5 Qualities to Look for in a Luxury Hotel

Are you the type of person who enjoys spending time in a luxury hotel? Do you do your best to book one of these, no matter if you’re traveling for business or pleasure? Do you have a list of things that a hotel must have?

It’s good to know that there are luxury hotels located from one side of the world to the next. This ensures that you can always find the accommodations that suit your every need. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially if you are visiting a part of the world that is new to you.

Take for example someone who is visiting the Beverly Hills area for the first time. They can use Expedia to learn more about The Beverly Hills Hotel, among many others in the area. Even so, this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to suit your every need.

Here are five things you should absolutely look for in a luxury hotel:

  1. High Quality Bedding

From the mattress to the sheets to the comforter, the bed should be extremely comfortable. This will go a long way in helping you get a good night’s sleep.

The SLS Hotel, for instance, is well known for its comfortable rooms. When you stay here, you’ll never think twice about staying anywhere else in the future.

  1. On-site Restaurants

There will be times when you want to explore the area, searching for a restaurant that suits your every want and need. However, there will also be times when it’s much easier to eat on-site.

Most luxury hotels have at least one on-site restaurant, but don’t be surprised if you find some with several to choose from. This is extremely convenient, as you never have to leave the property to fill your stomach.

  1. High Quality Customer Service

There is nothing better than a high quality customer service experience. With this, you never have to think twice about whether you will be treated like a valued customer.  Check out reviews online, take a look at their policies, and give the hotel a call.  If you don’t like the way you’re treated on the phone- You’re not going to like staying there.

Take it from an expert: “Customer service starts before a client enters the door,” says Nate Robertson of Square Ship. And he’s right.

For example, if you forget to pack shampoo- You’d want to be staying at a hotel that will supply you toiletries. In a more dramatic sense, you’ll want to stay at a hotel with a safe if you’re taking a large check or expensive technology with you.

  1. Valet Parking

Let’s face it: there is nothing better than valet parking. This saves you from fighting for a parking spot and walking to and from your vehicle.  Especially when you’re in a big city like Los Angeles.

While some luxury hotels neglect to provide valet parking, most have come to find that this is something visitors expect.  In fact, even some mid-grade hotels offer valet parking to their guests.

Tip: Won’t let a stranger in your car? Luxury hotels typically offer both self parking and valet parking, so you’ll have the option.

  1. Gym and Swimming Pool

There is no better feeling than getting in a good workout when you’re away from home. It doesn’t matter if you spend an hour in the gym or a few minutes in the pool, this has a way of making you feel better about yourself.

This is definitely something you want to check on before you select a hotel. It’s easy to assume that every luxury property will have both a gym and swimming pool, but this is not always the case.

Tip: take this one step further by reviewing photos online. This will give you a better idea of exactly what a particular hotel has to offer in regards to its gym and pool.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. These are the types of things you should look for in a luxury hotel.

You may have other items on your list, and there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as you know what you’re looking for, you should be able to book with confidence. Even better is the fact that you will be happy with your decision in the long run.

Do you spend a lot of time in luxury hotels all over the world? Have you come to find that some have more to offer in terms of amenities than others? What do you consider the most important details of a luxury hotel? Share your experiences and approach to choosing a hotel in the comment section below. Your advice may be able to help other travelers make better decisions in the future.

4 Essential Tips for Choosing the Right Bus Tour Company

Just because you’re used to traveling on the road doesn’t mean you’re able to spot a tiptop service. So, when planning to enjoy a bus tour during your next vacation, there are various things you need to consider before selecting a particular service. A company with a fleet of buses, a name, and drivers doesn’t necessarily make the ideal option. You need to compare the price, the size of the bus, and lots of other things.

With that in mind, this post is going to cover some of the essential tips to consider to ensure you make an appropriate choice. Read on to learn more.

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1. Consider the Group Size

You want to make the most out of the tour, so group size is one of the most critical considerations you need to mull over. Typically, the bigger the group, the more you’ll not enjoy the charms and views of your tour. Plus, the last thing you want is touring in a noisy and crowded bus.

Instead, get a bus that has a range of 10 to 20 people. Of course, you can expect to pay more when you travel in smaller groups. But it generally makes sense if you really want to enjoy the tour.

