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Harry Potter Is Turning 20: Here’s Where to Travel to Experience and Celebrate his World of Wizardry

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Hogwarts Castle at Warner Bros. Studio Tours London. Credit: Luke Varley

No, you’re not under a memory charm: The book that first transported millions of readers into the world of witchcraft and wizardry turns 20 on Sept. 20 – at least in the U.S. – and that’s worth celebrating even for muggles.

Hilton wants to help fans celebrate the Harry Potter series’ legacy by putting them in the hub of the action in cities from London to Los Angeles where movie scenes were filmed, Broadway shows are running, and Wizardry tours and festivals abound. We’ll tell you where to go and where to stay; how you get there is up to you (broomsticks encouraged but not required.)

Since it was first published, Scholastic reports the Harry Potter book series has captivated more than 180 million readers in the U.S. and over 500 million around the globe, a feat for the fantasy series written by J.K. Rowling chronicling the life of young wizard Harry Potter and his friends at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

To celebrate this milestone in magical history, Scholastic, the U.S. publishing house for the series, is reissuing all seven Harry Potter books with brand new cover illustrations to welcome a new generation into the magical universe.

So how can Potterheads celebrate too? While a simple movie marathon may be great to mark the 20-year “birthday” of the bestselling book series of all time, they can also hop on a broomstick like their beloved Harry and take the celebration to the next level by booking a trip to transport them into the magical world of all things Hogwarts, Hedwig, and Harry.

Curious about Harry’s homeland? Head to England and visit Platform 9 ¾, the famed spot from the series where students board the Hogwarts Express train. It’s located just a short apparition from Hilton London Euston, though muggles may prefer the brief walk instead.

Want to take a bite out of the big apple? Check out out “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” a play based on a new book of the same name, which is just a short walk from New York Hilton Midtown (no need to use the broomstick for this.)

Or to be fully immersed in all things Harry Potter, head to DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando to explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort™, where visitors can experience everything from sampling Butterbeer to riding a broomstick.

But the wizardry doesn’t have to stop there. Guests at Hilton hotels can even weave some digital magic into their travel by using Hilton’s Digital Key feature as their own personal wand to unlock their room.

Whatever experience you fancy, see below for a collection of Hilton hotels nearby – ensuring a little more relaxation than Harry ever had in his travels!

Platform 9 ¾ at Warner Bros. Studio Tours London [Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage]

Domestic

Hampton Inn by Hilton Orlando Near Universal Blv/International Dr (Orlando, FL): As a Universal Partner Hotel, this family friendly Hampton Inn is just a quick one-mile broom ride (or shuttle service for muggles) away from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando™.

New York Hilton Midtown (New York, New York): Just a 15-minute walk, or broomstick trip away, Harry Potter fans will especially enjoy the hotel’s proximity to Broadway, where the stage play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is currently in production at the Lyric Theatre. Muggles in Manhattan can also take a quick subway ride to the New-York Historical Society to learn about the world of witches and wizards during the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibit running from October 5 to January 27.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel at the Entrance to Universal Orlando (Orlando, Florida): With a quick broom ride to the Wizarding World to enjoy Butterbeer, Harry Potter fans will enjoy DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel’s prime location right at the entrance of Universal Orlando, home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Hilton Los Angeles / Universal City (Universal City, California): The Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City hotel is just a block away from the entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood and minutes from Hollywood. Book your Los Angeles stay here to be just a block away from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and attractions like Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™ and the beautiful Hogwarts™ Castle.

Hilton Boston/Woburn (Woburn, Massachusetts): The recently renovated Hilton Boston/Woburn is the perfect property for those wanting to explore the historic town of Salem, Massachusetts, home to Wynott Wands, where visitors can be treated to a magical experience featuring a wide selection of wands and Harry Potter merchandise.

Tru By Hilton San Antonio Downtown Riverwalk (San Antonio, Texas): Tru by Hilton San Antonio Downtown Riverwalk is located just steps from the beautiful San Antonio Riverwalk.. Fans of the franchise can purchase tickets to the San Antonio Symphony’s Harry Potter Film Concert Series to experience a live performance of the film’s score while watching the movie.

Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Dallas (Dallas, Texas): Harry Potter fans looking to plan their trip to Dallas to experience Leaky Con (the Harry Potter lover’s conference) in August of this year, or August of next year for the 10th Anniversary, will love the prime location of this hotel, only a short walk away from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

International

Doubletree by Hilton Hotel London – Tower of London (London, United Kingdom): Situated in the heart of London, this hotel puts you in easy reach of one of the world’s financial hubs, most iconic tourist destinations, and Harry Potter filming locations at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge The Millennium Bridge is also a short distance away, which Potter fans may remember was destroyed by the Death Eaters in the series. Fans can also take a short walk to Leadenhall Market where exterior shots of Diagon Alley were taken. You might even be able to spot the blue door that serves as entrance to the Leaky Cauldron.

London Hilton on Park Lane (London, United Kingdom): An icon of British hospitality since 1963, London Hilton on Park Lane was the first Hilton hotel to open in the UK. This hotel is conveniently located a short ride away from the Palace Theatre, a venue currently running a production of the official Harry Potter stage play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Hilton Watford (Watford, United Kingdom): Conveniently located only 20 miles from Heathrow Airport and a 20-minute train ride from London Euston station and Central London, this hotel is in close proximity to the location where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. Book your family stay and be close to the wizarding action at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Edinburgh City Centre (Edinburgh, United Kingdom): Located in the heart of the city, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Edinburgh City Center is close to several attractions that relate to the book including The Elephant House, where JK Rowling wrote the series, and the boarding school that was the inspiration behind it all.

Hilton London Euston (London, United Kingdom): Located near London’s city center, this property is perfect for touring destinations such as The British Museum and the British Library. The hotel is located just minutes away from Kings Cross Station where Harry Potter fans can travel like a wizard on Platform 9 ¾ and visit the Harry Potter Shop located near the station.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Woking (Woking, United Kingdom): Located in the northwest region of Surrey, England, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Woking is near popular tourist attractions including Thorpe Park and North Downs. Surrey, England is home to the fictional 4 Privet Drive, the house inhabited by Harry Potter’s muggle family; Surrey appeared in each of the movies, most notably in the Battle of the Seven Potters, which was fought in the skies over Surrey.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Glasgow Central (Glasgow, United Kingdom): Located just 10 minutes away from Glasgow Queen Street and Glasgow Central railway stations, DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central sits in the heart of the city center. Nearby attractions include the University of Glasgow and Ashton Lane, a hidden alleyway decorated with fairy lights and filled with pubs and cafes. Ashton Lane was supposedly author J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Islington (London, United Kingdom): DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Islington is the ideal base for exploring London. The hotel is located near a variety of shops, pubs and King’s Cross tube station, where guests can experience the magic of instant transportation at Platform 9 ¾, as seen in the early Harry Potter films.

Destinations

Rediscover Istanbul: Last Step in Europe, First Step in Asia

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Housed in a century-old neoclassical Turkish prison, Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet offers a genuine Istanbul experience just a few steps from city’s important landmarks in Sultanahmet with the Suite Authentic luxury accommodation package. One can escape to Four Seasons Hotel Sultanahmet to indulge in a memorable Istanbul experience in fall enjoying city’s mild climate, historical attractions surrounding the Hotel, cultural events and festivals, last but not least various shopping alternatives including designer labels and traditional souvenirs. Set in the historical peninsula, the Hotel is neighbour to the city’s most significant souks such as Grand Bazaar and Spice Market.

Although Istanbul has become a year-round destination, fall is a perfect season to enjoy city’s magnificent vistas, traditional shopping stops and designer shops. It is also an ideal time to discover the art scene in the city, such as Contemporary Istanbul, Akbank Jazz Festival or Istanbul Design Biennale. Designed to offer multiple delights to visitors of Istanbul, the Suite Authentic accommodation package includes daily American breakfast in Seasons Restaurant or through In-Room Dining for two and offers 30 percent off the room rate.

