Category Archives: Uncategorized

Charleston, South Carolina – ‘America’s Best Small City’*

Read Bill Bryson’s classic travelogue ‘The Lost Continent’ (Secker and Warburg) and you will find he can be both hilarious and rude about certain places in America.  He pours affectionate scorn on his home
town of Des Moines, Iowa and is none too complimentary about Carbondale, Illinois.  But when his road trip brings him to Charleston, he waxes lyrical: “I had thought that Savannah was the most becoming American city I had ever seen, but it thumped into second place soon after my arrival in Charleston.”  Bill loved the harbour, the promontory packed solid with beautiful old homes and the peaceful streets.  “I was enchanted,” he concludes.

And Mr Bryson is not alone in his admiration.  Centuries earlier the Marquis de Lafayette, the French aristocrat and military officer who fought in the American Revolutionary War, gave his verdict: “Charleston is perhaps the best built, handsomest, and most agreeable city that I have seen.”

Charleston carriage tour Courtesy of the Charleston Area CVB,

With its beautiful gardens, vibrantly painted Georgian houses along Rainbow Row, and carriages clacking across cobblestone streets, Charleston has long been considered one of America’s most charming cities. But, underneath its sleepy veneer, the city is known for its eclectic food offerings, a thriving theatre and cultural scene, bustling King Street, and historic City Market. An evening stroll along The Battery is the perfect way to end the day.

A guided walking tour is an ideal introduction.  You’ll learn about the city’s colonial past and how the first decisive victory of the Revolutionary War was fought in Charleston’s harbour. During the golden age of cotton, Charleston became the wealthiest city in the country but the shadow cast by imported slave labour is also an important part of the story.  

Pier 101 at nearby Folly Beach

Spring and autumn are ideal times to visit and Bon Voyage can tailor a fly/drive holiday to include Charleston and the Carolinas or south to include Bill Bryson’s second favourite city, Savannah in Georgia.
There are also a range of escorted tours that take in Charleston and you’ll find ideas and inspiration at
our website. 

The latest addition to our offerings is ‘Flavours of South Carolina’, a fly and self-drive journey with comfortable daily mileages so you can savour the feel and the food of the Palmetto state.  You’ll stay in inns, b&bs and resort hotels along the way and there are three days to explore Charleston. 

See the full itinerary here

*Voted by readers of Conde Nast Traveller magazine

The top 10 restaurants in the USA for foodies

Do you take the time to consider the best places to eat before you even get around to booking your holiday? Is the food a key priority for you when you head abroad? If so, the USA is the place to go. A haven for any self-confessed foodie, America has a wealth of different cuisines on offer. So many in fact, that an entire TV show was devoted to it. Off the back of the success of Man vs Food, we take a look at some of the best eateries in America (in our humble opinion). Then the onus is on you to visit yourself!


Daniel – New York, New York

This French restaurant in the Upper East Side is frequently found at the top of the list for the best eateries across Manhattan, having gained two Michelin stars. The contemporary feel coupled with great food created by head chef Daniel Boulud makes this a favourite among the locals and tourists alike. Be sure to try the Panda Swizzle cocktail to perfectly finish what will undoubtedly be a night to remember. Daniel new York

Bazaar Meat by José Andrés – SLS Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada

Satisfy your inner carnivore with the incredible choice on offer at Bazaar Meat in the SLS. Chef José Andrés offers a wild, wonderful experience with fun cuisine. Meat is at the heart of this restaurant with guests being able to see the chefs at work, as they create all manner of weird and wacky dishes such as Cotton Candy Foie Gras. The pièce de résistance is the whole suckling pig available by preorder only. If you want a classic American steak in Las Vegas, Bazaar Meat is the place to go.FireKitchenWeb

Gino’s East – Chicago, Illinois

When in Chicago, only a deep-dish pizza will do. For that authentic, real American-Italian pie, there’s nowhere else but Gino’s East. While enjoying fame brought by Adam Richman, Gino’s East really doesn’t need any further introduction. Handmade, fresh ingredients set these pizzas apart from the rest. Make sure you engrave your own message into the now infamous stucco walls and be a part of history.Ginos East Chicago

