Friday, March 6, 2015

The Best Hotels with a View in San Diego

With the Pacific Ocean and the Laguna Mountains as a backdrop, downtown San Diego and its surrounding areas have exceptionally beautiful scenery. A stay in the right San Diego hotel will let you soak up views of the stunning topology of the area. And while you are out taking in the scenery, you can stop for a meal at a local restaurant.

Photo by Carla Quimson via
1906 Lodge at Coronado Beach offers unbeatable views of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean
Coronado is considered a "tied" island because it is attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of land called a tombolo. The tombolo is part of what makes Coronado so amazing because it is part of the 16 miles of scenic walking and biking paths with views of the ocean and the bay. A stay at 1906 Lodge at Coronado Beach places you in the ideal location to enjoy all of the spectacular scenery in the area. The hotel has several suites and lodge rooms from which to choose, and there is a full complimentary breakfast.

Photo by Abi Rosario via
Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina shows off Mission Bay
Mission Bay is populated with beaches, boats and beauty, and Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina provides views of it all.  You can sit back and enjoy watching boats coming in and out of the marina from a comfortable deck chair at the hotel. The hotel also has observation decks with views of the bay and the ocean. When you step out of your comfortable, California-style room or suite, there are many activities at Mission Bay Park that provide different perspectives of the scenery. The 27 miles of shoreline will guide you around the waterways and inlets.

Photo by Erika Ramos via
Four Points by Sheraton San Diego Downtown puts you right in the middle of downtown San Diego
The architecture and cultural attractions in downtown San Diego are a sight to be seen, and so are the vistas of the bay as you walk through downtown. The architecture mixes historic buildings with modern marvels, and there are plenty of art galleries worth seeing too. When you stay at the conveniently located and comfortable Four Points by Sheraton San Diego Downtown, you can see all of downtown’s wonders from the hotel. And you can take a stroll along the Embarcadero to take in panoramic views of the bay.

Photo by Melissa Nichole via
Comfort Inn & Suites San Diego - Zoo SeaWorld Area sets you up for a different kind of view
While it may not have views of the ocean or bays, when you stay at Comfort Inn & Suites San Diego - Zoo SeaWorld Area, you will be perfectly located for taking in the sights of animals. The hotel is centrally located to both the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld and offers discount tickets to both. Complimentary breakfast comes with a stay too. You will be saving money and staying in clean, cozy rooms or suites.
Photo by Ryan C. via

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Use the IPA to Learn Foreign Language Pronunciations

Geoffrey Pullum has an excellent post about the International Phonetic Alphabet at Lingua Franca today. You can read it at this link.

Following are the official IPA charts for those who are curious about the difference between alphabet letters and IPA letters (symbols for sounds). An interactive IPA chart can be found here.

The study of sounds truly is fascinating.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Best of Chicago’s Historic Hotels

The city of Chicago is rich with history, and there are several Chicago hotels that play a part in that history. While enjoying all that Chicago has to offer, your visit to the windy city will be even more enriching with a stay at one of its famous historic hotels.

The Drake Hotel

Built in 1919 and opened on New Year’s Eve in 1920, The Drake Hotel is recognized as a Historic Hotel of America. It’s also one of Fodor’s Top 10 Hotels that Ooze Old-School Hollywood Glamour. Marilyn Monroe, Walt Disney, and Bing Crosby are just a few of the famous people known to have frequented the hotel. The Drake was restored in 1980 after being purchased by Hilton International. Be sure to eat at the hotel’s award-winning restaurants and attend daily tea at the Palm Court; it’s been a tradition since the 1920s.

Photo by Christa Harlin via

InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile

Though not originally constructed as a hotel, the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile is still a historic wonder. The building, originally the Medinah Athletic Club, was built in 1929. In 1988, InterContinental Hotels purchased it and renovated it keeping the athletic club’s history as a luxury facility for Shriners in mind. The Shriner's greeting etched above two marble columns near the entrance, and other Shriner inscriptions are still visible throughout the hotel. The grand staircase handrail is the original from the athletic club. Don’t forget to take a dip in the beautifully ornate junior Olympic pool; the hotel is famous for it. While staying here, hop on a nearby Segway Tour to take in the rest of the sights Magnificent Mile is known for.

