darn good digs http://darngooddigs.net/blog outta sight inns for in-the-know travelers Sat, 08 Aug 2009 19:52:37 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.6 en And the Winner Is…! http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2009/07/and-the-winner-is%e2%80%a6/ http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2009/07/and-the-winner-is%e2%80%a6/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2009 02:43:01 +0000 darngooddigs http://darngooddigs.net/blog/?p=269 Darn Good Digs is happy to announce that Richard Callaby from Bradenton, Florida has won our summer nominate-a-thon! Richard is now the lucky owner of the much coveted Brooklyn Industries Lexington Tote Bag.  Congratulations, Richard, and thank you so much to everyone who participated in the first-ever Darn Good Digs contest! 

The contest was a huge success.  We’ve received dozens of new nominations from budget-minded travelers all over the world looking to share their all-time favorite independently-owned accommodations. Some of our favorite nominations include a funky Caribbean eco-lodge and a home-style bed and breakfast in Uganda.  We’ll be continuing to research all the new nominations, and we will select the best of the best to add to our collection of extraordinary places to stay.

We’ve also just returned from northern Spain where we stayed at some amazing digs, all for well under 100 Euros. We’ll be adding our own favorites in the coming weeks as well.

You can check out all our cool digs at darngooddigs.net, and sign up for our newsletter if you haven’t already!

Win a Super Cool Brooklyn Industries Travel Bag! http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2009/06/win-a-super-cool-brooklyn-industries-travel-bag/ http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2009/06/win-a-super-cool-brooklyn-industries-travel-bag/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2009 01:20:23 +0000 darngooddigs http://darngooddigs.net/blog/?p=229

Darn Good Digs has teamed up with Brooklyn Industries, a cutting-edge Brooklyn-based design company, to offer our readers the chance to win a hip and super-roomy royal blue travel bag, brand new in stores this spring!

For those of you who are new to our blog, Darngooddigs.com is a collection of the best budget accommodations around the globe, all nominated by savvy travelers who value authentic travel experiences. Whether it’s the locally inspired architecture, regional food specialties, or just plain good vibes, all of the hotels, inns, and b&b’s reviewed on the site have two things in common: they are darn good and a good deal to boot! If you want to enter the contest, here’s how:

brooklyn industries logo

Two Raffle Tickets: Nominate your favorite place to stay that’s independently owned with rooms for under US$150.
Three Raffle Tickets: Do both of the above.
Five Raffle Tickets: Sign up for our newsletter and nominate two places that fit the bill. And so on…
Darn Good Digs will randomly choose one lucky winner on July 27, 2009.

roxbury motelThe Roxbury Motel

8 More Incredible Locally Owned Hotels for Budget-Minded Travelers http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2009/02/8-more-incredible-locally-owned-hotels-for-budget-minded-travelers/ http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2009/02/8-more-incredible-locally-owned-hotels-for-budget-minded-travelers/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2009 01:38:21 +0000 darngooddigs http://darngooddigs.net/blog/?p=166 It’s been a cold winter here in Brooklyn, and we’ve been busy sorting through dozens of nominations to find the best of the best independently owned accommodations for our website. We’ve selected eight cool spots as “Darn Good Digs,” all locally owned with rooms under US$150. (Rooms start at US$40!) These digs offer great value for the money, and stand out for their originality and extraordinary hospitality.

Take Turtle Nest Inn in the Cayman Islands. We always pictured Grand Cayman as a cruise ship and luxury travel destination. Who knew there was another side of the island, where you could stay in a small inn in a quiet town and still stumble out of bed to snorkel in the coral reef right off the beach? Thank you Mary from Pennsylvania for that nomination.

Pousada Vila Pitanga

Pousada Vila Pitanga

Or Pousada Vila Pitanga in Buzios, Brazil. The resort town is well known as the place where beachlovers in Rio go for vacation when they want to escape Copacabana and Ipanema. A traveler from Amsterdam nominated this gem, where you can stay in “smartly appointed” rooms and relax on your own porch hammock. Not to mention there are 23 beaches right nearby!

