New York City -Take a Bite of The Big Apple

A Bite of The Apple…where to eat, shop and stay

Yellow cab in Times Square, New YorkIf you book an American city break anywhere this year, it simply has to be New York City. The Big Apple sees millions of tourists flock to its streets every year, in search of that buzz that only New York can give.

The city that never sleeps is full of bright lights, restaurants, bars, skyscrapers and iconic landmarks. One thing’s for sure; you certainly won’t find anywhere quite like New York.

Where to eat in New York

This is a tricky one because there really are SO many different options available to you. A lot of tourists tend to flock to Times Square and seek out the big names that they already know and love. However, you will also find that many people (particularly the locals) will head off down the side streets and away from the bright lights to the little, independent restaurants that nobody outside of New York has ever heard of. Of course, you don’t want to forget about some of the amazing food you can grab on the go. And no, we’re not talking about a typical McDonald’s. Try to sample a bit of everything and you’ll be sure to leave New York feeling full up and satisfied.

If you want some reliable American cuisine, make sure you go to the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. The inevitable long wait for a table is made easier by the rock memorabilia that adorns the walls. Failing that, one of the classic Hard Rock burgers and a cocktail will do the trick.

Some other fail safes are the Red Lobster or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. – both of which can be found right in the middle of Times Square. If you’re into seafood, you can be sure of a good meal at both of these chain restaurants.

For some good, old-fashioned street food, try Los Tacos No. 1 in Chelsea Market. Have a wander around the stalls and grab a taco for lunch – you won’t be disappointed. Los Tacos 21, NYCThis taco bar is one of the very best eateries in the whole of New York city! There are also numerous pizza joints around the city, any one of which is guaranteed to give you a generous slice for an amazing price. Try Capizzi in Hell’s Kitchen for one of the best pizza and beer snack stops in town.

New York also has hundreds – if not thousands – of individual restaurants with something for everyone. Whether you want a traditional steakhouse or some authentic Chinese food, head to the independents for a real taste of the city. Daniel on 65th Street specialises in experience dining, so if you want to blow the budget and have an amazing meal out, be sure to check out this French restaurant. Alternatively, Club A Steakhouse on East 58th Street has rave reviews on TripAdvisor and is one of the best ranked restaurants in the city. If you want a classic American steak, this really is the only place to go.

Where to shop in New York

New York is a mecca for shoppers and you can’t pay a visit to the Big Apple without hitting infamous Fifth Avenue. Featuring the very best in high street and designer stores, the main street through Manhattan is home to the likes of Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston, Chanel and of course, Saks Fifth Avenue. There really is no better place to spend your holiday dollars than the shopping heart of the world.

If you’re on a tighter budget but still love the designer labels, be sure to visit Century 21 in Lower Manhattan. Century 21 Department Store in New YorkThis outlet store has your favourite designer brands for a fraction of the cost; perfect if you want to treat someone back home or just go all out for yourself.

You may find yourself with a bit of spare time on your hands, in which case take a bus upstate to the Woodbury Common Premium Outlet. It’s about an hour out-of-town, but worth the drive as you can buy a suitcase there and then fill it with all your new purchases. If shopping is your main priority, Woodbury Common is a must-see; over 200 stores with amazing discounts cannot be ignored by a true shopaholic!Woodbury Common Outlets

Where to stay in New York

New York has several iconic hotels that you can stay in; it’s just a matter of choosing one. Many of them are located in the centre of Manhattan, making it easy to get around to the different boroughs. If you want a truly luxurious, classic hotel, the only place to stay is the New York Palace. Featured in several hit television shows, The Palace has over 800 guest rooms and more than 80 suites. Situated directly opposite St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the corner of 50th Street and Madison Avenue, it’s in a great location for getting all over the city.

Or why not relive the infamous Home Alone 2 movie and stay at The Plaza on Central Park? This grand hotel is a landmark in its own right and has everything to offer – including spectacular views of the park. Whether you’re on a romantic break away or a fun weekend with friends, the Plaza can cater to every need and give you the experience of a lifetime.

Alternatively, if you want something super modern and a bit different, check in to Ink48 in Hell’s Kitchen where you’ll find stunning views over the Hudson River.

