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You’ve bought your festival tickets months in advance, planned your transportation to get there, picked out the perfect outfits, and invited all your coolest friends to tag along. Now, where are you all going to stay? We’ve found some unique accommodations near the country’s most coveted fests that will make your trip more than memorable. Book now to score one of these incredible rooms before they’re gone.

RELATED: Get your festival tickets right here—even for events that are sold out!

Image courtesy of Ullr Fest

Ullr Fest, Breckenridge, CO: January 9-12, 2019

Horned Vikings take to the slopes in this annual festival held in Breckenridge that celebrates Ullr, God of Snow. Take a cold plunge and then warm yourself by a huge bonfire, participate in the parade as a float builder or spectator, join the ice skating party or watch the film festival. Rally your closest Viking buddies to stay at Ski Bridge Lodge, an upscale rustic home that sleeps up to 18 guest and offers ski in/ski out access, beautiful mountain views, large stone fireplaces and an outdoor hot tub. Get it now before its gone.

pod room in san francisco

Photo courtesy of Pod Room

Chinese New Year Parade, San Francisco: February 23, 2019

Celebrate the Year of the Pig with firecrackers, dancing dragons and extravagant floats in San Francisco’s Chinatown. While in town for the parade and festivities, book a Pod Room near Union Square for an experience like no other. If you’re going to be partying and dancing in the streets all night, all you’ll need is a bed to crash in. The Pod Room offers minimal accommodation (basically a 4×8-foot sleeping space) at a low price, but rooms will book quickly. Not recommended for those with claustrophobia!

Image courtesy of mardigrasneworleans.com

Mardi Gras, New Orleans: March 5, 2019

Take part in “Fat Tuesday” festivities during New Orleans’ wildest carnival celebration. Watch colorful floats pass by while sipping a foot-long frozen daiquiri and catching colorful bead necklaces thrown by scantily-dressed, masked performers. After a wild night, crawl into a comfortable bed in a Victorian cottage at the Audubon Cottages in the French Quarter. You’ll find seven quaint rooms to choose from including access to the backyard swimming pool and free continental breakfast. Book your room now before this walking-distance accommodation fills up.

Base Camp Pop Up RV and Tent Camping Resort.

Photo courtesy of Base Camp Pop Up RV and Tent

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Indio, CA: April 12-21, 2019

Swoon over your favorite vocalists, wear your coolest boho-chic outfit, dance your ass off and keep at eye out for celebs at Coachella. Social media influencers flock to this event for perfect Instagram pics and Snapchat videos. Embrace the desert atmosphere by booking a stylish tent at Base Camp Pop Up RV & Tent Camping Resort. The adults-only resort includes a pool, restaurant, and grocery store.The popularity of the event means that accommodation will fill up quickly, so book early to ensure a place to lay your head after an exhausting day of entertainment. Still need tickets? Get them here.

Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas: May 17-19, 2019

EDM fans won’t want to miss this vibrant fest and feast for the senses (get tickets here). Located on the sprawling grounds of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the venue is transformed into a huge circus-like dance party with an amazing lineup of artists, over-the-top stages that have unbelievable pyrotechnics and artistic lighting, thrilling carnival rides, and thought-provoking, larger-than-life interactive art experiences. The city will draw large crowds to this event, so consider snatching up accommodations at the mansion-like Promontory Ridge Villas. Each luxury villa features seven bedrooms, three pools, a massage room, a movie theater, a pool table room, multiple fireplaces, indoor/outdoor space for entertaining, elegant décor and top-notch amenities.

Image courtesy Summerfest

Summerfest, Milwaukee, WI: June 26–July 7, 2019

Kick off summer at this festival featuring all the things you love…live music, carnival rides, paddleboats, pizza and beer. What else do you need? Oh, yeah, first some tickets (right here) and then a place to crash! Snag a room now at Brumder Mansion Bed and Breakfast. Choose from three elegantly decorated suites with fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs. Listen to a vintage record in the library while sipping some tea underneath a sparkling chandelier. The refined accommodation will be a welcomed respite from the lively festival atmosphere.

Image courtesy of Crave Online

Comic-Con, San Diego, CA: July 18-21, 2019

Comic book and science fiction fans unite at this event where fictional characters leap to life. (Still need tickets? We got ’em.) What can be better than rubbing shoulders with your favorite super heroes? Well, how about spending the night on a 46-foot yacht? Zoina Yachts sleeps four and is docked in Point Loma. Each of the two bedrooms features a kitchenette and the facilities include three swimming pools. Your friends will think you’re Superman if you score this luxury accommodation before it gets swiped up.

