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Best places to see L.A. harbor's tall-ships parade, big Rubber Duck

More than a dozen tall ships and a six-story-high Rubber Duck are scheduled to sail into Los Angeles' harbor at 2 p.m. Wednesday (today) at the start of the Tall Ships Festival L.A.

The duck, an inflatable art project that's turned up in cities around the world, will lead the parade.

Before the event begins, ships are to gather around noon in the waters off Point Fermin Park at South Gaffey Street and Paseo del Mar before sailing into the main channel.

Best high points to watch the action: Point Fermin and Angeles Gate Park at the Korean Bell (Gaffey and 37th streets). Both should offer good views of the lineup.

Closer to the water, visitors can go to Ports O' Call Village, where it costs $5 to park (enter from Harbor Boulevard and 6th Street) or buy a ticket ($15 to $19) to enter the Festival Grounds and get a dockside view.

Rubber Duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, will be "tethered to a heavy round barge" to keep it from blowing away and will be illuminated until 11...

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World War I network helps history buffs keep track of commemorations

The World War I Centennial Network is helping history buffs keep track of all activities and events in the United States related to the commemoration of the war's centennial. 

The network was founded two years ago by Paul Cora, the curator of Historic Ships in Baltimore. He said he hoped the network and its site would give travelers “any number of ideas about heritage destinations related to World War I.”

It lists upcoming, centennial-related activities on a monthly calendar on its website

These include an exhibition, on display through Nov. 2, of World War I propaganda posters at the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Ill., and, in 2016, an exhibition at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine in Arts in Philadelphia that will examine the impact of the war on American art. 

Coming in late September: The World War I Dawn Patrol Rendezvous, at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio.  It will feature original and reproduction World War I aircraft, vintage automobiles and period...

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New resorts, Keith Urban, boxing are all part of Las Vegas' Labor Day

Vegas visitors can celebrate the Labor Day holiday at three new resorts on the Strip, take in a concert by Keith Urban and more over the long weekend that begins Aug. 29. 

The party to mark summer's last (if unofficial) blast extends well beyond the newest properties, but they top the list of places to check out over the holiday weekend.

After a face-lift, THEHotel at Mandalay Bay morphs into Delano when it welcomes its first guests Sept. 1 (Labor Day).

The property is themed with elements from the Mojave Desert. A 90-ton boulder, split in two to allow people to pass through it, will greet guests as they enter from valet parking. In the distance, small rocks suspended from the ceiling form the core of a creative work by Korean artist Lee Jae-Hyo

Elsewhere, visitors will find touches reminiscent of the Delano’s namesake South Beach hotel, with its profusion of water and sand. The Las Vegas resort’s Delano Beach Club won’t open until 2015.

That’s also when changes to Mix, the...

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Road-tripping in a Porsche and a Ferrari with hotel's driving offer

What would it take to put you behind the wheel of a Ferrari 458 Italia? It would cost $999 plus the price of a room if you stay at one of six Waldorf Astoria hotels (including one in Palm Springs) this fall.

The hotel chain offers guests the opportunity to take a sightseeing spin in three different super-cars.

This is no racetrack speed fest, but a curated road trip for car lovers who want to double down on luxury. The Waldorf Astoria Driving Experience takes guests out in the Ferrari plus a Porsche 911 Turbo and a McLaren MP4-12C.

You don't get to grab the keys and go; drivers follow a planned course with a professional race car driver in a fourth car as guide. Daytime sessions are offered at 8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and last up to three hours. Drivers may bring a guest along.

The driving experience is offered Sept. 30 to Oct. 5 at the Waldorf Astoria in Park City, Utah. The ride follows Highway 189 past scenic Provo Canyon and Bridal Veil Falls. Next up is La Quinta Resort...

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Santa Barbara: Budget hostel (you heard right) opens in the Funk Zone

Santa Barbara really doesn't do cheap when it comes to hotel rooms, but a newly built hostel in the city's Funk Zone is out to change that.

The Wayfarer at 12 E. Montecito St. is a new building with 31 rooms, some dorm-style with four or five beds. It's a stone's throw from the

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Travel, tourism groups join up to keep travelers informed about Ebola

If there's any good news out on the Ebola virus, it's this: You can't catch the deadly Ebola virus by casual contact with an infected person.

To make sure you know this and other information, the World Health Organization and global tourism, airport and airline organizations have formed a task force to help contain the spread of the disease in western Africa and keep travelers updated about their health risks.

The newly created Travel and Transport Task Force members include the International Civil Aviation Organization, the World Tourism Organization, the Airports Council International, International Air Transport Assn. and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

"Affected countries are requested to conduct exit screening of all persons at international airports, seaports and major land crossings, for unexplained febrile illness consistent with potential Ebola infection," the task force said in a Monday statement.

"Any person with an illness consistent with [Ebola] should not be allowed...

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Erna's Elderberry House to mark Yosemite act's 150th year

There are many ways to celebrate the 150th year since the signing of the Yosemite Grant Act that led to the creation of the national park. You could climb Half Dome or stay in Yosemite Valley and marvel at the wonder of its waterfalls and granite peaks.

