Eat, Drink, Sleep, Repeat! Two Days in Tampa, Florida

Where to stay – Epicurean Hotel 

As far as hotels go in Tampa, you will want to stay quite central, and the Epicurean hotel is situated in the perfect location. Positioned in South Tampa’s vibrant SoHo district you will find yourself surrounded by trendy bars, restaurants and great nightlife which is a must when you are in town. 

Checking in anyone? - Epicurean Hotel, Tampa

Checking in anyone? - Epicurean Hotel, Tampa

The hotel offers 137 guest rooms and suits all of which are beautifully decorated to reflect the style of the surrounding neighborhood. Designed as the perfect retreat after a long day of exploring the city you might never want to leave your cozy bed, especially when room service is just one call away. Someone might have gotten a little too carried away one night… 

Having way too much fun with the specialty wines and champagnes in my room! 

Having way too much fun with the specialty wines and champagnes in my room! 

The Epicurean is well renowned for its amazing culinary delights, if you are keen on cooking why not enroll in a cooking class during your stay. Otherwise head to Elevage Restaurant and enjoy the most amazing brunch you can imagine. I highly recommend getting the three course brunch which offers you a sample selection to wow your taste spuds. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing the food is here.  

Shrimp & Grits - Epicurian Hotel 

Shrimp & Grits - Epicurian Hotel 

Homemade Sausage Benedict - Epicurean Hotel 

Homemade Sausage Benedict - Epicurean Hotel 

French Toast, Rum Caramel Sauce and Banana -  Elevage Restaurant

French Toast, Rum Caramel Sauce and Banana -  Elevage Restaurant

As well as the amazing decor. 

Elevage Restaurant - Epecurean Hotel 

Elevage Restaurant - Epecurean Hotel 

The hotel offers complimentary bikes for use so you can ride down the beautifully tree-lined and cobblestone streets of nearby Hyde Park, or take a ride over to the scenic Bayshore Boulevard, just blocks away. I had a blast riding the bikes around the neighborhood, Bayshore drive is a must! 

Riding my Hotel Bike on Bayshore Drive in Tampa

Riding my Hotel Bike on Bayshore Drive in Tampa

The beautiful neighborhood streets near the hotel 

The beautiful neighborhood streets near the hotel 

Don’t forget to pencil some time for laying by the pool into your busy schedule, open from dawn to dusk it’s the perfect location for some rest and relaxation. Or why not pop by the Evangeline Spa for a food and wine themed treatment, just look at their wine cork wall, below.
If you are unsure of what to do while staying in town why not let your Epicurean Host plan out your stay for you the staff are so friendly and helpful they will ensure you have the most memorable stay while you are in town. 

The Epicurean Hotel Pool 

The Epicurean Hotel Pool 

Evangeline Spa

Evangeline Spa

When the Hotel theme is food and wine and they have a wine store in the lobby!

When the Hotel theme is food and wine and they have a wine store in the lobby!


What to do

Ybor Neighbourhood 

Tampa is a city known for its great beaches, museum and cultural offerings. My favorite part of down has to be the historic district of Ybor, a neighborhood developed by Cuban and Spanish cigar-factory workers at the turn of the 20th century, it’s a dining and nightlife destination. Whether you want to visit for lunch and have a delicious Cuban sandwich or you want to come late at night and experience one of the many rum bars this neighborhood is always full of activity. 

Watching the Cigar Rolling in Ybor - Tampa

Watching the Cigar Rolling in Ybor - Tampa

The boys enjoying a delicious Cuban Coffee - Tampa

The boys enjoying a delicious Cuban Coffee - Tampa

The Devils Den Prehistoric Spring 

If you’re up for a bit of a drive I would highly recommend visiting the Devils Den located 2 hours North of Tampa. Boasted as one of North America's most prehistoric places the Devil's Den is an underground spring inside a dry cave which has been home to many extinct animals dating back to the Pleistocene Age.

Devils Den Florida 

Devils Den Florida 

With a constant temperature of 72 degrees in winter you can steam rising from the cave which is why the early settlers named it Devils Den. With ancient rock formations, fossil beds dating back 33 million years and crystal clear water you are guaranteed a great day out. 
It is important to note that the spring is located on private property and an entry fee is required please check the website for prices and opening hours. 
 

