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Texas: $2,900 for dinner and a swig of rare 50-year-old Scotch

To hear Ryan Roberts tell it, Balvenie Fifty, Cask 4567 had "something different about it." Whatever made this 1963 Scotch whiskey remarkable -- how the barrel was put together or a quirk in the aging? -- the manager at Cullen's restaurant in Houston knew he had to have a bottle.

And he will. Roberts plans a meal Nov. 15 for a dozen guests who pay $2,900 each to sample the single malt Scotch whiskey with the man who sealed it in its original cask half a century ago, malt master David Stewart.

"For Scotch lovers, this is nirvana," Roberts says. Seven people have already bought a seat at the table.

How rare is the bottle? For starters there are only 131 bottles of the stuff on the planet, each valued at $38,000. Of those, only 15 are coming to the United States, he says, and most of those will go to collectors.

Add the fact that Stewart, whose legendary career spans more than 50 years, will fly from Scotland to oversee the meal and the tasting and ... maybe it's one of those...

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3,700-pound sculpture you can sit on is flown up to Palm Springs tram

The Palm Springs Art Museum on Wednesday moved a 3,700-pound carved granite bench up to its new perch at 8,500 feet on a patio at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway high above the desert city.

It may be "one of the few pieces of public art at this elevation in the nation," a museum statement  says.

The bench, by artist Bruce Beasley, is called "New Horizon" and was flown by helicopter. It sits at the north patio of the tramway's Valley Station in the San Jacinto Mountains.

Though it's a work of art, visitors may pause to sit on it and enjoy the view.

The sculpture was a gift from Palm Springs philanthropist Bradford W. Bates to mark the museum's 75th anniversary and the tram's 50th anniversary.

"I wanted to contribute something significant that might offer the casual visitor a deeper understanding and appreciation of the area," Bates said in a statement.

He's also a founding member of the museum's new Architecture and Design Center which will make its debut Nov. 9.

Beasley's work is found...

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How early should you buy airline tickets to get the lowest price?

To find the best deal on an airline ticket, when you purchase your ticket matters, but how much? The lowest domestic airfares were bought eight weeks beforehand and the lowest international fares were purchased 24 weeks beforehand, according to a report, released Wednesday from a company that analyzed 19 months of airfare purchases.

Airlines Reporting Corp. looked at data for tickets bought between January 2013 through July 2014 to figure out the sweet spots for lowest fares. At the eight- and 24-week points, the report says, fliers saved 19% on domestic flights and 27% on international flights.

The company also found that the least expensive air tickets were purchased on Sundays for just about any destination.

"This latest study by ARC is significant because it reveals that not only have the lowest airfares shifted from six to eight weeks out for domestic travel, but the savings are markedly greater on a percentage basis," Chuck Thackston, managing director of enterprise information...

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Pahrump, Nev.: Jet-pack flights will have you and your spirits soaring

Looking for a lift in life? Southern Nevada’s newest attraction is a jet-pack flight that will have your body — and soul — soaring.

In the town of Pahrump, guests fitted with jet-propelled backpacks fly through the air using technology that allows them to climb 30 feet in the air. Traveling at speeds of up to 25 mph, the rides last 15 to 60 minutes. Packages start at $179.

The flights take place above a man-made lake at the ranch, best known for its land-based performance driving classes. The ranch is about 65 miles west of Las Vegas along State Highway 60.

The attraction has only recently opened, so rides are by appointment only through Jetpack America. The company also offers flights in Newport Beach.

“We have flown everyone including an 85-year-old retiree to paraplegics and quadriplegics,” Dean O’Malley, Jetpack’s president, said in a news release.

That includes Los Angeles Times columnist Chris Erskine, who got airborne a couple of years ago.

“This isn't for everyone,” Erskine...

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California: Century-old castle in Pacifica opens for public tours

For more than a century, a castle designed as a refuge from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake has stood in Pacifica, Calif. The fortress-like building with views of the ocean has turrets, towers and 24 renovated rooms that now are open once a month for tours.

Known informally as Sam's Castle, it was built by San Francisco attorney Henry Harrison McCloskey (grandfather of former California Rep. Pete McCloskey) who wanted a place that wouldn't tumble in a quake. The family moved in in 1908.

The castle off Highway 1 about 15 miles southwest of San Francisco changed hands several times before Sam Mazza spotted it in 1959 and bought it for $29,000, according to a timeline on the castle's website. Mazza, who painted and restored San Francisco theaters and other buildings, kept it for 43 years and filled it with kitschy furnishings.

"Sam Mazza's passion for collecting led him to acquire antique furniture, a jade and black lacquer screen once owned by William Holden, stained glass windows,...

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Halloween in Las Vegas? It's very chill, guys and ghouls

Halloween month is a bewitching time to come to the Las Vegas. If the cooler weather doesn’t do the trick, the superbly decorated haunted houses with their casts of goblins are sure to send chills down your spine.

Halloween is Oct. 31, a Friday and the start of the weekend in Las Vegas, which is always a frenzy of activity anyway. The fright fest only ramps it up, with an array of ghastly, ghostly and goofy activities. 

If you’re all about the sugar on Oct. 31, you’ll find holiday-themed goodies without having to ring a stranger’s doorbell.

Costumes are optional, but encouraged, at many of the spooky settings throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

To check out some of the festivities, see the photos above. For a calendar of events, go to 

Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel

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