Friday, March 29, 2013

Newport, RI Hotels: History At Your Doorstep

    Newport, RI is the most charming city in New England.  Not only is it the most charming, it is teaming with history.  It is historic for its colonial background, fishing culture, and its historic mansions.  If anyone is looking to stay for two or three nights in this stunning New England town, he/she doesn't have to look far.  There are a handful of hotels in Newport which suit all travelers’ needs.  Without flipping through all the hotel listings, here is a list of hotels for visitors' consideration.  Whichever hotel anyone may choose to stay at, he/she will not be disappointed.  The hotel which visitors choose to stay at will have them feeling like part of the town and part of history.

    As mentioned, finding a convenient hotel in Newport isn’t difficult.  There are five hotels to be considered.  They are not just run-of-the-mill hotels, they are the five of the very best.  They are hotels recommended to millions of visitors.  Aside from visitors, they are preferred by parents, friends, and families of Salve Regina University students.  Let’s begin with the big names, and move down the list to the more quaint and intimate ones. 

5.  Marriott-Newport.  Located on America’s Cup Boulevard upon entering Newport, the hotel is conveniently located next door to the Newport Gateway Visitors & Transportation Center.  The hotel features a spacious lobby with a vaulted ceiling and atrium. Fathoms Restaurant, located towards the rear of the lobby, features American cuisine including an incredible breakfast buffet available daily.  The Marriott-Newport also features a twenty-four hour fitness center and a business center.  The nineteen meeting rooms feature top-of-the-line audio visual equipment.  The hotel features complimentary newspapers and wireless internet access.  The Marriott-Newport is just minutes away from Thames Street, Tauro Synagogue, and the Redwood Library.  Trolley service to the mansions is available at the Newport Gateway Visitors & Transportation Center.

4.  Hyatt Regency-Newport.  The Hyatt Regency-Newport is situated on Goat Island, nestled on the edge of Newport Harbor.  The hotel features one of the most incredible harbor views anyone could ask for.  It is the view of the Claiborne Pell Bridge (f.k.a Newport Bridge).  On a rainy day, visitors should keep an eye out for that beautiful rainbow and be sure to have their camera ready.  The hotel has a wide array of must-haves, including a business center, full-service spa, patio, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and the Windward Restaurant.  The Windward Restaurant specializes in seafood dishes and features a daily buffet breakfast.  Just like the Marriott-Newport, well-known tourist attractions are just minutes away.

3. Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina.  Situated near the corner of America’s Cup and Memorial Boulevards, the Newport Harbor Hotel & Marina offers a prime location on Newport’s harbor front.  The mansions and the famous Cliff Walk are within a two-mile distance.  The hotel features an indoor swimming pool and harbor view sundeck.  Men’s and women’s spa facilities are located on site. The Pier 49 Seafood & Spirits restaurant is a New England visitor’s treat.  It specializes in New England cuisine, overlooking the boat-filled Newport Harbor.  The hotel’s rooms include a handful of top must-haves including flat panel TVs, high speed Internet access, and Keurig coffee brewers. 

2.  Jailhouse Inn.  The Jailhouse Inn is located on Marlborough Street, two blocks east of the Marriott and Hyatt Regency.  The Jailhouse Inn is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It is formerly the Newport County Jail.  The hotel’s rooms are home to furniture well-suited for the well-traveled and weary tourist.  The rooms are furnished with mahogany dressers, rustic style beds, and night stands.  Complimentary European continental breakfast is served each morning, while complimentary afternoon tea and cookies are served in the downstairs lounge.  Washington Square is less than one hundred yards from the Jailhouse Inn.  Visitors ought to treat themselves to the restaurants and shops on Thames Street, the Opera House movie theater, and a relaxing walk along the harbor front less than three hundred yards away.      

1. The Hotel Viking.  The Hotel Viking is located on the northern end of Bellevue Avenue, at the intersection of Tauro Avenue.  The hotel features a restaurant, bar, and a lounge.  The Hotel Viking has an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and business center.  Both the business center and hotel rooms feature complimentary wireless Internet access.  The rooms at The Hotel Viking all have hair dryers, complimentary newspapers, and TVs with premium channels and pay movies. All of The rooms at The Hotel Viking are non-smoking.  The Redwood Library, International Tennis Hall of Fame, and Newport’s mansions are just blocks away.  

