The city of San Francisco has been the inspiration for countless love songs, films and romantic novels and it’s not hard to see why. It combines historic districts with open spaces for romantic walks, flowers galore in every season, boat trips, scenic picnic spots, intimate restaurants and great sunsets over the Pacific Ocean. If you’re looking for a spot of Valentine’s Day romance or the perfect place to propose, then look no further than San Francisco.
Romantic Things to Do in San Francisco
Whether you are celebrating new love or a milestone anniversary, a romantic walk hand-in-hand offers plenty of time for talking, relaxing and creating memories to be treasured.
Crissy Field combines the East End beach with walks through forested paths beneath trees which have seen centuries come and go. As part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area it is ideal for leisurely café lattes in quiet waterfront coffee shops overlooking Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. Watch windsurfers when the breeze is fresh or hire bicycles to explore the area together.
Pack a picnic lunch – so much more personal and romantic than a bought meal – and share your favorite treats, washed down with a light bottle of sparkling Italian wine for the perfect lingering lunch.
The nearby Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park is the perfect dessert. This flower sanctuary offers vibrant beds of color at any time of year, although late summer is when the gardens showcase San Francisco’s official flower – the dahlia. On cooler days the restored Victorian Conservatory has 1,500 blooming species from around the world as well as romantic aquatic gardens with fountains, waterfalls and a glass bridge.
Beautiful Sunsets in San Francisco
Definitely the most romantic time of day, a sunset cruise across the bay is perfect if the weather is good. Alternatively, walk along the bay facing west towards Golden Gate Bridge just before sunset and see the blaze of colour which the California coast is famous for, particularly in the winter months. After sunset, walk back and enjoy the city sights after dark.
On cooler days opt for a table at the Top of the Mark. This softly lit bar is on the top floor of the Mark Hopkins Hotel and offers 360 degree views. It is perfect for sipping martinis as the sun goes down and watching the city lights slowly appear below.
Romantic Dining in San Francisco
San Francisco has hundreds of excellent restaurants, but it is important to choose not only a great menu, but also an intimate ambience and discreet service to finish the perfect day. Try Acquerello on Nob Hill with its graceful dining room and exquisite “amuse bouche”. The French are renowned for their delectable cuisine which can be enjoyed at Fifth Floor with a choice of 1,500 wines from France and California to toast your future together.
For a truly French experience, try the award-winning cuisine of Chef Traci des Jardins at Jardinière – but book your table well in advance for this established restaurant. For a unique dining experience with an Indian theme, request a table in the Fantasy Room at the Maharani and share an Indian meal ending with poetry readings.
Romantic Spots in San Francisco to Say “I Do”
If you are thinking of asking your loved one to become your life partner, there are some great spots in San Francisco to make that life-changing moment absolutely perfect. Drive out to the Marin Headlands for unforgettable views to match that all-important moment. Exit Alexander Ave on the north side of Golden Gate Bridge and climb the hill. There are several viewpoints, so go past the busier spots to find your own romantic spot.
Alternatively drive west along Marina Boulevard and turn left onto Lyon Street. The Palace of Fine Arts has a pretty rotunda next to a small swan-filled lake – a tailor-made spot for romance. If it is too busy, stroll around the lake to one of the benches on the opposite side with an equally lovely view.
If you’re in the mood for love in a gorgeous city like San Francisco, California, you can get a discount rental car at Payless Car Rental at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
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January 19th, 2011 · Orlando
Daytona Beach never seems to have a quiet season, thanks in part to the Daytona International Speedway, the World Center of Racing. The Daytona 500 in February is one of the main events in this happening coastal city, with 43 of the best stock car drivers competing is NASCAR’s biggest and most prestigious event.
2011 sees the 53rd annual Daytona 500 race on Sunday February 20th, but if you are not in town for the event, don’t despair as there are at least three races each month including the Rolex 24, the Budweiser shootout for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the Coke Zero 400 and a host of motorcycle events.
