Trips Travel Agency

Trips Travel Agency is a Luxury Travel Concierge company that specializes in international travel for the discerning client. Whatever you need we can make it happen!

Travel Like A Boss

Just last week I told someone that it's always best to arrive to the airport early. In fact I arrive 2 hours early anyways so I never have a problem! The only way I'm missing a flight is if the flight is canceled.

Well, the universe heard me bragging and decided to test my skills. Let's just say I handled it like a Boss!!! As I was running like a madwoman to catch my return flight from Detroit after a weekend training seminar I was counting my lucky stars for my skills.

Here are a few of my tips for traveling like a Boss!

Step 1: Travel Lightly- This was a weekend trip! 3 days in which I knew I wouldn't hit the beach or pool nor walk miles visiting the city, so I kept it light. I grabbed my Ciao bag and packed it with the essentials, i.e. 2-3 outfits which were mix and match, PJs, my laptop, pens and toiletries. 

I avoided paying Jetblue's $25 baggage fee as this carryon fits nice and neat either under my seat or in the overhead bin. I chose the overhead bins so I could give myself some extra legroom, short people need legroom too people!

This carryon helped me cut down on time that I didn't have on my return to check a bag in. 

 My SHERO Ciao Bag!! It was $20 bucks at Costco or BJ's ( I can't remember)

My SHERO Ciao Bag!! It was $20 bucks at Costco or BJ's ( I can't remember)

Step 2: Get Rewarded- It was my first time going to Detroit. The destination wasn't on my bucket list but I knew I didn't want to pay a premium price for my hotel as this was more of a business trip and less of a splurge trip. It didn't help that there was a convention in town causing a near sold out situation at the closest hotels. If the hotel wasn't sold out it was selling at a premium.

Thankfully I'm a rewards point hoarder and tend to not use my Hilton Honor reward points; I usually collect them because they roll up to my JetBlue True Blue points. I used the cash and points option and booked a room coming in at $77 a night plus tax and still earn points for future stays. 

Did I mention that my flight to Detroit was $5? Thanks to the JetBlue True Blue rewards points I got there for just the tax. 

Step 3: Be Consistent- This step pertains to you constant business travelers! If you travel to the same town often stay at the same hotel. Why you ask? 

Well consider this; if you're traveling all the time don't you want some of your planning automated? Automation makes things easier for you! When I checked into my hotel Hilton already knew I liked to be on a high floor and near the elevator.  Additionally, since I want my rewards points I knew that I only had three hotel brands from which to choose from, cutting down my research time. 

Besides, automation; the more you stay at the hotel the more likely the staff will know your likes and dislikes.

Imagine having to wake up early for a meeting and wanting a good night's sleep but you're next to the room with a crying baby. Had you visited the same hotel over and over again they would know your routine and not place you near that room. This of course only applies to those who are nice to the hotel staff. If you're a curmudgeon the odds are not in your favor. 

Step 4-Get The Apps!

  • Jetblue- My total life safer was the JetBlue App. I downloaded it as I was in the car to the airport, checked in and opted for the mobile pass. In the past I had read that you need to get a mobile pass an hour before take off. Well, I had 15 minutes before that cut off time. Thankfully I got it and screenshotted the boarding pass just in case it was hard to pull it up in the security line. To my surprise, it was easy to pull it up on the app and did not need to screenshot it at all.
  • Award Wallet- Yes I use this nifty app to keep track of my points. I had used others in the past they were ok but this one works best until you tell me otherwise. I am able to see all my rewards for hotels, car rentals, restaurants and more. They even offer occasional articles on the best loyalty programs. This makes it easy to see all my reward points in one area and make a decision on what I will use.  

Step 5-Get TSA Precheck or Global EntryThis is probably my biggest downfall. 

Don't be like me waiting in a long security line, wondering if you're going to make it to the gate on time, watching the TSA precheck line moving full speed ahead.  I'm now a believer! Pay the fee and get one of these options for all the times you are running late for your flight. 

