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Campers can skip the tent, rent an Airstream instead

Have you ever looked somewhat longingly at Airstream Ranch along Interstate 4, briefly picturing yourself at home in one of those retro cool silver travel trailers?

The Sugarloaf Key/Key West KOA can make that a reality, at least for the length of your vacation. The campground has five Flying Cloud trailers open for rental. The trailers are fully outfitted and sleep up to four people, with one queen bed and two twin beds. Rates start at $170 a night, based on double occupancy, and increase based on the season and number of people staying.

Besides Sugarloaf, Airstream rentals are set to open at KOA campgrounds in Las Vegas and Bar Harbor, Maine, with other cities to be added. Contact the Sugarloaf Key KOA at (305) 745-3549 or sugarloafkeykoa.com.

The power of flowers

With spring drawing closer, flower shows are popping up across the country. Some are big annual events with themes that change every year, like the famous Philadelphia Flower Show (it opens today with a "Bella Italia" theme, theflowershow.com). Others focus on one type of flower, like the annual orchid show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx ("The Orchid Show: Brazilian Modern," through April 12, nybg.org/tos09), the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. (March 28-April 12, nationalcherryblossomfestival.org) or the Atlanta Dogwood Festival (April 17-19, www.dogwood.org).

If you don't want to travel quite so far for your orchid fix, the International Orchid Festival is March 13-15 at Miami's Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Find details at fairchildgarden.org. (The 63rd Miami International Orchid Show, which opened Friday, closes today.)

Share tunes when you travel

The HDMX-GO is a jaunty little hard-sided case that holds an iPod or other MP3 player and assorted cords in a sturdy zippered compartment. The case has two small speakers powered by two AA batteries, and while the speakers aren't high-quality audio, they are a great way to share music while traveling. The HDMX-GO comes in pink, green, orange, blue and black; we found them for $9.88 each at walmart.com.

A new place to try in New York

The New Yorker Hotel first opened its doors on Jan. 2, 1930, as the Great Depression got under way. Now the Art Deco-style hotel has completed a massive 18-month-long, $70 million renovation — just in time for another major economic downturn. Regardless of the lousy timing, the hotel has some big things going for it: rates, views and location. Starting rates are $149 per room, which, be warned, can be quite small. But at 34th Street and Eighth Avenue, across from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the location can't be beat, and the hotel features views of the Empire State Building, the East River and other landmarks. For details, call toll-free 1-866-800-3088 or go to newyorkerhotel.com.

Let Lonely Planet plan your trip

Lonely Planet is launching a new series of guidebooks in March called Trips. The first six titles are California; Pacific Northwest; Arizona, New Mexico & the Grand Canyon; New York, Washington DC & the Mid-Atlantic; The Carolinas, Georgia & the South; and New England. Each $20 paperback offers 50 to 68 itineraries and more than 1,000 places to see. It also outlines trips by season, trips that can be done any time of year, "iconic" trips, day trips from cities and classic routes.

Trading on your name

In celebration of its 140th anniversary, the Peabody Memphis will reward guests who share its name with a $140 room rate. The offer applies to anyone with the first, middle or last name Peabody (with a government-issued ID that says the same). For details, call toll-free 1-800-732-2639 or go to peabodymemphis.com, then click on Specials & Packages.

Think like a business traveler

Leisure travelers could benefit from a drop-off in business conventions, says Brian Ek of Priceline.com. "Leisure travelers who want the most bang for the buck out of their vacations this year should look to the convention cities, where they'll find big discounts on everything," he says. "These cities want and need those tourist dollars more than ever, and they're pricing aggressively." His cities to check are Orlando, Miami, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Anaheim, New Orleans, San Francisco, Dallas, San Diego and Washington.

Times wires

Campers can skip the tent, rent an Airstream instead 02/28/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 28, 2009 3:30am]

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