New Direct Flights Make Memphis Much More Attractive

Also this week: a cool Chicago hostel comes to River North, Betty White’s flight safety video, and Italy’s Cinque Terre

Never been to Memphis? It just got easier—and cheaper to fly there.   Photo: Jack Kenner

On November 3, Southwest Airlines will launch new direct flights from Chicago to three Southern destinations: Richmond, Virginia; Pensacola, Florida; and, Memphis, Tennessee. The three routes are leaps in convenience, but the service to Memphis may prove to be a game changer: Last week, Southwest offered the new Memphis flight as part of a three-day sale for $98 round trip (tickets for all three routes are on sale now). Before this new service came along, Delta was essentially the only major carrier at Memphis International Airport running direct flights to Chicago, usually at much higher prices. The alternatives were to fly into nearby Little Rock or Nashville and then make the long drive to Memphis, or drive eight hours from Chicago. Not exactly visitor friendly.

If you go, there’s always Beale Street and Sun Studio, but at the end of the month the Indie Memphis Film Festival (October 31 to November 3) takes place in Overton Square; look for Joe Swanberg, a guest film maker from Chicago (read about his new movie, Drinking Buddies, here). While visiting the entertainment district, settle in for a bite of relaxed Creole at chef Kelly English’s Second Line restaurant, opening this month. Stay downtown at the 110-room Madison Hotel (from $199), but don’t call it a night just yet. Make your way up to the Madison’s new late-night Twilight Terrace rooftop, opened earlier this year, where a Smoke on the Water—hickory smoke-infused rye whiskey and maraschino bitters—will go great with those Mississippi River views.
 

A Very Cool Hostel Is Coming to River North

The premium hostel brand Freehand is set to open a new 250-bed hostel in early 2015 at the old Tokyo hotel at 19 East Ohio, right next to the Acme Hotel Company. Featuring a design from Roman and Williams (the same New York-Based duo working on the forthcoming Chicago Athletic Association) and similar in vibe to the Freehand Miami, the gut rehab will offer beds in private rooms and dormitory-style suites. Read more at HotelChatter.
 

An In-Flight Safety Video Starring Betty White? Genius.

Air New Zealand’s new in-flight safety video starring Betty White at the fictional “Second Wind Retirement Home” is as fabulous as you might expect and as captivating as any airline could hope for (just try to forget the scene of retirees putting on oxygen masks). Brought to you by the international air carrier known for an eccentric side, the video stars White, joined by Gavin Macleod of The Love Boat and a real-life Air New Zealand flight attendant. See the video and read more at the Huffington Post.
 

New Features in Google Maps Make It More Useful for Travelers

Google Maps recently added four enhancements to its most recent beta version that seem to be aimed at making travel easier. These include travel routes for multiple destinations, clustering attractions that are near each other, the ability to search for upcoming events and, best of all, the ability to look at pre-booked flight, hotel, and restaurant reservations right in the Maps view. See Skift for more.
 

Don’t Wait to Do Italy’s Coastal Cinque Terre

New York Times contributor Liesl Schillinger calls them “five heart-stoppingly picturesque hamlets on the Ligurian coast” and makes a case for going to the Cinque Terre now. I saw at once that the Cinque Terre (pronounced CHING-kway TAY-ray) should not be reserved as a bucket-list destination: they are best seen pre-bucket, while you are still limber enough to hop on and off platforms and boats, scamper up winding medieval staircases and clamber onto slick sunning rocks in secluded coves and on friendly beaches.” Read the rest at the New York Times.

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