Thankfully my line moved and I was able to make that 6am flight and catch the morning sun

 Heading East to Boston

Heading East to Boston

There are of course caveats to all of the tips above.

Hotel Networks:  Get rewards for a couple of hotel networks. You want networks that are large, have several different brands and provide you with the best bang for your buck.

I have SPG (before it became Marriott), Marriott and Hilton. I probably use my SPG more, Hilton second and have never used my Marriott. On the ultra-luxury boutique front, I use GHA Discovery. Each program works differently and if they roll up to your airline and usual car rental location Great!

Airline Networks:  I travel mostly on the East Coast and Colombia so Jet Blue is my preferred network, followed by United Mileage Plus and American Airlines last.

I chose Jet Blue because you have a good chance of being able to redeem your points especially on Wednesdays when they have sales on flights. Honestly, what's the point of a program that doesn't allow you to reward yourself frequently?  Secondly, they have partnerships with other airlines that you can't find on other networks, such as Emirates. I once flew Emirates to Ethiopia, came back to the states and flew out to Boston on Jetblue using those same points in the same day.

United is great because of its extensive network with Star Alliance, so while I don't fly United much I usually earn reward miles because I fly with a network partnerp. 

Credit Cards: Most reward networks offer credit cards to earn points. I say if you know that you will only travel to that hotel or on that airline it's best to grab it and stick to it!

Shoes:  Last but not least I need to thank my flexible flats for doing their job! You can't run across an entire airport garage, airport terminal and security in heels ladies. You can but that floor is slippery, it will be a pain and you have to lug some luggage around. My flats were flexible and had the rubber soles and made it easy to jet across the airport. 

And if all else fails grab a drink and hopefully there's another flight for you to catch!

Do you have some boss travel tips of your own? Share your tips in the comments section!

Until then Happy Travels!!

 

 

Where to Stay: Club Med Sandpiper Bay

Just like that the summer is done!

August is here and now is the time to pack in as much sun, surf and family time as you can. A great way to get in the last summer fun is to spend some time at the only all-inclusive resort in the US. Yes, there really is an all-inclusive located where else but Florida. This is where you can find Club Med's Sandpiper Bay Resort located in Port St. Lucie, about an hour or 2 south of Orlando. 

I got to take in the resort this summer and quite enjoyed my stay there. Not only was it a great way to unwind but it was also a great way to discover my new love for tennis. The resort is world renowned for its sports program that trains the best athletes worldwide. While there I was able to see some of the worlds future sports stars practice their skills

The resort also has intensive lessons on golfing, volleyball and more. For those wanting to do something a little more light hearted you can partake in acrobat lessons which seemed very fun. Now it wasn't all work and no play. I did spend much time at their adults only pool. I loved this section as it was quieter than the other pools and faced the lake for a serene environment. 

Now this isn't the most glamorous of the Club Med's and the drinks are not top shelf but it's a great quick getaway. If you can try to get one of the updated rooms as those were nicer. 

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The food was delicious, plentiful and included a daily variety of dishes. Now their chocolate bread was hands down the best breakfast food. We really loved their chocolate bread, it was gooey, soft and filled with a lot of chocolate chips for this chocolate lover. 

While it was a short vacation; just 3 days but I would go back again. It's a good idea to book early though as you're able to get good prices and space as they tend to sell out during the summer season. 

 

Where to Go to Next: Panama!!

It's been a while everyone and we are now back!

Next stop on our Latin America tour is Panama.  I've traveled through Panama City via it's Tocumen International aiport for a layover mulitple times. This was the first time I got to visit the city!

As soon as I stepped off the plane the humidity smacked me in the face. Trust me It was a far cry from the rainy days in Bogota! Panama is known for its tropical weather, which apparently can be stifling. Thankfully I arrived on May Day, where many Panamanians are on holiday and out of the city which made driving into town very easy. 