Zuzabed and Breakfast

Zuzabed and Breakfast

Cool and modern, Zuzabed is a stellar sleep in the Lisbon’s historic center.  Everyone raves about Zuzabed’s innkeeper, Luis. Don and Julie from Hampshire, UK let us in on this secret.

La Loma Jungle Lodge and Butterfly Farm

La Loma Jungle Lodge and Butterfly Farm

Last year a work colleague told me about La Loma Jungle Lodge in the Bocas del Toro region of Panama, but try as I might, I couldn’t get him to nominate the place. I suspect he didn’t want anyone else to find out about La Loma, so it was a real treat when nzbased from Auckland nominated this amazing hideaway. It even has a butterfly farm!

Queenstown, New Zealand is the self-proclaimed “adventure capital of the world.” Even ABC’s The Bachelor headed there for bungee-jumping romance (don’t ask us how we know that). Larch Hill Homestay provides a relaxing, warm vibe with spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. Thanks Aliba in Wellington!

Casa de Amistad

Casa de Amistad

Years ago we had considered going to Vieques for winter break, but instead we chose Culebra, one of Puerto Rico’s other Spanish Virgin Islands. While Culebra didn’t disappoint, we now have TWO good reasons to visit Vieques, because there are two Darn Good Digs on this small island.  We added the friendly guest house Casa de Amistad based on a tip from Peg in Massachusetts.

Blacket Garden Flat is a true home away from home in Edinburgh, Scotland.  BellaRialto in California raves about how Isobel and James, the innkeepers, are just so incredibly thoughtful and accommodating.

And last but not least is Peach and Quiet in Barbados.  This small resort on the quiet side of the island has Mediterranean-inspired architecture, gorgeous ocean views, and even its own turtle watching platform. Barb from Toronto gave us this lead.

Our collection of hotels now includes over thirty Darn Good Digs from all over the world, and we add more every month. These digs show that budget-minded travelers can sleep in style while staying local and supporting sustainable travel. If you’re looking for Darn Good Digs whenever you hit the road, please join our email list, visit our site, and nominate your all-time favorite places to stay

Sixteen New Darn Good Digs Around the Globe! http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/10/143/ http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/10/143/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2008 01:03:37 +0000 darngooddigs http://darngooddigs.net/blog/?p=143 La Dona Luz in Taos, New Mexico

La Dona Luz in Taos, New Mexico

This summer has been an exciting time at darngooddigs.net! Since our launch in May we’ve added sixteen new Darn Good Digs for budget-minded travelers, including:

Aryani Resort, Malaysia The Beehive, Italy Casa Bella Rita, Costa Rica

Cranberry Cove Inn, Nova Scotia Exotic Fruit Farm, Australia Finca Caribe, Puerto Rico

Inn Seventh Heaven, India Kennedy School, Oregon La Dona Luz, New Mexico

Mansion del Bosque, Mexico Mayoka Village, Malawi Mosetlha Bush Camp, South Africa

Ramsdell Inn, Michigan Rock Cottage Gardens, Arkansas

Soppong River Inn, Thailand Torre Dorada, Peru

We’ve had thousands of visitors from over 80 different countries, and our list of extraordinary, independently owned hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts keeps growing every week!
Please keep us on your radar when you plan your next vacation, and if you’ve discovered any Darn Good Digs lately, we’d love to hear about them.
As always, spread the word about darngooddigs.net to your traveling friends and family, and thank you for being a part of the Darn Good Digs community.

Allison and Michael


Visiting Crater Lake, and Michael’s Top 5 Reasons Not to Stay at Crater Lake Lodge with a Three Year Old http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/10/visiting-crater-lake-and-michaels-top-5-reasons-not-to-stay-at-crater-lake-lodge-with-a-three-year-old/ http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/10/visiting-crater-lake-and-michaels-top-5-reasons-not-to-stay-at-crater-lake-lodge-with-a-three-year-old/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2008 21:59:17 +0000 darngooddigs http://darngooddigs.net/blog/?p=130 Wizard Island on Crater Lake

Wizard Island on Crater Lake

One of my motivations in writing this post is just to have an excuse to show off that photograph above. I took it from the boat as we passed the side of Wizard Island, but I didn’t expect to get the lighting just right.

