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Arts & Culture Cities Food & Drink Money Travel Etiquette

Tipping in Greece: The Greece Tipping Guide

A vacation in Greece promises beautiful scenery, fresh and delicious food, and interactions with friendly locals. As a visitor, you’ll find yourself in plenty of situations in which you might naturally think to tip. But should you?

Tipping in Greece is customary, but is by no means obligatory. This Greece tipping guide will help you navigate when/where you can leave a little extra for great service.

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Tipping in Greece

[st_content_ad]Tipping in Greece may be expected in most places, but it is by no means an obligation. There is no set standard for how much to leave when service exceeds expectations, but there are certain times when it’s expected you’ll tip. For instance, some restaurants may round up the bill to include gratuity, so it is wise to look for this inclusion before tipping. Note that it’s also common for servers not to receive tips included on a credit card, so try to leave cash whenever possible so ensure the person you’re trying to tip actually receives the gratuity.

Want to know when to tip for other services? Read on to make sense of where, when, and how much to tip when you’re traveling in Greece.

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View of a narrow street in the old town of Thessaloniki, Greece

How To Tip In Greece

Cafe Server:

Greece doesn’t have a strong culture of tipping at cafes. But if there is a tip jar by the cash register, it’s a nice gesture to leave a couple of coins. For exceptional table service, round up to the nearest €1.

Restaurant Server:

A tip is typically expected, especially for stellar service, but some restaurants round up the bill to include gratuity. Check the bill first for these inclusions before deciding whether or not to tip. If there is no added tip, leave 5 to 10 percent, and a few coins on the table for the busser. Some restaurants may refuse gratuity for service, so if you’re unsure, you can certainly ask before tipping. There may be a “cover charge” on the bill, which covers the cost of bread and non-bottled water, but doesn’t include gratuity.

Bartender:

At bars, it’s not necessary to tip a bartender, as most do not expect it; but it is considerate to round to the nearest €1 for great service.

Tour Guides:

In Greece, it’s customary to tip tour guides. Tip €2 to €5 per person, per day for a group tour; and €20 per person, per day for a private tour.

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View of Greek Orthodox Church in Monastiraki Square and line of yellow cabs

Taxis:

A good rule of thumb is to round up to the nearest euro. This approach simplifies paying with cash, and it’s not an unusual way to tip without actually tipping. For exceptional service, or if you use a taxi driver for multiple stops, for a longer distance, or as a guide, you might add 5 to 10 percent of the final fare to your total payment.

Airport Shuttle Driver:

It is not necessary to tip your driver, but feel free to give €1 per bag if they help with your luggage.

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Doorman:

If a doorman assists with luggage or hailing transportation, a simple thank you is appreciated. But for exceptional service, it certainly wouldn’t be remiss to offer €1.

Bellhop:

At hotels, feel free to tip the bellhop €1 to €2 per bag delivered to your room, but no more than €5 total. 

Housecleaning:

At hotels, or in vacation rentals that have daily cleaning services, it’s customary to leave €1 per night, especially if the cleaner is doing a great job.

Front Desk at the Astra Suites

Concierge:

If the concierge goes above and beyond with helping you book reservations, giving you directions, and/or providing insider recommendations, it’s considerate to tip €5 to €10. For answers to quick questions, though, you shouldn’t feel obligated.

Stylist:

For haircuts, shampoos, trims, and shaves, it’s considerate, but not expected, to tip 10 percent of the final bill if you’re satisfied with your new look.

Spa Service Provider:

A tip isn’t expected, but you can leave up to 10 percent for anything that goes above and beyond your expectations. Simply ask for an envelope for the tip at the front desk, and then either deliver the envelope to your provider or leave the tip at the front desk.

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Arts & Culture Cities Food & Drink Travel Trends Weekend Getaways

10 Best Celebrity Chef Restaurants in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is the undisputed capital of celebrity chef restaurants. If you’re a famous cook, you’re not famous enough unless you’ve got a joint on Las Vegas Boulevard. Below, we’ve listed 10 of the best celebrity chef restaurants in Las Vegas.

The Best Celebrity Chef Restaurants in Las Vegas

It’s nearly impossible to choose just 10 great celebrity restaurants in Las Vegas, so do keep in mind that there are plenty more beyond this list, too.

Joël Robuchon

Joël robuchon

[st_content_ad]When it comes to celebrity chef restaurants in Las Vegas, both of Joël Robuchon’s in the MGM Grand are darn near the best. France’s most famous chef operates L’Atelier Las Vegas de Joël Robuchon, as well as the Joël Robuchon Restaurant. In the former, his exquisite recipes are prepared in front of you in an open-exhibition kitchen. Decor is red and black, sleek and classy. Order prix fixe or a tasting portion—you can’t go wrong. The latter, which is purple and plush with elegant decor and linens, is about as fancy and splurgy as you can get. And yes, it’s all worth it.

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Restaurant Guy Savoy

Restaurant guy savoy

Restaurant Guy Savoy, in Caesars Palace, is refined, quiet, and quite excellent. Guy Savoy, a master of a chef, has made sure that his Las Vegas restaurant presents as serious a fine dining experience as his lauded original in Paris, France. His Vegas spot has two Michelin stars of its own, a 13-course tasting menu, a superlative wine list, a caviar room, and a private chef’s table for those who want to see where and how the magic happens. Service here is dignified and highly attentive.

É by José Andrés

É by jose andres

José Andrés was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” as well as a James Beard Outstanding Chef. É by José Andres, in the Cosmopolitan, shows off why—it’s a hidden enclave serving avant garde Spanish cuisine; there are just two nightly seatings for eight people each, and the lucky patrons get treated to 21 courses of full-flavored surprises.

This is a bucket-list item for most gourmands, though Jaleo, the restaurant that houses it, is no slouch either. For that one, Andrés created inspired Mediterranean and Spanish dishes, presented beautifully in festive environs. The chef’s two other Las Vegas restaurants are Bazaar Meat, a large-portion steakhouse off the Strip; and China Poblano, serving Chinese-Mexican fusion food in a brightly colored dining room.

Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar

Guy fieri’s vegas kitchen and bar

Guy Fieri went to college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and seems to have gotten the town’s spirit infused into his identity—and his cooking. As far as celebrity chef restaurants in Las Vegas go, this may very well be the first that comes to mind. Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar in the Linq Hotel is very, well, Guy Fieri. It’s casual, busy, and fun, with nice servers and big, bold entrees. Order a Vegas-style burger and fries or share some “Trash Can Brisket Nachos.” Come here for lunch, late-night dining, lots of beer, and views of the Strip.

Fieri also operates El Burro Borracho in the Rio Hotel, right next to the next to the VooDoo Beach pool party—it’s Fieri’s signature take on Mexican food.

Border Grill

Border grill

Beloved Los Angeles chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken rose to national prominence on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters and Food Network’s Too Hot Tamales. Their popular Border Grill chain has two Las Vegas locations whipping up modern Mexican food full of color and flavor.

One is in Mandalay Bay and is great for brunch, which includes bottomless mimosas and unlimited small plates. The chefs’ second local spot is in Caesars Palace, where a ceviche bar lets you try many varieties, including Guatemalan, Peruvian, and Caribbean. Both locations feature quick and friendly service and bold Latin decor.

Bouchon

Bouchon

Thomas Keller is the revered restaurateur best known for having created the Michelin three-starred French Laundry in California’s wine country, and Per Se in Manhattan, which also boasts three Michelin stars. Joining the ever-growing trend of celebrity chef restaurants in Las Vegas, the famous chef transported the menu and ambiance of his much-loved Bouchon Bistro in Yountville right into the Venetian Resort.

Come for the French comfort fare and bistro classics in this high-vaulted space full of warmth, or enjoy the night views from out on the patio. In either scenario, Bouchon Las Vegas presents expert service, extremely flavorful dishes, and hand-painted murals. This being a Thomas Keller joint, there’s an extensive wine list, too.

Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen

Gordon ramsay’s hell’s kitchen

Fans of Gordon Ramsay’s hit show will adore Hell’s Kitchen, which opened in early 2018 at Caesars Palace. It’s Ramsay’s fifth Las Vegas restaurant, but the first that attempts to replicate his studio set. A life-sized video of the intense television personality greets you at the door, and then you walk into an immersive experience whose details will be immediately recognizable to regular viewers.

Ramsay is a Michelin-starred chef, and his culinary talent shines via concoctions like his smoked beet salad, lobster risotto, beef Wellington, and sticky toffee pudding. A huge bar offers craft cocktails, more than 20 wines by the glass, and a 30-option beer list. The vast 300-seat dining room features fire elements, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows that face the Strip and the resort’s fountains. It’s always packed here, so book early.

Rivea

Rivea

Back in 2015, when Michelin-decorated chef Alain Ducasse debuted Rivea, his refined Las Vegas restaurant, he said of it, “Every detail transports guests to those endless summer nights in the South of France.” This romantic sentiment has held true throughout the restaurant’s existence thus far: Its inviting interior is done in cool blues and greens, and Ducasse’s French and Italian flavors, put together with local, seasonal ingredients, are always simple and fresh.

Rivea sits on the 64th floor of Mandalay Bay’s Delano Las Vegas, a sky-high perch that provides breathtaking 180-degree views over Las Vegas. While soaking in the skyline, savor small plates, main courses, and desserts that are highlighted by sommelier-curated aperitifs. Specialties here include beef carpaccio, chickpea crepes, and Provencal caponata. Adjacent to Rivea is Skyfall Lounge, where deejays spin late into the night.

Cut by Wolfgang Puck 

Cut

Wolfgang Puck is one of the world’s best-known chefs, so it’s no surprise that Cut has become one of the most prominent celebrity chef restaurants in Las Vegas. The Palazzo’s fancy steakhouse is modern and vast; rectangular chandeliers elevate the dining room, while expert servers help you choose your cut. Options include Japanese and American wagyu, New York sirloin, a 12-ounce ribeye, and filet mignon. Vegetarians can create a worthwhile dinner by mixing and matching the long and creative list of well-prepared sides. Everything comes expertly plated, as a roving whiskey cart makes its rounds.

Wolfgang Puck fans will want to visit his other Las Vegas restaurants, too: Spago, Cucina, Lupo, and Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill.

Giada

Giada

Giada de Laurentiis’s first restaurant has been a huge hit. Opened in 2014, the 300-seat Giada at the Cromwell Hotel features bright Italian flavors, an open kitchen for those who are interested in watching the chefs cook, and charming white-and-cream decor. With views of the Bellagio fountains, indoor and terrace seating, and an ambiance that melds elegance with fun, it seems that there’s nothing that the Emmy-winning Food Network star can’t do.

The top chef puts her Le Cordon Bleu education to good use here—try the polenta waffles with Nutella for breakfast, the elaborate mimosa brunch, the lunch or dinner tasting menu paired with wine, and all those fresh-baked breads and pizzas. For dessert, the lemon ricotta cookies are sublime. If you’re staying at the Cromwell, you can order food from Giada right to your room. De Laurentiis’s second Las Vegas restaurant, Pronto by Giada, debuted at Caesars Palace in early 2018.

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–Original reporting by Avital Andrews. Follow her on Twitter @avitalb.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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Adventure Travel Beach Family Travel Island Luxury Travel Romantic Travel Sustainable Travel

The British Virgin Islands After Hurricane Irma

“Irma was a bad woman.”