2. Identify Your Desired Sites

It’s also essential to choose a bus service based on the location of your desired sites. The closer the service is to the sites, the lower the costs. You also need to know what sites are included in the itinerary. Their itinerary must include all or most of the sites you would love to see.

Some companies choose sites for their own convenience rather than their customers’ needs. However, take into account that some sites can be expensive to visit or may require reservations. So, you may also want to be flexible and reasonable with your choices.

3. Consider the Type of Service

If you have kids, you’ll need to consider the type of service a tour bus company offers. Some services might not be family-friendly, so your kids may not enjoy themselves. In some cases, the service can be family-friendly which means that, even though you might not have kids, you will have to deal with a ton of kids during the tour.

Plus, some activities may be geared towards kids, meaning you’ll have to pass the time with them during the tour. If you’re traveling solo, look for a service that caters to solo travelers. This makes it easier for you to meet new people while still enjoying the trip. If you want to spend more time at each site, consider picking a tour service with a less packed itinerary.

4. Get More Information

When selecting the right tour bus, consider the location of hotels and eating places on the tour route. Make sure to get the information on a bus tour before your scheduled day of the tour. You want to know their parking areas as some companies just park their buses in the middle of nowhere to save cost.

Find out about the guides and be sure to know if they are salaried or just get tips. Salaried guides are likely to give you the best experience. Also, you want to make sure the company is not a one-stand service unless it’s something you want. Otherwise, getting enough rest before you embark on the tour helps. So, you will need at least two nights whenever you make stops.

With these tips, you can proceed to pick a bus company that will offer you the best experience. Be sure to read their policies on trip interruptions, refunds, and cancellations. Also, you can search companies online and read some reviews they have received from their past clients. This way, you can establish the quality of service you should expect.

A Great Way to Explore an Area: Geocaching Has Big Appeal

If you’re into geocaching, and you’ve never found a cache Boston, what in the world are you waiting for? Beantown is home to dozens of fascinating geocaches, are more caches are being hidden all the time. In the interest of happy hunting for all, we are pleased to present a few things to know about geocaching in and around Boston.

Geocaching 101

In a nutshell, geocaching is a global treasure hunt enabled by GPS. Cachers stash an item in a weatherproof container, then other players use clues and solve riddles to locate the secret cache. Geocaches may be as small as a film canister, but some can be as big or bigger than a bucket. When a cache is found, the player can take the item, as long as they replace it with something of similar size and value. Most geocaches contain a logbook signed with usernames. Users can also log into Geocaching.com and leave a digital signature and description of their treasure hunt after finding a hidden geocache explains Geocaching magazine.

Geocaching Boston

Boston’s first geocaches were hidden throughout the Emerald Necklace parks at the behest of Mayor Tom Menino in 2012. Today, caches can be found in Dewey Square, in Fort Pont Channel, along the Greenway, on some offshore islands, and in dozens of other secret spots. More than six million geocachers play the high-tech game of hide-and-seek around the world, and many of them are right here in Boston.

To geocache Boston, you’ll need a few things. First, you will need a smartphone with built-in global positioning, or GPS.  This will help you find nearby caches. You’ll also need a compass. Most Apple phones come with a compass. Android users may download a free compass app to aid in geocache location. The GPS locator that comes in your phone is perfectly adequate technology to aid your 21st-century treasure hunt. Many geocachers who become obsessed with the game opt to purchase a handheld GPS device, says caching experts at the Boston edition of Outdoor Fun Club magazine.

Join the global caching community

To find a geocache near you, punch in the coordinates of your present location. For instance, login to Geocaching.com and input the GPS coordinates for the Marriott Long Wharf Boston. Within seconds, you will be presented a list of local caches along with their difficulty level. Some caches are easier to find than others, so if you are new to geocaching, you may wish to start by hunting for a cache with a simple solution.

A series of handicap-accessible magnetic nano geocaches can be found along the scenic Boston Harborwalk. Bring a small piece of paper upon which to leave your cacher username for the next cache hunter to find and replace.

If you already enjoy hiking and exploring, ramp up the excitement when you participate in the planetary game of geocaching. Add geocaching to your travel itinerary, and add a whole new dimension of fun to sightseeing.

