10 Clever Tips for Organizing a Stress-Free, Last-Minute Vacation

For the carefree and impetuous, last-minute vacations are a fantastic opportunity to live for the moment and save some cash. However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to have a plan of action well in advance, the mad rush for cheap flights and accommodation has the potential to be stressful. Next time you’re considering booking a last-minute vacation, keep in mind these top tips to prevent your dream of a low-cost getaway turning into a nightmare.

  1. Choose a Vacation Rental

    While hotel rates tend to remain quite stable, except for busy periods, last-minute vacation rentals usually offer more opportunities to negotiate better value. The prices drop around September and, if you avoid peak times, you have the best chance of a good deal.

  2. Don’t Waste Time

    It may be called a last-minute vacation, but that doesn’t mean you literally have to wait for the last minute. As soon as you start getting itchy feet, fire up your computer and start looking for deals. Even one extra day of planning may be enough to prevent stress.

    Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
  3. Go Off-Peak

    Avoiding the busiest times is the best way to get good deals. Traveling midweek means you avoid crowds and get the best prices. For the best value, plan your getaway to include a Saturday night stay.

  4. Get Value on Flights

    Getting the best value on flights gets your vacation off to a good start. Airlines often discount tickets on Sundays and Tuesdays for flights that week, so be prepared to move quickly. Furthermore, you may find it’s possible to get a better price by booking two one-way tickets rather than a return ticket.

  5. Go for a Cruise

    If the thought of battling for a cheap flight gives you cold sweats, consider a cruise instead. Such excursions are usually available cheap during March and August while prices soar during the summer and late-year holidays. Just keep in mind that onboard activities may incur additional charges.

    Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock
  6. Get Notifications

    Travel websites and airlines usually offer a subscription service so that you get weekly email blasts with the latest last-minute discounts. There are also several apps available that scour vendors in search of the best deals and cancellations.

    Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
  7. Stay Grounded

    If you’re considering a short-haul journey, going by train is often more cost-effective, and there’s usually less competition for seats.

  8. Forget Renting a Car

    A last-minute car rental has the potential to bump up the cost of your trip. Stick to public transport and taxi services where possible. You’re on vacation anyway, so let someone else do the driving.

    View Apart/Shutterstock
  9. Join the Club

    Members of online travel sites enjoy additional benefits, including discounts on last-minute travel. Bonuses can include seat upgrades, free travel and reduced costs with company partners.

    India Picture/Shutterstock
  10. Stay Flexible with your vacation plans

    Grabbing a last-minute vacation deal means staying on your toes and, sometimes, making compromises. If you stay too set in your schedule or aren’t prepared to rearrange some plans to go a day earlier or later than you wanted to, you may end up going nowhere fast.

Best Vacations in the U.S. – An Infographic

Whether you’re looking to blaze a trail above 6,000 feet on your own or packing the kids into the car to hunt for a family-friendly destination, there’s a trip that’s perfect for you. And to help make your decision as easy and stress-free as possible, we surveyed over 1,000 people to uncover the best destinations for all different types of trips and travelers.

Here are the results:


Now let’s dive into some of these responses:


While most think of Denver first when it comes to microbreweries and local brews like Coors, the mile-high city came in as runner up, with Portland, Oregon taking the top spot. Portland can keep beer lovers busy for days, but it also has dozens of festivals, outdoor adventures and delicious food to make for a well-rounded vacation.

Solo trips have started to gain popularity, but many eager travelers don’t know where to start. Our survey findings uncovered that Boulder, Colorado is the perfect place to get your feet wet when it comes to being a lone wolf. With frequently traveled hiking travels and friendly locals, it will push you out of your comfort zone while ensuring you feel safe as you explore the sights from Pearl Street to the Flatirons.

For those aiming to plan their trips around the seasons, we found great spots to add to your 2019 list. For the best fall colors, check out winning destination, Bar Harbor Maine, or runner up Catskills, NY. For the best winter destinations and places for non-skiers and powder pros alike, our travelers chose Vail, Colorado, Anchorage, Alaska, Aspen, Colorado and Jackson Hole, Wyoming as their top picks.

Beach bum season is almost here, and survey says Hilton Head, South Carolina and St. Augustine, Florida are the top places to relax in the sand and check out all the towns have to offer. Want to add other places to your summer travel bucket list? If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, we’ve uncovered both a west coast and east coast option for you – San Diego, California and Cape Cod, Massachusetts made the top of the list, offering fun activities for both families and couples.

Now after all of this, you might still be wondering…

“Which state has the best vacations?”


No matter what activities, hobbies, food or drink you prefer, there are destinations across the U.S. that are a great fit for your travel. Don’t forget – there’s always a perfect, nearby vacation rental waiting for you, too!

So whether you are traveling for foods, or weddings, or sights, VacationRenter found the best places you should book this year.


10 Family-Friendly Fort Lauderdale Tourist Attractions to Check Out

From the glamorous mansions of Millionaire’s Row to the natural wetlands of the Everglades, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, offers something for every vacationer. Here, you can explore natural habitats, attend world-class cultural events and hang out at the beach all on the same trip. When selecting a vacation rental in South Florida, look for one conveniently located to one of these top Fort Lauderdale tourist attractions.

