Name: Thomas
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

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Question: What's the best time to tour Napa / Sonoma Valley wine country and why?

Answer: The best time according to conventional wisdom is the Autumn and harvest. But the valleys get really crowded.

Local friends from Sonoma recommend coming between mid-November and mid-March. The weather is mild. The crowds are gone. The hotels and B&Bs have lower rates. It’s easy to make reservations at the best restaurants. You can book time at one of the spas. And the winery staff have more on-on-one time to take you through wine tastings. Sometimes even the winery owners take part in the tastings.

Name: Patricia
Hometown: Morrisville, NY

Question: Looking for a quiet romantic getaway for our 10th wedding anniversary. We never had a honeymoon. We were thinking about Hawaii, but not being big travelers I am at a loss. I don’t want to spend a huge amount of money either. Please help!!

Answer: Don’t be at a loss, your possibilities are almost endless. Here are some suggestions.

* Go north to Quebec City in Canada. It is the closest thing to traveling to France without crossing the Atlantic and the old town is very romantic.

* Or head to New Orleans with its romantic French Quarter. The city is one of America’s jazz centers with evocative B&Bs and wonderful restaurants with spicy Cajun cooking.

* Or head to the British Virgin Islands which is at the top of many “most Romantic” lists. There is even a private island resort, Peter Island, where they will set up a private candlelight dinner for two.

* Out west, go to Sun Valley. It is low season during the summer at the Sun Valley Lodge and it offers Old West elegant romance at its best.

* Finally, try Santa Fe. If honeymooners can’t have a good time here midst southwestern culture at any price level, they need therapy.

Name: Cooper
Hometown: Warrenton, VA

Question:  My wife will be celebrating her 60th birthday in two years. I would like to put together a vacation for our entire family; the two of us; our two sons and their wives; and the grandkids who will be 16, 14, 7, and 3 at the time. It has to have golf for my two sons, and things for the grandkids to do. We live in the Washington DC area and don't want to travel so far that we are exhausted when we get there. Any suggestions?

Answer: Two resorts come to mind immediately:
Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia is only 4 and a half hours away. It is in the mountains so the humidity is slashed, there is a Gary Player Signature Golf Course and more than enough activities to keep every member of your family occupied. Have your birthday dinner at The Red Fox one of the best restaurants on the East Coast, certainly the best in West Virginia.

Also check out Wintergreen Resort in Virginia, It is a little closer to DC, in the Blue Ridge Mountains and has two golf courses with plenty of additional activities.

You have some time. Visit both of them and make up your mind.

Name: Mary
Hometown: West Chester, PA

Question:  My husband and I decided we would like to celebrate our anniversary by seeing a Broadway show and staying overnight in NYC. I went online to get information soon became so overwhelmed with all the sites promising the "best deals." The rates varied with each site. Plus we've never been to NYC and have no idea where to begin. HELP!!

Answer: First. Relax. New York isn’t that difficult. Get a good guidebook and do some reading about the city. Then you can begin to think about what you might want to see.

As for Broadway shows, if you are not picky and want to same some money, go to the TKTS booth in Time Square. Otherwise use an online broker for your tickets or Ticketmaster once you figure out what shows you want to see.

For hotels you can always call a travel agent. The human touch can really help in this situation. Or go to quikbook.com which is an online hotel broker that deals in smaller boutique hotels as well as the big ones. They have live operators who know New York inside out  … they will be happy to help you. Of course, Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity all have plenty of good deals as well.

Pick a hotel in midtown. Get a price that you can live with. Then enjoy yourself. If you keep looking for the “best” or “Cheapest” you will drive yourself batty.

Name: Gayle
Hometown: San Diego, Ca

Question: I am getting ready to head with my family to the Bahamas. I have heard that the food is rather expensive. Do you think it is a good idea to buy the food plan from the hotel for $57.00 a day per person. There are 4 people in our party?

Answer: This question comes up frequently. The best deals money-wise are almost always the hotel meal plan, whether you are in the Bahamas or Europe. Try to make sure that the hotel you are staying in has a good kitchen. Nothing is worse than to have paid for food you can barely eat. Even if the food is heavenly, you will be limited to only that hotel’s dining experience.

Eating out will get you into the town and surrounding community. You’ll see more and you can change restaurants for dinner or for lunch. Plus your choices will be far greater.

Myself. I’d opt for eating out. Heck you’ve already spent a pretty penny to get there. $20 or so more for food and freedom a day is worth it.

Charles Leocha is nationally-recognized expert on saving money and the publisher of Tripso. He is also the Boston-based author of "SkiSnowboard America & Canada." E-mail him or visit his Web site. Want to sound off about one of his columns? Try visiting Leocha's forum.

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