Top Tips For Traveling To Japan

If there’s one piece of advice that you should know before traveling to Thailand, it’s that preparation is essential. Japan is not a country that you can travel to and expect to do fine in without any problems.

Not only is the language barrier going to be an obvious issue, but you will quickly find that Japan is very much different from the United States in terms of how things are run.

Here are the top tips for traveling to Japan:

Learning The Japanese Language

Or at least learn the basics of it so you can be conversational. Japanese is a Category 5 language, which means it is among the most difficult to learn. It will requires several thousand hours of dedicated and committed study. Fortunately, traveling to Japan and immersing yourself in the culture and the language can be one of the very best things you can do to become a more fluent and confident Japanese speaker.

Travel Via Bus

In Japan, it will be much more economic for you to travel via bus then by train. It will take longer to travel by bus, but you’ll save a lot of money too.

Purchase A JR Pass

Do you think you will leave Tokyo? If so then you are going to need a JR (Japan Rail) pass. This pass is made for foreigners that will allow them to access any JR line across the country for seven days. You’ll get access to high-speed trains so you can criss cross the country quickly, and the pass is available for a very reasonable two hundred and fifty dollars.

Bring Lots of Cash

A major difference between Japan and the United States is the way commerce is conducted. Whereas people tend to buy things in the United States using debit or credit cards the most often, people in Japan buy most things using cash.

What this means is that most convenience stores and restaurants in Japan are unlikely to have a credit card machine. Instead, you’re going to need to make sure you have access to ATM’s so you can withdraw Japanese currency (these are usually available within walking distances of airpots or at a post office).

If you do bring a credit card, makes sure it’s one with a low foreign transaction fee (Capital One is a good example).

Bring A Plastic Bag With You

Another key difference between life in Japan and America is how trash is disposed. Trash bins and garbage containers are a common thing in public locations in America, but the same is not true in Japan. This is why you need to bring a small to medium sized plastic bag with to hold you trash (you can then dispose of the plastic bag containing your trash when you do find a garbage bin).

The most common places in Japan to find a trash bin will be bathrooms and convenience stores.

Traveling To Japan

Traveling to Japan can be a very fun and enlightening experience, and these will be the top tips to help you prepare for it.

How to Save Money When You Go Traveling

Traveling is one of the greatest experiences that you will ever have in your lifetime and there are even many people who are turning it into a career choice. The digital nomad lifestyle has seen many people uproot their lives and continuously travel whilst working from their computer. Because of the dramatic rise in recent years of people dedicating themselves to travel, there are more ways than ever which people have found to save some money when they are on the road. If you are looking to travel and want to save some cash, here is how.

Credit Cards

Credit cards can be a great tool when used properly and you can use them to gain yourself some fantastic perks and discounts on your travels. When using a credit card, the best way of doing things is to spend the money that you would usually spend, only use your credit card and pay it off with cash each month, you must avoid the temptation of spending anything that you wouldn’t normally. I employ this strategy with my Chase Sapphire card and I have amassed many points which I can use for flights and hotels.

Group Bookings

If you are heading off to see an attraction or on an experience, try to arrange it in a group with other travelers. Both professional and local services will often offer group discounts and you can take advantage of this if you buddy up before the trip.

Seasonal

If you don’t necessarily need to be in a particular country for a reason, then manage your trip around off-peak times. This will naturally vary from country to country but if you are going to Europe for example, it is pointless going anywhere with sunshine around the June – August period.  You may not think that the difference of just a few months could make such an impact financially but it can really save you a great amount of money, and ensure that the country is nice and quiet when you visit, a real win-win.

Prioritize

I often meet travelers complaining about their lack of money to go traveling with and then I see them rack up a hefty bar bill or walk around sipping on a Starbucks and buying the latest gadgets, something which I cannot compute. If it is your wish to travel then travel, and focus solely on this. I have always placed far more importance on experiences rather than money or fancy things and if you want to save money and get traveling, ignore tech and stop wasting money on frivolities.

Tickets Online

If you are heading to a particular landmark or experience, always check to see how much tickets cost online first. companies much prefer that you book up early so that they have an idea of how many tickets they have sold, for this reason you will often find tickets at much cheaper prices than if you simply turn up and pay. Using this method you may only save 10 or 20 dollars but it all counts right?

