The Hotel Zones of Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Fort Lauderdale Beach

The Atlantic Ocean coastal city of Fort Lauderdale is part of a 23-mile stretch of beach in Broward County, so there are plenty of places to stretch out on the sand. Then there’s the Intracoastal Waterway, a gay travel zone, and chic Las Olas inland, so sorting out the best place to book your hotel can be a challenge.

Fortunately, the various hotel zones of Fort Lauderdale are relatively well-defined. Once you know your objective, you can narrow down the options from 100+ properties to find the best place to stay in your budget. Be sure to check Bonwi for the best hotel deals and the most reward points back no matter which area of the city you choose.

Northern Beach Area

If you’re looking for a quiet, more residential area, the stretch of beach going from Lauderdale by the Sea down to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is going to be the best bet. There are fewer hotels in this area and they’re more spread out, though of course the surf and sand are going to be just as enticing.

Southern Beach Area

The bulk of the areas hotels and resorts are clustered in the area between the state park and the turnoff to the convention center. Here you’ll find the largest range of options, from 5-star luxury resorts to small family-run hotels with a kitchenette. Just remember that none are directly on the beach no matter what: there’s a public walkway on that side and no buildings directly next to the sand—unless you count lifeguard stands and public bathrooms.

walkway along the beach in Fort Lauderdale

Gay Fort Lauderdale Hotels

This destination is frequently touted as the top LGBT place to visit in the Eastern USA, with around 20 gay-exclusive guesthouses, a robust nightlife scene, frequent same-sex weddings, and several dedicated museums.  Guesthouses that cater to same-sex couples and groups are primarily clustered in the blocks between Vistamar and Riomar streets  and will have “Gay” or “Gay-friendly” in the description.

Hollywood, Florida

Although technically not Fort Lauderdale, this is so close that it might as well be, plus the water taxi heads down here on its last stop. If you’re planning on parking yourself at the beach most of the time, this can be a good alternative.

Convention Center and Cruise Port

If you’re just spending a night before or after one of the many cruises that depart from here, you want to be at the southern end of Fort Lauderdale, near the street that quickly changes names from Seabreeze Blvd. to SE 17th Street to A1A. Some airport and downtown hotels will also shuttle guests to the cruise port, so check the descriptions when you book.

Hotel map Ft. Lauderdale

Las Olas and Downtown

If chic shopping and fine restaurants get you more excited than body surfing in the waves, then Las Olas is the place to stay. This mile-long retail street is full of interesting shops, some of the top restaurants in the area, and fun nightlife options.  Downtown Fort Lauderdale is the cultural magnet of the area, with the county’s main performing arts center and multiple museums.

Fort Lauderdale Airport

If you’ve got an early flight or are just on a business trip, there are multiple hotels near this busy airport served by multiple international carriers and serving as a hub for Spirit Air. Most provide some kind of shuttle service and don’t forget that the South Florida Tri-Rail system has train service up to Palm Beach and down to Miami.

If you need to get from one zone to the other in Fort Lauderdale, don’t worry. There are plenty of options for getting around, even without a car. Besides taxis and rideshare services, there is a water taxi system, a city bike share system, and a malecon sidewalk running the length of the beach that’s great for walking.

Ready to book a vacation? See the Fort Lauderdale hotels at Bonwi.com, where you’ll find guaranteed low rates and generous points back you can use for your next hotel stay, flight, or rental car with no blackout dates.

Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden Is a Must-Visit

In Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden is not to be missed. You can even go at night!
In Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden is not to be missed. You can even go at night!

Searching for the ideal summer vacation in Phoenix but not sure where to start? Seeing that it is located on the upper edge of the Sonoran Desert, there are heaps of outdoor adventures to be had in Phoenix this summer.

But, above all, the one place you surely won’t want to miss seeing is Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden. If you’re wondering, there are other things in the desert other than sand and tumbleweeds.

You don’t have to have a green thumb to want to visit this garden, as it is equipped with family activities, concerts, seasonal exhibits, and cafes. The desert itself offers its visitors a delightful and extensive collection of the world’s best arid plants and wildflowers. Whether you’re a rookie iPhone picture taker or a pro wildlife photographer, I can promise you there will be many picturesque moments in the Sonoran Desert.

Whether you’re a rookie iPhone picture taker or a pro wildlife photographer, I can promise you there will be many picturesque moments in the Sonoran Desert.

The Desert Botanical Garden has over 50,000 desert plants on display throughout five different outdoor trails that portray what life is like in the desert for humans, animals, and plants alike.