Rooftop Cocktail lounge at Ink 48, New York
Drinks with a view at Ink 48

This hotel boasts spacious rooms and something unique amongst the skyscrapers of the city – perfect for a little bit of escapism and we love it!

So now you have a list of some of the best places to eat, shop and stay, you just need to work out what you want to see on your trip. With so much on offer in New York, you’ll be spoilt for choice; the Empire State Building, Top Of The Rock, World Trade Center, Liberty Island, Museum Mile and the Brooklyn Bridge are all must-visit locations. 911 Memorial in New YorkWe’d recommend making an itinerary of the places you want to visit, so that you can fit everything in and won’t miss anything along the way. Oh, and don’t forget your camera – you’ll want to capture your New York memories forever.

Bon Voyage has been arranging trips to New York for over thirty years, both as a city break and part of a multi-centre holiday.

Why a multi-centre holiday to America will be one of the best holidays of your life

Valley of Fire State Park NVLots of people head off to America every year for their annual holiday. Many people fall in love with one destination and continue to visit year after year, while others like to go somewhere new each time. But what if you could visit more than one place on the same holiday? Multi-centre holidays to the USA give you exactly that option. Why stay in one place when you can visit two or more on the same trip?

New options

For those who have gone for a multi-centre trip in the past, places like Los Angeles and San Francisco have been popular options, but many people don’t even entertain the idea of going interstate. Las Vegas, Nevada is a common bolt-on for holidaymakers checking out California, but would these people consider going further to say, New York or Washington D.C.?

The Presidential Mansion.
The Presidential Mansion.

The USA is huge and every state has something dramatically different to offer, so why not make the most of it and visit a couple or even three different destinations during your holiday? Renting a car or RV (recreational vehicle) to drive down Route 66 is one method of fitting in several states, but pre-arranged tours and internal flights are other options available that continue to increase in popularity. If you want to see it all, a multi-centre trip to America really is the best way to do it.

So many destinations, so little time…

Waikiki Beach 2

When you book a USA multi-centre trip, you’ll soon discover that the combinations of destinations are endless. You will easily find yourself booking to visit places that you may not have previously even considered. Perhaps you had never given much thought to seeing the fall in New England, but if you’re planning to visit the Big Apple, New England is only a five-hour drive away. Rent a car or book a connecting flight and experience the local culture, stunning scenery and a completely different America to the one that awaits you in New York City.

Perhaps you’ve always been a sun-worshipper and frequented the Florida Keys to top up your tan each year. Why not team a few days there with an action-packed break in Los Angeles as well? You’ll have a sun-drenched holiday, complete with sightseeing, shopping and something a little different – a unique holiday that you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Can this really be America?Or how about the Deep South? Considered by many as the soul of America, the likes of Tennessee and Louisiana are famed for both their music and food, as well as a rich history. You can spend time visiting Graceland and the New Orleans School of Cooking, as well as taking a river cruise on a Mississippi Steamer. Then, head on up to the cosmopolitan city of Chicago to check out the Chicago Blues nightlife, the Sears Tower Skydeck and shop on the Magnificent Mile. You really will get an eye-opening tour of the musical heart of America.

Why multi-centre is better

If you book a holiday to just one destination, it stands to reason that your holiday activities can be limited to those available in your chosen destination. But have you considered, for example, that you could book a winter break and ski for the first half then relax on a warm beach in California or Hawaii before returning home? How about exploring the unspoiled wonders of nature in the National Parks then living it up in Las Vegas or shop-til-you-drop in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles? Opting for a multi-centre trip, things are blown wide open. Not only do you get to do the sightseeing in completely different cities, but you also get to embrace the contrasting cultures along the way.

Las Vegas sign & showgirls

Multi-centre trips will give you a whole different perspective on your annual holiday and allow you to tick more places off of your destination bucket list as well. Why sample the local cuisine of one city, when you can tick off three instead? These sorts of holidays mean you don’t quite know what’s coming next and you can have some of the most wonderful adventures of your life.

Hawaii couple surfboards walking beachUSA multi-centre trips are an increasingly popular choice for honeymooners as well, and with good reason. If you both have somewhere ideal in mind that you want to visit and just can’t seem to completely agree, a honeymoon that features different destinations is the perfect compromise. You can do the busy sightseeing in the cities of New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco or Washington D.C. and finish off with a relaxing week on the beautiful beaches of Miami, Los Angeles or Hawaii. With a combination like that, who can argue? You’re guaranteed to have the honeymoon of a lifetime.

