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Mobile, Alabama: 5 free things for visitors

MOBILE, Ala. – Mobile is that “other” city on the northern Gulf Coast, the one that sometimes gets lost between the beaches of the Florida Panhandle and the nonstop party of New Orleans. Local promoters call it “secretly awesome.”

Savoring Sin City

LAS VEGAS – The cadre of baby-faced fraternity boys in the rows behind me barked and yelped like a pack of slobbering pups on the verge of their first hunt.

What’s the deal?

This week’s best travel bargains around the globe.

Surviving winter, with more fun than sunlight

Alone on a ridge in the Chugach Mountains of southern Alaska, I struggled to see. The wind was blowing upslope from the south, pelting my face with snow. Around me, all was white – or purple, as after a few hours of trying to rise in the sky, the sun had given up, leaving me alone in the dark. There was no shelter from the cutting wind as trees didn’t even try to grow at this extreme elevation. I had already had an exhausting day of climbing and descending the ridges, and I wasn’t sure how much more I could handle. Far below, the sea ice boulders strewn across the low tide line of the Turnagain Arm pointed the way back toward Anchorage, and civilization. But right about then, I didn’t know what I was going to do.

Canceled! Airlines scrap record number of flights

NEW YORK – The relentless snow and ice storms this winter have led to the highest number of flight cancellations in more than 25 years, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

On a quest for the best beignets in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS – Pardon me while I wipe the powdered sugar off my lips.

St. Louis celebrating 250th anniversary

St. Louis is turning 250 this year, and visitors who want to join in the celebration can find plenty to do without spending a dime.

Cruise ship arrives back in NJ after 700 fall ill

BAYONNE, N.J. – Passengers aboard a cruise ship on which hundreds fell ill recalled days of misery holed up in their rooms as it returned to its home port Wednesday from a Caribbean trip cut short by what is suspected to be among the largest such norovirus outbreaks in the last 20 years.

Monarch butterflies drop, migration may disappear

MEXICO CITY – The stunning and little-understood annual migration of millions of Monarch butterflies to spend the winter in Mexico is in danger of disappearing, experts said Wednesday, after numbers dropped to their lowest level since record-keeping began in 1993.

There’s plenty to discover at Miami Beach – even for Floridians

MIAMI BEACH

Five free things in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nashville’s history is so intertwined with music and creative expression that tunes seem to pour from every door and window. From Music Row to the Honky Tonk Highway, the city recognizes its past, while also celebrating emerging artists who are drawn to the city just like music lovers. Learn a little about the great artists that defined the Nashville scene for decades, hear new music that may soon be hitting radio waves, and take a sniff of Tennessee sipping whiskey, all for free.

Looking for Super Bowl tickets? You pay, they play

NEW YORK – Welcome to the Super Bowl, where demand always beats supply and the teams don’t really matter.

Five free things to do in Taos, NM

TAOS, N.M. – To winter sports enthusiasts, Taos is best known for its challenging ski slopes. But this northern New Mexico town has plenty more to offer visitors year-round, on and off the slopes. A hipper little sister of sorts to Santa Fe, Taos is known for its diverse outdoor offerings as well as its funky town square packed full of history, art galleries and Hispanic and Native American culture. Whereas Santa Fe is known for its wealth, Taos is lower-key and tends to attracts a younger, more starving-artist-type crowd. It’s a town where new-age nomadic hippies, (referred to locally as “sage monkeys”) peacefully coexist with artists, natives, daredevil skiers and even wealthy Texan tourists. Here are five free things to do and see on your next trip to Taos.

Grand Canyon gives incentive for quieter aircraft

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The fees for air tour operators that use technology to quiet the sound of aircraft at Grand Canyon National Park have been reduced.

Falling under the spell of Nicaragua’s Corn Islands

The lobster trawlers bob like toys in a bathtub,tipping to and fro with every swell of gray sea. I watch from a crowd of Nicaraguans about to board the day’s last panga, or public ferryboat, wondering whether the storm is as bad as it looks.

The wonders of unspoiled ‘Old’ Florida

Q: I’d like to take a quick trip with the family down to the Gulf side of Florida in early January. Any ideas for a specific location or resort? I hear a lot about “Old” Florida – would that be places like Cedar Key or Longboat Key?

Fiji: 5 free things to see from beaches to markets

SUVA, Fiji – With its white sand beaches, tropical climate and relaxed pace, Fiji has rightfully earned a reputation as a South Pacific paradise. But it’s the friendliness of the people that makes traveling in these islands a real delight. You'll quickly learn the ubiquitous word “bula” (pronounced boolah) which means hello and is usually accompanied with a broad smile.

Joining in some reindeer games

Standing in the middle of a herd of about 150 reindeer at Williams Reindeer Farm in Palmer, Alaska, I reached out to pet one of the animals. How thick and soft its fur is, I marveled, almost bouncy to the touch, like a natural version of artificial turf.

Travel industry offering Cyber Monday deals

The travel industry is offering promotions large and small for Cyber Monday. Some companies are participating for the first time, while others are embracing the online holiday sale in a bigger way than in the past.

This land is your land: Woodie Guthrie’s America

“The Pacific Northwest is one of my favorite spots in this world, and I’m one walker that’s stood way up and looked way down acrost aplenty of pretty sights in all their veiled and nakedest seasons. The Pacific Northwest has got mineral mountains. It’s got chemical deserts. It’s got rough run canyons. It’s got sawblade snowcaps. It’s got ridges of nine kinds of brown, hills out of six colors of green, ridges five shades of shadows, and stickers the eight tones of hell.”

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