Experience the garden in a whole new light, or in a lack of it. Flashlight Tours are nighttime excursions that allow you to feel, see and hear how the desert performs a night. Bring your own flashlight and guide yourself through the trails and capture what different activities and learning experiences the desert have to offer.

For those art enthusiasts, the garden also offers several art exhibitions, including the Larry Kornegay and Jun Kaneko Sculpture Exhibit. The colorful and daring artwork illustrates the desert’s beauty, allowing guests to view the art as they travel throughout the garden.

Gertrudes is the place to enjoy lunch or dinner at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.
Gertrudes is the place to enjoy lunch or dinner at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.

One of the most memorable aspects of visiting the garden is by far dining at Gertrude’s. The restaurant, with an ever-changing menu, offers fresh ingredients straight from the farm and pasture to your plate. The menu showcases local cuisine and ingredients from farmers and artisans in the area. Stop by for a quick brunch or a nice sit-down dinner at sunset.

General Admission into the garden costs $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for youths. The garden is open daily from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.  Don’t feel like paying? The garden admission is free the second Tuesday of every month–nice!

To plan your visit to the Desert Botanical Garden, visit their website https://www.dbg.org.
Find the absolute best deals on Phoenix Hotels and earn Bonwi Points to use for your next trip.

 

Explore the Distilleries and Breweries of Washington, D.C.

Washington DC distillery

Want to sample some local hooch after you visit the Smithsonian and snap photos of D.C.’s monuments? Here’s a rundown on a few notable local distilleries and breweries in the city.

Among the revolutionaries that moved to Washington, D.C. in the late 1700s to start the USA’s first government, quite a few were were brewers or distillers. So it’s fitting that the nation’s capital has some production facilities of its own nestled into its limited land area. I got a tour of some of the options with City Brew Tours and here’s what we found.

Cotton and Reed Rum

Washington D.C. Distilleries

Cotton & Reed
Although rum played an important (and often unsavory) role in the Americas in the 1700s and 1800s, there was never a rum distillery in Washington. Cotton & Reid Distillery changed all that when they opened in a revamped 1929 factory building in 2016. They make two kinds of rum for now, white and spiced, because nothing has had time to age. So the attached bar serves lots of cocktails—really good cocktails. They’re serious about the craft though, using Lousiana cane sugar and distilling with a botanicals basket that includes the cane itself. One of the founders, Reed Walker, was a NASA engineer so they’ve got the chops for the science part.

Jos. A. Magnus & Co.
Taking the name and recipes from a midwest distiller that ceased operations during prohibition, Jos. A Magnus is a company that takes the best from the past and reworks it for the modern age. (One poster from the original days says, “A staunch friend from sunrise to sunset.” Another says it’ll cure your marital ills.) They make several styles, with their excellent Murray Hill Whiskey, a bourbon, already winning awards. Their Vigilant Gin is made exclusively with American ingredients. It’s a bit sweeter than most, in an attempt to lure in new fans to the spirit.

Heading up the operation is Nicole Hassoun, who mixed cocktails at D.C.’s top gin bar before striking out on her own. The company also makes Royal Seal Vodka, which tastes like…vodka. Good stuff all around.

Joseph Magnus liquor DC

Washington D.C. Breweries

Atlas Brew Works
Downstairs from Jos. A. Magnus in the Ivy City neighborhood is Atlas Brew Works, probably the city’s best-known brewery. Two of their three most popular beers are ones you would easily predict: the easy-drinking District Common and a Ponzi American pale ale. The third one, Rowdy, is kind of a wild card though: a hop-forward rye beer that doesn’t taste quite like anything else I’ve had.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of time to linger here, but did find out that Atlas is a 100% solar-powered brewery. How many breweries can say that? There’s a great pub vibe here, so make a night of it and go down the row for a flight.

Atlas Brew DC

Blue Jacket Brewery
Located walking distance from the Nationals baseball stadium, Blue Jacket is a new-build brewery inside the walls of an old boilermaker factory, in an area that’s gone from closed-factory-desolate to gentrified glory in just a few years. Because they could plan it all out from scratch inside, this brewery has set up operations in the traditional style, letting gravity take its course. Brewing starts at the top level and then works its way down to the bottom. There modern science takes over and beers are served in the brewpub at the ideal temperature: lagers at a colder temperature than stouts, for instance, all temperature controlled from the back.

Brewery near Washington Nationals baseball

They’re not afraid to experiment at Blue Atlas though, brewing wild yeast beers that sometimes work and sometimes don’t, and having two dozen house-brewed beers on tap at any given time. The Mexican Radio spiced stout is a typical example. It’s not like anything you’re ever going to actually find in Mexico, but it’s yummy. This is a bustling restaurant too, so get some food in you between samplings.