The key to saving money on the road is to review each spend that you make and ask yourself whether it is necessary, or whether you could spend less for the same thing.

Luxury 5 Star Villa – All Exclusive in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

Are you looking for a luxury villa rental in Puerto Vallarta that has it all? The Villa Mandarinas Ocean Front Estate is the ideal vacation spot for your family vacation, wedding ceremony, yoga & corporate retreat!

Just south of Puerto Vallarta, in the Mexican state of Jalisco, nestled between the mountains of Sierra Nevada and the Pacific Ocean, lies the magnificent Villa Mandarinas. One of the most prestigious luxury vacation rentals in the Puerto Vallarta area, the property sits on six cascading tiers above the Pacific Ocean and offers a distinctive architectural style, high-end finishes, lush tropical gardens, stunning ocean views and state of the art amenities.

 The 20,000 square foot property has 10 bedrooms with en suite bathrooms. The decor and the furniture is a homage to Mexico’s cultural heritage, showcasing traditional Mexican folk art and custom-made furniture. Villa Mandarinas features ample outdoor space with two terraces with fantastic ocean views, two infinity swimming pools with jacuzzies and wet bars, an outdoor playroom, and a private boat dock. The villa’s staff includes a chef, bartenders, waiters, butlers and a night-time security guard.

 Villa Mandarinas is the perfect luxury rental for the entire family, sleeping up to 22 people in 10 bedrooms. Kids and adults will enjoy multiple pools and jacuzzies as well as the open-air play room featuring pool and foosball tables. At night, the “Bonfire Lawn” is the perfect location for stargazing and roasting marshmallows by the fire.

The villa’s private dock is the perfect home base for boating, fishing and all sorts of watersports activities, such as kayaking, snorkeling, and paddle boarding. The villa’s private chef, trained at five-star hotels, will go above and beyond to satisfy gourmets, picky eaters and hungry mouths alike.

Puerto Vallarta is surrounded by beautiful beaches, mountains and tropical rainforests, waiting to be explored. Avid golfers will enjoy the area’s numerous challenging world-class golf courses. Downtown Puerto Vallarta is about 9 miles away and offers something for the whole family: from traditional Mexican cuisine to fine dining, from traditional handmade artwork to high-fashion boutiques.

Villa Mandarinas is also an excellent destination for a successful corporate retreat, with plenty of indoor and outdoor space to meet, work and have fun. While at the villa, the chef and the staff will cater to the guests every whim. But there’s also plenty to do outside the villa: Excursions to the rainforest, watersports, fishing trips and golf are just some of the exciting activities where co-workers can bond. And after a long and productive day, Puerto Vallarta’s world class night life is just a short ride away.

Nestled between the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountains, Villa Manderinas, with its distinctive architecture, lush gardens, and relaxed atmosphere is also very popular for yoga and meditation retreats. All of the 10 guest rooms boast stunning views of Banderas Bay and are beautifully appointed and decorated to create a relaxing and soothing environment. The villa’s ocean view terraces are the ideal setting for yoga sessions, meditation and spa treatments. The two infinity pools offer plenty of space to relax and cool down. The private chef and his team will cater to all dietary needs, using only the freshest and healthiest ingredients from local markets and farms to create an exceptional culinary experience.

This luxury villa features more than 20,000 sqft of architectural beauty, with ample outdoor space and tropical gardens. Making it the perfect venue for weddings. The “Bonfire Lawn”, a terrace big enough for 150 guests, is the ideal setting for an unforgettable wedding ceremony overlooking the bay. The villa’s staff will work in conjunction with event and wedding planner to create a truly unforgettable experience for the bride and groom as well as for the guests.

Checking The Status of EVUS Visa

EVUS is a new online visa update system created by the U.S. Custom and Border Protection that entered into force November 2016 for checking the admissibility to the United States for citizens of the People’s Republic of China, holding a  10-year B1, B2 or B1/B2 visa. This also includes anyone from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan traveling on People’s Republic of China passport. All holders of these Visa categories are required to complete the online EVUS visa application and update their basic biographical information before traveling to the United States for temporary business plans or tourism.

EVUS enrollment is valid for two consecutive years of which a traveller may have multiple trips to the United States until the expiry of the visa or passport whichever comes first.