I’m in the passenger seat of a cab while visiting the island of Virgin Gorda when my taxi driver utters the name—Irma, the category five hurricane that pummeled the British Virgin Islands in 2017. On a Wednesday last September, Hurricane Irma hit the island chain with winds of up to 185 miles per hour, ripping up roofs, stripping the bark off trees, and destroying everything in its path.

“We’ve had category five storms before, but nothing like her. Never in my life have I seen something like that,” the cab driver says, shaking his head. And the islands’ struggle didn’t end with Irma; there was Hurricane Maria and the massive floods followed. For the first time in the territory’s history, the governor declared a state of emergency.

“She ain’t never allowed back here in the B.V.I.,” my driver went on. “We’re taking her passport away.”

As we rolled through the streets, my eyes lingered on traces of Irma’s destruction—dented boats hoisted onto grassy clearings and telephone poles perpendicular to the ground. It took six months before all of the islands in the B.V.I. had power restored. But by the time I landed in June, everything was back up and running.

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The B.V.I. Are Waiting for You

after hurricane irma
Cooper Island’s beach as seen from above

The B.V.I. are more dependent on tourism than any other island chain in the Caribbean, and about half of the tourism dollars in the British Virgin Islands are earned on the water. When exploring these islands, many people do so by boat, waking up anchored near one island and spending the night anchored off another. More than 2,000 of the beds currently available in the B.V.I. are at sea on boats; after the storm, many charter companies returned and the sailing industry made a quick recovery.

Hotels, however, are recovering more slowly after last year’s hurricane season. At the time of writing, there are 627 hotel beds available on land, compared to 2,700 before the storm. The experience hasn’t been the same on every island. For instance, on Tortola, the most populated island, many hotels are still rebuilding, while on Anegada, many of the hotels and villas reopened as early as February.

On Cooper Island, an islet southeast of Tortola that’s accessible by private or charter boat, rebuilding has been a slow but determined process. At the eco-luxury Cooper Island Beach Club, the resort worked hard to restore everything—including a cafe that rivals any in Brooklyn, a micro-brewery, and a rum bar with the largest selection of rum in the Virgin Islands—in time for its early April reopening.

Restoring paradise is no small task. Irma took out two docks and swept five feet of sand off the beach. “Nearly everything needed to be fixed,” said Patrick Brady, the resort’s Sustainability Engineer. “We have replaced most of the components of the solar and electrical grid due to saltwater intrusion.” That’s key because the resort’s rooftop panels supply 85 percent of the on-site energy. And the damage went way beyond what’s visible to guests. “Water pumps and electrical appliances have also been replaced. We also cleaned and resealed every cistern on the property due to contamination from saltwater and vegetation.”

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Once famous for its shady palm trees and large sea grape plants that lined the sand, the beach looks a little bare to returning guests. But Cooper Island Beach Club—which is a favorite stop among both visitors and locals—is back up and running, and is just as sustainable as it was before the storm. The beach is growing back, too, thanks to the Seeds of Love program that collects and plants donated seedlings from neighboring islands. Cooper Island still has its beautiful sunsets and the largest seagrass field in all of the B.V.I., and the Beach Club’s demand for its microbrews is as high as ever.

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A New Disaster  

after hurricane irma
Sargassum seaweed building up on the island of Anegada

Last year’s hurricanes are not the only sign of the looming menace of global warming. Sargassum seaweed—a brown and squishy sea plant with a faint odor—washing up on the shore is a new natural disaster in the Caribbean. With more of it than ever before, some resorts are clocking in extra morning hours to clear the seaweed, while on remote islands it’s accumulating into piles, some as high as 10 feet, that stretch all the way down the shoreline.

“It’s much worse than last year,” many locals told me, adding onto the list of storm griefs brought about by Irma. But as I’d learn later on my tour with Terrence, the Cooper Island Beach Club’s gardener and botanist, the seaweed is not actually a direct result of the storms.

Deforestation in the Amazon has led to more nutrients than ever before running off into rivers that deposit them into the sea, nourishing the seaweed colonies. Large blooms flourish in the warm water, forming enormous mats that are carried northward by wind and ocean currents—not just throughout the Caribbean, but also as far north as North Carolina.

On beaches throughout these areas, workers are clearing the seaweed not only for the sake of beachgoers who are put off by the smell and appearance, but also because it’s a danger to the marine life that gets tangled in it. On Cooper Island, I watched the team clear the seaweed early in the morning, but by the time I returned to watch the sun set over the peaks of Tortola, more sargassum had found its way back to shore. Each morning, they’ll have to clear it again.

Restoring Paradise

after hurricane irma
The sun setting over Tortola, as seen from Cooper Island

During my walk through the gardens at Cooper Island, I noticed an air succulent tied to a tree. Terrence pointed to the ground just three feet from the tree and said, “After the storm, I found it right there.” In the ferocious winds of Irma and Maria, this plant without roots held its ground. When he discovered it after the storms had passed, Terrence picked up the tenacious succulent and tied it back to its tree.

Rebuilding is a slow effort made of many small efforts, but in the B.V.I., people are putting the pieces back together—sometimes one plant at a time—with a deep commitment to keeping these islands beautiful and welcoming, hopefully for the generations to come.

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Jamie Ditaranto visited the British Virgin Islands as a guest of the BVI Tourist Board. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.

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Beach Cities Food & Drink Miscellany

10 Best Fort Myers Beach Restaurants

Located on Estero Island, Fort Myers Beach is both a township and a larger, more colloquial frame of reference. Its restaurants showcase a variety of cuisines and cultures, but many of the best Fort Myers Beach restaurants highlight the spectacular West Coast sunsets, feature outdoor seating, and make as much use as possible of the local bounty.

10 Best Fort Myers Beach Restaurants

Choosing between the best Fort Myers Beach restaurants is difficult, so here’s a list to help you narrow your choices.

The Dixie Fish Co.

fort myers beach restaurants

[st_content_ad]Fashioned after a classic Florida fish house, this favorite Fort Myers Beach restaurant, which began life in 1937 as a market selling mullet, snapper, clams, and oysters, has a stunning view of Matanzas Harbor. It’s not just waterfront dining—the restaurant patio actually sits out over the water. Grab a spot outside on the extensive dock and sup on the “pink gold,” the nickname that was given to the local fresh shrimp that are as plentiful as sunsets. You can also choose among a selection of freshly caught fish including grouper, mahi-mahi, snapper, and other Gulf fish.

With a tin roof and no windows, this open-air restaurant has weathered hurricane winds, tidal surges, and more. The Dixie Fish Co. also offers live music most evenings.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill 

fort myers beach restaruants

Named for novelist Randy Wayne White’s well-known character, this sports-bar sibling to The Dixie Fish Co. is a waterfront institution. It’s also now a chain with three locations, but the original spot is within splashing distance of Dixie. Fare is mostly Caribbean-inspired fish and seafood, though there’s an occasional outlier (Maine lobster, Scottish salmon, Texas barbecue ribs). The menu is extensive, so even large groups won’t have trouble feeding everybody.

Randy Wayne White was a full-time fisherman before he started writing, and his personal history is detailed on the menu. Read it while you wait for your meal, or put the menu down, kick back, and listen to the live entertainment; it gives you a great glimpse into what Fort Myers Beach was like before it became a vacation spot.

Flipper’s on the Bay 

fort myers beach restaurants

Flipper’s offers peaceful surroundings even in the months when Fort Myers Beach feels inundated with tourists. Here, the tropical-centric menu brings seasonal harvests (citrus, mango, coconut, banana) and aquaculture (grouper, snapper, shrimp), and blends them with Latin staples (corn, beans and root vegetables). Executive chef Juan Cruz, an El Salvador native who trained with Wolfgang Puck and Thomas Keller, serves three squares per day in this lovely Lover’s Key Resort restaurant. His hand with mother sauces ties every dish together as if with silk thread.

Sit outside for a view of Estero Bay—you might even catch a glimpse of dolphins at play.

Fresh Catch Bistro

fort myers beach restaurants

You might have noticed a theme about the best Fort Myers Beach restaurants: They all follow a certain predictable equation. Great seafood + gorgeous views = a true winner. But the truth is, it’s easy to produce a superior sunset when you have the location. Just look west. The product, too, isn’t that hard to source—this is the Gulf of Mexico, after all. Putting it together the way Fresh Catch Bistro does is just a bit harder. This fine-dining spot is literally beachside—the sand is mere inches away—yet it manages to pull off table linens, genteel service, and stunning, five-star fare that’s beautifully plated.

Appetizers pull influences from all over the globe, but main courses are mix-and-match—you choose the protein (try the hogfish), the preparation (Caribbean jerk), and the sauce (with tropical fruit salsa). Technique is impeccable, and while an excellent wine list is on offer, the martinis here rock as well.

Heavenly Biscuit

fort myers beach restaurants

This cottage restaurant, which appears to have been transported from a Caribbean island, is justifiably famous. As such, it’s always busy—expect to wait in line to try the biscuits. Are they worth the wait? Yes—especially given what’s served alongside them, options that range from your typical eggs, bacon, smoked sausage or honey ham to a salmon steak, ahi tuna, fried chicken, or a country fried steak. 

The Heavenly Biscuit is open for breakfast/brunch and lunch, but only takes cash. Fortunately, there’s an ATM in the restaurant if you get carried away.

Hoosiers in Paradise

fort myers beach restaurants

If you’re from the Midwest and visiting Fort Myers for vacation, look no further. This neighborhood bar and restaurant will make you feel right at home, offering pork loin sandwiches and “spudskins” (half-cut potatoes filled with cheese, bacon and scallions, or chili and cheese). But it’ll also give you that home-away-from-home feeling, as it’s known for its fish tacos filled with beer-battered fried cod, homemade broccoli slaw, and sweet-hot habanero sauce. Picnic tables on a patio account for the “paradise” part of the name. Ultracasual and filling, Hoosiers in Paradise is the perfect way to recharge after a day at the beach.

The Lighthouse Restaurant & Bar

fort myers beach restaurants

For a dichotomous kind of dining, check out The Lighthouse at Port Sanibel Marina, which overlooks the waters that lead to Connie Mack Island. When you sit outside on the 160-degree deck—which is screened, incidentally, so no need for smelly bug spray—you have a dual landscape of superyachts and native wildlife. Inside, you’ll find a warm, homey lounge with nightly live entertainment, as well as an expansive, plantation-style dining room.

The staff here is stellar, serving sophisticated seafood dishes that take advantage of the regional influences, plus steaks, chops, poultry, and pastas. The Lighthouse specializes in special events, so large family or friend groups don’t throw them in the slightest.

Smokin’ Oyster Brewery

fort myers beach restaurants

First fact: The name of this Fort Myers Beach restaurant is mostly a misnomer. It’s neither a brewery nor a smokehouse, though it does serve oysters. Fact number two: Call it S.O.B. like a local. Why? Why not. Fact number three: If you leave a piece of memorabilia from your home to add to the international collection covering the walls, you’ll probably give yourself away as a visitor. But you’ll also be immortalized at this popular joint, which has been collecting such stuff since it opened in 1997. Then order an ice-cold beer, a bowl of chowder, bucket of crabs, or plate of fried seafood, and sit back and listen to the live music.

