Top Winter Villages

Do you become active and engaged during winter months, or do you prefer to hibernate? Do you like to shop, be outdoors, or cuddle by a fire? The small-town lifestyle of American villages offer a way to relax and do whatever you like at a slower pace. After all, what is better than a getaway that leaves all the hustle and bustle behind? We’ve handpicked a few winter wonderlands that have something for everyone, so lean back as we take you through them.

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Vail offers world-class skiing in a town that encompasses all the charm of a European alpine village. This city lives up to its reputation as a top entertainment and shopping destination. The slopes at Vail offer a wide range of terrain from kid-friendly to expert. Skiers with children love Vail because kids can attend a thorough ski school as they indulge on the resort’s diverse terrain. At day’s end, sip hot cocoa while walking the village’s cobblestone streets, perusing its wide selection of restaurants.

Berkshires, Massachusetts

The Berkshires’ winter is what inspired the picturesque romantic white Christmas scenes we see around the holidays. New England is full of dreamy small towns with classic red barns, open roads, great food, and friendly people. Look anywhere for scenery that appears right out of a painting. Make sure to stop by the Blantyre Hotel to see the 110-foot decorated Christmas tree. You can rent rooms with a traditional fireplace and four-poster beds. Step outside into the sparkling snow and enjoy a sleigh ride.

Cannon Beach is located on the beautiful coast of northern Oregon. It’s a city that remains calm and quaint in spite of its relatively close proximity to its neighboring city of Portland. You can find arguably the best coffee in the United States around any corner. Cooler weather during winter months make prices favorable to visitors. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway with a view, Cannon Beach should be at the top of your list. A stay at the Blue Gull Inn will have you situated right near the famous Haystack Rock.

This desert oasis takes on a new feel in the winter. There’s something magical about seeing Arizona’s fiery-red mountain tops dusted in sparkly snow. Winter is the best season to save on hotels and avoid crowds. Driving through the canyons, catching a hot-air balloon ride, or gazing at the unobstructed night sky are just a few of the many relaxing things to do here. Are you looking to get away for some peace and quiet? Sedona, Arizona is waiting for you.

Located at the foot of California’s Sierra Mountains, this popular ski village hosts visitors from around the world for some of the best winter sports west of the Rockies. Mammoth Mountain overlooks Lake Tahoe with a view of the surrounding Sierra peaks. Last year Mammoth Mountain had the longest ski season in California’s history, 270 days, getting 51 feet of snowfall at the basecamp. The skiing is great for all skill levels. There are three amazing lodges we recommend: Main Lodge, Canyon Lodge, and Eagle Lodge. Each are luxurious and cater to your every desire. Be sure to grab an après-ski beer at one of the village’s handful of micro-breweries.

Visit Bonwi.com to start planning your winter retreat. You’ll be packing your mittens and sharing hot chocolate by the fireside soon enough!

The 2017 List Of Best Natural Hot Springs In The United States

Hot springs have long been known to have therapeutic value thanks to the complex mineral compounds they contain and the tranquil landscapes that surround them. Natural thermal springs relax sore muscles, boost circulation, and soothe both mind and spirit. Below are our five favorite hot springs found throughout the United States.

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park was nicknamed “The American Spa” in 1832 when President Andrew Jackson designated the Hot Springs as the first federal reservation. The actual park is closed to swimmers, though you can take a dip in the historic Bathhouse Row where the warm water is pumped into several hotels and spas. For a truly local experience, visit Deluca’s for a slice of pizza that mixes spring water with the dough, then wash it down with a pint of beer at Superior Bathhouse Brewery which also sources water from the springs for its brews.

Homestead Crater, Utah

This unique hot spring is hidden within a beehive-shaped crater that was formed by nature over a span of approximately 10,000 years. The hole at the top of the dome lets in sunlight and fresh air while the mineral water in the interior remains heated at a constant range of 90-96 degrees Fahrenheit (32-35 degrees Celsius). Visitors can go swimming, scuba dive, snorkel, enjoy a therapeutic soak, or take a paddleboard yoga class.

