Three State Parks You Need to Visit this Summer

Jun 5, 2014
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

If you’re looking to explore the great outdoors this summer, you can’t go wrong visiting one of the Commonwealth’s many state parks. From Erie to Scranton and all points in between, our guide to some of Pennsylvania’s state parks is travel contributor Elaine Labalme.

State parks can be found in 61 of Pennsylvania's 66 counties. Cherry Springs, Ricketts Glen, and Pine Grove Furnace are among Labalme's favorites.  

With barbeques and picnics scheduled all throughout the Memorial Day weekend, the number of people traveling for the holiday is expected to increase, as are prices.

According to AAA, this year 36.1 million people are predicted to go at least 50 miles from their homes to celebrate the weekend. That is up 1.5 percent despite some travel costs rising: Average hotel prices have increased $3, rental car prices have risen 1 percent to $44, gas prices are expected to rise and airfare is up 6 percent.

Mapping Pennsylvania's Historic Roller Coasters

May 1, 2014

Dorney Park, Hershey Park, Dutch Wonderland, Lakemont Park, Idlewild, Kennywood... Pennsylvania has some of the most historic amusement parks, and roller coasters in the country.

As amusement parks start coming to life for the season, David Witoslawski, a McKeesport substitute school teacher and author of the book, Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip, gave us a guide to the state’s classic coasters and parks. The book is available in black and white as a paperback and in full color as an e-book.

"I love the matter of community spirit when it comes to going to amusement parks," Witoslawski said, "You go there and people just forget about all their problems in the world."

Take A Trip: Four Things To Do In Nashville, Tenn.

Apr 24, 2014
Timothy Wildey / flickr

Nine hours away from the Steel City is the Music City — Nashville, Tennessee. But there’s more to the city than country music. This week, contributor Elaine Labalme told us how to the get the most out of a visit to Nashville.

Spring Break With The New Girl

Apr 17, 2014
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / flickr

A little madness in the spring is wholesome …even for the King, wrote Emily Dickinson. What better way to quell the madness caused by Spring fever than with a getaway? Travel contributor Elaine Labalme joined us this week with suggestions for Spring Break excursions.

After Checking out Pop Up Canada, Pop on Up to Niagara Falls

Apr 10, 2014
Helen Zhang / flickr

With the celebration of Canada taking place this week in the Steel City, Niagara Falls offers something for visitors on both the American and Canadian sides. 

Long regarded as a honeymoon destination, Niagara Falls is close enough for a long weekend getaway. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme offered suggestions for a trip to the falls.

4 Spring Festivals Worth Traveling To

Mar 27, 2014
Mark Peters / flickr

It’s officially spring, even if the weather may want to tell us otherwise. We’re going to remain optimistic and look forward to sunny and warm days spent outdoors.

This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggested spring festivals you might enjoy.

Artotem / flickr

Last week we ventured to Florida to get an early look at Major League Baseball spring training in the Grapefruit League. This week, we venture west to see the players in action in the Cactus League.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme  says spring training is the time to see a lot of teams in the cactus league that you wouldn’t ordinarily see. Check out a list of her recommendations:

5 Reasons Why People Should Go to MLB Spring Training

Mar 6, 2014
Jamesb01 / Wikipedia Commons

This month the call of “play ball” will be heard in ballparks around the country.

Fans of the game who want an early look at the boys of summer may want to venture to Florida to participate in the annual spring training games for Major League Baseball.

Correspondent Elaine Labalme discussed the five benefits of traveling to these games.

Blue Star Art & Cowboy Dance Halls in San Antonio

Feb 27, 2014
Delaney Hall / flickr

Home to the Alamo and the River Walk, San Antonio, Texas combines a rich history and distinct architecture to create a modern and exciting cultural experience.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares her favorites about the southern city and insists that visitors to the Lone Star State must visit San Antonio. 

Getting Over the Winter Doldrums

Feb 20, 2014
katie bodner / flickr

To say it’s been a tough winter would be an understatement.

Despite the cold many people have been able to combat cabin fever, including travel contributor Elaine Labalme. She offers suggestions to help you overcome the winter blahs.

Quebec City Embodies the Picturesque Winter

Jan 16, 2014
Michael McDonough / flickr

Our intrepid travel contributor Elaine Labalme continues her trek through the great white north.

This week she talks about Quebec City, capital of the province, where the old buildings reflect classic architecture and vibrant culture.  “It’s very welcoming and it’s a great respite for a few days,” says Labalme.

Terrifically Cosmopolitan Montreal

Jan 9, 2014
Daryl Mitchell / flickr

Combining the best of old-world charm and modern sophistication, travel contributor Elaine Labalme finds Canada’s second largest city, Montreal to be “terrifically cosmopolitan.”

She suggests her favorite spots for food, arts and rest in this northern city.

Approximately 94.5 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home this week for the Christmas and New Year holidays, according to AAA East Central. That’s a half a million more travelers than the Christmas travel season last year and the highest number ever recorded for the season.

“The Mid-Atlantic region there’s expected to 10.5 million travelers and most of those will be driving,” said AAA East Central’s Bevi Powell. “There will be about 9.49 million drivers on the road. The Mid-Atlantic region includes New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”

With a winter storm warning in effect until 1 p.m. Wednesday and one of the year's busiest travel days ahead, Pittsburgh International is getting ready to do battle with the ice and snow.

