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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

The weather is still good, and many indoor locations are still closed. What’s a traveler to do? How about seek out a rad staircase or two? Not only do these fanciful locations serve up some serious Instagram inspo, they can also double as an ad-hoc gym. (Not that you need any excuse to double down on the traveling treats.) Read on to find out where you can become the ultimate stair climber.

RELATED: 7 new “eat streets” to check out in U.S. cities this summer

Micheltorena Stairs: Los Angeles

Flickr CC: Shinya Suzuki, photo has been color corrected

Located in Silver Lake, just off Sunset boulevard (exact address: 3400 Sunset Blvd), the Micheltorena Stairs are the most beautiful of LA’s network of secret staircases. The Instagramable pastel steps and bright red hearts are the work of Corinne Carrey, who launched her secret beautification at night. But its power to brighten up the neighborhood is clear as day.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps: San Francisco

Flickr CC: sergejf

A dazzling staircase so popular that it even has its own website. The tiling reminiscent of a starry night began in 2003 by artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher as a way to connect the community, and each panel on the 163 steps is handmade. Visit on a nice day and stop by the southside gardens after you’ve made your trek.

Shakespeare and Jerome Avenue: NYC

You don’t have to be a psychopath with questionable taste in music to appreciate where Joaquin Phoenix cut loose during his infamous Joker staircase dance routine. Go ahead and saunter down the steps. Just keep the honorary residents of Gotham in the surrounding buildings in mind, and keep the noise down while you catch the ultimate photo opp.

East Lake Stairs: Atlanta

It’s 2020. Joy is limited. Do you really need a reason to climb a rainbow staircase? 

Wilcox Wall stairs: Seattle

Remember those magic eye posters that dominated the 1990s? Seattle’s Wilcox Wall Stairs are basically that…in stair form. Built in 1913 by Walter Wilcox, the 464 steps emerge from the ornate concrete, and take you on a visually dazzling trip under a series of Gothic arches. Bring a pair of earphones to drown out the nearby traffic, and it’s as close as you’ll get to a walk back in time.

Fort Worth Water Gardens: Forth Worth

Flickr CC: Rodney

Designed by Phillip Johnson in 1974, the Fort Worth Water Gardens is perhaps the most elaborate fountain/cooling oasis you’ll ever visit on a hot Texas day. Walking down the terraced steps allows you to become one with the cascading blue water—or at least as one as you can become without a change of clothes. Bring lunch and hang out by the quiet pool after finishing your mini trek.

Meridian Hill, Malcolm X Park: Washington DC

Flickr CC: Ben Schumin

Good news for runners—10 trips up and down the stairs in Malcolm X Park is roughly a mile. The steps gradual incline is custom made for speed. Or for strolling if you’re just in it to admire the aristocratic-like scenery of President John Quincy Adams’ former home.

The Oakley Street Mosaic Staircase: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is a hilly city, which the South Side Slopes took advantage of when they commissioned artist Laura Jean McLaughlin to create a series of playful mosaics, depicting colorful creatures and characters. Because we all need a little fantasy while working out.

 

Tagged: California, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, City, Destinations, L.A., New York City, seattle, Texas, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Seaplane tours of San Francisco include the Golden Gate Bridge. Credit: WKHarmon.

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay is one way to experience San Francisco, but an aerial tour that hugs the coastline and circles the Golden Gate Bridge is another.  Fly high above San Francisco to experience the City by the Bay far from the ground.

Peninsula and bay tours are offered by several companies, but for one tour you actually go to a dock on the bay at Fisherman’s Wharf to take flight. With Golden Gate Seaplane Flight Tours, visitors takeoff to watch waves crash along the rugged Pacific coastline, marvel at the skyline and Transamerica Pyramid and look down at the size of old growth forests in Muir Woods.

After a seaplane tour, return to one of many cheap San Francisco hotels offered by CheapTickets, including the Hotel Majestic San Francisco or Hotel Zoe Fisherman’s Wharf.