    A town as quaint and tranquil as Newport may leave any traveler wondering, “What was it like here a century ago?”.  Another question which may come to mind would be, “What’s the best way to get here?”.  For those who wish to take the train, the ride is one which anyone would truly appreciate.  The closest station to Newport is Kingston, near the University of Rhode Island.  The cab ride to Newport is twenty minutes.  If flying, Providence’s T.F. Green Airport is forty-five minutes away.  By car, the drive from the New York/New Jersey area is three and a half hours.  The drive from the Boston area is approximately ninety minutes.     

    Visiting Newport, RI is an experience no one will ever forget.  From its rich history, to shopping, New England cuisine, and to its quaint charm, Newport has something for everyone.  From hotels with a simple life flavor to everyday pampering, visitors experience Newport in a variety of tones.    Visitors can enjoy the fresh air of the harbor, take in the history, or just sit back and relax.  Newport is the place to experience it all.  It is the city where New England shines.  Ultimately, it is where American history comes alive.    

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Washington D.C. Hotels: So Many, So Close, So Convenient

    Our nation’s capital is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Washington D.C. is visited by millions from all over the globe.  They visit the famous memorials, the gorgeous parks, they go on tours, they attend sports events, visit on business, and visit the world-renowned Smithsonian museums.  Washington D.C. is home to it all.  To make any trip to the Washington D.C. the utmost pleasurable, there are plenty of hotels to accommodate visitors’ traveling needs.   To make the selection process easier, I researched the hotels in the area.  These hotels are the utmost convenient and closest to the action.

    There are hundreds of hotels in the Washington D.C. area.  There are too many to choose from.  They feature an assortment of amenities including spas, buffet breakfasts, conference rooms, comfortable lobbies, and internet access.  Many visitors like to book certain hotels in Washington D.C. that are in close proximity to transportation and tourist attractions.  The less walking to do, the better.  You or I cannot argue with that.  I’ve been traveling to Washington D.C. since I was five years old.  Dozens of hotels have been built over the years for the exact reasons.  If you have visited the various hotel web sites, the hotel listings are never-ending.  Where do you stay?  Which hotels are best?  There are two-star, four-star, and top of the line five-star rated hotels.  I found ten of the best hotels in the Washington D.C. area for your enjoyment.  Whichever ones you feel that fit your traveling needs, the choice is yours. 

    There is no better area to begin than in downtown Washington D.C.  Marriott has plenty of hotels in Washington D.C., including its subsidiaries.  To start off, the Washington Marriott is among the downtown favorites.  It is located six blocks away from Dupont Circle, the Dupont Circle Metro station, and Georgetown.  The hotel is located eight blocks away from the John F. Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts.

    Located a short distance from the National Mall is the well-renowned Mandarin Oriental.  The hotel is located three blocks south of the National Mall, the Smithsonian museums, the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and most convenient of all, the Smithsonian Metro station.  The hotel features a wide array of recreational activities including Segway rentals, swimming pool, motor boating, golf, a running track, and bicycle rentals. 

    The Grand Hyatt and the Marriott at Metro Center are minutes apart from each other.  They offer conference rooms, spacious rooms, an array of dining options, and are both walking distance from the Metro Center station.  The Grand Hyatt features a twelve-story atrium and a seven thousand square foot blue lagoon with a two-story waterfall.  The hotel is located three blocks away from the Verizon Center, home of the Capitals, Wizards, and Mystics.  The White House, Smithsonian museums, and monuments are all a five-block walking distance from the Grand Hyatt. 

    The Marriott at Metro Center features a handful of convenient must-haves.  Like many major hotels, the hotel rooms are equipped with wireless internet access.  The hotel features a business center and a fitness facility.  The National Museum of Women In The Arts, the Warner Theater, the Washington D.C. Madame Tussaud’s Museum, and the famous Ford’s Theater are located within a quarter of a mile distance.

    One of the more convenient hotels in downtown Washington D.C. is the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel.  The L’Enfant Plaza Hotel is conveniently located two blocks from the National Mall and Smithsonian museums.  The two closest are the National Air & Space Museum and National Museum of The American Indian.  The hotel features a restaurant called the American Grill, well known for serving steak and seafood.  Also featured is the Foggy Bottom Pub which offers an assortment of microbrews and pub-style favorites.  Wireless internet access is available, plus a fitness center with a free-weight room.  To top it off, the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel has a rooftop outdoor pool. The L’Enfant Plaza Metro station is located outside the hotel’s driveway.  L’Enfant Plaza station is served by the green and yellow lines.  The yellow line serves Ronald Reagan National Airport, just four miles away.  Connections with the red and green lines are located at Gallery Place-Chinatown, two stops away.