  1. Butterfly World
  2. At Butterfly World, visitors get to see more than 20,000 species of butterflies from around the world. Here, the kids can feed lorikeets, check out the museum and have some fun in the Bug Zoo. The center also features waterfalls and botanical gardens where the entire family can relax.

  3. EZride Surf School
  4. The waves off the coast of Fort Lauderdale may be too small for serious surfers, but they’re ideal for beginners. Sign up for surfing lessons at EZride Surf School where you can learn the basics or improve your technique. It offers lessons for people of all ages, so no one gets left out.

  5. Flamingo Gardens
  6. Flamingo Gardens is another natural beauty just outside the city. Take a narrated tram tour through the grounds, and learn about the different habitats, including a tropical rain forest, wetlands, hammock and jungle. The facility also offers special events during major holidays.

  7. Intracoastal Waterway Water Taxi
  8. The Intracoastal Waterway Water Taxi is one of the most fun ways to get around Fort Lauderdale’s hot spots like Las Olas Boulevard. It’s not just transportation, though. The narrated tour gives local insight into interesting sites along the water route.

  9. Jungle Queen Riverboat
  10. Dating back to 1935, the Jungle Queen Riverboat is a Fort Lauderdale landmark attraction. Each cruise includes a fully narrated tour along the city’s canals and impressive views of the surrounding landscape. Dinner or concession snacks are available.

  11. Las Olas Gondola Tour
  12. No trip to the “Venice of America” is complete without a gondola tour of the city. You can bring your own food and drinks to enjoy on your ride as you sit back and listen to the gondolier tell tales or play music.

  13. Museum of Discovery and Science
  14. The Museum of Discovery and Science is one of the most popular things to do in Fort Lauderdale. Permanent exhibits include a hurricane simulator, Keva planks play area, prehistoric fossils and a cockpit simulator. There’s something here for the entire family.

  15. Sawgrass Recreation Park
  16. At Sawgrass Recreation Park, you get a glimpse of natural Florida. Take a guided airboat tour through the Everglades, or sign up for a Pirate Tour, which takes you deeper into the River of Grass. Check out the animal exhibits with alligators, snakes, Florida panthers and other native creatures. It’s entertaining and educational.

  17. Wilton Creamery
  18. Wilton Creamery is a Fort Lauderdale staple located in the Wilton Manors neighborhood. Bring the whole clan to try the small batch ice cream they serve each day. The custom flavors rotate, so you never know quite what to expect, but it’s always a treat.

  19. Young At Art Museum
  20. You won’t spend a day at The Young At Art Museum in Davie just looking at paintings. This museum offers interactive exhibits for everyone in the family. You can create your own self-portrait, ride on a subway simulator and create custom works of art out of recycled materials.

20 Most Captivating Weekend Getaways: East Coast

It’s nice to have a break from your home city during long holidays and visit a new place that you’ve never seen before. It’s good for your soul and an ideal way to broaden your perspective on life. It’s also refreshing to get away just for a few days to revitalize and renew. For the best weekend getaways on the East Coast, these places will definitely captivate your heart, and you may never want to leave.

  1. Upstate New York: The best time to visit is during autumn when the streets turn into vibrant colors of red, orange and yellow. Rent a cabin and visit the nearby waterfalls.
  2. Key West, Florida: It’s known for luxury resorts and exciting nightlife, adventure seekers are going to miss a lot if they don’t visit Key West. Hop on a personal watercraft, and explore the pristine oceans of Florida.
  3. Savannah, Georgia: Aside from being historical, Savannah is also known for its charming appeal. Some people say it has a “haunted” vibe, which makes it more attractive and unique. There are a lot of cute coffee shops and stores in the city, so you’ll never get bored.
  4. Annapolis, Maryland: Shop for handcrafted shoes, and walk along neighborhood streets to view beautifully painted homes. Don’t forget to bring your camera as there are many photo-worthy spots in the city.
  5. Fort Lauderdale, Florida: The wonderful surroundings will inspire you to relax and take in the sun.
  6. Acadia National Park, Maine: This is a great option for hiking and walking enthusiasts. Watch stunning sunsets, and then stargaze at night.
  7. Salem, Massachusetts: This weekend spot is ideal if you have a penchant for witches and dark history. The best month to visit is October.
  8. Boston, Massachusetts: Visit Harvard University, which is among the most prestigious academic institutions in the United States.
  9. White Mountains, New Hampshire: Nature lovers can go horseback riding and kayaking.
  10. portland-maine-light-house

