As we are about to book another trip to Chicago, I realized I never actually published my first post about Alinea below.
Alinea, what a dreamy place! You know in a top ten restaurant off the World’s Best list that your meal will be otherworldly, and our experience was no exception. The service was extremely friendly and fun–a big part of what made the meal enjoyable, and the dishes were so imaginative and thoughtful.
There were so many moments where I felt like a giddy, excited, and fascinated kid in a science lab. Setting high expectations can be a bad game to play with food, but this met them all. Alinea was food on another level. I don’t want to write too much and give it away, but if you need more convincing research the green apple balloon!
Oh, JetBlue, I really love you some times! There was this great fare sale flying JetBlue out of New York to various domestic destinations. The tricky part about many airfare deals is that they are normally for sub-optimal days; you’ll likely not be able to buy your complete round trip on a deal for a strict weekend of Friday night to Sunday night. After making sure there would be reasonable flights to return home Sunday, I snagged $30 Saturday morning tickets to Tampa for a quick weekend adventure. Luckily for us, we are pretty flexible and willing to pull the trigger quickly; various routes sold out very quickly and the sale ended by 4pm!
Ryan and I had some pretty good options to come home: $200 if we wanted a late night flight, $140 for a lunch flight, and only 8k points last minute to book a spare early morning Southwest flight in case of evening inclement weather in New York. With a companion pass this was a real steal! These Southwest flights don’t show up in results on Kayak so if you are looking to do a price comparison always check Southwest just in case! In the case of NYC-TPA, there aren’t any direct Southwest flights, but considering its great no change fee policy, it was so convenient to book a last minute connecting flight to make sure I could get to work on Monday.
We landed Saturday afternoon, checked into the Sheraton Suites, which was a bargain on points (only 3,000 for a $300 night which is 10 cents per point), then went straight off to Busch Gardens. We preordered tickets with AAA which turned out to be cheaper than plum discounts or working advantage.
So it turns out, you only really need one afternoon as fast walking adults to do the entire park. Lines were pretty short in February–the longest we had to wait was 35 minutes (just enough time to get over our motion sickness from the last ride haha!).
We left the park around 5:30 to get to Clearwater Beach to watch the sunset and grab some seafood. The drive was spectacular!
I recommend the Clear Sky Cafe for simple well executed fresh seafood right next to the beach.
Sunday morning we headed back to the airport because there was bad weather in New York. Was the short trip worth it? It depends on how much you need the sunshine and like roller coasters! Next time I want to check out Big Cat Rescue and we’ll probably skip the park.
During our stay in Custer, SD, the closest hotel/motel town to Mount Rushmore, we were on the hunt for food (as always). We didn’t have terribly high expectations given our obnoxious NYer attitudes, but this spot was a real shocker! There was a lot of simple charm with fantastic service and lovely local art (like above).
I’d say it’s my second burger only to the Gramercy Tavern burger, and for a NY point of reference it was better than Five Napkin and Shake Shack! I ordered the double stack, one beef, one buffalo, which tasted a bit more flavorful but not too remarkable.
The price point fell right into the middle also–at a lovely $10 for a double burger (sans bun because I’m transitioning into paleo **cough cough** ignore those fries).
The desserts are all homemade, and this was also one of the best pies I’ve ever had. Perfectly sweet coconut custard and a bit of a sweet/salty crust, oh man I want more!
The cute wall outside
Black Hills Burger and Bun
29 N 5th St