Traveler Blog

Hilton Opened Its First Millennial-Inspired Hotel Brand

Hilton's newest line of hotels is affordable and might look different to Boomers.
The lobby of Tru by Hilton
Tru aims to be affordable and have more millennial-inspired amenities like large gathering spaces for co-working and networking. (Courtesy Tru by Hilton)

Hilton and its competitors are racing to entice Millennial travelers who would otherwise forgo hotel stays altogether.

The company opened Tru by Hilton Oklahoma City Airport and is expected to open several hundred more of the Millennial-branded hotels. Specifically designed to attract millennials, Tru has amenities like larger communal spaces and mid-century modern decòr alongside digital check in and rates around $100 a night. 

Loading up on the tech, Tru also promises speedy Wi-Fi, remote printing, a social media wall, supercharging stations and—of course—outlets seemingly everywhere for all those devices.

The colorful lobby is a relaxed gathering space for working, playing games or snacking. In turn, the compact rooms are more efficiently designed with oversized windows, open closets and no extra room for desks and bulky furniture. 

The first meal of the day is free at the breakfast bar but if patrons get hungry later there are gourmet snacks, craft beer and wine in stock at the hotel's market. 

Tru Hilton hotel room

The Paris Pop-Up Parks to Visit This Summer

The French capital is opening more overnight parks in an effort to get people outside.
People in a park
Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is one of the featured parks that will remain open overnight until September 3, 2017. (©Roberto Maldeno/Flickr, Creative Commons)

From early morning runs to romantic midnight strolls, parks are the place to be this summer in Paris.

In the summer of 2016, nine parks were temporarily added to the list of 137 parks that stay open overnight. City officials went even further for 2017, opening 16 more 24/7 parks until September. The move accommodates the masses in Paris, whether it's those traveling to the city or locals staying home for the summer.

One of the highlighted parks is Parc des Buttes-Chaumont in the 19th arrondissement, one of the city's largest and most recently renovated. The 61-acre green space is a local favorite known for its waterfalls, caves, suspended bridge, artificial lake and stunning views.

There is also Park Kellerman—in the 13th arrondissement—with playgrounds, sports fields and running trails and Parc Montsouris—in the 14th arrondissement—with 1,400 trees, sculptures and a lake.

Park in Paris

This Austrian Building Is the World's Largest Rubik's Cube

At Ars Electronica, tripping the light fantastic is a common occurence.
Ars Electonica building in Austria
A man manipulates the light patterns on Ars Electronica's façade.

Seems the 40-year-old Rubik's Cube is still one of the world's most popular toys. 

After players have mastered the 3x3 handheld cube, they're moving onto bigger and better things: namely the Ars Electronica building in Linz, Austria, where the façade can be manipulated into a larger-than-life version. 

Through smart technology, the building's software can calculate where each color will show up on the cube. It's no wonder Pixar holds an annual competition here. 

Images Courtesy Ars Electronica

An Insider's Guide to Annapolis, Maryland

We found naval history, cool restaurants and hip shops less than an hour's drive from the capital.
Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis, Maryland (©Smallbones/Wikimedia Commons)

The man ahead of us on the brick sidewalk in downtown Annapolis sports a tricorn hat and knee breeches that scream early 1800s, not early 2000s. He’s a walking-tour guide, not a time traveler, an apt reminder of the long and colorful history of this small city by the Chesapeake Bay, about 30 miles east of Washington, D.C.

The cornerstone for the domed State House building—open daily for tours—was laid in this Maryland capital city in 1772. The narrow streets radiating off it are lined with 18th- and 19th-century row houses, steepled churches and grand Georgian mansions, like the William Paca House & Garden.

William Paca House

On a recent morning, my husband, Cal and I began a day trip to this charmingly throwback waterfront town at Paca’s 1760s residence. One of four Maryland signers of the Declaration of Independence, Paca lived here in stately, brightly painted rooms and enjoyed a boxwood-filled garden. It seems easy to imagine Maryland’s third governor wandering over to the nearby State House or walking down to the bustling port, just two blocks south.

We follow in Paca’s footsteps after our visit to his home, trying to plug into more colonial history via a Four Centuries Walking Tour. Susan Brannigan, a lawyer and friend who lives here, loves taking guests on these jaunts, which—no surprise—are led by history buffs in either mob caps and gowns or tricorns and knee pants like the dude we encountered earlier.

“Annapolis is such a small, walkable town, so you learn a lot in an hour and a half,” she said.

Our ye olde-garbed guide fills us in on history—George Washington resigned his army commission at the State House in 1783—and a few ghosts before leading us over to the U.S. Naval Academy.

U.S. Naval Academy Mahan Hall

Founded in 1845, the 300-plus acre campus on the water holds both massive French-style granite dorms, impressive sporting fields and a museum stuffed with swords, medals and dozens of ship models, including some carved from animal bones. The highlight of our walk proves to be the U.S. Naval Chapel, a domed, light-filled 19th-century edifice with a crypt holding the remains of Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones in a marble sarcophagus embellished with faux barnacles.

