Travel Blog Posts by Katie Sagal

Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing Reopens!

Art Institute of Chicago

Art lovers headed to Chicago this spring are in luck – the famed Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago will reopen on April 18, 2014 after a seven-month-long renovation process that saw many of the museum’s most popular pieces loaned out across the country. The Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing has been a Chicago landmark since it was first erected in 2009; an example of exquisite contemporary architecture, it’s been updated to accommodate redesigns in gallery lighting. Now visitors to the Art Institute can reacquaint themselves with the missing pieces. More than 100 paintings, sketches, and sculptures were loaned out to the Kimbell Art Museum in Forth Worth, Texas, including Matisse’s “Bathers by the River,” an early example of his interest in Cubism that has been a centerpiece of the Modern Wing Galleries. The renovation process actually put over 300 works of … [Read more...]

Smart Destinations Announces New San Francisco Explorer Pass!

San Francisco Explorer Pass

Exciting news for Smart Destinations fans  – the debut of our brand new product, the San Francisco Explorer Pass! The San Francisco Explorer Pass joins the whole Smart Destinations family in San Francisco, providing travellers with another great way to explore San Fran to their hearts content. Along with the Go San Francisco Card and the San Francisco Go Select Pass, the San Francisco Explorer Pass offers top-notch attractions, convenience, and big savings. Just like the ever-popular New York Explorer Pass, the San Francisco Explorer Pass is modeled to allow customers to choose a certain number of attractions out of a wide selection of local highlights. In this case, travelers can choose four attractions out of twenty of the city’s best to visit over the course of a full thirty days. Included attractions appeal to a range of interests and travel styles, with options as diverse … [Read more...]

Spring at Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Boston Museum of Fine Arts

One of our favorite places for artistic inspiration is the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. This spring, you’ll discover exhibits and artwork that span various exciting areas of human creativity, from craftwork to Caravaggio to Cezanne. Along with the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the MFA presents the best of the art world. No trip to Beantown is complete without an afternoon spent at this famous institution! Explore the colors of spring through the art of quiltwork, with a new exhibition of fascinating quilt art from the Pilgrim/Roy Collection. The exhibit, entitled, “Quilts and Color” showcases the creativity and innovation of these works of art reinterpreted a functional household item in a whole new way. A collection acquired by Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy, this selection of almost 60 different works explores the variations of … [Read more...]

Chicago Museum Campus Discounts

Chicago Museum Campus Discounts

When visiting the Windy City, there’s no better place for a well-rounded and educational weekend than the Chicago Museum Campus. Situated just south of verdant Grant Park, the Museum Campus is home to three of the city’s most popular attractions – Shedd Aquarium, The Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium. Each of these family-friendly cultural institutions has something unique to offer, and a trip to Chicago isn’t complete without a visit to all of them! A trip to the Museum Campus is a great spring break idea, too! A kid-favorite Chicago attraction, Shedd Aquarium is among the best-known aquariums in the country. Home to more than 30,000 creatures situated across many diverse habitats, Shedd is an amazing place to learn all about the various aquatic species of our planet’s waters. You’ll find stunning sharks in “Wild Reef,” impressive sea turtles in “Caribbean … [Read more...]

St. Patrick’s Day Chicago 2014

Chicago attractions

March is finally here, and that means one our favorite holidays is fast approaching – Saint Patrick’s Day! On the one day of year everyone in America is just a little Irish, it’s a great opportunity to enjoy many festive activities, performances, and attractions that celebrate Irish cultural heritage. If you’ll be spending this March 17th in the Windy City, be sure to check out a few of these classic Chicago Attractions. Enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Without question the single largest collection of people in green you’ll see in this side of Boston. Expect floats, balloons, dancers, performers, and bagpipers galore – a truly magnificent celebration of Irish culture! It begins on Columbus Drive at noon, and then moves north through Grant Park and beyond. Insider tip – the best place to view the parade without crowding is at the very beginning in Grant Park. Plus, … [Read more...]

San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival 2014

San Francisco Pass

Planning your spring vacations? Consider including a few days in San Francisco to your itinerary; it’s a quirky, artsy, multi-cultural city that has just about a little bit of everything for the traveler looking to enjoy an insider experience that goes beyond hokey touristy stuff.  One of the biggest local events of the year is actually just around the corner – the annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, which is one of the finest celebrations of Japanese art and culture in this country. If you’re looking to use your customized Go Select San Francisco Pass to explore the city like the local, the Cherry Blossom Festival is the place to be this April. 2014 marks the 47th year of the Cherry Blossom Festival, a popular community event that draws visitors from all over to San Francisco’s Japantown neighborhood. Located along Post Street between Laguna and Fillmore, … [Read more...]

Empire State Building Tourist Tips

Empire State Building Tourist Tips

It consistently appears at the top of the list of “must-see New York attractions.” Its image can be found in every postcard rack, stock photography database, and tourism brochure on New York City. It’s the Empire State Building, and you don’t want to miss it on your next trip to the Big Apple. So it’s not the tallest building in the world anymore, or even in the country (although at an impressive height of 1,454 ft – antenna included – it is still the 4th tallest building in America). The Empire State Building was constructed in 1931 to show the world the best of American industry, artistry, and civic pride. It’s often considered among the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and is actually a National Historic Landmark. Although it functions today primarily as an office building, it attracts a staggering four million visitors per year – making it one of the most … [Read more...]

Chicago Flower and Garden Show

Chicago Flower Show

Looking for something spring-y to brighten up your Chicago winter? Pay a visit to the annual Chicago Flower and Garden Show! With ties in the Windy City going all the way back to 1847, this Chicago attraction is a riot of color, fragrance, and beauty after the long and snowy winter. Held on the family-friendly Navy Pier from March 15 – 23, 2014, this year’s show promises to be more fun than ever. The theme for this year’s show is “Do Green Do Good.” Designed with a specific focus on the role nature plays in our daily lives, the exhibits, seminars, and workshops will showcase landscaping and gardening solutions for a modern life. Whether you’re looking to make your community or business greener, or even just grow your own vegetable garden, various experts will be on hand to provide demonstrations and suggest “realistic solutions” for green living in the twenty-first … [Read more...]

Things to do Presidents’ Day Weekend

Presidents' Day 2014

President’s Day is this upcoming Monday, February 17, 2014. While your kids have been spending the last week or so in school learning all about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, have you been taking advantage of the day off and planning a long weekend getaway to celebrate the holiday? With the way this winter’s been, we can’t blame you if you haven’t even thought about it yet. So don’t worry!  Check out our recommendations for some educational and artistic things to do President’s Day weekend this year. Get historical! This holiday is all about celebrating the great things our first President accomplished for this country. Try some historical New York City Attractions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with its impressive selection of presidential portraiture and artifacts. “George Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze is a must-see, … [Read more...]

Things to do on Valentine’s Day in NYC

Valentine's Day in New York

The most romantic holiday of the year is fast approaching, and many of us are still searching for that perfect date idea. If you’re looking for things to do in New York City this Valentine’s Day, here’s our list for special Big Apple romance. From art and architecture to flowers and dining, we’ve got the classics covered, with a few quirky and uniquely New York ideas sprinkled in. The Romance of Art Mankind has been turning to art to show their love for centuries. A visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this Valentine’s Day weekend is sure to nourish your lover’s soul. While you won’t be able to get any of these sparklies for your loved one, you absolutely won’t want to miss the “Jewels by JAR” exhibit. Featuring several hundred exquisite pieces of work by one of the most talented jewelers of the twentieth century, this collection of Parisian artifacts is sure to … [Read more...]