Along The Travel Scene

Friday, January 31, 2014 - by Diane Siskin

Information is gathered from various sources, releases and visits.

The secret’s out: In Portland, Ore., Portlanders see things a little differently than the rest of the world. And to prove their point a number of the city’s tour companies have tours which showcase how to experience Portland like a local.

Know Your City is a non-profit organization formerly known as the Dill Pickle Club. This group challenges locals to get the real scoop on their hometown and welcomes out-of-towners as well by offering neighborhood excursions or walks by theme, like their Portland Politics Tour.

This free, no-reservation-required Secrets of Portlandia tour meets daily from May to September, rain or shine, at the Pioneer Courthouse where renegade host Erik Kennon shares his unique take on the city’s history and culture. And while, I am told, it may not always be factual, it’s definitely funny.

Another tour is the Forktown Food Tours which have helped people taste the local flavor since 2010, but recently expanded to cover different neighborhoods six days a week

These three-hour walks promise plenty of mouthwatering details about the city’s culinary scene, with no shortage of samples.

Get Dirty Farm Tours take diners to the source of Portland’s award-winning food scene: ecologically sound farms all over Oregon. With day trips, overnights, farm-fresh meals and hands-on learning, these tasteful and tasty experiences are the ones to savor.

The Third Wave Coffee Tours take coffee lovers on three different neighborhood walking tours, as well as a streetcar tour to visit the city’s independent coffee shops, talk to roasters and learn to taste coffee like an expert.

To encourage exploration outside of Portland, Travel Oregon has developed an array of electric vehicle itineraries, to help visitors escape the city and also their dependence of fossils fuels. The North Willamette Valley EV Itinerary tours Oregon wine country, with stops at LEED-certified wineries Sokol Blosser and Stoller Family Estate.

Exploring the rugged Pacific shoreline is easy with the Oregon Coast Loop EV Itinerary, which hits all the major sights from Astoria to Haystack Rock while leaving no carbon footprint. The Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge EV Itinerary takes electric cars to new heights with a day trip that climbs all the way to Timberline Lodge and the Mt. Hood Adventure Park, which teems with energy itself

Renting an environmentally friendly vehicle is also becoming easier than ever. Enterprise Rent-A-Car, car2go and Zip car, which got its start in Oregon, have hybrids and electric vehicles in Portland fleets.

Tesla Trips offer chauffeured tours of the Columbia Gorge in a luxurious Tesla Model S, providing a designated driver so visitors can fully enjoy the area’s wineries and breweries.

If you happen to be or plan your trip to Portland in July, be sure not to miss the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival ( This three-day event founded in 1981 is now the West’s largest and oldest free celebration of jazz and blues. It is held beneath the historic St. Johns Bridge and the scenery is almost enough to steal the show.

Romantic Getaways Throughout February in Our Nation’s Capital

For 2014, Destination DC has generated various packages, including 25 romantic ones, in the District’s area hotels. This is the third year that the organization and the DC-based LivingSocial have partnered to promote Date Nights DC.

The properties include the Carlyle Suites Hotel, Courtyard Embassy Row and Savoy Suites Hotel in the District. Also Bethesda Marriott in nearby Maryland as well as the Sheraton Pentagon City and the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

The complete lists of deals are displayed on, a dedicated micro site, as well as on Destination DC website:

Additionally, the sites will display information such as the 28 Most Romantic Places in DC which is helpful for anyone popping the question.

“Our annual Date Nights DC campaign shows off some of the many ways to have a great couples’ getaway in the city,’’ said Elliott L. Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC. “Both Yahoo Travel and have named Washington as one of the United States’ top 10 most unexpectedly romantic cities and this promotion invites consumers to be spontaneous: by booking a package on a Thursday and packing up and coming to DC on Friday.”

More than 58 Destination DC members (businesses committed to marketing the nation’s capital as a premier global convention, tourism and special events destination with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historic communities) have embraced the playful theme and created unique packages to encourage visitors to enjoy a mid-winter getaway in Washington, D.C.

Some of the special packages are “Hot Nights and City Lights,” “A Grand Date at a Grand Estate,”  “Love on the Range,”” “Two-for-One Tickets to the Theatre,” and “Transport to Romance,”

These packages run through March 2, 2014.

What’s On in London in 2014

Coach House Rentals has just published it’s newly updated “What’s On in London in 2014.” This free and informative guide is great for anyone planning a trip to London.

The guide includes suggested itineraries for various length stays from three days to seven or more days.

It is a detailed month by month guide to events and activities with links to all the relevant web sites.

It also tells you how to get tickets to “must-see” British ceremonial events such as The Queen’s Birthday Parade (Trooping the Colour) and Beating Retreat. Yes, you actually can get tickets to these quintessentially British events, as well as to performances at The Globe Theatre.

There is also a good section called 151 Things to do in London. Go to for details.

Coach House Rentals is a leading supplier of short stay/holiday rentals in London, Paris, New York and Rome. Most of their holiday homes are apartments and houses of residents who are temporarily away from the city, so you get to experience a great foreign city and really “live like a local.”

Marriott Offers All Kinds of Hotel Deals in Atlanta

One new promotion called “Atlanta Park Here, Fly There” highlights the offer of complimentary parking and a complimentary shuttle to and from the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for hotel guests staying near the airport.

To secure reservations for this package click on the check availability link on for hotel stays.

This promotion is valid until December 31, 2014 at participating hotels. For more information you can call 1-(800) 834-7282.

Another Atlanta area promotion is the American Girl Atlanta Weekend Getaway Package. The hotel offering this stay is the Atlanta Marriott Alpharetta at 5750 Windward Parkway in Alpharetta, Georgia.

This hotel, located five and half miles from the American Girl Boutique and Bistro located at North Point Mall, has indoor and outdoor pools and complimentary hotel parking.

Included in this special are deluxe accommodations for one weekend night and breakfast in Vidalia’s Restaurant. Another great extra is an American Girl doll-sized travel bed to keep. (Limit one per stay).

Also cookies and milk are delivered to the room for both the young guest and doll. And still another perk is a card valid for a free snack in the hotel’s gift shop.

AND WAIT, if you upgrade to an Everything Pink Deluxe package, (from $185 per night), you will also get a pink duvet and towels and the use of matching robes for your daughter and her doll for the stay.

The package, with rates starting at $159, is valid from now through July 31, 2014.  You need to be sure that the promotional code Z74 appears in the Corporate/Promotional code box when making an online reservation. Or you can call 1-(800) 228-9290 and ask for the promotional code Z74.

By Diane Siskin

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