Posts Tagged ‘Diamond’

Travel times could be more than three times longer over the holiday week

ORLANDO, Fla. (November 16, 2017) – AAA projects 50.9 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005 with 1.6 million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared with last year. AAA and INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predict travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. during the holiday week could be as much as three times longer than the optimal trip.

Additional Resources

“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.

By the Numbers: 2017 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

  • Road trip ready: 89 percent of all travelers – 45.5 million – are planning a Thanksgiving road trip, an increase of 3.2 percent over last year.
  • Cheaper airfare: Consumers will pay the cheapest average airfare since 2013.
  • Fuller skies: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air travel, at five percent, with 3.95 million travelers.
  • Alternate travel: Travel by trains and other modes (including buses and cruises) is expected to increase 1.1 percent to 1.48 million travelers.
  • Fueling up: Drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014.
  • Holiday high: Car rental daily rates will hit a five-year holiday high at $70/day, which may be due to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles.

Travelers still hitting the road despite higher gas prices
While AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2014, the vast majority of holiday travelers (89.3 percent) are still planning to hit the road. Automobile travel will grow by 3.2 percent this Thanksgiving, with 45.5 million Americans planning a holiday road trip. This November’s national average price is $2.54, which is 37 cents more than last November (1st-14th).

Highs and Lows: Car rentals, airfare and hotel rates

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, travelers taking to the skies will pay the lowest average in five years for a round-trip flight for the top 40 domestic routes. At $157, on average, that is a 23 percent fare drop year-over-year.

Travelers can expect to spend any ‘flight savings’ on car rentals. At $70/day, the daily car rental average is 34 percent more than last year and the highest rate for Thanksgiving weekend since 2013. The increase in rates may be attributed to an increase in domestic demand and cost of newer vehicles in the fleets with added features and benefits.

Travelers will pay more for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels this holiday weekend. The average price increased by 14 percent to $176/night. Conversely, the average rate for AAA Two Diamond Rated hotels has decreased five percent with an average nightly cost of $117.

Travelers Beware and Advised: Traffic Hotspots and Best and Worst Times to Hit the Road

Based on historical and recent travel trends for the holiday week, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion during the early evening – as early as Tuesday of Thanksgiving week – as commuters mix with holiday travelers. At its peak, drivers on Chicago’s interstates, for example, could see a delay of nearly 300 percent over the optimal trip.

“Thanksgiving has historically been one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year we could see record-level travel delays,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Worst Time to Travel
Metro Area Worst Day

 for Travel

Worst Time

for Travel

Delay Multiplier
Chicago, IL Tuesday 5:00 – 6:00 PM 3x
San Francisco, CA Tuesday 4:00 – 5:45 PM 2.5X
Los Angeles, CA Tuesday 3:15 – 6:00 PM 2.5x
Boston, MA Tuesday 5:15 – 7:15 PM 2.5x
New York, NY Tuesday 5:30 – 6:30 PM 2x
Washington, DC Tuesday 4:45 – 6:00 PM 2x
Seattle, WA Tuesday 3:45 – 5:30 PM 2x
Atlanta, GA Wednesday 3:00 – 5:15 PM 2x
Houston, TX Wednesday 5:45 – 7:00 PM 1x
Detroit, MI Tuesday 3:00 – 5:30 PM 1x

The worst traffic hotspot during Thanksgiving week in each of the 10 most congested cities in the U.S. are:

Top Traffic Hotspot in America’s Most Congested Cities
Rank City Location
1 Los Angeles, CA I-5 S at Valley View Ave
2 New York, NY I-495 E at NY-106/NY-107
3 San Francisco, CA I-80 E at Pinole Valley Rd
4 Atlanta, GA I-75 N at Chastain Rd
5 Miami, FL I-95 N at Congress Ave
6 Washington, DC I-95 S at US-17/US-1
7 Dallas, TX US-75 S at I-45/I-3
8 Boston, MA I-90 W at I-84/US-20
9 Chicago, IL I-90 W at I-190
10 Seattle, WA I-405 S at WA-167

Across the country, travelers that take to the sky must account for long security lines, but also increased drive times to the airport. AAA and INRIX expect delays getting to the nation’s busiest airports could be as long as an hour.