Primanti Brothers – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Although not the most obvious holiday destination, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania actually has a lot to offer. If you’re on a road trip across America, then stop off at the Primanti Bros. They’ve been making sandwiches for over 70 years and we don’t think anybody does it better. Their calling card is soft Italian bread, stuffed with crunchy coleslaw and a pile of French fries with whatever filling you fancy. These are no ordinary sandwiches, so tuck in with both hands and be sure to take a picture – it’ll last longer!Primanti bros

Erling Jensen – Memphis, Tennessee

If you’re looking for something a little bit special, head to Erling Jensen’s restaurant in the heart of Memphis. Perfect for anniversaries or final nights, this varied menu brings a touch of luxury to good southern food. Lobster pancakes, mountain elk and Kahlua soufflé all feature on the main menu, while the bar offers delectable treats if you want something a little lighter. The ambience and service is at the centre of Erling Jensen’s restaurant, so expect to walk away with a fantastic experience.erling jensen memphis

Vortex Bar & Grill – Atlanta, Georgia

This all-American institution has an extensive and controversial set of rules. They are an Official Idiot-Free Zone and they are all about having a good time. Their Laughing Skull structure has become an Atlanta landmark and this family owned bar and grill serves some of the best burgers in the state! Vortex has won several awards for Best Burger and it continues to this day to be one of the best places to get a classic, American burger. Whatever toppings you fancy, it’s likely you’ll find it on this menu. Just make sure you don’t wind up the staff!vortex bar and grill

Mama’s Fish House – Paia, Hawaii

If you’re on your honeymoon in Hawaii, or have simply tacked this stunning state onto the end of your holiday to the USA, make sure you grab a table at Mama’s Fish House in Paia. This family-run establishment has become one of the best places in Hawaii to get fresh fish, caught by the restaurant’s own fishermen every day. The menu even names the fisherman responsible for the catch and where it was caught. With a varied menu containing things like ahi, ehu and opakapaka, you won’t find a more exciting or fresh menu than at Mama’s.mamas fish house

Taylor Oyster Bar – Seattle, Washington

While we’re on the topic of seafood, be sure to check out Taylor Oyster Bar in the centre of Seattle. This is definitely one of the more casual eateries on our list, but it’s by no means any less amazing. As well as serving oysters (obviously), Taylor Oyster Bar also offers up geoduck, crab, mussels and clams, along with an array of beers and other beverages to wash everything down with. For a unique take on fast food, make sure this is a stop on your holiday in Seattle. Taylors

Munchies 4:20 Cafe – Sarasota, Florida

This cafe was created after a couple of guys wanted food in the small hours at the end of a great night out. They realised there were no options at the time and thus Munchies 4:20 Cafe was opened, serving food until – yep, you guessed it – 4.20am! You can expect the usual American classics like hot dogs, burgers and the now somewhat famous Fat Sandwiches. If you’ve got the munchies after a hectic night or the Florida heat causes you to make a pit stop, make sure Munchies is your first port of call.Munchies-420-Cafe

N/Naka – Los Angeles, California

LA is famed for offering all sorts of cuisine and this Japanese restaurant is one of the finest. N/Naka serves vegetables from its own vegetable garden and presentation is immaculate at all times. Thirteen course menus are available with optional wine pairings, so if you want something special and unique, you can guarantee that you’ll get great service and even better food. These tasting menus are fantastic if you’re after the experience as much as the cuisine itself. N Naka

So there you have it. Our list of the top ten best places to eat across the USA. This list is by no means exhaustive – there really are way too many eateries to narrow it down to a specific list, but this is our pick of some of the best ones. They’ve featured on TV programmes, have won awards and boast world-class chefs, so whichever places you pick, you’ll be sure of an amazing meal.

If you’d like more ideas on places to eat or if you’re planning a holiday to America, let Bon Voyage help. We’ll be able to recommend great excursions, destinations and of course, restaurants – all based on our personal experiences, so give us a call now and book your holiday to the USA with us.

The Harry Potter bucket list

When the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Universal Orlando resort in 2010, the fans went mad. For so long, they had waited for Harry’s world to become real and they were finally starting to see their dreams come true. Harry Potter Wizarding World

Since then, it’s expanded to become a double attraction in two interlinking parks, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the Harry Potter experience. So what are the must do’s at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando?