Erna's Elderberry House in Oakhurst, Calif., has something more elegant in mind. The restaurant, part of the swank Chateau du Sureau near the south entrance to the park, has concocted a special dinner open to all on Sept. 12.

The meal is inspired by one crafted for Abraham Lincoln's inauguration, a restaurant statement says. Why Lincoln? Well, he's the one who signed the act on June 30, 1864, that decreed Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove would be protected wild lands that "shall be held for public use, resort and recreation."

And Abe (well, someone impersonating him) will be at Erna's dinner table too to talk about the role he played in Yosemite's history.

Back to the dinner. It has been created by chef Jonathon Perkins and will...

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Light rail now links downtown Dallas with the international airport

Light-rail service now connects Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the nation’s fourth busiest, with downtown Dallas.

The new service, which began Monday, is available on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit  (DART) Orange Line.

This quick (average time to downtown is 50 minutes), environmentally friendly link has been part of the plan since DART began operations in 1996. Now business and leisure travelers can make the 14-mile trip from the light-rail station outside Terminal A to Dallas for $2.50. A day pass is available for $5.

Think of all the money you’ll save on cab, car rental, or parking fees. And the traffic hassles you’ll avoid? Priceless.

Info:  Dallas Area Rapid Transit, (214) 979-1111.

Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel

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Hawaii: Maui's Jazzfest swings into action starting Sept. 4

 Well-known musicians, including Les McCann, will have toes tapping and hands clapping when they gather early next month in Lahaina for the Maui Jazz & Blues Festival.

The fourth annual festival,  set for the west Maui town that once was the center of the whaling industry, will run Sept. 4-7. The events will feature jazz, blues and Zydeco and some of the genres’ popular performers.

The Jazz and Blues Kickoff Concert on Sept. 4 gets the party started. From 5-7 p.m., Duke’s Beach House will host award-winning alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, among others. The event is free, but table reservations should be made by calling (808) 662-2900. 

Another free concert follows with the Sneak Peek from 6-8 p.m. on Sept. 5 at Hula Grill. The performers will include trombonist Steve Turre, a member of the “Saturday Night Live” band since 1984. Call (808) 667-6636 for table reservations. 

The main event on Sept. 6 runs from 5-9 p.m. oceanfront at the Royal Lahaina Resort . The lineup includes pianist...

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Huntington Gardens' stinky giant corpse flower expected to bloom soon

As Hollywood sequels go, "Stinky 5: Return of the Corpse Flower" is a lot more authentic than the usual box-office blockbusters. The super-stinky corpse flower whose giant bloom smells like rotting flesh will unleash a potent stench any day now at the Huntington Gardens in San Marino.

"In case you're taking notes ... the #CorpseFlower grew another 4.5 inches last night," @TheHuntington tweeted Sunday. "This could be a biggie!" Some members also received e-mails last week about the coming Big Stinker.

Amorphophallus titanum stands in a pot at the entrance to the Huntington's conservatory and is predicted to bloom sometime between Wednesday and Saturday, according to the gardens. The bloom watch began last week.

If it opens sooner, the Huntington, usually closed Tuesdays, may open for visitors who want to see and smell the mega fauna native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra.

In the past, hundreds of visitors have flocked to the gardens to witness the spectacle firsthand. The plant...

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Oakland: It's Berry Gordy Day, a tribute to Motown Records' music man

They'll be dancing in the streets of Oakland on Monday (today) toasting Berry Gordy, the man who created Motown Records in Detroit. Alameda County invites the public to celebrate Berry Gordy Day in the East Bay with an event that features the legendary 84-year-old music mogul.

During the ceremony, Gordy will be presented with a proclamation on the plaza in front of Oakland City Hall at 11:30 a.m. Supervisor Keith Carson, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan are expected to attend.

Why Oakland? Well, for starters, Gordy came to the area last Friday for the opening of "Motown — The Musical" at the SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, which runs through Sept. 28.

But there's a musical connection too. A county statement says the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer wanted to "connect with the people of Oakland and the entire East Bay, where the Motown Sound has always had a home."

Indeed the man known for the Motown Sound promoted artists such as Diana Ross, Smokey...

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Web Buzz: UrbanBird creates a map from your travel photos

Tired of sharing your travel pics one by one? UrbanBird lets you upload your photos and makes a map of your vacation that includes geographical info you can share with your friends on Facebook during or after the trip.


What it does: Creates a map from the photos you've uploaded and captions them with dates, location, titles and descriptions.

What's hot: You can upload photos and have them instantly mapped and captioned. If you're creating a map while you're on a trip, click on the photo to get travel suggestions for similar attractions near you. The website is great for active travelers who want to share a visual journal at the end of an eventful day.

What's not: Make sure your camera is set to geotag your photos before you start snapping your vacation pics. The photos I took with my digital camera were not geotagged (and, therefore, could not be uploaded), but my smartphone photos were. It would be nice if I could upload any photo and add the location myself. The...

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