Day trip to Orlando

If you are keen to see Micky Mouse or ride the crazy roller coasters at Universal Studios why not take a day trip to Orlando. Located an hour away from Tampa you can easily reach the Magic Kingdom for opening time. Be sure to book your tickets and fast passes ahead of time on the Disney website. The earlier you get there the better we arrived at 8am and had the park to ourselves. 

Magic Kingdom - Orlando

Magic Kingdom - Orlando

Lunch Spot 

If you are looking for a fun local place for lunch then you can’t go past Datz. From there extensive menu to their super creative cocktails there is something for everyone. Featured on every major travel channel and food network it’s so easy to see why it’s a favorite in Tampa. 

Bacon and Egg cocktail, pure heaven! - Datz Tampa

Bacon and Egg cocktail, pure heaven! - Datz Tampa

Historic Sponge Docks at Tarpon Springs

An hour north from the Epicurean Hotel are the Historic Sponge Docks at Tarpon Springs. In the 1880s the first sponge business started, over the next 50 years the industry flourished and a large number of Greek divers came over and settled in the area. Tarpon Springs now has the largest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US. As such there is lots of great Greek food and several souvenir shops. Today there is still a small sponge industry and you can watch the sponge boats unload their cargo of sponges onto the docks, the nearby shops sell a variety of sponges and other marine souvenirs.

Sponges boat and sponges at Tarpon Springs

Sponges boat and sponges at Tarpon Springs

Sponges on the historic dock at Tarpon Springs

Sponges on the historic dock at Tarpon Springs

The drive back from Tarpon Springs takes you along the coast and close to Clearwater Beach,  often voted in the top 10 beaches in the US. The beautiful white sands and ample nightlife and restaurants near the beach have something for everyone. Rather than just drive along the interstates, take the route along the beach and be sure to stop along the way. There are numerous beaches along the way and other spots to enjoy the view. Below are some photos taken at the John Grant Hubbard Park.

Old jetty in John Grant Hubbard Park

Old jetty in John Grant Hubbard Park

Looking north along the coast between Tarpon Springs and Clearwater

Looking north along the coast between Tarpon Springs and Clearwater

Given the white sand, cafes and restaurants along the main tourist area, Clearwater beach is a very popular destination and it becomes very busy. Parking can be difficult to find, if you want to just enjoy the beach, heading north is less crowded and still has the same white sands and warm water. The photo below is the beach about a mile north of the main section of Clearwater Beach.

Looking south towards Clearwater beach

Looking south towards Clearwater beach

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A night in Memphis, Tennessee at the Peabody Hotel

If you are headed to Memphis and looking for a Hotel to stay at you can’t go past the Peabody. I spent a night here over the 4th of July weekend and it was quite the experience.

The Peabody Hotel - Memphis 

The Peabody Hotel - Memphis 

The Peabody is located in downtown Memphis and its history dates back to 1869 when the original Peabody Hotel opened around the corner. In 1925 a newer, grander Peabody was built in its present location on Union Avenue and continues its legacy to this day as the “South’s Grand Hotel”.

The hotel has undergone numerous enhancements over the years however the hotel has kept its old world charm and remained faithful to its past. Its opulent and extravagant design coupled with its modern luxuries makes it the perfect hotel for a weekend getaway or a special occasion.

Rooftop at the Peabody Hotel - Memphis 

Rooftop at the Peabody Hotel - Memphis 

The rooms are beautifully decorated with spectacular views of downtown Memphis. I really enjoyed the size of the rooms, unlike newer more modern hotels the rooms at the Peabody exude the luxury of the past.

The Peabody Hotel - Memphis 

The Peabody Hotel - Memphis 

Peabody Hotel Rooms - Memphis 

Peabody Hotel Rooms - Memphis 

While staying at the hotel you don’t want to miss the March of the Peabody Ducks which occurs at 11am and 5pm every day. What is the march of the ducks you ask? Well to answer that we must take a trip back in time to the year 1933 when real live ducks were placed in the Hotel Lobby fountain by the then Manager, Frank Schutt. Frank returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas, the men had a little too much Tennessee sippin’ whiskey, and thought it would be funny to place their live duck decoys in the lobby’s fountain. This set in motion an 80-year tradition that continues today. The Peabody name has become synonymous with the 5 North American mallard ducks that are now the living symbol of the Peabody brand.

