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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

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Museums don’t have to be a snoozefest. And they’re not all littered with ‘please don’t touch’ signs. Here are some great museums for kids that your little ones will actually want to return to.

Children’s Museum IndianapolisIndianapolis, IN

This place regularly shows up on lists of the country’s best children’s museums, and for good reason. Believed to be the world’s largest museum for kids, it’s chock-full of exhibits, play spaces and even a theater with live performances. Admission is free on the first Thursday evening of each month.

Kids will have a dino-mite time at the Children's Museum Indianapolis. Credit: childrensmuseum.org.

Kids will have a dino-mite time at the Children’s Museum Indianapolis. Credit: childrensmuseum.org.

Please Touch Museum; Philadelphia, PA

The name says it all: Launch a rocket. Have a fairy tea party. Ride a vintage carousel. Play with worms. There’s not much off-limits at this two-story shrine to unstructured play.

At Philly's Please Touch Museum, nothing is of-limits—not even the iconic 1908 carousel.

At Philly’s Please Touch Museum, nothing is of-limits—not even the iconic 1908 carousel.

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art;Amherst, MA

Created by the man behind classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the museum includes thousands of original works by children’s illustrators. It also offers art classes, puppet shows and storytimes with A-list children’s authors. We’ll take that over some stuffy art museum any day.

Very hungry for fun? Head for the Carle Museum in Amherst. Credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism.

Very hungry for fun? Head for the Carle Museum in Amherst. Credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism.

Madame Tussauds; various locations

Teenagers can stage the ultimate selfie at these wax museums featuring their favorite stars. Laugh it up with “Jimmy Fallon” in Orlando, Florida; pose with pop star “Jason Derulo” in Hollywood, California; and your teenage son probably won’t mind cozying up next to the likeness of Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima at the New York City location.

Vegas has nothing for kids? Bullocks, we say. They'll love rubbing elbows with the "celebs" at Madame Tussauds. Credit: Daniel Ramirez/Flickr.

Vegas has nothing for kids? Bullocks, we say. They’ll love rubbing elbows with the “celebs” at Madame Tussauds. Credit: Daniel Ramirez/Flickr.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York, NY

At face value, a visit to the Met sounds about as kid-friendly as a board meeting. But art and music classes, storytime in the Nolan Library and self-guided gallery scavenger hunts make the museum accessible to even the littlest art lovers.

Kids can take a huge bite out of the Big Apple, starting with the Met. Credit: Wikipedia.

Kids can take a huge bite out of the Big Apple, starting with the Met. Credit: Wikipedia.

National Naval Aviation Museum; Pensacola, FL

Let your kids’ imagination take flight at this museum, which showcases hundreds of planes dating back to World War 1, flight simulators and more. Pensacola is also home to the Blue Angels, and visitors can catch the flying phenoms practicing over the museum most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from March to November. Then stick around for autographs inside the museum. Oh, and admission is always free.

When will kids be bored at the National Aviation Museum in Pensacola? When pigs fly. Credit: Alan Wilson/Flickr.

When will kids be bored at the National Aviation Museum in Pensacola? When pigs fly. Credit: Alan Wilson/Flickr.

Art Institute of Chicago; Chicago, IL

Free admission for kids under 14 is just one reason to visit this museum, which offers special workshops for kids and teens yearround. There’s also a special audio tour designed for kids ages 5 to 10. Other perks include a designated family restroom, nursing-friendly Family Room full of puzzles and books, and a cafe stocked with kid-friendly staples like chicken tenders and PB&Js. Keep your eyes peeled for the museum’s mascot, Artie the lion, who appears at many family-friendly festivals.

If someone tries to tell you Art Insitute Chicago ain't for kids, they're lyin'. Credit: Calbeeb/Flickr.

If someone tries to tell you Art Insitute Chicago ain’t for kids, they’re lyin’. Credit: Calbeeb/Flickr.

