7
May

Denver, Colorado

Denver Colorado may seem like an unlikely place to visit if you don’t have family or friends there. However there are lots of fun things to do in the “Mile High City”. The downtown Denver area offers many hotel options that are conveniently located near many restaurants, bars and museums.

One of my personal favorites is the Magnolia Hotel. The Magnolia offers rooms with a warm fireplace, large soaking tub and large windows with city views. Another great amenity of the Magnolia hotel is their nightly complimentary happy hour, fresh baked cookies from 8-10 pm and a decent complimentary breakfast downstairs. You will also pool tables and several areas to lounge with friends in the lower level of the hotel. http://www.magnoliahotels.com/denver/hotel-photos.php

Magnolia Hotel Denver

Magnolia Hotel Suite

Denver ranks 1st in the nation in terms of beer production per capita, and second overall in terms of number of breweries. It has been dubbed “The Napa of Beer”. If you enjoy drinking beer, one great tour to consider is The Denver Microbrew Tour, which is a 1.5 mile walking tour through Denver’s “LODO” district (Lower Downtown) and Ballpark neighborhoods. Participants will enjoy beer samples at several microbreweries and a pint at the last stop. Tour prices are $25-29 per person. Keep in mind that the effects of alcohol have a different effect at higher elevations, so you may find yourself feeling inebriated quicker than you would at lower elevations. http://www.denvermicrobrewtour.com/tour-info/

If you enjoy Jazz music, Dazzle restaurant and lounge has nightly Jazz shows and great food. If you are lucky enough to sit in Monique’s section I would suggest ordering a martini, she takes the phrase “shaken not stirred” to a whole new level with her delivery of your drink. The food is “great American traditional cuisine with a twist”. A couple of my favorites are the fried green tomatoes and the mac and four cheese. 930 Lincoln Street, Denver. http://www.dazzlejazz.com/index.php

Dazzle Jazz Club

Dazzle Jazz Lounge

A tasty breakfast spot is “Dozens”. Located in an old house Dozens has been around for over 20 years and offers a large selection of breakfast comfort foods. Some of the menu items include: Biscuits and Gravy, Belgium waffles, French toast, omelets and a pretty decent Bloody Mary also. href=”http://www.dozensdenver.com

Larimer Square is a nice place to shop and eat. Located on Larimer Street between 14th and 15th. The quaint street is lined with shops and restaurants and a couple galleries. A few notable restaurants are Rioja, Lime and Osteria Marco. http://www.larimersquare.com/

Larimer Square, Denver Colorado

Larimer Square

Denver also has a pretty active gay scene; some of the local bars include the Wrangler, which offers an inexpensive beer bust on Sundays, Hamburger Mary’s on East 17th Street. Other options include Tracks on Walnut Street or Charlie’s. http://denver.gaycities.com/bars/

Whatever your preference Denver has much to offer from Sports, fine dining, the arts and even a theme park!

If you have any specific questions I would be happy to answer them!


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6
December

Las Vegas Shows

Some tend to think Las Vegas is all about drinking and gambling. However, Las Vegas has a lot more to offer. There are world-class shows and restaurants all within a 5 mile area. I’d like to share our experience in getting tickets at a reasonable price and which shows we recommend.

Cirque du Soleil is one of our favorite shows. There are 7 resident Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas. Many of these shows have tickets available through discount ticket brokers such as Tix4tonight and Vegas.com http://www.vegas.com.

On our most recent trip to Vegas, we saw Cirque du Soleil’s “Mystère”. The show was amazing! Even after 18 years at the Treasure Island the theater is still full. The story is about the celebration of the circle of life. The 90-minute performance, includes acrobats flying above the audience, huge Japanese Taiko drums and live music, Chinese poles and an aerial cube all set against a colorful stage. The costumes are really interesting and bright. I would definitely recommend this show. Discount tickets are usually available at the Tix4tonight booths ($75-$100 per ticket), or for a Sunday through Thursday show, you can get discounted tickets by checking in on foursquare and unlocking the special ($82 after taxes and fees).

Mystère Cirque du Soleil

Mystère Cirque du Soleil

www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/mystere/tickets/las-vegas.aspx

If you are looking for a more adult themed show, I would suggest Absinthe at Caesar’s Palace or Cirque du Soleil’s “Zumanity” at New York New York. Zumanity is “the sensual side of Cirque du Soleil”. The show is a cabaret style show centered around erotic music, dance and acrobatics. The Theirry Mugler designed costumes enhance the sensual atmosphere and heightened sexuality of the production. Be prepared to see lots of leather, lace, corsets, and of course fishnets.

zumanity

Zumanity - Cirque du Soleil

www.zumanity.com/

Absinthe is mix of burlesque, comedy and circus side-show, set inside the amazing “Spiegeltent”. The venue is a 600-seat Belgian spiegeltent (Dutch for mirror tent) made of velvet, stained glass and carved wood. The stage is really small and in the center of the tent so every seat is a good seat. I personally would not want to be in the first row because there are some very dangerous acts and you may even become part of the show. Before the show you can hang out in the beer garden and play drinking games such as, “Flip Stein” and “Champagne Pong”. Discount tickets are also available at Tix4tonight booths (closest one to this show would be across the street at Bill’s Gaming hall). You can also grab a $20 discount card from the guy in the white jacket that hands them out during the morning and afternoon hours a few feet away from the box office. Discount tickets are about $59.

