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Looking for a way to have a (relatively) cheap European holiday? Think about skipping France and Italy this time around. Skip most of Western Europe, actually. Point your toes directly towards Eastern Europe, and visit Montenegro, to be exact. This small, Balkan country—which is sandwiched between Serbia, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina—is everything you want in a scenic vacation. Dramatic coastlines, charming villages, historic architecture—all the elements of a quaint European getaway are there, except for one thing: Montenegro is way cheaper than more traditional European destinations. Let’s go!

Explore Kotor

When you visit Montenegro, you must stop in Kotor, the gorgeous city by the sea...specifically, the Adriatic.

Photo: Bay of Kotor | amira_a, Flickr CC

Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage town, is so beautiful you’ll be shocked you’ve never heard of itas a tourist destination. Set on the Adriatic Bay of Kotor, this stunning little city of 13,500 features classic Venetian fortifications and architecture, as well as winding medieval streets. There are multiple hostels that charge between 30-38€ per night (a steal in Europe!) and include extras such as free wi-fi and bikes available for rental. Spend a day sunning on the sand at the free, public Kotor Beach, where the turquoise water and mountain views will make you consider staying indefinitely. Later, explore the Old Town, where you can dine well for under 15€ a plate—or go for one of the crepe stands, where a savory crepe with ham and cheese can be had for under 5€.

Go church-hopping in Perast

When you visit Montenegro, don't miss the medieval-looking St. Nicholas Church in Perast!

Photo: Perast – St. Nicholas Church | Marjan Lazarevski (Montenegro), Flickr CC

Perast, a tiny town that’s a 20-min bus ride from Kotor (1.5€ each way) has only one main street. Despite this, you’ll find 16 churches to explore, as well as Venetian-style grand palazzos (some crumbling, some fully restored) to goggle at. St Nicholas’ Church is a great starting point, with its pointed bell tower soaring over the town. Get your camera ready, too—Perast is a water town featuring some unique views; everywhere you look, palm trees stand with white-capped mountains in the background, and there are two small islands in the bay just begging to be featured on your Instagram. Have dinner at the 12th-century Konoba Otok Bronza restaurant, where a mountain spring spouts from the cave-like interior, and where you can fork up fresh local seafood for less than 12€ a plate.

Spend like it’s 1959 in Podgorica

Visit Montenegro for the cheap food and beaches; stay for the gorgeous Podgorica Cathedral, pictured here.

Photo: Podgorica Cathedral | Tony Bowden, Flickr CC

Podgorica, Montenegro’s capital city of about 185,000 people, is often overlooked as a destination for travelers planning to visit Montenegro. It’s not on the coast, and the city is (gasp!) relatively untouristed. But trust us: you can live well in Podgorica for very little money. There are lots of hostels where you can pay under 27€ a night (check out Hostel Izvor, which features clean, bright rooms, an onsite nightclub and free valet parking). Plus, there are endless cafes on pedestrian-friendly streets, where you can sit and watch the locals go by. The prices? Try 1€ for coffee, pizza for 2.5€, and lots and lots of street food. Walk along the Slobode, a popular street that closes to cars at night, or cool off during the day at the (free) rocky beaches that line the Moraca River. Podgorica is it for living like an actual European in a town that hasn’t been slammed by tourism just yet—give it a try and your wallet will thank you!

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Tagged: City, International

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70% of football fans would travel to a game. Which may seem like a lot, until you consider the heated, bitter and incredibly fun rivalries between teams. So forget the fall foliage and pumpkin spice, fall is really all about the football—at least according to our Football Fandex Survey.

Photo: UT Football | Nolan Williamson, Flickr CC

Photo: UT Football | Nolan Williamson, Flickr CC

What’s more, those crazies you see on TV dressed head-to-toe in their team’s colors are not at all the minority. All y’all fans seem to love showing off your fandom in clear, unmistakable ways, since more than 60% said they’d wear team colors or memorabilia to a game, and a whopping more-than-a-quarter would paint their faces or bodies, or wear a costume to the game.

SO…pack that face paint, those foam fingers and your spare mascot costume and start planning that footballgetaway—and get 10% off game tickets with promo code FOOTBALL10—because here are October’s most anticipated games, ranked, according to our devoted fans.

*All prices were quoted at the time of writing, and are subject to change.

10. Wisconsin Badgers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Where and when: Oct. 15 in Madison, Wisconsin

Photos: Badger by John Nelson, Flickr CC | Ohio Buckeyes by Travis Wise,Flickr CC

Photos: Badger by John Nelson, Flickr CC | Ohio Buckeyes by Travis Wise, Flickr CC

The game: The Badgers will play the Buckeyes at the Camp Randall Stadium in the city’s center. This former Civil War army training camp (hence the name) serves up all the brats, pizza, nachos and beer you could ask for. More importantly, you can get the Badger Stacker, a grilled bratwurst omelet topped with cheese. If none of this is your speed, head to very-nearby eateries like New Orleans takeout (for Creole) and the classic American Mickie’s Dairy Bar (cash only).

Where to stay: Most hotels are already sold out, but you can still find a place to rest your head at the Grand View Motel Beaver Dam ($65 a night) or the Lodi Valley Suites ($85 a night) in nearby Lodi.

9. Texas A&M Aggies vs. New Mexico State Aggies

Where and when: Oct. 29 in College Station, Texas

Photo: New Kyle Field Panorama | Ed Schaul, Flickr CC

Photo: New Kyle Field Panorama | Ed Schipul, Flickr CC

The game: With Kyle Field as the dramatic backdrop, the New Mexico State Aggies will go head-to-head with the Texas A&M Aggies on their home turf. Oh, and restrain yourself from picking up the potential piles of cash and coins at the feet of Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross’s statue (former college president and governor)—it’s left there by students hoping for a little extra luck on their exams, and it’s collected every semester and donated to a local charity.

