Travel stories, tips and suggestions for travel in North America

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Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria Resort Review: Everything You Need To Know

The first thing you’ll notice about Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria is that it is actually located on Cayo las Brujas, an island close to Cayo Santa Maria. While it is a different island it still has the same stunning coastline for which Cayo Santa Maria is best known and the Dhawa is located on an interesting part of that coast – managing to be at times both rugged and sandy – with blue water and long stretches of beach.

We recently stayed at this all-inclusive resort for a week thanks to tripcentral.ca and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. If you’re looking to go yourself, we’ve put together an overview of the resort along with some highlights and suggestions of things you won’t want to miss while you’re there!

Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria Resort Overview

As one of the newer resorts in the area (as of June 2017) it offers a more modern atmosphere for those travelling to Cuba and a more intimate all-inclusive experience. We found the resort to be incredibly well-maintained with fantastic service and friendly staff.

dhawa cayo santa maria lobby

Though the property is smaller in size than some of the resorts that we’ve seen, you’ve got some options for spending your day in the resort including 2 large connected pools and one smaller, wading pool, tennis courts, a fitness centre, a spa and, of course, the beach.

At night, you can find your way to one of three a la carte restaurants, enjoy the nightly entertainment, head to the disco, listen to live music by the lobby bar or grab a snack at the 24-hour snack bar overlooking the pool.

The Standard Room at Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria

The standard room comes with either one king bed or two queen beds in a bright, island-vibe space that has either a garden, pool or ocean view. We found the necessary amenities like a safe, mini-fridge, iron and ironing board, hairdryer and toiletries and appreciated that the water and beverages were replaced daily in the fridge.

Since we’re not ones to stay in our room and are always out and about, a room with a view is nice but not always a priority for us. If it is for you, we’d recommend getting a premium package that includes a oceanview or request pool view as garden view will probably not be what you’re looking for.

Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria Deluxe Room

Other than that, the room is clean and spacious, welcoming and comfortable and we didn’t find any of the accommodation buildings to be too far out of the way from the major features of the resort.

If you did want to upgrade further, you can always choose a junior or one-bedroom suite which will upgrade you to VIP status and offers a whole array of additional amenities and resort extras.

The Beach

We had mentioned that the beach manages to be both sandy and rugged and this is something we loved about the area of the shore that the Dhawa is located. When first walking onto the beach, a rocky outcrop greets you from the end of the resort’s beach, it’s natural and pretty and a great contrast to the white sand, blue skies and water. It really is only a small section off to the side as the beach extends from it and is a long stretch of soft sand with lots of beach loungers and shaded cabanas to use.

dhawa cayo santa maria resort beach

On the beach is also a bar and restaurant which means you really don’t have to leave until they close! We found that it was a great spot to watch the sunrise, soak in some rays on a lounger, cool down and relax in the water and just enjoy the fact that you’re on a beautiful island. They also have non-motorized sports available for free to resort guests such as catamaran rides which makes for new experiences each day.

The Food & Service

Cuban resorts have long been criticized for their food but we’ve been fortunate to have stayed at resorts in Cuba that have pretty decent food and we’ve yet to have any complaints. The Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria is no exception. Their breakfast buffet was our absolute favourite. While it had a decent variety in general, it was their crepe station (pancake station) that had us up in time each day to make sure we didn’t miss out. Freshly made to order, with a variety of fruit toppings and sauces, they were an incredibly delicious and sumptuous way to spend each morning while on vacation.

The lunch and dinner buffet was also good with changing items daily but we found some favourites and tended to gravitate to them. One of those was the fresh fish section for dinner where the cooked prawns sauteed with garlic were spectacular.

dhawa french restaurant

The a la carte restaurants were also a pretty good change from the regular and offered us a bit of a romantic setting. We tried both the French restaurant (Maison Gourmet) and the seafood restaurant (Fuego del Mar) and though we liked them both, our favourite was the French restaurant. Each guest is able to book each of the 3 a la carte restaurants for one evening.

There was one place in particular that we could often be found: The 24 hour snack bar. Since it was open all the time, we found ourselves there for lunch, for snacks, for late-night second dinners and everything in between. It was definitely a great place to go if you’re hungry no matter what time of day.

Overall, the service was great. The staff was incredibly friendly and attentive and we found ourselves becoming regulars at a particular bar, section of the buffet and the snack bar. The staff at each one made a point to know what we liked and to make us feel welcome at all times.

The Entertainment & Other Amenities

We had fun on the resort and some of that had to do with the entertainment team. Always around during the day starting activities by the pool or beach and performing every night, they were fun and engaging.

The nightly entertainment was performed on stage in the resort theatre (with the exception of one night) and was different each night of the week. The performances varied from musical performances to dancing to shows involving audience participation and were lively ways to spend some time in the evening.

Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria Entertainment

After the shows, the disco started offering a club/lounge-like atmosphere that continued into the late hours of the evening.

If you’re not relaxed after watching a show or participating in one of the games or activities, there’s always the spa area where you can get a massage under a cabana overlooking the water. Though you may want to save that massage until after you give it a go on their tennis courts or burn off some energy in their fitness centre – both areas are great if you’re looking to add a bit of fitness to your vacation.

Our Tips For The Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria:

There are a few things we think you should know if you are planning a trip to Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria resort. For starters, you are not going to want to miss checking out the catamaran rides as they are a complimentary service of the resort and is a great experience  (do remember that tips are very much appreciated by those that will be taking you out on the water). If you enjoy the entertainment portion of all-inclusive resorts, the evening with the entertainment by the pool was by far one of our favourites and truly impressive and may just be something you’ll want to be sure to see.

We said that we were often at the snack bar and that means that we tried the entire menu. What we kept coming back for though were the chicken fingers. They were so good and the interesting mixture of bbq sauce, mustard and ketchup (we’re actually not sure what the sauce that comes with them is made of) was surprisingly delicious on them though you can ask for them without sauce if you’d prefer. If you’re not sure what to eat, or you’re hungry late, we’d definitely recommend heading over to the 24-hour snack bar by the pool for some!

 

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An Ontario Getaway At Long Point Eco Adventures

We’re always looking for great new places to visit in Ontario, especially ones that promise unique experiences, opportunities to challenge ourselves, and pretty much anything to do with good food. So, we were especially excited when Attractions Ontario told us  about Long Point Eco Adventures, a place that offers all three of these in one destination and that makes for a fantastic getaway in Ontario.

Long Point Eco Adventures is located in Norfolk County, an easy 2 hour drive from Toronto and is a destination all in itself, even though the surrounding area is also quite a beautiful and interesting place to discover with Turkey Point Provincial Park, Long Point National Wildlife Area, a whole bunch of waterfront activities and small town charm along Lake Erie.

Whether you choose to spend some time sightseeing or not, you’ll find that pretty much everything you need, from accommodation to recreation, can be found at Long Point Eco Adventure. Our time there was spent enjoying nature while camping in style, overcoming fears while participating in exhilarating activities and dining on some delicious food after sipping on great wine from the vineyard right across the street.

Here’s a little look at what there is to do at, and why we love, Long Point Eco Adventures:

Luxury Glamping

You’ll find three types of accommodation at Long Point Eco Adventures and while one is rustic, the other two take camping from roughing it to living in luxury.

Long Point Eco Adventures Cabins

For those who prefer a more comfortable camping experience, the wilderness pods are a great alternative that will have you feeling like you’re still camping in the wilderness but without any hint of ‘roughing it’. These pods have a comfortable queen bed, a mini-fridge, couch and table with chairs. It also has a deck with chairs, a washroom with a flush toilet and running hot and cold water, though you will be using shared shower facilities. Since there are electrical outlets and wifi as well, you’ll have everything you need to disconnect and relax or connect if needed. You’ll also find a hot complimentary buffet breakfast in the morning.

long point eco adventure wilderness pod

If you want to step up the luxury factor even more, there are wilderness suites that will help you do just that. Spacious long tented structures, queen or king-size beds, all the amenities of the wilderness pods with the addition of a ceilingless shower allowing you the incredible experience of showering under the stars. It’s an incredible glamping experience and perfect for a weekend getaway or longer.

Of course, if you’re more into an authentic wilderness vibe, you can try one of their camping pods which are cabins with twin or queen beds, none of the interior amenities of the other options and shared outhouses and showers.

Eco Adventures & Outdoor Recreation

From the ground to the sky, it’s an incredibly fascinating destination that offers so much to do. You can tailor your visit to whatever you enjoy doing as much, or as little as you want, tapping into their eco adventures and outdoor recreational activities.

long point eco adventure ziplining ontario

For us, the huge draw was the ziplining and canopy tour which had us zipping through tree tops, catching great views of Long Point Bay and Turkey Point and completing a 40 ft rappel. It’s an exciting experience that can be done during the day or at night with 8 ziplines and 2 suspension bridges. We found it an amazing first ziplining experience and those on the tour with us said it was a great ziplining course even for experienced zipliners.

It was also an opportunity to challenge ourselves as Carolann managed to face her fears and push her boundaries. She fell in love after the first zipline and had a smile on her face until the very end.

We also got a chance to join in on axe throwing in the evening which had us learning some new axe throwing techniques by an expert and teaming up to compete in one epic axe throwing competition (we can’t help but brag, et, mention that our team won both games). It really offered the best axe throwing instruction we’ve had and was a ton of fun.

long point eco adventure axe throwing ontario

For those spending more than one evening at Long Point Eco Adventure, you’ll probably want to get involved in some more of the activities they offer. Between their zodiac boat tours, kayaking, fishing tours and mountain biking, you’ll be hard pressed to find a dull moment during the day. Later at night you can take a peek at the sky in the observatory where you’ll get a full astronomy experience and then sit by the campfire, with the bright stars above, before heading to bed.

Culinary Exploration & Excellence

If you like the idea of glamping and want to pair it with more laidback and low-key activities, or add some culinary pursuits to your already adventurous itinerary, Long Point Eco Adventure has got you covered. In fact, there’s a lot to do outside of the high-energy recreational activities they provide.

After our thrilling canopy tour and ziplining, we wound down by heading across the street to Burning Kiln Winery for a tour and tasting. Staying true to the area’s history in the tobacco industry, the Burning Kiln has incorporated architectural elements like the tobacco barn and even uses tobacco kilns as part of an innovative winemaking process.