There are a few other breweries and brewpubs in D.C. proper. You can check out the whole list of what’s there, in Virginia, and in Maryland nearby at DCbeer.com.

Find the best deals on Washington D.C. hotels and earn far more points for your stays than you would anywhere else—go to Bonwi.com DC.

San Diego: Summer Happenings in America’s Finest City

San Diego's famed Gaslamp Quarter is full of nightlife and great restaurants.
San Diego’s famed Gaslamp Quarter is full of nightlife and great restaurants.

The beautiful city of San Diego, California is playing host to a whole smorgasbord of events ranging from international soccer to an expansive county fair. There’s something to do for everyone in the Plymouth of the West this summer!

The San Diego County Fair alone has enough going on to satisfy everyone in the family. A Wild Wild West theme is the backdrop for the fair that includes live musical entertainment, the International Beer Festival, deep-fried foods, woodworking, livestock exhibits, an award-winning flower show, and much more.

In early July, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, an international soccer competition, will take a couple of its opening round games to Qualcomm Stadium in the city. The Mexican national team will be one of the teams competing in these open round games in California’s southern city.

Watch dogs compete and surf in San Diego this summer!
Watch dogs compete and surf in San Diego this summer!

You can even watch dogs surf!  In late July, Imperial Beach will host the annual Surf Dog Competition. More than 70 dogs will be competing in various surfing challenges that will surely be a treat to see in person!

The city is accustomed to many glorious hotels with beach themes and plenty of amenities. When in Rome, well, San Diego, try these hotels on for size:

The Hotel Indigo San Diego Gaslamp Quarter is a boutique hotel located Downtown. This pet-friendly lodge is eco-friendly and even has a rooftop bar!

Believe it or not, but the Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel and Marina is a very stylish hotel that truly draws itself apart from its other U.S. locations. Tons of suite options, a long list of amenities, and some fantastic views make this hotel a must stay venue!   

Book a San Diego hotel with Bonwi and earn points to come back another time!

How to Hit the Savings Jackpot in Las Vegas

Las Vegas hotels at night

An experienced gambler can tell you how to avoid getting fleeced at the Las Vegas casino tables, but there are also ways the cards are stacked against you as a visitor spending vacation money. Whether you’re betting or not, you have to play the Vegas visitor game correctly to keep the odds in your favor. Here are some of the best ways to shave hundreds or even thousands of dollars off your tab.

Avoid the Weekends

You may think a weekend trip to Las Vegas is a good idea, but so does everyone else. The city is driving distance to Los Angeles and a short direct flight from many other markets. That means huge crowds converge on Friday nights and leave on Sunday. Bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, anniversaries, birthdays, guys/gals weekends away, and on it goes. If there’s a reason to celebrate, this is a natural destination for the occasion.

That means prices double or triple most weekends. If you can come on a Sunday instead or leave on a Friday, you can still find unbelievably low rates in these massive hotels. Just remember to factor in the extra “resort fee” that gets you what’s normally included in the rates elsewhere: this hated practice is a common one at area hotels.

Avoid Major Convention Periods

The USA’s biggest convention city can absorb a lot of visitors at once: MGM Grand Hotel alone has more than 5,000 rooms. When a massive conference is in town though, even the biggest properties can fill up and rates rise accordingly. If the Society of Medical Diagnostic Sonography is town (1,700 attendees), no big deal. But when the Consumer Electronics Show brings in 165,000 people, you probably want to change your plans. See this Vegas convention calendar for details.

Widen Your Hotel Horizons

downtown Las Vegas hotelSure, it’s fun to be at a famous hotel on the Las Vegas Strip and you can find some legendary choices there, but there are literally more than 100 places to choose from. Prices in the prestige hotels are inflated for nearly everything, so browse around to find the best value. You may want to spend at least part of your time downtown. There you’ll find a revitalized area that’s walkable, filled with fun bars, restaurants, and the Container Park. Hotels such as the Golden Nugget, Plaza Hotel, and California Hotel have poured millions into renovations and their pool complexes in recent years.

Watch for Promotional Deals

The days when Vegas was a bargain-hunters paradise started fading when the corporations started gobbling up all the hotels and casinos. There are still plenty of great values around though if you keep your eye out for coupon books, loyalty sign-up bonuses, and off-peak buffets. Casinos still want to get you in the door and any restaurant that’s not full regularly will do what they can to pull in the crowds. If you’re flexible with your plans, you can score free bets and great meals at a discount. (And hey, it’s okay to just hang out by a beautiful pool all day.)

