Cheap Hotels and Motels

One of our first thoughts when looking at our next trip, how to get cheap tickets and how to get cheap hotel / motel rates?

Well, may not be the first thought, in fact the very first thought could go to the business meeting we are going to take part to with an important customer or it could go to the great beaches we will find just in front of our hotel resort.

But as anybody else we do not want to spend more than it is required, right? So let’s talk about cheap and discount rates we can find for hotels and motels – that’s because I am good at this subject.

There are a number of places we would look for cheap rates, anyone has his own preferred places but let’s do not forget about the major ones as expedia.com, deskbell.com, travelocity.com, booking.com, orbitz.com. I always start from one of them to find cheap hotel rates.

Where do we go? Houston! Largest City of Texas and a major one in the United States. Students will travel there for the many universities and colleges such as the University of Houston, the University of Texas-Houston Health and Science Center, Texas Southern University and Rice University. Some will travel for business and most likely having to do with one of the major industries there: Oil and Natural Gas or the space and aeronautics industry.

Let’s assume we are looking for the best price for a cheap hotel in Houston and do not have flexible dates, we will be there for a 2 day business trip!

Assuming a check in date 22 December and a check out date 24 December we go through the results to find a few offers as:

– Book now and save 30%! at Lancaster Hotel a 4 star in Texas Avenue

– Weekend and holiday rates at Four Seasons Houston, a five star downtown Houston

– Book now and save 20% at Hilton Americas Houston, a four star downtown Houston.

This is just a sample of the many hotel deals found for this short stay but try to change the dates or to make a longer stay and the rates will undoubtely be better and lower.

Asia’s Top 5 Honeymoon Destinations

To properly enjoy your once in a lifetime vacation, look no further than Asia. Asia is a land of enchantment and many unique honeymoon destinations can be found on this beautiful and diverse continent. From the urban centers of Hong Kong and Beijing to the jungles of Vietnam, many beautiful honeymoon destinations are waiting for you to explore. Here are 5 of the most popular today.

1: China

Great Wall of China
Image by matt512

One of the most popular Asian honeymoon destinations is China. It is a country that still has remnants of an ancient civilization that can still be seen today. Some of these are the Great Wall, Terra-Cotta warriors, and the Yangtze river. Honeymoons in China could include tours of the modern city of Beijing which was made even more modern during its preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics. You could also include a tour of the country’s vast interior where you will come in contact with many of China’s friendly people and ancient customs while you enjoy regional cuisine at one of the many neighborhood teahouses. No visit to China is complete without a cruise up the Yangtze River. Today’s China is not only home to many international hotels such as Ramada, Sheraton, Hyatt, and Hilton, but also many hotels that are managed by Chinese firms to cater to the international travelers. Many of these hotels offer luxurious packages that include romance packages and spa packages so that you can enjoy time of relaxation while enjoying the sights of the beautiful and diverse country.

2: Thailand

Maya Bay of Koh Phi Phi
Image by Argenberg

Another great place to consider as one of your Asian honeymoon destinations is Thailand. This is a very popular destination for Americans because of its beaches, ornate religious temples, and destinations within the country such as Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many different honeymoon packages can be found that offer the best of this beautiful and enchanting country. Many hotels in Bangkok and Phuket offer the spa option where you can enjoy ultimate relaxation between visits to the cities. Tour the many temples and palaces of Bangkok that take you back 1000 years to early Thailand, and experience a traditional dance show like no other in the world. No trip to Thailand is complete without a visit to the floating market of the Karan people.

3: Japan

Mt. Fuji
Image by skyseeker

Japan is another one of the great Asian honeymoon destinations. Its relationship with the United States since World War II and it being the closest Asian country to the U.S. makes it a favorite tourist destination. It is appealing to honeymooners because it has urban cities, tropical beaches and islands, amazing countryside, and snow covered mountains as well as an ancient culture. A great way to tour Japan for your honeymoon is by taking a self-guided tour. These can range from the more romantic hot springs where you can get pampered with assorted spa treatments in between city excursions to one of the bustling cities of Kyoto or Tokyo. It can include a ride on the famous bullet train or a stay on the famous Japan sea coast in the Lamp-No-Yada hideaway which will provide you with a very unique romantic experience. There are also many opportunities to enjoy the beautiful tropical countryside in the shadow of the snow-capped Mt. Fuji.

