Q Some friends and I want to visit Transylvania and Dracula's Castle in Romania. What airlines fly there and how do we get around?
A Though some scholars debate whether Bran Castle really inspired "Dracula" author Bram Stoker, it's generally accepted -- at least for tourism's sake -- as the count's crib. The castle dates to 1377 and sits atop a 200-foot-tall rock, with stunning views of the town of Bran. The whole area is said to have strong magnetic fields and its residents extra-sensory perception -- so careful what you think about.
There are other castles worth visiting, too, including Peles Castle -- 35 miles from Bran, it's considered one of Europe's finest -- and the Gothic-style Corvinesti Castle near the town of Hunedoara.
The Romanian National Tourist Office (212-545-8484, www.romaniatourism.com) suggests two- and three-day tours of southern Transylvania on its Web site. While these trips probably are best done by car -- rentals are available at the airport and in Bucharest -- you can also visit the area via public transportation. For instance, take a train the 110 miles from Bucharest to the town of Brasov, then take a taxi or bus approximately 16 miles to Bran Castle, according to the tourist office.
Alitalia, British Airways and Lufthansa are among the airlines that fly from Dulles International to Bucharest's Henri Coanda International Airport (formerly called Otopeni before its recent name change), with connections in Europe. Take a shuttle from the airport to downtown Bucharest, where buses, trains and domestic flights connect to other parts of the country.
My wife, two kids (6 and 10) and I are going to Watkins Glen, N.Y., to see a Nascar race. Besides Niagara Falls, what should we see?
This area of New York is ideal for a family vacation, especially if your brood is outdoorsy. Walking and hiking spots include Havana Glen, a shaded park with a short walk to a deep ravine and cascade; Watkins Glen State Park, with trails along a narrow gorge and 19 waterfalls; and Finger Lakes National Forest.
For something different to do on the water, sail for a few hours on Seneca Lake aboard the schooner Malabar X (607-535-5253, www.senecadaysails.com; from $27). It's an alternative to kayaking or canoeing, which are available, too. The area has many farms, including ones where you can pick your own fruits and veggies. The Cornell Cooperative Extension lists a bunch on its Web site, www.cce.cornell.edu/scnya (click on "local food guides"). Also consider a visit to the 175-acre Farm Sanctuary (607-583-2225, www.farmsanctuary.org) in Watkins Glen, which provides shelter for rescued farm animals.
With the kids, touring the region's many wineries is probably out of the question. However, the Seneca Lake Winery Association (877-536-2717, www.senecalakewine.com) has a wine trail that is a lovely driving route. The Catharine Valley Trail from the Village of Horseheads to Seneca Lake is a nice ride as well, with stops at a few local historical sites.
But if you really want to impress the kids, sign up to drive three paced laps on the Watkins Glen International racetrack (607-535-2338; $25). Tours are available May through October. Check in advance for blackout dates around time of races, especially during this summer's Winston Cup series race.
Info: Schuyler County Chamber of Commerce, 800-607-4552, www.schuylerny.com.
After a wedding in Missoula, Mont., we have a choice of visiting Glacier National Park or Yellowstone. Which would you recommend?
There's a big difference between the two parks, says Steve Braun, owner of Yellowstone Glacier Adventures (406-585-9041, www.national-park-tours.com), a wildlife education group and tour company.
Glacier is a remote and rugged wilderness park. It generally appeals to hikers rather than the traditional tourist, Braun says, though there are ranger-led tours and horseback riding, boating and other recreational activities that would appeal to less adventurous types. The popular Going-to-the-Sun Road runs alongside St. Mary Lake and Lake MacDonald, and there are a half-dozen other scenic roads for taking in amazing views.
As the oldest national park in the United States, Yellowstone is generally more accessible to tourists, especially those with children. There are more sights (Old Faithful geyser and Mammoth Hot Springs among them) and easier-to-spot animals such as bison, elk, bears and wolves, Braun says.
Info: Glacier National Park, 406-888-7800, www.nps.gov/glac; Yellowstone National Park, 307-344-7381, www.nps.gov/yell.
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