Category Archives: New York

Fourth of July – why all the fuss?

Theresa Wilson is Bon Voyage’s resident Yankee Doodle Dandy.  Here she shares her perspective on the Fourth of July holiday……..

Happy Birthday, America!

I’ve now lived in England for 25 years and have fully embraced my adopted country.  But if there is one time I really do long to be home it’s the first part of July and all of the Fourth celebrations.

 On the whole, Americans are a patriotic bunch – we fly flags from our front porches; we thank our military for their service; we wear eagle and flag embossed clothing year-round, but give us a holiday where the entire point is patriotism and stand back.  Parades, fireworks, family gatherings, BBQs, picnics, baseball – God Bless America! 

It’s a tough one for those of us split between two countries.  On one hand, we’re celebrating the birth of a nation – on the other, we’re celebrating freedom from British rule.  I have a British husband, so you can imagine the jokes that fly around our family!  But I believe that both countries have huge amounts of respect and interest in each other.  Back in 1776, it was time to end the American Revolution and let the original colonies be independent. Although the war went on for another seven years, on July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence from Great Britain’s rule.  The Declaration of Independence was ratified on the fourth.  There is some historical debate on whether that is true, but no alternate theories here – the 4th of July is America’s Independence Day! 

As a child, it represented the first big weekend of summer.  Schools typically break up in the USA between the end of May and mid-June, so summer activities were in full flow, but everything stopped for the 4th of July.  Depending on when it fell, either the weekend before or after would be packed with family fun.  We were always involved with the local parade which included the whole community.  If you weren’t in the parade you lined the street waving flags, hoping to grab a treat that might be thrown from a marcher!  Then it was on to a good old family style BBQ.  Burgers, hotdogs and corn on the cob straight off the grill. I honestly dream about that corn – fresh from Midwest fields, dripping in butter. It’s as much a part of my Fourth of July as waving flags and sparklers!

Fourth of July as waving flags and sparklers

Evening Events

This brings me to evening events.  We’d all gather at the appointed family members’ home for an evening of backyard games, more food and ultimately fireworks.  Invariably, we’d fire a few rounds of our own that an uncle brought from a local stand while all the kids always ran around the garden with lighted sticks actively spewing sparks.  Of course, one of us would either be afraid and drop the ignited stick on the ground or get burned while the adults continued lighting roman candles and keeping fingers crossed that nothing flew over the neighbour’s fence!  It was the 1970s,  so don’t judge!  Then it was time for proper pyrotechnics!  Some years we’d watch local displays from the comfort of our own lounge chairs in the yard.  Other years, we braved traffic and crowds for an amazing vantage point along Lake Michigan.

Family Reunion


In my adult years, our family would undertake a huge reunion every other Fourth of July and religiously those of us who no longer resided in Wisconsin would flock home.  Ultimately, the Fourth of July is as much about celebrating family and friends and summer as it is about celebrating America’s birthday.  Don’t get me wrong – there is always a red, white and blue cake, but it’s more than just being American – it’s about the people we love, what we appreciate about living in a democracy and what we are thankful for. That’s Thanksgiving too, but one holiday at a time!  The funny thing is – every American I know loves all things British.  The Queen, Buckingham Palace, the accents, the pomp and circumstance…the list goes on.  The more I think about it, the more I realise – the Fourth of July today has very little to do with celebrating our break from Britain and more to do with bringing a nation together to honour where we came from and think about where we’re going.  Like any country, we’ve got our issues, but hopefully we’ll reflect, regroup and re-emerge stronger than ever.

I know I will be with my family in spirit and chances are I will wear stars and stripes to the office on the 4th. You can take the girl out of America…..

Theresa Wilson Celebrating 4th July
Theresa Wilson

5 Top Honeymoon Destinations in the USA for 2017

America honeymoon ideas and inspiration for the trip of a lifetime, with destinations including Hawaii, New York and California.

A honeymoon is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, marking the start of an exciting new chapter in life, and typically the end of a lot of wedding planning! The destination you choose for your holiday is a personal choice that reflects you and your partner – are you looking for something relaxed, active, adventurous, luxurious, scenic, secluded or exotic? Every couple will want something slightly different from their special trip to match their tastes and celebrate their relationship.

At Bon Voyage we have seen many happy newlyweds jet off after planning their honeymoons to the America and Canada, and they come back wishing they could do it all again. Here are 5 incredible honeymoon destinations in the USA to inspire you. If you’re looking for a tailored trip, or you need help and advice, our honeymoon experts are happy to help. Get in touch today.