Like many of the best restaurants in Fort Myers Beach, S.O.B. has an outdoor seating area—in this case, a porch of the renovated home that serves as its locale. Take advantage, especially during sunset.

South Beach Grille

fort myers beach restaurants

Located in Santini Marina Plaza, South Beach Grille is named for and decorated to recall Miami’s Art Deco District. A former grocery store, the restaurant’s large dining room makes good use of its space with banquettes along one wall, a decorative bar along the other, an open kitchen at the back, and linen-covered tables throughout—all under a swirling geometric ceiling.

The fare is a global mix of seafood and meats, taking inspiration from New Orleans, Italy, Asia, and beyond. But it all works, given the high quality of the ingredients and the deft hands of the chefs. The staff can help you pair your meal with a drink from the generous wine list or a creative cocktail starring top-shelf liquor. For dessert, consider the fresh Florida citrus crème brulee or one of the spirited “ice cream” drinks instead.

Tuckaway Café

fort myers beach restaurants

Traveling with your pup? This European-style café welcomes dogs and humans, and offers free Wi-Fi to boot. Coffee drinks made with Lavazza espresso—not to mention fruit smoothies—are always in high demand, but this spot is more than simply a coffee house. For breakfast and lunch, there are two unique treats: authentic steamed bagel sandwiches loaded with fresh ingredients, and a traditional Liege “wafel,” made from a 400-year-old European recipe and topped with whipped cream.

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– Original reporting by Jen Karetnik

Categories
Budget Travel Cities Miscellany

11 Cheap Hotels in New York City

As any New Yorker will tell you, finding your own space within the tightly-jammed 23 square miles of Manhattan is the ultimate luxury. For travelers who don’t mind tiny rooms or the absence of fine amenities, cheap hotels in New York come in a surprising array of choices spanning every neighborhood, from Harlem to Battery Park.

Cheap Hotels in New York City

No matter your budget, you can’t go wrong with these 11 cheap places to stay in New York. Keep in mind, “cheap” is relative—hotel rates here are higher than almost anywhere else in America—and ear plugs are always a packing essential.

Hotel 31

cheap hotels in new york

[st_content_ad]Although it’s located in Midtown, this small hotel on 31st Street East has a relaxed and youthful vibe that feels straight out of neighborhood Murray Hill. Hotel 31, along with its cousin, long-term rental haven Hotel 17, have killer locations and have long represented the best of cheap hotels in New York. You’ll feel like a local while staying on this quiet residential street, with a range of good cheap eats and lively bars nearby, plus easy transit connections.

The hotel’s 60 rooms are basic yet sparkling clean, as are the bathrooms (some of which are shared with other rooms on the hall). You can pay extra for a private bath, but shared baths rarely seem to be occupied, so why bother? Don’t expect room service or a trendy bar—or even a lobby, for that matter—but do expect to save money while enjoying a true New York experience.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, 24-hour concierge, air conditioning, in-room vanity and sink, hair dryer, flat-screen TV, and multilingual staff.

Book It: Get prices for Hotel 31 and other New York City hotels

Pod 39 Hotel

cheap hotels in new york

First came Pod 51, a Midtown hotel specializing in boldly designed tiny spaces with affordable prices. Then the concept evolved with a tech slant for this second installation, opened in 2012, not far from Grand Central Terminal. Each colorful and compact pod features Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV, individualized climate control and dimming lights, and en suite bathrooms with rainfall showers.

Michelin-star chef April Bloomfield’s Salvation Taco is on site, as is an ultra-cool rooftop bar, so there’s little reason to stay in your room. Free walking tours are yet another bonus.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, concierge, multilingual staff, laundry service, air conditioning, and flat-screen TV.

Book It: Get prices for Pod 39 Hotel and other New York City hotels

Seton Hotel

cheap hotels in new york

This historic 60-room hotel in the heart of Midtown East is beloved for its low-key vibe and friendly staff who aim to help guests make the most of time in NYC. Rooms are small and basic, but each is individually decorated and exudes classic charm.

Rooms with in-room sinks and shared baths are the most affordable option. For more privacy, reserve a room with en suite bath. A bonus for budget-conscious travelers: The hotel offers free coffee and espresso in the lobby, and delicious cheap eats (in the form of Shake Shack) are right next door.

Amenities:  Free Wi-Fi, bathrobes and slippers, flat-screen TV, guest lounge with complimentary coffee, business center, access to nearby gym, iPod docking stations, and dry-cleaning and laundry service.

Book It: Get prices for Seton Hotel and other New York City hotels

Mayfair Hotel

cheap hotels in new york

A favorite of theater-goers on a budget, Mayfair Hotel has old-school charm—think wood paneling and wallpaper so kitschy, it’s cool—and a surprisingly peaceful feel, even though it’s located near the heart of Times Square.

Mayfair Hotel is on 49th Street, next door to Eugene O’Neill Theater; be sure to check out the old Broadway photos in the lobby. Italian restaurant Cielo is great for grabbing a quick bite before a show.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, on-site bar, air conditioning, flat-screen TV, multilingual staff, and in-room safes.

Book It: Get prices for Mayfair Hotel and other New York City hotels

Room Mate Grace

cheap hotels in new york

The concept of Room Mate hotels is for guests to feel as though they’re staying with a friend or “roommate,” and this lively Times Square hotel delivers on that idea. Guests rave about the friendly, accessible staff and relaxed atmosphere. Rooms feature funky decor, eye-popping wallpaper, retro furnishings, and modern bathrooms with rainfall showers.

Sleep late without missing breakfast—a hearty buffet is served until noon—then refresh with a late-afternoon dip in the heated pool. There’s also a sauna and pool bar.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, fitness center, on-site bar, pool, dry-cleaning and laundry service, concierge, multilingual staff, air conditioning, in-room safes, and flat-screen TV.

Book It: Get prices for Room Mate Grace and other New York City hotels

The Jane

cheap hotels in new york

Historic charm and an unbeatable location near Hudson River Park and High Line make The Jane one of the best cheap hotels in New York. The quirky space, first opened in 1908 as lodging for sailors, is designed to feel like being aboard a ship, complete with tiny sleeping quarters.

The 130 standard cabins (reeling in at 50 square feet) and 40 bunkbed cabins have shared baths, while 30 captain’s cabins feature en suite bathrooms. Be sure to have a cocktail in the Old Rose or seasonal Rooftop Bar after a pedal along the river with one of the hotel’s complimentary bicycles.

Amenities:
Free Wi-Fi, concierge, rooftop bar, on-site restaurant, air conditioning, flat-screen TV, C.O. Bigelow bath amenities, and in-room safes.

Book It: Get prices for The Jane and other New York City hotels

Sohotel

cheap hotels in new york

This 100-room boutique hotel, located at the cross-section of Chinatown and Nolita, is ideally located for travelers who hope to explore both neighborhoods. Little Italy, the Lower East Side, and Soho are also within a short walk. History buffs love the spot’s lineage as the city’s oldest continuously operating hotel as well as vintage features like exposed brick, tin ceilings, and classic subway tiles.

Extra touches like bath amenities by C.O. Bigelow, one of New York’s oldest pharmacies, and easy-going and friendly staff help to set Sohotel apart. Neighborhood brunch favorite Randolph Beer is steps away.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, 24-hour reception, safe deposit boxes at reception, flat-screen TV, kids’ activities, and concierge.

Book It: Get prices for Sohotel and other New York City hotels

Hostelling International-New York

cheap hotels in new york

The grandmother of all cheap places to stay in New York is HI-New York, the largest hostel in America. It’s housed within a landmark Victorian Gothic building (designed by celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt, of Biltmore fame), near Central Park and subway lines. The hostel can house up to 672 guests in a range of women’s and men’s dorms. Rooms and baths are well laid out and, thankfully, kept immaculately clean.

Guests are encouraged to gather in common areas like the spacious outdoor terrace, kitchen, and pool room, and to join together for group outings and free walking tours. Looking for the best place to sample local craft beers? Ask someone on staff—the young and friendly HI team is a solid resource for finding the best of the neighborhood’s dining and nightlife.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, in-room safes, on-site restaurant, laundry service, multilingual staff, and self-serve laundry.

Book It: Get prices for Hostelling International-New York and other New York City hotels

Aloft Harlem

cheap hotels in new york

Aloft offers a modern and comfortable choice for travelers hoping to soak up the creative energy of historic Harlem. Central Park and Columbia University are nearby, as are landmarks like the Apollo Theatre and Sylvia’s Restaurant. As at most of Starwood’s Aloft properties, the aesthetic is sleek and service is professional and friendly.

The W XYZ Bar is a convenient, sometimes lively place to sip a cocktail before heading out to hear music, and a 24-hour grab-and-go area offers light snacks, including tasty egg pots for breakfast on the move.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, 24-hour fitness center, dry-cleaning and laundry service, self-service laundry, pool, multilingual staff, business center, concierge, and kids’ activities.

Book It: Get prices for Aloft Harlem and other New York City hotels

Gild Hall

cheap hotels in new york

Gild Hall is one of the best cheap hotels in New York for travelers who want easy access to Wall Street, Freedom Tower, and the Brooklyn Bridge. They’re all within walking distance of Gild Hall, along with a range of exciting new galleries and restaurants.

The hotel has an on-site Tuscan restaurant, Felice, as well as an upper-level wine bar called La Soffitta. Have a cocktail amid vintage books in the library lounge before hitting the nearby pubs of Stone Street.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, fitness center, 24-hour business center, Sferra linens, Frette robes, D.S. & Durga luxury amenities, and flat-screen LCD TV.

Book It: Get prices for Gild Hall and other New York City hotels

The Wall Street Inn

cheap hotels in new york

This downtown gem is rich in charm. One of New York’s last remaining family-operated hotels, The Wall Street Inn is also one of Manhattan’s rare female-owned properties.

The 46-room inn is a good choice for families and travelers planning to visit Freedom Tower and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, as well as Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty. Another rarity in the world of New York City hotels is continental breakfast—with all the fuel you need, including coffee and pastries, included in the rate.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi, fitness center, business center, dry-cleaning and laundry service, multilingual staff, and air conditioning.

Book It: Get prices for The Wall Street Inn and other New York City hotels

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—Original reporting by Jess Simpson

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Active Travel Arts & Culture Cities Experiential Travel Historical Travel Miscellany

12 Places to Hear Incredible New Orleans Jazz

New Orleans is called the Birthplace of Jazz and renowned for cultivating an atmosphere where history-making artists like Jelly Roll Morton, Sweet Emma Barrett, and Louis Armstrong, and modern masters like Trombone Shorty and Kermit Ruffins thrive. The living art form of New Orleans jazz is constantly evolving, keeping the scene fresh and music-lovers engaged. Frenchmen Street is the hot spot for live music clubs, but jazz performers light up stages in every neighborhood.

The Top Places to Hear New Orleans Jazz

To help, here’s a list of twelve hot places locals love to hear live New Orleans jazz.

Preservation Hall

Preservation hall

[st_content_ad]Louis Armstrong once said, “Preservation Hall. Now that’s where you’ll find all the greats.” For over 50 years, the beloved New Orleans music hall, in the heart of the French Quarter, has spotlighted the city’s brightest talents.

A collective of musicians come together nightly to perform traditional, acoustic jazz in the historic listening room. Sets run 45-minutes, with up to five shows per night. With a 100-person maximum, limited seating is available on wooden benches or floor cushions; the rest is standing room only. Purchase “Big Shot” seats in advance for guaranteed, premium seating and no waiting in line.