And if you’re just booking your annual holiday? Well, if you can please everyone, then all the better. So what are you waiting for? Next time you start browsing for holidays to America, take a cross-section of different places across the United States and go for something totally different. We guarantee it’ll be one of the best holidays of your life.Lara of Bon Voyage

 

The Perfect Start to the Perfect USA holiday – The Essential Things to Pack for a Transatlantic Flight.

Transatlantic flights aren’t exactly the most fun part of your holiday to America or Canada. In fact, unless you’re flying in one of the premium cabins, they can be rather tedious and uncomfortable. Fear not, however, for this handy guide will tell you what to pack for a transatlantic flight to make the journey much more pleasurable. It might even be as good as flying first class! Well, almost.

Earphones

We cannot stress enough how essential these are to pack if you want to listen to music or watch movies on the flight. Yes, you are likely to be offered some by your friendly flight attendant, but whether they’re actually any good or not is an entirely different matter. Noise cancelling headphonesAt least with your own earphones, you know that both speakers work, they’re comfortable and they can be relied on. There’s nothing worse than settling down to watch an in-flight movie to discover that sound only comes to one ear – after 11 hours, it’ll drive you crazy.

Toiletry kit

This is probably one of the things that you’ll appreciate the most, especially towards the end of your flight. A toiletry kit should include a toothbrush and toothpaste, face wipes, moisturiser, eye drops and a hair tie if you have long hair. The air pressure in the cabin can dry out the face and body, so the face wipes will keep your skin clean and allow you to reapply your makeup before you land if you wish. Clear bag for toiletries at the airportMoisturiser and eye drops will keep your skin hydrated and freshen you up, while a quick brush of the teeth will instantly make you feel better. Finally, if you want a nap mid-flight, use the hair tie to pull your hair out of your face – it’ll be a godsend.

Book or magazines

These might be heavy and weigh down your bag, but if you get into a good book, the time will literally fly by. If you’re heading on a beach holiday, pick a nice, summery read to get you in the mood while you’re on the flight. By the time you land, you’ll be bouncing with excitement to start your holiday.Reading on a plane

If you are worried about lugging a heavy bag to the airport and through security, leave your books at home and pick up a couple in duty free instead. You can often find best sellers and a great magazine selection in the newsagents. Once the magazines have been read, you can just leave them on the plane and keep your bag as light as possible.

Travel pillow

Travel pillow - Ostrich
OK, so maybe not a travel pillow like this one!

Like the earphones, you might be offered one of these by the flight attendant but it won’t be anywhere near as good as you want it to be. These scratchy, little square cushions aren’t a patch on the soft, foamy beans of trusted travel pillows that mould to your neck. Invest in one of these and your transatlantic flight will pass much more smoothly.

SnacksSnack for plane journeys

Long haul flights will have attendants bringing round a snacks and meal trolley, as well as a drinks trolley, but plan your food and drink intake carefully. Aeroplane food is often quite stodgy and carb-heavy so buy some light snacks in duty free before you board if you want to prevent that bloated, lethargic feeling. If you suffer with travel sickness or your ears pop during the flight, pack a few lollipops and hard boiled sweets to suck on – they’ll help to stop the pain and give you a distraction as well. One word of caution though – whilst taking fruit or vegetables onto the flight is fine, US Customs won’t be happy about you taking your leftovers into the United States.

Keep drinking plenty of water throughout the journey and try to avoid alcohol. While it might be tempting to have a glass of wine to help relax you – particularly if you’re nervous – it will just leave you feeling more dehydrated and you’ll probably end up landing with a hangover.

Gadgetsipad on a plane

You’ve already got your earphones and you’re ready to make the most out of the in-flight entertainment. Of course, when you turn on your TV screen, you have one of the dodgy ones that doesn’t work properly, throwing all of your plans out of the cabin door. This is where your iPod, mobile phone or tablet will come in handy, particularly if you have already uploaded a couple of movies onto it beforehand. Just make sure it’s in flight mode, plug your earphones in and off you go. You’ll probably find yourself getting distracted by all the games on your gadgets as well, helping the flight time to go by in a breeze. It is important to note, however, that if you are connecting to another flight when you land, it is ESSENTIAL that you dont drain your electronic devices to the point they won’t boot up – you may be asked to power them up at security and you could be denied boarding if they refuse to turn on.

