Washington Vacation: Boutique Stays, Outdoor Adventures, and Natural Retreats

waterfalls, columbia river gorge, oregon

A vacation in Washington means loads of adventure and outdoor fun. The spectacular river gorges, scenic mountains, fertile national parks, and picturesque coastal towns are ideal destinations for nature lovers. Moreover, there are boutique hotels and resorts, which can serve as a perfect base for exploring various scenic areas in the state.

Skamania Lodge, Stevenson – Escape into the Wilderness

Only a 45-minute drive from Portland, Oregon, Skamania Lodge – Destination Hotels & Resorts awaits you with modern amenities right in the middle of Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Stevenson, Washington. Guests can enjoy uninterrupted views of the river and the Cascade Mountains from the hotel rooms. Nestled in the wood of Douglas firs, Skamania Lodge’s newly built tree houses promise an exceptional living experience for solitude seekers. Your stay at the resort entails access to hiking trails and a range of outdoor recreation opportunities including golf, tennis, basketball, volleyball, zip line tours, and excursions into the wilderness of the Cascade Mountains.

Multnomah falls, washington, columbia river gorge

Image via Flickr by Michael Matti

Watertown Hotel, Seattle – Bring Your Pets Along

Located in the University District of Seattle, Watertown Hotel – A Piece of Pineapple Hospitality  welcomes tourists and their pets. Keeping with the vibrant urban culture of the U District, Watertown Hotel offers studio rooms with stylish interiors, king beds, bathrobes, slippers, flat-panel TVs with premium channels, Wi-Fi, microwaves, coffee makers, and refrigerators for modern living. Enjoy complimentary shuttle service to downtown and nearby attractions. Complimentary bicycles are also available for guests.

University of Washington, Seattle

Image via Flickr by biotour13

Cave B Resort, Quincy – Soak in the Scenic Beauty

If you’re looking for a peaceful retreat, Cave B Inn is the place. The resort’s well-appointed cavern rooms exude a rustic charm, while private balconies overlook the estate’s vineyards and the Columbia River. Rooms feature plush beds, satellite televisions, work desks, and private bathrooms with separate showers and bathtubs. Explore the resort’s wine country and gardens on bicycles, available to guests for free. After a busy day, soak in the outdoor pool while enjoying the view of the river gorge, or rejuvenate your senses with the resort’s signature spa treatments.

Woodmark Hotel, Kirkland – Experience Lakefront Luxury

Situated by Lake Washington, this Kirkland hotel is hardly 10 miles from Seattle. Due to its strategic location at Carillon Point, business travelers may find this hotel convenient. With amenities like kayaks, boats, Jet Skis, and watersports equipment rentals, you’ll have ample opportunity to enjoy your favorite waterfront activities at Woodmark Hotel and Still Spa. Pet-friendly accommodations come with luxurious beds and furnishings, LCD televisions with movies on demand, bathrobes, minibars, work desks, and free access to fitness facilities.

lake Washington, kirkland, WA

Image via Flickr by Cynthia.Lou

Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino, Fife – Entertainment on Weekends

With live music, fine dining and casino games, the Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino in Fife aims to provide unlimited entertainment. In your room, watch movies on a 42-inch TV, or use the high-speed internet connection to carry out business transactions. If you want something more than casinos and gaming, Fife Square and other attractions such as the Museum of Glass, LeMay Car Museum, Point Defiance Park, Pacific Bonsai Museum, and Wild Waves & Enchanted Village are easily accessible from the hotel.

Top Fabulous Nature Travel Spots in Branson

log cabin branson, missouri, forest park

Aside from family vacations of lazy summer road trips and sophisticated cities, Branson, Missouri is known for great Ozark Mountains, which is a home for some of the best nature travel and outdoor adventures. The city has earned its reputations as one of the best weekend getaway destinations for family and friends. This charming town in the Midwest is accessible, yet provides a sense of seclusion for its guests out-of-town guests.

branson, missouri, tourist attractions

Though this city is largely known for its bright lights and live entertainment, it’s also the home for some of the best nature travel spots in whole Missouri. Strategically located at the foots of the Ozark Mountains, nature lovers and outdoor adventure enthusiasts will never run out of things to see and do in this city. Here are some of city’s awe-inspiring spots and views of great outdoors.