Where to stay: Head to the Madison Inn for a budget stay of $70 per night. Or, experience the cool luxury of the Aloft College Station hotel for roughly $299 a night.

8. Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers

Where and when: Oct. 8 in Gainesville, Florida

Photo: Gator by Scott McCallum, Flickr CC | Tiger by GRVO TV, Flickr CC

Photo: Gator by Scott McCallum, Flickr CC | Tiger by GRVO TV, Flickr CC

The game: This rivalry stretches back decades before Tebow stepped into the limelight. See it in action as the Gators face the LSU Tigers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, lovingly referred to as The Swamp. Because that’s where gators live. And, to quote former head coach Steve Spurrier, “Only gators get out alive.” And hopefully, you know, the fans too.

Where to stay: Stay for next to nothing at the Legacy Inn, which still has rooms available for the game weekend for just $55 a night.

7. Florida State Seminoles vs. Clemson Tigers

Where and when: Oct. 29 in Tallahassee, Florida

Photo: Doak Campbell Stadium | arctic_whirlwind, FlickrCC

Photo: Doak Campbell Stadium | arctic_whirlwind, FlickrCC

The game: This is better than any old Halloween party: Just before that gloriously spooky holiday, the Tigers will travel from Atlanta to the Seminoles‘ home turf for what promises to be one heck of a game. While you’re at Doak CampbellStadium, take in the 7,800 square-foot scoreboard, the new bars at the Champions Club and more—all products of a 2016 renovation.

Where to stay: It may be roughly 30 miles from the city center, but you can’t beat the $45 you’ll pay for a single night at the Serena Inn.

6. Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners

Where and when: Oct. 8 in Dallas, Texas

Photo: Longhorn by allisonallison, Flickr CC | Oklahoma Sooners by SD Dirk, FlickrCC

Photo: Longhorn by allisonallison, Flickr CC | Oklahoma Sooners by SD Dirk, FlickrCC

The game: The beloved Dallas Cowboys played their first-ever game at the Cotton Bowl stadium, a legacy that’s likely not lost on the Longhorns. In a couple of weeks, they’ll enter into heated battle with the Sooners while you and other audience members (most likely) chow down on hot dogs and burgers.

Whereto stay: Live the good life at the glamorous Hyatt Regency North Dallas in Richardson for $103 a night.

5. Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Where and when: Oct. 22 in University Park, Pennsylvania

Photo: Birthplace of Champions | Always Shooting, Flickr CC

Photo: Birthplace of Champions | Always Shooting, Flickr CC

The game: If it sells out, you’ll be just one of 106K fans at Beaver Stadium hoping so hard to see their team win. And although both teams have existed since the 1800s, the rivalry between the Buckeyes and their Penn State rivals only stretches as far back as 1980.

Where to stay: Rest those tired eyes at the Laurel Ridge Bed and Breakfast, or the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center.

4. Miami Hurricanes vs. Florida State Seminoles

Where and when: Oct. 8 in Miami Gardens, Florida

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Photo: 2013 Miami Hurricanes | arctic_whirlwind, Flickr CC

The game: Fresh off a multi-million-dollar renovation, the Hard Rock Stadium now offers some glorious respite from the hot, hot, hot Miami sun—meaning that instead of spending the game obsessively reapplying sunscreen (or, conversely, getting burnt to a crisp), you can lounge beneath the giant canopy and stay cool. Almost as important is how you can now get to the game. Before and after seeing the Hurricanes fight the Seminoles, head to the official Uber Zone if you’re savvy, or just want to drink a lot during the game.

Where to stay: Enjoy the big, clean rooms—and the glorious weather—at Shula’s Hotel and Golf Club ($105 a night).

3. TexasA&M Aggies vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Where and when: Oct. 8 in College Station, Texas

Photo: Aggie Barn Panorama | Stuart Seeger, Flickr CC

Photo: Aggie Barn Panorama | Stuart Seeger, Flickr CC

The game: We’ve already told you about Kyle Field (in our no. 9 pick), so we’ll leave you with this: If anyone accuses you of having ‘good bull’, take it as a compliment.

Where to stay: Franklin Lodging may be about 45 minutes away from the stadium, but that’s about as close as you’re gonna get when booking this close to the game day. Plus, this clean little place will only run you $95 a night, which includes continental breakfast, wireless internet, parking, and access to their indoor pool.

2. Tennessee Volunteers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Where and when: Oct. 15 in Knoxville, Tennessee

Photo: Field goal posts | Tate Nations, Flickr CC

Photo: Field goal posts | Tate Nations, Flickr CC

The game: Sure, the Volunteers and Crimson Tide will be going head-to-head on the field at Neyland Stadium. But really, the food’s where it’s at: This newly renovated megaplex now offers eats like pulled pork nachos and fried chicken sandwiches, as well as some truly massive LED displays, so you can catch all the action as you chow down—even from the cheapest of the cheapseats.

Where to stay: We’re not ones to pooh-pooh the Motel 6‘s of the world. And at $86 a night for a spacious, clean room we bet you won’t either.

1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Syracuse Orange

Where and when: Oct. 1 in East Rutherford, New Jersey

Photo: Notre Dame vs Syracuse | Christopher Aloi, Flickr CC

Photo: Notre Dame vs Syracuse | Christopher Aloi, Flickr CC

The game: It’s probably not a shock to anyone that Notre Dame tops the list. Which means that MetLife Stadium‘s Irish Whiskey Bar, Craft Beer Zone, Kosher eats and, oddly enough, salads also get top billing. Plus, there’s a NJ Transit rail station right out front, so you can get to the game for seriously cheap.

