Share Your Best Travel Tip and You Could Win a $15,000 Vacation Extravaganza for Four
Check out Stephen Colbert's hilarious remarks about his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, at Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards ceremony, October 10, 2011. (You'll also see Christine Baranski and Chris Noth introducing him.)
I've spent years sharing my best travel tips with you, so now I want to know: What's your best travel tip? Enter it in our Best Travel Tip Contest and you could win a $15,000, weeklong, 5-star, V.I.P. vacation extravaganza for up to four people in the city that Condé Nast Traveler readers just rated best in the U.S.: Charleston, South Carolina. The prize includes four nights in the historic heart of Charleston, three nights by the sea, meals in the city's hottest restaurants, and a lineup of extraordinary insider-access activities and tours. You'll find all the mouthwatering prize details below, but first things first:
* Your travel tip can be anything from a practical strategy to advice about a destination to a must-pack item never to leave home without. For inspiration, check out my own personal 25 best travel tips--the ones that have saved me and the readers of Condé Nast Traveler the most money, time, and aggravation over the years. I compiled these tips for my special 15th anniversary Perrin Report column in the magazine's November issue.
* Everyone has an equal chance of winning the grand prize, but those of you who send in the very best tips will be featured here on The Perrin Post, as well as in the pages of the magazine and on Condé Nast Traveler's brand-new, built-from-scratch Web site when it launches next month. If you'd like to see your tip featured and you've got your own site or blog, enter your site's URL (so I can link to it) when you enter your tip.
* You have until November 21 at 5 p.m. Eastern to enter. You'll find the rest of the contest rules here.
And now, back to that awesome prize we've pulled together for you. In case you didn't know, Charleston has in the past few years become a world-class culinary mecca. It's got 340 years of colorful history too, of course--including America's first museum, its oldest gardens, the Civil War's opening battleground, and antebellum mansions galore--but it's also got more than 90 miles of coastline, pristine beaches, barrier islands, nature trails, and all manner of water sports and beach activities--even surfing! I'm a big fan myself--I've been to Charleston three times in the past seven years--so I've brought together many of my favorite Charleston experiences to create what I consider to be the quintessential trip to the Lowcountry.
Here's what the trip includes, for four people:
* 4 nights' accommodation (2 rooms) at the Wentworth Mansion, a 21-room inn from the Gilded Age. You get to sleep in sumptuous suites with king-sized sleigh beds, original fireplaces and chandeliers, and whirlpool tubs. You get a massage in addition to daily gourmet breakfast and evening wine and hors d'oeuvres.
* 3 nights' accommodation (2 rooms) at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, an oceanfront Condé Nast Traveler Gold List property that's part of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. You get a round of golf at the resort's PGA Championship course, three meals daily at Jasmine Porch, plus whichever of the following eco-immersion experiences floats your boat: a paddleboard lesson, a turtle hunt, or a photo safari.
* Meals in Charleston's newsmaking kitchens, including HUSK, named "Best New Restaurant in America" for 2011 by Bon Appetit; Circa 1886, located in the Wentworth Mansion's original carriage house; Slightly North of Broad, the local power lunch spot (where the chef raises his own quail for the eggs); Charleston Grill, where the menu is divided into four categories: Pure, Lush, Southern, and Cosmopolitan; Fleet Landing, in an old 1940s naval building with killer waterfront views; High Cotton, a favorite among Lowcountry locavores; Magnolia's, famous for its Down South Egg Roll (stuffed with collard greens and Tasso ham); Virginia's on King; Hyman's Seafood; and Poogan's Porch.
* A private sunset sail in Charleston Harbor aboard an 84-foot wooden ketch, the Schooner Pride. You can even hoist the sails yourself and take the helm as you navigate past the Harbor's historic landmarks.
* A private behind-the-scenes tour of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, including its vintage planes, the cargo bay holding the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum, and areas onboard that are off-limits to the public. You also get lunch in the CPO Galley--the old officers' mess.
* A V.I.P. tour of America's first museum (founded in 1773), the Charleston Museum, led by a curator who will take you inside the Museum's collections storage areas to see early American artifacts that are rarely on public display.
* Private behind-the-scenes tours of museum-quality antebellum mansions such as the Aiken-Rhett House and the Nathaniel Russell House, so you can see what life was like for Charleston's most illustrious families back in the 1800s. At the Nathaniel Russell House, you'll get access to the third-floor collections that are not open to the public.
* Tickets to the latest Charleston Stage production at the historic Dock Street Theatre, where you'll get to meet the director and cast afterward.
* A private tour of Drayton Hall, the plantation house built in 1738 that is arguably the finest example of Georgian Palladian architecture in North America. It's in unrestored original condition, so you can fully imagine what life was like for the people, both white and black, who lived there.
* A stroll through America's oldest landscaped gardens, plus lunch, at Middleton Place, another sterling vestige of the plantation era.
* An exclusive tour of the South Carolina Aquarium's private Sea Turtle Hospital, where sick and injured endangered sea turtles are nursed back to health.
* A private curator-led tour of the Gibbes Museum of Art, a premier collection of American art with a Charleston or Southern connection.
* A tennis lesson on the Stadium Court at the Family Circle Tennis Center, which hosts the top female tennis players every April.
* Immersion in Gullah-Geechee culture with Alphonso Brown, one of the Lowcountry's foremost Afro-American history guides.
* A "Savor the Flavors" tour that explains the area's rich culinary history, introduces the best local growers and producers, and shares tips from local chefs. You'll get to taste specialties from Lowcountry barbeque and collard greens to stone ground grits, southern pralines, and Charleston Benne Wafers.
* A "Ghosts and Graveyards" walking tour that shares tales of the city's most notorious characters and mysterious tombstones.
* A ride through the 127-acre Charleston Tea Plantation, North America's only commercial tea farm.
* One of those iconic London-style Black Cabs for three hours each day to drive you to the sights that are not within easy walking distance of your hotel.
You needn't do it all, of course! You get to pick and choose whatever you like from the above menu. For even more information about the contest and prize -- and plenty of photos -- watch this video of yours truly. It's not Stephen Colbert at an awards gala -- just me in my office at Condé Nast Traveler -- but it paints a colorful picture of what the winner will get.
So what are you waiting for? Enter our contest now. Good luck, and I can't wait to read your tips!