Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shadrack Christmas Lights Knoxville, Tennessee 2009

My family and I just got back from traveling through the Shadrack Watersports Christmas Light display. This is a tremendous fantasyland of Christmas lights that takes your breath away. The display is sponsored by WIMZ and is completely choreographed to music. As with last year, a portion of the proceeds go to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Knoxville.

Update 11/17/2010:
We have details on the 2010 Shadrack Christmas Wonderland on our website through this link

The Shadrack Christmas Wonderland has moved to the Smokies Stadium for 2010. Locations in Knoxville and Bristol are closed. The move to the larger location allowed Shadrack to make the experience bigger and even better than it was before. 


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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Quality Inn Washington, DC on New York Ave.

Recently, we stayed at the Quality Inn on New York Ave. in Washington, DC. The cost for 2 nights was $206 with tax. The motel  is far enough from downtown to be able to offer free parking.

Full contact information is:
Quality Inn
501 NY Ave. NE
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: 202.543.7400
Fax: 202.544.2327

My feelings about this motel are mixed. We had problems finding the Quality Inn on our night of arrival and called the desk clerk for directions which only got us more lost. Finally we did find the motel. It took awhile to get checked in. The desk clerk wasn't exactly rude but you could tell she didn't like having to stop her cell phone call to deal with us.

Later, two of the ladies who were with me went to the desk to get directions to the nearest metro. They came back saying the desk clerk didn't give directions but merely pointed and said "10 minutes that way". We decided to call a cab. The front desk gave ame the number and hung up on me when I started to tell her that our refrigerator wasn't working.

The next morning we let the front desk staff know that the refrigerator did not work. This desk clerk was bright and friendly. She apologized and said she'd get right on it. We were also short on towels. In no time  we got the towels and a replacement refrigerator was delivered.

The rooms at the Quality Inn on New York Ave. in Washington, DC were clean. The beds were comfortable, wireless had a low signal and the continental breakfast was not well stocked. We had to ask for napkins, knives and the milk had to be replaced. The waffles, boiled eggs and cereals were good and filling.

As a participant in the Choice Privileges program we did receive points for the 2 night stay. The points will accumulate and eventually build toward a free room or other incentives.Another redeeming point is that Choice Hotels participates in iGive. When you book through the iGive link a small portion of your stay benefits the charity you select.

Overall, the Quality Inn in Washington, DC on New York Ave. offered a good value for the money. If in DC I might stay there again.

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Free Christmas Concert Knoxville Community Rec Band 11/29/09

One of the best holiday celebrations happens at the free annual Knoxville Community Recreation Band concert. 

This year's event will be Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 3:00 pm at
First Baptist Church of Powell
Youth Ministry Worship Building 
7706 Ewing Road
Powell, TN

If you have not been to one of their holiday concerts you are in for a treat! Over 40 area musicians freely give their time as volunteers to bring concerts like this one to the Knoxville area. 

For more information on the Knoxville Community Recreation Band including rehearsal times please visit this link.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

3 Thanksgiving Family Events in Knoxville, Tennessee

Looking for Thanksgiving family activities in Knoxville? Here are 3 great activities that have stood the test of time. Click on the links for more information on each activity. Whether outdoors or indoors, there is sure to be Thanksgiving family activity that your group can enjoy.

Do the Knoxville Zoo
The zoo is open regular hours and provides great family entertainment. The weather can be nice around this time of year. Walking around the zoo is the perfect way to walk off that slice of pumpkin pie. This is one of the Thanksgiving family events in Knoxville that all ages can enjoy.

Fantasy of Trees
This annual event takes place over Thanksgiving weekend. It is a huge fundraiser for the East Tennessee Children's Hospital. Every year, an army of volunteers work to make this giant Christmas fantasyland a reality for guests to enjoy. Hundreds of decorated Christmas trees are for sale, musical entertainment is by choirs and high school bands. Many families make this annual Thanksgiving event a tradition.

Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is one of the largest family movie days of the entire year. Enjoy the day with family  to go see the movie of your choice. Tickets to the newest movies can be purchased in advance on Fandango. What a wonderful way to spend quality time together.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How to Maximize Your Black Friday Shopping Experience

Looking for tips to help you maximize your Black Friday shopping experience? Here are some ideas and tips to get you started.

How to Maximize Your Black Friday Shopping Experience Tip #1
Decide what you want or need, make a list and set a budget. You will be less likely to be swayed by the excitement of the shopping moment.

How to Maximize Your Black Friday Shopping Experience Tip #2
Scour ads for the best deals. Check online and in your local newspaper for Black Friday specials. At some retailers you may find better prices by shopping online than inside the store. Look at the websites of your favorite stores or at sites like

How to Maximize Your Black Friday Shopping Experience Tip #3
Get there early. The best deals can be gone within minutes after the store opens. Be prepared to stand in line and dress for the weather.

How to Maximize Your Black Friday Shopping Experience Tip #4
Shop with a friend. Not only is it more fun but you may need the extra set of hands.

How to Maximize Your Black Friday Shopping Experience Tip #5
Bring snacks. The early hour shopping experience can mean that you'll be ready for breakfast before the restaurants open.

How to Maximize Your Black Friday Shopping Experience Tip #6
Be patient. Everything takes longer on the day after Thanksgiving. This is as true for picking out your items and check out as it is for the restroom.

How to Maximize Your Black Friday Shopping Experience Tip #7
Be prepared to walk away empty handed. The store may run short of the item you want or shoppers may become impatient.

How to Maximize Your Black Friday Shopping Experience Tip #8
Keep your cool. No matter how much you want a particular item nothing is worse arguing or fighting over. If you start to lose your temper, or if you see other shoppers becoming angry or agitated, it's time to shop elsewhere for the day or go home.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Where to Eat Thanksgiving Dinner in Knoxville, Tennessee

Looking for a place to eat Thanksgiving Dinner in Knoxville, Tennessee? There are restaurants in almost every price range. From the super deluxe to the super affordable you'll be able to find the perfect place to eat Thanksgiving Dinner in Knoxville, TN.

This is our 2009 list of restaurants. Click here for our 2010 list.

Cracker Barrel, Montana
Check out these websites for more:

Shoney's - all area Shoney's will be having a Thanksgiving Dinner buffet. Traditional foods are featured.
Cracker Barrel - all area Cracker Barrel restaurants will be open. They're serving up the traditional Thanksgiving dinner feast. 
Golden Corral - Thanksgiving dinner buffet featuring old favorites. Normal pricing is in effect.
Crowne Plaza Hotel - for a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner experience. You'll find turducken on the menu along with crab legs and other culinary delights. Reserve your space early. 

Check out these websites for more information:

Restaurants Serving Thanksgiving Dinner in Knoxville
Topix: Thanksgiving Dinner in Knoxville

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Fall Leaves Around Knoxville, Tennessee

East Tennessee is the home to stunning fall splendor. It's hard to imaging living anywhere else. We found a blog with fall foliage photos that you won't want to miss. It's the Rev John Crabtree photo blog.

Here's an example from his blog. Click it to view more East Tennessee fall photos. It was posted  here with permission from the photographer. We think you'll enjoy looking at his work.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Free Thanksgiving Dinner in Knoxville, TN

Would you or someone you know benefit from a free Thanksgiving meal in Knoxville? If so, there are several places that are providing this service. Some of the dinners are not actually on Thanksgiving. Pay attention to the dates and times listed below.

Even if you can't get into the meals for this year keep the information. Someone you know may need or want the list for next Thanksgiving.

Knoxville Christian Center
818 Cedar Bluff Road,
Knoxville, TN 37923.

Call: 865 690 0855

Sunday, Nov. 22 
After the morning worship service.

Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries
418 North Broadway
Knoxville, TN 37917

Phone: 865-673-6540
Served Thanksgiving Day from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm

Beaver Ridge United Methodist Church
7753 Oak Ridge Hwy.
Knoxville, TN 37921
Phone: 865.690.1060
Thanksgiving dinner, noon -2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 27.
RSVP no later than Nov. 23

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Regal Celebration of Lights in Knoxville, TN

Youve Been Reviewed: Free Christmas Events in Knoxville, TN

Don't you just love Christmas in Knoxville? I do. One of my favorite events is coming up. The Regal Celebration of Lights happens on Friday, November 27, 2009. Click the link above to see some of the photos from last year. Thousands of lights decorate Krutch Park. At 6:00 pm the switch will be thrown and lights all over Knoxville will begin to twinkle. The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will perform and there are many other organizations and activities that go with the lighting at the park. There is a hoe down at 5:00 pm by WDVX and the ice rink opens at 10:00 am (charges for the ice rink apply).

The Regal Celebration of Christmas Lights is one of the most fun free family activities that you can attend all year.

For more information visit:

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Motel 6 East Knoxville, TN Strawberry Plains Pk Exit #398

I was pleasantly surprised by my stay at the Motel 6 last week. We needed two rooms that adjoined. Staff went out of their way to be sure that I got what I needed. They were friendly, efficient and pet friendly for my daughter's service dog. Best of all, this came with an inexpensive price tag.

Like most of the Motel 6 chain this comes without a free continental breakfast. What we got were comfortable beds, a nice shower with plenty of hot water and steady pressure, a prompt wake up call, efficient check in and out, and 5 happy campers (6 if you count the 4 footed tag along shown in the photo).

The room also came with WI-FI and clocks. Coffee was available in the lobby. Ice was on our floor.

If 5:00 am didn't have to come so early the stay would have been perfect. Sigh! I guess there are a few things about the stay that Motel 6 couldn't control.

The motel is located right behind the Cracker Barrel restaurant at exit #398 off of I-40. There are plenty of gas stations. Available restaurants range from fast food to moderate.

Contact information for this location is as follows.
Motel 6
1550 Cracker Barrell Lane
I-40 at Strawberry Plains, Exit #398
Knoxville, TN, 37914
Phone: (865) 633-6646

Fax: (865) 251-0021

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Review of Applebees in Alcoa, TN near the Knoxville Airport

It was about 1:15 pm. when Hubby and I decided to meet with friends at the Applebee's Bar and Grill in Aloca. Complete contact information is below:

Applebee's Bar and Grill
2564 Alcoa Hwy
Alcoa, TN 37701
(865) 984-6444

Kudos to Applebee's for serving free meals to our service personnel on Veteran's Day. There is not enough that we can do to honor these brave individuals! So, I salute Applebee's for their efforts.

They have a varied menu. You can choose from mouth-watering steaks, cool crisp salads, soups, sandwiches and more. View the entire menu online by clicking here.

The Applebee's in Alcoa is moderately priced. Our bill for 2 was $26.00 including tax but not tip. Hubby and I each ordered the lunch combo. I  ordered half a chicken sandwich with broccoli cheese soup. Hubby got a shrimp and spinach salad with the Ruben. We ordered cheese sticks as an appetizer.

The hot and tasty cheese sticks came with marinara sauce. The sauce was a little on the sweet side. Neither of us cared for it. The cheese sticks themselves were great. They had a crispy shell and were filled with soft mozzarella. Nice.

When the server brought out our lunches I was in for a surprise. The sandwich was good. It was nicely presented on the special bread. The lettuce was crisp and the cheese was gently drooping on the edge. Neither the sandwich nor the soup was served warm. I didn't mind the sandwich being cool but the soup was a problem.

Fortunately, the table  next to us had signaled the server for something so it was easier for us to catch her attention. She was surprised when I said my soup was cold. Actually, we're not just talking cold. The broccoli seemed to be partially frozen. I pointed out that the shredded cheese garnish on top of the soup had not even melted. She took the dish and headed for the kitchen. A few minutes later the manager came out to apologize.

