Travellers Lea-Anne, Keith and Britney Clayton
Dates 7 December 2012 to 14 January 2013
Reasons for visiting this destination We have family in San Antonio, Texas, but we thought we would also use this time to explore and have fun. On our crazy trip we visited: San Antonio, Miami, Key West, Disney World, Las Vegas, New York, Hoover Dam and LA.
Our Little Black Book
The best hotel I had two favourites on this trip:
The Sheraton Towers, New York
It was conveniently situated on Time Square and we watched the ball drop on New Year’s Eve from there! The hotel is definitely in the luxury category. When we checked the rates it was a bit much at $1 200 a night. But we were lucky enough to buy Starwood points (a rewards programme for hotels and resorts) from my brother-in-law so it cost us a fraction of the price.
Disney’s Art of Animation Mermaid suites
This falls into a very different category to the Sheraton but it was awesome. Everything was themed The Little Mermaid and it brought out my inner child. The package we chose included Disney World entrance tickets. It was around R18 900 for the three us for the week over Christmas.
The best place for dinner I’d definitely say the Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen & Bar (220 West 44th Street Between 7th and 8th Ave New York). I had the most sumptuous grilled chicken for $18. The menu is diverse and main meals are priced between $18 and $30.
The best place for lunch For us, it was Gordon Ramsay’s BurGR situated in Planet Hollywood on the strip in Vegas. Burgers range between $12 and $18 and the divine milkshakes were $9.
The best place for a drink We never frequented any bars as we had our three year old with us, but we did manage to sip on a few cocktails while we were aboard the Carnival Imagination.
The first thing travellers should do upon reaching this destination The first thing that got me wired was the customs process. We got off at George Bush International and it took us two hours to get through the customs process, so be prepared to wait. The security checks were a bit horrendous, especially since we were travelling with a toddler. You have to remove all jewellery, belts and shoes, each time.
Try book key events online before you leave, you don’t want to get disappointed when there are long queues or they are sold out!
The best place to shop The best places to shop are the outlet malls. When we were in San Antonio, we went to the Tanger outlet malls, which had every brand you can think of. In New York, you definitely want to visit Macy’s. It’s floors of shopping bliss.
The best way to get around We used car rentals in Miami, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. We booked it all before we left SA and the prices worked out much cheaper!
In New York we walked or used the subway.
In Disney World we made use of the buses provided by our resorts, but be prepared to walk there – the parks are huge.
If you want to feel like a local you should…
In Texas eat big and drive a big car.
In Miami drive a Porsche.
In Disney World dress like a princess!
In New York, shop till you drop.
In Las Vegas – party the night away.
In LA become a star.
Watch out for… Honestly there is nothing to be really weary of, just be prepared for the tedium of airport security checks, especially if you are travelling with young kids. Although there are sirens blasting in New York 24/7, we never came face to face with any crime.
Don’t leave without… Do not leave San Antonio without visiting the River walk and the Alamo. It’s a vital part of the history and there are some lovely places along the river walk.
In New York, do visit Central Park and take a carriage ride. And if you are ever in Vegas, you have to see Celine Dion – it’s bucket list stuff!
Insider tip I learnt with planning this whirlwind trip that you have to do your homework and plan in advance. Book everything you want to see and do online way in advance, if you can. Most of the time it works out cheaper and saves your sanity. Always compare prices and ask for discounts were you can. Travel light – you will definitely come back with more than you left with.
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