Category Archives: Pick 5

Pick 5 | Hotel Suites Worth the Splurge

There are many amazing hotels out there, but what if you want to sleep in the best room they offer, the best room in the house? We picked five hotel suites at AAA-rated five-diamond properties across the country that make us long to pack our bags. With amenities like these, would you even leave the pampered comforts of your room?

Ocean House | Watch Hill, Rhode Island
Originally opened in 1868, the original historic Ocean House closed a decade ago, then was reconstructed several years ago. The architect stayed true to the hotel’s original design and replicated  the exterior and interior with painstaking accuracy. The Penthouse Suite features three bedrooms, two dining areas and a private outdoor deck with Jacuzzi offering views of the Atlantic Ocean.
>> Explore this property

ocean house

Images courtesy of Ocean House.

The Umstead Hotel and Spa | Cary, North Carolina
Every inch of The Umstead’s twelve acres were designed to inspire and stir the senses. The 1,725-square-foot Presidential suite offers panoramic lake views, in-laid wood floors, fabric wall coverings, silk draperies and pillows, furniture designed in exotic woods, and a private balcony.
>> Explore this property

The Umstead Hotel and Spa

Images courtesy of The Umstead Hotel and Spa.

The Canyon Suites at the Phoenician | Scottsdale, Arizona
The Phoenician is rated five diamonds by AAA; the Canyon Suites at the Phoenician is an even more luxurious boutique-style hotel on property. A stay in the Presidential Suite offers guests a full kitchen (and fully stocked refrigerator), his and her master bath showers, private poolside cabana, Jacuzzi, and floor-to-ceiling windows leading to four expansive, furnished private terraces with views of the mountains.
>> Explore this property

Canyon Suites at the Phoenician.

Images courtesy of The Canyon Suites at the Phoenician.

The Little Nell | Aspen, Colorado
The Little Nell provides ski-in, ski-out access to historic Aspen Mountain. Their exclusive Residences at The Little Nell offer the same tranquility and superior guest service, but are 2000-4000 square feet and are more private, with large exterior decks and balconies that bring the Colorado outdoors indoors. Aside from amazing views, the Residences feature marble and onyx bathrooms, spacious bedrooms that sleep up to ten, and fully stocked gourmet kitchens with professional-grade stainless steel Viking appliances, granite counter tops, and custom alder cabinetry.
>> Explore this property

The Little Nell

Images courtesy of The Little Nell.

The Resort at Pelican Hill | Newport Beach, California
The architectural style of The Resort at Pelican Hill is inspired by the works of sixteenth century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. The Mediterranean-style resort features a pool in a perfect circle 136 feet in diameter. The exclusive Villas are a private enclave within the resort served by their own staff and offering expansive ocean views. A stay in The Villas also includes access to a private clubhouse with gracious great room, dining room, fitness center, infinity pool with luxurious cabanas, whirlpool spa and children’s wading pool.
>> Explore this property

The Resort at Pelican Hill

Images courtesy of The Resort at Pelican Hill.

 

We’ve shared some of our favorite suites…do you feel these rooms are worth the splurge? What would you add to this list?

Pick 5 | Scenic Convertible Drives

Scenic Convertible DrivesIt’s cold out there! Since more than half the country is stuck under a blanket of snow and ice, it’s the perfect time to snuggle up to your computer and start planning a warm-weather vacation. Nothing says sunny weather like renting a convertible and exploring local towns on a mini-road trip. Here are our five picks that will thaw out your toes and get you dreaming.

1. Miami, FL → Key West, FL
161 miles
There’s a reason the trip from Miami to Key West is on many a bucket list. The trip takes more than three hours because of the small towns you’ll pass along the way, but that’s part of the fun. The highlight is Seven Mile Bridge connecting Marathon to Little Duck Key.

The route from Miami to Key West.

The route from Miami to Key West.

Image courtesy Flickr user Serge Mashtakoff.

