Mission Inn Hotel: Escape to Spain without leaving California

Southern California is home to a number of beautiful and unique experiences. It’s easy to see why people flock to this destination no matter what time of year it is. And one of the best hidden gems of Southern California is in Riverside County. The Mission Inn Hotel offers an incredibly unique hotel and spa experience for its guests. The hotel itself resembles a mission that was taken directly out of the hills of Spain. You’ve seen the hype over social media, now it’s time to answer the question: Is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

Mission Inn Hotel front entrance with bells

More about this Spanish-style hotel in California

You may be thinking to yourself “what’s there to do in Riverside?” Honestly – nothing. It’s one of those places that has a few noteworthy things and that’s about it. But the Mission Inn Hotel calls Riverside home. Part of the Historic Hotels of America, this hotel and spa transports you directly to Spain without leaving California. And sure, you could think to yourself “ok but every hotel claims to transport you somewhere.” And you’re right – it’s an overused sales tactic. But not when it’s completely warranted like in the case of this hotel.

The Mission Inn Hotel is a hidden gem that offers an enchanting escape from the ordinary. Its awe-inspiring architecture, blending Spanish, Mediterranean, Moorish, and Mission Revival styles, creates a unique ambiance that feels like a journey around the world. Lush gardens and courtyards add to the magical atmosphere, making guests feel like they’ve stepped into a secret oasis. With a rich history that has hosted presidents and celebrities, the Mission Inn Hotel is not just a luxurious accommodation but also a captivating landmark worth exploring.

Top view of the Mission Inn Hotel looking in to courtyard

Rooms and amenities at the Mission Inn Hotel

One of the most incredible things about this hotel is that every single room is different from the next. This allows each stay you make here unique from the last. Getting to your room will be quite the journey. Because this hotel is spacious, getting to your room will only spark your interest in wandering throughout the rest of the resort.

The most iconic, Instagram-worthy photo opportunities is the one that overlooks the top floor of the hotel down in to the courtyard that has their main restaurant. The Mission Inn Hotel’s main restaurant is quite picturesque as it looks towards the beautiful architecture and sky. However because it is on property, it is pretty pricey. There are other lounges on property as well to grab a bite and some drinks if this restaurant is too much.

The Mission Inn Hotel is also home to a top notch spa. Because what does every vacation need? Some epic relaxation. You can also catch some rays out by the pool. But the pool isn’t much to write home about. It’s just a normal pool. There are some lounge chairs but because it is a smaller area, there aren’t many.

Mission Inn Hotel main courtyard restaurant

Our (less than) magical experience at Mission Inn

Room #1 – no AC and cold shower

My husband and I stayed at the Mission Inn Hotel as our after-wedding destination. We booked the Mission King room for two nights in late June. Since we arrived around 11pm, the only thing we did was go directly to the room to turn in. Our room was absolutely iconic. I loved the layout, the furniture, and the bathroom. However, the AC didn’t work, the shower was clogged and never went to hot, and there was a bar on the walkway below us that was blasting music and setting off sirens until 2am. To be clear, the bar was not associated with the hotel. However, for a couple that was tired and sweaty from the day’s festivities, this was not ideal. Especially when the days get to about 105 degrees and the nights aren’t much cooler.

We called someone to fix it, they tried and failed so we took a cold shower and went to sleep in a hot room. The next morning, the hotel staff tried again to fix the problems but ultimately were not successful. We asked to change rooms since these things weren’t fixed and they agreed to move us into another room after 3pm when the rooms would be cleaned.

Room #2 – felt like a downgrade

When we got into our second room at the Mission Inn Hotel, it was completely different from our first room. I knew going in to the hotel that every single room is different from one another. And honestly, I LOVE that! That really makes me want to come back for another trip to see what other rooms look like as well. We were told it was the same room type as the one we had booked, but it didn’t feel like it. The ceilings were much shorter. The bathroom was much smaller. And overall, it just seemed a little more outdated than the first. Still a nice room, but I just preferred the first one more.

However, a redeeming quality of this room was that it was not right above that noisy bar. And it also had a lovely outdoor sitting area steps away from our room door. So my husband and I had a great time eating some macarons and enjoying the night outside.

Champagne brought to hotel room bed

Charged for a bottle we didn’t ask for

My husband had also requested/purchased a bottle of champagne be sent to our room for us to celebrate. When it arrived, there was champagne AND a really nice bottle of white wine. Thinking that this bottle of wine was complimentary because we were newlyweds and because of the room fiascos, we drank it. However when we checked out, we noticed that this bottle of wine was also charged to our room. My husband, very kindly, tried to remedy it at the front desk saying that we only ordered the champagne. The front desk apologized, but said that unfortunately they could not do anything for us since we drank it.