Worst Travel Times to America’s Busiest Airports
Metro Area Airport Route Worst Time

for Travel

Travel Time

at Peak

New York, NY Downtown to JFK via Long Island Expressway East Tuesday,
5:30 – 7:30 PM
1 hr 54 min
Chicago, IL Downtown to ORD via Kennedy Expressway West Tuesday,
4:30 – 5:30 PM
1 hr 14 min
Denver, CO Downtown to DIA via I-70 E and Pena Blvd Wednesday,
4:30 – 6:30 PM
52 min
Los Angeles, CA Downtown to LAX via I-110 S Tuesday,
4:30 – 6:30 PM
46 min
Dallas, TX Downtown to DFW via TX-183 W Wednesday,
8:00 – 9:00 AM
46 min
Las Vegas, NV Downtown to LAS via I-15 S Wednesday,
8:00 – 9:00 AM
45 min
San Francisco, CA Downtown to SFO via US-101 S Tuesday,
5:00 – 7:00 PM
29 min
Seattle, WA Downtown to SEA via I-5 S Tuesday,
3:00 – 5:00 PM
29 min
Charlotte, NC Downtown to CLT via US-74 W Wednesday,
1:00 – 3:00 PM
19 min
Atlanta, GA Downtown to ALT via I-75 S Wednesday,
5:00 – 7:00 PM
12 min

Top 10 Thanksgiving Destinations
Many travelers will seek theme-park and warm-weather destinations this Thanksgiving. Both Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, top this year’s top 10 holiday destinations based on AAA.com bookings. Compared to previous years, New York City, Las Vegas and San Francisco are gaining popularity as holiday spots.  

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Anaheim, California
  3. New York City, New York
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii
  5. Las Vegas, Nevada
  6. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  7. Cancun, Mexico
  8. San Francisco, California
  9. Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
  10. Fort Lauderdale, Florida

According to Hertz, the busiest airport pick-up locations for travelers planning to rent a car this Thanksgiving are expected to be Orlando (MCO), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), Las Vegas (LAS) and Fort Lauderdale (FLL). The busiest day for rental pick-ups is expected to be Wednesday, Nov. 22, with an average rental length of nearly five full days, as travelers look to take advantage of the long holiday weekend.

Lockouts, flat tires to strand 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving
AAA expects to rescue more than 330,000 motorists this Thanksgiving weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists have their vehicles inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as one of the more than 7,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance.

Download the AAA Mobile app before a Thanksgiving getaway
Before setting out for the long Thanksgiving weekend, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance, find AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities and more. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

With the AAA Mobile app, travelers can also find nearly 59,000 AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants. AAA’s is the only rating system that uses full-time, professionally trained evaluators to inspect each property on an annual basis. Every AAA Inspected & Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

About the AAA travel forecast:
AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit. The London-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2017 Thanksgiving holiday travel forecast is available here.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides nearly 58 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

On-Site Inspections Reveal the Best Of One, Two and Three Diamonds

ORLANDO, Fla. (August 15, 2017) – With 59,000 Diamond Rated establishments from which to choose, AAA has unveiled a new Best Of designation to give travelers another way to find great options for any trip or budget. Currently just seven percent of AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants have earned the “Best Of” distinction. These establishments have overall ratings in the top 20 percent for their Diamond Rating level, no member complaints in the past 12 months and, for hotels only, A Rated cleanliness and condition.

Additional Resources

“When travelers are choosing a Diamond Rated hotel or restaurant, they should think of each additional Diamond as an indicator of more extensive services offered. AAA doesn’t approve substandard properties, which separates our ratings from the rest,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections and Diamond Ratings. “Whether an establishment offers a simple environment or extensive luxury, it provides members with a good choice for the type of experience provided.”