The Forest Park

Built on the grounds of the 1904 World Fair, the Forest Park is a city park that houses the original buildings with various attractions around, such as gardens, ponds, as well as the St. Louis Zoo. They have plenty of places to spend a whole day with your family and loved ones. Those who are interested to know more about the place’s art, culture, and history can visit the St. Louis Art Museum.

log cabin branson, missouri

Shepherds of the Hills

This place is near Table Rock Dam, which is a great attraction of its own as well. The Shepherds of the Hills Fish Hatchery offers hiking trails and a unique wildlife experience from its tower. Their hatchery produces brown and rainbow trout for the ever-beautiful and abundant Lake Taneycomo.

This place also offers tons of great activities for nature lovers. Aside from the forest trail they also have lots of picnic tables, boat ramps, pavilions, and fishing access.

log cabin branson, missouri, forest park

Table Rock Dam

As said earlier, Table Rock Dam is also a great tourist attraction in Branson, and it’s definitely the place you can’t miss if you love the waters. This place will let you camp, swim, boat, and fish. And if that’s not enough, then look around and appreciate the beauty of the Ozark Mountains. Aside from the various recreational activities, you will certainly find yourself busy taking pictures of this photogenic place.

table rock dam, table rock lake, branson, missouriImage via Flickr by Branson Missouri

The Marvel Cave

This tourist attraction dates all the way back to the late 1800s. This cave features breathtaking formations of limestone, which you will have the chance to see up close through its guided tour that will take you 500 feet below sea level.

Also, this place is near the biggest and most popular attraction in the Branson – the Silver Dollar City amusement park, which is the home of some of the most exciting rides and fun activities for the whole family.

marvel cave, branson, missouri

Image via Flickr by danbodenstein

Lakeside Forest Wilderness Area

Still looking for more trails to conquer? Check out the Lakeside Forest Wilderness area and experience the beauty of the wooded and hill country that spans 140 acres. Ready your camera for the beautiful landscape, forest with big cedar-like trees, glades and waterfalls. You will be awed right from its entrance-way, as you will be greeted by a large log archway complete with ornamental iron gate.

branson missouri, forest, wildernessThese are just five of the many great nature travel spots in Branson. Book your vacation and see more of the beauty of the Ozark Mountains in your vacation.


This is a guest post by April Yap. April is an online publisher for The Cabins at Grand Mountain in Branson, MO. She often writes about camping, Midwest traveling, and log cabin experiences.

Boutique Hotels in San Jose that Won’t Pinch Your Pocket

downtown San Jose, California, capital of silicon valley

Dotted with century-old colonial architectures, green nature trails, and parks, San Jose, ‘the capital of Silicon Valley’, hardly gives the impression of a tech-savvy city, which is home to some of the world’s leading technology corporations. Rich in history, culture, and technology research, San Jose attracts all kinds of travelers year round. This prosperous city has several upscale hotels to welcome its visitors. Whether it is a business trip or a vacation, the boutique hotels in San Jose promise comfort and facilities tailored to meet your specific needs.

san jose river trail

Image via Flickr by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious

Arena Hotel

If a gracefully appointed room with one king or two queen beds, a work desk with ergonomic chair, a flat-screen TV with your favorite channels, and a bathroom featuring a Jacuzzi for two is what you are looking for within budget, Arena Hotel is the place to stay.  Located centrally, near SAP Center and Diridon Train Station, the hotel offers value-for-money accommodation with complimentary breakfast and Wi-Fi. Rooms come with microwaves, coffee makers, and mini-refrigerators so that you can save money on eating out. A self-service business center is also there for carrying out your business transactions uninterrupted.

Dolce Hayes Mansion

Surrounded by lush green lawns lined with palm trees, Dolce Hayes Mansion’s quaint Spanish architecture is one of the most notable historical landmarks of San Jose. The sprawling estate by Highway 101 houses an outdoor pool, a conference center, tennis courts, and a fine dining restaurant. This award-winning four-star property is all set to offer tastefully decorated rooms with classic wood furnishings, plush beds, dual-line phones, refrigerators, coffee makers, work desks, and Wi-Fi. The private bathrooms are equipped with bathtubs and toiletries for a luxurious bathing experience.

dolce hayes mansion san jose

Image via Flickr by Archer Art~SJ Arredondo

Extended Stay America – San Jose – Airport

Think of a hotel, which is only a few minutes from San Jose airport. A hotel that offers modern amenities along with pet-friendly accommodations suitable for extended stays. And a hotel that ensures quick access to many of Silicon Valley’s technology firms. You can get this all in one place at Extended Stay America – San Jose – Airport. Laundry, housekeeping, filtered drinking water, free Wi-Fi and business services, and a well-equipped kitchen in the room are some of the amenities that ensure homely comfort and convenience while cutting down on expenses during traveling.