We found it an incredibly interesting tour with some truly unique elements and discovered some great Ontario wines in the process.

The Burning Kiln Winery Norfolk County

For dinner, we headed to the restaurant on site. The Burning Kiln Restaurant welcomes David’s Restaurant on Tour for lunch and dinner from May to September and has some spectacular dishes to choose from. We had cauliflower bites to start and chose the beef tenderloin and the burger of the week as our mains and thoroughly enjoyed each one. It was a great way to end the tour of the winery and a fantastic meal to remember

The Burning Kiln Winery Restaurant

If you’re looking for more culinary adventures, Long Point Eco Adventures offers an apiary tour where you can don a beekeeping suit and learn all about the hives, honey bees and beekeeping. You’ll also get a chance to taste what the bees are all fussing over – the honey!

Taking a day to explore the forest and learn how to find and pick wild, edible mushrooms is another option. The guided tour will have you collecting mushrooms along the way which will later be used to prepare a meal for you and paired with wines from the Burning Kiln Winery.

 

Whether you’re looking to relax in style in your accommodation the whole time and venture only for food and wine or are interested in a full-adventure experience, Long Point Eco Adventure has something for everyone and makes it one of the best destinations in Ontario for a getaway.

 

A huge thanks to Attractions Ontario for making our stay at the Long Point Eco Adventure possible. If you’re looking for other amazing things to do in Ontario, head over to the Attractions Ontario website!

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4 Cayo Santa Maria Resorts You Should Know About

Cuba holds a special place in our hearts. Not only is it the scene of our very first vacation together, it is also one of our favourite countries to visit with incredibly friendly people, beautiful culture and amazing beaches. Though we mostly enjoy delving into the local scene when we travel, we also love to vacation and that means taking a break from it all, sitting back and letting someone else take care of everything.

So when we needed some time to relax and reenergize, we figured an all-inclusive resort would be perfect and decided to head back to the scene of our first vacation as a couple. To do that, we popped over to tripcentral.ca and looked up resorts in Cayo Santa Maria, the island in Cuba where our travels as a couple began!

All-Inclusive Resorts For A Vacation in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba

What we found were a lot more options than were available years ago. With all of these choices we decided to not only stay in one resort for the week, but also visit several others while we were there. This gave us the opportunity to see what was else available for those looking for a getaway, romantic or not, on an island with some of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen.

Here are four great options for an all-inclusive vacation in Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba.

Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria

We stayed at the Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria Resort for the whole week. It was relatively new when we visited and we thought that its modern design and decor was an intriguing contrast to the tropical setting typical of an all-inclusive resort in Cuba.

The Dhawa is actually on Cayo Las Brujas, a neighbouring island to Cayo Santa Maria, but the drive is similar in distance from the airport and you really won’t notice the difference if you’re venturing off the resort for any of the excursions or attractions. In fact, you’ll find yourself closer to the Marina Gaviota Las Brujas where you can go scuba diving, fishing or sailing.

The resort itself is family-friendly with everything from a kids club for the little ones, to a disco at night for the party-goers. We found the food to be above average for what is commonly found at resorts in Cuba and even discovered some favourites at the buffet and the 24 hour snack bar that had us returning for more! With three a la carte restaurants, there’s also decent variety of food to choose from.

Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria Cuba Resort

We loved the pool area as it had two pools, semi-attached, and a separate wading pool nearby. There’s also daily and nightly entertainment and activities with an incredibly talented, friendly and enthusiastic entertainment team.

Our favourite part of the resort was, as is for any resort in Cuba, the beach. This stretch of beach may be a bit unexpected as it has a beautiful rugged natural rocky area to start before it extends to a long strip of sandy coastline. With a bar, food service and tons of loungers either in the sun or in the shade, it makes for a great place to enjoy the sun, sand and water.

It’s a great resort, with a more intimate vibe, that is perfect for a family, a group of friends, a couple or just an individual looking for a more relaxed vacation in the sun.

Melia Las Dunas

The Melia Las Dunas was the resort we stayed at on our first visit to Cayo Santa Maria together and we found it as fantastic during this visit as it was the last time. It’s by far our choice for a romantic getaway for couples in Cuba even though it is not an adults-only resort.

What you will find is two areas of the resort – each one with its own pool and buildings with rooms, but one side geared towards families and kids and the other for adults. While the sides can mix and mingle, there are activities for the kids available only at the family pool (and also the separate kid pool) and most of the guests that are adult-only will find they are given a room at the other side of the resort.

Melia Las Dunas Cayo Santa Maria Cuba Resort

The Melia Las Dunas also has some great dining options. In addition to the buffet, there is a pizzeria serving food at lunch and while it was one of our favourite places to eat, their 8 a la carte restaurants are also great choices for dinner.

There are quite a number of bar and snack options, entertainment throughout the day and evening and impeccable staff and service. Of course, nothing beats a resort that not only has a stunning beach but also an ice cream parlor. One of our favourite things to do when we were planning to spend some time in the sun and sand was to grab an ice cream on our way!

It’s a beautiful resort with a tropical atmosphere and is perfect for a little romance, even if you bring the kids!

