Monthly Archives: July 2009

Add Shopping to Your New York City Itinerary

Macy's New YorkNo trip to New York City would feel complete without making a stop at one of its prime shopping locations. With malls, outlets, and centers featuring anything from children’s toys and unique crafts to trendy clothing and valuable accessories, New York City has more than enough options to satisfy extreme shopaholics from all over the globe.

Begin your shopping adventure at one of New York City’s classic shopping locations: Bloomingdale’s. You’re bound to find all of your clothing needs in one stop, as Bloomingdale’s offers up-to-date designer fashions for any age group. However, you’ll find more than just clothing, as the popular tourist site is also home to a variety of home furnishings. From unique home accents to major updated appliances, Bloomingdale’s is the perfect destination for any homeowner. Similarly, Macy’s offers the latest in fashion trends for men, women, and children of any age in addition to having a fully stocked accessories department. Should you work up an appetite, remember not to leave Macy’s without venturing down to The Cellar, a small collection of gourmet shops in the lower level of the store.

Treat your kids to a fun afternoon at the Disney Store. It might be a far cry from experiencing the actual theme park in Florida, but children will have a blast nonetheless as they browse through a selection of Disney-themed memorabilia. Find stuffed animals, clothing, games, and other fun items in one location for an activity the whole family is sure to enjoy. For additional children’s fun, Toys ‘R’ Us Times Square is another option. The store features everything from clothing to exciting games. The large department store even features a 60-foot tall ferris wheel and a 20-foot tall animated T-Rex, two unique visions you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

The Manhattan Mall in New York City combines it all: men’s and women’s clothing, accessories, restaurants, and more. With the huge selection of stores within the mall, you’ll easily be able to lose yourself for an entire afternoon of fun under one roof. The combination of unique stores and traditional favorites makes the Manhattan Mall a shopper’s paradise, guaranteed to be your premier one-stop location on your New York City getaway.

Don’t make the journey to the Big Apple without checking out some of these family-friendly shopping locations!

Interact with Wildlife in Gatlinburg, TN

Parrot Mountain & GardensFrom creatures that live deep in the sea to those that call tropical rainforests home, Gatlinburg offers a number of wildlife options for you to check out during your next visit. From interactive exhibits with parrots to walking under an aquarium, these activities offer unforgettable experiences in Gatlinburg.

Ripleys Aquarium of the Smokies

This aquarium comes from the same people who bring you the unbelievable exhibits of the Ripleys Believe It or Not museums. This aquarium just features unbelievable marine life. Ripleys Aquarium features a number of exhibits, including the Tropical Rain Forests, Coral Reef, and the Shark Lagoon. With over 10,000 different aquatic creatures, you will be sure to see your favorite ocean-dweller, from graceful sea turtles to bright fish to fierce sharks. The highlight of this activity is the aquarium tunnel, where you can walk through the aquarium and see creatures above and beside you. The Aquarium of the Smokies also features two on-site restaurants for your convenience.

Rainforest Adventures

From under the sea to a tropical atmosphere, you will find more interesting wildlife at Rainforest Adventures, which is an indoor facility that houses a number of jungle wildlife in a variety of exhibits. You will see everything from poisonous jungle snakes to bright and vocal birds. Exhibits include ancient ruins, a 25-foot jungle waterfall, and the rainforest. This unique zoo features over 600 animals, including kangaroos in the recently opened Aussie Walkabout exhibit. While at Rainforest Adventures, you could possibly catch feeding time with the reptiles or one of the live shows that the animal handlers conduct daily.

Parrot Mountain & Gardens

This attraction offers a more interactive rainforest experience. The focus of this attraction is the birds of the jungle and rainforest, featuring parrots, macaws, lorikeets, parakeets, and more. A special feature of this attraction is a petting zoo where visitors can interact and feed animals and birds. Some birds will even eat right out of your hand! In addition, you can see baby birds in the bird nursery and maybe even buy one to take home!

Don’t Miss Your Chance to See Legendary Performers in Las Vegas

Cher Live at Caesars Palace ColosseumLas Vegas is known for its great shows and performances that cannot be found anywhere else. The tradition continues with the addition of Bette Midler and Cher to the Las Vegas schedule. Each performer brings a rare charisma and even rarer talent to the stage, making for two performances that are once-in-a-lifetime experiences!

