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James Wong

James Wong

James Wong has been with Time Out since 2017, writing for print editions of the magazine in Singapore and Hong Kong. He became the Texas Correspondent in 2021 and remains one of Time Out’s freelance reporters. James also authors Lonely Planet guidebooks and has visited 70 countries.

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Articles (88)

The best Mexican restaurants in Austin

The best Mexican restaurants in Austin

If there’s any cuisine Austin does best, it’s Mexican. This is the state that brought Tex-Mex to the world, after all, so you know maize is ingrained in culinary culture. The locals get their fix pretty much all day, every day, for any darn occasion, be it a grab-and-go from a food truck or a margarita-fueled patio party at Barton Springs. When there’s a Mexican restaurant at every turn, there are no excuses. Y’all in the mood for the meats? The cochinita pibil’s smokin’ just right over at Fonda San Miguel and Suerte. How about a reliable lunchtime counter? There are seven Veracruz All Natural locations to which you can get accustomed. And if you’re looking for an extra special spot to swoon the boo over some tangy ceviche and warm duck enmoladas, expect to be spoiled for choice, downtown and beyond. No matter how spicy you like it, there's a Mexican restaurant in Austin for you.  Recommended:🍳 The best restaurants in Austin🍹 The best bars in Austin🌮 Where to find the best tacos in Austin This guide was updated by Austin-based writer James Wong. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

The best things to do in Austin right now

The best things to do in Austin right now

Everyone wants to come away from their trip feeling like they saw it all and hope they never stumble across a TikTok post-trip highlighting a destination and making them ask, “Did I even go to [blank]?” Austin, Texas, is one of the cities you don't want to miss out on. With its crave-worthy restaurants and vibrant bar scene, it's the kind of place to spur a first-timer to consider moving here to save on making frequent trips back. It's also a big city with a rural feel. Think natural wonders punctuating a lively downtown, where some of the country's largest festivals happen to take place. Below, you'll find Texan landmarks that’ll make any wannabe cowboy hoot n' holler and spots that buck all expectations. Whether it's your first time here or you're a newbie looking to get a lay of the land, these are the best things to do in Austin.  RECOMMENDED: The best day trips from AustinThe best hotels in AustinThe best Airbnbs in AustinThe best spa hotels in Austin This guide was updated by Austin-based writer Deven Wilson. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines. 

The best things to do in Houston right now

The best things to do in Houston right now

Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the nation, and it celebrates its melting pot reputation while staying true to its Texan roots. That means that yes, everything is bigger here, but you’ll also be met with small-town warmth and hospitality. Whether stepping into quirky museums or stepping it up to award-winning, fine dining restaurants, you’ll get the same, downhome Texan welcome Houston is known for. With 25 distinct neighborhoods, each with its own personality, you could spend a year exploring and still not see everything Houston has to offer. So take our advice and check out the best things to do in Houston on your journey through Space City (more on that below!). This guide was updated by Houston-based writer Rebecca Deurlein. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.  RECOMMENDED:  🍴The best restaurants in Houston🏠The best Houston Airbnbs🇺🇸The best hotels in Houston

The 10 best things to do in Galveston, Texas

The 10 best things to do in Galveston, Texas

Just 50 miles south of Houston, you’ll find Galveston, a 600-mile stretch of coastline that straddles Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. And though flashier Texas cities sometimes steal all the limelight, real ones know that Galveston is the place to spend the holidays.  That’s partly down to its beaches, its colorful seaside shops and its delightful seafood, but it’s also down to Galveston’s vibe; a chilled-out, laid-back city where there’s always a buzz, anytime of year. From theme parks to state parks and its infamous pier, here are the best things to do in Galveston.  RECOMMENDED:📍 The best things to do in Houston🌮 The best things to do in Austin☀️ The best things to do in Texas🎡 The best amusement parks in the US James Wong is Time Out’s Texas correspondent. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines. 

The 10 best museums in San Antonio

The 10 best museums in San Antonio

Museums might not be the first thing on your list when planning a trip to San Antonio. You’re probably thinking first of the parks, the River Walk, and the Alamo. But if museum hopping isn’t on your itinerary, you’re missing out: San Antonio is full of them.  Here you’ll find everything from must-see historical museums to modern art, as well as out-there exhibitions to immerse yourself in Texan history and culture. For a day out that will surprise and inspire you all at once, here is our list of the best museums in San Antonio right now.  RECOMMENDED:📍 The best things to do in San Antonio🌮 The best restaurants in San Antonio🏨 The best hotels in San Antonio👪 The best things to do with kids in San Antonio This guide was updated by Texas-based writer James Wong. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines. 