Choose your wand

As Ollivander said, the wand chooses the wizard, so when you step into his shop in Diagon Alley, be prepared for an interactive experience. A Wandkeeper will hand you a selection of wands, so you can choose the right one – or rather, the wand can choose you. Harry Potter Ollivanders

Who knows whether you’ll end up with dragon heartstring like Hermione, or unicorn hair like Ron? Find out at Ollivander’s and purchase the wand that chooses you. Don’t forget to use your map and find out where you can cast real spells around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade!

Visit Hogsmeade first

With the two sections of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter now being interlinked, you’re best off starting your adventure in Hogsmeade. The Florida heat is punishing, so as the day wears on, you’ll want to head for cooler areas, which leads you nicely to Diagon Alley. Harry Potter Hogwarts ExpressCatch the Hogwarts Express and you’ll find it’s a little bit cooler on your arrival to Diagon Alley, with areas designed to keep the witches and wizards at a more comfortable temperature.

Exchange your money at Gringotts

The world famous wizard bank allows you to trade in your Muggle money for Gringotts banknotes. Head to Carkitt Market, enter the bank and speak to the goblin awaiting you. Ask him anything you like and he’ll give you an answer. Harry Potter Diagon AlleyOnce you’ve got your wizard money, you can spend it almost anywhere within the Universal parks, so head over to the Three Broomsticks for a drink.

Grab a bite to eat at the Leaky Cauldron

You can eat at either the pub in Diagon Alley or the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade – both serve traditional British pub food. Make sure you wash it down with a good old butterbeer as well. You can choose to have it warm, cold or frozen, giving you three very different versions of this wizarding favourite. If you’re feeling brave, try a Green Fishy Ale from the Hopping Pot in Diagon Alley. It looks a tad strange, but tastes amazing!

Fly with dragons

Harry Potter roller coaster HippogriffNot for the faint-hearted, the Dragon Challenge sees a Chinese Fireball and Hungarian Horntail race each other through the sky. These dual roller coasters will make you feel like you’re riding a dragon as they twist and turn, flipping you every which way. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, the Dragon Challenge should be at the top of your bucket list.

Go shopping

You can visit the dark and mysterious Knockturn Alley and see the vanishing cabinet in Borgin and Burkes, or pop into Dervish and Banges for all of your Hogwarts essentials like robes and your copy of the ‘Monster Book of Monsters’. Take a stroll to Honeydukes, where you can stock up on your favourites like Fizzing Whizbees, Chocolate Frogs and of course, Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans. Finish the day with Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, the ONLY place to buy all of your joke gifts and gadgets!

Harry Potter Hogwarts CastleThe Wizarding World of Harry Potter brings the magic to life for everyone both young and old. Whether you’re going with your family, as a couple or even with a group of friends, you’ll be fascinated, amazed and completely hooked by everything that Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley has to offer. Be sure to book the park-to-park tickets for Universal, so that you can absorb every single bit of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and make it a core part of your holiday to Florida.

Bon Voyage can help you with booking your holiday of a lifetime to Florida and we’ll recommend the best hotels to stay in, the best restaurants to eat in, and even give you a recommended itinerary so that you can squeeze in everything Orlando has to offer. To book your 2016 Florida holiday, or for a last-minute trip this year, contact Bon Voyage and one of our holiday specialists will tell you everything you need to know.

The Day I stalked Al Roker

Theresa Young is Bon Voyage’s own resident American and our Business Development Manager.  She has lived in the UK for 15 years and this is her perspective on the Queen’s Jubilee………with, of course, a Yankee twist! 

I have to start with an apology as I believe this blog may be lost on 87% of the UK public, to whom the name Al Roker will mean nothing .  For the other 13% and various Americans who might stumble on this, you will know Al as the affable weatherman/co-host on NBC’s Today Show.  And, for the past few years, Al has had his own show on the Weather Channel too. Continue reading The Day I stalked Al Roker

A Weekend in Washington

Bon Voyage Director, Phil Newcombe, revisits Washington D.C. for the first time in more than a decade to see what all the fuss is about. He discovers that things certainly “ain’t what the used to be”.

OK. Hands up all those who knew what an outstanding city Washington DC has become. Anyone? Just a few of you then – thanks for keeping that little nugget to yourselves! Continue reading A Weekend in Washington