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48 Hours In...

48 Hours in Honolulu



Why Go?

How about sparkling azure ocean, white sand beaches, surfers, hula dancers and swaying palm trees for starters? Throw in the opportunity to enjoy some world-class shopping/dining experiences and a laid-back aloha vibe. There’s no doubt where in the world you are when you hit the hedonistic streets of Waikiki. Before heading out to the other islands, make sure you take a couple of days to soak up the delights of this dynamic Hawaiian city.

Getting There

All flights arrive at Honolulu International Airport, from where you can take a taxi to Waikiki Beach about nine miles away. The other alternative is a shuttle bus. If you haven’t got too much luggage, you could take the airport bus, which is the cheapest option by far.

Most tourists stay in Waikiki. This is where the beach and most of the attractions are located. They are all within easy walking distance of one another. Honolulu’s downtown area is three miles from Waikiki.

Checking In

Although it is possible to seek out a bargain, hotels in Waikiki are on the expensive side. One of the most iconic places to stay is the romantic and luxurious Royal Hawaiian Hotel, located on the beachfront. Easily recognisable by its pink exterior, it has been used in many TV shows and movies. At the other end of the scale, check out the quirky Royal Grove Hotel, a great budget option and only a block away from the beach!

Day One

Before you head to the beach, enjoy a relaxed breakfast at Lulu’s While you tuck into local specialties Loco Moco or Longboard Benedict, check out the stunning views of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach.

Waikiki is probably the most famous beach in the world, and deservedly so. Where better to learn to ride the waves than the birthplace of surfing? If you don’t bring your own board, you can rent one – the waves are perfect for beginners. As well as being incredibly warm, the ocean is the most sublime turquoise you will ever lay eyes on. If you prefer a more sedate experience, rent a sun lounger and simply chill in paradise.

Hit the waves! Many establishments hire out boards or give surf lessons

If you can tear yourself away from the beach, check out Waikiki Aquarium, which has a vibrant display of native fish, turtles and two Hawaiian monk seals.

For the ultimate Hawaiian shopping experience, make tracks to Ala Moana Center, a sprawling mall chock-a-block with stores and restaurants. There are regular Hawaiian music and dance events on the stage and lots of opportunities to buy souvenirs or sample local delicacies.

Make your way back to Waikiki Beach, with a pause at Moose’s (310 Lewers St. Honolulu) for Happy Hour and a bite to eat. The cocktails here are great value. You will soon be feeling the aloha spirit and  be ready to hit the beach again, this time to watch the sun sink over the ocean. The torch-lighting and hula show takes place on the beach most evenings, and crowds gather to watch the entertainment in the fading light. It’s a magical time of the day in Waikiki and the atmosphere is mellow as everyone enjoys the vibe and beautiful setting.

If you are in the mood to party, you can’t go wrong at Hula’s Bar & Lei Stand, Honolulu’s longest established LGBTQ venue. It’s a friendly spot, where both locals and tourists congregate. There are views over the ocean and live entertainment most nights of the week. The cocktails are potent and the staff welcoming

Day Two

Start the day energetically with a hike to the summit of Diamond Head, the dramatic volcanic crater which overlooks the city. Take some snacks and plenty of water. if you head out early, you will avoid the intense midday heat. The trail is steep and a little uneven, but the hour’s climb is worth it for the sweeping views of the ocean and city skyline.

After building up an appetite on the trail, enjoy a lunch buffet at the famous Duke’s Duke’s Barefoot Bar is right on the beach and serves up a buffet featuring locally grown produce and an abundance of tempting accompaniments. Alternatively, try the fresh fish dishes or burgers. There is often live music, and a visit to Duke’s is a quintessential Hawaiian experience not to be missed.

The Barefoot Bar at Duke’s

After some more beach time, stroll along to the historical Royal Hawaiian Hotel and take in the traditional ambiance. Treat yourself to a delicious cocktail at the Mai Tai Bar, a mere few steps away from the sand.

The Royal Hawaiian

Next up, take the elevator to the Top of Waikiki The revolving restaurant offers spectacular views, especially at sunset. Appetizers and cocktails are available during Happy Hour, which goes from 5.00pm-9.30pm. The perfect ending to two blissful days in Honolulu!