Thanks to its moderate coastal climate, there’s no bad time to visit San Francisco but fall, when temperatures are warmer and sunshine is more abundant, is one the most ideal.

Tagged: California, City

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Derek Brown

Derek Brown

Derek is a producer, travel writer and explorer who recently moved to New York City from Chicago.
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Important coronavirus travel update: Many of CheapTickets’s trusted airline partners are waiving change fees for eligible new bookings. Find an updated list of airlines here, and stay informed about your flexible travel options.

Since weather wise fall is the Bay Area’s version of summer, it also makes it the perfect time to take your dining outdoors. Here are the Bay Area’s best places to picnic, including nearby restaurants and cafes where you can gather grub for your al fresco feast. Remember to pack a blanket and a parka with your picnic—just in case the famous fog rolls in.

RELATED: 10 free things to do in San Francisco

Angel Island State Park

Golden Gate bridge as seen from Angel Island, California

Golden Gate bridge as seen from Angel Island

Located on San Francisco Bay near Tiburon, this island has a history that includes acting as a detention center for immigrants in the early 1900s, processing prisoners of war and serving as a Nike missile defense base in the late 1950s. Now a state park, day-trippers reach it via ferries departing from San Francisco and Tiburon. In addition to picnicking, you can hike or bike around the island on paved roads and well-marked trails. Trams also circle the island.

Picnic pick-up: Near the ferry landing, Angel Island Cafe is a convenient back-up if you don’t have time to pack a picnic beforehand or if you want a little something more. The Cantina, which features live music and fresh oysters, operates seasonally (Jun–Oct). You can also order a box lunch for pick-up when you arrive.

 

Golden Gate Park 

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Golden Gate Park | Photo: Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Of course, there are endless picnic spots in this giant park that is larger even than Manhattan’s Central Park. Two favorites are Hippie Hill, which is legendary for being a gathering place in the ‘60s, and Strawberry Island, which is across a foot bridge from the Stow Lake Boathouse and has picnic tables and a waterfall. Afterward, rent a paddle boat and float for a while on the lake.

Picnic pick-up: Say Cheese is a long-established shop in nearby Haight-Ashbury, where you can fill your picnic basket with a selection of hundreds of cheeses and perhaps a made-to-order sandwich, some pate and a few cookies. As a back-up, a cafe at Stow Lake serves hamburgers and hot dogs, as well as cold beer and hot espresso drinks.

 

Jack Early Park 

Head here if you’re in the mood for an intimate, or maybe even solo, picnic.  A climb up the 63 tree-lined steps may take your breath away, but the pay off is that it leads you up to a platform offering a breathtaking view spanning three bridges: the Golden Gate, San Rafael–Richmond, and Bay Bridge. Located on the outskirts of North Beach, this hidden park is wee, but has a bench at the top to rest upon and enjoy your lunch. The park is gated at night.

Picnic pick-up: Swing by nearby Molinari Delicatessen in North Beach. Take a number as you walk in, and order up made-to-order sandwiches and more. This old-school Italian deli was established in 1896 and is the oldest in town. It’s also a local institution.

 

Mission Dolores Park 

Mission Dolores Park, San Francisco

Mission Dolores Park | Photo: Carole Terwilliger Meyers

The sun shines more reliably in the Mission District, so this park is extremely  popular on weekends. It features rolling expanses of grass, with limited shade provided by tall palm trees. Spread a blanket and then sit back to enjoy the spectacular view of the city’s skyline.  Facilities include a tennis court, a basketball court, a playground and several off-leash dog play areas.

Picnic pick-up: Located on the northwest corner of the park, the deli counter at Bi-Rite Market will fulfill your picnic fantasies. They also stock a good selection of kombucha, and for dessert check out the wall of chocolate bars or pick up some housemade chocolate mousse or a dessert jar. Or . . . cross the street to Bi-Rite Creamery for some yummy ice cream and eat your dessert before your picnic.