Long before Steamboat Springs was known for its world class skiing and luxury resorts, the 150 geothermal hot springs that dot the landscape were highly sought after and revered among Native Americans and pioneers. The best time to take a dip in the 104°F (40°C) degree mineral baths is in the middle of winter while snowflakes gently gather all around you. Resort spas in the area offer a wide variety of relaxation and therapeutic massages.

Wild Willy’s Hot Springs, California

The eastern side of Sierra Nevada is loaded with natural hot springs, with many hidden away and tricky to locate. Just south of a town called Mammoth Lakes is a vast maze of warm pools called Wild Willy’s Hot Springs. The springs here are free to use, ranging from 95-105°F (35-40°C), with striking views of the beautiful Sierra range.

Chena Hot Springs, Alaska

The Chena Hot Springs were discovered in 1905 by gold prospectors seeking to ease their sore, aching muscles brought on by malnutrition and grueling work. The springs are at the center of a 40-square-mile (103-square-kilometer) geothermal area that produces a steady stream of 165°F (74°C) water that must be cooled before anyone can soak in it. Chena Hot Springs is an amazing place to catch breathtaking, complimentary light shows from the Aurora Borealis.

All Said
There are numerous benefits associated with bathing in natural hot springs. You can treat muscle aches, joint pains, clear up skin ailments, detoxify the body, relax the mind, and do all of those things while enjoying the beautiful venue of the surrounding area. Take a trip to any of these relaxing and tranquil hot springs and your mind, body, and spirit will thank you.

Reward Points Battle: IHG Rewards Club vs. Bonwi

IHG Hotel Willard Intercontinental in DC

IHG Hotel Willard Intercontinental in DC

We say that Bonwi gives you a better loyalty points payback than any hotel booking site out there, but what about individual hotel chains? Could you earn a free night faster by booking direct?

From our research, we haven’t found any program that allows you to get to a free stay faster. Let’s look at one of them in detail: the IHG Rewards program that includes 12 brands across 5,000 hotels and resorts.

How the IHG Rewards Program Works

In some ways the IHG Rewards Club is the best of the direct booking ones. They have the most properties to choose from in a whole lot of markets, the point earning levels are transparent, and most of the redemption levels are in the range of 10,000 to 35,000 points. (With Marriott, Hyatt, or Hilton you can easily be looking at twice that much.) Their brands range from good-value suite hotels to Holiday Inn Express to Intercontinental. When they finally consolidate their program with the Kimpton chain they bought, that will be another option for redemption.

To earn points, you stay at any of their properties. You earn 10 points per dollar at most of them for your stay, but 5 points per dollar at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. If you have their credit card you earn many more by paying with that and IHG frequently runs promotions that give you bonus miles. (It takes a while to hit elite status normally, but the credit card ups you to Platinum automatically.)

With 10 or 5 points per stay, that means you would earn 1,500 points for spending $150 for most of their properties, but 750 points at Staybridge or Candlewood. The lowest possible redemption is 5,000 in their “Points Breaks” promotions, but those are usually hotels that nobody is booking, in obscure locations. Think Gadsden, AL; Anderson, SC; or Silao in Mexico. The more common minimum is 10,000, for a Holiday Inn Express. So it would normally require at least $1,000 in spending at their properties before earning an award, or $2,000 if staying at the bottom category ones. At $100 a night that’s 10 or 20 nights. At $150 a night it’s 7 or 14 nights.

How the Bonwi Rewards Program Works

With Bonwi.com, it’s less simple on the earnings side, but that’s because the points you earn are variable. You will often earn far more than 1,500 points for a $150 room charge. You could earn enough for a free stay after just two or three nights.

There’s also upside on the redemption part since the payout is not an average of the price paid. Your points may be worth more in some markets than others, so you can cash in faster just by choosing a hotel requiring fewer points.

Comparison of Earnings in Two Markets

Let’s say you’ve got two business trips coming up in California. One is in San Francisco and one is in San Diego. How would your earnings differ between IHG and Bonwi?