    Staying in downtown Washington D.C. is surely convenient.  However, some of the hotels in the downtown area can be pricy time to time.  Use your discretion while booking.  The area which I highly recommend is Crystal City.  Crystal City is a district located across the Potomac River in Arlington, VA.  There are five hotels in the Crystal City area which are in close proximity to the Metro subway and Ronald Reagan National Airport.  The Sheraton-Crystal City is located across the street from the Crystal City Metro station.  It is also in close proximity to the Fashion Center at Pentagon City. 

    The Hilton-Crystal City features a few visitors’ favorites of its own.  The hotel is located one mile from Ronald Reagan National Airport.  If you are an avid jogger, the George Washington Memorial Parkway winds its way around the airport.  If you enjoy golfing, the Hains Point golf course is located on the Potomac River, just three miles away.  Complimentary transportation is provided to the Crystal City Metro station and Ronald Reagan National Airport. 

    Located on the Jefferson Davis Highway, adjacent to Ronald Reagan National Airport, is the Hyatt Regency-Crystal City.  The Hyatt Regency-Crystal City features a twenty-four hour business center, nineteen meeting rooms, and a seventeen thousand square foot exhibition hall.  A three-story glass atrium rises above the lobby.  The hotel includes a fitness center, a seasonal outdoor pool, and a jet spa surrounded by a sunning deck.  Fine dining is available at the Chesapeake Grill on the eighteenth floor.  The restaurant features sweeping views of the Potomac River, the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the National Cathedral.  Complimentary airport shuttle service is available during scheduled times. 

    There are two Marriott hotels in Crystal City which I have stayed at often.  The rooms are fantastic, the buffet breakfasts are fabulous, and the transportation is over-the-top efficient.  The Crystal City Marriott and the Marriott Crystal Gateway are the two best hotels in the Arlington area.  The rooms in both hotels both have hair dryers.  The Crystal City Marriott and the Marriott Crystal Gateway both feature business centers with wireless internet access.  They also have meeting rooms for small groups. 

    The Crystal City Marriott and the Marriott Crystal Gateway share one great advantage in common.  They are both connected by an underground walking corridor, leading to the Crystal City Metro station.  The two hotels sit directly above the Metro Station.  Ronald Reagan National Airport is one stop away in the southbound direction, while the Pentagon is just two stations north.  Arlington Cemetery, the Smithsonian museums, the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, and Washington Monument are just less than fifteen minutes away via the blue line.  The National Archives and connections at Gallery Place-Chinatown are just ten minutes away via the yellow line.  Having mass transit available at your doorstep is the greatest advantage any hotel guest could have.  It definitely makes life a whole lot easier.    
    Visiting Washington D.C. is always an exciting experience.  No matter what the occasion, our nation’s capital provides a wide array of hotel accommodations.  Whether you like being close to the famous tourist attractions, having large or small business functions, or just being in close proximity to transportation, Washington D.C.’s hotels have it all.  The ten hotels shared with you are among the best.  Not only are they the best, they are by far the most convenient.  You may not be the President, but it sure pays to live like and be treated like one.   

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Smithsonian Institution: Exhibiting Progress And Diversity As One

    Washington DC is my favorite U.S. city.  It is the nerve center of our political world and home to my favorite railroad terminal.  Aside from monuments and iconic government buildings, our nation’s capital is home to another notable tourist destination.  The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s oldest museum organization.  It is made up of eighteen museums, including the National Zoo.  With the most user-friendly subway system in the country, getting around this massive complex is a piece of cake.  Having been a visitor since I was five years old, allow me to show you some of the Smithsonian’s highlights.  If you’re a history fan, or even a avid traveler, you’ll be able to explore Washington DC with more than just ease.  You’ll be exploring Washington DC with confidence.

    When visiting the Smithsonian Institution, it’s always best to visit some of the museums you haven’t visited before.  They’re the ones with the exhibitions which will leave you thinking, “Gee, I didn’t know that!” and “I definitely want to come here again!”.  The one museum which has gained my interest is the National Postal Museum.  The National Postal Museum is located right next door to Washington DC’s Union Station.  If traveling to Washington DC by train, exit the terminal to your right.  The museum is inside the old US Post Office, directly across the street.  Once inside, you’ll take an escalator down into the museum.  The National Postal Museum features plenty of displays and exhibitions.  One of the newest demonstrations is a sit-down theater viewing of how our US Mail system functions on a daily basis.  You’ll be amazed by the complex sorting process involved in delivering the billions of pieces of mail you send and receive each day.  It’s a presentation you’d ought to see.  Another display in the museum shows the anthrax scare back in 2001.  The letters, once laced with the lethal poison, are on display along with the environmental suits used during the investigation.  It’s among the remnants of our country’s great history, events which changed our lives forever.

