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The Summer Go List: National Parks, Cuba, San Francisco,  and more

It was the beginning of a miserable summer vacation. 
My father thought it would be a great idea to embark upon a last minute weekend from San Jose to Southern California by just winging it with a wife and three kids in tow.  He thought, "Hey, we don't have to make any hotel reservations, and we'll find something once we get there."

Oh yeah. We did. Driving down to Marina del Rey, we parked the car in the middle of the night along its motel row only to see a string of red neon blaring, "NO VACANCY," at each and every two-bit motor lodge... each one was full except one.  You can probably figure out what happened next, but I will tell you anyway. 

We all got out of the car and walked our luggage down the street.  In those days, wheels for luggage was not invented yet.  I was fuming mad.  Dad did get a motel.  He got us the last remaining room.  Upon entering, it smelled musty, clammy, and had a tinge of bathroom spray cleaner in the air. We all fell on the hard beds.  We all slept. We were all upset.  The next day, Dad drove us home.  

I'm telling you this because ever since then, I have become a fastidious planner. Sure, serendipity is the mother of innovation etc., etc., but when it comes to vacations, I believe in planning.  A failure to plan is a plan to fail...for sure.  

That's why you have this travel website at your disposal.  I want you to enjoy these articles and use them to plan your vacations well.

This summer, for instance, consider getting a jump on your planning by reading our Consumer Update on new activities and renovations at national parks in Alaska, Washington, and Colorado. And if you want to stay in the state of California, you may have a lot of fun visiting and collecting artistic key cards from select Hilton Hotels that are providing a summer promotional.  See our Deals page here

As you plan your summer travels, you may want to try something new in the transportation category.  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly on a private airplane, but you always thought it would be too expensive.  We introduce to you JetSuiteX, a new entrant to the private jet market which offers the convenience of first-class treatment for budget rates.  See How Suite it Is on JetSuiteX  in our review. 

Here in our South Bay offices, wild flowers are springing up. On a recent stay in Napa, the mustard flowers were going crazy. And in San Francisco, the grasses on the Marina seemed to look even greener than usual.  See our newest hotel review on Hotel Zoe, a family-friendly place to take the kids. While you have probably been to San Francisco a million times, keep coming. There is so much more to see each and every time. 

We recently returned from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, and we are celebrating our international travels wtih a three-part series.  In this edition of BAFT, we offer up a review of the island country of Taiwan. Read our story, Taiwan's Melting Pot will Melt Your Heart.  We also offer to you, Hong Kong's new art focus.  Bring the kids, and you'll never be sorry!  

International travel is an adventure and education for all families. Our latest story Cuba: A Country of Contrasts is an eye-opener as the country is still very old world in many ways.  Learn about Havana and the various places you can bring the kiddos to enjoy. 

However, staycations are not a fad, people!  Enjoy your local treasures.  While in Palo Alto, we also created a personal dream escape at The Clement Hotel, the valley's only five-star, all inclusive hotel.  We review it here, and we hope you will come and give it a test drive.  Walking distance to shopping and also Stanford University campus, The Clement is your passageway to Nirvana as you have all you need within the walls of your hotel for a snuggly weekend away from your responsibilities.   

We next take you to the revamped Dream Inn in Santa Cruz. So instead of going to the beach for only one day, this fall take advantage of packaged rates. Stay at the Dream Inn where you can walk to the pier and to the boardwalk.  Make it a two-night affair with the kids, and you can rediscover your old love. See our review of the Dream Inn Makeover

Next, we go up north, and we hit up the Westin Napa Verasa. Check out our review here.  It's a place right in downtown Napa, and you will have access to activities, restaurants, and all you need to have a great time.

For those who love sizzing scorchers, we offer you a visit to Arizona. Yes, there are those who love dry heat. Go figure. If you are one of those sun lovers, do check out Barbara Sloan's review of Arizona resorts. She also brings us a review of the newest Florida action pad dubbed The Diplomat Resort in Hollywood. 

Now that the weather is warming up, fire up that grill to barbecue. We found some great spices that would make for excellent gifts with JustSpices. See our coverage of this and other products in our  Products Roundup. And if you are in the mood for a new vehicle, consider the  review of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid which we test drove recently. 

Other stories in this issue include:
Toothbrushes, animal cookies, luggage - Products
Review of the Mazda CX-9 - Products

Review of the Toyota Sienna – Products
Snack-in-a-Box Review, etc.  – Products
Where to Find The Best Views in San Francisco – North Bay
Go Green On Your Next Vacation - Consumer Lookout
Intercontinental's Planet Trekkers Kids Program - Foreign 

Jams and Mess Free Crayons - Products
ittsburg, Penn. is on the Rise - States
eview of the Highlander Hybrid - Products

Happy Summer and save a s'more for me!

Kathy Chin Leong
Executive Editor


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