Bonwi points back San Francisco

If you booked your San Francisco stay at the Holiday Inn Civic Center for two nights, you would pay $449 with tax either way. If you booked direct through the IHG site, that would translate to 4,490 points. If you booked it at Bonwi, you would earn 12,220 points.

A month later you need to spend two nights in San Diego. You pull up the IHG site and see the Crowne Plaza Hanalei is a pretty good deal at $166 per night before taxes. The total tab for two nights is $366. If you go ahead and book it through the IHG site, you will earn $366 X 10, or 3,666 points. If you book it through Bonwi instead, you will earn 10,289 points. Another big difference.

Bonwi vs. IHG points in San DIego

Cashing in Your Loyalty Points

Now that you’ve earned some points, what can you get if you take your kid to Orlando for a weekend getaway in March?

If you wanted to redeem what you’ve earned from these two stays, you wouldn’t have enough points with IHG Rewards. From those four nights, you only earned 8,156 points. Only a Points Break promotion would be available. Let’s assume you already had a couple thousand in the account though or you got past 10K with credit card spending.

From Bonwi you have a total of 22,509 points.

For weekends in March, with 10K IHG points from IHG, you’re going to come up empty. There is nothing available on a Friday or Saturday night in March for under 20,000 points, the amount that three of the four hotels below would require. The Holiday Inn Orlando Suites Waterpark hotel would require 35,000. So you would have to use their “points and cash” option and pay at least $70 on top of the 10,000 points.

IHG Rewards points in Orlando

For the same weekends in March with the 22,509 Bonwi points earned from four nights paid, you have lots of choices for a free night’s stay at IHG properties. These are just a few of them, including taxes:
– Holiday Inn Resort Orlando – Lake Buena Vista – 17,663
– Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites Waterpark – 20,273
– Holiday Inn Orlando SW – Celebration Area – 15,139
– Holiday Inn Express & Suites Orlando at Seaworld -20,412

If you want to use your points for something else, you’re much better off with Bonwi. With us you can use your points for any flight of $225 or less with those 22,509 points, or you can get two $100 gift cards from major retailers and still have some left over. The points are valued at a penny a mile. If you want to cash in for a reward card with IHG, you usually pay 20,000 points for just a $50 gift card. That’s one-fourth the value, on points that required more spending to start with.

So which program offers you a faster payoff? This one is a no-brainer.

Reward Points Battle: Hotels.com vs. Bonwi

Las Vegas hotel rewards

hotels.com rewards compared to Bonwi

If you use Bonwi to book your hotel stays, you’re probably going to earn a big reward payback much faster than with other services. How much faster? Let’s compare how long it would take to get a free hotel room night from Hotels.com compared to Bonwi.com.

We picked three cities in the USA and assumed you had a budget of less than $150 per night. Then we looked at how many nights you would have to book to get a free hotel stay in return.

How the Programs Work

With Hotels.com, the rules are easy to understand: stay 10 nights and get one free. “The value of your free night is the average price of the 10 nights you collect.” Once you have completed 10 hotel stays, you can book whatever hotel you want at any time with the credit based on the average stay amount.

With Bonwi.com, it’s less simple but that’s because the points you earn are variable. The upside is much greater. Instead of having to stay 10 nights to earn an award, you could earn a free stay after just two or three nights. See some real examples in this video.

There’s also upside on the redemption part since the payout is not an average of price paid. Your points may be worth more in some markets than others, so you can cash in faster just by choosing a hotel requiring fewer points.

What Would You Get From 10 Nights of Stays?

Let’s say you actually do stay 10 nights in hotels over the course of several months. To check out what would happen in a real case scenario, we looked at real booking options for December and January in three well-traveled cities: Las Vegas, Orlando, and New Orleans.

Las Vegas hotel rewards

If you booked three nights at the SLS Las Vegas, you would pay the same at either site: $391 for three nights with taxes, but really $488 once you factor in the rip-off $32 “resort fee” that really should be included in the rate. With Hotels.com you would earn 3 credits of your 10, or 30% of what you need for a free stay. With Bonwi you earn 9,641 points. That’s enough to actually book another hotel already in Las Vegas the following week: one night at Golden Nugget, Planet Hollywood, MGM Grand, or many others.