Las Vegas swimming pool

Use Public Transportation, Uber, and Lyft

Las Vegas taxi drivers have seen it all, but unless you want to pay for a good story there are better ways to get around the city. The overtaxed (and quick route-challenged) drivers aren’t usually the best option anymore to get from A to B. A bus runs from downtown through the strip, a monorail is a block off the strip, and the usual rideshare services are always on the move.

Get the best rates on Las Vegas hotels and get the most points back by booking with Bonwi.

Gulliver’s Gate Brings the World in Miniature to Times Square

Gulliver's Gate is a giant 3D model of the entire world laid out inside the former New York Times building, where people can walk as if they are giants among a tiny created world.
Gulliver’s Gate is a giant 3D model of the entire world laid out inside the former New York Times building, where people can walk as if they are giants among a tiny created world.

You can pay a visit to Times Square in Manhattan, New York any day and you will surely be bombarded will thousands of eager tourists wanting to see the city.

You are also likely to be approached by a topless woman with painted breasts, or the Naked Cowboy, strumming his guitar in his skivvies, asking if you want to pose for a photo next to them.

However, the city is about to get a whole lot busier as its new attraction called Gulliver’s Gate becomes more and more popular.

On the floor of the former New York Times Building, (kind of neat!), the 23,000 square-foot space is the new home to Gulliver’s Gate. It took a whole slew of engineers and designers to replicate the phenomenal view of the Big Apple, not to mention it took 358 days to create.

The metropolis exhibit, opened on May 9, features miniature 3-D models of the city, including more than 300 tiny buildings and over 1,000 model train cars. There is no doubt that you will feel like the giant from Gulliver’s Travels after peering down at dwarf-sized printed replicas of Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, and other scenes from around the world.

There is no doubt that you will feel like the giant from Gulliver’s Travels after peering down at dwarf-sized printed replicas of Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, and other scenes from around the world.

You don’t even need to travel to Beijing, Buenos Aires, or Israel because they are culturally diverse displays created from all of these places, and more! Some models are even interactive, bringing the displays to life.

Guests can choose to either buy a timed ticket for $31, which allows them to book a certain day or time, or buy a flex ticket for $41, which permits them to go whenever they please. The easiest way to buy tickets it through their online website at gulliversgate.com.

Located on 216 W 44th Street, the exhibit opens every day at 9 a.m. If you’re not impressed yet, you can also become a citizen of Gulliver’s Gate, which entails getting yourself scanned and becoming a miniature 3-D replica human in the display. You then receive your very own framed photo of the “mini you” and you will also be given a lifetime discount for anytime you want to go back.

If you’re looking to change your own perspective, well literally I guess, stop by Times Square and visit this new attraction. Find the best deal on a NYC hotel room and use Bonwi points for a return visit!

Talk about living large!

Nashville, Tennessee: New Attractions in the Music City

The Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, Tennessee.

Erase any negative preconceived notions you have about Nashville because this southern city has a lot going on. Whether you’re a fan of music, sports, or great cuisine, the capital of Tennessee holds a variety of new and exciting things to do.

It’s not called “The Music City” for nothing. Country music and rock n’ roll have been a presence in, and perhaps the defining quality of Nashville. The Music City Walk of Fame Park immortalizes musical artists and other members of the music industry in a landmark tribute reminiscent of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. Recent inductees include Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, Mayor Karl Dean, and many others.

The Ascend Amphitheater’s 2015 opening was celebrated with a two-day performance starring Eric Church. This fairly new music venue hosts a myriad of different musicians throughout its operating season that ends in November. Enjoy an amazing night at the Ascend Amphitheater as you look up into the night sky while simultaneously watching your favorite artists perform!

Music isn’t the only cultural aspect of Nashville. Multiple sports teams have been expanding and improving in the Tennessee capital. The Tennessee Titans of the NFL enjoyed a 9-7 record in the 2016/2017 season. Their Nissan Stadium has almost 70,000 seats so there should be no trouble finding tickets for this growing football franchise.

First Tennessee Park is the home to the Nashville Sounds, an AAA baseball team.
First Tennessee Park is the home to the Nashville Sounds, an AAA baseball team.

The Nashville Sounds, the AAA affiliate of the MLB’s Oakland Athletics, have a new stadium called the First Tennessee Park that opened in 2015. And who could forget the NHL’s Nashville Predators incredible 2017 playoff run that saw the Preds sweep the Blackhawks and earn their first ever Western Conference title?  They might have lost to the Penguins, but they certainly put the city on the world’s hockey map.

After you have seen the musical and sports aspects of the Tennessee capital, try one, or more, of Nashville’s awesome new restaurants. The Hillsboro Village neighborhood is home to the Grilled Cheeserie Melt Shop with the top of the line grilled cheese sandwiches and milkshakes. Slim and Husky’s Pizza Beeria in the Germantown Area has an upbeat vibe along with great pizza and local microbrews.

