Travel’s Best All-American Vacations 2014

Get a true taste of Americana and marvel at the nation’s natural wonders with our travel experts’ picks for Travel’s Best All-American Vacations 2014.

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Bardessono (Yountville, California)
Bardessono (Yountville, California)

Bardessono (Yountville, California)

Travelers know Napa Valley as wine country, but they may not know about this intimate-sized hotel where each room is designed to be a private spa. What sets Bardessono apart from others is its focus on sustainability and efficient use of both land and energy. From locally grown foods, complimentary yoga lessons and even a LEED Platinum Certification -- just one of only 3 hotels in the US to have such a designation -- this hotel marries sustainable design with service to make for a truly relaxing experience. 960 1280

Bardessono  

Waldorf Astoria Orlando (Orlando, Florida)

Waldorf Astoria Orlando (Orlando, Florida)

If you’re headed to Orlando, chances are you’ve got the whole family with you to visit many of the theme parks located there. Let the kids enjoy feeling like royalty all day long – you’ve got your own castle to return to as night falls. Waldorf Astoria Orlando is modern and luxurious with excellent service to match. Try the Bull and Bear -- one of a half-dozen in-house restaurants at the hotel -- that specialize in tableside food preparation that will give your eyes a treat before you eat. The hotel also includes a shuttle to the various Disney theme parks. 960 1280

Waldorf Astoria Orlando  

Hotel Andra (Seattle)

Hotel Andra (Seattle)

On a tree-lined avenue right around the corner from the Space Needle, you’ll find the Hotel Andra. This boutique hotel is designed with Scandinavian themes and it has a contemporary look. Try dining on-site at Lola, a farm-to-table restaurant. The hotel is perfectly situated close to Pike Place Market, one of the oldest public farmers markets in the US. You’ll also want to visit Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Museum of Flight -- two of Seattle’s most popular attractions. So grab your latte and explore. 960 1280

Hotel Andra  

Maui Four Seasons (Maui, Hawaii)

Maui Four Seasons (Maui, Hawaii)

If you’ve been looking for paradise, you needn’t look any further. I can tell you it’s in Hawaii. The Maui Four Seasons is second to none. It not only offers phenomenal accommodations, but also several pools, a relaxing spa and an art collection with more than 280 original pieces of art. This hotel is redefining the meaning of the word “service;” staff and management take care of everything – literally. Everything here is pure luxury with an “at your service approach” awaiting you at every turn. 960 1280

Four Seasons Resort Maui  

Triple Creek Ranch (Darby, Montana)

Triple Creek Ranch (Darby, Montana)

If you make your way to Darby, MT, head to the Triple Creek Ranch. You’ll find the main lodge and its deluxe cabins surrounded by the pines of Trapper Peak and incredible views of the mountainous surroundings. Catch a glimpse of wildlife, including bald eagles, and try your hand at the local sport, fly-fishing. With on-site gourmet dining, finish the day with a glass of wine from their stellar wine cellar that consistently wins Wine Spectator awards. 960 1280

Triple Creek Ranch  

The Raphael (Kansas City, Missouri)

The Raphael (Kansas City, Missouri)

If you’re traveling to the heartland, make it a point to stay at the Raphael Hotel, a historic property with service where attention to detail is paramount. Here, the staff truly takes pride in having you as their guest, including a complimentary valet and a welcome treat of truffles. With the jazz bar jumping with live music several nights a week, this hotel is filled with modern elegance while still holding onto its southern heritage -- right down to the fried green tomatoes on their menu. 960 1280

The Raphael  

Fontainebleau Miami Beach (Miami)

Fontainebleau Miami Beach (Miami)

Whatever your vacation style may be -- whether it’s indulging in a spa treatment, digging your toes into white sandy beaches or fine dining -- the Fontainebleau Miami Beach has you covered. Located near “Millionaire’s Row,” this oceanfront property was featured in numerous books, songs and movies, including the 1964 James Bond film, Goldfinger. With valet parking, fine accommodations and deluxe dining options, you’ll feel part of the elite crowd the moment you arrive. And no stay is complete without relaxing poolside at one of their cabanas. 960 1280

Fontainebleau Miami Beach  

Le Pavillon Hotel (New Orleans)

Le Pavillon Hotel (New Orleans)

If you’re headed to “The Big Easy,” try the historic Le Pavillon Hotel, located just outside the French Quarter, just 5 short blocks to the music clubs on Bourbon Street and famous restaurants and antique shops on Royal Street. Enjoy the hotel’s rooftop pool for amazing views of the city. But don’t fall asleep too early. When the clock strikes 10, head to the lobby for complimentary PB & Js -- a hotel tradition that started on Sept. 10, 1988. 960 1280

Le Pavillon Hotel  

Mandarin Oriental San Francisco (San Francisco)

Mandarin Oriental San Francisco (San Francisco)

At Mandarin Oriental San Francisco, I recommend booking the “bridge room” so that each day starts with exceptional views of the City by the Bay and nearby Bay Bridge. With an impeccably well-trained staff, don’t be surprised if the doorman remembers your name -- they’re known for that. This hotel is within walking distance to the TransAmerica Pyramid, Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square and Chinatown. 960 1280

Mandarin Oriental San Francisco  

Beaufort Inn (Beaufort, South Carolina)

Beaufort Inn (Beaufort, South Carolina)

What happens when you combine hotel service and charm? You get true southern hospitality, and the Beaufort Inn embodies that inside and out. This historic Victorian mansion has hardwood floors, fireplaces and cast iron claw-foot tubs, along with modern technologies and distinct amenities. While in town, take a carriage ride, attend a shrimp festival, charter a boat or just sit out on the verandah and relax. 960 1280

Beaufort Inn  

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Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

"For great package deals, check out the website HolidayPirates.com. They find incredible deals for packages, flights and more departing to and from Europe. I've found some incredible, hard-to-find offers on that website, like $500-roundtrip flights to Europe or $50 flights from Europe to Turkey." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

"US Airways offers economy round-trip tickets to Europe from North America for just 35,000 miles from Jan. 15 to Feb. 28. If you have their co-branded credit card, that price drops to 30,000 miles roundtrip. American Airlines also offers off-peak discounted award tickets to Europe from Oct. 15 to May 15 for 40,000 miles, down from the usual 60,000. If you have their co-branded credit card, you can even get 10% of those redeemed miles back, up to an annual cap." -- Summer Hull, Mommy Points 960 1280

Thinkstock   

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

"Starwood Preferred Guest is a great hotel program, with a vast portfolio of hotels throughout the world. Redemptions start at just 2,000 points and members have the option to transfer points to dozens of airlines at a 1-to-1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus on every 20,000 points transferred." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

"Calling, texting and emailing while abroad can rack up thousands of dollars in fees. However, there are great apps like Viber that you can use for free with an internet connection. Viber users can send free text messages, photo messages, video messages and more with other users, and it’s compatible with iPhone, Android, and other major mobile and desktop devices." -- Brian Kelly, The Points Guy 960 1280

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Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

"For a great-value trip, head to Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine) for very cheap destinations, great food, friendly people and few tourists. It's the medieval Europe you want without the crowds in Prague or Tallinn." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

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Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

"If you have a Costco membership, you can get good deals from Costco Travel such as no additional driver fees with certain rental companies. If booking abroad, AutoEurope.com gives good rates in Europe. I used it to book a wagon for a trip to Paris which saved me about 40% off booking directly with the rental company." -- Arthur Hsu, Mileage Runner 960 1280

iStock  

Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

"United MileagePlus is a great program, as it offers access to an extensive route network and award inventory. In short, they make it easy to redeem your miles. United miles are also easy to earn, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offering instant 1-to-1 transfer of points to United." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

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Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

"If you don’t want to constantly check and recheck websites for the best fares, then sign up for Yapta’s fare alerts. They will automatically keep you updated on the fares you are interested in. All you have to do is set the date(s), city pairs and the price point, and they will alert you via email." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

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Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

"When I shop around for hotels and car rentals, I don't think there is any better place than Priceline. But keep in mind when you use their Name Your Own Price feature, you can't cancel. Before I make a blind bid, I always log on to BiddingForTravel.com to see what other people's luck was with their bids. It shows how much people paid for which dates and will give you a pretty good idea of which hotel you will end up with." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

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Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

"The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers generous sign-up bonuses and flexible points that can be transferred to both airline and hotel partners. The Sapphire Preferred makes it easy to amass points quickly, with 2x points on travel and dining. The original signup bonuses can be worth over $500 in travel after you meet the required minimum spend, within the first 3 months typically." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Best Ballpark Food

