Newsletter: Escapes: Think summer, think savings in five places in the West

Close-up of the bulbs that make up “Field of Light at Sensorio,” one of the attractions in Paso Robles, a money-saving summer destination.
(Serena Munro/Courtesy of Bruce Munro)

Here’s a crime against vacation: spending too much on a trip. But we’re determined to keep you out of trouble.

Here’s a summer surprise: This week we have suggestions on five places where you can find considerable savings, which you can’t usually expect in the height of summer, the busiest travel season.

In fact, maybe you’ve saved so much that you’re ready to take off on a Weekend Escape, or the new TWA Hotel at JFK or even Cuba (and we talk about the confusion surrounding the new regulations). You might even consider a hop across the pond for a taste of tennis tradition or perhaps a hop into a pool up and down California. Maybe you’ll take the plunge into the Pacific and take advantage of our once-in-a-lifetime offer below. And best of all, you will always profit from the End paper.

Pack your jammies, grab your toothbrush, and let’s get ready to roll.


A bounce in your step and money in your pocket

What’s better than travel? Travel that costs less than you think it will. Terry Gardner offers ideas on four places where you will not spend the family fortune and won’t feel deprived either. Check out her choices for our summer of savings.

In this Aug. 19, 2015 photo, men are seen fly fishing on the Yampa River near downtown Steamboat Spr
Fly-fishing on the Yampa River near downtown Steamboat Springs, Colo., one of our summer bargains.
(John Lumpkin / Associated Press)

And if you’re looking to save even more, check out these articles on Las Vegas:

► You still have two days to sample some of the city’s best cuisine, thanks to Restaurant Week. It ends Friday, but some restaurants, which offer discounts on meals and donate part of the proceeds to a local food bank, will offer specials through July.


► A hotel can be a big part of your budget, especially in Vegas. Here are some suggestions on places to stay that won’t break the bank. (I found low prices in July for the hotels listed, about the same as those mentioned for June.)

► What do visitors to Vegas love? Free parking, we’ve discovered. In an updated story, Jay Jones unveils 14 places where you won’t spend a dime to park.

► Getting from the airport to your hotel can cost a pretty penny too. Now you can try Trip to the Strip, a new airport van service that can deliver you close (not always to) your resort for prices starting at $6.

A renovated room with two queen beds is a good value at the Downtowner, where you’ll pay about $50 a night to stay in Las Vegas.

Train buff? Tehachapi

One of the big attractions of Tehachapi is its train loop, and writer Sara Lessley captured it in a video that foamers will love. But on her Weekend Escape, she was fascinated by the wind farm. Read about a respite that gave her new appreciation for the Kern County town.

Wind farm, Tehachapi, California, USA
A self-guided wind farm tour in Tehachapi, Calif., proves surprisingly alluring.
(KTSDESIGN/Science Photo Library/ Getty Images)

It’s yesterday once more at JFK

Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center was a statement of the times when it opened in 1962 at JFK airport (then known as Idlewild). When it closed, it sat empty for almost two decades. It reopened in May as the first on-airport hotel at JFK, Kathryn Creedy writes. The design has evoked an outpouring of nostalgia among guests, some of whom were not happy about glitches in service that management says it is working to address.

Up up and away! The new TWA Hotel New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The new TWA Hotel New York at John F. Kennedy International Airport was repurposed from the old TWA Flight Center.
(David Mitchell/TWA Hotel)

Confused about Cuba? Here’s some clarity

When the announcements were made about changes in regulations for travel to Cuba, many people thought, “Well, I guess we can’t go to Cuba anymore.” That’s not true. We take a look at some of the misconceptions and outright myths about travel to the island nation in On the Spot.

A 2016 file photo shows a Carnival cruise ship arriving in Havana. Cruises are banned from Cuba under new regulations but there are other ways to visit.
(Desmond Boylan / Associated Press)

When summer starts to sizzle

You’re going to long for these June gloomy days. But memories won’t turn down the heat. That’s when you start dreaming about the old swimming hole. And there are several in California, Mark Morris writes. Go ahead — take the plunge.

Natural Bridges, a popular swimming hole in Vallecito in Calaveras County.
(Natural Bridges)

Where’s the best U.S. beach? Here’s Dr. Beach’s pick

California has some great beaches; so does the East Coast. But to find this year’s winner, you’ll have to fly to Hawaii. Only thing is, Kailua Beach Park, on windward Oahu, is a quiet little place and Hawaii isn’t eager to publicize it, fearing a swarm of tourists as a result of its No. 1 ranking. Read about the other choices as well.

