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  1. Location and Rates for Tonight - Website Continuing my trip to the Midwest, I had a lovely drive from Louisville, through Eastern Kentucky, into Southwestern West Virginia, and into Virginia itself, my goal being Staunton for the night. From what I could glean, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center was going to cost me $10-20 more than anything else in town, but was by far the most convenient and best option - parking in the garage is also $10 (my hackles get raised by add-on fees in hotels, and I avoid them whenever possible), but when I got into town, I quickly saw that the streets were metered, and that the "real cost" of that $10 was going to be less - especially because The Shack was less than a five-minute walk away on flat terrain. This hotel exceeded my modest expectations, and turned out to be fairly comfortable by my (sometimes low, sometimes high, always budget-conscious) standards - it's a hotel that tries to be all things to all people. It's for tourists (note I didn't say it's touristy, which has negative connotations) - it aims for tourists seeing the heart of downtown Staunton, and even has "The Rack" by the front door. You know what I'm talking about: that metal container which holds the flyers from all the local tourist attractions. Most hotels which have one of these are "touristy," but Stonewall Jackson gets the honorific "tourism" instead. It's a large hotel with conference centers, and also caters to business guests. The beds themselves are surprisingly nice, and the only extra charge was the $10 garage fee (which is a *must* if you stay here - the hotel is high up on a hill, and the garage is way down below it: You take an elevator up from the garage, and trust me, it's your one-and-only option unless you want to do something weird like time the parking meters on the street). I was prepared to be annoyed with the Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center; instead, it turned out to be the nicest hotel of my entire trip. And I repeat: It's 1 1/2 blocks away from The Shack (also just a couple blocks away from Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library), and you can easily time things to get there right when the restaurant opens, like I did, so you might not have to share a communal table. (Remember, however, that The Shack takes reservations on Friday and Saturday nights for those coming down from DC; this was a Thursday, so I simply took a 30-minute nap, and then walked over right after they opened for a wonderful dinner). Note also that our hotel threads contain a ranking system - one member has the ability to rank one hotel (BEWARE - the way Invision's software is set up, once you rank a hotel, you can change your ranking, but you can't delete it - please remember this, as I learned the hard way! I ask everyone to have actually *stayed at* (or lived near) a hotel before issuing a ranking, as well as having written a post about it; It's the only system that's fair to everybody - travelers, the hotels themselves, and our readers). Obviously, I'm not going to give Stonewall Jackson 5 Stars (that's reserved for resorts in Bali, for example), but within the city of Staunton, I suspect it's about as good as it gets - a very nice, comfortable hotel, smack dab in the middle of town, so I'm going to give this 4 Stars due to its location; I could see more like 3.5, but there are no half-stars. And don't worry: we're not going to begin using stars for restaurants; just hotels, so our readers know where to stay. If anyone has any other suggestions for how to treat the hotel forums, please send me a PM - I will read and reply to every message. Maybe we can have a few Yes-or-No questions, such as "Recommended?"
  2. Happened upon a low airfare so took advantage. Will be spending four days in LA in February. I don't know the first thing about the place so I'm not sure where even to book a hotel. Is Santa Monica a good area to stay in? How about West Hollywood? To make it even more confusing, we don't even know what we're going to be doing with our time, with one exception: we're going to head to Joshua Tree National Park for one day. Thanks for any tips.
