“Chocolate Trio” at The Spiced Pear; Photo by OpenTable
Haven’t made a reservation yet for Valentine’s Day dinner? Better get on that — it’s only a week away! Need ideas of where to go? OpenTable released their 2014 Most Romantic Restaurants in America, as voted by OpenTable diners.
Whether you’re looking to rekindle the flames with a fireside meal or prefer to woo your S.O. over sake and sushi, these restaurants are sure to inspire a little romance. This year’s list of winning restaurants with swoon-worthy dishes and come-hither ambiance spans more than 32 states and is based on more than 5 million restaurant reviews. It must be the dreamy coastal views, because California, Florida and Hawaii boast the most romantic restaurants. And the cuisine that’s this year’s favorite for flirting over? Fondue.
Photography by Elizabeth Fraser
Where can you find the rare and exotic coffee that Dangerous Grounds’ host Todd Carmichael travels the world to find? At the coffee sourcer’s La Colombe cafés – in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Seoul and the most recently opened Washington, DC, location. To the happiness of coffee lovers in our nation’s capital, a La Colombe outpost opened this weekend in the revitalized Shaw neighborhood. We couldn’t be more excited for our coffee hunter to open a new café – especially one so close to Travel Channel headquarters, too.
Sundance Film Festival
It’s a big year for Sundance Film Festival as it celebrates its 30th birthday in Park City, UT, this week. For the last 3 decades, the next big moviemakers, critics, celebrities and film buffs have attended this annual event every January to be wowed by the best of independent films from all over the world.
The largest independent film festival in the US, Sundance was launched in 1978 with the help of Robert Redford’s company, Sterling Van Wagenen. Over the last 30 years, Redford has played an integral part in building the festival’s momentum and his mark is seen all over town, from his famed Sundance Resort, 5,000 acres on the slopes of Mount Timpanogos in Utah’s Wasatch Range to Zoom, his cozy restaurant located on Park City’s Main Street.
With temperatures dropping, don’t let winter doldrums set in. Bundle up and embrace the cold (albeit the bone-chilling, artic-blasting cold of recent days) with some of our favorite things to do in winter.
1. Sleep in an ice hotel.
If you aren’t afraid of a little cold or a bed made out of ice, spend an unforgettable night in an ice hotel. Chill out in a luxury igloo full of hard-carved ice sculptures and cozy fur hides to keep you warm at night.
2. Toast with a decadent drink.
The ideal cure for a winter chill? A cocktail to warm you up. Toast to shorter days with these 10 cold-weather cocktails, from a traditional hot toddy to an innovative dry-ice-infused concoction.
3. Take an icy plunge.
What better way to plunge into 2014 than with an icy dip! There are still New Year dips taking place throughout January, or head to Finland where ice swimming is a popular custom all winter long.
“Travel more.” It’s certainly at the top of our resolutions for the new year (and every year, for that matter). Here are 7 more resolutions to make the most out of your travels in 2014.
Slow down your travel.
Savor the fleeting moments when you’re not at your desk buried under work or stuck in rush-hour traffic. Revel in the experience, whether that means lingering at a 4-hour meal or a tossing out the museum list for a long walk with no target destination. It’s easy to pack your schedule on a trip, afraid that you’ll miss something, but you won’t be able to fully appreciate a different culture unless you take the time to experience its nuisances.
Don’t let a “dangerous” label deter you.
Of course, we aren’t advising traipsing around a war-torn country without taking any precautions, but rather suggesting that there are places that are inherently dangerous— whether they’re crime-ridden or full of wild and hungry animals – that shouldn’t be avoided because of fear alone. Be safe, but don’t cross off visiting some of the world’s best places — like Brazil, Nicaragua, and Colombia — altogether just because their reputation is a little dicey.
Where is everyone dreaming of getting hitched and starting their happily-ever-after? Today Google released their year-in-review Zeitgeist list for 2013, which included the top searched destination wedding locations and honeymoon destinations for 2013.
It’s clear from Google’s data that couples are definitely dreaming of beach “I do’s,” in places such as Jamaica, Bahamas and Bermuda. While Hawaii has always been a desired destination wedding, we like seeing that the less-developed Kauai island is getting more love in 2013. We do wonder though, how many brides and grooms book these destination weddings or are they just dreaming of them?