Image courtesy Flickr user Serge Mashtakoff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Wickenburg, AZ → Sedona, AZ
127 miles
Wickenburg was once considered the Dude Ranch Capital of the World and some remain open to this day. The historic town with its well-preserved downtown is a great start to your mountainous trip to Sedona. The drive passes through Prescott National Forest, 1.25 million acres of camping, hiking, fishing, and gorgeous vistas. End your drive at Sedona’s red sandstone formations that seemingly glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the sun.

The route from Wickenburg to Sedona, Arizona.

The route from Wickenburg to Sedona.

Image courtesy Flickr user Anita Ritenour.

Image courtesy Flickr user Anita Ritenour.

Image courtesy Flickr user psyberartist.

Image courtesy Flickr user psyberartist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. San Diego, CA → Oceanside, CA
54 miles
Start your tour at Cabrillo National Monument, which provides great views of the ocean to the west and the San Diego skyline to the east. Heading north, you’ll eventually end up on Coast Highway, passing through hilly beachside towns La Jolla, Del Mar, Cardiff and Oceanside. Torrey Pines State Reserve provides a leafy change of scenery, but still offers miles and miles of sandy shoreline and the blue Pacific. Once you get to Camp Pendleton, venture west on San Luis Rey Mission Expressway toward the historic landmark, established in 1798, that inspired its name.

The route from San Diego to Oceanside.

The route from San Diego to Oceanside.

Image courtesy Flickr user Andrew Magill.

Image courtesy Flickr user Andrew Magill.

Image courtesy Flickr user Dayna Sigl.

Image courtesy Flickr user Dayna Sigl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Terra Ceia, FL → Clearwater Beach, FL
39 miles
Terra Ceia is a small, unincorporated island where I-75 meets I-275 South of Tampa. It is also the starting point of the Sunshine Skyway, a 4.1-mile bridge to St. Petersburg. Once across, head west on Pinellas Bayway past the exquisite pink façade of Loews Don CeSar Resort. Drive through sleepy coastal communities St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, and Indian Beach, and cross over John’s Pass. Stop in peaceful Sand Key Park before heading over the bridge to Clearwater Beach, where you’ll find public beaches, outdoor restaurants and souvenir shops.

Exploring Florida's Gulf Coast.

Exploring Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Image courtesy Flickr user Robert Neff.

Image courtesy Flickr user Robert Neff.

Image courtesy Flickr user Robert Neff.

Image courtesy Flickr user Robert Neff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Kahului, Hawaii → Hāna, Hawaii
62 miles
The Hāna Highway is arguably Hawaii’s most scenic drive, stretching from Kahului through Hāna and on to Kīpahulu on the island of Maui. Along the way, you’ll drive over 59 bridges, more than half of which are one lane, and many of which were built over a century ago. The road twists, turns and bends through the rainforest, providing breathtaking views. The highway, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, ends near Haleakala National Park, home to Oheo Gulch, a series of tiered pools fed by waterfalls and perfect for swimming.

Maui's Hāna Highway.

Maui’s Hāna Highway.

Image courtesy Flickr user Josh Berglund.

Image courtesy Flickr user Josh Berglund.

Image courtesy Flickr user Eric Chan.

Image courtesy Flickr user Eric Chan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get out the sunscreen and put the top down. There are spots out there that are warm and sunny…what are you waiting for? Tell us what memorable drives have you taken!

Pick 5 | New Year’s Travel Resolutions

New Year's Travel ResolutionsOnce the holidays are over and a long, cold winter lies ahead, minds naturally tend to wander. Before you know it you’re searching for flights to warm or far-off destinations. To make your 2014 travel adventures all they should be, we’ve picked five handy tips for you to keep in mind.

1. Forget your itinerary.
Yes, you probably want a general idea of where you’re going and you might schedule some tours and activities ahead of time. But keep in mind that travel should also be about the unexpected! Leave a day or two open and be spontaneous. Take a scenic drive. Explore a local neighborhood. Grab a drink at a hole-in-the-wall. Chances are, years from now, those will be the moments you remember most. So try to be more carefree and less strict about a schedule.

2. Unplug.
This is often the most difficult part of getting away. But it is a vacation and part of that means getting away from everything, including your phone, tablet and laptop. Vow to upload photos to Facebook when you get home. Make everyone put away their phones at meals and engage in real conversations. Work will be there when you get home, as will Pinterest, Twitter and Candy Crush.