Absinthe Las Vegas

Absinthe Roller skate performance

www.absinthevegas.com

If you were hoping to see a little more skin, then head over to “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood. The show about “Bo Peep” who is played by Holly Madison has lots of adult themed fairy-tale scenarios. Lots of skin, and oh yeah, some singing and dancing too. Discount tickets are available through broadwaybox.com, showtickets.com, and the Tix4tonight booths and range from $60-$110.

PEEPSHOW at Planet Hollywood

PEEPSHOW at Planet Hollywood

www.lasvegaspeepshow.com/

If you missed my previous post on Las Vegas, you can find it here http://letsjetset.com/2011/08/29/a-few-days-in-vegas%E2%80%A6/


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21
October

South Beach, Miami

On my first visit to Miami Beach, I had no idea that I would soon love it as much as I do. I had heard so many things about South Beach- how great it was, the nightlife, the people, the shopping, but I was skeptical. I had the opportunity to take a last minute trip in 2004, so I decided to see what all the hype was about. I was completely blown away by the beauty of Miami! I had been to Daytona Beach and Orlando, but Miami was completely different. It was nothing like I’d imagined it to be. Since then I have been back many times.

South Beach, Miami

South Beach

There are several hotels along the picturesque white sandy beaches. The aqua blue water temperature is usually warm enough to swim year-round. However, I would personally avoid visiting during hurricane season, which officially runs from June 1 through November 30. The summer months also tend to be fairly humid. So, if you dont like humidity, that is something to consider.

There are many great hotel options depending on your taste. A few well-known hotels on the beach are the Colony, which you will see in many pictures and postcards of South Beach, the Sagamore, and the Delano. My personal favorite is the Mondrian South Beach on Biscayne Bay. The pool and the West facing rooms have amazing views of the Bay and Downtown Miami, and the best sunset views. Recently, I have seen several package deals advertised for this hotel on different travel sites. I usually recommend checking out jetsetter.com to browse their current hotel deals in Miami. http://www.jetsetter.com/search? source=linkbin&type=linkbin&q=Miami

The Colony hotel

The Colony hotel

Mondrian Hotel South Beach

Mondrian Pool

Just as there are many hotel options, there are just as many nightlife options. Some of the larger well-known clubs are Nikki Beach and Mansion. If you are looking for a more relaxed lounge vibe, check out Vue Terrace at the Hotel Victor where you can grab a bed and enjoy two-for-one cocktails and complimentary hors d’oeuvres or head over to Lapidus Lounge at the Ritz Carlton for live Jazz in a 1950’s style club.

Vue terrace at the hotel victor

Vue Terrace at the Hotel Victor

If you have access to a vehicle, the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables is definitely worth a drive. Created from a rock quarry in 1923 and filled with natural spring water and surrounded by waterfalls. You can spend an afternoon at the pools for about $11. www.coralgablesvenetianpool.com The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is another beautiful site to visit. The home was John Deering’s winter home from 1916-1925. Entry is $15 for adults and $6 for children 6-12. http://www.vizcayamuseum.org/knowus-intro.asp

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Also, you can stay local and grab a bike from Decobike- Miami Beach’s Bike Sharing & Rental program. For a few dollars a day, you have access to several bikes at one of the many bike-docking stations. For more info, check out their website at www.decobike.com

Deco bike

Deco bike station




I would suggest checking livingsocial.comwww.livingsocial.com or groupon for local deals in Miami on spas, restaurants, and hotels.


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14
September

Los Cabos – Cabo San Lucas & San José del Cabo, Mexico

If you’re looking for a quick getaway from Los Angeles, Los Cabos just might be the place for you at just about 2.5 hours away from LA. Flights from Los Angeles in October range from $389 to $600 depending on the day of the week you fly. Remember that mid-week flights are usually cheaper than flights that originate on Friday or Sunday. Flights from New York during the same period range from $498 to over $700. These rates were found using www.kayak.com. One of the cool features on kayak.com is the price alert option, which allows you to set up alerts for any destination. The site will email you daily or weekly when the price changes and also allows you to set a max price.