Photo by Grant Miner via

Millenium Knickerbocker Chicago

What is now called Millenium Knickerbocker Chicago has had several different owners and names through its rumor-filled history that began in 1927. One of its more notorious owners was Hugh Hefner, who named it Playboy Towers in 1970. During a renovation in 1980, a secret door to a hidden stairway was found, intensifying rumors that there was once a brothel in the basement. It is also rumored that Al Capone’s brother ran a speakeasy and casino on the 14th floor. You will definitely want to take a spin on the hotel’s illuminated dancefloor in the famous Crystal Ballroom.

The Palmer House Hilton

The history of The Palmer House Hilton is filled with romance, entertainment, and art. The hotel was a wedding gift from Chicago business tycoon Potter Palmer to his wife, Bertha Honore. Shortly after opening, the hotel was destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire, but Potter rebuilt it and opened again in 1873. In 1933, the hotel’s dining room became an entertainment center where famous artists including Frank Sinatra, Liberace, and Ella Fitzgerald appeared. The hotel’s ceiling frescos that Bertha Palmer hired French painter Louis Pierre Rigal to paint are stunning.

Photo by Christopher King via
Each of these historic hotels has received favorable reviews for the cleanliness and comfort of their rooms and suites. Each one also has fitness facilities and at least two restaurants to give you dining options during your stay. So book your room today! You will not be disappointed with a stay at any one of these famous, top-rated hotels. 

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Summertime in Whistler: The Best Hotels

When most people hear the name Whistler, they think of wintertime. But summertime in Whistler is just as worthy of your travel thoughts. Whistler is a scenic place for biking, golfing, kayaking, and more; and there are several reasonably priced Whistler hotels that are perfectly located for these activities. Make your trip to Whistler extra special by staying at the right hotel for you.

Photo by Tessa Griffin via
Best Hotel for Mountain Bikers and Hikers - Sundial Boutique Hotel
It’s just a short walk from Sundial Boutique Hotel to Whistler Mountain Bike Park, the #1 downhill bike park in the world. With over 4,900 feet of lift-serviced trails, there’s a trail for every skill level. There are also lift ticket pricing options for every budget. If your budget prefers free adventures, there are numerous mountain trails that are great for hiking and biking at no charge. After your day of adventure, this 4-star hotel’s luxury suites are the perfect place to rest, rejuvenate, and have a great meal. The hotel also has complimentary, secure bike storage for your convenience.

Best Hotel for Canoers and Kayakers - Nita Lake Lodge
Canoers and kayakers will love the tranquil beauty of Nita Lake almost as much as they’ll love the comfortable suites at Nita Lake Lodge. The lodge offers complimentary canoe and kayak rentals, as well as complimentary paddleboard, fishing rod, and bike rentals. It is truly easy to get the most out of your budget here. You don’t even have to leave the lodge to experience a wonderful farm-to-table meal at their innovative restaurant.

Photo by Irx via
Best Hotel for Golfers and Tennis Players - The Fairmont Chateau Whistler 
If you’re serious about your golf vacations, stay at the only complete golf and hotel resort in Whistler, The Fairmont Chateau Whistler. The package prices make it easy to stick to a budget. The 18-hole course is rated 4 ½ stars by Golf Digest, and its natural scenery is glorious. When you’re not golfing, you can play tennis or kickback in a cozy room or suite. The hotel also features a spa, steam rooms and six different restaurants.

Best Hotel for Shoppers and Diners – Crystal Lodge and Suites
You don’t even have to leave Crystal Lodge and Suites to satisfy your cravings for shopping and food. The hotel is home to over 15 shops that sell clothing, athletic equipment, shoes, and more. Dining options are plentiful too. As an added bonus, when you stay at the hotel, you receive a Crystal Advantage card that saves you money at all of the shops and restaurants. You can choose to stay in a traditional room, a studio, or one of several types of suites. For your enjoyment, the hotel also has a game room with table tennis, foosball, and shuffleboard.