    Once your visit to the National Postal Museum is complete, it’s time to ride the Metro subway to the heart of the Smithsonian Institution.  The Metro subway is made up of five colored lines; red, orange, blue, yellow, and green.  The sixth line, silver, is currently under construction.  Once complete, it will connect downtown Washington DC to Dulles International Airport.  Union Station and the National Postal Museum are located on the red line.  Metro features a wide assortment of fare card options at You can place up to forty-five dollars on a fare card.  If you’re visiting Washington DC for the day, a one-day pass will cost you just fourteen dollars.  It is active until 3AM on weekends and until midnight on week nights.  Metro accepts cash and all major credit cards. 

    Once aboard the Metro subway, take the red line to Metro Center.  There, switch to the orange or blue line.  The blue and orange lines run parallel through downtown Washington.  Take either line to the Smithsonian station.  The Smithsonian station is located very near the Washington Monument, right across the way from The Castle, the Smithsonian Institution’s original building.  No visit to the Smithsonian Institution is complete without a visit to The Castle.  Some of the best exhibitions are held at The Castle.  It is not to be missed. 

    Across the National Mall is one of my longtime favorites, the National Museum of American History.  The National Museum of American History is home to one of the most famous artifacts, the American flag flown over Fort McHenry.  It is the flag flown during the very battle when “The Star Spangled Banner” was written.  The museum features a smorgasbord of interactive displays and exhibits for visitors to discover.  You might want to put aside a good few hours of your day to visit the National Museum of American History.  It’s a museum which you could get lost in.  I don’t mean “lost” in terms of navigation and getting separated from your family.  I am referring to the enormity of the place, and the never-ending hallways and exhibition halls.  They are jam-packed with artifacts for many to appreciate.  To satisfy a hunger of “historic” proportions, the museum features two cafeterias for your enjoyment.  When done enjoying your meal, feel free to head back upstairs to visit remaining exhibits before calling it a day.

    Very near the National Museum of American History is the future sight of the Smithsonian’s nineteenth museum.  In 2012, President Barack Obama helped break ground on the National Museum of African American History & Culture.  It is the only national museum specially indebted to the documentation of African American life, history, art, and culture.  The new museum is expected to open to the public in 2015.    

    In Washington DC, it is good to wear a comfortable pair of sneakers.  There’s tons of walking to do when visiting the Smithsonian Institution.  On the eastern end of the National Mall are two other favorite museums, the National Air & Space Museum and the National Museum of The American Indian.  Next door to the Hirshhorn Museum, the National Air & Space Museum is a must-see.  On a yearly basis, new exhibits are always on display.  Every visit to the National Air & Space Museum is different.  The National Museum of The American Indian is adjacent to the National Air & Space Museum.  It takes guests on a story-like journey back in time to the roots of our Native American ancestors.  It is not just a story involving history, but a story of survival.  The National Museum of the American Indian and the National Air & Space Museum can be accessed by the Metro’s yellow and green lines.  The L’Enfant Plaza station is located one block south of the National Air & Space Museum.  No matter where you are in downtown Washington DC, the Metro is always well within your reach.

    If zoos are among your favorite places to visit, the National Zoo should be on your must-see list.  Like the National Postal Museum, the National Zoo is located on the Metro’s red line.  If riding the orange and blue lines, connections are available at Metro Center.  If riding the green and yellow lines, Gallery Place-Chinatown is your transfer point.  The National Zoo is located in Woodley Park, three stops from Metro Center.  Gallery Place-Chinatown is one stop west of Metro Center.  Here’s some simple advice.  Just flip a coin!  That’s all there is to it.  The National Zoo is home to a brand new exhibit, the Speedwell Conservation Carousel.  It features fifty-eight different species, including those currently endangered and threatened by extinction.  It may be a carousel, but it carries out a message to visitors about the ongoing challenges of conserving endangered species.

    Unlike all world renowned destinations, the museums of the Smithsonian Institution are the world’s most intriguing places to visit.  They welcome history buffs, the adventurous, and the just plain curious.  If you wish to visit these incredible museums in the near future, don’t hesitate to use the Metro subway system.  Whether you’re visiting for the day or staying in the area for a few nights, the Smithsonian Institution has plenty to see and experience.  It’s a community of museums which inspires millions to learn something new every day.  Whichever of the Smithsonian Institution’s famous museums you plan to visit, remember three things.  You’re not just discovering history.  You are forever part of it, actively experiencing it, and courageously writing it.