The Duck March - Peabody Memphis 

The Duck March - Peabody Memphis 

With the Duck Master at the Peabody Hotel - Memphis

With the Duck Master at the Peabody Hotel - Memphis

If you want to get involved the Hotel allows one hotel guest per march to become an honorary Duck Master, if you book the Duck Day Package. I was very happy to oblige during my stay and became the Duck Master for the morning march. Being a Duck Master involves herding the ducks from the Duck Palace on the roof to the lobby, down the red carpet and into the fountain. You receive a certificate and official Duck Master Cane (which you get to keep!).

If you are interest in history be sure to join the History Tour offered by the hotel daily after the Duck March. The Duck Master is very knowledgeable and will discuss the history of the hotel as well as the history of Memphis. Fun Fact: Elvis’s original tailor has a shop in the hotel lobby which his packed with history and memorabilia.

For more information visithttp://www.peabodymemphis.com/specials-en.html#DuckyDay

Fireworks view from the Peabody Rooftop 

Fireworks view from the Peabody Rooftop 

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A weekend away in Nashville, Tennessee

Where to stay in Nashville

If you are looking for a unique luxury boutique Hotel in Nashville look no further than Union Station Hotel. Situated inside a beautifully-restored 19th century railroad station the hotel exudes an old world charm with the modern comforts of today.  

Union Station Hotel - Nashville 

Union Station Hotel - Nashville 

When you enter the hotel lobby it’s like taking a step back in time, when travel was not a necessity, but seen as a luxury. Originally built in 1900, the building’s impressive late-Romanesque Revival design with its turrets and towers was a testament to the US ingenuity and energy. The décor and the overall design of the hotel is exquisite, the attention to detail and general ambiance is captivating.  

Union Station Hotel Lobby - Nashville 

Union Station Hotel Lobby - Nashville 

Located a stone’s throw from downtown Nashville its ideal if want to enjoy the live music and honkey tonks located on Broadway. You can easily walk into town from the Hotel which is great because on the weekend heavy traffic fills the inner city streets. 

Union Station Hotel - Nashville 

Union Station Hotel - Nashville 

Union Station Hotel offers a choice of guest rooms each showcasing the unique architectural personality of the hotel’s historic location combined with modern comforts and luxurious amenities. The rooms are beautifully furnished and decorated and every minute spent in them is a pure delight, you might find it hard to leave, I know I did. 

Union Station Hotel Room - Nashville 

Union Station Hotel Room - Nashville 

Union Station Hotel - Nashville 

Union Station Hotel - Nashville 

Be sure to stop by the hotel bar for a delicious Bourbon flight and if that’s not your thing why not try one of the hotels signature cocktails. 

Bourbon Flight, Union Station Hotel - Nashville

Bourbon Flight, Union Station Hotel - Nashville

Follow them on Facebook for more information!
 

What to do in Nashville

Brunch at Saint Anejo

If you are looking for a delicious brunch spot close to the hotel head over to Saint Anejo. Serving up Mexican cuisine the menu showcases traditional Mexican food with regionally influenced chef specialities. If it’s not too hot outside the patio is the perfect spot to soak up the sun and enjoy a margarita or two.

Saint Anejo - Nashville

Saint Anejo - Nashville

Must see murals

Nashville has some amazing murals spotted around the city, I would highly recommend visiting the “I believe in Nashville” mural and the “what lifts you” mural. The “What lifts you” mural is actually located a 5 minute walk from Saint Anejo so be sure to head there before or after brunch.

What lifts you? - Nashville

What lifts you? - Nashville

I believe in Nashville Mural

I believe in Nashville Mural

Parthenon

Did you know Nashville has a replica of the Parthenon in Greece? Me either! It’s a must see when in town, the building itself is beautiful and very impressive. It also has beautiful gardens and a lake surrounding it.

Parthenon - Nashville

Parthenon - Nashville

Parthenon - Nashville

Parthenon - Nashville

Dinner & Drinks at Whiskey Kitchen

For a relaxed evening with pub favorites, southern classics and wood fired pizzas head over to Whiskey Kitchen for dinner. With an extensive list of cool cocktails accompanying the city's largest collection of world-class whiskeys, bourbons, ryes, and scotches there is something for everyone. Fun Fact: this bar is actually owned by the band Kings of Leon.

Whiskey Kitchen - Nashville

Whiskey Kitchen - Nashville

Sunset Views of the city

Looking for beautiful views of the city, take a stroll across the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Foot Bridge that crosses the Cumberland River. It’s particularly beautiful late in the evening before the sunsets over the city.  

