Walking Guide of Historic Old Town Cottonwood, Arizona

Cottonwood, Arizona is a little town with a lot to offer in the heart of Arizona, bursting with restaurants, wine tasting rooms, art galleries, shopping, and boutique hotels.  Cottonwood is part of the Verde Valley, and close neighbor to the Ghost Town of Jerome and ever popular Sedona, each accessed from the 89A highway.

Old Town is a few shorts blocks along Main Street, perfect for a few hours and up to a few days!

Come hungry!  Cottonwood is building a reputation for fantastic local restaurants, with new ones opening every time I visit!  The newest bakery smelled divine and received glowing recommendations from everyone I spoke to in town.

Continue reading “Walking Guide of Historic Old Town Cottonwood, Arizona”

Winter in NYC Tourist Highlights | Frugal and Fun Activities around New York City

New York City is a busy, loud bustle of activity and I love it!  Coming from the hot, dry desert, NYC is especially magical in the Winter.  I never stay as long as I want, nor do everything on my travel list, since NYC is so expensive.

Here are my favorite, and best value, activities for NYC in the winter.

First, the FREE stuff!

Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Station – Officially known as Grand Central Terminal, this may be your first stop when arriving in NYC.  A major hub for trains, this busy station is a destination for most tourists.  Take a moment and look up at the elaborate astronomical ceiling in the Main Concourse, clocks, and sculptures throughout.

Rockefeller Center
Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center – Check out the world famous Christmas tree (perfect for selfies), golden sculpture of Prometheus, and Ice Skating rink.  Do not let the crowds scare you away, add people watching to your activities at the center.

Macy's Herald Square
Macy’s Herald Square

Department Store Window Display – Walk down 5th Ave and check out the Window displays starting at Bloomingdale’s (closer to 3rd Ave), and moving on to Barney’s, Tiffany’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, Lord & Taylor, and Macy’s Herald Square.  These are no ordinary displays!  Every year these stores create an impressive display of movement, animatronics, light shows, music, color, and imagination!

Empire State Building
Empire State Building view from Monarch bar in Herald Square

Empire State Building – Visible all along 5th Ave, the Empire State Building is best viewed from Herald Square, a perfect accompaniment to the Window Displays.   There are restaurants, shopping, and elevator rides to the observation decks (not free, not cheap, but a bucket list item for many people).

Central Park
Central Park

Central Park – Walk around and take in the NYC skyline view from the park.  Wear comfortable walking shoes to explore tip to tip of this impressive park.  Bundle up and check out all the spots featured in TV and Movies.  The best time to go is after fresh snowfall, it is simple stunning!

Times Square – No trip to NYC is complete without walking through Times Square. Known as the Crossroads of the World, so many activities will lead you to Times Square, in fact, it is difficult to visit NYC without passing through.

High Value Activities (do whatever your budget allows)

Radio City Music Hall view from the Mezzanine level
Radio City Music Hall view from the Mezzanine level

Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular – The best seats to see the entire show, and intricately choreographed Rockettes dancing, is from the First Mezzanine.  There are several shows per day, and the earliest and latest shows tend to be less expensive.  These tickets sell out fast, so buy your tickets as soon as possible.

Lion King Mask in Theater Lobby
Lion King Mask in Theater Lobby


Broadway Show – This is where travelling solo really has advantage, buying a single ticket is easier and you get better seating for one.  Check out show availability and prices, certain nights and showtimes are cheaper than others.  I scored 6th row center seats to Lion King for Thursday night, when Friday was completely sold out!

Lion King 6th Row
Lion King 6th Row

Russian Tea Room – Stop in for Breakfast, 3 course lunch, Pre & Post Theatre 3 Course Dinner, or between meal time for a drink (hot or cold, plus full bar).  The decor, ambiance, and amazing artwork is well worth the visit.

Russian Tea Room
Russian Tea Room

NYC Observation Decks – Rockefeller Center offers views at Top of The Rock, Empire State Building, One World Observatory all require (pricey) tickets to access the observation decks.  I paid to visit one observation deck years ago, now I try to book reservations at restaurants that are on high floors of skyscrapers.

winter-in-nycHotels, Food and Drink are more expensive than comparable cities throughout the US. Less expensive deals can be found, do your research and assume that if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is in NYC.  Above all, take advantage of all the free and fabulous sights the city has to offer!

Want more?  Wanderlustingk has are even more tips for Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, and holiday activity around New York!

Tea at Arizona Biltmore Resort

The right food and drink not only provide nutritional substance, but cleanse & calm the mind.  I drink a lot of tea of many different varieties.  High quality Tea is a thing of beauty.

My friend and I often share Tea stories, varieties, recommendations, and have enjoyed Japanese Tea at Nobuo for lunch earlier this year.  Looking for another great tea experience, we consulted TeaMap.com and started on the list.  Some of these locations have  closed, and others are quite a drive.  Another Tea enthusiast friend just had Afternoon Tea at the Biltmore Resort last weekend, and it was the perfect choice.

Biltmore tea seating for 5
Biltmore tea seating for 5 people

The Arizona Biltmore Resort is Waldorf-Astoria property built in 1929 in the art-deco style of design.  The atmosphere is old Hollywood glamour.  It was a stark contrast to Afternoon Tea at the American Girl Doll Cafe in Chicago last year, but both very enjoyable. Tea at the Biltmore is served in the main lobby, near the restaurant, by the front windows. Continue reading “Tea at Arizona Biltmore Resort”

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