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Miss America

Check out our slideshow of Atlantic City, NJ, through the years.

Here she comes … Miss America … Tonight’s pageant was memorable for more reasons than one. After 6 years in Las Vegas, the pageant returned to Atlantic City, NJ, where it all began. The Miss America competition has a steep history in Atlantic City, where it was created in 1921 by businessmen attempting to extend tourist season past Labor Day.

Now in its 87th year, the competition awards its winners scholarships worth upwards of $50,000. It wasn’t always so glamourous, though. When Margaret Gorman of Washington, DC, was named the first-ever Miss America she walked away with … a 3-foot golden mermaid trophy.

So who took home the crown? Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, was named Miss America 2014. Not only is she the second consecutive Miss New York to win, but also she’s the first Miss America of Indian descent.

Perhaps, in a ploy to stay relevant, this year’s contestants fielded questions from judges about Syria, and yes, Miley Cyrus. It also had Miss Kansas as an early fan favorite — the 22-year-old contestant is a sergeant in the Army and the first to openly reveal her tattoos during the swimsuit competition.

Lindsey Simmons of Girls Gone Bayou

Some small towns are hot destinations. Take Bastrop, LA, for instance. Never heard of it? If you are a hunter or an avid outdoorsman, you have. Bastrop, just outside Monroe, LA, is home to Simmons’ Sporting Goods, one of the largest sporting goods stores in the country, drawing customers from across the South and selling everything from camouflage and camping gear to guns and ammo to ATVs and 4-wheelers. Bastrop also happens to be home to TravelChannel.com’s new exclusive web series, Girls Gone Bayou.

The series follows the quirky adventures of Lindsey Simmons, as she takes over day-to-day operations of Simmons’ with some help from gal pals, Lori and Kila. Lindsey’s got to convince her overbearing dad, Jeff, that they are up for the challenge, and prove that she and her blonde bombshell BFFs can hunt, fish and trap better than any good ole boy in the bayou. You can watch all 9 episodes of the series, starting today, on TravelChannel.com

We asked Lindsey what people should know about Bastrop and to share her favorite places in her hometown.

“Obviously, one of the biggest attractions for our town is Simmons’ Sporting Goods,” Lindsey says. “We have people that drive from a 5 state radius just to come to our store! They bring their RVs or stay in hotels and make a weekend out of it.”

Lindsey also recommends a stroll through Bastrop’s Town Square at the intersection of Highway 165 North and Highway 425 North to visit its antique shops, jewelry stores and theater.

“It’s a great place to explore Bastrop,” she says. “I guarantee you, when you pass people on those streets, they WILL smile and make you feel at home. I just love that!”

Finally, there’s the Morehouse Activity Center, known as “The Mac,” on Marlatt St.

“On Saturday night you can find everyone in town there to watch a rodeo,” Lindsey says. “Talk about a good time!”

Bastrop has some famous frequent visitors, too. The Robertsons of Duck Dynasty have been doing business with the Simmons’ ever since they started making duck calls. The popular reality-TV family signs autographs at Simmons’ every year.

“They are a great family and are truly as wholesome as they seem on TV,” Lindsey says. “Willie is a hoot. He’s down to earth and hilarious.”

Sounds like another family we’ve come to know. Get to know Lindsey, her family and friends on Girls Gone Bayou. Watch the first episode, now.

Brony: An adult or teenager, often male and college-age (or older), who is a fan of the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic — a show about pretty, magical ponies who fight evil. Seriously.

In 2011, the very first BronyCon was held in New York City with 100 bronies in attendance. The convention hopped around the city, holding 3 more events complete with visits from the voice actors and dance parties, until reaching 3,000 attendees in 2012. And today marks the first day and a new city for this army of bronies, with attendance expected to be 6,000 brony-strong.

Get excited, Baltimore! Or should I say, Baltimare …

The Baltimore Convention Center, a picturesque location on the harbor for these My Little Pony fans, will be hosting the event all weekend. From the “Mane Events Hall” to the “Portal to Equestria,” there will be videogame tournaments, lectures on voice acting and discourses analyzing the culture of My Little Pony.

Not yet convinced? Head to the Hall of the Moon for a class on drawing ponies. Or visit the Salt Block Lounge for the Brony Karaoke Smackdown.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a bro to enjoy the pony festivities. Girls are welcome, too. Need a little help navigating the city? Check out our Baltimore travel guide for tips!

Can’t make it to Baltimore? Watch the convention’s live stream!

Photography by Jason Leppert

Love cruises and Dancing With the Stars? Now you can combine the 2 into one great cruise experience.

Holland America Line has partnered with Dancing with the Stars, the popular TV show that has made ratings magic with its signature pairing of professional dancers and celebrities, to create Dancing with the Stars: At Sea. The result is a set of theme cruises featuring select dancers and stars onboard and a fleet-wide dancing competition.

The aim is to promote cross-generational appeal among cruise-goers.

“Of course with anything we do, we hope to attract new guests, whether new to cruising or new to Holland America,” says Erik Elvejord, director of public relations at the cruise line. “Our primary considerations in selecting new partners are finding those that meet the desires and tastes of our guests and that can be delivered successfully onboard.”