The city is quite beautiful with it's tall skyscrapers against the skyline, even though the grey cloudy skies showed an imminent threat of rain. Thankfully the next day they went away and I was able to meander through the Historic District.

The historic district was very dreamy and romantic, filled with old colonial architecture quiet streets and palm trees. Not to mention all roads take you to the ocean where you can view the skyscrapers dotting the city skyline from afar. 

 Park in Historic District

Park in Historic District

There's also a beautiful park along the ocean at the end. The waters did not look swimmable as it was really rough but there were some stairs nearby where one could walk down to the beach. 

When in the area take some time to visit the shops. We found that souvenir shopping was easy, of course it always is where there are not a lot of tourists around!

Things to Know if You Go:

Panama's bordering countries are Costa Rica to the north and Colombia to the south. Water is ever present as you can visit both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

If you're just stopping through the airport  know that it is undergoing construction and upgrades, so you might find some good shopping or you might not. Although when I go through the gates for the flights going to the US I do find good shopping, duty free and good restaurants.  When I fly to other parts of Latin America, the options are very limited. 

Money: 
If you have a hard time figuring out the currency exchange when you travel, you're in luck. Panama's official  currency (the Balboa) is on par with the US dollar. You will have a hard time finding Balboa bills as most ATM's just dispense US dollars. Your US dollars will go farther than in the US which explains why lot's of Americans tend to live in Panama.  

How to get there: Fly Copa Airlines. They have direct flights from Boston and Washington DC ( Dulles)  straight into Tocumen Airport (PTY).

Additionally Copa flies to many other South & Central American cities at a more economical price with a layover in Panama City. One thing to note though, if you're looking to get some work done using the in-flight wifi; it doesn't exist on Copa, most likely due to their fleet consisting of older planes. 

Our Stay:

We stayed at the Hotel Bristol. The hotel is centrally located, making it easy to get around the city. Our lovely room was located in the newest  tower where the rooms a slightly larger, newer and extremely beautiful. 

 Tower Executive Room courtesy of Bristol Hotel 

Tower Executive Room courtesy of Bristol Hotel 

 Lobby courtesy of Bristol Hotel

Lobby courtesy of Bristol Hotel

Lastly did you know Panama is the newest up and coming destination?  Well it is! What are you waiting for? Get going now! Need help planning a trip to Panama, shoot us an email at katiana@tripstravelagency.com and we'll help out

Happy Travels!!

Where to Eat!

I love to travel and I love food. Nothing beats eating well when you’re on the road and experiencing different cultures. Here’s a short  list of my favorite places to dine when travelling.

First it must be said I am a little biased to Boston and DC. I've had great experiences in both cities and need to mention them first .

Located in the heavily college section of Allston this little gem Seoul Soulongtang is my favorite when I’m looking for Korean food in Boston

If you find yourself in DC there are 3 dining options that are a must- Brunch, Dinner and Happy Hour. Not necessarily in that order but it must be done.

When I first moved to DC I fell in love with Happy Hour, a place where coworkers and I could relax, chat and get to know one another outside of work. I created many great friendships during Happy Hour which has lasted forever. Some of our favorite places include Barcode; Ping Pong Dim Sum- delicious appetizers and creative drinks. A friend and I also did a historic bar hop of DC on October night and fell in love with Off the Record at the Hay Adams. We also loved Zengo back when it was open but sadly it no longer is open.

Need Brunch?
Try Medium Rare- Unlimited mimosas/ screwdriver/ Bloody Mary and your choice of entree for $25. Loved the 18th street location

Dinner-
Try the new BLT Prime in the Trump Hotel. We hear that it is one of the best steakhouses in the District and has a beautiful setting.  Don’t forget to check out the suburbs and try Copperwood in Arlington. Copperwood is the perfect place for evening drinks and snacks. Try the Mac & cheese, we swear it’s to die for

Colombia

I love Asian cuisine and trust me when I say I was a little leery of trying Welcome in Cali. I had already gone through many bad dining experiences in Colombia and was not intrigued to try it.

