35 California hotels run by the Joie de Vivre boutique hotel company are offering a third night free when you book and pay for two nights. To book the deal, go to the Third Night Free page on their blog or just use the promo code JOIE. Prices at the Joie de Vivre hotels range from $79 to $459 per night.
The Joie de Vivre group operates 35 hotels in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Mill Valley, Tiburon, Sonoma, Big Sur, Santa Cruz, Sacramento, Silicon Valley, Huntington Beach, Brentwood, Long Beach and Venice Beach. I checked out the Gaige House, a 23-room boutique hotel set on three acres in wine country and was able to book the deal, saving nearly $200 off the regular rate.
The offer is good for stays from November 1 to June 15, 2010 and must be booked online by May 31st.
Halloween is the one day a year we seek fear rather than try to avoid it. We invite the prospect of ghosts, witches and vampires, and even if we concede that they aren’t real, it’s fine to suspend disbelief for a day. To heighten the sensation, consider wrapping your next trip in the Halloween spirit. There are plenty of destinations around the world that will help the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end.
1. Melbourne’s Haunted Bookshop Ghost-hunter and historian Drew Sinton is waiting for you at The Haunted Bookshop in Melbourne, Australia. If you’re not afraid of the written word, this starting point won’t scare you, but along the way, you’ll hit a number of spots where ghosts have been sighted. Old Melbourne Goal (jail, that is) was home to 135 hangings. One of them, Ned Kelly, is said to have resulted in a ghost that won’t leave the site of his demise. While you’re there, walk the road to the gallows. If this isn’t enough for you, look for nutty ghosts on the Beechworth Ghost Tour at what was once the Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum.
2. Under the Royal Mile Beneath Edinburgh‘s Royal Mile, you’ll find a warren of hidden “closes” where people once lived, worked … and perished. Mary King’s Close, once abandoned and forgotten, is now open via the Supernatural History Tour. Explore one of Scotland’s most haunted locations, get the scoop on urban myths and hear about sightings that occurred as recently as 2003. A few claim to have felt ghosts brush past on this tour. Will you be one of them?
3. Follow New France’s Great Master Old Montreal‘s cobblestone streets set the scene for any supernatural encounter. The sun goes down; the wind blows off the river. You don’t know what’s gust and what’s ghost! History is the breeding ground of the other-worldly, and the Great Master will take you through the century’s that have contributed to what is now the “New France Ghost Hunt.”
4. The Darker Side of Luxury No, you won’t have to worry about peasant uprisings, but if you’re looking for paranormal trouble, you can find it at a handful of Fairmont hotels. At the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa (where I suffered through a business trip from hell a decade ago), keep an eye open for Victoria, a now deceased member of one of the founding families of the Sonoma Valley. A former steward, now dead, of course, hangs out in the silver room at the Fairmont Royal York, and a hotel maid who fell to her death in 1908 has yet to leave the Fairmont Empress.
5. The Ghastly Side of Downtown Orlando I’m sure there’s something going on at Disneyworld, but skip it in favor of downtown Orlando (my favorite part of Florida). On the Orlando Ghost Tours, you’ll get two hours to pick up the basics of parapsychology and poke around in locations confirmed to be haunted. You’ll even get to use specialized equipment to conduct your own paranormal investigation. Who you gonna call? After this, probably yourself.
As summer comes to an end, Labor Day weekend is traditionally the final opportunity for you to enjoy festivals, theme parks and other events.
Labor Day weekend is also when the 2009 Sonoma Country Wine Weekend presented by Visa Signature is held. This three day event combines the TASTE of Sonoma with the Sonoma Valley Harvest Wine Auction.
During the event, wineries offer lunches and dinners, pairing their wines with food prepared by local chefs. Many of the tables have already been sold, so be sure to check for availability on the site of the Wine Weekend.
The TASTE of Sonoma is held at the MacMurray Ranch, where you’ll be able to sample wines from over 150 wineries and food from over 60 local chefs. The TASTE has been named one of the top 10 wine and food events in the country, so you can be sure this is one event you won’t want to miss.
If you know in advance that driving is a bad idea (and wine combined with your car usually is), then why not take advantage of shuttle transportation from various local hotels to the MacMurray Ranch, for just $15/$20, depending on where you need to be picked up. Information on how to book the shuttle, and its routes, can be found at the bottom of this page.
If you are not lucky enough to be able to make it down to Sonoma, then check out their online wine auction site – not only will you be able to bid on some amazing wine, your money will benefit various Sonoma County charities.
Northern Sonoma County is home to some of the best wineries in the country – and their recently introduced “ticket to the Wine Road” offers an affordable way to enjoy the wineries and scenery in the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River valleys.
For $25 (one day) or $50 (three days), you can visit the wineries in the area, and take advantage of discounts and free tastings. The passes also provide lodging specials for discounted stays and free amenities.
To make your trip even easier, head on over to the web site of the Northern Sonoma Wine Road, and order a free map of the area. Their site also offers a winery directory, lodging guide, online maps and an event calendar.
Styggiti took this HDR shot at Kenwood, California. The tone mapping technique used isn’t too unrealistic, and because of the wonderful detail and stunning sky, I think it deserves a spot in Gadling’s Photo of the Day.
HDR photography combines three or more images that are shot at different exposures and combined using some sort of HDR software to create a rather stunning shot. Occasionally the pictures can look a bit too science fiction, but Styggiti managed to get just the right amount of detail in this picture of a winery in California.
Are you a Flickr user who’d like to share a travel related picture or two for our consideration? Submit it to Gadling’s Flickr group right now! We just might use it for our Photo of the Day!