It may have been presumptuous of us to assume this bottle was for free. So we will take responsibility for that. We should have asked why this bottle was sent. And we didn’t try fighting it past them apologizing for the mistake. Call it the after-wedding high, but yea we weren’t looking to be a couple of Karens! The only thing I will say is that I do find it a little misleading for them to just be sending bottles of wine that people didn’t ask for. But at the end of the day, no one died and the wine was pretty good.

Mission Inn Hotel at night with the twinkling lights

Honest review of the Mission Inn Hotel

Truthfully despite the downers of our stay, we both still really enjoyed staying at this resort. The staff was friendly. The hotel itself is ginormous and easy to wander around. And I personally loved the parrots that they had on property as a part of their history. I fully expect us to make our way back to the Mission inn Hotel again at some point. Hopefully next time, we won’t have as many hiccups!

Even if you can’t stay the night, you can check out Mission Inn Hotel’s Festival of Lights! It is one of their most popular times of the year. And arguably the most beautiful time to see the hotel.


Save on these Walt Disney World Tickets

With every Disney update, Disney fans everywhere hold their breath on what it will do to ticket prices. But there are great ways to grab your tickets without succumbing to insane credit card debt. For example. Walt Disney World Resort tickets and vacation packages are easier than ever to book with Get Away Today! Even for your hotels too. Hotel prices are getting wildly absurd. Plus, often times they are where we start compromising on quality to just get a better price. So how can Get Away Today really help in this regard?

Save big money with Get Away Today

You can save on both on and off-site Walt Disney World Resort Hotels at getawaytoday.com for 2023 AND 2024 travel. Plus, you’ll save the most when they take advantage of Walt Disney World Resort ticket specials like:

UPDATE: Walt Disney World tickets and packages

Get Away Today also was recently updated on the Walt Disney World tickets and packages that they offer. Their tickets and packages now fall more in line with their Disneyland Resort packages and should make it easier for you to know what to expect on both coasts.

  • Get Away Today’s Walt Disney World Resort vacation packages can now be completely booked on our website. That’s right; no cumbersome quotes needed! You can compare all of their favorite Walt Disney World Resort hotels and their hand selected off-property hotels all in a few clicks. You can then customize your included ticket for the perfect vacation.
  • Get Away Today’s Walt Disney World Resort vacation packages now have the option to add Layaway Plans, which allow guests to pay the total balance up to eight days prior to travel.
  • Guests can also now add Get Away Today’s popular Peace of Mind Plan when booking a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel, which allows any reschedules and cancellations up to five days prior to travel with no penalty.
  • All Walt Disney World Resort on-site packages include Get Away Today’s e-concierge, which includes our Best Price Guarantee, Dining Reservation Reminders, access to our Concierge Team email for help before and during your vacation, and more.

Why choose Get Away Today

I think a better question would be, why wouldn’t you? Cliche, I know. But in the pursuit of saving money, you have to take what you can get! And if the main mouse himself isn’t lowering the prices, then you have to look elsewhere. Places like Get Away Today are helping you do just that. And if you’re looking for the best Disney ticket prices, then they are the place to look. But they also offer other vacation destinations as well so definitely give them a look for other vacation plans too!


Top Tips for Traveling with Your Dog

More people are taking their dogs on vacation with them. Especially since 2020! Families just don’t want to leave their furry best friends behind. As such, they’ve adapted the way that they plan their vacations. If you’re thinking about planning a trip with your furry companion, you’ll be pleased to know there are many ways to make it easy. Are you ready to start traveling with your dog with ease.

1. Make sure you have updated vaccinations before traveling with your dog

This one is first because it’s the most important. Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations and rabies shots. New places means new chances for your dog to be exposed to something that could make them sick. And nothing will put a wrench in your travel plans like having to find emergency services for your pup. Not to mention the stress it will put on your dog for being in a strange place and not feeling well. Talk to your veterinarian before traveling with your dog to ensure that the places you are traveling to don’t require additional shots.

2. Get a dog-friendly app

There’s an app for everything, including traveling with your dog. Whether you’re going on a road trip or flying to a foreign country, there are apps that will allow you to locate dog parks, dog cafes, and pet-friendly places to stay and visit. For example, All Trails is an app that allows you to find the best trails for you and your dog to enjoy your walks.