  3. Wasn't sure what forum to post this in, so please move to appropriate one. People volunteer for several reasons. I volunteer often for social causes that mean a lot of me. I also opt to volunteer for events that I can not afford to attend. The gratitude from agencies for their volunteers has often led to opportunities that would not otherwise materialize. There is a new trend developing, well it has has already been around for years, voluntourism. Are there agencies, or events in the greater Washington DC area that promote or offer trips in voluntourism? In service, kat
  4. Art and Art Exhibitions "IndigNATION: Political Drawings by Jim Carrey, 2016-2018" (Maccarone, Oct 23 - Dec 1, 2018) "Yayoi Kusuma - Infinity Mirrors" (The Broad, Oct 21, 2017 - Jan 1, 2018) Day Trips Carpinteria (Oceanside Town - 90 Minutes) Weekend Trips Anza-Borrego State Park (Colorado Desert - 4 Hours) Events California Avocado Festival (Early Octobers) Film and TV Studios Universal Studios Warner Bros. Studio Tour General Discussion Visiting Los Angeles Sports LA Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park
  5. Other than the obvious, I mean (White House, Capitol, Smithsonian, etc). I am not sure where to put this query. This isn't really a food question per se, but more of a "how do you show out of town friends a cool/unique time"? This will be in July, including July 4th. Thanks for any thoughts! --- [Note to all Washington, DC tourists: This is an organic, unedited conversation between people who live in the Washington, DC area, replying to a member asking for tourist help - some were born here; others weren't, but everyone in the conversation knows what they're doing - the only thing I've done is add a link for each tourist attraction mentioned, to save you the trouble of hunting for them, and I used my best judgment as to which links would be most helpful to you, as tourists coming in from out-of-town. This entire conversation is well-worth reading, and contains pretty much everything you need to know for a true, "Best Of" trip to Washington, DC, as recommended by intelligent, informed residents. Feel free to join our website, and add your opinions as well, and you can always send me a Private Message once you join - I'll be happy to answer any specific questions you have about tourist attractions or restaurants (I'm a native Washingtonian as well, and have been helping tourists for 30 years). Happy travels, Don Rockwell]
  6. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesperson For Immediate Release June 26, 2014 MEDIA NOTE Tourism Promotion Through Culinary Exchange As President Obama recently announced, the Department of State's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, in collaboration with Brand USA, supports the National Travel and Tourism Strategy goal of bringing 100 million international visitors to the United States by 2021. In July, five members of the American Chef Corps will travel to East-Asian markets to promote U.S. tourism and agricultural exports. The Office of the Chief of Protocol's Diplomatic Culinary Partnership, together with the James Beard Foundation, established the American Chefs Corp, a network of more than 100 of America's most renowned chefs, to participate in various public diplomacy programs. These programs engage foreign audiences at home and abroad by fostering cross-cultural exchange through the shared experience of food. Five talented and successful American chefs will promote American agricultural food exports, highlight regional American cuisines and tourism destinations, and participate in other high-visibility activities including U.S. Independence Day celebrations in China, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, and South Korea. July 4th activities will serve as a launch for an expanded, year-long BrandUSA-led global culinary tourism campaign that will culminate just before the 2015 World Expo in Milan, Italy. The participating chefs are: · Chef Rick Bayless, Chef and Owner of Frontera Grill and Host of "Mexico: One Plate at a Time"; hosted by U.S. Embassy Beijing · Chef Barbara Lynch, Founder and CEO of Barbara Lynch Grupo and Grand Chef at Relais & Cháteaux; hosted by U.S. Embassy Tokyo · Chef Bryce Gilmore, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Barley Swine and Odd Duck; hosted by the American Institute Taiwan in Taipei · Chef Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let's Move!, Senior Policy Advisor on Nutrition Policy, and Chef at the White House; hosted by U.S. Embassy Seoul · Chef Tory McPhail, Executive Chef of Commander's Palace; hosted by the U.S. Embassy Canberra Brand USA will provide promotional materials including the Great American Food Stories culinary guide that showcases rich regional profiles, travel information and recipes from across the culinary landscape of the United States, and features the five traveling chefs among 31 members of the American Chef Corps. For more information, visit: DiscoverAmerica.com/foodstories. Brand USA is the public-private partnership responsible for promoting the United States as a premier travel destination and communicating U.S. visa and entry policies and procedures. Established by the Travel Promotion Act in 2010, the organization's mission is to increase international visitation to the United States while working in partnership with the travel industry and Federal government to maximize the economic and social benefits of travel. For more information, please contact Jessica Andrews at andrewsjj@state.gov.
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