So now you have your list of things to pack, you just need to get a suitable bag to put everything in. Hand luggage

Pick something that’s comfortable to carry around and roomy enough to sling a few extras into – you never know what you might end up buying in duty free. Try to pick a bag that has a zip and buckles to keep it a bit more secure when it’s in the overhead storage and avoid everything falling out all over the place. Put your passport and ticket in a safe, sealed pocket then sit back and enjoy the flight. You’ll be starting your perfect USA holiday before you know it.

 

Flying to America? Know exactly what you can take on board your flight!

British Airwats checkin at Terminal 5 Thousands of people fly off on holiday to the USA every day.  There have long been rules about what you can and can’t bring on board the aeroplane and these lists of prohibited items are often subject to scrutiny and regular updates. It can quickly get confusing – particularly if you don’t travel very often – so what exactly can you take on board your transatlantic flight?

Weapons

For many years, the rules about weapons or dangerous items have been clear. No weapons of any kind are allowed to be carried on aircraft flying all over the world. These include guns, knives, scissors, any sort of blades, axes and swords. No guns allowed signSome of them might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised at some of the things people wish to take with them on an aeroplane! Remember that hiking poles, sporting racquets and umbrellas cannot be carried in hand luggage, so you’ll need to put them in with your checked items instead.

Medication

There are some passengers who need medication and if it has to be injected, this can be a concern for them. You can bring your medication onboard the aircraft, but it is worth speaking to the airline and members of security at the airport in advance to let them know what you will be bringing with you. This will give them the opportunity to prepare for your arrival and keep any delays to a minimum.

You will need to show your medication to security (where is may be screened) and keep it separate to other liquids you’re carrying. Used sharps will need to be contained in a sharps box. Ensure you carry your medication with you, rather than having it in checked baggage, as the air pressure can impact on the insulin and make it unsafe for use.

Liquids

A more recent update to the prohibited list is liquids, which now have set restrictions. While they are not completely prohibited, liquids over 100ml (3.4oz) will not be permitted in hand luggage. This rule also applies to gels, pastes, creams and aerosols.CAA Rules on Liquids

When passing through security, you will need to ensure all your liquids fit into a clear, plastic, zip-top bag – these are often available for you to grab as you enter the queue for security. All of your liquids must fit in this bag, so be selective with what you pack in your hand luggage. If you won’t need it until you land, put it in your checked luggage instead.

Electronic devices

Up until very recently, most electronic devices could be carried on a plane. This included laptops, tablets, mobile phones, music players and various other devices. However, that regulation has now changed and it’s important that passengers are made aware of the new rules. This change only came in from the beginning of July 2014, so many people may still be unaware and arrive at check-in ill prepared, causing delays for themselves and other passengers.

STOP PRESS:

The British government has announced that it will no longer be allowing passengers to board aeroplanes if their electrical or battery-powered devices do not power up. This means that if your phone runs out of battery before you get through the boarding gate, you won’t be allowed to get on the flight and will have to rebook or leave the item behind. The same rule applies to all electrical devices including laptops, tablets, e-books, mobile phones and anything similar. If your device does not switch on when requested, it will not be able to go in your hand luggage and you will be prohibited from boarding. Naturally, this could cause delays and additional expenses if you have to rebook your flight, so ensure that you are not put in that position. Make sure all of your items are fully charged and minimise the use of them to preserve power.

This rule is being rolled out to all airlines flying to the USA from the UK, so it’s essential that you’re aware and prepared. If you buy an electronic device in the airport, make sure it powers up and be aware that the packaging may be subject to scrutiny as well. Bear in mind that there are very limited opportunities to charge your devices in the airports, so try to conserve the power as much as possible. When you are on board, the usual rules apply for electronic devices – they can be used as long as they are in flight mode.

4th AmendmentSo when you start packing your hand luggage for your holiday to America, just bear this list in mind and check with your aircraft carrier for any specifics that you’re unsure about. If in doubt, put it into your checked luggage or call ahead and ask someone from the airline for verification. That way, check-in will be a breeze and you can start enjoying your American holiday from the moment you leave the house.HEATHROW-security-feedback

Hey! Harleys Aren’t Just for the boys!