“They start planning for this back in September,” said Pittsburgh Airport Authority spokesman Jeff Martinelli. “When they snow storm started getting reported that it was a possibility they started going over some plans, our operations staff was moving to 12-hour shifts, our snow removal crew is out their doing the best they can and pre-treating runways.”

Thanksgiving week is one of the busiest when it comes to travel, and this year will be no exception. AAA forecasts that nationally 43.4 million people will travel during the holiday week. In the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Pennsylvania, 5.01 million people are expected to travel, a 2.4 percent decrease over last year.

Getting Away With That Special Someone Before the Holidays

Nov 14, 2013
Dustin Williams / Flickr

With winter on the way, there’s no better time to escape the early snows by flying south, taking in gorgeous views, or embracing the snowy winter, with high alpine excursions.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares her top four favorite pre-holiday destinations.

Autumn Coastal Destinations with the New Girl

Nov 7, 2013
Nathan Adams / Flickr

Coastal Destinations make for the best fall travel, according to travel contributor Elaine Labalme.

With better prices on off-season and cozy spots for cuddling, Labalme outlines her top five waterfront excursions. 

Haunted Travel with the New Girl

Oct 31, 2013
Scott / Flickr

For year-round chills and thrills, travel contributor Elaine Labalme offers her top five list for best spooky vacation spots.

Katie Blackley / 90.5WESA

At the Carnegie Mellon University Technology Consulting in the Global Community program, students are matched with worldwide non-governmental organizations to assist these humanitarian groups with technological support.

Dr. Alexander Hills, senior adviser for the program, has compiled a book of five essays by these young professionals. The book Geeks on a Mission: In Their Own Words, reflects the students amazing experiences and the impact on the global communities they aid.

“Yes, we help people and that’s a good thing, but what it does for the student is really, really impressive,” he says.

Pirates Post-Season Travel

Sep 26, 2013
Cavalier92 / Flickr

After more than two decades, the Pirates will finally play in the post-season.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares her favorite hangouts in potential Pirates playoff cities.

Paul Vincent / Flickr

From the wurst to the brats, Oktoberfest celebrations are just around the corner. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme tours festivals from Ohio to Texas, recommending the best and most entertaining German heritage festivities.

Traveling with the Steelers

Sep 5, 2013
James Willamor / Flickr

For devoted fans who follow the Pittsburgh Steelers when they're on the road, travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests some places to check out while cheering on the black and gold.

From Otto Pizzeria in NYC, to the Harley Davidson Museum in Wisconsin, and Boston’s Freedom Trail, there are some great sights to take in outside the stadiums.

End of Summer Getaways

Aug 29, 2013
Rick Scully / flickr

With the arrival of Labor Day weekend, summer will soon be coming to an end. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme says forecasts call for good weather over the next few days, and families should take full advantage.

Luckily for Pittsburghers, there are a variety of activities nearby for families to check out this holiday weekend.

Jessica Straus / Millenial Train Project

There’s a pervading image of those in the millennial generation being selfish, uncaring youths. With his Millennial Trains Project--in which 18- to 30-year-olds travel across the nation with the goal of aiding and understanding the cities they visit--founder Patrick Dowd hopes to battle that image.

“Young people have the most at stake and the most potential to be agents of change in our world,” says Dowd. “Millennials sometimes get a bad rap for being lazy and narcissistic…and we want to go against that.”

Say Nice Things About Detroit

Aug 1, 2013

It might be troubled, but the Motor City still has a sort of beauty all its own, reports travel contributor Elaine Labalme. Citing the amazing parks, sports teams and art galleries, Labalme tells us that the Big D has some serious offerings for Pittsburghers interested in taking a short trip.

While the Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park is “an absolutely fantastic facility” to see a game, one of the most impressive locations in the city, says Labalme, is “The Joe,” or the Joe Louis Arena, where the Red Wings currently play. It’s a historic arena with stories in every wall and seat. And if you’re looking to grab a bite after the game, try Cliff Bells, where, according to Labalme, “You’re always made to feel welcome.”

Darren McGee / Finger Lakes Region

Upstate New York covers a lot of territory. From the Adirondacks to the Thousand Islands there's a lot to see in the Empire State. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme scopes out the central New York region, from Cooperstown to the Finger Lakes.

“The Finger Lakes region is fairly close to western Pennsylvania and there’s lots of arts and recreation you’ll want to access there and it’s an easy trip from Pittsburgh,” says Labalme.

Visiting Disney with the New Girl

Jun 27, 2013

Each year millions of tourists flock to Florida to soak up the sun on the beach or visit one of its many family friendly destinations. Trips to Disney World have become time honored trips for many families across the nation, and Essential Pittsburgh travel contributor Elaine Labalme is no exception. According to the seasoned traveler, Disney World always has plenty to offer, and has continued to impress throughout her many trips.

What is it about Disney World that keeps her coming back?

New Girl in Town Enjoys Sunshine State

Jun 20, 2013

How many of us don’t pass some of our time dreaming of relaxing on a warm, sandy beach? Would you like to kick back with a cool, refreshing drink, a good book and listen to the waves with few people around? Travel contributor Elaine Labalme is back from a recent visit to the sunshine state with the lowdown on secluded beaches.

Getting Where You're Going with the New Girl in Town

Jun 12, 2013
Ryan Lane / Flickr

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, sometimes the journey is more fun than the destination. This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme looks at various modes of transportation.