Tips for Steelers fans going to the Super Bowl

Here We Go Steelers fans! It’s time to get games faces on for your 7th (SEVENTH!) Super Bowl victory! Whether you have secured tickets or you’re just planning to descend on Dallas for the party, let’s get ready for a Super Bowl like no other.

First of all, Super Bowl or not, you couldn’t be blamed for packing your towels and heading south. With temperatures in Dallas expected in the low to mid sixties next week, we all could use a good excuse to defrost our toes and boast our black and gold in a few less layers. This is no Detroit or Minneapolis Super Bowl, friends. This is TEXAS, where the February weather is balmy and the BBQs fire up year round.

Get There
Naturally, the fastest – and most expensive – route to Dallas is by air. As of today you can catch a perhaps inconvenient but definitely do-able round trip from nearby Chess Lamberton (FKL) to Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Friday to Monday for less than $800. Flights from Pittsburgh proper (PIT) are creeping closer to $900 round trip and will only climb higher the closer we get to game day.If you can afford the vacation days and take some time to see Dallas and/or recover from the victory party, flights back to Dallas on Friday and back to Pittsburgh on Monday and Tuesday are running roughly $500 and $430 respectively.

A more affordable option if you’re traveling with fellow fans is to drive. It’s a hefty 1200 mile, 20 hour drive to Dallas, which we can fairly say will be a two day trek. But for an SUV full of friends, it could be the road trip of a lifetime. And for $300-400 in gas plus the cost of a cheap hotel en route, it can be downright reasonable.

Eat There
The obvious culinary attraction of Texas has to be the BBQ, and the area around Arlington has plenty to offer.

For classic, homey fare check out the popular Bodacious Bar-B-Q, but not on game day, they’re closed on Sundays.

Bone Daddy’s House of Smoke is another local favorite, for both the delectable ribs and the “friendly” (hot) staff. With outdoor seating (in February!) and affordable dinners, you can’t go wrong.

To sample the best Mexican in town, check out one of Arlington’s – in fact Texas’ – top restaurants, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, open late on Fridays and Saturdays for that late night nacho craving.

If you have the time, take a jaunt over to Fort Worth to see how a Texan beer can stand up to Iron City Brewing. Rahr Brewery is showcasing a scotch ale this month, and offers tours every Saturday 1-3, no reservation required.

Stay There
Arlington and Dallas hotels are filling up as we speak, so best jump on accommodations as soon as you can. For budget travelers, the Quality Inn, Comfort Suites, and Best Western in Arlington all have current availability, with prices ranging from $200-300 a night, but be warned that many hotels require a four-night minimum stay during the Super Bowl.

As Cowboy Stadium is between Fort Worth and Dallas, you might also consider hotels in the Fort Worth region. The Hotel Trinity Fort Worth is 12 miles from the stadium and still has double rooms available for the weekend, running around $165/night.

If you’ve got a crew, consider renting a house or apartment in the area. With the price split between buddies and the comfort of a home to lounge in, it could be your most comfortable option.

All of these options will undoubtedly book fast, so round up your posse and start planning. Let’s go west on a wave of steel and take out those cheeseheads! Go Steelers!

[Flickr image via AndyeMcee]

Tips for Packers fans going to the Super Bowl

It’s been a long, hard road, but the Packers have finally bested their rivals to the south and made it into the Super Bowl. Congratulations. Now it’s time to pack up the queso dip, send the kids to their grandparents and make your way down to Dallas for the showdown.

Texas! The very word brings a tidal wave of emotions. It’s a whole new ball game down there – different food, different politics and different ways of getting business done. Without the right proper guidance and a hand full of travel savvy, the gentle northerner can be eaten alive in Texas. And that’s why we’ve put together this handy guide for surviving Dallas as a Packer.

Get there
Packers fans are scattered throughout the Midwest, but chances are, a long trip south is store for most of them. The cheapest way, of course, is to drive. Provided the weather stays stable throughout the heartland, it can take between 17 and 21 hours to get from Wisconsin down to Dallas – and that’s without bathroom breaks or a stop to see the inlaws.

Public transportation is filling up fast, so if you’re even considering taking a train, bus or airplane you need to book your tickets NOW. Passage by Greyhound is possible from Green Bay or Milwaukee for a shocking $311 round trip, and as coaches fill up that price is only going to wander higher.A slightly less expensive and more comfortable passage can be made on Amtrak, where $270 can get one a round trip connecting through Chicago from Green Bay or $224 buys a ticket from Milwaukee.

