Travel News & Deals
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Hotelwatchdog search engine rounds up hotel deals

Airfarewatchdog.com, the source for hot airfare deals, has expanded into the hotel market.

Name: Hotelwatchdog, www.airfarewatchdog.com/hotels

What it does: It's a hotel search engine that gives you a Top 20 list of hotels based on price, TripAdvisor ratings, and key attractions, restaurants and night life.

What's hot: I love the Top 20 approach to search results. The prices are clear, and you don't have to click through to a second page to see photos of the hotel. You also can click through to see the complete list of hotels. Even better, the search remains deal-focused; beneath each hotel name you'll see stats such as, "This hotel's price is 64% less than rates at other nearby, similar hotels" or "This hotel's price is 21% off its 45-day historic average."

What's not: There's a pop-up box in the lower right-hand side of the page that invites you to sign up for hotel value alerts by email. That's fine, but even though I entered my email, the box continues to pop up with every page...

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Readers Recommend: Cafe Mambo a delicious Maui discovery

We have been visiting Maui for more than 20 years. Each time we discover something new. Two years ago, it was Cafe Mambo in Paia. Great service, good food and reasonable prices. The restaurant is known for its delicious duck quesadillas, salads and sandwiches. Yum!

Cafe Mambo, 30 Baldwin Ave., Paia, Hawaii; www.cafemambomaui.com, (808) 579-8021

Leslie Nagby

Riverside

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Letters: Remembering the Alamo and real Texas pit barbecue

Chris Reynolds has hit the jackpot with me twice in a row. In October, it was Pike Place Market and Seattle ["Beacon on the Waterfront," Oct. 12]; this month, it was the Alamo and San Antonio, where I was born ["Remember?," Nov. 9]. I went back to San Antonio and Goliad (down the road a piece) several years ago and had a great low-key time, including arriving in Goliad on a Sunday when they were having a festival I remembered from my first weekend there as a 7-year-old.

Of course, San Antonio has changed a lot since I was little, but I was impressed with how friendly the people were and how the real barbecue tasted every bit as good as I remembered. My companion couldn't understand why I bypassed several places advertising barbecue and finally settled on a nondescript place. I tried to explain that it was all in the nose; it was the first place that had that special fragrance of real Texas pit barbecue.

Thanks for another great article.

Mary M. Garrison

Los Angeles

::

I enjoyed the...

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California fall colors: Easy L.A. getaway to Valyermo's red blush

If you haven't seen any fall colors in California this season, there's still hope -- but just a little. In Southern California, colors are showy in the tiny community of Valyermo in north L.A. County and along waterways at Mt. Palomar State Park in north San Diego County.

The leaves may not last long, particularly if Santa Ana winds start blowing. California's fall color season began at high elevations in September and ends in the flatlands in late November. It's a good long run,  especially when other parts of the country are already deep in snow.

Trees in Valyermo turned bright red this week and likely will last at least through the weekend.

Color spotter Frank McDonough of the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanic Garden reported in CaliforniaFallColor.com that he visited Valyermo (not far from Palmdale and Antelope Valley) and was "amazed at the intensity of the fall color. It's easily 70% to 80% there."

There are other good reasons to go to Valyermo too.

Late fall is perfect to tour...

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Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder among draws for Vegas holiday weekend

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Las Vegas tends to be relatively quiet, but there are still plenty of happenings, including college basketball and concerts by Justin Timberlake, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight.

Last year’s hotel occupancy on Thanksgiving was a relatively low 89% according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, although that figure was 8% higher than for the same weekend in 2012.

Those who prefer college basketball to pro football can catch the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational Nov. 27-28 at the Orleans Arena.

The competing schools include Baylor, Brown, Illinois and Indiana State, among others. Ticket packages start at $47.

The outdoor ice rink will return to the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Skaters can warm themselves with comfort food such as grilled-cheese sandwiches, tomato soup and even s’mores. The giant rink is open 3 p.m. to midnight Mondays-Fridays and noon to midnight Saturdays and Sundays. All-day access costs $15, and skates can be...

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Video: Seattle's waterfront, where the eels meet the wheel

Plenty of coastal American cities have big aquariums. And plenty of global big cities have enormous Ferris wheels. Seattle belongs to both clubs, and once you're on the water, it’s just a short stroll from eels to wheel.

Here’s a short video showing a glimpse of the Seattle Great Wheel and Seattle Aquarium, which are just down the hill from Pike Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum.

“A Minute Away” is a video series in which nothing much happens -- except you see the world, and hear it, and get a minute’s respite from workaday life. (Actually, some are as long as 1:40.) These are casual moments without talking heads or narration – just natural sound from Machu Picchu, Red Square, the Yucatan, an Alaska float plane or the reading room of the New York Public Library. We add new ones weekly, and we’ve got more than 60 of them now, so if you’d prefer a full hour away …

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