Park City, Utah
Photo: Courtesy of Sundial Lodge at the Canyons Resort

Park City, Utah: Still gorgeous and, right now, a lot more affordable

Now that summer is winding down, taking another vacation might be the last thing on your mind. But traveling from mid-August through September (excluding Labor Day weekend) is actually one of the best times of year to land a really great deal, with still-summer weather and smaller crowds, according to an expert at Orbitz, the Chicago-based travel website.

“Airfares and hotel rates can take a dive when kids go back to school and demand starts to fall,” says Jeanenne Tornatore, an Orbitz senior editor. She says packages, which combine roundtrip air with hotel, are the way to go, given that some airfares right now are costing as much as the combined package price.

Here are five deals Tornatore recommends (the rates shown were found using Orbitz and are per-person for the entire length of stay, including round-trip airfare from Chicago; all were available at presstime):

  • Barcelona, Spain: “Nearly every year in mid-August, the $1,000-plus roundtrip airfares to Europe give way to prices that are hundreds of dollars cheaper than during the summer ‘high season’ months of June and July,” says Tornatore. From September 7 to 13, stay five nights at the four-star Hilton Barcelona Hotel (Avenida Diagonal 589-591) for $1,611, more than $500 off the same package that ran for $2,120 in June; click here for the link to the deal (and hit “search” if you’re not taken directly to the package). Find out what to do and where to eat with Chicago magazine’s Tour of Barcelona with Chef Ryan Poli.
  • Dublin, Ireland: Also from September 7 to 13, reap similar savings to Europe with a five-night Dublin vacation at the Dylan Hotel Dublin (Eastmoreland Place, Dublin 4) for $1,436, compared to $1,900 for the same package in June; click here for the link to the deal (and hit “search” if you’re not taken directly to the package).
  • Boston: You can’t go wrong with a visit to the cradle of liberty in early fall (from September 6 to 9), especially when you can get three nights at the four-star Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel (606 Congress Street) for $461. Wait until October and this same trip costs $750; click here for the link to the deal (and hit “search” if you’re not taken directly to the package).
  • Park City, Utah: Like many western ski resort towns, Park City is a paradise of outdoor activity in summer (see more on its biking trails in our Five Summer Trips for Adventure Seekers in Chicago). From September 6 to 9, stay at the four-star Sundial Lodge at the Canyons Resort (3720 Sundial Court) for three nights for $728; click here for the link to the deal (and hit “search” if you’re not taken directly to the package). “In a few months, prices will be double or triple at winter ski havens like this,” says Tornatore.
  • St. Petersburg, Florida: “Deals can often be found by going against the flow,” says Tornatore. For example, popular beach towns like St. Petersburg see a dip in prices not only in airfares and hotel rates but also at restaurants and spas trying to the finish the season strong. Even over Labor Day weekend from August 29 to September 1, stay three nights at the four-star Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club (501 5th Avenue, NE) and pay $616, instead of $750 in December; click here for the link to the deal (and hit “search” if you’re not taken directly to the package).

O’Hare Passport Kiosks Really Do Save Time on Customs and Entry

“International travelers arriving in Chicago are spending 16 minutes less passing through U.S. Customs,” reports the Sun-Times, which attributes the improvement to O’Hare’s new Automated Passport Control technology installed on June 24. The 32 self-service kiosks, which replace traditional customs declaration forms, have since “shaved 33 percent off the average waiting time during peak hours—from 50 minutes to 34.” Read more at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Check Out These Gray Malin Photographs Masquerading as Swim Trunks

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A New Willamette Valley Wine Tasting Room Will Knock Your Socks Off

Oenophiles and architecture buffs are flocking to Sokol Blosser Winery’s new 5,000-square-foot tasting room in Dundee, Oregon, designed by the architect and Oregon native Brad Cloepfil, who is noted for his work on art museums and corporate headquarters. A masterpiece of arresting patterns found in cedar, fir, and hickory, the room itself feels as artful as the wine. Read more at Departures.

Is Futuristic HyperLoop Travel in Our Future?

If you haven’t yet heard, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently revealed a 57-page proposal detailing plans for a high-speed train tube that could shoot pods carrying passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes. Though it seems like the stuff of futuristic fiction, Musk presents a plausible case for the Hyperloop. Still there are holes, and the biggest may be the estimated $6 billion cost to actually build this high-tech transporter. The New Yorker has more.