Sunset over Nashville

Sunset over Nashville

Hot Chicken

If you visit Nashville without eating hot chicken did you even visit? Nashville is known for its hot chicken and the city’s best can be found at Hattie B’s. Prepare for an hour wait but I promise you it’s worth it. I don’t usually line for food because I feel that after the anticipation its usually a disappointment, trust me this is not the case with Hattie B’s fried hot chicken its totally worth the wait. Note: I got the Large Dark Meat Meal Spice Level: Hot. Be warned when it says it’s Hot it is actually spicy.

Hattie-B's Hot Fried Chicken - Nashville

Hattie-B's Hot Fried Chicken - Nashville

Live Music

If live music is your thing, you have come to the right place. Head into town and check out one of the many bars playing live music most nights of the week. All of the action happens on Broadway with lots of bars, roof top bars and restaurants to choose from.

Broadway Street, home of live music - Nashville 

Broadway Street, home of live music - Nashville 

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New York City – A girls only weekend guide

Planning a girl’s trip to New York City? Here are some tips on where to stay and what to see while you’re in town.


Where to stay in New York City (NYC)

For the ultimate girls weekend look no further than the Archer Hotel which is located in Midtown Manhattan on 38th street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. Located a stone’s throw from the Empire State Building, Times Square, Bryant Park and the Theatre District its ideal location lets you make the most of your time in the city that never sleeps. 

Enjoying the view from the Spyglass Rooftop Bar - Archer Hotel NYC

Enjoying the view from the Spyglass Rooftop Bar - Archer Hotel NYC

Archer Hotel - New York City

Archer Hotel - New York City

Be sure to book the Double Double Empire View Guest Room which offers unbeatable views of the Empire State Building. Whether you want to see it as you wake up or watch it light up at night, the view is perfect at any time of day. 

Enjoying my Double Double Empire View Guest Room view in my Frette Robe - Archer Hotel NYC

Enjoying my Double Double Empire View Guest Room view in my Frette Robe - Archer Hotel NYC

Upon arrival you will receive complimentary water and delicious homemade salted caramels and each night you will receive a turn down service which includes unique locally curated treats. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of these amazing treats because they were eaten pretty much immediately.  

The room comes with his and her complimentary slippers which are too cute. As well as Frette Robes that are perfect for lounging around in, and Malin + Goetz bath amenities for when you need to wash the city off.  

His & Her Complimentary Slippers - Archer Hotel NYC

His & Her Complimentary Slippers - Archer Hotel NYC

Malin + Goetz bath amenities - Archer Hotel NYC

Malin + Goetz bath amenities - Archer Hotel NYC

During your stay at the Archer Hotel be sure to check out the Spyglass Rooftop Bar which offers incredible cocktails and uninterrupted views of the Empire State Building. With a great vibe and perfect views it’s easy to see why this rooftop is so popular, but don’t worry as a guest you will be given full access and won’t have to wait in line. 

Spyglass Rooftop Bar - Archer Hotel NYC

Spyglass Rooftop Bar - Archer Hotel NYC

Spyglass Rooftop Bar - Archer Hotel NYC

Spyglass Rooftop Bar - Archer Hotel NYC

Spyglass Rooftop Bar - Archer Hotel NYC

Spyglass Rooftop Bar - Archer Hotel NYC

What to see and do

Top of the Rock

If sweeping views of the city interest you then look no further than the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller centre. For $35 you can watch the sunset over the city, be sure to get there for 7pm to stake your claim on the upper level. Alternatively if you don’t want to pay the $35, head to the Rainbow Room on level 65 for a cocktail and beautiful views of the city. 

Sunset from the Top of the Rock - NYC

Sunset from the Top of the Rock - NYC

Best view in the City - Top of the Rock, NYC

Best view in the City - Top of the Rock, NYC

Doors off helicopter ride

Looking for a bit of adventure in the city? Then a doors off helicopter ride is for you. FLYNYON offer doors off helicopter flights that leave from New Jersey daily. For the best views and lighting be sure to book their sunset flight and don’t forget to take a shoe selfie! 

FLYNYON - NYC #shoeselfie

FLYNYON - NYC #shoeselfie

Sunset over New York City

Sunset over New York City

Unique Dessert Experience

What kind of girl’s weekend would it be if there was no crazy over the top dessert consumed? For the ultimate in over the top desserts head over to Wu Kong’s in Chinatown for a Cotton Candy Cloud Ice Cream. Customize your ice cream flavor, toppings and cotton candy cloud to create the ultimate dessert. I recommend trying the Strawberry Cheese Cake or Panda Paw ice cream. 