Thankfully my curiosity got the best of me and went in. What arrived to my table were two heaping bowls of deliciousness. One was the Ramen filled with broth that tasted spot on. The other was Chicken Bun that tasted like every bit of the Bun I would buy at Eden Center in Falls Church, Virginia .

Every country has it’s own world renowned chef and in Colombia it’s Harry Sasson. His restaurant Club Colombia is my go to spot whenever I’m in town. It’s a really cozy restaurant with low lighting and ample space. Try to get a seat near the windows or enjoy a drink on the couch near the fireplace.  

Need more ideas, click below to see some of list of favorite places!

 

 

New Website

The new website is here!

We've streamlined our website to accuratlely describe our services and contact information. For instance our minimum service fee starts at $100 and up for all requests. The service fee does not apply to your vacation purchase.  This was never mentioned on our old website but is clearly mentioned on the new website.  

We kept the blog and  vacation ideas as well. We will continue to add guest bloggers as well as add complimentary downloads such as our pocketbook of dining recommendations worldwide on the vacation ideas page.

What was once a member's only page we've now introduced our VIP Concierge to the general public. This is a great program for the client that needs personalized services and wants their own personal concierge to exclusive events, accommodations and more worldwide. 

Happy Travels

Destination: Hawai'i

Spring is almost here and that means it's the beginning of Wedding Season, Spring Break and before you know it's time for graduations and summer vacation. Now is the  time to plan that honeymoon, girls getaway, graduation gift, guys trip or family vacation.

If Hawai'i isn't on your list it should be and here's why!

Top Destination
Hawai'i is THE destination for honeymooners and vacationers who want to get away from it all and relax. In fact those who vacation in Hawai'i keep coming back to Hawai'i. They may not do the same island and opt to explore different island but they keep coming back.  

Low Season vs High Season:
Fortunately for the vacationer, Hawai'i has great weather throughout the year. The downside is that there really isn't a low and high season. Vacationers all over the world visit Hawai'i throughout the year which means hotels are pretty full so no need to reduce prices or close during certain months. 

Don't fret though focus on finding the special deals such as daily breakfast, kids stay free or a free night stay. That's where it really counts.

Flights: 
Hawai'i has 8 islands 7 of which are open to visitors. Honolulu (HNL) is the island most well serviced by flights from the mainland. Your other well serviced islands include Maui (OGG) or Kona (KOA).

The more flights that are available into any given airport the more options you have for flight time and competition in price; so the better for you. Looking to island hop though? You can still do so with the inter-island airliner Island AirFor all you United Mileage members you can still earn points and redeem them on Island Air. 

Where to Go!:

O'ahu
Waikiki Beach is usually the place for first time visitors. Located on the island of O'ahu this is where you'll find the capital of Honolulu and where you will find most of your hotels. 

Don't limit your travel to only the hotel area. Rent a car and venture off to the different parts of the island. Go hiking on Diamond Head. Visit the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Iolani Palace, the Polynesian Cultural Center, the Bishop Museum. Don't forget to stop by Dole Pineapple with the children and have them ride the trolley.

Our client, an avid nature lover said Diamond Head takes less than an hour, but get there early as it can get crowded.

What else did they like about O'ahu?: Their favorite part was walking around town and happening to find gelato at Via Gelato. They loved the Yam (I think they meant Taro) flavor gelato which was surprisingly good. 

 Sent in by a client after hiking Diamond Head

Sent in by a client after hiking Diamond Head

Maui
I recommend Maui for the couple that wants to relax and see much of nature. This is definately the island where you need a car, preferably a 4X4 to get around.

