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Category: Vacations

History at hand in Richmond, Calif.’s mellow Point Richmond

Posted on January, 24 2015

Point Richmond is a little-known, charming enclave within the far rougher city of Richmond, Calif., nestled a few blocks from the 580 Freeway and a massive Chevron oil refinery. It’s a cool find for anyone looking for a mellow Bay Area weekend, with Marin County, the East Bay, Napa Valley and San Francisco all easily accessible. Many of the buildings in the cute downtown are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The tab: Rooms at the Hotel Mac are $ 135 to $ 225 a night; my husband and I spent $ 130 for meals and drinks.

The bed

The Hotel Mac (10 Cottage Ave.; [510] 235-0010, hotelmac.net), built in 1911, has been nicely restored. Each of the seven rooms in the original three-story brick building is unique, giving it the feel of a homey bed and breakfast (minus the breakfast). We stayed in Raffles, an immaculate room with a queen bed and a floral bedspread, plastic flowers, white shutters and bookshelves. (Grandma would have approved.) Next time, I’ll choose a suite with a fireplace because they don’t cost much more. There are a few rooms in the Annex across the street and studios with kitchens in the recently opened Carriage House.

The meal

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Category: Vacations

Lyft shaves off its fuzzy pink mustache for new Glowstache

Posted on January, 21 2015
 Lyft shaves off its fuzzy pink mustache for new Glowstache

Lyft lovers, kiss that big, fuzzy pink mustache goodbye. The goofy stache strapped to the front of Lyft cars will vanish, and the Glowstache will take its place.

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Category: Vacations

Top-tier boutique lodges selected by National Geographic

Posted on January, 19 2015

The properties included on this website could make any traveler’s bucket list.

Name: www.nationalgeographiclodges.com

What it does: A quick and easy-to-read (but not to choose) resource for boutique accommodations around the world that match the reputation and standards you’d expect of the National Geographic brand. Each property is visited and vetted to ensure that guests receive top-notch service and inspiring experiences in a unique lodge that stays true to the landscape and cultural heritage, has a commitment to conservation and provides benefits to local communities.

What’s hot: Don’t miss the “Spotlight on Sustainability” section where you can discover the connections between the property and green practices, the land and community. Guests who book their stay through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World receive a complimentary experience or “National Geographic Exclusive” that helps them connect more deeply to their destination, whether it’s a drum ceremony with Buddhist nuns, a dinner under the stars in South Africa or a meeting with the son of a shaman in Costa Rica.

What’s not: If you have to ask about room rates, you probably can’t afford them. Still, it would be nice if you could filter the accommodations by price.

travel@latimes.com

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Category: Vacations

San Francisco’s Lands End is an excellent starting point

Posted on January, 17 2015

Lands End, at the northwestern tip of San Francisco, is the antithesis of the typical experience here. No cable cars, crowded streets or souvenir tchotchkes. I was forced to think outside of the city box in August when it was impossible to find a room. Instead of a hotel near tourist magnets such as Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf, my husband and I found a five-star location near the ocean for a two-star price. Lands End, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, offers hiking, history and beautiful vistas. The tab: Rooms for two at the Seal Rock Inn are $ 130 to $ 162 a night on weekends through May 16. (There’s a two-night minimum on weekends.) Meals and drinks cost us about $ 180.

The bed

“Give me your best room!” I was in no danger of overpaying at the funky but spunky Seal Rock Inn (545 Point Lobos Ave.; [888] 732-5762, www.sealrockinn.com). The request landed us a spacious top-floor room, with a queen bed, two twin beds, a fireplace and a view of the ocean. The room, which was stuck in the 1960s, had dated furnishings, faded bedspreads and carpeting, but it was clean and the bathroom had been re-tiled. There’s free parking and a large courtyard that is great for families. Literary footnote: Hunter S. Thompson stayed here in the early 1970s while writing “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.”

The meal

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Category: Vacations

Seven Seas Explorer might redefine luxury, starting with a $5,000 suite

Posted on January, 14 2015

What does top-tier luxury on a cruise ship look like? Regent Seven Seas Cruises on Tuesday offered a peek at the Seven Seas Explorer, still under construction, whose wow factor is a spacious two-bedroom suite that comes with a daily price tag of $ 5,000 per person.

The Explorer won’t sail until summer of 2016 but it’s being designed to be “recognized industry-wide as the most luxurious ship ever,” Regent president Jason Montague says in a statement.

And, with just 750 guests, the all-inclusive cruise line says it will have the highest space ratio in the cruise world.

The new luxury suite, called the Regent Suite, covers more than 3,800 square feet and comes with a dining area, its own sauna and steam room, a spa treatment area and a glass-covered veranda with views toward the horizon over the ship’s bow, a statement says.

Renderings of the ship released Tuesday (see images above) start with the main atrium lobby anchored by twin glass staircases and a crystal chandelier.

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Category: Vacations

Sosh—Cityguide gives you the insider’s view of cool things to do

Posted on January, 12 2015

It’s as if your coolest cousin gave you the scoop on the hippest things to do in her city and put it in this app. Quick, give her a large tip before she thinks you’re not worthy of it.

Name: Sosh—City Guide

Available: iOS

Cost: Free

What it does: Acts as a city guide to fun things to do and see (you choose your interests and neighborhood preferences) curated by real people gathering info from local weekly magazines, newspapers and niche websites such as Thrillist, Eater, Zagat, 7×7, New York magazine and more. Currently available for Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

What’s hot: The app goes way beyond the usual guidebook recommendations to suggest unique things to do such as eat at a pop-up restaurant, discover the city’s best artisanal cocktails or speak-easies, shop at a sample sale and more. I found a sushi-making and sake-pairing workshop in San Francisco on Valentine’s Day under “Date Nights,” Stargazing with Astronomy Enthusiasts in Seattle, Culinary Fight Club: Top Chef Meets Pop-Up in Chicago, and Bespoke Cocktails & Jazz Underground in New York City. Also available: upcoming events by the week and social sharing.

What’s not: It asks you upfront if you’re living in one of its destinations. So I lied to get past this velvet rope and start exploring. After all, the chances of me traveling to visit family in either San Francisco or New York are high. When I started looking at other cities, I could say I’m “just browsing” or let them know “I’ve moved there.” Why do they care? Seems a little nitpicky to me. How about an option instead to request or vote on a new city?

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Category: Vacations

Video: San Antonio, the city, the river, the light show

Posted on January, 10 2015
 Video: San Antonio, the city, the river, the light show

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Category: Vacations

San Diego: Mingei Museum’s surfboard design exhibition is one fun ride

Posted on January, 07 2015

If you haven’t seen “Surf Craft” at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, go now. The compelling exhibition about American makers and shapers of all kinds of wave-riding boards ends Sunday.

Surf historian Richard Kenvin has assembled an amazing collection of boards from the early 20th century to the present. Even if you don’t know anything about surfboards, these marvels of wood, fiberglass and foam stand on their own as works of art.

“Other surfing [exhibitions] are more based on nostalgia,” says Kenvin, who surfs and has been researching surfboards for a dozen years. “This is more the craft story.”

Indeed rarely have the 60 to 80 pieces — some from museums, some from private collections — been displayed together, Kenvin says.

For those in the know, Surfer magazine describes the exhibition this way:

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Category: Vacations

Hopper.com and its Flight Tonight app are last-minute deal finders

Posted on January, 05 2015

Could these reveal last-minute deals worth packing for?

Name: Flight Tonight app and Hopper.com

Available: iOS

Cost: Free

What they do: To use Flight Tonight, a simple iOS app from Hopper.com, you input your hometown airport code and it returns same-day flight deals — domestic and international — for that airport and nearby cities. Results vary throughout the day because of frequent updates. If you check later in the afternoon and evening, you’ll find deals that leave the next day.

What’s hot: The app is for those who must make last-minute trips and for travelers who can be spontaneous and can usually spend a little more. Check the app earlier in the day if possible to get the broadest selection of flight and deal options. To get details on cheap flights between two destinations, see the “When to Fly and Buy” on the Hopper.com website. Also check the “Deals” section that features upcoming destination-specific deals from your hometown.

What’s not: If you’re serious about being spontaneous, don’t rely solely on the app but also search Hopper.com. It’s more work, but I found even better prices and more destination options on Hopper.com in my tests. The app also might specify a return flight that would keep you at your destination a certain number of days, but the website offers more flexibility, allowing you to search different days or exact dates.

travel@latimes.com

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Category: Vacations
Category: Vacations
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