One-tank escapes for 8 cities

Published: Sunday, July 01, 2012 @ 12:03 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 01, 2012 @ 12:03 PM

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Summer vacation doesn't have to mean a long, expensive trek. These getaways are a short drive from eight major urban areas. All you need is a weekend and a tank of gas!

Shenandoah Valley, Va.

107 miles from Washington, D.C.

A collection of 10 independent cities make up the Shenandoah Valley, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, an idyllic watercolor landscape and outdoor adventure haven.

SEE OUR SUMMER ROAD TRIPS!

Shenandoah National Park is famous for its outdoor beauty, accessible via both easy and difficult hiking trails, some of which are part of the park's 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail (540/999-3500, nps.gov/shen, $15 per vehicle, $8 per person). The Limberlost Trail takes you past lush mountain laurel; Old Rag Mountain offers panoramic vistas. To refuel, perch in the Pollock Dining Room's taproom at Skyland Resort Lodge and order a Prohibition Punch, featuring local (legal) moonshine ($7.50), and a slice of famous blackberry ice cream pie, made from scratch from the season's harvest (540/999-2212, visitshenandoah.com/dining/skyland-restaurant, Prohibition Punch $7.50, blackberry ice cream pie $6). Not outdoorsy? Stroll through downtown Winchester with a guided tour of the Patsy Cline Historic House, where the country star lived for five years (540/662-5555, celebratingpatsycline.org, $8), or pick your own flowers in the fragrant fields at White Oak Lavender farm in Harrisonburg (540/421-6345, whiteoaklavender.com, tours $5).

WHERE TO STAY Instead of camping out with her hubby FDR in Shenandoah National Park in 1936, Eleanor Roosevelt opted for luxury in Luray: "Franklin, you can rough it if you want, but I'm staying at the Mimslyn," she allegedly told the president. Even today, the property has opulent touches like Doric columns, formal gardens, and fine dining courtesy in the hotel's "upscale Southern" Circa '31 restaurant—necktie recommended (800/296-5105, mimslyninn.com, from $160).

DRIVING TIP I-81 runs the length of the valley and connects large towns like Winchester, Harrisonburg, and Stanton. Consider jumping onto Skyline Drive to take in some of the most beautiful mountain vistas in the U.S.

Yountville, Calif.

56 miles from San Francisco

A walkable mecca for wine and food enthusiasts, Yountville offers glasses of big California reds, award-winning bites, and lush Napa Valley scenery that's a refreshing change from San Francisco's cityscapes.

To sample vino, hop the Napa Valley Wine Train that chugs through the heart of town: It serves meals onboard, and visits local wineries for tours (800/427-4124, winetrain.com, from $135). Or go rogue and create your own tasting of five wines at Cornerstone Cellars (707/945-0388, cornerstonecellars.com). Get Michelin-star-quality flavor for less at chef Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc restaurant by partaking in the evening family-style four-course menu (707/944-2487, adhocrestaurant.com, $45); also, make time to walk through Keller's French Laundry Garden, which nurtures fresh vegetables and fruits used at French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro—it's free and open to the public. On a weekend morning, stop by Bouchon Bakery for the somewhat elusive chocolate doughnut—brioche dough filled with decadent chocolate pastry cream and topped with chocolate frosting and chocolate-covered Rice Krispies. But go early (it opens at 7) to score one (707-944-2253, bouchonbakery.com/yountville). Then float above the horizon on a group hot air balloon ride for eight to 12 passengers or take a romantic trip à deux with Napa Valley Balloons (800/253-2224, napavalleyballoons.com, from $210).

WHERE TO STAY For a French country feel, book a room at Maison Fleurie, a B&B with a morning breakfast buffet and complimentary wine, tea, and hors d'oeuvres in the afternoon. Borrow bicycles from the front desk and go for a leisurely ride when you tire of tippling (800/788-0369, maisonfleurienapa.com, from $145).