View from Top of Waikiki



48 Hours In...

Weekly: 48 Hours in the Big Apple – The Greatest City in the World



Ah, my home town. While there’s no way possible to fit the entire city into 48 hours, I’m here to give you some of the highlights that take you from the Financial District  in lower Manhattan, up to the Upper West Side. And if you’re in the city and need a tour guide, I’ve got you covered there, too! Let’s take a look at what to do in New York when you only have 48 hours.


7:00pm – Get settled into the Hudson at Columbus Circle

This is my favorite hotel in Manhattan, and when I need a stay-cation I always book a room at the Hudson. Their lobby is decorated with vines and chandeliers, and the courtyard is gorgeous. They also have The Library bar, which features signature cocktails, including the delicious Honey and the Bee’s. The rooms are rather small, but they are cozy and have style. Start your weekend by getting settled, then heading down for a cocktail at The Library.

8:30pm – Dinner at Beauty & Essex

Head down to the Bowery and get ready for a real treat! You’ll walk in through a pawn shop to a beautiful open two story restaurant decorated like a speakeasy. You’re going to want to eat everything on the menu but I recommend the tomato soup dumplings with a bacon-cheese dumping, the beef carpaccio, and the sliders. Plus, they have a great wine and beer list, and delicious cocktails. Make a reservation in advance though. This place gets packed, and quick!

10:30pm – Christopher Street for drinks and dancing

Head on down to Christopher Street and Sheridan Square for drinks and dancing the night away. Some of New York’s best bars are all within walking distance, including The Monster, where Dan Daly can be heard tickling the ivories several nights a week for karaoke. Across the street is The Duplex, which happens to be my first gay bar experience in New York City. Down Christopher, you have Ty’s and Rockbar, which are sure to please.

1:30pm – Street Halal

If there’s one thing New York is full of, it’s street food carts. Get yourself the chicken over rice, extra white sauce. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Saturday :

10:00am – Brunch at Maison Pickle on the Upper West Side

This is Jacob’s Pickle’s sister restaurant, currently housing Jacob’s Pickle’s brunch menu due to a recent fire. Get the open-faced chicken biscuit sandwich covered in mushroom gravy. You’re welcome.

11:30am – Walk through Central Park

Want to go people-watching? Take a long walk through Central Park. You’re bound to see people of every variety in there. My advice is to find yourself a park bench, take a seat, and watch the parade of people and puppies. You’ll find me there, too, I’m sure.

2:00pm – Exploring Greenwich Village

This is one of the most famous parts of Manhattan. Just take a cab or the A train down to West 4th street, get out, and walk in any direction to explore this fun neighborhood. Head over to Magnolia Bakery for some sweet treats, too. Get the banana pudding for sure.

4:30pm – World Trade Center Observatory and September 11 Memorial

If you haven’t been to the 9/11 Memorial yet, it’s worth a visit. The site is so peaceful and great for reflection. In the spirit of rebirth and growth, head up to the One World Trade Center for the observatory. You’ll see a great view of Manhattan, New Jersey, and all five boroughs.

6:30pm – Dinner at Sotto 13

This restaurant in Chelsea is quite cozy and features an American-Italian menu with great cocktails and a fun atmosphere. The wait staff are all very friendly, but definitely make a reservation first.

8:00pm – Catch a show!

You’re not far from Times Square, so maybe catch a show! One of my current favorites it Waitress, a funny and heart-warming story based on the 2007 film of the same name. Or, see one of my favorite actresses, Allison Janney, in Six Degrees of Separation. She’s positively brilliant.

10:30pm – After-dinner drinks at Bourbon Street Bar

Really, you can just walk around Hell’s Kitchen and duck into any of the bars, but I’ve recently fallen for Bourbon Street Bar on 46th St between 8th and 9th avenues.


11:00am – Brunch at The Stand

Seriously, this one is not to be missed, unless you have a flight out of New York that afternoon. $45 gets you unlimited mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, and screwdrivers, plus entrees.

2:00pm – Battery Park before heading out

This is just a fun little part of town and a nice place to have a cup of coffee outside before you head home!

There you have it! A great 48 hours in Manhattan awaits you! Let me know when you’re here!

Originally posted 2017-06-15 03:30:36.

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48 Hours In...