So far that vision is paying off. Multigenerational fans — grandparents and grandchildren alike — have packed the house for the dance classes, fashion shows, photo-ops, signings and performances.

Photography by Jason Leppert

“I think what they love so much about it is that they get to be a part of it,” says Carson Kressley, one of the show’s stars. Another contestant and Olympian, Shawn Johnson, adds, “It’s very intimate. We walk around the cruise all week and get to share breakfast, lunch and dinner with all these people.”

If all this sounds like a cruise experience you’d love to have, you now have a chance to hop aboard – and dance away the nights — for free: Holland America is sponsoring a chance to win a free cruise trip on all sailings departing through November 2013.

Here’s how it works: Across the Holland America’s 15 ships, participating passengers will accumulate points with the single-highest scorer per ship winning passage on the Champions Cruise in January 2014. Onboard, a final dance-off will commence to see who will be rewarded a special version of the Mirror Ball Trophy as seen on the show. Only 2 theme cruises remain for now, but the partnership is expected to renew. So make sure you jump into the competition!

- Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert is a San Diego-based writer, photographer and videographer who publishes his own cruise travel website,PopularCruising.com.

Whether you’re enjoying the bright lights of the big city or taking a family adventure to the city limits, Las Vegas has something for everyone.

Las Vegas vacations are hotter than ever. Popular shows and hotels, like Aria, make the famed Vegas Strip the place to get your party on. From trying your luck in the casino or hitting the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace to seeing Cirque de Soleil or scuba diving inside Mandalay Bay, there isn’t anything you can’t find on the Strip.

Don’t worry if casinos aren’t your thing –there is still plenty to do outside of the Strip that is sure to get your adrenaline rushing. From horseback riding through Red Rocks to checking out one of the US’s 7 wonders at the Hoover Dam, you definitely won’t find yourself with nothing to do in the Entertainment Capital of the World.

And tonight at 9|8c, on an all-new episode of Toy Hunter, Jordan and his assistant Julia head to Sin City in hopes of tracking down several vintage toys from the popular 1979 TV series, Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century.

 Travel moves you and so will our Watch Travel Channel App. Travel Channel’s brand-new app for iPad® and iPhone® refreshes daily, offering the full range of our video content wherever and whenever you want.  To watch the latest full episodes, you will need the username and password provided by your television service provider.  The app filters content by show, host, destination or interest, making it tap-simple to get ideas for your next vacation or nearby outing. Watch Travel Channel is a must-have for every fan – and it’s now available to download for free at App Store. We’re working on an  Android   version too; more on that later this summer.

Until then, check out our Mobile Apps page for more info about other Travel Channel apps, including The Layover app.

Photography by Getty Images

With the Season 6 premiere of Mad Men this Sunday, why not plan a spring fling with the debonair Don Draper of Madison Avenue? Yes, that’s right: Imagine you, Don, a candlelit dinner overlooking the Manhattan skyline … then the moment … the look in his eyes … he leans in … and …

OK, we can dream. But while Don (and Jon Hamm) may be off-limits — for now, anyway, as he sorts things out with Megan — Mad Men fans can still live vicariously through the glamorously gritty world of Madison Avenue advertising. And crash some pretty glamorous hotel rooms while they’re at it.

Who can forget the time Don checked into NYC’s luxe Roosevelt Hotel after Betty gave him the boot? Or when Peggy had a little tryst with Duck Phillips at the Pierre Hotel? There’s no accounting for Peggy’s taste in men but she definitely knows how to pick a hotel.

Whip up your own steamy show at one of these Mad Men-caliber hotels, then hit the town exploring some of the restaurants and neighborhood bars made famous by the groundbreaking AMC series since its 2007 premiere. Enjoy a drink at Sardi’s, a 3-martini lunch at the Oyster Bar, plus head to Manhattan’s PJ Clarke’s where you can ponder the age-old Mad Men question: “Should we drink before the meeting, after the meeting or both?”

Still lusting for more Mad Men locations? We can’t blame you, so be sure to check out more of the show’s filming locations sites in our Travel Like Mad Men photo gallery.

Courtesy of Anantara Si Kao Resort & Spa

On this week’s episode of The Bachelor, Sean Lowe and his potential soul mates traveled to the beautiful Trang province of Thailand for a series of romantic dates to some of the area’s best-kept secrets. The “hunky” bachelor and his ladies stayed at one of country’s most luxurious beachfront resorts, the Anantara Si Kao Resort & Spa. The hotel offered the couples easy access to fairytale islands, mangrove reserves, rainforests and stunning waterfalls — surely making it all the more difficult for Sean to only hand out 2 roses!

READ MORE

 By Troy Petenbrink


Photography by Troy Petenbrink

With the recent release of HBO’s The Girl and the current success of Hitchcock starring Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson, there has been renewed interest in one of the world’s most well-known (and somewhat creepy) movie directors.

Alfred Hitchcock fans — new and old — will be happy to know that many of the settings from his movies are still around and accessible.

I actually imagined myself as Melanie Daniels (played back in the day by Tippi Hedren) during a recent visit to Potter School House near the California coastal town of Bodega Bay. (Luckily, unlike Tippi, I was not attacked by a flock of crazed crows.) The school and the town featured prominently in The Birds. The school is now privately owned and closed to the public but is perfect for pictures. READ MORE

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