Old-fashioned quilting — albeit sometimes on high-tech sewing machines — has survived and even thrived as a hobby. About a decade ago, an Ohio woman got the idea of decorating her barn with a different kind of mural, a painted quilt square to honor her mother, a quilter. The idea grew. Before long she and a group of volunteers were talking about entire art trails of quilt barns. In 1991, the first quilt square was painted on the first barn, and the trend took off. The Associated Press reports that 43 states now have quilt barn trails, and a book on the quilt barn trail movement has been published. Click here for the American Quilt Barns website and a still-in-progress list of trails in 30 states and provinces. Read the AP story here.
If you’re planning a road trip to one of Florida’s state or national parks over the Labor Day weekend, be warned: many were closed because of flooding or other problems caused by Tropical Storm (now Hurricane) Isaac.
South Florida state parks are open, but some have closed specific facilities such as their visitors center or bicycle trails. Flooding problems were more extensive in the Panhandle, and many state parks there remain closed. FloridaRambler has compiled a list that you can check here. Or click here for the state’s list.
The ship, set to debut in spring 2014, will be the second in the line’s new generation of ships. The first is the Royal Princess, which will be inaugurated next June. Both will be 3,600-passenger, 141,000-ton ships. And both will carry the names of former ships in the Princess fleet.
Tuesday’s ceremony was at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, where the ship’s 500-ton keel was moved into position in the building dock. The Royal Princess is under construction at the same shipyard.
More than a thousand flights had been cancelled by Monday evening because of Tropical Storm Isaac, and the airlines were starting to rebook flights in and out of South Florida as the storm moved north toward landfall. Federal regulations require airlines to refund ticket prices to passengers whose flights were cancelled, but what happens when you don't want a refund, when you still want to get to that destination? There are almost as many responses as there are airlines. Scott Mayerowitz of the Associated Press has compiled information on what most of the major airlines are doing as far as rebooking flights and how far in the future they'll let you rebook without charging a change fee. Click here for the story.
I remember when hotel restaurants were places to be avoided. As a category, they had no history of serving exceptional food. As TheDailyMeal points out, that began to change about 20 years ago. The first place I noticed the trend was in Las Vegas, where celebrity chefs were opening branches of their flagship restaurants, most of them in hotels. I had amazing food at Prime and Picasso in the Bellagio, Aureole at Mandalay Bay, Joel Robuchon at MGM. Now, you can find some of a city’s best restaurants in hotels. TheDailyMeal’s writers have made a list of their 101 favorite hotel restaurants. Check it out here.
Here’s the thing about weekend getaways in Sarasota: You don’t have time for all the good restaurants. I never got to Michael’s on East, which one friend called the best restaurant in town. I never got to the new Belgian place downtown or to Euphemia Haye, which is on nearby Longboat Key. But I still ate well. I don’t know the formula for these matters, but I think Sarasota must have a disproportionately high number of must-do restaurants for a city of its size. Check out my story on going to Sarasota here. You’ll find my recommendations for good restaurants, fun in the outdoors (like kayaking through the mangrove tunnels on Sarasota Bay, above), and viewing art. And while you're thinking about Sarasota, read Chris Dolen's story here on the Ringling International Arts Festival, coming up Oct. 10-13.
You may not have known — I didn’t — that Virginia is developing quite a craft beer community. The state has about 40 craft breweries, not enough to call it an industry yet, but enough to organize a festival this weekend to celebrate the local brews. If you’re not already on the road to Virginia, you’re not going to make it in time for the celebration. But the state tourism agency has a list of breweries and an interactive map on its website, so you can design your own road trip tour of the breweries at your leisure. (Without knowing anything else about the breweries, I’m kind of partial to the animal names — Mad Fox, Lost Rhino and Wild Wolf.) Click here to read about Virgiania’s burgeoning craft breweries. And by the way, if you’re more interested in wine, here’s a website for Virginia’s wineries. That industry is a little further along -- Virginia claims more than 200 wineries.
If you’re planning to travel by car over Labor Day, you’ll be on the road with an estimated 28.2 million other people, the AAA says.
Eighty-five percent of the 33 million people planning to travel over the holiday are driving, according to the AAA’s travel forecast, which refers to the number of people who say they’ll travel at least 50 miles between Thursday and Monday of the long weekend. Eight percent will travel by air, and 7 percent by other transportation, mostly trains, buses and cruises.
The number of people planning to travel is up slightly (2.9 percent) over 2011, as are the number of miles they expect to cover (626) and the amount of money they expect to spend ($749).
In the South Atlantic region, which includes Florida, people plan to travel shorter distances (an average of 483 miles) and spend more ($827). The region will have more than twice as many solo travelers as the national average.
The national average price of self-serve regular gasoline as of Aug. 13 was 10 cents a gallon higher than the same time last year, but it’s 22 cents less than April, when prices peaked, AAA says. The survey found gas prices won’t have much impact on travel plans. But that’s not surprising. Consider: If you’re planning to drive 500 miles — about the distance of a round-trip between Miami and Orlando — and your car gets 25 miles per gallon, you’ll burn 20 gallons of gas. That 10-cent difference over last year amounts to $2.
Florida Travel + Life has a plan for a long Labor Day holiday -- or any other time you can take off the better part of a week. The magazine outlines an itinerary for a four-day road trip that starts along Florida's northeast coast and follows A1A south to Palm Beach (you'll need to add on a day to get to the starting point). You'll stop in Cape Canaveral, Hutchinson Island and other interesting locales. Click here for a plan that includes suggestions about where to stay, where to eat and what to do.
Do you ever want to jump right into the middle of your favorite TV series? Live in the castle in Downton Abby (actually Highclere Castle in Hampshire)? Have vodka and oysters with Don Draper at Grand Central Oyster Bar? Robert Reid, Lonely Planet’s U.S. travel editor, has put together travel guides for five of the shows nominated for outstanding comedy and drama Emmys this year. Check out his story here.