The Daytona 500 is a 500-mile long race and currently Jamie Murray is the defending champion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. It is the first series race of the year and is regarded by many as the most important, nicknamed the “Superbowl of Stock Car Racing”. The events attracts 200,000 NASCAR fans to this opening event of the racing season. The winner is presented with the Harley J. Earl Trophy in Victory Lane and the winning car is displayed, in race track condition, for one year at the Daytona 500 Experience, a museum dedicated to this race, next to the speedway.
As well as visiting the Daytona 500 Experience, tours of the huge stadium are available daily around this landmark stadium on International Speedway Drive.
If you’re traveling to attend the Daytona 500, you’re likely flying into either Orlando International Airport (MCO) or Tampa International Airport (TPA). Many tourists and NASCAR fans will rent a car in Orlando and Tampa and drive to Daytona Beach, which is a relatively short driving distance away. Rental cars tend to sell out fast before and during the so-called “Race week”, so make sure to book your car rental many days in advance. We have an Orlando car rental store and a Tampa rental car facility where you can reserve a rental car to drive to Daytona!
History of Daytona 500 Racing
Daytona Beach has long been famous for its miles of firm sand, rolling surf and its love of supercharged speed. The earliest Daytona speedway races were run for almost 50 years on the packed white sand of the beach in a circuit which included part of the A1A! This practise came to an end in 1959 when the Daytona International Speedway was built nearby. Nowadays the Daytona 500 and other events draw huge crowds of spectators to the purpose-built speedway which covers 480 acres.
The first events were 200 miles of hard racing on the beach and road circuit. The race was increased to 500 miles in 1959, with the progression of faster, more reliable cars. The track is 2½ miles long and the Daytona 500 requires 200 laps, so there’s plenty of action during the race.
Tours of Daytona Speedway
Book the one hour all-access tour and go behind-the-scenes to see how these NASCAR events run so smoothly. Pop into the Drivers’ Meeting room, tour the NASCAR Spring cup Series garages, see the Victory Lane and venture into the press box, seven floors above the track itself. Tours are around $22 for adults.
The shorter and cheaper Speedway Tour lasts 30 minutes and visitors have access to walk the infield and see the NASCAR Nationwide Series garages. Travel along the famous pit road and learn how NASCAR’s top drivers prepare for the largest motorsports event on the racing calendar.
Fun activities in Daytona Beach
As well as visiting the Daytona International Speedway for a race or a guided tour, visitors can enjoy a host of other activities. Take a boat trip on the Halifax River to see dolphins and manatees or ride in a Daytona trolley bus in one of the amphibious vehicles which plunges into the river for a spell of sightseeing. Still on a racing theme, pay a visit to the Klassix Auto Attraction which features vintage cars and motorbikes further along International Speedway Blvd. The Museum of Photography and the Ormond Memorial Art Museum are within easy reach.
Further afield, to the north of Daytona is the historic city of St Augustine with its restored schoolhouse and citadel, or head south an hour’s drive to the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.
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If the idea of celebrating the New Year in one of the most beautiful cities in the US appeals, consider spending a few days in San Diego, CA. It has the added benefits of a warm and balmy climate, gorgeous beaches and plenty of events to choose from.
Sailing Parties on San Diego Bay
Those hoping 2011 will be a year of prosperity may want to start the New Year on a decadent private yacht party out on the bay. Three decks each have their own live entertainment and there are unlimited drinks and appetizers to be enjoyed from 8pm to 1am, all for less than two hundred bucks. For a similar price the USS Midway, a floating aircraft carrier museum for most of the year, invites guests aboard to a black tie gala event enjoying magnificent fireworks and sounds from the Big Daddy Orchestra.
San Diego Hotel Events
The larger luxury hotel chains all celebrate New Year in San Diego with a big bang! The Hyatt Regency at La Jolla offers the chance to watch the ball drop Times Square style without the chilly temperatures. Various ticket prices cover the Grand Ballroom party, open bar, reserved tables or premier dinner seating.