The best spa hotels in Austin

The best spa hotels in Austin

Austin’s undoubtedly become one of the best places in Texas for plush spa hotels and resorts. Yes, the city is better known for sweaty festivals and greasy barbecues…but did you know that feel-good businesses are popping up all over the place right now? The wellness scene is booming, and if you’re looking to fully immerse yourself, one of Bat City’s gorgeous spa boudoirs may just be what the therapist, life coach, nutritionist, or trainer ordered. You can go down one of two delicious routes – head to the hills and escape at a spa resort; many are all-inclusive and offer breathtaking views of the Hill Country. Or stay downtown, in the heart of all the action, but sporadically retreat to a cavern of whirlpools, candle-lit treatment rooms, and plant-forward dining. We’ve plucked the finest overnight wellness offerings in Austin right now, so you can experience blissful R&R the Texan way.  Recommended: The best Austin experiences to give as gifts Who makes the cut? While we might not stay in and review every hotel featured, we've based our list on our expert knowledge of the destination covered, editorial reviews, user reviews, hotel amenities and in-depth research to find you the best stays. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines.

The 20 best things to do in San Antonio right now

The 20 best things to do in San Antonio right now

Fancy taking a boat trip to an art gallery, getting lost in fossil caverns, and strolling over a moonlit bridge? You’ve come to the right place. Once a day trip spot, San Antonio has since made a pretty big name for itself as a prime destination – a cultural hotspot with an innovative food scene, and more.  Whether you were drawn to the city for its fantastic annual Fiesta, Dia de los Muertos or even its Book Festival, there’s plenty to discover to extend your trip. San Antonio is home to districts full of character, street food and live music, and its cultural explosion many years ago made room for a buzzing arts and culture scene, with the San Antonio Museum of Art, McNay Art Museum and the DoSeum well worth checking out. It’s also known for its many parks and green spaces, boasting everything from botanical gardens to a Japanese Tea Garden, but it hasn’t lost its Tejano culture and Texan charm along the way. So whether you’re hopping over from Austin or here for the week, check out our full guide to the city. Enjoy, folks. RECOMMENDED: 🌮 The best restaurants in San Antonio🏛️ The best museums in San Antonio🍺 The best bars in San Antonio🏨 The best hotels in San Antonio👪 The best things to do with kids in San Antonio🛏️ The best Airbnbs in San Antonio

The best luxury hotels in Austin

The best luxury hotels in Austin

As one of the most exciting cities in the US, Austin’s hotels provide the very best in luxury. Bat City plays host to the likes of NASCAR and SXSW, a booming tech industry, and attractions galore, so the appetite for five-star experiences is pretty darn insatiable. If luxury is what you’re after, consider it served right here…with sides! Luxury can mean many things, too. For some, it is the coolest boutique hangout with fine-dining restaurants and an elevated bar; for others, it is a tranquil spa resort tucked away by the hills. It’s fair to say at least that the overall expectation is beautiful interiors, impeccable service, and a chance to indulge. For anyone looking to splurge a couple of nights (or more), take a look at our list of the finest Austin hotels, all of which are an ideal base for exploring the best things to do in Austin. Updated for February 2024: Because we like to always have one ear to the ground when it comes to the best stays, we're always improving our lists. An this time, we've taken the liberty of adding two new favorites, one a gorgeous mansion and heritage site, while the other is  steeped in modern luxury with a secluded poolside that will have you in utter bliss.  RECOMMENDED: 🇺🇸 Check out the best hotels in Austin🧖‍♀️Relax at the best spa hotels in Austin Who makes the cut? While we might not stay in and review every hotel featured, we've based our list on our expert knowledge of the destination covered, editorial reviews, user reviews, hotel