4: Hong Kong:

Hong Kong
Image by Kabacchi

Now a part of China, Hong Kong is near the top of Asia’s popular honeymoon destinations. Though small, Hong Kong has many opportunities for romance on your once in a lifetime vacation. You can enjoy packages that include hiking in the country’s interior and dolphin and bird encounters at one of its parks. Maybe you have always wanted to cruise on one of the famous junks in the harbor on your island getaway or in the bustling city where you can experience the world renown nightlife of this modern city-state.

 

5: Vietnam:

Hanoi
Image by plusgood

Rounding out the top 5 honeymoon destinations in Asia is the country of Vietnam. This has become a top honeymoon destination in more recent years because there is much diversity within the country. You can enjoy a spa vacation at one of the luxurious resorts or you can enjoy a romantic honeymoon within the countryside where you can get a taste of the Vietnamese food and culture. You can spend time at the beach sinking your toes in the sand and then take a tour through the dense jungles that the country is known for.

Its your honeymoon, your vacation, your experience. Enjoy the enchantments of Asia.

Bavaria, the Beer and the Oktoberfest

Bavaria is a tourist region and a state of Germany located in the south east of the country bordering Austria and the Czech Republic. Thousands of people visit its beautiful mountains and lake each year. The largest federal state is rich in natural resources includes snowy Alpine peaks, rushing streams, and velvety forests. It is also filled with historical sites, beautiful baroque churches, romantic castles, and world class museums.

Bavaria hosts the world’s most famous festival where million of visitors come across the globe to celebrate Oktoberfest. It is a glorious beer celebration every autumn from late September until early October. You can explore the famous tourist destinations in Bavaria:

The famous castles like Neuschwanstein Castle, Herrenchiemsee Castle, Linderhof Castle, and Schleissheim Palace. Neuschwanstein Castle lies in Southern Bavaria, a fairy tale castle with a breathtaking setting.  Herrenchiemsee is second unfinished castle of Ludwig with an exquisite lake Chiemsee. Linderhof Castle is the smallest of the three castles built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the park was one of the most beautiful creations of historicist garden design. Schleissheim Palace is a baroque palace complex consisting of three palaces with a huge garden in North of Munich.

The great natural scenery in Bavaria includes Zugspitze, and Konigsee. Zugspitze is Germany’s highest mountain with amazing views from the top. Konigsee is the deepest and cleanest lake in the Alps near Berchtesgaden.

The famous churches and monasteries Bavaria features are Andechs Monastery, Benedictine Monastery, St. John Baptist Church in Steingaden, and Wieskirche Church. Andechs Monastery is famous for its beer. Wieskirche Church is a UNESCO world heritage site and the most charming rococo church in the state of Bavaria.

There are great deals and quality vacation rentals in Bavaria (Ferienwohnungen) including homes, villas, condos, apartments, cottages, cabins, and bed and breakfast that you can rent for a couple of days. There are numerous Bavaria vacation rentals that present a candid photo, detailed description, availability, location, and price rate. There are sites which allows you to connect directly to home owners where you can negotiate good deal. Just make a quick search on Google for “Ferienwohnungen in Deutschland” and you will find wonderful accommodations like the Pension Hegger, Haus Berggruß or Ferienpark-Frye.

The Impact of Taking your Children to Disney World

Disney is a brand that has transcended many generations. Many people do not know this, but when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs together with Pinocchio were released in the 1940’s, they were timeless classics that were revolutionary in terms of what they did. Masterful storytelling, enchanting soundtracks as well as cutting edge 2D animation that was the best at that time surely captured audiences and made these two Disney classics very much immortal. After this, many more classics followed, which are still icons of today’s Disney universe. Case in point – Mickey Mouse is just as admired now as he was in the 1960’s!