Kailua Beach on windward Oahu was named No. 1 beach in the U.S.
(Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)

L.A. drivers, you’re not very good. In fact, you’re awful

But you’re in good company, Allstate reports. Drivers in Glendale. L.A. and Pasadena ranked near the bottom of its good-driver survey. Baltimore was the worst; Brownsville, Texas, the best, according to the number of collision claims, Mary Forgione writes. Allstate also has included “risky roads” that may be a main source of collisions for those on the bottom of the list. Find out where you should not drive in L.A., Glendale and Pasadena.

Making the ultimate tennis pilgrimage

There is, Stuart Miller writes, just something about Wimbledon that sets it apart. Start with its tours and comprehensive museum, the latter of which you won’t find at other tennis events. And, of course, there’s the grass and, perhaps most important, there is the tradition.


A view of Centre Court during the men’s singles second round match between Roger Federer and Lukas Lacko in 2018.
(Clive Mason / Getty Images)

A once-in-a-lifetime offer

Some of you may know that we just migrated our email to new servers. We would usually tell you to write to with suggestions about what you like, what you don’t like (aside from long lines at the airport, traffic on the 405 and the smell of skunks) and what you’d like to see more of (and we don’t mean money in your bank account). It may be that, by the time you get this, that mailbox is back up and running. It is not as I write this. So a special offer this week only: If you want to express your pleasure or its opposite, you may send email directly to me:

In exchange for that incredible perk, I’m going to suggest you subscribe to other newsletters (and maybe even this one if you’re reading this online) to get the best of the L.A. Times. And we would not want you to miss our relaunched food newsletter called Tasting Notes. It features Times restaurant critics Bill Addison and Patricia Escárcega sharing their expertise on Southern California’s dining scene, plus roundups of the latest food news and more. Sign up for any or all of them here.

Even more endearing, never mind reassuring, is subscribing to the Los Angeles Times in digital or print form or both. It will reaffirm your good sense and urge us ever onward in our efforts to write what you need and want to know. We thank you.

What we’re reading

Um, how does stuff like this happen? We’re all in a hurry, of course, especially when we fly, but how does everyone deplane except for one sound-asleep passenger whom nobody bothers to awaken? Here’s how she orchestrated her own rescue at Toronto’s international airport (not the most user-friendly place I’ve ever transited) and what the airline has to say. Allyson Chiu reports for the Washington Post.

Here’s another case of loving something to death: the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, Scotland. Here is this beautiful, old (about 5,000 years old), huge tree, now being victimized by tourists who just want a little bit of history to take home with them, Sabrina Imbler writes for Atlas Obscura. Please, people! You’re stressing it so much it has begun to change sex. How would you feel if that happened to you? For heaven’s sake, leave the tree alone so your children and grandchildren and their children can see it.

This made me want to crawl back under the covers and renounce years of work. The headline: “Travel Is No Cure for the Mind,” from MoreToThat. The premise of this Medium article: “While travel does expand and stretch the horizons of what we know about the world, it is not the answer we’re looking for in times of unrest.” What say you, oh travelers?

End paper

I would, of course, have a lot to say about travel not being a cure-all for what ails you because I believe it is transformative. But the writer makes an excellent point: Travel doesn’t provide the solution to being trapped in what the writer calls “The Box of Daily Experience.”

When you travel, you step outside that box. Everything feels new and fresh and, sometimes, freeing. It’s why we sing silly songs on the road, why we get up and walk the beach as the day dawns, why we will get up and sing karaoke even if we’re sober.

It’s why I ate alligator in Florida and rattlesnake in Denver, once fell in love with a wonderful man in Spain and finally understood my father when I returned to the Philippines.

For me, these things are the gifts of travel, because they changed my perspective. And when light dawned on Marblehead, I realized the writer of “Travel Is No Cure for the Mind” and I are on the same page.

When we return home, the reasoning goes, we go back into the box. We are fundamentally unchanged and slip back into old patterns. And the escape hatch — travel — slams shut and we’re trapped again.

But for those of us who believe in transformation by travel also know that it’s like a marriage: You have to work at it; it doesn’t just happen. We work at enjoying and learning about our destination before we leave, but we know that the trip is really just the beginning, not the end. The harder work is always what happens after the homecoming.

Remember to travel safely and well and know that we’ll be here to welcome you home — and cheer you on as you reap the riches of travel.


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