3. Be open minded.
Travel is about new experiences. Whether it’s strange foods, new cultures or foreign languages, embrace the unknown! Brush up on a new language before your trip and make a promise that you will try to speak to locals only in their native tongue. Try a local dish, especially if it’s something you would never eat at home. Attend a festival to soak in local culture. Find out where residents like to go and visit those places to get off the beaten path.

4. Have a budget.
If you haven’t started saving for your next trip, what are you waiting for? Set aside a bit each month so that you have spending money for your vacation. And while on your trip, stick to that budget! If you stay on budget for your next trip, it will be easier to start planning again once you get home. And planning vacations is part of the fun!

5. Be patient.
Travel can be maddening, tiring and trying. It can be a hassle to pack, get through security, hop on the plane, wait for your luggage, rent a car, etc. Depending on where you’re headed, you might have to deal with inclement or unpleasant weather, crowds and cranky service workers. Be patient and don’t let the little things get to you. Mistakes happen, so be kind to others, and the problem will most likely be quickly resolved. Remember, you’re on vacation to relax, and remaining calm will improve your overall temperament and the mood of those with whom you’re traveling.

So go ahead and plan that next trip…you deserve it, and what better way to kick off the new year?

Top Technology for Traveling Easier

TomTom

By Darren Meacher (Own work)

While travel can be exciting, as soon as we step into the airport we’re quickly reminded that a large part of traveling is filled with monotonous activities, waiting in lines, and convoluted itineraries.  

Thank goodness for technology. It provides entertainment during down times and helps us to get to our destinations faster and easier. In fact, It’s hard to even imagine traveling anywhere without our smartphones, tablet computers, eReaders, or GPS units.

At Bags Inc., we appreciate any tools or techniques that can make travel easier, and technology is always a favorite topic. So while we’re all familiar with the typical technology, we’ve come across a few unfamiliar gadgets that can make travel even easier.

1. Trackdot luggage tracker

The perfect complement to our Bags VIP luggage delivery service, the Trackdot luggage tracking device provides text message or email notifications regarding the exact location of your luggage, anywhere in the world. You can also track your luggage online, creating 24/7 peace of mind as you will never wonder if your luggage has taken any unexpected detours. Compact and lightweight, the device is designed specifically for air travel and fits right inside your suitcase.

2. Franklin 12-language global translator

As indispensable as your passport, this device can translate in 12 different languages. You simply enter a word or phrase in your native language and the device will display the text translation with an audible pronunciation.   

3. Trackstick II

Working across the planet, Trackstick II traces your every step by superimposing red lines over satellite photos and 3D terrain obtained from Google Earth. Tracing the precise routes, stop times, speed, and directions associated with your trip, the device creates a complete electronic history of your journey that is viewable on your computer, allowing you to record your explorations or create a satellite album of your vacation.

4. HipKey

Are you habitually losing your keys, smartphone, or other important devices when traveling? HipKey has the solution. With HipKey, you place the device on any item and set the distance at which the alarm with activate. When you exceed that distance, the alarm will sound, and if you lose the item, the HipKey app can help you find it. 

5. Clear Card

Clear Card provides access to faster airport security lines, eliminating wait times and the need for arriving early at the airport. Combined with our Bags VIP luggage delivery service, Clear Card trims hours off travel time. Bags VIP allows you to skip baggage claim on the outbound leg; Clear Card allows you to skip long security lines on the inbound leg.  

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What technology makes travel easier and more enjoyable for you? If you could bring only one gadget, what would it be?

 

Pick 5 | Places to Ring in the New Year

ring in new year pinterestFor auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

Another year has come and gone. If you’re ready to ring in 2014 in style, consider traveling to one of these destinations that celebrate New Year’s Eve right.

Las Vegas Strip. Image courtesy Marco Verch via Flickr.

Las Vegas Strip. Image courtesy Marco Verch via Flickr.