Image courtesy of Lalapalooza

Lollapalooza, Chicago, IL: August 1-4, 2019

All your favorite music artists in one place and a lineup including around 170 of the best bands around. Your throat will be sore from screaming and singing, your feet will be sore from dancing and your face will be sore from grinning ear-to-ear. Book your tickets to the festival right here, and then immediately book your lodging at because they will go fast, too. Looking for a place to dorm with your best buddies? Check out the flashy new hotel-hostel FieldHouse Jones. If the cool rooms and common areas don’t win you over, surely the dining and drinking options—and River North location— will.

toronto - private house

Toronto Film Festival, Toronto, CAN: September 5-15, 2019

Movie buffs will not want to miss out on the Toronto Film Festival featuring film screenings, live music, conversations with industry leaders, and more. Why not host a movie premiere party at a stunning home in suburban Vaughan? This beautiful, four-bedroom private house has elegant decor, a beautiful kitchen, marble showers and outdoor entertaining space. Don’t miss the chance to score this premium place before another film fan gets his hands on it.

Albuquerque International Balloon Festival. Courtesy of a4gpa.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, NM: October 6-12

There is nothing more picturesque than a brilliant blue sky filled with hot air balloons of every color taking flight. Whether from the ground or from the balloon basket, attending the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is an event not to be missed. Sip champagne while soaring over the beautiful landscape and watching the sunset, photograph the graceful swarm of balloons as they drift across sky, or admire them at night while they light up like lanterns. For accommodations, stay at family-friendly Mother Road Hostel featuring 11 cozy rooms. More like a bed-and-breakfast than a hostel, the spot offers guests porch seating, a sitting library, outdoor barbecue, in-room desks, free WiFi and continental breakfast.

RELATED: Top 10 summer music festivals

Collective Governor's Island

Photo courtesy of Collective Governor’s Island

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York, NY: November 28

Pick your spot along the parade route and watch in wonder as marching bands, balloon characters, lively floats and celebrity guests pass by. While in New York, take advantage of the urban tentalow accommodation offered at Collective Governor’s Island. With rustic chic decor, an indoor-outdoor setting, views of the city, on-property dining and complimentary breakfast, these luxe glamping tents make for a wonderful getaway for a family or group of friends. Book now because this gem with only 10 guest rooms will go fast.

Image courtesy of Art Basel

Art Basel, Miami, FL: December

For those who enjoy modern and contemporary art, plus the vivaciousness of the Miami scene, Art Basel is something you won’t want to miss. While in Miami, stay at Blanc Kara for chic adult-only accommodations. The 25 guest rooms feature a clean, white palate that is brought to life with splashes of bright color. Grab a drink at the public lounge, whip up a meal in the in-room kitchen, or enjoy the daily breakfast buffet. You won’t want to miss out on these stylish accommodations, so book now before someone else beats you to it.

Tagged: California, Chicago, City, Destinations, Events, Festivals, Texas, Types of Travel

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It’s no secret that America has a love affair with Halloween. This beloved holiday inspires countless festivals and celebrations throughout the country every year, and each location has its own special brand of Halloween style… However, certain cities go the extra mile to make their haunted celebrations especially memorable. Here is our list of the four best Halloween festivals to fulfill your ghostly fantasies, in no particular order.

The Village Halloween Parade, New York City, NY

When: October 31, 7 p.m.
Where: On 6th AvenueNorth of Spring Street to 16th Street, New York City
Why it’s worth the trip:
The Village Halloween Parade is known for its huge community involvement and some serious theatrical aspects, which are to be expected when visiting NYC in the first place. All marching to live music from more than 50 bands, hundreds of haunting puppets, dancers and artists participate in this decades-old tradition. Not to mention the thousands of costumed civilians who join the parade each year, and are highly encouraged to do so.

This celebration is unique for how inclusive it strives to be, inviting Halloween enthusiasts of all walks of life, or death (get it?), to join in the fun. Need more convincing? This is a free event!

Here are the three steps you need to take to participate:

1. Wear your costume (duh)… Your most creative, creepy or crazy costume, to be exact.
2. Join the crowd at 6th Avenue and Canal Street.
3. Arrive between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. or risk missing the festivities entirely.

A common scene at the Village Halloween Parade in New York City: Revelers march in droves across the city, dressed head-to-toe in costumes, transforming the streets of New York into one of the best Halloween festivals in the country.

A common scene at the Village Halloween Parade in New York City, one of the most inclusive and best Halloween festivals. Photo credit: Joe Buglewicz. Provided by: NYC & Company

The Festival of the Dead, Salem, MA

When: The entire month! October features countless events here. The beset of the best take place towards the end of the month: the Witches’ Halloween Ball, Annual Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo and The Dinner with the Dead.
Where: At various locations in Salem… Which, if you didn’t know, is where the infamous witch trials occurred in the 1600s.
Why it’s worth the trip:
Because of the city’s historical significance, the best part about Salem’s Festival of the Dead is its odd brand of authenticity. But if you’ve ever been curious about modern-day witchcraft—and who isn’t?—this is the place to be. According to the festival’s official website, the Festival of the Dead is “an annual event series that explores death’s macabre customs, heretical histories, and strange rituals.”

And although the entire month of October offers up such “strange rituals”—among them, seances and graveyard conjures which, let’s be honest, sound awesome—the festivities closely surrounding All Hallows Eve are considered the main attractions. These include the official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball, Mourning Tea, the Dumb Supper and the Salem Witches’ Magic Circle.