DRIVING TIP The most direct route from San Francisco is I-80 East, over the Bay Bridge, to Highway 37 West and then Highway 29 through Napa Valley.

New Braunfels, Tex.

175 miles from Houston

If you visit New Braunfels and don't (a) eat German food or (b) get wet, you're doing something wrong. The town is well known for the innovative 65-acre Schlitterbahn Water Park, but its German history, food, and freshwater activities are equally compelling.

Floating down the spring-fed Comal River on giant inflatable "toobs" is essential in New Braunfels. Rent one for the day or take a guided group trip at Rockin 'R' River Rides (830/629-9999, rockinr.com, call for a group trip quote). Quell your post-river appetite with one of 10 types of schnitzel, pan-fried bouletten (meatballs), or classic brats at Friesenhaus, one of the area's specialty German restaurants (830/625-1040, friesenhausnb.com, schnitzel from $15). No German meal is complete without a hearty dessert, so pop into Naegelin's Bakery, "the oldest bakery in Texas, since 1868," for a big hunk of apple streudel—a whole one is more than two feet long (830/625-5722, naegelins.com).

WHERE TO STAY The 30-unit Greune Mansion Inn, right on the Guadalupe River, has a quiet, Victorian feel, with multiple historical buildings broken up into residences that guarantee each guest his or her own entrance and porch. Many of the units have river views (830/629-2641, gruenemansioninn.com, from $190).

DRIVING TIP Take I-10 to I-46, making sure to avoid Houston rush hour if you can help it.

Hood River, Ore.

62 miles from Portland

Orchards, wineries, and outdoor recreation are all hallmarks of this Columbia River Gorge destination.

Taking a drive on the whimsically named Fruit Loop steers you through 35 miles of orchards, vineyards, forests, and farmland (541/386-7697, hoodriverfruitloop.com). Sampling the area's up-and-coming viticulture is another must: Columbia Wine Tours shuttles from two to 24 people to four wineries in four hours and provides bottled waters and snacks along the way (541/380-1410, hoodrivertours.com, two-person tour $140). Or if you prefer hops to grapes, swing by the Full Sail Brewing Company Tasting Room & Pub for a sip (or three) of Full Sail Amber (541/386-2247, fullsailbrewing.com). Dubbed the "windsurfing capital of the world" by some, Hood River is an ideal place to test your mettle on the water: Hood River Waterplay offers five different levels of windsurfing classes, plus equipment rental if you need it (541/386-9463, hoodriverwaterplay.com, from $69).

WHERE TO STAY Seven Oaks Bed and Breakfast describes itself as a "garden oasis," surrounded by two acres of flowering plant life and fenced in by Douglas firs. The four-unit house (plus separate cottage) provides storage for recreational equipment and serves organic eggs, jams, and pastries (541/386-7622, sevenoaksbb.com, $160).

DRIVING TIP I-84—a.k.a. the Columbia River Highway—is a straight, gorgeous shot from Portland. Look for both mountains: Mount Hood and Mount Adams.

Harbor Country, Mich.

26 miles from Chicago

Hitting the beach in the heart of the Midwest is possible at Harbor Country, a group of eight towns on the white-sand beaches of Lake Michigan. The southern beaches of New Buffalo and Warren Dunes State Park are biggest, but individual townships have access too (harborcountry.org).

Charter a fishing boat in the New Buffalo Harbor with Cap'n D Charters to hunt down salmon, trout, bass, and blue gill (574/232-0436, capndcharters.com, $500 for up to four people for six hours) or try surfing or stand-up paddleboarding in New Buffalo or St. Joseph, assisted by Third Coast Surf Shop (269/932-4575, thirdcoastsurfshop.com, $75 for a 90-minute private lesson). Afterward, head to Three Oaks to the brand-new organic Journeyman Distillery, nestled in a former corset-making factory, and kick back in the tasting room for a sample of Featherbone Bourbon, a nod to the turkey feathers that the corsets were fashioned out of (269/820-2050, journeymandistillery.com). Soak up the booze at Skip's in New Buffalo, famous for its ultra-tender prime rib (269/469-3330, skipsrestaurantandcatering.info, from $22).