Las Vegas
Virtually every club in Vegas has special New Year’s Eve parties. The Strip is closed to automobile traffic. And fireworks light up the sky. From an outdoor concert on Fremont Street to a VIP party at Stratosphere Tower to exclusive fireworks viewing atop Paris Las Vegas’s Eiffel Tower Experience, there are plenty of opportunities to party up to and after midnight. And what happens there, well, you know. >> More

Key West
Key West’s New Year’s Eve festivities include a conch shell drop, high-heeled shoe drop, pirate wench drop, and a key lime wedge drop! There are parties with live music and dancing throughout the island, many of which spill onto Duval Street and down to the waterfront. >> More

New Year's Eve in New Orleans. Image courtesy Bart Everson via Flickr.

New Year’s Eve in New Orleans. Image courtesy Bart Everson via Flickr.

Los Angeles
Like Las Vegas, L.A.’s hotspots have ticketed parties featuring everything from full dinners to black-and-white-only attire. Want to try multiple locations? Pub crawls let you visit up to half a dozen parties. Check out fireworks at Disneyland, Universal CityWalk, and Long Beach. >> More

New Orleans
The Big Easy boasts an annual fleur-de-lis drop, breathtaking fireworks over the Mississippi River, and live entertainment in Jackson Square on New Year’s Eve. Many Bourbon Street clubs offer ticketed parties. Or take a river cruise on a paddle wheeler with entertainment, food and beverages, and great views of the fireworks. >> More

Times Square New Year's Celebrations. Image courtesy Anthony Quintano via Flickr.

Times Square New Year’s celebrations. Image courtesy Anthony Quintano via Flickr.

New York City
The world’s most famous New Year’s countdown takes place in Times Square. Many parties and pub crawls culminate near the ball drop. From Billy Joel in Brooklyn to a midnight run in Central Park, there is no shortage of ways to ring in 2014 in the Big Apple. >> More

5-4-3-2…what are you doing New Year’s Eve? Where will you be at midnight?

5 Ways Bags VIP Makes Holiday Travel Easier

Baggage Claim

Traveling for the holidays is no easy task: fighting through the crowds, transporting gifts and luggage, and contending with traffic are all formidable challenges. But challenging or not, many of us refuse to sacrifice the opportunity to re-connect with family or to visit popular holiday destinations.

If you are one of the courageous travelers confronting these challenges, we wanted to take the time to let you know how Bags VIP can make the process more tolerable. Here are 5 ways Bags VIP can make holiday travel easier.

1. Bypass baggage claim and get to your destination faster

When your flight lands, you do not want to be trapped in a crowd like the one pictured above. Waiting for your bags at baggage claim could add hours to your trip, not to mention the inconvenience of fighting through the crowds with your luggage.

With Bags VIP, our agents will retrieve your luggage from baggage claim and deliver it to your destination so that you can leave the airport as quickly as possible.

2. No fighting through the airport crowds with luggage

Fighting your way through the airport crowds is difficult enough without hauling around large bags and having to load them into your vehicle or onto the bus. Let us do the heavy lifting while you focus on getting to your destination quicker and easier.

3. No need to transport gifts from baggage claim to your destination

If you’re visiting family, chances are you’re bringing gifts, and if you’re flying, you’ll need to pack and check those gifts on your flight. Since bags VIP can deliver up to 8 bags per order, you won’t have to limit your holiday generosity.

4. No need to transport gifts or holiday purchases from baggage claim to your home

If you’re on the receiving end of that holiday generosity, you’ll need a way to get all of your gifts back home. Once again, that means packing and checking bags. With Bags VIP, you can end your trip hassle-free while we deliver your gifts or purchases right to your front door.

5. Take home some of your favorite holiday food

You only have once or twice a year to enjoy your family’s famous holiday recipes, so why not take full advantage? Do you have some extra room in your suitcase, or better yet, do you have an empty suitcase? Stuff it with your favorite food, check it on your flight, and let us deliver it to your doorstep.

Are you one of the bold holiday travelers this season? Where are you headed? How would you use Bags VIP to make your trip easier?