 

Presidio Main Parade Ground

Presidio Parade Grounds

Presidio Parade Grounds

In 1898, this 7-acre expanse of grass served as a training site for soldiers who lived in the adjacent red-brick barracks. It’s hard to believe now, but in 1937, the area was paved over to serve as a parking lot. Fortunately, it was changed back to a green space in 2011, so now you can picnic your heart out here. One of the buildings has been converted into the Walt Disney Family Museum.

Picnic pick-up: Time your visit for a Sunday between April and October, and you can participate in an official Presidio Picnic. You can still bring your own picnic or purchase a portable feast from a variety of food trucks featuring international cuisines. Free live entertainment is usually part of the mix.

Transamerica Redwood Park 

It is exciting enough to find a small park among the skyscrapers, but even better that it’s next to the famous Transamerica Pyramid building and filled with toddler redwoods standing up to 100-feet tall. Benches and tables are available. Note that the park is open weekdays only, from 7am to 5:30pm.

Picnic pick-up: Just across the street, Sushirrito mixes together two of the Bay Area’s favorite foods—sushi and burritos. There is usually a line, but it is worth the wait for a great sushi roll, perhaps the popular sumo crunch featuring spicy tempura. Order ahead and pick up your picnic ready to go.

Wave Organ

Wave Organ, San Francisco

Wave Organ | Photo: Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Located at the eastern tip of the breakwater forming the Marina Yacht Harbor, this unique attraction is off the beaten path. It was designed by an artist with the Exploratorium, when that science museum was situated just a few blocks away at the Palace of Fine Arts—another great picnic destination. Find a perfect spot here, then relax while enjoying the natural symphony made by pipes submerged in the Bay. A spectacular view of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge is included.

Picnic pick-up: Located on the Marina’s trendy Chestnut Street, Lucca Delicatessen has been owned by the same family since 1929.  Pick up a basket full of picnic supplies here, from made-to-order sandwiches to housemade salads to Italian wines.

 

Old Mill Park: Mill Valley 

Old Mill Park, Mill Valley

Old Mill Park | Photo: Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Meanwhile, just across the bay in Marin, picnicking at a table under mature second-growth redwoods is magical. When the table is within a fairy-ring circle of giant redwoods—you’re almost beyond a wildest dream. Add in a free public park with a small stream and picturesque sawmill ruins and you’ve got a memorable picnic site. This park has a small playground and is especially fun with children.

Picnic pick-up: Another old-timer, the small but well-stocked Mill Valley Market has been family-owned since 1929. Locally made products are the specialty, and a deli/bakery tucked in the back purveys prepared salads and baked goods.

 

U.C. Berkeley Campanile: Berkeley 

U.C. Berkeley campus, Campanile

U.C. Berkeley campus, Campanile

Head to the East Bay to see how fun it can be to drop a blanket in the shadow of Cal’s famous Campanile and settle in for a picnic feast while listening to a concert played out on the bells above. Do check the concert schedule because it changes regularly. And do plan in the time to take the Campanile’s elevator up to enjoy a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. You might want do what new Cal graduates sometimes do and enjoy a picnic of just champagne and strawberries.

Picnic Pick-up: In the Gourmet Ghetto, around the corner from world-famous Chez Panisse, is charming Grégoire—an upscale hole-in-the-wall. The accomplished chef here produces French take-out made from scratch with fresh local ingredients. He is justly famous for crispy round potato puffs and a flaky housemade apple tarte tatin, but it is hard to go wrong here. You can place your order online and then pick up your picnic ready to go in sweet corrugated boxes with black-and-white liners. A few picnic tables are available outside the shop should you be unable to wait.

Central Park: San Mateo  

Draeger’s Market | Photo: Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Over in San Mateo, this traditional suburban park holds 16 acres of trees, a miniature train ride and a Japanese Tea Garden, as well as a baseball field, playground and tennis courts. It also has several official picnic areas with tables and barbecue grills.