The fastest and least economical way would be to fly, though prices for those tickets are already pushing past the $325 range from Green Bay. Milwaukee, on the other hand, is boasting fares in the upper $400’s. And if you want to leave on Monday, the day after the game? That’ll be over $800. Our suggestion for that route is to choose an alternative departure airport (Chicago’s O’Hare and Minneapolis are a stone’s throw away from Wisconsin) or fly on an alternate date. Through you might miss a few extra days of work by returning Wednesday morning you’ll save a ton on airfare.

Eat there
Comfort food is a prominent theme in Midwestern cooking and Texas is takes no departure. The obvious choice for sweet southern cooking lies in barbecue, and there are a host of possible around the city that nearly guarantee a delicious experience. D Magazine has a great roundup of barbecue joints in the city and in a pinch you can always check Kevin’s Barebecue Joints for an allstar list of restaurants.

Need something closer to home? Check out Scardello (3511 Oak Lawn Avenue), the top local cheese shop, where lo and behold, one of the featured cheeses this month is a Wisconsin favorite by the name of Rush Creek Reserve.

Still, no visit to Dallas would be complete without a trip to one of the most popular restaurants in the city, and that means tex-mex. Two of our favorite twitteratti, @flyingphotog and @meridethlmckee, suggest Chuy‘s (4544 McKinney Avenue) and Uncle Julio’s (multiple locations) for local favorites.

Alternatively, Victor Tango’s (3001 N. Henderson) serves up a fine dish of urban bar fare, and their kitchen even stays open late for the partiers.

Stay there
At this point in the game there aren’t a ton of free rooms to spare in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and whatever’s remaining is starting to skyrocket in price. Our favorite hotels in the city, The Joule and the Ritz-Carlton are booked solid, though sister properties, (Marriott, 3300 Championship Parkway and Aloft, 122 E. John Carpenter Freeway) still have some availability.

Frugal travelers will probably have the best luck in finding workable accommodations. There are a half-dozen Motel 6‘s in the DFW area, each available for less then seventy bucks a night, and above that, a full range of Econo-Lodges with some moderate ability.

The NYLO Dallas (1001 West Royal Lane) also still has some rooms remaining.

Weather highs have been ranging from the 50’s to the 60’s so if you’ve got an adventurous streak about you there are a startling number of campgrounds and RV parks circling the city. Texasoutside has a great database of parks.

[Flickr image via Phil Roeder]

Super Bowl XLV at sea? You bet

Just about every cruise ship has a sports bar. Many ships have huge LED outdoor screens. It just seems to be a natural pairing to add this year’s Superbowl in for on-board programming. Cruise lines are doing just that and more.

Just to be sure the big game would be around for those sailing on Superbowl Sunday, Doug Parker of CruiseRadio got with each line to see what they had planned. “I’ve called every cruise line and most got right back to me with their plans” said Parker, working on a story for next week’s Cruise Radio broadcast.

They will be showing the game from “at least one lounge area on each ship” replied Holland America Line. “We will be airing the game fleet-wide!” chimed in Royal Caribbean.

Cruise lines have played a part in Super Bowls of the past too. In 2005, cruise ships parked close to Jacksonville Florida to serve as floating hotels for Super Bowl fans. On board, cruise lines often offer special game day packages complete with junk food and traditional beverages.

Travel Agencies are joining in the fun too, sponsoring “Super Bowl Cruise Party” groups on several major cruise lines. Boasting “Large screen TV’s everywhere”, Super Bowl groups formed long ago requiring just a small deposit to sign up and allowing monthly payments over time.

There is one drawback to watching the Super Bowl at sea though:

Cruise ship television reception works off a satellite system that must constantly be re-aimed because the ship is in motion. That can cause momentary signal loss from time to time. A few seconds lost at a critical moment on the football field could be a problem.

Would mutiny result?

Photo: Chris Owen

Super Bowl bound? Check out these ten travel friendly gadgets for your trip!

People who watch the Super Bowl at home use the big game as an excuse to shop for a new big screen TV – but can you use the game as an excuse to go gadget shopping? You bet you can.

We’ve collected ten gadgets that can make the trip to Arlington even more exciting – from a neat product that can send your Super Bowl photos to the Internet as soon as you make them, to a device you leave at home that allows you to watch the Super Bowl commercials (and other fun content) on your phone or laptop – no matter where you are.

[AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez]

Eye-Fi wireless memory card

Made some amazing photos of the “big game”? Find yourself a Wi-Fi hotspot, turn your camera on, and send them instantly to a variety of online photo services – including Facebook, Picasa and YouTube (for videos). Cards work in any device that takes SD memory cards, as well as several recent camcorders.