Pick 5 | Places to Get in the Holiday Spirit

Photo: ExploreBranson.com

Christmas in Branson. Photo: ExploreBranson.com

Some say there’s no place like home for the holidays; others prefer to pack their bags and head out of town knowing that Santa will still find their chimney. If you are one of the latter, you are not alone – Christmas vacations are an increasingly popular trend. And whether you want to go walking in a winter wonderland or are looking for Christmas time in the city, these destinations are sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

1. Orlando, Florida
If you like your holiday destinations cold and snowy, look elsewhere. Orlando’s average December high is in the mid-70s, perfect weather to explore the theme parks. The Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando® Resort, and SeaWorld® are decked out during the season and feature holiday parades, shows, lights, and visits with Santa. Outside the theme parks, the village of Winter Park celebrates the season with a boat parade, movies in the park, ice skating, and more.

Don’t miss:
On select nights, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party transforms Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The separate ticket for admission gives visitors access to a special parade, fireworks, “snow” falling on Main Street, and hot chocolate and cookies.

2. Branson, Missouri
Branson draws tourists near and far for its annual Branson Area Festival of Lights. Considered the live entertainment capital of the world, over a hundred of the town’s shows offer holiday productions. The Lights Drive-Through is a mile-long path illuminated with more than 175 displays. The Annual Adoration Parade down historic downtown Branson features more than 50 bands and floats and cowboys herding cattle decked in holiday finery. The fountain at Winter Wonder Landing at the waterfront shoots fire and water as visitors shop, dine and take in millions of Christmas lights. For a more intimate experience, snuggle with your sweetie on a horse-drawn carriage through the Ozark Mountain hills.

Don’t miss:
Theme park Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas celebrates the season right with over five million dazzling lights, a thousand decorated trees, a holiday light parade, two Broadway-style productions and a five-Story Christmas tree.

Christmas at the New York Stock Exchange. Photo courtesy Michael Daddino via Flickr.

Christmas at the New York Stock Exchange. Photo courtesy Michael Daddino via Flickr.

3 .New York City, New York
Christmas in New York is on many a bucket list and it’s easy to see why. From the Radio City Christmas Spectacular to The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, from ice skating at Bryant Park’s Winter Village to shopping along Fifth Avenue, there is much to do throughout the city. No trip is complete without a photo in front of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Thirsty? Try the hot chocolate at Max Brenner in Union Square.

Don’t miss:
FAO Schwartz is the oldest and largest toy store in New York. Each morning, toy soldiers play a fanfare and a red carpet is rolled out to welcome shoppers. They’ll even give private tours before the store opens.

Salt Lake Temple. Image courtesy Zechariah Judy via Flickr.

Salt Lake Temple. Image courtesy Zechariah Judy via Flickr.

4. Salt Lake City, Utah
There are countless places to ski across the country, and the slopes around Salt Lake City are among the best. There are eight resorts all within an hour’s drive of Salt Lake, including Park City, Deer Valley, Canyons Resort, and Alta. Each has its own vibe, so pick one that fits your skiing style. Don’t ski? You can always enjoy the snowcapped mountains, gorgeous scenery, and cozy lodges.

Don’t miss:
Celebrate the holidays at the Salt Lake Festival of Lights, a celebration of events and activities throughout the city. Colorful Christmas lights, musical performances, and a three-day, family-friendly New Year’s Eve party make this a not-to-be-missed event.

Washington DC's National Christmas Tree. Image courtesy JulieLG via Flickr.

Washington DC’s National Christmas Tree. Image courtesy JulieLG via Flickr.

5. Washington, DC
Each year, the National Christmas Tree is placed on the Ellipse, a grassy area south of the White House. The tree is lit during a special concert and remains a symbol of peace throughout the season. The Pathway of Peace, 56 smaller decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia, surrounds the National Christmas Tree. Volunteer musical ensembles and choirs perform nightly. If you’ve been good this year, visit Santa’s Workshop.

Don’t miss: Washington Harbour Ice Rink is larger than New York City’s Rockefeller Center rink which means plenty of skating fun. Georgetown’s idyllic fountain is transformed into a sheet of ice that especially shines at night when twinkling white snowflakes light up and the rink is bathed in light. It’s even open Christmas Day.

Are you planning on traveling this holiday season? What Christmas destinations did we miss?