The vast majority of AAA’s Diamond Rated establishments ‒ 90 percent of hotels and 97 percent of restaurants ‒ earn a rating of One, Two or Three Diamonds. Undergoing evaluation from one of AAA’s professional inspectors, these hotels and restaurants meet AAA’s rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and they offer travelers more casual and affordable options that are often just as charming and memorable as their higher rated counterparts.

“Every AAA Diamond Rated establishment must consistently meet and exceed the expectations of the most discriminating traveler — the AAA inspector,” continued Petrone. “It’s a great accomplishment for any property to be listed as AAA Inspected & Approved. Those at the One, Two and Three Diamond levels are the most common and frequently visited by AAA members. This new Best Of designation highlights those at the top of their rating level.”

Here is a sampling of the diverse One, Two and Three Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants across North America that have earned a Best Of designation. Travelers can find more selections at AAA.com/123Diamonds.

Best Of One, Two and Three Diamond Hotels

Mountain Waters Resort – Portland Creek, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (AAA One Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
These cozy, well-kept cabins with decks are located in a quiet and picturesque wooded setting. Fishing is popular here as the renowned Salmon River and Portland Creek Pond border the property. Guests can immerse themselves in the outstanding natural surroundings thanks to the lack of internet and cell phone reception.

Cowboy Village Resort – Jackson, Wyoming (AAA Two Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
Located near dining and specialty retailers, the village offers a wonderful selection of studio and one-bedroom log cabins. All cabins have a picnic table, seating on a covered porch and a sofa bed as an added bonus. In the main building, the upscale lobby features an impressive floor-to-ceiling fireplace, the perfect spot to sit and relax.

Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort – Lake Buena Vista, Florida (AAA Two Diamond)

AAA Inspector Notes: Giant football helmets, hockey sticks and baseball bats decorate this sports-themed property. Abundant recreational amenities include dive-in movies and play areas with ping-pong, corn hole and foosball games. Guests can easily quell their hunger pangs at the food court and purchase souvenirs at the convenient on-site Disney store.

Inn at Cape Cod – Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts (AAA Three Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
Massive, iconic columns define the front porch of this Colonial-style mansion with grounds shaded by stately trees leading to a 100-acre nature reserve. Rooms are outfitted with rich furnishings, pillow top mattresses, soft triple sheeting and high-end bath amenities. A 24-hour coffee and tea station is available on each floor and complimentary homemade cookies are offered every afternoon.

Ocean Place Resort & Spa – Long Branch, New Jersey (AAA Three Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
A great option for a sunny escape, this hotel features sleek, modern rooms (some with ocean views); a luxury spa; beach club access; and a laid-back tiki bar. The hotel features dozens of mature palm trees brought in from the Gulf Coast to give the resort a distinctly Floridian feel.

Best Of One, Two and Three Diamond Restaurants

Rodeo Goat – Dallas, Texas (AAA One Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
This is the place for diners who have ever thought their burger needed grilled peaches, a fried egg or blackberry compote on top. Those and other creative ingredients are combined to make a distinctive burger menu. Get there early; the place fills up quickly, especially at lunchtime.

Tupelo Honey Café – Chattanooga, Tennessee (AAA Two Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
Traditional Low Country favorites such as fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits are served in heaping portions. The menu features twists on Southern staples, such as nutty fried chicken served with smashed sweet potatoes, asparagus and a side of goat cheese grits.

Sava’s – Ann Arbor, Michigan (AAA Two Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
Locals love the expansive Sunday brunch buffet offering everything from homemade pop tarts to egg dishes that change weekly. For lunch and dinner, the seasonal menu features fresh salads, small plates, steaks, juicy burgers and pasta. Friendly servers are always ready to make a recommendation, such as the lobster BLT topped with thick-cut bacon.

The Boiler Room – Omaha, Nebraska (AAA Three Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
The menu changes often and is focused on local, farm-to-table ingredients and pre-Prohibition era cocktails. The two-level space, a restored boiler room originally built in 1887, offers guests a bird’s-eye view of the expert chefs working diligently in the kitchen to prepare delicious meals.