Where to stay: If you can make it out in such short notice, you can snooze amid the sleek stylings of the Renaissance Meadowlands Hotel—just 1.7 miles from the stadium—which is still accepting reservations to the tune of $169 a night. If you want to be even closer to the stadium, check out Hilton Meadowlands, a mere half-mile from the stadium, for $219.

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Tagged: City, Family, Florida, Sports, Uncategorized

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The state of Virginia is indeed for lovers—specifically, lovers of beach towns. Just about as far east as you can travel within the state, the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague showcase their own traditional yet unique take on beach-town culture. Here are five reasons why Chincoteague Island and neighboring Assateague should be on your bucket list, in no particular order.

The Wildlife

The wild horses
On Chincoteague Island, you’ll find a charming beach town, filled with mom n’ pop motels and ocean-themed restaurants. Assateague Island, on the other hand, is an impeccably kept nature preserve and its most famous wild residents can be seen galloping through its natural marshes. It’s one of the few places left in America where you can still see herds of wild horses roaming in their natural habitat.

Year round, the herds can be seen grazing from the road that leads to Assateague’s beach, or while on boat or kayaking tours that take off from Chincoteague—and these boat tours offer the chance to see even more native wildlife, like dolphins and bald eagles. The island also features hiking trails and a beach. If you plan on driving to the island, parking passes are $8 per day.

Protip: If you decide to take a boat tour, ask a local about their favorite and go for a smaller boat. Smaller boats can get closer to the ponies in the marsh.

By Bonnie U. Gruenberg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Bonnie U. Gruenberg (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Pony Penning Carnival
Now, if you are looking for an even closer look at the ponies, and for a way to be a part of local tradition, try attending the yearly Pony Penning carnival. This annual “holiday” takes place in July, as this is when the wild ponies are wrangled and swum from Assateague to Chincoteague. Then, they are then paraded down Main Street and into corrals where vets check each pony’s health. The youngest of the ponies are auctioned off to raise money for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company, a fundraiser that began in 1925 and has been going strong ever since.

Protip: The historic carnival is free and open to the public, which means a crowd is inevitable. To avoid getting stuck at the back, where you can’t even see the ponies make their swim, arrive early in the morning and come prepared to wait.

Picture side of 1941-postmarked postcard depicting the Chincoteague ponies. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Picture side of 1941-postmarked postcard depicting the Chincoteague ponies. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Hiking and Camping

The camping
Chincoteague Island is covered in campgrounds, and Assateague Island is full of hiking trails that are perfect for those looking to explore the natural landscape more intimately. Campgrounds on Chincoteague each offer their own benefits and features. Be sure to check out Inlet View campground and Tom’s Cove campground for the best views of the water, as they both offer waterfront campsites.

Campsite rates at Inlet view range from $27 to $35 per day. Campsite rates at Tom’s Cove $35 to $51 per day.

A view of the marshes. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

A view of the marshes. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

The hiking
There is plenty of hiking to be done at Assateague Island, and, as mentioned before, if you plan on driving there you’ll need to pay for parking. Once on the island, you can find hiking trails of all lengths and difficulty levels.

One of the shortest trails leads you to the historic and iconic Assateague lighthouse. The hike is totally worthwhile, since not only can you see the candy-cane-painted lighthouse from the outside, but also from the inside. Once you do finally reach the top, you’ll catch a breathtaking view of both Assateague and Chincoteague. Admission to the lighthouse is free. However, donations are accepted.

Protip: Although the hike itself is not difficult, climbing the many steps up to the top can be. Pace yourself to avoid getting lightheaded at the lighthouse.

At the base of the Assateague lighthouse. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

At the base of the Assateague lighthouse. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

The Beach

Assateague’s beach can be considered a ‘typical’ beach, meaning it’s clean and fun for the whole family. And yet, it’s unique in its location. Once again, you’ll have to cross the bridge from Chincoteague to access the waterfront.

Protip: Since there is only one road leading to the beach, the traffic can get pretty gnarly during “beach rush hour.” Locals will tell you to start making your way back to Chincoteague before four o’clock.

Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

Locals and tourists intermingle on the beach. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

Local Food

Chincoteague has been thriving in the oyster harvesting market for many years, and the delicacies can be found at countless eateries on the island… Are oysters not your thing? Well, you can also find ice cream, BBQ and homemade doughnuts without looking very far.

The Island Creamery is a local favorite and has been perfecting its small-batch ice cream, made with milk from local dairies, since 1975. They have a lot of different ice cream flavors but the most popular are of course named after the islands’ most well-remembered aspects, “Marsh Mud” and “Pony Tracks.”

Protip: The line is never too long… Even if the lineto be served at the creamery is out the door, locals swear that it’ll never take longer than 20 minutes to be served.

The Island Creamery, taking inspiration from the Assateague lighthouse. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

The Island Creamery, taking inspiration from the Assateague lighthouse. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

Right before hitting the bridge to Assateague you’ll notice an oasis of quirky, quick-service restaurants. This oasis comes complete with hammocks and yard games. It is there that you will find Woody’s Beach BBQ serving a large variety of smoked meats. The sandwich creations at Woody’s are sure to keep your hunger at bay throughout a full day of pony watching, beach going and lighthouse climbing. Prices for sandwiches are between $8 and $9.

Looking for breakfast? Or maybe a lil’ bit of a sweet treat? Then look for the Sandy Pony Donuts truck on Maddox Boulevard. These cleverly-named delights are small yet mighty, with monikers such as “Strawberry Stallion,” “Surfer Dude” and “Jingle Shells.” Made hot and fresh to order, they’re only $1.65 each, $8.80 for a half dozen and $14.80 for a full.