He told me that apparently there were 2 pots of soup cooking. One was cold and the other was hot. He said that they checked the temperature of the bowl I sent back, agreed that it was way too cold to serve and said more would be out in just a minute.

A steaming bowl of soup after I finished eating my sandwich. The cheese garnish was left off. Steam was rising from the bow. It was definitely hot and It was also timed perfectly to arrive just as Hubby and our friends were finishing their lunches. I was able to finish my lunch while we waited for the drink refills that never arrived. No one checked back to see if the soup was ok.

After awhile we signaled the server for the refills and checks. We received only the checks. Applebee's in Alcoa was about 1/2 to 3/4 full by this time. Our server was pleasant, we just didn't see her much. Next time I'm in the area and need a restaurant I'll be just as slow to go back.

Applebee's Bar and Grill
Youve Been Reviewed Rating System
Yahoo Local
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Kroger Free Day at the Knoxville Zoo Nov. 14, 2009

Nov. 14 is Kroger free day at the Knoxville Zoo. The day is anxiously awaited by many people who live in and around Knoxville. If you haven't visited the zoo in awhile this may be the time to go. Included is free parking and free admission for every person in your group. Visiting the zoo is a fabulous family activity. Other charitable organizations will be on site at the Knoxville Zoo. These include the Young-Williams Animal Center, Mission of Hope and the Humane Society of East Tennessee.

Read the press release linked below for more information.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Knoxville Veteran's Day Parade - Thank You Vets!

Thank you to all veterans. You work hard to keep our country safe. We appreciate the hard job that you do!

If you are in Knoxville, the best way to celebrate Veteran's Day is to attend the 84th annual Veteran's Day parade. It's sponsored by the American Legion Knoxville Post 2. Be at the coliseum at 10:45 am for the start of the parade or choose a spot along the parade route to watch. The route goes from the Knoxville Coliseum to Church Street before turning right onto Gay Street and right onto Summit Hill. More information can be found online here.

Expect high school bands, local high school ROTC programs and more! I have many fond memories of marching in the Knoxville Veteran's Day parade from "back in the day". My daughters both have their great memories of their own from their high school days. The parade still delights participants and attendees. If you get to go to the parade be prepared to have fun.

There is no better way to honor the sacrifices made by our military than by attending the Knoxville Veteran's Day Parade.
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cheap Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers or People Who Travel

Think it's hard to shop for a traveler at Christmas? Think again. There are literally tons of stock stuffer ideas on every aisle. Think back to your last vacation. What did you use? What came in handy? What did you really need to leave behind? This is the beginning of your list of budget stocking stuffers for travelers.

Need more ideas? Check out the list below for some great suggestions.

Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers Suggestion #1
Sample size necessities.
Sample sizes of soap, toothpaste, travel toothbrushes and body wash all come in handy on a trip. They are small, lightweight and easily fit into checked baggage. Pick them up in the grocery, dollar store or discount retail store.

Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers Suggestion #2
Travel alarm clock.
Cell phones are often used as alarm clocks. The problem is that these won't work in areas without a reachable tower. A small travel alarm clock is a good back-up solution to this problem. They are inexpensive and can be picked up at most discount retail stores such as Wal-Mart or Target.

Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers Suggestion #3
This isn't just good for beach goers. Sunscreen is a must anytime someone is outside. From open air bazaars or flea markets to parks this Christmas gift item is sure to come in handy.

Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers Suggestion #4
A pen and travel journal.
Nothing beats a travel journal for recording details of trips. This stock stuffer is made all the more convenient with the addition of a pen. Choose from quality disposable pens or select a refillable pen. Pick up the journal and pen from an office supply store.

Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers Suggestion #5
Pencil highlighter.
Nothing beats a pencil highlighter for marking on maps. This is a great way to highlight a travel route. With a pencil, the ink won't go through the paper map to obscure important information on the other side. Buy these from the local office supply or discount retail store.

Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers Suggestion #6
Prepaid calling cards.
Cell phones don't work everywhere. For international travelers be sure to pick up a prepaid calling card that is good in as many countries as possible. It's the perfect back-up for those times when a cell phone is no good or is cost prohibitive.

Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers Suggestion #7
Inflatable travel pillow.
These are perfect for long car trips or airplane rides. After the air is discharged, most inflatable pillows fold up completely flat. This makes it easy to store in a purse or backpack. You can get these from most discount retail stores, some dollar stores and travel centers.

Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers Suggestion #8
VISA Prepaid Debit Card
With a budget friendly VISA Prepaid Debit Card you set the amount. In the event that the card is lost or stolen on a trip the funds can be replaced. You can't do that with cash. Plus, international travelers can enjoy the best exchange rate. It's calculated automatically by the credit card companies. No fumbling for conversion charts or change.

Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers Suggestion #9
Hand crank flashlight.
No batteries needed. Just crank the handle and enjoy the light. This travel accessory fits easily into checked baggage, a purse or backpack. Nothing beats a hand cranked flashlight for areas when electricity is unstable. Available at sporting good stores for $5 and under.

Budget Stocking Stuffers for Travelers Suggestion #10
Automobile Club Membership
The gift that keeps on giving. Not only do travelers get peace of mind but they also receive discounts on motels, hotels and rental cars. Prices vary among locations and types of membership. Call your local automobile club for details.
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Monday, November 09, 2009

Restaurant Review Sitar Indian Cusine Knoxville, TN

My Family decided to try Sitar Indian Cuisine for the first time about a month ago. We initially decided to try their lunch buffet. This was so good that we decided to go back for dinner. Here is the contact information for the restaurant.

Sitar Indian Cusine
6004 Kingston Pk.
Knoxville, TN 37919
Phone: 865.588.1828
Fax: 865.588.1830

If you are unfamiliar with Indian food the buffet is a good first choice. The items were labeled so you can tell more about what you are eating. It made for an educational and fun lunch. That may be why it was voted the "Best Buffet" in 2008 by readers of the Metro Pulse newspaper in Knoxville.

Dinner was a treat. Hubby and I took my daughter and her boyfriend. The meals that we ordered included mild Chicken Curry ($9.95), Lamb Fraizee ($12.95) and Chicken Karahai ($10.95) Drinks included water and iced tea. This came with an appetizer of Papadum Bread and two sauces. We also decided to an order of Garlic Naan ($2.95)

The cracker-like Papadum was a dry crisp bread. The condiments were a mint spread and onion relish. It was interesting and flavorful

Our delicious entrees were served hot. My husband and I both enjoyed the Chicken Curry. It had a mild hotness that left a slow burn in your mouth. It was not overpowering, although I do think if we had ordered the  spicier version it would have been too spicy for me. The kids attacked their dishes with gusto. Both reported that the lamb and chicken dish tasted great.

At Sitar Indian Cuisine, entrees were served with rice as a side item. This was served family style from a single platter. It was up to you to decide to try the entrees over the rice or as a side. The rice was firm but tender and worked well with the chicken curry and sauce.

Our server did a good job keeping up with the refills. The food at Sitar is authentic. Don't expect English to be the natural language of the server. She was very nice. When it came to answering questions there were some language and accent barriers. For those who enjoy ethnic dining this is part of the experience. Exposure to culture, food and decor is to be enjoyed.

Total cost for dinner was $60.00 with tip. It was a fun place to eat and would make a nice romantic spot for couples.

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Pelancho's Mexican Grill Downtown West Knoxville, TN

I had my first visit to Pelancho's Mexican Grill in Downtown West Knoxville, TN today. The address and contact information is:
Pelancho's Mexican Grill
1516 Downtown West Blvd
Knoxville, TN 37919
(865) 694-9060

My friend suggested the restaurant. It has an outdoor patio. The menu includes fajitas, tacos, chimichangas, enchiladas and other entrees of traditional Mexican fare. On Monday - Thursday the patio is pet friendly. You can dine with your best four footed friends and or two footed. It's a nice touch.