Best Ballpark Food

Steering away from the ballpark classics (i.e. peanuts hot dogs French fries) we've got our eye on the best ballpark food at Washington DC's Nationals Park stadium: the roasted cauliflower sandwich from Chef Mike Isabella's G. "There is no better bite during a ballgame than a sandwich from G" says Nevin Martell. "Choose from a rag?-rich chicken Parmesan accented with Thai basil or a roasted cauliflower soaked with poppy paprika lemon vinaigrette" add Martell. The roasted cauliflower sandwich packs a flavorful punch especially for vegetarians or vegans looking for something delightful at the game. You're welcome! 960 1280

Greg Powers  

Best Ice Cream Shop

Best Ice Cream Shop

We're taking you back in time to the heyday of shave ice but this time with a twist: it's accompanied by ice cream! Our pick for best ice cream shop in the summer is Matsumoto on Hawaii's North Shore. Established in 1951 Matsumoto provides over 1000 shave ices to tourists each year. "Make sure you get with ice cream underneath. Will change your life" says Chef Michael Voltaggio. Who doesn't love a little ice accompanied by cream? 960 1280

Matsumoto Shave Ice  

Best Seafood Restaurant

Best Seafood Restaurant

Summers in the Northeast automatically mean that it's time for fresh lobster. Our pick for best seafood restaurant to get said lobster is the adorable Beach Plum Restaurant (connected to The Beach Plum Inn) located in the small town of Menemsha in Martha's Vineyard MA overlooking Menemsha Harbor. "Chef Chris Fischer grows his own vegetables at his Beetlebung Farm. The food is fresh delicious and not too fussy. You can watch the fishing boats come in with their daily haul" adds Peden and Munk. 960 1280

Elana Carlson/Ashley Jardim  

Best Brunch Spot

Best Brunch Spot

Plump tomatoes certainly say summer and eating them when they are green and fried is a Southern tradition (also eating them outside in the summer sun is a must). Fried green tomatoes are served at Baltimore's legendary brunch spot Miss Shirley's which has locations in Baltimore's Inner Harbor and a few short minutes from Annapolis Harbor. "They've got just the right amount of tang inside and savory crunch outside" says Robin Bennefield. "For a twist on eggs Benedict have them with mini crab cakes and poached eggs dusted with Maryland's Old Bay seasoning. You'll need to walk off Miss Shirley's hearty portions with a stroll along the shimmering harbor." 960 1280

Miss Shirely?s Cafe  

Best (Summer) Restaurant with a View

Best (Summer) Restaurant with a View

Summer can mean a lot of things, but to us it means shorts, flip flops and burgers. And there is no better place to find this than at Le Tub in Hollywood, FL. While you're sinking your teeth into one of their critically acclaimed burgers, enjoy a gorgeous, "Why don't I live here?" view of the Intracoastal Waterway. "You'll gladly wait a well-worth-it hour for a burger as you sip a cold beer overlooking the water, watching mega yachts cruise by," says Robyn Lindars. 960 1280

Mchael Marusin Scott Audette for VISIT FLORIDA  

Best BBQ

Best BBQ

We probably need to create an entire "Best of Barbecue" list to tackle this one but Southern barbecue is at its finest at Southern Soul Barbeque on charming St. Simons Island GA. Their juicy slow-smoked chicken pairs perfectly with their Hoppin' John (black-eyed peas and rice) collard greens and cornbread. "Sit on one of their outdoor picnic benches or grab your BBQ to go and head to one of the many beach areas (just 5 minutes away)" says Danielle "Diva Q" Dimovski. "It is like a mini vacation as you smell the Atlantic Ocean and the delicious wafts of barbecue smoke from one of their many pits" she adds. 960 1280

Benjamin Galland, h2o Creative Group  

Best Food Truck

Best Food Truck

From Washington DC to California there are some "out-of-this-world" food trucks! But "1 truck has never escaped my mind -- Kogi BBQ Taco Truck" says Rani Robinson-Kiganda. Located in Los Angeles Kogi jams an incredible amount of flavor into each bite of its tacos and burritos. "I highly recommend the chicken taco and the sliders -- what used to be a 'special' occurrence on the menu and has since become a permanent menu option. Order either the short rib slider or replace it with a meat of your choice (chicken please!)" adds Robinson-Kiganda. Three different trucks are positioned from Long Beach to Burbank in LA County from Monday to Friday. Follow the Kogi BBQ Taco Truck on Twitter @kogibbq. 960 1280

Eric Shin  

Best Bar Food

Best Bar Food

When choosing the best bar food spot we really had to concentrate on location. There are some great bars out there but Big Sur's Nepenthe made the cut with its stunning mountain views of the California countryside. "I'm one of those beat travelers who stop at Nepenthe in Big Sur after a day of hiking for a few simple pleasures: a glass or 2 of wine from Monterey County and some California-made snacks" says Casey Barber. "Order Nepenthe's Laura Chenel goat cheese and creamy roasted Gilroy garlic while taking in the 360-degree views from the mountain perch of the restaurant's outdoor terrace" adds Barber. 960 1280

Tom Birmingham  

Best Food Festival

Best Food Festival

Nearly every state in America hosts a State Fair each year and with that comes irresistible fair foods. The Minnesota State Fair made our list as one of the best. When it comes down to it it's a massive food fest with nearly 1000 vendors offering favorites like fried cheese curds jumbo buckets of double-dipped French fries giant melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies grilled pork chops on a stick and classics like hamburgers and hot dogs. "Every year I start every day at the fair with a real natural casing German-style foot long hot dog with mustard grilled onions and sauerkraut" says Andrew Zimmern. 960 1280
Best Place for Pie

Best Place for Pie

Using only fresh seasonal ingredients Dangerously Delicious Pies (2 locations in DC 1 in Baltimore MD) quickly rose to the top of our "Best Place for Pie" list. Order summer classics like cherry strawberry blueberry and their noteworthy Key lime pie or go for something authentic -- the Baltimore Bomb pie. "Dangerously Delicious Pies has a unique pie that is stupidly addictive. Berger cookies thick with fudge are melted into a vanilla chess filling to make up the gooey Baltimore Bomb" says Amy McKeever. 960 1280

Dangerously Delicious Pies  

Knott's Scary Farm (Buena Park, CA)

Knott's Scary Farm (Buena Park, CA)

"In late fall, Southern California's Knott's Berry Farm morphs into the most-attended Halloween attraction in the world. In addition to heart-stopping rides like GhostRider (one of the longest and tallest wooden roller coasters in the world), Knott’s Scary Farm Haunt's elaborately themed mazes, like the brand new Trapped: The New Experiment, will give you memories you'll never forget … try as you might. Six sinister live shows, including my very own Elvira's Sinema Séance, all add up to the ultimate horror experience!" -- Elvira, Mistress of the Dark 960 1280

Knott's Berry Farm  

The Haunting of Lemp Brewery (St. Louis)

The Haunting of Lemp Brewery (St. Louis)

“I had the pleasure of walking around Lemp Brewery when I was filming in St. Louis for our 100th Ghost Adventures episode. The building alone is creepy, and to put an actual haunted attraction inside is freaky. Very cool history of the Lemp Brewery. A must-see.” -- Nick Groff, Ghost Adventures Investigator 960 1280

  

Markoff's Haunted Forest (Calleva Farm in Dickerson, MD)

Markoff's Haunted Forest (Calleva Farm in Dickerson, MD)

“Ask anyone in the DC area for a Halloween pick and they’ll tell you to head to Markoff’s Haunted Forest, where they’ve been freaking out guests for more than 20 years. Haunted hayrides, zombie hunts and a walk through the Not-So-Fun House Maze are just a few ways your creepy adventure unfolds on one of 2 terrifying trails. Dress in your warmest clothes and bring your best running shoes. Beware of the chainsaw-wielding stalker ... and be prepared to get spooked!” -- Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer, Travel Channel 960 1280

Markoff's Haunted Forest/Calleva Inc.  