The Halloween Ball is perhaps the biggest draw, taking place on October 28. Held in the historic Hawthorne Hotel, it offers way more than your typical Halloween party—besides the costume contests, live music and performances, you’ll be treated to psychic readings, drum circles and ancient ‘magical’ rituals, among other things. And that, folks, is what makes this one of the best Halloween festivals around.

You can dance with the devil on the dance floor at the Witches' Ball, a highlight of the Festival of the Dead in Salem, Massachusetts.

The dance floor at the Witches’ ball during the Festival of the Dead in Salem, Massachusetts. Photo credit: Chad Champeaux, provided by Destination Salem

Krewe of Boo Parade and other festivities in New Orleans, LA

When: Halloween is celebrated throughout the month of October in New Orleans, but the celebrations truly pick up the two weeks before the actual holiday.
Where: At various locations in New Orleans
Why it’s worth the trip:
Of course we had to include the American capital of voodoo and hauntings on our list of best Halloween festivals. After all, the famously devilish New Orleans always brings the ghosts to the party for this yearly blowout, which is second only to Mardi Gras in the city.

And while ghost tours in the city are offered all year round, they’re particularly creepy during the Halloween season (naturally). You can catch one such tour in the French Quarter, or in Uptown and the Garden District. You can also visit the world-famous cemeteries, which feature eery above-ground tombs and boast hundreds of ghost-encounter stories.

The annual Krewe of Boo parade has been welcoming the spirit world since 2007, and each year it grows in size. One thing is certain: Be prepared to catch flying swag thrown from the elaborately designed floats, or risk getting hit in the head. The parade typically begins at Elysian Fields and progresses through the French Quarter, passing through N. Peters and Decatur Streets, to Jackson Square, and then towards theWarehouse District, and all the way up to the Convention Center. And don’t miss the official after-party at Howlin Wolf. Naturally, it’s a costume party, so unless you want to look like a complete dud, wear something flashy.

On Halloween proper, head to the streets—literally. On All Hallows Eve, the French Quarter comes alive with street parties, most notably in the Faubourg Marginy. And while you’re here, you might want to stop by a voodoo shop or two… Just be careful with that purchase…

The terrifying and fun parade floats alone are enough reason to attend the New Orleans Halloween parade. The city's sordid and mysterious past only fuels the party, making it one of the best Halloween festivals anywhere.

One of the many parade floats at the New Orleans Halloween parade. Photo credit: New Orleans Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, Long Beach, CA

When: September 30 through October 31. Dark Harbor is open 7 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Where: 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach
Why it’s worth the trip:

Located on, and near, an already infamously haunted ship, it’s no wonder that the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is considered one of the best Halloween festivals in the country, offering a combination of interactive haunted house and themed carnival. Plus, tickets start at $20 online, meaning you can almost surely afford to get in, at least.

The inspiration for this frightening festival, the RMS Queen Mary, took her maiden voyage in 1936 and is the final resting place for souls from that era, or so it is said. Some sources say there are as many as 150 known spirits on the ship, and they have no intention of leaving. So the best thing you can do is show them a good time and hang out with them this October. You can even stay on the ship if you’re feeling very, very brave.

But that’s not all—Dark Harbor also offers some of the spookiest haunted mazes around. They’re so detailed that you may actually find yourself questioning what’s real and what’s fake…making it one of the best Halloween festivals, period.

Don't be surprised if you make a new friend or two at the Queen Mary's Dark Harbor. Photo provided by The ACE Agency and Queenmary.com

Don’t be surprised if you make a new friend or two at the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor. Photo provided by The ACE Agency and Queenmary.com

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Tagged: Holidays

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It’s easy to drop a lot of money in the Big Easy, largely due to *ahem* adult beverages. The good news is, it’s also pretty easy not to. The city’s overflowing with cheap eats and things to do, meaning you can pack your itinerary as much as you want. Here’s what to do with 24 hours in New Orleans without breaking the bank.

Start your day with an iconic New Orleans breakfast (7:15—8:15 a.m.)

Yes, 7:15 is early, but the early start—and coffee—will help you get everywhere you want to go today (and account for lines at this famous hotspot). Tuck into some beignets at Café du Monde while sipping a steaming cup of chicory coffee. The pastries’ sweet powdered-sugar blanket will give you plenty of energy for sightseeing, and this cheap breakfast will only set you back around $5–$6.

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Meet some talented locals and catch up on NOLA history (8:15–10:30 a.m.)

Thanks to the St. Louis Cathedral and the beautiful Presbytere, strolling around Jackson Square is sort of like stepping into a fairy-tale world. But in true New Orleans fashion, you’re likely to run into jazz musicians, artists, human statues and other performers along the way—all of which are free to watch, but tipping is the norm. After enjoying a little artistry with your vitamin D, head to the Presbytere museum to learn about Mardi Gras and the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city ($6 admission).

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Explore the ‘cities of the dead (10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.)