  11. Portland, Maine: The waterfront scenery of Portland will definitely capture your heart. The city’s architecture is traditional so that you feel like you traveled back in time.
  12. Miami, Florida: The sunny weather and vibrant vibe make Miami a must-visit location. Experience world-class restaurants and luxury shops during your stay.
  13. Washington, DC: Take a selfie at some of the most iconic landmarks in the world like the US Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial.
  14. Baltimore, Maryland: Known as one of the most charming cities in the US, you can’t visit Baltimore without trying the best crab cakes in the world.
  15. Roanoke, Virginia: The Blue Ridge Mountains look magical during summer and are an ideal spot for a hiking trail adventure.
  16. New York City, New York: Your East Coast vacations are not complete without visiting New York City. A simple afternoon picnic at Central Park will let you absorb the Big Apple’s high vibe and energy.
  17. Stowe, Vermont: Visit in winter and go skiing, or visit in fall and go hiking. Each season has a different outdoor activity to offer, so feel free to visit any month of the year.
  18. Cape Cod, Massachusetts: The stunning sunsets will make you want to stay for life. Visit restaurants, and go on a unique shopping experience.
  19. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: Never seen or tried riding in a steam train yet? This is your chance to do so. You can also experience Amish country first-hand.
  20. Bethany Beach, Delaware: Rent a home for the weekend, and live like a local. Bethany Beach has an amazing coastline and a charming atmosphere.
  21. Charlottesville, Virginia: Mountain biking and hiking are the top activities to try. Stargaze at night while sipping wines.

Make it a commitment to yourself to take a break and see the sights now and then. It will help you grow as a person, and you just might meet amazing people. Whether it’s a two-week excursion or a few weekend getaways, East Coast vacations are the best way to see new places.

5 Tips for Snagging Cozy and Serene Topsail Island Rentals

Topsail Island is a 26-mile barrier island along the coast of North Carolina. It’s a popular vacation spot because it’s quiet and not filled with as many tourist attractions as other nearby beach towns. There are a few campgrounds and small hotels, but an excellent, home-away-from-home way to vacation in Topsail is to rent a house. Check out these top five tips for snagging a cozy spot on this little island paradise.

  1. Find Lodging Near the Topsail Pier


    Topsail Island is a favorite fishing spot. Whether you enjoy surf fishing, tossing a line off of the fishing pier or hiring a charter boat to head out into the open water, you’ll find tons of opportunities for fishing. A vacation rental near the Surf City Pier ensures that you’re close to all of the fishing action and can have easy access to your bait and tackle needs. The pier is 937 feet long, features two fish cleaning stations and even has a spot for you to grab a bite to eat. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so you can fish to your heart’s content while on vacation.

    Mason Haer/Shutterstock

  2. Look for Topsail Beach Rentals Within Walking Distance of Restaurants

    Bob Friedman/Shutterstock

    One of the best things about vacationing on Topsail Island is that it’s a small town without a ton of chain restaurants, supermarkets and big-box stores. In fact, there are only a handful of restaurants on the entire 26-mile island. From fresh seafood to barbecue to a slice of pizza, you’ll find a wide array of cuisine to excite your taste buds. Most of the restaurants are situated in Surf City. Opt for a vacation rental in this area so you can walk or bike to grab a bite to eat.


  3. Be Ready for the Sea Turtles

    Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

    May through August is sea turtle season. It’s the time of year when adult turtles trek up the shore to lay up to 150 eggs in a nest. They can nest anywhere on the coastline, so a beachfront rental is sure to give you a front-row seat to this interesting form of nature. As a visitor to the island, you can attend one of the Turtle Talks, sign up as a volunteer to look for tracks or watch nests and even witness the release of a rehabilitated sea turtle back into the Atlantic Ocean.

    Mark Carney/Shutterstock

  4. Find the Ideal Spot to Watch the Sunrise or Sunset

    Mark C. Morris/Shutterstock

    The location of Topsail Island means that you can catch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean each morning and the sunset over the Intracoastal Waterway. If you’re an early bird who’s up with the sun, then opt for a vacation rental along the ocean. If you prefer to watch the sun go down while enjoying a glass of wine and nice conversation, stick to the side of the island along the Intracoastal Waterway.

    Brandon Bishop/Shutterstock

  5. Stick Close to the Cities

    Are you interested in shopping or checking out the nightlife? While there are a few shops and bars scattered around the Topsail Island area, it’s mostly known for its quiet and serene atmosphere. If you’re looking for a bit more action, then you’re not too far away. Topsail Island is a long island with only a few places to access it by road. Choose a spot near Surf City for easy access to the bridge and highway to reach Wilmington, located about an hour south. Opt for a rental in North Topsail to reach Jacksonville, which is about a half an hour north.


Traveling and staying for the Kentucky Derby


Horse racing, racecourse, competition
Horse racing, racecourse, competition. Picture by annca on Pixabay.


Every year during the first weekend in May, derby enthusiasts flock to Churchill Downs, a stadium located in southern Louisville, Kentucky, to behold the majestic pastime of horse racing. The population swells by more than 150,000 for this popular spectator event in the Bluegrass State that has been proudly going strong since 1875, making it the longest running sporting event in U.S. history. Notably, rain, snow, and even world wars haven’t stopped the Derby from taking place, cementing its steadfastness. In addition to longevity, it is known for its “see and be seen” style that includes epic hats and ladies fashion, making the Derby an opportunity to look good while having tons of fun.

But the Derby is more than just a longstanding horse race that brings a significant crowd sporting fancy fashion and sipping mint juleps. The town of Louisville prides itself on having plenty of its own traditions and culture for its guests whether they are eating, drinking, or doing a little sightseeing. Suffice it to say; the Derby is also an excellent opportunity for guests to partake of what the town and community have to offer from soup to nuts.


