Monday, November 29, 2010

Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the U.S.

Chinese food is sometimes thought of as it's own food group, and it's availability is probably second only to hamburgers - so common that you don't need to go to a chinatown to find a good chinese restaurant.

To help you find excellent chinese restaurants, Chinese Restaurant News holds a yearly competition and awards ceremony to find the top 100 chinese restaurants in the U.S. (other countries too).

Zoom in to find the restaurant closest to where you are, or where you're going.


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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Follow The Celebs To: Washington D.C.

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Food Network)Love watching the Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and The Best Thing I Ever Ate? It's time to follow Guy Fieri and all the other Food Network celebs, and try out the food they are raving about.

There are so many things to do while in Washington D.C., that sometimes you just grab a bite to eat wherever you can.  But if you get a chance, venture outside the beltway, and try out these small national food treasures.


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If you want some activity between meals, Viator offers the most comprehensive online resource for travelers to research, plan and book destination activities. Here are a few things to consider:


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Follow The Celebs To: Maryland

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Food Network)Love watching the Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and The Best Thing I Ever Ate? It's time to follow Guy Fieri and all the other Food Network celebs, and try out the food they are raving about.

The variety of things to do in Maryland have earned the state the nickname Little America, since they have just about every kind of natural feature, except for a desert.  I'm sure that won't hold you back from trying out these 15 unique restaurants...


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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Non-Hotel Lodging Choices - Vacation Rentals

Hotels, motels and resorts can be great places to stay. Most are part of a chain (multiple locations), and you generally know what level of accommodation you're going to get when you book your room.

Sometimes though, you want to stay somewhere off the beaten path, or someplace small when you're in a big city.  For that, you have to dig a little deeper to find what you're looking for, but the reward can be not only a refreshing change of pace, but sometimes it can even be refreshing for the pocketbook too.

This is multi-part series, so keep checking back, or click on "non-hotel" in our Labels to find related articles.


How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner Second EditionPart 2:  Vacation Rentals

Long popular in Europe, vacation rentals have become increasing popular in the U.S. Vacation rentals are furnished apartments or houses that can be rented, and are different from timeshares. The size and type of accommodations can range from a large vacation home on the beach, to an apartment in the city.

Like B&B's, each place has it own unique character, but unlike B&B's, each place may also be used by the owner during part of the year. Many of them are located in popular vacation areas like beaches, lakes and mountains, and the combination of convenience and amenities make them very desirable. For the ones that are in destination locations, you may only be able to rent in one-week blocks of time. Some are big enough for more than one family, and can be great for group getaways.

Since vacation rentals are vacation homes, they come with kitchens, which can both save you money, or just be really convenient for relaxing at the end of a busy day out.

There are a number of websites to check out - start with HomeAwayVRBOVactionHomeRental.com, ABetterPlace.com and Vacapedia.  TripAdvisor and Travelocity also list vacation rentals on their websites.

If you are interested in vacation rentals specializing in particular locations, you could also consider California Beach Resorts and Surf to Ski Retreats.

Not all vacation rental companies work the same way.  Vacation rental apartments that have building managers could be reserved online like a hotel.  For individual properties, like a vacation home, you may have to email the owner to check price and availability, or get more information.

In Europe vacation rentals can go by different names in different countries. In the U.K. you may hear the term Self Catering Cottages (and variations), and other countries may use the term Villa or Apartment. For lodging in the U.K., two reservation companies are Dales Holiday Cottages and Park Resorts. In the Benelux region (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) Belvilla offers homes that range from modest Austrian chalets to luxuriant Italian villas and historic French Chateaux, and everything in between. Venere, owned by Expedia, lists vacation rentals and other types of lodging available throughout Europe and other places around the world (130 countries total).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Food Wars - Who Was First, Or Most Famous

Some of the food and drinks we love seem to have been around forever.  But someone had to create them, and somehow they had to become popular.

This time we're mapping out the places that created, or at least popularized, many of the food and drink we love today.  Some are unique, like Irish coffee in California, and others, like hamburgers, are the kind we eat all the time.

We want to keep adding to this map, so tell us what we've missed.  And a big shout-out to Wikipedia and the Travel Channel Food Wars show for helping us find these places.

Oh, and because some of these food wars are literally across the street from each other, you'll want to zoom in to see each place.


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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Follow The Celebs To: Philadelphia PA

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Food Network)Love watching the Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and The Best Thing I Ever Ate? It's time to follow Guy Fieri and all the other Food Network celebs, and try out the food they are raving about.

Most people know that Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love, but they love their food too.  The food these restaurants offer runs the gamut from appetizers to asian, and scrapple to scrambled - and don't forget to weigh in on who has the best cheese steaks.