Outpost – Goleta, California (AAA Three Diamond)
AAA Inspector Notes:
This restaurant offers retro California style with original artwork and a lively atmosphere. The covered patio area features views of the fire pit and pool at AAA Three Diamond Rated The Goodland hotel. For a tasty alternative, try the duck tacos paired with a local wine from the surrounding area.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

 

 

Julie HallFive Diamond establishments are noted for contemporary designs, premier quality and personalized services

ORLANDO, Fla. (January 27, 2017) – AAA has unveiled 63 restaurants and 120 hotels that have earned the AAA Five Diamond Rating in the past 12 months, qualifying them for the 2017 Five Diamond Award list. This exclusive group represents just 0.3 percent of the nearly 59,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated restaurants and hotels. Following rigorous evaluations from AAA’s professional inspectors, the following establishments were added as Five Diamond honorees in 2016.

Additional Resources

 

The Modern – New York City

AAA Inspector Notes: An exquisite museum sculpture garden provides this AAA Five Diamond restaurant a sublime, cosmopolitan and relaxed setting for a most splendid meal. The prix-fixe menus focus on seasonal, high-quality ingredients; sautéed foie gras, lobster steamed in spinach, bone marrow-crusted beef and Long Island duck are standouts. Service is energetic and diligent. The wine list is ample, and desserts are, like the setting, wonderfully artistic. Chef Abram Bissell adds his own signature and contemporary New American touch, and service staff is a pleasing blend of professional, enthusiastic young servers and a highly knowledgeable old guard.

Four Seasons Resort Lana’i – Lanai City, Hawaii

AAA Inspector Notes: The newly renovated AAA Five Diamond resort provides panoramic ocean views atop rugged lava cliffs and white sand beaches. Accommodations are culturally contextual, giving a nod to Hawaiian aesthetics. Guests will find unsurpassed in-room technology, including a 75-inch flat-screen television, multi-option panel controls for lighting and window coverings and an in-room iPad loaded with resort information and guest request options.

The St. Regis New York – New York City

AAA Inspector Notes: A New York landmark since 1904, this appealing AAA Five Diamond property offers style at a grand level. When combined with contemporary luxury and attentive services, it is in a rarefied, supreme class altogether. This historic hotel was built by John Jacob Aster IV as a sister property to the Waldorf Astoria, just a few years before Astor went down with the Titanic. Today, guests can enjoy unlimited use of the private on-site health club, complimentary garment pressing upon arrival and fresh fruit or candy delivered daily.

Spice Island Beach Resort – St. George’s, Grenada

AAA Inspector Notes: Situated on a gorgeous white-sand beach, this all-inclusive AAA Five Diamond resort has richly decorated, luxurious suites with furnished balconies or terraces. Some units also come with private plunge pools and four-poster canopy beds. The suites, tucked among private gardens dotted by lemon, almond and sea grape trees, are spread out in several buildings and afford very nice privacy.

Four Seasons Hotel Mexico D.F. – Mexico City

AAA Inspector Notes: Recently renovated from top to bottom, the design of this AAA Five Diamond hotel is stylish and sophisticated throughout. The elegantly appointed guest rooms are chic and many overlook a beautifully landscaped courtyard. Spanish colonial-inspired rooms feature LCD flat-screen televisions, iPod docking station and mini-bars. Marble-covered bathrooms include a deep soaking tub and separate shower.

Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Dorado, Puerto Rico

AAA Inspector Notes: Cutting-edge AAA Five Diamond luxury is wrapped in an envelope of naturally preserved sanctuary-style surroundings. The guest suites are spacious and have luxurious amenities and ocean views, with some also featuring private pools. Guests can indulge at the stupendous five-acre spa that includes a complete hydro treatment area and treehouse treatment rooms. The service is stellar from beginning to end and the ambience of exclusivity is self-evident. The pool area faces a wide swath of beach with views of turquoise ocean water.