The Hilton Bayfront has something for everyone with 12 themed party areas from groove to electronica. Midnight is celebrated with a balloon drop, fireworks, party favors and a few undisclosed surprises. This upscale all-inclusive event runs from 7pm to morning.
The Hard Rock Hotel always knows how to give a good time and New Year’s Eve in San Diego is no exception. Live DJs keep the party buzzing and the event becomes a lively pool party the next morning.
Best value New Year’s Eve Party tickets are to the Shout House where the standing-room-only tickets for the show are just $35. Add a lavish buffet, party favors and a champagne toast in a souvenir glass for around $100.
Children’s New Year’s Eve Parties
Much more affordable at around $15-20 per head and very family oriented, the Escondido Children’s Museum puts on kid’s craft events and free face painting from 6pm to 10pm. Fireworks go off at 9pm and there is a family disco at this 16th Annual First Night Escondido event.
New Year’s Day
If all that late-night partying is not for you, enjoy a champagne brunch on New Year’s Day at one of the top San Diego hotels or aboard a two-hour scenic cruise and start 2011 in a more sedate style.
If you’re flying to San Diego for New Year’s and need to rent a car, check out our low rates on car rental. We are conveniently located near the San Diego International Airport (SAN).
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December 13th, 2010 · Anchorage
Have you considered traveling to Alaska around Christmas? Alaska may not be the first place you think of visiting in the winter time, but it is actually not a bad choice of a destination. Alaska has a head start on many places when it comes to seasonal activities. Already white with snow by late November, Anchorage hosts some great Christmas events, performances and festivals for visitors to enjoy.
Music lovers will appreciate the wonderful performance of Christmas music performed by the Alaska Chamber Singers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in early December. Everything from classical masterpieces to family carols is covered in their repertoire. Music of a different kind can be enjoyed at the Atwood Concert Hall when the Preservation Hall Jazz Band puts on a swinging family-friendly Christmas performance. Closer to Christmas, the Alaska Chamber Singers perform a Carol Concert on December 11 at St Andrew Church, just north of Anchorage at Eagle River.
Christmas Shopping Ideas
The Christmas Village at Anchorage is the perfect place to browse for last minute gifts with more than 200 vendors in a festive atmosphere at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. This is also the location for the Christmas Arts and Crafts Emporium, a two-day event featuring a large variety of Alaskan-made arts and crafts with free admission. Another great way to do Christmas shopping in a slightly unorthodox manner is to support the Christmas Gift Auction in Reilly’s. Donated gifts are sold in a silent auction and help out a worthy cause in this practical fund-raising event.
Theater Productions for Christmas in Anchorage
The story of the “Toys Take Over Christmas” is a timely lesson about the meaning of Christmas as the Toymaker’s magic brings his toys to life and he greedily wants to keep them all for himself. This seasonal production is performed at the Sydney Lawrence Theater.
On a more classical note, the Anchorage Ballet beautifully performs Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Act II at the Discovery Theater.
Finally, what could be more magical for children and adults alike than a trip on the Alaska Railroad. For 2010 the actual train has been replaced with a holiday bus which makes its way from Anchorage to Seward, a total of 128 miles each way, with an optional overnight hotel stop. Trips include a free photo with Santa, free passport giveaways, a Christmas gift exchange, carol singing and entertainment organized by various radio DJ personalities. Enjoy the splendid scenic drive to get you in the holiday spirit and pick up some hand-made gifts at Seward’s Annual Craft Fair before the return journey back to Anchorage. Alternatively, make the scenic drive yourself through this amazing Alaskan Winter Wonderland. If you’re in need of car rental or car hire services, we have a store conveniently location at the Anchorage Airport (ANC). Happy and safe travels!
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Missouri is unofficially called the “Show-Me State” and it is a most appropriate slogan for Christmas in Kansas City, MO. The events kick-off in mid-November with the Country Club Plaza Lighting Ceremony. 2010 is the 81st annual event which attracts crowds of 200,000 spectators.