The Mainstay, a restaurant with plenty of craft beer and TVs, sits in East Nashville. Experience these newly opened eateries and tons of others within the city of Nashville!   If you’re traveling to Nashville, find the best deals on hotel rooms and get points to use on your next trip from Bonwi.

New York Is Getting the Wheel of the Century

The New York Wheel will be the world's tallest Ferris wheel, with pods that hold 40 people, towering at 630 feet above Staten Island!
The New York Wheel will be the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, with pods that hold 40 people, towering at 630 feet above Staten Island!

New York City has always been the top destination for tourists both near and far, but the upcoming tourist opportunities have just expanded as the city welcomes the New York Wheel.  More than 60 million tourists came to the Big Apple in 2016. 

In June of 2018, the tallest observation wheel in the world will open on St. George, Staten Island. Visitors can look forward to an unique experience for the whole family, from a 10,000 square-foot playground to an outdoor beer garden, there are options for the both the kids and adults.The wheel itself will feature a 30-minute ride and will include 36 capsules with over 7 million dollars worth of LED lighting, the wheel will surely illuminate the skyline, paving way for an epic view.Each pod holds up to 40 people and allows its guests to see beautiful views of the New York Harbor, Statue of Liberty, Verrazano bridge and the New York City Skyline. With an expected visitation rate of 30,000 visitors per day, the attraction will also feature a five-acre green roof, which will host concerts, festivals, and other outdoor events.

The attraction will be open to the public and accessible seven days a week from 10 a.m. until midnight. But, if you really want to be stunned, stay until sunset, and see the reflection of the 630-foot-tall wheel emerge on the New York Harbor. If you decide the come by boat, the project plans to partner with private ferry services to bring guests from different locations along the harbor.

The wheel will also an attraction for the local Staten Island community, as it will draw tourists to visit area shops, eateries, and cultural institutions. All the foot traffic near the wheel will encourage people to visit the surrounding area, benefiting St. George economically.

With $1.2 billion invested in the project, local contractors and building trades will be utilized and hundreds of construction jobs will be created. It seems to me that the New York Wheel is a win win for both the city and its tourists.

As 2018 creeps around the corner, I’d start planning your trip now, I wouldn’t want to miss out on seeing one of the most spectacular views in the world.

If you want to catch a ride on the New York Wheel in 2018, book your NYC hotel using Bonwi points!

San Francisco Never Forgot the Summer of Love

This summer, celebrate the 50th anniversary of 1967's Summer of Love in San Francisco!
This summer, celebrate the 50th anniversary of 1967's Summer of Love in San Francisco!
This summer, celebrate the 50th anniversary of 1967’s Summer of Love in San Francisco!

San Francisco’s 50th Summer of Love Festival is quickly approaching as summer is upon is.  In the heart of one of the most diverse cities in the world, visitors can expect the celebration to feature dozens of events, activities, exhibitions, and an insight into the rich history of the Love Festival which first took place in 1967.

The festival prides itself on allowing people to display their own unique and creative ways of self-expression, whether that be through elegant artwork or live music. In addition to the festival, San Francisco offers several other music oriented destinations for all music loving visitors, such as The Fillmore Music Hall and The Great American Music Hall.

If the crowd of festival goers is too intimidating on the narrow street of Haight-Ashbury, no worries, a quick bite to eat at the Yellow Submarine located on 503 Irving St. will surely fix any worries, and cravings too.

The tiny corner building tucked behind the sidewalk cannot be missed, as it is painted is the most vibrant hue of yellow with a red awning draping down the top of the entrance. To fully experience this one of a kind sub shop, a steak and cheese with all the “fixings” are a must try.

What makes this sandwich so memorable is the fresh steak that is stacked sky high, be sure to ask for it cut in half, the enormity of it means you’ll be taking the other half home.

The original Summer of Love celebration in San Francisco in 1967.
The original Summer of Love celebration in San Francisco in 1967.

If a lunch with a view sounds appealing, luckily Twin Peaks can be accessed via foot from The Yellow Submarine. Enjoy your sub on the top of the two infamous hills that overlook the beautiful city landscape, with a vast birds-eye view, the festival will definitely be visible.

The low murmurs of the music might even be heard from the heights too. The winding road leading up to the peaks is a short 15-minute hike, but the view is worth every step. The daytime view is stunning, but schedule a visit at sunset and see the city lights emerge like fireflies on the horizon.

