Niagra Falls is one of those bucket list items that wasn’t ever actually on my bucket list. But I was in the area, so I had to go. I wish I could write of how I was overwhelmed by nature’s pure power and was lost in a moment of awe-inspiring bliss. It might have been the 35 asian tourists ramming me into the rail of the Maid of Mist. Or the fact that I was fascinated by the large Quaker population in attendance. Either way — it felt more like a hot crowded sunday at Disney World. Or a herd of cattle going to the slaughter. Or a human condom with my heinous plastic blue garbage bag I was required to wear. You get the point.
Long story short, save your time and watch a youtube video of it or something.
Four Seasons Jackson Hole. Luxury meets rugged. ‘Nuff said. Heavenly.
Hilton Barbados. You want scenic? Go.
Grand Wailea Waldorf Astoria: Maui
Local hot spot: Cafe O’Lei in Kihea — O. M. G. Everything under the stars on the menu, including an extensive sushi bar and wood burning stove. A must do for anyone in the area. Moderate pricing.
Okay. So I know Boca Raton isn’t exactly a bucket list item for the majority of the population. However, if you are in the area the Boca Raton Resort & Spa (Waldorf Astoria) is a MUST. The property is so regal you won’t even need to leave the resort to get your fill of delicious food (try dining at their chic sushi bar - Morimoto), architecture, and art. You can even play a life size game of Alice in Wonderland-like chess out in their yards if you’re feeling young at heart.
The rooms were beautiful and my only complaint would be that the size of the property may aid as a detriment to service and delivery times for things such as in-room dining and cleaning.
Charleston is a special place. It’s charming quality will leave you in a trance-like state of more pleasant times. It is one of the few places I have been in my travels that invites you in; and encapsulates the soul. Words fail me when it comes to Charleston so I’ll leave it to Charleston native, master of linguistics, and my personal favorite novelist, Pat Conroy:
“Charleston has a landscape that encourages intimacy and partisanship. I have heard it said that an inoculation to the sights and smells of the Carolina lowcountry is an almost irreversible antidote to the charms of other landscapes, other alien geographies. You can be moved profoundly by other vistas, by other oceans, by soaring mountain ranges, but you can never be seduced. You can even forsake the lowcountry, renounce it for other climates, but you can never completely escape the sensuous, semitropical pull of Charleston and her marshes.”
Being the Pat Conray enthusiast that I am (and like any other Pat Conroy reader) I felt like already knew Charleston. I knew to go to King Street. I parked my rental and walked, letting the city introduce itself. The buildings reek of history and the people are friendly. I like this place already. My first stop was a Cynthia Rowley boutique with a lust-worthy collection. Sigh… I wanted one of everything. At reccommendation of the friendly staff, I headed across the street to Tasty Thai & Sushi for some sushi and a glass of wine. It had a laid back, casual atmosphere that I could appreciate. I should add that their miso soup was killer. As I continued my journey down King Street I feel into a deep (borderline sedative) state of design nirvana. I floated from store to store marveling at the decor, both old and new, but strictly fabulous. Many of the store names fail me now, but just head south down King Street and you can’t miss them. A personal favorite is a furniture boutique called ‘South of Market’ located at 173 King Street.
As I winded up my shopping, I happily accepted the rich history and architecture the city had to offer. With my windows down, I headed over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge towards the beach side town, Isle of Palms. As we watched the land turn to marsh and the sun began to set we knew the beach was near. We parked the car, took off our boots, and headed down a sandy path. The moment I stepped foot on the wide-set, white sanded beach of this town will forever be remembered as one the beautiful sunset I have yet to witness.
Awe-struck from the beauty of the whole day, we composed ourselves and headed minutes down the road to the Wild Dunes Resort. Isle of Palms is aisled with gorgeous beach homes displaying both architecture and style that is unique to the area. The Wild Dunes Resort proved to be a lovely experience. Accommodations included a spacious condo, consisting of two bedrooms, two bathroom, full kitchen, living room, and dining room. The hotel staff was great and the event I attended was pretty magnificent — and definitely Charleston. We used the complimentary shoe shining service (always tip!) and enjoyed our ‘cerci’, or what southerners call a little “special for no reason gift”.
I couldn’t leave town without seeing one of the many plantations tours that the area has to offer. Magnolia Plantations & Gardens was a gorgeous estate that invokes mixed feelings as it’s deep history leaves a troubling aura. Note: these tours require entry fees typically ranging between $10-$30. Is a must-do on any Charleston trip.
In the end, Charleston’s stylish charm and beaches won my heart. I hope to return soon. But until then… it’s back on the road. Report back soon.
Taking a trip to Cabo soon? Here’s a trick… while staying at the Marquis (easily the best on-site food out of the Los Cabos resorts) I walked down the beach towards the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf resort. Directly past there stands a little Mexican man with these majestic horses. I asked him the going rate for a sunset beach ride and he said $20 for an hour ride. He agreed to meet myself and my co-worker outside of the Marquis promptly at 6 o’clock — and to our amazement, there he was. Cheap thrills. Nothing better. And the ride was magnificent.