A City of Lights
To complement the Plaza Lights, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting also takes place with an evening of family entertainment as the 100 foot-tall tree, one of the tallest in the nation, is illuminated in Crown Center Square. The mayor is joined by a celebrity for the switching-on ceremony and in 2010 it is Chef Celina Tio of TVs “Iron Chef” fame. The tree is a symbol of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund which organizes money-raising events for the less fortunate in Kansas City. One of the fund-raisers is that the wood from the Christmas tree is carved into commemorative ornaments which are sold to benefit the charitable fund.
The Kansas City Power and Light (KCP&L) Plaza Lighting Ceremony takes place on Thanksgiving Night in the 8-block district of restaurants, theaters and bars opposite the Sprint Center. Once the lights have been switched on by Kansas City chefs running backwards there is a splendid fireworks display above the XXI Forever Store and the Intercontinental Hotel. The crowds can enjoy live bands playing seasonal holiday favorites. Finalists from the Kansas City Superstar singing competition will also perform as a show choir accompanied by dancers from the Miller Marley Studio to complete this Christmas extravaganza.
Christmas in the Park at Longview Lake is another traditional favorite at Christmas in Kansas City. Listed as one of the top 10 things to do, children of all ages will be enchanted by the 175 animated figures in this Winter Wonderland. Christmas Card Lane is another great area to drive through and see the 200 homes which are seasonally decoarated in this holiday-spirited sub-division.
Cultural Christmas Events in Kansas City
Known for its excellent arts events and theater performances, Kansas City Christmas celebrations are the highlight of the season.
The Kansas City Symphony Orchestra will perform “How the Symphony Saved Christmas” at the Lyric Theater in December with a free holiday concert at the Music Hall on December 24.
Performances of “Polar Express in 3D”, “Madeline’s Christmas” and the “Nutcracker and the Mouse King” will delight children throughout December at the H&R Block City Stage and at Union Station. The American Heartland Theater presents the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”.
If you are heading for Kansas City at Christmas, you are sure to be fully entertained. If you’re in need of a rental car or car hire at a great value, Payless Car Rental is conveniently located at Kansas City Airport (MCI).
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Christmas in Toronto, Canada closely follows the traditions of the UK and the USA with an emphasis on shopping, gift exchanges and a traditional family Christmas Day dinner of turkey with all the trimmings.
There are plenty of events to be enjoyed in the period leading up to Christmas in Toronto. In late November the Santa Claus Parade starts at Bloor and Christie Streets and winds its way through the city to Front and Church Streets. This lively parade has floats, costumes, carolers, entertainers and Santa Claus himself leading the colorful procession. Christmas Craft Fairs are hosted in busy malls and for children the Soulpepper Theater will present the Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol”. Another popular event for children is the gingerbread house decorating workshop held at Casa Loma on Austin Terrace in the heart of the city.
The Cavalcade of Lights is one of the loveliest events heralding Christmas in Toronto. The event begins on the last Saturday in November with a one-night spectacular of fireworks and musical concerts in Nathan Phillips Square by some of Canada’s top performers. 2010 is the 44th Annual Cavalcade and will include performances by Shawn Desman, Divine Brown and Sarah Slean. After the fireworks at 8pm there is an outdoor skating party celebrating 40 years of the JUNO Awards.
The Cavalcade of Lights is a month-long event as the city is lit up with thousands of festive Christmas lights including the beautiful Christmas tree at Nathan Phillips Square. Kensington Market also comes alive with illuminations and celebrates the annual celebrations of both Christmas and Hanukkah.
December 26 is known as Boxing Day in both Canada and the UK and its roots go back to when many staff were in service at the “big house”. On Boxing Day the Victorian gentry gave their servants the day off to return home to their families. It is also traditional to give gifts and money to the poor on St Stephen’s Day, as it is also known.