Pick 5 | Holiday Shopping Destinations

Magnificent Mile, Chicago. Photo courtesy Flickr user Lindsey Turner.

Magnificent Mile, Chicago. Photo courtesy Lindsey Turner via Flickr.

Thanksgiving is almost here! That means Christmas is just a month away. The shopping season is upon us. These shopping destinations come alive at the holidays but are a great place to visit any time of year.

Magnificent Mile | Chicago, IL
Chicago’s most famous thoroughfare is a shopper’s dream. From Crate & Barrel’s four-story flagship store to Water Tower Place and its eight-level atrium to luxury retailers such as Chanel, Kate Spade, Stuart Weitzman, Prada, Burberry and Louis Vuitton, there is something for everyone. Set against the backdrop of one of the most beautiful skylines in the world, the Magnificent Mile is a magical place to visit at the holidays.

Bonus: On the south side of the Chicago River stands one of the world’s largest department stores. Opened in 1907 as Marshall Field & Company, the store now operates as Macy’s. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features the largest Tiffany glass mosaic dome in the country. During the holidays, store windows are lavishly decorated in the old-fashioned tradition and shoppers enjoy lunch under the large Christmas tree in the historic Walnut Room.

Mall of America. Image courtesy Michael Ocampo via Flickr.

Mall of America. Image courtesy Michael Ocampo via Flickr.

Mall of America | Bloomington, MN
America’s largest shopping mall welcomes 40 million visitors every year and is so big it could hold seven Yankee Stadiums. Mall of America will open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday so get to bed early the night before!

Bonus: If the mall’s 550+ stores aren’t enough to keep you occupied, take your kids to Nickelodeon Universe®, seven acres of unique attractions and entertainment, or American Girl, featuring character shopping, dining and a doll hair salon. There’s also a movie theater and aquarium.

Frankenmuth. Image courtesy Amanda M via Flickr.

Frankenmuth. Image courtesy Amanda M via Flickr.

Frankenmuth, MI
The German-settled village of Frankenmuth welcomes more than three million visitors a year. Frankenmuth’s quaint architecture, fun festivals and unique shopping like Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, which claims to be the largest Christmas-themed store in the world, make it an ideal holiday shopping destination.

Bonus: Enjoy a meal at Zehnder’s, a destination in its own right, that features all-you-can-eat chicken dinners and fresh baked goods. The restaurant first opened in the 1950s and is one of the largest in the country.

Holidays in New York. Image courtesy Adnan Islam via Flickr.

Holidays in New York. Image courtesy Adnan Islam via Flickr.

Fifth Avenue | New York, NY
Shop, eat, shop, sleep, repeat. You could spend days walking up and down New York’s famed Fifth Avenue and never run out of retailers and boutiques to visit. From department stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel to the original Tiffany & Co., from luxury brands like Harry Winston and Prada to Apple’s flagship store, Fifth Avenue is the ultimate shopping destination.

Bonus: Head west to Times Square and the new 110,000 square-foot Toys ‘R’ Us. Inside this emporium of toys is a life-size dollhouse and 60-foot-tall indoor Ferris wheel.

Leavenworth, Washington. Image courtesy Visit Leavenworth WA on Facebook.

Leavenworth, Washington. Image courtesy Visit Leavenworth WA on Facebook.

Leavenworth, WA
This picturesque small town nestled in the Cascade Mountains is about two hours from Seattle. Leavenworth has been called the ultimate holiday destination because of its snow-capped mountainous terrain, Bavarian-style architecture, and beautiful, sunny winter weather. The holidays bring carolers, sleigh rides, twinkling lights and unique shopping at their annual Christkindlmarkt.

Bonus: Leavenworth’s Nutcracker Museum displays over 6,000 specimens of nutcrackers from Roman times to present day. Fun fact – the museum’s owner was Conan O’Brien’s first guest when his late-night show Conan debuted on TBS in 2010.

Do you enjoy shopping when you travel? What amazing shopping destinations did we miss?

Pick 5 | Hot Dogs Across America

Superdawg

Chicago’s Superdawg. Photo courtesy Flickr user LongitudeLatitude.

