Archive for September, 2009

Halloween’s a-comin…are you up for ghostly travels?

If you’re trying to scare up a fun Halloween-themed trip next month, you don’t need to look too far. Our state and region has more than its share of haunts and haints — from Civil War soldiers wandering the battlefields to scorned lovers looking for revenge and lonely old-timers not quite ready to move on. 

In fact, it seems that just about any Southern town or city with any trace of history has its own ghost or haunted home. I grew up in a town with two such “haunted” houses, both of which dated back to antebellum years. Over the years, terrifying yarns were spun about events that happened within those walls. Whether any real tragedy occurred there didn’t matter. The houses were set back from the street, darkened and overgrown by inattention and decrepit enough to make any spooky tale seem plausible. As kids, we were simultaneously drawn to and scared to death of these decaying homesteads. We occasionally tested our mettle by attempting to pass by the creepiest …

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Will more deals to come in 2010 get you traveling?

We see it everywhere. We’ve talked about it here. Travelers looking for a bargain have not been disappointed by 2009’s plethora of good travel deals.  Now, some experts are saying 2010 could be even better.

With forecasts that air travel and hotel sales could fall by another two percent, bargain hunters next year may see hotels offer additional free nights and other discounts as incentives to get travelers to come and stay for a little while longer. Deloitte and Touche analysts say travelers might also benefit from airline incentives like a monthly travel pass, which could help entice more leisure travelers to take to the skies.

The reason? Despite the many deals we have enjoyed this year, Americans are still planning shorter stays on future vacations. Those shorter stays could could force hotels to lower their nightly rates, so many may begin offering goodies to help fill their rooms.

So where should you look and how do you get the best deals next year? According to …

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Conjuring up another reason to visit Orlando

As if we didn’t need another excuse to head to Orlando, Universal Studios will be opening its “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” theme park there in the spring of 2010. The studios revealed details yesterday of the rides and attractions that will welcome guests when they arrive at the Potter part of Universal’s Islands of Adventure

According to our three daughters, who keep track of such things, it has been more than two years and two months since our family last traveled to Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom. In other words and in our kids’ minds, we’re overdue for a trip down I-75.

We haven’t yet visited Universal on our trips to Orlando, but I know that will change the minute our Potter-mad girls get wind of this new all-Harry, all-the-time theme park. The high-tech, immersive experience will feature rides called “Flight of the Hippogriff,” “Dragon Challenge” and a tour through the massive Hogwarts Castle on “Harry Potter and the Forbidden …

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Looking to fall all over the autumn foliage?

Over Labor Day weekend, we traveled to Middle Tennessee for the National Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration championship show in Shelbyville. I always enjoy that trip, especially after you top Monteagle and descend into the fertile farmland of Middle Tennessee. 

As we drove along this scenic route, however, I was wishing the Celebration took place a few weeks later, when the bright colors of fall foliage paint a stunning picture on the landscape. The air is beginning to get a little cooler up there, but the leaves are still bright green at the moment.

This morning, a friend posted pictures of an outdoor wedding she had attended at a New England farm over Labor Day. There were those bold reds and golds I was wishing for, just beginning to dot the trees up north.

It will be a few more weeks before the South can expect to see the colors of fall. I plan to use the time to map out a weekend getaway where I can enjoy the changing leaves and spend some outdoor time with my family. …

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Will you be one of the 39 million Labor Day travelers?

Labor Day is almost upon us, and the American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that the number of travelers taking advantage of the three-day weekend this year will fall by about 13.3 percent over last year. AAA projects that only 39.1 million Americans will hit the roads (rails or skies) during the 2009 holiday — despite the fact that average gasoline prices are a dollar cheaper this year.

The travel association figures part of the anticipated decline can be attributed to the fact that more children throughout the country will be back in school before Labor Day, because the holiday falls at a later date this year. In 2008, Labor Day fell on September 1, a full week earlier and before many school districts in other parts of the country returned to school. By September 7, most school terms will have started.

Still, AAA thinks more people will travel over Labor Day than they did over this year’s July 4th holiday.   AAA categorizes Labor Day travel as journeys Americans …

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