Photo by Rich Barton via
Additional Activities

Whistler has so much to offer that it is hard to know where to begin and where to end. There are many other summertime activities that can be enjoyed including, zip lining, horseback riding, bungee jumping, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting. A trip to Whistler will provide you with many memories of excellent adventures.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Planning a Trip to San Diego? Make Sure to Visit These Three Places

San Diego is filled with beaches, boats, beauty, and distinct regions with diverse attractions and features. When you are planning your trip, the following regions are ones that you should fit into your vacation schedule. There are great San Diego hotels in these areas to fit your budget too.

Photo by Bob Cummins via


Little Italy will light up your senses. You can walk around town and explore the many local art galleries and unique boutiques while inhaling the mouthwatering aroma of authentic Italian food from local restaurants and cafés. Stop in one of them for a meal and you will not be disappointed.

Next, take a walk along the Embarcadero district boardwalk. There are great views of the bay and the Urban Trees sculptures that line it. This region is also known for its fresh seafood which you can savor at one of many outstanding seafood restaurants.

If you are staying downtown, the Four Points by Sheraton San Diego Downtown is a wonderful option. The hotel and rooms are all about comfort. Views from the rooms are fantastic. And the available $5 dollar restaurant vouchers make dining in the hotel comfortable for your wallet.

La Jolla

Three sides of La Jolla are encompassed by water, so plan to go beach hopping. And don’t miss out on the fun of swimming and exploring the coves and tide pools along the coastline. For a different view of the beaches, if you are adventurous enough, a hang-gliding flight is thrilling and offers stunning views.
Photo by Blayden Thompson via
In addition to being an awesome beach spot, La Jolla is an incredible place to hit the greens. With two championship courses that host annual PGA events, Torrey Pines is counted as one of Golf Links Magazine’s “Must Play” courses.

The Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines which overlooks the course and the Pacific Ocean is an ideal place to stay. The rates are very reasonable when you consider all the hotel has to offer including a pool, a wellness spa, and a restaurant with truly scrumptious food.


Like La Jolla, Coronado is also known for its beautiful beaches, but what sets it apart is that it is an island community with a small town feel. The main street in Coronado, Orange Avenue, has several local specialty shops. Of course there are also art galleries, boutiques, bistros, and wine bars that you will certainly enjoy.  Be sure to visit the Hotel del Coronado, built in 1888, when you are here too. It is a National Historic Landmark, and learning about its colorful past is fascinating.

Photo by Mandy Godsall via

If you like history, 1906 Lodge at Coronado Beach should be your choice for lodging. The hotel was built only eight years after the Hotel del Coronado. The hotel and rooms have very cozy décor that honors the history of Coronado, and they all come with a full complimentary breakfast. The historic lodge rooms are a favorite, but there are also suites available.
All of San Diego has something to offer, so if you have enough time, don’t miss out on any of it. And don't miss out on the many excellent restaurants throughout the city; Weotta can help you select the perfect dining destination.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Visiting San Diego: Where to Stay, and What Not to Miss – An Opinion Piece

Ahh … sunny San Diego. I can’t think of too many other vacation destinations with such great weather year round. And there are so many things to do there that we seem to discover something new each time we go. The beaches, golf courses, shopping, and restaurants keep us coming back for more.

Photo by Kala Carter via

Where We Stay

With so many San Diego hotels from which to choose, it is not easy to narrow the options down, but our favorite place to stay is Omni La Costa Resort & Spa. The guest rooms are comfortable and luxurious at the same time, and they have all the amenities you would expect from an award-winning hotel; however I prefer spending my time at the pool in a private cabana or at the spa.

I almost forgot to mention the golf. It is an awesome golf hotel. The two golf courses at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa are world-famous for a reason. The challenges and the scenery are incredible. Of course it is also fun to say that you have played on a course that has hosted 37 PGA tournaments.