Bette Midler–Live at Caesars Palace

Bette Midler is a consummate performer, featuring talent in music, comedy, and acting. Her show at Caesars Palace includes all three. During her show, she sings some of her most famous songs, including “The Rose,” “Delta Dawn,” “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and “Under the Boardwalk.” The audience may recognize songs from some of her hit movies, including Beaches. In addition to the musical mastery of The Divine Miss M, the audience will enjoy her trademark comedy and wit. Bette Midler is a one-of-a-kind performer, and her show is sure to be an unforgettable evening spent in Las Vegas! The show takes place at The Coliseum at Caesars Palace, which is a 4,000 seat venue that is one of the most technologically advanced in Las Vegas.

Cher–Live at Caesars Palace

From her days in the hit duo Sonny and Cher to her many movies and award-winning performances, Cher has decades of performance experience under her belt: 43 years, to be exact. However, there is no stopping this legendary performer as she takes to the stage at The Coliseum at Caesars Palace for a spectacular show. Cher will perform many of her chart-topping songs, including “Believe,” “Turn Back Time,” and “Walking in Memphis.” In addition to the music, the performance includes 14 dancers as well as aerial artists. For the show, Cher commissioned famous designer Bob Mackie to design her stage clothes, so audiences can expect one-of-a-kind, spectacular pieces in addition to the great music. Whether you are a new fan of Cher or remember her from her duet days, this show is sure to exceed your expectations.

Go Backstage in Nashville

The view from the stage at Ryman AuditoiumNashville is a city full of music, entertainment, and fun. It has taken a lot of work to make Nashville one of the top music destinations in the United States, and you can see all of the work that has gone into making Nashville what it is today with a backstage look at some of its popular venues.

The Ryman Auditorium is one of Nashville’s oldest landmarks, with a past rich in country music history. It was home to the Grand Ole Opry for thirty years. The Ryman Auditorium Self-Guided Tour provides visitors the experience to explore the rich past of the Ryman Auditorium. The tour begins with a narrated video presentation, after which you are free to explore the Ryman. In addition, you can purchase the Backstage Guided Tour, which provides a guided tour of places of the Ryman, like the dressing rooms, that are not open to the Self-Guided Tour. Whichever option you choose, you are sure to have an afternoon filled with the exciting past of the Ryman Auditorium.

To see the history of the modern day Grand Ole Opry, the Opry House Backstage Tour is the perfect activity. This tour will take you behind the scenes of the Grand Ole Opry and preparations for its weekly productions. The Opry House began hosting the Grand Ole Opry in 1974 and continues to host weekly concerts. The Opry House Backstage Tour is a guided tour of that includes narration of the history of the Opry House. The tour includes a look at the dressing rooms, backstage preparations, memorabilia, and more. You may even get to check out the famous stage! For the ultimate Opry experience, you can also purchase tickets to a show at the Grand Ole Opry!

For a behind the scenes look at Nashville history, choose the Nashville Unpublished Walking Tour, which provides a look at the darker history of this city. From the scandals of country music stars to political intrigue, this tour features stories that you will not find on any other tour. The tour features a behind the scenes tour of the Ryman Auditorium where you will hear about some of its more notorious stars. In total, the tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and includes tales of Civil War spies, ghost stories, and more.

Enjoy Unique Dining In and Around Branson

Showboat Branson BelleAfter a full day of shopping at the Branson Landing, exploring historical and informative museums, or taking in one of Branson’s world-famous performances, nothing hits the spot quite like a well-balanced meal. Fortunately, Branson visitors will find a variety of unique dining options upon their arrival, ranging from family-themed and romantic restaurants to savory dessert shops. For the best in delectable cuisine at affordable prices, try out one of these dining options on your next vacation in Branson.

Baldknobbers Family Restaurant offers proximity to the Baldknobbers Jambouree Theater and cuisine in the traditional Ozarks style. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a variety of country-themed delights, the restaurant displays true southern hospitality at its finest within a warm atmosphere. And with a capacity of over 200 people, you’ll never have to wait long to enjoy the good home cookin’ of this family-friendly restaurant. For an additional family favorite, try McFarlain’s Family Restaurant. Located right in the IMAX Entertainment Complex, McFarlain’s features a charming selection of menu items for lunch and dinner, plus a large breakfast buffet each morning.

For a more peaceful and romantic-themed meal, the Candlestick Inn offers all the ingredients of an elegant night out: candlelight, an extensive list of menu items and wines, and breathtaking views along Lake Taneycomo. Choose from two different table options, either an indoor option near the wood-burning fireplace or an outdoor option under the beautiful Ozarks sky. The Candlestick Inn is your prime destination to celebrate a night out with the one you love.