Candy Cloud Ice Cream at Wu Kongs - NYC

Candy Cloud Ice Cream at Wu Kongs - NYC

Delicious! - Wu Kong NYC

Delicious! - Wu Kong NYC

See a show on Broadway

No trip to NYC would be complete without taking in a Broadway show. With so many to choose from there is bound to be something for everyone My personal favorites include; Aladdin, The Lion King, Wicked, Chicago, Phantom of the Opera and Matilda.  

Times Square - New York City

Times Square - New York City

Ladies who Lunch

If you are looking for the perfect lunch spot head over to the BG Restaurant located on the 7th floor of Bergdorf Goodman. The restaurant offers sweeping views of Central Park and a delicious menu including their signature Gotham Salad. Designed by Kelly Wearstler the restaurant is perfectly decorated with a blend of sophistication and charm. Be sure to book ahead of time as reservations can be hard to come by on busy weekends.  

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Chicago - What not to miss

Chicago is one of my favorite big cities in America, rich in history, architecture and culture there are countless things to enjoy while visiting this bustling city. This post is broken out into 3 sections including; things to do, places to eat and drink and places to stay.  If you're planning on travelling to the US anytime soon, find out about the ESTA Visa program at www.estaform.org 

Things to do in Chicago

Architecture River Cruise

One of my favorite things to do when visiting Chicago is climbing board one of the river boats to enjoy a tour presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Learn about the architecture and design of over 50 buildings on a 90 minute tour. Cruises depart daily and cost approximately $40 for adults. The boats offer open-air and air-conditioned seating with a full bar service available onboard.

All tours depart from Riverside Gardens, Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive (Southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge). Be sure to book your tickets in advance as they sell out quickly.

Recommended: http://www.cruisechicago.com/

All Aboard, Chicago

All Aboard, Chicago

Architecture River Cruise, Chicago

Architecture River Cruise, Chicago

Architecture River Cruise, Chicago

Architecture River Cruise, Chicago

Millennium Park

A trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Millennium Park to see The Bean or “Cloud Gate” as it’s officially named. The park also offers a state of the art collection of architecture, landscape design and artwork that provides the backdrop for a wide range of free cultural programs. Stroll through the gardens and enjoy this tranquil oasis located in the middle of a bustling city.

Recommended: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/millennium_park.html

Cloud Gate or The Bean, Chicago

Cloud Gate or The Bean, Chicago

Millennium Park, Chicago

Millennium Park, Chicago

Millennium Park, Chicago

Millennium Park, Chicago

John Hancock Center 95th Floor

If you want to enjoy a cocktail with a view then I highly suggest visiting the 95th Floor of the John Hancock Center. The Signature Lounge offers premium cocktails with a dazzling skyline view of the city. I would suggest arriving around 5.30pm and staying until sunset you won’t be disappointed.

I wouldn’t bother with the food here its average to say the least, the cocktails are good and the view is unbeatable.

Recommended: http://www.signatureroom.com/TheSignatureLounge

John Hancock Center 95th Floor, Chicago

John Hancock Center 95th Floor, Chicago

John Hancock Center 95th Floor, Chicago

John Hancock Center 95th Floor, Chicago

Navy Pier

Navy Pier is a 3,300 foot long pier located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Featuring a wide range of cultural activities, seasonal celebrations, festivals, fireworks and entertainment there is always something happening.

Recommended: http://www.navypier.com/

The view of the city next to Navy Pier, Chicago

The view of the city next to Navy Pier, Chicago

Comedy Show at the Laugh Factory

If you are looking for something different and highly entertaining I suggest booking a ticket for a show at the Laugh Factory. Since opening its doors in 1979, the world famous Laugh Factory has been recognized as the number 1 comedy club in the country. Countless comedians have taken to the stage in this iconic location and entertained audiences for years. I saw the Nasty Show which was unbelievably hilarious.  Sit back order a cocktail and let the good times roll.

Recommended: http://www.laughfactory.com/

The Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile, sometimes referred to as The Mag Mile, is an upscale section of Chicago's Michigan Avenue, running from the Chicago River to Oak Street in the Near North Side and is a mecca for shopping. The mile offers the best shopping experience with an abundance and variety of boutiques and stores. The shopping is very diverse and sure to please everyone!

