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Looking for Hawaiian rainbows? Start with a tour of the Big Island's waterfalls

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HILO, Hawaii -- The first time you fly into the Kona Coast on Hawaii's Big Island, you'll be struck by two things: the nearly relentless sunshine (moderated by volcanic smoke that locals call "vog") and the vast, barren fields of black lava rock stretching northward, more testimony to this island's active volcanoes.

The first time you cross the...Read more

Walking in Memphis, visitors retrace Martin Luther King Jr.'s footsteps

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Shortly after noon, as Sunday services at Memphis' abundant churches conclude, another gathering of the faithful is getting underway at a restaurant popular for its soul food.

"Hi, welcome to The Four Way," owner Patrice Thompson greets every customer, often in quick succession.

Many dressed in their Sunday best, the diners ...Read more

Sacramento plays its role well in 'Lady Bird' film

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- "You clearly love Sacramento," says the Catholic nun and high school principal as she looks over the college essay written by one of her students.

The teenager, who clearly thinks the city is uncool, shrugs and says she just pays attention to her surroundings.

"Well, it comes across as love," says the nun. "Don't you ...Read more

Tourism slump continues in Las Vegas months after mass shooting

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Las Vegas tourism leaders revived the famous "What happens here, stays here" slogan three months after a mass shooting on the Strip, but gaming revenue and visitation numbers remain depressed in the tourist destination.

In January, total visitation to the city dropped 3.3 percent, while gaming revenue from the Strip slumped by 8.89 percent, the...Read more

Option of first resort: beachfront business trip in Miami

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Google Maps and the unforgiving female voice on my Garmin GPS device were having yet another disagreement: Google said I should go south via I-95, but my windshield-mounted scold (whose favorite word is recalculating) said Biscayne Boulevard was the preferred route this time. It was high season in Miami, and rush-hour traffic was compressed into...Read more

Big Sky bliss

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Lounging in a sleeping bag on a cot in a tepee, fully clothed and bundled up, my cowboy boots kicked off on the warm wooden floor, I've been journaling and listening to the ever-changing Montana weather make music on my tent. The wind whistles through the flaps. The rain taps a rhythm on the canvas. The dramatic, fast-moving Montana cloudscape ...Read more

Culture vulture, foodie gets her fix in New York City

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New York is a city I've always had something of a love/hate relationship with. First the hate: the noise level, which most Manhattanites seem not to notice, has me ready to chew off my own ears after a day or two -- the incessant drilling of jackhammers; cabbies sitting on their horns even when it's obvious they are going nowhere fast, and ...Read more

Searching for moose, and dinner, in northern Minnesota

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"Good luck seeing moose," the clerk at Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply in Grand Marais, Minn., called out as my sister and I left the store. "Dusk is the perfect time."

It was 5 p.m., and pink clouds hovered over silvery Lake Superior as we embarked on a classic wintertime drive, following the Gunflint Trail on the hunt for dinner and a moose.

...Read more

Hawaii-bound? A first-timer's guide to thrills, chills on Kauai

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KAUAI, Hawaii -- As I hurtled through the sky above a sprawling valley, in view of sapphire waves and verdant mountain slopes, the wind was whipping past me and my eyes were streaming tears.

My lips were peeled back, I was yelling incomprehensibly and my brain was blaring, "This could be the end."

But let me begin at the beginning, before I ...Read more

How I lived it up in Vegas without breaking the bank

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I took a breath, buried my pride and slid the $20 bill across the counter, suggestively.

"Are there any complimentary upgrades available?" I asked the woman working the check-in at the Luxor Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

I was in town for four nights and on a mission to live it up in Las Vegas while keeping my bank account in check --...Read more

Universal Studios Hollywood raises daily ticket prices 7 percent

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Only two weeks after Disneyland increased daily ticket prices nearly 9 percent, the theme park's biggest Southern California rival, Universal Studios Hollywood, raised daily ticket prices by more than 7 percent.

The cost of a peak-demand daily ticket for Universal Studios Hollywood was boosted late last month to $129 from $120 at the front gate...Read more

In LA, spa days can stretch into night

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LOS ANGELES -- The landscape of the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, a concrete universe of slightly less than three square miles in Mid-City, is a bilingual-signed jigsaw of strip malls and squat high-rises, barbecue restaurants and porridge joints. It's about as far away from John Cheever's Westchester County, the setting for many of the...Read more

Hangtown Fry is a local legend, but it doesn't pass the smell test

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PLACERVILLE, Calif. -- The signature dish at the Buttercup Pantry comes with a disclaimer on the menu.


Feeling hungry? Or, more likely, curious and masochistic? Order the $15.99 Hangtown Fry, the roughly 170-year-old omelet, of sorts, that shares a ...Read more

Spring in Fort Myers, Sarasota and Tampa offers more than baseball

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In Hammond Stadium's sleepy center-field seating section, I leaned back, pulled down my cap and sighed.

The sun beat the perfect amount of heat onto my shoulders during one of the Minnesota Twins' last spring training games in Fort Myers. The Key lime cider in my hand dripped with perspiration. And the crack of the bat -- ...Read more

Disneyland resort raises prices as much as 18 percent

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The Disneyland resort raised prices over the weekend, several months before the park plans to unveil a remake of its boardwalk-themed area at the California Adventure Park.

The prices rose the highest for annual pass holders, up as much as 18 percent. Daily tickets rose nearly 9 percent. By comparison, the consumer price index rose 2.5 percent ...Read more

NoMad hotel joins crop of boutique inns giving second life to LA's historic office buildings

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LOS ANGELES--The Bank of Italy once owned one of the finest office buildings in downtown Los Angeles, a 12-story neoclassical monument built in 1923 with towering Doric columns, an ornate, gold-ceilinged lobby and marble floors.

By the late 20th century, however, it had fallen into neglect and for several years it was a shuttered eyesore -- ...Read more

Jazzed about New Orleans

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There are close to 100 stations on my Pandora playlist, ranging from classical and folk to rock and hip hop. Despite the selection of artists and songs at my fingertips, I always seem to find myself choosing jazz. It's comfort music, soothing my soul at the end of a long day, beckoning a liberal pour of red with a side of couch collapse and ...Read more

Hard driving and smooth sailing in Coastal Connecticut

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Because there are no city-sized theme parks in Southern Connecticut, you must find your thrills there in real life. I had just come from helping to herd a crew of second-graders through the Visitor Center at the PEZ factory in the town of Orange--a fragrant, colorful diversion for the nation's devoted army of "Pez Heads" and for civilians like ...Read more

Legoland's 2nd hotel — a castle — ready to open in April

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The wizards, dragons and royal princesses have not yet taken up residency in Legoland's newest hotel, but the castle facade is complete and the themed guestrooms are on track for an April 27 opening, the Carlsbad, Calif., theme park announced last week.

The 250-room hotel, which started construction a year ago, marks the second themed lodging ...Read more

Santa Barbara tourism officials wrestle with promoting the region after disaster

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When California's biggest wildfire ignited in Ventura County and was followed by horrific mudslides in Montecito, tourism leaders in the region were forced to delay and retool efforts to promote the picturesque communities.

After all, how do you encourage tourists to shop, relax in the sun and sip wine after a tragic disaster that killed 21 ...Read more