WHERE TO STAY Directly across the road from its own private beach, the 31-room Lakeside Inn, built in the late 1800s, has a front porch filled with rocking chairs, plus an on-site café (269/469-0600, lakesideinns.com, from $80).

DRIVING TIP Stick to highways 90 or 94. Creatively taking the back roads will only lead you into stop-and-go traffic.

Clarksville, Tenn.

207 miles from Memphis

How to describe Clarksville? "Think Carrie Bradshaw meets Dolly Parton," suggests the Clarksville Chamber of Commerce's website. With entertainment offerings just as diverse as those two pop culture icons, Clarksville manages to be a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll.

The tobacco trade—specifically stemmeries—brought in the big bucks in Clarksville in the late 1800s: Tour the Greek Revival/Italinata-style Smith-Trahern mansion, built in 1958 by a wealthy tobacconist - the slaves' quarters out back are still standing, as is an adjacent 1700s cemetery (931/648-5725, fceclarksville.org, $2). Continue exploring the past via the trails at Fort Defiance Civil War Park, between the Red and Cumberland rivers. The site was a Confederate fort that fell to Union soldiers in 1862; soon after, it served as a safe place for freed and runaway slaves (931/472-3351, fortdefianceclarksville.com). Or, hike one of three trails at Dunbar Cave State Park—the caves were once mined for gunpowder (931/648-5526, tn.gov/environment/parks/dunbarcave). Cool off afterward amid 1870s architecture downtown, at the Blackhorse Pub & Brewery, which makes its own beer onsite, including the signature Barnstormer Red Ale, made with Bavarian Hallertau hops. Pair it with one of the eatery's specialty pizzas, like the Whitehorse, a pie topped with alfredo sauce, fresh spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta, provolone, and mozzarella (931/552-3726, theblackhorsepub.net, from $15.50).

WHERE TO STAY For an authentic 1800s experience, drive 15 miles southwest of Clarksville to Lylewood Inn Bed & Breakfast in Indian Mound, run by Mandy Williams. The rich antebellum décor—some rooms have claw-foot bathtubs—is matched in decadence only by the group meals: In addition to the requisite country breakfast, home-cooked dinners can include glazed pork loin, garlic cheese biscuits, and fresh berry cobbler (931/232-4203, lylewoodinn.com, from $75).

DRIVING TIP Take Highway 40 to Highway 24, but don't fear the backroads. Visit the Tennessee Trails and Byways website for multiple mapped driving routes from different destinations - like the "Screaming Eagle" trail that begins in Nashville (tntrailsandbyways.com).

Excelsior Springs, Mo.

28 miles from Kansas City, Mo.

Soak up the late-18th and early-19th century history of Excelsior Springs, a Missouri town that boomed due to its wealth of pure, natural springwater. Early tourists came from miles around to bathe in the mineral-rich H2O and hopefully heal their ailments, and the city has preserved that craze via historic buildings and walking tours.

Belly up to the world's longest water bar, housed in the Art Deco-style Hall of Waters and Cultural Museum, built in 1937, where you can taste the mineral waters that put Excelsior Springs on the map (816/637-2811, visitesprings.com). A few blocks down, stop into Oooey Gooey Chocolates for a chocolate-dipped Twinkie on a stick—your choice of either milk or white chocolate (816/630-9255, oooeygooey.com, $2.25). Or get away from it all at the 40-acre Knott Nature Sanctuary, which features education and recreation programs that include hiking, camping, and gardening and landscaping (816/630-2872).

WHERE TO STAY Notorious characters Al Capone and Bugsy Malone reportedly threw their own bathtub gin and gambling parties at The Elms Resort and Spa, which reopened this year for its 100th anniversary after a multi-million-dollar renovation that includes a spa with a hydrotherapy grotto. The hotel is perhaps best known, though, for being the place Harry S. Truman found out he'd defeated Dewey for the presidency in 1948 (816/630-5500, elmshotelandspa.com, from $139).