My other reason is to register a few complaints about our stay at Crater Lake Lodge. If I didn’t have my three year old traveling along, the Lodge would have been perfect. It’s a nicely restored historic Lodge built right on the edge of the rim. Since Benjamin did tag along, though, I have a few complaints to air. For the purpose of full disclosure, Allison is not on board with…

…Michael’s Top Five Reasons Not to Stay at Crater Lake Lodge with a Three Year Old.

1. There is a 1000 foot drop right in front of the hotel. Granted, it’s gorgeous, but it’s not the kind of play area I wanted for Benjamin after a 5 hour car ride from the Redwoods.

2. There is a giant parking lot in the back of the hotel. Basically, we were wedged in between cars and a huge precipice, so the only place to run around was in the hotel itself.

3. Not-so-kid-friendly restaurant. Even though the Lodge’s fine dining room provides high chairs, it really was a bit too pricey and fancy for our taste, given that we have a squirmy three year old boy once six o’clock hits. For our two nights at the Lodge we drove the fourteen mile round-trip to Mazama Village to get the Italian-style buffet.

4. Ruthless mosquitoes. From the Olympic Peninsula to the Oregon Coast, the mosquitoes hadn’t been bad all summer. That was, until we hit Crater Lake at dusk. Apparently, these little suckers breed in all the snow packs left over from spring, and that meant it was a little hard to sit on the beautiful deck at sunset.

5. No TV. Who needs a tv? It just isn’t that important to us, except when the hotel is surrounded on all sides by a parking lot and a 1000 foot drop and our boy is running around the Great Hall like a maniac. Then we might want a tv in the room. BTW, the lodge does have board games for older kids.

That said, you’ll notice from our photos that Crater Lake is truly spectacular. The boat ride is worth it, even if you have to hike back up to the rim with a toddler on your back. The story of Mt. Mazama is mighty cool, and the lake water is as blue as they say. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Allison and Benjamin on the Crater Lake Boat

Allison and Benjamin on the Crater Lake Boat

Oregon Sand Dunes Photos http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/09/oregon-sand-dunes-photos/ http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/09/oregon-sand-dunes-photos/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2008 22:43:18 +0000 darngooddigs http://darngooddigs.net/blog/?p=119 We spent a month this summer exploring the Pacific Northwest, from Victoria down to the redwoods on the California border. One of our favorite places was the Oregon Sand Dunes on the south coast. All these pictures are from the John Dellenback Trail, a highway-to-ocean trail that crosses the widest patch of dunes along the coast.

Climbing the Oregon Sand Dunes

Climbing the Oregon Sand Dunes

It almost looked like the deep Sahara as we climbed the sand and watched the wind erase our footprints.

Allison and Benjamin running in the dunes

Running on the Oregon Sand Dunes

Allison and Benjamin race across the top of the dunes.
Sitting on the Dunes

Sitting on the Dunes

Benjamin loved sliding down the dunes. Our only advice is make sure you empty out your cuffs before you get back in the car.
3 Incredible Spots to Unwind in Puerto Rico for Under US$100 http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/08/three-incredible-spots-to-unwind-and-delight-in-puerto-rico-for-under-us100/ http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/08/three-incredible-spots-to-unwind-and-delight-in-puerto-rico-for-under-us100/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2008 01:40:30 +0000 darngooddigs http://darngooddigs.net/blog/?p=72 There is another side to Puerto Rico beyond the hustle of San Juan and the sprawling beach resort hotels. Here are three cool getaways that will get you closer to the heart of this amazing island.