Photo by Nalani Silva via

Our Favorite Places

I still have wonderful memories of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park because it is so different from a typical zoo, and because I absolutely loved having the amazingly beautiful lorikeets land on me and drink nectar from a cup I held in my hand. I also made an exception for a visit to LEGOLAND. The kids loved it, and I actually did too (maybe because I played with Legos as a child).

Marina District
Another one of our favorite places to visit in San Diego is Seaport Village in the Marina District. I have always loved water and the view of San Diego Harbor is stunning. I especially love the view from Busters Beach House & Longboard Bar while I am enjoying the delicious Mahi Mahi. My husband doesn’t even mind it when I shop at the unique boutiques in the village because he just waits at the restaurant and has an extra beer or two.

Photo by Jason Zite via

Del Mar
A trip to San Diego is not complete for us without a visit to Del Mar City Beach. The swimming is great here, and we love just walking up and down the shore taking in the beautiful scenery. We will often pick up sandwiches from Board and Brew in Del Mar to take to the beach with us. I love their veggie supreme sandwich, and my husband usually gets a roast beef sandwich.

Planning the Next Trip

There are two things I want to do on our next trip to San Diego. I just learned about Excursiopedia and their organized tours. One of the tours is called Brothels, Bites and Booze: A Culinary Tour of San Diego’s Questionable past. I love culinary tours. The other is called Gaslamp Quarter Wine Walk. I love wine. I can’t wait to get back to San Diego.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Naples, Italy: A Trip Planning Guide

The historic port city of Naples bursts with a whirlwind of thrills for all of your senses. The tastes and smells of the food, the views of the art and architecture, and the sounds of mini operettas on the street corners, all of these and more will make a trip to Naples one of the most memorable trips of your life. If you plan your trip right, you can gain a full appreciation for the city and all that it has to offer without spending a small fortune.

Photo by Sergio Minucci via

When to Go?

The first thing you should consider when planning a trip to Naples is when to go. Hotels in Naples are more expensive during peak months, so avoid going in the popular months of May and September. As far as the weather, even during the cold season (late November to late March), the average daily high temperatures is just below 61°F, so you can enjoy Naples anytime of the year.

What to Do?

A visit to the National Archaeological Museum of Naples is a must to truly get a feel for the cultural history of the area. The tickets are reasonably priced considering the number of Greco-Roman artifacts you will get to see. The museum is also home to several excavated items from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Check out famous churches in the area for free. They are known for their history, their architecture and the artwork they contain. Nearby churches include Il Duomo (The Cathedral), Gesù Nuovo Church, and Church of San Francesco di Paola. 

Explore a castle. Castel dell’Ovo (the “Egg Castle”) houses the free Ethno-Prehistory Museum, so you can get an idea of what the castle’s interior is like without paying. In the museum, you can see cultural artifacts from numerous prehistoric phases. For a small fee, you can walk through the castle and view special exhibits.

Photo by riccardo via

Where to Stay?

There are many Naples hotels that have special pricing options. It is a good idea to check the websites of the hotels that interest you on a regular basis to find the rate package that you like best. Here are a couple of options. Hotel Leonessa has discounted prices on romantic weekend packages year-round as well as a 10% discount for reservations that are paid for in advance. The hotel also offers 15% discounts at its restaurant in combination with your stay. Starhotels Terminus has two discounted weekend packages, regular and romantic, and they have a family stay discount program.

What to Eat?

There are two foods that are must eats in Naples because they originated there: pizza and pasta. There is a pizzeria on virtually every corner in Naples, and the price of eating pizza is truly budget friendly. Spaghetti all Puttanesca is a famous pasta dish made with fresh olives, peppers, tomatoes, capers and garlic. It can also be found at many trattorias and osterias for reasonable prices. Pastries and gelato are two more inexpensive but tasty Naples’ foods you really should try.

Photo by ChipSkipsTown via

What Next?