Disney's Haunted Mansion (Orlando, FL)

Disney's Haunted Mansion (Orlando, FL)

“Such a classic family attraction! Beautiful sets and wonderful illusions. We definitely go through the Haunted Mansion whenever we're at Disneyland or Disney World! It's like having a Halloween experience year-round. Fun and spooky but not so scary that you would need to have your children in therapy for years!” -- Ed Edmunds and Marsha Taub-Edmunds, Owners of Distortions Unlimited Corporation 960 1280

Disney  

Spooky Empire's The Ultimate Horror Weekend (Orlando, FL)

Spooky Empire's The Ultimate Horror Weekend (Orlando, FL)

Spooky Empire is a horror convention that takes place in my hometown of Orlando, FL, a week or two before Oct. 31. It feels like a 3-day Halloween party full of treats when you're surrounded by horror icons such as George A. Romero, John Carpenter, Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, Bruce Campbell and Elvira. Besides appealing to my love of Halloween, this hometown event offers me the chance to see family and reminisce about Octobers gone by.” -- Aaron Sagers, Geek Culture & Paranormal Pop Culture Expert 960 1280

Michael Gavin/Spooky Empire and Mel Allebach Photography  

Eastern State Penitentiary's Terror Behind the Walls (Philadelphia)

Eastern State Penitentiary's Terror Behind the Walls (Philadelphia)

“Eastern State is by far my favorite supposedly haunted location in the country. And at Halloween, ESP gets even better. A haunted attraction in a haunted prison is cool enough, but the elaborate designs, effects and costumes at play here are artistically terrifying. I have been through countless scary attractions and Terror Behind the Walls is always good for a few startled jumps.” -- Aaron Sagers, Geek Culture & Paranormal Pop Culture Expert 960 1280

Jeff Fusco  

Salem Haunted Happenings (Salem, MA)

Salem Haunted Happenings (Salem, MA)

“History and Halloween enthusiasts alike would be challenged to do better than to visit Salem, MA. Of course, events really ramp up as Halloween approaches. The notorious history here is an indescribably tangible addition to any one of the town’s attractions. There are haunts like Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery for thrill-seekers, as well as tours and museums like the Salem Witch Museum to satisfy your more cerebral needs. -- Scott Cummins, Artist & Pro Pumpkin Carver 960 1280

Robert Deschene  

Spooky World's Nightmare New England (Litchfield, NH)

Spooky World's Nightmare New England (Litchfield, NH)

“I really liked walking around Spooky World because of the variety of haunted attractions they offer. Spooky World has frights for everyone, as well as family fun, for extreme people who need a rush, like myself. I had a blast at Spooky World, especially when I got to shoot zombies with paintball guns!” -- Nick Groff, Ghost Adventures Investigator 960 1280

The Pixel Perfection  

Zombie Pub Crawl (Minneapolis-St. Paul)

Zombie Pub Crawl (Minneapolis-St. Paul)

“Sometimes for fun and sometimes to promote charitable causes, zombie crawls are organized public gatherings of people dressed up as zombies. In 2012, the largest zombie crawl was in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul), with an estimated 30,000 in attendance, making it the largest gathering of zombies according to Guinness World Records. It's not hard to become a zombie. Take some old cloths, cut them up and spray paint them with some dark brown and gray primer. -- Ed Edmunds and Marsha Taub-Edmunds, Owners of Distortions Unlimited Corporation 960 1280

Davide, flickr  

KC West Bottoms' Haunted Houses (Kansas City, MO)

KC West Bottoms' Haunted Houses (Kansas City, MO)

“On Kansas City’s west side is one of the most unique haunted venues I’ve ever had the displeasure of visiting. The KC West Bottoms area is made up of several late 19th-century buildings that were just made to be haunted houses! This “village of the damned” has 4 -- count ’em 4 -- epic haunts: The Beast, The Chambers of Edgar Allan Poe, Macabre Cinema and the granddaddy of ’em all, The Edge of Hell -- each one is a unique, must-see experience for haunted house afflict-cianados.” -- Elvira, Mistress of the Dark 960 1280

Full Moon Production  

Bloody Mary's New Orleans Tours

Bloody Mary's New Orleans Tours

Fans chose Bloody Mary's New Orleans Tours as their favorite to add to our list of Travel's Best Halloween Attractions 2013. With historian, author and photographer Bloody Mary, tourists visiting the Big Easy have a few options for a spooky guided tour, including the French Quarter Walking Tour, the Tour of the Undead and the Moonlight Graveyard Tour. Explore NOLA's creepiest haunts to learn about the ghosts and spirits that still lurk in the French Quarter, Treme, the Garden District and the Mid-Cities of the Dead aka the New Orleans Cemetery District. 960 1280

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