Hawaiihawaii beach letterbox

Aloha! Hawaii is a honeymoon destination to remember, and whilst many are drawn in by the beautiful beaches with their white sands and turquoise waters, the exotic islands are rich in culture and offer something for everyone. From Maui to Molokai, there’s eight main Hawaiian Islands, six of which are open to visitors. Each island is different, and for the best trip we would recommend some island hopping – after all, if you’re going to make the 17+ hours trip from London, you should ensure you have a good itinerary.When you arrive in Hawaii you’ll be greeted by friendly people, vibrant culture, natural beauty and unique surroundings. You won’t find all-inclusive resorts, so enjoy mixing with the locals and exploring the islands. Zip line through waterfalls, see lava trickling down volcanoes, swim with manta ray or simply relax on the beach, or by the pool.

A Hawaii honeymoon can also allow you to tick off another US destination as a stopover to break up the long trip. Popular choices include San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but at Bon Voyage the USA is our oyster, so speak to us if you have a particular stopover destination in mind and we’ll try our best to make it happen.

New York 5th Avenue

If you’d rather spend your honeymoon visiting iconic attractions, shopping in some of the best stores in the world, eating anything and everything your heart desires and exploring the city that never sleeps – New York is the place for you. Appealing to those who would rather revel in the charming culture of Coney Island’s beaches, than sit and sunbathe all day, New York has much more to offer than just the obvious attractions. Whilst Central Park, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and Times Square should all play a part in your New York adventure, the city can also offer luxury and romance.

At Bon Voyage we’ve sent many newlyweds on their way to marital bliss via New York City and they’ve come back deeply in love – with the city!

A popular choice due to how flexible you can be on budgets, time and exactly what you’re looking for, New York honeymoons can cater to any requirements. Horse drawn carriage at sunset through Central Park? Check. Helicopter ride over the city? Check. Michelin-starred fine dining? Check. Slice of pizza as big as your head at 3am? Check. New York has it all.

FloridaFL Keys 2 pairs of feet



This may strike you as a family holiday destination, but Florida is also a great honeymoon destination. The sunshine state has it all, and whilst you can kick things off with a visit to the theme parks in Orlando, there’s a lot more on offer. Head to Miami and enjoy the bustling music and club scene on South Beach, or rent a convertible and take the scenic ocean-view drive down to Florida Keys.

When it comes to accommodation, you can pick from small and intimate, or huge resort style hotels, holiday homes or luxury villas with private swimming pools.

Couples who have honeymooned in Florida have praised the laid back vibe, beautiful beaches and the breathtaking coastal sunsets. There’s also a whole host of jazz clubs, one-of-a-kind shops and of course, all the fantastic food you could hope for.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas sign & showgirls

Viva Las Vegas! Whilst some attach a Vegas honeymoon onto the end of their Vegas wedding, many others head there to enjoy the glitz and glamour – and there’s really no place like it! Vegas is known for its incredible hotels, boasting 17 of the 20 biggest hotels in the USA. The best thing about Vegas hotels, other than their impressive themes and incredible size, can be the value for money. Because much of their revenue comes from the casinos, rather than the rooms, it’s the best place to treat yourself to 5* luxury. Perfect for your honeymoon!

We recommend you head there for a Sunday to Thursday trip if you can as it tends to be cheaper and less busy mid week. Accommodation in the middle of the strip is best, but even then you’ll find yourself doing a lot of walking.

When it comes to Vegas it can pay to be organised; book shows in advance and plan some time to enjoy a day off the strip with a visit to Red Rock Canyon or a helicopter to The Grand Canyon.


Golden Gate suspension Bridge in San Francisco, California

The Golden State of California offers everything from the bright lights of Hollywood, through to the natural beauty of the National Parks such as Yosemite. Whether you drive the scenic coastal road, or just visit a few handpicked places, there’s something for everyone.

One of our favourite ways to enjoy a California honeymoon is to take the breathtaking drive down the coast, starting in San Francisco. Spend a few days exploring the city before you head south through San Jose, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and Malibu. Ending your trip in San Diego allows you to choose from staying downtown in the charming Gaslamp Quarter, or along the beautiful water.

If you’re partial to a glass of wine, you must visit Napa Valley for wine tasting. This can be done from San Francisco and there’s a few options available, including a guided tour, or taking the Napa Valley Wine Train. There’s also a lot to do and see inland, including Palm Springs and Yosemite National Park where you can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, swimming, rafting, or just take in the sights and have a picnic.

Whatever you want from your honeymoon, it’s important to be organised. The last thing you want is something else to worry about with a wedding on the horizon. Speak to a USA expert at Bon Voyage today.

New York City – take a bite of “The Big Apple”

A Bite of The Apple…where to eat, shop and stay

If you book an American city break anywhere this year, it simply has to be New York City. The Big Apple sees millions of tourists flock to its streets every year, in search of that buzz that only New York can give.