Take your time and drive th Hana Road and hike Mount Haleakala. If you go to Mount Haleakala get there early to see the sunrise. If you're not too keen on walking back down, get a tour that allows you to bike it.  If hiking is not your thing take a helicopter up 

Additionally this is the place the place for foodies. Try Lahaina Grill for a special night out. Traveling with the family then try Pacific'o Restaurant

Big Island aka Hawai'i
Want to get up close an personal with a volcano? This is the island! The Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is your first stop. Here you can view Mount Kilauea erupt and it's lava flow in all directions. If the video below is thrilling wait until you're up close, that's the real fun. 

This island is actually the youngest of all the Hawai'ian islands. Here you can enjoy black sand beaches, horse back riding and hiking through Waimea. Don't forget to do a Kona Cofee tour.

Courtesy of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Kauai
Another island that is great for those that want to kayak on the Wailu River, hike Waimea Canyon and see the beautiful Naapali Coast. Visiting the coast is best done via boat. 

Where to Stay: 
Your major brands such as the Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and Starwood are all over each of the islands, it's all about picking out what's right for you. 

Want to be on the beach?
No problem, but it will cost you. Beachfront properties are usually your first to go and they are the priciest. Try to stay a block or two away from the beach and walk there. 

 Sent by a client who stayed at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki

Sent by a client who stayed at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki

Waikiki:

We sent our client to the Hyatt Centric Waikiki. They were a bit weary about this place but ended up loving it. This property was recently opened in December and looked beatiful as well as being close to the beach. 

Need somewhere with suites style?

Try the Westin Ka'anapali in Maui- This is a favorite amongst large families and vacationers looking for more spacious accommodations and villa living. A word to the wise though, book this place early, it's usually fully booked !! 

Another client favorite in Maui was the Fairmont Kea Lani- This luxurious property is right on the beach and had a great spa not to mention activities for the children. They have rooms for a young family of 5 ( 2 adults 3 children (1 being an infant) in a room with a king, sofabed and a rollaway. 

 Paddleboard across from your room Photo courtesy of UnCruise

Paddleboard across from your room
Photo courtesy of UnCruise

Want a Floating Home instead?
Try a Norwegian Cruise or an UnCruise cruise. Norweigian will sail to all 7 islands in a big ship atmosphere. While UnCruise will allow you to have the small ship experience on 4 islands. The ship is also small enough to dock in areas that are too small for larger ships, not to mention the adventure packed excursions that await you on this ship. 

Now we most certainly did not cover all of the islands or possible activities in  Hawai'i but feel free to start exploring all about Hawai'i on Hawai'i's tourism board, this is quite possibly the most indepth website on Hawai'i. 

Have you been to Hawai;i, what did you like or didn't like? Anything we're missing? Comment below and let us know your experience

As always happy traveling!

All Things California

Welcome to March! This month our special guest posting comes from our own Karla Gaitan. A California native, this girl knows all about the biggest state on the West Coast. Check out her guide on visiting California right. 

There is literally something for everyone on the West Coast. Whether it is the desert, the beach or the mountains, California has got it all. Being a California girl myself, this state holds a near and dear place in my heart and I love to share its wonders with others.

While the open skies and dazzling beaches never get old, your stomach will thank you for visiting a hub of delicious and innovative food. This is the state that helped bring the farm to table movement to the mainstream due to its temperate weather and loads of sunshine.  Enjoy the beautiful landscapes while getting your fill of craft beers, world-renowned wine, and delicious meals, because there is always a new adventure around the corner.

Hit the Slopes- Lake Tahoe

You may have heard California just got hit with rain for days, which means that our mountains are full of snow and ready to enjoy. The slopes are now open for an extended period and are not only gorgeous, but offer fun for all ages. Find out what blue really looks like by taking a hike around this iconic landmark. After a long day, eat like the locals. Visit Sidellis for some delicious local brews and their Peri-Peri Pulled Pork Sandwich.

 Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Visit the Giants! –The Bay Area

Whether it’s the Tech Giants, the Giant Redwoods, or the San Francisco Giants, the Bay Area has it all. San Francisco offers outstanding views, the most ridiculous city hills you have ever driven on, and a relaxed city experience. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges and Baker Beach has one of the best views. Across the Golden Gate you can explore some of the oldest giants in this city, the Muir Woods Redwoods. Whether it’s enjoying the gourmet chocolate at Ghirardelli Square or eating a luxurious meal at Boulevard, enjoy what makes this city great. Finish off your trip by stopping at the expansive Farmer’s Market in the Ferry Building.

 Baker Beach 

Baker Beach 

Be Glamorous and Hit the Beach – Los Angeles

The City of Angels. The city where the sun never wavers and you can really understand the relaxed California way. This is one of the few places where flip-fops can be worn all year round. Whether it is beautiful beaches or a luxurious shopping experience down Rodeo Drive, LA has it all. Make sure to try the best burger possible— the original In-N-Out Burger (Sorry Five Guys).  Find out what all the chatter is about and find your favorite movie star sdoing every day things.

 Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Relax in Luxury- Napa Valley

Napa Valley is one of the best places to relax and to treat your palette to some of the best food and wine this country has to offer. Visit where some of the best wine in the world is made and enjoy the picturesque rolling hills that make this experience even more sublime. For true fine dining, check out Thomas Keller’s French Laundry. While reservations must be made well in advance, it’s a once and a lifetime experience. For something less exclusive, but just as delicious, try Ad Hoc, which is also brought to you by Thomas Keller.

Drive Down the Coast- Highway 1

Driving down Highway 1 should be on everyone’s bucket list. This coastal drive is a once in a lifetime experience with great coastal cities such as Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Big Sur, and Santa Monica. Enjoy some Dungeness crab while soaking in the sun and enjoying the picturesque views of the Pacific Ocean. If you are looking for a great crab roll, check out Barbara’s Fish Trap in Half Moon Bay for a great local eat. If you want to treat yourself, check out the restaurant at Ventana Inn and Spa in Big Sur.

 Bean Hollow Beach

Bean Hollow Beach

karla.jpg

I'm Karla! I'm a California girl who will use hella in almost every sentence and refuse to take any picture seriously. With my hitchhiker thumbs leading the way, I love to travel and see everything this world has to offer!" 

Guest Blogger Series: A City Girl's Guide to a Weekend in Boston

This month we are featuring guest blogger Vanessa from The City Girl's Guide ! She knows the city well and offers up some of her best tips to get to know the city and make your travel easier.  Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below. 

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Being a city girl means that I've experienced Boston from sunrise to sunset. This means a lot of brunches, lunches and made-up meals along the way. But as with any city, the options can be overwhelming and it's often hard to know where to go to have not just a meal or a good time but an experience.

If you're visiting Boston for the weekend, making the most of your time is key & I've rounded up some of my favorite spots to dine, drink & discover in my favorite city:

     

Flour Bakery / Kristin Teig

Breakfast | Flour Bakery & Cafe (multiple locations): If you're looking for a spot where you have the option to sit down or do grab-and-go, Flour has got you covered. Their pastries, cookies and coffee are perfect for a quick bite or a mid-afternoon snack. Croissants, sticky buns and hot chocolate are all favorites here.

South Street Diner: Also a fantastic late night option, South Street Diner is famous for comfort food, crispy bacon and a certified retro vibe. I have a hard time finding a diner this authentic not in the city so I consider this spot a real gem. It's worth noting that my first experience here was for Mardi Gras and the complimentary beads, mimosas (yes, for dinner) and crawfish did not disappoint.

Honorable Mention: Thornton's: Thornton's was a college haunt for me and it remains to be an ideal breakfast-ing locale. You can't go wrong with sweet or savory here and the quaintness of it feeling like a neighborhood spot earns it points where it lacks in being a bit off the beaten path.

       

@tablefor2cities | Cuban Sandwich

Lunch | Sam La Grassa's: A day of doing tourist-y things can lead to a big appetite which is what you'll need if you venture here for a sandwich. There's no need to order sides (unless you're sharing and want the full experience) but if you do, the fries and slaw are a treat.