In other words, 30% of the way to a free night vs. 100% of the way there.

If we then book four nights in Orlando at Holiday Inn Express Sea World we’ll pay $304 total with taxes/fees and earn 9,321 Bonwi points. The Ramada Plaza Resort would be $341 for four nights and earn just a shade less.

At Hotels.com you would be four credits closer to your free night, but the average comes down because these hotels are cheaper than the one in Vegas: $74 or $101 per night. At Bonwi, once again you’ve earned enough to cash in for a free night in most cities, or you can combine the points with what you earned in Vegas  and be at close to 19K–enough for two nights somewhere or one night in a luxury hotel instead.

Then let’s say we have to go to New Orleans in January for a trade show. The official hotel is out of our $150 budget range, but either of the choices pictured below will do the trick. For each of them we earn more than 7,200 Bonwi points for our stay. At Hotels.com we pay the same amount and would have finally gotten to our 10 nights.

New Orleans hotel rewards

Yippee—we get a free night’s stay! But hold on: that free night is based on the average of what we have spent per night, which comes out to $102 if we picked  the Hotel Modern for this last stay and the Holiday Inn Express for Orlando. Their formula would be $341+$304+$378 divided by 10. You can now book a hotel with them that is listed for $102 or less.

With Bonwi, in contrast, we are up to 26,525 points earned from those same 10 nights. What can you get for that? Here are some ideas:

  • 3 nights at most Las Vegas off-strip hotels or at MGM Grand
  • One glorious night at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans (dollar value of $349)
  • Any plane ticket valued at $265 or less
  • A $250 gift certificate to Target, Best Buy, Amazon, or the Apple Store.

Your rebate value from Bonwi ranges from 25% to 35% depending on how you use the points. Your rebate value from Hotels.com is always 10% and you can only use it for hotels. With Bonwi you can use your points at any time. With Hotels.com they are useless until you have spent 10 nights in hotel rooms booked with them.

The winner in this rewards program battle between Hotels.com and Bonwi.com? Well, that depends on whether you prefer to earn a little or a lot.

The 5 Best Florida Beaches Easily Reached From Orlando

Florida beach from Orlando

Florida beach from Orlando

People fly from all over the world to go to Orlando, home of Disney World, Sea World, Universal Studios amusement parks, and much more. This is a land-locked city though, so if you want a Florida beach vacation you need to drive east to meet the Atlantic Ocean or west to reach beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.

Both coasts are easy to reach in a rental car, however. Most of the way you will be on large highways and the roads are well-marked. The closest beach to Orlando is only one hour away from the gates of Walt Disney World, while the farthest one on this list is just two hours away.

Cocoa Beach, Florida – 1 hour

beach near Orlando
(photo courtesy Visit Space Coast Tourism)

Near the Cape Canaveral area where the United States launched most of its manned rockets into space, this is the closest beach to Orlando. Like all but one here, it’s on a narrow barrier island jutting out into the sea. Expect soft golden sand but big waves sometimes: this is one of the best surfing spots in Florida.

There are four public beach access areas with parking (for a fee), so it’s easy to come here on a day trip and return to your hotel in Orlando that night. For the kids there is also a public skate park and several playgrounds. The Kennedy Space Center has a visitors center open to the public.

Daytona Beach – 1 hour 15 minutes

Daytona Beach Florida

Best known as home of the Daytona 500 Speedway where NASCAR auto races take place, this is a beach where cars rule. You can drive right onto the hard-packed sand and park your car on the very wide beach. This makes any stretch of the beach easily accessible in your vehicle, in an area that stretches more than 15 miles from New Smyrna Beach through Ormond Beach.

Prices are reasonable at Daytona Beach for lodging, meals, drinks, and activities, so this is a good spot for a couple or family on a budget. The area has a surprisingly robust art scene, plus the region is frequently cited as one of the best beach values in the USA.