Next up is one of the city’s creepier attractions: its cemeteries. Stroll over to St. Louis Cemetery 1, home of the famous Madame Laveau, or hop on the bright red Canal Street trolley ($1.25 for a one-way ticket) for a quick, cheap trip uptown to St. Louis Cemetery 3. Whichever you choose, you won’t spend a dime tiptoeing around the ornate ‘cities of the dead’ and their crypts and monuments.

Eat a po’boy (12:30-1:30 p.m.)

It’s good, it’s cheap, and it’s right around the corner from St. Louis Cemetery 3. Welcome to casual local hangout Liuzza’s by the Track, which literally invented the BBQ shrimp po’boy ($15.95), making it a must-have menu item. Pair it with a cup of gumbo ($6.95) for a satisfying lunch.

Go window–shopping on Magazine Street (4:30–6:30 p.m.)

Magazine Street’s boutiques and galleries are ripe for window-shopping. Let your credit card rest (or not) and check out the bohemian jewelry at Stella Gray, the designer duds at Azby’s, and the vintage, European wares at Aux Belles Choses. If you need a snack, head to Blue Frog Chocolates and indulge in traditional New Orleans pralines and hand-dipped truffles.

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Stuff yourself with jambalaya (6:30–8:00 p.m.)

Head back to the French Quarter for dinner at the 21+, no-frills Coop’s Place (if you have kids, stick around Magazine Street for the famous oyster joint Casamento’s). Coop’s serves up some of the city’s best jambalaya—here, it’s made with rabbit and sausage ($5.75–$11.95). An appetizer of crabmeat-stuffed jalapeno peppers ($8.95) makes it a feast worthy of budgeting kings.

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Have a drink or three (8:00–10:30 p.m.)

It’s time for that famous New Orleans right of passage—drinking your way down the French Quarter‘s infamous Bourbon Street. We suggest diving into a sweet, rum-filled Hurricane at the bar that created it: Pat O’Brien’s. While you’re at it, request a song from the dueling pianos. And even though it’s technically not on Bourbon Street, we’d suggest splurging at the infamous Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone anyway. Jockey for a seat at the rotating carousel bar, if you can, and sip a Vieux Carre ($12), which was invented here.

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End the evening on a high note (10:30 p.m.–12:30 a.m.)

…with some live jazz on Frenchman Street. You can stumble straight onto it from Bourbon Street, provided that you’re walking northeast. The city’s best jazz clubs line this famous musical avenue, which is a lot less raucous than its rowdy neighbor to the south. So grab a drink and settle in at legendary spots like The Spotted Cat and Blue Nile to hear the best New Orleans has to offer. Just know that some places charge cover, and you’ll likely have to buy a drink or two.

Go to sleep (12:30a.m.)

It’s back to the hotel with you! Whether you’re heading for the airport in the morning, or gearing up to do it all over again, you’ll need your beauty sleep.

CTIXblog CTA _ cheap of the week

Tagged: City, Food & drink, Music

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Since the beginning of the format, movies have been inextricably tied to music. Energy packed opening theme songs propel the film into motion and soaring orchestras enhance the emotional impact of poignant scenes. On the other hand, movies have the ability to catapult an otherwise unmemorable song into the limelight. These three movies that changed the music scene did so more than the rest: not only were they elevated by their soundtracks, they also left a lasting impact on the music scene, changing it for the better.

1. “Live and Let Die”
The James Bond franchise has long been associated with iconic music. Each film’s opening credits feature a powerful track by one of the top performers of the day. Some are hits, while others are less than killer. The verdict is still out on Sam Smith’s song for “Spectre,” but there are more than 50 years of Bond music to listen to and evaluate. Rolling Stone called “The Man With the Golden Gun” the absolute worst song of the bunch, due to its creepy unambiguous lyrics.

Paul and Linda McCartney’s “Live and Let Die,” however, is absolute lyrical gold. The New Orleans-based Bond film of the same name was the first Bond flick to feature a rock and roll track, and it absolutely delivered. If you want to get away for the weekend and rock out in the French Quarter with the femme fatale or MI6 agent in your life, you don’t need to break Her Majesty’s royal bank. Scoring cheap rock concert tickets and being suave go together like olives in a dirty martini.

2. “This Is Spinal Tap”
The cult classic mockumentary “This is Spinal Tap” wasn’t an immediate hit, but since its release on home video, the fictional band has gained quite the following. The stars of the film have gone from faking British accents on screen to releasing actual full-length albums. They’ve even performed live for packed houses around the globe. In an interview with The Wrap, one of the film’s stars, Christopher Guest, said that the band has even played Carnegie Hall, any musician’s dream.

Spinal Tap’s “Smell the Glove” tour might not have gone so well, but you can follow their route down the west coast by seeing some live shows in venues between Seattle and San Francisco.

3. “School of Rock”
This Jack Black comedy introduced 70s and 80s rock and roll to an all-new audience. Both in the film and in theaters across the country, kids were introduced to Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and The Clash, among other heavy hitting classic rock bands. It’s been 12 years since the film’s release, meaning that all of the child actors have grown up, some of whom have made big careers in show business.

Give a nod to the kids of Horace Green Prep by nabbing some cheap classic rock tickets in a city near you. For those about to rock on the cheap, we salute you!