DRIVING TIP The quickest way to get to Excelsior Springs: Catch I-35 North from downtown Kansas City, then take Highway 69 to Excelsior.

Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

30 miles from New York City

Indulge your love of literature, the arts, and lifestyles of the rich and famous in this storied region north of New York City.

Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman live on (in spirit, anyway) in the Sleep Hollow Cemetery, which author Washington Irving name-checked in his 1820  story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Walk the grounds for free and visit cemetery residents including Irving himself, Andrew Carnegie, Elizabeth Arden, and William and J.D. Rockefeller, or take a two-hour, lantern-lit guided evening tour—if you dare (914/631-0081, sleepyhollowcemetery.org, guided tour $25). For a quick bite, select a hot "Fleetwood original" calzone (stuffed with pepperoni, sausage, peppers, onions, mozzarella, and tomato sauce) from Fleetwood Pizzeria, founded by the Guzzo family in 1965 (914/631-3267, fleetwoodpizza.com, $5.75). Drive two miles northwest, on Bedford Road, to Pocantico Hills to see how the other half lived at Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate. Drift through the main rooms of the six-story stone house, past the fountains and sculptures dotting the expansive gardens, and tour the underground art galleries, replete with works by Picasso and Warhol (914/631-8200, hudsonvalley.org/historic-sites/kykuit/tours, from $23).

WHERE TO STAY Venture eight miles north of Sleepy Hollow to bunk at the Alexander Hamilton House, an eight-unit Victorian B&B with an eight-foot-deep swimming pool and a giant lawn chess set in the backyard (914/271-6737, alexanderhamiltonhouse.com, from $135).

DRIVING TIP Allow traveling time for New York City traffic—the 25-mile drive can take much longer than an hour, even during off-peak hours.

10 must-see attractions at Lake Erie

Published: Thursday, June 30, 2016 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, June 30, 2016 @ 6:00 AM

While roller coasters loom large across the Sanduskycoastline, there is much more to do along the Lake Erie shores. From waterparks to wineries and museums to marinas, the Lake Erie shores and islands havesomething to offer travelers of all ages. And tourists agree, actually morethan nine million tourists according to the Lake Erie Shores & IslandsVisitors and Convention Bureau, making it one of the most popular leisure andbusiness travel destinations in the Midwest.

TEN STOPS ON A LAKEERIE SHORES AND ISLANDS ADVENTURE

Marblehead Lighthouse

Pretty and practical – MarbleheadLighthouse, built in 1821, is both the most photographed and oldest lighthousein continuous use on the Great Lakes. The view from the top is well worth the climb– 77 stairs – with expansive views of the nearby islands and Cedar Point.Meander through the museum and recently opened lifesaving station to take inthe history of the area.

http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/marbleheadlighthouse

Liberty Aviation Museum

Step back in time at the Liberty Aviation Museum. Located at the Erie-OttawaCounty Regional Airport, the museum collection includes World War II-era planes — including a 1945 B-25 Mitchell bomber — a WWII Vosper PT boat, that iscurrently being restored, and both civilian and military vehicles of the era.The Tri-Motor Heritage Museum is also onsite, enabling guests to view theactive restoration of a vintage Island Airlines Ford Tri-Motor.

A visit to the museum wouldn’t becomplete without a meal or, at least, a creamy milkshake at the Tin GooseDiner. The fully restored diner, named after the historic aircraft that servedthe islands for nearly half a century, was built in New Jersey in 1949 andsends you back in time immediately upon entering.

www.libertyaviationmuseum.org

African Safari Wildlife Park

Get up close – really, really close — with all sorts of wildlife. Where elsecan you feed bison, alpaca, zebra or a giraffe from the comfort of your car?But there is more to the Port Clinton wildlife park as there are also walk-thruexhibits, pig races, camel rides and educational animal programs. Walk throughrabbit row, feed a kangaroo and hold a 6-foot Burmese Python.