The Culture and History

Both Assateague and Chincoteague are steeped in history, tradition and a unique culture. People who live on Chincoteague, and who’s ancestors lived on Assateague, have a deep connection to both islands, taking pride in knowing the history of their beloved home. Vacationers, too, often feel themselves drawn back—it is not hard to find someone who has been coming since they were young, and who now bring their own family to the same spot, keeping that tradition alive.

Even if you’re visiting the islands for the first time, the community has a way of making you feel at home. It’s as if a connection is formed as soon as you set foot on the island. Just by interacting with locals, you are sure to learn much about Chincoteague and Assateague’s history. But if you’d like to learn even more about why this is such a closely-knit community, you can visit the Museum of Chincoteague Island, which is located mere steps from the bridge to Assateague. It’s a small museum, but it includes exhibits highlighting the oyster market, the hurricanes and the fires of Chincoteague, as well as the well-known equine celebrity, Misty of Chincoteague.

Her story goes something like this: In 1947, author Marguerite Henry met a pony on the island by the named Misty, and her owners the Beebes. Misty went on to inspire her popular children’s novel, and later a movie, which was filmed on the island. The story, although fictional, introduced Chincoteague and its pony culture to the world. This story is a great source of pride for the community of Chincoteague. In fact, Misty herself can be found at the museum… stuffing and all.

Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The famous Misty of Chincoteague (left) with one of her foals. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

According to those who know the island, the final thing that you must do before leaving is visit the grave of Captain Chandler, as this will ensure your return to the island. There is no address for the site, but ask any local and they will know how to get there. And if you want to know any more about this local legend, you’ll just have to visit Chincoteague Island.

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Tagged: Beach, Family, Seasonal

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The semifinal college football playoffs game at the Fiesta Bowl 2016 kicks off Saturday, December 31 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Don’t pass on the 46th annual event, where the winner will go off to compete against the winner of the Peach Bowl semifinals in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship.

So, who will take home the Fiesta Bowl Trophy? That, we don’t yet know. We don’t even know which two teams will be competing. No one does—except the psychics with ESPN. But we do know how to get your tickets and where to stay when you go.

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GasLight Inn

The moment you step inside this wonderfully charming three-star bed and breakfast, you will feel at home. It’s located right in the heart of Glendale, close to Cerreta Candy Factory and Sahuaro Ranch Park. The parking and wifi are free. The building is old and enchanting. The free homemade breakfast is a touchdown. The rooms themselves are affordable, so that’s worth a few more points. And 96% of guests recommend it, so you know this is the truth.

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Four Points by Sheraton Phoenix North

The indoor and outdoor pools are probably what gives this hotel its final half star (out of three and a half). You’ll be resorting near the western sect of the Arizona State University campus, just a snap away from Castle N’ Coasters and Cave Creek Golf Course…and a short five miles from Glendale. Every room has a private balcony to take in the scenic, quintessential Arizona mountain views. And of course there’s a bar and an inviting spa tub, both perfect places to pregame or come home to unwind after the big game.

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Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort

Touch down on four stars of fantabulous. Freakin’. Fun. You know the perf complement to your pregame beverage at one of the delish dining establishments? A postgame facial. Or body scrub. Or…scratch that. If your veins are overflowing with excitement from the game, jump on over to the water park, and visit one or two or six or eight of the outdoor swimming pools. Yes, water park. There’s a water park here! Oh, and 8 pools. With 27 acres of waterfalls, waterslides, lazy rivers, mini golf, tennis courts, spa amenities and more, one weekend of Fiesta Bowling at Squaw Peak may not be enough time to enjoy everything this resort has goin’ on.

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Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass

An official hotel of the FB (Fiesta Bowl 2016), this oasis is just about a half-hour drive to the game and proudly boasts 4 stars. This Native American-owned respite from real life celebrates the detailed architecture, design and legends of the Pima and Maricopa tribes—making it one of a kind (not just another luxury resort, even though it definitely is a luxury resort). So, besides being a drop kick away from the stadium, you and your fellow travelers can splash around in the four pools with cascading waterfalls and 111-foot waterslide (modeled after the ancient Casa Grande Ruins, duhhh). Or take riding lessons. Or challenge your friend, hubs, wife, partner to a tennis match or a race along the extensive jogging trails. You can also go on a boat ride along the 2.5-mile river that surrounds the property. There’s even an Adventure Club with daily activities for the li’l boys and girls. I mean, saying there’s something for everyone is like saying Friday is the best day of the work week. Duhhh again.

The official (and sprawling) hotel of Fiesta Bowl 2016.

Phoenix Marriott Tempe at the Buttes

Making it a football weekend with the fam? This official Fiesta Bowl 2016 hotel has precisely what you need. No ifs, ands, or buttes about it. It’s a free kick away from Sea Life Aquarium, the Phoenix Zoo and Arizona Mills Mall. It’s also close to Sky Harbor Airport, so you don’t have to trek your people and things too far after you disembark from the plane. The kiddos will heart the waterslide and two outdoor pools; you’ll love the majestic hillside backdrop and panoramic views. It’s about a thirty minute drive from the stadium, and zero minutes from affordability and cactus-balls of fun.

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Tagged: City, Family, Sports

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Whether you’re into pumpkins or podcasts, biergartens or blues music, these fall festivals are worth falling for.