John Paul Jones' sarcophagus

The academy itself also leads guided walking tours that are peppered with more in-depth peeks at the lives of the midshipmen or “middies,” aka the 4,000-plus men and women who attend college here. We learn they’re up at 6:30 am, have to commit to several hours of sports a day and must submit to frequent weigh-ins. Cal and I admire them—and spot a bunch of the white-uniformed students around campus—but fear we’re unqualified to go here.

U.S. Naval Academy class of 2011 graduates

Annapolis is also a boating and sailing center—just look at all those boats with names like Mofongo, Sally’s Folly and Sea Dream parked in the harbors. Options for getting out on the bay include kayaks and stand-up paddle boards for rent with Annapolis Canoe & Kayak and electric boats for hire via Annapolis Electric Boat Rentals.

“You get a new perspective on the city from the water,” said Electric Boat owner Greg Horne. “You see geese, ducks and Great Blue Heron and just make people on the shoreline wish they were with you.”

We decide to come back and pilot one of his 10-person boats later, but book a sunset cruise for the end of the day on the Schooner Woodwind.

Annapolis Electric Boat Rentals

Our boat trip doesn’t set sail for several hours, and Cal and I are starving. At the beachy-cool Harvest Wood Grill + Tap, we tuck into fried oysters and local beers, including the hoppy, fizzy Flying Dog Bloodline. It’s fuel for a bit of shopping at the quirky boutiques of Main Street and around the City Dock.

We browse locally designed, colorful leather handbags at Hobo, visit Re-Sails for pouches and totes made from recycled boat sails and check out used-tome dealer Back Creek Books. In the dimly lit, library-like calm of the latter, we uncover vintage Naval Academy posters and a 1929 book on whaling ships.

Fried Harvest Pearl oysters

Hobo

Before our sail, Cal and I head to the bustling Pusser’s Caribbean Grille, where we sip potent Painkillers—rum, juices and cream of coconut—and soak in the sun and the views of boats on the rippling water.

“Do you think we could learn to sail?” Cal asks as a tall sloop idles by.

Schooner Woodwind

Maybe that’s for our next trip. But to close out this day, Cal and I board the 74-foot-long Woodwind and pretend that it’s ours and that the friendly sailors are our personal staff. With beers in our hands and wind in our hair, we glide forward into the Chesapeake as the tangerine sun dips into the blue.

“Some nights they have races, and it’s always cool to help raise the sails,” Susan had told us earlier. “I go on the Woodwind so often I think they know my name!”

Soon, they might learn mine, too.

Zip Across a London Park This Summer

Enjoy great views while ziplining above the city.
The River Thames, Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament
The River Thames, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are among the sights while riding the zip line. (©Simon Mason/Unsplash.com)

Thrill seekers or people wanting to get a quick look at some of London's most iconic sights will be heading to Archbishop's Park this summer.

Adventurers will start their journey across London's Southbank on one of two active zip wires at 115 feet up. Zooming at speeds up to 30 miles-per-hour, the 740 feet traveled includes views of the River Thames, Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, among others.

The attraction joins other out-of-the-norm ways to see London like Up at the O2 and the ArcelorMittal Orbit.

Zip World London launched July 12 and will remain open until Oct. 1, according to Zip World's website. 

Zip World London

The ride is open seven days a week from 10 am to 7 pm with rides scheduled every half hour. A general admission ticket costs $29 (£22.50) for those 16 and older, students are $24 (£18.50) and children 8 to 15 are $21.50 (£16.50).

Booking is done online and slots are filling up fast. Check the website for availability. 

Seniors' Lifetime National Parks Passes Are About to Quadruple in Price

Those older than 62 have until August 28 to get the lifetime pass for $10.
Buck Canyon Overlook in Canyonlands National Park
Sunset over Buck Canyon Overlook in the Canyonlands National Park (©Ian D. Keating/Flickr, Creative Commons)

A low-cost, lifetime pass for seniors is about to quadruple in price.

The "America the Beautiful" pass—the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands senior pass—jumps from $10 to $80 on August 28, 2017 as a result of legislation passed in 2016, requiring the senior lifetime pass to equal the cost of the annual "America the Beautiful" pass.

The increase is the first since the $10 charge was originally applied to seniors in 1994.

The passes come with benefits outside the U.S. National Park Service, allowing access to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Corps of Engineers areas. 

Passes for $10 may be purchased at specific federal recreation sites or for $20 by mail, postmarked before August 27, or online. Applications sent in via mail or web will take at least nine weeks to process.

For those too young to take advantage of the $10 lifetime pass, starting August 28 seniors will have the chance to purchase $20 annual passes.