Treehouse Museum; Ogden, UT

What’s more inviting to kids than a treehouse? That’s the centerpiece of this museum that invites little ones to “step into a story.” Kids can ride fake horses in a rodeo, sit in a mock Oval Office, play teacher in a pioneer schoolhouse and more. Better still: Admission costs just $7 for kids and an unheard-of $5 for adults.

Grow your child's imagination at the Treehouse Museum in Ugden, Utah. Credit: Make Less Noise/Flickr.

Grow your child’s imagination at the Treehouse Museum in Ugden, Utah. Credit: Make Less Noise/Flickr.

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Tagged: California, Family, Florida, New York City

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Cobblestone streets and pre-Civil War houses. Warmth, sunshine and salty sea breeze all somehow wrapped up in Southern hospitality. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for mom this Mother’s Day, we’ve got one suggestion: Go see Charleston in May. Head south and toward the ocean to explore this history-steeped city, which is chock-full of southern delicacies, food havens, and nearly tropical flora—all just a hop, skip and a jump away from countless beaches.

 

CARTA bus

North Charleston Area Shuttle (NASH), a CARTA bus linking hotels, restaurants, retail and Charleston International Airport. Photo: North Charleston – Flickr

Plane, train or automobile — Driving into Charleston is lovely. You’ll likely pass through the mountains on your way, a bit of a strain but beautiful at this time of year. Plus, you’ll have a car to help you get around and to the beach if you so choose. Otherwise, fly into Charleston International Airport. There’s a shuttle that will take you downtown for $14, or catch a Charleston Area Regional Transport Authority (CARTA) bus. It’s $3.50 per person, nonstop to downtown and the busses come often. 

Bikes in Charleston

Bikes in a row in downtown Charleston. Photo: James Williams – Flickr

Cheap local transit — The CARTA transit system is pretty comprehensive throughout the city, and only $2 per ride. But if you’re celebrating Mother’s Day and want to treat your mom to some magic, pop into one of the many bike rental shops and tool around on a couple of those for the day.

Visit the Charleston City Market Great Hall.

Visit the Charleston City Market Great Hall. Photo: North Charleston – Flickr

Make your way through City Market — The Charleston City Market Great Hall is stocked with plenty of tasty eats, and is one of those rare places where locals mingle with the tourists. It wasn’t always like that though. It was known as a tourist destination until 2011, when the Great Hall was renovated. Upon reopening, the locals started flocking back, and never left. Make sure to grab lunch or dessert here, and sample as much as you can as you stroll through the food stalls with mom.

Visit the Magnolia Plantation

Visit the Magnolia Plantation

Marvel at Magnolia — Most people buy their moms flowers for Mother’s Day, but you could get her miles of Southern flora at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Or, at least you could buy her a ticket. Here, thousands of vibrant flowers spill onto the walkways andbeautiful Spanish moss drapes the old trees. Magnolia Plantation was founded in 1676 and is the oldest public garden in America. Admission is $15 per adult.

Isle of Palms

Isle of Palms

Bop over to the beach — There are dozens of beaches around the city. Isle of Palms, just to the north, has several public beach options, and many of them are rife with places to pop in for a meal or seaside drink. This timeof year won’t be too busy at the public beaches, since school is still in session and summer break hasn’t hit full velocity. The best thing about a day at the beach is that it’s nice and free. Pack a picnic to save an extra penny.

Morris Island Lighthouse

Morris Island Lighthouse near Charleston, SC. Photo: sjg08 – Flickr

Lay eyes on a lighthouse — Morris Island Lighthouse sits several hundred feet offshore, near the entrance of Charleston Harbor and south of the city itself. It was actually 1,200 feet from the water when it was built in 1876, but jetties constructed nearby altered the ocean’s currents so much that by 1938, the shoreline had reached the lighthouse. It was decommissioned in 1962.

Charleston's French Quarter

There are plenty delicious places to brunch in Charleston’s French Quarter. Photo: Nicki Dugan Pogue – Flickr

Brunch by the water — Blossom Restaurant is an American-style eatery in the French Quarter, located mere blocks from the water. Any meal here would likely prove delicious, but Mother’s Day calls for a brunch by the water. And trust us, she’ll feel so much more appreciated over plates of applewood-smoked bacon dip, pulled pork hash or crawfish and shrimp étouffée. 