Save room for dessert at the Cakes n Cream Dessert Parlor. The 1950’s style restaurant offers 50 different flavors of ice cream, pies, and an assortment of cakes made with delicious fresh fruit. If you would like to enjoy a meal, this eatery can comply. The food menu perfectly complements the 1950’s theme, with hamburgers, fries, shakes, and other traditional American fare. A jukebox adds to the fun you’ll find at this unique eatery.

Because of the diverse nature of the city, Branson even offers the opportunity to enjoy two activities in one with dinner shows and lunch cruises. Showboat Branson Belle offers a three-course meal while you take in the sights along Table Rock Lake, while Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede and Circle B Chuckwagon Supper & Cowboy Music Show lump dining and entertainment into a full afternoon or evening fun.

Whether you’re traveling with your family or with your sweetheart, Branson offers enough dining options to satisfy its countless list of annual visitors.

Romantic Excursions in Orlando

1 Hour Airboat TourAlthough Orlando is a great family destination, it never hurts to set some time apart for yourself and your loved one to enjoy a romantic evening out during the balmy Orlando nights. From the ocean to the sky, Orlando has many options for a memorable evening.

Rivership Romance

It is hard to go wrong with dinner and dancing, and they are made even more special when on a romantic evening cruise. The Rivership Romance Dinner and Dance Cruise is a three-and-a-half hour long tour on the St. Johns Rivers. The cruise features a gourmet dinner and dancing. The dinner menu features entrees like Tuscan Chicken, Herb Roasted Grouper, and Caribbean Pork, as well as salad, vegetables, and dessert. Whether celebrating an anniversary or a new-found love, the Rivership Romance is a great way to celebrate your relationship.

Orlando Balloon Rides

Although evening activities are popular, a breathtaking sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Orlando landscape is sure to be an unforgettable experience. The total experience lasts approximately three hours and includes transportation to the launch site, an hour-long balloon ride, a champagne ceremony, and a full breakfast. From the balloon, you will be able to watch the sun rise on Orlando and take pictures of the scenery, landscape, and Florida wildlife.

One Hour Night Airboat Tour

From a sunrise ride to a sunset tour, the One Hour Night Airboat Tour is an evening experience unlike many others. On this airboat tour, you will tour the Florida swamplands, all while taking in a scenic Florida sunset over the swamp land. While exploring the swamp, you will watch for Florida wildlife, including alligators gliding through the water. Although this tour may not be as relaxing as a dinner cruise, it will still certainly be a night to remember and a bonding experience between you and your loved one.

Grand Ole Opry Performers for July 31, August 1, and August 4

Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry

Please Note: The Grand Ole Opry does not release final lineups until the Wednesday prior to each performance. This list will be updated weekly as new performers are confirmed and added to the lineup.

Friday, July 31, 2009 – Order Tickets

7:00 to 7:30 p.m.
John Conlee
Jimmy C. Newman
Jonathan Singleton & The Grove

7:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Jimmy Dickens
Ray Pillow

8:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Bill Anderson
Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys

8:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Riders In The Sky
Jamie O’Neal

Saturday, August 1, 2009 – Order Tickets

7:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Jimmy Dickens
Jimmy C. Newman
Trent Tomlinson

7:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Jeannie Seely
Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
Ashton Shepherd

8:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Jim Ed Brown
Jan Howard
Jason Crabb
Opry Square Dancers

8:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Riders In The Sky
Charlie Louvin
George Hamilton IV w/ Live Issue
Restless Heart

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 – Order Tickets

7:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Jeannie Seely
The Grascals

7:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Jack Greene
Eric Church

8:00 to 8:30 p.m.
John Conlee

8:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Jimmy Dickens
Diamond Rio

Experience North Carolina Through the Autumn Mountain Escape

Autumn Mountain EscapeThe secluded mountain settings, rich history and small-town values of the western region of North Carolina offer a picturesque area for autumn travel, and can be experienced in immersive detail with the Autumn Mountain Escape. This unique, encompassing package includes three nights lodging, meals and a variety of activity as you are led through North Carolina and the Great Smokies by a knowledgeable guide.

Throughout the Autumn Mountain Escape, you will celebrate with bluegrass and hayrides at an Old Fashioned Mountain-Style Party, reminisce around the campfire, enjoy a train ride through the Great Smoky Mountains, try your luck at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, visit Biltmore Estates, and more!

