Nickelodeon theme park now in nation's mega mall
Nickelodeon Universe, the network's first theme park, was scheduled to open Saturday at the Mall of America in Minneapolis. The 7-acre amusement park includes 18 Nickelodeon-branded rides, including a roller coaster called SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge; Avatar Airbender; and the Naked Brothers Crazy Cars.
This is one of several efforts by the network to associate its brand with travel and destinations. In 2005, a Nickelodeon-themed resort opened in Orlando, and in August, Nickelodeon will launch its first-ever family cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas.
Essence music fest lineup set
Organizers of the annual Essence Music Festival have announced some of the acts that will take part in the 2008 festival, which is July 4-6.
The acts will include Kanye West, Chris Rock, Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Morris Day and the Time and Maze.
Essence is billed as "the nation's largest annual African-American event celebrating black music and culture." An estimated 200,000 people attended the festival last year when it returned to New Orleans.
Tickets start at $56. Details at www.essence.com/essence/emf.
Affordable beach resorts
You don't have to be rich to plan a beach vacation. Travel + Leisure's March issue profiles 27 affordable beach resorts, each one charging less than $250 a night, from the Puako Bed & Breakfast on Hawaii's Big Island ($98 a night) to the Hotel della Baia in Italy on the volcanic island of Ischia, known for hot springs and therapeutic mud ($183 a night).
Elsewhere in Europe, in France, near the walled town of Concarneau in Brittany, a room can be had at the new Les Sables Blanc inn for $191. Just don't expect tropical temperatures — Brittany is on the northwest Atlantic Coast of France. Hotel Codina in San Sebastian, Spain, near the half-moon cove of Ondaretta Beach, is $221 a night.
In Puerto Rico, Tres Sirenas Beach Inn in Rincon is $170 a night, including elaborate breakfasts. You can rent the whole villa, which sleeps 10, for $840 a night.
For the list, visit www.travelandleisure.com/articles/27-affordable-beach-resorts.
How to run away from home
If early retirement or empty nest has you yearning for new adventure, take your next cue from The Grown-Up's Guide to Running Away From Home: Making a New Life Abroad by Rosanne Knorr (Ten Speed Press, $14.95).
The book, now out in its second edition, can help you think through the logistics, risks and pleasures of living in another country for a year or longer. The book offers advice on downsizing, budgeting, packing, handling health issues, dealing with guests from home and settling into a new locale.
How to travel with young kids
Author Fawzia Rasheed de Francisco of The Rough Guide to Travel With Babies & Young Children (Rough Guides, $15.99) advocates traveling with kids. "The slower pace that children demand ensures you really get under the skin of the places you visit," she argues, "and having kids along makes a noticeable difference to how people interact with you."
This guide amply makes the case that, with proper preparation, globe-trotting can have a positive effect on the whole family. A child's "natural capacity to stop, be absorbed and play tends to cross over to adults," says the author, "and this paves the way for some truly fantastic moments together."
Best travel movies of 2007
The movies that will take you somewhere, according to Budget Travel magazine.
1.Bourne Ultimatum (London; Madrid;
Tangier, Morocco, above)
2.Elizabeth: The Golden Age (England's
West Sussex, Ely Cathedral, North
3.Ratatouille (Paris — and La Tour d'Argent
restaurant, the sewers)
4.The Assassination of Jesse James by the
Coward Robert Ford (Alberta)
5.Into the Wild (Alaska, seven other states,
6.The Darjeeling Limited (India)
7.Atonement (England's South Shropshire,
Redcar Beach — for Dunkirk)
8.Enchanted (New York City)
9.Lust, Caution (Hong Kong, Shanghai)
10.Once (Dublin, Killiney)
Compiled from Times wires