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Tagged: Beach, Family, Holidays, Off-season

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Lesson learned: The Historic Powhatan Resort boasts its own piece of colonial Americana -- a manor house circa 1735.

By Valerie Moloney

Chances are, if I said Old Dominion, not everyone would know the reference to my home state of Virginia. Now allow me to make a statement that resonates with everyone: Virginia is a hotbed for cheap spring vacations. While my hometown Virginia Beach, Va. is one of the beach capitals on the East Coast, I was always partial to the place that enriched my understanding of 1770s America: Williamsburg. And besides, the theme parks kicked butt. Continue reading

Tagged: Family, Tips & advice

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Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

By Nancy Buczkiewicz

Having been to London twice before, it was time to be what I hadn’t been before: a true tourist. On previous trips I spent time with locals and coworkers, never having to worry about where I was eating, which tube I was taking, or what I’d be doing. This London vacation was going to be vastly different. This time I was going with my mom. When tasked with taking your mother on her first trip abroad to the place she holds dear to heart (via what she’s seen on BBC, of course), you need to make it memorable.

Challenge accepted. Continue reading

Tagged: International, Tips & advice

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Cheap CruiseAs cheap vacations go, cheap cruises are a fun and easy option. One price covers your room and most food and entertainment — not to mention the several destinations you visit. There are cheap cruises to just about any destination you’d like to travel — the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Mediterranean and more. And during CheapTickets’ Spring Cruise Blowout, it’s easier than ever to plan a cheap vacation at sea. Just look at some of these special offers and deals on cheap cruises:

  • Norwegian Cruise Lines: Up to $300 in free onboard spending, plus the launch of Nickelodeon at Sea — cheap cruises with Nickelodeon characters and shows for families.

There are cheap cruises to fit just about every schedule and budget, from short 3-night trips to seven- and ten-night cruises. So pick your cheap vacation destination, and find a cheap cruise that fits during the Spring Cruise Blowout.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: Cruise, FREE!, International, Limited-time Offers

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By Kate Schwartz

Save big this February with astounding deals on cheap vacations. According to CheapTickets’ 2009 Value Travel Forecast, February is the best month to explore Italy, France and Colorado Springs, Colorado. With hotel savings of up to 42% compared to peak rates (based on analysis of hotels booked on CheapTickets from December 2007 to November 2008), February is the perfect time for a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway to Europe, or simply an end-of-winter excursion to the Rockies.

The CheapTickets’ 2009 Value Travel Forecast has named Italy as the best travel value this February, with savings of up to 42% on Italy hotels.
With its impressive history, fashion houses and food, Italy is the
perfect place to travel for your next cheap vacation. Whether you want
to explore ruins in Rome, art in Florence, or take in the scenic countryside, you can have a cheap Italy vacation for less than you would imagine.

Plan a cheap France vacation this winter and see what everyone
is talking about. Exquisite cuisine and breathtaking architecture are
just a couple of reasons why people fall in love with this country. The
topography of the country alone is enough to make you come back for
more. Whether you are looking to ski the Alps, sun yourself on the southern coast, or take in the urban ambiance of Paris, France has something for everyone. And when you travel to France in February, you can save up to 35% on your hotel.

Overlooking beautiful Pikes Peak and couple hours from some of the best skiing in the country, Colorado Springs is a truly unique place to spend your cheap vacation. Located at the edge of the Rockies, Colorado Springs embodies the spirit of the mountains while being firmly grounded in the culture of the plains. Experience the juxtaposition by traveling to Olympic Training Center located close to downtown Colorado Springs, and then heading across town to the Garden of the Gods, home to some of the most beautiful hiking in the area.  With savingsof up to 29% on cheap Colorado Springs hotels, February is the best time to take advantage of all this mountain town has to offer.

