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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.”

Five free things to do in London, from art to parks

LONDON – There’s no getting around it: The basics of life are pricey in London. Hotel rooms, taxis, restaurant meals and subway fares are among the most expensive in the world.

Barrels of fun in Portugal’s Porto

PORTO – I read descriptions that called Portugal’s second-largest city “gritty” and “emerging.” So as we drove into Porto the first evening of our visit, I anticipated towering smokestacks belching tinted steam into an orange sky.

Travel deals to save you money

– Enterprise has a sale on weekend car rental rates at select neighborhood locations in the United States and Puerto Rico. Economy/compact cars now cost $9.99 per day, intermediate $14.99, standard $17.99, and full-size $19.99 – plus taxes. Rent in advance, with the rental starting on a Friday and ending the following Monday. Valid through May 21. For example, an early December weekend rental in Orlando now costs $41 total, including taxes; normal rates start at about $30 a day. Sale price includes 100 miles per day. Info: 800-261-7331, www.enterprise.com.

Fliers face quirks using gadgets for entire flight

NEW YORK – Fliers are rejoicing that they'll soon be able to use their iPads, Kindles, music players and other personal electronics during all phases of a flight. But no policy change is without its quirks or hiccups.

Five free things to do in Monaco

MONTE CARLO, Monaco – Just before noon on a brilliant Riviera day, two columns of guards line up smartly in front of the Prince’s Palace, gold braid glinting on their full dress uniforms, vivid blue helmets rivaling the azure sky.

Where to find JFK history 50 years after his death

Three cities loom large in the life and death of John F. Kennedy: Washington, D.C., where he was president and senator; Dallas, where he died; and Boston, where he was born.

Grand Canyon opens in state, fed national parks deal

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Tourists returned to the Grand Canyon on Saturday after Arizona officials along with several counterparts agreed to a federal government plan to reopen national parks, which had been closed as a result of the partial government shutdown.

Savoring the treasures of the Cinque Terre

It was a stroke of luck, really, that my luggage was lost when I flew to Italy this summer to visit the jewel box villages of the Cinque Terre – five heart-stoppingly picturesque hamlets on the Ligurian coast, dotted with pastel houses nestled amid terraced hills that drop to the jade and lapis waters of the Mediterranean. All I had with me were my eyes and feet. For the next few days, that would be all I needed. Unencumbered, I could leap lightly onto trains and trails, feeling sorry for the heavily laden travelers around me, even as I mourned the absence of my hiking sandals.

Wakeup call: Hotels hone the free breakfast

You awaken, and your brain quickly takes stock of where you are. You realize: It’s time.

Georgia Aquarium exhibits preserved sea creatures

ATLANTA – The Georgia Aquarium is giving visitors the chance to peer inside the bodies of giant sea creatures.

Albuquerque set to say goodbye to ‘Breaking Bad'

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The southwestern New Mexico city that’s played home to “Breaking Bad” is preparing for the end, with the Emmy-award winning series airing its last episode on Sunday.

Top five non-art museums

When you mention the word “museum,” most travelers imagine the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the thralls of people trying to sneak a peak of the Mona Lisa at Le Louvre. While art may be the first thing to come to mind, many other subjects can be found enshrined in museums around the world. To help you culture vultures plan ahead, the members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com (www.virtualtourist.com) compiled a list of the “Top 5 Non-Art Museums.”

Stats show Americans not that into driving anymore

WASHINGTON – Driving in America has stalled, leading researchers to ask: Is the national love affair with the automobile over?

Tour Saint-Jacques gives new view of Paris skyline

PARIS – It’s a view of Paris that only a handful of people have seen in 500 years.

At home in the heart of Sicily

As a writer I’ve always tended to seek out origins. My first book, about the search for the historical Jesus, was an attempt to get at the “real” story behind my Catholic upbringing. After living in Manhattan for several years, I wrote “The Island at the Center of the World,” a book about the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, the seed from which New York City grew.

Eating on the cheap in Europe’s expensive cities

Oslo recently overtook Tokyo as the most expensive city in the world. That doesn’t surprise me in the least. The last time I was in Oslo, a plain cup of coffee cost $4. Beer, while very good, was $8 a glass.

When voucher isn’t a deal, do I get a refund?

Q: I’m writing to you in the hope that you can help resolve a dispute I am having with Living Social. I don’t know where else to turn.

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