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A few months back, I went on a two-week road trip during which my first destination was Phoenix. I was surprised by how much there was to do in this desert city; my two days there didn’t give me nearly enough time to see everything worth exploring. If I were to go back again, there would be many destinations to revisit and a number of sites I didn’t get to that I would love to spend time at. Here are the main attractions and activities I plan to prioritize during my next trip — and that I think you should prioritize, too.
In the late summer, the average high temperature in Phoenix is in excess of 100 degrees. This scorching heat, along with the sprawling nature of the city, make choosing a centrally located Phoenix hotel especially important. For me, budget is always a primary concern, which means that conveniently located but low-cost options like the Downtown Holiday Inn Express work well for me. Of course, there are accommodations for various other travel styles, including luxury stays at hotels like the Crowne Plaza.
Image via Flickr by minniemouseaunt
The Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix house hundreds of plants native to the Arizona desert. During my last stay, I had such a tight budget that I was only able to see the free exhibits, but even those were spectacularly gorgeous. The gardens also host various events, like concerts, ballet performances, and flashlight tours, throughout the year.
The botanical gardens are a bit out of the way, but it’s just a two-minute drive to Papago Park and Hole in the Rock, which offer some zero-cost natural beauty. One of my favorite memories was doing yoga at Hole in the Rock. Facing one way, I could see the cityscape of Phoenix, while the other had me looking at a vast and beautiful desert. There are several other hiking areas that I’d want to explore the next time I’m there, too, including Camelback Mountain, South Mountain Park, and Cortez Lake.
I barely grazed the surface of the city’s museums in my last visit. In downtown Phoenix, there’s the famed Heard Museum, which has one of the best presentations of Native American history and culture in the entire country. Also downtown is the Phoenix Art Museum, a high-class museum with both contemporary and historic pieces of art. Then, just a five-minute drive from downtown, in the Heritage Park neighborhood, there are the Arizona Science Center and the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.
But there’s one museum worth special attention. I spent a full day there, but that wasn’t nearly enough. The museum is the world-famous Musical Instrument Museum, and while it’s a little out of the way (about 25 minutes from downtown), it really is a destination you can spend multiple days at. There are hours and hours of audio and video presentations, an experiential musical gallery, and displays of over 6,000 different instruments from around the world.
What about you? Have you been to Phoenix lately? Are you planning to head there soon? Leave your thoughts and recommendations in the comments below.
This post originally appeared on IHG and is reproduced here with the permission of the content owner.
The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, One World Trade Center…all of offer exceptional views of NYC, but only with some major trade-offs. You could wait hours in line just to reach the top, and the cost of admission is as sky-high as the observation deck. Plus, you’ll find the same exact views in every tour guide and on about half of all NYC postcards. Visiting New York City is breath taking, make sure you are getting the most out of your trip whether your hotel is within walking distance to Times Square or discovering more unique places off the beaten path.
So where should you go to see New York in a new way? Fortunately, there are several other locations which let you see the NYC skyline from a fresh perspective. While they aren’t featured in many city guides, we’ve put together a list of cool and unique locations with unbelievable skyline views. These are more than just tourist trap observation decks; each one doubles as a memorable New York experience, whether you’ll be enjoying a relaxing stroll in the park, learning about natural history, riding a famous carousel, listening to live music, or viewing some of the world’s finest artwork.
Keep this guide handy as you explore New York City from top to bottom. We’ve highlighted some local spots with seriously exceptional views of the city that will remind you why NYC is so special.
New York City is filled to the brim with must-see attractions. To be sure that you’re well-rested and well-located for enjoying all that the city has to offer, choosing the right hotel is vital. Regardless of which part of NYC you want to focus on, there are excellent hotels to suit your needs. Here are five comfortable hotels located in major neighborhoods.
The Washington Square Hotel offers all the basic amenities, from free Wi-Fi and an on-site gym to spacious bathrooms and pillow-top mattresses. The Washington Square Hotel also offers historic appeal: Bob Dylan, Ernest Hemingway, The Rolling Stones, and a number of other prominent figures have stayed there. This hotel is right across the street from Washington Square Park, just over a block from a subway station, and within walking distance of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Blue Note Jazz Club, and dozens of other attractions.
This week, my mother and little brother went on a trip to Hawaii. Their destination was Leia, the city where we lived for a year when I was seven. It’s a beautiful region, but if I ever make it back to the islands, I want to explore new areas rather than sticking to old favorites. Among the most appealing regions to explore is Kailua Kona, a resort city on the western shore of the “Big Island.”