EVUS Data that Requires Update

To Check the status of EVUS Visa, the prospected traveller must have an enrollment number. This is a unique number that is generated by a successful EVUS enrollment process. In case an applicants’ lose their enrollment number, this may be retrieved through the provision of personal information; full names, passport, and visa numbers.

The EVUS enrollment online system allows updates of the following data elements without re-enrollment; primary and secondary email addresses, home, cell and work place phone numbers, home address, U.S. point of contact, emergency contacts, the current employer’s contacts and address while in the U.S.

Validity of an EVUS enrollment

The following information should be provided to check the validity of an EVUS enrollment;

  •    Surname and Family Names
  •    Enrollment number
  •    Passport number
  •    B1, B2or B1/B2 Visa number

Some situations may call for a re-enrollment if the following incidences occur while the EVUS visa is still valid;

  •    When the traveller obtains a new passport
  •    If the applicant gets a new 10-year B1 or B2 visa
  •    When there are significant changes in candidates name(s), gender, country of citizenship, nationality including dual nationality status
  •    If the circumstances underlying the previous responses to admissibility questions have changed that may include; visa denial, conviction of a criminal offense, unlawful presence in the U.S. or immigration-related misrepresentation

The CPB may annul the enrollment upon discovering “diametrically oppose errors” in the applicant’s enrollment or for other unspecified reasons upon which the visa will stand “provisionally revoked.”

The EVUS website is bilingual, available both in English and Chinese. However, EVUS questions must be answered in English only except on some special occasions which are expressly required to be submitted in applicant’s native language.

How CBP uses EVUS Data

Any information and data provided through EVUS enrollment, re-enrollment or updating is vetted by the CBP against selected security and law enforcement databases. This EVUS data is also counter- checked against lost, stolen passport records through Interpol and reviewed by CBP officers at the designated ports of entry upon arrival as a safety measures.

The Essential Guide to Choosing the Best Backpack

Anyone who travels a lot for business or leisure knows why you need to invest in a good and reliable backpack. All your belongings are inside and they need to be kept safe, dry, and free from any other potential mishaps. You need to be able to carry it comfortably and ideally, it can fit in the overhead compartments on the plane and be safe on public transport. Several travellers find that a low-quality backpack just brings with it endless stress and problems when they’re on the road. This article describes everything you need to know about buying an awesome and reliable backpack.

What are the Key Features of a Good Backpack?

The most important feature of any backpack is that it’s strong and reliable. If you’re going to be carrying it on your back, the last thing you want is for the strap to break. Or even worse, for the material to seemingly disintegrate, which happens more than you may think with the cheaper bags.

The next essential characteristic of a good backpack is that it’s waterproof. Most places around the world get heavy downpours and you really don’t want to get all your clothes soaking wet as you’re walking down the street. And on top of that, business travellers tend to come with their laptops and other important documents in hard copy. It can be a disaster if they happen to get wet en route to your meeting!

What Makes the Travel Backpack Awesome?

I discovered the best backpack to suit my needs as a business traveller as well as someone with a passion for being on the road. And that’s the travel backpack. This bag is very nifty and you can use it for pretty much anything. For example, it works great as a professional looking bag for business travellers who want to attend a meeting and give off a good impression. It also looks great on the back of long term backpackers traipsing through India.

At the same time, it’s extremely comfortable to wear and spacious. The bag is highly water resistant and will keep everything inside dry even with the worst the weather can throw at you. This backpack is one of the most secure that you can use to travel. You can keep it near your feet on the train so that you don’t need to let it out of your sight on the luggage rack. And it always fits in the overhead compartment on a flight, which is a major convenience.

My favourite feature is that the bag is very reliable. When you buy, you’re certain to be able to use it for any purpose for at least a few years. This makes the initial investment worthwhile for a durable and multifunctional backpack.

The Bottom Line:

The bottom line is that the travel backpack is one of the most superior bags available on the market. It’s perfect for people who travel for business and leisure whilst being versatile for any situation. Any traveller will benefit from investing in this strong and reliable bag.