www.africansafariwildlifepark.com

Maritime Museum of Sandusky

Shipwrecks, pirates and, even, convicts — the Sandusky area has a rich andcolorful maritime history. With interactive exhibits and educational programs,you can discover shipwreck artifacts, learn about the local wetlands, try yourhand at ice harvesting, discover pirate tales and, even, learn about Sandusky’srole in the Underground Railroad. Climb into a boat or let the kids build oneof their own, it’s interesting for all ages.

www.sanduskymaritime.org

Set sail

With a refreshing lake breeze and beautiful scenery, getting to the islands is partof the fun. Whether you choose the speed of the Jet Express (https://jet-express.com/) or the practicality of Miller Ferries (www.millerferry.com) — where you can set sail car and all – travel to the Lake Erie Islands is fun, convenient and reasonably priced as children 5 and under are free.

Kelleys Island

From a600-acre state park to quaint shops and waterfront restaurants, Lake Erie’slargest American island has plenty to offer. The Glacial Grooves are a must-see.A National Natural Landmark, the Glacial Grooves are the largest easilyaccessible grooves in the world measuring in at 400 feet long, 35 feet wide andup to 10 feet deep. Getting around the island is fun and easy via a rented bikeor golf cart, allowing you to take in the natural beauty of the island. Kayakrentals are also available if you want to take in the sights from the water.

http://kelleysisland.com/

Put-in-Bay

Tiny island — big fun. South Bass Island packs a lot into its 2-mile-by-4-mile island and more than 2 million visitors annually travel to what has been dubbed the “KeyWest of the North.” Grown-up fun includes a winery and multiple restaurants andbars. Kids will have a ball at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center – with mini-golf,a giant maze, cave and rock-climbing wall. The whole family can take in thesights at the Butterfly House and nearby Chocolate Museum. No trip to theisland is complete without a visit to the Perry Peace Memorial – declared aNational Monument by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. Again, golf cart andbike rental provides easy transportation or climb onto the Island Tour Trainfor a guided tour.

https://www.putinbay.com/

Merry-Go-Round Museum

Part history, part art, the Merry-Go-Round Museum in downtown Sandusky blendsboth flawlessly. While the museum’s own carousel – circa 1939 by the AllanHerschell Corporation – is a magnificent centerpiece, the collection ofindividual carousel figures is expansive. From reindeer – recently used asholiday decorations at the White House – to tigers, wolves, ostriches andtraditional horses, there is an enchanting collection of original and restoredfigures. Watch skilled craftspeople work in the onsite restoration shop andtake a ride on the one-of-a-kind carousel.

www.merrygoroundmuseum.org

Stay and play

The fun doesn’t haveto stop when you get to the hotel. There are five family-friendly hotels complete with indoor waterparks in the Sandusky area. From the wilds of Africato the tropics to the backwoods, guests at Kalahari, Castaway Bay, Great WolfLodge, Maui Sands and Rain Waterpark, can experience wet-and-wild fun everyday. From wave pools to water slides and themed restaurants and attractions,it’s more than a place to stay; these hotels are definitely places to play.

Grown-up fun

From wine tastings on the porch to a stroll through the vineyards, wineries are plentiful in the region. Both the islands have their own wineries – Kelleys Island Wine Company and Put-in-Bay Winery – but there are also several on the mainland including Mon Ami Historic Winery & Restaurant, Port Clinton, oneof the oldest wineries in the Lake Erie islands region, getting its start asthe Catawba Island Wine Company in 1872.

Cheers to a great trip!

More information on these and other area sites is available at www.shoresandislands.com.

Air Canada accused of bumping 10-year-old from overbooked flight

Published: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 @ 10:17 AM

File photo
John Li/Getty Images

Air Canada is the latest airline coming under fire for bumping a passenger on an overbooked flight.

But this time, according to the Vancouver Sun, the passenger in question was 10 years old and the only member of his family barred from the trip.