Recommended: http://www.themagnificentmile.com/

Start of the Mile, Chicago

Start of the Mile, Chicago

The Magnificent Mile, Chicago

The Magnificent Mile, Chicago

Chicago-Magnificent-Mile

Places to eat and drink

The Terrace at Trump Tower

One of my favorite bars in Chicago has to be the sophisticated outdoor Terrace at Trump. Enjoy the most iconic views of Chicago’s skyline including the Wrigley Clock Tower, Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, while sipping on one of the many handcrafted cocktails on offer. 

Recommended: https://www.trumphotelcollection.com/chicago/rooftop-restaurants-chicago.php

The Terrace at Trump Tower, Chicago

The Terrace at Trump Tower, Chicago

The Terrace at Trump Tower, Chicago

The Terrace at Trump Tower, Chicago

Coconutty for the cocktails at Trump

Coconutty for the cocktails at Trump

The Purple Pig

If you are in desperate need of a break from shopping on the Magnificent Mile stop in at the Purple Pig. This intimate restaurant has an amazing selection of cured meats, cheeses and classic Mediterranean fare. The staff are extremely friendly and will be happy to pour you a large glass of wine or mix up a cocktail to help you relax.

Recommended: http://thepurplepigchicago.com/

The Purple Pig, Chicago

The Purple Pig, Chicago

Sable Kitchen and Bar

With the tag line “the cocktail is king” you can expect to enjoy a drink or two at this restaurant. Located in the heart of Chicago the restaurant offers a variety of small plates designed to share. This restaurant is perfect for a medium sized group, with 5 of my girlfriends we managed to sample quite a lot of the menu and we were not disappointed.

Recommended: http://www.sablechicago.com/

Eataly

Eataly is a smorgasbord of amazing Italian food including pizza, pasta, cheeses, cured meats, wine and my personal favorite Nutella. A trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without visiting this amazing establishment.

Recommended: http://www.eataly.com/us_en/stores/chicago/   

Eataly, Chicago

Eataly, Chicago

Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House

This seafood restaurant and steakhouse is only a stone’s throw from the John Hancock tower and a great place to eat after watching the sunset from the 95th floor. With a large variety of steak and seafood dishes there is surely something to please everyone. If you are big into seafood be sure to sample the Alaskan King Crab legs!

Recommended:  https://www.hugosfrogbar.com/

Rock Bottom Brewery

If you are lucky enough to visit Chicago during the summer months make the most of the sunny weather and head to the rooftop bar at Rock Bottom Brewery. With a wide range of beers, cocktails and light bites this out door bar offers great views in a cozy atmosphere.

Recommended: http://www.rockbottom.com/locations/chicago

Studio Paris Nightclub

If you are looking for a big night out in Chicago you can head to Studio Paris Nightclub which offers bottle service inside its chic indoor/outdoor lounge. 

Recommended: http://www.studioparisnightclub.com/home

Places to stay

I have stayed in a few different hotels in Chicago all very different and unique in their own way. Depending on the type of hotel you are looking for, how much you are willing to spend and the location you want to stay in here are three hotels that I would recommend.

The Trump Tower ($$$)

In Chicago you’re either staying at the Trump or you’re not. The 92 story hotel is located right in the heart of the city and offers impeccable style and five-star service. You will enjoy the highest level of luxury during your stay and will not be disappointed. While the cost of staying here is quite high, if you book far enough in advance you can scoop up a bargain through any of the hotel deal websites.

Website: https://www.trumphotelcollection.com/chicago/chicago-specials.php 

The Trump Tower, Chicago

The Trump Tower, Chicago

Room View The Trump Tower, Chicago

Room View The Trump Tower, Chicago

The Talbott Hotel ($$)

The Talbott Hotel was built in 1927 and has been recently renovated in keeping its historic charm while offering all the modern amenities one would expect. I really enjoyed my stay at this charming hotel and found the staff and level of service offered amazing. The hotel is reasonably priced especially if you book well ahead of time.

Website: https://www.talbotthotel.com/ 

The Talbott Hotel, Chicago

The Talbott Hotel, Chicago

Holiday Inn Mart Plaza ($)

If you are looking for somewhere inexpensive to stay that is located in the heart of the city then the Holiday Inn is for you. The hotel is clean, has friendly staff and is very reasonably priced.