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Tagged: California, City, Music, New York City, Uncategorized

Alexander Santo

Alexander Santo

Alexander Santo

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Vote for your favorite city in the CheapTickets All-American Barbecue Smackdown

Like the best barbecue, this competition is going to get messy. Claim your city as a BBQ boss! Go to our Facebook to vote for your favorite barbecue destination in the CheapTickets “All American Barbecue Smack Down” through June 29, 2015. Vote and you’ll be entered to win a trip for two to your favorite all-American destination. The best barbecue city gets bragging rights for a whole year.

CTIX BBQ CTANo purchase necessary. Contest open only to legal residents of the United States (including the District of Columbia) who are 18 years or older at the time of entry. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Click here for complete contest rules.

The CheapTickets top 10 BBQ cities

You could just take our word for it. If your fingers have an overwhelming need to be covered in sauce, don’t worry–we’ve taken it upon ourselves to search for America’s best barbecue cities. Our booking and survey data reveals the top 10 cities for BBQ in the United States, with Memphis, Austin and newcomer San Antonio topping this year’s finger-licking list.

CTIX BBQ graph

Think outside the pit with these top BBQ picks

Any ‘cue enthusiast knows that there’s more to the perfect BBQ than ribs and sauce. Don’t get us wrong, it’s important, but we want to think outside the pit to honor those that go the extra delicious mile. Within the top five BBQ cities, we’ve sniffed out two leaders per BBQ category.

BEST SANDWICH

Order the Z-Man at Joe’s Kansas City BBQKansas City, Kansas

Behind every legendary sandwich is a legendaryregular. This one’s name is Mike Zarrick, a local sports talk radio jockey who goes by the name Z-Man. This mouth-watering mammoth is made with “sliced smoked brisket, smoked provolone cheese, a couple of onion rings, and a bit of barbecue sauce all on top of a Kaiser roll.” In 2013, it was speculated that the Z-Man sandwich helped the KC Royals get back on a winning streak, so have yourself a Z-Man before heading to Kauffman Stadium to root for the home team.

Z-man sandwich; Photo courtesy of Joe’s Kansas City BBQ

Z-man sandwich; Photo courtesy of Joe’s Kansas City BBQ

Runner up: The Cochon De Lait Po’ Boy at Walker’s Southern BBQNew Orleans, Louisiana

This sandwich puts all other po’ boys to shame. It is the po’ king. Make Walker’s Southern BBQ your first stop in NoLa, because it’s only three miles from the airport, but a 10-mile trek from Bourbon Street. French for ‘suckling pig,’ the Cochon De Lait is tender pulled pork in a tangy house-made sauce topped with coleslaw. The Walkers open at 10:30 a.m. for lunch and close when they sell out, so get there early.

MOST UNUSUAL BBQ DISH

Order the BBQ Spaghetti at The Bar-B-Q ShopMemphis, Tennessee

Even BBQ purists will be asking fora second heap of noodles topped with smoky, tender pork and a uniquely tangy sub-breed of spaghetti sauce. Though it has become a Memphis staple, this dish is best consumed at The Bar-B-Q Shop where they still use the original recipe from the previous owner and inventor of BBQ spaghetti. What goes better than spaghetti and kids? Bring your brood after a day at the Memphis Zoo, less than a mile away.

BBQ spaghetti; Photo courtesy of Yelp

BBQ spaghetti; Photo courtesy of Yelp

Runner up: The Brisket Ramen at The Granary ‘Cue & BrewSan Antonio, Texas

Come for the Brisket Ramen and stay for the handcrafted brews. Chow down on this Asian-cue fusion of “smoked shoyu broth, brown ale noodles, onsen egg, ‘cue shallots, and collard greens,” and wash it down with The Granary’s rotating seasonal beer like a black IPA. The Granary is set in San Antonio’s Pearl Brewery Community, which is the perfect place to spend an afternoon strolling the riverfront and people watching.

BEST FIXINS (A.K.A. SIDES)

Order the Blue Cheese Coleslaw at Kerlin BBQAustin, Texas

Austin has an undeniable cool factor, so it’s only fitting that it’s also home to the best cool, creamy ‘slaw that ever graced a plate of BBQ. You can forget counting coleslaw as a healthier side option to mac ‘n’ cheese, because this fixin’ is loaded with creamy blue cheese and mayo. Go on a clear day, because you’ll be eating outside. Kerlin BBQ is a no-thrills operation (think stationary food truck and picnic tables) in Austin’s hipster hood: East Austin. You don’t have to have a mustache or cool leg tattoo to get in—just order the ‘slaw, and they’ll know you can hang.

Blue cheese coleslaw; Photo courtesy of Yelp

Blue cheese coleslaw; Photo courtesy of Yelp

Runner up: The Sweet Potato Casserole at The Big Bib BBQSan Antonio, Texas

All good BBQ famously mixes the savory with the sweet, but the folks over at Big Bib BBQ are probably still wondering if their Sweet Potato Casserole belongs on the dessert menu or the sides menu. This dish is so sweet it’s essentially a sweet potato cake. Work up a good appetite before devouring this fixin’ with a hike along the Salando Creek Greenway just across the highway from Big Bib.

