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Feeling taxed? Relax with 13 stimulus travel packages

This summer, unwind and have fun with your $600 check from Uncle Sam. From Barbados to Kentucky, TODAY travel editor Peter Greenberg highlights attractive ways to enjoy your tax rebate.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

Earlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service began mailing out tax rebates of up to $600 per person (and $1,800 for a family of four) to help stimulate the economy. And the travel industry was quick to respond with their own stimulus packages — designed to attract as much of that $110 billion in rebates as possible. After all, their hope is that when the going gets tough, the tough will get going (literally).

Here are some very attractive ways to travel and spend your check from Uncle Sam, otherwise translated as: Where can you go for under $600?Monmouth Plantation — Natchez, MississippiPart of the National Historic Landmark, this stately plantation with a columned entrance offers two packages, each priced at$600.     •     Do you want to spend your tax rebate on getting married this summer? The"Wedding for Two" package includes nuptials on the bridge, a Southern cuisine, five-course dinner for two in the gazebo, and a morning horse-drawn carriage ride that takes you trotting through the historic downtown.     •     In-room massage for you and your new spouse     •     Includes two nights     •     If you don’t want to get married but would like a romantic getaway, their "Romance in the Antebellum South" package includes two nights accommodation, five-course candlelight dinner for two in the Antebellum Mansion’s dining room, and an in-room massage for two.     •     Packages are valid from June 1, 2008 to August 31, 2008Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill — Harrodsburg, KentuckyThis is America’s largest restored Shaker community, and it’s located on 3,000 acres of Bluegrass farmland, just 25 miles southwest of Lexington, Kentucky. It’s also not far from distilleries, vineyards, horse farms and historic sites.     •     Village Package is available until August 31, 2008.     •     Package includes two-night accommodations for two adults and two kids.     •     Village tour admission for two adults and two kids, as well as two dinners and two country buffet breakfasts     •     Two-night deluxe accommodations for two adults and two children     •     Village tour admission for two adults and two children for the length of stay     •     Dinners for two adults and two children (does not include alcoholic beverage purchases)     •     Two country buffet breakfasts for two adults and two children     •     All taxes and gratuities     •     Horse-drawn wagon ride (Fridays and Saturdays only) for four people and a Dixie Belle Riverboat Ride for $24 for four people     •     Deluxe room and package is$587.28 and includes taxes and gratuities.Sheraton Norfolk Waterside — Norfolk, VirginiaRates start at $465 for a family of four for a three-night stay:     •     Package includes: accommodations; complimentary children’s meals; parking; a welcome snack; in-room movies; and a roll-away.     •     For an additional $19.95 per person, families can buy the Passport to Fun and gain admission to many top attractions in Norfolk.      •     Some attractions include Norfolk Botanical Garden’s three-acre World of Wonders (WOW) exhibit, Virginia Zoo, the science center NAUTICUS, and moreAspen — ColoradoThis is a surprise, considering the normal expense of this destination. But in the summer, Aspen/Snowmass is offering its “Kick Off Summer” package, and lodging rates beginat $79 per room per night from June 1-9, 2008:     •     Frontier Airlines fares start as low as$89 each way.     •     Roundtrip airfare from Denver starts at $165 during May and June. Other major cities have low-cost fares as well during May and June (from Aspen is on sale with summer kickoff lodging specials for as low as $63 per night until May 31 and $79 per night until June 9.     •     Visitors who book two or more nights at any Aspen lodge involved with theFree Gas & Wheels promotion will receive a voucher for as much as $50 of gas from Local’s Corner Shell at 435 East Main Street in Aspen. Also included in this promotion are: two free bus rides to the magnificent Maroon Bells, voucher for two free, one-day bicycle rentals ($40 value), and a “Canary Tag” certificate, confirming that $20 has been invested in a verified energy-efficiency and renewable-energy project through the City of Aspen.The Marriott and Renaissance Hotels — New Orleans, LouisianaThe Marriott and Renaissance Hotels in New Orleans have teamed up to give guests an opportunity to really help rebuild the city through the programcalled"Big Easy Spirit to Serve."     •     Rates start at $149-$269 per night, double occupancy, year-round     •     Program includes: Donation of $50 to local charity per night of guests’ room rate is given to New Orleans Habitat for Humanity.     •     Care Concierge gives guests who want to help New Orleans useful information on local volunteer organizations and provides recommendations on local volunteer organizations.     •     Package also includes breakfast for two.InterContinental Chicago — Chicago, IllinoisTheBlues Chicago package includes overnight accommodations for two, VIP passes to the famous Blue Chicago Club, with an opportunity to meet the band, an autographed CD from the Club; and a tour of Chess Recording Studio, where some of Chicago’s best blues artists once recorded their music.     •     Ratesstart at $221 each night per coupleRitz-Carlton San Francisco — San Francisco, CaliforniaThis is another surprise, considering it's ... the Ritz-Carlton.     •     The"Reconnect" package starts at$469 per night with deluxe room accommodations, and the package includes breakfast for two in the Terrace Restaurant or in-room dining.     •     Two San Francisco “City Passes”, offering admission to popular attractions, such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, Legion of Honor, de Young Museum, Aquarium of the Bay, the Exploratorium, and either the Asian Art Museum or the California Academy of Sciences and Steinhart Aquarium     •     A seven-day unlimited cable car and Muni transportation pass and another huge bonus — overnight valet parking, which can often run $30 a night

Orlando, Florida, for two:     •     $515 for a three-night/four-day stay at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes     •     $250 gets you a choice of dinner at more than 20 upscale restaurants within a one-mile radius, from Samba Room to Seasons 52.     •     $40 for two wine-tasting cards at The Wine Room — sample a selection of more than 150 different types of wine, all at the touch of a button!     •     $260 for two custom massages at The Ritz-Carlton Spa     •     $6 for admission for two at The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which  houses the world's most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany     •     $100 will get you two dates priced under $50 each at the following: CityWalk Meal & Movie Deal, Dexters of Thornton Park, Dottie’s Comedy Theatre, Improv Comedy Club and Restaurant, Farris and Fosters Famous Chocolate Factory (learn how to make chocolate!), The Bosendorfer Lounge at the Grand Bohemian Orlando, Sky 60TOTAL: about $1,171Orlando for a family of four:     •     $1,027 for four Park Orlando Flex Tickets (Universal Studios — experience the new Simpsons ride!), Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld Orlando and Wet N’ Wild) and a 4-night/5-day stay at a value hotel such as Comfort Inn Lake Buena Vista     •     $140 for the "WonderWorks Ultimate Combo," admission to over 100 interactive exhibits, 1 lazer tag game and dinner show      •     $175 for admission to the hot-spot attractions on International Drive: Terror in Orlando, Hawaiian Rumble Adventure Golf, Ripley's Believe It or Not     •     $132 — Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex for a two-day admission     •     $230 — SkyVenture Family Package (Realistic indoor skydiving experience and the perfect location for adventurous teens who may be too afraid to jump out of a plane, but would still like to experience the sensation of free fall and body flight or for frequent jumpers looking to improve their technique).      •     $69 for four tickets for a Boggy Creek Airboat Ride - Airboat Tour (Discover territory that remains unaltered by man in the wilderness of the Central Florida Everglades, enjoy whisking across the surface of the water at speeds up to 45 mph while shooting between walls of tall grass. No reservations needed. This tour is approximately 30 minutes.)     •     Freebies (yes, they do still exist): Keep the little ones entertained without opening the wallet at the Lego Store at Downtown Disney where anyone is free to stop by the brightly colored bins just outside the store and make their own Lego creation. At the Peabody Orlando hotel, twice a day visitors can watch the March of the Peabody Ducks, in which the resident birds walk a red carpet to and from the Royal Duck Fountain. Every Monday morning from 9 a.m. to noon, admission is free to Harry P. Leu Gardens, a 50-acre botanical park with the largest camellia collection in eastern North America. The park also runs a free story-time program on the third Monday of every month for young children. Save even more money because kids eat FREE at select Orlando restaurants — be sure to check for details and to find other savings tools.TOTAL: about $1,773La Playa Beach and Golf Resort — Naples, FloridaThe rebate checks coincide with off-season opportunities and this resort has dropped low-season rates to $229 (from $519). That represents a savings of 4 percent, and white sand beaches with great views of the Gulf of Mexico.Tesoro Resorts — Manzanillo, Ixtapa, Los Cabos, MexicoTesoro Resorts is offering a special — four-night, all-inclusive accommodations for two adults for $400 or two adults and two children for $800 at any of their three properties.•    Make sure to use the promotional code REBATE when booking on the Web site or by phone.•    Tesoro Manzanillo is located on a five-mile private beach.Almond Casuarina Beach — BarbadosIn celebration of Almond Resorts’ newest hotel opening, the Almond Casuarina Beach is offering a special of $568 per person for a three-night stay.     •     This resort is all-inclusive, meaning all meals, beverages, water sports, land sports, and golf at the nine-hole golf course are included. Service charges and taxes are included.     •     The property is located on Dover Beach and near 18 acres of tropical forest.