Pet First Aid is another app that’s useful to download before your trip. In the event of an accident, it allows you to find the nearest vet or emergency pet hospital. There are so many apps you may find useful while on your travels so it will help to do your research before you go.

3. Look up pet friendly hotels

There are more pet friendly places to stay than ever before. Many people assume that if they’re planning a vacation to a certain place they’ll need to leave their dog at home because pets won’t be permitted in hotels or motels. The truth is, wherever you’re going, it’s likely there’s a pet friendly option.

For instance, California is well-known for its luscious beaches and surfing opportunities. If your dog likes jumping on the board with you, don’t leave him at home. There are many options for places to stay, like a motel in Turlock, which has tons of great beaches.

Additionally if you want something nicer, Millennium Hotels has pet-friendly resorts. Popular locations for them include the Biltmore Los Angeles, the Lakefront Anchorage, and the Grand Hotel Palace Rome. You can also get budget-friendly but still nice options with Hilton Hotels and Marriott Bonvoy.

Woman traveling with her dog in a pet carrier backpack

4. Take a pet carrier to travel with your dog

No matter what breed or size of dog you have, they may not want to explore for as long as you. There are many ways you can allow your dog to rest while you still explore your surroundings. Some people like to use dog pushchairs so their dog can lie down and rest.

Other people use pet carriers that look like backpacks. Simply slide your dog into a suit and place the carrier straps over your shoulders. If you have a large dog who is unsuited to pet carriers, you may need to plan your stops so your dog can get the rest they need.

5. Carry all dog essentials

Just like traveling with a child, you won’t be able to leave your hotel without the essentials. The first and foremost being your dog’s leash. Most places will insist that your dog is leashed at all times.

A collapsible dog bowl is ideal when exploring with your furry friend, especially in warm weather. Take a bottle of water with you and offer your dog plenty of fluid throughout the day. If you’re heading to the beach, it can also help to take an umbrella with you to offer your dog some shade should he need it.

If you are doing lots of adventuring or walking, you also may want to invest is dog booties. For hiking on rocky paths, this will help ensure their feet stay protected. Over if you are wandering through street after street, this will protect their pads from the hot pavement.

Dog traveling in the back of a van with a couple

6. Respect that others may not like dogs

A top tip to remember when traveling with your dog is that not all people like dogs. Unfortunately, there are many people who would rather not share the same space with dogs. Be mindful of others, especially young children who can be scared of even the smallest dog.

Keep your dog on a leash when you need to and keep a distance from other people. If others want to approach your dog, make sure your dog behaves well and remove your dog from any interaction that could over excite them or make them respond aggressively.

7. Adjust your insurance when traveling with your dog

If your dog is covered by medical insurance, you may need to inform your insurance provider that you’re traveling. In most cases, it won’t make a difference to your premiums. But your insurer may be able to give you some tips for health and safety while you travel and a list of vets that you could use while you’re away. You may want to take copies of documentation with you in case of an emergency.

8. Keep Both Of You Safe

Safety is an important part of traveling, and you’ll have to make sure you and your dog are both safe. Put some time and effort into making sure that’s the case. When you’re staying in any accommodation, for example, make sure there are high security door locks on the entry door. Take safety precautions while you’re out and about, too. Don’t go out by yourself with just your dog at night time, for instance. The more precautions you take, the safer you should end up being.

You may have to save up your money to ensure you have everything you need for you and your dog. But the major plus side is that traveling with your dog is easier than you think. As long as you’re properly prepared. Now where are you and your pup headed to?


The Royal Up Program: Royal Caribbean's Upgrade Experience

The Royal Up Program: Royal Caribbean’s Upgrade Experience

Imagine sailing away on a luxurious cruise, savoring the sea breeze and soaking up the sun. But wait, what if there’s a way to enhance your experience even further? Enter the Royal Up Program.

The Royal Up Program, offered by Royal Caribbean, allows you to potentially score an upgrade to a higher stateroom category. Just think of the possibilities. You might find yourself in a spacious suite with breathtaking ocean views. And you can hopefully do that for cheaper than regular price!

Royal Caribbean main pool deck 12 while docked near a city.

How does the Royal Up Program work?

When eligible, you’ll receive an email invitation to participate in the Royal Up Program. Once you receive the invitation, it’s time to channel your inner explorer and embark on an upgrade journey. In the email, it will list possible staterooms that you can bid on. You will select the monetary amount that you are willing to pay for a specific stateroom upgrade. Be aware though! You are bidding on a “per person” amount. But it only applies to the first and second guest on the booking reservation. You will not be charged for third or higher guests if your offer is accepted. Additionally, if you are in a single occupancy booking, you will be charged for double occupancy.