The city that never sleeps is full of bright lights, restaurants, bars, skyscrapers and iconic landmarks. One thing’s for sure; you certainly won’t find anywhere quite like New York.

Where to eat in New York

This is a tricky one because there really are SO many different options available to you. A lot of tourists tend to flock to Times Square and seek out the big names that they already know and love. However, you will also find that many people (particularly the locals) will head off down the side streets and away from the bright lights to the little, independent restaurants that nobody outside of New York has ever heard of. Of course, you don’t want to forget about some of the amazing food you can grab on the go. And no, we’re not talking about a typical McDonald’s. Try to sample a bit of everything and you’ll be sure to leave New York feeling full up and satisfied.

If you want some reliable American cuisine, make sure you go to the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. The inevitable long wait for a table is made easier by the rock memorabilia that adorns the walls. Failing that, one of the classic Hard Rock burgers and a cocktail will do the trick.

Some other fail safes are the Red Lobster or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. – both of which can be found right in the middle of Times Square. If you’re into seafood, you can be sure of a good meal at both of these chain restaurants.

For some good, old-fashioned street food, try Los Tacos No. 1 in Chelsea Market. Have a wander around the stalls and grab a taco for lunch – you won’t be disappointed. Los Tacos 21, NYCThis taco bar is one of the very best eateries in the whole of New York city! There are also numerous pizza joints around the city, any one of which is guaranteed to give you a generous slice for an amazing price. Try Capizzi in Hell’s Kitchen for one of the best pizza and beer snack stops in town.

New York also has hundreds – if not thousands – of individual restaurants with something for everyone. Whether you want a traditional steakhouse or some authentic Chinese food, head to the independents for a real taste of the city. Daniel on 65th Street specialises in experience dining, so if you want to blow the budget and have an amazing meal out, be sure to check out this French restaurant. Alternatively, Club A Steakhouse on East 58th Street has rave reviews on TripAdvisor and is one of the best ranked restaurants in the city. If you want a classic American steak, this really is the only place to go.

Where to shop in New York

New York is a mecca for shoppers and you can’t pay a visit to the Big Apple without hitting infamous Fifth Avenue. Featuring the very best in high street and designer stores, the main street through Manhattan is home to the likes of Tiffany & Co., Harry Winston, Chanel and of course, Saks Fifth Avenue. There really is no better place to spend your holiday dollars than the shopping heart of the world.

If you’re on a tighter budget but still love the designer labels, be sure to visit Century 21 in Lower Manhattan. Century 21 Department Store in New YorkThis outlet store has your favourite designer brands for a fraction of the cost; perfect if you want to treat someone back home or just go all out for yourself.

You may find yourself with a bit of spare time on your hands, in which case take a bus upstate to the Woodbury Common Premium Outlet. It’s about an hour out-of-town, but worth the drive as you can buy a suitcase there and then fill it with all your new purchases. If shopping is your main priority, Woodbury Common is a must-see; over 200 stores with amazing discounts cannot be ignored by a true shopaholic!Woodbury Common Outlets

Where to stay in New York

New York has several iconic hotels that you can stay in; it’s just a matter of choosing one. Many of them are located in the centre of Manhattan, making it easy to get around to the different boroughs. If you want a truly luxurious, classic hotel, the only place to stay is the New York Palace. Featured in several hit television shows, The Palace has over 800 guest rooms and more than 80 suites. Situated directly opposite St. Patrick’s Cathedral on the corner of 50th Street and Madison Avenue, it’s in a great location for getting all over the city.

Or why not relive the infamous Home Alone 2 movie and stay at The Plaza on Central Park? This grand hotel is a landmark in its own right and has everything to offer – including spectacular views of the park. Whether you’re on a romantic break away or a fun weekend with friends, the Plaza can cater to every need and give you the experience of a lifetime.

Alternatively, if you want something super modern and a bit different, check in to Ink48 in Hell’s Kitchen where you’ll find stunning views over the Hudson River.

Rooftop Cocktail lounge at Ink 48, New York
Drinks with a view at Ink 48

This hotel boasts spacious rooms and something unique amongst the skyscrapers of the city – perfect for a little bit of escapism and we love it!

So now you have a list of some of the best places to eat, shop and stay, you just need to work out what you want to see on your trip. With so much on offer in New York, you’ll be spoilt for choice; the Empire State Building, Top Of The Rock, World Trade Center, Liberty Island, Museum Mile and the Brooklyn Bridge are all must-visit locations. 911 Memorial in New YorkWe’d recommend making an itinerary of the places you want to visit, so that you can fit everything in and won’t miss anything along the way. Oh, and don’t forget your camera – you’ll want to capture your New York memories forever.

Bon Voyage has been arranging trips to New York for over thirty years, both as a city break and part of a multi-centre holiday.