Mint juleps, mint, alcohol
Mint juleps, mint, alcohol. Picture by jnprice73 on Pixabay.



Where to stay
Lodging is always a huge priority, especially when where you stay hinges on several factors including traffic and weather. In the case of the Derby, and Louisville lodging, the proximity of where you stay and distance to the racetrack comes into play.  The location of your rental also needs to depend upon which races you plan to watch. Prior derby schedules have started the first race at around 10:30 AM, with up to 13 races per day and the actual Derby itself slotted for race #11 at around 6:25 PM. Similarly, depending on where you stay and when you expect to arrive, it’s important to note that the races will take place rain or shine. The location could make for some interesting dilemmas if you’ve spent the day partying in a downpour or sipping a few mint juleps in the sunshine only to find yourself on a long slog across town to your house rental for the derby to rest and relax.

Want to take the guesswork out of an affordable Kentucky Derby rental? Look no further.


Kentucky, usa, america
Kentucky, usa, america. Picture by USA-Reiseblogger on Pixabay.

What to do
If betting on races, people watching, and getting festive during your stay isn’t enough, you are in serious luck because Louisville has plenty of other activities. In addition to the racetrack, Churchill Downs has its museum which showcases the history and culture of the sport. Off-campus, baseball fans can take themselves to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, where the famously celebrated bat takes front row and center. There is also the Louisville Zoo, Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, and the Kentucky Science Center. And if you’re feeling that your trip to a southern town along a river wouldn’t be complete without a riverboat excursion, the Belle of Louisville is waiting for you.

How to get around
Each year, the city releases parking and traffic information ahead of the race days. Of course, there are taxis and car services, but if you intend to drive, plotting how you will get there and where you will park could involve a little bit of planning. One option could be to take a shuttle if the place where you are staying offers shuttle service. Another option, if you are not interested in risking the traffic and parking situations in Louisville, is always mass transit. The local bus takes roughly 30 minutes from the city center to the stadium. Schedules and other information can be found here.


Horse, rider, show
Horse, rider, show. Picture by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.

What to eat
Ready to get out of the stadium and try some other, more down-home cuisine? You’re in luck. There are several locally-sourced dishes you can try. In addition to fried chicken, for starters, there’s the Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich with a special sauce that is baked and topped with tomato and bacon. It’s been a local tradition since 1926 that you can only find at the nearby Brown Hotel. If a sandwich isn’t on your radar, there’s always Burgoo, a hearty stew made of beef, pork, chicken or mutton. Ready for dessert? Check out Derby Pie, a concoction of chocolate chips, walnuts or pecans, and Kentucky Bourbon baked in a pie crust.

Where to Shop
A trip to Louisville isn’t complete without stopping in to some of its swankiest shops, salons, and spas. For the Derby set, if you’re a lady who’s looking for a Derby hat, there are plenty of places to get your dome decorated. Similarly, anyone on the hunt for the perfect dress will find plenty of great options in town. But why should the ladies have all the fun? Louisville has also got the gentlemen covered with boutiques, resale, and vintage shops.

Where to Celebrate Cinco De Mayo

What’s not to love about Cinco de Mayo? Spring has (usually) sprung, ushering in pleasant weather that makes it the perfect excuse to be out and about and celebrating. Inspired by a battle in 1862 known as the Battle of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the turning point where General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated French forces. The battle itself is celebrated to this day in Puebla, and cities all across the US also get in on the action. Here are some great places to get your Cinco de Mayo fun and culture this spring.

New York, New York


When it comes to the “Big Apple” celebrants can take their pick with neighborhoods across the five boroughs hosting events. In Manhattan, 116th street hosts its Cinco de Mayo festival, a free event with live music, food, and folklore. Tequila enthusiasts are encouraged to check out the Tijuana Picnic on the Lower East Side, and over at the Hester Street Fair, there are food offerings including pork shoulder al pastor in addition to shopping for Mexican made wares such as handmade clothing and ceramics.

Chicago, Illinois


Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood rolls out an annual Cinco de Mayo festival with music, cultural displays, events for children, games and food booths.

Reno, Nevada


Over 100,000 visitors are expected to be on hand to enjoy Reno’s festival. In addition to music and food booths with festive food and drinks, Reno is known for putting on a show with dancing horses and its carnival rides.

San Antonio, Texas

Sean Pavone

Market Square, which was founded in the 1820s and continues to go strong in the present day, is the place to be on Cinco de Mayo. With over 100 shops to choose from, Market Square gives an impressive array of choices as part of its festival. Music, commemorations, food, and concerts are also part of the celebration.

Washington, DC.


The nation’s capital holds various events, including a running of the Chihuahuas, alongside festivals with arts, crafts, food, drinks, activities, and live music. There are several marathons in the area, and the Around the World Embassy Tour happens, with embassies across the globe opening their doors to the public.

San Francisco, California


The Mission neighborhood in San Francisco puts on an all-day block party and show in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Events include cultural entertainment and a pub crawl. The Lucha Libre wrestlers also hold a show, and interested attendees can take a tour of the nearby Mission Dolores.

San Diego, California

Songquan Deng

There are several festivals in the area as well as live entertainment, an auto showcase, and food and drink specials at venues around town.

