100, 300, 500, even 1,000 ideas for travel
• The 2010 edition of Travel + Leisure's100 Greatest Trips includes surprisingly down-to-earth destinations, such as the Jersey Shore, Niagara Falls and Milford, Pa., mixed in with more exotic locales like the Brazilian beach town of Trancoso, and Langkawi, a cluster of 99 islands off Malaysia's northwest coast.
• Listings in Frommer's 500 Places Where You Can Make A Difference include an animal shelter in Vieques, Puerto Rico; orphanages in Bulgaria and Cambodia; and 10 places where you can learn a language while teaching English as a volunteer.
• Also new from Frommer's is 300 Unmissable Events & Festivals Around the World, from the State Fair of Texas, in Dallas, to the rose festival held in Morocco's Dades Valley.
• From Lonely Planet comes 1000 Ultimate Experiences, organized into categories like "Top 10 places to go skinny-dipping" (including Formentera, Spain), "Dreamiest fairy-tale destinations" (Germany's Black Forest) and "Essential experiences to make time stand still" (Petra, Jordan).
• And from National Geographic comes Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe, including the oldest street market in Rome, Campo dei Fiori, and the bourbon distilleries of Kentucky.
In search of baby-friendly cruises
If you're thinking of taking a cruise with young children, you'll want to be sure the ship has age-appropriate programs and child care facilities.
Most cruise lines have a minimum age for children to sail, according to CruiseCompete, with ages ranging from 3 months on Disney ships to 12 years on Viking River Cruises.
Some cruise lines, like Oceania, Silversea and Seabourn, allow children onboard but are designed primarily for adults or mature travelers and do not offer child care or programs for kids.
At the other extreme, Disney Cruise Line offers extensive activities for all ages, including one of the best programs for infant care, CruiseCompete says, with nurseries that accept babies as young as 12 weeks. Parents should expect to carry a pager, as attendants do not change diapers.
Bright lights, big New Year's Eve
Say goodbye to 2009 in New York's Times Square when the famous ball drops at midnight on New Year's Eve.
Visitors can offer their wishes for the new year at the Times Square Information Center on Broadway between 46th and 47th streets. The wishes will be written on pieces of paper, displayed on a Confetti Wishing Wall at the information center, and then included in the shower of confetti that rains down on New Year's Eve. Specific dates for the Confetti Wishing Wall will be posted at www.timessquarenyc.org.
And in Las Vegas, America's other glittering city, New Year's Eve fireworks will return to the rooftops of Las Vegas Strip hotels after ground-level displays disappointed revelers last year.
Fireworks are to be shot from the Stratosphere tower, the MGM Grand, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island and Venetian hotels, and the Aria Resort & Casino at MGM Mirage's CityCenter complex. Aria opens in December.
Snow globes don't fly free
Try packing this favorite travel souvenir in your carry-on luggage and taking it through an airport security checkpoint this holiday season, and chances are you'll have to leave it behind.
The reason is that the globes contain liquids, and Transportation Safety Administration rules say that only liquids, gels or aerosols in containers of 3 ounces or less are allowed through security in carry-on bags. What about a small snow globe with less than 3 ounces of liquid sloshing about?
"I would think they would just say 'no,' because they can't really determine how many ounces are in there," TSA spokesman Dwayne Baird said.
Two solutions: Pack the snow globe in your checked luggage, or wait until you've passed through airport security and buy one at an airport shop. Once past security, you're free to buy liquids of any size and take them on board.
Santa stopping by Smithsonian
Santa Claus is making an early appearance to open a new exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History on the art and business of commercial holiday displays.
The exhibit covers the elaborate department store windows and retail displays dating back to the 1920s, as well as the creation of floats for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
During its heyday in the 1950s, the Woodward and Lothrop department store in Washington featured live penguins in a window display.
The exhibit follows the research of curator William Bird, who examined the history of holiday displays from the early 20th century in a companion book. It will be on display through much of the next year.
Compiled from Times wires