The Jefferson Hotel – Richmond, Virginia

AAA Inspector Notes: This ornate 1895 Beaux-Arts hotel is a historic landmark with striking architectural details, including a Tiffany stained-glass rotunda, a marble statue of Thomas Jefferson and a grand staircase. A small museum tells of the AAA Five Diamond property’s storied past and dispels many of the rumors and historic tales associated with the hotel.

“Five Diamond establishments represent the upper echelon of hospitality, redefining personalized service, using creativity to enhance guest comfort and providing memorable experiences,” said Michael Petrone, director, AAA Inspections and Diamond Ratings. “Attaining the Five Diamond Rating is an impressive accomplishment and is a point of great pride for these top hotels and restaurants.”

Also of note among the new additions to the list is the first Five Diamond Rated property in Grenada, Spice Island Beach Resort. The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs remains the only hotel that has maintained the Five Diamond Rating for 41 consecutive years – since 1976 when AAA first introduced the Diamond Ratings for accommodations. The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room in Virginia remains the longest tenured Five Diamond restaurant, the only one to maintain the coveted status for 29 consecutive years, since 1988.

“These leading edge properties are well-positioned to meet the needs of discerning travelers. Their noted attributes include contemporary design trends and the highest quality food and amenities. Personalized, attentive service is foremost, delivered in ways that offer guests inspiring and memorable local experiences,” said Petrone.

Candidates for the Five Diamond Rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations and a final decision by a panel of experts. Using guidelines weighted by member priorities, inspectors meticulously evaluate guest services and physical attributes to assess the level of competence, refinement and hospitality and assign a corresponding rating of One to Five Diamonds.

For more information about Diamond Ratings and the complete lists of Four and Five Diamond hotels and restaurants, visit AAA.com/DiamondAwards.

About AAA Inspections

For more than 80 years, AAA has used professional inspectors to conduct in-person property evaluations. AAA offers the only rating system using comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. With a far greater inventory than any other rating entity, AAA’s rating system covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight in AAA’s trip planning products: the AAA Mobile app, the online TripTik Travel Planner mapping and routing tool, searchable online AAA Travel Guides and AAA TourBook guides available to members at AAA offices.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Restaurant Images

The Modern

(Photo Credit:Photographer in file name, followed by The Modern)

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Hotel Images

Four Seasons Resorts Lana’i

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Four Seasons Resorts Lana’i)

Four-Seasons-resorts-Lanai-5 Four-Seasons-resorts-Lanai-3 Four-Seasons-resorts-Lanai-2 Four-Seasons-resorts-Lanai-4 Four-Seasons-Resorts-Lanai

 

The St. Regis New York

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of The St. Regis New York)

St-Regis-TiffanySuite St-Regis-Royal Suite The St. Regis New York The St. Regis New York Newly renovated St. Regis New York - King Cole Bar and Restaurant reopens October 2013

 

Spice Island Beach Resort

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Spice Island Beach Resort)

Version 2 Spice-Island-Beach-Resort-accommodations14 Spice-Island-Beach-Resort-accommodations-13 Spice-Island-Beach-Resort-Oasis-Swimming Pool-Swim-Up-Jacuzzi Spice-Island-Beach-Resort-RoyalCollection02

 

Four Seasons Hotel Mexico D.F.

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Four Seasons Mexico City)

Four-Seasons-Hotel-Mexico-City-ARCH-COURTYARD-1-0015 Four-Seasons-Hotel-Mexico-City-ARCH-LOBBY-STAIRCASE-0700 Four-Seasons-Hotel-Mexico-City-Pool Four-Seasons-Hotel-Mexico-City-Presidential-Suite-Bathroom Four-Seasons-Hotel-Mexico-City--RM-225-1727

 

Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve)

Dorado-Beach_00113 Dorado-Beach_00159 Dorado-Beach_00207 Dorado-Beach_00266 Dorado-Beach_00315

 

The Jefferson Hotel

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Jefferson Hotel)

The-Jefferson-Hotel-Rotunda-Lobby-and-Grand-Staircase The-Jefferson-Hotel-pool The-Jefferson-Hotel-Grand-Premier-2 The-Jefferson-Hotel-Entrance The-Jefferson-Hotel-Bath

 

 

Julie HallORLANDO, Fla. (April 21, 2016) – As families across the country eagerly await the end of school and the beginning of summer, millions of Americans are making plans to travel with loved ones this year. According to a recent AAA survey, more than one-third of Americans (35 percent) are planning to take a family vacation of 50 miles or more away from home involving two or more immediate family members in the next 12 months.