The Central Mountains

Casa Grande

Casa Grande Mountain Retreat

With its network of private cabins weaving through the lush mountains of central Puerto Rico, Casa Grande is darn green. Whether hanging out on your private balcony, taking a dip in the refreshing pool, or enjoying a delicious meal at the outdoor restaurant, a sea of deep green trees envelops you. To top it all off, Casa Grande has won several Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Green Inn Awards. Now that’s green! (more…)


The South Coast

Mary Lee

Mary Lee’s by the Sea

The apartments are where it’s at at Mary Lee’s. They are huge and decorated to the nines in a funky Floridian style. We had great fun exploring the bay and mangrove islands in a kayak that we launched right from Mary Lee’s dock just a stone’s throw away from our porch. Mary Lee’s is located on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, two hours from San Juan and just up the street from the Guanica Dry Forest, a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve. (more…)


Vieques Island

La Finca Caribe

La Finca Caribe

La Finca Caribe is incredible! We loved hanging out with our fellow travelers and soaking up the beautiful scenery. This place really attracts great people and we made fast friends. Plus, the outdoor showers are amazing. La Finca Caribe is on a hill in the middle of Vieques, a small island just six miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico, and the views of the forest down to the Caribbean Sea are fantastic. (more…)

Roomless in Bend, Oregon http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/07/without-a-room-in-bend/ http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/07/without-a-room-in-bend/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2008 20:51:54 +0000 darngooddigs http://darngooddigs.net/blog/?p=3
Mill Inn

Mill Inn

With colorful, city-themed rooms, a funky Statue of Liberty out front, and a hearty multi-course breakfast, all for $80 a night, the Mill Inn was definitely a contender for the coveted title of Darn Good Digs - that was, until the innkeeper sat down to breakfast with us.

We had spoken with Carol on the phone when we booked our rooms.

She was a Brooklyn native, friendly and talkative. She said she’d give us her best room at a discount, “because you’re from Brooklyn.”

As Benjamin nibbled on his specially prepared mouse-shaped waffle, Carol raved about Bend. She pulled out guidebooks and postcards to show us all the local highlights.

Then, out of nowhere, Carol said… “about your room.” It never occurred to us in a million years that she was going to kick us out. “You can’t stay here the next two nights.” We were floored.

Carol explained that a family was taking over the entire inn for the weekend. She told us not to worry, that she had a different place for us. The first floor of a condo she owns. 8 miles outside town. “It’s gorgeous. You’ll love it.”

To her credit, when we told Carol we wanted to stay near downtown, she did make calls to some other hotels – she found a room for us at a nearby b & b for over twice the price. And when Allison found a room at a nearby motel, Carol actually insisted we follow her shiny black pick-up to make sure everything was ok with our new digs.

Room 344 was clean, but musty.  Still, we were ready to start anew in Bend.

“I can’t say we’re not disappointed,” I told Carol when she asked if we were happy. “We booked our room six months ago, and we were psyched to stay there.”

“Mine is the best place in town,” she said, but then it clicked…

“I’m not going to charge you for last night. I never was. And stop by for breakfast tomorrow. You can come in the back door. And I’ll let you sit at my table tonight at the Taj Palace to see Raven dance. She only dances here once a year. You don’t want to miss it.” She even offered to have someone babysit.

We didn’t make it to breakfast, but that night we did happen to walk by the Taj Palace, a local Indian restaurant downtown. Sure enough, a poster for Raven, the belly dancer, hung on the window. I’m sure she was an excellent dancer, except she wasn’t dancing that night. She’d be there the following weekend, but we’d be back in Brooklyn by then.

Bend, Oregon Photo Gallery http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/07/bend-oregon-gallery/ http://darngooddigs.net/blog/2008/07/bend-oregon-gallery/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2008 20:20:11 +0000 darngooddigs http://darngooddigs.net/blog/?p=5

Cool volcanic geology is hard at work here at Smith Rock State Park, Central Oregon’s rock climbing mecca.

Don’t be fooled - this isn’t the Caribbean.  It’s Devil’s Lake right off the Cascade Highway.

Bend’s High Desert has got to be one of the best natural history museums out there.  We loved the “Hall of Plateau Indians”.  Benjamin dug this eagle sculpture.

A lunar landscape awaits at the Newberry Volcanic Monument five miles outside of Bend.

We’ve got to give a shout out to Bend’s Working Wonders Children’s Museum, which kept Benjamin engaged for hours.  Here he is cooking up a pizza.