The Hotel’s beautifully designed suites relate directly to the rich history and layers of Istanbul, offering a strong sense of place with their breathtaking views of the manicured courtyard as well as St. Sophia and Blue Mosque. With one of the most authentic and one-of-a-kind suite collections in Istanbul, guests can choose from an impressive Executive Suite to two Presidential Suites, St. Sophia and Marmara, each containing a living room with fireplace, dining area for 6-8 guests and three private terraces offering exceptional city views. In their intimate residential setting, guests can truly make themselves at home – whether they wish to lounge around in the living area or enjoy a magnificent Old Town silhouette from their balcony.

Inspired from Istanbul’s heritage, the interior design in suites reflects the footsteps of past empires. Understated Four Seasons elegance and the mysticism of Old Town show itself in the tiny details of each suite. This indigenous indulgence is now offered to ensure a luxury accommodation at Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet. the Suite Authentic accommodation package is valid for three-night minimum stays until March 31, 2019.

Not-to-Miss Attractions in Old Town

Visit Spice Bazaar and Covered Bazaar: Home to the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered market in the world, Istanbul boasts a vibrant and unforgettable shopping scene. More than 4,000 shops on 58 streets feature goods and fine crafts from all over Turkey and beyond, and the Grand Bazaar is one big Aladdin’s cave.

Go underground at the Basilica Cistern: The Basilica Cistern is the largest of the ancient underground water cisterns found across Istanbul.

Visit Hagia Sophia: One of the most visited museums and most prominent monuments in the world in terms of art and the history of architecture, Hagia Sophia should be at the top of a to-see list for Istanbul. Do not miss the upstairs gallery to catch the best views and to glimpse the surviving mosaics, in particular the golden mosaic of the Virgin and Child in the apse.

Visit the Blue Mosque: Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque’s two most striking features are its six minarets and blue domed exterior.

Get a taste of royal life at Topkapi Palace: Topkapi Palace is the largest royal residence in Istanbul and it served as the main residence to the Ottoman Sultans for almost 400 years.

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Destinations

Shop like a local in Guadalajara

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As one of Mexico’s top artisanal hubs, Guadalajara offers the best in culture, cuisine and shopping. Travelers can find everything from expertly crafted pottery to luxe leather goods in unique markets throughout the city. For those who travel the world in search of the best locally-produced, stylish souvenirs, Guadalajara provides the ultimate in retail therapy in a vibrant, festive atmosphere — after all, this is the birthplace of mariachi, tequila, and charrería, the Mexican rodeo!

Follow these tips for shopping, eating, and playing like a local in Guadalajara, and you are sure to leave with as many memories as one-of-a-kind purchases.

Largest indoor market in Latin America

Visitors to the historic center of Guadalajara will enjoy sightseeing with a backdrop of the beautiful architecture of the double-spired Guadalajara Cathedral. This area is home to Mercado Libertad, the largest indoor market in Latin America with three floors and nearly 3,000 stands featuring everything from apparel and handbags to fresh produce and local delicacies. Stop for a meal or browse endless options. Mexican cowboys, known locally as charros, frequent leather vendors in search of saddles, boots, and belts. Across the street in the jewelry market, gold and silver pieces will add just the right Mexican accent to your wardrobe.

The perfect pair

Fashionistas rejoice. Whether it is pumps or loafers, sandals or sneakers you seek, Guadalajara is the place to find the perfect pair of shoes. Make a beeline to Galería del Calzado, a shopping center focused exclusively on your feet. Choose from 64 stores offering everything from jaw-dropping high fashion designs to the hottest streetwear trends.

Galleries galore

In the colonial town of Tlaquepaque, local arts and crafts fill market showrooms and upscale stores where you will find carved wooden furniture, colorful blown glass ceramics and hand-stitched clothing. The downtown area retains the traditional structure of a small Mexican community with a parish street, central market, main square, and many pedestrian-only streets, making this a good place to take a stroll. Catch the daily mariachi performances at the local restaurants and cantinas, some with outdoor seating perfect for people watching.

