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Bike rental services help provide a closeup look at vacation destinations

Pedal Power provides a different perspective

Renting a car is one way to see a new city, but for a real closeup (and a little exercise), how about renting a bike? A Web site launched earlier this year, rentabikenow.com, helps travelers find two-wheeled transportation in 168 cities in the United States, including Inverness, Largo, Tampa and St. Petersburg, and Canada. It works with 200 bike stores and counting, putting site users directly in touch with the rental inventory at independent shops large and small. To rent a bicycle, users pay a $5 to $8 fee, make a deposit, then pay the balance when they use the bike. The cost of renting the bike itself usually runs about $40, said George Gill, the site's founder. Gill said rental charges can range from $15 to $100, which means bike rental isn't always much more economical than renting a car — but can be a lot more fun.

Atlanta feting arts and food

An arts festival and a food and wine event are coming up in Atlanta this fall. The Arts Festival takes place Sept. 12-13 in Piedmont Park, featuring 200 local and national jury-selected artists from around the country. The event also offers music, food and crafts for kids. Get details at atlantaartsfestival.com. Later in the fall, Oct. 10-11, the city hosts the annual Taste of Atlanta at Technology Square. More than 70 local eateries will serve up small plates of their best dishes, and celebrity appearances will include Carla Hall of Top Chef and Bethenny Frankel, author of Naturally Thin. For more information and tickets, go to tasteofatlanta.net.

Go ahead: Give it a shot

Have you ever seen anything like the sumo wrestler, above? Or, better yet, captured it on film? If so, consider entering the 2009 National Geographic International Photography Contest. There are three categories — people, places and nature — and you can enter a total of six photographs. Images can be black and white or color, digital or shot with conventional film, and they must be submitted digitally to ngphotocontest.com. The contest ends Oct. 31. The entry fee is $12 per photo for entries received on or before Oct. 15, and $22 per photo for entries received between Oct. 16 and 31. First-place category winners will win a digital camera kit and the photos will be published in the magazine.

Grotto concerts frame festival

Chamber music masterpieces are on the program for the 17th annual Moab Music Festival, performed outdoors at Utah's Colorado River Grotto, a natural space that the festival organizers call "nature's perfect concert hall," and at various other locations. The festival runs Friday through Sept. 14. Learn more at moabmusicfest.org.

Keep it clean on Sept. 26

Whether you're traveling far from home or sticking around the bay area Sept. 26, you can join in National Public Lands Day. About 130,000 volunteers are expected to spend the day working in parks, beaches and wildlife reserves to build trails, remove garbage and pull up invasive plants. Find a place near you at publiclandsday.org.

Cream puffs by the thousands

Here's an awesome entry into the fair food category: cream puffs. The Big E, one of the 10 largest fairs in North America, will offer up 50,000 of the gobs of goodness during its run from Sept. 18 to Oct. 4, in West Springfield, Mass. Find out more about the food, animals (sea lions!) and musical guests at thebige.com.

Compiled from Times wires

Bike rental services help provide a closeup look at vacation destinations 08/29/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 29, 2009 5:30am]
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