The first package deal, Summer of Love at The de Young, includes two VIP general admission tickets to the de Young Museum, which will be displaying the “Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll” and 10% off the best available rate. The special exhibit costs 10 dollars and grants visitors the ability to discover a remarkable collection of rock posters, photographs, interactive light shows, and more.

The Summer of Love & Festivals package deals allows guests 15% off the best available rate and the opportunity the explore the city and partake in the festival.

The Summer of Love Festival is a one of a kind experience in a city filled with remarkable food, history, and sights. Pack your hippy glasses and your flowy skirts and make your way to the West Coast to participate in the spiritual awakening of thousands of people celebrating love.

These days, San Francisco is known for its upscale hotels like the Fairmont and others. To dive into more detail of what to expect at the festival, visit www.summeroflove2017.com

Make your own summer a lovefest by finding the best San Francisco hotel deals on Bonwi, and then earning Bonwi points for a future trip.

Washington DC Shines, Despite Today’s Politics

The view of the Jefferson Memorial from a paddleboat Washington's Tidal basin. Max Hartshorne photo.
The view of the Jefferson Memorial from a paddleboat Washington's Tidal basin. Max Hartshorne photo.
The view of the Jefferson Memorial from a paddleboat in Washington’s Tidal Basin. Max Hartshorne photo.

I’m just back from a trip to Washington, DC, where the beauty of the city and the energy of its citizens energized and entertained me. If you haven’t spent time in the capital in recent years I’d highly recommend a visit. More than 20 million people visited DC last year, and there are a whole lot of reasons why that number will keep growing in 2017.

Being able to see the buildings that memorialize our greatest presidents as well as the newest monuments like the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Martin Luther King statue is exhilarating, and refreshing.

In the glittering sun of a lazy Sunday, we climbed into paddleboats and enjoyed monument-viewing up close in the Tidal Basin.  All around were the great monuments, the obelisk nod to our first president, Washington, the rectangular Lincoln Memorial and the newest monument to our nation’s great African American citizens, which looks like a crown, with a dark color that contrasts with the lighter colors of the others.

The city has expanded its water transit network in the face of traffic problems so that now, many residents commute to the city from Maryland and Virginia by water taxi.  We cruised up the muddy Potomac River where were told that the water quality has dramatically improved–but you still can’t go swimming, or, God forbid, drink it.

Yet this didn’t stop a flotilla of kayakers, paddleboarders, and pleasure boaters large and small from taking to the water on this sunny afternoon.

Kayaking on the Potomac River in Washington DC.
Kayaking on the Potomac River in Washington DC.

The river is an area that’s going to be dramatically changed when the expansion of the Kennedy Center is completed in Sept 2018. As part of an ongoing $175 million expansion project, a new pedestrian bridge will connect the Kennedy Center to Rock Creek Trail, which runs along the Potomac River, connecting the National Mall to Georgetown, Rock Creek Park, and the C&O Canal.

If a visit to DC is in your future, you’ll find plenty of hotels to choose from. In fact, 4,635 of the city’s hotel rooms are within walking distance to the Walter Washington Convention Center.

Find DC Hotels on Bonwi, and you’ll earn Bonwi points for a future trip!

Boston: Yotel Brings the Future of Lodging

Yotel's unique beds fold up into couches, making a small room that much bigger.
The newest Yotel, in Boston's Seaport district, will open in the city in summer 2017.
The newest Yotel, in Boston’s Seaport District, will open in the city in summer 2017.

In New York City, there is an incredibly modern and groundbreaking hotel called the YOTEL. This luxurious and futuristic hotel is located just two blocks west of Times Square on the corner of Tenth Avenue and West 42nd Street.

Apart from its convenient location that keeps guests in the heart of the Big Apple, YOTEL offers a totally unique hotel experience. From the check-in process to the abundance of amenities, YOTEL has qualities you just won’t find in other hotels.

The beds, for example, fold up into a couch, and while the rooms are small, it never feels crowded since they have big windows and it’s all laid out very sensibly.

Checking into the YOTEL is a quick and simple procedure with self-service check-in kiosks. The YOBOT, a robot designed to store luggage, goes hard at work to ensure secure and efficient luggage storage. YOTEL’s reception desk, better known to the institution as “Mission Control,” assists guests with any needs and offers concierge services.

Yotel's unique beds fold up into couches, making a small room that much bigger.
Yotel’s unique beds fold up into couches, making a small room that much bigger.

And YOTEL’s rooftop terrace offers guests a fantastic place to eat, drink, and just relax while enjoying magnificent views. In New York, it’s the biggest outdoor terrace in the whole city!

 And guess what? YOTEL will be opening a Boston location this summer! The new YOTEL is situated in Boston’s Innovation District in the heart of Boston’s lovely Seaport neighborhood, among such sights as The Institute of Contemporary Art, The Rose Kennedy Greenway, and the World Trade Center.

