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New York hotel prices in August: Is Montauk the new Manhattan?

Manhattan is known for its pricey hotels, but in August a small Long Island town claimed the title as most expensive New York hotel destination.

Travel booking site NewYorkHotels.org released a survey Tuesday that confirms what New York City locals already know: hotels in Montauk and the Hamptons can get pretty pricey in summer. The website compared the cost of the cheapest room at hotels and inns rated three stars or better throughout the state.

It came up with 20 destinations and room costs between Aug. 1 and 31.

Visitors to Montauk, near the eastern tip of Long Island, should be prepared to spend $342 a night. Neighboring East Hampton comes in second at an average of $332 a night.

The rest of the 10 most expensive New York digs during August are in:

3. Saratoga Springs, $312
4. Southampton, $295
5. Greenport, $264
6. Cooperstown, $184, where the Baseball Hall of Fame turned 75 this year
7. Niagara Falls, $163
8. New York City, $153
9. Geneva, $143
10. Ithaca, $142

And the cheapest places...

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Las Vegas: Cozy up to turtles, rays and sharks without getting wet

You can get acquainted with various sea creatures without ever traveling to Hawaii or the Caribbean—or even getting wet, for that matter. In fact, it’s happening in desert Las Vegas.

The Animal Encounters program at Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium  lets guests feed sea turtles, stingrays and even sharks during three different experiences.

Participants in the “Sea Turtle Feed” get the opportunity to meet OD, a 320-pound creature that has been living in Las Vegas since his relocation last summer from the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys.

After a behind-the-scenes tour, guests make a visit to the Shark Reef kitchen to stock up on vittles. Realizing it’s feeding time, OD and the other sea turtles eagerly float to the top of Shipwreck Exhibit, where lunch is served.

The experience takes place at 12:45 p.m. Sundays-Fridays. Tickets cost $70 a person and participants must be at least 13 years old.

Guests who would rather schmooze with stingrays arrive at 9:15 a.m. daily for a VIP tour...

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Hilton's digital reboot: Mobile check-in, check-out, room selection

Feel free to snub the hotel lobby staff. Hilton Worldwide hotels announced a plan that by year's end will allow guests to use mobile devices to check in, choose the room they want and check out — all without any human contact.

This won't all happen at once, but the Virginia-based company that operates more than 4,000 properties in 80 countries aims to roll out the technology to make the process seamless.

"We analyzed data and feedback from more than 40 million HHonors [loyalty club] members, as well as guest surveys, social media posts and review sites, and it's clear that guests want greater choice and control," Geraldine Calpin, senior vice president and global head of digital said in a statement this week.

Here's how it works: From 6 a.m. on the day before your reservation, you'll be able to browse floor plans or a list of available rooms to choose the one you want. Photos will accompany listings too. Once you make a selection, you can check in, make special requests or upgrades and...

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Universal Studios Hollywood unveils Halloween Horror Nights 2014 mazes

Year in and year out, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood is the best haunted theme park event in Southern California and quite possibly the country.

For that reason, I hold Universal Studios to a higher standard when the movie theme park unveils its new lineup of haunted mazes and scare zones each season.

Known for its always fresh and ever-changing collection of movie studio-quality mazes, I find it curious that Horror Nights has decided to bring back The Walking Dead as the marquee maze for the third straight year.

Even though the park plans to update the maze with new scares from the latest season of the Emmy-winning AMC television show, I can't help feeling I've seen this all before.

We'll have to wait until Sept. 19 when the month-long Horror Nights event debuts to see just how different this year's zombie apocalypse is from last year's walker infestation.

There's no doubt the hit show has pulled in record-setting crowds over the past couple of seasons, turning...

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In Minnesota, celebrating the 30th anniversary of 'Purple Rain'

About 20 minutes into the 1984 movie “Purple Rain” we find The Kid, played by Prince, standing in front of Apollonia (played by Apollonia Kotero), a budding singer, near the embankment of a lake. After Apollonia asks Prince for career help, he says that she first has to pass the initiation.

“What initiation?” she asks.

“For starters, you have to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.”

Apollonia looks to her right, considering the challenge. A few seconds later, she’s disrobing. Just as she plunges into the water, Prince says, “Hey, wait a minute! That’s n—“

But it was too late. When she emerges from her “purification,” climbing out of the lake, Prince, a sly grin on his face, says, “That ain’t Lake Minnetonka.”

I arrived in Minneapolis on a seasonably cold Wednesday to take the proverbial plunge into Prince’s world. Specifically, I was putting myself on a self-guided “Purple Rain” tour of the city that Prince helped put on the music map. 

There was no better time to...

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Las Vegas: 'Viva Veracruz!' showcases life, music of the Mexican state

Las Vegas visitors may want to plan a trip to Veracruz, Mexico, after seeing a new music and dance production opening next month. At least, that’s the hope of government officials.

Viva Veracruz! The Show,” which debuts Aug. 11, was commissioned by the state government of Veracruz to promote tourism. It was originally planned as a traveling performance but landed at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino after producer Alex Esqueda persuaded officials they could reach a worldwide audience in Las Vegas.

With a cast of 27 dancers, the production consists of 12 choreographed numbers showcasing the musical style known as "son jarocho." One act features the well-known song “La Bamba,” which originated in Veracruz.

Another pays tribute to artist Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter known for her self-portraits and the subject of the 2002 movie “Frida,” starring Salma Hayek.

The production is easily understood, Esqueda said.