Portland, Oregon


Tom McCall Waterfront hosts plenty of food and a carnival in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

Denver, Colorado


Denver’s two-day outdoor festival draws a crowd of 400,000 people who gather to partake of the Cinco de Mayo Celebrate Culture Festival. Fanfare includes live Mexican regional music, Spanish rock, Latin jazz, salsa, ranchero, Tex-Mex, and Chicano rock.

Minneapolis/St.Paul, Minnesota


The District del Sol, located on St. Paul’s west side, rolls out an all-ages celebration fit for a winning team. There is a separate events section for children who attend the festivities, while everyone can enjoy a parade, music, food, and a salsa tasting contest. There is also a wellness village for festival goers.

5 Unforgettable Weekend Getaways in Southern California

When most people think of weekend getaways in Southern California, big cities like Los Angeles and San Diego tend to be the first places to come to mind. From the desert to the mountains, there is much more to see and do, whether you’re planning a solo trip, a weekend or romance or a fun vacation for the entire family.

  1. Idyllwild, a Gorgeous Mountain City

    Located about two hours southeast of Los Angeles, Idyllwild is a small, peaceful mountain town where you can truly spend a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of life. It sits in the heart of the beautiful San Jacinto Mountains, offers up fresh air and little traffic and the town itself is packed with charm and adventure.

    Laurens Hoddenbagh/Shutterstock

    Things to Do in Idyllwild

    Outdoor adventures are plentiful, including mountain biking, rock climbing and hikes for all ability and interest levels. Enjoy a meal at a quaint cafe, or check out the eclectic mix of shops and boutiques.


  2. Santa Barbara, a Cool Coastal Town

    Known as the “American Riviera,” Santa Barbara is about two hours northwest of Los Angeles, right along the Pacific Ocean. Whether you’re the laid-back surfer type, you love to shop until you drop, your ideal weekend getaway is all about Wine Country, or you’re a foodie at heart, you’ll find it all here in this beautiful city where Old World California architecture meets the blue waters of the sea.

    Yasko Creative/Shutterstock

    Things to Do in Santa Barbara

    In Santa Barbara, you’ll find plenty of fine dining along with vineyards and wineries for tastings. Surf, swim or sunbathe at the beach, spend a day at the spa, or take a boat out for whale watching.

    Kristin Baalman/Shutterstock

  3. Ojai, a Peaceful and Pastoral Place

    Ojai, which has been called a “nouveau hippie utopia,” sits between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, just south of the Los Padres National Forest. Here you’ll find everything from farmland and ranches to art galleries and yoga studios, but you can always count on a peaceful way of life and plenty of friendly locals to welcome you into town.


    Things to Do in Ojai

    There’s always an event to attend, like the Ojai Valley Lavender Festival or Art in the Park, as well as shops, farm-to-table restaurants and local art to peruse. For the adventurer, try hiking or horseback riding across the most scenic places in Ojai, or go fishing or kayaking at Lake Casitas.

    L.A. Nature Graphics/Shutterstock

  4. Santa Catalina Island, a Unique Gem in the Ocean

    Santa Catalina should be on everyone’s bucket list of things to do in Southern California. Located about 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, you can get there by taking a ferry from Long Beach. Once you arrive, you’ll find a blend of beautiful scenery and towns that feel more like cities on the French Riviera than the California coast.


    Things to Do in Santa Catalina Island

    Choose from dozens of land and boat tours. Shop the boutiques, play golf, go camping and explore Santa Catalina on your own.

    Inga Locmele/Shutterstock

  5. Palm Springs, an Old-School Desert City

    Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, you’ll find it in the luxurious desert town of Palm Springs. About an hour and 45 minutes west of Los Angeles, warm weather throughout the year, a touch of old Hollywood and adventure await.


    Things to Do in Palm Springs

    Play a round of golf or tennis, visit an art gallery, or visit one of the world’s top spas. Soak up the culture, history and scenery with trips to places like The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, the Palm Springs Air Museum or Tahquitz Canyon.

Top 7 Places to Visit in Buffalo With Your Kids

The second-largest city in New York is packed with interesting attractions and activities for a memorable family vacation. Here are the seven most exciting places to visit in Buffalo with your kids.

  1. The Buffalo Zoo

    Kathleen Struckle/Shutterstock

    Step into the rain forest exhibit, and marvel at the cascading waterfall. Stare in awe at the Asian elephants and Siberian tigers living in habitats that closely match their original ones. The Buffalo Zoo offers exciting experiences for the entire family to enjoy.


    See a polar bear and white foxes in the popular Arctic Edge exhibit, and learn about local wildlife in the Delta Sonic Heritage Farm. Take advantage of family workshops and special events, such as Ferocious Fridays and Zooper Saturdays, and don’t forget about sleepovers with the animals for an unforgettable trip.

  2. Buffalo Museum of Science

    Kuttelvaserova Stuchelova/Shutterstock

    Among the many things to do with kids in Buffalo, NY, the Buffalo Museum of Science piques their curiosity and lets them explore science using interactive exhibits. Toddlers can play in the Explorations gallery while older kids revel at being able to create their own gravity wall at In Motion, study creepy crawlies at Bug Works and experience a wind chamber when they explore Our Marvelous Earth.