AAA estimates that U.S. drivers have saved nearly $12 billion on gas so far this year compared to the same period in 2015, and drivers this summer should pay the lowest gas prices in 12 years. These lower gas prices have helped motivate Americans to drive at record levels, and prompted many families to take road trips this year. Fifty-five percent of Americans say they are more likely to take a road trip this year due to lower gas prices.

Additional Resources

Road trips (69 percent), national parks (49 percent) and theme parks (42 percent) are the most popular types of vacations for families planning to travel in the next year. Vacations to international destinations (26 percent) and cruises (19 percent) round out the top five most popular vacation options for traveling families.

“Two-thirds of Americans say spending quality time as a family is the most important part of taking a family vacation,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing. “Whether it’s a cross-country road trip or a dream vacation to a far-off destination, travel offers busy families an excellent opportunity to share experiences and connect with each other in meaningful ways.”

AAA Travel experts offer tips for families planning vacations this year:

  • Road Trips: AAA recommends travelers map out a route in advance to make the most of their road trip. Drivers should plan frequent stops, about every 100 miles or two hours, to remain alert. Tools such as AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner, in desktop and app versions, can help families find AAA Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants, gas prices and plan fun stops along the way.
  • National Parks: The National Park Service celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2016, making it a great year for travelers to discover the parks. The most popular national parks, such as Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon and Yosemite, may reach capacity during peak travel times, so plan ahead. For families traveling on a budget, national parks are waiving entrance fees this year April 16-24, Aug. 25-28, Sept. 24 and Nov. 11.
  • Theme Parks: Theme parks in Orlando and Southern California are expected to continue growing in popularity with families this summer, as new attractions debut at theme parks coast-to-coast. For families with flexible travel schedules, early May and September are great times to visit theme parks, when travelers can experience lighter crowds and shorter lines.
  • International Vacations: Favorable exchange rates and discounted pricing are helping many families plan trips to international destinations this year. The current strength of the dollar makes international travel especially affordable right now and Americans will get more for their money when visiting destinations around the world.
  • Cruises: Cruises offer a variety of activities for all ages, plus children’s programs that give parents a chance to relax and unwind. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) forecasts 24 million vacationers will cruise the world’s waterways in 2016, one million more than last year. Experienced travel agents can help first-time cruisers identify the cruise line, ship and itinerary that best suits their family.

AAA’s professional hotel inspectors, who evaluate nearly 28,000 hotels across North America using detailed, published guidelines, have identified a few of their top picks for family-friendly Diamond Rated hotels:

Beaches Negril Resort & Spa, Negril, Jamaica – Three Diamond

AAA Inspector Notes: Marvelous for both families and adults, this lovely all-inclusive is well laid out with an amazing water park offering refreshing fun for all ages. There is an Xbox play lounge, sailing lessons for children and adults and a comprehensive kid’s camp area for all ages.

Great Wolf Lodge, Centralia, Wash. – Three Diamond

AAA Inspector Notes: From splashing in the water park, gaming in the arcade, playing a game of checkers in the lobby, to any number of other seasonal adventures, this hotel is a fantastic place for the entire family. A nice selection of guest rooms is available, including some with bunk beds and a popular kids’ cabin.

LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Winter Haven, Fla. – Three Diamond

AAA Inspector Notes: Geared toward children, this LEGOLAND resort features pirate, adventure and kingdom themed rooms. Kids have a bunk bed area while adults can relax in their own space. Set on Lake Eloise, there are boardwalks with views of wildlife, a fire pit to relax beside at night, a LEGO club room with movies, a splash pad by the expansive swimming pool and even a Master LEGO builder’s workshop with classes.