“The show does not have one word of dialogue,” he said. “You don’t have to...

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Montana: Bicycle, run, hike your way through Glacier National Park

A seven-day bicycle camp in and around Glacier National Park will keep you tuned up for your next triathlon and reveal spectacular places in and around the Montana park you might not ordinarily see.

The Cycling House this year added a Glacier Loop Cycling Tour that travels along Going-to-the-Sun Road, the famed roadway that cuts through the wild heart of the park.

Snowcapped peaks, tight curves and steep drop-offs are all part of its charm. Aside from the road, the loop adds areas just outside the park, such as St. Mary, Many Glacier and East Glacier.

Cycling House is run by serious athletes -- professional cyclists and triathletes -- who started out designing workout camps for friends and family members training for competitions. "Serious" is the operative word here.

Daily rides take three to five hours and cover 30 to 50 miles with up to 3,000 feet of gain. (Translation: not for beginners.) That leaves plenty of time to go trail running and hiking on miles and miles of trails in and...

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New Mexico: Albuquerque to gain modern hotel inspired by the ancients

A new boutique hotel coming to Albuquerque that is meant to be a modern take on Anasazi ruins at Chaco Canyon will break ground this fall and open in spring 2016 in the city's Old Town.

Design elements inspired by New Mexico's distinctive Southwest style and culture will be used inside and out, Heritage Hotels & Resorts says. For example, the new hotel (no official name yet) will have a kiva-style lobby and 118 rooms on five stories built to be "stacked pueblo style."

Like ancient dwellings, the building will be oriented to the sun to keep rooms warm in winter and cool in the hot summers.

Rooms will feature contemporary furniture with colors taken from those used by Navajo wool weavers.

The multimillion-dollar property also will have a rooftop terrace, spa and restaurant featuring modern Native American foods. It will be built behind the current Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town, which the company operates, and share that hotel's pool, ballrooms and chapel.

Room will start at $150 a night....

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Duty-free shoppers, make sure you've got rules on liquids in the bag

Question: My husband and I recently returned from an overseas trip. We flew from Naples, Italy, to Vancouver, Canada, before our last leg to LAX. After we cleared security in Naples, we did some shopping in the duty-free store, where we bought two bottles of Italian olive oil. At checkout, the clerk scanned our ticket, then bagged our items to carry on the plane with us. All was fine until we reached Vancouver. The security personnel said that because the oil wasn't bagged in a sealed bag they would have to take it. I had the items in the original bag from the duty-free store and the receipt, but they would not budge. When we were in Naples, all the bags were open tote-style bags. I did not see any kind of bag that would seal. The cost was minimal, but we were disappointed. If we had known this would happen, we would have purchased olive oil while shopping in town and packed it in our suitcases. We thought we were doing it the right way by shopping in the duty-free store. What is this...

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Hipcamp.com wants to be handy for even inexperienced campers

If your camping experiences are limited to your Boy Scout or Girl Scout days, these campgrounds will be a comfortable welcome back.

Name: www.Hipcamp.com

What it does: Uses actual camping experiences and glorious photos of nature — not to mention handy Google Maps — to make camping more accessible and desirable to those who are not regulars. Have an RV, kids or need a pet-friendly campground? Search destinations using its amenities section.

What's hot: I loved the tips section for each campground. Even the most hesitant camper will feel more confident strolling into his or her campsite with info such as this that I found for Point Reyes: "Our favorite spots to camp are the boating sites on Tomales Bay. Grab a bag of oysters and paddle across the bay to find your own private beach campground. Remember to get a fire permit as well — gathering driftwood is allowed, but toward the end of the summer it will likely be sparse, so bring a bundle!" It's also super-handy to know which campsites...

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Travel Letters: Health concerns over Google Glass

Concern over Google Glass

Regarding "Seeing S.F. Through New Eyes" by Catharine Hamm, July 20: As the director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, I want to make people aware of another potential "con" for Google Glass users: the potential health risks to those who wear this device.

In April, I did some preliminary research that is summarized at bit.ly/1k8smWc. Google Glass emits more wireless radiation than most cellphones. Moreover, Glass users may be wearing this device on their heads for more than 12 hours a day, increasing their health risks.

Although the radiation level complies with the 1996 federal standards, many health scientists believe that these standards are obsolete as they fail to protect wireless device users from the nonthermal effects of wireless radiation.

In the long term, these effects include increased brain cancer risk, and in the short term, other health problems including electrosensitivity, sperm damage...

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Travel films & events

NEPAL

Presentation

Elaine Pike will retrace the steps of her 20-day, 100-mile trek in the Everest region that resulted in her memoir, "Footsteps of Gopal." One hundred percent of the profits from the sale of the book will be donated to support schools in the area.

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Monday at Distant Lands, 20 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena.

Admission, info: Free. RSVP to (626) 449-3220.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

Workshop

Travel photographer and guide Ralph Velasco will share tips and tricks using images from recent trips to Cambodia.

When, where: 7 p.m. Tuesday at the REI store in Huntington Beach, 7777 Edinger Ave.

Admission, info: Free. (714) 379-1938.

 

YOSEMITE

Workshop

Suzanne Swedo will share when and where to see the best of Yosemite, including wildflowers, waterfalls and wildlife, as well as the grandest vistas and highest peaks.

When, where: 7 p.m. Friday at the Adventure 16 store, 11161 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.

Admission, info: Free. (310) 473-4574.

 

Please email announcements at...

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