Giglio Islands Must Sees

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Giglio Island is quite plainly a glimpse of paradise. An Italian island just off the coast of Tuscany it boasts of its Crystal clear seas, tranquil  beaches and picturesque views. Being a remote island it can quite easily be missed but has never ceased to impress its visitors, always supplying a great time of relaxation for those who stop by. Getting there is completely stress free. You can take a Santo Stefano ferry and with it only being an hour, there’s no reason you can’t experience this breathtaking Island for yourself.

Here are a few places you may like to see on your trip to Giglio Island.

Candelle beach

Offering a more secluded feel than some of the overcrowded beaches that can be found on the main lands, Candelle beach is peaceful and beautiful, with one of the only sounds heard being the movement of the waves. Its sands are flawless and with it’s perfect blue translucent waters, it’s a great place for snorkelling and easy to spot the wide variety of fish in its depths.

Castello

A village that showcases the authentic Giglio and allows its visitors to take a look into what the locals live like, is Castello and it is a place not to be missed when visiting this island. The aged stone houses it consists of date back to the 14th century, having not been affected by any modern architecture,  they’re a true display of some of the history of the Island. The buildings were constructed close together to fit around the Giglio Castle in the heart of the village and although the compact buildings may leave you feeling a bit claustrophobic the wondrous views surrounding it will offer a more freeing feel.

Campese

Just 5km from Castello, Campese is a village that also holds many historical facts. The Campese Tower built in the 19th century is the main attraction of the village, this monument was built originally to allow villagers to look out for ships and resist the pirate ships and enabled them to have some victory against their onslaught. The village also holds one of the most popular beaches on the Island, surrounded by a selection of restaurants, for you to indulge in a beach side meal. To top it all off, the sun sets directly in front of the beach, so you can watch the horizon burst with beautiful red during an evening of leisure.

Gilglio Porto

This is where you’ll arrive when taking the ferry from Porto San Stefano, so it would be straight forward for you to soak up what the port has to offer. This is the heart of the Island and there’s a great choice of restaurants, bars and shops.

For more on what to see in Giglio click here.

Traveling to the East Coast from Chicago and What to See

It doesn’t matter what you’re in to, you can guarantee that Chicago has something to entertain you. Whether it is dinosaurs, baseball, music, or art, you simply cannot spend a minute being bored. Interestingly, a lot of people now book on an East Coast bus tour, starting in Chicago and making their way on to the coast. So what are some of the things you should consider doing along the way?

Chicago

In Chicago, you should definitely go to The Ledge, enjoying the view from the Sky-Deck 1,350 feet off the ground. The view truly is out of this world. Once you are back down from those dazzling heights, head on over to the Art Institute of Chicago, where you can enjoy beautiful art, including impressionist pieces. After you had your fill of art, head on over to Millennium Park, the Adler Museum, or the Shedd Aquarium so the children have something to enjoy as well. You can also take them to the Field Museum of Natural History, taking them through a tour of the Ice Age and getting them to meet the largest T-Rex in the world! Finally, hope on one of Chicago’s endearing trolleys to take a tour of the city, going past Sears Tower and Buckingham Fountain.

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Detroit

From Chicago, you will make your way to Detroit, home to Henry Ford and the automotive industry as we know it today. Detroit has amazing mansions, many of which now house beautiful museums, including the Charles H. Wright Museum, the Holocaust Memorial Center, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the Cranbrook Art Museum. Don’t miss the IMAX Theater, and you can also have a little break in a casino.

Boston

Next on the list is Boston, one of the oldest cities in the country. A true cultural hub, you can visit the Museum of Fine Art for an Ancient Egypt exhibit, or to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for the Rembrandts and Picassos. Don’t miss the Public Garden Lagoon, on which you can take a swan boat. Naturally, the Freedom Trail is fab if you are into Colonial Revolutionary Boston, enabling you to see 16 different sites exploring about 250 years, in one tour.

New York

Last but not least, you will head on to the Big Apple. The city is best described as a rollercoaster of endless activity. There is style, there are sounds, and there are millions of things to see and do. Simply standing on Broadway to look at the lights, or traveling to 5th Avenue for lots of glitz and glamor. There is Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel, the Empire State Building, Chinatown, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and much, much more. A trip to Ellis Island is not to be missed, where Lady Liberty stands. And when you are in New York, do make sure you don’t forget. The chili dogs and New York bagels really are out of this world.