Clearwater Beach – 1 hour 45 minutes

Clearwater Beach Florida

Often voted as the prettiest beach in Florida, this is a compact white-sand beach area that is only 2.5 miles long. Much of it is connected by paved walkways and bike lanes and there are plenty of restaurants and beach bars with a view of the green and blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

The water stays much warmer here than on the Atlantic coast, with temperatures only dipping down below F20° for one month in February. The water is very calm here, making it a good choice for young children. Search on Bonwi for the best Clearwater Beach resort deals.

St. Petersburg Beach – 1 hour 45 minutes

St. Pete Beach Florida

The Tampa Bay area’s other main beach is St. Petersburg, a long stretch of sand dotted with a variety of hotels and condo complexes. There several similar barrier island beaches immediately to the north such as Treasure Island and Madeira. As with Clearwater the sea temperatures are pleasant most of the year and there are seldom waves large enough to knock down even the smallest child.

This is a beach area where you pick a spot and park or you explore by car-there’s no boardwalk or path along the sea. It’s worth heading to downtown St. Pete for restaurants and nightlife, catching a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game, or exploring the Sunken Gardens area filled with tropical plants. The Salvador Dali Museum faces the Bay. Several well-regarded breweries are located here too, including Green Bench and 3 Daughters.

Anna Maria Island – 2 hours

Anna Maria Island Florida

For a taste of Florida the way it used to be before the state got so developed, head to Anna Maria Island where no building can be more than three stories high. There are no huge sprawling resorts here and the main things to do are eat seafood and lounge on the beach.

Just seven miles long and a few blocks wide, this is an easy island to navigate and there’s a free trolley to get around on once you’ve found your parking spot. There is a playground on the most popular public beach access spot and there are shaded picnic tables.

Wherever you go in Florida, you’ll earn the most points back to use for a future vacation by booking your hotel and rental car with Bonwi.com.

All photos by Tim Leffel except Coco Beach.

5 Florida beaches that are 2 hours or less from Orlando

5 of the Best Excursions from Anchorage, Alaska

Glacier viewing boat trip Alaska

Spencer Glacier icebergs Alaska

Few cities anywhere in the world have such spectacular scenery within a few hours’ drive or train ride as Anchorage, Alaska. Some visitors make the journey here a road trip to start it all, driving up the Alaska Highway—open all year—from the USA or western Canada. There are plenty of flights here though and the state hosts Alaska Airlines, so it’s easy to just rent a car upon arrival.

There’s seldom a lot of traffic in Anchorage and roads leaving the city are well-marked. All of the excursions here are off of two routes. One heads south down the Kenai Peninsula, the other heads north toward Denali National Park.

See the Glaciers from the Water

Glacier viewing boat trip Alaska

Receding glaciers from the last Ice Age carved up the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska with gorges and fjords. The best way to see the awesome force of the ice is to go on a day cruise that explores the waterways and passes glaciers that are sometimes still dropping into the sea. The calmest option is to go on a Prince William Sound Glacier Cruise from the port of Whittier.

The scenery is more dramatic on a Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise that weaves in and out of various fjords from the port of Seward, but you do have to cross some open water that can get rough at times. In both cases you’re likely to see some wildlife, such as bald eagles, sea lions, otters, and even whales. The cute white beluga whales like to play in the waters you’ll pass on the Seward Highway—a national scenic byway—on the way to either port in a car.

Get Close to Alaska’s Animals

Moose in Alaska conservation park

Close to Whittier and accessible by car in an hour from the city is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This non-profit center cares for rescued animals that cannot return to the wild, plus a herd of bison that are raised here first than released. You will see huge grizzly bears and brown bears, perhaps a rescued black bear cub. There’s a resident porcupine that lost a leg, a herd of moose, wolves, and some elk with giant antlers. Naturalists give guided tours and some of the animals you can touch.

You can connect this with a trip to Spencer Lake (seen in the very top photo) for hiking near a glacier, paddling around icebergs, and rafting down the Placer river with Chugach Adventures.

