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Articles for May, 2008

Save on dining during San Diego Restaurant Week

Friday, May 30th, 2008

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By Polly Fitz

There may be no better time to book your San Diego vacation than June 22-27, when the city hosts Restaurant Week.

For this glorious week, restaurants throughout the greater San Diego area offer fixed, three-course menus for $30 or $40, so you can eat your way around the city.

More than 100 restaurants are participating, including The Mediterranean Room at the five-star La Valencia Hotel and George’s California Modern — both in La Jolla. At The Mediterranean Room, you could enjoy paella, seared scallops or filet mignon with white truffle whipped potatoes. One of George’s Restaurant Week entree selections is Prime Hangar Steak with smoked potato puree, onion mustard jam, roasted carrots, rapini and a red wine sauce.

If you’re staying at one of the many San Diego hotels in the Gaslamp District, you’ll have more than 15 participating restaurants nearby, including Soleil at K (seafood cioppino, Krispy Kreme doughnut bread pudding) and Blue Point Coastal Cuisine (lobster bisque, dried apricot and fig stuffed pork tenderloin).

Or, you may want to check out The Oceanaire Seafood Room, where one of the choices is Oregon stuffed Petrale Sole, with bay crab, shrimp and Brie and lemon buerre blanc. And if you have room, you could finish with Bailey’s Irish Cream cheese cake. (Are you hungry yet?)  Foodies may be interested to know that Oceanaire Executive Chef Brian Malarkey was one of the contestants in the last season of reality cooking show "Top Chef" and was also named "Chef of the Year" by the San Diego Chapter of the California Restaurant Association.

Even if you’re relaxing at one of the hotels on Coronado, you have several dining options, including 1500 Ocean at the Hotel del Coronado and Mistral at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

So book one of your favorite San Diego hotels and bring your appetite!

CheapTickets resources:

Cheap tickets: Flights for under $200

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

If you’re waiting for really cheap flights to book your travel, now is the time! CheapTickets has round-trip flights for under $200.

Here are some sample airfares:

  • Boston to Orlando: $199
  • Denver to Los Angeles: $163
  • New York to Fort Lauderdale: $181
  • Seattle to Las Vegas: $188
  • Chicago to Atlanta: $193

Plus, you can save even more with the CheapTickets Summer Sale. Just book any flight + hotel vacation package of three nights or more and save $50. (Book by July 6 for travel by August 31).

CheapTickets resources:

Cheap travel tips from our contest winners

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Cheapblog
You can find cheap flights and cheap hotels. But if you want really cheap travel, you’ve got to learn from the experts.

The first four winners of CheapTickets’ Show us your Cheap contest are experts when it comes to cheap travel, so we wanted to share their strategies with you.

For Cynthia and Steve from San Diego, CA, cheap travel means saving money on food and strategically booking train tickets through Europe.

"I was able to save money by having unlimited train passes, booking trips between countries at night so I could sleep on the train, and eating light during the day so that I could afford a nicer meal at night."

Mary Ann and Thomas from Canandaigua, NY, also watch their food budget.

"To save money on traveling, we would skip breakfast and eat a late lunch, saving the leftovers for later. We always requested water instead of soda with meals, and I price checked every online sale! With these small savings, we had money for great trips, lots of fun and many memories."

Karen, Willem and Isabelle from New York City save money by picking a warm-weather destination that has a cheap airfare. Then, they look for cheap hotels with great amenities.

"We picked our accommodations by searching online for something affordable with amenities, such as a kitchen. Dining in helps keep costs low and provides relaxing and enjoyable family time. We ended up staying in a fabulous, low-key resort. The resort provided –- FREE of charge –- fishing poles, snorkel gear, canoes, kayaks and unlimited videos/DVDs. It was fantastic."

Carol and Anthony from San Marco, CA, are very intentional about how they choose to spend their money when they travel.

"In order to stay cheap, we make sure to stay at
timeshares with full kitchens. That way we can we prepare our own
meals. With
the money we save on eating out, we get to enjoy different activities
like ziplining in Kaui, submarine tours in Maui, ferry rides to Molokai
and snorkel tours."

Do you have cheap travel tips of your own? We’d like to hear them! Enter the Share your cheap contest for a chance to win two airline tickets.