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If you want some activity between meals, Viator offers the most comprehensive online resource for travelers to research, plan and book destination activities. Here are a few things to consider:


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Follow The Celebs To: Connecticut

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Food Network)Love watching the Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and The Best Thing I Ever Ate? It's time to follow Guy Fieri and all the other Food Network celebs, and try out the food they are raving about.

Connecticut can certainly lay claim to it's part in founding the U.S., but did you know that it can also lay claim to the creation of the hamburger?  Whether is myth or historical fact, enjoy tasting your way through the Nutmeg State.



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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Non-Hotel Lodging Choices - Bed and Breakfasts

Hotels, motels and resorts can be great places to stay. Most are part of a chain (multiple locations), and you generally know what level of accommodation you're going to get when you book your room.

Sometimes though, you want to stay somewhere off the beaten path, or someplace small when you're in a big city.  For that, you have to dig a little deeper to find what you're looking for, but the reward can be not only a refreshing change of pace, but sometimes it can even be refreshing for the pocketbook too.

This is multi-part series, so keep checking back, or click on "non-hotel" in our Labels to find related articles.


Part 1:  Bed and Breakfasts

According to Wikipedia, a bed and breakfast (or B&B) is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and breakfast, but usually does not offer other meals. Typically, bed and breakfasts are private homes with fewer than 10 bedrooms available for commercial use.

Time Magazine, had a recent article that said there are over 28,000 Bed and Breakfasts (B&B's) in the U.S., serving more than 50 million guests. Most commonly, B&B's are older homes that have been renovated, and because of that they tend to have a good amount of character. Each place is a unique experience, and some people like to go back to the same one over and over because of the service, location, accommodations, or a combination of them all. Although they tend to be located outside of cities, you can find them even in big cities.

The rooms can also have a unique character, and some have themes for each room. For the time you're not spending in your room, you might be relaxing in the living room, out on the veranda, or in the jacuzzi - you may not even feel the need to leave the property while you're there. But if you do, the proprietors know all the great places to eat, and all the fun places to visit. And while you're gone, they'll be getting ready for tomorrows breakfast.

The big name online travel agencies (OTA's) like Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity and Orbitz, do list some B&B's and inns, but if you want a larger list of choices, then you should try dedicated B&B websites.

Find Great Deals at BedandBreakfast.com!
BedandBreakfast.com (owned by vacation rental giant HomeAway) provides reservation services and gift certificates for over 4,000 B&B's in the U.S., and has listings for over 7,000 in other countries too.

Other websites to check out: Bed and Breakfast Inns ONLINE, BnBstar.com, Pamela Lanier's B&B Inns, and USA Bed and Breakfast.

The website I Love Inns, which is run by American Historic Inns, even has a free iPhone/iPad app to help you find B&B's and inns while on the road.

Speaking of apps, if you're going to Italy, the B&B iPhone app claims to list 10,000 B&B's and inns, with photo's, addresses and more, and in the UK, the British Automobile Association (theaa.com) also has a free iPhone app for the UK.

If you're traveling to Canada, and you use Facebook, then you'll want to try the Canadian Bed and Breakfast Guide on Facebook.

Other sources to help you find that perfect B&B or inn, is to see if the state you're going to has a state association, like the California Bed and Breakfast (CABBI), Washington State Bed & Breakfast Guild, Florida Bed and Breakfast Inns, or the Hawaii Island Bed & Breakfast Association.

One thing is for sure - after all the hard work finding a great B&B, you're going to really enjoy the one you find.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Follow The Celebs To: Rhode Island

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Food Network)Love watching the Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and The Best Thing I Ever Ate? It's time to follow Guy Fieri and all the other Food Network celebs, and try out the food they are raving about.

Continuing down the eastern seaboard, our next stop is The Ocean State, otherwise officially known as the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.  As a bonus, we're also including one DDD destination that is just over the border in Massachusetts - aren't we neighborly!



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Saturday, November 13, 2010

America's Best Donuts - Where Are They?

The Donut BookDonuts.  If ever there was a food that generated so much inner conflict, it would have to be donuts.  They are not only an indulgence, but a desire that seems to be genetically wired into us from childhood (not to mention the breakroom at work).

We have gathered together four different lists of favorite donut places:
1. Travel + Leisure America's Best Donuts,
2. Bon App├ętit Magazine Top 10 Best Places for Donuts,
3. Saveur.com A Dozen Choice Doughnut Spots, and
4. Maxim's The 10 Best Donuts In America

Not surprisingly, some donut shops (like Voodoo Donuts) end up on more than one list, so here are the top 19 places you can be assured of getting a great donut experience!