Bargain hunting

Some of the best bargains can be found among Tonalá’s narrow streets, where most of Guadalajara’s local goods can be purchased. In this neighborhood, you can find some of the best crafts in the country. This includes wide-mouth clay bowls designed to serve a cazuela cocktail, Guadalajara’s signature citrus punch. The area is particularly known for silver and gold crafts, hand-painted pottery, paper-mâché, and clay figurines. On Thursdays and Sundays, bargain-priced merchandise is sold at a vast street market where wholesalers arrive from all over the country to buy in bulk.

Lap of luxury

In the district of Zapopan, the Andares Mall offers shoppers top-of-the-line luxury brands. After a day of shopping, join the locals as they enjoy a pedestrian corridor filled with high-end restaurants and bars near the basilica.

Nature’s products

Just outside of Guadalajara are sprawling agave fields, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where the world’s tequila is produced. Drive past fields of the blue agave plant that stretch out over the rugged, hilly terrain, en route to the town of Tequila. After visiting the distilleries and purchasing bottles to serve back home, peruse smaller shops and stalls for necklaces and earrings crafted using blue agave leaves, agave syrup, and figurines made from the obsidian of the nearby volcano.

For more information on Guadalajara, visit www.visitguadalajara.com.

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Why Myrtle Beach is the perfect fall vacation for families

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When it comes to vacation planning, millennial families with young children have the edge over school-aged families — no strict school schedules to obey!

Take advantage of this flexibility while you can, and plan your escape to Myrtle Beach. This oceanside city along the beautiful South Carolina coastline features just about everything families with young children are looking for: family fun, engaging and interactive attractions, delicious food and relaxing places to chill out. Bonus: Now that school is in session, you’ll escape the summer crowds.

To help you plan, here are some of the things that await in Myrtle Beach.

Budget-friendly fun: As promised in the name, Myrtle Beach is the place to make oceanside memories: building sand castles, hunting for seashells and delighting in their giggles as the waves lap their little toes. As it turns out, fall is one of the best times of year to have that beach vacation without breaking the bank. Look for deep discounts and special lodging packages at hotels and resorts. While you search for fun things to do, be on the lookout for exclusive fall promotions. For example, Visit Myrtle Beach is offering a complimentary children’s beach photo session, which will create the perfect keepsake for your getaway.

Beautiful “summer” weather: Even if you feel a nip in the air in your region, the fall weather in South Carolina is still ideal for exploring wide open spaces and enjoying outdoor activities. Brookgreen Gardens features the Lowcountry Zoo, which houses animals in spaces as close to their natural habitat as possible. You’ll definitely want to get way up high and see the beaches and water stretch off into forever from atop the SkyWheel, a 200-foot Ferris wheel that’s right on the beach.

Enriching fun: Myrtle Beach has plenty of kid-friendly places to interact and build new connections to this wide, wonderful world. Kids can get an up-close look at the colorful fish and other sea creatures at Ripley’s Aquarium. After hearing stories about farm life in their favorite picture books, they can see the real thing at the L.W. Paul Living History Farm. Finally, WonderWorks Science Center has more than 100 hands-on exhibits that are designed to both thrill and teach children a thing or two about science.

Peaceful pursuits: While you’re enjoying all this family time (and seeing the smiles on those little faces), be sure to make time for the grownups to enjoy themselves, too, with solo outings at some point in the trip. All around Myrtle Beach you’ll find lots of options to chill and recharge, whether it’s a well-deserved spa treatment or discovering your new favorite wine at a tasting. We’ll lose the thought with this vision of heaven: You and your family relaxing along the seashore seashore. No one’s cranky, no one’s hungry, just … aaaaaaah!

For more ideas and inspiration to plan your fall family vacation to Myrtle Beach, visit www.visitmyrtlebeach.com.

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