However, with the Autumn Mountain Escape scheduled for September 13 only, space is filling up fast. Those interested in learning more about the Autumn Mountain Escape can find detailed information and reservation options online.

Additionally, travelers can find a wealth of other autumn-themed vacation packages and other vacations that highlight the natural beauty of North Carolina online.

Fly High in San Diego

Learn to Fly Discovery Flight 60 Minute FlightTour options abound in Southern California. Tourists with tamer tastes may be drawn to scenic train tours or convenient hop on/hop off trolley tours, and visitors who love being active may want to hike the hills or rent a bike to explore the city. However, there is a tour option in San Diego perfect for those with an insatiable appetite for adventure and trying new things: flight tours. These tours provide a bird’s eye view of San Diego and Southern California, and some tours even let you jump into the cockpit!

The 1920s Open Cockpit Biplane Flights feature a variety of tour options for adventurous spirits. The tours take place in a classic 1920s biplane where the pilot steers the plane from the back, allowing you the seat in the front of the plane, allowing for the best views. Tour options for this activity range from the 30 minute Del Mar Run to the hour long La Jolla Coaster and the Red Baron Thrill Ride. If you are a romantic spirit as well as adventurous, the hour long Sunset Snuggler is the best option for you. Sights seen depend on which tour you choose, but some sights are the California coast, Carlsbad, Torrey Pines, San Diego Bay, and Coronado.

For those looking for a more hands-on experience, the Learn to Fly Discovery Flight is the opportunity of a lifetime. This activity allows you to jump behind the controls of a Varga VG-21. The activity includes pre-flight training, the flight, and post-flight debriefing. In total, the flight lasts approximately one hour, which allows you to learn and do much of the flying. The cockpit is set up with dual joysticks, which allow you to fly the plane in safety with the company of a trained pilot.

For an adventure experience like no other, check out the Top Dog Air Combat Flight. This experience includes a 35 to 45 minute flight and training time. This tour combines the thrill of learning how to fly the Varga VG-21 and then taking control in the air (under the supervision of a trained pilot, of course). This flight experience is unique, however, in that you will also be able to participate in air combat. Whether you are doing the activity with a friend or a fellow traveler, you can experience the thrill of air combat in a controlled environment.

Plan a Romantic Getaway in Myrtle Beach, SC

Planet Hollywood If you’re planning a getaway this summer with just you and that special someone, then look no further than Myrtle Beach, SC as your ideal romantic getaway destination! With luxurious hotel options, fine dining, and peaceful activities and locations spread throughout this popular coastal city, you and the one you love will have no trouble celebrating your devotion to one another.

Nothing says romance like a luxurioius hotel suite, and Myrtle Beach is ready to accommodate guests with an extensive selection of hotels with suites. Sheraton Myrtle Beach is an excellent lodging choice for couples. The hotel features deluxe amenities, including a comfortable and spacious guest suite, room service, and an elegant on-site restaurant and bar / lounge. Embassy Suites Myrtle Beach – Oceanfront Resort goes one step further, providing two-room suites and immediate beach access along with room service, on-site restaurants, and private balconies perfect for enjoying a Myrtle Beach sunset.

Have your dining needs taken care of by enjoying a meal at the always entertaining Yamato Seafood and Steakhouse of Japan, where you can enjoy traditional Japanese food after watching it be prepared right before your eyes. The mouth-watering food is reason enough to stop in, but its preparation serves as an entertaining performance on its own. For a more lively evening, head over to Planet Hollywood for a more modern meal and movie memorabilia at every turn. The restaurant also features live entertainment every evening Monday through Saturday. The Planet Hollywood store is also located on the premises for further enjoyment.

If you’re looking for a quiet activity to enjoy with your sweetheart, Brookgreen Gardens is located just a short ways down the coast from Myrtle Beach and offers a variety of different works of art. Over 900 sculptures are on display from as early as the 1600s, and several small eateries are located nearby. You can also enjoy spending an afternoon at Huntington Beach State Park, where you can enjoy bird watching, picnic tables, and three miles of sandy beaches.

Vacations Made Easy even offers entire vacation packages with the romantic theme. The Myrtle Beach Honeymoon / Anniversary Getaway is a great way to celebrate either newfound or everlasting love with two nights’ hotel accommodations, a meal at the Hard Rock Cafe, and admission to One the Show at the Alabama Theatre. Celebrate love in Myrtle Beach, SC this summer by enjoying its romantic lodging, dining, and entertainment options!