Picnic Pick-up: An immense emporium, Draeger’s Market boasts grocery items but also a deli, a bakery, a sushi bar and a smoothie bar, as well as a wine-tasting room and cooking school (if you want to make your own picnic). A second floor purveys cookbooks and housewares, and items such as fancy napkins that might come in handy for a picnic.

Tagged: Food & drink

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Carole is a Berkeley-based travel writer who most especially enjoys cultural and culinary travel. She contributes to an assortment of publications and is the author of 18 books. Carole oversees two websites, berkeleyandbeyond.com and webcamtraveler.com, and she blogs at travelswithcarole.blogspot.com.
Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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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

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Sharael Kolberg
Sharael, founder of Family Travel Channel (familytravelchannel.com), has been writing about travel since 1995. Her work has appeared in Sunset magazine, Outside magazine, ForbesTravelGuide.com, MSN.com, and many others. Follow her on Twitter @FamTravChannel, FB and Instagram @FamilyTravelChannel. See more of her work at Sharael.com.
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Speakeasy bars during the Prohibition era were everywhere. And nowhere. Boozers were required to remain hush-hush, lest their favorite backdoor moonshine distillery be discovered by the police and promptly shut down. Today, we are free to enjoy a cocktail or seven wherever we please. But in choosing the perfect barstool, a sense of danger adds appeal to throwback speakeasy bars. Think secret entrances behind bookshelves and phone booths, and well-guarded passwords. Of course, it’s hard to keep secrets in the epoch of Instagram and “location services enabled,” but these seven bars have raised, well, the bar on maintaining mystery.

RELATED: 11 secret restaurants you don’t know but should

Photo courtesy of Adults Only

Adults Only (Los Angeles, CA)

Adult video stores are fairly irrelevant, thanks to the advent of the Internet. Yet this one in Los Angeles thrives off Sunset Boulevard in the ritziest, most enticing of locations: behind a Burger King. Gather your mettle (aka a Whopper), head into a storefront with “XXX” proudly displayed, and through the back sits an immaculately designed throwback to the 1920s. Woodwork and dark wallpaper conjure images of hiding from the police, and extravagantly designed, lush couches provide comfort—even if the cocktail names are unsettling: The “Money Shot,” “Rusty Trombone,” and “Dirty Sanchez” are demonstrated both in the bookstore and at the bar. And given the “Dirty Sanchez” is a sweet and spicy concoction of mezcal, sweet cucumber, and zesty serrano chili, we’ll opt for that one. For now…

Photo courtesy of @kai_____c

Angel’s Share (New York, )

So undercover it doesn’t have a website, Angel’s Share stands out amid the infinite speakeasy bar scene of New York (there are…a lot). To find it, head into a bustling Japanese restaurant in the East Village, get out of the way of servers with plates full of sushi, enter an unmarked door, and you’re in a Narnia of candlelit tranquility. Angel’s Share takes no reservations, asks patrons to keep their voices down, and the wait for even a spot to lean against the bar is typically an hour or more. Stick around. And shut up. Sipping a “Summertime,” made with jasmine-infused rum, over hushed whispers, is the epitome of calm.

Photo courtesy of @melissawv5

The Owl Bar (Baltimore, MD)

This one in Baltimore doesn’t take major sleuthing to find (or minor sleuthing, for that matter), but earns points for its history of ingenuity. A statue of the eponymous owl took up residence in the lobby of the 1902-built Hotel Belvedere (now condos) to give thirsty lawbreakers the signal. When its eyes were lit up, the hidden bar, nestled way in the back, was open for business. The Owl Bar now serves legal drinks, of course, but its classic look remains. The patterned bricks in the high walls have been preserved, as has the immaculate molding of windows and archways. The statue, too, remains.

ALSO: It’s no secret, Orbitz Rewards is the best way to earn free hotels faster!