And speaking of the 1960’s; isn’t it that one of the most defining moments of Walt Disney was when he made a risky move to create Disney World in Orlando? At that time, there were not a lot of visitors to Central Florida. You basically went there for the good weather, crystal clear waters and the oranges freshly picked from their vast orchards. But Walt had a different vision – he saw a big castle in the middle of a grand theme park, hotel packages Disney World and even Disney World vacation packages that would be bought and enjoyed by eventually millions of people yearly.  He even envisioned that people would come from all around the world to visit this grand attraction; and he was right to do so.

For many parents today, one of their memorable experiences will very likely be their own parents having taken them to Disney World at one point. Now many of these people remember what they did at least vaguely, the happiness and excitement that they felt when they went on that trip to Disney. It didn’t really matter if their visit took place when they were just 5 years old; they usually have it detailed in their memory. Why is this? Why has this become the rule? Is it truly a requirement for parents nowadays to take their children to Disney World at one point in their lives?

Many child psychologists and educators have attributed a child’s need to go to Disney to their need for fantasy. They want to hear about stories and, of course, have closure in a good ending that finishes with “and they lived happily ever after – the end.” Children are naturally inclined to hear good stories and would always imagine themselves in the place of the characters that they watch on video or the big screen. And what better way to do that, than to actually go to a place where all of that is real – and that is Disney World.

When you think about hotel packages Disney World and even Disney World vacation packages, the bottom line is that you need to take your children to Disney at one point in their lives. This is something that they require as part of their development as much as they need fairy tales. If you think going to Disney has not influenced your life, then you better ask your parent why they took you there the first place! It is inevitable. Taking your child to Disney has its advantages and will leave a lasting impression.

 

A Comprehensive Guide to your Lake District Trip

The UK is often derided as a holiday resort, but the fact remains that it is home to some of the most fascinating locations in the whole of Europe. Take the Lake District, for example, which features spectacular mountain scenery and a number of waterways that provide the ideal backdrop for a relaxing summer getaway.

Lake District Trip
Lake District TripDiliff / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

In total there are more than 100 mountainous peaks and 16 individual lakes within the region, each of which has a unique narrative and numerous highlights to explore. In fact, the hardest part of your trip to the Lake District will be creating an itinerary that allows you to take in everything that the area has to offer.

A Guide to the Lake District: 5 Must See Locations

With this in mind, what are 5 of the must see locations that help to distinguish the Lake District from other British resorts? Consider the following: –

The Gingerbread Shop in Grasmere: If you are visiting with family, a trip to the renowned Gingerbread Shop is a sensational way to spend an afternoon. Home to some of the most delicious gingerbread in the UK, it has been baking since 1854 and remains popular with both locals and tourists alike. The quaint village of Grasmere is also a hidden delight on the Lake District landscape, with a range of unique gift shops and tea rooms accessible to keen explorers.

The Lakeland Segway in Graythwaite: The self-balanced, battery powered segway is considered to be a futuristic method of travelling, and visitors to Graythwaite in the Lake District can enjoy this unique experience in the most scenic location. There is no finer way to enjoy the lush greenery, and after some expert tuition you will be able to navigate the mountainous landscape and see the region in a whole new light.

Derwent Water in Keswick: For those with more conservative tastes, a trip to Derwent Water in Keswick provides the ideal alternative. One of the most popular lakes in the region, it is not only picturesque but also surrounded by beautiful nature trails and quaint coffee shops. You can even hire a boat to traverse the tranquil waters, which allows you to see more of the area and enjoy and splendid afternoon in the sun.

Go Ape in Keswick: At the opposite end of the scale is the ‘Go Ape’ treetop climbing challenge in Keswick, which remains popular with everyone from young children to thrill seeking adults. Featuring numerous treetop courses to challenge individuals of all ages and experience, it is renowned as a family friendly resort that offers spectacular day out. If you are a beginner, you can even rely on experienced instructors to help guide you through the experience.