Oktoberfest Denver

When and where: Sept. 23–25 and Sept. 30–Oct.2 in Denver

There’s no shortage of German-inspired festivals this time of year, but how many have stein hoisting (only the strong survive), wiener dog races and the the Keg Bowling National Championships? You’ll also find the usual beer, brats. And if you’re in the midwest, check out Cincinnati’s Octoberfest Zinzinnati!

Los Angeles Podcast Festival

When and where: Sept. 23–25 in Los Angeles

Whether you’re commuting in LA gridlock, looking for something to listen to while you work off all the s’mores you ate over the summer, or you’re just not into the fall TV lineup, audio entertainment can be a godsend. Some of the biggest names in podcasting will gather at the Beverly Hills Sofitel for live recordings, workshops, fan meet-and-greets and more.

Zach Galifianakis, Todd Glass and Steve Agee yuk it up on a recording of Doug Loves Movies during the 2012 Los Angeles Podcast Festival. Credit CleftClips/Flickr.

Zach Galifianakis, Todd Glass and Steve Agee yuk it up on a recording of Doug Loves Movies during the 2012 Los Angeles Podcast Festival. Credit CleftClips/Flickr.

Manhattan Short Film Festival

When and where: Sept. 23–Oct. 2 in New York

You don’t have to be in Manhattan to take part in this celebration of cinema. The festival is spread across more than 250 venues worldwide, including movie theaters, museums and college campuses. In addition to meeting movie buffs from Sydney to Moscow to Cape Town, audience members get to vote on the best overall film.

National Apple Harvest Festival

When and where: Oct. 1–2 and 8–9 in Biglerville, Pennsylvania

If the phrase apple harvest doesn’t give you the fall feels, then nothing will. For two weekends in October, the town of Biglerville, Pennsylvania, celebrates the season with the ultimate apple festival: orchard tours, arts and crafts, a petting zoo, classic car show and other all-American activities. Rumor has it there will be an appearance by the Apple Queen.

Scarecrow Festival

When and where: Oct. 7–9 in St. Charles, Illinois

Don’t be scurred to check out more than 100 hand-crafted scarecrows and vote for your fave. There’s also a carnival, petting zoo, live entertainment and more in this festival held in St. Charles, Illinois, about an hour outside of Chicago.

If you only had a brain, you'd make plans to attend the Scarecrow Festival. Credit NoukSopha/Flickr.

If you only had a brain, you’d make plans to attend the Scarecrow Festival. Credit NoukSopha/Flickr.

Cranberry Harvest Celebration

When and where: Oct. 8–9 in Wareham, Massachussetts

If apples aren’t your thing, then opt for this fruit fest in Wareham, Massachusetts, not far from Cape Cod. Enjoy watching the wet cranberry harvest (it’s not just for TV commercials), cooking demos, a juried craft show, paddleboat rides, music and more.

Memphis Food & Wine Festival

When and where: Oct. 15 in Memphis, Tennessee

Squeeze the last few drops out of summer during this gastronomic gathering at Memphis Botanic Garden. Enjoy an al fresco meal curated by by local chefs, vintners, certified sommeliers, to the soundtrack of Memphis blues, jazz and rock bands, making it the most musical of these fall festivals.

Circleville Pumpkin Show

When and where: Oct. 19–22 in Circleville, Ohio

What’s a roundup of fall events without a pumpkin festival? This gathering in Circleville, in suburban Columbus, celebrates the gourd with multiple parades (babies, pets, Miss Pumpkin… you name it), carnival rides, baked goods and more.

The annual Circleville Pumpkin Show is always huuuuge, like this unbelievable pumpkin. Which cinches it as one of the best fall festivals of the year. Credit Vasenka Photography/Flickr.

The annual Circleville Pumpkin Show is always huuuuge. Credit Vasenka Photography/Flickr.

Atlanta World Kite Festival & Expo

Where and when: Oct. 22 in Atlanta, Georgia

Autumn breezes make for prime kite-flying conditions, so head to Piedmont Park in the Meadow to watch the colorful creations soar. The family-friendly event includes live entertainment, food vendors, a pumpkin decorating contest and more.

Miami Book Fair International

Where and when: Nov. 13–20 inMiami, Florida

So you’ve finished your stack of beach reads and you’re reader for something meatier to take you into fall. This event around the campus of Miami Dade College is a bibliophile’s dream, with sales galore, talks by A-list authors, a street festival and children’s area with character appearances, art projects and music stations that’ll make a bookworm out of even the most reluctant reader.

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Tagged: Festivals, Florida, New York City, Seasonal

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People groan about layovers, and we can’t help but wonder why. The longer the layover, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to leave the airport and explore! With the inexpensive flights we love often come lengthy layovers—and here are a few of the best layover cities in Europe for making the most of it.

London, England

Pedro Szekely, http://bit.ly/2ckCCIc, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: London | Pedro Szekely, Flickr

Aww, poor you! Do you have a long ol’ layover in London? Just kidding! You’re so lucky—not only is London’s Heathrow a paradise for shoppers (there’s an 11,000 sq ft Harrods inside), but you’re just a 15-minute train ride on the Heathrow Express to central London. What to do with your limited time? Take it from us: Just pick an area and start walking. London is so huge that it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you try to plan too much, but there’s so much to see and do that any direction you pick will yield some serious treasures. A good place to start is the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral; gaze in awe at its ornate golden ceilings before heading across the street to Tate Modern for a dose of contemporary art. Afterwards, you’ve earned a snack, and the place to get it is Borough Market, where the restaurants and shops are open all week and there’s a farmer’s market on the weekends. If you’ve still got some time left, grab a pint at one of the hundreds of neighborhood pubs and just watch the world go by.