Website: http://www.martplaza.com/

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3 Days in New York City - a complete itinerary

New York is an amazing city, with so many things to see and do it can be a little overwhelming if you have never been before. The following itinerary will help you maximize your time in New York by grouping key attractions together. People often think that Manhattan is quite small, after all it is an island, however it can take a reasonable amount of time to get from one neighborhood to another so this itinerary will help you avoid wasted travel time. This is a three day itinerary and each day starts from The Marcel at Gramercy Hotel located in the Flatiron district. This post focuses on the main attractions NYC has to offer, I will write a separate post on hotels, restaurants and places to drink. 

Day 1: Flatiron, Empire State, New York Library, Grand Central, Rockefeller Center, St Patrick’s Cathedral & Central Park

Today you will walk approximately 3 – 4 miles, starting at the hotel head over to 5th ave and turn right so you are walking towards Central Park. You will see the following sites on your journey.

Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building will be the first thing you see, it is located next to Madison Square Park. When the building was first completed in 1902 it was considered a groundbreaking skyscraper standing at 21 floors it was the tallest building in the city. The building was constructed on a triangular block and its name “Flatiron” comes from its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron. The building is known worldwide as the quintessential symbol of New York and it has been called one of the most iconic skyscrapers in the world. 

Flatiron Building, New York

Flatiron Building, New York

Flatiron Building, New York

Flatiron Building, New York

Empire State Building

The next building you will come across is the Empire State Building which was completed in 1931 and is 102 stories high. You can travel to the top of the building to the Observation Deck which offers great views of Manhattan, however the lines can become extremely long and the view is obstructed by a wire cage which encompasses the deck. I would recommend skipping a trip to the Observation Deck and opting for the Top of the Rock experience which will be discussed below.  

Empire State Building, New York

Empire State Building, New York

Empire State Building, New York

Empire State Building, New York

New York Public Library (NYPL)

The next landmark you will happen upon is the NYPL which houses nearly 53 million items and is the second largest public library in the United States and the fourth largest in the world. The Library has an impressive exterior with two large lions guarding the entrance and a wonderful interior featuring wonderful places to kick-back and relax with a good book.  Be sure to check out the Rose Reading Room and the Map Room. 

New York Public Library, New York

New York Public Library, New York

Grand Central Station

From the New York Public Library you can take a minor detour from 5th ave and visit Grand Central Station. Used as a backdrop for many well-known movies and TV Shows including Gossip Girl, Bad Company, friends with benefits and many more. Grand Central Station was built during the heyday of American long-distance passenger rail travel. The station covers 48 acres and has 44 platforms which is more than any other railroad station in the world. Be sure to look up at the beautiful zodiac ceiling. 

Grand Central Station, New York

Grand Central Station, New York

Rockefeller Center (Top of the Rock) & Radio City Music Hall

Heading back to 5th ave you will reach Rockefeller Center which is surrounded by some 200 flagpoles which display flags from countries in the United Nations. The centerpiece of the plaza is 30 Rockefeller Center, this building is where the famous Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper photograph was taken in 1932. I would recommend a trip to the 67th-70th floor observation decks which offer amazing views of downtown and Central Park. In winter an outdoor ice skating ring is set up in the plaza if you are up for a little excitement. 

Top of the Rock, New York

Top of the Rock, New York

Rockefeller Plaza, New York

Rockefeller Plaza, New York

St Patrick’s Cathedral

Across the road from Rockefeller Center you will see the imposing St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The stone has recently been cleaned and the cathedral casts a striking pose in stark white. 

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York

Luxury Shopping

You are now in New York’s heart of luxury shopping, within a few blocks you have Saks Fifth Avenue (with the most impressive Shoe Salon I have ever seen), Bergdorf Goodman’s (with an amazing restaurant that overlooks Central Park), Tiffany and Co’s flagship store and many others. Even if you can't afford to shop at Chanel, Prada or Burberry you must take a stroll down one of the most famous shopping streets in the world. 

Recommended: After a long morning of walking stop at the BG Restaurant located on the 7th floor of the Bergdorf Goodman restaurant which offers sweeping views of Central Park. 

Recommended: http://www.bergdorfgoodman.com/stores/restIndex.jsp

Central Park

The last stop on the day’s tour is Central Park which was originally opened in 1857.  It is located in the heart of Manhattan and is 843 acres in size. The park is beautiful in summer and winter and has many fun activities on offer. You might want to check out:

  • Bethesda Fountain and Terrace
  • Boat House Café
  • Central Park Carousel
  • Central Park Zoo
Central Park, New York

Central Park, New York

Bethesda Fountain and Terrace - Central Park, New York

Bethesda Fountain and Terrace - Central Park, New York

Central Park in Winter, New York

Central Park in Winter, New York

Day 2: Manhattan by Helicopter, Statue of liberty, Wall Street & the World Trade Center Memorial

Today you will walk approximately 3.0 miles, start by walking to the Metro station and hop on the downtown train to Whithall St. 