Warwick Cayo Santa Maria

The Warwick Cayo Santa Maria is one of the hotels on the island that we were able to visit with a day pass. Since we did not get to stay as guests, our opinions are from what we saw during our time exploring the resort. For us, this resort was simply stunning. Being only two years old, it is similar to the Dhawa in that it felt like a modern tropical paradise.

While the gorgeous, giant pool was definitely something to enjoy (and we did), we really liked the beach with the multiple access points and varied terrain. When we first stepped foot on the one end of the beach we were greeted with a rocky outcrop before it gave way to pure sand.  To us, the contrast between the natural, more rugged looking shore and the pristine, sandy stretch of beach was simply beautiful. Having a bar at each of the main beach access points is also a great touch!

Warwick Cayo Santa Maria Cuba Resort

The hotel rooms we saw were also modern with great decor and added touches.  The one thing we didn’t get to try much of was the food. During the low season, the main buffet was closed for renovations and we were only able to try the mini buffet which was decent but obviously not indicative of the regular food options or any of their a la carte restaurants.

With many bars, a lush tropical property to explore and tons of waterfront space, whether at the pool or on the beach, and lots of activities to choose from, the Warwick is definitely a resort that adds some 5-star Cuban luxury for the whole family!

Valentin Perla Blanca

Multiple pools, beautiful landscaping, different activities and entertainment throughout the day and into the night and, something we’ve yet to experience in our travels, adults only access. The Valentin Perla Blanca was a whole different resort from the ones we visited. As with the Warwick this was only a day pass, so we only got to explore some of what the resort had to offer.

As is with many of the larger resorts on the island, low season means that some of the areas are closed off. For us, that meant we focused our time on the pool that was open and the beach. There are some great vibes at this resort, with the music and the relaxed atmosphere, and we enjoyed slipping into the 24 hour restaurant to test out some of their food (the chicken fingers were definitely our favourite).

Valentin Perla Blanca Resort Cayo Santa Maria Cuba

What stood out the most to us about this resort was the option to upgrade to the Privilege Club. By doing this you would get an exclusive concierge which means quicker check-in and check-out, a special lobster dinner, 20 min massage, discounts on additional spa treatments, premium brand liquors, a special buffet area as well as more benefits and extras in the a la carte restaurants. It also means access to the “Privilege Lounge” which has AC, those premium liquors we mentioned and a relatively quiet space to get away and relax.

We really loved that part of the Valentin resort and knew as we were walking around that it would be a great way to experience a stay there. It’s definitely a great place to get away from it all, pamper yourself and leave the kids at home!

A huge thanks to tripcentral.ca for making these experiences possible. If you’re looking for vacation packages or looking to book a trip, check them out! As with everything, reviews and opinions are our own.

 

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Why Puerto Vallarta Should Be A Stop On Your Next Cruise

It’s no surprise that Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s top cruise ports or that it’s a popular and desired destination that has so many cruise lines including it as a port of call. With so much to do and see, more and more cruises are including Puerto Vallarta on their itinerary, including a new Mexican Pacific Cruise on the cruise ship Magellan in 2018. This probably has a lot to do with the destination itself and just how much passengers are able to immerse themselves in the country and culture without having to travel too far.

In fact, Puerto Vallarta offers visitors such a vast amount of activities and sights that it’s pretty guaranteed to find something for everyone during a visit. Whether a ship docks at the marina or anchors in the harbour, there will definitely be some pretty exciting cruise excursions awaiting nearby – from snorkelling the blue waters, to whale and dolphin watching in the beautiful Bay of Banderas, to tours of tequila factories, the port is a gateway to an exciting exploration of nature, wildlife and culture.

Even if you haven’t booked an excursion through the cruise ship itself, you can still venture on your own and experience whatever facet of the city you prefer.

Exploring Puerto Vallarta on Your Own From Port

Malecon Puerto Vallarta

Since Puerto Vallarta is also a resort town there is an abundance of beautiful beaches where tourists can enjoy water sports and activities or just relax. In fact, taking a taxi to the ‘southside’ of town will get you to Los Muertos beach, one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta. Here you’ll be able to grab some food at one of the beachfront restaurants, take a swim in water and lay out on a beach towel to dry off in the sun.

At most of the beach areas that are heavily populated by resorts, Playa Los Muertos included, you can also buy a day pass to a resort which can get you either beach and pool access only, allowing you to use their beach chairs and other services, or a full pass allowing you access to all their amenities and food as well.

Shopping in Puerto Vallarta markets

If you’re not looking for a day at the beach, you can ask the taxi to take you downtown instead and explore the social heart of the city. It’s here you’ll find one of the main attractions, the Malecon. Meaning esplanade along a waterfront, the Malecon is quite literally a seaside promenade that has been a centre of town life for over 80 years. With artwork and statues and local artists plying their craft, local stores, restaurants and bars, and stunning waterfront views, it’s not something you’ll grow tired of no matter how long you spend venturing along it. If you do happen to be docked for the night, the Malecon is a great place to go to experience local nightlife too.

Shopping is another activity you can partake in and whether you choose to walk along the port’s shops or head downtown to the Malecon or the Marina Vallarta, you’ll find various shops offering everything from jewellery to souvenirs to tequila. There’s also Mismaloya Beach, the set of the classic film “The Night of the Iguana”, where you can combine some shopping along with some time on the beach in one of Hollywood’s most iconic settings!

Making Puerto Vallarta’s Cruiseship Terminal It’s Own Destination

The port itself offers some amenities like some small shops and snack bars, liquor stores and cyber cafes and you can also choose to get a day pass from a resort nearby the terminal rather than taxi further into Puerto Vallarta.

Alternately, hopping on another ship is also an option as day cruises depart from the Maritime Terminal and offer some pretty exciting experiences exploring the area and the Bay of Banderas. One of the ships you won’t want to miss is Puerto Vallarta’s infamous pirate ship, the Marigalante. It’s back on the waters after renovations and offers day and evening tours with a pretty fun pirate theme. You really don’t have to go far from the port to find some adventure.

marigalante pirate ship puerto vallarta

What is perhaps the most exciting thing about cruising to Puerto Vallarta, is all the upcoming developments of Puerto Vallarta’s International Port. With a multi-million dollar extensive renovation and construction project underway to expand and grow the terminal, it promises to become a destination in itself for cruiseship passengers who dock there.

Already winning awards for excellence including “Best Port of the Riviera in Mexico and South America” in the Cruise Critic Cruiser’s Choice Awards in 2016 and the “Gold Elite Award” by the Global Quality Foundation, it’ll be exciting to see how much more Puerto Vallarta will bring to the cruising experience as they move forward with their plans to transform the port and make it a hub for cruisers and non-cruisers alike – the first cruise port in the world to be accessible to non-passengers.

The plans include a new passenger centre and parking lot as well as some fantastic tourist attractions like a Tequila distillery, an art gallery, artisan shops, a commercial centre with a food court and a cultural centre. It will also be home to what promises to be the biggest aquarium in Latin America.

While Puerto Vallarta is already an exciting and desirable port of call, it seems as though it is only going to get better as more is being offered to cruiseship passengers and tourists wanting to experience as much as they can while they are there. It’s definitely not hard to see why this is one stop you won’t want to miss!

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The Top 6 Wineries to Visit in NYC

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

With more than eight million people living in New York City, you’d be hard pressed to find room to plant and cultivate a full-fledged vineyard. Fortunately, though, the concrete jungle is surrounded by greener pastures, where some experts have been able to grow those tasty grapes.

The next time you’re in New York City, set aside some time for a day trip outside of the metropolis to find the bona fide wineries New York City has to offer. We’re not talking about the exquisite wine bars you’re sure to find on the island, either: these are green, rolling vineyards with more to offer than just a delicious glass of wine.

Read on to find out where you’ll stop on your next Big Apple getaway.

Benmarl Winery

Benmarl Winery is widely known as America’s oldest vineyard, since its first grape vines were planted in 1848. Since then, the place has flourished and expanded to produce 15 varieties of wine, with many flavors inspired by the winery’s location in the Hudson River Valley. Speaking of which, you can take in some lush, green scenery while you sip amidst the valley’s rolling hills.

Martha Clara Vineyards

The Martha Clara Vineyard knows its clients might be coming in from New York City, so they’re prepared: groups shuttled in by bus, limo or car service can sign up for a group tasting once they arrive. And the flavors they sample won’t be disappointing: the winery has barreled everything from trendy rosé to super sweet Riesling.

Bashakill Vineyards

wine glass

The Hudson River Valley is clearly a hub for New York wineries, but developers have only scratched the surface of the area’s potential: 225,000 acres of land viable for wine-making, only 500 have been used so far.

Fortunately, Bashakill Vineyards has taken up shop — and taken advantage of the near-constant temperatures and high humidity in the Catskill Mountains. The winery can produce precisely aged pours because of this climate, and you’ll be glad to imbibe their tasty creations.

Wolffer Estate Vineyard

Most New Yorkers heed the call of the Hamptons each summer, but they do so to lay out on the area’s pristine, star-studded beaches. Your next trip should also include a visit to Wolffer Estate Vineyard, where Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are never in short supply. They pair these staples with smaller batches of specialty wines and ciders.

Oh, and, speaking of pairing: you can get the right charcuterie or cheese board to match your wine here, too. And, if you’d rather just sample the wine, they have tasting flights on the menu as well.

Orchard Hill Cider Mill

wine glass in a field

Mixing things up a bit, the Orchard Hill Cider Mill serves up hard ciders rather than wine. But, don’t make the mistake of thinking that cider is a one-flavor, one-size-fits-all beverage. Instead, Orchard Hill has multiple ciders on deck, including extra-dry and fizzy varieties. Much like Wolffer Estate Vineyard, they pair their pours with seasonal food, though they also incorporate their ciders into the ingredients list to create savory glazes, for example. Yum.

Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard

Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard sites on Long Island, and its picturesque pastures full of horses do more than just produce wine. They also provide homes for the livestock at this half-winery, half-horse-rescue. They’re equally as serious about both pursuits, too, as they brought their vines directly to Long Island from France.

If you head to Baiting Hollow, you’re likely to be told how many of the pours take their names from horses who have been saved and rehabilitated there. You can also see the horses for yourself Thursday through Sunday, when the winery offers pony rides and live music to its guests.

It’s not the first, second or even the third thing that comes to mind when visiting New York, but the state’s winery reputation just keeps getting better and better. So, as you plan your trip to the Big Apple, don’t let a day trip outside of the city fall to the bottom of your list. Instead, experience all that New York’s wineries have to offer and add another unforgettable destination to your big trip. Cheers!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


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Romantic Culinary Travels in El Paso

El Paso is a city that manages to be both modern and sleek yet steeped in history and culture. Therefore, it’s an exciting destination for any traveler. It’s also an amazing place for couples to explore, with a variety of hotels in downtown El Paso to spark some romance while staying close to the action. What may be most surprising is what you’ll find when looking to add a little wining and dining to that spark. In fact, you’ll want to try several culinary experiences in El Paso if you’re looking for a little romance in this west Texas destination.

Journey Along The Wine Trail

Image via Flickr by uıɐɾ ʞ ʇɐɯɐs

Along the winding path of Highway 28, you’ll find an incredibly romantic setting as you make your way to one of the area’s most appreciated wine regions. Heading along the wine trail, you can hold hands and talk as you drive by stunning scenery, peaceful landscapes, and vineyards.

It’s here where you’ll also be able to spend some time as a couple as you visit El Paso’s only vineyard and winery, Zin Valle Vineyards, for a free wine tasting. You can also make a day of it and head over on a Sunday when live music is playing. Bring a blanket and some food and enjoy a picnic with whatever wine you both prefer.

Explore the Growing Brewery Scene

The beer culture in El Paso is rapidly growing, with more and more breweries opening. This scene offers the opportunity to explore El Paso in a unique way. There’s also a lot of fun and excitement to be had as a couple while exploring your palate and learning about the flavor profiles of beer.

You can keep date night within the heart of the city and head to El Paso Brewing Co. for a beer tasting, a snack, and a lesson in the area’s beer history. It’s a great place to enjoy each other’s company while learning something new and immersing yourselves in a part of the area’s culture, both past and present.

Indulge in Diverse Cuisines

While Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex may be what first comes to mind when thinking of food in El Paso, the city actually boasts a whole host of different restaurants. They offer a variety of dining experiences for couples looking to enjoy a romantic meal together.

If you want to ignite that spark over delicious food, you can find pretty much whatever you both want, from Mexican cuisine at L and J Cafe to American-style dishes at the Mesa Street Grille. With patio options, live music, or candlelit tables, you’ll be able to find the perfect setting for you both.

 

El Paso is definitely a romantic destination for couples. While there are tons of different things to do throughout the city, you’ll find exploring the culinary scene together a special experience. There’s nothing more romantic and sensual than feeding each other bites of a great meal across a table, staring into each other’s eyes while sipping wine, or laughing at the foam clinging to your upper lip as you savour a craft beer.

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10 Best Dates in Washington, D.C. That Aren’t Dinner & A Movie

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Washington, D.C. is the nation’s capital, and for good reason: the city has a rich history and a lively, diverse culture to match. In other words, you’d be remiss to spend every single night out at dinner and a movie when there’s so much else to do.

Date Ideas To Spark Some Fun & Romance in Washington, D.C.

Need a little help planning your next out-of-the-box excursion? Here are 10 ideas for making your D.C. date something extra special:

Picnic in the Park

A picnic is a roundabout way of eating a meal on a date: you won’t be dining at a restaurant, but you can still whip up a meal to impress. On top of that, you’ll be able to go and grab a seat at any time you want without reservations. If that’s not enough incentive, the city has a lengthy list of gorgeous parks that would paint a picturesque backdrop to your picnic. It might even be more romantic to dine on a blanket beside the Potomac or under a cherry tree, right?

Monument Tour

Chances are, you’ve seen the majority of D.C.’s most famous monuments. But, when is the last time you went on a stroll to see them all in one fell swoop? You and your date can embark on a walking tour of the National Mall and check out the city’s most famous landmarks. Plus, all that time walking will give you two a chance to chat and really get to know one another.

Washington DC Monument

Arcade or Billiards Bar

Another dating rut to fall into is grabbing drinks over, and over, and over again. Instead, make your trip to the bar a bit more memorable by choosing a spot with tasty beverages and a memorable activity. A gaming bar like the city’s Atlas Arcade allows you to play retro video games while you imbibe. Or, you can hit up a billiards room and play pool, as well as darts, shuffleboard and arcade games, depending on the place you go.

Outdoor Movie

Okay, so this is technically still a movie date. But the fact that you and your date can grab a blanket, some snacks and sit under the stars while watching a movie makes it just a tad more special. scape the room by solving various puzzles, too, so you can find the one nearest to you or the screen showing the movie you most want to see. Offerings range from blockbusters, to 80s classics, to cartoons — the choice is yours.

Escape Room

Don’t worry — it’s not as scary as it sounds. Places like Escape Artist DC give participants a full narrative, creating a world that has a puzzle to solve within it. You and your date will have to try and scape the room by solving various puzzles but it will be a fun challenge for you to complete together. Once you’re out, you’ll feel like you really earned a good cocktail, which will round out a seriously memorable evening.