The Star Inn
— Cape May, New JerseyThis old Victorian home now is a nine-room inn and their package costs $599:     •     Includes two mid-week nights for a family of up to four, an efficiency suite that has a bedroom, living room and full kitchen, and a one-day bike rental for the whole family.     •     Package is available from now until the end of summer (Labor Day weekend).     •     Guests have unlimited access to Congress Hall’s pool and amenities, such as butlered beachside service and cabanas.     •     Congress Hall is located directly across from The Star InnHeathman Hotel — Kirkland, WashingtonLocated just outside of Seattle, this new luxury hotel is offering a $600 weekend package for two nights, two adults through July 31, 2008:     •     In your room you’ll find a basket of garden treats picked from the farm of Trellis executive chef Brian Scheehser’s farm. You’ll also find an umbrella to deal with the temperamental Pacific Northwest weather      •     60-minute Coffee Contour Treatment for two people at Penterra Spa, located in the Heathman Hotel     •     $200 credit for dinner at Trellis, a wine country-inspired restaurant featuring true “farm to table” cuisine of food and drink (try the two-hour salad, in which all the ingredients were picked two hours before dinner)     •     Take a VIP tour of nearby roasting facilities and private coffee tasting     •     Wine tasting and a tour of Washington’s famous Chateau Ste. Michelle winery.     •     Tickets to the Experience Music Project, Seattle’s one-of-a- kind museum where you can discover what it would be like to be a rock star     •     Tickets to the Seattle Space Needle observation deck      Try Travelzoo.comLooking for tax rebate deals on the Web? A number of tax rebate packages are available on the site, and include:     •     A Caribbean getaway for two, starting at $558, including airfare and a four-night hotel stay. Available hotels include: the Sheraton Grand Bahama Island Our Lucaya Resort for travel between now and September 1; Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach, all-inclusive for travel between now and July 3. Included departures are from Miami, or at $10 from Fort Lauderdale, $110 from Orlando, $150 from Atlanta, Boston and Washington D.C., and $160 from New York     •     Half-off prices at the Inn and Spa at Loretto, in Santa Fe through June 30. You’ll pay $596 for four nights (two guests), plus a $20 food and beverage credit     •     Four nights at the acclaimed Beaver Creek Lodge for $436 through May 31, plus free parking and no resort fee (a $35/day value)

Some drive-to destinations are offering gas incentives. Hotels and B&B's in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, are offering $25 gift cards for gasoline for a stay of two or more consecutive nights.

And, if you're thinking about visiting large cities, don't forget that many of them offer discounted city passes — good for free or discounted travel, admission to museums, and other attractions. For example, in New York, there's the NY Pass. For just $69, the pass opens doors to many places — admission to more than 40 top New York City attractions, ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Whitney and the Museum of Natural History, to tours of Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and yes, even NBC studios. You can even get a discounted helicopter tour ride (children's passes are just $49).Peter Greenberg is TODAY’s travel editor. His column appears weekly on Visit his Web site at .