Paris, France

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Oui, you can take awhirlwind trip to Paris! Just a 45-minute train ride from Charles de Gaulle Airport will bring you to the massive Châtelet-Les Halles station, where you can store your luggage for a small fee and transfer to any neighborhood you like! Like London, Paris is too sprawling to try to conquer it in less than a day, so pick a single area to wander through and soak up the Parisian lifestyle. We recommend heading to Ile de la Citie, the hopelessly romantic island of Paris, which has the Notre Dame Cathedral at its tip. Drape yourself along the bridges and watch the boats slide by, then wander until you find a cafe (it won’t take long, we promise). Sit down, order a cafe creme, and weigh your options: Sunset boat tour along the Seine? Or postpone your flight indefinitely?

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Moyan Brenn, http://bit.ly/2czKvvi, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: Amsterdam | Moyan Brenn, Flickr

Amsterdam is a fantastic city for long layovers—you’re a 20-minute train ride from Amsterdam Central Station, where you can store your luggage, and hello: This is a seriously fun city, with an active nightlife and interesting museums. If you arrive in the evening, the infamous Red Light District is a quick walk from the station; by day, don’t miss renting a bike and pedaling along the city’s beautiful canals like the locals. Make time to stop for cafes! But keep in mind: When in Amsterdam and inneed of coffee, ask for a cafe—asking for a coffee shop will get you directions to the nearest marijuana shop. And if you only have time to see one major sight, make it the Anne Frank House, the truly moving museum that chronicles one Jewish family’s experience during the Holocaust.

Istanbul, Turkey

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There’s so much shopping and dining just outside your gate in Istanbul that you may never want to leave the airport. That said, even beyond those airstrips, Istanbul is heaven for layovers. Everyone who leaves the airport has to pay a $20 visa fee, but after that, it’s simple to hop on an express bus. Once out of the airport, check it out: You’re in an ancient city, a cross between East and West, and spindly minarets puncture the skyline everywhere you look. Don’t miss sightseeing at the famous Blue Mosque, and check out the Grand Bazaar—it’s as fascinating today as it was centuries ago. Stop to have a drink of raki, Turkey’s anise-flavored national drink, and if there’s time, book a boat tour on the gorgeous Bosphorus river.

Venice, Italy

Gondolas in the canals in Venice. Surely this is the prettiest of the best layover cities.

Photo: Venice | Moyan Brenn, Flickr

If you have a lengthy layover at the Marco Polo Airport (a popular stopping point for travelers going to Asia), by all means, take the opportunity to explore Venice. From the airport, follow the signs for the water bus to central Venice, and hop on! Enjoy the sight of Venice appearing on the waterline, then exit at San Marco square for a jaw-dropping scene: Here is a majestic city plaza (once the largest in Europe!) and an ancient cathedral gorgeous enough to make you cry. Grab a gelato, take a stroll around the square, and enjoy the ambiance—pigeons rise from the crowds in startled flocks, and it seems the whole world has congregated in what was once the most powerful city in Europe and Asia. If you’re feeling posh, treat yourself to a snack at Cafe Florian, reputedly the oldest cafe in Europe, and sit surrounded by Neo-Baroque gilt mirrors and waiters in traditional tuxedos. Afterwards, take a gondola ride to see Venice as it was meant to be seen: from the water.

Madrid, Spain

Игорь М, http://bit.ly/2ckCrMT, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: Types of Madrid | Игорь М, Flickr

A long layover in Madrid is so good we’re jealous. You can store your luggage at Madrid Barajas Airport and hop on an airport transfer shuttle to Plaza Mayor, Madrid’s bustling main square.Visit The Prado Museum for a chance to see one of the world’s finest collections of European art, but really, Madrid is entertaining just to walk through. There are so many tempting places to eat and drink (the Market of San Miguel! stop for tapas and wine at multiple bars!), and so many sites of historic significance—the Royal Palace of Madrid and Plaza de Cibeles among them. Meaning all you need to do is point your feet in a direction and keep moving for an adventure.

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Tagged: City, Flights, International, Tips & advice

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Think Saturday, October 15, 2016 is just another ordinary Saturday? Think again! October 15th is Sweetest Day, a lesser-known, less-pressure-y version of Valentine’s Day. It’s a great (and more unexpected) day to surprise your sweetheart with a little gift, a card, or a kind gesture. But why not up the ante and whisk your beloved off for a romantic weekend getaway? We think the best Sweetest Day ideas include a suitcase for two! Here are a few of our favorite destinations for canoodling the weekend away:

Savannah, GA

The gorgeous fountains of Savannah, Georgia. This ultra romantic destination tops our list of the best Sweetest Day ideas.

Photo: Savannah | Jeff Gunn, Flickr

Here’s one of our favorite Sweetest Day ideas: Picture yourself and your love holding hands as you stroll past Forsyth Fountain, Spanish moss draped in the trees overhead like a trailing green canopy. Can you see it? It really doesn’t get more romantic than Savannah. Plus, it has all the ingredients for a terrific weekend away: historic architecture, horse-and-buggy rides clip-clopping through cobblestone streets, truly hair-raising ghost tours (hold each other close!), and the kind of restaurant scene you’lldream about later. Get gussied up and order jumbo scallops at The Olde Pink House, a pink-painted 18th-century Colonial mansion, and then walk through the Riverfront Plaza on River Street, nine blocks of shops set inside renovated historic warehouses.

Sedona, AZ

Stacy Egan, http://bit.ly/2cdRhVV, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: Sedona Rainbow | Stacy Egan, Flickr

Sedona is famous for one thing: being gorgeous. This posh desert destination rises up from the dusty road like a mirage, its majestic red rock formations glowing in the sun. You’ll love wandering Main Street, which is packed full of restaurants, bars, and New Age crystal and energy healing stores. Take your love to get your auras photographed, and book a massage or reiki cleansing session. Or grab seats on a Pink Jeep tour, which will take you right up to the bases of Sedona’s (reputedly magical) red rocks.