Kayaking

The Potomac River you picnicked beside is the perfect place for a kayaking trip, too. You and your date can sign up for a guided tour, or simply rent a kayak or canoe together and start rowing. If you want to do something a little less challenging, you can also rent paddle boats in smaller bodies of water like the Tidal Basin, where you’ll have incredible views of the Jefferson Monument.

Washington DC Date ideas

Museum Hop

Washington is home to some of the nation’s best museums, and they cover a broad range of interests. In fact, allowing your date to choose the museum you’ll visit will give you an insight into his or her interests and personality. Will it be the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, or the International Spy Museum, where you can pick up an alias and try your best to live like an undercover? The choice is theirs.

Visit a Winery

You might be surprised to find out that there are some bona fide wineries within a stone’s throw of Washington, D.C. Many of them have open hours, tours and tastings, as well as activities like live music, movies and bocce ball on the vineyard lawn. Your date will be impressed as you whisk him or her off, though it would be best to grab a shuttle or taxi out to the winery so you can both imbibe.

Volunteer

The nation’s capital has endless opportunities for locals to get involved and make the city — and world — a better place. You and your date can brainstorm the causes you care most about and find a charity involved with your top choice. Then, sign up to fill grocery bags at a food bank, walk shelter dogs or help re-paint a local school. The few hours you spend doing good will make you feel pretty good about yourselves and each other.

Cook Together

Finally, you can always keep things casual and simple and still eat a hearty meal. Simply skip the fancy restaurant dinner and find a recipe online instead. You can work together to peel, chop, sauté and bake, producing a full meal as a team. Sometimes, a meal you make yourself tastes even better than what you buy in a restaurant, anyway — you should try that theory out and see.

Now, Make It A Date!

Chances are, at least one of these date ideas suits you and your significant other. So, cancel your dinner reservations and plan something out of the ordinary instead. You’ll both enjoy doing something different, but mixing things up will make you enjoy those special dinner-and-a-movie nights even more. To us, that sounds like a win-win.  


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


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Best Places To See A California Sunset In San Francisco

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

Typically when people are planning a vacation, they think of fun activities to do during the day, like hiking or seeing museums. When you’re going to vacation on the west coast, however, it’s a great idea to plan ahead to see the sunset in a way you wouldn’t be able to at home. It’s one of the best things you can do, especially when you’re visiting San Francisco. Thankfully there are easy ways to incorporate the sunset into your next trip.

Unique Ways to Enjoy the California Sunset Next Time You’re In San Francisco

Here are some ideas for finding that perfect sunset spot while in San Francisco!

Golden Gate Bridge Sunset

golden gate bridge sunset california

You already know that when you go to San Francisco that driving across the Golden Gate Bridge is going to be on your list of things to do. Why not drive across it and see the sunset at the same time? The international orange color of the towers will only accent the hues of the sunset, just make sure you keep an eye on the road! If you’d rather sit and watch, there are multiple places to gaze at the bridge where you’re sure to see the sunset from as well.

Outdoor Evening Performance

Besides the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is also known for being a hub of local talent, so if you want a true experience of the city, you’ll want to catch a concert while you’re there. There are plenty of outdoor concert places where you’ll be able to see the sunset at the same time, and some of them are even free. Check the listings for the time you’ll be in town and take in every moment!

Bonfire on The Beach

sunset in san francisco california

Bonfire supplies are probably not among what you’ll pack in your suitcase, but you should definitely pick some up at the store once you get to wherever you’re staying in San Francisco. You’ll have access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, so why not be on one while the sun sets? This is a great option for both people who want something fun and casual to do, and people who want something romantic. As long as you read up on recreational fire regulations, you’ll be in for a great night.

Cocktail Cruise

While you’re at the ocean, look around for a fun cocktail cruise that will end your day on a great note without forcing you to reschedule your whole vacation. Cocktail cruises are usually no longer than a couple hours, but the key is to pick one that has the kind of entertainment you like that’ll see sights you want to explore. Some cruises are scheduled to end in a gorgeous sunset.

This is another great idea for people wanting casual or romantic sunset activity ideas. It’s popular to take a cocktail cruise with a bunch of your friends, because the atmosphere is so laid back. Still, it can give couples a private moment on a balcony that floats past stunning scenery, so why not give it a try? Especially if you get a cruise that focuses on ending with the sunset, you won’t even have to worry about timing your night. Let the cruise staff do that for you!

Hippie Hill

If you’re more of a laid back, easy going kind of person, Hippie Hill is definitely a place for you to try and catch the sunset. A gathering spot in Golden Gate Park since the 1960s, Hippie Hill provides a place where you can enjoy a range of sunset activities, like playing some fetch with your dog or holding a barbeque. With all of the ways you can enjoy the park, Hippie Hill is a great place to watch the sunset from, especially if you’re visiting with a group of friends.

 

Watching the sunset during a trip to San Francisco can easily make the top of the list of things you’re going to tell your friends about once you get back home. The key is to do some research and find the activity that fits your trip. Whether you’re looking for something fun or romantic, San Francisco will be able to offer something that fits your needs, all while basking in the orange glow of the sunset.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


 

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Amazing Countryside Road Trips In The USA

By Kacey Mya of The Drifter Collective

When one day blurs into the next and your coffee sits cold on your desk, you long for country roads to reconnect to your inner self. At home, after a long day, you wind down by doing yoga, binge watching a T.V. show or enjoying a glass of wine.