Heading North From Anchorage to Denali

Denali National Park Alaska

Denali Mountain—also known as Mt. McKinley—is the highest peak in North America at 6,190 meters. You’ll have to get an early start to visit it on a day trip as it’s approximately a five-hour drive from Anchorage to Denali National Park. It would be better to spend the night in the area to be able to explore the wilderness on hiking trails or by biking on the road going through the park. (The park has more than 2.4 million hectares of protected land.) You can also get there via Alaska Railroad and It’s also possible to purchase seats on a sightseeing plane to view the snowy peaks from the air.

Sled Dogs and Fishing in Wasilla

Alaska’s main sporting event is the annual Iditarod Dogsled Race, which takes place each March. The course covers 1,000 miles (1609 kms) from Anchorage. You can visit the headquarters visitor center in Wasila any time of year though and learn more about this unique event. Some sled dogs stay at the headquarters and in the summer they lead visitors on dog cart rides instead of through the snow.

fishing trip in Alaska

Less than two hours by car from Anchorage, Wasilla is also a favorite fishing area for visitors. There are several spots where you can go on guided fishing trips to hook your own king salmon or go fly fishing for trout.

Ski Alaska in Girdwood

ski Alaska close to Anchorage

If arriving outside of the peak summer season, it’s quick 42 miles (68 kms) to Alaska’s premier ski area, Alyeska Resort. This self-contained area is anchored by a fine hotel that connects to the aerial tram traveling to the top of the mountain and there are 76 total ski runs. You can use the area as a heli-skiing base to explore fresh powder in the backcountry, or for the less adventurous the town of Girdwood also has ice skating and snow shoeing areas.

Find the best Anchorage hotel deals at Bonwi.com and earn more points back than with any other reward program.

Article by Tim Leffel, who also wrote Gawking at Glaciers in Wild Alaska as editor of Perceptive Travel. All photos by Leffel except fishing photo courtesy of Valley River Charters and Denali photo via Wikipedia Creative Commons. Trail map from Alyeska Resort.

Hit These 5 National Parks on a Road Trip From Las Vegas

Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon

road tripfrom Las Vegas

Las Vegas is North America’s center for glitz, glamor, and gambling. Unlike other casino centers such as Macau or Monte Carlo, however, Vegas is a gateway to some of the world’s most spectacular natural scenery. If you’ve ever seen movies that take place among expanses of the wild west with canyon walls as high as a skyscraper, you’ve seen places you can drive to from Las Vegas.

You can rent a car in Las Vegas and after a few hours crossing the desert be standing next to the Grand Canyon in Arizona or exploring the rock formations of southern Utah. This road trip is best done over a week to really soak it all in from some of America’s most scenic highways, but it would be possible to cover it all in a few days since the sites are just one to six hours apart.

Las Vegas to Zion National Park

To begin the journey, leave Las Vegas and head to Lake Mead to see this man-made lake created by the gigantic Hoover Dam. Continue on Northshore Road along the lake until you connect with I-4 heading Northeast to St. George. Stop for lunch or take a hike in St. George, then continue on I-4 all the way to Zion National Park.

Las Vegas to Zion National Park road trip

Zion is known for its variety of landscapes and extensive hiking trails that lead past granite cliffs, meadows, and waterfalls. It’s common to spot mule deer, foxes, and bighorn sheep in the mountain terrain. You’re less likely to see the nocturnal creatures such as the ringtail cat and mountain lion, though you’ll probably spot their tracks in the mud.

The Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon

Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon

It only takes an hour and a half to drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park, but you will probably be tempted to stop off for photos several times along the way. Once at Bryce, spend some time viewing the incredible rock formations from different angles via the easy trails at the bottom or the more challenging ones that lead into the surrounding hills. Some of the lodging and camping areas are close enough to walk but lights are kept low to see the constellations at night.

To Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

The next two stops on this road trip from Las Vegas are close together, so these would be the best to combine in one day’s visit. Get an early start to get there though as it takes around five hours by the slow and scenic route or four hours by the I-70 interstate highway route to reach Arches National Park. The name is a strong clue of what to expect here, as erosion over many thousands of years has left giant standing arches that glow red as the sun is sinking close to the horizon.