Manhattan by Helicopter

If you want a bird’s eye view of the big apple and surrounding areas then a helicopter tour is a must. You will see Manhattan like never before as you travel up and down the Hudson River. Although the tours are not cheap the experience and views are worth it.

Recommended: http://www.heliny.com/  

New York Skyline

New York Skyline

Helicopter Pad Lower Manhattan, New York 

Helicopter Pad Lower Manhattan, New York 

Statue of liberty

The Statue of Liberty has been welcoming immigrants to the United States since 1886 and was a gift to the U.S from the people of France. The statue is of a female figure representing Libertas (the Roman goddess) who bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law upon which the date July 4th 1776 is inscribed. The statue is an icon of freedom with a broken chain that lies at her feet.

If conditions are favorable you can see the statue from the Free Staten Island Ferry however it doesn’t go very close so if you want to take some great photos be sure to buy a ticket. You have two options when purchasing tickets, do you want to get off the Ferry and walk around on the Statues Island. It’s a personal preference but remember once you are on the island it is hard to get good photos as you are too close. 

Statue of Liberty, New York

Statue of Liberty, New York

Statue of Liberty from the air, New York

Statue of Liberty from the air, New York

Wall Street and Federal Exchange Plaza

The next stop on today’s tour is Wall Street and Federal Exchange Plaza. Wall Street is only 1.1km long and spans 8 blocks, it has over time become the symbol of the United States financial markets. Located on Wall Street is the New York Stock Exchange which is directly opposite Federal Hall. Federal Hall is a National Memorial and it was built in 1842 as the United States Custom House. It is operated by the National Park Service as a national memorial commemorating the historic events that occurred there.

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

Charging Bull Statue

The Charging Bull, which is sometimes referred to as the Wall Street Bull is a 3,200kg sculpture that symbolizes aggressive financial optimism and prosperity. It is one of the most iconic symbols of Wall Street but be warned getting a photo with the bull may take patience as the line can become extremely long. Due to my inability to wait in long lines I do not have a photo to share with you. 

World Trade Center Memorial

The new World Trade Center is built on the grounds of the original World Trade Center which opened in 1973 and was tragically destroyed in the September 11th attacks of 2001. One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the United States and has now been officially opened to the public. 

Recommended: A visit to the National September 11 Memorial is a must. The memorial is a tribute to the remembrance and horror of the 3,000 people killed in terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The Memorial’s twin reflection pools are the largest man made waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the twin towers once stood. Surrounding the pool on bronzed paneling is the name of every person who died during the 2001 and 1993 attacks. Inside the Museum displays artifacts associated with the events of 9/11, while presenting stories of loss and recovery. 

Recommended: http://www.911memorial.org/

Twin reflection pools, New York

Twin reflection pools, New York

Century 21

If you are looking for a designer steel head across to Century 21 one of New York’s largest discount department stores. Its directly opposite the memorial and there is always a bargain to be found inside.

Day 3: West Village, High Line & the Brooklyn Bridge

West Village

Today you will walk between 3-4 miles, from the Hotel you can take a leisurely stroll over to the West Village which is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Manhattan.  The neighborhood is a maze of small street lined with shops, cafes and bars. Here you will find Carries Apartment from Sex and the City down one of the tranquil tree lined streets. Right around the corner from Carries Apartment you will find Magnolia Bakery if you fancy something sweet to nibble on. You will also find the beginning of the High Line in this neighborhood. 

Carries Stoop: 64 Perry Street, New York, NY 10014

Magnolia Bakery: http://www.magnoliabakery.com/

West Village, New York

West Village, New York

High Line

The High Line is a 2.3km park built on an elevated section of an abandoned New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. Attractions along the line include different species of flora and fauna, murals, sculptures and more. In summer laze about on one of the many benches and enjoy the lush environment in the heart of a bustling city.  

The High Line, New York

The High Line, New York

Brooklyn Bridge

A trip to New York would not be complete without walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. From the Highline you can catch a taxi, hop on the metro or walk 2.4 miles to get to the start of the bridge. The bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed suspension bridge and is one of the oldest bridges of its type in the United States. It was completed in 1883 and connects Manhattan to Brooklyn. 

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

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