Chapter Room (Atlanta, GA)

Congratulations! You have been accepted to Brewniversity! No SAT scores required! Atlanta‘s Taco Mac (Southern-style taco and chicken wing joint) already boasts a nice selection of craft beers, but to gain access downstairs in the Chapter Room, you must download Brewniversity’s mobile app and enroll, tuition-free. Admittance allows you access to the vaunted beer-bastion Chapter Room, located downstairs. The beer list is far more robust and international, plus the bar’s hiding an impressive list of whiskeys. Ironically, you can use technology to track how much you drink, using the app, and earn points toward nothing in particular—except to redo college drinking doppelbocks instead of Miller High Life.

Photo courtesy of @mashdpotaylor

The Drifter (Chicago, IL)

The Drifter in Chicago serves up a freshly caught red herring: It’s located in the basement of what has now become another bar called Green Door Tavern. You thought you were done drinking? Think again. Head downstairs to the bathrooms, stumble through an unassuming wooden door between the men’s and women’s rooms, and you’ll find an actual former speakeasy. The Drifter space is small but cozy; rubbing elbows with other drinkers transports you a century back in time, when liquor was at a premium and everyone wanted in. The drinks that will be served that night are pulled from a tarot card deck. So if you loved a particular cocktail, don’t expect the same next time. But always expect elaborate woodwork and—occasionally—burlesque dancers to complete the time travel back nearly a century.

Photo courtesy of @drinksanford

Hanson’s Shoe Repair (Orlando, FL)

Two decades from now, we seriously doubt anyone will remember voicemail. It’s tedious to not only leave one, but to listen. And who wants to hear voices?! Suck it up, though, and call Hanson’s Shoe Repair—a hidden Orlando bar and occasional music venue worth the inconvenience. Potential visitors call and are asked to leave a message with the time they’d like their “shoes repaired” (no promises on preventing falls while wasted) and how many pairs they’re bringing in. If all seems well, Hanson’s will provide the password for entry that night. The code changes each night, so hold onto it preciously to enjoy craft cocktails in what looks like, well, an old-timey shoe repair shop. The best part: Passwords arrive via text. The future is now.

Photo courtesy of @jeremy.pistachio

Bourbon and Branch (San Francisco, CA)

“Please speak-easy” is the first rule of Bourbon and Branch (the second rule isn’t, “You do not talk about Fight Club). This raspberry-tinted San Francisco bar—with working-man decor ranging from books to barrels—is rigid about its policies, but it’s all in the interest of providing the 20 or so patrons a relaxing, reflective experience. See, within this particular speakeasy is yet another secret room in the back, behind a bookshelf. There’s a password to enter,  “books,” and inside is an impressive library for your party to enlighten themselves and sip delicious cocktails . Just don’t order a cosmo. House rules.

app

Tagged: Food & drink

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Steve Heisler

Steve Heisler

Steve Heisler

Latest posts by Steve Heisler (see all)

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San Francisco is certainly an expensive city to visit, as well as to live in. So give your wallet a rest and plan a visit to some of these always-free attractions. Then splurge on a great meal with the money you saved.

ALSO: Hoboken’s 5 greatest dive bars

Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

This great metropolitan park is nearly 200 acres larger than Manhattan’s Central Park, after which it was originally patterned. Miles of trails wind through the park and on Sundays many of its roads are closed to automobile traffic so visitors can bike and skate. More freebie attractions within the park include the Buffalo Paddock, Koret Children’s Quarter playground and Shakespeare Garden.

Fort Point National Historic Site

Fort Point National Historic Site

Fort Point National Historic Site

Dramatically located under the Golden Gate Bridge, this fort was built in 1861 and is the only Civil War-era fort on the West Coast.  It is perhaps most famous as the site in Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” where Kim Novak’s character jumped into the Bay. Now you can usually see surfers braving the cold waves.

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

This French Gothic cathedral atop Nob Hill is the largest in the western U.S. Here you can see the gilded bronze entrance doors that are exact replicas of Italy’s “Doors of Paradise,” attend a concert starring a 7,286-pipe organ, and walk an inside or outside labyrinth.