Los Cabos Mexico International Airport (SJD) is located about 7 miles from San Jose and 29 miles from San Lucas. I would suggest taking a shuttle or renting a car for your stay since cabs tend to be fairly expensive. One thing to remember though is that the roads can be dangerous, so drive cautiously. I would suggest fully inspecting your rental car and purchase insurance just to be on the safe side. There are several car rental agencies at or near the airport: Thrifty, Budget, and Hertz, just to name a few. You can reserve online, and a representative from the rental company will meet you at the terminal.

We chose to stay in San José del Cabo, which was closer to the airport, and I felt a little more my speed than Cabo San Lucas. If you do prefer bar crawls and clubbing till the early morning hours, I would suggest Cabo San Lucas. There are several beautiful beachfront hotels to choose from in Cabo. There is something to fit just about any budget. We chose Royal Solaris, an all-inclusive resort with 5 restaurants, 4 bars and about 400 guest rooms. http://www.clubsolaris.com/v4/ The rate for the hotel was about $150 per night for all-inclusive double occupancy. If you like to do a lot of exploring and eating and drinking at different locations then the all-inclusive option may not be best for you. However, it is easy to spend over $100 a day on food and alcohol while on vacation, so that’s something you should factor in when making your decision.

There are a few things that I suggest you check out in Los Cabos. First would be the tequila tasting. I’m not a huge tequila fan myself, but it was a lot of fun…especially after the 4th free sample! There are several shops that will offer you free tequila samples; they have the next sample filled by the time you are putting down the one in your hand. Needless to say, I took a bottle home with me. The following site has maps available of the entire Cabo area http://www.loscabosguide.com/maps/maps.htm

Another fun thing to do is snorkel. There are several places that you can rent gear from on the beach and snorkel, or you can take a snorkel tour from most hotels. We rented equipment on the beach for about $10 each. We chose to take the hour and a half drive to “Todos Santos,” an artist community North of Cabo and home to the Hotel California. Todos Santos has lots of local art you can purchase much cheaper than you would in Cabo San Lucas. There are also several little authentic Mexican dining options here: http://www.todossantos.cc/

Todos Santos

The streets of Todos Santos

Lastly, The Buccaneer Queen pirate ship in San Lucas is definitely a unique experience. http://buccaneerloscabos.com/ We were lucky enough to meet the owner at a whole in the wall bar in Cabo. They offer 3 tours to chose from: snorkeling, whale watching, or Sunset cruises on a 96-foot pirate ship. Price range from $49.50 – $78 for adults and $28.50 – $44 for kids ages 5-11. Lunch and open bar included. Discounts available at http://www.cabosanlucastours.net/

*SALE this week (1/18/12) on Royal Solaris through Livingsocial.com Four-($769) or Five-Night ($949) All-Inclusive Stay for Two Adults and Two Children Under 12 in a Deluxe Room, April 15 through June 30 or August 15 through December 22, 2012*http://www.livingsocial.com/escapes/225962-all-inclusive-baja-resort?msdc_id=4-los-angeles

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or anything to add, please feel free to comment below.

 

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7
September

I heart NY!

Well, to my delight NYC received the most votes from the poll posted last week. Having lived in Manhattan, it’s a city I can probably write several blogs about. However, I will try to narrow it down to a few of my favorites.

If you are reading this and do not live in NY then I recommend a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge which gives you the best views of lower Manhattan and the East Side. You can snap some great photos from the bridge. Once you cross over the bridge, stop by Grimaldi’s Pizzeria at 19 Old Fulton Street. http://www.grimaldis.com/. A couple of things you should know is there is often a line, but it’s worth the wait. Also, they do not sell individual slices, so hopefully you have a friend to help you share a whole pie…or a HUGE appetite. While you are in Brooklyn I also suggest getting a slice of Red Velvet cake from “The Cake Man Raven” at 708 Fulton Street  http://www.cakemanraven.com. This is by far the best red velvet cake I’ve ever had! You can get there from Grimaldi’s by taking the B25 bus or the C train to Lafayette.

Don’t be intimidated by the transit system in NYC. You can grab a pocket-size map from most gift shops in Time Square or the NY Transit Museum and Store at Grand Central Station. This will help you avoid looking like a tourist with a huge subway map, which is clearly good for many reasons. If you’re in town for a few days get the 7 day unlimited pass for $29. Another useful site to help you navigate the subway system is &  http://www.hopstop.com you can access the site from most smartphones also. HopStop is an amazing app because it uses GPS to find your current location and will give you step-by-step instructions to get to your destination. Hopstop will also give you an estimated taxi fare for the same trip.

There are several beautiful parks around NYC. One of the most well-known is Central Park. If you go to Central park there are a few spots that I suggest, the Alice in Wonderland Statue, Bethesda Fountain and the Zoo. The Pond near Central Park South is a great spot for photos year round. You can really spend several hours here and check out the Carousel or even rent a rowboat. Don’t worry maps are available  http://www. centralpark.com. A couple other parks to check out if you have time are Bryant Park where NY Fashion week was held for many years located between 5th and 6th Avenues at 42nd Street. Or the elevated highline park which runs from Gansevoort Street, one block below West 12th Street, in the Meatpacking District, up to 30th Street   http://www.thehighline.org.

I can probably go on forever, but I don’t want to bore you so I will wrap up with a few of my favorite watering holes. Pazzo Notte on 6th and 56th – 2-4-1 Martini happy hour. Sushi Samba on 7th or Park Ave South for “Samba Hour” 4-7pm $6 drinks and bites. They have the best fresh muddled fruit mojitos. Las Ramblas – 170 W. 4th Street – Great Sangria and Spanish Tapas   http://www.lasramblasnyc.com .

My last bit of advice…as much as you may feel like NYC is Disneyland…it’s not. People actually live and work there day-to-day. So try to be considerate when you stop to pull out your subway maps or to take a picture. There are still people moving at a fast pace right behind you that may need to get to work or home, and if you’re on the escalator, remember, the left side is for those that want to walk up and the right side is for standing…so don’t be that guy that just stopped everyone else.

If you are planning a trip to New York soon and have specific questions or want suggestions please free to post a comment and I will do my best to answer.


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29
August

A few days in Vegas…

A quick trip to Vegas can get real expensive real quick. On our recent trip we decided to see if we could enjoy the city without breaking the bank. I thought this might be difficult since we were planning to stay there for several days and it’s easy to spend a lot of money there.


On this trip we decided to fly, since we were flying mid week and returning on Saturday. Flights on Friday or Sunday tend to be the most expensive, so if you are trying to save some money it is best to avoid those days.


For our hotel I used priceline to bid on a room. I know this may sound risky since you don’t know what you are actually getting until you pay, but if you pick a higher star rating you really can’t go wrong. If you want to get an example of what priceline considers a 3, 4 or 5 star hotel just browse their regular hotel page at http://travelc.priceline.com/hotels/ once you have decided what star level you are interested in you can select the area or areas you would like to stay in. I suggest narrowing it down to one or two areas and increasing as needed if your bid is not accepted. Priceline will show you the median retail price for the star rating and area you selected, I suggest starting your bid at 40% of the median price. Remember that taxes and fees are not included in the price you are bidding so make sure you do not bid more than you want to pay. If you bid is not accepted priceline will want you to increase the bid by at least $20 or $25, there is a way around this. Close the window and go back to the site to bid again.


On this stay we booked a room at Vdara. The hotel is a 5 star resort with no casino, so no smoke filled common areas. The room was spacious with a great view. We requested a high floor upon check in. One thing to remember is that many of the 4 or 5 star hotels will charge you a non-refundable resort fee when you check in. Resort fees range from $15-$20 plus applicable tax. The fee usually covers wireless Internet, use of pools, etc.


Vdara

Vdara Bedroom

If you plan to see a show while in Vegas there are lots of websites that offer discounted tickets or seating upgrades to shows that haven’t quite sold out. Some sites I’ve used have been http://www.vegastickets.com/ and http://www.tix4tonight.com/. Tix 4 tonight has a few booths set up around Vegas that sell tickets for the same night.


Last but certainly not least…dining. I was able to find some great deals for dining on http://www.restaurant.com/ they currently have most of the restaurants at Mandalay Bay and THEhotel. There are also some at the Palms and various other locations. We chose Mix at THEhotel. The atmosphere was great, with a sleek white dining area and unbeatable strip view from the 64th floor.  Ask the hostess to be seated on the Southern strip side for the best view. If the weather is nice you can also request to be seated outside on the terrace for an even better view. The food was amazing and the service was great! The restaurant has received a couple Michelin stars and the AAA Four Diamond Award two years in a row. After dinner we went over to the bar for a glass of champagne on the balcony (drinks average about $16 each but the view makes it worth it). Another place we loved is “Pizzeria” hidden on the third floor of the Cosmopolitan hotel. You can get a huge slice from $3.50 – $5 or a whole pie for around $25. The place is a bit hard to find, located down a long hallway with no signage in front.


I suggest signing up for every slot club card you can get. You can get several comps or reduced priced items. Also check your phone for deals on Yelp or Foursquare. We got a couple buy one get one free drink tickets for checking in at Ballys Casino.
Another deal we got grabbed before our trip was an hour massage at La Riva Spa. https://livingsocial.com/redeem_invite/29021279-adamag?ref=lnk offers vary on livingsocial but you can log in and check what they are currently offering in your city or a city you plan on visiting soon. Make sure you reserve in advance though, we were lucky enough to have them squeeze in our appointments during our stay.


I hope this will help you plan your next trip to Vegas or give you some inspiration to plan your next trip. As always feel free to post any comments or travel related questions you may have!


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