Get out to New England this summer

We all know that airlines and hotels are cutting prices like crazy, but the continued recession can still leave some deals unreachable. If you live anywhere from Boston to Washington, a weekend away won’t require a trip to an airport, restoring some value to the low rates that hotels and local attractions are charging.

Need some ideas? New England Inns & Resorts suggests the following:

Story Land Water Park: North Conway, NH is home to this destination. Spend two nights in a comfy hotel room, pickup breakfast and a ticket per person to Kahuna Laguna (indoor water park) and Story Land Amusement Park – from June 11 to October 11, 2009. The package ranges from $634 to $714.

Hit It Out of the Park Camp and Vacation: At the Lighthouse Inn in West Dennis, MA, you can pick up five nights, five breakfasts, three dinners and daily baseball camp. Two adults and two kids will cost a tad over $2,900, which isn’t bad for a week in West Dennis at this time of year (June 22 to August 3).

Family Fun Package: For just over $1,000, you can nab three nights in a Classic Lodge Room at the Mountain Top Inn & Resort in Chittenden, VT. You’ll also get a hefty breakfast every day, a day of kids camp for each kid you bring, massages for the adults and a pontoon boat ride. But, you need to head up there between the beginning of June and the end of August.

Best hotel bargain in the world: SeaCoast Inn

According to the Trip Advisor’s 2008 Traveler’s Choice list, the best bargain hotel in the world is the SeaCoast Inn in Hyannis, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. As logic would have it, it’s on the list as the best bargain in the U.S. is well.

So what makes this place in Cape Cod such a deal? Cleanliness of the hotel (just read the comments on the dirtiest hotels post), friendliness and knowledge of the inn keepers, and its location, location, location, according to the comments on the SeaCoast Inn Web site. One guest said they never used their car. A guest from Europe said that it’s similar to smaller hotels in Europe. For those Americans looking to go to Europe, but are put off by the lousy showing of the American dollar these days, perhaps staying here may suffice the need for a dose of European travel. If you can walk everywhere, think of the savings on gas as well.

My reaction when I saw the room rates was “Wow, that is reasonable.” The inn must be closed for the season right now since prices aren’t listed for the winter, but starting in the spring you can stay for as low as $68. The highest springtime rate is $108. In the summer the prices jump to $98–$148 which is not bad for a touristy area.

From the inn you can walk to the ferries that will take you to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve never been to Cape Cod, but the SeaCoast Inn’s Web site highlights several reasons why this would be a perfect place to take a family.

Valentine’s Day: Fanning or Finding Love at an Art Museum

Art museums make me feel amorous. It’s true. A walk through rooms filled with paintings, particularly if they’re from the Impressionism art movement, soften me right up. The sounds of shoes on marble or wood floors, the polite guards making sure people don’t get too close to the artwork, the creativity and genius of human beings in an outpouring of color and images. Yum!

Evidently, I’m not alone in my mushiness. According to a survey done by the 24 Hour Museum in the United Kingdom, 65% of the respondents said they would take a person to an art museum to make a favorable impression. (Hmm. impression. Impressionism. Is there a connection here?) Some (20%) said they had fallen in love in a museum. Was it in front of a Renoir, I wonder?

In this one research article I came across by Courtney Spousta, she points out that in the movie Play It Again Sam, Woody Allen’s character goes to the Modern Art Museum in NYC looking for love. Throughout the article, she cites examples of how certain nights at art museums are geared to help people mix and mingle. At the Milwaukee Art Museum there are even speed dating events. The last one was on February 2, it seems.

This month there are some art museums I came across that are capitalizing on the romance and love theme.

If you do head to a museum with that special someone or you’re out looking for that special someone at an art museum, it wouldn’t hurt to read “Cupid on the prowl” by Mary Louise Schumacher. She gives some tips on what to say to impress particular types of people and what not to say.

Oh, and the most romantic art museum in London according the the 24 Hour Museum survey? It’s the Victoria and Albert.