Abe & Louie's: This is a great sit-down spot in the middle of the action. A cozy and familiar menu with the comfort of being near some fabulous landmarks make sit so that you don't need to feel rushed by a crowd or plan your next move in a hurry. Their bar bites are the perfect choice if you're stopping in for a late lunch or early dinner and the surf and turf options will please almost every palate.

Honorable Mention: Quincy Market: If you just can't decide (or want smells of everything before you do), Quincy Market is an impressive option that is packed during prime hours for a reason. You can try the Boston-famous, fresh and hot Regina Pizzeria or sip on a cool, tropical smoothie from The Monkey Bar. But whatever you do, don't leave without getting (at least) a half dozen cookies of your choice from The Boston Chipyard.

Credit: Island Creek Oyster Bar (Boston) | Lobster Roe Noodles

Dinner | Island Creek Oyster Bar: Until you've had seafood in Boston, you haven't really lived. Sure this place has seafood from all over but the folks here really know their stuff. The ambiance is warm and glowy so you could definitely come here with a crowd or with a significant other. It's a bit on the pricier side but once you try the lobster roe noodles or a tasting of freshly shucked oysters, you'll be a believer.

Eastern Standard Kitchen: Somehow two of my favorite dinner restaurants are within a block of each other but their vibes are different enough that I think they both deserve to be on your list. If Island Creek is the expert on seafood, consider Eastern Standard to be the master of cocktails. Many of the items on the menu are familiar enough that you'll feel comfortable enough to tell the bartender to surprise you.

Stella | This South End spot is seriously chic. The all-white decor is minimalistic but refreshing and helps you enjoy your company and grilled pizza without distraction. Pasta dishes here are my personal favorite and they also offer a late-night menu from 11pm-1am.

Honorable Mention: Citizen Public House & Oyster Bar: This place can double for a good spot to grab a nightcap but come for the charcuterie and stay for the cocktails. I've also been known to frequent here for brunch as the Huevos Rancheros are enough to make me want to drive from 40 minutes away to meet friends.

     

Credit: @juliaedom

Nightlife | Harpoon Brewery: I've never met a brewery I didn't like and this one has pretzels so I've all but inquired about what it would cost to live here. I will admit, I've never been here for their famous "HarpoonFest" but if you like beer and a great venue to be social, this is a good place to start.

The Hawthorne: For more of a grown-up venue, The Hawthorne has Gatsby-esque vibes with great small bites for sharing. The decor is pretty luxe so I consider this to be a good spot if you're looking for a few more rounds before calling it a night.

Honorable Mention: Warren Tavern: If your travels take you to "The Town", I highly recommend stopping in here to experience the epitome of cozy. Whether for dinner or a night out, the space is inviting and is housed in the exact spot where Dr. Joseph Warren of the American Revolution once lived. 

     

Credit: BSO

Things To Do | Boston Common/ Boston Public Garden: Some visitors crave the great outdoors and I believe that you'll miss a lot of Boston if you spend all your time indoors, at museums or in and out of the shops on Newbury Street. The Boston Common and Public Garden are centrally located and feature food trucks, a fountain, skating (or a wading pond depending on the season), botanical gardens and the picturesque swan boats that were basically made for Instagram.

Rose Kennedy Greenway: Another outdoor site you won't want to miss is this open space situated between The North End and Waterfront and Downtown Boston. There are plenty of installations to enjoy, benches to plan your next move and tables to enjoy treats from a nearby food truck. Weather permitting, it's also fun to enjoy a picnic lunch on the grass or simply take in the scenery.

The Esplanade: For a gorgeous view of both Boston and Cambridge, you'l want to head here where the Charles River divides both cities and lays the foreground for the crew teams, sailors and paddle boarders. Perfect for a morning run, romantic walk or scenic egress to your next destination, The Esplanade also home to the Hatch Shell where fun performances take place during the warmer months.

