Celebrate the 30th Balloon & Wine Festival

By Connie George
Posted on May 16, 2013

Tasty wines and foods, hot air balloon flights at dawn, evening picnicking beneath the towering illuminated orbs, top entertainment in concert, and an FMX freestyle motocross show will fill the 30th Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival, Friday through Sunday, May 31 to June 2.More than 20 Temecula Valley wineries, over 40 hot air balloons, hundreds of booths featuring arts and... READ MORE

The Western wonders of Scottsdale, Ariz.

By Victor Block
Posted on May 03, 2013

Outside Scottsdale, Ariz., hikers in the Sonoran Desert pass numerous types of cactus, including the towering saguaro, which is unique to that locale. Surprisingly, the desert is also home to 60 types of mammals, over 100 sorts of reptiles and 350 kinds of birds that have adapted to its hot, dry environment.Photo courtesy of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors BureauBejeweled women... READ MORE

Big Bend Nat’l Park is big even for Texas

By Glenda C. Booth
Posted on April 01, 2013

Visitors paddle canoes down the Rio Grande River in Texas’s Big Bend National Park. The sprawling park covers nearly 1 million acres in the southwestern part of the state.Photo by Glenda BoothAny mention of Big Bend National Park invokes powerful descriptors: “One of the most remote,” “large and vast,” “one of the least visited,” “darker than... READ MORE

Try a multi-generation reunion in Orlando

By Victor Block
Posted on February 01, 2013

Nine-year-old Becca stopped in her tracks, pointed across the street and stared in amazement. “Look, Grandpa, that building is upside down!” Sure enough, the massive white structure appeared to be standing on its head. The point of its roof was smashed into the ground, as if the edifice had fallen from the sky. Where the top of the building should have been were ersatz grass and... READ MORE

River cruises: smaller and more intimate

By Anne D’Innocezio
Posted on December 10, 2012

I’ve been a land-based traveler for most of my life. Motor coaches and cars have helped me explore everything from Italy’s Tuscany region to Ireland’s Ring of Kerry.But recently I discovered a love for river cruising. After returning from a cruise on the legendary Rhine, I’m happily considering trips to other iconic waterways such as the Danube for next year.Sure,... READ MORE

Reveling in New Orleans’ eclectic charms

By Victor Block
Posted on December 03, 2012

A paddlewheel steamboat docks along the Mississippi River in New Orleans. Boat cruises offer visitors views of the city, food and entertainment.© Ken Cole | Dreamstime.comHow can you not love a city where rogues and scoundrels are among local “dignitaries” who have streets and bridges named after them? A place that celebrates its oddball residents on a website called... READ MORE

Coping with travel gouges at holiday time

By Ed Perkins
Posted on November 19, 2012

With Christmas and New Year’s Days falling on Tuesdays, many of you will also be taking the two Mondays off from work, meaning two successive four-day weekends and an 11-day period with only three working days.A vacation clearly beckons. But travel suppliers can also look at the calendar, and many hike their rates for what they expect to be top-demand times.Best days to flyEvery year, ... READ MORE

Festival of Lights makes season bright

By Connie George
Posted on November 12, 2012

A winter wonderland of freshly fallen snow, horse-drawn carriages, live reindeer, an outdoor ice skating rink, cheerful holiday decorations, 17th-century-style carolers and other live entertainment — illuminated by the brilliant effect of more than 3.5 million twinkling lights — await Coachella Valley residents only about an hour away in historic downtown Riverside.The 20th... READ MORE

Costa Rica preserves its natural wonders

By Victor Block
Posted on November 01, 2012

  Two spider monkeys show off their human-like expressions in Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica. They are among the thousands of species of wildlife that live in the country, which prizes its preservation efforts. © Hugoht | Dreamstime.com I knew before traveling to Costa Rica that it has a well-deserved reputation for preserving its magnificent environment. I was... READ MORE

Airline-like fees on cruises add to costs

By Ed Perkins
Posted on October 15, 2012

Following the lead of airlines, some big cruise lines are moving toward the airlines' pricing philosophy: Keep the base price low, and make up the difference with fees. How this will play out is anybody's guess, but if you're considering a cruise, you need to look past the initially featured rates.My friends at Cruise Critic (www.cruisecritic.com) recently reported that Royal ... READ MORE