Arches National Park

In Canyonlands, bike paths and trails go through rugged dry canyons and formations with descriptive names such as Needles, Candlestick Tower, Chocolate Drops, and Monument Basin. This Moab Region of Utah is anchored by the town of the same name and this is one of the world’s great playgrounds for adventure activities. Make this your base and you can find dozens of activities to sign up for such as extreme mountain biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, boating, river rafting, and stargazing.

The Awesome Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

No matter how many times you’ve seen photos of the Grand Canyon, it’s hard to imagine the immense size and wonder of this great natural geological site. Spread over hundreds of miles, it would take a lifetime to explore it all, but by coming from Utah you’ll visit the less crowded North Rim and have more of it to yourself. It takes six hours or so to get here from Canyonlands, so plan to spend the night at one of the many lodges or camping areas along the highway. By visiting it late in the day and then again in the morning, you’ll see it in a whole different light. If you can do a hike down inside, you’ll get another perspective again. Just bring plenty of water.

The next day, drive back to Las Vegas and complete the road trip loop. You’ll trade in starry skies and open landscapes for the bright lights and noises that never stop, but you should have hundreds of great photos to share from your great American road trip.

For information on all these regions, see the U.S. National Park Service website. To find a great deal and earn valuable points on your stay, see our Las Vegas Hotels section on Bonwi.com.

New Orleans, LA: What’s Going on Louisiana’s Biggest City?

Instead of lurching down Bourbon Street, discover the swamps outside of New Orleans on a night tour!
Instead of lurching down Bourbon Street, discover the swamps outside of New Orleans on a night tour!
Instead of lurching down Bourbon Street, discover the swamps outside of New Orleans on a night tour!

New Orleans has always been party central while at the same time, is loaded with historical significance. It may be fun to enjoy the insane Mardi Gras festivities or peruse the various ancient mansions, but there is so much more to see and do in the Big Easy.

Audubon Park is located on Magazine Street in New Orleans and has almost too many components to list. From jogging and bike paths to tennis courts, a golf course, playgrounds, and even a lagoon, this lengthy park will keep everyone and anyone occupied. Not to mention the 58-Acre Audubon Zoo is just down the road and is home to about 2,000 animals!

Why not try a swamp tour…at night. The Honey Island Swamp Night Tour gives tourists the chance to take a chilling flat-bottom boat ride at night. Whether you’re scanning your periphery for gators, listening for the sounds of wild boars or learning about the Honey Island Swamp Monster, this unique tour will have you on the edge of your seat!

Take a New Orleans Aerial tour and see the sweep of the Mississippi river and all of the sites of the city from above.
Take a New Orleans Aerial tour and see the sweep of the Mississippi River and all of the sites of the city from above.

Speaking of tours, if you’re not a fan of water or you would prefer not to be so close to snapping gators, try an aerial tour of the city. New Orleans Aerial Tours & Flight Training offers a Big Easy Aerial Tour which allows you to view New Orleans from the sky while simultaneously learning about the city.

Take a gander at the twists and turns of the Mississippi River, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and Louisiana’s many bayous. The Big Easy couldn’t look any more beautiful than it does from a birds’ eye view!

Should you plan on visiting New Orleans, here are some cool hotels that you may want to consider using.

The Ace Hotel in New Orleans may not be the only Ace Hotel in the world, but it nonetheless is a stylish and unique lodging option. The Ace Hotel in New Orleans sits in a former department store and boasts a beautiful hand-painted floor as well as voodoo folklore references in each room!

The Catahoula Hotel, a 35-room Creole townhouse, makes for a luxurious and authentic stay in New Orleans. The hotel’s café, rooftop terrace, and boutique coffee program may make you forget that the building has been standing since 1845, and will also make you want to stay in the hotel forever! 

The best thing about booking a New Orleans Hotel on Bonwi is that you get more nights free, using your Bonwi Points!