You are also more than welcome to big on multiple rooms to increase your chances of getting upgraded. You will however only be able to bid on one room per category. But don’t worry – you will only pay for one upgrade if accepted.

Royal Caribbean will notify you via email prior to your sailing departure if your bid was accepted. If you win the upgrade, you’ll be charged the bid amount, and voilà, you’re off to a more opulent abode onboard. It’s like stepping into a hidden treasure trove of comfort and luxury. And if you don’t get your bid accepted, you will not be charged for any upgrades and you will keep the stateroom that you originally had.

It’s important to note that the program is subject to availability, so grab your chance while you can. Remember, luck favors the adventurous!

What stateroom categories are up for grabs in the Royal Up program?

Potential Royal Caribbean Royal Up program offers for suites

Well, it can vary depending on the sailing and availability. You might have the opportunity to elevate your experience from a cozy interior room to a spacious balcony stateroom, or even ascend to the heights of a magnificent suite.

Now, you might be wondering, “Are there any restrictions?” The Royal Up Program does have a few. For instance, if you’ve already paid in full or are within a certain time frame before departure, you won’t be eligible to participate. But fear not, other adventures await!

Remember, the Royal Up Program is all about adding that extra touch of grandeur to your cruise experience. It’s an opportunity to seize, a chance to make your journey even more unforgettable. And every time you book a suite on Royal Caribbean, you will automatically earn twice the amount of points on your cruise. Be sure to use those points to tier match to MGM Rewards!

So embrace the thrill of the Royal Up Program! Why wouldn’t you want to cruise to CocoCay in style? Upgrade your adventure, elevate your expectations, and let the waves of luxury sweep you off your feet. Your upgraded stateroom is just a bid away. Bon voyage!


what to do during your first time in Paris

What to Do During Your First Time in Paris

Paris, the City of Light, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It’s known for its beautiful architecture, rich history, and vibrant culture. For first-time visitors to Paris, it can be overwhelming to decide what to see and do in this amazing city. Even on your first trip, you won’t be able to do everything that you want. That being said, don’t be afraid to do the touristy things. Their iconic and popular for a reason.

First time in Paris must-dos

Eiffel Tower in sepia. One of the most popular things to do during a first time in Paris.

Landmarks

  • The Eiffel Tower: This iconic landmark is a must-see for any first-time visitor to Paris. You can take the elevator to the top for a breathtaking view of the city. Be sure to book your reservation in advance especially if you are looking to go all the way to the top. Even a month in advance the tickets to the top were sold out. We ended up buying tickets to the Summit through another route but it was much more expensive.
  • Notre-Dame Cathedral: This beautiful gothic cathedral is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris. Although it was damaged in a fire in 2019, you can still admire its stunning architecture from the outside.
  • Sainte-Chapelle: This beautiful chapel is known for its stunning stained glass windows, which are some of the most beautiful in the world.
  • Arc du Triomphe: This historic monument is known for its iconic arch design and commemoration of French military victories. It stands at the western end of the Champs-Élysées and serves as a symbol of national pride and heritage. Although it is in the middle of a pretty busy roundabout, the views from the top rival the Eiffel Tower.
  • Statue de la Liberté Paris: If you didn’t know, now you do – yes, Paris has a Statue of Liberty. In fact, the French are the ones that gave us ours! You can see this historic landmark just outside of the limits of the Eiffel Tower on a little island in the Seine. Although you can walk up to it, you can also get a great view of it during a lunch or dinner cruise.
Beautiful altar in the Cathédrale Saint Louis des Invalides

Museums

  • The Louvre: The Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums and home to some of the most famous works of art, including the Mona Lisa. It’s a must-visit for art lovers and history buffs alike. But just keep in mind that this is an extremely large museum! It make take a couple of days to see it all.
  • Hôtel des Invalides: No it’s not a hotel. It’s a historic complex known for its stunning architecture and rich military history. It houses several museums, including the famous Musee de l’Armee.
  • Cathédrale Saint Louis des Invalides: This is a continuation of the Hotel des Invalides. The inside is breathtaking beautiful and serves as the final resting place of several French military leaders, including Napoleon Bonaparte. (pictured above)
  • Château de Versailles: Located about 30 minutes outside of the Paris city center, this palace is an iconic symbol of absolute monarchy and opulence. Its grand architecture, expansive gardens, and rich history showcase the splendor and extravagance of the French monarchy.
Jardin du Palais Royal is not to be missed during your first time in Paris. Especially in spring when the cherry blossoms bloom!