Symphony Hall: If you like the arts, meet the home of The Boston Symphony Orchestra. Inside, the space is truly regal and makes you feel incredibly small. I have fond memories of coming here as a little girl and remember thinking for the first time that "fancy" was an understatement.

Fenway Park: Whether you love them or you hate them, there's something to be said for the Red Sox calling "America's Most Beloved Ballpark" home. They serve Guinness on draught, have phenomenal tours and I haven't gotten to how fun it is to watch a game here yet...

Hotel Review: Phoenix Park Hotel

Many years ago I moved to the Washington DC area. I had visited DC a few times before, even interning there for a bit during college. That internship helped me fall in love with the city. Like New York there is always a hustle and bustle about town, but on a calmer scale. There is also this pristine sense of awe that envelopes this town that I can't capture in words. You have to be there to understand it. 

Of course when you make a city your home you never get to experience it the way a tourist does. On my recent trip there as a tourist I did a little bit of both. I stayed at the Phoenix Park Hotel. As a Washingtonian I quite literally have passed this hotel numerous times on my way to catch the D Street tunnel to Virginia and never once paid attention. Stupid me!

When you stop to smell the roses you find this historic hotel across the street from Union Station and the Smithsonian's Postal Museum. Not to mention the great view it has of the Capitol Building. 

From the moment you cross the hotel's threshold you step into a luxurious modern lobby with comfortable seating and check in area. High above you is the chandelier that's been in the lobby since the hotel opened. It's also good to mention that unlike many other historic hotels in the city, this hotel has always been a hotel. This means you don't have former apartments that were converted to hotel rooms in the weirdest way possible. 

Additionally you have an expansive selection of rooms from the standard rooms to the suites. I stayed in the King Deluxe because it had a desk and a larger sofa for me to lounge about on.

Not to mention my awesome view of the Postal Museum and Union Station. Check out that view!! 

The hotel also has a great restaurant located on it's ground floor called the Dubliner. While I may not have paid much attention to the hotel as a Washingtonian l I actually remembered the restaurant because it was one of the first restaurants I visited on a trip to DC, way back in 2004.

That was the year of the Cicada's, we were going to the Dubliner for lunch and to take a respite from the Cicadas buzzing around town. I'm surprised I made DC my home after that experience! Still I remember the food being good at the time and this time I got a chance to try breakfast. It did not disappoint.

I thought the yogurt was not going to be filling so I ordered eggs and a danish. Boy was I wrong! The yogurt came out in a heaping dish topped with my favorite toppings of berries and granola. It sufficed, but of course I love dessert (any time of day) and had to have the danish. 

 

Why you should stay here:

Convenient: You can't be any more convenient than this. The hotel is right across Union Station on the Red Line. It's your gateway to Chinatown, Dupont Circle and more. Not to mention the station has a food court, shops and numerous restaurants. Additionally this is a major stop for tours.

More Convenience: It's close to all your major site near the National Mall. Your first Smithsonian is right outside your door. Not to mention your proximity to clubs on H Street NE and accessibility to the Capitol Hill neighborhood, giving you access to Eastern Market. 

Basics Covered: If you hate convenience then have your basics covered. Comfortable beds, spacious rooms and updated showers will help you feel right at home. Not to mention free coffee in their coffee station area. 

Only in town for work: Great!  Here's hoping you don't have to visit them but the SEC, Bureau of Labor and Supreme Court is in the vicinity if you need them. The hotel is 2 minutes away from the I-395 south D street tunnel to Virginia. Your Acela train pulls right into Union Station. Not to mention at night when all the surrounding office workers have dashed off to their homes in the suburbs this area is quiet, making it easier to sleep. 

Best room in the house: Go for a suite or anything in a King Superior or above. If you're looking something cozy book the Queen Superior but I highly recommend King Superior and above or a Suite. 

Tips:  Need to catch the Metro without going inside the halls of Union Station, enter through the side street across from Bureau of Labor and Statistics

Happy Travels!