America is big. Its flavors are diverse. Why, even the quintessential American treat, the hot dog, is affected by geography. Regions are defined by their cuisine, as evidenced by their choice of hot dog toppings. Covered in chili? Detroit is for you! Adorned with onions? Head to New York! Here’s a look at what sets these hot dog destinations apart:

Chicago
Chicago-style hot dogs date back to the Great Depression and whether you prefer Vienna Beef or Red Hot Chicago franks, the toppings don’t change. Hot dogs are topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt on a poppy seed bun.

Try it: Superdawg | Chicago, IL
Superdawg’s iconic neon hot dogs, Maurie and Flaurie (named after the original owners, whose family runs it to this day), have stood atop the restaurant since it first opened in 1948. Order a Superdawg or Whoopskidawg (Polish sausage) and have it delivered to your window carhop-style.

Lafayette Coney Island coney dogs. Photo courtesy Flickr user Michael Sheehan.

Lafayette Coney Island coney dogs. Photo courtesy Flickr user Michael Sheehan.

Detroit
Coney Islands are restaurants that specialize in serving Coney Island hot dogs. These beef hot dogs, which originated in Michigan, not New York, are topped with all-meat, no-beans chili, diced onion and yellow mustard. But don’t confuse them with chili dogs – the onion and mustard sets these Detroit dogs apart.

Try it: American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island | Detroit, MI
American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island are located right next door to each other and have been competing for customers for almost a century! Most are loyal to one or the other; both are delicious.

Brandi's World Famous Hot Dogs. Photo courtesy AJC.

Brandi’s World Famous Hot Dogs. Photo courtesy AJC.

Atlanta
Coleslaw is a popular topping for hot dogs throughout the state of Georgia. Whether you prefer just the slaw or a hot dog combination of chili topped with slaw, it’s a unique flavor not readily found in other parts of the country.

Try it: Brandi’s World Famous Hot Dogs | Marietta, GA
Though it underwent a name change a decade ago, this hot dog spot has been satisfying locals for over 30 years. Brandi’s slaw dog is topped with their signature chili, mustard, onions and, of course, coleslaw.

Katz's Delicatessen. Image courtesy Flickr user Shinya Suzuki.

Katz’s Delicatessen. Image courtesy Flickr user Shinya Suzuki.

New York
New Yorkers love hot dogs and there are countless places to get them. There are also many ways to serve them up; one of the most popular is with mustard, sauerkraut and stewed onions (sweet onions in a tomato-based sauce).

Try it: Katz’s Delicatessen | New York, NY
Katz’s was founded in 1888 in New York’s Lower East Side. They specialize in pastrami, corned beef and natural casing all-beef hot dogs covered in chili or sauerkraut. The deli has been featured in countless movies, including When Harry Met Sally, when a Katz’s patron told her waiter, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Sonoran hot dog. Image courtesy Flickr user Kate Hopkins.

Sonoran hot dog. Image courtesy Flickr user Kate Hopkins.

Arizona
Sonoran-style hot dogs found in Tucson and Phoenix actually originated in the State of Sonora in northwest Mexico. Hot dogs are wrapped in bacon and cooked on a comal, a cast iron griddle often used to prepare tortillas. They are topped with any combination of beans, onions (both fresh AND grilled), tomatoes, mayonnaise, salsa and mustard, and are usually served in a bolillo, a Mexican-style baguette baked in a stone oven.

Try it: BK Carne Asada | Tucson, AZ
BK Carne Asada has been serving up Sonoran-style hot dogs for twenty years. BK beat out neighboring El Güero Canelo for best Sonoran hot dog on Travel Channel’s Food Wars. While the majority of the menu items are cooked inside the restaurant in an actual kitchen, hot dogs are prepared at an outdoor food cart on their patio, a nod to the restaurant’s former incarnation as a humble taco stand.

Whatever your preference, one thing most of us agree on, is that ketchup does not belong on a hot dog. What are your favorite destinations and restaurants for hot dogs? What did we miss?

ketchup!A former Chicagoan, Jenny secretly, shamefully eats her hot dogs with just one condiment: ketchup.