The Boston property will be home to “326 amazing cabins featuring YOTEL’s signature SmartBeds, monsoon showers, Smart TVs, super-fast and free Wi-fi,” said Christopher Hartzell, the new General Manager for YOTEL Boston, in a recent interview.

The new property will include a Club Lounge on the ground floor, and a Sky Lounge and Rooftop Terrace, “offering indoor and outdoor spaces for cocktailing, dining, socializing, meeting or just enjoying the panoramic water and neighborhood views,” stated Hartzell.

YOTEL’s oddities put this marvelous hotel ahead of the competition. Hartzell noted, “YOTEL Boston offers a fresh and innovative approach to hospitality. We take the essential elements of luxury hotels and place them into smart spaces while redefining time for the guest experience, all at very competitive rates.”

Once the YOTEL Boston doors open this July, the Boston Seaport neighborhood will finally be home to a whole new innovative hotel unseen to Beantown. Book your stay today at yotel.com and be one of the first guests to visit the new Boston property.       

Use Bonwipoints to book a Boston getaway and use the reward points for a future trip!   

  

Where to Stay and Play in Dallas, Texas

Poolside at the Hotel Zaza, a boutique property in Dallas, Texas.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas.

Dallas, Texas is a cultural hotspot home to many sports teams, tons of history, and plenty of museums. Among these museums is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, an internationally acclaimed science museum with lots of hands-on learning, tours, school programs, and plenty of other interesting and fun things to do.

The 180,000-square-foot museum is situated in Victory Park on the edge of Downtown and the Dallas Arts District. The massive museum includes the largest and most comprehensive Maya exhibition in the United States, a large 3D theater, and five floors of interactive “amaze your brain” adventures.

The district is 68 acres large and is home to some of the city’s most significant cultural landmarks including facilities for visual, performing, and developing arts.

The Arts District is home to 13 facilities and organizations including The Annette Strauss Artist Square, the Belo Mansion/Dallas Bar Association, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Dallas Museum of Art, the Symphony Orchestra, Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Nasher Sculpture Center, St. Paul United Methodist Church, Fellowship Church, Trammell Crow Center, and the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art.

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a fantastic destination for kids and adults. Be sure to add this exciting museum to your itinerary the next time you’re in the Big D, or Texas for that matter!

And whenever you do plan your next trip to the city, book a stay in one of these beautiful hotels situated right near the Perot Museum.

The Omni Dallas Hotel is a four-star, lakeside hotel located just one mile from the Perot Museum. Luxurious and equipped with everything business-related for those who are always working, this hotel is perfect for anyone looking to relax and stay on top of things at the office. And the Omni Hotel is just a few miles away from Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park and Sandy Lake Amusement Park, so the kids will always find something to do!

The Fairmont Dallas was once a condominium complex, but now it is a beautiful and luxurious hotel located in the midst of the DArts District. The Fairmont Dallas is within minutes of great shopping, entertainment, restaurants, and of course, arts. You will barely have to walk anywhere from the Fairmont to get to the Perot Museum, as the two are separated by just a 10-minute walk!

Poolside at the Hotel Zaza, a boutique property in Dallas, Texas.
Poolside at the Hotel Zaza, a boutique property in Dallas, Texas.

Hotel Zaza Dallas is situated Uptown and is within walking distance of multiple business and shopping centers, not to mention some wonderful nightlife scenes as well. Hotel Zaza is a boutique hotel that boasts luxury suites, award-winning dining at their own “Dragonfly restaurant,” and a day spa. 

Book a few nights in any of these Dallas hotels on Bonwi, and use your Bonwipoints to get free stays or flights for future trips.

America’s Most Beautiful Hikes

Beautiful hikes

This Travel Tuesday we are highlighting some of the most beautiful hikes right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Of all the modes of travel available to us today, walking is still the best for experiencing the wonders of the world. North America offers some of the best hiking in the world because of the many national parks and protected areas. Whether you prefer a brisk walk, a casual saunter, or a stroll, here are the best hikes to get the legs moving.

Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a long-distance route that spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. Being such a long trail, it’s extremely diverse. You’ll walk through arid deserts, glaciated valleys and thick forests as you take in the most stunning landscapes the West has to offer.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is an impressive 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and more than a mile deep. This beauty comes with an exhausting downhill and uphill round-trip hike.

Great Smokey Mountains

Great Smokey Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountain range straddles the Tennessee-North Carolina border. The name derives from the natural fog that rolls over the range and looks like large smoke plumes. Hikers will see the most beautiful waterfalls along each trial that flow year round.

