Q: I have an eight-hour layover at LAX coming up in two weeks. Any suggestions of places to go near the airport for food, sights, fun? Bonus points if I can get there by public transit rather than a cab.
A: I’m guessing your luggage will not be an issue. If that’s the case, take the trolley to Manhattan Beach. It’s a neat community with lots of shops and restaurants, and a nice beach.
Q: I get regular emails from Friendly Planet Travel offering some deals that seem really good (too good?). Do you have experience with them?
A: Yes, I’ve known them for a long time and have never had a complaint about them. Friendly Planet has a good reputation — not too good to be true. But if you run into any kind of trouble, please let me know.
Q: My wife and I are looking for a beach destination for Memorial Day week. Should be noted that we’ll have a 31/2-year-old in tow. It could be stateside or elsewhere within reasonable flying distance. Any areas that would be better than others with a small child? Any areas where late May is still the offseason (and thus cheaper)? Also weighing all-inclusive resorts.
A: I’d opt for a spot that offers a nonstop flight. Lots of cities in Florida would fit the bill, but if you’re looking for an all-inclusive, the Caribbean is a better fit. As for off-season deals, you’d be better going local if that’s the goal: Ocean City, Md., and Rehoboth and Bethany beaches in Delaware all have good deals during the Memorial Day weekend. Warm destinations that offer nonstop flights and a large selection of all-inclusives include Jamaica and Cancun.
Q: I will be in New York over the Independence Day weekend (staying in Midtown). Any suggestions for a fun place for dinner (will be with family including tween and near-tween girls) and for viewing the fireworks? I am asking early to plan ahead and obtain any reservations that might be necessary.
A: I think Macy’s is sponsoring a fireworks show over the East River, so you’ll want to find a spot on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Perhaps East River Park? As for where to eat, there are so many restaurants to choose from in Midtown. Maybe Jekyll & Hyde?
Q: We are trying to plan a two-week trip in July, with two kids who will be 8 and 11, leaving from D.C. We would love to use Denver as a jumping off point to explore the Rockies and western South Dakota, but our budget is limited. Any suggestions on how to cut costs, whether it’s with cheap airfare or budget lodging? Also on the table is upper, western Michigan, which at least would eliminate the need to fly. Where are the best deals? Your favorite spots?
A: Denver will likely be the cheapest place to fly into from D.C. If you stay outside the major tourist areas and do day trips, you should be able to find budget chain hotels that will reduce your costs. Michigan is not around the corner — it’ll take 12 hours to drive to Traverse City.
These questions and answers are excerpted from a weekly online live chat hosted by The Washington Post Travel section editors and writers.