Sebastopol, CA

CIMG0364.jpg, http://bit.ly/2cMn85f, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: Sebastapol | David Orban, Flickr

Never heard of it? You’ll wish you had once you get there! Sebastopol, a small town of about 8,000 people in Sonoma County, is a gem of a weekend getaway—it’s quaint without being self-consciously cute, and has an old-fashioned main street brimming with antique stores. Head to Ace Cider Pub for a juicy twist on a brewery experience, and don’t miss taking your sweetie for ice cream at the award-winning, world-famous Screamin’ Mimi’s, where the hot fudge, caramel, and waffle cones are all made onsite. The cherry on top? You’re just 90 minutes from San Francisco, if you want to keep the road-trip vibes going.

Niagara Falls, NY

bobistraveling, http://bit.ly/2bYP8we, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: Niagara Falls, NY | bobistraveling, Flickr

Nicknamed “The Honeymoon Capital of the World”, Niagara Falls is a study in contrasts: On one hand, you’ve got the mighty natural wonder of the Falls themselves, with millions of gallons of water cascading endlessly to a picturesque end. On the other, you’ve got the town of Niagara Falls, which is like a mini-Vegas—kitsch city! Spend a night overlooking the special rainbow lights behind the Falls, and then head out the next day to see them up close on the Maid of the Mist boat tour, where you and your honey will be given matching ponchos for coordinated selfies. Afterwards, hit the town to explore the casinos, wax works museums, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibitions—tourist traps, sure, but lots of fun for the day!

Stillwater, MN

Smitty 54017's Photos, Stillwater, MN http://bit.ly/2cJXl9y, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: St. Croix Boom Site, Stillwater, NM | Smitty 54017, Flickr

Get ready to be charmed. Voted one of the “Top 10 Prettiest Towns in America” by Forbes magazine, Stillwater is a small town on a seriously beautiful river, the St. Croix. Miles of hiking and biking trails, stunning cliff views, antique shops galore, and a downtown that seems to have been designed for sweethearts to stroll through all make Stillwater a dream weekend destination, and one of our favorite Sweetest Day ideas. Add in cute autumnal activities, such as picking your own Honeycrisp apples at Aamodt’s Apple Farm—and visiting a farmer’s market that runs through October across the street from the historic Court House—and you’ve got a Sweetest Day getaway you’ll remember forever.

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Tagged: California, City, Destinations, Holidays, Romance & honeymoon

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San Diego is picturesque and nearly perfect, with its blue skies, warm weather and inviting sea breeze. And there’s so much to do—the seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove, the famous San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. There’s unforgettable food to indulge in, blending the fruits of the sea and the flavors from the nearby border. But traveling to the storied spot is a little challenging on a budget. But don’t settle. There are a bevy of cheap hotels in San Diego that are so charming you’ll never want to leave.

*Note: All hotel rates are based on a random one-night, weekday stay in September.

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West Park Inn — $47 per night

This 48-room hotel is right next to Balboa Park, home of the famed San Diego Zoo. The rooms here may be lacking a little in the decor department, but they’re clean and have all the necessities. The courtyard, however, is where it’s at. Giant plants surround the warm patio and palms climb around the area. Take your morning coffee out here, and spend a relaxing morning listening to the trickle of the fountain and smelling the sea breeze. 

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Lodge at 32nd — $79 per night

Each of this hotel’s 25 rooms have flat screen TVs and looks more like an apartment than a hotel. The decor is very contemporary, with wood panels surrounding the check-in window and wood floors covering part of each room. The white paneled ceilings make it feel clean and beachy. It’s sleek, and you can tell that from the moment you pull into your free parking spot. It’s also mercifully close to Balboa Park — it’s on the side with a golf course.

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ITH Adventure Hostel — $33 per night

This hostel sits on the edge of Little Italy just north of downtown, and it’s colorful in more ways than one. Travelers from all over the world mingle in the hostel’s garden and on its patio. Guitars hang from the walls, and bricks are painted with things to do and suggestions for adventure. There are 10 air conditioned guest rooms, Wifi is free and the owners host a complimentary reception gathering every day. But here’s the thing: That’s not all. Besides the free internet, the daily English breakfast and onsite dinner are also gloriously free. 

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California Suites Hotel — $86 per night

This 162-room hotel is north of downtown San Diego near Clairemont, making it the perfect location for those visiting the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and the University of California – San Diego. It’s also pretty close to the picturesque La Jolla Cove. The hotel itself is beautiful—the grounds are bursting with flowers and shaded by palm trees. There’s a pool and a spa tub, and breakfast is complimentary. Some of the rooms have a little bit of a ‘90s vibe (cough, cough, the comforters), but who doesn’t like a little throwback every now and then?

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HI San Diego Downtown — $107 per night

San Diego is on point with its hostel game. The eco-friendly and eclectic HI San Diego Downtown is right in the heart of downtown, offering comfy and colorful couches, built-in bookshelves and loads of art just steps from some of the city’s best sights. Breakfast is complimentary, and the communal kitchen is gorgeous with its high ceilings and pots hanging overhead. Choose shared or private bathrooms.

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Hotel Iris — $89 per night

The decor truly defines this 79-room hotel. The art is striking: In one room, a larger-than-life portrait of a girl stares down at the guest with fierce eyes, and in another, a running zebra explodes into a trail of purple. Most of the rooms are arranged so the beds face the window, flooding the space with natural, California light. The hotel also has a pool and hot tub, although breakfast is, sadly, not complimentary here. It’s a ways out from downtown, but close to Sea World.