Theatre by the Lake in Keswick: The Lake District is not readily associated with the theatre, but visitors to Keswick can take in a variety of shows during their holiday. The Theatre by the Lake is one of Keswick’s most famous landmarks, and an entity that combines drama with breathtaking scenery like no other entertainment facility. At the end of a long hike or afternoon bike ride, there really is no finer way to spend a balmy, sun-kissed evening.

Must Visit Mediterranean Cruise Ports

Mediterranean cruises are becoming increasingly more popular. There are more than a hundred ports served by a wide range of cruise lines. Here are some of the most interesting ports which you can visit:
-Funchal:  The city of Funchal, the largest population of the Maderian archipelago, is named after the large amounts of fennel that grew wild. The city rises straight up from the sea to an altitude of almost 5000 feet.
 The city offers all year round good weather, stunning scenery, fantastic shopping opportunities for locally made crafts and embroidery plus a varied choice of activities such as vigorous hiking to placid contemplation of nature.     
-Ajaccio: Located in the isle of Corsica, Ajaccio is one of the most picturesque ports that can be found in the whole Mediterranean. The island of Corsica was ruled by more than four centuries by the Genovese. The Italian influence can be appreciated in some of the street names and the local cuisine. However Ajaccio is quintessentially French as it is depleted with an array of patisseries and stylish fashion shops, the main caveat is the price tag of these shops.
-Naples: The city offers striking architectural contrasts with elegant 18th century palaces standing next to Soviet style block of flats. The city offers a vibrant atmosphere combining cafes as chic as fashionable as the ones we would expect in Italian northern cities like Florence with traditional food stalls offering fresh vegetables or tripe.
Without doubt the most famous attraction near Naples is the city of Pompeii. Located 15 miles southeast of Naples, Pompeii used to be a buoyant city till the eruption of the Mt Vesuvius which buried the whole city in ash.  The town was covered in ash till the 1860s were an excavation began revealing the city.
-Palma de Mallorca: The capital of the Balearics Islands is a must see destination for all the architecture enthusiasts. It offers a delightful blend of Gothic, Moorish and Renaissance styles. Cruise voyagers can find an array of fountains, grand churches or old castles in its winding streets. The beaches are very close by the city and the water is tantalisingly clear.
-Lanzarote: The northernmost of the Canary Islands offers sub- tropical climate with temperatures remaining stable throughout the whole year. The island is volcanic in its origin; some of areas of the island offer a lunar landscape as a matter of fact some parts of the science fiction saga of Planet of the Apes were filmed in Lanzarote. The island boasts interesting volcanic features such as the longest volcanic tunnel in the world which is over 7 km long and the volcano park at Timanfaya is the most popular attraction at the island.
-Las Palmas: Though its scenery is not as dramatic as the one in Lanzarote, it is a prime destination for sun worshippers. The island enjoys warm weather all year round and boasts amazing beaches like “La Playa de Las Canteras” which is one of the longest beaches in the world.
The ports palm tree lined streets are all clean and endowed with exuberant floral displays

Bali Honeymoons

After the Wedding, the Dream Continues in Bali

Wedding Bali
Image by Bali Wedding Photographer - Pre Wedding Bali Photo

You’ve said your vows and tied her to you for the rest of your lives. You’ve finally claimed that one woman you’ve been searching for forever. You have just done something that will change the rest of your life for the better and you cannot express in words how totally content and excited you are about the rest of your lives together. You are more than joyful and beyond in love and you want to gift your new bride with a honeymoon that is more than words can say or hearts can contain.

Take your new wife to Bali, the Island of the Gods, the one place on earth where heaven touches down and kisses the sea with its beauty and glory.

A honeymoon (even a 2nd or 3rd honeymoon) in Bali is the perfect gift for the bride that deserves only the best. You can choose to reserve a honeymoon package through a hotel, or you can go the more intimate route and get a honeymoon package for one of the islands delightfully exclusive Bali villas. Vacationers find that Bali villas rental are inexpensive, easy, and totally the most amazing accommodations this side of Nirvana. Who would think that you can have an all inclusive private beach villa for as little as $300 USD a night? Can you picture your beloved bride sun bathing next to your own private pool? Can you imagine long and soothing walks on the beach located just outside of your property? These are all things that can be included in a honeymoon package through Bali villas rental.