The 11 best hotels in Austin for the perfect stay in the Texas capital

The 11 best hotels in Austin for the perfect stay in the Texas capital

A record number of visitors arrive in Bat City year after year, and the best Austin hotels give them every reason to stick around. Whether here for one of the city’s big events (like SXSW, ACL, and F1) or simply to soak up the laid-back vibes (you’re spoilt for choice with things to do), visitors will find a dizzying number of accommodations that suit every style - after all, studies reveal that despite inflation, travel experiences are on the top of our agenda.  Certainly, the buzzing city has more boutique hotels than ever before. You’ll find a convivial hostel in a historic firehouse just steps from Dirty Sixth (the perfect place to meet new friends for a night on the town) and a batch of Hill Country destination spa resorts that’ll whisk you off the main drag into nature. Naturally, you’ll find plenty of swanky city bookings, too, that command enviable addresses near Austin’s best restaurants and bars. Struggling to pick a hotel from the masses of incredible ones out there? Here's our list of the best hotels in Austin, judged using our expert opinions. We know our stuff. RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in AustinRECOMMENDED: The best boutique hotels in AustinRECOMMENDED: The best Airbnbs in Austin Who makes the cut? While we might not stay in every hotel featured, we've based our list on top reviews, hosts and amenities to find you the best stays. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see ou

The 14 best downtown Austin hotels

The 14 best downtown Austin hotels

Though some might argue otherwise, downtown Austin really is where all the best attractions, restaurants and hotels are at. It’s where tourists wander the State Capitol, where the bats emerge from Congress Avenue Bridge, and where bachelors and bachelorettes go wild on Dirty Sixth. Sure, East is hipster, North has better Asian food and South has all the parks, but being central means you’re simultaneously close to them all. Depending on where you’re at, you can even walk to the other neighborhoods (maybe not between June and September). It’s no wonder downtown boasts the highest concentration of hotels, from luxury to business to budget—all conveniently located so that you can dart in and out of SXSW or ACL events, bar hop, or window-shop with minimal effort or rideshare expense. Here’s where to check in and keep things central in Austin. RECOMMENDED: 🧖‍♀️The best spa hotels and resorts in Austin Who makes the cut? While we might not stay in and review every hotel featured, we've based our list on our expert knowledge of the destination covered, editorial reviews, user reviews, hotel amenities and in-depth research to find you the best stays. This article includes affiliate links. These links have no influence on our editorial content. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines.

The 10 best flower delivery services in Austin

The 10 best flower delivery services in Austin

Looking to brighten up someone’s day? A beautiful bouquet of blooms should do the trick. While Texas is more often considered a cacti-laden land, the bluebonnets always find their way through the dust. And there’s much more where that came from. Businesses are rearing plants from all over the world so that in Austin, you’ll literally find a bloom for every taste, be it for roses, orchids, tulips or carnations. If you’re searching for the perfect arrangement to say ‘I Love You’ on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or an anniversary, or a way to communicate something else, we have just the cuts. Plucked from both nationwide biggies and boutique family-run businesses, these flower delivery services cater to an ATX audience and are primed for a heartfelt gesture. And while you’re in the spirit of spoiling, consider our guides to the most romantic restaurants or the best spas in Austin for an extra sweet treat. Here are the finest florists to get a bouquet delivered. RECOMMENDED:🍫Complete the gift with the very best chocolate shops in the USA🌹Check out the best flower shops in Texas🌻Or head to The best flower shops in Austin How do we determine the cream of the crop? Our staff picks combine the top, most recent reviews with some of our personal favourites to make sure you get the best deal on the web. Throughout this article, you may notice some affiliate links – these have no influence on our editorial content – we pinky swear. For more information, see our affiliate guidelines.

The best Italian restaurants in Austin to check out right now

The best Italian restaurants in Austin to check out right now

If you didn't already know, Austin’s quite the hotspot for dining these days—and it goes beyond brisket and tacos. Folks are coming far and wide (well, at least within the state) for authentic international eats, from Indian to Japanese to, yes, Italian. Austin restaurants are a hotbed for cheese, carbs and saucy things. Trattorias have been popping up all over town, giving Austinites the opportunity to satisfy cravings for lasagna layered with meaty goodness, a spaghetti date night lit with candles, or a jumbo-sized pizza party. Ready to dig in? Here are the best Italian restaurants in Austin. This guide was updated by Austin-based writer James Wong. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.  Recommended: The best restaurants in Austin  

Listings and reviews (1)