Extended Stay America – San Jose – Edenvale – North

Like the above-mentioned Extended Stay America hotel the Extended Stay America – San Jose – Edenvale – North offers similar types of accommodations and amenities in a quiet neighborhood of South San Jose. The hotel’s studio-style rooms have flat-screen TVs with premium channels. Besides, there are hot tubs and outdoor pools for relaxation and recreation. The hotel chain offers discounts on early booking and longer stays. Military people and senior citizens can enjoy discounted rates at San Jose’s Extended Stay America hotels.

San jose state university

Image via Wikipedia by Daderot

E-Z 8 Motel San Jose I

Located close to San Jose International Airport, E-Z 8 Motel San Jose I offers pet-friendly accommodation within $100 a night. Santa Clara Convention Center, San Jose State University, and California’s Great America are some of the nearby attractions. The hotel’s guest rooms have televisions with top entertainment channels, wireless internet, work desks, refrigerators, microwaves, and irons with ironing boards. Recreational amenities include an outdoor pool, hot tubs, and a game room. On-site laundry, copy and fax machines, and complimentary parking facilities help business travelers save more on extended stays.

Sun, Sand, and Fun at the Boutique Hotels in Hilton Head Island

sunset, coligny beach, hilton head island, south carolina

A tiny piece of land by the Atlantic coast, Hilton Head Island is a popular family vacation destination in South Carolina. With pristine beaches and lush vegetation, the island offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. In addition, the boutique hotels in Hilton Head Island promises luxurious accommodations and amenities, which will make your vacation an unforgettable one.

Beach, hilton head island, south carolina

Image Via Flickr by Lee Edwin Coursey

Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort

One of the most popular luxury hotels in Hilton Head Island is Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort. Sprawling over an extensive area, the resort has 20 oceanfront suites, eight resort view suites, and 295 studio-style suites. The amenities include rooms with separate bedrooms and kitchenettes, allowance for pets, and concierge, child care, and handicap services. Recreational amenities include multi-cuisine restaurants, tennis courts, a full-service spa, golf course, pools, beach-side Jacuzzi, and a private lagoon system where guests can enjoy kayaking and canoeing.

Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort

If you’re wondering where to stay in Hilton Head Island on your vacation with your kids and pets, what can be a better choice than Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort? Designed after hunting and fishing lodges of yesteryear, the resort offers villas and deluxe studios for accommodation and almost 12 miles of private beaches. Elegantly appointed rooms come with flat-screen TVs, microwaves, in-room safes, mini-refrigerators, DVD players, and coffee makers. Amenities offered at the resort include wireless internet, shuttle service, free parking, laundry, swimming pools, a fitness center, and various recreational activities for kids.

hilton head island sc, boat pier

Image via Flickr by Dan’s Eye View

Shipyard Resort by Spinnaker Resorts

Designed like a home away from home, Shipyard Resort by Spinnaker Resorts features well-equipped townhouses, which have amenities like DVD players, complimentary Wi-Fi, kitchens with microwaves, phones with a free local and long distance call facility, flat-screen TVs with cable connectivity, and more. Adults can relax at the on-site tennis courts, hot tubs, pools with poolside cabana, picnic tables, waterside barbecue, and a golf course. Kids can have their share of fun at the Kiddie Pool and on-premise playground. Shopping centers and restaurants are also in the vicinity of the hotel.

Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island

Surrounded by lush greenery, Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island provides an opportunity to immerse your senses in scenic beauty and natural splendor. Whether it’s a walk in the tropical gardens or dining in one of the many restaurants that the resort has; getting pampered at the Arum Spa; or enjoying life in the lagoon swimming pool, this resort offers everything under one roof. The award-winning resort is also ideal for hosting weddings and other programs, including business events. The rooms are done in a style that offers the best of modern amenities for luxurious living, such as plush beds with fluffy pillows and mattresses, pull-out sofas, internet TV with movies and video games, refrigerators, and electronic safes.

boardwalk, hilton head island, sc

Image via Flickr by Ken Lund

Hilton Head Metropolitan Hotel

Only a block from Forest Beach, Hilton Head Metropolitan Hotel offers ocean-view rooms within budget. Coligny Plaza shopping mall, restaurants, and pubs are within walking distance from the hotel. The guest rooms feature king-size beds, televisions with cable channels, coffee makers, microwaves, refrigerators, hair dryers, and irons with ironing boards. Family rooms and suites have an additional kitchenette where you will find double burner stoves and other commonly used kitchen utensils for cooking.