So, now that you’re seriously considering ditching the clichéd honeymoon to Hawaii, you’re probably wondering what is included in the honeymoon package through the many Bali villas. Well, here are a few things that you can expect to find the with honeymoon packages at Bali villas:

  • A one bedroom suite (these Bali villas rentals are on par with exclusive luxury hotels in Milan and Paris)
  • Spa treatments
  • Guided island tours
  • Fine Dining Certificates
  • Yacht Chartering
  • Private beach access
  • Private scuba lessons
  • Private performances by Balinese dancers
  • Much more…

Bali is the second home for many of the world’s high powered men and women, but when you step onto the island you get the sense that you are a tiny speck of dust in a vast forest of immense beauty and timelessness. The locals are extremely friendly, the weather is perfect, the food is delicious, the ocean water is warm, the culture is vibrant, the travel is easy, the cost is low, and the lifetime experiences are worth every moment.

The wedding was just the beginning of the dream wedding experience– from proposal to planning to the actual saying of, “I do”. If you want the dream to last a little longer, like say a month, you can choose to take a break from the world of mere mortals and spend an extended honeymoon on Bali.

5 Locations You Must Visit in the UK

When it comes to holidays, some are lucky enough to be able to go once or maybe more times in a year. Some are only able to go on rare occasions, so it is understandable that people seek to holiday abroad. However, there are some quite beautiful locations hidden in the UK which I recommend you visit and make the most of the huge selection of holiday parks that are available. Below I have handpicked five of the most stunning locations that maybe you could consider next time you book your family holiday.

1. Cotswolds, Gloucestershire, England
The Cotswolds are a range of hills that run through a number of counties, most notably Gloucester and Oxfordshire. The exceptional and spectacular landscape led them to be designated as England and Wales’ largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Whether you want to spend time in some gorgeous rustic villages or walk through the valleys surrounding the river Severn, you are surrounded by gorgeous scenery.

Cotswolds
Cotswolds

2. Portmeirion, Wales
Portmeiron, a popular tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales, is said to be based on the style of an Italian village. Made famous by its use in the 1960’s cult series The Prisoner as The Village, most of the fantastic locations used have remained unchanged 40 years on. The village is situated on the estuary of the River Dwyryd, and makes for some absolutely stunning panoramic views that will take your breath away.

Portmeirion
Portmeirion

3. The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
I have included The Giant’s Causeway as it is a marvellous natural phenomenon to behold. The 40,000 odd interlocking basalt columns were formed roughly 50-60 million years ago as a result of volcanic activity. There are many picturesque areas in Ireland, however, this made the top 5 as it is something that is only really appreciated by viewing in person and I would highly recommend, if you have the chance, that this is near the top of your ‘to see next’ list.

Giants Causeway
Giants Causeway

4. Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isle of Scilly
Again, the Tresco Abbey Gardens may not be at the top of your list, or maybe they were not even on your radar. If not, then they should be. The gardens are located on the island of Tresco, part of the Scilly Isles, just off the Cornish peninsula. The gardens are home to some exotic plants from all over the world, thanks to the mild winter climates and the long hours of summer sunshine. Entry to the gardens costs just £10, and you would be forgiven for forgetting that this was not located in the UK, and that you were somewhere more exotic.

Tresco Abbey Gardens
Tresco Abbey Gardens

5. The Highlands, Scotland
Lastly, but by no means least are the Scottish Highlands. Now this is a huge expanse of land, but here you will find exquisite views, mountains, and lakes. Be sure to investigate the picturesque village of Glencoe and the Lochan which is beautifully surrounded by amazing woodlands and mountain scenery. Alternatively, just have a look at what is available in the Scottish Highlands, most of it will blow you away. However, if you are feeling adventurous then you could tackle Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles. There are routes available for all difficulties and the views you are rewarded with are breath-taking.