Gardens

  • Luxembourg Gardens: This beautiful park is a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic. You can also rent a sailboat to float around the pond.
  • Jardin du Palais Royal: If you weren’t looking for this garden, odds are you won’t find it. The street that it’s on is known for all of its designer shopping. And if you end up going in March, you can even watch as the cherry blossoms start to bloom! It’s a fantastic spot for pictures. (pictured above)
  • Jardin des Tuileries: This garden is located just outside of the Louvre. It is a very popular spot for tourists and locals. There are plenty of ponds, statues, and chairs to enjoy a perfect day in Paris. You’ll often see families having picnics, people running in groups, and others just taking the day in with a good book or great conversations.

Places to wander

  • Montmartre: This historic neighborhood is known for its bohemian atmosphere, quaint streets, and stunning views of the city. Climb up the steps to the top of the hill to see the beautiful Sacré-Cœur Basilica. It’s also where a few iconic scenes from Emily in Paris have taken place!
  • Île Saint-Louis: This island is located in the middle of the Seine River and is a great place to wander around and discover hidden gems like small shops, restaurants, and galleries.
  • The Catacombs of Paris: This underground network of tunnels and chambers is home to the remains of over six million people. It’s a unique and somewhat eerie experience that you won’t forget.
  • Canal Saint-Martin: This beautiful canal is a popular spot for picnics and boat rides. You can also explore the trendy boutiques and cafes that line the canal.
  • Rue Cler: This charming street is known for its open-air markets, bakeries, and cafes. It’s a great place to pick up some authentic French delicacies like cheese, wine, and pastries.

While you definitely don’t want to miss the top tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre-Dame, there are also some hidden gems that will make your first time in Paris unforgettable.

There are so many beautiful café storefronts to look out for during your first time in Paris. Le Recrutement is one of the most picturesque.

Hidden gems in Paris

Like any incredible destination, there are also some unique experiences that not everyone knows about. Here are a few hidden gems to add to your itinerary:

  • Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature: This quirky museum is dedicated to hunting and nature and features some unusual exhibits, including a collection of taxidermy animals and antique hunting equipment.
  • The Père Lachaise Cemetery: This famous cemetery is the final resting place of many famous people, including Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Édith Piaf.
  • The Paris Sewer Museum: This unusual museum takes you underground to explore the city’s sewer system, which played a major role in the city’s history.
  • The Musée des Arts et Métiers: This museum is dedicated to science and technology and features exhibits on everything from airplanes to clocks to robots.
  • The Palais de Tokyo: This contemporary art museum features cutting-edge exhibitions and installations. It’s a great place to discover new and emerging artists.
Try as many street side cafes during your first time in Paris

Best recommendations for your first time in Paris

  1. Buy a museum pass. There are so many museums that are door to door to one another. And if you prefer wandering versus a solidified itinerary, this will help you. While you walk around, if you stumble upon a museum, with your pass you can just walk right in. No need to worry about paying extra!
  2. Walk to your destinations. Many things are right next to each other. Plus traffic in Paris can get a little crazy. If your destination is within a three mile radius, I suggest walking. During my honeymoon, my husband and I walked a total of 53 miles during our one week there!
  3. Bring comfy shoes. I get it – Paris is one of the fashion capitals of the world. But fashion and walking everywhere do not mix. Wear comfortable shoes so that you can stay out all day enjoying the city.
  4. Use the metro. This is another great and cheap option to get around the city. When coming back from Disneyland Paris, my husband and I took the 45 minute metro ride back in to the city. For both of us to ride was 10 euros.
  5. Try as many street-side cafes as possible. The food in Paris is incredible. My husband and I ate like royalty and our bill was nowhere near how much it would have cost in the US. Not to mention that my husband had the best burger of his life at one of these cafes. I had a bite and I can confirm – it was the best burger ever.
Woman enjoying the Palace of Versailles gardens in spring

Final thoughts for a first time in Paris

These are just a few suggestions for things to do during your first time in Paris. With so much to see and do, you’ll want to plan your trip carefully to make the most of your time in this amazing city. I will say for our honeymoon though, we only planned to go to one place per day, and then the rest of the day was spent just finding things to do and see while we were out and about. Whether you stick to the top tourist attractions or venture off the beaten path to discover some hidden gems, your first-time experience in Paris is sure to be unforgettable!