This isn’t a bar—no beverages are served, although you can bring your own in a plastic cup—so all ages are welcome.

Maple Leaf

Maple leaf

This revered club, located Uptown in the Carrollton neighborhood, is all about great live music, every night, and jazz mingles on the roster with blues, funk, zydeco, and beyond. With no pretense and no frills, this dark, tin-tile-lined room has a stage on one end and a pulsing dance floor at its core. Don’t be shy when a local asks you to dance—getting in on the groove is the classic Maple Leaf experience. Cool your sweat on the sweet back patio, then get back in the mix.

Don’t miss an opportunity to catch Tuesday night sessions with local favorite Rebirth Jazz Band.

The Spotted Cat Music Club

The spotted cat music club

Peek in the window of this Frenchmen Street favorite and you’ll immediately understand why locals and musicians love this spot. Intimate and unassuming, the barrier between artist and audience is non-existent. Even when the floor gets crowded, there’s always room to groove. There’s no reservations or cover charge, just show up and be prepared to buy drinks—cash only—and dance your jazz-loving heart out late into the night.

The Three Muses

The three muses

Another Frenchmen Street favorite, here the guiding force – a.k.a. muses – is music, food, and spirits. This is a great spot for sharing small plates of cheeses or bruschetta and sipping craft cocktails (like the superlative Champagne Supernova), while listening to a chill New Orleans jazz club set. Reserve a table and relax into the friendly, low-key vibe.

d.b.a.

d.b.a.

The roster at this Frenchmen Street haunt is heavy on brass bands and the atmosphere is sheer fun. The place gets crowded and there are no advance tickets, so arrive early. The first set usually begins around 7 p.m., followed by another at 10 p.m., and sometimes a late-night show. A large selection of beers on tap and an impressive roster of booze add to the draw of a night out enjoying New Orleans jazz.

Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro

Snug harbor jazz bistro

Plenty of history and tradition are nestled within this Frenchmen Street institution. For 30 years, greats including Marsalis, Neville, and Toussaint have shared their talents from this stage. Shows are general admission, so arrive early to snag balcony seats overlooking the players for one of two nightly sets.

No photography is allowed, encouraging you to live in the moment and focus solely on the music.

Tipitina’s

Tipitina’s

The iconic Uptown venue, affectionately known as Tips, gained its name from a song by jazz great Professor Longhair, who frequently performed in the pre-Tips space. Other luminaries like Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, and Trombone Shorty have graced the stage, but the city’s rising stars of New Orleans jazz are also showcased.

The famous club is beloved for creating a non-profit foundation geared toward music education and developing young talent. That spirit translates into a feel-good energy for every show. Get your tickets in advance—this is an experience you don’t want to miss.

The Howlin’ Wolf Music Club

The howlin’ wolf music club

This funky go-to spot in the Warehouse District has lured droves of music-lovers to the industrial zone since 1988. That pioneering spirit shines on the eclectic roster, where jazz mixes with groove, blues, and rock. Expect blistering long sets and hot, sweaty fun … and don’t miss catching a late-night show, where every grooving body, musicians included, is ready to jam.

There’s a staggering collection of local brews and killer bar food (with a NOLA-twist, of course). Order a crawfish pie and gator balls and get ready to howl at the moon.

Chickie Wah Wah

Chickie wah wah

The atmospheric club with the playful name—named for a song by beloved NOLA-artist Bobby Marchan—is physically and spiritually located just off the beaten path, on upper Canal in Mid-City. This favorite pick among New Orleans jazz lovers is renowned for fostering local musicians, often featuring long-time artist residencies, and guaranteeing 100 percent of the evening’s cover charge (usually around $10) goes directly to performers.

The schedule varies but runs heavy on funk and brass. Check for afternoon and happy hour sets, which are always fun, and plan to hop a streetcar and arrive early to snag a table. Sets typically feature multiple artists, and the small room swells as the headliner’s set approaches.

Ellis Marsalis Center and Musician’s Village

Ellis marsalis center and musician’s village

Take a break from the club scene and experience true New Orleans jazz performances with an educational focus in this state-of-the-art venue in the Ninth Ward. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, native sons Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. developed the center to foster the city’s immense musical talent. Named for influential educator and pianist Ellis Marsalis, the space houses a 170-seat performance space, recording studios, and practice rooms.

Check the calendar for monthly performances in the Educators’ Series, where musicians who have shaped the city’s music scene are honored.

Le Bon Temp Roule

Le bon temp roule

French for “let the good times roll,” this beloved neighborhood bar became a New Orleans jazz standard when Kermit Ruffins’ longtime residency drew music lovers from all over to this Uptown dive.

In a playful nod to its reputation as a talent incubator, there’s a small stage dubbed “House of Dues.” Plan your trip around catching a Thursday night set by The Soul Rebels, then come back Friday for the free oysters and neighborhood camaraderie.

Bacchanal Wine

Bacchanal wine

This Bywater favorite is often called NOLA’s backyard party. And, what a backyard it is. Tables and chairs scattered in a classic New Orleans courtyard, trees draped with twinkly lights, sweet tunes drifting from the stage—it’s sheer New Orleans perfection.

This isn’t a reservations kind of place. Saunter in for a mid-afternoon set or plan your night around a show. Order a bottle of wine or bring your own (there’s a $20 corkage fee), and share small plates. Leave the kids with a sitter; this chill party is 21 and up.

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  • -Original reporting by Jess Simpson
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Arts & Culture Cities Entertainment Food & Drink Miscellany Oddities Theme Park

8 Unique Restaurants in Orlando

If ever there was a city where imagination would be embraced, Orlando is it. This culture of creativity thrives in the unique restaurants in Orlando as well, spots where culinary imagination is on full display in memorable—and delicious—meals.

8 Unique Restaurants in Orlando

With colorful characters, surprising pairings, and incredible locations, these unique restaurants in Orlando will have you talking about them long after your meal is over.

The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, Universal CityWalk

unique restaurants in orlando

[st_content_ad]You don’t even have to be hungry to defend a visit to this Steampunk-themed restaurant at Universal CityWalk. The restaurant’s elaborate exterior entices curious bypassers to peek in through the huge metal doors. And once you look, you’re hooked. Dessert lovers need go no farther than the first-floor café and shop, an easy stop for one-of-a-kind milkshakes like chocolate X5, key lime pie, marshmallow crisp, and red velvet. Have time to settle in for a full meal? Let your dapper host direct you to a table where you can choose from a menu where chocolate makes many appearances (yes, even in your salad) and views of the CityWalk below offer the perfect dining backdrop. If you’re lucky, the restaurant’s costumed patron namesakes—Penelope Toothsome and her robot Jacques—will pop by to say hello.

Jiko – The Cooking Place, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

unique restaurants in orlando

By the time you arrive at Jiko in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, you’re already in the safari mood. Set within a thatched roof lodge with views of animals grazing just beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows, the African savannah feels close. By the time the fragrant smells of African spices waft through, you’re truly transported. The seasonal menu offers a mix of brick-oven-fired flatbreads and oak-grilled steaks, alongside a large selection of wines that represent the regions of South Africa. Subtle lighting invokes the warm tones of an African sunset, and the open-show kitchen puts the culinary wizardry of chefs on full display.

Tom + Chee

unique restaurants in orlando

Sometimes what you really want is a sandwich you’d create if you were in your own kitchen. What’s a kitchen-less tourist to do? Tom + Chee to the rescue. This unique restaurant in Orlando offers a selection of sandwiches that sound like the sort of thing a creative teen might come up with on the fly. They also sound delicious. Case in point: The crunchy garlic chicken sandwich boasts kettle chips, and grilled-cheese donuts—a delicacy of Tom + Chee’s own creation—comes in flavors like “bananarama” and “choco bacon bliss.”  This quirky and unique restaurant in Orlando is located in the Crossroads Plaza right outside of Disney, and offers a great price-break from in-park offerings.

Tapa Toro, I-Drive 360

unique restaurants in orlando

They’ll have you at “nightly Flamenco dancer,” but that’s not the only reason to visit this unique restaurant in Orlando. Tapa Toro’s commitment to authenticity means that 60 percent of its ingredients are imported directly from Spain—including the Iberian ham and manchego cheese you’ll find on the tapas menu. If you’ve got a larger group, book into the 12-person paella pit and watch as your dinner is prepared right before your eyes. And if you’re a party of two, a table further into the restaurant can net you another surprise: The art on the walls comes to life. But blink and you’ll miss it—and wonder if you imagined the handsome matador painting you could have sworn was on the wall only moments before.

Ace Café Orlando

unique restaurants in orlando

Gear heads with a passion for bikes, cars, and rock and roll will love this place. The only North American location of the UK motor-themed café is in Orlando. Alongside the vehicles—in and outside of the restaurant—you’ll find delicious menu items and cool concepts. Billed as having “creative comfort food,” the gastropub offers everything from bangers and mash and chicken curry to blackened fish tacos and bread pudding, all in sizeable portions. Coming in for brunch? Catch a cab: Bottomless mimosas are paired with the gourmet spread.

The Vegan Hot Dog Cart

 

unique restaurants in orlando

The most unique restaurants in Orlando come about out of creative passion that fills a void in the culinary scene. The Vegan Hot Dog Cart is no exception. The 100 percent vegan cart serves up late-night hot dogs from its home base in the downtown core. Looking for more plant-based goodness? Check out its full-service restaurant at Market on South.

Café Tu Tu Tango

unique restaurants in orlando

Art meets dinner at Café Tu Tu Tango. The unique restaurant in Orlando invites local artists into the restaurant to paint and display their art. And its not just painters—the bohemian feel of the restaurant is accentuated by wandering dancers, singers, and colorful dinner plates. The tapas-style menu makes it easy to graze and browse the artists’ wares in between courses; you can even purchase a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home.

Sharks Underwater Grill, SeaWorld Orlando

unique restaurants in orlando

If nibbling on flounder while sharks swim by isn’t your idea of a good time, this spot might not be for you. But if you can get past that (maybe order the filet mignon, instead?), the chance to dine with a window into the world of these incredible underwater predators is an opportunity you won’t want to pass up. Reservations are recommended for this full-service lunch and dinner spot.

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– Original reporting by Heather Greenwood-Davis

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Arts & Culture Cities Food & Drink Miscellany

10 Best Cheap Eats in Orlando

In Orlando, a city known for its incredible food offerings, good food is a given. Celebrity-chef-helmed spots, inventive new concepts, and grubbin’ cheap eats in Orlando easily find a foothold among diners who know what they like. Food is so important to the social fabric here that each September the city pays homage to the food scene with its annual restaurant month.

The Best Cheap Eats in Orlando  

The only thing better than scoring a delicious meal at a great price is scoring the best delicious meals at the best prices. These cheap restaurants in Orlando offer both mouth-watering dishes and enticing price points that will leave you hard-pressed to walk away hungry.

Gringos Locos

cheap eats in orlando

[st_content_ad]When that Mexican craving calls, you must answer it. At Gringos Locos, you can do that without emptying your wallet. The simple menu at this Orlando cheap eats establishment has earned a cult following with its selection of fresh tacos, burritos, and sides. Locals flock here evenings between 4 and 8 for happy hour, when tacos are only $2 each. But even the regular prices won’t break the bank: A southeast chicken salad is the most expensive menu item and it rings in at $7.99.

Beefy King

cheap eats in orlando

When you’re a sandwich joint that has been in business for over 40 years, you know you’re doing something right. Royalty among cheap restaurants in Orlando, Beefy King has been serving up roast beef sandwiches since 1968, and has a very loyal following. A regular-sized sandwich is just $4.55, and combo meals are $7.75. Despite its name, this spot is not just about the beef. You can order ham, turkey, pastrami, corned beef, and BBQ pork options as well.

Mrs. Potato

cheap eats in orlando

Mrs. Potato may be the ultimate “meat and potatoes” spot. The lowly potato gets its due at this restaurant where rosti potatoes get the Brazilian treatment. Stuffed with the meats and vegetables of your choosing, the potatoes transform into dinner-plate sized pockets of everything delicious. Guy Fieri has even raved about this cheap place to eat in Orlando on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Best of all, these filling menu items won’t deplete your vacation budget—dishes range from $8 to $10 on average.

Bartaco

cheap eats in orlando

The taco offerings at Bartaco focus on fresh ingredients. Tuna and rock shrimp share the counter with pork belly and duck in this cheap restaurant in Orlando’s quest for the perfect meal. It’s a great spot when you’ve got a mixed meat-eating/vegetarian crowd. Choices like portobello with queso fresco, cauliflower, and falafel will be appreciated by both. The “high tide” happy hour between 5 and 6:30 on weekdays offers drink specials that range from sangria to anchojito verde. The kids’ menu takes the spice factor down a notch and adds things like fruit skewers and steamed broccoli to the mix.

Tako Cheena

cheap eats in orlando

There are tacos and then there are “takos.”  The cheeky play on the Mexican staple fuses Asian and Latin American flavors into uniquely delicious creations at this spot known for cheap eats in Orlando. Specialty takos include Thai peanut chicken and Indian yellow curry. Or, get beyond takos with intriguing options like Korean hot dogs or butter chicken burrito, all for $10 or less per person.

Sticky Rice

cheap eats in orlando

Looking to carb-load? You’d do well at Sticky Rice. The casual and cheap restaurant in Orlando specializes in Lao (from Laos) cuisine and focuses on one simple concept: a ball of very sticky rice (about the size of a snowball) that you eat by pulling off pieces and dipping it in one of two savory sauces. If you like protein with your rice, you’ve got several tasty options including lemongrass pork sausages and pieng gai (sticky street wings). Pull up a seat at the picnic-style tables and tear off as many paper towels as you need.

Beth’s Burger Bar

cheap eats in orlando

Sometimes all you really need is a two-handed burger that won’t disappoint. Beth’s Burger Bar promises that and more. Named Best Local Burger in 2014 by Orlando Sentinel and again in 2016 by Orlando Magazine, the burger options here aren’t menu items, they’re build-your-own masterpieces. Select your burger size and type, customize it with your favorite toppings and sauces, and add the side you desire. There are a few signature items: The Peanut Butter burger adds cheddar cheese, grilled onions, A1 sauce, and peanut butter sauce to your patty. And the Double D challenge is a four-patty burger with eight slices of bacon, five different cheeses and more. Whatever your choice, save room for one of this stand-out cheap eats in Orlando hand-spun milkshakes. The ample whipped cream and toppings make them meal worthy all on their own.

King Bao 

cheap eats in orlando

Take one fluffy steamed bun, fill it with the toppings you crave, and surrender it to your mouth. Once you go bao, you may never go back to tacos and wraps. At this small, cheap restaurant in Orlando, local chef Vic Nguyen offers up the beauties for under $4 each. Meat lovers will enjoy the Hogzilla, (thick-cut braised pork belly, pickled carrots and daikon, ground honey-roasted peanuts, and cilantro) and vegans will be equally impressed with the Veganville (crispy tofu with a shallot, ginger, and pepper relish, and topped with scallions and sesame seeds). Dessert options, including one laced with Nutella, are also popular.

Lazy Moon Pizza

cheap eats in orlando

What if all you needed was a slice of pizza to fill you up? What if that slice was the biggest one you’d ever seen? Slices are ridiculously large and prices incredibly small at this haven of cheap eats in Orlando, so it’s a win-win. Pick a “Lazy Fave” like “The Buff” (red sauce, blue cheese crumbles, buffalo chicken, buffalo sauce and baked ranch) for $6.50 or the El Fidel (mustard base, Mojo pork, ham, dill pickle slices, and mozzarella) for $7, or create your own masterpiece. While you wait, grab a drink and play a game of bocce ball on-site. The motto that fuels the Lazy Moon Pizza philosophy is one any tourist can get behind: Eat, Drink, and Be Lazy.

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– Original reporting by Heather Greenwood-Davis

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Arts & Culture Cities Food & Drink Miscellany

8 Best Orlando Restaurants

In a city that has become as much of a culinary destination as this one, deciding which are the 10 best restaurants in Orlando can tricky. The good news is that you can’t go wrong—just follow the lines and great food will follow.

Best Orlando Restaurants

The eight Orlando restaurants below represent a mix of high-end classics, new culinary upstarts, and quick-eat favorites.

Capa, Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World Resort

best restaurants in orlando

[st_content_ad]Take the elevator to the 17th floor of the Four Seasons Resort and you’ll be rewarded with a view that would makes every meal memorable. With incredible views of Disney’s Epcot and Magic Kingdom theme parks, meals that are timed right can end in fireworks. It’s the kind of novelty that might be necessary at other restaurants, but this rooftop steakhouse and bar doesn’t need it. At this Orlando restaurant, you’ll find Spanish-influenced cuisine that calls on a range of local offerings, including fresh Florida seafood and prime meats. The restaurant has been on Wine Enthusiast’s Best 100 Wine Restaurants in the U.S., and garnered best steak and best restaurant accolades by Orlando Magazine. Watch the chefs work their magic in the open kitchen or dine on the open terrace to soak up the view.

Luma on Park

best restaurants in orlando

There’s something to be said for chefs who recognize the talents in their own backyard. Chef Brandon McGlamery and Brian Cernell do exactly that by opting to create locally inspired cuisine in a gorgeous Orlando setting. Set on Park Avenue in Winter Park the restaurant serves meals that originate from local farmers and growers. The restaurant’s commitment to fresh ingredients is legendary, and the fact that Luma on Park also showcases one of the most extensive wine collections in Central Florida only adds to its popularity. Diners should choose from a selection of small plates or settle in for mains, and always save room for dessert.

Jaleo, Disney Springs

best restaurants in orlando

One of the most anticipated restaurants of the year will feature small Spanish plates and celeb-chef cred. This tapas spot is the brainchild of world-renowned Chef Jose Andres, and the restaurant aims to wow a local crowd with an extensive menu that reflects the regional diversity of traditional and contemporary Spanish cuisine. The restaurant is already a hit in other cities, including Washington D.C., where it originated. Its summer 2018 opening is expected to be a resounding success.

Jinya Ramen Bar

best restaurants in orlando

In Japan, ramen is a staple and the pre-packaged noodles most Americans associate with the dish—an abomination. Enter Jinya, a Ramen bar whose owner Tomonori Takahashi grew up eating the real thing and was determined to bring quality ramen to the masses. From the earthen pottery bowls to the rich broth and the aged noodles, not to mention Jinya’s outright refusal to skimp on fresh ingredients, this modern take on Japanese fare offers the ramen you didn’t even know you were missing.

Victoria and Albert, Grand Floridian Resort 

best restaurants in orlando

If the Grand Floridian is the crown in the Walt Disney World Resort collection, Victoria and Albert has to be the crown jewel. A fitting description given that the restaurant is named for royalty and offers exactly the kind of experience they’d expect. The AAA Five Diamond Award winning Orlando restaurant serves up timeless elegance with non-rushed (sometimes hours-long) meals that take you from one beautifully presented dish to another. The caveat: You’ll need to dress accordingly.  Men require jackets and casual wear is frowned upon. It’s a pricey outing for sure, but for special occasions, the exacting service can’t be beat.

Kabooki Sushi

best restaurants in orlando

There are two ways to do sushi: tiny shops with simple décor and a few wobbly tables, and lavish, beautifully decorated spots where the artistry on the walls is carried onto each plate. Kabooki Sushi is the latter.  Don’t let the location fool you: Though the Orlando restaurant seems off the beaten path at the Colonial Town Center strip mall, once you’re inside you’ll understand what all the fuss is about. Plates are painstakingly attended to by Chef Henry Moso, who manages to blend other cultures with the extensive Japanese offerings. Kabooki Sushi is the real deal, even if the food is almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Black Bean Deli

best restaurants in orlando

This traditional Cuban deli may have two different permanent locations in Orlando, but the commitment to Cuban food is the same at each. From the coffees in the morning to the empanadas and Cuban sandwiches in the afternoon, and the ropa vieja, carne con papa, and plantains at night, the deli has been meeting the expectations of its devoted clientele for more than 15 years. Mark your calendar with the daily specials and be prepared to come early to collect. Pro tip: Whether you eat in or take out, napkins are a must.

Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa

best restaurants in orlando

There’s probably no better location in town for this kind of meal. Set amidst the multicultural offerings of Mills 50, this Orlando restaurant is perfectly placed to mix Caribbean, Latin, and Asian cultural influences with the traditional fire, smoke, and pit methods BBQ requires. Don’t be surprise to taste soy, citrus, and curry in the sauces and spices of your meal. Pig Floyd doesn’t shy away from the fusions: Menus boast  BBQ banh mi with crisp pork belly, cheesesteaks, brisket, and Korean “kimcheeze” tacos among other things.  Not ready to let it all go? The restaurant is more than happy to set you up with some take-out for later.

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– Original reporting by Heather Greenwood-Davis

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Arts & Culture Cities Historical Travel Miscellany

9 Best Hotels in Washington, D.C.

D.C. prides itself on pomp and pageantry, right down to where you lay your head at night. And while there are plenty of luxury hotels in Washington, D.C., more and more moderately priced properties with a less buttoned-down vibe are emerging on the scene.

The Best Hotels in Washington, D.C.

On the list of the best hotels in Washington, D.C., the nine below regularly rise to the top.

Hay-Adams

best hotels in washington dc

[st_content_ad]An Italian Renaissance-style hotel built atop the site of the former homes of John Hay and Henry Adams, the Hay-Adams lies a stone’s throw from the White House on Lafayette Square. With luxurious rooms and 21 suites, the Hay-Adams can suit all needs. The Top of the Hay roof terrace offers views of the White House, while down in the basement, the winningly named Off the Record bar offers a good place for a discreet tipple.

Amenities: 50- to 55-inch HD flat-screen TVs, custom Italian bed linens and bath towels, and fitness center.

Book It: Get prices for the Hay-Adams and other Washington, D.C. hotels

Hotel Hive

best hotels in washington dc

At first blush, Hotel Hive might sound like a glorified hostel than one of the best hotels in Washington, D.C.: It’s composed of 125- to 250-square-foot “hives,” some of which, the hotel warns, are best suited “for those who go to bed late or can sleep through anything.” Yet since its opening in 2016, the Hotel Hive has been winning plaudits among travelers for its hip sensibility. Located in an atmospheric flatiron in Foggy Bottom, Hotel Hive is close to the Metro, the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House.