Cable Car Museum | Flickr CC: Justin Ennis

Cable Car Museum | Flickr CC: Justin Ennis

Cable Car Museum

Located on the outskirts of Chinatown inside a lovely 1880s brick building that also holds the cable car barn and powerhouse, this museum is where you can see and hear the cable-winding machinery that powers the underground cables. Three retired cable cars and assorted artifacts and memorabilia are also displayed.

Fort Funston

Fort Funston

Fort Funston

These ocean-side bluffs located at the southern end of town were used by the military until 1963.  Now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the former fort offers trails with stunning coastal views and an observation platform where you can watch hang-gliders and sometimes see whales passing close to shore in winter.

Lombard Street

Lombard Street

Lombard Street

Start your ride at the top of Lombard and Hyde streets, then try to keep your eyes on the bumpy brick road—and not on the spectacular view—as you maneuver eight tight turns to the bottom of the lane also known as the Crookedest Street in the World.

Musee Mécanique | Flickr CC: Kārlis Dambrāns

Musee Mécanique | Flickr CC: Kārlis Dambrāns

Musée Mécanique

This “mechanical museum” is the world’s largest collection of antique coin-operated machines.  Though entry is free, it does cost one or two quarters to operate the old arcade machines—perhaps a player piano or a miniature steam shovel that collects 90 seconds worth of gumballs.

Presidio of San Francisco

Presidio of San Francisco

Presidio of San Francisco

This was formerly the longest operating military post in the Uniteed States. Now transformed into part of the expansive Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it provides trails, art, views and plenty more. Don’t miss the sweet pet cemetery or the largest collection of Andrew Goldsworthy sculptures on public view in North America.

Pier 39

Pier 39

Sea Lions at Pier 39

Sea lions can usually be seen basking, barking, and belching on floating docks here. A new Sea Lion Center provides interactive displays, educational videos and special presentations.

Japantown | Flickr CC: kennejima

Japantown | Flickr CC: kennejima

City Guides walking tours

San Francisco is a walker’s paradise. The city’s naturally intriguing streets become even more so when walked with a knowledgeable guide. These informative tours sponsored by the San Francisco Public Library last approximately 1½ hours and cover most areas of the city, including Haight-Ashbury, Historic Market Street and Japantown.

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Tagged: California, FREE!

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Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Carole is a Berkeley-based travel writer who most especially enjoys cultural and culinary travel. She contributes to an assortment of publications and is the author of 18 books. Carole oversees two websites, berkeleyandbeyond.com and webcamtraveler.com, and she blogs at travelswithcarole.blogspot.com.
Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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When you’re far from home, nothing hits the spot quite like comfort food at a comforting price. Try one of these grilled cheese sandwiches, which are truly a meal in themselves, and all at a price worth melting for.

The BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese

The BBQ Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese | Photo courtesy of Ms. Cheezious

Ms. Cheezious – Miami, FL

Eats like the Frito Pie Melt ($7) and Southern Fried Chicken & Waffle Melt ($10) won’t exactly put you on the fast track to a beach body. So you might as well finish the deal with a S’mores Melt ($7), which is exactly what it sounds like.

The Grilled Cheese Truck – Los Angeles

If combining three comfort foods into one delicious sandwich is wrong, thenwe don’t wanna be right. This mobile eatery offers quasi-healthy fillings like Brie and sliced pears, but its signature melt is the Cheesy Mac & Rib ($8)—barbecued pork with macaroni and cheese, finished with sharp cheddar and caramelized onion, all on French bread. Oh, yes they did.

The Jalapeño Popper

The Jalapeño Popper | Photo courtesy of American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

The American GrilledCheese Kitchen – San Francisco, CA

Get your kicks when you order the Jalapeño Popper: local chèvre, Monterey jack, apricot-jalapeño relish on levain ($9.50). And don’t sleep on the Breakfast Grilled Cheese options, with fillings like veggies, black beans and bacon, natch.