Wequassett Resort and Golf Club, East Harwich, Mass. – Four Diamond

AAA Inspector Notes: This waterfront resort is the perfect family-friendly destination, with an outdoor amphitheater and a pirate-themed interactive water playground with treasure chests, fountains and a pirate ship with slides and swinging ropes. The high-tech children’s center features a 135-inch HD screen for Wii, PlayStation and Xbox gaming. Activities include dive-in movies, teen gaming nights and lessons in swimming, sailing and tennis. An ice cream truck with complimentary treats makes special appearances throughout the property in summer.

Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort & Spa, Gatlinburg, Tenn. – Three Diamond

AAA Inspector Notes: The resort features cabin-style duplexes, plus condos that can be expanded via connecting doors, perfect for large families. Many units have fireplaces and whirlpool tubs. Family-friendly facilities include an infinity pool and nature trails that lead from the property into the densely wooded forest of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Before setting out on a family vacation, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants, request AAA roadside assistance and more. For in-person travel planning, seek the expert advice of a trusted travel advisor, who can provide personalized service and first-hand destination knowledge to create a memorable family vacation. For more information and to begin planning a vacation, visit AAA.com/Travel.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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About AAA’s Family Travel Survey

This report presents the findings of a telephone survey administered as part of global market research company ORC International’s weekly CARAVAN® omnibus surveys conducted among two national probability samples (landline only and cell phone), which, when combined, consists of 1,002 adults living in the continental United States. Interviewing was conducted March 17-20, 2016. This study has an average statistical error of ±3.6% at the 95% confidence level for US adults. That means there is a 95% chance that the results found in this study are within ±3.6% of the results that would be found if all US adults living in private households in the continental United States were interviewed using the research methodology and questionnaire used in this study. The actual statistical error depends on the number of respondents to each question and on the observed proportions.

Heather HunterCozy cafes and simple eateries coast to coast beckon locals and travelers with down-home favorites like pot pies and skillet scrambles 

ORLANDO, Fla., (Feb. 4, 2014) Some of the most exciting aspects of travel are seeing new sights, experiencing different cultures and sampling unfamiliar cuisines. Yet every now and then, even the most die-hard road warrior can become a bit homesick. That’s when just the sight and smells of favorite dishes can make everything seem much, much better.  AAA inspectors, who each year experience hundreds of restaurants, share 10 of their favorite places to enjoy a taste of home.

Travelers can read about nearly 70 AAA Inspector Picks for Favorite Comfort Food Restaurants on the AAA TravelViews blog, and explore thousands of additional restaurants in the AAA.com Travel Guides.

American Flatbread, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Pizza, Burlington, Vt.

Red and white checkered table cloths. Warmth emanating from the wood-fired earthen oven in the corner of the dining room. This is where comfort comes to relax. Ask for a table near the kitchen and watch as flatbread pizzas are expertly prepared in a mesmerizing show. Ingredients are seasonal, organic and locally grown, a true reflection of many Vermonters’ healthy lifestyle. It’s a block from the Flynn Theater, perfect for before a show.

Angie’s Waterloo, AAA/CAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Canadian, Waterloo, Ontario

A great place to enjoy real country hospitality and tasty home-style fare. A local favorite since 1962, the restaurant covers its walls with newspaper clippings of local events and family photos. The scent of fresh baked pies, breads and cookies rouses one’s appetite. The country breakfasts, fish and chips and daily specials make this multi-generational institution a tradition for many.

Big Pink, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/American, Miami Beach, Fla.

“Real Food for Real People…Really” is the motto here, a fixture on Miami Beach since 1996. Everything on the menu is super-sized, so make room in your refrigerator for leftovers.  Try the Big Pink TV dinner daily special, the Thanksgiving on a roll or the mouthwatering foot-long hot dog made with Kobe beef. The tables are chock-a-block close, so get cozy and don’t be surprised if a neighboring diner asks for a smidgen of your peanut butter s’mores. A great place to people watch, especially in the early morning hours after a long night out.

Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant, AAA Two Diamond, Family Dining/American, Bryce Canyon City, Utah

For over 50 years, travelers have been waking up to traditional, country-style breakfasts in front of an old wood stove at this rustic cottage complex. Primarily known for its homemade soups and pies, the daily menu offers generous portions of basic American fare like cowboy steaks, fresh local trout and chicken fried steak. Locals swear by a rule to eat dessert first — and why not with one of the largest selections of homemade pie around!

Cap City Fine Diner & Bar, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Comfort Food, Gahanna, Ohio

This smartly-styled retro diner, appointed with mosaic tile floors, futuristic light fixtures and stainless steel walls, is an excellent place for generous portions of comfort foods. There are usually several soups available, but one can always expect steak and bean chili. A good choice for a hearty entrée is the meatloaf stack, served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, onion rings and barbecued gravy. Another delicious option is the Southern fried chicken. Worthy desserts include the “Seriously Big Chocolate Cake” and “24K Carrot Cake.”

Georgia Brown’s, AAA Three Diamond, Casual Dining/Regional American, Washington, D.C.

This stylish restaurant serves up contemporary Southern cooking, with an emphasis on the Low Country of South Carolina, right in the heart of the city.  The menu boasts down-home dishes like buttermilk fried chicken, country-fried meatloaf, sour mash pork chops, cornmeal-fried catfish and twice-cooked pork shank with sweet potato cheese grits. Enjoy live jazz every Wednesday night, “’Cause it’s been said that she knocks ’em dead … ooooh sweet Georgia Brown!” as the song lyrics say. Valet parking available for dinner only.

La Palma Chicken Pie Shop & Restaurant, AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/American, Anaheim, Calif.

As you enter the front door the aroma of fresh-baked pies quickly alerts your senses to the down-home cooking you are about to enjoy. Start with piping hot chicken noodle soup or chicken pie. Fried chicken is always a good bet but, whatever you choose, don’t leave without a slice of — you guessed it — homemade fruit pie.  Decorative roosters and hens adorn every inch of free space. Seating includes tables and benches, with plenty of paper napkins to help wipe the deliciousness off your face.

The Meatball Shop, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/ Italian Comfort Food, New York, N.Y.

What could be more comforting than a meatball? This popular little place in Greenwich Village serves up some of the best, whether it is straight ground beef, spicy pork, chicken or even veggie topped with tomato sauce, mushroom gravy or parmesan cream. To up the comfort level, order them as meatball sliders. Despite the many “ball” options, they keep it casual here; no reservations are taken, so arrive early to avoid a wait.

The Moose Cafe, AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/Southern, Asheville, N.C.

Perched on a rise and offering a panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains, you’ll feel right at home the moment you step foot inside. Grab a seat and tear into a plate of hot, flaky biscuits, served with homemade apple butter, sorghum and honey. Order up a sweet tea served in a mason jar, setting the tone for the Southern delicacies to follow. The café is adjacent to a farmer’s market, so when the vegetables are at their peak, they are on your table for authentic ‘farm to table’ dining, nestled away in the Carolina mountains.

Salt Lick Bar-B-Q, AAA One Diamond, Casual Dining/BBQ, Driftwood, Texas

“You can smell our pits from miles away!” With a slogan like that, you’d better deliver – and the Salt Lick Bar-B-Q surely does. If you get a chance to swing by the original location in Driftwood, you’re in for great time and a great meal.  This popular fun spot serves brisket, pork and beef ribs, sausage, chicken and turkey. For lighter fare choose a sandwich, or tip the scale the other direction with the all-you-can-eat family style extravaganza.

About AAA Inspections

AAA offers the only rating program that conducts comprehensive, on-site professional hotel and restaurant evaluations guided by member priorities. And, with far more Approved properties than any other rating entity, AAA operates the only rating system covering the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Travelers can find AAA Diamond Rated establishments across AAA’s online, mobile and printed travel information products.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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