Relaxing, leafy historic neighbourhood of small parks and restored late Victorian/early 20th century houses, all intriguingly different and painted funky colours, right next to the U.S. Capitol. Plus a great open-air flea and gourmet food market.
Walk due East from the Capitol down East Capitol Street to Lincoln Park (great statue of Lincoln emancipating the slaves) and take North Carolina Ave. down to Eastern Market. Or get the Metro (Blue/Orange Lines) to Eastern Market. Check it out on www.easternmarket.net
Las Vegas has been voted time and time again as one of the great places to bring in the New Year. The four mile Vegas strip is closed down to traffic and the entire stip is turned into a giant pedestrian mall. Everyone parties outside until midnight. There are also parties and live concerts downtown at the Fremont Street experience.
Relaxed, leafy neighborhood of charmingly restored Victorian houses, all intriguingly different from each other. Certified historic distict, if that helps. I live here, and I love it. Magnificent views of the Capitol
Go to the U.S. Capitol and walk due East down East Capitol Street as far as Lincoln Park. Then turn down N. Carolina Ave. towards the Eastern Market on 7th St. (Open air, genteelly boho). Or get the Metro to Eastern Market (Blue/Orange lines)
The Newseum on Pennsylvania avenue is a facinating museum to news and newspapers. We only got there an hour before closing but wished we could have stayed all day - exhibitions on the FBI and the media, political advertising, interactive exhibits, and a tastefully somber area devoted to 9/11. You can even record yourself presenting the news! Totally worth the $20 (or thereabouts) entry fee, even in a city full of free museums.
Haena Beach on the Big Island was one of my favourite beaches along with the north shore of Kauai. The north shores of all the islands are spectacular, especially during the winter with all the big waves (but this means it can be very windy for camping.)
There is one beach (also a campsite) on the north shore of Kauai, also called Haena (if I remember correctly) which is at one end of the Napali coast. It means that you can make it your base before hiking along the coast, as there are small and big treks along this coast to beautiful waterfalls and beaches that you can only get to by foot. There is a lot of reef off the north shore, which makes for good waves, and also some good snorkeling. We were able to see a whole family of turtles while we were there.
Getting around The Big Island on public transport is infrequent. If you don't drive and are on a low budget (which makes tours uneconomical)
then you aren't going to see the best of the Big Island.
Having said that the buses are free!
Volcano National Park - Halema'uma'u is currently erupting and is quite
spectacular. Nearby is the Thurston Lava Tube and the Chain of Craters
road, really reminds you of the power of the volcano. Stay in Volcano
There are a few hostels on the islands and the very best on Maui is a hostel called Banana Bungalow Wailuku, which everyone seems to have heard about (so book in advance). They offer more stuff than any hostel I've ever stayed in anywhere in the world: free trips to great destinations all over the island every day (I did a 12-mile hike around the big volcano, a trip to some beautiful beaches to snorkel with giant turtles, a whale-watching boat trip and a couple of days worth of other stuff) and all they ask is that you tip your tour guides who work at the hostel.
Mount Charleston, about an hour north of Vegas, is a slightly ramshackle ski resort in winter. In summer, the higher altitude - about 10,000 ft - means temperatures are more bearable during the day. There are pinewoods, a ski lodge and a hotel with a large dining room.
Take the I-95 out of Vegas then head west on HWY 157
If you're thinking of going to Vegas with children, I'd check out Excalibur casino, which is child-friendly and right on the Strip (where all the major casinos are located).
It's as close to a "family" casino as you can get (with the possible exception of Circus Circus which is also on the Strip, but much farther down where the older - and grottier - casinos are located). You can walk up and down the Strip from that location, it's minutes from the airport, and you're right in the heart of the action. Right now they're virtually giving the rooms away.
I booked an apartment through New York Habitat in New York for a week and I recommend their site. It is user-friendly and the booking process was straight forward. Their agent gave me all the info I needed and the apartment was exactly as shown on their website, clean and comfortable, ideally located. Still, the best of all was the owner of the apartment who was really nice and helpful. I really enjoyed my stay there and it was much better than staying at a hotel, and cheaper, too
A great place for some really tasty and interesting drinks in Manhattan is the Flatiron Lounge on 19th Street. It's a small, cozy, dimly lit, laid-back Art Deco lounge where you can get mixed drinks that you won't find anywhere else. Then for dinner, walk a few blocks over to Mesa Grill on Fifth Avenue for some terrific southwestern US cuisine and great desserts. But just make sure you call for a dinner reservation as far in advance as possible.
The best (and biggest!) Manhattans are at Quality Meats. It's a chic and buzzing basement hangout that is always packed. Glamorous clientele, classic decor; stay for dinner, which is also a great idea as the food is fantastic.
Quality Meats, 57 W. 58th Street just at the south end of Central Park
I'm a Brit living in NYC, and for cocktails I can highly recommend one of the secrets of New York that many native New Yorkers don't know about. I would try The Beacon. They have a special deal during their 'happy hour' that gets you two classic New York cocktails of your choice and an appetiser-style small pizza made by Waldy Maloof (one of the best chefs in NYC) for $20. Or you can skip the small pizza and dive straight in the cocktails.
This would only whet your appetite for one of my favourite restaurants in the city: Gramercy Tavern. It is still one of the highest rated restaurants in the city. Food, service and wine list, are all superb. You won't be disappointed.
The Beacon (25 West 56th Street between 6th and 5th Avenues)
Gramercy Tavern (2 East 20th Street, near Park Avenue South)
A great place for cocktails is Ava Lounge which overlooks Times Square. The drinks they make up are really good - true American cocktails, and the views can be amazing if it's a clear evening and you get a good sunset!
Also nearby for an interesting meal is the fun Benihana. Although if you are more interested in food rather than entertainment then The Red Cat in the heat of Chelsea is a great spot - very intimate but not too stuffy. The food is wonderful but affordable.
The Jazz Standard is an amazing night out with good cocktails and great jazz. If you book the early showing you can catch dinner upstairs too, which is yummy.
The River Cafe has great views of Manhattan being on the other side of Brooklyn bridge – again, they do good cocktails and good food. It is very pricey though so definitely one for a treat!
Little Branch in the Village is great for drinks – it's much like visiting a speakeasy with classic and innovative cocktails in a strangely enticing basement space.
For dinner: You can’t go wrong with 11 Madison. It’s a wonderful, adult place to eat which exemplifies a certain sort of American and New York high cuisine. It’s an utter pleasure.
Little Branch: corner of St. Luke’s and 7th Avenue
Kick off with cocktails in the bar at the Rainbow Grill for a heart-stopping view of the Empire State and downtown skyscrapers. I’ve been living here for over a year and this place still gives me that ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ feeling when I walk in. Another good option would be the bar at the top of the Mandarin Oriental on 59th Street, Columbus Circle. If you go at sunset, you get the most wonderful view of the southern end of Central Park. Dinner – well, yes it’s hokey, but for an authentic New York experience, try Smith & Wollensky – the cathedral of steak (and pretty wonderful seafood too). You’ll feel your arteries furring up, but it’s a blissful way to go.
I love NYC, and always head to this great Italian I found on Upper East Side. It's called Baraonda and is on 2nd Avenue and the corner of 75th. The best night to go is on a Sunday by midnight when everyone is dancing on the tables or even on the bar! The food is delicious and great value. Book ahead.
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