Of course, finding the right hotel for the trip is crucial. Here are five of the most beautiful and well-situated indie hotels in Kailua Kona.
If you’re looking for easy access to some of Kailua Kona’s less crowded beaches, Uncle Billy’s Kona Bay Hotel is your best bet. This beautiful hotel includes overflowing gardens, fantastic views, and a location close to both shopping and the shoreline. Nearby attractions abound: For water lovers, the Kona community Aquatic Center — a family focused activity center — is within walking distance, while ocean activities like sailing, snorkeling, and surfing are just a few miles off.
Just under an hour outside of Los Angeles, you’ll find an intimate resort town called Marina Del Rey. Its famous beaches — including Marina Beach and Dockweiler State Beach — and waterfront attractions are sure to make this the perfect destination for any ocean-lover. One way to make the trip even more memorable is to choose a luxurious hotel that serves as an attraction in its own right. Here are five of the best hotels in Marina Del Rey for luxury travelers.
Every room in the Jamaica Bay Inn features free Wi-Fi, premium bedding, a flat-screen TV, and a spacious bathroom. Each guest receives free fruit and coffee in the morning and can eat at the classy Beachside Restaurant and Bar during the day. If you’re looking for something to do, you can rent a bike from the hotel or book a lesson at the nearby Aloha Brothers Surf School. But that’s not what makes the Jamaica Bay Inn so special. This hotel puts you within one block of Marina Beach. The nightly price starts at $340.
Let’s face it. There’s no denying the warmth, beauty, and good weather in California, especially the parts of this awesome state that overlook the Pacific Ocean. What draws so many eager tourists to California each year is that it’s fantastic as a vacation destination, simply because there is so much to see and do. Whether you’re planning your trip to Cali or you’ve just got the travel bug and want to know more, here are the best California destinations to visit along the Pacific Ocean.
Situated between Pasadena and Los Angeles, Glendale is a one-of-a-kind vacation destination without the year-round crowds of Los Angeles and San Francisco. In fact, there are several fun things to do for all sorts of travelers. Head to the Glendale Galleria, a 3-storey mall with plenty of well-known shops and boutiques, or learn something at the Autry Museum of the American West. If you’re traveling with children, the Universal Studios Hollywood Park provides a fun-filled day out. Book a room at the Hilton Los Angeles North/Glendale for an affordable stay.
Napa Valley, or Napa County, is located north of San Pablo Bay in Northern California. Renowned for its vineyards and wine tasting, Napa Valley welcomes visitors to attractions like the Castello di Amorosa and the Napa Valley Wine Train. If wine isn’t really your thing, catch a show at the Napa Valley Opera House. When you stay in Napa Valley, the Kenwood Inn and Spa is the perfect choice of accommodation. Here, guests can sample the local food at the popular restaurant or take a dip in the pool after a long day exploring.
Although the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most expensive areas to visit in the U.S., it’s also one of the best. Without the hustle and bustle of nearby San Francisco, Oakland is a stunningly low-key destination that still offers plenty to see and do. Take the kids to the Oakland Zoo or Children’s Fairyland, and catch some live music at the Fox Theater. For accommodations in the center of the city, stay at the Oakland Marriott. If you’re traveling on a tight budget, the Rodeway Inn & Suites is a good option.
It’s safe to say that Roseville is California’s hidden gem. Located 20 miles north of Sacramento, this small city offers numerous activities and attractions for visitors. Mix things up by visiting the eccentric Roseville Telephone Museum, or savor the area’s history at the fascinating Maidu Museum & Historic Site. The Courtyard by Marriott Roseville provides its guests with trendy rooms, a 24-hour fitness center, an indoor pool, and a convenient location in Roseville.
Also known as wine country, Sonoma attracts a steady number of tourists each year. Situated in Northern California, Sonoma not only has its own Museum of Art, but it also boasts beautiful Victorian architecture and a vast selection of vineyards. The El Dorado Hotel is just a 15-minute drive away from the stunning Quarryhill Botanical Garden.
When planning family trips, it’s best to keep kids busy with activities from crafting and music lessons to hiking and swimming. (No one wants to hear, “Mom, I’m bored” while lounging beach side with a cocktail in hand.)
Travel is one of the most fun ways for a parent to share the cultures and natural wonders of the world. These destinations are safe for kiddos, catering to the picky eaters, adrenaline junkies, nature lovers, and beach bums too. Not only will kids be welcome, they’ll find programs and excursions designed just for them on each of these global adventures.