  3. Canalside

    Jon T. Powers/Shutterstock

    Soak up the atmosphere at Canalside. This incredible waterfront destination is buzzing with things to do on land and water. Rent kayaks or paddle boats to explore the City Ship Canal, or go on a cruise across the Buffalo River.

    Aleksei Potov/Shutterstock

    Back on land, be entertained at RiverWorks as you go rock climbing, skating and zip lining. After, enjoy a family meal in one of the many restaurants. When vacationing in winter, have fun skating or riding an ice bike in the massive rink.

  4. Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park

    lev radin/Shutterstock

    Located in Canalside, the biggest inland naval facility in the United States is a must. Take a fascinating tour of a World War II submarine, a guided missile cruiser and a destroyer. View galleries and artifacts in the museum, and see military vehicle models. Want to see even more? Outside, be in awe of the jets, military helicopters, patrol boat, armed personnel carrier and tank that are on display.

  5. Theater of Youth


    Have fun at the Theater of Youth where you’ll catch a live show that’ll delight you and your kids. Located in the historic Allendale Theatre, kids beam when their favorite characters come to life in front of their eyes, and you’ll appreciate chatting with the actors after the performance.

  6. Tifft Nature Preserve

    Michael J. Pesarchick/Shutterstock

    Explore the great outdoors as you head down the nature trails in the protected Tifft Nature Preserve. You’ll find trail maps at the Visitor Center, and be sure to take your binoculars with you to spot numerous bird species. If your kids can stay still for long enough, take advantage of the viewing blinds. Explore the diverse terrain that includes grassy fields, marshes, woodlands, ponds, thickets and swamps. Depending on the season you visit in, take a boat onto Lake Kirsty to do some fishing, go cross-country skiing or enjoy snowshoeing across the landscape.

  7. Albright-Knox Art Gallery

    Spiroview Inc/Shutterstock

    This extraordinary gallery has unique sculptures, such as the mind-boggling Mirrored Room, as well as tapestries, life art, sketches and paintings. It combines modern and contemporary art in its halls. Join in with interactive art activities, such as the mobile ArtCart, story time family workshops and art classes to immerse your kids in the world of art.

2019 Music Festival Travel Guide

Traveling for tunes this year? Whether you’re staying nearby or heading across the country, we’ve put together a 2019 Music Festival Travel Guide to help you get the most out of your trip. So extend your stay by a few days, soak up the music and explore all a city has to offer.
Here are the top 10 upcoming music festivals, ordered by date, with ideas for an extended itinerary:

JazzFest, April 26 – May 5, New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz. For 50 years, the city has hosted JazzFest as a tribute and a showcase to the past and future of music. And it’s hard to mention New Orleans without talking about the rounded, rich culture – its creole roots, the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, the Mississippi, and, of course, its unique landscape of food.


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When you leave the festival hungry, it’s hard to beat a po’ boy from Domilise’s followed by a beignet from historic Café Du Monde. Afterwards, to soak up the night life, head over to the noisy and nocturnal Bourbon Street sprawling with activity, lit by neon lights and watched over by balconies full of festive onlookers.
During the day, you can explore other areas of the French Quarter like the open-airFrench Market that plays host to shopping, dining and tons of local culture like live music, specialty art and handmade crafts. Or take a Steamboat cruise down the Mississippi for daytime jazz, authentic creole food and a glimpse at what the heck Mark Twain experienced that inspired the setting of Huckleberry Finn. ‘NOLA’ has rich traditions and culture, so make sure you schedule a few extra days on either side of JazzFest to take it in.

EDC Vegas, May 15-22, Las Vegas, NV

America’s playground has a nearly unlimited amount of entertainment options, including Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Vegas which hosts top names in the electronic dance music scene.


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While you’re in town, you can structure your trip in tons of different ways. Vegas is known for its extravagant hotels and casinos, so if you want to test your luck, head to The Venetian or the Bellagio for two of the world’s largest and most famous places to gamble. The Vegas skyline also hosts world-class shows like cirque du soleil with mind-bending gymnasts and artistically-built stages that play tribute to famous artists and bands like The Beatles and Michael Jackson.


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For traveling foodies, world-class restaurants find a home in Vegas like Lamaii and Manzo. Lamaii is located in Chinatown, where restaurant celebrity Bank Atcharawan blends together traditional Thai dishes with Thai street food to create wonderfully minimalistic plates that feature flowers and beautifully cut greens. Manzo can be found at the Park MGM and is led by Executive Chef Nicole Brisson, who has created a casual, rustic steakhouse like no other – one whose signature 40-ounce Ribeye is hung over flames for a slow 45 minutes. If you get sick of the dim-lit casinos, you can spend a day with dolphins at The Mirage or escape The Strip with a helicopter ride that gives you unparalleled views of the Vegas skyline and the Grand Canyon.

BottleRock, May 24-26, Napa Valley, CA

BottleRock began in 2013 with over 60 bands and 40 local wineries and this year finds its home at the Napa Valley Expo. The festival includes artists like Imagine Dragons, Logic, One Republic, and Sylvan Esso all followed by an impressive Indie Rock lineup worth travelling to see. BottleRock has become an annual staple for the Napa Valley area, attracting concert-goers and wine-lovers alike.