Once you have experienced Naples, you are going to want to start planning your next trip there immediately.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top 5 Hotels in Naples, Italy

The Italian Province of Naples has so much to offer; its breathtaking location on the Mediterranean Sea is just the tip of the iceberg (or should I say Mountain). Mt. Vesuvius provides an awe-inspiring backdrop for Naples, and its eruptions throughout the centuries helped create the unique landscape. Naples is famous for ruins at the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum and much more. It is a Province of historical, cultural and culinary significance. There is much to do in Naples, but the first thing to do is decide where to stay. Here are some top Naples hotels to consider.

Photo by Dan Ursine via

     Starhotels Terminus – Top Luxury Hotel, Downtown

Located on the Piazza Garibaldi in downtown Naples, Starhotels Terminus is within walking distance of the historic district and Napoli Centrale Train Station. This four-star hotel has a rooftop garden that looks over the Bay of Naples, fine dining, a concierge, a spa, and a fitness center. The newly renovated rooms, amenities and special pricing packages make this hotel a superb value.

     Hotel Excelsior Naples – Top Seafront Hotel

At the seafront-located Hotel Excelsior which is just five minutes from downtown Naples, every room faces the Mediterranean Sea. This elegant and luxurious four-star hotel has a rooftop garden restaurant with incredible Italian, international, and Mediterranean food. All of the rooms are outfitted with the finest materials, and you can select a room with a private terrace if you like. This is a great hotel to choose for the spectacular views.

Photo by Matilde Civitillo via

     Hotel Piazza Bellini – Top Boutique Hotel, Historic District

Hotel Piazza Bellini is an amazing option for anyone who prefers the smaller size of a boutique hotel. It is located in the historic district of Naples in a renovated Fifth-Century Palace. The décor includes modern furnishings and hip graphics that are unique to each room. Because this three-star hotel is off of the beaten track, the prices are very budget friendly, and free breakfast is included with your stay.     

Renaissance Naples Mediterraneo – Top Luxury Hotel, Historic District

Also located in the historic district of Naples is Renaissance Naples Mediterraneo. It is a luxury hotel with a fitness center, rooftop swimming pool and whirlpool. There is also fine dining at the rooftop garden restaurant. The cozy décor of the rooms will make you feel like you are at a home away from home. This hotel is perfect for people who want the added amenities that a large hotel has to offer, but also like the idea of staying in the historical district.
Photo by Matilde Civitillo via

     Mercure Napoli Garibaldi – Top Budget Hotel, Downtown

Downtown Naples on a strict budget is doable at Mercure Napoli Garibaldi. The rooms are spare but clean, adequate, and well-reviewed. The hotel has a breakfast buffet and a quaint bar where you can enjoy a pre-dinner libation. It is also conveniently located near public transportation, and several restaurants. 

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Five of the Best Hotels in Whistler

Smack dab in the middle of two awe-inspiring mountains lies the resort village of Whistler. When you take a stroll down its pedestrian-only walkway, you can’t help but feel the energy and excitement in the air. The mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, are well-known for their incredible skiing and snowboarding, but the village has much to offer too. There are extraordinary restaurants, luxury spas, and unique shops to be enjoyed year round. Here are some Whistler hotels to consider.

Photo by Paul Rich via

      Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre  – Best Location All-Suite Hotel

From this award-wining hotel, it is just a two minute walk to the gondolas that deliver you to the mountain trails. Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre’s modern suites have fireplaces and full kitchens. There are two restaurants and complimentary breakfast daily. Additionally, there is a fitness center, spa, and outdoor heated pool. A wonderful convenience for skiers and golfers is the slope-side valet who takes care of your skis and golf clubs, and their storage.

Photo by Arnette RTW via

      Aava Whistler Hotel – Best Budget-Friendly and Eco-Friendly Hotel

      Save money by staying just outside of the resort village at Aava Whistler Hotel, and you will still be only two minutes from the village on foot. The comfortably-decorated rooms, suites and hotel facilities have everything you need to enjoy your stay including a pool, hot tub, sauna, and fitness center. There is also a restaurant that serves breakfast. Check out a complimentary GoPro HD camera or a bicycle for extra fun. Last but not least, Green Key Global has recognized Aava Whistler as an eco-friendly hotel.