>> Read more trending news

Brett Doyle had purchased tickets for him and his three family members months ago for a trip from Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to Costa Rica.

But when he tried to check in and select seats the day before their vacation this month, he was unable to select a set for his 10-year-old son. They spent hours on the phone with Air Canada to correct the issues, then drove to the airport, only to be told the flight was overbooked.

Doyle said he was told by an Air Canada agent that 34 tickets were sold for the 28-seat flight, but that it was unlikely that six passengers would miss a flight over spring break, according to The Vancouver Sun.

They then drove to Moncton to get another flight to make their connection to Costa Rica in Montreal, CBC reported.

That flight was canceled. They then drove to Halifax, staying overnight in a hotel, to be able to get to their final destination.

An airline spokesperson said that companies use a computer algorithm to look at patterns where customers book flights and don’t show up. Isabelle Arthur told The Vancouver Sun that even though Air Canada sells fewer seats than the prediction, there are still times that flights are overbooked and passengers must be moved to a different flight.

Arthur said that children under the age of 12 are usually seated with family, but there was a miscommunication in this case because the airline wasn’t directly dealing with the Doyle family.

Doyle said that Air Canada offered him a $2,500 voucher and may pay for the expenses incurred. The voucher expires in a year.

Airline pilot helps feed baby of woman traveling with four children

Published: Friday, April 14, 2017 @ 12:45 PM



Halfdark/Getty Images/fStop

A photo of a pilot going above and beyond for a passenger is a breath of fresh air given recent airline horror stories.

>> Related: Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat on overbooked flight

A photo shared on Instagram shows a Finnair pilot feeding a baby while aboard a flight as a passenger.

>> Read more trending news

A member of the flight crew shared the photo on Instagram, where it quickly went viral, getting more than 1,000 likes.

According to the post, a mother was traveling with her four boys, two of which were babies.

“Naturally one cannot travel with two babies on one’s lap, so we had to solve the dilemma of missing lap, otherwise it would have been a no go for mom and the kids,” the post reads.

Capt. Tom Nystrom was on the flight as a passenger and happily stepped in.

“I have children on my own,” Nystrom told Inside Edition. “So it came naturally to me to help this customer with her babies.”

>> Related: United passenger says he was bumped for ‘higher priority’ passenger, threatened with handcuffs

>> Related: All passengers on United flight 3411 to receive compensation

All passengers on United Flight 3411 to receive compensation

Published: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 @ 5:42 PM

United Airlines will offer compensation to all passengers aboard Sunday’s Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, the airline announced Wednesday. 

>> Read more trending news

“All customers on Flight 3411 from Sunday, April 9, are receiving compensation for the cost of their tickets,” the airline said in a statement. 

The airline made headlines this week after passengers filmed and voiced outrage over an incident in which David Dao, a 69-year-old physician aboard flight 3411, was dragged off the plane after refusing to deplane. United Airlines officials had selected Dao as one of four passengers who would be re-accommodated on a later flight. United had fully booked the flight but needed to provide seats for four airline employees who needed to get to Louisville for work.

>> Read more: Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat on overbooked flight

The announcement about compensating passengers came the same day United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized on national television for the airline’s role in the incident.

>> Read more: United Airlines CEO apologizes as stock valuation drops by $1 billion

“This will never happen again,” Munoz said Wednesday on “Good Morning America.” “We are not going to put a law enforcement official onto a plane to take them off … to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger; we can’t do that.”

>> Read more: United CEO's internal email describes man dragged off flight as 'disruptive,' 'belligerent'

Munoz, who at one point described Dao as disruptive and belligerent, has released multiple statements apologizing on behalf of the airline. 

>> Related: United Airlines passengers describe scene as man dragged off flight

>>Related: Twitter users respond to United Airlines fiasco, suggest mock company slogans

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story indicated that Dao and his wife were two of four passengers selected by the airline to be removed. Additional information from a April 13 news conference revealed that his wife was not selected.