Weekly: 48 Hours in Nashville – Music City, and So Much More!



Ah, Music City USA, home to Hot Chicken, The Grand ‘Ol Opry, and the Tennessee Titans, arguably one of the NFL’s worst teams in history. Still, the city is alive and vibrant. With millions of tourists flocking to the city yearly to visit the biggest sites in country music, it can be difficult to find the right places to visit to have a truly local experience. Fortunately for you, I’m a born and raised Nashville native, so I’ve got all the great eats, sites, and sounds for your truly original Nashville weekend. Let’s dive right in.


7:00pm – Arriving and checking in to the Opryland Hotel

One of Nashville’s most famous attractions is the Opryland Hotel, a city within a city, located right next to Opry Mills shopping mall, with downtown shuttles leaving every 30 minutes. The hotel has several great restaurants and bars in it, but you won’t be spending too much time in the hotel this weekend. Still, it’s a unique experience that I’d recommend, and the rates aren’t too bad!

8:30pm – Dinner at Moto in the Gulch

One of my all time favorite restaurants, Moto, offers a unique take on Italian foods with savory dishes that are sure to please even the pickiest of taste buds. I’m partial to their Brussels sprouts and their duck course. Mix that with craft cocktails and you’re set for a great meal!

10:30pm – Lipstick Lounge

Rhonda and Jhonda have put together Nashville’s premiere LGBTQ bar, with a heavy focus on the “L” but all are welcome. The bar tenders are funny and quirky, the atmosphere is eclectic, and the music is always on point.

2:00am – Waffle House for Drunk Food

Waffle House is not a place you go during daylight hours. It should specifically only be open from 8pm to 6am, and should only cater to drunk people. After your night out, head to any of the 40 Waffle Houses in Nashville get yourself scattered, smothered, covered, and chunked. If you don’t know what that means, you’ll learn, and you’ll thank me later.


10:00am – Shopping at Opry Mills

Head across the parking lot from your hotel to Opry Mills and pick out a new outfit for your night out on the town. With hundreds of stores and over a mile of interior shopping in a loop you’re guaranteed to find something.

1:00pm – Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Now, hot chicken is highly debated in Nashville. Whether you’re on the right side of the fence and love Hattie B’s like me, or you prefer the lesser quality Prince’s Hot Chicken, make sure you get out there and get your mouth burned within an inch of it’s life. Trust me, it’s worth it.

3:00pm – The Gulch for Shopping, Coffee, and People Watching

Ah, Nashville, the new hipster heaven. Congratulations, Portland, they’ve officially out-hipstered you. I love the Gulch just to grab a coffee or a bear to go people-watching. You’re bound to see some bears with beers wearing plaid shirts and rolled up jeans.

6:00pm – Before-dinner cocktails at Virago

This sushi restaurant offers one of Nashville’s best rooftop bar experiences. Their bartenders are ready to mix up anything you throw at them, or ask them to come up with a drink themselves. My favorite is to give them three adjectives and see what they come up with. You may also want to grab a roll or two while you’re there. Enjoy the view!

8:00pm – Dinner at Josephine’s

Make a reservation! This place fills up very quickly. Located in the up-and-coming 12 South neighborhood, you’ll dine on contemporary American farmhouse cuisine. From their website, “The restaurant focuses on simple, classically composed recipes accompanied by a small but carefully selected wine list in a soft industrial space that emphasizes a sense of home. Chef Andrew Little’s expertise and dedication to cooking—not just by the seasons, but by the day— has garnered him praise for the food he serves and the innovative and inspired way in which it is presented. Perfect for everyday dining or special occasions, Josephine is an experience that carries an air of ease; a great time takes care of itself.”

10:00pm – Tribe, PLAY, and Canvas

Head over to Church Street for all the gay bar action you might want! From Tribe’s trendy cocktail lounge vibe, to PLAY’s dance floors and drag shows, to Canvas, a more laid back yet fun and enthralling environment, Church Street has it all. Trust me, the Nashville gay nightlife will definitely take you to Church. (See what I did there?)


11:00am – Brunch at Saint Anejo

This is right next to Moto in the Gulch and is the best brunch in town, in my humble opinion. In Nashville you cannot go wrong with brunch options, but this one features Spanish twists on brunch classics, and their spicy Bloody Mary is smack-your-momma good.