You seek whatever simple pleasures you can find. There’s something about the way mountains, meadows and farms stretch out over vast landscapes that soothes the soul, how the world is wide with wonder.

Enjoy the Countryside by Traveling to These Places

Wind down by taking a road trip on those winding country roads to these rural places:

Lover’s Leap in Virginia

“Virginia is for Lovers,” says the road sign as you cross the border into the state. The roads write and coil slowly upward like something alive, as the foothills flirt with daring cliffs. With stunning views from high precipices, Lover’s Leap winds through Patrick Country, Virginia and is located in Meadows of Dan, close to the North Carolina border. A sad tale surrounds the site as two lovers — a settler and Chief’s daughter — chose to be together in death, much as did Romeo and Juliet.

Also located in Meadows of Dan are farms, craft shops and botanical gardens. Wonder down to Henriedda Crafters to enjoy nostalgic crafts and take a stroll through nature at Dehart Botanical Gardens.

You’ll find wineries nearby in Floyd, Virginia. Give the Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant and Villa Appalaccia Winery a try, which both feature live music and beautiful views.

Amish Country in Indiana

indiana countryside

For a return to simplicity, escape to Amish country in Indiana, where five locations make up the top ten settlements by Amish church districts: Allen County, Daviess County, Adams County, Elkhart and Lagrange Counties. The latter two make up the largest Amish settlement for the state. The settlements have Swiss roots, but there are differences in the communities, as some are more conservative and have various types of carriages due to slightly different practices.

In Elkhart county, visit Nappanee to try the delicious, traditional food at Threshers Dinner, where the threshers would gather every season to separate wheat grain from chaff. Stay at The Inn at Amish Acres, which is central to many of the area’s Amish attractions.

Kayaking and Whale Watching in Washington

You can’t get more picturesque than the small town of Port Townsend, Washington, especially if you physically need to be close to water at all times. At around 10,000 residents, this adorable town has a rich maritime history set on the northeast point of the Olympic Peninsula. Victorian homes and architecture dot the area, and residents and tourists alike enjoy kayaking and whale watching.

On rainy days, enjoy the rural pastime of antiquing, and listen to musicians play as you taste the wide selection of food: Try the seafood at Doc’s Marina Grill or the breakfast at Hudson Point Cafe.

From the daring cliffs of Lover’s Leap, to the simplicity of Amish Country and whale watching in an adorable marine town, let the countryside take you home in a way you haven’t been in a long time. Winding rural roads soothe the mind, body and soul, while teaching travelers the lessons of endurance, patience and simple joys.

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture & the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations & cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing & inspiring posts. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.


 

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A Guide To Visiting New York CIty

New York City Travel Guide

New York City is the most popular destination in the world, and for good reason. With first-class entertainment options, world-famous landmarks, buzzing street activity and nightlife, it is an epicenter of culture, diversity and excitement. Your choices are seemingly endless when it comes to hotels, which means deciding which hotel to book can be a challenge, as options range from hostels to ultra-luxurious global chains. IHG® can help you find accommodations that cater to your wants and needs while you explore what makes NYC so unique.

New York City CityscapeImage via Flickr by hijanisch

Things to See

New York City is home to a multitude of world-renowned landmarks, so prioritizing your time during your visit is essential. For the ultimate sightseeing adventure, consider one of the hotels in Manhattan, home to the Empire State Building, Times Square, Wall Street and the 9/11 Memorial. Manhattan can easily fill your itinerary with must-dos, and a short boat ride across the harbor takes you to the Statue of Liberty. After a day of sightseeing, a stroll through Central Park is an excellent way to unwind.

Hotels in New York City

New York City hosts almost 55 million visitors each year and offers an incredible array of destinations and attractions to explore. Regardless of when you go, where you stay or what you do, there are plenty of hotels to fit your specific needs, and by booking through IHG, you are assured a great stay while you explore New York.

Where to Stay

When considering hotels in New York City, first choose your ideal borough, since each has its own character, advantages and charms. You may want to be closer to the multicultural cuisine of Queens or the tree-lined streets of Brooklyn. Midtown Manhattan is a prime location for visitors wanting to be within walking distance of Broadway plays or 5th Avenue shops, although they can be expensive. If you want to be in the middle of the action, look for a Times Square hotel location. Luckily, there are many reasonably priced hotels inside and outside of Manhattan, and getting around is easy.

How to Get to New York City

The New York City metropolitan area is served by three key airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, La Guardia Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, which is only 15 miles from Manhattan. Those visiting the city by rail will enjoy the iconic Grand Central Terminal or Pennsylvania Station, the city’s two main railway stations. Travelers with shorter stays may find New York City hotels near major transportation hubs more convenient and more budget-friendly.
The thought of getting around the city can be intimidating for first-time visitors, but traveling throughout the city and its five boroughs is surprisingly easy, thanks to the extensive Metro subway system. Along with its low cost and vast network of routes, the Metro is an efficient way to explore the city. In addition, you can easily hail a cab for a direct route to your destination.