The Canadian dollar is slipping a bit against the U.S. greenback, down to just higher than 97 cents. The loonie is still roughly at par with the U.S. dollar, but there's talk it slip further. Which makes this a great time to take that U.S. trip and discover some affordable getaways.
The folks at Travel + Leisure have come up with a nice list of the most affordable U.S. cities, and it's a useful piece that takes you beyond the normal talk of New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and the other "biggies."
Topping the list for 2013 is Kansas City, which comes in with an average summer rate of $137 for a hotel. There's great barbeque and good live music, plus terrific art museums and fun shopping. I used to hang out a lot at the Country Club Plaza shopping area when I covered the Blue Jays back in the day, where there were great restaurants in an area built to resemble the south of Spain, featuring towering fountains and colourful tiles and red-tile roofs. Very pleasant.
Next on the list was Nashville, cited for its excellent music and good, cheap food. Then came San Antonio, with its famous riverwalk, good food and history. Here's the rest of the list: 4. Minneapolis/St. Paul, 5. Memphis, 6. Salt Lake City, 7. Houston, 8. Savannah Georgia, 9. Austin Texas, 10. Providence Rhode Island, 11. Portland Maine 12. New Orleans, 13. Portland Oregon, 14. Charleston, 15. San Juan Puerto Rico, 16. Dallas/Fort Worth, 17. Philadelphia, 18. Baltimore, 19. Denver, 20. Atlanta.
CANADIAN NATIONAL PARKS OPENING
Most Parks Canada locations will be open for the season starting this weekend, Ottawa announced on Tuesday. Officials say there's been a 35 per cent increase in pre-season online reservations for Parks Canada compared to this time last year. For Georgian Bay Islands National Park the increase is 57 per cent and for Bruce Peninsula National Park the increase is 33 per cent. So get out there and enjoy, already.
VIA RAIL ADOPTS AIRLINE STYLE PRICING
Not sure this is good. But it's the new reality.
Star reporter Francine Kopun has a good story in the business section today on how VIA Rail has ripped a page from the airline handbook when it comes to setting fares. Now they’re handled like airline ticket sales – some tickets go high, some tickets go low, depending on the month, the day, even the hour of travel.
It means doing everything to get as many people on a trip as possible, at the highest fare the market will bear in each fare category.
The system was implemented at VIA last June, helping drive an increase in ridership of 10.4 per cent in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto triangle in the last quarter of 2012, compared to a year earlier, according to the Crown Corporation’s annual report.
The folks at Caesar's in Atlantic City put on quite the skin show in New York City on Monday, sending out brightly painted women to publicize their properties by handing out hotel room key cards to thousands of passerby’s for a FREE room at one of Caesars Entertainment’s four Atlantic City resorts and casinos. Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City body painted street team visited lunch go-ers in Bryant Park, two legged and four legged friends Madison Square Park, suits in Wall Street and finally showed commuters some love near Penn Station who all snatched up a room at either Caesars, Harrah’s Resort, Showboat or Bally’s after spotting one of the four body painted models emblazoned with the hotels’ logos.
LOS ANGELES BIKE SHARING
Los Angeles is bringing in the nation’s second biggest bike sharing program. To be introducted next month, they’ll have something like 80 stations to start.
The City has many bike friendly areas. Downtown is quite walkable and, aside from a couple big hills, probably isn’t hard to do on a bike. Ditto for much of Hollywood and Westwood Village and other cities, including Santa Monica and Pasadena.
Unlike Toronto, they've also spent massive amounts of money on new subway and transit lines. Check Thursday's Travel section for a good story on the colourful artwork you can find on the Red Line subway.
THIS AND THAT
The Scotiabank Caribbean Festival will run in Toronto July 9 to Aug. 3, when the Grand Parade will be held ... Officials at Cedar Fair LP, which owns and operates Canada's Wonderland and other theme parks, says they're encouraged by early sales of season passes ... The Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai has taken extravagance (or indulgence) to a whole new (ridiculous) level, giving guests gold plated iPads to use during their stay ...Associated Press reports the Muppets are getting a new home in a Queens museum with a permanent exhibit the city hopes will persuade more tourists to venture beyond Manhattan. Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Bert and Ernie of "Sesame Street" fame, the stars of "Fraggle Rock" and other puppets, costumes and items from throughout Muppets creator Jim Henson's career have been donated to the Museum of the Moving Image, which is building a new gallery to house them, the institution announced Tuesday.
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY
Jaunt.ca, a division of Torstar, has a deal today for a great family trip to the wonderful Riviera Maya in Mexico. It's priced at $1,217, including $348 in taxes.
- EXCLUSIVE TO JAUNT: FREE upgrade to an Oceanview Room
- BONUS: Occidental Grand Unlimited Xcaret Xperience including unlimited multi-entrance access to Xcaret Park, Private eco-cultural tour, Free access to the children's activity `Xiquitos Sonando` and more!
- All-inclusive 7-night stay at the 4-star Occidental Grand Xcaret located in Riviera Maya, Mexico
- Located next to the spectacular Xcaret Park, Occidental is the perfect place for engaging eco-adventure in Riviera Maya
- An exclusive room upgrade means extra special inclusions like a traditional Mayan welcome
- Valid for travel on July 6 & July 13, 2013
- Includes return airfare from Toronto to Cancun and round-trip airport/resort transfers
- Accomodations in an Oceanview Room featuring a king sized bed or 2 double beds and balcony. Maximum occupancy: 3 adults or 2 adults + 2 child
- Pricing (Rates are per person, plus tax):
Child (2-12yrs): $499
Other DATES and GATEWAYS available.
Call us at 1-855-687-5925.
- For more info on Xcaret Park and how you can redeem your resort credit, click HERE
- Valid passport required for travel from Canada
- This offer is 100% non-refundable at time of booking