2:00pm – The Frist

Head over to Nashville’s best art museum, The Frist, to see what new exhibits they have showing. If you’re buzzed from brunch, this is a short walk from Saint Anejo, and the modern art will give you fun thoughts!

Your weekend in Nashville has come to a close, but you’ve lived it to the fullest. There’s a lot to do and see, but you’ve packed in some of the best activities! Congratulations on a weekend well spent!

Originally posted 2017-06-15 01:48:21.

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48 Hours In...

Weekly: 48 Hours In Miami – A Little Fun in the Sun!



Summer is approaching, and it’s getting hot! Welcome to my new series. For the next 12 weeks I’ll be bringing you info on 6 different cities, and how you can make the most out of a summer weekend! I’m a beach bum so my first stop is Miami, which was my home for about 6 months. I absolutely fell in love with this city, it’s culture, it’s art scene, the food, and the beaches! Let’s take a look at how you should spend 48 hours in Miami!

Friday Night:

You’re arriving, probably from Miami International Airport. Best option is to grab an Uber and head over to your hotel, The Shelbourn, to check in. Feel free to grab a quick nap, as the night is just getting started. When I lived in Miami, we would get off work around 5pm (sometimes earlier) and have a rest before heading out for the night. So, sleep for about an hour, then get ready, because it’s going down!

7:00pm – Drinks at Monty’s Raw Bar

The night. Starts. Now!

You’ll love sitting outside in this Tiki style bar and restaurant with a pool in the middle. Bring your suit and jump in if you so desire! You’re going to want to get the Pain Killer. It’s a delicious fruity drink that stays true to it’s word and will definitely remove all pain. This drink comes in three levels, Pain Killer 1, 2, & 3, and corresponds with the number of rum shots. My advice, start with a 3, then work your way down! Remember, the night is young and so are you!

10:00pm – Dinner at Burger and Beer Joint

This place quickly became my favorite, and you’ll love it, too. Just like the name of the restaurant, they serve burgers and beer! My favorite is the Hotel California, a delicious beef patty topped with sharp cheddar, frilled onions, fried egg, guacamole, jalapeño relish, cilantro sour cream all on a brioche bun. Trust me, it’ll keep you going strong while you party the night away.

11:00pm – SCORE Nightclub

One of Miami’s best nightclubs in town. This bar has great music and dancing, and you’ll want to stay all night, but it’s just your first stop. Have a drink or two, do some dancing, and get ready for your next stop.

1:00am – TWIST Nightclub

Now the night hits it’s high point. This bar features 7 different areas, each with their own theme, from the British pub to the techno dance club. You’re sure to enjoy delicious cocktails, a great beer list, and decent wine selections.

4:00am – Uber back to the Shelbourn


12:00pm – Rise and shine, breakfast at the hotel

Let’s face it, you partied hard, didn’t you? Don’t go far. Today is dedicated to hanging out at the cabanas by the pool, walking down to the beach for a while, and lounging around. You’ll start with breakfast by the pool and maybe a mimosa or bloody Mary. Then it’s ultimate relaxation!

8:00pm – Dinner on Espanola Way

Take your pick. There are a dozen restaurants here to choose from, and none of them will disappoint. Whether you want a quiet sit-down spot, or you want something a little more Latin with dancing and lively music, you’ll find it all on this street!

10:00pm – Club Boi

This might get a little wild… Head over to Club Boy for hip-hop, Latin, Top 40, and R&B music, plus strippers! YOLO, right?!


11:00am – Brunch at The Local House

This place is not to be missed, but get there on time and get a porch seat so you can enjoy the breezes from the ocean not but a block away, as well as the ceiling fans that will keep you cool and comfortable. Try the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict and have a Bloody Mary for me!

1:00pm – Shopping at Lincoln Mall

This world famous shopping stretch is the best place to shop ’til you drop. I personally love the people watching, and there are plenty of places around there to grab a quick ice cream or snack if you get hungry! It’s the perfect way to end your trip to Miami!

After 48 hours, you’ll be heading back to the airport a little more tan, with less liver function, and a greater love for Latin food and Latin music!

Who’s joining me?

Originally posted 2017-06-15 01:27:17.

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