Lisa Singh

Lisa Singh is an Interactive Producer at TravelChannel.com. Her multimedia career has spanned print and online publications. One of her first stories involved following a convicted felon into the Mexican desert in search of gold; she’s been hooked on travel (and gold) ever since. While Lisa has spent time in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, her big love is all things America, especially road trips. Her favorite places include Montana, where she’s gone horseback riding, and San Diego, where she placed in a tandem-surfing competition.

Posts by Lisa Singh

A rodeo in Wilsall, MT. (All photos: Lisa Singh)

A rodeo in Wilsall, MT. (Photo: Lisa Singh)

Remember that scene in City Slickers, where Billy Crystal finds himself in a bit of a slump and says, “Do you ever reach a point in your life where you say to yourself, ‘This is the best I’m ever gonna look, the best I’m ever gonna feel, the best I’m ever gonna do’ … and it ain’t that great?”? His wife soon tells him, “Go and find your smile.”

Somewhere out west.

Personally, the west has always held a special allure for me; and for months, I’d been keeping my Pandora station on old western soundtracks (don’t judge). There was only one place to go, some place like … Montana. Upon the recommendation of some friends, I set my sights on the Metcalf Ranch. It’s here, on a fifth-generation, 4,800-acre working cattle ranch in the heart of south-central Montana, that a couple named Susan and Remi Metcalf offer guests an authentic cattle ranch experience.
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Bonnie and Clyde

Ain’t they sweet: Bonnie and Clyde (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Bonnie and Clyde, there’s just something about this gun-toting, crime-loving pair of love birds that continues to intrigue. The 3-network, 2-night event that kicks off Sunday is just the latest example of the decades-long affair with this spunky Texas duo.

Over the years, crooners from Merle Haggard to Mel Torme have sung about them, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway offered a ’60s-chic spin on them, and in recent years, the famed La Jolla Playhouse staged an award-winning musical about them, entitled, aptly enough, Bonnie & Clyde.

But let’s get real. The real Bonnie Parker didn’t look like Faye Dunaway or Holliday Grainger, and Clyde Barrow didn’t look like Warren Beatty or Emile Hirsch. This duo did more than pose in chic photo stills with guns — they actually robbed banks … and killed people, a total of 12, during some of their bungled robberies. But we just can’t let this story go, thanks, in no small part, to the black-and-white images from the early 1930s showing Bonnie in a really cool-looking beret, as she points a gun in jest toward her fedora-wearing guy pal, Clyde. So sweet.

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Nelson Mandela, father of a nation, became South Africa's first black president.

Nelson Mandela, father of a nation, became South Africa’s first black president. (Photo: Getty)

The father of a nation has died, and flags throughout Nelson Mandela’s beloved South Africa were lowered to half-staff yesterday.

Tributes to Nelson Mandela — South Africa’s first black president, after 3 centuries of white domination — extended far beyond the country he helped free from a government-sponsored system of apartheid which, between 1948 and 1994, denied South Africa’s majority equal treatment under the law, in scenes eerily reminiscent of the Jim Crow South.

Upon learning of Mandela’s death yesterday at the age of 95, Harlem’s Apollo Theater quickly adjusted its marquee to read, “He Changed Our World.” President Obama ordered all flags flying throughout Washington, DC, lowered to half-staff. And the South African embassy in Washington, DC, saw passersby leaving flowers and mementos by the statue of Nelson Mandela.

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See the Swan House, on a Catching Fire tour of Atlanta. (Photography by Atlanta History Museum)

See the Swan House, on a Catching Fire tour of Atlanta. (Photography by Atlanta History Museum)


Hunger Games: Catching Fire
is living up to its name. This past holiday weekend, the second installment in Suzanne Collins’ post-apocalyptic saga broke Thanksgiving box-office records. Now that you’ve seen the movie, walk in the footsteps of Katniss and company — and see where the Hunger Games franchise was actually filmed.
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Photo by Getty Images

Anyone who’s flown has been there — that moment when you’re passing through the TSA security checkpoint, and have to take off your shoes, empty your pockets, take off your belt and place your laptop in a bin. And you can double the fun if you have little kids in tow. Now TSA’s PreCheck program aims to make travel easier for those flying the increasingly complicated skies. But just in case you think PreCheck is a one-size-fits-all panacea, not so fast.

You can’t just sign up for PreCheck. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple … yet. TSA plans to — eventually — allow all travelers to apply directly to the PreCheck program, but it’s not clear when they’ll open up the application process. For now, travelers can enroll in the program in one of 2 ways: be selected to apply for the program based on your frequent-flyer status with an airline, or, enroll in one of several US Customs and Border Protection trusted traveler programs.

For Airline Frequent Flyers

Elite members of airlines’ frequent traveler programs — United, American, etc – if selected, can apply for PreCheck. If not selected, frequent flyers can still participate by joining a CBP Trusted Traveler program. Note that you must submit your biometric fingerprint for registration with the FBI, as well as undergo a criminal background check and pay an $85 fee to the TSA for a 5-year PreCheck membership. This program is slated to bring a total of $225 million to the TSA in 2013, and beyond that, over the next year, a reduction in passenger screening – the TSA’s goal is to see 25% of passengers see lighter scrutiny.