CheapTickets resources:

Kate Schwartz is a marketing coordinator for CheapTickets. When
she’s not searching for the best travel deals, she’s out taking
advantage of them!  From hiking the Rockies to lounging on the beaches
of Barcelona, Kate is always looking for adventure.

Tagged: FREE!, International, Tips & advice

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Tired of the same old weekend routine? Spice things up with cheap vacations from CheapTickets. With dozens of cheap vacation packages under $500 (located at the bottom of the page), you are sure to find travel deals and top vacation packages to fit your needs. Hit the beach, ski the slopes or win big at the slots when you take advantage of cheap vacation packages under $500. Here are some exciting ideas for your next cheap weekend getaway:

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New Orleans

Take it easy in the Big Easy, when you take a cheap weekend getaway to one of the most charming cities on the Gulf Coast. Cheap flights and cheap hotels let you experience Southern hospitality for less than $500. During your stay in New Orleans you can sample fabulous food, cruise the Mississippi River or explore the French Quarter.

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Denver

Take a cheap weekend trip to Denver and hit the slopes for less. Some of the best Colorado ski resorts are less than 75 miles from Denver, making it easy to hit the slopes during the day and get back just in time to enjoy the bustling nightlife. With two-night vacation packages under $500, you will have plenty of cash left over for lift tickets, ski rentals, and the ever-important cup of hot chocolate!

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Washington, D.C.

Experience history with a cheap vacation to Washington, D.C. From tours of the White House to free admission to the Smithsonian museums, you are guaranteed to have an exciting weekend in our nation’s capital.

The famous Las Vegas sign, welcoming you to possibly the best destination to snag vacation packages under $500.

Las Vegas

Even if you don’t win big at the table, you’re still a winner with vacation packages under $500 from CheapTickets! Whether you enjoy lounging at one of the many fabulous see-and-be-seen Las Vegas pools, or sipping Champagne at the high-rollers table, CheapTickets will get you there for less and leave you with plenty of money left to gamble.

CheapTicketsknows how to make your money count. This winter add a little spice to your life with a cheap vacation. From the slots to the slopes, cheap travel has never been more fun or affordable. Oh, and don’t forget to tack on a promo code when you can!

CheapTickets resources:  Vacation packages under $500

Kate Schwartz is a marketing coordinator for CheapTickets. When she’s not searching for the best travel deals, she’s out taking advantage of them!  From hiking the Rockies to lounging on the beaches of Barcelona, Kate is always looking for adventure.

Tagged: Vacation packages

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Cruiseblog
C
heap vacations are always in style, and in today’s economy, travelers may be especially interested in inexpensive vacations that still offer plenty of great experiences and amenities.

Cruises are increasing in popularity — the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) projected a record-breaking 12.8 million passengers this year. And cruises can be a great option for cheap vacations. Let’s count the ways.

CheapTickets’ Top Five Reasons to Cruise

  1. All-inclusive costs: Most cruise companies include the cost of meals and onboard entertainment in their final price, making it easy for travelers to budget in advance. This proves especially advantageous for the Europe-bound traveler, who might otherwise be affected by fluctuating exchange rates.
  2. More ports closer to home: There are now more than 20 cruise ports in North America, allowing many travelers to drive to the ship and avoid airfare costs.
  3. Multiple destinations for less: Cruises are a cost-effective way to explore multiple islands or countries without incurring transfer fees between destinations.
  4. Mobility in inclement weather: Today’s cruise ships are outfitted with satellite technology that allows themto easily avoid inclement weather, making cruises a more secure investment during hurricane season.
  5. Wide assortment of activities: The cruise industry has mastered the art of providing something for everyone. From kids camps and dance lessons, to rock climbing and yoga classes, cruises provide rewarding experiences for a wide range of audiences.

CheapTickets offers plenty of ways to help travelers find cheap cruises, from the "Cheap of the Week" cruise deals to last-minute trips. You can search for the cruise you want based on destination, cruise line or theme, and even research ships and get reviews from other travelers. So you’re sure to find a cruise that works for you.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: Cruise, Tips & advice