Roxy’s Grilled Cheese – Boston, MA:

Whether you score yours at the food truck or any of Roxy’s four brick-and-mortar locations, you’re sure to hit a home run when you order the Green Muenster: cheese, bacon and house-made guac on organic bread ($7).

Three Sheets – Atlanta, GA

Adulting never tasted so good, thanks to this Hotlanta lounge’s monthly Grilled Cheese Wine Dinner. The evening showcases five sandwich-and-vino pairings ($44.50), like Manchego with caramelized mushrooms accompanied by pinot noir, or cheddar and baked apples on cinnamon bread washed down with Sangiovese. Raise a glass to childhood.

Maine Lobster Grilled Cheese

Maine Lobster Grilled Cheese | Photo courtesy of GCDC

GCDC – Washington, DC

Eating light for summer? Try the Open-Faced Grilled Cheese Salad. Order your favorite sandwich off the menu ($8.50 and up), and it’ll arrive at your table with half the bread, served over a garden salad. The Bacon Jalapeño Popper and the Maine Lobster are both seriously solid choices.

Melt Bar and Grilled – Cleveland, OH

Cleveland really does rock when you’re choosing from more than two-dozen specialty sandwiches, including vegan offerings like the Mushroom Melt ($12.50), Peanut Butter and Banana ($11) and the Purple Parma ($11.50), made with eggplant and marinara. Die-hard diners with a Melt logo tattoo get 25% off for life. We’re seriously considering it—who wants to join us?

The Brielle at Melt Kraft

The Brielle at Melt Kraft | Photo courtesy of Melt Kraft

MeltKraft – Philadelphia, PA

It doesn’t get much more farm-to-table than this eatery that raises its own cows, sheep and goats. Sandwiches like the Brielle (Brie, cranberry chutney, caramelized onion and toasted pine nuts; $8.25) and the Melter Skelter (aged Raclette, pickled green tomatoes, jalapeños, barbecue chips and watercress; $8.50) will have you asking, “What cheesesteaks?”

Burro Cheese Kitchen – Austin, TX

Still saving for that dream vacation? Stay inspired with options like the OG (havarti on Kings Hawaiian bread; $5) and the Coppola (gouda, almond-pesto aioli, basil and tomatoes on sour dough; $8)—neither of which will take a bite out of your vacation budget. Bon voyage.

The Queen's Kickshaw

The Queens Kickshaw | Photo courtesy of Lauren DeCicca

The Queens Kickshaw – Queens, NY

When you’re in your comfy PJs and halfway through a House of Cards marathon, you can’t be bothered leaving the house. Thank goodness this eatery delivers grilled cheese—and beer! The Cheddar and Mozzarella with tomato and fennel soup ($9) will keep you nice and cozy.

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Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, City, Florida, Food & drink, L.A., New York City

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Football’s biggest game will be held on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, California, about an hour outside of San Francisco. After fans shell out most of their money on Super Bowl tickets, they can still score some fun with these cheap bay-area attractions. Here are 7 cheap things to do in San Francisco around game time.

CheapTickets-SanFrancisco-GoldenGateBridge

Some cliches exist for a reason. We dare you to visit San Fran and not post fora selfie with the Golden Gate Bridge. Credit San Francisco Travel Association/Can Balcioglu.

Golden Gate Bridge: Selfie potential is just one reason to visit this famous landmark. Check out free outdoor exhibits to learn about the construction of the bridge or take a free walking tour with San Francisco City Guides to learn the more in-depth history of the iconic structure.

Cable Car Museum: Riding cable cars is cheap enough, but visiting the Cable Car Museum is absolutely free. Scope out real parts and historic cable car photos, see antique cable cars up-close and buy a real cable car bell in the souvenir shop. How to get there? Take the Powell-Hyde or Powell-Mason cable car line, both of which stop at the museum.

