Travel and Real Estate

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Read what "real people" are saying about restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, etc. in New York, Seattle, Phoenix and 21 other cities, or submit written reviews of your own. The site combines strong local search tools (such as Google Maps) with a social networking approach — already the site is teeming with "Yelpers" eager to share — and so the more user-generated content it compiles, the more useful it will be for anybody who's looking for a good time in one of these towns.

Home of a well-conceived, well-executed service for urban dwellers who need a set of wheels every now and then but prefer not to own one. The website makes it very easy to reserve a car, look at recent charges to your account, learn what's covered under the usage fees, and learn all that is expected of you as a member of this rapidly-expanding club. Now serving eight cities including New York, San Francisco, Providence, RI, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Toronto. Ready to go on a road trip? Check gas prices by zip code on the MSN Autos page.

A slew of new features makes this a compelling meta-search site useful for planning your next trip. You can search airfares to different cities simultaneously (click "multi-city search"); Fare Watch lets you track any number of trip itineraries and receive email alerts when a fare meets or beats your specified price. Kayak Buzz lists the best fares to 25 popular destinations from a specific airport, and now you can also view the "best fare history" — the 100 best prices found by other users searching the same route during the last 36 hours. The new Flexible Search lets you compare fares on alternative travel dates. Registered users can save preferences under My Profile, so they don't have to enter certain data on every visit. Of course, it pays to check an airline's FlightStats before booking — the site issues monthly reports showing how well carriers managed to stick to schedule. And once you've decided on a flight, head to Seat Guru for a detailed look at your seat-assignment options.

This site uses tax records, sales history and actual amounts paid for comparable properties in your area to calculate an estimate ("Zestimate") of your home's worth. You don't have to identify yourself or deal with a broker to use the service. Check out the new color-coded "heat maps" of 17 cities that compare Zestimates per square foot by location. When you're ready to buy, consult the Mortgage Professor's Web Site, a site packed with useful advice from expert Jack M. Guttentag, a retired finance professor from Wharton who assesses lenders and offers tutorials, calculators and a glossary, while warning borrowers about the hazards of the current market.

Central Park
This comprehensive, interactive guide to one of the world's most famous public spaces offers up-to-date information on 43 different attractions, from the Carousel to the Conservatory Garden, Strawberry Fields to the Swedish Cottage. A model of organization and design, it's a pleasure to navigate.

This brand-new "airfare predication engine" calculates whether the lowest price on plane tickets — currently, only for trips out of Seattle or Boston — will rise or fall over the next week, to help you decide the right time to buy. (All major U.S. markets will be covered by the end of the year, according to a site spokesperson.) Choose from 120 destinations, and you'll get a fare history chart, price prediction and bottom-line tip (e.g., "Wait"). The site aggregates piles of airfare data to track price fluctuations and deliver its advice; it also reveals differences in fares according to time of day and other factors.

This incredibly useful site provides step-by-step directions via bus or subway in four cities: New York, Boston, Washington and San Francisco. Plug in start and end points and you get clear instructions, alternative options and maps. The site factors in service changes and provides alternative routes.