their time on tour and tips for would-be road warriors.

Q: You hail from Austin, which has been an indie hotbed for some time now (here’s looking at you, SXSW). Have you noticed a shift in the city’s music scene over the course of your careers?

A: Yes, the scene has been constantly changing for decades now. The biggest change has come from the economic boom of the last 15 years; dot com bubble/high tech expansion and real estate bubble. Also the focus of the city on encouraging downtown residential occupancy and a ridiculous sound ordinance has transformed live music into a migratory population in search of affordable leases and appropriate neighborhoods. The musicians and service workers sort of gravitate nearer to these places. So, lots of them are now in east Austin. The styles have become much more diverse and the talent level much more exceptional.

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TODAY Show: Affordable Fall Road Trips

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed shares her picks for the best bargain-filled driving trips this season.

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