Unique Places to View NYC’s Skyline

NYC, Manhattan, NYC skyline, Manhattan skyline

This content was originally published on IHG’s website

The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, One World Trade Center…all of offer exceptional views of NYC, but only with some major trade-offs. You could wait hours in line just to reach the top, and the cost of admission is as sky-high as the observation deck. Plus, you’ll find the same exact views in every tour guide and on about half of all NYC postcards. Visiting New York City is breath taking, make sure you are getting the most out of your trip whether your hotel is within walking distance to Times Square or discovering more unique places off the beaten path.

So where should you go to see New York in a new way? Fortunately, there are several other locations which let you see the NYC skyline from a fresh perspective. While they aren’t featured in many city guides, we’ve put together a list of cool and unique locations with unbelievable skyline views. These are more than just tourist trap observation decks; each one doubles as a memorable New York experience, whether you’ll be enjoying a relaxing stroll in the park, learning about natural history, riding a famous carousel, listening to live music, or viewing some of the world’s finest artwork.

Keep this guide handy as you explore New York City from top to bottom. We’ve highlighted some local spots with seriously exceptional views of the city that will remind you why NYC is so special.

NYC skyline, infographic

Top 5 Things in Kansas City Your Kids Will Enjoy the Most

kansas city, missouri

Situated on the western border of Missouri, Kansas City serves as the gateway to the state. From history to culture, from music to sports, Kansas City has manifold sides to explore. The city has so much on its platter that you may get confused as to what to see and what not on your first visit. Sometimes, while traveling with kids, parents find it difficult to choose the places where their kids can have the best time. Following is a list of top five things in Kansas City that your kids will enjoy the most.

Kansas City, Missouri

Image via flickr by StuSeeger

Encounter the Wild at Kansas City Zoo

Kids of all ages can enjoy an entire day at the city’s zoological park. The zoo is home to a variety of animals, including kangaroos, rhinos, chimpanzees, and tigers. You’ll find zebras and giraffes grazing in the secluded areas resembling the African wetlands. A Sky Safari can take you closer to the relaxing herbivores on the field. The zoo remains open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you have time after all this, the kids can enjoy a few fun rides, too.

Discover the Creative Genius in Your Little One at Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope is one of the must-do, free activities for kids in Kansas City. With an array of engaging art-and-craft and do-it-yourself activities, you can discover the artistic genius in your little ones at the art sessions at Kaleidoscope, which opens at 9:30 in the morning. Since the ticket is free, it is better to book your spot in advance.

Let Loose the Child in You at Loose Park

There are many pools and spray grounds dotting the Kansas City metropolitan landscape that offer free access to visitors. Loose Park, at 52nd Terrace and Summit Street, is a place with several fountains and shaded picnic tables placed amid a huge landscaped garden. You can book a table for up to 10 people for $25 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the park.

Learn New Things at Science City at Union Station

Science City at Union Station is a great place for kids to discover the wonders of science and learn more about scientific discoveries and the latest technologies in a fun way.  From exploring the exhibits, to joining the demo of science in our daily life activities, to exciting sky-bike rides, kids can choose to do whatever they like. Your chance to explore the grand architecture of the Union Station is a bonus.

Enjoy Movies Under the stars

After a day full of fun and activities, it is time to make the nights special in Kansas City. Instead of spending the evening in the hotel room, take your kids out to the Crown Center, Kearney Amphitheater, or Theater in the Park, where they can watch movies while sitting right under the stars. From the classic fairytale, Cinderella, to the latest science fiction, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, your little ones can choose from a range of movie showings at these open-air theaters.

Accommodations in Kansas City

Just as you pick the tourist attractions selectively for your kids, you are extra careful about where to stay in Kansas City  while traveling with kids. Although there is no dearth of accommodations in Kansas City for every budget, Crowne Plaza Kansas City Downtown, Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza, and InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza are some of the family friendly hotels where your little ones would enjoy their stay.