JFK assassination - funeral in DC

Photo: JFK Presidential Library

“From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official …”

Ask nearly anyone over the age of 55, and they can tell you exactly where they were when CBS newsman Walter Cronkite read the AP newsflash, confirming that America’s 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, had been publicly murdered at 12:40 p.m. CST in Dallas.

For Americans born in the decades since, this grim chapter in American life can now be relived in exhibits across the country, marking the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. Some items have never been displayed before, such as the flag that draped JFK’s casket. Here’s where you can revisit a few of the historic items related to the JFK assassination, when America’s love affair with Camelot came to a violent end.

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Travel's Best Travel Deals 2013

Our experts weigh in: We’ve rounded up top tips from industry experts like Frugal Travel Guy, Johnny Jet, Nomadic Matt and The Points Guy!

When it comes to travel, we know what you’re thinking — in fact, if search results are any indication, you’ve got trip planning through 2014 on your mind. And chances are you’re eager to save big bucks on that dream vacation you’re still figuring out how you’ll take. For serious, practical help, look no further than our incredible lineup of Travel’s Best Travel Deals 2013 … and yes, these tips are so good, they’ll see you through 2014 vacation planning.

Seriously, we’re not just blowing smoke up your suitcase.

What makes this list so good? For starters, each selection comes hand-picked by a leading travel expert — like Frugal Travel Guy Rick Ingersoll (you may recall Rick in this Today Show segment); The Points Guy Brian Kelly, who scored 500,000 frequent flyer miles a few years ago without even flying that year; John E. DiScala, whose site, JohnnyJet.com, has been named “one of the best money-saving websites for travel” by Budget Travel magazine; and Nomadic Matt Matthew Kepnes, who’s mastered the art of traveling the world on $50 a day. They’re part of our hardcore budget-savvy, points-accruing panel of advisors.

Once you’ve seen these travel experts’ top picks for the best travel deals, don’t stop there – check out our in-depth discussion with 2 of these leading experts: The Points Guy’s top tips for earning travel points, shared exclusively with TravelChannel.com’s readers; and Frugal Travel Guy’s step-by-step guide to snagging travel deals (Hint: start paying attention to sites like BiddingforTravel.com).

Now that you’ve got the tools to earn miles, points and cheap vacation tickets, start your 2014 holiday trip planning now!

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Pat Weber of San Diego Surfing Academy with Robin, 9, of Boston area, at S. Carlsbad Beach. (Photo: Lori Hoffman)

Can someone learn to surf in just 1 day? How about learn to surf and participate in a surfing competition in 2?

If your teacher is Travis Long, the answer may be yes. At least that’s what this tandem-surfing pro and surf instructor with San Diego Surfing Academy has been saying ever since I touched down in Southern California a couple hours ago, and before then, when we were emailing coast to coast. Who could pass this up?

There’s just one small thing: Forget not knowing how to surf, I barely know how to swim. And come to think of it, I don’t own a bathing suit. Plus, I have a bad lower back. Other than that, this sounds like one great idea.

At least Travis thinks so. He’s even got us booked in a tandem-surfing competition, slated for the very next day. Swami’s 19th Invitational Surf Contest is an annual event put on by Swami’s Surfing Association at Cardiff Reef, CA. As the guardians of “sun, sea and surf since 1964,” this is one of the oldest surfing clubs in all of California, and … I’m starting to freak.

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A year after Hurricane Sandy: The Jersey Shore is open for business. (All Photos: Jersey Shore)

The Jersey Shore is open and ready for business. A year after Hurricane Sandy, the 270 miles of shoreline along New Jersey’s coast have seen a resurgence in visitors. This past summer, most of the Jersey Shore’s shops and restaurants were open to travelers. In Monmouth County alone, which saw the brunt of Sandy’s wrath alongside neighboring Ocean County, nearly all the waterfront restaurants have reopened, with new ribbon cuttings almost weekly, attended by the likes of New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.

“We have to celebrate that we’ve come this far,” says Bob Hilton, executive director of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau. A big reason for the Shore’s revitalization has been the arrival of 40,000 new travelers, from places like Virginia, New York, Ohio, Philadelphia and as far north as Canada, who’ve come out of a mixture of curiosity, support and travel discounts. Travelers are finding that, despite the number of displaced families and business that have yet to resettle in the area, the majority of the Shore’s tourism attractions are back up and running. In fact, some areas, such as Atlantic City, saw minimal damage and were open the day after Sandy’s touchdown.

So as news reports on Sandy’s 1-year anniversary saturate your newsfeed, we’ve sifted through the hysteria and the hype — here’s what travelers can really find in visiting the Jersey Shore’s 4 counties:

Monmouth County
Home to 27 miles of oceanfront beaches, and 26 miles of bayfront beaches, Monmouth County encompasses Jersey Shore’s northernmost tip. Visit Monmouth’s 3 working lighthouses, including the oldest one in the US, Sandy Hook Lighthouse; enjoy a round of golf at 8 courses; and horse racing at Monmouth Park Racetrack. Popular restaurants in Highlands, NJ, include Bahrs Landing and Inlet Café (both on the waterfront), as well as Windansea, Chilangos and Havana Tropical Café. Plus stroll the revitalized Spring Lake, Belmar and Asbury Park boardwalks.