Highlands
Highlands

Please note that there were a lot of choices I considered before finalising on these five. If you have any thoughts on these or any to add, then drop your comments in below.

Author Bio
This article was written by Ricky May, on behalf of Best Holiday Parks, a resource for Holiday Parks, Holiday Lodges and Caravan Holidays

The World’s Most Romantic Cities to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Most opponents of Valentine’s Day complain about the fact that doing something special shouldn’t be reserved for one particular day out of 364. No more excuses! This year you can take Monday off and enjoy a long weekend to cuddle with your better half. Unsure where to go? Keep reading. We’ve gathered a list with the six most romantic cities from each continent in the world and the best hotels as voted by the customers of online reservations system hotel.info.

AgraIndia

If you were an emperor, would you order the construction of a whole palace to serve as your loved one’s final resting place? Shah Jahan, emperor of India from 1628 until 1658, commissioned the making of the Taj Mahal to honor his favorite wife’s last wish before dying. Legend has it that after giving birth to the couple’s 14th child, Mumtaz Mahal’s deathbed wish was for her husband to build the most majestic mausoleum for her body to rest in the afterlife. Easily recognized as one of the most important strucutres for centuries, the “Crown Palace”, English for Taj Mahal, surely does enough to fulfill Mumtaz Mahal’s request and is almost the epitome of true love. The Taj is located some 250 Km south of New Delhi in the city of Agra. Be an early bird (The palace opens to the public at 6 am) and enjoy the most beautiful tomb ever made when it is still relatively empty. Besides the Taj Mahal, there are many temples worth visiting and the Agra Fort, practically unspoiled since its construction in the 16th century, still remains one of the main attractions in the city, partly because our romantic hero Shah Jahan ended up being prisoner inside its walls.

Offering unparalleled views of the Taj Mahal and with over 6 acres of landscaped gardens, the Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Road Agra was rated by the customers of online reservation system hotel.info as one of the best hotels in Agra and offers accommodation starting at GBP 99.92/ €116,07

MarrakechMorocco

Also known as “The Red City”, Marrakech clearly is the most colorful destination in this list. Famous for its snake charmers, fire jugglers, bazaars, food stalls and Roman ruins, the city of Marrakech is a feast for the senses. It is divided into two main districts: The Medina and Gueliz (Ville Nouvelle). The Medina is the old historical town and is full with narrow alleyways, Souks (traditional Moroccan markets) and beautiful traditional architecture. Gueliz ist the European district and features modern restaurants and high street shopping. Djemma-El-Fna is the main square of the city of Marrakech and it becomes the place to be after the sun sets. Storytellers, musicians, dancers and food stalls will certainly keep both tourists and locals entertained. But if that isn’t romantic enough for you, Marrakech is the place where Riad hotels were born. Riads are traditional Moroccan palace-like houses and have been lately transformed into modern boutique hotels, which provide both comfort and style. At many Riads, you can also book a private Hammam (Turkish Bath) with full massages and Spa treatments for couples so that you and your lover can unwind in this marvelous African city.

Hotel.info’s customers have voted the Al Ksar Riad as the best hotel in Marrakech. It is located in the city center and offers spa and beauty treatments. Hotel.info offers a 15% long stay discount and a double room can be booked for €54.40/GBP 46.31

Buenos AiresArgentina

Combine the charm of Europe with the passion of Latin America and Buenos Aires is the result. The Paris of South America is easily the most romantic city of the continent. Even though its citizens don’t officially celebrate Valentine’s Day, love and romance in the “City of Fair Winds” are celebrated all 365 days of the year and “El Día de los Enamorados”, as Valentine’s Day is known in Spanish speaking countries, has slowly been weaving its way into Argentine culture. You and your significant other can spend the day at one of the many Tango schools scattered around the city and unleash the passion and pleasure of one of the most sensual dances known to humankind. Have dinner at one of the sexiest eateries in the world and the only aphrodisiac restaurant in Buenos Aires, Te Mataré Ramírez, where eating is taken to a whole new level with erotic shows for couples and the most delicious menus acting as a wonderful foreplay for the gustatory sense.