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While you might be heading here for the music, it’d be hard to imagine a trip to Napa without visiting a world-renown winery for a taste of famous vintage. Napa has over 400 wineries, each with a unique story and style, so it’s worth a bit of research to find the perfect fit. And while the big names may draw crowds, you can experience a unique side of Napa with a visit to Frog’s Leap Winery, started by John Williams – a former dairy farmer in New York – who fell in love with winemaking and opened his own winery in 1981. Known for making organic wine, it’s located on a farm which offers a classic country setting hard to find outside of a Norman Rockwell painting. Or head over to O’Brien Estate, where you can see the full process of planting to bottling in one location.


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And while wine steals the headlines, Napa’s food deserves a taste as well, with restaurants like La Toque, where Michelin-starred Chef Ken Frank serves up delicious seasonal dishes, and Lucy Restaurant & Bar, which offers ingredient-driven farm-, ocean- and field-to-fork cuisine. To experience the city, head to the Rail Arts District in downtown Napa for striking murals and unique artwork from around the world, or hop on a hot air balloon for an aerial view of the skyline and coastline.

Governors Ball, May 31-June 2, New York City, NY


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The Governors Ball Music Festival hosts some of music’s hottest names over three days on Randall’s Island Park – an island located between East Harlem, the South Bronx and Queens. In addition to its Event Lawn, this public park is home to a world class tennis center, a driving range, an IAAF-certified track and field facility called Icahn Stadiumand miles of waterfront bike and pedestrian pathways.


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If you get sick of the outdoors and hunger for the iconic NYC urban grind, you can take a bus or the subway back to the mainland to experience the surrounding neighborhoods. Explore Harlem with a bite from Sylvia’s, a landmark that has served Southern comfort food since 1962, or a visit to the Studio Museum, which celebrates some of the world’s most timeless art. Or head to the Bronx to hit historic Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Zoo, one of the largest zoos in America with over 4,000 animals across 265 acres of park lands. If you brought a book along, swing by Edgar Allen Poe’s Cottage hideaway where he wrote haunting poems like Annabell Lee and The Bells. Then hop over to Queens, where you can explore the famous Queens Botanical Gardens and grab a bite at the one of the best brunch spots in New York like Queens Comfort, which serves up 11 different types of poached-eggs benedict, or The Sparrow Tavern, known for its locally-loved prosciutto-and-brie omelet.

Firefly, June 21-23, Dover, DE

Firefly Music Festival is returning for the eight time with huge acts like Panic! At the Disco, Post Malone, Kygo and Death Cab for Cutie in the Woodlands of Dover International Speedway, which has held at least two NASCAR races each year since it opened in 1969.

Chalk full of history, the city of Dover is home to museums and landmarks that caught fame during the Revolutionary War and years that followed. Head over to First State Heritage Park for a walking tour through the history of Dover or visit the Dover’s Old State House, which served as Delaware’s capitol during the United States’ early years and home to a presidential portrait of George Washington towering over the Senate Chamber on the second floor. When you get hungry, head to Grey Fox Grille & Public House for a meal in a historic 1881 Victorian house or grab a fatty brisket sandwich at Abbot’s Grill. If you’re looking for something more modern, visit the Dover Air Force Base where you can find the Air Mobility Command Museum and go inside the Air Force Two that was used for Vice Presidents, First Ladies and top officials from 1975 – 2011. Or if you want to escape the festival for a while but stay in the great outdoors, head to Silver Lake Park with 182 acres of walking trails, playgrounds, picnic shelters and plenty of opportunities to feed the nearby ducks and geese.

Summerfest, June 26-July 7, Milwaukee, WI

Summerfest is built for the die-hards as one of the longest music festivals, hosting over 800 bands on 11 different stages over the course of 11 days. If you’re staying for the duration, you’ll have plenty of time to slip away and see the city affectionately known as the land of beer and cheese.


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For beer, 1840 Brewing Company is an urban farmhouse brewery offering barrel-aged brews that blend classic styles with modern flavors. For cheese, the Wisconsin Cheese Shop carries a comprehensive selection of award-winning Wisconsin and imported cheeses that pair well with…well, anything. And for beer, cheese and a full-fledged Milwaukee meal, Ale Asylum Riverhouseoffers its own line of craft ales you can partner with cheese-dripping burgers like the American Classic or the Bacon Bleu.
To walk off the carbs, head over to the Milwaukee Art Museum to see nearly 25,000 works of art in three different buildings built by three different legendary architects. Or you can head to the lakefront and hop on a boat tour to see the city from the surface of Lake Michigan. For a unique experience, check out the Harley-Davidson Museum, home to the iconic motorcycle brand that began in the city 115 years ago, or rent a bike and ride the Oak Leaf Trail which stretches over 125 miles and hugs the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

Lollapalooza, August 1-4, Chicago, IL

Lollapalooza started in 1991, created by Jane’s Addiction lead singer Perry Farrell as a farewell tour for his band. It’s been running ever since (with a couple of brief hiatuses) and has grown to be one of the nation’s most well-known music festivals.