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Tagged: City, Family, Food & drink, FREE!, Holidays, Seasonal

Kelsie Ozamiz

Kelsie Ozamiz

Kelsie Ozamiz

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Calling cities by their nicknames seems to be a trait common among tourists, but that’s not to say locals don’t occasionally use their city’s nickname with endearment. These terms have become commonplace in our vocabulary, but their origin stories dig a little deeper into history.

NYC – The Big Apple

New York City. A breeding ground for culture, excitement and hope. For centuries people have flocked there, be it to visit, study or live. The city has fostered its people and theircultures, making or breaking them. There are languages spoken on the NYC streets that have gone extinct in other parts of the world. There are foods cooked in NYC kitchens that cannot be found anywhere else in America. Everyone has a story to tell or a story to write, and they come to NYC to do it. People the world over know of the endless opportunities the Big Apple presents, and seemingly everyone is eager to take a bite.

But what does that mean, exactly? Where did that analogy come from? And the even bigger question, who decided that an apple represented opportunity?

A clipping of John J. Fitz Gerald's 1920s column "About the Big Apple." Photo courtesy of BarryPopik.com.

A clipping of John J. Fitz Gerald’s 1920s column “About the Big Apple.” Photo courtesy of BarryPopik.com.

Entomologists have traced the origin of the “Big Apple” reference back to a 1924 column in the New York Morning Telegraph. A guy named John J. Fitz Gerald wrote a column called “Around the Big Apple,” which documented NYC happenings and reportedly popularized the phrase.

But where did Fitz Gerald get it? Experts think he heard the phrase being used by some stablehands in New Orleans years before his column ran. They referred to NYC as the “big apple,” and as the most desirable destination. Back in those days, when apples were sold in barrels, farmers used to put the nice big ones on top, for aesthetic purposes. People would assume the rest of the barrel was also full of big, juicy, delicious-looking apples and buy that barrel. Of course if the barrels were shipped, the small apples fell to the bottom anyway.

So the big apples were the most desirable. Horses, as you may know, love apples, which is probably why stablehands were so concerned with which ones were desirable.

Manhattan in the early 1900s. Photo courtesy of Sivi Steys.

Manhattan in the early 1900s. Photo courtesy of Sivi Steys.

And so, the connection was drawn. Big apples were the cream of the crop. New York City is the most enticing place to be. Both were things stablehands longed for. So New York City became fondly known as the Big Apple.

“The big apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a leg over a thoroughbred and the dream of all horsemen. There’s only one Big Apple. That is New York.”

Honolulu – The Big Pineapple

Possibly a play on New York City’s renowned nickname, The Big Pineapple is one of several nicknames for the capital of Hawaii, and it’s more than just a play on words.

Tourism has been Hawaii’s main industry since it achieved statehood in 1959, but the pineapple industry also plays a significant role in the state’s income.

Pineapple fields outside of Honolulu. Photo courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.

Pineapple fields outside of Honolulu. Photo courtesy of San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.

Honolulu alone is home to multiple pineapple plantations and canneries, including the Dole Pineapple Plantation and the Hawaiian Pineapple Company.

Although some global powers are starting to move in on the pineapple business, it’s something that has for decades been rooted into the culture of Honolulu, and Hawaii as a whole.

The pineapple is also known as a symbol of friendship and welcome, which also factors in to Honolulu’s nickname.

Aloha.

Chicago – The Windy City

Chicago’s infamous nickname carries two meanings, neither of which are particularly positive. (It’s kind of funny how time has a way of making these initially biting nicknames so endearing, isn’t it?)

One side of the moniker comes from the physical winds that whip off Lake Michigan and are funneled by the skyscrapers Downtown, making for a lovely commute in the winter months.

The other half is a sort of slur toward the residents and politicians of Chicago, meaning that they’re full of wind, bombastic and boastful.

Chicago skyline, 1939. Photo by Charles Dunlap

Chicago skyline, 1939. Photo by Charles Dunlap

The first recorded use of the “windy city” nickname – in the pompous sense – wasn’t even referencing Chicago. Someone in Wisconsin used the term to describe Green Bay in 1856, but Chicago’s rival Midwest cities quickly began using to the term in a more derogatory sense.

In the 1870s, Cincinnati newspapers were constantly using the term to slam Chicago, entomologists have found. The word battles newspapers inthe two cities got into were so vicious other media outlets around the country reported on them. The rivalry might have stemmed from the fact that both Cincinnati and Chicago were referred to as “Porkopolis” in the late 1800s because of their meat processing industries, and Cincinnati was trying to coin a different nickname for Chicago. Of course the rivalry between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Whites didn’t help much, either.

The newspaper rivalry eventually fizzled out, but the nickname endured.

Las Vegas – Sin City

The origin of Las Vegas’ nickname might seem a little obvious, what with it offering almost any vice imaginable to the visitor. But all that sinning had to start somewhere, and that Garden of Eden was Block 16.