The Livin Residence is a four star hotel situated in downtown Buenos Aires. It belongs to the line of top rated hotels in Buenos Aires and daily rates start at $88.33/ GBP55.59

New YorkUSA

The big apple is famous for its busy streets, never-ending traffic jams and hasty locals. But it is its picture perfect skylines and imposing skyscrapers which, with a little help from classic Hollywood movies, lend the city its romantic flair. Start off your day by going for a walk through Central Park or take the tourist favorite hansom cab ride, horse-drawn carriages, which many describe as the best way to see Central Park. Many locals complain about animal cruelty, however, so you might want to take that into account. Evoke Hollywood classics, such as “Sleepless in Seattle” or the movie that inspired it “An Affair to Remember” and go to the top of the Empire State building to enjoy the breathtaking views. Go for a stroll down the newly expanded Gantry Plaza State Park and enjoy that Hollywood skyline view of midtown Manhattan. If you’re on a budget, you can take your loved one for dinner at one of the best Pizzerias in the city, Grimaldi’s, right under the Brooklyn Bridge. If you, on the other hand, want to wow your honey with a romantic dinner, you can take him/her to “One if by Land, Two if by Sea”; the Barrow Street restaurant has been charming its guests since 1972, and is considered by many New Yorkers to be one of the most romantic in the city. If Mother’s Day is the busiest restaurant day in America, Valentine’s is arguably the busiest restaurant night, so don’t forget to make reservations.

Hotel.info’s top rated hotel in New York City, the Intercontinental New York Times Square, offers the perfect location and double rooms start at $323.65/GBP 199.44

MelbourneAustralia

After a busy month in which Melburnians celebrated Australia Day and hosted the Australian Open, the city of Melbourne welcomes lovebirds from all over the world. Famous for being the cultural city of Australia, the capital of the “Garden State”, as Victoria is also known, is the ideal place to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Its vertiginous skyscrapers and cable cars give Melbourne both a traditional and modern feel only compared to that of San Francisco and its renowned restaurants near Federation Square will surely please the most demanding taste buds with its wide array of culinary treats. Whereas the city itself is more than enough to keep you busy on Valentine’s Day, the rugged coasts of southeastern Australia provide the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway. The Great Ocean Road, with its 243 Km of coastline, is considered one of the most scenic roads in the world and gives you the opportunity to experience everything from lush rainforests to witnessing the majesty of the 12 apostles (imposing rock stacks rising from the ocean).

The Crown Promenade Hotel is hotel.info’s best rated hotel in Melbourne. It offers some of the best bay and city views and is located in the vibrant Southbank precinct. AU$ 350/GBP 217.80

VeniceEurope

Enchanting canals, beautiful piazzas, romantic gondolas, vehicle-free streets… Venice is the dream city for couples wanting to get away from the daily grind. Virtually unchanged in the last 600 years, it has been described as one of “most beautiful cities built by man” thanks to its romantic architecture and complex system of bridges and alley ways. It is also worth noting that “La Serenissima”, as the city is also known, was the birth place of Giacomo Casanova. Whether Casanova got his charm from the city or vice versa is not entirely clear but it has long been recognized as one of the most romantic cities in Europe. Celebrate Valentine’s week instead of just Valentine’s Day, as this year Venice offers its visitors the chance to celebrate two holidays in one. The world renowned Carnival of Venice opens on February 19th with the Grand Toast at “Piazzeta San Marco”, where you’ll find fountains pouring wine instead of water. Revelry and romance? Yes, please.

The four star Hotel Villa Pannonia is one of the top rated hotels in Venice and offers junior suites for as little as €92.50/GBP 79.61

Six continents, six cities, six reasons to make this Valentine’s Day, and possibly the next five, one to remember, no matter where you are in the world.

5 Best Parts of Inland California

When you think of traveling to California, you’re probably picturing palm trees, sun, beaches and surfing. It is true that these are the most common activities for visitors, but there are even more interesting things to do in the inland areas of the state. Read on to discover the top five little-known destinations of inland California.