CheapTickets resources:

Day of Deals: South Beach hotel savings

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

By Heather Leisman

This week’s Deal of the Day is in Miami, a colorful, vibrant destination that’s a favorite among celebrities and jet-setters alike.

Our pick among Miami hotels is the three-star Winterhaven Hotel, which is within walking distance of all the great shops, restaurants and bars of South Beach. It’s offering 30 percent off its regular rates, and I found rooms for $58 per night on June 19 and 20.

Watch the video to find out more about about makes the Winterhaven a great deal.

CheapTickets resources:

Heather Leisman is senior director of merchandising for CheapTickets.

Summer in the city: Free fun in San Francisco

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

Sfblog
By Polly Fitz

So you want to travel this summer, but you’re on a budget … No problem! Book one of your favorite San Francisco hotels  and head to the City by the Bay because we’ve got a roundup of free activities you can enjoy on a cheap San Francisco vacation.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival: Enjoy nearly 100 free arts programs, including concerts, theater and dance. There’s a Latin Jazz Series and children’s programs including a puppet show, a sing-along and more. Events typically run Thursdays through Saturdays — and some Sundays — through October. On Mission Street between Third and Fourth streets. San Francisco hotels close to Yerba Buena Gardens include the San Francisco Marriott and the W San Francisco.

Fillmore Jazz Festival: It bills itself as the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast, with music on three stages for two full days: July 5-6. Plus, there’s food and art. On Fillmore Street between Jackson and Eddy streets.

Film Night in the Park: This eight-movie series alternates between three locations: Washington Square Park, Dolores Park and Union Square. The July 26 showing of "The Breakfast Club" may be the highlight for the 30s set, but other titles include "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "O Brother Where art Thou?" The free shows are Saturday nights at dusk. Viewers can bring picnics but no chairs.

Stern Grove Festival: What could be better than Sunday afternoons in the park? Sunday afternoons with free concerts. The Sigmund Stern Grove outdoor amphitheater at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard is the setting for free concerts June 15 – August 17. There is no public parking, so visitors are encouraged to take public transportation or ride their bikes.

Golden Gate Park Band Concerts: Big band swing, Broadway show tunes, classical band songs and more are on tap for this free concert series. Sundays at 1 p.m. at the Spreckles Temple of Music at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park.

So much to do! So choose one of the cheap San Francisco hotels and enjoy your summer travel to the city.

CheapTickets resources:

Polly Fitz is an editor for CheapTickets.

Bahamas cruises: Kids sail free

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

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How do you make cheap cruises even cheaper? Let kids sail free! That’s exactly what Norwegian Cruise Lines is doing for three- and four-night Bahamas cruises if you book by May 31 for sailings between July 14 and September 26.

Onboard the Norwegian Sky, you’ll enjoy two pools plus a kids pool, music at the Blue Hawaii Bar and Nightclub, and food from six restaurants, including French cuisine at Royal Palm Bistro. The ship spends two days in the Bahamas: one in vibrant Nassau, where you can visit the market and explore the town, and one on a private island, where you can relax on the beach, or snorkel in the brilliant blue sea.

With all of these activities and amenities, it’s hard to believe this is a cheap cruise. And with rates starting at $239 per person for an interior room, you may want to book yours fast!

CheapTickets resources:

Day of Deals: Save on a Puerto Rico vacation

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

By Heather Leisman

This week’s Deal of the Day is in Puerto Rico, known as a beautiful beach destination and a no-passport-required vacation spot for U.S. residents.

Our pick among Puerto Rico hotels is the three-star Rincon Beach Resort. Right now the hotel is offering 35% off its rates. I found rates of $133 a night for May 29 – June 1. And with our CheapTickets Summer Sale, you can get an extra $50 off flight + hotel vacation packages of three nights or more. Just book by July 6 for travel through August 31.

Check out my video for more on why this Puerto Rico hotel is a great CheapTickets deal.

CheapTickets Resources:

Heather Leisman is senior director of merchandising for CheapTickets.

Enjoy New York spa indulgence on a budget

Monday, May 19th, 2008

By Samantha Chapnick

Every once in a while I discover a spot that reaffirms my choice of profession. NY Spa & Nails is one of those places.