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Located in Grant Park, the festival is next door to attractions such as Millennium Park, which includes the historic Cloud Gate sculpture colloquially known as “the Bean,” the elegant and photogenic Buckingham Fountain and the Art Institute of Chicago, which is consistently ranked as one of the top museums in the world – all worth adding to your itinerary when you’re in town. If you want to wander a bit further, stroll across any portion of Chicago’s 18-mile lakefront trail that ranges from Ardmore Street to 71st. Then head to Chicago’s Little Italy and grab a famous Italian beef sandwich from Al’s Beef for a taste of old-school Chicago. Or, if you’re in the mood for deep dish, head to Pequod’s in Lincoln Park for a slice of the best. To complete the trinity of Chicago food, you can sample a Chicago-style hot dog at a retro location like Superdawg, which has held on to most of what it had when it opened in 1948, or The Weiner’s Circle, which offers one of Chicago’s most foul-mouthed dining experiences.

Outside Lands, August 9-11, San Francisco, CA

Outside Lands takes place over three days and brings together world class music, art, food and wine in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The park itself contains over 1,000 acres of trails, windmills, the coastline of the Pacific and even its own herd of bison. You can experience it all on a Segway tour or by wandering off from the festival on one of its many trails. Stop by Beach Chalet Brewery and Restaurant for ocean views, house made beer and delicious American fare or hit Stow Lake Boathouse for a burger and a boat rental


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When the sun goes down, head to the adults-only, cocktail-friendly “After Dark” experience at the Exploratorium to experience over 650 exhibits in a different light. And when the sun comes back up, head to Buena Vista Caféknown as the first place in the U.S. to serve an Irish coffee.


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If you’re extending your trip by a few days, you can round out an eclectic experience by seeing a few of the famed sights San Francisco is known for. Walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge to get a sense for how gigantic it actually is, then take the scenic ferry back. Or you can jump into a cable car and ride along the Powell/Hyde line for amazing Bay views. To get in as many tastes as you can in a small window, eat your way through the Ferry Building – an amazing piece of architecture housing fresh oysters, chocolate, cheese, cocktails and beers from some of the top names in San Francisco.

Austin City Limits, October 4-6 & 11-13, Austin, TX

Austin City Limits takes places in the live music capital of the world, ranging across two weekends and eight stages. If you want to explore Austin, it’s worth saving up the PTO and taking off the week in between to bookend your trip with the festival. Start by exploring Zilker Park, where the festival takes place and where some of the best kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding can be found in Austin. Then head to Lady Bird Lake and rent whatever you like that floats, or grab a bike and ride the 10.1 mile trail that circles the Lake and serves as a gateway to downtown Austin.


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While you’re in town, it’s worth seeking out their world-famous barbeque. Franklin Barbeque is probably the most well-known for its smoky, juicy meats, but that means it also comes with a long line (known to be packed out the door as early as 6 a.m.). If you want to skip the wait, try La Barbeque’s brisket and house-made chipotle sausage or LeRoy & Lewis’ pork belly and honey mashed sweet potatoes. For a taste of the famous nightlife, wander down Dirty Sixth and stop by bars like Midnight Cowboy and Casino El Camino. In the morning, you can grab brunch at Holy Roller for a punk rock-inspired fare that’ll pick you back up and get you ready for anything you have planned. And when the day winds down again, watch the sunset with bats from the South Congress Bridge or from Mount Bonnell for pictures you’ll not only want to share, but ones you’ll want to save.

EDC Orlando, Nov. 8-10, Orlando, FL


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EDC Orlando spans three days at Tinker Stadium, a former-baseball-stadium-turned-event-venue named after Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Tinker, located in the West Lakes neighborhoods of Downtown Orlando. The festival this year hosts top names in electronic music like Alesso, Badklaat, and Bassnectar. And if you’re heading to Orlando to catch EDC, it’s worth adding a few days to explore the beaches, theme parks and vibrant city-life. No matter how old you are, Disney World can be a blast with its latest park attraction Star Wars: Galaxy Edge opening just months before the festival, in addition to timeless experiences like Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Epcot. To round out the theme park circuit, you can visit SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando (which includes The Wizarding World of Harry Potter) and LEGOLAND. Then head to International Drive (I-Drive) – a 14-mile stretch of road that includes escape rooms, Skeletons: Museum of Osteology which carries over 500 animal skeletons, Wonderworks full of educational entertainment and ICON Park where you can hop on the tallest observation wheel on the east coast to capture breathtaking photos of the iconic Orlando skyline. If you’re interested in taking in some art, stop by the CityArts Factory in the downtown arts district, which houses four different galleries under one roof. For some history, head to the Orange County Regional History Center and Heritage Square Park which chronicles 12,000 years of Central Florida’s rich heritage on four different floors. When you get hungry, head to one of Orlando’s famous eateries like Prato, known for its authentic wood-fired pizza and rustic pasta, or Luma on Park, founded by one of Orlando’s original great chefs, Brandon McGlamery, who helped create a culinary name for Orlando by bringing food from local farmers to life in unique and fascinating ways.

Your next music festival excursion is a great excuse for a full-fledged vacation. Wherever you decide to travel, make sure you do it right with an experience you won’t forget. VacationRentercan help you book a stay and plan the best trip possible.