Two-year reprieve on Real ID
The Department of Homeland Security is giving air travelers in Minnesota and a few other states a two-year reprieve from enforcement of the Real ID law. In a surprise announcement on Jan. 8, the DHS said passengers could continue using their current IDs until Jan. 22, 2018. Some would have until Oct. 1, 2020.
Dog sled race moves north
A lack of snow in Duluth means the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon will start outside Two Harbors, Minn., for the second year in a row. The 383-mile race will begin Jan. 31 near Two Harbors, extend to Grand Portage and end Feb. 3 in Duluth. More information at beargrease.com.
Eat Here Now
Thunder Bay steakhouse goes Uptown
The Canadian steakhouse got a modern twist in 2015 with Uptown Cut, a sustainability- and chef-focused spot in Thunder Bay, Ontario, 40 miles from the Minnesota border. Owner Cole Snell’s long-term goal is to boost the local beef industry by positioning Ontario beef as a premium product. “Hopefully, customers walk away with some knowledge or education,” Snell said. “This is new stuff for Thunder Bay.” Before the first plate came out, a server delivered charmingly earnest lectures on topics ranging from “why we write the menu on chalkboards” to “the chef as artist.” Along with dry-aged steaks, Uptown Cut specializes in wagyu, an intensely marbled beef that comes from certain cattle breeds native to Japan. The thin strips of meat were seared on each side, with a crisp exterior and a bright pink center that was hauntingly tender and melting with fat. Info: 1-807-344-4030, uptowncut.ca.
New York Times
These hotels are for the dogs
Hotels are raising the bar for pet friendliness. In Miami Beach, 1 Hotel South Beach is building a 3,000-square-foot Bark Park, complete with an “adventure zone” and a box of free squeaky toys. Four-legged guests also receive a BarkBox amenity kit. Fluffy monogrammed robes greet man’s most pampered friend at the Peninsula Beverly Hills. Fashion designer Cynthia Rowley created dog mats featuring white hearts on black backgrounds that guests at the W New York-Times Square can keep. Need an activity for your dog? Try the Bacon Scavenger Hunt for pups at Calistoga Ranch in Napa Valley, Calif. Staffers hide smoked bacon in the surrounding vineyard and then lead a guided scent-and-search walk to sniff them out. New York Times
Deal of the week
Take a cruise from Red Wing to New Orleans
American Queen Steamboat Co. has discounted select 2016 departures aboard the 436-passenger American Queen and the 223-passenger American Empress. Savings for the 21-night Mighty Mississippi cruise departing Aug. 15 from Red Wing, Minn., to New Orleans range from $1,600 to $3,600 per stateroom, depending on category. For example, an inside stateroom now starts at $4,949 per person double (plus $289 port charges), a savings of $1,000 per person. Savings on select shorter cruises aboard the American Queen range from $800 to $1,800 per stateroom; on American Empress, save $800. Book by March 31. Info: 1-888-749-5280, americanqueensteamboatcompany.com. Washington Post
Call for resort fee ban
Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez has suggested that Congress draft legislation to stop the rise of hotels charging hidden resort fees. Consumer advocacy group Travelers United says the such fees are unfair because they don’t appear on the advertised rates and most hotel guests don’t see the charge until they check out.
Los Angeles Times
For a bargain to Europe, consider a winter flight
Europe is loaded with tourists during the summer, but if you want to save money and avoid crowds, winter fares can be about half of what summer tickets will cost you. Also, some cities in the U.S. have heavy competition on flights to Europe and you can save by buying two tickets, one to a cheap gateway U.S. city and a second ticket from that city to Europe. For example, New York and Washington, D.C., often have much cheaper fares to Europe than what you see from other U.S. cities. When checking fares, price your departure city to Europe, and then compare prices with a ticket to New York or D.C. and a ticket from those cities to Europe. You may find that you can buy two tickets for less than the price of one.
Dallas Morning News
Onboard sales pitches likely
Bad news for airline passengers who are tired of getting their wallets squeezed when boarding a plane: The future of air travel will include a lot more onboard sales pitches, according to a new report by Guestlogix. The study concluded that carriers will be better equipped to sell fliers entertainment, food and even tickets to theaters and theme parks.
Los Angeles Times