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Web sites, guides and travel hints to make vacations more fun

SHARE Web sites, guides and travel hints to make vacations more fun

GOURMET MAGAZINE NAMES LUXOR HOTEL one of the top 50 U.S. resorts. If you find yourself in Las Vegas and you're looking for something to please your palate, readers of Gourmet magazine suggest you try the Luxor. Factors considered in the rankings included four that were food-related.

- COLORADO CABINS - "Colorado Cabins, Lodges, Country B&Bs - Scenic Getaways for Every Season" lists 234 places to stay. Rates range from $20 to $350 a night for two people, but most of the cabins average from $45 to $75 per night for two with additional occupants costing $5 to $15 more per person. The book is available at local bookstores or by calling the publisher at 800-886-9343.

- SONOMA WINE COUNTRY offers a free visitors guide. Vintage Views, available by calling 800-326-7666, or by accessing the Web site of the Sonoma County Convention and Visitors Bureau at (www.visitsonoma.com), lists not only vineyards but historical sites and other attractions. It describes the area's primary towns, from Healdsburg to Santa Rosa, from Sonoma to Windsor. Sonoma County is an hour's drive north from the Golden Gate Bridge.

- FREE GUIDE TO ENGLAND'S NORTH COUNTRY. Northern England has a distinctive character with expanses of lakes and landscapes. The region's roots go back to ancient times. It was once the northern frontier of the Roman Empire; English Christianity was born there; and it was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. A free, 72-page guidebook called "England's North Country" can help you find your way around. For a copy, contact the British Tourist Authority (BTA) at 800-462-2748, or visit the Web at (www.usagateway.visitbritain.com/).

The north of England is well blessed with open spaces. From the city of Manchester to the Scottish border there are five national parks. Large tracts of land in the area often have more sheep than people. Other highlights include the Beamish Open Air Museum near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which evokes family and working life in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds has the world's largest collection of arms and armory. Castle Howard, a short drive from York, is the baroque mansion dating from the early 18th century that was featured in the PBS TV series "Brideshead Revisited." Writers and poets born in northern England include the Bronte sisters, whose parsonage home in the village of Haworth, West Yorkshire, is a place where literary pilgrims go. James Herriot's Yorkshire locations have changed little since his days as a young country veterinarian. In the Lake District, the cottage of William Wordsworth near Grasmere is open to visitors. Beatrix Potter wrote many of her charming children's tales at her farm in the village of Near Sawrey. A gallery in nearby Hawkshead is devoted to her.

- UNITED AIRLINES OFFERS E-FARES. The airline has joined other carriers that alert passengers to last-minute bargains via the Internet. Tap into the list at (www.ual.com). Each Wednesday it has reduced fares for the coming weekend. The site also lists competitive airlines prices, lets you book a hotel room, has car rental information and other data.

- WATCH CUSTER'S LAST STAND RE-ENACTMENT ON YOUR PC. The event, which takes place near Hardin, Mont., June 26-28, and involves more than 200 participants including descendants of people who engaged in the original battle, will be available on the Web through July 12. Check it out on (www.eventsworldwide.com). The site carries impressions of more than 50,000 events a month. Search for the one you want by location, date, event category or a combination of those factors.

- WEEKEND RATES REDUCED AT NEW YORK CITY'S OMNI BERKSHIRE PLACE HOTEL. Through Sept. 6, the landmark hotel's rates on Friday nights will be as low as $189. That's down from the rack rate of $499. The promotional rate is called Phenomenal Fridays. If you check in on a Friday, you may extend the reduced rate to Saturday and Sunday night, too. A bonus: weekend guests may check out as late as 5 p.m. The hotel is between Fifth and Madison avenues on 52nd Street. It recently underwent a $70 million renovation. For reservations, call 212-753-5800, or 800-THE-OMNI.

- THE CRAFT FESTIVAL AT WINTERTHUR will be Sept. 5 and 6. Winterthur Museum Garden & Library is in Delaware's Brandywine Valley. The juried event will feature more than 180 craftsmen selling contemporary and traditional items, craft demonstrations, family activities and interactive theater. Tickets are $10 at the gate. For information, call 800-448-3883, Ext. 4817, or visit the Web at (www.udel.edu/winterthur).

- BUY GROCERIES AND EARN POINTS. In yet another extension of travel rewards programs, American Express card users who are enrolled in certain rewards programs are eligible for double points when they buy groceries at participating stores. The promotion runs through Aug. 31 and is open to card holders who are enrolled in the Membership Rewards program, who have a Delta Skymiles Credit Card or the American Express Golf Card. Participating grocery stores in Utah include Smith's, Albertson's, Harmon's, Macey's, Fred Meyer and Super Target.

- THE EXECUTIVE WOMAN'S TRAVEL NETWORK is a combined effort of Delta Air Lines and American Express Travel Related Services. Its Web site, (www.delta-air.com/womenexecs), has travel tips and articles from nationally known travel writers and lifestyle experts. In addition, members of the program are eligible for:

- A companion fare of $99 when you pay a minimum of $192 on any Delta published round-trip fare within the lower 48 between May 1 and June 30; and between Sept. 15 and Dec. 31, 1998.

- A one-class upgrade with a minimum fare purchase of $399 on any Delta published round-trip fare for travel within the lower 48 between May 1 and June 30 and between Sept. 15 and Dec. 31, 1998.

- Up to $100 off Delta/Delta Connection fares within the lower 48 for the same dates listed above.

Register for the program online, or by calling 888-241-8526. You must use an American Express card and be a member of SkyMiles, the airline's frequent flier program. To be eligible for this year's benefits, you must become a member by Sept. 18, 1998.

- ARE YOU ALL THUMBS? If you tend to spill your drink on your cocktail dress or splatter ketchup on your tie, you may want to pack some Shout Wipes in your luggage. Shout Wipes are stain treater towlettes. They can take care of small spills on the spot. For the fastidious traveler, they may be as important as hand wipe towlettes.