Modern day Boxing Day in Toronto is more closely akin to “Black Friday” in the USA, when the day after Thanksgiving the shops reopen with some of the best sales bargains of the year. In similar style, Boxing Day sales in Toronto heavily discount unsold Christmas stock making it a great day to spend Christmas gift cards and cash!
Those who prefer to avoid the manic scramble can stay home and watch the traditional sports matches on TV.
If you’re traveling to Toronto this winter, we can help you save more on car rental in Toronto. We are conveniently located at the main Toronto airport, Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ).
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Although Orlando, Florida may not be the first place that springs to mind when choosing a destination for the Christmas holiday, this sub-tropical paradise has a host of things to do on a very festive winter holiday theme.
Christmas in Orlando is magical and nowhere does it better than Walt Disney World. If you want to give your family some unforgettable Christmas memories, visit Disney’s Christmas Parade. The glittering floats and parade characters ride down Main Street generating wide-eyed wonder against the magical backdrop of the Magic Kingdom. In the evening, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is sure to capture the magic of Christmas with sleigh rides, fireworks, brightly lit Christmas trees and miles of colorful lights.
If you want a snowier treat, the Polar Express Experience in SeaWorld whisks visitors on an exciting trip to the North Pole in an amazing virtual ride with all the motion, scents and sounds of the journey. The trip is loosely based around the magical children’s story of the same name and the ride culminates with visitors interacting with polar bears, penguins and beluga whales, all at home in their chilly winter wonderland.
Silver Springs theme park near Ocala makes a great day out from Orlando, just 80 miles north along the Florida turnpike. It has a calendar of year-round events in a tropical garden setting beside natural springs which pump sparkling spring water at an amazing rate. Take a glass-bottomed boat trip to greet the resident alligators, turtles and fish.
In the holiday season the Festival of Lights at Silver Springs decorates the botanical gardens with millions of lights. Carol singers stroll the grounds and there is a beautiful lighted boat parade and musical stage shows. Best of all these outdoor events can all be enjoyed amidst pleasant Florida temperatures of around 70-80F during the day. Enjoy the fabulous Holiday Buffet before taking the leisurely drive home through the Florida scenery.
The Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando puts on a splendid ICE! Attraction which is open to all. It creates its own winter wonderland with 40 artists from China carving 2 million pounds of ice over several weeks to create an amazing ice display. Visitors can see the life-sized nativity scene and a host of three-dimensional sculptures in amazing detail. Tickets include the loan of warm overcoats to wear during a visit to the “Florida Fridge” which is maintained at a very un-Orlando-like 9°F. With an ice-skating rink, Santa in his ornament room and carousel rides, there is really nowhere nicer to be for the holidays than Orlando, Florida.
If you’re traveling to sunny Florida this winter, check out our low rates on car rental in Orlando. We usually have many cars and minivans for rent at Orlando International Airport (MCO) during the holiday season.
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We here at Payless Car Rental have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. We’re thankful for the privilege to continue to serve our leisure and business travelers in this economic climate. We’re thankful for the great employees we have here at Payless, especially those that have stuck with us all these years. Most importantly, however, we’re thankful to you, our customers, who continue to support us and provide constructive feedback on where we can improve. We want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels!
November 17th, 2010 · Mexico
Cancun, Mexico is a great place to travel to any time of the year with gorgeous beaches, plentiful opportunities for scuba diving, and guaranteed sunshine. From September to December, the Mexican calendar is packed with festivals from El Grito (Independence Day) to the pre-Christmas celebrations of Las Posadas. These cultural celebrations are a real bonus for vacationers lucky enough to be in Cancun at that time. Best of all, hotel prices are at their lowest in the fall before rising steeply for the peak winter season. So remember, to book your hotel and car rental early, at least a few weeks in advance of your trip.
Day of Kukulcan
Those visiting the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza around the fall equinox can join the crowds of curious onlookers, archaeologists and astronomers who gather to witness the amazing phenomena on the Day of Kukulcan. This is when the “feathered serpent” is believed to return to the earth, bringing a blessing of fertility and a good harvest. The sun projects onto the ancient pyramid creating a shadow of a 34-meter long serpent which appears to descend the steps over a 5-hour period. Visitors can witness this ancient spectacle and marvel at the mathematical precision of the ancient Mayans who created it.