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Tagged: Beach, California, Cheap Tips, City

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Hello there. Do you like beer? Do you like sausage? If you’re nodding your head ‘yes,’ then it might not be a big jump to think you might enjoy an Oktoberfest celebration. But the original Oktoberfest, a festival dedicated to all things autumnal and German, is all the way in Munich! We can’t afford Munich right now!

Thank heavens we have Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. First held in 1976, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati (in Cincinnati, Ohio) is America’s largest Oktoberfest celebration—more than 500,000 people visit each year! Here’s why you should stop what you’re doing and head to Ohio for the party:

Repeat after us: dachshunds in hot dog costumes.

Every year, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati opens festivities with the Running of the Wieners, this year on Friday, September 16, 2016 at 11:30 a.m. What is the Running of the Wieners? It’s 100 dachshunds in hot dog costumes streaking down the street in race heats towards their owners while thousands of people cheer. Only one dachshund can be the King of the Wiener Dogs. You want to witness this, we promise.

Photo: Flickr | David K, Hot Dog

Photo: Flickr | David K, Hot Dog

Have a drink at the glockenspiel.

The Christian Moerlein Glockenspiel is—get this—a working clock with a bar on the ground level, as well as a stage. Every hour, when the clock strikes, performers in traditional lederhosen appear to sing, dance, and toast with the crowd. Prost!

Have a drink anywhere, actually.

There are five different beer gardens at Oktoberfest Zinzinnati. All of them have an enormous selection of beers on tap, and all of them have live music. Some band names this year include The Fest Meisters, Zinzinnati Bier Band, and Smittie’s Schnapps Band. Get your polka on!

Allen Burt, bit.ly/1dyVUEV, Attribution CC BY 2.0

Photo: Allen Burt, Oktoberfest in Zinzinnati

Raise a glass.

Try not to lower it! The Sam Adams Stein Hoisting Championship on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 5 p.m. is a test of strength, mental endurance, and true love for beer. All you have to do is raise your stein of beer and keep it raised longer than anyone else in the crowd to be crowned this year’s Hoisting Champion.

Become one with the brat.

On Saturday, September 17, at 3 p.m., it’s time for the greatest sausage spectacle you may ever see: The World Brat Eating Championship. Will anyone be able to defeat reigning world champion brat-eater, Joey Chestnut? Who would dare to try? Is the newest contender…you?

ljv, http://bit.ly/2cl2wz4, Attribution CC BY-ND 2.0

Photo: Flicker | ljv, Sausage Party

Demonstrate your barrel-roll and beer-stein race aptitude.

On Friday, September 16, at 6 p.m, head over to Freedom Platz on Second Street for the German Games, where live music and German dance groups frolic around contestants trying to roll a wooden barrel around a timed course or race a short distance holding two filled-to-the-brim beer steins.

Participate in the World’s Largest Chicken Dance.

You heard us. Jump in and join the official World’s Largest Chicken Dance on Sunday, September 18 at 4:30 p.m. Thousands participate in the dance each year, and in 1994, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati chicken dancersset the world record, with 48,000 people flappin’ their arms and waddlin’ to the beat.

Jim, http://bit.ly/2bYVcuK, Attribution CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo: Flickr | Jim, Chicken Dance

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Tagged: City, Events, Festivals, Food & drink, Music, Seasonal

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Spend a fall day at one of America’s favorite orchards, and you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor. Here’s where to go apple picking this fall:

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Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards: LaFayette, NY 

Come for the apple picking at this century-old farm about 100 miles west of Rochester. Stay for, well, a whole lot more. The kids’ play area is full of old-fashioned rides and games. Apple Hill Country Store & Bake Shop sells everything from local cheddar cheese to homemade fudge to apple everything, obvs. There’s even a tasting room where adults can sample apple-based wine and spirits. The place even thrives during the summer, with events ranging from lawn concerts to paint-and-sip parties to CrossFit.

Patterson Fruit Farm: Chesterland, OH

On weekends, climb aboard a wagon and head for the orchards for some choice apple picking in this Cleveland suburb.Pack a lunch to enjoy in the picnic area, or hit up the Farm Market, which sells produce, apple cider, apple fritters and such. And pencil in this year’s Fun Fest; it runs from Sept. 17 to Oct. 30, with horse-drawn wagon rides, pony rides, a corn maze, pumpkin painting and more.

Stribling OrchardMarkham, VA

Located about 60 miles west of Washington, DC, this farm is nearly as old as apple picking itself. Spring for the $8 tour, which includes a talk about the orchard’s history (some of the buildings date back to the 1700s), a peek at the horses and sheep, and a 1/4 peck of U-pick apples. The orchard is located in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley, so bring your good camera.

Kiyokawa Family Orchards: Parkdale, OR

About 80 miles east of Portland, this farm offers stunning views of Mount Hood. It’s also where to go apple picking in the Pacific Northwest if you’re particular about your produce—simply check out its online “ready dates” calendar so you know exactly when each variety is ripe for the picking. The calendar is also ripe with special events, from hard cider tastings to a farm-to-table dessert festival to Fiesta Days with Mariachi music and Mexican food. Because man does not live on apples alone.

Weston’s Antique Apples: New Berlin, WI

This orchard in suburban Milwaukee that offers dozens of apple varieties ripe for apple picking, but that’s just the beginning. There are plenty of special events, like this year’s Sept. 11 Historic Fest and Oct. 2 Apple Fest. And to really get rooted in orchard life, sign up for a class in pruning, grafting or pest management. But only if you’re hardcore.

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Tagged: Family, Seasonal