La Condesa

La Condesa

What’s the vibe? It’s all about the streetside patio. Pedestrian-friendly Second Street’s the place to people watch, and Condesa’s got sauces to keep you going all afternoon long. What are the prices like at La Condesa? Slightly above mid-range but comparable to restaurants in the area. Guac and esquites are $16, and you’re looking at around $40-$50 for a meaty main. A generous happy hour operates every weekday, though, with half-off drinks and $3 taco specials. What should I order at La Condesa? Brunch is hot here. Try the queso flameado, flaming hot cheese served with black beans, rajas, dos lunas clasico, diced avocado and tortillas. If you have a sweet tooth then center the meal around the puffy churro waffles instead, sided with grapefruit-hibiscus jam and oaxacan crema. The bar stocks one of Austin’s largest collections of pure blue agave tequila and mezcal—order flights to sample the greats. What's worth visiting nearby? Grab a bag of tacos to go from Veracruz All Natural at The Line Hotel if you’re still hungry. Sit with them on the banks by Congress Avenue Bridge to catch swarms of bats that emerge each sunset in the summer, or outside of bat season, work off the queso with a stroll along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.

News (14)

Revealed: The 10 worst states to live in right now

Revealed: The 10 worst states to live in right now

Let's be real: The last few years have left Americans feeling particularly stressed out. Covid cases are rising, human rights are compromised, and salaries just aren’t keeping up with inflation.  And the struggle is extra real for a handful of states deemed the worst places to live in the US according to a study conducted by CNBC which takes into account factors such as environmental quality, crime rates, health care and inclusiveness of state laws in areas like protections against discrimination and voting rights. Top of the list of worst states to live in is Arizona. Yes, Scottsdale is gorgeous, but when considering the rest of The Grand Canyon State, things are a bit of an... um... tumbleweed. Arizona has the worst air quality in America (according to the American Lung Association), and Phoenix experiences a dangerous 39 high ozone days per year. This is heightened by the fact that the state has the lowest budget for public health, meaning a dire health care system short on hospital beds and staff. Runner up on the list is Texas. The state that proudly boasts that "everything is bigger" is correct in some dire instances—Texas ranks high for discrimination and big on lack of voting rights. Texas' health care system, a high rate of uninsured people and limited childcare also makes it a terrible place to live. Oklahoma rounds off the top three. It’s among the unhealthiest states in the nation, with little regard for exercise, fruit or vegetables (according to the United Healt

Spirit Airlines is installing high-speed Wi-Fi on its planes

Spirit Airlines is installing high-speed Wi-Fi on its planes

Journeys on Spirit Airlines are about to get an upgrade: the budget carrier is rolling out high-speed Wi-Fi service next month, and it’ll be so fast you’ll be able to stream movies, Zoom your boss or follow a Blogilates workout on YouTube. But don’t get your pretzels in a twist just yet. In line with Spirit’s upsell ethos, the quality of your "Stranger Things" binge will depend greatly on how much you’re willing to fork out. The official word is that browsing starts as little as $2.99 and streaming at $5.99. However, the costs can more than double depending on the flight you take.  We hopped online and checked out a popular route to see for ourselves. From LAX to EWR (Newark), the price tag for streaming is $14.99 each device, each way. If you’re the kind of person who travels with both phone and laptop, you’ll rack up $60 in round-trip Wi-Fi privileges. Holy guacamole!  Spirit says this will be the fastest Wi-Fi service of any US-based airline once they’re configured with this state-of-the-art system, in partnership with Thales and FlytLIVE.  Executive VP Matt Klein added, "This is a real groundbreaking moment in the industry as Spirit adds in-flight amenities and product options that have previously not been available on ultra-low fare carriers. We're continuing to deliver the best value in the sky by providing options that are important to our Guests, like our high-speed Wi-Fi service, while keeping our focus on affordable fares to provide our Guests with More Go." Wi-Fi c