Dia de Meurtos, or Day of the Dead
The next fall celebration in Cancun is the macabre-sounding Day of the Dead or Dia de Muertos, celebrated throughout Latin America in early November. This festival welcomes home the souls of the departed but far from being a mournful time, it is celebrated with colorful decorations and feasts. Many families will share a picnic at the graves of the departed. For visitors it is a great festival to join in. It begins with a Gastronomy Fest in Cancun where chefs create their finest offerings in an all-you-can-eat buffet extravaganza! (Hungry yet?) Restaurants prepare traditional dishes to commemorate the holiday and there are costume parties, dances and special events in all the clubs. There is even a competition to create the most original altar which consists of tables decorated with colored candles, orange marigolds, food offerings and skulls made of sugar. It gives a unique insight into the historic culture and beliefs of Mexicans.
December marks the beginning of the build-up to Christmas with the “Most Beautiful Marathon in the World” followed by Las Posadas festivities of our Lady of Guadalupe. It celebrates the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and is marked with pilgrimages, parades of decorated figures and masses, particularly in churches dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Add a touch of Mexican culture to your next fall vacation by visiting Cancun – it is sure to be a truly unique and memorable experience!
If you’re traveling to Cancun this fall, check out our low rental car rates at Payless in Cancun, Mexico.
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If laboring in the kitchen over a hot stove does not sound like your ideal Thanksgiving, why not take advantage of the long weekend break and head for Phoenix, Arizona? The arid climate and mild temperatures make it a great place to escape to for a Thanksgiving weekend break with great restaurants, hiking, fishing, golf and some very special events for all the family.
Fountain Hills, just 30 miles from Phoenix Airport in the McDowell Hills, hosts one of the best Thanksgiving parades in North America. Parada de los Cerros has colorful floats, marching bands and marines to get visitors in a great party mood.
Thanksgiving Dinner in Phoenix
For a memorable turkey dinner with a difference (and absolutely no hot stove in sight) book dinner at the Revolving Restaurant in the Hyatt Regency’s Compass Arizona Grill. It serves à la carte and buffet fare throughout the day including carved roast turkey, baked ham and an appetizing seafood bar along with 360-degree panoramic views of the city skyline.
For a taste of decadence at the “Jewel of the Desert”, book a long weekend at the Arizona Biltmore which has been offering fabulous Thanksgiving specials since it opened in 1929. As well as serving superb Thanksgiving meals in its three top restaurants, it offers two 18-hole golf courses, 8 heated swimming pools and a 92-foot waterslide to make Thanksgiving in Phoenix truly memorable for kids, golfers and food-lovers.
Things to Do in Phoenix at Thanksgiving
Phoenix Zoo with its 1,300 animals and 2½ miles of trails is popular at any time of year. In late November, the zoo show puts on an elaborate display of animal-themed lights which offer great entertainment after dark. The 2.5 million lights and 500 sculptures showcase bats hanging in trees, alligators, rhinos, ladybugs and more. With carousel rides and holiday music, it is a great way to celebrate a fun-filled, family Thanksgiving in Phoenix.
Black Friday bargains are plentiful in Phoenix’s stores and malls for shoppers prepared to get up extra early, or maybe not go to bed at all! In the Westcor Midnight Madness Event, many of the area malls and town centers open for business at midnight and most other stores open well before 7am.
To sum it up, Phoenix offers warm sunshine, great food and plenty of family entertainment to make it a truly memorable Thanksgiving vacation for all the family.
If Phoenix is in your travel plans this Thanksgiving, we would like to help you enjoy your Phoenix trip on a budget. Payless Car Rental, your discount rent-a-car company, is conveniently located at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). Check our Phoenix value offers to save even more!
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