Dreaming of a tropical getaway, but don’t know where to go? Want to bask on beautiful beaches, but don’t want to cross several times zones to get there? Puerto Rico, just a quick 2-½ hour flight from Miami, is as close as it gets to an island paradise. Temperatures year-round hover between a perfect 75 to 85 degrees. If that doesn’t convince you, here are 5 more reasons to visit Puerto Rico.
1. No Passport Required
Forgot to renew your passport? Don’t worry; you can still take a trip to Puerto Rico. While this exotic isle may seem like a world away with its rich Spanish culture and exotic beaches, it’s still part of the US making it a no-passport-required vacation. One less thing to (forget to) pack.
2. Glow-in-the-Dark Sea Creatures
Don’t let the name Mosquito Bay scare you – it is not the world’s most mosquito-infested bay. Also known as Bioluminescent Bay, this lagoon in Vieques is home to tiny glowing creatures that light up the bay at night in trails of blue phosphorescence. Rent a kayak on a moonless night for the best viewing of this amazing glow-in-the-dark phenomenon.
Ready for the busiest travel day of the year? Ready or not, it’s inevitable that the day before Thanksgiving will include record-long lines at the airport and headache-inducing traffic. We checked in with Foursquare to get their insights on Thanksgiving travel patterns. Looking at more than 4.5 billion check-ins from last year, Foursquare determined the busiest airports, busiest rest stops and even the busiest restaurants (see full list below for busiest hours). Hint: You’ll definitely want to avoid Atlanta’s airport, ATL, at 6pm the day before Thanksgiving!
Bad news? It’s not likely this year will be any less busy for travel. Good news? There are heaping amounts of comfort food waiting for you on the other side.
Some interesting overall Thanksgiving check-in trends to note:
A 48% increase in farm check-ins suggests people are heading out to pick their own turkey. Get your gobble on at these turkey farms.
Small Town Pride
Travelers returning to small towns are much more likely to check-in and show off their hometown pride than those from the big cities. The most popular hometown destination in the nation for Thanksgiving? Detroit (based on largest percentage increase of check-ins).
There is a 53% increase in rest stop check-ins during travel season. Nothing like a bit of caffeine and sugar to fuel a long drive.
Photography by John Moore/Getty Images
Think the only way to avoid an airport meltdown during the holidays is to stay home? Fear not, it is possible to snag a cheap flight during the holidays, breeze through long airport lines, keep the kids happy during the entire flight, and not lose your cool (or dignity) in security.
We asked an air travel expert, Mark Drusch, Chief Supplier Relations Officer for CheapOair.com, to reveal his secrets for flying through the airport during the holidays. With over 20 years of experience in executive airline roles, Drusch shared with us his forecast for the holiday travel season, how to glide through security lines, and what he never gets on a plane without.
So before you take off this holiday season, take in Drusch’s expert travel advice:
Traveling Type: What’s your forecast for this holiday travel season? What trends are you seeing?
Mark Drusch: Higher traffic than last year, however the peak days (Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday and Monday after) may be marginally less full because the other days around the holiday are seeing very strong traffic. But planes will still be very full. We see an increase in customers celebrating their Thanksgiving in vacation spots, particularly the Caribbean, Mexico and Costa Rica.
With Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second installment in the The Hunger Games trilogy coming out this month in theatres, Hunger Games tourism is … well, catching fire again. From tree hotels to bubble dome rooms, Booking.com shared with us the most Hunger Games-inspired hotels around the world. Whether you are a super fan or just have a taste for truly one-of-a-kind places to stay, you won’t believe these 5 spectacular hotels.
May the odds (of getting a room in these super hot hotels) be ever in your favor!
Treehotel – Harads, Sweden
While you might not need to hide from your fellow Hunger Games rivals, an escape to Treehotel, the world’s largest treehouse hotel, still will be a welcome reprieve. Spending a night perched in the trees in Sweden’s Harads forest, you’ll feel on top of the world. The tree rooms are all uniquely designed and suspended 13 to 19 feet above ground. We bet you’ll sleep better in the trees here than Katniss Everdeen ever did. After all, there are no distractions like flying arrows and tracker jackers impeding quality shut-eye.