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, Koloa, Hawaii
While it may sound like a lazy beach vacay, this beautiful resort is on one of Hawaii’s most exciting islands – and one of the world’s top resorts for families. The resort offers tons of kid-friendly activities (think ukulele lessons and lei making) in-house. But families can also find breathtaking hikes, ziplines for the token daredevil, horseback riding and kayaking to name a few. For something more low key, splash in a two-tiered pool or the saltwater lagoon that meanders through the hotel’s property. By nightfall, kids will definitely be ready to crash.
River Kwai Floating Hotel, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
For the boy (and girl) scouts who are looking for a back-to-nature experience, this Thai getaway won’t disappoint. Thailand is one of Asia’s best destinations for kids. With a drive and boat ride to this hotel, they may start to feel a bit like Mowgli in The Jungle Book. Bamboo guest rooms float on top of the River Kwai and offer visitors a taste of Mon culture. It’s a bit rustic (as in there are wick lamps instead of electricity. But don’t worry, in-room bathrooms are a part of the deal). Kids love exploring the nearby jungles atop of a gentle elephant, or visiting natural wonders such as the Lawa Cave or the Sai Yok Waterfall. Get a few thrills without leaving River Kwai by river jumping or bamboo rafting — something to excite even the most adrenaline-seeking tweens.
Morgan’s Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Nicaragua makes for an affordable, and adventure-filled, Central American trip (and many parents are choosing it over the equally kid-friendly Costa Rica). Visitors won’t see nearly as many expats and will get a great taste of the local culture, plus tons of hiking and swimming! In a bungalow at Morgan’s Rock, guests are nestled in the treetops and have easy beach access. One of the more exciting excursions to make is to Ometepe Island, formed by two volcanoes, which can be reached by ferry. Explore ancient rock art and petroglyphs and brave the hike up the dormant Maderas Volcano. Parents will appreciate the beaches known for waves that are safe for first-time surfers, zip-line excursions, and an insider look at the lodge’s sustainable farm where kids get to collect farm eggs and milk the cows for an awesome family breakfast!
One&Only Hayman Island, Queensland, Australia
A trip to the Great Barrier Reef is an incomparable adventure. While a flight to the Aussie coast may not be ideal for many faraway travelers with tiny tots, the experiences offered through resorts like One&Only can change a nervous parent’s mind. If your bucket list includes snorkelling, sailing, kayaking, water skiing or a helicopter adventure above the reef (which is the largest living thing on Earth, mind you), then book a few tickets to Hayman Island. Of course One&Only also offers an entirely kid-centric program called KidsOnly full of excursions and meals from 9am to 6pm if parents need a break.
Camping and cruising may appeal to families that seek adventure on-the-go. Many of these trips welcome first-time campers and those who are especially interested in learning the lay of the land, whether that’s in sunny California or rugged Maine. Nature lovers, budding botanists and eager explorers will get animal interactions, sparkling night skies and a new set of skills when signing up for one of these trips.
For North Easterners, this trip will make an exciting escape from the bustling city, but any visitors will be in awe of the natural beauty of the Appalachian Trail. Eager hikers can find programs like the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Family Camps, which take families with kids as young as five years old around New Hampshire and Maine, near beautiful mountains and full of sleepaway camp-style fun. Expect canoeing, fishing, stream exploration and a classic campfire sing-a-long.
While this isn’t exactly a family vacation, road trip style, there is so much kids can learn by a trip to this incredible archipelago. National Geographic is one of the few to organize a cruise to these islands near South America that is geared specifically at budding scientific minds. In the day, kids can snorkel in crystal blue waters and hike the shores among animals like giant tortoises and sea lions, all of which are completely unphased by the presence of humans. Parents will leave with zoologists and nature photographers on their hands.
Klamath River, California
This is a fabulous spot to dive into the world of camping as a family for the first time. Whether you’re interested in nesting up in an unassuming lodge or setting up a tent under the stars, a trip to this natural Cali beauty guarantees great views and swimming. Several programs like Orange Torpedo and Oars set up multi-day whitewater rafting ventures, but there are hikes to take and plenty of beach lounging to be done as well. On Orange Torpedo’s Klamath River Wild and Scenic trip, kids will get to swim in warm water and calm side creeks (the rapid on this trip is exciting, but never dangerous) and the guides will introduce anyone from five years old to the basics of both rafting and camping. These trips can also be as short as two or three days, ideal for any locals or those not wanting to commit to any extensive travel with kids.
Copyright © 2016 Rob Blair Writes