Archives for April 2010

Save 45% on the Big Apple’s Best Attractions

One of the world’s most popular and glamorous destinations, New York City is an international center of art, commerce, entertainment, and culture. People from all over the world have come to New York to start new lives and fulfill big dreams. Travelers who want to take a bite of the Big Apple without the Big Apple taking a bite out of their pocketbook should look no further than the New York CityPASS.

For nearly half off the regular admission price, visitors can see the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of Modern Art. The pass also includes two choices for additional destinations: choose between a Circle Line sightseeing cruise or a trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and between the Guggenheim Museum or Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center.

The New York CityPASS is just $79 for adults and $59 for kids ages 6 to 17, a retail value of $144 and $108 respectively. In addition, the CityPASS lets ticket holders skip the line at most attractions, saving both time and money.

Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Met is one of the world’s greatest museums, with a collection that spans 5 millennia. It’s New York City’s most-visited attraction, where visitors can explore historic period rooms from different eras of American history, view masterpieces from Michelangelo to Picasso, ancient Egyptian treasures, and more. Although it’s easy to spend an entire day at the Met, your CityPASS also includes same-day admission to The Cloisters, a haven of art and architecture from medieval Europe in northern Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park. There you’ll find exquisite stained glass, manuscripts, and the world-renowned Unicorn Tapestries.

Empire State Building: Although it’s no longer the world’s tallest building, the Empire State Building is still a must-stop for New York visitors. It was here that Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr rendezvoused in the tear-jerker An Affair to Remember, and where Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan finally connected in Sleepless in Seattle. The 86th-floor Observatory at this 1,050-foot-tall building makes for a romantic and panoramic vista, plus it’s open until 2 a.m. for a late night view of the city lights.

American Museum of Natural History: On the upper west side of Manhattan, the AMNH is one of the most memorable places in the city. Lifelike dioramas and breathtaking dinosaur skeletons are just a couple of the sights you’ll see. Don’t miss the 94-foot-long blue whale suspended from the ceiling. Your CityPASS also includes complimentary admission to the Hayden Planetarium space show.

Museum of Modern Art: MoMA was the country’s first museum dedicated to contemporary art, and the collection includes modern-day masterpieces from van Gogh’s Starry Night to Monet’s water lilies to Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans. From Picasso and Matisse to contemporary works from performance artist Marina Abramovich, MoMA showcases painters, photographers, sculptors, and more. The MoMA Design Store right across the street features unique jewelry, accessories, and home décor inspired by MoMA’s groundbreaking collection.

Aerial view of Ellis Island with Statue of Liberty, New York City.

Option one: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, or a Circle Line sightseeing cruise. Visitors who choose to tour the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will receive complimentary ferry rides and unlimited time to explore both sites. Ferries start running in the morning, and it’s recommended that you arrive early to see everything that both sites have to offer. A visit can easily take 4-5 hours. The elevator to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty is in service after a long period of repairs, and guests who book in advance (up to a year in advance at can have the bragging rights of saying they walked all 354 stairs to the top. For a shorter harbor tour, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises offer various cruises. The two-hour Semi-Circle or two-hour Harbor Lights sunset cruise both get close-up to the Statue of Liberty and offer sweeping views of the New York skyline. The 75-minute Liberty Cruise travels the Hudson River to see the NYC skyline. And the Beast Speedboat ride is for those who want maximum thrill and minimum time, with a 30-minute blast past the Statue of Liberty.

Option two: Guggenheim Museum or Top of the Rock. The Guggenheim Museum is one of the city’s architectural treasures. Frank Lloyd Wright’s circular building wraps one of the world’s finest modern collections—Chagall, Picasso, Kandinsky, and van Gogh, to name a few—up a grand ramp that is a work of art in itself. Daily free tours give an overview of the collection, and through September 6, you can view “Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance” featuring 100 works by 60 artists. Or take in the view from the observation deck at 30 Rockefeller Center. The “Top of the Rock” was closed for more than two decades before opening again in 2005 after a major renovation. The 70th-floor observation deck evokes the first-class deck of a 1930s ocean liner and offers gorgeous views of Central Park, the Hudson River, and the Empire State Building. You’ll also see Joie, a cascading chandelier made of more than 14,000 Swarovski crystals. Kids can get a taste of what it was like to work on the constructing of the Rockefeller Center by walking on a steel beam just like the construction workers would have done hundreds of feet in the sky.

Explore the Gem of the Pacific Northwest at Discount Prices

The arrival of summer means that Seattleites are moving outdoors. Coffee shops, movie screenings, theater, restaurants—everyone is anxious to enjoy the Emerald City’s mild summer temperatures. Indoor attractions are still a top draw, of course, and the Seattle CityPASS offers you discounted admission to all of it.

Seattle Skyline with Mount Rainier

With the Seattle CityPASS ticket booklet, visitors can see Seattle’s top six attractions for close to half off the regular price, plus they can skip to the head of the admission line. Adult passes are$59 (a$52.60 savings) and passes for kids aged 4 to 12 are $39 (a $32.40 savings). You’ll get admission to the Pacific Science Center, the Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, and Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour. Plus choose either the Museum of Flight or the double Experience Museum Project/Science Fiction Museum.

A great way to enjoy a sunny day and get a feel for the city is on a one-hour narrated cruise of the Seattle Harbor and Elliott Bay. Argosy Cruises takes you by views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, and tells the story of Seattle’s historic waterfront.