Anchorage, Alaska: Go Dogsledding in Summer

Summer Dog Sledding Alaska
A future dogsleg puller and her master in Anchorage, Alaska.
A future dogsled puller and her master in Anchorage, Alaska.

The first thing you probably think of when someone says dog sledding is snow, correct? What if I told you that you could go dog sledding, in the middle of summer, without the snow?

Well in Anchorage, Alaska you can go on your very own Summer Sled Dog Adventure, thanks to Girdwood Mushing Company and Gold Mine Safari Tours.

Bring the family and meet the 4-legged crew as they bring you across Alaska’s beautiful and scenic landscape. The ride starts with an eight-mile trek up the historic Iditarod trail in an open air high-mobility all terrain vehicle. A tour guide will explain the area’s gold mining history while you take in the phenomenal views.

After arriving at the Girdwood Mushing’s Company’s kennel, you will meet your musher, and of course, his dog crew. Leap into the sled dog cart and allow the Alaskan Huskies to escort you through one of the most picturesque spots in Alaska. You might even get a chance lead the dogs yourself.

Of course, you cannot leave without visiting the Puppy Petting Pavilion. The name even sounds great. Here, you can play with the future athletes and check out your musher’s award memorabilia and trophies commemorating “The Last Great Race”.

Learn about the gear mushers need to survive in such harsh climates and why Alaskan Huskies are natural born sled leaders.

Mushing doesn't stop just because there is no snow in Alaska!
Mushing doesn’t stop just because there is no snow in Alaska!

This one of a kind trip allows you to consume the knowledge and history of the area, all while taking in the feeling, sights, and smells that Alaska has to offer its visitors. Kennel tours and training rides are also available no matter what the season is. Visit with dogs that have Iditarod bloodlines…who knows, you could be petting a future champion.

The journey, which takes you to an elevation of 1200 feet, takes about 2.5 hours. Rides cost $148 for adults and $98 for children age 5-12. Tours are rain or shine, so dress appropriately! To find out how to book your own tour, visit http://www.alyeskatours.com.   

Plan your visit to America’s great wilderness and find the best hotels in Anchorage using Bonwi Points!

America’s Best Beaches

Ask true beach lovers to name their favorite expanse of surf and sand, and the answer changes with the tides. With all its surrounding oceans, seas, and lakes, there’s a beach to indulge any whim. From pearly crescents covered in shells to turquoise bays teeming with shimmering fish, none are created equal. This week’s Travel Tip Tuesday highlights the best beaches in the United States for you to visit this summer.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach has sixty miles of beautiful sandy beaches, first-class live entertainment, exciting attractions for everyone, endless shopping, exquisite dining, thrilling water sports plus so much more.

 

Coronado Beach, California

Coronado Beach, California

Swimmers, bodysurfers, boogie boarders, sand sculptors, and wildlife enthusiasts take to Coronado Beach year round. The north side of the beach is perfect for dog lovers and offers an off-leash park.

 

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Far removed from the bustle of any city, Cannon Beach stretches along the cliffs of the Oregon coastline. Haystack Rock towers on the shoreline, waterfalls cascade onto the sand at Hug Point, and marine life peeks out at low tide which makes Cannon Beach one of the most beautiful places in the world.

 

Biloxi Beach, Mississippi

Biloxi Beach, Mississippi

Biloxi offers 26 miles of white-sand beaches that catch a cool breeze from the Gulf Coast. The beach and surrounding area offers activities like casinos, charter-boat fishing, sailing, golfing, and parasailing.

 

West Palm Beach, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

The shoreline of West Palm Beach is highlighted by swaying palms, golden-hued sand, and the shimmering blue ocean. Keep an eye out for tortoises crawling out of the water since summer is their nesting season.

 

Martha’s Vineyard Beach, Massachusetts 

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Secluded from the mainland, Martha’s Vineyard is an island bathed in scenic beauty. The island’s delectable seafood and easy-going vibe attract day-trippers, celebrities, and city dwellers to flock to the beach.

 

Ready to explore? Plan your next beach getaway with Bonwi.com!