Located on First Street between Ogden and Stewart Avenues, Block 16 became famous in the early 1900s, first for being able to legally sell liquor without licensing restrictions and second for blatantly offering prostitution.

Las Vegas sign. Photo courtesy of  InSappoWeTrust.

Las Vegas sign. Photo courtesy of InSappoWeTrust.

It was a place out of an old Western film. Scantily-clad prostitutes worked the dusty saloons and gave owners a cut of their profit.

One of the first gambling halls, The Arizona Club, was among the saloons and bars on Block 16, the Las Vegas Sun reported. And when prohibition rolled around in the 1920s, Block 16 remained untouched.

City officials were fully aware of the scandalous behavior occurring behind swinging saloon doors on Block 16, but didn’t do anything about it until the U.S. Army built a gunnery school nearby. Army officials started raising hell about the sinning, and the city was desperate for their business, so that was that.

After World War II, Block 16 was bulldozed into a parking lot and remains so today. But the bulldozers couldn’t put an end to the sin in the city, and Las Vegas was built up around it.

Boston – Bean Town

Boston’s nickname, like the city itself, dates back to colonial times. Although experts believe that Native Americans were eating beans long before Christopher Columbus even set foot on the continent.

Brown beans and bread were a staple in colonial America – being cheap, storable and easy to cook – and remained such into the 1900s. But experts say Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to cook beans and sweeten them. Even the bean pot was a Native American invention.

A postcard from 1911. Courtesy of Boston Public Library.

A postcard from 1911. Courtesy of Boston Public Library.

There was one deviation from the Native American’s recipe. Experts think that if they sweetened them, they would have used maple syrup, a product native to the homeland. But the Triangular Trade – a trade route that sailed between Europe, Africa, the Caribbean and New England, often in that order – brought molasses from the British West Indies to New England. Bostonians quickly adapted that as their bean sweetener.

As the pilgrims and Puritans became more established, they strictly observed the Sabbath, and would not even cook on Sundays. Beans could be cooked on Saturday and stored in the oven until Sunday, providing a warm meal on the Sabbath.

View of Boston from Breed's Hill, 1898. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

View of Boston from Breed’s Hill, 1898. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

Beans remained a common food among the plebeians and immigrants through the turn of the century, and in the early 1900s, Boston’s nickname became nationally known as the result of a publicity stunt.

In 1907, Boston hosted a sort of homecoming event called Old Home Week. To promote it, 1 million stickers with the image of two hands clasping over a bean pot were printed and distributed. The image made news, and soon was replicated on postcards and other materials, cementing Boston’s nickname as Bean Town.

Puts a little more meaning behind the bowl of Boston’s baked beans you’re eating, doesn’t it?

New Orleans – The Big Easy

Life in New Orleans is easy going like jazz, and it’s common knowledge the city derives its nickname from its lifestyle. But the origins of the epithet are a bit contentious.

Legend has it that there was once a jazz club in New Orleans called Big Easy, but any concrete evidence of the club’s existence has yet to be uncovered.

Images of musicians in a New Orleans establishment. Photo courtesy of Lindy Duchaine.

Images of musicians in a New Orleans establishment. Photo courtesy of Lindy Duchaine.

A gossip columnist at the Times-Picayune claimed to have coined the phrase in the early 1970s, making a comparison to life in New York City, the Big Apple. Her obituary notes that she helped popularized the nickname, but James Conaway, author of a crime novel called “The Big Easy,” reportedly claims the phrase as his own.

According to his story, the nickname was born in a fashion similar to New York City’s nickname. He says he heard the phrase used as slang on the streets of New Orleans while covering crime, and that the columnist first heard the phrase from him.

Whichever story is true, the nickname stuck, and the city continues to live up to it.

 Story by Ally Marotti

Tagged: City, Las Vegas

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The same way Canadian geese fly south in late fall, we travel-lusting people of the world all seem to flock to the same locations at the same time—Mexico and the Caribbean in March, Europe in June, Hawaii pretty much anytime of the year.

Fighting the instinctual urge to travel during peak season means cheaper rates and smaller crowds. Avoid paying an arm and a leg; here’s a list of travel-friendly shoulder seasons to take advantage of year-round.

Utah in summer

The Rocky Mountains in general arebreath-taking during the summer. Salt Lake City and Park City draw in large numbers of skiers and snowboarders in the winter, so that’s when they make their bread and butter. The summer months see smaller crowds. Ski-centric towns usually drop their hotels rates by $100-$200 during summer and fall. To the southeast and less elevated part of the state, Moab is home to nature-carved red rocks not to be missed. Strike out on a more frugal outdoorsy vacation from June-September to experience some of the best mountain biking, hiking, white water rafting and outdoor concerts in the nation.

moahb

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah; Credit: Gautam Dogra ©

New Orleans in late summer and fall

Mardi Gras may only come once a year, but New Orleans is full of life year-round. The absolute cheapest time to go is in the peak of summer, but it’s hit or miss on if you’ll enjoy yourself. It depends on how you feel about extremely damp heat. So let it cool down a tad; plan your jazzy trip for the tail end of summer or early fall. The 4-star JW Marriott New Orleans has rates as low as $149 in August, while they reach a high not at $289 during February festivities. The party on Bourbon Street never actually stops, so be sure to pack your party pants.