Inside, Pelancho's Mexican Grill is bright and friendly. The decor is in carved wood that is painted in bright colors. It has an upbeat pleasing effect.

I didn't catch the name of our server. He wasn't wearing a name tag but he did a good job. We were only seated a minute before he took our drink order and arrived with salsa and chips. A few minutes later he arrived with the requested and equally tasty cheese dip.

My friend ordered the taco meal without sides. The 3 tacos were your average size. They smelled great and she reported that they tasted even better.

The fajitas I ordered at Pelancho's Mexican Grill were well cooked and flavorful. Because of allergies I requested no onions and no tomatoes. Not only was this was not a problem but they seemed to increase the amount of bell pepper to compensate. The platter was full. It came with a foil package of 3 warm tortillas on their own plate. On a second platter was a pile of shredded lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, refried beans and rice. We should have increased the number of tortillas and shared the meal. It would have been plenty.

Tea refills arrived promptly. We didn't have to wait for anything. Our server was very prompt and good to check back. The bill was taken care of at the table accurately and just as quickly. My cost for the beef fajitas and iced tea at the Pelancho's Mexican Grill in Downtown West Knoxville was $10.90 including tax.


Metro Pulse
Yahoo Local

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Fall Foliage Photos Knoxville, Tennessee

Here are a few fall foliage photos taken in Knoxville, Tennessee today. These were taken around the Sutherland Avenue area and Tyson Park. I hope you enjoy them. The photo of the roses was taken at Cherokee Mills on Sutherland Ave.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Comfort Inn Downtown Washington, DC at the Convention Center

Comfort Inn Downtown DC/Convention Center
1201 13th Street, NW
Washington, DC, 20005
Phone: (202) 682-5300
Fax: (202) 408-0830

We had to make a fast trip to DC in January 2007. My husband had to get his passport expedited and this was the only way to do is. Our needs were simple. We wanted an affordable clean room. The Comfort Inn Downtown DC/Convention Center was suited our needs perfectly. We got a comfortable nights stay with restful sleep.

One of the nicest things about the room was the price. With AAA for 2 people the room was $89.00 plus tax. (The AAA price another nearby Comfort Inn on NY Ave. was $159.00!) Parking is an additional $27.00 per night which almost seemed too good to be real. Because of the price, I was concerned that the motel was in a bad section of DC. It wasn't. At no time did I feel insecure while staying there.

Since the Comfort Inn of Downtown DC is at the corner of 13th and M in downtown it was convenient to most of the places we needed to go.

The most complicated ordeal was parking. It took circling the block several times before we could discern the entrance. A larger parking area and better signage would have helped. You park in front of the building and the valet will take your car from there. There is plenty of lighting which is helpful at night.

Another issue about parking is that the lot is offsite. When you unload it is essential to take everything into the motel with you that you might need. Once those keys are given to the valet you must give at least 45 minutes advance notice before you need your car again.

In general, we were happy staying at the Comfort Inn in Downtown, DC.

Some of the amenities at the hotel include WIFI, irons and ironing boards, a business center and in room hair dryers. For a full list of amenities visit the  Comfort Inn of Downtown DC online.

The continental breakfast area  was neat and tidy. The fare served was your standard breakfast cereals plu, bagels, juice and toast. All food items seemed to be fresh.

The Comfort Inn of Washington, DC participates the Choice Privileges Reward Program. This is a frequent stay program where points are earned for each stay. The amount of points you get depends on the cost of your stay. Once you earn enough points you are eligible for a free night stay. The number of points required depends on the Choice Hotel where you want to go. Click the Choice Privileges Reward Program link above for more information.

I feel that the Comfort Inn of Washington, DC provided a good value for the money. I would consider staying there again the next time I'm in the area.