Precipice Trail, Maine

Precipice Trail Maine

Experienced hikers say the ocean views atop the Precipice Trail is something you need to experience. The short and steep 1.6-mile round-trip hike provides hikers with a dramatic view of the rugged coast.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier Park Montana

Huge mountains, active glaciers, colorful lakes, variety of hiking trails and abundant wildlife make this place a hiker’s dream come true. You will find something for each type of hiker. There are more than 730 miles of marked trails ranging in difficulty.

Appalachian Trail

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is approximately 2,200 miles and runs up the East Coast from Georgia to Maine. The majority of the trail is in wilderness, although some portions traverse towns, roads and cross rivers. Hikers of all skill can jump on anywhere along the trail.

John Muir Trail, California

John Muir Trail California

The John Muir Trail is a 210 mile trail that cuts through the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. You don’t have to trek the entire trail to experience the finest mountain scenery in the U.S.

 

Ready to start exploring? Let Bonwi.com ensure that your next adventure is the best one yet.

Atlanta’s Heart is in Buckhead

The amphitheater at Chastain Park in Buckhead, Atlanta Georgia.
The amphitheater at Chastain Park in Buckhead, Atlanta Georgia.
The amphitheater at Chastain Park in Buckhead, Atlanta Georgia.

I asked my cousin, Pam Alexander, who has lived in Atlanta for many years, to share her favorite places in Buckhead, the tony heart of the capital of the south, Atlanta. Here is her list of favorite places. 

  • Chastain Park

    An oasis within the city, Chastain Park is Buckhead’s largest publicly accessible green space. Comprising a golf course, walking trails, tennis center, sports fields, gymnasium, horse stables, picnic areas, a fantastic new “state of the art” playground, and an open-air amphitheater venue for concerts and other events. Residents are so lucky to have all these amenities within walking distance.  website

  • Atlanta History Center
    I won’t expound upon what this place is–the website does a great job there; my favorite parts about it are the variety of exhibits in the main complex, plus it has a number of satellite buildings (Wood Family Cabin, Tullie Smith Farm, Swan Coach House) that have been preserved from various periods of Atlanta’s history and they tell a fascinating historical narrative of place. Additionally, there are extensive adjacent walking trails through the woods nearby. Truly a gem. website

Pam’s Favorite restaurants:

  • Anis Cafe & Bistro 

    My favorite French restaurant in Atlanta without question. It’s been around since 1994, occupying the same spot, spilling out of a converted house in Buckhead’s “old” business district–the part that housed businesses before there were skyscrapers. You can never go wrong here, but my personal faves are the escargot and the duck. Servers are friendly, the atmosphere is cozy; everything about this place is intimate and gracious at the same time. website

    • Fado Irish Pub 

    I tried not to include anything on this list that was available outside of Buckhead/Atlanta, but 1) given that I’m married to a true Irish man and we spend a lot of time here, and 2) because this is the “OG” Fado location, I thought it qualified a mention.

    The food is surprisingly scrummy (a term I picked up in Ireland–short for scrumptious), but that’s not the main reason to go, of course. There is Guinness on tap and they know how to properly dispense it. And even if you are not a Guinness drinker, this pub is authentically and cleverly appointed, the atmosphere is fantastic, and on a temperate evening in Atlanta, there is no other place I’d rather enjoy a cocktail but sitting on the rooftop patio.  website

    This pub originally opened in conjunction with the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in a location about three blocks down the street, and though it had to relocate to make way for the turning wheels of progress, it’s remained the one bar in this Buckhead neighborhood with the most solid staying power. Also, the best place in Atlanta to take in an EPL soccer game or a Four Nations Rugby match (especially if you are willing to get up early on a Saturday morning!)

    Superica, in Buckhead, has the city's best guacamole and other Mexican specialties, according to a local.
    Superica, in Buckhead, has the city’s best guacamole and other Mexican specialties, according to Pam.
    • Superica 

    The newest addition to my list opened in 2016 (2nd Atlanta location).  A Ford Fry-ism, so be prepared to wait (reservations not accepted). Best guacamole I’ve found anywhere (and I’m truly an avocado aficionado). Cocktails are delish–order the Texas Star.

    And the short rib is indescribable–every trite cliche that comes into my head will sell it short. This place takes Tex-Mex to a heavenly new plane. The decor is glam-campy and dead-on. As I mentioned, it takes a little planning ahead and patience to get in the door, but if you can get past that, you are in for a real treat. website

  • If you’re thinking about an Atlanta getaway, and want to book a hotel that gives you points to use later, visit Bonwi and find Atlanta hotels.