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DC Travel Planning, Miles Style

The stars aligned…

I’d been working on the Miles/Destination DC team for over a year—coordinating advertising assets for DC Official Visitor Guides; reviewing fascinating See and Do listings; placing banner ads on Washington.org for Smithsonian museums, restaurants and arts events I longed to experience; and collaborating with ePublishing to create tantalizing e-newsletters featuring captivating festivals and theater performances. But I had only visited the city once—many years ago as a teenager, and my daughter, who recently registered to vote, had never been there. A trip was in order.

It was time to explore the world I’d experienced on paper and online in the flesh. It was time to use the travel tools my Miles team designed to maximize the experience of four days in DC! The charm: District-based friends offered to host us (thank you, Matthew and Crystal). The fun: planning the vacation.

Sarasota Staycation in Season

With a February house guest, we were daunted to brave the traffic on Tamiami Trail and long waits for tables in restaurants so full, they don’t need to accept reservations. The challenge was writ large: to find seclusion and enjoyment in this slice of (finally red tide-free) paradise when about 90,000 snowbirds have come to roost. Here’s what we discovered during our mini staycation.

Get off the beach and into a boat. Yup, just you, your closest friends and some of the most beautiful waters on the U.S. shoreline. Avoid the world-famous beaches in season where it takes a wizard to find a parking spot and you can hardly see the sand between bumper-to-bumper umbrellas. Although the intracoastal can sometimes boast as many vessels as...

Castle Hopping in the Loire

Some recommendations from friends are GOLDEN: Train operators are prone to go on strike in the Loire Valley, so Cindy recommended we rent cars and settle on a fixed home base to avoid train snafus and to assure the best castle-hopping experience. 

After lengthy research, we and three other couples headed by train from Paris to Tours to rent a car. Here are a few things we learned along the way: