Friday, February 27, 2015

Summertime in Whistler: The Best Hotels

When most people hear the name Whistler, they think of wintertime. But summertime in Whistler is just as worthy of your travel thoughts. Whistler is a scenic place for biking, golfing, kayaking, and more; and there are several reasonably priced Whistler hotels that are perfectly located for these activities. Make your trip to Whistler extra special by staying at the right hotel for you.

Photo by Tessa Griffin via trover.com
Best Hotel for Mountain Bikers and Hikers - Sundial Boutique Hotel
It’s just a short walk from Sundial Boutique Hotel to Whistler Mountain Bike Park, the #1 downhill bike park in the world. With over 4,900 feet of lift-serviced trails, there’s a trail for every skill level. There are also lift ticket pricing options for every budget. If your budget prefers free adventures, there are numerous mountain trails that are great for hiking and biking at no charge. After your day of adventure, this 4-star hotel’s luxury suites are the perfect place to rest, rejuvenate, and have a great meal. The hotel also has complimentary, secure bike storage for your convenience.

Best Hotel for Canoers and Kayakers - Nita Lake Lodge
Canoers and kayakers will love the tranquil beauty of Nita Lake almost as much as they’ll love the comfortable suites at Nita Lake Lodge. The lodge offers complimentary canoe and kayak rentals, as well as complimentary paddleboard, fishing rod, and bike rentals. It is truly easy to get the most out of your budget here. You don’t even have to leave the lodge to experience a wonderful farm-to-table meal at their innovative restaurant.

Photo by Irx via trover.com
Best Hotel for Golfers and Tennis Players - The Fairmont Chateau Whistler 
If you’re serious about your golf vacations, stay at the only complete golf and hotel resort in Whistler, The Fairmont Chateau Whistler. The package prices make it easy to stick to a budget. The 18-hole course is rated 4 ½ stars by Golf Digest, and its natural scenery is glorious. When you’re not golfing, you can play tennis or kickback in a cozy room or suite. The hotel also features a spa, steam rooms and six different restaurants.

Best Hotel for Shoppers and Diners – Crystal Lodge and Suites
You don’t even have to leave Crystal Lodge and Suites to satisfy your cravings for shopping and food. The hotel is home to over 15 shops that sell clothing, athletic equipment, shoes, and more. Dining options are plentiful too. As an added bonus, when you stay at the hotel, you receive a Crystal Advantage card that saves you money at all of the shops and restaurants. You can choose to stay in a traditional room, a studio, or one of several types of suites. For your enjoyment, the hotel also has a game room with table tennis, foosball, and shuffleboard.

Photo by Rich Barton via trover.com
Additional Activities

Whistler has so much to offer that it is hard to know where to begin and where to end. There are many other summertime activities that can be enjoyed including, zip lining, horseback riding, bungee jumping, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting. A trip to Whistler will provide you with many memories of excellent adventures.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Planning a Trip to San Diego? Make Sure to Visit These Three Places

San Diego is filled with beaches, boats, beauty, and distinct regions with diverse attractions and features. When you are planning your trip, the following regions are ones that you should fit into your vacation schedule. There are great San Diego hotels in these areas to fit your budget too.

Photo by Bob Cummins via trover.com

Downtown

Little Italy will light up your senses. You can walk around town and explore the many local art galleries and unique boutiques while inhaling the mouthwatering aroma of authentic Italian food from local restaurants and cafés. Stop in one of them for a meal and you will not be disappointed.

Next, take a walk along the Embarcadero district boardwalk. There are great views of the bay and the Urban Trees sculptures that line it. This region is also known for its fresh seafood which you can savor at one of many outstanding seafood restaurants.

If you are staying downtown, the Four Points by Sheraton San Diego Downtown is a wonderful option. The hotel and rooms are all about comfort. Views from the rooms are fantastic. And the available $5 dollar restaurant vouchers make dining in the hotel comfortable for your wallet.

La Jolla

Three sides of La Jolla are encompassed by water, so plan to go beach hopping. And don’t miss out on the fun of swimming and exploring the coves and tide pools along the coastline. For a different view of the beaches, if you are adventurous enough, a hang-gliding flight is thrilling and offers stunning views.
Photo by Blayden Thompson via trover.com
In addition to being an awesome beach spot, La Jolla is an incredible place to hit the greens. With two championship courses that host annual PGA events, Torrey Pines is counted as one of Golf Links Magazine’s “Must Play” courses.

The Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines which overlooks the course and the Pacific Ocean is an ideal place to stay. The rates are very reasonable when you consider all the hotel has to offer including a pool, a wellness spa, and a restaurant with truly scrumptious food.

Coronado

Like La Jolla, Coronado is also known for its beautiful beaches, but what sets it apart is that it is an island community with a small town feel. The main street in Coronado, Orange Avenue, has several local specialty shops. Of course there are also art galleries, boutiques, bistros, and wine bars that you will certainly enjoy.  Be sure to visit the Hotel del Coronado, built in 1888, when you are here too. It is a National Historic Landmark, and learning about its colorful past is fascinating.

Photo by Mandy Godsall via trover.com


If you like history, 1906 Lodge at Coronado Beach should be your choice for lodging. The hotel was built only eight years after the Hotel del Coronado. The hotel and rooms have very cozy décor that honors the history of Coronado, and they all come with a full complimentary breakfast. The historic lodge rooms are a favorite, but there are also suites available.
All of San Diego has something to offer, so if you have enough time, don’t miss out on any of it. And don't miss out on the many excellent restaurants throughout the city; Weotta can help you select the perfect dining destination.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.




Monday, February 23, 2015

Visiting San Diego: Where to Stay, and What Not to Miss – An Opinion Piece

Ahh … sunny San Diego. I can’t think of too many other vacation destinations with such great weather year round. And there are so many things to do there that we seem to discover something new each time we go. The beaches, golf courses, shopping, and restaurants keep us coming back for more.


Photo by Kala Carter via trover.com




Where We Stay

With so many San Diego hotels from which to choose, it is not easy to narrow the options down, but our favorite place to stay is Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. The guest rooms are comfortable and luxurious at the same time, and they have all the amenities you would expect from an award-winning hotel; however I prefer spending my time at the pool in a private cabana or at the spa.

I almost forgot to mention the golf. It is an awesome golf hotel. The two golf courses at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa are world-famous for a reason. The challenges and the scenery are incredible. Of course it is also fun to say that you have played on a course that has hosted 37 PGA tournaments.

Photo by Nalani Silva via trover.com


Our Favorite Places


Attractions
I still have wonderful memories of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park because it is so different from a typical zoo, and because I absolutely loved having the amazingly beautiful lorikeets land on me and drink nectar from a cup I held in my hand. I also made an exception for a visit to LEGOLAND. The kids loved it, and I actually did too (maybe because I played with Legos as a child).

Marina District
Another one of our favorite places to visit in San Diego is Seaport Village in the Marina District. I have always loved water and the view of San Diego Harbor is stunning. I especially love the view from Busters Beach House & Longboard Bar while I am enjoying the delicious Mahi Mahi. My husband doesn’t even mind it when I shop at the unique boutiques in the village because he just waits at the restaurant and has an extra beer or two.

Photo by Jason Zite via trover.com


Del Mar
A trip to San Diego is not complete for us without a visit to Del Mar City Beach. The swimming is great here, and we love just walking up and down the shore taking in the beautiful scenery. We will often pick up sandwiches from Board and Brew in Del Mar to take to the beach with us. I love their veggie supreme sandwich, and my husband usually gets a roast beef sandwich.

Planning the Next Trip

There are two things I want to do on our next trip to San Diego. I just learned about Excursiopedia and their organized tours. One of the tours is called Brothels, Bites and Booze: A Culinary Tour of San Diego’s Questionable past. I love culinary tours. The other is called Gaslamp Quarter Wine Walk. I love wine. I can’t wait to get back to San Diego.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Naples, Italy: A Trip Planning Guide

The historic port city of Naples bursts with a whirlwind of thrills for all of your senses. The tastes and smells of the food, the views of the art and architecture, and the sounds of mini operettas on the street corners, all of these and more will make a trip to Naples one of the most memorable trips of your life. If you plan your trip right, you can gain a full appreciation for the city and all that it has to offer without spending a small fortune.

Photo by Sergio Minucci via Trover.com

When to Go?

The first thing you should consider when planning a trip to Naples is when to go. Hotels in Naples are more expensive during peak months, so avoid going in the popular months of May and September. As far as the weather, even during the cold season (late November to late March), the average daily high temperatures is just below 61°F, so you can enjoy Naples anytime of the year.

What to Do?

A visit to the National Archaeological Museum of Naples is a must to truly get a feel for the cultural history of the area. The tickets are reasonably priced considering the number of Greco-Roman artifacts you will get to see. The museum is also home to several excavated items from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Check out famous churches in the area for free. They are known for their history, their architecture and the artwork they contain. Nearby churches include Il Duomo (The Cathedral), Gesù Nuovo Church, and Church of San Francesco di Paola. 

Explore a castle. Castel dell’Ovo (the “Egg Castle”) houses the free Ethno-Prehistory Museum, so you can get an idea of what the castle’s interior is like without paying. In the museum, you can see cultural artifacts from numerous prehistoric phases. For a small fee, you can walk through the castle and view special exhibits.

Photo by riccardo via Trover.com

Where to Stay?

There are many Naples hotels that have special pricing options. It is a good idea to check the websites of the hotels that interest you on a regular basis to find the rate package that you like best. Here are a couple of options. Hotel Leonessa has discounted prices on romantic weekend packages year-round as well as a 10% discount for reservations that are paid for in advance. The hotel also offers 15% discounts at its restaurant in combination with your stay. Starhotels Terminus has two discounted weekend packages, regular and romantic, and they have a family stay discount program.

What to Eat?

There are two foods that are must eats in Naples because they originated there: pizza and pasta. There is a pizzeria on virtually every corner in Naples, and the price of eating pizza is truly budget friendly. Spaghetti all Puttanesca is a famous pasta dish made with fresh olives, peppers, tomatoes, capers and garlic. It can also be found at many trattorias and osterias for reasonable prices. Pastries and gelato are two more inexpensive but tasty Naples’ foods you really should try.

Photo by ChipSkipsTown via Trover.com

What Next?

Once you have experienced Naples, you are going to want to start planning your next trip there immediately.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top 5 Hotels in Naples, Italy

The Italian Province of Naples has so much to offer; its breathtaking location on the Mediterranean Sea is just the tip of the iceberg (or should I say Mountain). Mt. Vesuvius provides an awe-inspiring backdrop for Naples, and its eruptions throughout the centuries helped create the unique landscape. Naples is famous for ruins at the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum and much more. It is a Province of historical, cultural and culinary significance. There is much to do in Naples, but the first thing to do is decide where to stay. Here are some top Naples hotels to consider.

Photo by Dan Ursine via Trover.com

     Starhotels Terminus – Top Luxury Hotel, Downtown

Located on the Piazza Garibaldi in downtown Naples, Starhotels Terminus is within walking distance of the historic district and Napoli Centrale Train Station. This four-star hotel has a rooftop garden that looks over the Bay of Naples, fine dining, a concierge, a spa, and a fitness center. The newly renovated rooms, amenities and special pricing packages make this hotel a superb value.

     Hotel Excelsior Naples – Top Seafront Hotel

At the seafront-located Hotel Excelsior which is just five minutes from downtown Naples, every room faces the Mediterranean Sea. This elegant and luxurious four-star hotel has a rooftop garden restaurant with incredible Italian, international, and Mediterranean food. All of the rooms are outfitted with the finest materials, and you can select a room with a private terrace if you like. This is a great hotel to choose for the spectacular views.

Photo by Matilde Civitillo via Trover.com

     Hotel Piazza Bellini – Top Boutique Hotel, Historic District

Hotel Piazza Bellini is an amazing option for anyone who prefers the smaller size of a boutique hotel. It is located in the historic district of Naples in a renovated Fifth-Century Palace. The décor includes modern furnishings and hip graphics that are unique to each room. Because this three-star hotel is off of the beaten track, the prices are very budget friendly, and free breakfast is included with your stay.     

Renaissance Naples Mediterraneo – Top Luxury Hotel, Historic District

Also located in the historic district of Naples is Renaissance Naples Mediterraneo. It is a luxury hotel with a fitness center, rooftop swimming pool and whirlpool. There is also fine dining at the rooftop garden restaurant. The cozy décor of the rooms will make you feel like you are at a home away from home. This hotel is perfect for people who want the added amenities that a large hotel has to offer, but also like the idea of staying in the historical district.
Photo by Matilde Civitillo via Trover.com

     Mercure Napoli Garibaldi – Top Budget Hotel, Downtown

Downtown Naples on a strict budget is doable at Mercure Napoli Garibaldi. The rooms are spare but clean, adequate, and well-reviewed. The hotel has a breakfast buffet and a quaint bar where you can enjoy a pre-dinner libation. It is also conveniently located near public transportation, and several restaurants. 

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five of the Best Hotels in Whistler

Smack dab in the middle of two awe-inspiring mountains lies the resort village of Whistler. When you take a stroll down its pedestrian-only walkway, you can’t help but feel the energy and excitement in the air. The mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, are well-known for their incredible skiing and snowboarding, but the village has much to offer too. There are extraordinary restaurants, luxury spas, and unique shops to be enjoyed year round. Here are some Whistler hotels to consider.

Photo by Paul Rich via trover.com

      Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre  – Best Location All-Suite Hotel

From this award-wining hotel, it is just a two minute walk to the gondolas that deliver you to the mountain trails. Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre’s modern suites have fireplaces and full kitchens. There are two restaurants and complimentary breakfast daily. Additionally, there is a fitness center, spa, and outdoor heated pool. A wonderful convenience for skiers and golfers is the slope-side valet who takes care of your skis and golf clubs, and their storage.

Photo by Arnette RTW via trover.com

      Aava Whistler Hotel – Best Budget-Friendly and Eco-Friendly Hotel

      Save money by staying just outside of the resort village at Aava Whistler Hotel, and you will still be only two minutes from the village on foot. The comfortably-decorated rooms, suites and hotel facilities have everything you need to enjoy your stay including a pool, hot tub, sauna, and fitness center. There is also a restaurant that serves breakfast. Check out a complimentary GoPro HD camera or a bicycle for extra fun. Last but not least, Green Key Global has recognized Aava Whistler as an eco-friendly hotel.

      Sundial Boutique Hotel – Best Boutique Hotel


For travelers who like the intimacy of a smaller hotel, Sundial Boutique Hotel will not disappoint. It is the only owner-operated hotel in Whistler. The 49 luxury suites have fireplaces, full-sized kitchens, and heated slate floors. This 4-star hotel also has three restaurants to please your palate, featuring west coast cuisine, Mexican cuisine, and sushi. With discounts for stays of five nights or more, it would be easy to make this your home for a week or so.

       Summit Lodge and Spa – Best Hotel for a Relaxing Cultural Experience


This award winning lodge and spa is filled with original local artwork, and from Summit Lodge and Spa, it is a quick walk to Whistler Museum, where you can learn about the history and culture of Whistler’s mountain life, and Whistler Olympic Plaza, the site of the 2010 Olympic Games medal ceremonies. After a day of activities and experiences, you will surely enjoy the lodge accommodations, spa, and restaurants too.

Photo by Bill Dillard via trover.com

      Nita Lake Lodge – Best Lakeside Hotel


Lakeside living is at its finest at Nita Lake Lodge. This lodge is only a 5-minute shuttle ride away from Whistler. But you might not want to leave. There are complimentary bicycles, canoes, paddleboards, snowshoes, and more. There is also a spa, yoga studio, and fitness center. The amenity-filled suites have breathtaking views of the lake or of the mountains. There is fine dining at a farm-to-table restaurant, casual dining in the lounge, and a café for a quick bite. 

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cities Less Traveled: Beat a New Path in Chicago

If you are the type of person who delights in discovering the not-so-well-known attractions in a city, you might be surprised to know that Chicago, with all of its famous attractions, actually has several frequently overlooked attractions. Take a different path, and you will discover something new, avoid crowds, and save money by visiting these lesser known attractions (which are also less expensive or even free). Just don’t tell too many people if you want them to stay the way they are.

Photo by Greg Sims via trover.com

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

The city of Chicago has more movable bridges than any other city in the world. At the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum not only do you get to explore a historic bridgehouse, you also get to learn about the history of Chicago’s movable bridges through exhibits on each of the floors of the five story building. See the enormous gears that lift the bridge at river level, and on bridge lift days, Watch the gears in action for a small fee. Admission is free to all on Sundays at this seasonal museum.

Photo by Moshiur Raman via trover.com

The Dining Room at Kendall College

Because Chicago is a world-famous dining destination with highly recognized chefs, the restaurants can be very pricey. The Dining Room at Kendall College offers you an opportunity to experience delicious and creative three-course meals prepared by culinary arts students at very reasonable fixed prices. If you don’t feel like having a large meal, you can also order individual courses. The lunch and dinner menus include fresh ingredients from the college’s herb and vegetable garden and from a local market. The chic, modern dining room has amazing views of Chicago’s skyline. To find more reasonably priced restaurants in the area, check out Weotta's recommendations.

InterContinental Chicago Historical Hotel Tour

You don’t have to be a guest at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile to take a free tour of one of the most wonderful Chicago hotels on the Magnificent Mile. The building, built in 1929, originally housed an athletic club. In 1988, with an old yearbook from the club, the InterContinental Hotels group renovated the building to its former Art Deco glory. The tour is a well-kept secret that is not advertised. If you ask the hotel concierge and leave something of value at the desk, you will be given headphones for an audio tour that guides your through the hotel, its history, and its artwork.
Photo by  Jan - Dabble in Travel via trover.com

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Money Museum

This museum will not drain your finances because it is free year-round. It does, however, contain a money pit. There is a former elevator shaft containing over $50,000 in coins that you can view from above by standing on a glass floor when you visit. There is also a historical currency collection and an exhibit that explains the difference between real and counterfeit bills. On weekdays at 1 p.m., guided tours are available to everyone so you can learn more about the Chicago Fed and the Federal Reserve System.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tips on Staying and Playing in Chicago on the Cheap

A trip to Chicago will provide you with joyous and heartwarming memories to last a lifetime. No matter what time of year you go, there is always something special about the city. During the winter holidays, the magical, twinkling lights and colorful, festive displays are truly something to behold. In the summer, you can join the happy faces of people frolicking on the many beaches. To get the most out of your trip for the least amount of money no matter when you go, it helps to know where to stay and where to play on a budget.

                 Photo by Ashur Shamun via Trover.com

Where to Stay

Staying in Chicago doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Put on an extra layer or two of clothing and enjoy the discounted rates that many hotels offer in the winter. Winter is also a good time to go because you will find cheaper flights and the city isn't as crowded.

There are several Chicago hotels that offer discounts throughout the year; you just have to know how to find them. Consider the MileNorth Chicago, which offers 20 percent off their lowest rate when you pay with American Express. As crazy as it sounds, they also give 5 percent off when you travel with your dog. If you plan in advance and book early, the rates are extremely reasonable. Another hotel to consider is the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. They offer more than eight different discount packages that are connected with different activities in the city. And for more hotels, check out hipmunk's Chicago hotels page.

How to Get Around

The least expensive way to get around is on foot, but if you want to go somewhere that is beyond walking distance, the L (elevated railroad) is the cheapest alternative – and it offers great views of the city. The L has more than 140 stations, so you won't have to worry about it getting you where you want to go. The L has discounted, unlimited ride passes, too.

Play for Free

There are actually many fun things to do in Chicago that are completely free. The Chicago Children's Museum has three floors of educational and entertaining activities for children, and it is free for patrons 15 years of age or younger. The Lincoln Park Zoo, which is considered one of the best zoos in the United States, is free for all, and it is open every day of the year. Another free and fun thing to do is visit Millenium Park. It is filled with amazing outdoor art and architecture, and it offers free exhibitions, concerts, family activities, and more throughout the year.

     Photo by Ursula Bernal via Trover.com

Play for a Fee

If you are willing to pay to see certain attractions but would still like to find the best deals, you should check out the Chicago CityPASS and the Go Chicago Card. They each offer potential savings of over 50 percent on combined admissions to some of Chicago’s top attractions. For those interested in sports, concerts, and theater, ScoreBig is a site that helps you find discounts on tickets for many Chicago events.


       Photo by Huggi World via Trover.com

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chicago has Razzmatazz and More

It doesn't have to be a pipe dream; you can enjoy the razzmatazz Chicago has to offer and be on cloud nine.

Believe it or not, three of the words in the previous sentence were created in Chicago, and Chicago has contributed many words to the English language. If you want to know what some of the other words are, check out Chicago Magazine's Top 40 Chicago Words—Our Contributions to the English Language.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Traveling Dialects

“I’m so New Orleans, when I go out of town people ask me if I’m Canadian.”
A joke, right? No, it seems that, contrary to all expectations, a certain Canadian pronunciation is beginning to emerge in the Big Easy.
This is an excerpt from an interesting Lingua Franca piece by Allan Metcalf. Check out O Canada! in New Orleans to read the rest.

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