Peek inside Virgin Atlantic's sexy new seating for couples

Peek inside Virgin Atlantic's sexy new seating for couples

Heading out on a romantic European adventure this summer? Then you might want to consider an upgrade: Virgin Atlantic just unveiled their new Airbus A330-900 neo aircraft, and the Upper Class cabin has two extra special seats on board. The new Retreat Suites will be the most luxurious seats Sir Branson has ever offered; situated at the front of the cabin, the suites come equipped with an almost seven-feet long seat, which converts into a lie-flat bed, a 27-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity and wireless charging, a privacy door that fully closes, and electronic dividers, mood lighting, a do not disturb light, and all the fixings that come with Upper Class, including gourmet meals, bar, pajamas, amenity kits, and access to Clubhouse lounges. Photograph: Courtesy Virgin Atlantic And for lovebirds in company of friends and family, there's an opportunity to share the experience too. The suites can be reconfigured to allow for four people to sit together, whether that be for dining, games or chit-chat with complimentary bubbles. Anticipating popular demand, Virgin will be offering the special seats at an additional surcharge to existing Upper Class passengers just 14 days before departure, so frequent flyers won't be able to pre-book all those coveted spots up in advance. Virgin will roll the A330neo from fall to 2026. Each will have 30 brand new Upper-Class suites, as well Premium and Economy. The first flight will depart this October 2022 from Boston. Photograph: Co

Canada is giving out free annual passes to its national parks this month

Canada is giving out free annual passes to its national parks this month

Our neighbors across the border want us to come check out their National Parks, and they're willing to give us free entry to them all to do so.  Destination Canada in partnership with Parks Canada are offering up 4,000 annual Parks Canada Discovery passes, worth $113 each. These cover admission to over 80 natural destinations in Canada and are good for 12 months. Popular Canadian parks include the east coast's Gros Morne National Park, famous for soaring fjords and moody mountains, and Hudson Bay's Wapusk National Park, home to polar bears and timber wolves. Of course, no trip to Canadian National Parks is complete without a visit to their bucket list wonder, Banff National Park, also included on the pass.   Photograph: Courtesy EITWBANFF To claim your shiny card, Americans must enter the sweepstakes online before July 31st. You must be a legal resident of one of the 50 US states or the District of Columbia and be over 21 years old. Winners will be announced the following week. In addition to passes, all entrants will be added to a grand prize draw, and one lucky American (with understanding employers) will win the 'dream nature sabbatical' worth $20,000. This includes all transportation, accommodation, excursions, gear and stipend for food and incidentals. Oh, and of course a discovery pass, too. The SVP of Marketing at Destination Canada, Gloria Loree said, "We're next-door neighbors—and we want to welcome back our American friends with access to places we know will lift

The Buck Supermoon will be visible in the skies tonight

The Buck Supermoon will be visible in the skies tonight

Tonight, Wednesday July 13th, is a big night for earthlings: It's the arrival of a supermoon, a celestial spectacle that will be bigger and brighter than any other this year. This is due to the fact that the Moon will be closer to us than at any other point in 2022.   Supermoons are always a treat for space enthusiasts, astrologers and photographers, but that's not to say we can't all enjoy the wonders of moonlight. Sky watchers should be able to observe a full moon up-close (ish) after dawn... and while things may be big then, they'll be at their biggest at 5am EDT, 4am CDT, and 2am PDT, in case you're mesmerized enough to stay up the entire night (and if not, then you might want to sport an eye mask before nodding off). At that specific time, in fact, the Moon should precisely be 221,994 miles (357,264 kilometres) away, according to the whiz kids at Space.com. Sounds far, but it'll feel quite the opposite; so close you'll think you can touch it. Photograph: Shutterstock The term supermoon, adopted by NASA, originally came from astrologer Richard Nolle back in 1979. His definition states that the phenomenon is a full moon that takes place within 90 percent of its closest approach to Earth. This is when it looks the most 'full', with shaded sides too narrow for the naked eye to see. Fall asleep before the big moment? You'll probably wake up and see it all over social media tomorrow, but at least you heard it here first.

McDonald's is giving away FREE fries all today

McDonald's is giving away FREE fries all today

We're all feeling the pinch of inflation right now, so the word 'free' is enough to drive even the most composed Americans hysterical. Add to the equation deep-fried treats that are yellow in color and come with a high risk of health complications, and well, certain states (ahem, Texas) are going to need military assistance. Which is why we're letting you know at your own risk: McDonald's is giving away FREE fries all today.  But don't expect to walk up to the nearest drive-through window and demand a gratis treat. To prevent a stampede, there is one teeny, tiny barrier to enjoying free fries today: you have to order via the McDonald's app. Photograph: Shutterstock In order to claim $1.89 in potato sticks, you'll need to download the fast food chain's official app, sign up with all your personal data (and thus, join their loyalty program), claim a large portion of French fries (no purchase necessary), head down to your closest participating McDonald's, wait in line, and hope they haven't run out.   Of course, Ronald McDonald won't be restricting such a generous offering to one day in the year: virtually the same offer (but with medium fries and a requirement to spend at least $1) is available every Friday till December 31st. Wowzers. National French Fry Day is celebrated on July 13 every year. For those who don't fancy becoming members of the chain's digital loyalty program, why not commemorate the day by making your own fries. You'll save a lot more than two bucks.