Amenities: Rooftop bar, smart TV, and mini-fridge on request.

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Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC

best hotels in washington dc

One of the most well-regarded luxury hotels in Washington, D.C., the Four Seasons offers elegant modern rooms and suites in Georgetown. If you really want to splurge, check out the hotel’s Royal Suite, which includes a private dining room, a furnished terrace, and bulletproof windows. The Four Seasons is also home to the locally acclaimed restaurant Bourbon Steak, where customers can “savor Michael Mina’s award-winning butter-bathed meat.”

Amenities: Two-lane indoor saline lap pool, fitness center, steam rooms and saunas, babysitting, and family concierge.

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The Jefferson

Located in a beaux-arts building a couple of blocks north of the White House, the Jefferson consistently ranks as one of the best hotels in Washington, D.C. Originally built in the 1920s, the hotel was completely renovated in 2009. Known for its immaculate elegance, tasteful appointments and extremely courteous staff, the hotel is also home to the Michelin-starred restaurant Plume.

Amenities: Marble bathrooms in many rooms, cocktail bar/lounge, complimentary shoe shine, complimentary phone calls worldwide, and maps of local dog-walking routes for guests with pets.

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The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

best hotels in washington dc

The Ritz-Carlton’s 86 rooms and suites boast feather beds, high-thread-count linens, and marble baths. Ambitiously transformed from a former incinerator, the hotel is an easy walk from the boutique shops and restaurants of Georgetown, the Georgetown Waterfront Park, and the picturesque C&O Canal National Historic Park, an excellent place for a walk or run. Once you’re done exploring, there’s a 14-screen Cineplex located on the property.

Amenities: Spa, movie theater, and special activities for kids.

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The Avery Georgetown

best hotels in washington dc

This locally run boutique hotel, with just 15 rooms, is a much-loved Georgetown gem that offers a very different experience from some of the other luxury hotels in Washington, D.C. Located in a tranquil neighborhood of classic rowhouses, the Avery offers two secluded courtyards and a convivial vibe. It’s within easy walking distance of the heart of the Georgetown dining and shopping scene, as well as the walking and biking paths of Rock Creek Park.

Amenities: Nightly reception with complimentary craft beer and local wines, and complimentary minibar.

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Capitol Hill Hotel

best hotels in washington dc

The Capitol Hill Hotel has won plaudits as one of the best hotels in Washington, D.C. for longer stays. The Capitol Hill marries a boutique hotel sensibility—including cherry blossom motifs and political cartoons—with an extended-stay practicality that includes self-service laundry. The Capitol Hill’s two buildings offer both standard hotel rooms with kitchenettes and suites with full kitchens. Located in one of the city’s most storied and vibrant neighborhoods, the Capitol Hill hotel is also just a block from the Capitol, a short walk from the Mall, and very close to the Metro.

Amenities: Wine reception, fitness center, 32-inch HDTV, kitchens and kitchenettes, refrigerators, pet-friendly.

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The Graham Georgetown

best hotels in washington dc

Located on a quiet side street at the heart of historic Georgetown, the 57-room Graham strikes a balance between reliable luxury standards and true boutique charm. All the charms of Georgetown lie just outside the lobby door, while the hotel offers stylish respite inside. If you fancy a drink, the Graham Rooftop lounge has the cred to draw in locals, and the C&O Canal towpath offers walking and jogging opportunities less than a block away.

Amenities: 42-inch smart HDTV, fitness center, and a rooftop bar and lounge (tented and heated in winter).

Book It: Get prices for the Graham Georgetown and other Washington, D.C. hotels

Hyatt Place Washington DC/White House

best hotels in washington dc

“The only way to stay closer to the White House,” the property’s website crows, “is to get elected”—or to pay a couple hundred dollars more per room. With a terrific location just north of the White House and a short walk to not one but three Metro stops, this is a tough place to beat. It’s also within walking distance of the Mall, and in a section of downtown that’s lousy with good restaurants.

Amenities: 42-inch HDTV, fitness center, mini-fridge, and rooftop bar.

Book It: Get prices for the Hyatt Place Washington DC/White House and other Washington, D.C. hotels

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—Original reporting by Matt Jenkins

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8 Must-See Miami Attractions

Miami is a city with multiple personalities, with each neighborhood offering something that appeals to a different kind of traveler. The hard part isn’t finding something to do; it’s choosing between activities that vary from beaches and boats to world-class museums and street art murals. You can’t miss South Beach’s famous shores and swanky nightclubs, but for a more complete experience, venture off the beaten path to some of the other Miami attractions that may even be a secret to some of the locals.

Must-See Miami Attractions

To help narrow down the seemingly endless list of Miami attractions, here are eight must-see spots.

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Wynwood Walls

Wynwood walls

[st_content_ad]The one-time warehouse district of Wynwood is now Miami’s creative hub, home to over 80,000 square feet of street art-covered walls. Over 50 artists from 16 different countries (including big names like Invader and Faith 47) have made their mark on the neighborhood’s vibrant walls, putting Wynwood on par with some of the best street art cities around the globe (think Berlin and Vienna). Start where the project all began, the original Wynwood Walls, which comprises six buildings from 25th to 26th Streets. Pause for lunch within the walls at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, or grab a superfood-packed smoothie at local fave Jugofresh. On the second Saturday of the month, galleries and restaurants open their doors for a block party-style evening dubbed Art Walk.

Lincoln Road Mall

Lincoln road mall

Lincoln Road was an artist hangout back in the 1980s, and while its studios and galleries have been replaced by shops and restaurants, it’s still one of the most popular pedestrian stretches in South Beach—and one of the most enticing Miami attractions. Designed in the 1950s by legendary architect Morris Lapidus, who nicknamed it the “Fifth Avenue of the South,” you’ll find remnants of its past in the form of landmarks like the Art Deco-style Colony Theatre. On Sundays, the strip transforms into the Lincoln Road Farmers’ Market, where local vendors display fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and homemade goodies like jams and jellies. Grab a coffee from the cafe at Books & Books and stroll through the stands before taking a seat at a streetside cafe like Balans. It’s also worth swinging by Lincoln Road around sunset for a drink on the rooftop terrace at Juvia, perched on the penthouse of the modernist Herzog & de Meuron-designed parking garage.

Faena Theater  

Faena theater

Take a seat in the gilded, European opera house-inspired Faena Theater for an interactive dinner show experience that’s quickly become one of the top Miami attractions. The 150-seat theater looks like something out of 1950s Miami, with decadent gold leaf and red velvet decor. Pao’s chef Paul Qui whips up a whimsical three-course meal while performers entertain diners pre-show. Then it’s time to sit back with a glass of bubbly and get ready for the main act, with past shows like “Sensatia” known to get all five of your senses involved through culinary arts, acrobatic performances, and perfumery. Think Moulin Rouge meets Cirque du Soleil.

El Tucan Cabaret and Nightclub

El tucan cabaret and nightclub

Will Smith and Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima are among the celeb set who frequent Miami’s modern-day cabaret, El Tucan. On Fridays and Saturdays, the nightclub transforms into something out of Hollywood’s golden era, with a Latin-fueled dinner and show curated by a Grammy award-winning pianist. After the vignette-style evening of burlesque, aerialists, dancers, and drag artists, international DJs take the stage to spin Afro-Latin and Parisian pop late into the night.

South Beach

miami beachfront hotels

South Beach lives up to every bit of its over-the-top reputation as one the most famous Miami attractions. This iconic area’s neon signs, flashy nightclubs, and Art Deco design have been iconized in movies and postcards, with bars like Fontainebleau’s Bleau once attracting the likes of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. Now South Beach’s bottle service-style nightclubs are popular hangouts for celebs like Paris Hilton and the Kardashians, with top-notch DJs like Calvin Harris regularly on the roster. Running from South Pointe Park to 23rd Street, South Beach features everything from picture-perfect white-sand beaches and celebrity chef-led restaurants to boutique shopping and dining in the historic Spanish village along Espanola Way.

Little Havana

Little havana

For a taste of Miami’s Cuban spirit, head to Little Havana. Most of the neighborhood’s restaurants, bakeries, and ventanitas (walk-up windows serving Cuban coffee and small bites like empanadas) are huddled around Calle Ocho. Two must-buys: cigars and Cuban food. Watch the pros rolling Cuban cigars at shops like El Titan de Bronze, which also serves as a neighborhood hangout. Don’t know where to start your Cuban food crawl? Let a local lead the way with Little Havana Tours. On these walking tours you can sample some of the best cafecitos (Cuban coffee) and ropa vieja (pulled stewed beef) Little Havana has to offer. If you happen to be visiting the last Friday of the month, you’ll catch Viernes Culturales, or Cultural Fridays, with art exhibits, music, and dancing in the streets.

Miami Design District

Miami design district

Buildings from the 1920s merge with more modern designs in the 25-acre Miami Design District, the former warehouse-heavy neighborhood that now acts as the city’s Rodeo Drive. The pedestrian-friendly streets are lined with flagships from brands like Christian Louboutin and Hermes, as well as upscale eateries from internationally acclaimed chefs Joel Robuchon and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Start with a coffee and pastry from Crumb on Parchment before a day of window shopping and gallery hopping, popping in to admire the exhibits at one of the newer Miami points of interest: the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science 

Phillip and patricia frost museum of science

Miami is in the midst of a museum moment, with large-scale openings of science centers like the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Spend the day in Downtown Miami’s waterfront Museum Park, home to Frost Science’s four buildings, which include a three-level aquarium devoted to South Florida’s diverse ecosystems as well as a 67-foot domed planetarium, with 3D projectors that really bring its space-themed shows to life. On the first and third Fridays of the month, the planetarium takes on a 70s twist with laser shows playing to the beats of Lady Gaga and Pink Floyd.

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—Original reporting by Lane Nieset

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9 Fun Things to Do in Miami

Miami has rightfully earned a reputation as a party hot spot, drawing everyone from celebrities to spring breakers. But when it comes to fun things to do in Miami, this concept takes on multiple meanings. Miami isn’t lacking in late-night parties, but the city is also home to historic neighborhoods, stunning architecture, and mangrove-filled islands begging to be explored.

Fun Things to Do in Miami

To enjoy the best of both city and shore, add these nine things to do in Miami to your vacation itinerary.

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Canoe Tours

Canoe tours

[st_content_ad]Miami’s beaches may get all the love, but its flat calm waters and mangrove-covered islands make for excellent ecosystems to explore. Kayaking and canoeing are two of the many fun things to do in Everglades National Park, home to 99 miles of wilderness waterways prime for all levels of paddlers. From September to May, The Deering Estate leads morning and moonlit canoeing tours across Biscayne Bay to the seven-acre mangrove island and bird rookery appropriately named Chicken Key. While the island’s mangrove forests and sand dunes are one draw (with campfires and s’mores served during evening tours), the paddle out is equally as exciting as you canoe alongside manatees and sea turtles.