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Friday, November 12, 2010

Follow The Celebs To: Massachusetts

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Food Network)Love watching the Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and The Best Thing I Ever Ate? It's time to follow Guy Fieri and all the other Food Network celebs, and try out the food they are raving about.

This time we're going to the Bay State, where you won't be eating like a pilgrim, but you will be discovering a new world of things to eat.


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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Carousels To Ride In North America

At one time in your life, you have probably ridden a carousel.  For many, it may have been as a child.  If you have children, you might have also had the pleasure of taking your child on one.

Recently the Balboa Park carousel (located near the San Diego Zoo) celebrated it's 100 year anniversary since being made in North Tonawanda New York.

Finding carousels still open to the public is not easy, so we have put together a map to help.  We are using information from the National Carousel Association, and also from the book "Treasures from the Golden Age: West Coast Carousels".  The map is not complete yet, so let us know what we've missed.


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Follow The Celebs To: Maine & New Hampshire

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Food Network)Love watching the Food Network shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and The Best Thing I Ever Ate? It's time to follow Guy Fieri and all the other Food Network celebs, and eat at the restaurants they visited.

This time we're going to the Northeast corner of the U.S. - seven places in Maine, and one in New Hampshire - Call it an I-95 adventure!


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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Unique Spas in North America

Say it with spaSome days you just need to relax.

The website Gayot (guy-OH), which has lots of great reviews about restaurants, travel, and other topics (like spas), has three reviews that we'll draw from for our North America map: 1. Top 10 Destination Spas in the U.S., 2. Top 10 Wine Spas Worldwide, and 3. Top 10 Value Spas Worldwide.

To help you save money on a variety of spas worldwide, SpaFinder and WaySpa offer a number of discounts and gift certificates for you or someone you really want to relax (you know who they are).  Enjoy!


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Monday, November 8, 2010

Follow Guy - To Kentucky

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Food Network)Love watching the Food Network Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show? It's time to follow Guy Fieri and try out some of the restaurants he has visited.

Recently we mapped out the distilleries that are part of two "Whiskey Trails" (historial - no drinking required).  If you're in Kentucky, then you should look for the seven restaurants Guy sampled in the Blue Grass state.


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Sunday, November 7, 2010

American Whiskey Trail Maps

The history of whiskey is intertwined with the history of the founding of the United States.  Because of that, as a tourist you don't have to drink whiskey to partake in the tours of the numerous distilleries and historical sites.

There are two different "whiskey trails".

The Kentucky Bourbon Trail (a trademark of the Kentucky Distillers Association) consists of six distilleries open for tours. The American Whiskey Trail, from the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., has compiled a list of distilleries and historical sites for their list.

There is some overlap between the two, so we combined them together on one map to make it easier to find and visit them, although we've left off the Bacardi and Cruzan rum distilleries since they are outside the continental U.S. * NEW * We have also added some independent distilleries from the American Distilling Institute 2012 Directory.



Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sunset - Wine tasting in Humboldt County

It's amazing how many wine regions we have in the U.S., and one way to get an idea is to check out the list of them on the American Viticultural Area (AVA) list.  There were 198 AVA's as of April 2010.

Sunset magazine found an area in Humboldt County California that is partly in one AVA, but otherwise the wineries are on their own.

In their article Wine Tasting in Humboldt County, Sunset visits the smaller wineries that are as much labors of love as they are businesses.  As you'll find in any trip to small town America, they also find some great places to eat, making any future trip one to savor on many levels.  Read the article, explore the places on our map, and keep them in mind for a future trip up the California coast.


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Friday, November 5, 2010

Follow The Celebs - New York City Area

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Food Network)Love watching the Food Network? You're going to love our map of New York City!

We have combined the places visited by two Food Network shows - Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and the The Best Thing I Ever Ate, which features the biggest food stars and chefs from the Food Network.

Guy tends to find places in the nooks and crannies between cities, so you'll find his twelve restaurants outside of the Big Apple.  But the celebs from the Food Network find a lot of unique food to swoon over in and around the city itself, which is why you're going to want to really zoom in to see how close you might be to your next culinary discovery.


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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sunset - 20 Best Beach Getaways

Sunset (1-year auto-renewal)Sunset magazine definitely thinks it's readers like to sleep by the ocean, because now they have found the "20 Best Beach Getaways", located in the Western region of the U.S. and the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Zoom the map to find the right location for your next trip, and grab your beach towel, because it's going to take a lot of beach days to figure out which one (if any) is the best.


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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sunset - Top 10 Hideaways by the Sea

Sunset (1-year auto-renewal)Sunset magazine, which focuses almost exclusively on the Western United States, is very good at finding the small places that you have to look hard to find.

In their article "Top 10 Hideaways by the Sea", they uncover some lesser-known coastal inns.

Zoom in to see how close they might be on your next trip...


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