Revealed: The top bucket-list destinations for Americans in 2022, according to Skyscanner

Revealed: The top bucket-list destinations for Americans in 2022, according to Skyscanner

Years of being pent up stateside (as exciting as the national parks and Hawaii are) have got Americans gagging for international adventures. Maybe it’s all that Emily in Paris, maybe it’s those royal goals in The Crown. However, according to a recent survey, neither France nor England are on the American wishlist in 2022. Now, this could be for a couple of reasons: either travelers have already checked them off their bucket list (judging by our social media feeds, this could indeed be true), or none of the respondents had a Netflix subscription. OK, it's neither. Skyscanner, the company behind the survey, determined America’s most sought-after destinations by an increase in bookings since 2019 and the country who grabbed the number one spot is Qatar. The Middle East nation saw a 522 percent jump in bookings over the last three years, fueled no doubt by the pending 2022 World Cup (and sadly not a TV series starring a pretty actress with a fabulous wardrobe). This monster event will be the first time a World Cup has been held in the entire Middle East region. Photograph: Shutterstock The majority of the list, though, is made up of Caribbean islands. Anguilla, St Barths, Turks and Caicos, the US Virgin Islands, and Antigua and Barbuda all rank high for bucket-list travel this year, not doubt satisfying a truly American need for sun, sand and all-you-can-eat buffet resorts.  Rounding off the list are destinations we've seen trending before: the Maldives, the UAE, Portugal a

Here are the National Parks that have reinstated mask mandates

Here are the National Parks that have reinstated mask mandates

Just when we thought life was back to normal again, a subvariant comes and coughs right back on our faces. Back in 2020, National Parks were a surefire way to escape the city, and since then they’ve remained a reliable space for vacationers keen to explore America’s gracious natural wonders as well as beat airline mask drama. But not anymore. Due to the recent spike in Covid cases, a slew of National Parks have reinstated mask mandates and other restrictions. Four of the top ten most-visited will now require you to mask up indoors, regardless of vaccination status. They are the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Yosemite.  Photograph: Shutterstock While the rules vary by park, masks are required on all forms of public transportation within all of them. For example you’ll need to strap on at Alaska’s Denali wilderness and history tours, which last for up to six hours round trip. Denali also requires masks in their lodges, gift shops and restaurants (well, at least you don’t need to worry about getting too hot.) Other parks where some form of masking is required include Arches, Death Valley, Olympic, Sequoia and Petrified Forest. Photograph: Shutterstock The NPS website states that “In areas CDC identifies as high COVID-19 community level, masks are required for everyone in all NPS buildings regardless of vaccination status. In most low and medium COVID-19 community level areas, masks are optional, but visitors should follow signs and instructions from park staff an

Here are the winners of this year’s wild bird photography competition

Here are the winners of this year’s wild bird photography competition

Time to go cuckoo for capturing wildlife (on camera): the National Audubon Society has revealed this year's winners of their annual bird photography contest, and the images are wings above anything ever seen before.  The grand winner of the $5,000 prize was Jack Zhi of Costa Mesa, California, responsible for an incredible shot of a pair of White-tailed Kite, one clutching a vole in its yellow talons. “I studied White-tailed Kite behavior for three years before I got this close-up. It was a challenge to get the action, distance, lighting, and angles of the individuals all right at the same time.” says Zhi, “The father, who teaches his fledglings to hunt, held a vole in his talons. The fledgling flew in and, in a blink, grabbed the rodent as the father let go.” Jack Zhi - Audubon Photography Awards, 2022 Grand Prize Winner Peter Shen of San Jose, California took home the Amateur Award for his photo of a Western Gebe feeding two chicks. “I was hiking on a narrow, rocky trail when I saw a Western Grebe with two chicks on her back. A male arrived with a fish and passed it to the mom. I quickly laid flat on the gravel, bird droppings all around, but I didn’t care.” Dedication.   Peter Shen - Audubon Photography Awards, 2022 Amateur Winner Ankur Khurana from Canada snagged a photo of a pair of Common Raven grooming each other on the snow, while Liron Gertsman, also from Canada, was crowned the professional winner for his image of a rare White-tailed Ptarmigan. “I’ve spent countl