New Orleans; Credit: Jeff Turner©

New Orleans; Credit: Jeff Turner ©

Ireland in March

You’d think withSt. Patrick’s Day in March, Ireland would be a giant island of festivities and high hotel prices. Actually, the holiday in its homeland isn’t the drinking day it’s become in the U.S. It can cost $200-$300 less to travel during early spring, namely March, than in the summer. Don’t worry about the weather; it’s rare to have anything more than an occasional flurry in Ireland’s winter due to The Gulf Stream, and by March, some of that famous green is starting to regain it’s hue. Book now so you can start planning your itinerary.

Muckross Head, County Donegal, Ireland; Oisin Mulvihill ©

Muckross Head, County Donegal, Ireland; Oisin Mulvihill ©

Mexico in summer

Northern Americans and anyone who shares their latitude, know that the only thing getting them through winter is the dream of a beach vacation in the spring. To Mexico they go! Spring breakers, families, couples, girls weekends, everyone. Except you, you savvy little cheapo, you. All-in-one packages for July travel will only set you back about $800-$900, while the same package in February and March clocks in at $1,000-$1,100. Hold off on the all-inclusive Cozumel package until June or July. It’ll be hot, but you’ll have constant access to a pool and/or beach, and your tan will be legend. Be careful of hurricane season, which is known to pick up in Augusttoward the end of the summer.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico; ramonbaile ©

Playa del Carmen, Mexico; ramonbaile ©

Costa Rica in July and August

Central America is a beautiful destination where most nations are affected by a wet and dry season. Costa Rica’s wet season runs June to November, which leaves it pretty empty of tourists. No one wants to go and get rained on, true, but this wet season acts a lot like an isolated daily shower. Julyand August typically see the least amount of rain within this time period. The short-lived rains sometimes happen over night and if they strike during the day, it’s usually not enough to ruin your plans.

La Fortuna Falls, Costa Rica; Credit: Kyle May ©

La Fortuna Falls, Costa Rica; Credit: Kyle May ©

 

Tagged: Beach, Family, FREE!, International, Mexico, Off-season, Tips & advice

Kelsie Ozamiz

Kelsie Ozamiz

Kelsie Ozamiz

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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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‘Tis the season for holiday travel. And while that may bring visions of flight delays and long security lines, don’t despair. CheapTickets wants to spread some holiday cheer. We’ve compiled a list of free holiday events in a selection of cities across the country, and we’re sharing them here in a two-part series. Consider it our holiday gift to you.

If you’ve got airline tickets and hotel reservations for one of these warm-weather destinations, you’ll have plenty of ways to celebrate:

Los angeles hotels
LOS ANGELES

  • The Light of the Angels: This seven-minute multimedia light display runs nightly December 4-31 at 7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m. at NOKIA Plaza. A key feature of the program is a 37,500-pound tree with 11,000 lights.
  • Marina del Ray Holiday Boat Parade: A fireworks show kicks off the event just before 6 p.m.; then boats decorated with lights circle through the harbor. December 13.
  • DWP Light Festival: From Thanksgiving weekend to the end of December, this mile-long Crystal Springs Drive route in Griffith Park turns into L.A.’s most awesome display of holiday lighting. Open 5 -10 p.m.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego has a ready list of 25 free activities for holiday travelers to enjoy. Here are a few highlights:

  • Coronado Christmas Open House and Parade: Santa arrives by ferry, and a concert follows the parade.
  • Balboa Park: Free organ concerts with holiday music. Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. And don’t miss the "Whoville" decorations outside the Old Globe Theater in honor of the production "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
  • La Jolla Christmas Parade and Festival: December 7
  • Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights: Over 100 brightly lit boats parade along Mission Bay. December 13
  • Horse-drawn carriage rides: In Escondido. December 1, 8, 15, and 22; 5-9 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS

  • Cathedral Christmas Concerts: Local choirs perform holiday music in the historic St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square. Select evenings at 6 p.m. from December 1-22.
  • Cooking Demonstrations: Celebrated local chefs share their secrets for making delicious recipes. Select days at 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. December 2-20.

FORT LAUDERDALE

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, FREE!

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Flightsblog
Cheap tickets make travel easy. And CheapTickets is making it easy for you to plan a weekend getaway in September with cheap flights to cities across the U.S.

Check out these sample airfares (which include all taxes and fees):

  • Atlanta to Los Angeles: $309
  • Chicago to Las Vegas: $287
  • New Orleans to New York City: $252
  • New York City to Ft. Lauderdale: $173
  • San Francisco to Chicago: $274
  • Philadelphia toOrlando: $151

These cheap tickets are for travel in September — leaving Thursday through Saturday and returning Sunday through Tuesday.

September is right around the corner. So pick a weekend and find your cheap tickets.

CheapTickets resources:

 

Tagged: City, Flights, FREE!, Limited-time Offers