Fishing

Fishing

Miami is a prime year-round locale for anglers looking to cast their reel in the Atlantic. From land, you can throw a line from a number of spots, including Haulover Inlet Jetty and South Pointe Park Pier, both popular places for catching snapper and Spanish mackerel. If you’re after sport fish like marlin, sailfish, and tuna, head out to sea on a half- or full-day guided boat charter led by experts like Top Gun Fishing Charters.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Snorkeling

You don’t need to head south to Belize in order to find beautiful coral reefs. The third-largest barrier reef system in the world, the Florida Reef, happens to lie just offshore, stretching 360 miles from the St. Lucie Inlet north of Miami down to Key West and Dry Tortugas National Park. Snorkel along the mangrove coastline and outer reefs of Half Moon and Emerald in Biscayne National Park, or spend a day swimming with sea life in Key Largo at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park in the U.S. It’s home to dive sites like the Christ of the Abyss statue and WWII-era shipwrecks.

Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery

Schnebly redland’s winery & brewery

Wine tasting may not rank high on your list of things to do in Miami, but Schnebly Redland’s Winery & Brewery has become something of a local secret, and its grape-less wines have developed a loyal following. Mango, lychee, guava, and passion fruit are just a few of the tropical-flavored wines you can taste at the southernmost winery in the U.S. Head out to the Redland area during the weekend for a wine tasting and tour of the estate, where you’ll come across everything from waterfalls and koi ponds to thatched-roof chickee huts. On Friday evenings, the taproom changes themes from country music hall to Southern-style barbecue, while bottomless mimosa (or beer-mosa) Sunday brunch is a staple at the winery’s farm-to-table-focused restaurant, Red Lander.

Historic Overtown

Historic overtown

A blend of Miami’s heritage from the West Indies, West Africa, and the American South, historic Overtown (once known as the “Harlem of the South”) is a community built by black men in the late 1800s. The historic neighborhood earned its modern-day name thanks to the local and visiting artists who would head “over town” to their hotels or events in other parts of the city. After falling into disrepair, Overtown is slowly getting back on its feet and drawing both locals and visitors to its landmarks, such as the 1913 movie and vaudeville Lyric Theater, the only building that still stands from Miami’s “Little Broadway.” Another major draw: Jackson Soul Food, a family-run restaurant that’s even enticed the likes of the late Nat King Cole and sports star LeBron James.

New World Symphony

Symphony

The New World Symphony’s campus is one of the landmark buildings in South Beach—and the only one in Florida designed by award-winning architect Frank Gehry. If you’re trying to figure out what to do in Miami, dress up and catch one of the orchestra concerts. Or opt for a more casual outing, sprawling out in the grass for one of the free concerts or movies projected on the side of the building in SoundScape Park.

Art Deco Tour

Art deco tour

Miami is known for its Art Deco Historic District, which popped up during a building boom following the 1929 stock market crash. Get schooled on this distinctive style of architecture on a 90-minute walking tour highlighting the city’s Art Deco, Mediterranean, and Miami Modern buildings. If you’d rather take a DIY tour, grab a map from the Art Deco Welcome Center and cruise around the district on a DecoBike, which you can rent with the swipe of a credit card at one of the 100-plus kiosks around town.

Shopping

Bar harbour

Shopaholics can definitely get their fix at Miami’s many malls, which range from the traditional indoor type like Dadeland and Aventura Malls to upscale, open-air shopping centers like Merrick Park and Bal Harbour—both destinations in themselves. The three-story Bal Harbour Shops, Florida’s first high-fashion shopping center, opened in 1965 on the site of former World War II army barracks and looks more like a scene from Southeast Asia than tropical South Florida. Peaceful koi ponds line the center of the courtyard, surrounded by haute brands like Chanel and Harry Winston. Not only are the shops (and their beautifully curated window displays) worth the visit, so are the restaurants, from the French brasserie-themed Le Zoo to iron chef-inspired Makoto.

Beachside Spas

Beachside spas

Miami’s most glamorous resorts not only offer private beachfront access, but are also home to the city’s most lavish spas, which locals deem one of the top things to do in Miami. Most spas offer complimentary use of their amenities when you book a treatment, so plan on indulging in a full day of detoxing in steam rooms and relaxing poolside in between massage sessions. One of the top picks in the city: Fontainebleau’s Lapis Spa, known for its signature thermal treatments and “Water Journey,” a hydro playground with mineral pools, a rain tunnel, a jet bath, and a eucalyptus infusion steam room.

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—Original reporting by Lane Nieset

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10 Best Restaurants in Miami

Deciding where to eat in Miami is as difficult as picking a favorite child. The best restaurants in Miami were once swanky spots in hotels helmed by celebrity chefs. While you can still find those, the city has opened up a world of possibility to a crop of newcomers who have transformed Magic City into a culinary destination in its own right.

The Best Restaurants in Miami

For a taste of some of the top-notch cuisine from the city’s most masterful chefs, snag a seat at one of these 10 best restaurants in Miami.

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The Best Restaurants in Brickell/Downtown

Zuma

Zuma

[st_content_ad]When it comes to brunch, Zuma always ranks near the top of the best places to eat in Miami. Come hungry and plan to spend all afternoon. The menu is divided into tiers depending on which bottomless Champagne and main dish you’d like with your meal. Chilean sea bass is a classic that pairs perfectly with the buffet spread snaking its way around the restaurant, where diners can take their pick of sushi, sashimi, and Asian small plates, as well as make-your-own mushroom hot pots.

Fooq’s

Fooq's

Downtown was long known for its late-night techno clubs and after-hours bars. It wasn’t until recently that restaurants like Fooq’s have transformed Downtown into a culinary hot spot. Half-French, half-Persian restaurateur David Foulquier brings his experience garnered from stints at restaurants around the globe to his cozy, international-inspired eatery, Fooq’s, that’s one of the best restaurants in Miami. Small plates like meatballs and honey-glazed Brussels sprouts stream from the open kitchen to the handful of tables lining the intimate space. The farm-to-kitchen cuisine is one draw, but the wine list is what makes this place really shine.

Quinto La Huella

Quinto la huella

Uruguay’s beachfront eatery, Parador La Huella, made its Miami debut as the signature restaurant in the stunning Brickell skyscraper EAST, Miami. Quinto La Huella is the urban interpretation of this unique Uruguayan cuisine, where a wood fire parrilla in the center of the kitchen serves as the cooking method of choice. Locally sourced ingredients add serious flavor to dishes divided by land and sea.

The Best Restaurants in Wynwood/Midtown

Alter

Alter

Wynwood’s street art-coated buildings may seem a better fit for beer gardens than gourmet eateries, but chef Brad Kilgore proves otherwise with his tasting menu restaurant, Alter, one of the best places to eat in Miami. The industrial space (think exposed concrete walls and neon signs hanging from beams lining the ceiling) forms an L shape around the bar, which doubles as an open kitchen. All three of the tasting menus—which include five, seven, and eight courses—are heavy on Florida flavors, meaning plenty of fresh dishes artfully displayed to show off the best the state has to offer.

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

Wynwood kitchen & bar

One of the neighborhood’s original eateries, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is considered a classic. Art lines the inside dining room as well as the terrace, which is surrounded by the murals of the Wynwood Walls. This is also a great spot to sample Latin-themed tapas like ropa vieja empanadas and 48-hour crispy pork served on cheddar-chipotle grits. Start your evening of bar hopping around Wynwood here with one of the eatery’s stand-out cocktails, like the Brazilian-inspired cachaca sour.

The Best Restaurants in the Miami Design District

Mandolin Aegean Bistro

Mandolin aegean bistro

Hidden behind blue gates in the Design District, Mandolin Aegean Bistro is housed in a revamped 1940s bungalow that looks like it was plucked straight from a Greek island. Seasonal ingredients are harvested in an edible garden and incorporated into traditional recipes hailing from Greece and Turkey. Take a seat on the terrace at one of the rustic wooden tables, where you’ll be transfixed by the Mediterranean display of mezes filled with favorites like hummus, grilled halloumi, and stuffed tomatoes and peppers.

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Michael’s genuine food & drink

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is the Design District eatery where James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz launched his flagship locale over a decade ago. And the chef isn’t resting on his laurels. The buzzy bistro is one of the best restaurants in Miami and a neighborhood fave thanks to its farm-fresh ingredients incorporated into classic American cuisine. Sunday brunch is one of the highlights, as Chef Schwartz lays out a spread of small plates that play on Southern staples like shrimp and grits topped with chorizo and roasted corn.

The Best Restaurants in Miami Beach

Stubborn Seed

Stubborn seed

The first of Top Chef Jeremy Ford’s two restaurants, Stubborn Seed has quickly proven to be one of the best places to eat in Miami. Set in the restaurant-heavy South of Fifth neighborhood, the season 13 winner shows off his culinary prowess with an open kitchen, allowing diners to see the master in action, from pan to plate. Menus change with the seasons, with dishes divided into categories like “rooted and raw” or “land and sea,” ensuring that even vegetarians can get their fine dining fix. If the menu seems overwhelming, leave the ordering up to the chef and indulge in the multi-course tasting menu.

Pubbelly Sushi

Pubbelly sushi

Pubbelly Sushi started as one of the first in the Pubbelly empire, which has since expanded from Sunset Harbour to a handful of locales across the city. It’s worth making the trip to this spot to see what all the fuss is about. Snag a seat at the sushi bar and watch the chefs in action, or reserve one of the Asian-inspired gastropub’s 16 tables, where the reigning house specialty is pork belly.

The Best Restaurants in Coral Gables

Swine Southern Table & Bar

Swine southern table & bar

Miami may not be considered part of the South, but that doesn’t mean it can’t offer up restaurants with barbecue on par with what you’d find in cities like Memphis. Tucked between Miracle Mile’s bridal boutiques, Swine Southern Table & Bar is seen as the little sister to South Beach hot spot Yardbird. Come for supper and sit above the crowd in the second-floor wraparound terrace, where you can feast on 14-hour smoked brisket, fried chicken, and all the fixin’s. This is the kind of place where bourbon is a given, but it’s up to you how you’d like it served: straight up or blended with blackberry puree for a boozy version of lemonade.

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—Original reporting by Lane Nieset

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10 Best Day Trips from Denver

The mountains are calling, and you must go. When you visit Denver, do as the locals do and get out of town for the day. Experience the unique character of neighboring communities by taking day trips from Denver—you’ll satisfy the taste for adventure that brought you to the Mile High City in the first place.

 10 Best Day Trips from Denver

Whether you’re looking for thrills, small-town breweries, or art exhibits, there’s an easy Denver day trip for you.

Evergreen

day trips from denver

[st_content_ad]Evergreen is a favorite local day trip from Denver because it’s close to the city (about 30 miles west) but feels like it’s deep in the mountains. Stroll along Main Street to peruse the various art galleries and try the wine at Creekside Cellars. In the winter, ice skate outside, surrounded by pine-covered mountains, at 8.5-acre Evergreen Lake. The hills surrounding Evergreen are rife with trails ready to be explored in the warmer months; Maxwell Falls, Alderfer / Three Sisters Park, and Lair o’ the Bear Park are popular spots. Cheers to successful day trips from Denver with a beer at the Little Bear Saloon, an authentic Western live music venue and watering hole.

Estes Park

day trips from denver

Estes Park, 65 miles northwest of Denver, is probably best known for the Stanley Hotel, the supposedly haunted accommodations that inspired Stephen King’s the Shining. Day trippers should stop by the Stanley for a tour (there’s a spooky Night Spirit option) and a flight at the Whiskey Bar, which has a collection of more than 1,000 bottles of the dark spirit. Estes Park is also the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. The highest-elevation national park in the country has 355 miles of hiking trails, scenic driving routes, more than 50 lakes and streams for fishing, and plenty of wildlife (keep an eye out for elk, moose, and bighorn sheep). Back in town, visitors can easily pass an entire afternoon popping in and out of the jewelry, art, and furniture stores that line Estes Park’s main drag.

