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Istanbul's Jazz Festival Brings in Top Talent

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When one thinks of Istanbul, what comes to mind? Perhaps some beautiful mosques silhouetted against the sky, exotic bazaars filled with spices and silks, maybe even the strains of the adhan (or the Islamic call to prayer). But what about jazz?

The Turks are crazy about it. One of the biggest cultural events of the year, the 18th annual Jazz Festival is taking over the city this month (until July 19), featuring acts like Herbie Hancock (who’s leading a quintet in tribute of jazz diety Miles Davis), Paul Simon, Joss Stone, and more. Not to be missed is Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves, and Lizz Wright’s collaboration called “Sing the Truth,” which will incorporate songs from legendary female jazz, folk, and R&B singers like Aretha Franklin, Odetta, and Lauryn Hill.

Click here for the complete lineup.

Kirsten Stamn is an ASME intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of the Istanbul Jazz Festival

New York City's Biking Boom

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The Big Apple just got a lot more user-friendly for those who like to throw their leg over a two-wheeler, hit the bike paths, and take in the sights. The NYC Parks Department and Bike and Roll—a bicycle rental group that started seven years ago and now operates in five U.S. cities—cut the ribbon last week on their new Hop On/Hop Off program, which allows renters to pick up a bike at one of the easily recognizable 11 mobile Bike and Roll centers in Manhattan and drop it off at a totally different location, eliminating the need for a round-trip and encouraging exploration. Rates range from $12-20 per hour to $39-69 per day; child seats and tagalong attachments for kids are also available.

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If Travel Searches Are Any Indication, You're Probably Going to Vegas This Summer

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Anyone still wondering where to go on vacation in the next few months might get some ideas from the 20 top hotel destinations searched for this coming summer on Kayak.com, the price-comparison travel site. Most popular: Las Vegas, where the average hotel rate from June through August is $130, down slightly from summer 2010. Most expensive: New York, where rooms averaged $218, up nearly 15 percent from a year ago. Biggest increase: Bangkok, whose average room rate was up a whopping 40 percent from last year. (On the other hand, the summer average for a hotel in Bangkok is just $117, so stop complaining.) Cheapest: San Jose, Costa Rica, with an average rate of $94.

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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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Loews Hotels Roll Out Family Fun Programs for Summer

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It seemed like New York would never emerge from the clutches of winter up until a few days ago. But with the temperatures now in the 70s and Memorial Day weekend nearly here it seems like summer has finally arrived.

To celebrate that, Loews Hotels is rolling out the “Summer of Loews” to treat families to the extra things that make the season so much fun—including dance parties, BBQs and roving ice cream carts.

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TODAY Show: Secret Island Escapes

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

T+L Features Director Nilou Motamed shares her pick of the best island escapes, including Southport Island, Maine, and Caye Caulker, Belize.

French Tourist Centers Pass "Decency of Dress" Laws

eTurbo News |  Perpignan, near the Spanish border, has become the latest city to issue fines to people who refuse to cover up after being approached by the police. The move comes after Cavaillon in Provence brought in a similar law this year, the Independent reports.

The fines, which have been in place in Cannes and St. Tropez for many years, can reach up to £31 ($39 USD).

The laws were brought in by councils in inland cities after locals complained over the rising number of visitors parading around the streets in little more than shorts or skimpy swimwear.

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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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New Festival Celebrates Retro British Cool

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If Mad Men Sunday nights don’t roll around fast enough, perhaps it’s time to hop a plane for Southern England. August 13-15 will mark the first annual Vintage at Goodwood festival— celebration of “Creative British cool” from the 1940’s through the 1980’s at the Goodwood Estate in West Sussex, England.

Vintage will feature the best in retro music, fashion, art, design, film and food from around the U.K., translated by a select group of modern artists inspired by the last century. These artistes will disburse their wares at specially constructed centers around the grounds, including five, decade-focused music venues (The Tanqueray Torch Club, for example, features a 1940’s nightclub vibe and a stylish restaurant; by day there’ll be lessons in period dance steps followed by a tea dance—and by night, a burlesque show).

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How to See D.C. in Summer Without Killing Your Kids

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Budget-style family trips to Washington, D.C.—everyone sleeping in one hotel room with tiny bath towels doing double duty at a tiny hotel pool—can still be fun, don’t get me wrong. But just don’t try one in summer. 

Summers in D.C. are brutally hot and relentlessly crowded. The museums along the Mall, because they are free and air-conditioned, invite larger than usual huddled masses yearning to breathe free air-conditioning. The crowds dully shuffle past Lincoln's top hat and Apollo space capsules and Plains Indian weavings, and what seemed exciting and inspiring begins to seem stultifying and meaningless.  Your kids start to talk about the hotel pool.  Frequently, and in increasingly thin voices. Your feet hurt and there’s too much more to see before you head back to the featureless hotel room.  Budget no longer seems worth the savings. 

This thoughtful package from the Mandarin Oriental (parents note: sun-lit 50-foot indoor pool, guestroom views of the Jefferson Memorial or the Tidal Basin) makes some sense if you can splurge and would like to avoid all that huddling and loud yearning.

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