Go "east," young man, to Chinatown. Credit San Francisco Travel Association/Scott Chernis.

Go “east,” young man, to Chinatown. Credit San Francisco Travel Association/Scott Chernis.

Chinatown: The country’s oldest Chinatown comprises not one but two adjacent blocks: Grant Avenue and Stockton Street. Wander the alleys, browse the shops and deliberate over which restaurant has the best dim sum. Get the lay of the land during a free walking tour with San Francisco City Guides.

Mission District: The city’s oldest neighborhood blends history with new. Mural-lined streets and historic landmarks pay tribute to Mission Dolores, founded in 1776, while new restaurants, art galleries, hipster thrift shops and bars give visitors a reason to return again and again.

Lands End: If your idea of Lands End is a preppy clothing catalog, then you’re definitely overdue to explore this scenic part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Hikethe gorgeous Coastal Trail, picnic amid the West Fort Miley batteries and explore the ruins of Sutro Baths.

Pier 39: Chicago has Navy Pier. Atlantic City has the Boardwalk. And San Francisco has this hot spot on the edge of the Fisherman’s Wharf district. Ride the carousel, marvel at the street performers and take advantage of some of the best people-watching—and sea lion-watching—anywhere in California.

Muir Woods National Monument: Take a break from city life when you escape to this refuge of towering redwood trees, spotted owls nesting and river otters swimming down Redwood Creek. There’s no cell phone service in Muir Woods, so feel free to leave your mobile device in San Francisco. Just don’t leave your heart.

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Tagged: California, Cheap City, USA, FREE!, Sports, Uncategorized

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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

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Alexander Santo

Alexander Santo

Alexander Santo

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Whether you object to the treatment of animals or you’re just bored with the usual dog and pony show, check out one of these animal-free alternatives to the traditional three-ring circus. For more amusements, visit cheaptickets.com/events. Use promo code TICKETS10 to get 10 percent off event tickets.

La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil is big on artistry. Credit Walt Disney World and Cirque du Soleil.

La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil is big on artistry. Credit Walt Disney World and Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque du SoleilThe Quebec-based company started in 1984 and now showcases its stunts in 17 countries. Stateside, there are Cirque shows from California to Rhode Island. O at the Bellagio in Las Vegas adds water to the mix for a show that’s anything but washed up. Sin City is also how to Cirque shows celebrating the music of both Michael Jackson and the Beatles. On the kid-friendly end, La Noube in Orlando’s Downtown Disney lets families experience top-notch artistry without the top-tier theme park ticket price.

Circus Smirkus:
In this Vermont-based performance troupe, kids don’t just watch the circus; they are the circus. The cast features children ages 10 to 18 who spend summers touring New England in their one-ring, big-top circus tent. If young audience members are inspired by what they see, they can enroll in Circus Smirkus Camp to learn acrobatics, juggling and other circus skills.

Circus Center: This San Francisco training center offers adult and child classes in everything from flying trapeze to aerial (remember Pink at the 2014 Grammys?) to clowning around. If you’d rather just watch, then check out the venue’s monthly cabaret series. These professional, 21-and-up shows offer an intimate, speakeasy-style setting; a drink ticket is included with each entry for a circus experience that’s truly intoxicating.

Acrobats of China: This show is a lotcloser than it sounds. The New Shanghai Circus in Branson, Missouri displays feats of strength, flexibility and balance, including diving through hoops, juggling people and an entire family riding a single bicycle. Arrive early to see the “show before the show,” a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.

Circus Arts Conservatory: You could say Sarasota, Florida, is the circus capital of the world, being home to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art to daredevil high wire walker Nik Wallenda. The conservatory brings performances yearround, from the kids’ Sailor Circus to Cirque des Voix, which combines circus acts with choir and full orchestra.

For more things to do, check out cheaptickets.com/events. Use promo code TICKETS10 to get 10 percent off event tickets.

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Tagged: California, City, Events, Family, Florida, Las Vegas, Tips & advice

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.