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March 29, 2009|Susan Spano; Susan Derby; Liesl Bradner; Brady MacDonald

Seeing Venice on a budget

The Venice, Italy, tourism bureau just launched an online reservation service offering budget-conscious travel packages that include city-side parking, bus passes and free admission to the city's casino. Venice Connected attempts to control crowds by tailoring prices to demand and trying to attract more visitors during the low seasons. Travelers can save money by booking a Venice Connected package during these times. When is the off-season? The website's color-coded package date ranges offer a guide. Info: www.veniceconnected.com

-- Susan Spano

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Park outing

Explore America's first national park with daily naturalist-led hikes and a sunrise outing to view bears, bison and wolves. The four-night, five-day Lodging and Learning program at Yellowstone National Park runs Mondays through Fridays from May 25 to Sept. 21. After long days on the trail, recharge for two nights at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and two nights at Grant Village. Breakfast, box lunch, in-park transportation and free evening programs are included. Cost: $719 per person, based on double occupancy; $976 per person, single occupancy (tax not included). Info: Yellowstone Assn. Institute, (866) 439-7375; www.yellowstoneassociation.org/institute

-- Susan Derby

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French scenes

Embark on a whirlwind tour of France; take numerous photos of historical landmarks, architecture and local life; and then return home and proudly display your photos for friends and family to admire. This was the recent assignment for eight student photographers from three local colleges (Art Center College of Design, California Institute of the Arts and Otis College of Art and Design) and Loyola University in New Orleans. The project, "Jeunes Talents," a joint initiative of France's national tourist office, Maison de la France and French Cultural Services in L.A., challenged the students to take images of daily life and capture the spirit of Antibes Juan-les-Pins, Biarritz, Lyon and Montpellier. The photos will be on display until April 11 at Louis Stern Fine Arts in West Hollywood or view them online at us.franceguide.com/Special/Jeunes-Talents-2009/home.html

-- Liesl Bradner

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Legoland slide

Legoland California plans to add side-by-side racing slides to its new Land of Adventure area in time for the Fourth of July weekend. The 30-foot-high Dune Raiders slides, themed to match the land's Egyptian bazaar motif, will feature six 50-foot-long racing lanes and a pair of double-helix corkscrews. Riders slide on burlap potato sacks. The racing slides will be surrounded by Lego models and characters.

-- Brady MacDonald

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'Easy' summer

The classic 1969 biker flick "Easy Rider" will hold center stage in Taos, N.M., this summer, as the focus for celebrations of the town's countercultural past. Writer-director Dennis Hopper, pictured above at right, lived in Taos during the filming and the dusty adobe town served as the backdrop for many of the movie's scenes. So it's appropriate that Hopper will be master of ceremonies when the Taos "Summer of Love" celebration kicks off May 4. Photography by Hopper and a show he curated featuring artists such as Larry Bell and Ken Price will go on display from May 8 to Sept. 18.

-- Susan Spano

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