Ribbon-cutting: One of the many businesses in Monmouth County reopening.

Ocean County
Despite a dip in its beach rental market, and the recent Seaside boardwalk fire, Ocean County has been coming back strong thanks to a packed festival season — October sees about 60 events happening throughout Ocean County, including, for the Halloween-minded, Fright Fest at Great Adventure and Haunted Seaport, as well as lively parades such as Toms River Halloween Parade — the biggest Halloween parade in the country, on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Cape May
On the Jersey Shore’s southernmost tip, Cape May was largely unaffected by Sandy. Attractions include the Physick Estate, the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, and come Christmastime, the decoration of local bed-and-breakfasts, like the Queen Victoria, with different holiday themes. For New Year’s, the boardwalk will see 70 different entertainment venues, spread over 2 days, with plenty of fireworks and a New Year’s Day plunge into the Atlantic.

Jersey Shore’s boardwalks: This past summer, most shops and restaurants reopened to travelers.

Atlantic City
Everything is open in Atlantic City – it’s been that way since the day after Sandy hit shore. Among the highlights is the new Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville complex, which opened this past summer, as well as new stores in The Pier Shops at Caesars including Bare Feet Boutique, Shoe Be Do, Cellairis, BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar, Auntie Ann’s and Cinnabon. Plus, you’ll find Empire Burger takeout on the Boardwalk, operated by Phillip’s Seafood. In addition, 5 new dining outlets opened at Tropicana’s Marketplace (on the boardwalk side). In Tropicana’s The Quarter, Broadway Burger Bar also opened.

New addition: Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville complex opened this past summer.

What’s your favorite Jersey Shore attraction? Tell us in the comments box below.

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Visit the aristocrat of beaches, Cape May, New Jersey.

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Alaska Day: Annual flag raising ceremony in Sitka, AK (Photo: Sitka CVB/William Greer)

Hooray for Alaska Day! All the talk of American exceptionalism may have taken a little hit lately, especially from our friends in Russia, but today there’s something to cheer about: In commemoration of the official transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States in 1867, a special ceremony will take place in the southeastern Alaskan town of Sitka. Down goes the Russian flag and up goes Old Glory at Castle Hill, one of the most historically important sites in Alaska, once occupied by the Tlingit, an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast, and later by the Russians.

A Little Russia … in Alaska
No word on whether Putin will be on-hand for all the Alaska Day festivities. But hundreds of locals will be — receptions, auctions, barn dances, kayak races and a whole lot more are all planned, capping off a month-long series of events that have already included a hat tip to our Russian counterparts, like a Russian food festival (check out our own Russian food tour), as well as performances of traditional Russian folk dances and a tea break at the Russian Bishop’s House, one of the few surviving examples of Russian colonial architecture in the US.

But let’s be real: You didn’t come to Alaska to see Russia … not primarily, anyway. A trip to the Last Frontier State is probably on any outdoor lover’s bucket list. But just in case you can’t take advantage of all the Alaska travel discounts that typically accompany October, fear not — this is a good time to start planning a trip to America’s 49th state over the coming months. Here’s a primer of the best times to visit Alaska and special anniversaries ahead:

Winter Travel: November to April
November is a great time to see Alaska’s northern lights and share in the excitement of the Trail Sled Dog Race (the “Last Great Race on Earth,” from Anchorage to Nome). Plus, you can watch the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks (Alaska’s “Golden Heart City”). This season is also a great time to enjoy outdoor Alaskan activities such as heli-skiing in Alaska, as well as snowmobiling, snowshoeing and dog mushing.

Peak Season: Mid-May to Mid-September
You’ll be among the many visitors to Alaska during peak season, but for good reason: The days are at their longest, and the temperatures their warmest, affording plenty of opportunity for hiking, river-rafting, camping, fishing and flightseeing, as well as a chance to take an Alaska road trip.

Alaska’s Marine Highway System turned 50 this year. (Photo: State of Alaska/Reinhard Pantke)

Alaska Marine Highway System: Turns 50
Explore 31 ports of call in Alaska, courtesy of the Alaska Marine Highway System. Spanning an amazing 3,100 miles, this ferry service, which turns 50 this year, operates along Alaska’s south-central coast. Upon arrival in ports, offers visitors a variety of activities, such as authentic native culture (totem carvings, dances, traditional music and more), as well as day cruises with local tour operators, fishing charters and more.

Under-the-Radar National Parks
Sure, Denali is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. But don’t forget Alaska’s other national parks, especially in 2014, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the 1964 federal law that protects nearly 110 million acres of wilderness in states throughout the US and is now considered one of America’s greatest conservation achievements. About 32 million of those acres can be found in Alaska — more than anywhere else in the country. Check out under-the-radar national parks like Gates of the Arctic, Lake Clark and Wrangell-St. Elias.

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Brown bears, bald eagles — explore Wild Alaska.

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