Mar 03 2017

Trip report: Overnight to Ohio

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We took a weekend trip to Ohio and had a fun time! Here is what we did and the points we earned.

Museum #1

We drove to Dayton to visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Admission and parking were free. The place was huge and we saw some incredible aircraft, memorabilia, and even artifacts pertaining to the space program. We saw the command module from the Apollo 15 mission to the moon, which was piloted by Al Worden whom we met when we visited Kennedy Space Center. Yay!

Hotel

We drove another hour from Dayton and stayed at the Sheraton Suites Columbus. It is a category 3 hotel and we opted to pay $20 extra to stay on club level. This proved to be worth it, as it gave us access to the club lounge, where we ate much more than $20 worth of food. The evening spread offered chicken fingers (surprisingly tasty), a cheese tray, granola bars, fruit, yogurt, and non-alcoholic drinks in the mini fridge. It was dinner for my kids, and a good start for my husband and I. He and I shared a yummy cobb salad from the restaurant to finish off.

Later in the evening, they put out cookies. The morning’s continental breakfast was fairly standard but satisfying. If we weren’t on club level, we would have had to pay $15/person if we wanted breakfast in the restaurant. Nope. We would have just brought our own food or gone elsewhere. If I’m paying $75 for breakfast, you’d better believe it would be at some fancy place at Disney World.

The pool was warm and small, sort of U-shaped.

It was a reasonable place to stay, and if you are a larger family, the two double beds + double pull-out sofa suite helped us spread out a little to get a good night’s sleep. We’d stay there again. Depending on the standard amenities at a hotel vs. club level amenities and the price, I’d likely stay club level again, too.

Museum #2

The next morning, we went to the COSI Museum in Columbus. Admission was free thanks to our ASTC reciprocal membership (we have passes at the Indiana State Museum). Parking was $5. This place was amazing — exhibit after exhibit was engaging, well-planned, and fun. I sprung for planetarium show tickets ($5 each) and while I thought the “Wildest Weather in the Solar System” show was interesting and fun to see on the big dome, it was short and perhaps not worth the price for a family of 5. I don’t regret it, though.

The food court had healthy, delicious options. Bean Sprouts offers kid-friendly selections — my daughter had an adorable grilled cheese sandwich designed to look like a … monster? Not sure. Had cucumber and olive eyes. She loved it.

Our food tab was expensive ($57!) and I think it was boosted since we had two bottled waters and some side frosted pretzels. (Sapphire Reserve cardholders: it did not code as a restaurant purchase). Still, worth it.

If you have any reason to pass through Columbus or make a day trip and have kids, check this place out.

Points

I’m still waiting for all of my Starwood points to post, but I’m anticipating a fairly big payout thanks to some promotions. First, my Starwood American Express earned me 2 SPG per dollar at the hotel. Then, as a SPG member, that’s another 2 points per dollar earned. There were two promotions: Double Take for double points for the first three stays, through April 15 (must opt-in), and a targeted promotion, a “select member exclusive” that should earn 1,500. In total, I’m anticipating about 2,200 SPG for this one-night stay.

That’s enough for a 1-night weekend stay at a category 1 Starwood (only 3 of these exist in the US, though). For a category 2 weekend night, I’d need 3,000 points. Some stays have a cash+points option, which can be an even better value. Always do the math on a particular stay.

I don’t have an intended redemption that I’m saving up for right now, but I think I’d rather use the points for a more expensive or extended stay, rather than a cheaper one night where paying cash makes more sense.

 


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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (8), Vivienne (6) and Amelia (3) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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