      Sundial Boutique Hotel – Best Boutique Hotel

For travelers who like the intimacy of a smaller hotel, Sundial Boutique Hotel will not disappoint. It is the only owner-operated hotel in Whistler. The 49 luxury suites have fireplaces, full-sized kitchens, and heated slate floors. This 4-star hotel also has three restaurants to please your palate, featuring west coast cuisine, Mexican cuisine, and sushi. With discounts for stays of five nights or more, it would be easy to make this your home for a week or so.

       Summit Lodge and Spa – Best Hotel for a Relaxing Cultural Experience

This award winning lodge and spa is filled with original local artwork, and from Summit Lodge and Spa, it is a quick walk to Whistler Museum, where you can learn about the history and culture of Whistler’s mountain life, and Whistler Olympic Plaza, the site of the 2010 Olympic Games medal ceremonies. After a day of activities and experiences, you will surely enjoy the lodge accommodations, spa, and restaurants too.

Photo by Bill Dillard via

      Nita Lake Lodge – Best Lakeside Hotel

Lakeside living is at its finest at Nita Lake Lodge. This lodge is only a 5-minute shuttle ride away from Whistler. But you might not want to leave. There are complimentary bicycles, canoes, paddleboards, snowshoes, and more. There is also a spa, yoga studio, and fitness center. The amenity-filled suites have breathtaking views of the lake or of the mountains. There is fine dining at a farm-to-table restaurant, casual dining in the lounge, and a café for a quick bite. 

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cities Less Traveled: Beat a New Path in Chicago

If you are the type of person who delights in discovering the not-so-well-known attractions in a city, you might be surprised to know that Chicago, with all of its famous attractions, actually has several frequently overlooked attractions. Take a different path, and you will discover something new, avoid crowds, and save money by visiting these lesser known attractions (which are also less expensive or even free). Just don’t tell too many people if you want them to stay the way they are.

Photo by Greg Sims via

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

The city of Chicago has more movable bridges than any other city in the world. At the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum not only do you get to explore a historic bridgehouse, you also get to learn about the history of Chicago’s movable bridges through exhibits on each of the floors of the five story building. See the enormous gears that lift the bridge at river level, and on bridge lift days, Watch the gears in action for a small fee. Admission is free to all on Sundays at this seasonal museum.

Photo by Moshiur Raman via

The Dining Room at Kendall College

Because Chicago is a world-famous dining destination with highly recognized chefs, the restaurants can be very pricey. The Dining Room at Kendall College offers you an opportunity to experience delicious and creative three-course meals prepared by culinary arts students at very reasonable fixed prices. If you don’t feel like having a large meal, you can also order individual courses. The lunch and dinner menus include fresh ingredients from the college’s herb and vegetable garden and from a local market. The chic, modern dining room has amazing views of Chicago’s skyline. To find more reasonably priced restaurants in the area, check out Weotta's recommendations.

InterContinental Chicago Historical Hotel Tour

You don’t have to be a guest at the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile to take a free tour of one of the most wonderful Chicago hotels on the Magnificent Mile. The building, built in 1929, originally housed an athletic club. In 1988, with an old yearbook from the club, the InterContinental Hotels group renovated the building to its former Art Deco glory. The tour is a well-kept secret that is not advertised. If you ask the hotel concierge and leave something of value at the desk, you will be given headphones for an audio tour that guides your through the hotel, its history, and its artwork.
Photo by  Jan - Dabble in Travel via

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Money Museum

This museum will not drain your finances because it is free year-round. It does, however, contain a money pit. There is a former elevator shaft containing over $50,000 in coins that you can view from above by standing on a glass floor when you visit. There is also a historical currency collection and an exhibit that explains the difference between real and counterfeit bills. On weekdays at 1 p.m., guided tours are available to everyone so you can learn more about the Chicago Fed and the Federal Reserve System.

This post was written as part of the #HipmunkCityLove project.

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