When I think of Montana, I think of mountains and rivers, glaciers and prairie, cowboys and grizzlies.
Our upcoming trip will not focus on any of those things.
Instead, we will be touring cement plants and factories, dams and bridges, historic forts and industrial ruins.
Traveling to Montana with Miles and Points — Not!
We will be participating in the Society for Industrial Archeology’s Fall Tour. When we saw that Great Falls, Montana was the site for this year’s tour, we signed up right away. My sister lives in nearby Helena. This will be a great opportunity to see my sister and her family!
We will not be utilizing miles or points for this trip. We’ll be flying in to Great Falls, and out of Helena. I could not find a decent itinerary using frequent flyer miles.
I was very excited however, to see the Staybridge Suites in Great Falls on the IHG “points break” list for this fall. This is a new hotel that is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor’s ranking of hotels in Great Falls. 5,000 IHG points per night would be a nice bargain.
Where to Stay in Great Falls, Montana
We decided against the Staybridge Suites, because we wanted to stay at the conference hotel.
In the olden days before the internet, you could pick up lots of great tourist information and maps at various international tourism offices in New York.
Walking down Fifth Avenue on our way to JNTO, we passed the main entrance of the New York Public Library and stopped. I had never been inside the library to see the iconic Reading Room. We were there. We had to go in.
It turned out that the Reading Room was closed to the public due to ongoing repairs. I asked the lady at the information desk what other parts of the library we should see, and she encouraged us to sign up for the free building tour. So we did.
Free Building Tours of the New York Public Library
The tour guide was terrific. We got to see the Periodicals Room, the Map Room, and learn about the history of the library and the history of New York City. We never made it to JNTO, but this was a most worthwhile detour.
The New York Public Library offers free one-hour tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays to Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays (except during the summer.) Sign up at the reception desk in Astor Hall.
By the way, if you are in New York at Christmastime, the New York Public Library displays an enormous Christmas tree, decorated with beautiful birds. There were lots of people taking family photos in front of the tree.
Free Ice Skating at Bryant Park
While you are in the vicinity, you might want to try out the free ice skating in Bryant Park, which is right behind the library. There is a large skating rink and during the holiday season the park is ringed with vendors like a European Christmas market. If you need to rent skates the cost is $15. Compare that to Rockefeller Center where admission is $12 for adults, $15 for children, and skate rental is $12.
The rink at Bryant Park is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day from late October through through March 1, 2015.
Juggling Class and More at Bryant Park
Bryant Park offers lots of other free entertainment: Ping pong; juggling classes; Tai Chi; fitness club; and more.
Take a ride on Le Carrousel, which plays French cabaret music. It costs $3 per ride, or $15 for ten tickets. There is no charge for parents to ride alongside their small children.
On Saturday February 14, 2015 at 1 p.m. there will be a free Mardi Gras celebration at Le Carrousel, featuring a Cajun band and a magician.
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I can’t tell you how many reports I’ve read about the Andaz Fifth Avenue on other miles and points blogs. They all praise the view of the New York Public Library.
Next time you are passing by, I suggest you go in.
We stumbled upon India House in Sandy, Utah via one of those restaurant business card displays you often see in hotel lobbies. They were offering a 10 or 15 percent discount, so we thought we’d give it a try. Sandy is about 15 minutes south of downtown Salt Lake City.
If you are traveling along the I-15 corridor in Utah you will find a lot of chain hotels and franchise restaurants. Think Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, or Chili’s. At home and when traveling, we prefer small, local, ethnic restaurants, whether Thai, Afghan, Indian, Mexican, or whatever.
India House is an unassuming family run restaurant, with the most diverse selection of naan I have ever seen. They run a lunch buffet on weekdays for $8.99, including soup, salad, dessert and an array of fragrant vegetarian selections and chicken kormas. You can also order from the menu. The dishes are flavorful and reasonably priced.
I can recommend the Peshwari Naan — a homemade bread with a marzipan like filling. The lamb saag and butter chicken are delightful too.
1) It is part of at the Rewards Dining program — allowing you to earn frequent flyer miles for eating out.
2) It is next door to an eclectic antique consignment shop — really 20 shops in one as they rent space to various vendors.
Earn 2,500 Delta SkyMiles Miles for Eating at India House in Salt Lake City
It was a great surprise to discover that we had earned United Mileage Plus frequent flyer miles for our lunch at India House. This restaurant participates in the Rewards Dining network. You can register to earn miles with your choice of frequent flyer programs.
Early in the year is a good time to take advantage of bonus offers for signing up with various Rewards Dining programs. Different airlines have different offers. The most lucrative offer right now for new sign-ups is with the Delta Skymiles rewards dining program.
New members of the Delta Rewards Dining program earn 2,500 bonus miles after spending $30 at a participating restaurant. Register by March 1, 2015.
Salt Lake City is a Delta hub so 2,500 Skymiles could come in handy.
Sandy Antique Mall
The Sandy Antique Mall is next door to India House. It’s an agglomeration of several buildings that seem to go on forever.
Vendors specializing in everything from vintage clothing and jewelry to antique furniture and gadgets have “booths” here.
It’s fun to browse because you never know what you might find.
Many of the restaurants in the Rewards Dining program are unremarkable but India House is definitely worth seeking out.
Do you participate in the Rewards Dining programs?
Twenty Los Angeles area museums open their doors to the public on Saturday January 31, 2015 for the tenth annual Museum Free-for-All.
The list of participating venues includes diverse art, cultural heritage, natural history, and science museums.
There are a number of top attractions participating — such as the Los Angeles Museum of Art and the California Science Center, but if I had my druthers I would head over the the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Kids love dinosaurs and what could be better than an active excavation site for dinosaur fossils? We spent half a day at the Tar Pits when we last visited LA with our then school-aged daughter. Regular admission is $15 per adult and $8 per child, so free admission is a really great deal for families!
Los Angeles Museums Participating in 2015 Free-for-All
Here are links to the museums that are participating in this year’s open houses. The Jan. 31 offer is good for general admission only and does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions.