TODOS SANTOS, Mexico -- HIGHWAY 19 IS BADLY PAVED, A narrow ribbon between desert and Pacific Ocean that leads to rock 'n' roll legend. All roads in this tranquil artists' village lead to a decades-old hotel where a friendly Canadian owner, Debbie Stewart, breaks into a huge smile and says coyly to visitors, "Welcome to the Hotel California." Next door, mission bells toll, and across the street at a bar called Tequila Sunrise, the song "Hotel California" blares from a jukebox for the fifth time in two hours.
Fodor's / $21.95
Despite its tiny size, the narrow isthmus of Panama spans two continents as well as two ways of looking at the world: one traditional, the other aggressively modern. And yet nearly a third of the population lives in poverty. The Lonely Planet guide discusses, often in depth, the country's regional food, the environment, surfing (including the top 10 surfing spots) and the many highlights of both Panama City and Panama Province.
The Fodor's guide emphasizes the country's wildlife, its idyllic islands, its night life (especially in Panama City) and the folk culture of its indigenous peoples, as well as admires the engineering feat of the Panama Canal. It also lists various adventure and learning vacations.
Romantic tunes, crooners
The Hawaii Romance Festival, the sonic equivalent of a long bubble bath or a Meg Ryan movie, is slated for May 2-11 in Honolulu. The festival brings together an impressive collection of big-name crooners to sing the most romantic songs ever written. At least that's the claim. Gladys Knight, Aaron Neville, Smokey Robinson and Brian Stokes Mitchell sing standards such as "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," and, of course, "Wind Beneath My Wings." Pass the tissues and plastic roses, please. It's worth the $95 ticket price alone for the opportunity to swoon to Sergio Mendes. Details at hawaiiromancefestival.com.
10 FOR THE ROAD
Top U.S. summer hot spots
The domestic summer hot spots, according to a survey of American Society of Travel Agents bookings for summer 2008, with percentages of total responses: 1. Orlando, Fla.: 17.5 percent 2. Las Vegas: 15.4 percent 3. San Francisco: 4.5 percent 4. Los Angeles: 4.3 percent 5. Miami: 2.6 percent 6. Seattle: 2.2 percent 7. New York City: 2.1 percent 8. Honolulu: 1.9 percent 9. (tie) San Diego: 1.7 percent Washington: 1.7 percent
Historic tours by Segway
Tourists in Bethlehem will be able to view historic sites from horse-and-buggy days using much more up-to-date transportation. The Historic Bethlehem Partnership will begin offering some historic tours using Segway Personal Transporters, according to The Express-Times. Nonprofit Historic Bethlehem maintains a number of buildings dating to the 1700s, including a Colonial Industrial Quarter along Monocacy Creek. The Segway tours are planned for Saturdays, starting April 19. The $80-a-person tours are being offered in conjunction with a Segway dealership, which will teach riders how to use the gyroscopically stabilized two-wheeled transporters.
Gateway Arch tram back in service
The tram that was out of service for eight months in the famed Gateway Arch in St. Louis is working again. A snapped cable had shut down the tram in the south leg of the Arch on July 21, leaving only one route up to the 630-foot-tall monument on the banks of the Mississippi River. Trams from each leg of the Arch carry visitors back and forth. The north leg of the tram was not affected. No one was hurt when the cable, one of nine that pull the tram, failed. But tourists were trapped inside for several hours. In a typical year, about 1 million visitors make the trek to the top.