Image by J.G. in S.F. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jim-sf/)
Image by J.G. in S.F. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jim-sf/)

1. Placer County – You probably have never heard of this county, but it is full of small towns that have a rich history, especially in relation to the Gold Rush days. Abandoned mines and museums are the only remnants of those days, in addition to some statues in Auburn dedicated to the thousands of Chinese workers who contributed greatly to the mining of gold. Auburn is the county seat and is full of interesting structures, including an old Queen Anne style firehouse and an attractive courthouse dating back to the late 1800s. Placer County is a great place for hiking and outdoor recreation. There is a magnificent old bridge you can see while hiking outside of Auburn; it is called the Foresthill Bridge and towers a breathtaking 730 feet above the American River. You’ll definitely fall in love with Placer County – and you’ll surely see why so many people choose to make it their home. You don’t have to be a Placer County real estate agent to see why people love to buy homes in Placer County towns! If you’re a true hiking adventure lover, park at Donner Summit and take a hike to the old historic Soda Springs resort – it is an amazing experience.

2. Silver City Ghost Town – Thrill seekers and mystery lovers, this one is for you. This mining-camp-turned-ghost-town is located near Bodfish, California, not far from Lake Isabella. Listed on the National Directory of Haunted Places, the town’s ghost-sighting numbers are high. Visitors are welcome to tour the old general store, which is still filled with artifacts from days gone by. There is also an old post office, home dwellings, saloon and cabins. The original Isabella jail is still in existence there, as well. Silver City has appeared on several movies, so you may recognize it.

Silver City Ghost Town
Image by mlhradio (http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthigh/)

3. Miracle Hot Springs – You won’t need to travel far from the Silver City ghost town to arrive at this attraction. Yes, most people come to California for cool water and beaches, but these hot springs are much more invigorating and relaxing than a day on a crowded beach. There are other hot springs in California, but this is the only location that is free of resorts accompanying the springs. Enjoy relaxing in natural rock hot water pools. You may see remnants of the resort that once stood there, but everything has now returned to a natural state. You won’t need to pay resort prices to simply sit and relax here – less than $10 will get you in. Miracle Hot Springs is located in the Kern River Canyon, which is a quiet and secluded area. You’ll likely see less than 10 other people during a visit to these springs.

Miracle Hot Springs
Image by nora.starwaters (http://www.flickr.com/photos/norastarwaters/)

4. Redding – This city is very unique and offers visitors the opportunity to learn a lot about everything from natural science to art. It is nestled along the banks of the Sacramento River. One of the most unique bridges can be seen here – the Sundial Bridge. This magnificent architectural structure is a combination of a working bridge and a fully functional sundial. Nearby is the Turtle Bay and accompanying museum with a 20-acre garden area. Another interesting sight to see is the Art-Deco-style Cascade Theater. This historic structure was built in 1935 and is now a multi-function performance venue.

Redding
Image by Wood R.A. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wood_ra/)

5. Inyo National Forest – Commonly overlooked because it is so close to Yosemite National Park, this gem of a natural attraction is one that you won’t regret visiting. Sure, Yosemite is nice, but you have much more variety for hiking trails and secluded wading or swimming spots in Inyo National Forest. There are plenty of great locations for fishing also. The best part is that if you want something different to do, you only need to drive a short distance to reach multiple ski resorts with some of the best slopes in California. If you’re not native to California and plan to camp in this forest, you must know that it is imperative to have a campfire permit. You’ll need to buy this before setting up camp. With all the fires that occur each year, park rangers are very strict about permits.

Inyo National Forest
Image by Think Abe (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thinkabe/)

These are just a few of the great places to see in the inland portion of the Golden State. Although the popular destinations are pushed in mainstream tourism, I think you’ll find that some of these best-kept secrets of destinations provide an interesting and memorable experience for your next trip to California.

About the author: Patrick works out of the RE/MAX Gold Auburn and Roseville Placer County Homes offices in Placer County. Patrick’s experience includes helping countless clients purchase and sell homes in the region.