Product page: Eye.Fi
Price: from $49.99

Super Bowl mobile apps

There are 100’s of mobile applications designed just for the Super Bowl. Some are useless – others provide everything you’d ever need for the big game in a single app. Apps are available for almost every mobile platform, but you’ll obviously find the best quality stuff in the mobile market of your iPhone or Android device.

For iPhone specific apps, check out our friends at

Prodcuct page: iPhone App Store, Android Marketplace, Blackberry App world
Price: from free

Pocket HD Camcorder

The rules at most stadiums prohibit camcorders – but thanks to the current generation of pocket HD camcorders, you won’t have a problem getting one of these past the checkpoint. Just keep in mind that almost none of these shooter will feature a zoom lens (other than digital zoom), so if you want a close-up of that hot guy or girl 50 rows away, you’ll be better off with a decent digital camera with HD video support.

Product page: Flip Camera
Price: from $149.99

Balanzza Mini Luggage scales

Prevent disappointment at the airport by investing $25 in a compact luggage scale -especially if you went a little crazy at one of the merchandise stands at the stadium, your airline may want a big chunk of whatever cash you have left to let your overweight luggage back on the plane.

Thank goodness airlines don’t weigh passengers (yet) – all that stadium food would cost a fortune to load on the plane!

Product page: Balanzza Mini
Price: $24.95

Vulkano Multimedia streamer

Catch pre-game TV by streaming your home cable or satellite signal over the Internet to your mobile phone or laptop. Simply hook the Vulkano up to your home AV system, and the box sends TV anywhere in the world – including to your smartphone when you are waiting for the game to begin. Bonus: watch the halftime commercials as the are broadcast.

Product page: Monsoon Multimedia Vulkano
Price: from $109.99 (with promo code)

XtremeMac InCharge Mobile

Traveling with an iPhone usually means having to decide between using your phone all day long and running out of battery life by dinner time, or only using your phone for emergencies. If you want to take full advantage of your phone at the game, consider the new XtremeMac InCharge Mobile. This 2300mAh battery pack can almost triple your normal battery life.

To top it all off, the InCharge Mobile also features a built in kickstand, LED battery indicator and MicroUSB charger/sync port.

Product page: XtremeMac
Price: $79.99

Scottevest jacket or vest

Carrying all your gadgets to the game in a backpack or other carrier can be a pain in the backside – especially when you need your hands to carry beer and burgers. A Scottevest jacket has up to 25 different pockets, some large enough to hold an iPad or other large device. Jackets come in a variety of styles, colors and sizes.

Product page: Scottevest
Price: from $100

Nikon S8100 digital camera

The new Nikon S8100 is a compact digital camera with a 10x optical zoom, full HD video and easy to use controls. Best of all, the camera can be found for under $250 – making it a fantastic bargain.

Product page: Nikon S8100
Price: $299 (MSRP, $249 in most retail stores)

Joby Gorollapod Tripod

Large tripods are banned from the stadium, but compact flexible tripods from Joby won’t bother anyone. The newest magnetic tripods from Joby can be stuck to metal or wrapped around almost any other object.

Product page: Joby Gorillapod
Price: from $19.95

Monster Mobile Jamz headphones

The atmosphere in the stadium may be exploding – but sometimes you may want to just listen to some of your own music before the game begins. Good noise isolating headphones can block out a massive amount of outside noise and let you relax in relative peave and quiet. The Monster Mobile Jamz headphones feature an in-line remote control and powerful noise isolation.

Product page: Monster Mobile Jamz
Price: $149.95

Omni Chicago Hotel offers special rates for Bears, Packers playoff game

Everyone is gearing up for Sunday’s big game, especially Chicago hotels! We already brought you news about the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas‘, month-long Super Bowl promotions and the Chicago Kimpton’s four hotel deals for this weekend’s game. Now the Omni Chicago Hotel is joining the team and giving travelers a sweet deal for the playoffs.

The Omni Chicago Hotel, Michigan Avenue’s only all-suite hotel, is offering travelers heading to the Windy City for Sunday’s game a “Green Bay Bundle” — a two-night stay where the second night is free of charge should Green Bay triumph over Chicago. The promotion also includes a $50 food and beverage credit.

To sweeten the deal, Bill Bennett, director of sales and marketing for the Omni Chicago Hotel, Windy City native and die hard Chicago fan, has agreed to wear a Green Bay jersey and the iconic “cheesehead” hat if Green Bay wins.

The “Green Bay Bundle” package is available on January 21, 22 and 23 only, has limited availability and can be booked on a first come, first serve basis. The rate is $179.00 per night with a free second night should Green Bay win.