Golden

day trips from denver

One of the most popular day trips from Denver is driving to Golden for a tour of Coors Brewery. After you’ve crossed that prerequisite off the list, it’s time to the rest of what Golden has to offer. In addition to shops—and even more breweries and distilleries—downtown Golden is close to a triad of great parks and a number of museums, including three definitely worth your time: Foothills Art Center, the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, and the American Mountaineering Museum. Golden is also a hot spot for climbers because of its variety of routes (even beginners will feel comfortable) and proximity to Denver. Since the town is just 15 miles from Denver, plan to stay for dinner; try the French-influenced eats at Abejas or Middle Eastern classics at Amir Grill. Golden Moon Speakeasy, a cocktail lounge that distills its own spirits, is great for a nightcap.

Fort Collins

day trips from denver

Located 65 miles north of Denver, this one-time trading and agricultural hub has grown into the state’s unofficial beer capital (Anheuser-Busch, Odell Brewing Co., and New Belgium Brewing Company are all based here, plus more than a dozen other breweries). It’s also become one of Denver’s coolest neighbors. Ginger and Baker is a gathering place with a market, bakery, restaurant, and more in a restored feed building. Old Town, a national historic district, was the inspiration behind Disneyland’s Main Street USA and has a plethora of funky boutiques, restaurants, and artisans like bean-to-bar sweet maker Nuance Chocolate. Adventurers will want to raft or tube along the Cache la Poudre River, the state’s only designated “wild and scenic” river. Animal lovers on a day trip from Denver should visit Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, home to 22 genetically pure bison (descendants of Yellowstone bison) and their calves; the best time to see them roaming the land is in summer and early fall.

Red Rocks Parks and Amphitheatre

day trips from denver

Red Rocks is a bucket-list concert venue—it’s the only naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world—but the 738-acre park, with its striking jagged peaks and views of the Front Range, is worth a Denver day trip whether or not there’s a show. Pack a snack and take in the unusual formations on the short Trading Post or Geologic Overlook trails; mountain bikers can pedal along Red Rocks Trail’s six-mile loop. Nearby, Dinosaur Ridge and its two-mile trail weaves by 15 fossil and geologic sites. Some of the fossil specimens, from apatosaurus, stegosaurus, and allosaurus, date back 150 million years.

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

day trips from denver

You expect to see moose and bears in Colorado. But tigers and African lions? Colorado has those too. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is a 720-acre wildlife refuge in the Eastern Plains, 39 miles from Denver. Follow the Mile into the Wild Walkway, an elevated platform, to watch the animals as they eat, bathe, and lounge in their open habitats. More than 450 rescued animals live at the sanctuary, including leopards, wolves, and grizzly bears. Time your visit around 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. to see—and hear—the animals at their most active.

Black Hawk

day trips from denver

Las Vegas, Black Hawk is not. But the former gold rush town—miners first struck a payload in 1859—is gambling central in Colorado. Sixteen casinos sit side-by-side in the small burg 38 miles from Denver. Most of the town’s restaurants are located inside the casinos; when you need a break from the slots, head to Timberline Grill, a steak house on the main gaming floor at Ameristar Black Hawk. For fresh air, drive about 10 miles northeast to Golden Gate Canyon State Park for hiking, horseback riding, or biking. Choose a trail that heads to Panorama Point for an Instagram shot worthy of a road trip.

Garden of the Gods

day trips from denver

It’s not hard to locate Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Slabs of sandstone rock rise from the verdant surroundings, beckoning visitors to the 480-acre park. It’s a must-see natural attraction and one that’s accessible to outdoorspeople of all abilities. There are 15 miles of trails, some as short as a half-mile long; road and mountain biking paths; and a variety of rock climbing routes. Stop by the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center to learn more about how the geological wonder formed.

St Mary’s Glacier

day trips from denver

For a short day trip from Denver with major payoff, direct your car an hour west to Idaho Springs. The just-under-a-mile moderate hike from the trailhead leads to a lake and the namesake glacier, which is typically snowcapped year-round. (It’s also known as St. Mary’s Alice because the geographic feature doesn’t technically qualify as a glacier.) A short walk around the lake and up the snowfield provides panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains. Relax on the sandy beach before heading back to the car. Refuel in Idaho Springs with a sandwich at Two Brothers Deli or a burger at Westbound & Down Brewing Company. Weather conditions can quickly change in this area, so bring appropriate layers and plenty of water.

Boulder

day trips from denver

Exploring all of Boulder would take more than a few hours, but you can get a taste of the People’s Republic with a day trip from Denver. Talented buskers entertain along the pedestrian-only, four-block Pearl Street Mall, which is lined with shops, galleries, and eateries. Set against the iconic Flatirons, Boulder is a siren for adventurers. From Chautauqua Park to Eldorado CanyoLinkn to Boulder Creek, there’s no shortages of hiking, biking, tubing, and kayaking in this city 30 miles from Denver. It’s also the site of more than 20 breweries and some of the state’s best restaurants; make reservations at Frasca Food & Wine or Oak at Fourteenth.

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[viator_tour destination=”4837″ type=”3-mod”]

– Original reporting by Daliah Singer

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Arts & Culture Cities Food & Drink Miscellany

10 Best Denver Breweries and Distilleries

Drinking (responsibly) is a favorite pastime in Denver. You can hardly go five blocks without passing a brewery or distillery, or three. Some focus on a particular style, while others are generalists. The only commonality: There’s really good booze coming out of the Mile High City.

10 Best Denver Breweries and Distilleries

Whatever your drink of choice, you’re sure to find it at one of these 10 Denver breweries and distilleries.

Great Divide Brewing Company

denver breweries and distilleries

[st_content_ad]You can’t talk about Denver beer without mentioning Great Divide. The company was one of the Mile High City’s first craft breweries; it was founded in the Ballpark neighborhood in 1994 by Brian Dunn. Great Divide is known for its higher ABV yet well balanced brews, and it now has two locations—the OG taproom and the Barrel Bar in RiNo (which doubles as a packaging and canning facility). For classic Great Divide, order a Denver Pale Ale or Yeti Imperial Stout. For fun—and if they’re available—give the Strawberry Rhubarb Sour or a barrel-aged release a try.

Denver Beer Co.

denver breweries and distilleries

Denver Beer Co. won Denverites’ hearts with its logo alone, which mimics the Colorado flag in color and design and features hops hanging before mountain peaks. But the beer is great too. Everything is brewed in small batches, and DBC’s commitment to fresh ingredients is laudable. The brewery is known for its Graham Cracker Porter and Incredible Pedal IPA, but don’t be afraid to branch out and try whatever’s just been tapped. Inspired by Bavaria’s beer gardens, co-founders Patrick Crawford and Charlie Berger created an indoor-outdoor space on the edge of downtown with garage doors running the length of the taproom. Consequently, it’s the Denver brewery with one of the city’s busiest patios on a sunny day.

Call to Arms Brewing Company

denver breweries and distilleries

Call to Arms’ Berkeley taproom, which opened in 2015, is reminiscent of a British pub thanks to its handcrafted wood bar. The taproom brews old-school ales with precision—try the Oats and Hose oatmeal porter or Clintonian Pale Ale—and taps as many as three new beers each week. Check the digital menu to see what’s on tap at one of the best breweries in Denver when you visit.

Ratio Beerworks

denver breweries and distilleries

At Ratio, as at most Denver breweries, it’s all about having fun. The RiNo beer maker’s 20-barrel system means there are always plenty of pint options—and there are also plenty of things to do while drinking them down. You could grab a seat at one of the handcrafted community tables in the industrial taproom. Or head outside for a game of cornhole on the large, mural-walled patio. Or hit up the food truck (there’s a regular rotation out front) so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach. Ratio’s lineup is varied, from an American standard ale to a chocolate rye Scotch ale to an IPA. The beer here is good—the setting even more so.

Little Machine Beer

denver breweries and distilleries

Among the vast number of Denver breweries, Little Machine manages to stand out. There’s the unique circular bar in its Jefferson Park taproom and the robot theme, of course. But, truly, it’s about the beer: The Colorado Stock Ale is made from all Colorado ingredients. (The brewing system itself is all-Colorado-made also.) Faulty Wire is a dessert barley wine aged in Caribbean rum and Mexican port barrels for 11 months. The Gaffer is a London-style porter. You won’t find these brews anywhere else, and that’s saying a lot in a state that considers itself the Napa Valley of Beer.

Stranahan’s Distillery

denver breweries and distilleries

American single malt whiskey may be gaining in popularity, but it’s nothing new for Stranahan’s, Colorado’s first whiskey distillery. Stop by the Baker tasting room to give its three varieties a try; enjoy them neat or in a well-balanced cocktail. Or, book a spot online for one of the hour-long tours. While you’re there, see if you can get your hands on a bottle of Snowflake. The annual December release is master distiller Rob Dietrich’s unique blend (it changes every year) made from different cask-finished barrels, and it’s only available in Colorado.

Leopold Bros.

denver breweries and distilleries

It’s all about options at Leopold Bros. The family-owned and operated, small-batch distillery in northeast Denver produces vodka, whiskey, gin, fernet, liqueurs, absinthe, and aperitivo. Everything is distilled on-site and bottled by hand. While Leopold’s spirits attract most of the attention, the line of liqueurs, particularly the Rocky Mountain Blackberry, are especially tasty; they’re great for cooking with as well as drinking. Sign up for a tour—a portion of your ticket price will benefit four local nonprofits.

Laws Whiskey House

denver breweries and distilleries

The best bars in town carry Laws because its bourbons, whiskeys, and ryes are rich, smooth, and carefully crafted. Laws’ spirits are aged in charred American White Oak barrels; the grain and corn are from Colorado suppliers; and all production is done at the distillery. For an authentic taste, stop by the tasting room to sample A.D. Laws Four Grain Straight Bourbon, the distillery’s original offering, as part of a whiskey flight. Tours (register online) are also available.

Bear Creek Distillery

denver breweries and distilleries

“Small-batch” is a trademark of Denver distilleries, and Bear Creek is among the city’s best examples. Its rums (try the cask-strength version, aged in barrels from Laws Whiskey House), vodkas, and whiskeys are handcrafted using local ingredients and materials as often as possible. Proof that the product is good: The distillery has won three American Craft Spirits Association Awards. Co-founders Jeffrey Dickinson and Jay Johnson met at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, about 10 miles from where their distillery now sits. Schedule a tour online or stop by the industrial tasting room (the wood detailing comes from reclaimed rail cars and Wyoming snow fencing) for a taste.’

Rising Sun Distillery

denver breweries and distilleries

Certified organic spirits are the focus at Rising Sun Distillery. Pedal there for a free tour (the distillery is located just off the South Platte River bike path) and to taste the vodka, gin, and peach brandy, which is made with fruit from Colorado’s Western Slope. Rising Sun’s most unique offerings are its Colorado Chili Spirit and Colorado Chili Liqueur, both of which incorporate Anaheim chilis grown in Pueblo. Add them to a margarita or Bloody Mary for a Centennial State kick.

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– Original reporting by Daliah Singer