The most iconic building in the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. The panoramic indoor and outdoor view from the 605-foot-high observation deck is a great way to get oriented to the city and take in sweeping views of Puget Sound and the surrounding mountains. Even the elevator is a thrill ride—visitors are swooped up to the observation deck in just 41 seconds. Don’t miss the revolving SkyCity restaurant, stocked with local cuisine, wine, and microbrewed beers. The CityPASS includes two separate trips to the observation deck within a 24-hour period, so you don’t have to choose between daytime and nighttime views.

The Space Needle is part of the Seattle Center, which you can access with a quick ride on the elevated monorail. The monorail departs every 10 minutes from the Westlake Center Mall and passes the Experience Music Project before dropping you off at the Space Needle. Rides are just $4 round-trip for adults, $2 for seniors, and $1.50 for kids ages 5 to 12.

Also at the Seattle Center is the Pacific Science Center, rated by Zagat’s as one of the top 50 family attractions. Explore under the earth’s surface while viewing a creepy-cute naked mole rat colony, and zoom to the stars with planetarium shows. The Just for Tots area is perfect for little kids, and everyone in the family will love the tropical butterfly house. Outside at the Seattle Center, grab a cup of joe and watch the scene—everyone from locals on their laptops to street performers to kids splashing in the nearby fountains

Animal lovers can enjoy both the Seattle Aquarium and the Woodland Park Zoo. At the aquarium, enjoy a tropical coral reef as well as the “Window on Washington Waters” that shows sea anemones, salmon, and other local wildlife as explained by scuba divers with underwater microphones. Put your hands on local sea creatures at the large tide pool exhibit, and watch sea otters frolic. At the zoo, you can wander 92 acres of reptiles, great apes, big cats, and elephants. The new penguin exhibit is a top draw, and young visitors can crawl and run around the Zoomazium play area.

Some free diversions just outside of downtown include the Golden Gardens Park, with jogging trails along the coastline, hikes through the forest, pier fishing and a boat launch, and a sandy beach for catching some rays. The Washington Park Arboretum illustrates the saying “April showers bring May flowers” as it bursts into a 30-acre assortment of unique flowers and plants.

Night view of cruise pier at Seattle, WA

The Seattle CityPASS also comes with an option to visit one of two museums, the Museum of Flight, or the two-in-one Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. The Museum of Flight has a collection of 85 aircrafts. View the jet-speed Concorde, the first Air Force One, and a Blackbird spy plane—all accompanied by interviews of the men and women who flew them. Wannabe rock stars can take in the Experience Music Project, a shrine to local rocker Jimi Hendrix and those who came before and after. In the same Frank Gehry-designed building is the Science Fiction Museum, which includes an interaction with E.T. and the chance to sit in Captain Kirk’s chair.

Evenings outdoors are a great time to experience the free spirited neighborhood of Fremont. For a donation of $5, you can join locals at the Fremont Outdoor Movies. It’s a bring-your-own-seat event, and folks get extremely creative. Don’t be surprised to find boats, couches, or little kids’ racecar beds being used as “theater” seating.

Celebrate Gay Pride Month with Events Across the Country

40th Anniversary of Pride Celebrations in Many Cities

June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Pride Month, and cities around the country are celebrating. Here’s a round-up of events in some top U.S. destinations, according to Smart Destinations. Revelers can use the company’s Go Cards and Explorer Passes for unlimited admission to many attractions around each destination and make the most of all these cities have to offer. Visit for more information as you plan your pride experience.

Boston, MA – June 4-13, 2010
Boston’s 10-day Pride celebration is New England’s largest, and this year marks its 40th anniversary. With the theme “Riots to Rights – Celebrating 40 Years of Progress,” the annual Pride Parade is a cornerstone of the events. Visitors taking advantage of the Go Boston Card can choose the Bay State Cruise to Provincetown, a world-class gay and lesbian vacation resort destination at the far end of Cape Doc. For three consecutive years, PlanetOut Travel has named Provincetown, “Best Domestic Gay Resort Town.”

Boston Harbor and Financial District in Boston, Massachusetts at Sunset

Chicago, IL – All month
“One Heart, One World, One Pride” is Chicago’s Pride celebration theme in 2010. Events are scheduled all month long, commencing with the annual parade on the last Sunday in May. With the Go Chicago Card, you can experience the Frank Lloyd Wright Architectural tour, take an afternoon sail on Tall Ship Windy, and visit the Shed Aquarium.  Hit up some of the Chicago’s best gay and lesbian bars in Andersonville and Boystown by renting bikes from Bike and Roll.

New York, NY – June 19-27, 2010
Constance McMillen, the Mississippi teenager who was denied the right to attend her senior prom with her girlfriend, is this year’s marshal of “The March,” New York’s massive pride parade. Rallies, more parades, and special concerts round out the 9-day celebration. Keep your budget in check while in New York with the New York Explorer Pass, which offers users up to 50% off admission to 45 sights around the city.

Los Angeles, CA – June 11-13, 2010
GLBT pride is always on display in LA’s Christopher Street West neighborhood, named after the New York City street that was home to the pivotal Stonewall Rebellion. Christopher Street West hosts the city’s 40th Pride celebration, “PRIDE 365: Power. Passion. Purpose.” Visitors can make the most of their visit to LA with Smart Destination’s Go Los Angeles Card, which includes admission to Pacific Park, Paramount Studios, the Queen Mary, and Kodak Theatre.

San Francisco, CA – June 26-27, 2010
Home to one of the most popular and well-attended Pride events in the world, San Francisco celebrates this year with “Forty and Fabulous.” Parties are sure to last all weekend long, but the Go San Francisco Card offers admission to many sights around the city to round your Pride weekend. Or unwind afterward with a trip to Napa and Sonoma Valleys, where the Wine Country Explorer Pass will give you admission to 17 wineries.