Thankful for Travel | 5 Thanksgiving-Inspired Destinations

Paddington Bear floats down Chicago's State Street. Image courtesy Chicago Festival Association.

Paddington Bear floats down Chicago’s State Street. Image courtesy Chicago Festival Association.

Thanksgiving is synonymous with travel. Whether you’re heading home to visit your parents or extended family is coming your way to spend the holiday with you, someone you know will be driving or flying to spend time with loved ones. If your family is considering starting a new holiday tradition by going on vacation together, check out these Thanksgiving-inspired destinations.

1. Parades
Everyone loves a parade! The 87th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® features more than 8,000 balloons and floats against a backdrop of more than 3.5 million spectators and 50 million viewers nationwide. The parade’s giant balloons, floats of fantasy, performers and Santa Claus himself mark the official start of the holiday season. If you want to head to the Midwest, check out Chicago’s McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade. You and 425,000 of your closest friends could be on-hand as the parade marches down historic State Street in the heart of the city. Also in the Midwest, the 2013 America’s Thanksgiving Parade® in Detroit is one of the country’s oldest and most celebrated parades. Broadcast to more than 140 cities nationwide, the parade features 60 balloons and floats, award-winning marching bands, 500 clowns, specialty acts, celebrities, and the Distinguished Clown Corps celebrating its 30th year in 2013.

Jamestown Settlement. Image courtesy Flickr user Jeremy Mikkola.

Jamestown Settlement. Image courtesy Flickr user Jeremy Mikkola.

2. Jamestown Settlement
America’s first permanent English colony, founded in 1607 – 13 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts – comes to life through film, gallery exhibits and outdoor living history at Jamestown Settlement. Though it was not officially called Thanksgiving, the first documented harvest-related feasts were held by Spaniards in the area in the 16th century. Colonists adopted the tradition as early as 1607. Visit Jamestown and you’ll find replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to Virginia, life-size re-creations of the colonists’ fort, and a Powhatan village.

Berkeley Plantation. Image courtesy Flickr user lori05871.

Image courtesy Flickr user lori05871.

3. America’s First Official Thanksgiving
Berkeley Plantation, located in Charles City, Virginia, on the banks of the James River, is the ancestral home of two American presidents. William Henry Harrison and his grandson Benjamin Harrison were both born and raised at Berkeley Plantation. Yet years before the home was even built, a group of English settlers arrived to the area, then called Berkeley Hundred, and celebrated their arrival as a “day of thanksgiving” in 1619. Today visitors to Berkeley Plantation can tour the Georgian estate, said to be the oldest three-story brick home in Virginia.

Plymouth Rock. Image courtesy Flickr user Victor Solanoy.

Plymouth Rock. Image courtesy Flickr user Victor Solanoy.

4. Plymouth Rock
Nearly one million people a year come from all over the world to visit Plymouth Rock – the rock itself and the town where in 1620 Europeans first made a home in New England – 40 miles south of Boston. The rock is housed in a Classical Revival structure designed by architects McKim, Mead and White in 1921 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing at Plymouth. A landscaped waterfront park provides scenic views of Plymouth Harbor where The Mayflower II, a replica of the ship that brought the first Pilgrims to Massachusetts, is anchored. From re-creations of historic villages to architectural lectures to lantern ghost tours, Plymouth immerses guests in the past any time of the year, and even more so at Thanksgiving.

Wisconsin cranberry festival. Image courtesy Flickr user Rochelle Hartman.

Wisconsin cranberry festival. Image courtesy Flickr user Rochelle Hartman.

5. Cranberry Highway
Do you know which state is the largest producer of cranberries? It’s Wisconsin! The state’s 50-mile Cranberry Highway will take you from Glacial Lake Cranberries, a 140-year old sustainable cranberry marsh in Wisconsin Rapids that offers tours each Fall, to Burnstad’s Market in Tomah, for cranberry crunch pie, cream cheese and cranberry filling in a homemade pie shell, baked and then topped with cranberry crunch topping. Along the way, stop at the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center and Museum in Warrens, featuring interactive information on the cranberry industry and history of Wisconsin’s number one fruit crop.

What are your travel plans this holiday season? Leave us a comment!