The US government says airlines have to stop charging families to sit together

The US government says airlines have to stop charging families to sit together

The US Department of Transportation has issued a stern warning to airlines: stop charging families to sit together. That means that the likes of JetBlue, United, and Spirit will need to adopt policies that minimize the chances of families with young children being separated, or face new regulations. Children who are under the age of 13 should be seated next to an accompanying adult with no additional charge says the DOT, who offers solutions to the airlines such as free seat reservations at the time of booking for qualifying passengers; allowing families to board early if they use an open seating policy; or blocking rows for family use. The request does not apply to adult-only parties (sorry honeymooners!). The notice comes as US airlines ramp up their profit-making initiatives; most now charge extra for seats closer to the front of the aircraft (but otherwise, come with no added benefit) as well as for carry-on bags. Although the DOT has received a relatively low number of consumer complaints regarding family seating, there has been a noticeable increase in seat separation over the years: in many instances, complaints have arisen where children as young as 11 months old (yes, you heard right) were allocated seats away from their accompanying adult. Between now and November, airlines will have the opportunity to make a shift in their seating practices before the government agency decides if new regulations need to be put in place. Till then, customers flying with children sho

Here's how you can hike and win prizes in Minnesota this summer

Here's how you can hike and win prizes in Minnesota this summer

It’s never really taken much to get a Minnesotan out in nature during the summertime (10,000 gorgeous lakes and non-threatening weather are just part of the incentive), but a new hiking program means even stragglers have absolutely no excuse lace up their boots this summer.  The Minnesota tourism board is back with a program encouraging both locals and visitors alike to get out and hike the state's gorgeous parks and recreation centers. Participants need only to download the free Hike MN Passport and check in at one of 60 featured locations each month in order to be added to a multiple prize draw. And what are the fabulous prizes, we hear you ask? Well, aside from good health, great views, and oodles of fun, rewards available come in the shape of gift cards. We’re talking $100 gift cards from the Mall of America, $50 gift cards from SCHEELS, and $35 gift cards from Minnesota State Parks & Trails (best enjoyed in the summer for obvious reasons) so you can add a little retail therapy to your North Star State agenda. Of course, it’s not all about the plastic, it’s about the exploration. The passport of 60 trails offers guidance as to the best places to slip on your boots in the state. These include the historic Lake Shetek State Park, home to the largest lake in southwestern Minnesota; the rolling hills of Maplewood State Park, best for viewing the fall colors, and the Superior Hiking Trail, superior in name and superior in scenery. After zipping by magnificent waterfalls, trekk

These US airlines have the most frequent delays

These US airlines have the most frequent delays

It’s been all over the news lately; passengers stranded at airports with screaming kids, families missing weddings because of ‘severe weather’ and long lines at security full of smucks who haven’t yet discovered the wonders of TSA pre-check. It’s enough to turn anyone off the idea of faraway destinations. However, one way to avoid the drama could be to look at the stats. According to The Family Vacation Guide, who analyzed data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, your chances of delay are heavily impacted by both your choice of airline and your arriving airport; in other words, you should avoid flying Allegiant Airlines to Newark or LaGuardia. Between 2019 and 2021, they discovered that 27.31 percent of the low-cost carrier’s flights were late or canceled. Meanwhile, all three of NYC’s major airports made the top ten when it came to late arrivals (in Newark, one-fourth of all flights arrived later than their scheduled time). To be fair, NYC-servicing airports are some of the biggest and busiest in the world, so the chances of you arriving late there as opposed to say, Des Moines, may not exactly correlate. We wouldn’t waste our time driving from Washington DC to hit up Broadway just yet. Photograph: Shutterstock Since the survey’s top three most delayed or canceled airlines were all budget carriers (comprising of Allegiant, JetBlue and Frontier) avoiding mishap can come at a price—breaking out of budget. Flying on United or American drops your probability of setba