Eagle Rider bikes in Monument ValleyShe’s an adventurous lady. That’s for sure. But not an adrenaline junkie. Not a barmy thrill-seeking, middle-aged woman who is rebelling against the inexorable slide towards chutney making at the Women’s Institute. It’s just that she’s reached a time in her life when she wants to experience “stuff”. And according to research there are countless women who feel the same and are embarking on great travel experiences as their lives at home start to simplify – and according to some research it it the girls who are more adventurous than the boys! Fair enough, I say. Macchu Picchu, The Great Wall of China, Cambodia – adventurous without being unreasonably reckless. The travel trade, rather patronisingly in my view, dubbed this sort of thing “soft adventure” some years ago.

So there we were the other evening talking about some of the things that Bon Voyage offers to its clients. A glass of chilled Sauvignon blanc may have been involved.

“Hey, I’ve done that, and it was great fun,” she squealed, rather animatedly, when I mentioned Harley adventures across America (click here for info), and in particular the iconic Route 66.

It turns out that she was a pillion passenger on a Harley and did part of Route 66, up to the Grand Canyon and then on to Las Vegas.

“Really?” said I, just a touch too sceptically. “Wasn’t it a bit boring just sitting on the back of the bike for hours at a time, with nothing but desert and tumbleweed to look at? Oh, and the back of somebody’s head?”

“No more so than riding the bike” she replied “but at least those bikes are built for comfortable cruising. And the amazing, breath-taking scenery is constantly changing. But it was sooo much more exciting than that” she gushed. “Riding without a helmet and the strange feeling of vulnerability, yet freedom, chasing a mile-long freight train , joining a group of hairy bikers for part of the trip , eating at the Road Kill Café and experiencing some parts of the Grand Canyon that we might never have seen. Not just for the boysThe exhilarating sweeps and twists of Red Rock Canyon to Sedona and wanting to exchange the bike for a horse, chaps and a cowboy hat! The ferocious sun burning through my jeans, and even the taste of the dust after a day on the road, and the sweet ecstasy of washing it away with an ice-cold beer. But it can get really hot coming down through the high plains at the Canyon and down into the desert as you approach Las Vegas. What with the sweltering desert temperatures and the heat coming off the Harley, I couldn’t wait to get off the bike and into the pool! Oh and to the shops at Caesars…erm, for the air conditioning, of course”. Of course.

So I guess at Bon Voyage we might have been guilty of thinking that Harley holidays would only appeal to the boys. Maybe living the Harley dream – the open road and bugs-in-your-teeth cruising on a throbbing, classic motorcycle – appeals to a wider demographic that includes the girls too!

If you like the sound of a Harley Davidson holiday in America click here.

About the author: Phil Newcombe is a director of Bon Voyage.

A week in the Yukon Wilderness

CAN YT Emerald Lake

Bon Voyage Sales Manager, Nikki Gibbs, has spent 20 years with the company and seen just about every part of North America from Niagara Falls to the Californian winelands and from the rugged Rocky Mountains to the beaches of Miami.  But our intrepid traveller had never veered this far off the beaten track…… 

 

Day 1 – London Heathrow to Whitehorse

I joined a small (but select!) band of UK tour operators for the Air Canada flight from Heathrow via Vancouver to Whitehorse in the Yukon.  I’m always fascinated by the fact that because you take a ‘shortcut’ over the Pole to Vancouver, Western Canada the flying time from London is the same as Miami and an hour less than, say, Dallas.  The check-in at Terminal Three is quick and easy and thanks to excellent in-flight entertainment the time passes quickly. Continue reading A week in the Yukon Wilderness

Magic Of The Mississippi – Cruising Ol’ Man River

American Queen banner

Nick Dalton is a travel writer and expert in both cruises and American destinations. Following his recent journey on the American Queen he has kindly allowed Bon Voyage to feature his article that appeared in the Daily Express.

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“I’m sitting on deck hypnotised by the relentless flow of the mighty Mississippi as the paddle steamer American Queen heads upstream.

“The river must be a mile wide, its banks thick with forest and the air is warm.”

Continue reading Magic Of The Mississippi – Cruising Ol’ Man River

Thoughts, experiences and opinions on travel to North America from the UK's leading USA tailor-made holiday experts.

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