Given the Internet and plethora of people contributing to travel Web sites, it’s becoming harder and harder for this travel journalist to have a true find: A spot that is still so obscure it hasn’t been blogged to death, reviewed on TripAdvisor, advertised, or pushed by a team of high-priced publicists.

NY Spa and Nails — at 25 Thompson St. in lower Manhattan — is not only a find, its one of the special ones I’d normally consider too good to share, lest the catapult from obscurity to mainstream destroy what makes it fabulous in the first place.

It’s ideal for busy people who want a no-nonsense outstanding massage at truly bargain prices. As of writing, 30 minutes is $28 and 60 minutes a more fabulous $48.

I didn’t work up the courage to even enter until I’d walked past on three separate days and had a horrid chair massage a few blocks away.

From the outside it’s a typical New York manicure spot. Peer in the window and it looks more like someone’s apartment with two pedicure chairs stuck against the wall. Only three women work there, only one of which speaks much English, but I’ve tried to learn enough Mandarin to show my respect for these very very hardworking ladies (Thank you is pronounced: Shay-shay, and I am still working on "feet and scalp for 30 minutes please").

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Summer in the city: Free fun in Chicago

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Chicagoblog
By Polly Fitz

During the summer in Chicago, you can get expensive-feeling entertainment for FREE. Here’s a look at just some of the free things you can do on your Chicago vacation:

Music: Blues Fest (June 5-8), Latin Music Fest (August 23-24) and Jazz Fest (August 28-31) are the biggies. And they’re great if you like crowds. But if you just want to relax with some music at the end of the day, The Grant Park Music Festival (in Millennium Park) is your ticket. Free concerts under the Frank Gehry-designed pavilion run Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. (times subject to change) from June 11 through August 16. FYI: There are plenty of Chicago hotels close to Millennium Park, including the Hard Rock Hotel and The Hyatt Regency.

Dance: Learn how to polka, belly dance, salsa… You name it, they’ve got it at Chicago SummerDance. From June 12 – August 24 the Spirit of Music Garden (between Harrison Street and Balbo Avenue) in Grant Park is transformed into an outdoor dance floor. Free lessons and live music run 6 – 9:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 4 – 7 p.m. Sundays. FYI: The Hilton Chicago is one of the closest Chicago hotels to the Spirit of Music Garden.

Movies: The Chicago Outdoor Film Festival is like a drive-in without the cars. Spread out on the lawn at Grant Park, take in views of the lake and skyline, and enjoy the movie. Movies start at dusk Tuesdays, July 15 – August 26. For movies with a foreign flair, check out the International Summer Screenings Program at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., Wednesdays, June 4 – September 10. Movies start at 6:30 or 7 p.m.

Events: Chicago’s lakefront shines in the summer, so it’s no surprise that many big events take place on the water. The Chicago Air and Water Show, featuring the spectacular Blue Angels, takes place August 15-17. This year, for the event’s 50th anniversary, the show starts Friday at 3 p.m., with the Blue Angels and Golden Knights Parachute Team, followed by a concert and fireworks show. The best place to watch is at North Avenue Beach.

Venetian Night July 26 is like a festival of lights. Decorated boats parade along the water just north of the Shedd Aquarium. When the parade is over, there’s a fireworks show set to music.

There is so much to see and do — and so much of it is FREE. So book your Chicago vacation now, and enjoy summer in the city.

CheapTickets resources:

Polly Fitz is an editor for CheapTickets.

Cheap flights to Las Vegas

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

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Looking for cheap flights to Las Vegas? We have them! CheapTickets has compiled cheap airfares to Vegas for travel in June.

Here are some sample airfares:

  • Chicago to Las Vegas: $257
  • Denver to Las Vegas: $151
  • Houston to Las Vegas: $256
  • Minneapolis to Las Vegas $253
  • Philadelphia to Las Vegas: $275
  • Seattle to Las Vegas $205

These cheap flights to Las Vegas are for June travel — leaving Thursday, Friday or Saturday, returning Sunday, Monday or Tuesday. Plus, during the CheapTickets Summer Sale, you can get an extra $50 off flight + hotel vacation packages of three nights or more.

So choose one of your favorite Las Vegas hotels and plan your weekend getaway today!

CheapTickets resources: