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7 EPIC SLEDDING HILLS

2016 WINTER GETAWAY GUIDE

WI N T E R 20 16

CRUISE NORWAY Experience more than 2,500 nautical miles of stunning scenery

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WINTER 2016

50

Welcome to Paradise

MARCO BADALIAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Off the coast of Cancun, Isla Holbox has laid-back charm and raw beauty. The eco-friendly Holbox Hotel Casa Las Tortugas, pictured, welcomes guests in style.

3


WINTER 2016

REGIONS

100

n NORTHEAST

Juicy Lucy! Enjoy at Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis.

60 62 66 70

Alexandra Cousteau’s Washington, D.C. Inn to Inn on the Catamount Trail Snack Central PA How Disney Does NYC

n SOUTHEAST

UP FRONT

FEATURES SLEDDING HILLS 34 EPIC Skiers and snowboarders aren’t the only ones psyched for snow! Bookmark these hills for your next sledding adventure.

YOUR TRIP 42 HACK Our team of experts weigh in on the mostcommon travel concerns and offer tips and tricks for overcoming.

HOLBOX, MEXICO 50 ISLA Journey to a quaint Mexican fishing village with paradisal beaches and wildlife to spare.

10

NEW DESTINATIONS FOR AIRLINES

14

STUNNING CHANDELIERS

16

TOP SCULPTURE PARKS

18

NEW AT THE SMITHSONIAN

20

SOLAR ECLIPSE COUNTDOWN

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AMERICA’S OLDEST CITY TURNS 450

74 76 82 90

Kaka’s Orlando Going to Graceland Retro Roanoke Dollywood Turns 30

26

n MIDWEST 94 David Nail’s St. Louis 96 Fat Biking Picks Up Speed 100 Meet Minneapolis

n WEST 106 Michelle Branch’s Sedona, Ariz.

108 Heli-skiing? Heli-yes! 114 Mesa’s Many Faces

n PACIFIC 120 122 126 132

Tanya Tucker’s L.A. Hiking the John Muir Trail Oh, Hi, Ojai! Washington Cider Tour

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FIVE WAYS FOR MARDI GRAS

26

GOURMET DOUGHNUTS

28

TASTY FOOD FESTS

DESTINATIONS

30

TRAVEL BY DISH

138 n CARIBBEAN Beautiful St. Barts

144 n CANADA Niagara Winter Ireland’s Burren

154 n CRUISES Travel Norway’s Coast

160 n ONE FOR THE ROAD Tea-Lax!

108

62 4 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

CLOCKWISE: NOAH WOLF; WARD ENTREKIN; CATAMOUNT TRAIL ASSOCIATION

148 n INTERNATIONAL


FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS PREMIUM PUBLICATION DIRECTOR Jeanette Barrett-Stokes jbstokes@usatoday.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jerald Council jcouncil@usatoday.com MANAGING EDITOR Michelle Washington mjwashington@usatoday.com

▶ SAM BOYKIN

▶ ALLISON ENTREKIN

Sam Boykin is a North Carolinabased freelance writer who has written for a variety of publications, including Men’s Journal, Outside, TravelChannel.com and Garden & Gun. Boykin has traveled extensively through the southeastern United States, where he has developed a love of the outdoors and discovered many unique personalities and attractions, including Dollywood, which he writes about in this issue, page 90.

Allison Entrekin wears a number of professional hats: She’s a southeastern correspondent for Travel + Leisure, executive editor with Southbound and The Georgia Travel Guide and a freelance writer for publications such as Cigar Aficionado. She lives in Atlanta with her husband, 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. When she’s not working or wrangling children, you may find her on a travel adventure like the heli-skiing trip she writes about in this issue, page 108.

CREATIVE MEDIA MANAGER Christine Neff cneff@usatoday.com EDITORS Chris Garsson Elizabeth Neus Hannah Prince Sara Schwartz DESIGNERS Ashleigh Carter Gina Toole Saunders Lisa M. Zilka INTERNS Miranda Pellicano Alexa Rogers CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Christina Breda Antoniades, Karen Asp, Diane Bair, Kit Bernardi, Sam Boykin, Lisa Davis, Ashley Day, Nancy Dunham, Allison Entrekin, Jennifer Bradley Franklin, Adrienne Jordan, Marlece Lusk Karamitsos, Alexis Korman, Flash Parker, Lori Santos, Sarah Sekula, Annette Thompson, Kristi Valentini, David Volk, Stephanie Anderson Witmer, Suzanne Wright, Andria Yu, Stacey Zable

ADVERTISING

VP, ADVERTISING Patrick Burke | (703) 854-5914 pburke@usatoday.com ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Justine Goodwin | (703) 854-5444 jgoodwin@usatoday.com

COURTESY OF THE CONTRIBUTORS

FINANCE

▶ DAVID VOLK

▶ ADRIENNE JORDAN

David Volk loves a good food adventure, whether it involves throwing tomatoes in Spain, seeking out the tartest Key lime pie in southwest Florida or wandering Jerusalem looking for shakshuka. In fact, he took his first writing job in Kansas City to further his search for the ultimate barbecue beef sandwich. His current home of Seattle may be short on great barbecue, but he believes it makes up for this oversight with its many varieties of hard apple cider. He writes about the burgeoning cider trend for this issue, page 132.

Adrienne Jordan has been a freelance travel and lifestyle writer since 2011. She contributes to The Washington Times, Travel & Leisure, American Way, Ebony, MensJournal. com and SheKnows.com. She has a passion for writing about adventure, LGBT, luxury and family travel. Standout experiences in her career include trekking in Uganda, cruising the fjords of Norway, swimming in the devil’s pool in Zambia and roadtripping through South Africa. In her piece on Isla Holbox, page 50, she writes about swimming with the world’s biggest fish.

BILLING COORDINATOR Julie Marco

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travel.usatoday.com JUST FOR FUN

USA TODAY TRAVEL CHATTER

ROAD WARRIORS, UNITE!

WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ONLINE

USA TODAY’s Road Warrior Voices shares advice and insights for frequent business travelers. Learn how to protect your electronics while traveling. Find out how to get the best mileage deals for any city pair — and check out five ridiculously expensive items you can buy with all those airline miles. uusatoday.com/travel/roadwarriors.com

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What makes those Middle East airlines so special? Reader: “Great on-board entertainment, great food ... comfortable seats ... neat planes.”

EXPERT ADVICE ASK THE CAPTAIN

FIND YOUR WINTER ESCAPE BEACH YOUR WAY

Create your perfect beach vacation with USA TODAY TRAVEL Experience Caribbean, where you’ll find island guides, slideshows and videos, plus custom itineraries for couples, families, nature lovers and more. uexperience.usatoday. com/caribbean

6 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

What’s considered a near-miss in the sky, and how do you go about reporting one, or to see if a captain did so? I was on a recent flight and a plane passed directly below us at what I would consider too close a horizontal separation. The horizontal separation standard ranges from 3 miles to 5 miles and drops to 1 mile under certain conditions near an airport with parallel runways. The vertical separation is 1,000 feet for other instrument traffic and 500 feet for visual traffic. If you see an airplane you believe to be too close, I would suggest discussing it with the captain at the end of the flight. Usually there is more vertical separation than you think.

MUST-SEE VIDEO CIRQUE SCENES

Cirque Du Soleil and Club Med are teaming up to give guests a vacation like no other. At Club Med Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Cirque fans can learn to fly through the air with the greatest of ease or try something a little closer to the ground. Circus trainers and coaches assist with the activities, which include trapeze, juggling, high bungee jumping and German wheel. Watch as USA TODAY’s Nancy Trejos gives it a try, above. uusatoday.com/media/latest/videos/travel/

THINKSTOCK; CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/CIRQUE DU SOLEIL

John Cox, a retired airline captain with US Airways and an aviation safety consultant, answers reader questions.


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UP FRONT | GO ESCAPE

I N T H E N O W, I N T H E K N O W

Travel Write!

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JOURNAL THE JOURNEY While travel refers to the experience of discovering new places, sights, tastes and ways of life, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also about the stories that come from that journey. In this issue of GoEscape, we celebrate writers who discover the world in person and on the page, and we encourage you to do the same.

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UP FRONT | GET THERE

Up, Up and Away Added service in major markets makes getting there easier BY SUZANNE WRIGHT

THINKSTOCK

WHETHER YOU WANT to escape blustery temperatures or explore cultural capitals, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easier than ever to get away this winter. Airline carriers have been adding new routes at a rapid pace. While some are seasonal or limited, the flights make for greater convenience and, sometimes, cheaper fares.

10 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016


Taipei â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the Best Link to Cross the Short transit times and seamless flight schedules to/from North America, most major cities in SE Asia and 29 destinations in China make Taipei convenient for stress-free trans-Pacific travel.

NORTH AMERICA

TAIPEI

ASIA


UP FRONT | GET THERE

CARIBBEAN WARMTH

x TURKISH DELIGHT

w CUBA-BOUND

This year, Turkish Airlines added flights departing from Miami and San Francisco and plans to launch flights to Atlanta next May. Even if you’re not trekking to Turkey, the airline has connections to 228 cities through cosmopolitan Istanbul. Totally worth a layover.

Recently eased travel restrictions mean picturesque Cuba is open to more American tourists than it has been for decades. In midDecember, American Airlines and Cuba Travel Services plan to offer the first nonstop service from Los Angeles to Havana. ¡Vámanos!

12 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

w DISTANT SHORES

w HIT THE SLOPES

During the holiday season, Hawaiian Airlines expands flights to Los Angeles from Kauai or Maui. Air New Zealand has nonstop service from Houston to Auckland starting in mid-December. Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport has new daily service to Beijing on Air China.

Hoping for another record ski season in Colorado, Telluride’s winter program will provide 14 nonstop flights from 11 major cities. New routes added this winter include from New York City on United; from Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix on American; and from Las Vegas on Allegiant Air. ●

THINKSTOCK

Leave wintry weather behind for the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Starting in November, JetBlue will offer flights from New York to Antigua and from Boston to Barbados, while Southwest Airlines will jet nonstop from Houston to Costa Rica. From Atlanta, Delta travelers can take off for Abaco and Eleuthera in the Bahamas. And in mid-December, Saint Lucia will welcome a new United Airlines service from Chicago, while Grand Cayman welcomes a nonstop flight from Washington, D.C.


OPEN Wish you were here...

All Year!

Visit Miami-Dade • Florida WWW.MIAMIDADE.GOV/VISITORS


UP FRONT | HOTELS

Make an

Entrance Lobbies light up with epic chandeliers BY JENNIFER BRADLEY FRANKLIN

THE COSMOPOLITAN OF LAS VEGAS Las Vegas Sin City’s glittering reputation stays intact at this hotel’s unique lounge called, appropriately, The Chandelier. Spread across 10,000 square feet, the three-story bar is housed inside a giant chandelier, each level connected by a spiral staircase and ensconced in more than 2 million faceted crystal beads. Sipping an expertly crafted cocktail here is like drinking in a work of art. Cheers to that! 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-698-7000; cosmopolitanlasvegas. com

14 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

THE NINES Portland, Ore. Located in the historic Meier & Frank department store building, this quirky luxury hotel features a staggering 419-piece art collection. Look for Birdsong, a twist on the traditional chandelier by artist Melody Owens. It’s composed of 11 light-blue, 30-foot-long strands, each made of delicate hand-blown glass and lit with LED bulbs. The piece is inspired by soundwaves of the songs of native Oregon birds. Find it poetically arranged over a winding central staircase. 525 SW Morrison St.; 877-229-9995; thenines.com

AMWAY GRAND PLAZA Grand Rapids, Mich.

GOLDEN NUGGET HOTEL & CASINO Lake Charles, La.

BELMOND CHARLESTON PLACE Charleston, S.C.

A trio of grand light fixtures greets guests in the Pantlind Lobby at this stately 682-room property, a mainstay for more than 100 years. Each chandelier weighs more than 4,000 pounds and is adorned with lustrous Austrian crystal. The glass is designed to pick up a rainbow of colors from the gilded ceiling and boldly patterned carpet. 187 Monroe Ave. NW; 800-253-3590; amwaygrand.com

The grand three-level collection of artful light fixtures in this casino is enough to make anyone feel lucky. The “escalator chandeliers” (the largest is 15 feet long and 20 feet wide) lead guests from one level of gaming to the next. They’re forged of an intricate assemblage of mirrors, stainless steel and chrome and include acrylic and glass globes, some painted in red and amber. 2550 Golden Nugget Blvd.; 844-777-4653; goldennugget.com/ lakecharles

Signaling the genteel hospitality of this elegant 440-room resort, a magnificent 12-foot, 2.5-ton chandelier welcomes guests in grand style. The sparkling fixture is comprised of 3,000 pieces of clear, hand-blown Venetian glass, hung from a domed ceiling and framed by twin Georgian staircases. 205 Meeting St.; 843722-4900; belmond. com/charleston-place

THINKSTOCK; COURTESY OF THE HOTELS

GRAND LIGHT FIXTURES in lobbies awaken the senses and give guests a glimpse of the experience to come. Whether they’re chic, unconventional or just plain fun, here are some stand-out chandeliers that make a fine first impression.


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UP FRONT | ATTRACTIONS

Creative Hikes Add a little culture to your next outdoor adventure BY LISA DAVIS

LIKE CHOCOLATE AND fine wine, art and nature go together. When you’re done admiring great works of art indoors, take a walk through a picturesque outdoor sculpture park. These open-air museums will show you how inspiring (and quirky) outside art can be.

VIRGINIA B. FAIRBANKS ART & NATURE PARK

STORM KING ART CENTER

Visitors are encouraged to touch and even walk on the outdoor art on display at this Indianapolis park. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the Funky Bones sculpture, made out of 20 bone-shaped fiberglass benches that form a giant human skeleton. Admission: Adults, $18; 6 to 17, $10; 5 and under, free. 4000 Michigan Rd.; imamuseum.org/visit/ the-park

Fans of American artist Maya Lin won’t want to miss the seven-row, nearly 400-foot-long sea of grass she created for this 500-acre sculpture preserve about two hours from New York City. Bike rentals are available to make sightseeing easier. Admission: adults, $15; ages 5 to 18, $8; children 4 and under, free. 1 Museum Rd., New Windsor, N.Y.; stormking.org

Iowa may have its Field of Dreams, but Ohio has its Field of Corn (with Osage Oranges) in Dublin. The exhibit got its name from the 109 human-size ears of concrete corn neatly lined up in front of Osage orange trees. Oddly, these man-made stalks stand in a former cornfield, now called the Sam and Eulalia Frantz Park. Check out other outdoor sculptures sprinkled around town. 4995 Rings Rd.; dublinarts.org

ANNMARIE SCULPTURE GARDEN & ARTS CENTER Tucked into a wooded park near Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, the sculpture garden features a walking path that leads to bronze, granite and concrete sculptures over 30 acres. The kids will love the fairy play area! Admission: adults, $5; 6 to 17, $3; 5 and under, free. 13480 Dowell Rd., Dowell, Md.; annmariegarden. org

16 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

PORTER SCULPTURE PARK The heads at Mount Rushmore aren’t the only sculptures in South Dakota drawing visitors. Wayne Porter’s larger-thanlife-size metal art sculptures in Montrose, S.D., depict goldfish, dragons, birds and other creatures. If you have time, visit nearby Rapid City’s Main Street Square to see Japanese sculptor Masayuki Nagase hand-carving pieces of ancient granite as part of a massive public art project. Admission: adults, $8; 13 to 17, $4; free for 12 and under. 25700 451st Ave.; portersculpturepark.com

Storm King Art Center

PAPPAJOHN SCULPTURE PARK This 4.4-acre park in Des Moines takes you from one treasure to the next to view works by 22 well-known artists. You won’t want to miss the 27-foot-tall hollow human shape that’s created through the intricate use of white letters. 1330 Grand Ave.; desmoinesartcenter.org

Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park

ANNMARIE GARDEN STAFF; GARY STOLLER (2); VIRGINIA B. FAIRBANKS ART & NATURE PARK

FIELD OF CORN

Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center


UP FRONT | ATTRACTIONS

Something Old, Something New The Smithsonian Institution always has something that impresses BY CHRISTINA BREDA ANTONIADES

▲ This October, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, part of the National Museum of Asian Art, unveiled an exhibit of more than 70 works by the influential Japanese painter Tawaraya Sōtatsu. Sōtatsu: Making Waves (above left) is the first major retrospective of the 17th-century artist in the Western Hemisphere and will only be shown in Washington, D.C. asia.si.edu

18 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

▶ In December, the National Museum of American History rolls out Wegmans Wonderplace, an earlylearning gallery that will keep the under-6 set occupied and engaged — always a win for kid-toting visitors. Hands-on, play-based activities include the Farm, the Kitchen, the Port, the Construction Site, the Gallery and the Smithsonian Castle. americanhistory.si.edu

▶ Work continues on the brand-new National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Smithsonian’s biggest venture in more than a decade will honor the AfricanAmerican experience. Slated to open in fall 2016, the museum has a head-turning exterior. Take a peek at artifacts now on the second floor of the National Museum of American History. nmaahc.si.edu

▲ After an extensive two-year renovation, the Renwick Gallery, part of the American Art Museum, reopens in November, debuting Wonder, an immersive effort that gives nine prominent contemporary artists free rein to transform the gallery spaces with everyday materials. The result? Wonder-inducing exhibits that include walls covered in geometric designs crafted from brightly colored insects and a tide of green marbles that recall the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Pictured above are, top, In the Midnight Garden, 2015, by Jennifer Angus; middle, Untitled, 2014, by Tara Donovan; and bottom, artist John Grade installing Middle Fork. Enhancements to the gallery include an all-LED lighting system for improved viewing. americanart.si.edu

FREER GALLERY OF ART, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION; RON BLUNT (3)

ASK AROUND ABOUT what to see at the Smithsonian Institution, a network of free museums centered in the nation’s capital, and you’ll likely get a list of time-honored favorites: the Hope Diamond, the Star-Spangled Banner, the 1903 Wright flyer. They’re definite must-sees. But with 19 museums and roughly 138 million artifacts and works of art, the Smithsonian almost always has something new to explore. In fact, in the average year, about 100 new exhibits roll out. Here are some to discover in Washington, D.C., this winter:


MORE TO SEE Where we came from and how far weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve come. How far we have to go and how we measure the journey. The heights and the depths. The pain and the promise. Then. Now.

MORE TO EXPERIENCE In the hold of a slave ship. On the bridge in Selma. On the street in Birmingham. In the heart of Jim Crow. On the mind of America. On the move in the world. In the march. In the room. On the balcony. There. Here.

MORE TO LEARN About who we were and who we hope to be. Collective history and individual awareness. Monumental change and personal transformation. Come in as one. Come out as more. Before. After.

civilrightsmuseum.org


UP FRONT | ATTRACTIONS

Going Dark Pick the perfect destination to view the solar eclipse in 2017 BY ALEXA ROGERS

THE 2017 TOTAL solar eclipse is, yes, two years away. But you may want to book your viewing spot now. The first complete solar eclipse to reach the U.S. in more than 26 years will span a swath of the country Aug. 21.

SALEM, ORE.

JACKSON HOLE/ GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING

THE SWEET SPOT Some of the best views!

CARBONDALE, ILL. HOPKINSVILLE, KY. NASHVILLE

v HOPKINSVILLE, KY.

The eclipse reaches Kentucky at 1:21 p.m. CT and leaves the state at 1:30 p.m. Hopkinsville will experience totality for approximately 2 minutes and 41 seconds. v CARBONDALE, ILL.

In the certified “sweet spot,” Carbondale will experience approximately 2 minutes and 35 seconds of absolute darkness between 1:17 p.m. and 1:25 p.m. CT. See the eclipse path at Great American Eclipse, greatamerican eclipse.com/ eclipse-2017

20 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

Southern Illinois University will house the headlining festivities, including tailgating, live entertainment and activities on the football field, and Saluki Stadium will be open for eclipse viewing. eclipse.siu.edu

Eclipse planning has been years in the making in this small town. A number of signature events, including entertainment and a chili cookoff with eclipse-related activities, are in the works. The local community college plans to host guest speakers for a weekend-long series of seminars focused on astronomy. Coinciding with the eclipse is Christian County’s “Little Green Men” Days Festival, a twoday event with live entertainment and activities that celebrates the 62nd anniversary of a nearby extraterrestrial sighting. kellyky.com/festival/ lgmfestival.html; visithopkinsville.com

ILLUSTRATION: THINKSTOCK, ASHLEIGH CARTER; SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY

COLUMBIA, S.C.


v SALEM, ORE.

The eclipse reaches Oregon at 10:15 a.m. PT and leaves the state at 10:27 a.m. Salem will experience totality for approximately 1 minute and 52 seconds. Shadows will first be cast against the coastlines and mountains of Salem, Ore. Eola Hills Wine Cellars in neighboring Eola-Amity Hills plans to offer a scenic view for the eclipse and a weekend filled with wine country activities. For those who dream of biking through wine country, sign up for the “Tour D’Eclipse,” where participants can bike up to 40 miles through the valley while stopping at wineries along the way. Eola Hills will partner with the nearby Polk County Fairgrounds for visitors who want to stay for the entire weekend. eolahillswinery.com

v NASHVILLE

The eclipse reaches Tennessee at 1:24 p.m. CT and leaves the state at 1:36 p.m. Nashville will experience totality for approximately 1 minute and 57 seconds.

FROM TOP: SEAN RAYFORD; BOB SCHATZ; JONATHAN SHARPE

Music City offers the perfect eclipse soundtrack. The Adventure Science Center in Nashville, above, is just beginning to plan events that will focus on the science behind eclipses and why they happen. Also sure to be a big hit with visitors is the Sudekum Planetarium, where viewings combine the power of an optical star project that fills the room with more than 6.5 million stars with a high-definition dome system that projects animations to each horizon in the dome. adventuresci.org v COLUMBIA, S.C.

v JACKSON HOLE/GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WYO.

The eclipse reaches Wyoming at 11:34 a.m. MT and leaves the state at 11:49 a.m. Jackson Hole will experience totality for approximately 2 minutes and 17 seconds. National Park and valley times vary depending on location but run as long as 2 minutes and 21 seconds. Visitors to the Jackson Hole Valley can expect dramatic views of the shadows crossing the valley. Wyoming Stargazing, an educational nonprofit will host numerous events in and around Jackson on the day of the eclipse. Attendees will get the opportunity to look through solar telescopes to learn more about sunspots and solar flares, in addition to receiving assistance to get their own cameras ready to document the event. wyomingstargazing.org/2017-solar-eclipse

The eclipse reaches South Carolina at 2:36 p.m. ET and leaves the state at 2:49 p.m. Columbia will experience totality for approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Columbia, S.C., gets the last best look at the eclipse before it leaves the country. The South Carolina State Museum is preparing to be the main East Coast viewing spot. The recently opened observatory features a vintage 1926 Alvan Clark refracting telescope, above, that offers beautiful views and will be open for nightly viewings leading up to the eclipse. The museum is also designing its own solar viewers to hand out to guests before the big day. museum.state.sc.us

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UP FRONT | ATTRACTIONS

Florida’s St. Augustine reaches a major milestone BY SARAH SEKULA

Visitors can explore the Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish fort completed in 1692, for a small admission fee.

Stroll down Aviles Street, the nation’s oldest street and home to eclectic gift stores, art galleries and adorable boutiques and restaurants. floridashistoriccoast.com

If you have energy left, climb the steps of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum for dreamy views of the Matanzas River. 81 Lighthouse Ave.; 904-829-0745; staugustine lighthouse.com

The real gem of the Ancient City is the coast, and the best way to explore it is via kayak. St. Augustine Eco Tours leads people through the narrow creeks of the estuary where dolphins, stingrays and manatees are known to roam. Or opt for a two-hour sailing excursion aboard a 27-foot Stiletto catamaran. Ask nicely and they might let you take control of the sails. The waters are gentle, so it’s a great place to learn. 111 Avenida Menendez; 904-377-7245; staugustineecotours.com

22 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

Top off the day with handcrafted cocktails at Ice Plant Bar & Restaurant, which was once a power plant in the early 1900s. 110 Riberia St.; 904-829-6553; iceplantbar. com

CLOCKWISE: FLORIDASHISTORICCOAST.COM (2); THINKSTOCK; ICE PLANT BAR; FLORIDASHISTORICCOAST.COM

IF YOU’VE NEVER been to St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, now’s the time. This year marks the 450th anniversary of the Ancient City’s founding by a Spanish admiral. Soak up some history while wandering among the city’s quaint coquina-crafted buildings and cobblestone streets. Plus, add these activities to your short list.


LIVE THE

Bayou Life

GO B E Y O N D

THE CLIMB! From shipwreck artifacts to paranormal

Just 45 minutes from New Orleans. Visit Bayou Lafourche and experience a different kind of life, filled with Cajun culture, food and fishing.

experiences, discover the stories of our Nation’s Oldest Port. For details and reservations, visit: www.staugustinelight house.org/usatoday

VISITLAFOURCHE.COM 877.537.5800

THE GATEWAY TO CAJUN COUNTRY & THE GULF OF MEXICO

Ormond Plantation

History DOESN'T LIVE ON

CABLE,

IT

Lives HERE.

Countless stories live within the walls and grounds of our plantations which have held watch over the mighty Mississippi for centuries. Plan your historymaking adventure today and have your own stories to tell.

Making a gumbo is spending time with friends and family. It’s fiddles on the front porch. It’s dancing till dawn and passing a good time.

/NolaPlantations 866.204.778Ó U 6ˆÃˆÌ "* °Vœ“

Discover what makes gumbo, gumbo at LafayetteTravel.com/Gumbo


UP FRONT | EVENTS

Carnival Time

BY ANNETTE THOMPSON

MARDI GRAS SEASON brings out glittery gowns, tiaras, dancing and parades all over the world. Typically, Carnival fêtes begin around Epiphany (Jan. 6) and reach a zenith on Mardi Gras (the day before the start of 40 days of Lenten simplicity on the Christian calendar). Match your party style with one of these five celebrations.

24 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

Save th Date! e

Celeb r Gras ate Mardi on Tu esd Feb. 9, 20 ay, 16.

GETTY IMAGES

Mark your calendar for the world’s best Mardi Gras parties


GETTY IMAGES (4); BOTTOM: JIM STEPHENS/ TRINIDAD & TOBAGO TOURISM; PHILLIP GOULD

SYDNEY In Australia’s Harbour City, the annual event adds a rainbow twist with the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, one of the largest events of its kind in the world. A two-week festival of glamorous parties and concerts culminates with a parade up Oxford Street. It’s a celebration of fabulous diversity. mardigras.org.au

NEW ORLEANS

RIO DE JANEIRO

Secret societies, dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, put on elaborate galas for their members and outlandish parades for the public. And while NOLA’s festivities are known for their raunchiness, that’s actually only a small part of the event. Sure, you’ll see heavy revelers in the French Quarter and The Marigny, but most NOLA parades course through neighborhoods where families picnic and kids hold out bags to catch the green, gold and purple “Throw Me Something, Mister” beads. mardigrasneworleans.com

It’s all about the Samba in the South American country of Brazil. The world’s largest Carnival hosts the be-all, end-all procession of dancers into the Sambodromo, a venue constructed solely for this event, in downtown Rio. Watch as locals in 6-foot headdresses shimmy down the street alongside a few hundred similarly clad performers. Then join in on the celebration at one of the famous street parties in Ipanema or Zona Sul. For a night you won’t forget, score a ticket to a Scala Ball, held nightly at the Scala Nightclub. rio-carnival.net

TRINIDAD

CAJUN COUNTRY

Known as J’Ouvert, Trinidad’s all-night celebration begins at 4 a.m. Monday with thousands of locals and tourists taking to the streets for the predawn party. Covered in oil, grease, paint, chocolate and mud, revelers dance to soca and calypso music until the sun comes up. After a nap, the fully costumed strutters chip (a shuffling, swaying dance) through the city in scantily clad costumes that often show more skin than glitter. And that’s only the warm-up for Carnival Tuesday. gotrinidadandtobago.com

A gumbo cook-off, a parade of royal dogs and an invitation to watch the kings, queens and courts at the Royal Gala are just some of the activities at this party in Southwest Louisiana. The main event? A chicken run in which locals riding horseback chase chickens and beg for gumbo ingredients. After that spree, you know the eating and zydeco are gonna be good. Close the party down in Lake Charles at the world’s largest tailgate for the Krewe of Krewes Parade. swlamardigras.com

25


UP FRONT | FOOD + DRINK

Mmm, Doughnuts! Make like Homer Simpson and indulge your love for everyoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s favorite sweet treat BY ALEXA ROGERS

THE ICONIC BREAKFAST food has become an anytime, anywhere snack. Get your fix without the morning commute (coffee optional!) at these shops you do-nut want to miss.

DECATUR, GA.

1

REVOLUTION DOUGHNUTS The simple and, some would say, revolutionary philosophy behind this shop is to restore the doughnut to its former glory by hand-making the treats with locally sourced, organic ingredients. Even the sprinkles are made with natural colorants from fruits and vegetables. For a classic taste of the South, try the Fresh Peach Slider with sliced local peaches stuffed into a yeast sugar doughnut. 908 W.

College Ave.; 678-927-9920; revolutiondoughnuts.com

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SPRINGVILLE, UTAH

2

ART CITY DONUTS Track down a roving food truck for these mini cake doughnuts. Flavors such as strawberry shortcake, Boston cream, chocolate cream pie and blueberry crumble will make you think you’re having dessert for breakfast. And since they’re mini, you don’t have to feel bad about eating two … or six. artcitydonuts.com

PORTLAND, ORE. WASHINGTON, D.C.

3

GBD Taking its name after the kitchen shorthand for “golden brown and delicious,” the shop located in funky Dupont Circle serves up deliciously sticky fresh doughnuts as well as crunchy fried chicken. Come by for happy hour and pair your craft beer with an apple fritter or a hot and fresh vanilla-glazed yeast doughnut. Beer and doughnuts? Homer would approve! 1323

Connecticut Ave. NW; 202-524-5210; gbdchickendoughnuts.com

5

VOODOO DOUGHNUT Voodoo takes a walk on the wild fried side with quirky doughnuts made to satisfy even the weirdest cravings (vanilla frosting, marshmallows and Tang, what?!). The shop has three Portland locations, conveniently open 24/7. If you dare, get the namesake treat — a chocolate-frosted, doll-shaped yeast doughnut with raspberry filling and a pretzel “stake” stabbed right through its heart. 22 SW Third Ave.;

503-241-4704; voodoodoughnut.com

CHICAGO

COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

4

THE DOUGHNUT VAULT Buttermilk old-fashioned. Wedding cake. Chocolate peanut butter softie. Key Lime crunch. What may sound like a dessert menu at a posh restaurant is actually the specials calendar for The Doughnut Vault. Every morning, the two bakeries whip up small batches from high-quality ingredients. In-theknow fans line up around the block to order their favorites before they sell out. There’s also a traveling Vault Van. 401 N. Franklin St.; doughnut

vault.com 27


UP FRONT | FOOD + DRINK

Chef Daniel Bruce of the Boston Harbor Hotel kicks off Boston’s wine fest.

uAt the 27th Annual

Good eats

South Beach shows off the nommies at the annual Food Network event.

Boston Wine Festival, the longest-running wine festival in the country, passionate gourmands can attend up to 35 events. During the Grand Opening Reception, more than 50 wines and original dishes prepared by top-tier chef Daniel Bruce will be served. Jan. 8-March 25, Boston Harbor Hotel; bostonwinefestival.net

uMore than 80,000 pounds of crusty bivalves are expected to be shucked and consumed at the fun-loving Lowcountry Oyster Festival, dubbed the world’s largest, in Charleston, S.C. The oneday party features oystershucking and oyster-eating contests, music and food vendors. Jan. 31, Boone Hall Plantation; charleston restaurantassociation.com

Awww, shucks!

Charleston, S.C., hosts the world’s largest one-day festival totally devoted to oysters.

Food and Wine Weekend takes full advantage of its picturesque alpine location in Beaver Creek, Colo. During the four-day fest you can snowshoe to gourmet lunches, ski with celeb chefs and attend candlelit dinners in the shadows of Rocky Mountain peaks. Jan. 21-24, Beaver Creek Resort; beavercreek.com

uSome 60,000 foodies

Eat, Drink, Be Merry

Food prep is an art at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.

Lose the winter blues at these popular epicurean events BY DIANE BAIR AND PAMELA WRIGHT

SAMPLE LOCAL DISHES, try new flavors, sip world-class wines and learn from renowned chefs at these top food and wine festivals around the country.

28 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

are expected to attend the Food Network and Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival, a gastro gala with 75 events. Highlights include a large beachside tasting village and demonstration stations led by well-known chefs. Feb. 24-28, South Beach, Fla.; sobefest.com

uThe star-studded Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival in California showcases 250 wineries and nearly 100 wellknown chefs at wine tastings, cooking demos and exclusive dinners. March 31-April 3, various locales; pbfw.com

FROM TOP: BOSTON WINE FESTIVAL; GETTY IMAGES; LOWCOUNTRY OYSTER FESTIVAL; GETTY IMAGES; STEELHEAD VINEYARDS

uThe Beaver Creek


UP FRONT | FOOD + DRINK

Enjoy transporting dining experiences at Sushi Roxx and Cienfuegos, bottom left.

NEW YORK CITY

Some restaurants have a way of transporting diners to far-off lands BY ASHLEY DAY

RESTAURANTS THAT SERVE up authentic tastes help you experience foreign cultures, relive favorite travel experiences and take comfort in the flavors of home. These tables have the power to carry you away to somewhere warm, exotic or nostalgic without ever leaving the restaurant.

30 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

SURF BAR

CIENFUEGOS

SUSHI ROXX

Few Brooklyn institutions are as unique as Surf Bar and its famous sand floor. Amid leis and festive lights, wannabe surfers and beachgoers can toast coastal destinations with Tiki drinks and dishes inspired by various surf locations. Yucca fries, Costa Rican-style eggs and Cali shrimp tacos will have you longing for a warmer climate, while Brooklyn Lager and the Sex on the Rockaway Beach cocktail delightfully distract cold locals. 139 N. 6th St., Brooklyn; 718-302-4441; brooklynsurfbar.com

It’s easy to overlook this second-story bar while reveling in the lively sites of East Village. But the surprise that waits at the top of the dark stairwell is worth seeking out. Cienfuegos’ wonderland of aqua colors, Roman Catholic kitsch and mismatched vintage chairs feels like a whimsical Cuban dream. Sip the rum cocktail of your choice, served to share in a blast-from-the-past punch bowl, and order authentic fare such as ropa vieja tostones. 95 Avenue A; 212-614-6818; cienfuegosny.com

Although this new hybrid restaurant/nightclub is located inside a hotel called The Tuscany, Sushi Roxx is all about Tokyo. Inspired by Tokyo nightlife, the Japanese décor will lead visitors to truly forget where they are. (Look for the sumo wrestler staring down from the ceiling.) Indulge in sushi rolls and a Roxx Box, a variation on the traditional bento, and enjoy dance performances by the servers as American pop plays in the background. 120 E. 39th St.; 212-726-9500; sushiroxxnyc.com

COURTESY OF THE RESTAURANTS

Travel by Dish


1 AIRPORT. 2 VACATIONS. Savannah, Georgia

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

flySAV.com

33rd Annual Heritage Days Celebration Sea Island Roots: A Celebration of Reconnection November 12th-14th

PENN CENTER

National Historic Landmark District A South Carolina Historical Legacy An American Cultural Treasure Sponsored by

WWW.PENNCENTER.COM


UP FRONT | FOOD + DRINK

AROUND THE COUNTRY

LE COLONIAL This fine-dining Chicago restaurant, which has a sister location in New York City, captures the French influences in Vietnam with a combination of colonial and Southeast Asian design elements and flavors. Detailed tiled floors, louvered shutters, lush greenery and rattan chairs bring a sense of enchantment to the two-story vintage rowhouse in the Gold Coast. Enjoy pho noodles and pork or shrimp rolls with themed beverages such as Saigon Gin. 937 North Rush St.; 312-255-0088; lecolonialchicago.com

COLUMBIA RESTAURANT

BOLLYWOOD THEATER Chef Troy MacLarty prides himself on serving authentic Indian street food at this Portland, Ore., hot spot. Naan is nowhere to be found, as it wouldn’t be in India, and local expats approve of dishes such as kati roll and pav bhaji, which do make the menu. The colors, smells and spices will transport you to the streets of Mumbai with steel dishware to boot. An outpost in Southeast Portland sells Indian spices and ingredients to bring the experience home. 2039 NE Alberta, Portland, Ore.; 971-200-4711; bollywoodtheaterpdx.com

32 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

COURTESY OF THE RESTAURANTS

Spend a day like Don Quixote in the Old World Spanish ambience of Florida’s oldest continually operating restaurant. Tampa’s Columbia draws guests into its open, airy courtyard through an elaborately tiled entryway. Expect fine service, traditional Spanish fare such as tapas and croquetas, and authentic sangria while enjoying the live flamenco dancing. For a true Ybor City experience, pair the local Cigar City Brewing’s ale with a signature Cuban sandwich. 2117 E. 7th Ave., Tampa; 813-248-4961; columbiarestaurant.com


Hit Play. Whether you’re in the mood for musical theatre or mainstage drama, dance performances or art house films, Gainesville has just the ticket. Visit the renowned Hippodrome State Theatre or make reservations at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts for award-winning performances year round. Combine your theatre tickets with

A Great Little Getaway...

fine dining and an overnight stay for a first-class

Visit VisitGainesville.com/getaway for Gainesville Getaway Game Plans!

Many choices, one decision—Visit Gainesville.

evening worthy of a standing ovation.


SLED ON! 7 GREAT PLACES TO RIDE THE SNOW BY KAREN ASP

S

PHOTO CREDIT

LEDDING IS ABOUT AS AMERICAN as baseball and Monopoly. Even if you don’t live in a four-season climate now, there’s a good chance that, as a kid, you raced down a snowy hill on a sled, a school lunch tray or even a piece of cardboard. So when the flakes start to fall this winter and you feel that nostalgic tug, grab your tube or sled and head to these great hills.


1

Hawksnest Snow Tubing

HAWKSNEST SNOW TUBING

SEVEN DEVILS, N.C. hawksnesttubing.com

If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve always associated North Carolina with sand, Hawksnest will surprise you. The largest snow-tubing park on the East Coast boasts 30 tubing lanes spread across four different areas. Lanes range from 400 to 1,000 feet long, and a conveyor lift will take you to the top (no trudging back up hills here!). Because the park makes its own snow, tubing generally begins around Thanksgiving and continues through March.

Arctic Plunge

2

ARCTIC PLUNGE SNOW TUBING

DAN HAM PHOTO; SAM DEAN PHOTOGRAPHY LLC

NASHVILLE marriott.com/hotels/travel/bnago-gaylordopryland-resort-and-convention-center A snow-tubing park may be the last thing you expect to find in Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s music capital, where temperatures are in the 50s for most of the winter. Yet, for the first time last year, the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center dumped 1.5 million pounds of real snow on its lawn to create six extreme lanes of snow-tubing fun. Pair your tubing with a glide around the 6,000-square-foot outdoor ice rink for the perfect winter outing. This year, the fun starts on Nov. 20 and continues through Jan. 2, 2016.

35


Mt. Bachelor’s

3

MT. BACHELOR’S SNOWBLAST TUBING PARK

BEND, ORE. mtbachelor.com

Bend isn’t only a hot spot for craftbeer connoisseurs, it also boasts a tubing park that will knock the socks off even the most experienced sledders. Opening around Thanksgiving and hosting visitors through early April on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, Mt. Bachelor’s Snowblast Tubing Park features runs that will whisk you 800 feet down the mountain. No worries about crawling your way back to the top — a handle tow whisks you back up almost as quickly as you came down.

MINNEAPOLIS minneapolisparks.org

In Minneapolis, which averages 54 inches of snow a year, there’s bound to be a great tubing hill, and the one at Theodore Wirth Park is it. Not only does it have wide lanes for tubers to zip down, it also features a unique tow rope. Plan your fun here between mid-December and March. And if Minnesota’s chill becomes too wicked to handle, visit the café inside the historic and rustic Theodore Wirth Chalet to warm up and sip hot chocolate.

36 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

MIKE PUTNAM; MINNEAPOLIS PARK & RECREATION BOARD

4

THEODORE WIRTH REGIONAL PARK

Theodore Wirth


For an Affordable Getaway, Look to these FREE Crawford County Attractions. Pittsburg State University Veterans Memorial Amphitheater, Pittsburg

Cato Historical School House, Cato

Miners’ Hall Museum, Franklin

Mined Land Wildlife Area, Pittsburg

Crawford County Historical Museum, Pittsburg

1.800.879.1112 | VisitCrawfordCounty.com

SHOP, STAY & SAVE IN EAGAN MINNESOTA @ge] g^ l`] D9J?=KL Gmld]l EYdd af l`] Mhh]j Ea\o]kl Tax-Fr K`ghhaf ee _ ;dgl`]k gf  K`g]k

Eagan Convention & Visitors Bureau 0..%+*,%*.*( œ ]Y_Yfef&[ge


5

Heavenly Mountain

HEAVENLY MOUNTAIN RESORT

LAKE TAHOE, CALIF. skiheavenly.com

If you can brave Lake Tahoe’s vertical drops on your skis, then you’ll have no trouble mustering the courage to experience a 65-foot drop on a snow tube. Tubing on Heavenly’s Adventure Peak, which sits at an elevation of 9,100 feet, offers four lanes, each 500 feet long. The fun usually starts in mid-December and continues through the end of the ski season in mid-April.

Eurosled Snow Tiger Deluxe $125.73, rei.com

U P G R A DE

Lucky Bums double-rider foam sled $49.99, hayneedle.com

YOUR GLIDE

Erapro-Paris 26-inch Avalanche snow disc $17.93, amazon.com 38 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

Airhead Plastic Rocket sled $14.99, gandermountain.com

THINKSTOCK; COURTESY OF THE COMPANIES

While the traditional wooden toboggan and Flexible Flyer sleds look charming, today’s fastest rides come in bright colors and flashy styles. Update your sled for the season with one of these picks.


SUCCESSFUL IVF IN BARBADOS! In a recent survey of infertility patients, over 53% going through IVF in the USA said they were unhappy with their IVF provider. But there is a SUCCESSFUL alternative…. At Barbados Fertility Centre, we provide a personal treatment plan to increase your chance of success. Couples who need IVF can benefit from LOWER treatment costs, SHORT flight to the Caribbean, LESS stress away from home, and HIGH success rates all under one roof at our state of the ART JCI accredited centre of excellence for IVF. Be happy with your IVF provider and choose Barbados Fertility Centre, you will be in safe hands!

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Firecracker Hill

6

SOLDIER FIELD SLEDDING HILL

CHICAGO soldierfield.net

The beloved home of the Bears turns into a frigid, marshmallow-y world every winter when throngs of sledders flock to the man-made hill at Soldier Field. The snow might not always be authentic — the Chicago Park District helps Mother Nature by supplying artifically made snow — but the excitement doesn’t get any more real, especially when flying down the 33-foot vertical drop. Just note that this hill is BYOS (bring your own sled).

40 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

7

FIRECRACKER HILL

TELLURIDE, COLO. visittelluride.com

If the name alone doesn’t intrigue you (as you may have guessed, it’s where the city sets off fireworks for the Fourth of July celebration), the views offered by the Firecracker Hill sledding mount surely will. As you whoosh down, you’ll catch glimpses of the San Juan peaks and quaint downtown Telluride. The hill is a brief walk from the Nordic ski trails on the southern side of Telluride Town Park — just follow the orange cones that make up the walking path. You can rent sleds at the Telluride Nordic Center, located between the park and the Ice Pavillion, or bring your own (an Ace Hardware store nearby sells them). Mother Nature usually provides enough snow by Thanksgiving for sledding to commence in what might be considered Telluride’s cheapest activity.

TELLURIDE TOURISM BOARD; CHARLES REX ARBOGAST/AP

Soldier Field


See the beauty as they saw it over 100 years ago, from Estes Park, Colorado. Base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park. Plan your winter escape today. VisitEstesPark.com/winter


21 TIPS AND TRICKS to make the planning, packing, getting there and enjoying the journey better than ever

PHOTO CREDIT

BY ALEXIS KORMAN

42 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016


#1 CHOOSING AND BOOKING THE PERFECT DESTINATION. You have vacation time to burn and an itch to get away. The problem? You don’t know where to go or how to book your travel. BE GOAL-ORIENTED. Don’t necessarily jump at the first chance to book a getaway. “Decide the purpose of your trip,” says Jennie Nunn, a travel and lifestyle journalist and L.A. editor for California Home + Design Magazine. “Ask yourself, are you really seeking a boozy, tropical getaway with umbrella drinks and see-through turquoise waters? Or are you hoping for a life-changing, soulful safari?” Determine the objective of your travel first, and the destination will follow. hack #1

CHECK (AND CLEAR) YOUR CALENDAR. Invest time in the research process, and if you want to save cash, don’t have your heart set on specific travel dates. “Think about general shoulder seasons like fall when kids are back in school, or early winter when Europe goes on sale,” says Brian Ek, travel analyst for Priceline.com. “And be flexible with your dates to cut costs significantly.” Like winging it completely? Blatant bargains can be found on last-minute hotel rooms via apps like Hotel Tonight, or try searching “tonight only” options on major travel websites for day-of deals. hack #2

WE ASKED A TEAM OF TRAVEL EXPERTS

THINKSTOCK

to weigh in on the world’s seven most-common trip concerns — from the unfriendly skies to food poisoning — and gathered real-life hacks so you’ll never need a vacation from your vacation again.

CONSIDER THE SOURCE. “Always compare deals on multiple websites such as Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity before committing, then call the hotel or resort directly in case there are any hidden or seasonal promotions; there often are,” says Nunn. Don’t forget to clear your cache and use private or incognito browsing mode when searching for airfare, too, as cookies track your searches, sometimes resulting in higher ticket prices. hack #3

43


#2 PACKING WHAT YOU NEED, KITCHEN SINK EXCLUDED. You have a habit of taking way more than you need whenever you travel, swearing you’ll “pack light” next time around. THROW YOUR OWN FASHION SHOW. If you hate looking sloppy on the road, this tip is key. “Turn on some music and use a mirror to help figure out what to bring with you,” says Michelle Won Park, founder of lifestylenerd.com. “The mistake many travelers make is thoughtlessly overpacking, so go through each day of your itinerary and figure out what you will be wearing, down to accessories. See if some of the articles can be reused to mix and match toward the end of your trip, cutting down on bulk.” hack #1

HAVE AN ESSENTIALS-ONLY MENTALITY. Ask yourself if you really need to pack that mud mask for a weekend getaway. “Keep a toiletry bag stocked with the bare minimum: a travel-size toothbrush, mini deodorant, toothpaste and face wash,” says Won Park. “But don’t overfill it, especially because most hotels or Airbnb hosts will provide for your main needs like shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion.” Ladies, you skip the overstuffed makeup bag, too. Now is the time to try sample-size makeup, perfume and skin products. hack #2

FILL EVERY NOOK AND CRANNY OF YOUR BAG. You know to always carry on your cargo, but are you using all available space in your suitcase? “That means filling any shoes with underwear and socks, rolling and stacking your clothes to save space, and putting your belt into your collar to keep the shape of your button-down shirts,” says Won Park. “If you want to get really fancy, you can vacuum-pack your clothes, but note that they may get wrinkly.” Bonus: Packing to capacity will help you resist the urge to overspend on souvenirs. hack #3

sed to articles can be reu "See if some of the

ard mix and match tow

the end of your trip, cutting down on bulk.”

— Michelle Won Park, founder of lifestylenerd.com

PACK LIGHT

#3 DUTY-FREE SHOPPING: AM I DOING THIS RIGHT? As you wait for your plane, you’re surrounded by stores filled with shiny new gadgets and fancy designer bags with claims of duty-free discounts. Should you splurge?

44 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

free, as these tend to yield bigger savings (and often aren’t available elsewhere). SKIP LUXURY GOODS. “There is a ton of fashion in duty free, but if you are shopping for ultraluxury brands, beware,” says Won Park. “Most labels like Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga are tightly controlled, so their price points will be similar anywhere you go.” Highend fashion houses also hack #2

rarely, if ever, mark down their products. THINK LOCAL. If you’ve forgotten to buy a souvenir or think carrying cheese in your bag for a week is less than ideal, food products can be a good purchase at duty free on the tail end of your trip. “Make sure the food item you’re buying is hard to find, though, and specific to the region you are visiting,” says Won Park. hack #3

THINKSTOCK

BE STRATEGIC. Keep in mind the old adage: Not all that glitters is gold. “Liquor and cigarettes are the top two categories that are great to buy at duty-free shops,” says Won Park. “You’ll save the most if the liquor is produced in the country that you’re in. But do a quick search on your phone to see how much you are actually saving.” If you’re looking for beauty products, choose packages that are designed specifically for duty hack #1


#5

#4 FLYING THOSE SOMETIMESUNFRIENDLY SKIES. The thought of sitting in a cramped space for hours on end doesn't appeal to you — but you have to fly (and on a budget!) to get to your destination. PLAN AHEAD TO MAKE YOUR FLIGHT HEALTHIER. If you want nutrient-dense foods at 30,000 feet, bring them with you — and yes, you can send food through security. “Protein is almost nonexistent in most in-flight meals, which tend to be heavy on carbs, rice or starch,” says Molly Kimball, a BOOK dietician and nutritional columnist and fitness THE BEST SEAT expert for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. ON THE “Pack a high-fiber, low-carb wrap with you to PLANE eat on the plane, along with string cheese and nuts to snack on." SeatGuru.com And while you’re at it, work at staying SeatExpert.com hydrated on long-haul flights. “Buy water bottles, more than you think you’ll need, post security, since you only get about one shot-glass worth on the plane,” says Kimball. “And since we tend to drink more liquids when they are flavored, stock up on Emergen-C or electrolyte tablets to add to your water.” hack #1

BE PROACTIVE AGAINST LOST LUGGAGE. Bust out the notepad before boarding the plane to inventory your belongings. “Make and bring along a pre-travel list of what’s in your luggage so that reporting any lost items will be much easier,” says Ek. “And if you’ve checked that suitcase, always pack a carry-on ‘battle bag’ with basic clothing and medical essentials you’d need to survive a few days sans luggage.” hack #2

GUARD AGAINST ANNOYING SEAT SWAPPERS. Don’t be afraid to politely decline a request to switch seats, unless it’s to aid a pregnant woman, a family traveling with infants or the elderly. “Unlike inside a movie theater, airplane seats are priced differently based on location and proximity to the front of the plane,” says Ek. “You may be giving up your seat for a less desirable and cheaper one. If you don’t want to swap, politely explain that your ticket was pricey, and you’d like to get what you paid for.”

THINKSTOCK

hack #3

EATING ON THE ROAD. You worked out and scrimped on calories to get in swimsuit shape, but those healthy habits must have missed your flight. How do you stay on track and avoid returning to work sunburned and bloated, or, even worse, eating something that doesn’t agree with you? NEGOTIATE BETWEEN YOUR HOME DIET AND “VACATION MODE.” “Ask yourself what is worth splurging on when traveling,” says Kimball. “And when you’re ready to indulge, do it unapologetically. If you’re in France and you know you could be eating great baguettes and cheese, go with what’s worth it.” But anticipate your schedule to help plan meals so you don’t overeat. If you know that later in the day you’ll be splurging on a rich, local dinner, skip a heavy hotel breakfast in lieu of fresh fruit, or shop at a local grocery store to help you plan at least one fresh, healthy meal while traveling. hack #1

BIGGER CAN BE BETTER. While outlandish travel TV shows compel us to throw caution to the wind and sample street meat or ingredients we’ve never been exposed to before, sometimes it pays to be conservative, especially if your stomach isn’t a steel trap. While never a 100 percent certainty, you can lower the odds of food poisoning by eating in bigger restaurants, often located in hotels. These establishments have the highest chance of being inspected on a regular basis, says Ek. “While not as adventurous as street food or that local spot down the alley, it might be the better bet,” he says. hack #2

ASK BEFORE YOU INSTA. New apps like Table8 and Killer Rezzy make it easier than ever to score a seat at one of the hottest tables in town. But if you want to Instagram your latest meal, check first before whipping out that phone. “When making a reservation at a notable eatery, ask permission (to) take pictures of your meal before you start snapping away, if that’s your thing,” says Kelli White, sommelier at PRESS Restaurant in St. Helena, Calif., and author of Napa Valley, Then & Now. “It’s a courtesy that goes a long way with staff.” hack #3

45


HOTEL DRAMA. You pored over online reviews before booking what seemed like the perfect room. But as you pull up to the hotel lobby, your excited smile turns upside down.

PACK A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. If you’re experiencing a hotel horror, do not overreact. “A smile goes a long way; boorish and overbearing behavior gets you the worst room in the house,” says George Jordan, senior vice president of operations at Oxford Hotels & Resorts. “When a complaint is required, less is more. Class gets class and a quicker resolution.” Remember, you’re on vacation. hack #1

MONEY TALKS. Tipping generously, especially in North America, can’t hurt. “Become friendly with the hotel concierge,” says Jon Makhmaltchi, founder of J.MAK Hospitality. In addition to offering a friendly attitude, hack #2

that means keeping plenty of small bills on hand to reward great intel or inspire an upgrade. “You can trust that concierges are in the know and can also help resolve issues,” says Makhmaltchi. DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR HOTEL BILL. Sometimes advertised “freebies” don’t translate off of the Web. “Make it a habit to bring a copy of the hotel listing and your confirmation with you,” says Ek. “It provides documentation that you’d been promised things like free breakfast or free Wi-Fi, and will be more effective in getting results.” If necessary, engage your online travel agency for a refund or credit. hack #3

#7 STAYING HAPPY AND HEALTHY ON YOUR ADVENTURE. It’s here! The vacation you’ve been planning and dreaming of for months! But you’re not really in the mood to enjoy it. What’s the deal? KEEP UP DAILY ROUTINES ON THE ROAD. If your food and exercise plan works well for you at home, keep it up while you travel. Drastically changing your daily routine can result in low energy and gastrointestinal problems. “If you take vitamins and supplements regularly at home, use Ziploc bags to take them with you,” says Kimball. “Don’t give up healthy habits just because you’re traveling. If it matters enough to do it at home, it matters enough to do it on the road.” That means walk as much as you can and hit the hotel gym if possible: Your scale will thank you when you return. hack #1

46 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE. “Maintain anything positive that you do regularly to start or end your day, whether it’s prayer, meditation, positive affirmations or reading,” says Kimball. If you don’t want to haul books, download meditation apps, relaxing nature sounds or podcasts to keep yourself in good spirits. “These daily practices can have a positive impact on your health, and even a good influence on your traveling partner,” says Kimball. hack #2

BRING A SMALL HEALTH KIT ON THE ROAD. Skip bringing bottles, but make room hack #3

BRING THOSE HEALTHY HABITS!

in your suitcase for a few sheets of select pharmaceuticals, like decongestants, pain relievers and Pepto-Bismol, along with antibacterial wipes to clean tray tables, TV remotes and hotel phones. “And remember, always wash your hands!” says Jordan. “Pack that hand sanitizer and use it every time you see it.”

“If it matters enough to do it at home, it matters enough to do it on the road.”

— Molly Kimball, dietician and nutritional columnist and fitness expert for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans

THINKSTOCK

#6


HACKS S UR V I V I N G HOLI DAY S ON TH E RO AD Along with seeing friends and family, the holidays mean crowded airports and packed roads. Lessen the aggravation by following these stress-busting strategies.

TRAVEL ON LESS BUSY DAYS. Avoid the crush by not

driving or flying on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving or on Dec. 24, traditionally the heaviest travel days. Consider departing early by plane or car on Thanksgiving or Christmas Day if you can make it to your destination for the heart of the family celebrations. The actual holidays also tend to be the cheapest days to fly.

CONSIDER A SMALLER AIRPORT. Regional airports, as

opposed to major hubs, come with the conveniences of easier parking and smaller crowds as well as shorter check-in and security lines. These advantages can outweigh any added drive time required to get from the gate to your downtown destination. Instead of flying into Boston’s Logan International Airport, ranked on Orbitz’s list of the busiest airports for Thanksgiving travel this season, consider landing at Manchester Boston Regional in New Hampshire, 50 miles north of Boston.

BRING THE CORRECT DOCUMENTS. When crossing

an international border — heading to a Mexican beach, Canadian ski resort or other international destination — with a minor child, it’s wise to bring a copy of the child’s birth certificate plus a notarized letter of consent from the stay-at-home parent authorizing the travel. In cases of divorce, you may be asked to show the custody decree as well. If the other parent has died, a copy of the death certificate may be requested. Since rules — established to thwart child abduction by non-custodial parents — differ by country, always check with your destination’s embassy or consulate.

MAKE “WHAT IF” PLANS.

When meeting friends or relatives at a destination or airport, don’t rely only on cellphones. Go low-tech, too: Just in case your phone dies or service isn’t available, develop a Plan B on how to meet up and what to do in case of missed connections.

LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD.

Mail your gifts ahead of time. This adds room in your car and can save you money on luggage fees when flying.

PACK INSURANCE CARDS AND PERMISSION FORMS.

If your son’s buddy comes along on your dude ranch trip and he breaks a wrist falling off a horse, you will need a copy of his family’s insurance card plus a notarized statement from his parents authorizing you to obtain medical help in case of emergency. Without these documents, the hospital may only make him comfortable until his parents can be contacted.

THINKSTOCK

— USA TODAY Travel

48 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016


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THINKSTOCK

IENNE BY ADR

J O R DA N


ES CAP E WI NT E R B L U E S AT O N E OF ME XICO’ S LAST S L E E P Y B E A C H GE TAWAY S, A NAT URE - LOV E R’ S PARADI SE

52 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

plethora of delights for all types of travelers. Adventurers flock here for the kitesurfing and fly-fishing opportunities, and foodies indulge in the quaint restaurants, which serve fresh lobster and grouper caught by locals. Wildlife-watching is unsurpassed (as part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve, Holbox hosts a bounty of horseshoe crabs, white pelicans, flamingos, whale sharks and other exotic species). The authentic, slow pace of life here (instead of cars, golf carts are the preferred mode of transporttation) and warm, welcoming locals create a unique destination, truly one of the last sleepy Mexican beach towns.

MA RIN E E N COU N T E R S The deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, about 45 minutes offshore from Isla Holbox, are home to the pride and joy of the island: whale sharks. The shark’s double dorsal fin, intricately spotted body and 5-foot-long mouth that seems like a neverending smile delight locals and tourists alike. The world’s largest fish, which can reach lengths of 40 feet, is safe to swim alongside. Murals, T-shirts, souvenirs and wooden signs throughout the island

MARCO BADALIAN PHOTOGRAPHY

elcome to Mexico’s Havana, Isla Holbox. A clear blue sky and warm turquoise waters complement the pastel-hued buildings in town. Fishermen walk through the colorful village swinging their catch of the day. Calls from sea eagles provide a calming staccato, and a backdrop of tangled red mangrove trees form a picturesque border. Holbox, which means “black hole” in Yucatec Maya, is a 26-mile-long island separated from the mainland of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula by a shallow lagoon. It’s one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets, a short ferry ride from the small town of Chiquila, which is a two-hour drive from Cancun. Although still undiscovered by many, the small island offers a


TOP: MARCO BADALIAN PHOTOGRAPHY; ANDREA WYNER (2)

This beachfront property, centrally located near the shopping district, has it all. There are gorgeous pools, daily yoga classes and spa services. Décor from locally sourced antiques and artisan-made colonial furniture give this hotel a unique vibe. holboxcasalastortugas.com beckon people to “Swim with Whale Sharks.” “Are you nervous?” asks Wilbert, my guide through VIP Holbox Experience, a tourism agency. I respond in the affirmative when we locate a whale shark in the vast blue sea after almost an hour of searching by boat. “Good, you should be excited,” he responds. Fins, moving with enthusiasm and peeking out of the water, give the whale sharks away. I jump into the sea with my snorkel and immediately one of the giant fish swims inches from my face. The fish is so close I can easily reach out and touch it, but I am stopped by the knowledge that they are sensitive and swimmers should avoid contact. I am more than happy with my magical moment staring into the whale shark’s eyes, watching the

53


W HA L E SHA RK BOAT TO UR

54 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

BEACH H OPPING What better way to explore the region than by visiting some of the tranquil mini-islands minutes away from Holbox?

My VIP Holbox Classic Tour takes me by boat to these popular points of interest. We start at Punta Mosquito, where hundreds of pink flamingos shake, eat and bask in the sun on the beach. Only birds can sunbathe here, so we observe from a distance the flamingos and pelicans, white ibis and reddish egrets, spoonbills and cormorants, dozens of them scouring for fish to eat. When we get to Isla Pajaros, or Bird Island, we encounter a bridge that serves as an observation point for the small mangrove-covered island, home to more than 150 different types of birds. We watch eagles soar overhead and catch a couple of iguanas wrestling on the sand. Next, we pay a visit to Passion Island, an intimate and secluded romantic destination. We see birds feeding, and I spot an osprey scanning the water for prey. At the last stop, Yalahau, we swim inside a cenote, or sinkhole, believed to be used by pirates as a fresh water supply centuries ago.

F R E SH E AT S After a day of adventure, the only thing left to do is indulge in a hearty island meal with drinks. Mandarina Beach Club’s multivitamínico juice is just what the doctor ordered: a heavenly mix of fresh mango, mandarin oranges and

VIP HOLBOX EXPERIENCE

The tour company is owned by Willi Torfer, who has 20 years of experience exploring Holbox with tourists. The personal touch is evident in the tour guides’ warm personalities and efforts to ensure that guests and families are comfortable during excursions. The team is dedicated to raising awareness about the environment and preserving flora and fauna through measures such as encouraging the use of biodegradable sunscreen when swimming with marine life. vipholbox.com

huge mouth suck in plankton. After each guest has a turn making contact with these amazing creatures, we leave to snorkel in shallower water 20 minutes away. The area teems with marine life and I encounter many treasures: freckled hawksbill turtles, manta rays, nurse sharks and bright, tropical fish. We end our tour in the waters of Cabo Catoche, another small island off the waters of Holbox. The main attraction is the catfish that swim around my ankles with a fearless energy. Scattered throughout the island, mangroves with sparse branches attract slim, white storks, creating an ethereal landscape.


BRE AKFAST B EACHSIDE AT M AN DARINA

The beachfront restaurant serves up fresh organic food, including homemade bread, croissants, cakes and papaya jam for breakfast and homemade Italian pasta with pesto for lunch or dinner. The blend of Mediterranean and Caribbean cuisine is complemented by a full menu of fresh juices. www.holboxcasalas tortugas.com/dine-drink

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strawberry whipped up fresh at the bar. I sip on the frothy concoction and take in the landscape — beautiful enough to be painted with soft sand, perfect for an evening stroll. The restaurant’s bohemianchic décor flows out past the dining area, where curtains drape the cabanas and blow in the evening breeze and colorful hammocks dangle from the trees. I take in the scenery while feasting on succulent grilled shrimp seasoned with garlic; delicious avocado and sweet-corn tartare completes the flavorful entrée. Mandarina’s claim to fame is being one of the island’s

truly organic restaurants. The kitchen sources all ingredients locally, serving freshly caught fish, fruit from local purveyors and vegetables, produce and spices from the hotel’s own farm in the nearby village of Solferino. Argentinian chef Jorge Melul’s menu puts emphasis on the sea, serving seasonal seafood freshly caught by local fishermen. Melul previously ran an Italian-Argentinian restaurant in Buenos Aires, and he brings those touches to Holbox through such dishes as rack of lamb with mustard, honey and rosemary, as well as homemade ravioli with salmon. “There are a lot of Italian and Argentinian expatriots that live on Holbox, so we wanted to bring these locals flavors that they may be missing from their home countries,” says Mandarina Beach Club owner Francesca Golinelli. Making people feel at home in an island paradise — just the Isla Holbox way. ●

ANDREA WYNER

SW EETS F RO M MA NDA RI NA


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NORTHEAST | M Y TOW N

ALEXANDRA COUSTEAU’S

Washington, D.C. As the granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau, Alexandra shares the renowned explorer’s great love for waterways. She zig-zags the world as the founder of Blue Legacy International, a nonprofit working toward conservation and sustainable management of water, but she calls Washington, D.C., home.

BEST PLACE FOR

A SCENIC WALK “The C&O Canal started 100 years ago as a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River. Stretching 184.5 miles from the District into Virginia, it’s an endless opportunity to discover historical, natural and recreational treasures.” 1057 Thomas Jefferson St. NW; 202-653-5190; nps.gov/choh

Rock Creek Park is a large, urban forest. There are a multitude of trails that let you run, walk or bike for miles. … It's an absolute treasure.” 5200 Glover Road NW; 202-895-6070; nps.gov/ rocr

BEST PLACE TO

BEST PLACE FOR

READ A BOOK

ORGANIC EATS

“The gardens of Dumbarton Oaks. It’s a beautiful 1801 Federal-style house with extraordinary gardens. A wonderful place to read, wander and enjoy.” 1703 32nd

“There is a small but amazing farmers market in Dupont Circle on Sundays. Local and organic farmers from surrounding areas bring fresh and seasonal produce.” 20th St. NW;

St. NW; 202-339-6401; doaks.org

freshfarmmarkets.org

BEST PLACE TO

TAKE GUESTS “Every spring, nearly 1,700 cherry blossom trees lining Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin burst into color in a beautiful display of floral fireworks. People come from all over the country to see it during the precious few weeks a year they are in bloom.” 877-442-5666; nationalcherryblossomfestival.org

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: BLUE LEGACY INTERNATIONAL; THINKSTOCK; DESTINATION DC; GINA TOOLE SAUNDERS

— SARAH SEKULA


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NORTHEAST | V ER MON T

62 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016


Edson Hill Inn

Weekend on the Catamount Go inn to inn on the longest cross-country ski trail in the U.S. BY DIANE BAIR AND PAMELA WRIGHT

CATAMOUNT TRAIL ASSOCIATION

I

The 300-mile Catamount Trail follows remote wilderness routes, ski trails and old logging roads to traverse the length of Vermont.

magine gliding along trails that weave through the snowy, hushed forests of Vermont, stopping only to catch your breath and gaze at the surrounding mountain range. Ahead, you see the twinkling lights of a country inn and inhale the inviting aroma of a wood-burning fire, signs of home for the night. Vermontâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s forest and mountains are ideal for cross-country skiing. But at the end of the day, most of us love our creature comforts. You can have it on the Catamount Trail, the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s longest backcountry cross-country ski trail. The 300-mile-long network, divided into 31 sections, connects some of the best cross-country ski centers in the Northeast using wilderness routes, groomed ski trails, snowmobile trails and old logging roads. Along the way, there are parks and preserves, pretty towns and fine country inns. The Catamount Trail Association (802-864-5794; catamounttrail. org ) provides maps, instruction and information on trail fees and a variety of guided tours, but a favorite two-day itinerary is the self-guided, inn-to-inn excursion from Bolton Valley to Stowe (note that the degree of difficulty along this route varies considerably, so check association recommendations before you go).

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NORTHEAST | V ER MON T

DAY 1

DAY 2 Trapp Family Lodge No rdic Center

BOLTON VALLEY TO TRAPP FAMILY LODGE

700 Trapp Hill Rd., Stowe, Vt.; 800-8267000; trappfamily. com

64 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

TRAPP FAMILY LODGE TO EDSON HILL This section of the Catamount Trail (Section 23) runs mostly on the groomed trails of Stowe’s top four ski touring centers: Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe Mountain Resort, Topnotch Resort and Edson Hill. Ski the up-and-down, 12.7-mile route through dense woods in the shadow of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak (or select a shorter combination of trails). Then push on toward the plush Edson Hill Inn. The secluded country estate, set on 38 rolling acres, is fresh off a major renovation and boasts airy, contemporary rooms with gleaming dark-wood floors and vintage Vermont antiques. Most rooms have fireplaces and some have soaking tubs. Dinner in the inn’s restaurant is a bonus with dishes, such as duck-confit-stuffed mushrooms, apple-stuffed pork loin and house-made venison sausage, that feature local treats.

EDSON HILL INN The 1940s estate has eight luxurious guest rooms. 1500 Edson Hill Rd., Stowe, Vt.; 802-2537371; edsonhill.com

CLOCKWISE: CATAMOUNT TRAIL ASSOCIATION (2); EDSON HILL INN (2); TRAPP FAMILY LODGE (2)

TRAPP FAMILY LODGE The Austrianinspired resort has several dining options.

Visitors love the views and thrilling descents on this portion of the trail (Section 22) that travels 9.4 miles up and over Bolton Mountain. Start at the picturesque Bolton Valley Nordic Center (877-9265866, boltonvalley.com) and climb through a tunnel of snowy trees with peek-a-boo mountain views. Stop to rest at the historic Bryant Camp before making the switchback descent into the Nebraska Valley. The final leg is a gradual ascent to the Trapp Family Lodge (yes, the Sound of Music family) in Stowe. Set on 2,500 acres, the elegant, Tyrolean-style lodge has 96 rooms in the main lodge, plus luxury villas and guesthouses. It’s home to the first full-service cross-country ski center in the country, with more than 100 kilometers of trails. You could keep your skis on and explore the vast network, but instead head to the lounge for a cold pint of von Trapp Brewery craft beer made on premises, and later to the elegant, wood-paneled dining room for dinner. You’ll sleep like a baby under soft linens and feather-light comforters.


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At Hershey’s Chocolate World, guests view the process of turning cocoa beans into chocolate bars. Get free samples at the end of the ride!

Snack Central PA Explore a region rich with tasty factory tours

T 66 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

here’s a good chance your favorite sweet or salty treat hails from one place: central Pennsylvania. The rural region is home to both small artisanal producers and popular global brands. The best part? You can tour — and taste — at many of them.

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The Turkey Hill Experience explains the science and art of making ice cream.

Martin’s manufactures chips, popcorn and pretzels at its York County factory.

Utz Quality Foods produces 1 million pounds of potato chips each week.

TURKEY HILL EXPERIENCE

MARTIN’S POTATO CHIPS

UTZ QUALITY FOODS

Lancaster County is known for its rich agricultural heritage, and the region’s dairies supply milk for Turkey Hill’s 100-plus ice-cream flavors. While you can’t tour the actual factory, a trip to the nearby Turkey Hill Experience is the next best thing. Created with kids in mind, the Experience features interactive displays outlining the manufacturing process. A ball pit demonstrates homogenization, while an arcade-style video game has players blasting bad bacteria. The crème de la crème of the Experience, however, is the Taste Lab, where participants get to make — and eat! — their own flavors of ice cream. Both the Experience and Taste Lab charge admission, and reservations are required for the Taste Lab (arrive at least an hour beforehand so you can complete the Experience tour first). 301 Linden St., Columbia, Pa.; turkeyhillexperience.com

“York County has been doing craft since before it was cool,” says Louise Heine, destination marketing director for the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “If you want to learn where your favorite foods come from and how they are made, then hands down there’s no better place to explore than York County, Pa.” A favorite stop is Martin’s. Its kettlecooked chips please snackers from Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania Avenue (they’ve been served on Air Force One). The free tour takes you right onto the factory floor, where you can watch chips and kettle corn being made. (Hair and beard nets are provided, and closed-toe shoes are a must.) You’ll even get to taste still-warm snacks, straight from the fryer. Located about 20 minutes from Hanover, the Martin’s factory offers tours on Tuesdays; call ahead for reservations, which are required. 5847 Lincoln Highway West, Thomasville, Pa.; yorkpa.org

Yet another reason the area is known as the Snack Food Capital of the World is potato-chip purveyor Utz Quality Foods. According to the Pennsylvania Tourism Office, Utz is the largest independent, privately held snack brand in the U.S., producing more than 1 million pounds of potato chips a week. While you can’t step onto the factory floor, you can watch the whole production, from peeling to packaging, from a glass-enclosed walkway on a self-guided tour. Start your Utz “chip trip” by viewing a film about Utz’s history, then visit a glass-enclosed observation gallery, where you’ll learn about the manufacturing process. Don’t miss the complimentary bag of chips at the end. Tours, generally offered Monday through Thursday, are free; call ahead to confirm available times. 900 High St., Hanover, Pa.; utzsnacks.com

“From pretzels and potato chips to chocolate and ice cream, central Pennsylvania is a hot spot for manufacturing some of the world’s favorite products.” — Michael Chapaloney of the Pennsylvania Tourism Office

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TURKEY HILL DAIRY; YORK COUNTY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU (3)

NORTHEAST | PEN NSY LVA N I A


Hershey’s Chocolate Tour at Chocolate World takes guests through a “roaster” that mimics the process cocoa beans go through on their way to becoming chocolate.

THE HERSHEY COMPANY

HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE WORLD & THE HERSHEY STORY A discussion of central Pennsylvania snacks and treats wouldn’t be complete without the granddaddy of them all: Hershey’s. The chocolate-maker offers two different tours in the town that bears its name. At Chocolate World, located next to The Hersheypark amusement park, visitors can hop aboard a free 30-minute ride that details the chocolate-making process, from cacao to Kisses. For additional fees, you can create your own candy bar, solve

an animated 4-D chocolate mystery or take a 75-minute old-fashioned trolley tour of the town. (As you drive down Chocolate Avenue, look up; the streetlights are shaped like Hershey’s Kisses.) The Hershey Story museum, which charges admission, showcases artifacts from the company’s early days, personal effects from founder Milton Hershey and interactive exhibits about the company and the town built around it. For an additional fee, book a spot in the Chocolate Lab workshop, which offers opportunities to learn more about chocolate and even make your own. Hershey’s Chocolate World: 251 Park Blvd., Hershey, Pa.; hersheys.com/chocolateworld The Hershey Story: 63 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, Pa.; hersheystory.org

SNYDER’S OF HANOVER Pretzels are a huge part of central Pennsylvania’s history, thanks to the region’s strong German and Pennsylvania Dutch roots. York County is home base for America’s largest manufacturer of the crunchy, twisty snacks: Snyder’s of Hanover. On the factory's guided walking tour, suitable for ages 5 and up, guests view warehouses, the oven room and the packing room, where robotic arms sort boxes for shipping. You’ll want to spend some time browsing the on-site factory store, where you can sample and stock up on Snyder’s-Lance products at a deep discount. Tours — conducted Tuesday through Thursday — are free, but reservations are required. 1350 York St., Hanover, Pa., snydersofhanover.com ●

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| LOC | AT NORTHEAST REGION N EW IONYOR K

The Adventures by Disney New York City tour comes with VIP access to special events and activities.

How Disney Does New York On a VIP tour, even locals can get a fresh look at the Big Apple

70 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

California, Wyoming, Italy, Scotland, Germany and Norway. On the four-day/three-night New York tour ($2,529 per child and $2,649 per adult, including hotel and most ADVENTURES BY meals), first-timers to the Big DISNEY OFFERS Apple, frequent visitors and even locals can get swept up in the special treatment, backstage access, private events and extendedDESTINATIONS family feeling that Disney encourages. TO EXPLORE At Disney’s Time Square Studios, our group went behind the scenes of ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) during a live

30+

KENT PHILLIPS/DISNEY

N

ew Yorkers take pride in how well they know their city, but even this native New Yorker was in for a few surprises on a recent Adventures by Disney (ABD) tour. The New York City Long Weekend tour is one of dozens of ABD excursions that explore destinations around the world. The program promises an authentic experience, with a “touch of Disney magic,” in places such as

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^ There were 65.6 million

visitors to NYC and Long Island combined.*

^ Hospitality and Tourism

^ In 2014, Hospitality and

^ Health services added

is the fifth largest employer

Tourism was a 66.9 billion

the most jobs of any

in New York state.

dollar industry in NYC and

major industry sector

Long Island combined.

since April 2014.

sjcny.edu SJC Long Island ^ 631.687.4500 SJC Brooklyn ^ 718.940.5800

TRADITION. INNOVATION. EXCELLENCE.

*Tourism statistics included from reports in Newsday, New York State Department of Labor, www.nyc.gov, www.nycedc.com and www.nycgo.com


| AT NORTHEAST REGION | LOC N EW IONYOR K

ADVENTURES BY DISNEY IN THE U.S. Visitors to New York City don’t get to have all the fun. Adventures By Disney offers tours in several U.S. destinations, including the following itineraries (the cost of scheduled meals, lodging and activities are included in the price).

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Disney Broadway show Aladdin — was another highlight of the weekend. After learning about the history of this magnificent theater, which was built at the turn of the century, we visited the Disney Broadway costume and prop room and were invited to play dressup with authentic treasures from shows such as Mary Poppins, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. We even rubbed the Aladdin genie lamp. Later that evening, we enoyed a private party with appetizers before taking our seats for a performance of Aladdin. After the show, we stayed in our seats for a talk-back that included a few ensemble members and Aladdin himself, the talented Adam Jacobs. This last bit of Disney magic was just one more surprise this New Yorker never could have pulled off on her own.

uThe Nashville Long Weekend (four days/three nights) features a private guided experience backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, the chance to meet professional songwriters at the famous Bluebird Café and the opportunity to record a song at RCA Studio B. Starting at $2,149 for children and $2,269 for adults.

The writer and her daughters, above, enjoyed backstage access to the Aladdin show on Broadway and a taping of Good Morning America.

uDuring the San Francisco Long Weekend (four days/three nights), guests get a private, “behind-the-magic” look at the Walt Disney Family Museum, take a tour of San Francisco Bay, and visit the Lucasfilm production company (which includes a private screening in the theater). $2,589 for children and $2,719 for adults.

uThe Winter in Wyoming Long Weekend (four nights/five days) offers dog sledding, campfires and hot springs, with stops at Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole. $4,029 for children and $4,239 for adults. For more information, visit adventuresbydisney. com.

STACEY ZABLE

taping. We were taken into the Green Room and the control room, peeked inside the anchors’ dressing rooms and spent time on the set as the show was being filmed. We were then whisked uptown to Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield — where GMA’s Summer Concert Series was being filmed — and enjoyed VIP access as country singer Luke Bryan took the stage. That night, we toured the Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 97 Orchard St., which was once home to nearly 7,000 immigrants. Today, costumed interpreters portray apartment residents who lived there in the 1800s and early 1900s and offer a glimpse into what their lives were like. An after-hours dinner at the museum brought the immigrant experience to life as we sampled food from the neighborhood’s eclectic mix of international cuisine. A private tour of the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street — a historic landmark and current home to the


Scan this QR to visit our mobile site and get your keys to Vicksburg.

/VisitVicksburg


SOUTHEAST | M Y TOW N

KAKÁ’S

Orlando, Fla. As the highest-paid Major League Soccer player in the world, Kaká (Ricardo Izecson dos Santos Leite) is active to the nth degree. The Brazilian superstar, an attacking midfielder for the Orlando City Soccer Club, shares some of his favorite places off the field. — SARAH SEKULA

EAT BRAZILIAN FOOD “Black Fire Brazilian Steakhouse. They serve great churrasco grilled meats. I personally love the traditional top sirloin called picanha. The system is all-you-can-eat, and they also have made-to-order pasta and sushi.” 8594 Palm Pkwy., Lake Buena Vista; 407-477-7771; blackfirebull.com

(In Windermere, Fla., about 30 minutes from Orlando) there is wildlife all over the place, from anhingas drying their wings to baby turtles and alligators, occasionally.” town.windermere.fl.us

BEST PLACE TO

BIKE

RELAX

“The West Orange Trail is a great way to learn more about Central Florida while exercising and enjoying the awesome rural and suburban landscapes. It’s smooth and goes through historic towns.” 501 Crown

“Golf course at the Four Seasons Hotel. As an athlete, I really enjoy some peaceful moments relaxing my mind and body from the daily training. It helps me develop my golf skills, and I love the atmosphere and nature.” 10100 Dream

Point Cross Rd., Winter Garden; 407-654-1108; orangecountyfl.net/ CultureParks/Parks

Tree Blvd., Lake Buena Vista; 407-313-7777; fourseasons.com

BEST PLACE FOR

KIDS TO RUN WILD “Lake Eola. The lake shore is a great place to have them do a picnic, chase some squirrels and kick a soccer ball. The outdoor evening movie sessions and the downtown skyline also give the place a special atmosphere.” 512 E. Washington St., Orlando; www. cityoforlando.net/parks/lake-eola-park

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CLOCKWISE: THUNDERCLAP PHOTOGRAPHY; THINKSTOCK (3)

BEST PLACE TO

BEST PLACE TO


WARNING

Cell phone may drop in water. (On purpose.)

History and romance meet between the rivers of the Chesapeake Bay â&#x20AC;Ś come stay in one of our

beaches, wine and heritage trails, quaint towns, and pristine nature.

www.NorthernNeck.org

Explore - To Traverse for the Purpose of Discovery. Exploring is discovering what is meaningful to you and your partner. It can be exploring quaint small towns and antique shops, sharing a delicious meal, enjoying murals or a live performance, or escaping to a charming bed and breakfast. Mercer County is looking for explorers. Discover what is here for you.

(800) 221-3206 | VisitMercerCounty.com


SOUTHEAST | T EN N ESSEE

Elvis Presley poses with his 1956 Lincoln Continental in this undated photo. Born in Tupelo, Miss., in 1935, he died at his Memphis home, Graceland, on Aug. 16, 1977.

Going to Graceland Tour the home and resting place of the original hip-shaker

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different than most people’s. As a former White House correspondent, I visited 65 countries and all 50 states. While tailing U.S. presidents, I’ve been to most of the “must-go” places. And because of the security required to keep

POTUS safe, I saw many of the world’s greatest sights without throngs of people. Imagine, the Taj Mahal, the Sistine Chapel, the Egyptian pyramids … and no crowds. So a trip to Memphis may seem a little, well, pedestrian

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

I

crossed Graceland off my bucket list. I’m not a diehard Elvis fan. In fact, at the time of his death, I didn’t even know who Elvis was. But my list of can’tmiss destinations is a little

BY LORI SANTOS


MEMPHIS BLUES, SOUL, ROCK 'N' ROLL Justin Fox Burks

Andrea Zucker

Philip Parker

Justin Fox Burks

Craig Thompson

Philip Parker

Dan Ball Justin Fox Burks

SM

There’s something about Memphis that draws people in. Its music, energy and authenticity create a magical mix of people you just can’t experience anywhere else. This is the place you can trace the roots of your favorite songs – blues, soul, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B – and then hear who’s making musical history today. This is the place where fall-off-the-bone barbecue is a way of life, and innovative culinary trends have taken off. This is the place where history was made, and you can stand in the same spots where musical legends and Civil Rights leaders made their mark. When you come to Memphis, you’ll discover there’s magic in the mix. This is the place where you can create your own experiences and visit just the way you want.

Go to MemphisTravel.com or ILoveMemphisBlog.com.


SOUTHEAST | T EN N ESSEE

compared with my international travel. But I found the city to be a lovely, sleepy Southern town, long on barbecue and history. And, of course, full of the memory of Elvis. At the Presley family mansion, where Elvis died on Aug. 16, 1977, I expected schmaltz and high cheesiness. And yes, the strip along Elvis Presley Boulevard is kind of like that with fastfood joints, RV parks and businesses that are fairly run down and long in the tooth. But the tour through

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Graceland was captivating. I learned things I didn’t know and heard songs I didn’t realize Elvis sung. How did I miss this in my San Francisco-based youth? I took a peek at a spot-on 1950s kitchen and the famed Jungle Room with its greenshagged carpets. I walked through the bright-white foyer filled with family photos and the impressive trophy room in a converted racquetball court, where Elvis is said to have spent time the day he died. But most amazing was

watching the people who had trekked to the shrine. They were all ages and from all kinds of countries, speaking so many different languages. A huge number of people — probably original fans — were in the older demographic and used walkers and wheelchairs to get around (the place is handicap-friendly). It surprised me to see so many fervent faces, nearly 40 years after the King of Rock ’n’ Roll’s death. At his grave on the grounds of the estate,

some visitors even cried. The one area where the tour fell short was in providing insight about Elvis’ final days. In some ways, the historical record at Graceland drops off when things started to go south for the star, though it’s fairly common knowledge that his health was failing and drug use was suspected. The most recent pictures at the mansion do show him getting heavier and sweating profusely as he entertained. But there is no mention of the final years when he

JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY

Graceland guests visit the Meditation Garden where Elvis, his mother, Gladys, his father, Vernon, and grandmother, Minnie Mae Hood Presley, are buried. The garden offers free visitations daily from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m.


Alabama Scenic River Trail

Discover the magic of Natchez Celebrating 300 years on the Mississippi

CATFISH IN THE ALLEY®

Catfish & Blues

April 2

FOLLOW US ON:

natchezms300.com


SOUTHEAST | T EN N ESSEE

MAKE A WEEKEND OF IT Memphis has its own bit of shaking going on, as new establishments liven up the historic town. There’s music blaring on Beale Street, and you can get pulled pork barbecue or spicy ribs anytime. And there’s always Graceland.

▲ The Madison Hotel: This luxury boutique hotel has a fun package that lets guests play rock star for a night and even record at the famous Sun Studio — the very spot where Elvis got his start. The hotel’s rooftop bar, Twilight Sky Terrace, boasts extraordinary views of the mighty Mississippi and good food from chef Max Hussey, who brings in some San Francisco and New Orleans accents. 79 Madison Ave.; 901-333-1200; madisonhotelmemphis.com

▲ Hog & Hominy: Chefs Michael Hudman and Andy Ticer blend Italian food with Southern tastes in dishes like biscuit gnocchi. 707 W. Brookhaven Circle; 901-207-7396; hogandhominy. com

Porcellino’s: If Hog & Hominy is too crowded, go next door to this new sister restaurant with a craft butcher focus. It’s all about the meat here. 711 W. Brookhaven Circle; 901-762-6656; porcellinoscraft butcher.com

holed up in this incredible mansion of a house that, with all its elaborate nods to wealth, still reflects the over-the-top style of the sequined-andcaped performer. There’s not a word about drug use here, parties or even a hint that people around him took advantage of his fortune. And that’s a shame, as the circumstances

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surrounding Elvis’ death continue to fascinate. All in all, I found my trip to Graceland more than worth the walk that literally millions have taken, and I left admiring Elvis and this truly American story of a young, poor, very talented Southern boy who hit it big, very, very fast, and went down almost as quickly.

Rendezvous: You don’t have to come here for ribs; you can mail order them now. But you should clean your plate at this famous shrine to Memphis barbecue. 52 S. 2nd St.; 901-523-2746; hogsfly.com Graceland: Recently named the Best Music Attraction worldwide by USA TODAY’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards, Elvis’ estate averages some 600,000 visitors a year. On tap for 2016 is the opening of a 450-room Guest House at Graceland on Elvis Presley Boulevard. Doors are expected to open in October. 3717 Elvis Presley Blvd.; 800-238-2000; graceland.com

CLOCKWISE: JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY; MADISON HOTEL; HOG & HOMINY; GRACELAND

Above, Elvis’ former racquetball court now displays artifacts, including his Vegas jumpsuits. Left, the famous peacock-themed music room has an over-the-top style.


Whether you are an adventure junkie, history buff, or hutning relaxation, Russell County had what you are searching for! From world-class rapids to indian monuments to a scenic Riverwalk, the answer lies in Russell County, Alabama.

, AL

LIVE WELL, PLAY WELL,

HARTWELLeorgia G

Hartwell/Lake Hartwell awaits to explore, fish, hike, boat, bike, ski, camp, shop and enjoy. Just 90 minutes NE of Atlanta and one hour south of Greenville, SC could be your new hometown or your best vacation yet!

S TAY, S H O P, E AT

AND

ENJOY

Contact the Hart County Chamber at 706-376-8590, email hartchamber@hartcom.net

www.hart-chamber.org

S W E E T L I F E IN CITY OF FO R S Y T H

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Retro Roanoke What’s old is cool in this vibrant mountain town

PHOTO CREDIT

BY DIANE BAIR AND PAMELA WRIGHT

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BRENT MOORE; @CAMERON DAVIDSON/CAMERONDAVIDSON.COM; DIANE BAIR

V IRGIN I A | SOUTHEAST

W

here can you hike an iconic peak (McAfee Knob, a famous stop along the Appalachian Trail that’s prominently featured in the film, A Walk in the Woods), meet a reality TV star, polish your pinball skills and pay homage to the revered Queen of Steam locomotive, all in the same weekend? That would be Roanoke, Va. This former railroad town has hit some speed bumps over the years, but it’s emerging as a vibrant Little Engine That Could. “We’ve got everything that bigger cities do, on a more manageable scale,” says Taylor Ricotta of the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau. “And we’ve got this,” she says, indicating the Blue Ridge Mountains that ring Roanoke. Young professionals and retirees

Mountain Highs Roanoke pairs natural beauty with small-city perks.

alike are rediscovering downtown, moving into stylish condos in renovated spaces such as the former Woolworth’s. Meanwhile, microbreweries, adventure outfitters and food tours are popping up, a sure sign of impending hipness. Explore Roanoke’s retro side at these local haunts.

THAT OLD BLACK DOG MAGIC “Most people look at that and see an old railing. I see … a daybed,” says Mike Whiteside of Black Dog Salvage, who is co-host of the DIY Network reality show Salvage Dawgs. (Yep, looked like an old railing to us!) What about that pile of

83


SOUTHEAST | V IRGIN I A

This vintage Dr Pepper sign decorates the Roanoke skyline. The highlighted times are from a 1940s ad campaign, “Drink a bite to eat at 10, 2 and 4.”

Roanoke embraces the quirks of bygone days. Find old things you didn't know you needed at Black Dog Salvage, above. And try your hand at pinball machines from the 1930s to 1990s at Roanoke Pinball Museum, below.

1960s-era U.S. mailbags? “Pillow covers!” Transforming trash into treasure — and inspiring customers to do the same — is the name of the game at this 40,000 square-foot salvage yard/marketplace. This unlikely tourist attraction is a mecca of marble mantels, stained glass panels, store mannequin body parts and other detritus of demolition. A marketplace zone offers “refunked junk” for less-crafty types. And fans of Salvage Dawgs pose for photos with Whiteside, co-owner/co-host Robert Kulp and the eponymous black dog, Sally. 902 13th St. SW; 540-343-6200; blackdogsalvage.com

High Score! Kids gravitate to the games their grandparents may have played.

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Center in the Square houses a collection of museums and a performance venue, all worth a look. But for sheer fun, you can’t beat the new Roanoke Pinball Museum on the second floor. For a $10 entry fee (no scrounging for quarters), you can play 50-plus machines spanning the 1930s to the 1990s. Customers range from little kids to boomers in business suits. For curious types, there’s an open machine with

LEFT: DIANE BAIR (3); CHRISTINE NEFF

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Let us treat you like family,

Stay Here On Your Way There.

Nash County Travel & Tourism 100 Coastline Street, Suite 313 Rocky Mount, NC 27804 (252)972.5080 www.rockymounttravel.com

North Carolina


SOUTHEAST | V IRGIN I A

Trains! Little boys’ (and girls’!) dreams come true at the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Climb aboard a 1940s-era bus. Peek into the cockpit of a small private jet. Roam the rail yard with more than 50 vehicles, including the famous Norfolk & Western J 611 Queen of Steam, above, all at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

A FORK IN THE ROAD Any city worth its salt has a food tour now. The Historic Downtown Roanoke Food & Cultural Tour hits all the hot spots and comes with a generous dollop of local history. On this three-hour walking tour, you’ll make seven stops to sample eats ranging from high-falutin’ (peanut soup and spoon bread at the elegant Hotel Roanoke) to humble (a “cheesy Western” at the circa-1930 Texas Tavern). Like shrimp and grits, food and culture are a perfect pairing on this tour of culinary classics. 855-993-8687; tourroanoke.com

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OFF THE RAILS The Roanoke Railwalk links the downtown to the Virginia Museum of Transportation, but kids will want to run, not walk, to this destination, a wonderland of things that go. A $12 admission fee ($8 for kids ages 3 to 11) will get you up-close access to everything from airplanes to antique cars to model trains (including the beloved Thomas the Tank Engine). There’s a climb-in diesel cab, wired with audio from actual dispatchers, a warehouse filled with antique cars and a rail yard with an amazing array of historic locomotives and cabooses, made all the more exciting when a real train rumbles past on tracks next to the property. Rail fans, take note: The museum is home to several famous locomotives, including the Class J 611 passenger steam engine known as the Queen of Steam. 303 Norfolk Ave. SW; 540-342-5670; vmt.org. ●

We've got everything that bigger cities do, on a more manageable scale.” — TAYLOR RICOTTA, ROANOKE VALLEY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU

CHRISTINE NEFF (2); ROANOKE VALLEY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU

its innards revealed. Warning: You’ll stay longer than you planned. “We have people who come in when we open and stay all day, or until their fingers cramp up,” says manager Chris Rader. One Market Square SE; 540-3425746; roanokepinball.org


Meet Wade,

Bottlenose Dolphin, Folly Local

LIKES: Playing with kayakers, trips with the family, a good joke DISLIKES: Litter on the beach, autocorrect, politics FAVORITE SAYING: ´7KHUH DUH RWKHU ÀVK LQ WKH VHDµ 6R 7UXH BEST THING ABOUT LIVING ON FOLLY BEACH: The super friendly people

Charleston’s Beach Town

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HIGH POINT:

A UNIQUE FURNITURE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE We welcome you to our new full-service, interactive Regional Visitors Center for a complete listing of preferred interior designers who would love to help you turn your home into a fashion plate for world-class dĂŠcor. Contact us to receive a free furniture shopping packet today!

1634 N. MAIN ST., SUITE 102 HIGH POINT, NC 27262 336.884.5255 WWW.HIGHPOINT.ORG

SUMMER

L ABOARD! ALFOR THE GREATEST Christmas lights of Christmas Town USA in McAdenville, Holidays at the Garden at DSBG, ALL NEW Christmas-themed train ride in Belmont Purchase train tickets at:

www.TraintoChristmasTown.com

Minutes west of Charlotte | visitgaston.org


Lakes Marion & Moultrie cover 171,000 acres Boating & world class fishing year round

13 Championship golf course that you can play year round

Exit 98 off I-95 Santee, South Carolina For our visitors guide call 1-800-227-8510 www.santeecoopercountry.org

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Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail www.nps.gov/ovvi 864.936.3477 Cowpens National %DWWOHÀHOG www.nps.gov/cowp 864.461.2828 Kings Mountain National Military Park www.nps.gov/kimo 864.936.7921 Gaffney Visitors Center & Art Gallery 210 W. Frederick St. Gaffney, SC 29341 864-487-6244 #GetN2GaffneySC

www.getintogaffney.com


SOUTHEAST | T EN N ESSEE

Opened in 2015, Dollywood’s 307-room DreamMore Resort offers views of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The beloved country singer’s amusement park marks 30 years

B

BY SAM BOYKIN

ack when she was a teenager and aspiring country singer, Dolly Parton often visited an attraction near her home in Sevier County, Tenn., called Rebel Railroad. It was a small amusement park with a coal-fired steam train, general store and blacksmith shop. Even back then, Parton was dreaming big. “Before I ever became famous, I used to think if I ever make it, I’m going to come back to my hometown and build a park like Rebel Railroad for families,” she says. Of course Parton realized her musical aspirations — she is one of the world’s most honored and recognized female country performers — and also made good on her dream of opening an amusement park.

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Today, what was once Rebel Railroad is now Dollywood, Tennessee’s most-popular ticketed attraction. Located on 150 acres near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Dollywood welcomes about 2.5 million guests per year. This year, the Pigeon Forge, Tenn., park is celebrating its 30th anniversary and unveiling $5.5 million in upgrades, including new musical shows and a tram service. “I always hoped Dollywood would be successful, but I never imagined it would become this big,” says Parton. In 1970, Rebel Railroad changed ownership and was renamed Goldrush Junction. Over the years, a few new rides and attractions were added, including an outdoor theater and log cabins.

I’ve always been surrounded by good people, and that’s a big reason why Dollywood is so successful.” — DOLLY PARTON

COURTESY OF DOLLYWOOD; JAYNE CLARK

Dolly’s World


SOUTHEAST | T EN N ESSEE

92 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

Dollywood’s Wild Eagle roller coaster is designed so that riders sit on wings on either side of the track with nothing above or below them. The ride soars 21 stories above Dollywood, high above the Smoky Mountains.

peformances. The awardwinning Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas (on display through Jan. 2, 2016) features 4 million holiday lights and performances, including Dollywood’s A Christmas Carol. Parton’s domain goes beyond the amusement park. Next to Dollywood is the 35-acre Splash Country with water attractions, shops and restaurants. And about five minutes from the park is Parton’s Dixie Stampede, a

Wild-West-themed dinner theater. Parton, who spent much of 2015 touring Australia and Europe in support of her album Blue Smoke, says she divides most of her time between Nashville (where she lives with her husband of 49 years, Carl) and L.A. She visits Dollywood a few times a year, she says. Her favorite attractions are the musical shows, especially My People, which is

about Parton’s journey from the Tennessee mountains to music stardom. The show is special to her because it celebrates her family, and even features some of her relatives. “I’ve always been surrounded by good people, and that’s a big reason why Dollywood is so successful,” she says. “It’s hard to believe it all started 30 years ago, and I feel so lucky that others love it as much as I do.” ●

JAYNE CLARK; STEVEN BRIDGES

The park changed hands again in 1977 when brothers Jack and Pete Herschend of the Branson, Mo.-based Herschend Enterprises purchased it and renamed it Silver Dollar City Tennessee. The Herschend brothers, pioneers of a number of tourist attractions, invested more than a million dollars in the park, which continued to grow and thrive. The brothers recognized an opportunity-come-knocking when they heard Parton talk about her desire to open a Tennessee theme park during a TV interview with Barbara Walters. Parton says the brothers contacted her and suggested they become partners. “It made more sense than having two parks compete with each other,” says Parton. “It was a blessed union and, we’ve had nothing but success and good times since then.” Since Dollywood opened in 1986, the park has more than doubled in size, with $300 million going to renovations and expansions. Highlights include Barnstormer, a pendulum-like swing that reaches speeds up to 45 mph. Adrenaline junkies also love Daredevil Falls, a water-based coaster that careens over a 60-foot waterfall at 60 mph. You can soar above the park via a 1,000-foot-long zipline, or outrun a roaring fire on an indoor coaster. For the little ones, there are dozens of family and kiddie rides, including themed, interactive play areas. And with Parton at the helm, you can be sure there are plenty of musical shows, ranging from country and bluegrass to special holiday


Richmond, founded in 1798, is full of history from the pioneer settlers, to the Civil War and beyond. With such a rich history, and thriving restaurant and retail scene, Richmond has long been a magnet for visitors.

Richmond Visitor Center 345 Lancaster Avenue Richmond, Kentucky 40475 FREE GUIDE 1-800-866-3705 www.richmondkytourism.com


MIDWEST | M Y TOW N

DAVID NAIL’S

St. Louis Country musician David Nail loves his hometown of Kennett, Mo. But like everybody else there, he says, he has a soft spot for the big city of St. Louis. As he wraps up the Southern Style tour with Darius Rucker and looks ahead to the 2016 release of his new album, Fighter, Nail shares his favorite places in the Gateway City. — NANCY DUNHAM

BEST PLACE TO

GRAB A BITE TO EAT

BEST PLACE TO

TAKE KIDS “The zoo is definitely a great place to go. Anytime I’ve gone there, it’s filled with kids having a great time. It’s very kid-friendly and it’s free, too.” One Government Dr.; 314-781-0900; stlzoo.org

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Go to Busch Stadium and catch a Cardinals game. There is a fan base there unlike any other. Everyone in the state supports them through and through."

5226 Shaw Ave.; 314-772-8898; charliegittos.com

BEST PLACE TO

GRAB A DRINK “I enjoy the Lucas Park Grille. It’s an updated industrial building with three fireplaces.” 1234 Washington Ave.; 314-241-7770; lucasparkgrille.com

BEST PLACE FOR

FAMILY TIME “My wife and I always make time to walk near the Mississippi River near the Gateway Arch. It’s very relaxing. That’s the type of place that you just couldn’t replicate.” 100 Washington Ave.; 877-982-1410

CLOCKWISE: JIM WRIGHT; THINKSTOCK (2); ST. LOUIS CONVENTION & VISITORS COMMISSION

“There are a lot of great restaurants in St. Louis. Charlie Gitto’s is an old-school Italian spot downtown that has great food, lots of sports memorabilia and a lot of history.”


MIDWEST | IOWA , MICHIGA N, MIN N ESOTA , W ISCONSIN

Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;er The Fields We Cycle Skip the sleigh! This winter, explore the snowy countryside on two big wheels.

Traverse City, Mich., in the Lower Peninsula has embraced the fat-biking trend with two feet. Two shops in town rent bikes for daily rides.

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TRAVERSE CITY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU

BY KRISTI VALENTINI


I

n places where winters are long, residents look for ways to get fresh air and enjoy the outdoors while staving off cabin fever. One of the more unusual activities to be born out of this desire is fat biking — riding a bike with super-sized tires over packed snow. While fat tire bikes were originally designed for Alaskan winters and riding in the deserts of the Southwest, the hobby seems made for Midwest markets. The fun and easy exercise — if you already know how to ride a bike, there’s no learning curve here — is gaining traction across the Great Lakes states and throughout the Midwest. Because fat bike tires are 4 inches

or wider, they provide excellent stability and traction on both city roads and steep mountain bike trails. They’re a blast to ride, and they give your gams a workout, too, torching up to 1,500 calories an hour. “The first time I was out on a fat bike, there weren’t many trails,” says Ryan LaBar, former Bike magazine editor, who lives in Marquette, Mich. “Mostly, it was just cross-country ski trails that gave permission for fat bikes to ride. The last few years, the infrastructure has exploded in areas like Marquette that have trails specifically for fat biking.” Want to give it a try?

Newbies to the pastime can rent a fat bike at many places throughout the Midwest. The perfect time to go is when the snow has been packed down from use. “Oftentimes people worry that a fat bike will be super-heavy or hard to pedal. They aren’t! Really, the concept behind riding a fat bike isn’t for speed. It’s just to go out and have fun. Nothing is more beautiful than seeing

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MIDWEST | IOWA , MICHIGA N, MIN N ESOTA , W ISCONSIN

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO uBecause there’s not a lot of coasting while riding a fat bike, it’s a major workout. Prepare to sweat by dressing in layers you can peel off as you heat up.

snow-covered pines on a sunny day,” says Josie Smith, store manager of Decorah Bicycles in Decorah, Iowa. With 78 miles of groomed trails, Minnesota is truly a fat-biking fantasyland. Check out Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area (dnr.state. mn.us/state_parks/cuyuna_ country), two hours north of Minneapolis, in Ironton, Minn. Here, 25 miles of trails wind through the woods and past former mining pits that are now crystal-clear lakes. Stop at the ranger station to get maps and the lowdown on the best trails for every level of rider. Or, stay in the Twin Cities and grab coffee and a fat bike at Angry Catfish Bicycle and Coffee Bar in Minneapolis (rental reservations required). Then ride the paved 11-mile Gateway State Trail in St. Paul from Cayuga Street to Jamaica Avenue. In Michigan, head to Traverse City, known in warmer seasons for its orchards and wineries, to try fat biking at Timber Ridge Resort (timberridgeresort.net).

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The resort has cozy cabins, fat bike rentals and its own lighted trail. For a group adventure, rent a bike from Einstein Cycles in Traverse City and join the Friday Night Lights ride. The group cycles through the forest south of town.

REPORTED FAT BIKE SALES

8.8

$

MILLION

IN 2014 — NPD GROUP INC., A FIRM THAT TRACKS RETAIL TRENDS

Another place to explore by bike is Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (uptravel. com). Lately, the area has been earning the title “fat tire capital of the world,” with more than 50 miles of groomed bike trails and gorgeous, waterfall-filled scenery. While Wisconsin has plenty

of places for fat biking, the most groomed trails — 33 miles of them — can be found in the northwestern part of the state. Sign up for a Saturday ride across Lake Superior (yes, over frozen water!) from Bayfield, Wis., to Madeline Island with the North Coast Cycling Association (northcoastcycling.com). After the one-hour ride, load up on fresh-from-the-lake whitefish and chips and a Wisconsin brew at Bayfield’s The Pickled Herring. If you fall in love with the smooth ride of a fat bike, don’t worry about winter’s end. These monster trucks of the biking world work equally well on pavement (just pump up the tire pressure) and sand. But, says LaBar, winter riding is the absolute best. “It’s a real unique silence when you’re out there on a fat bike in winter. You can achieve that same sort of thing while you’re snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, but there’s something about being out there on two wheels in the dead quiet of winter that’s pretty darn cool.”

uBe sure to wear winter gloves or mittens. uWear snow boots to keep your feet warm in winter conditions. uWear a beanie under your bike helmet, a thick scarf around your neck and sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes. uDon’t ride if the temperature is above freezing. You need hardpacked snow, not slush, for a fun ride. uTry fat biking more than once. The weather, temperature and amount of sunshine can affect your experience.

TRAVERSE CITY CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU; ILLUSTRATIONS: MIRANDA PELLICANO

Fat bikes have a sturdy, balanced frame and tires up to 5 inches wide to navigate nearly any terrain.


MIDWEST | MIN N ESOTA

Falling for the

Twin Cities

Must-do’s for first-time visitors BY LEIF PETTERSEN

inneapolis and St. Paul’s fading stereotype as a Scandinavian-American, wind-blown ice-scape is rapidly being replaced with one of a multicultural cabaret of food, art, activities and people. The Twin Cities now Visit Mill City routinely 10 a.m. appear on to 5 p.m., all manner Tuesday of “best through of” lists Saturday and Sunday, and score high on noon to 5 livability p.m. millcity tests that museum.org measure education, health, fitness, fun and more. Never been? Now’s the time. Dotted with lakes, replete with parks, partial to cyclists, newly obsessed with food and an all-around good value, the Twin Cities shine like the North Star.

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MEET MINNEAPOLIS

M


Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce

Building Business, Building Community

In 2016!

January - Fenton Forecast Breakfast! March - Fenton Community EXPO! April - An Eggciting Event in Linden! June - More Than Just Golf Scramble! June - Gus Macker Basketball Tournament July - Fenton Freedom Festival! August - Taste in Fenton! (In conjunction with Fenton Farmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Market & Back to the Bricks) October - Meet The Candidates! October - An Event So Good Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Scary! November - Annual Awards Dinner! December - Jinglefest & Jinglejog! Networking @ Noon every month! Career Connections programs! Girls & Business, Boys & Business, Annual scholarships awarded to Fenton, Lake Fenton, and Linden High School seniors.

www.fentonchamber.com


MIDWEST | MIN N ESOTA

THE BIG DRAW

All jokes about lutefisk and hot dish aside, the Twin Cities are perhaps best known for a famously dangerous hamburger called the “Jucy Lucy” or “Juicy Lucy,” depending on which legendary origin story you believe. Two bars claim credit for the Lucy: Matt’s Bar, they of the misspelled variety, and The 5-8 Club, both located on Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis. The burger gained fame for its molten cheese core, created by pinching two patties around a hunk of cheese. First-timers beware: This scalding cheese core is genuinely hazardous. It’s imperative that you let the burger cool for several minutes before biting into it, lest your first-timer experience include guzzling successive glasses of ice water and/or a trip to an emergency room. 3500 Cedar Ave. South; 612-722-7072; mattsbar.com and 5800 Cedar Ave. South, 612-823-5858; 5-8club.com

WHAT TO DO The Twin Cities have one of the strongest live-theater scenes in the country — second only to New York in live-theater seats per capita. Though many smaller, excellent theatres deserve a mention here, one cannot intelligently discuss local theater without uttering the word ‘“Guthrie.” Opened in 1963 and founded by Sir Tyrone Guthrie, the Guthrie Theater, left, has been a world renowned venue from the beginning, routinely producing acclaimed performances with internationally famous guest actors to complement its already stellar acting company. 818 S. Second St.; 612-377-2224; guthrietheater.org The Mill City Museum tells the story of Minneapolis’ founding and half-century “Mill City” flour production era. The museum is housed in the ruins of the historic Washburn

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The 5-8 Club proudly serves up the Juicy Lucy. 5-8club.com

A Mill on West Mississippi River Parkway and features a “multisensory, interactive journey” through the local flour milling industry and its impact on Minneapolis, the nation and the world. Highlights include the eight-story Flour Tower and the historical film Minneapolis in 19 Minutes Flat, which runs continuously throughout the day. The ninth-floor Observation Deck provides views of St. Anthony Falls, the only naturally occurring falls on the Mississippi River, which once powered the area’s mills. 704 S. Second St.; 612-341-7555; millcitymuseum.org The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has a permanent collection of about 80,000 objects, including world-famous works and items spanning 5,000 years of creativity. Highlights of the permanent collection include European masterworks. 2400 Third Ave. S., 612-870-3000; new.artsmia.org

CLOCKWISE: 5-8 CLUB; MEET MININEAPOLIS (2)

WHERE TO EAT

Both the Minneapolis and St. Paul downtowns feature skyway systems. The Minneapolis system, which connects 69 city blocks (roughly 7 miles of pathways), is the largest contiguous system of its kind in the world. It allows people to travel to office towers, hotels, banks, corporate and government offices, restaurants and stores, all without ever sticking a toe outdoors, which comes in handy in winter. Opening times for the skyways vary by building, but generally the system is accessible from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Fridays; 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. skywaydirectory.com


800-772-0750 www.visiteffinghamil.com

Closer than you think Come Celebrate

Just minutes from Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Hare and downtown, Rosemont has everything you need to make the holiday season bright. Shopping, dining and spectacular entertainment help you keep the season close and holiday spirit closer.

Rosemont.com


MIDWEST | MIN N ESOTA

You saw Purple Rain, right? The 1984 breakout Grammy-winning album and film that booster-rocketed the already noteworthy career of Prince, who went on to become one of the greatest music artists in the past 40 years? Many scenes from the film were shot at the legendary live-music club First Avenue, where virtually every music artist of note has played since 1970. The roll call of music history is literally written on the outside walls of the building: Tina Turner, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Iggy and The Stooges, The Cure, The Replacements, U2, R.E.M., Run DMC, Public Enemy, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Moby, Coldplay, The White Stripes and many more. The neighboring, miniscule 7th Street Entry is its more intimate, live-music sister venue. 701 N. First Ave.; 612-332-1775; first-avenue.com

Create your best weekend getaway with the new USA TODAY Travel Experience Weekend site. Read about hotels, restaurants and attractions throughout the country. Book your trip right from the site, experienceweekend.usatoday.com.

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FROM TOP: FIRST AVENUE; MEET MINNEAPOLIS

WHERE TO END THE NIGHT


Full Circle Share our heritage. Share our table.

Plan your trip at VisitAmishCountry.com 1-877-643-8824

You’ll find the world’s largest Amish settlement, Lehman’s, The J.M. Smucker Company Store and Café, The Ohio Light Opera, P. Graham Dunn Retail Gallery and more! www•wccvb•com 1.800.362.6474


WEST | M Y TOW N

MICHELLE BRANCH

Sedona, Ariz. While accomplished singer/songwriter Michelle Branch lives in Los Angeles, where’s she working on a new album, she stays grounded with frequent trips to visit family in Sedona. “I can come home and stay in my childhood bedroom, which is always fun,” she says, laughing. — JENNIFER BRADLEY FRANKLIN

BEST PLACE FOR

A DRINK

BEST

MUSIC VENUE The Spirit Room. In nearby Jerome, an old copper mining town on the side of a hill, there’s a saloon called The Spirit Room. “I actually named my first album after (it). It’s a great place to hear live music.” 166 Main St., Jerome; 928-634-8809; spiritroom.com

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179; 928-203-0105; elotecafe.com

BEST PLACE TO

EAT HEALTHY Local Juicery. “My friend opened it. They have juices, smoothies and salads. … My friend’s name is Summer. Tell her I sent you!” 3150 West State Route 89A #5A; 928-282-8932; shoplocaljuicery.com

BEST PLACE FOR

FAMILY FUN Red Rock Crossing (also known as Crescent Moon picnic site). “It’s where the creek cuts through town, and there are fun little pools for the kids to play in. It’s not terribly deep and they can chase guppies and wade in the water, and you can bring a picnic. It’s always the go-to for us with the kids.” sedonaverdevalley.org

CLOCKWISE: JASON KEMPIN/GETTY IMAGES; LOCAL JUICERY; AMAZON.COM; THINKSTOCK

My favorite thing about being home in Sedona is hiking. It's so scenic and really special. … (West Fork in Oak Creek Canyon is) the kind of hike you can take as long as you want."

Elote Cafe. “This is my favorite stop when I’m in town! They don’t take reservations, so the fun part is if you miss the first seating, you sit on the patio and drink margaritas. The food is phenomenal, and it’s my favorite margarita in town.” 771 State Route


WEST | COLOR A DO

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Heli-lujah! Strap in for a wild ride as intermediate skier Allison Entrekin tries heli-skiing for the first time

WARD ENTREKIN

I

have a beacon strapped around my torso. It looks like a Nintendo handset from the ’90s. I’m wearing a backpack containing a shovel and a folding rubber stick. I am in Silverton, a remote part of the southwest Colorado Mountains, 70 miles from Telluride. I’m about to try heli-skiing for the first time. It is friggin’ cold. There has been a lot of snow here lately, I’m told. That means after a helicopter leaves me to ski inside 22,000 acres of wilderness, it’s possible the ground will begin to shake and an avalanche will roar down on top of me. If that happens, my beacon is supposed to send a signal to the four others in my heli-ski group (including my husband, Ward, and our guide, Marc), alerting them to where I’m buried. Everyone else has folding sticks too, which they’ll use to prod the ground until they hit something soft — my body. Then, they’ll grab their shovels and try to dig me out before I, you know, die. Let me back up and tell you that I am 35 years old with two young children. We live in Atlanta, where our only mountain is a granite monolith that rarely sees natural snow. I’m an intermediate skier. I rent all

Pristine terrain awaits just a helicopter ride away.

my equipment, wear hand-medown ski clothes and despise moguls. And yes, the folks here in Silverton assure me I can still heli-ski because they’ll take me to moderate terrain. Avalanche fears aside, I want to try this. In the U.S., heli-skiing is pretty rare: Fewer than 10 companies offer it. Plus, in Silverton, it’s only $179 to add a heli-ski drop to your lift ticket. I’m going. The helicopter is louder than I’d imagined. The rotor blades look like huge plastic knives spinning above my head as

I crawl inside. After the door closes, the chopper begins to levitate. I look out the window at the normal Silverton slopes with normal lifts carrying normal skiers. For a moment, I wish I were one of them. But now we’re off, and there’s no turning back. Over the peaks we go, past snowy mountain faces that gleam in the morning sun. There are no people or roads or signs of intelligent life to be seen. Our pilot and Marc talk into their headsets: They’re deciding where we should land. After a few minutes, they settle on a peak covered in fresh powder. It doesn’t have a single track on it. The helicopter rests on the peak and Marc opens the door. I duck beneath the still-spinning blades and do as instructed: Get on my knees. Marc hands me my skis and poles, and I curl up on top of them so they aren’t blown away. I stay that way until the helicopter ascends back into the air and flies out of sight. Suddenly, it’s very quiet. I hover there, eyes closed, until I hear the rest of the group stand and click into their skis. I rise and do the same. Marc says we’re going to take the slope in increments, skiing one at a time to a designated spot and waiting for the whole group to get there before

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The quaint town of Telluride is your heli-ski headquarters.

Writer Allison Entrekin makes her way down the remote slope.

Silverton Mountain: The resort offers a variety of heli-skiing packages. Prices start at $179 for a single run. 6226 State Hwy. 110, Silverton; 970-387-5706; silvertonmountain. com

Telluride Helitrax: The company caters to everyone from first-timers to seasoned heli-ski veterans. 136 Country Club Dr., Telluride; 970-728-8377; helitrax.com

Inn at Lost Creek: This ski-in, ski-out property is conveniently located in Mountain Village. 119 Lost Creek Lane, Mountain Village; 970-7285678; innatlostcreek.com

Allred’s Restaurant: Telluride’s flagship restaurant serves everything from Alaskan black cod to Colorado rack of lamb and offers great views of the town. Telluride Resort Lodging, Mountain Village; 970-728-7474; tellurideskiresort.com

Alpino Vino: Located on the mountain and only accessible by snow coach, this highaltitude gem treats guests to a five-course Northern Italian dinner. 12100 Camels’ Garden Rd.; 970-728-7560; tellurideskiresort.com

Cosmopolitan: Enjoy a craft cocktail and the house specialty, wagyu beef, in a contemporary setting. 301 W. San Juan Ave., Telluride;

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until I have enough momentum to stand and keep going. I’m matted with snow, but I’m relieved. I got my big fall out of the way. Now I can just enjoy the rest of my experience. I make it to the clearing, where I dust myself off and look back up at the slope. I have to laugh at the humongous letter “S” I carved into the snow (plus the full-body imprint), interrupting Ward’s perfect number “11.” We continue on with our journey, one by one, with me always taking it a bit slower and wider than the rest. Still, when it’s time for our helicopter to pick us up, I’m proud of myself. I saw mountains most never see and skied terrain few ever have. I didn’t let my lack of skiing expertise keep me from checking this off my bucket list. And, best of all: I didn’t have to activate my beacon.

970-728-1292; cosmotelluride.com

Smuggler’s Brewpub: Come here for inexpensive-but-good bar food and handcrafted beers. 225 S. Pine St., Telluride; 970-728-5620; smugglersbrewpub.com

Down to Earth: This Main Street boutique sells eco-friendly jewelry, clothes and gifts. 122 E. Colorado Ave., Telluride; 970-728-9316; telluride.com Pip’s Fine and Funky Consignment: Here you’ll find everything from “pre-loved” North Face jackets to tutus. 100 W. Colorado Ave., Telluride; 970-728-3663; pips.puzl.com

WARD ENTREKIN; SMUGGLER’S BREWPUB

moving on. He points to a clearing 1,000 yards down and tells Ward to head there first. He doesn’t hesitate. Off he goes, snow up to his calves, literally plowing a trail and making it look easy. When he reaches the clearing, he lets out a little whoop that echoes up to our group. Show-off. The next person in our group goes, with equal success. Then it’s my turn. “I’m taking my time,” I inform Marc before I push off. And I do. I weave across the open expanse of snow in wide curves, uneasy with maneuvering in such deep powder. The tips of my skis are pointed way too far inward, a nasty habit of mine when I’m nervous. I start to slow down, and then I begin to sink. In seconds, I face plant. Thankfully, my skis haven’t come off, and I’m able to slide down the mountain on my rear


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Experience

AND BEYOND!

THEY CAME HERE FOR A REASON. The dinosaurs may have been

Photo courtesy of Michael Menefee

EXPERIENCE THE

Fort Collins in Light s

prehistoric but they knew what they were doing. They found a scenic oasis of adventure and stayed so long it caught them off guard, and theyʼre still here. Dinosaur National Monument is their final resting place. See what they saw and go beyond the bones to experience everything the area has to offer.

D I N O S A U R N A T I O N A L M O N U M E N T

www.vis itftcollins.com www. fcmod.org www.fcgov.com/gardens/


Come for the music. Stay for the Cheese Fries.


WOOLAROC MUSEUM & WILDLIFE PRESERVE

VisitBartlesville.com 800-364-8708 AT&SF NO 940 LOCOMOTIVE

PHILLIPS PETROLEUM MUSEUM

OK MOZART FESTIVAL

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT’S PRICE TOWER ARTS CENTER


Sidle up to the bar at the Superstition Restaurant & Saloon for a bowl of hearty chili or a sky-high stack of babyback ribs, then pin a dollar bill to the door on the way out as a sign of appreciation. You canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fight tradition.

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PHOTO CREDIT

WEST | A R IZONA


Mesa’s Many Faces The bustling city has something for everyone, especially snowbirds STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY FLASH PARKER

PHOTO CREDIT

A

h, Arizona. Canada’s unofficial 11th province is a warm-weather perch for snowbirds from around North America and one of the most popular getaway destinations in the Southwest. Home to cactus, prickly pears, rattlesnakes, the Grand Canyon, roadrunners, Apache trout, the world’s oldest rodeo and the bolo tie, the state is rich in attractions that entertain the cultured, the curious, the wild and untrammeled. Perhaps the most intriguing destination is Mesa. The Maricopa County gem is a bustling city (larger than the cities of Cleveland, Atlanta and Miami) with a small-town, throwback vibe. It’s characterized by farm-to-table excursions, recreational opportunities that span spectacular mountains, sprawling deserts

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Top: An early riser enjoys the view over Mesa from the legendary Wind Cave. Left: The Goldfield Ghost Town features a number of authentic Old West touches, and offers visitors a chance to tour by stagecoach.

and sparkling lakes, kitchy ghost towns, modern craft breweries — and hardcore geezers. I suppose I should address that last bit. What’s a hardcore geezer, exactly? A hardcore geezer is a snowbird who’s willing and able to explore the beautiful Salt River at dusk and then get up and hike the Wild Cave Trail in time for sunrise; someone keen to experience all this bountiful region offers. On my trip to Mesa I must have met a dozen of these eager beavers, travelers with a voracious

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appetite for adventure. And the region offers adventure in spades. Less than an hour after touching down on the runway in Phoenix, I stare out at the Salt River in awe at Red Mountain, bathed softly in sunset light. Greybeards in white slacks paddle kayaks and canoes around the river, spinning circles around their much-younger counterparts. They cinch tight their Velcro sneakers and trek off into the Riparian Preserve, hot on the trail of warblers and


Clockwise: Light shines on the Wind Cave Trail as ancient cacti tower over the peaceful desert trail. Antique bric-a-brac beckons at the Superstition Mountain Museum, which tells the tale of the Lost Dutchman.

migratory fowl. I can’t be sure, but I believe I see one old Canuck salute a Canada goose flying high overhead. Early the next morning, tucked between a cactus and a dry place out on the western edge of the Goldfield Mountains, I set out to tackle the Wind Cave Trail, one of the most popular trails in the lower Sonoran Desert, at the Usery Mountain Regional Park. Mesa is blessed with a wide variety of outdoor options, which means that even the most-beloved destinations rarely feel crowded. The mountain is mostly mine as the sun comes up. Then I tuck myself into a bit of sheltered space in the eponymous cave and marvel at the views of the city and surrounding countryside before scurrying down the trail, eager to see what else Mesa has in store.

Before I know it, I’m racing along the Apache Trail, whipping past stand-up paddleboarders on the serene Canyon Lake, skipping over kaleidoscopic rock formations up in “them thar” hills and kicking up my boots at Old West stagecoach stops en route to Tortilla Flat, Ariz. In this little unincorporated town (the last surviving stagecoach stop along the Apache Trail), I push open the doors to a tumbledown saloon, order two scoops of prickly pear ice cream and sit down to a hearty bowl of chili at the Dutchman’s Inn, the sort of place where it’s perfectly OK to be a tourist (and proud of it). The vibe in these parts is unabashedly kitsch — all brand-new boots and saddle seats at the bar. After my meal, I have good fun poking around the Apache Trail settle-

ments. The sights run the gamut from gold mines to ghost towns, hiking trails to hideouts of 18th-century scoundrels. In fact, this is the former stomping grounds of the notorious Old Dutchman himself, one Jacob Waltz, he of lost gold-mine fame. The story of Waltz’s lost treasure has filled volumes, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I buy myself an old kerosene headlamp and $2 pickaxe to go in search of his fortune. Back in the real world, or at least a green version of it, I scope out Agritopia, a self-described “urban farm on the edge of the rural/urban interface.” What began in the 1920s as a farmstead in rural Arizona has turned into a mixed-use planned community with a new-urbanist motif. Agritopia’s 450 single-family homes share some

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Top: Prickly pear ice cream is sweeter than you think! Postino East WineCafe is housed in the Grainbelt building in Gilbert's downtown. Bruschetta is a house specialty.

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26 acres with retail and commercial space, adjacent to 22 acres of farmland. The harvest is sold at the Agritopia Farm Stand, as well as Joe’s Farm Grill and The Coffee Shop, both of which are open to residents and visitors. The food is fresh, the feeling communal and the community vibrant. In pursuit of more culinary adventures, I follow the Agritourism Trail into the heart of Schnepf Farms. Here, local legends Carrie and Mark Schnepf take me through their corn maze (I get lost), peach orchards (I get stuffed) and offer up an opportunity to become a farmer for a day (I get dirty). The fourth-generation farm is something of an agricultural oasis and stands at the forefront of Arizona’s agritourism boom. It’s home to a museum that showcases more than 150 years of local history, a tremendously popular country store, a bakery, dozens of historic buildings, plenty of picnic areas and more. It also hosts events, including The Dirt Road Antique & Artist Market and the Pumpkin & Chili Party. I follow the buzz out to the town of Gilbert, Ariz., alive under the glow of a hundred humming signs. I could spend the night photographing these neon beauties — the signs atop the Liberty Market, Joyride Taco House, Zinburger and the Heritage Marketplace are among the standouts — but I opt instead to dine on the patio at Postino East WineCafe. Here I work my way through a meticulously crafted wine list, paired perfectly with items off the pub board (chorizo, cornichons, cheeses), and the butcher’s block

The Farm at Agritopia is a slice of rural heaven in a busy urban center. Head farmer Erich Schultz keeps things running smoothly.

(artisan meats, Tuscan beans, olives, nuts). My night comes to a screeching stop — in that I have no desire to move on — when I discover the “handcrafted beers and facecrafted beards” fashioned by the burly people of Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. Here, renegade suds scientists forage for everything including cabernet grapes, tangelos and blood oranges to include in their brews. The result is hop homeruns such as the flagship Refuge IPA or the exceptionally complex Juniper Mesa Dark Ale. I share a flight with the same group of Canucks I met earlier on the Wind Cave Trail — old geezers still enjoying the day’s adventures — and together we admire the bountiful Arizona wilderness and limitless nature of Mesa’s curious attractions. Old and new again with a vibe that’s easy to embrace, this region has a throwback charm and an air of laid-back grace that perfectly suits its unique mix of classic Americana and modern American West. It’s not often you can drive — or hike or paddle or steer an old mining cart — straight through American history, dine at some of the most innovative tables in the country and toast world-class suds all in the same day, but that’s just the sort of eclectic experience Mesa offers. It’s not hard to see why those hardcore geezers dig this place the way they do.


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PACIFIC | M Y TOW N

TANYA TUCKER’S

Los Angeles The much-honored country singer and born-and-bred Texas gal may not seem like an L.A. woman, but she has lived in the City of Angels off and on since her early days as a performer. Now touring in advance of a new album out later this year, Tucker claims Los Angeles as one of her favorite cities. Here are some of her must-visit spots for your next trip there. — NANCY DUNHAM

BEST PLACE TO

BEST

HIDDEN GEM “Perch in downtown L.A. It’s a little French bistro and has incredible views. It’s a terrific place to go and just relax.” 448 South Hill St.; 213-802-1770; perchla.com

BEST PLACE FOR

FAMILY FUN “Six Flags Magic Mountain. It has 10 roller coasters and some of them are the fastest and longest in the world. Kids can’t get enough of them.” 26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy., Valencia; 661-255-4100; sixflags.com/magicmountain

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Hollywood & Highland, 6801 Hollywood Blvd.; 323-467-6412; hollywood andhighland.com

“Mr. Chow Restaurant. I have been going there for 30 years because the food is the best. It’s one of the best restaurants in the world.” 344 N. Camden Dr.; 310-278-9911; mrchow.com

BEST PLACE TO

GRAB A DRINK “Bar Lubitsch in West Hollywood. It’s a Russianthemed bar with great drinks.” 7702 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; 323-654-1234; barlubitsch.com

BEST PLACE FOR

FAMILY TIME “The Venice Beach Boardwalk is great for families because there are so many different things to do. You can people watch, ride bikes, shop, have something to eat and just enjoy the gorgeous beach and water.” Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach; venicebeach.com

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: ALAN MESSER; MR. CHOW RESTAURANT; MATT MARRIOTT/DISCOVER LA; PERCH

(Don’t miss) Hollywood, especially the Walk of Fame. Everyone loves to see the footprints and signatures, especially in front of Grauman’s (now TLC) Chinese Theatre.”

EAT


ld Town Coppell is a vibrant, walkable community where you can dine, shop, live and do business. Home to restaurants, retail shops, parklands, historical structures and a community center, it also hosts a thriving farmers market and live music venues. To learn more visit coppelltx.gov/OldTown.

A Texas WONDER

One of the oldest towns in Texas, Seguin was founded by Texas Rangers in 1838. It boasts one of the best-preserved “limecrete” structures in America, Sebastopol House Historic Site, a restored Greek Revival mansion turned museum filled with mystery and history. Built in 1856 by skilled slaves, this home was inventively designed to “water-cool” the living quarters during hot Texas summers and includes a secret dungeon. Wilson Pottery is also on display at Sebastopol House. See historic and rare pieces from one of the first post-Civil War businesses owned by freed slaves in Texas.

SEBASTOPOL HOUSE HISTORIC SITE 704 Zorn St., Seguin, TX 78155 830-379-4833 FREE TOURS: Thu-Sun, 9-4

VISITSEGUIN.COM H 800-580-7322


Writer Marlece Lusk Karamitsos, left, and her family tackled a 25-mile portion of Californiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s famous John Muir Trail, ascending 10,000 feet over a six-day adventure in July.

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COURTESY OF MARLECE LUSK KARAMITSOS

PACIFIC | C A L IFOR N I A


Making John Muir Proud The story of one family’s hiking adventure in the High Sierras STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARLECE LUSK KARAMITSOS

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aturally, when you see a crowd rushing by in the opposite direction, you want to turn around and follow them, hoping to avoid the suspected danger ahead. But on the morning of the third day of my family’s hike along California’s John Muir Trail, named after the American naturalist and conservationist, we chose the opposite approach. Our group of six — my husband, Robert and me; daughters Cora, 22; and Isabella, 19; son, George, 13; and nephew, Kaleb, 15 — was slowly making its way up the mountain, despite the cold and wet that seeped through our clothing, seemingly into our bones. Although the snowfall had slowed significantly in the past hour, a sense of urgency was in the air. Hikers were turning back and descending the mountain, cautioning us to do the same as they passed by. A seasoned park ranger, with a bulky pack and massive gray beard, tells us, “We’re expecting more cold weather and up to two more inches of snow.”

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He looked down at the two inches of snow already under our feet and adds, “Most people are turning back.” But we weren’t ready to give up yet. We had physically prepared for our 56-mile hike, which included a 26-mile section of the 211-mile John Muir Trail in the California Sierra mountains. The region is known to have some of the most beautiful views and challenging hiking in the lower 48. My husband and oldest daughter, Cora, had recently run a marathon, and my younger daughter is an experienced backpacker. My nephew had been going on weekly hikes with bowling balls in his pack to prepare for the trip. And my son and I had hiked together on weekends with our packs filled with bags of rice, canned beans

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and birdseed. Despite our preparation, we knew that continuing on to Evolution Valley in Kings Canyon National Park had its risks. The weather in the Sierras is unpredictable, and we did not have the correct gear to hike extensively in rain and snow. We had naively thought the mountain summer would be as dry as a coastal California season, and we only brought rain gear as an afterthought. Months before our trip, we had meticulously planned the mileage and camping stops for each day of our five-night/six-day hike. But the amount of food we brought was limited by the size of our bear-resistant canisters — mandatory equipment when traveling through bear country. After three days of hiking, we weren’t sure whether

The snow was beautiful but cumbersome for the family. When they reached their goal of Evolution North Lake, the sun came out.


After completing a section of the John Muir Trail, the family hiked 15 miles on the Bishop Pass in California.

HOW TO PLAN A FAMILY HIKE Know the route. Research the hike and plan out each day for food and camping. Each hiker can take on a responsibility. Make sure you get necessary permits for overnight backpacking. Practice. Backpack locally to get to know your equipment and prepare yourself physically. These trips will help ensure your equipment, such as camp stove, water filter and headlamps, are functioning properly. You can also carry extra weight to prepare for the increase in altitude.

our food supply would last. And our only water pump was beginning to malfunction because of a buildup in the ceramic filter (we, of course, forgot to bring the cleaning brush), so pumping water took a painstakingly long time. Even after considering these risks, the idea of turning back was almost unbearable. We had worked hard to get to this point, so even though everyone’s back ached with varying degrees of severity, we decided to push on. We had learned in the preceding days how to ignore our bodies when they insisted we stop moving forward. And we believed we could still finish this hike. We pushed on through the falling snow. On the last few switchbacks up to Evolution North Lake, worry about my family’s safety distracted me from taking in the amazing views of

pristine mountain vistas covered in fresh snow. It was only when I came upon a gorgeous waterfall and stream, with bright-pink flowers peeking out from beneath melting snow, that I was able to let go of my fears. As though the mountains were in sync with my state of mind, my fears melted and the sun beckoned from behind the clouds. The danger of the storm now behind us, I could fully appreciate the majesty of the beautiful landscape that surrounded me. The Sierras are one of the most amazing places I’ve ever experienced, and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to share in their adventure with my family. Our time on the trail brought us closer and gave us confidence in what we could accomplish together. I think John Muir would be proud.

Increase the fun. Make a special patch or other memento to sew onto your backpacks before the hike. Our patch was sewn onto some of our backpacks with $20 underneath for emergencies.

Daughter Isabella mapped out the distance and camping spots for each day.

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A Perfect Little Town Friendly and artistic Ojai is a place to come and dwell

visitcalifornia.com

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I

hadn’t planned on visiting Ojai (aptly pronounced OH-hi), Calif., a hippie artists’ enclave about an hour-and-a-half northwest of Los Angeles, but detours happen. And this particular one proved to be serendipitous. My boyfriend, Marcin, and I, with our friend Bill, planned on riding our motorcycles straight up the Pacific Coast Highway from Long Beach to Oakland and back. Hugging the seaside, Highway 1 curves sharply here and there, often with

hills on one side and cliffs overlooking the ocean on the other. It’s a great ride for motorcycle enthusiasts like us. As we zipped along Highway 1 on our way north, we saw elephant seals and zebras (really, on a farm near Elephant Seal Vista Point), Winnebagos and countless rented Mustang convertibles. On our way back down the coast, we decided to tuck in at Oxnard, Calif., before the last leg to Long Beach. At dinner, Bill unfolded a paper map. My eyes glanced north and I noticed a

SEAL: THINKSTOCK

The Pacific Coast Highway is a national treasure with gorgeous views and wildlife sightings. About 20 miles inland from Ventura sits the town of Ojai.

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDRIA YU


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dot with a funny-looking name, Ojai, sitting on the edge of Los Padres National Forest. I knew nothing about the town, but I saw the road that leads to it, Route 33, was fantastically twisty. “We have to go,” I say.

Downtown Ojai has much to explore. Download a walking map to guide you. ojaiwalkingmap.com

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WELCOME TO OJAI Route 33 starts as a four-lane highway, but soon narrows to two. We pass through little Casitas Springs, where singer Johnny Cash kept a home with his first wife and kids for a few rocky years in the ’60s. Not quite 20 minutes later, we find ourselves in Ojai, nestled in the mountains. At 10 miles long and 3 miles wide, this tucked-away town is no secret. Celebrities and well-to-doers first began coming here in the early 1900s after journalist Charles Nordhoff, who fell in love with the area,

started writing about the place. Back then, people came for healing and wellness, says Veronica Cole of the Ojai Visitors Bureau. “Ojai has a special energy. A lot of that has to do with orientation of the valley being east and west. There are magnetic areas here. Although it’s difficult to articulate, when one is here, it is palpable,” she says. Today, celebrities are known to keep second homes here. “On any given night, a famous person can come in and jam with the locals,” Cole says, referring to places such as The Vine and Deer Lodge and other live-music venues. We park in town, and I immediately feel a sense of calm. It’s midweek and not very busy. A few residents stop and talk to us about our motorcycles and welcome us to Ojai. The town has no chain stores; they’re prohibited by the city as a way to encourage local businesses. So walking along Ojai Avenue, we encounter quirky clothing, jewelry and home-furnishing boutiques, as well as coffee shops and art galleries. Ojai draws artists. “It has a lot of creative energy. And there’s a strong commitment to sustainability. I think what makes Ojai so authentic, and why it’s trending so high with hipsters is that it’s always been like that here. We’ve always been about sustainability, driven by the community,” Cole says. We stop at a small gas station to fuel up before riding on through the mountains. While there, a man with a long goatee stops to chat. He asks if we’ve heard of a private collection of vintage cars and motorcycles kept by a resident. I do a quick search on my phone and find a few articles about photographer Guy Webster and his collection. I ask if we can check it out, but Bill, who had visited once before, says he has no


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this out of the way,” he says. I ask Taggart about the other private collection we had heard about, owned by Guy Webster. “Guy is a good friend of mine,” Taggart says. He and Webster, we learn, share a passion for vintage bikes and cars, and they keep their collections together — in this garage. I am stunned. This is it! The very collection we had wanted to see.

A MAN AND HIS CARS

idea how to find it. “And, I think you have to be invited,” he says.

TWISTING PAST VISTAS

A private garage owned by Michael Taggart shows off an impressive collection of vehicles. By invitation only.

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I’m disappointed, but give up on the idea and focus instead on the beautiful roads ahead of us. For any car or motorcycle enthusiast, the section of Route 33 known as National Forest Scenic Byway is a must-do. The 37-mile segment offers endless switchbacks, a few long straights and amazing views. We pass huge rock formations and pine trees that seem to grow out of cliffs. We stop along vistas that offer an expansive view of the mountain and valleys below. Back in Ojai, we decide to stop for lunch at the Mexican restaurant Agave Maria’s. We hop off our bikes, and a gentleman, Michael Taggart, stops us to ask if we like vintage vehicles. He welcomes us to stop by the garage after lunch. After our meal, we follow Taggart down back roads to an unremarkable concrete building. Out front is a Porsche 1600 Super replica blocking the door. “Help me push

Among the cars inside are a 1970 Lola T165-22 Can-Am, once raced by Jack Hinkle and Paul Newman; a 1965 Sport 1275cc, the last of the “real” Mini Coopers; a John Player Special Lotus 95T Formula One car driven by former British racer Nigel Mansell; a vintage Lotus Super 7 1500cc, and so many exotic race cars that I don’t know where to look first. I ask Taggart how he amassed such a collection. A retired schoolteacher, Taggart says his grandfather, Alexander Taggart, founded the Wonder Bread company. Through the family fortune, Taggart was able to indulge his passion for cars. “My first job after the Korean War was teaching at a private school in (Indianapolis),” Taggart says. “I made $200 a month and I bought a 1952 Jaguar XK 120M. My monthly payment was $87.” He scrimped in all other ways but spent money on cars. When his mother died in 1996 at the age of 94, he inherited more money, “and that’s when I started my real collection,” he says. “I still live in the same house, I wear the same clothes. Nothing fancy in my life. I spend it all on cars, just like what I did with my first salary. It was always about the cars.” Taggart spends a good hour talking to us about his collection. I remark on what good fortune it was that we met at the restaurant in town. That restaurant, Taggart says, is where he had lunch when he stopped in Ojai for the first time 58 years ago. “I had finished my master’s degree at the University of Arizona in 1957 in English Lit, and I was on my way to Stanford to do my doctorate,” Taggart says. “A professor of mine in the English


department said, ‘There’s this little jewel of a mountain town called Ojai. Why don’t you stop there and have lunch on your way to Stanford?’ Because I’ve never been to California before, I said, ‘OK, I will.’ “So I find this outdoor restaurant called the Sidewalk Café. And I sat down in that same patio (where we had lunch) and I had my BLT sandwich. There was a nice older couple sitting at the next table. They asked me where I was from, and I told them my story. They asked if I had time for them to show me around the valley. I said sure. “At the end of the day, they took me to Ojai Valley School, which is still there. Turns out, the husband was the school headmaster, Wallace Burr, and his wife was an English teacher. Apparently, they needed an English teacher and they liked me and they offered me a job and I took it. “I never made it to Stanford,” says Taggart. “I wound up spending the rest of my life in Ojai.” And as we finish out our afternoon in Ojai, I can imagine doing the same thing.

MAKE A WEEKEND OF IT The Mob Shop: This full-service bicycle shop offers rentals and tours. 110 W. Ojai Ave.;

I never made it to Stanford. I wound up spending the rest of my life in Ojai.” — MICHAEL TAGGART

805-272-8102

Ojai Certified Farmers Market: Held every Sunday, the market hosts dozens of vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, jams, olive oil, prepared foods, soaps, flowers and music. Sundays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 300 E. Matilija St.; ojaicertified farmersmarket.com

Ojai Music Festival: The annual classical music festival marks its 70th year June 9-12, 2016. ojaifestival.org Agave Maria’s Restaurant & Cantina: Fresh Mexican fare with outdoor seating. 106 S. Montgomery St.; 805-646-6353

The Deer Lodge: The farm-to-table restaurant features American dishes, Originally a gas station/ road house, it’s become a destination for motorcyclists. 2261 Maricopa Hwy.; 805- 646-4256

Osteria Monte Grappa: The eatery features a rustic menu of Italian and seafood cuisine. 242 E. Ojai Ave.; 805-640-6767

Suzanne’s Cuisine: The French restaurant relies on local ingredients. 502 W. Ojai Ave.; 805-640-1961

Ojai Valley Inn and Spa: The five-diamond resort has an upscale Spanish hacienda-style inn and spa. 905 Country Club Rd.; 855-697-8780

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How About Them Apples? Port Townsend toasts the bubbling hard-cider trend

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BY DAVID VOLK

’m not sure what Napa Valley felt like in the days before the world really discovered California wines, but I’m pretty sure it’s close to the vibe that hard-cider lovers are feeling these days in Port Townsend, Wash. After years of getting puzzled stares whenever they ordered their favorite drink, long-suffering cider drinkers like me have been thrilled to see artisanal cideries Finnriver opening around the Farm and country. An early Cidery is adopter of the trend is open this laid-back Victorian seven days a seaport on Washington’s week. Olympic Peninsula, the finnriver.com first region to establish its own Cider Route. Explanations differ on why cider is suddenly so popular. Some say it’s an evolution of the craft-brewing

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JEN LEE CHAPMAN


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Finnriver Farm and Cidery has an organic apple orchard with more than 3,000 trees, a tasting room, above, and outdoor venue, right, for parties and events.

The whole interest is driven by the millennial age group. They seem to be looking for something new and different.” — STEVE BISHOP, CO-OWNER OF ALPENFIRE CIDER

movement; others point to the variety of options available; still more fans appreciate how it doesn’t have gluten as an ingredient. Me? I just like its light, sweet taste. I also like the slower pace of this cider tour. Instead of rushing between tasting rooms, the three-stop route in the Port Townsend area gives one time to relax, explore and learn more about one of the country’s fastest-growing drink trends. “What I love about cider is it’s both new and old,” says Crystie Kisler, co-founder of Finnriver Farm and Cidery (142 Barn Swallow Rd., Chimacum; 360-732-4337; finnriver.com). The operation is part organic farm/part community gathering place. It attracts so much traffic that the tasting room is being moved to a nearby historic dairy farm in May 2016. The community

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feel is at its height in summer when families come to enjoy live music, pizza and oysters. Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnics during other times of the year or walk the Soil & Salmon Trail through the farm’s fields and orchards. Tastings are $5 for five samples, which run from the dry, bitter-sharp Fire Barrel Cider to the sweetness of the Spirited Apple dessert wine, which I loved. Eaglemount Wine and Cider (1893 S. Jacob Miller Road, Port Townsend; 360-732-4084; eaglemountwineandcider.com) is a family-owned cidery that recently moved its tasting room from a small 19th-century homestead to a 12-acre property with space for a bed-and-breakfast and live entertainment.


What I love about cider is it's both new and old."

JEN LEE CHAPMAN

— CRYSTIE KISLER, COFOUNDER OF FINNRIVER FARM AND CIDERY

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MAKE A TRIP OF IT The Cider Route is short enough to make for an easy day trip, but Port Townsend has more to offer, including Victorian architecture, wooden boats and great restaurants. Film buffs can even see set locations from An Officer and a Gentleman and finish the night with a movie in the posh Starlight Room at the local art house cinema, The Rose Theatre. The Bishop Victorian Hotel: This all-suite hotel in the heart of Port Townsend’s historic district is central to shopping, restaurants and the town’s great Victorian architecture. 714 Washington St.; 360-385-6122; bishopvictorian.com

The ciders here are made from several varieties of heirloom apples, and you really notice their taste in the tangy twang of Rhubarb Cider, the spice of Ginger Cider and the grapefruity/pear flavor of the Quince Cider, all among Eaglemount’s specialties. Eaglemount cider-maker Trudy Davis says that when the business began, “people didn’t know what (cider) was.” The versatility and variety of flavors has helped win over consumers looking for something different, she says. Another cidery in the region, Alpenfire Cider (220 Pocket Lane, Port Townsend, Wash.; 360-379-8915; alpenfirecider.com), has seen a similar growth in popularity. “The whole interest is driven by the millennial age group. They seem to be looking for something new and different,” says co-owner Steve Bishop. Although Alpenfire may appeal to a new generation of drinkers, the organic-certified apple orchard and cidery is run by purists who use traditional English, French and heirloom cider apples and nothing else. Bishop’s past as a wildland firefighter comes through in the names of some of the ciders. Visitors enjoy the award-winning Spark! SemiSweet and Glow Rose. My favorites in the open-air tasting room were the rough, bitter-tasting Pirate’s Plank Bone Dry and the thick, dessert-wine sweetness of Smoke.

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▲ The Resort at Port Ludlow: It may be only 20 miles away from Port Townsend, but the boutique inn built in a former logging town will turn your day trip into a full getaway. 1 Heron Rd., Port Ludlow; 877-805-0868; portludlowresort.com Chimacum Corner Foodstand: The small, local grocery prides itself on providing the best foods grown and produced on the Olympic Peninsula. 9122 Rhody Dr., Chimacum; 360-732-0107; chimacumcorner.com Fountain Cafe: This small kitchen puts out amazingly big tastes. The roasted garlic with melted brie and the cioppino come recommended. 920 Washington St.; 360-385-1364; www.fountaincafept.com Fort Worden Historical State Park: Hike, explore old bunkers, learn local history, see locations from An Officer and a Gentleman, beachcomb and view sunsets at this decommissioned Army base overlooking Puget Sound. 200 Battery Way; 360-344-4431; parks.state.wa.us Water Street: Shop, check out antique stores, visit bookshops and art galleries and enjoy architecture dating back to the late 1800s along Port Townsend’s main thoroughfare.

ALPENFIRE CIDER; RESORT PORT LUDLOW

Alpenfire organic hard cider is sold throughout the Seattle area.

Chevy Chase Beach Cabins: This small, old-style resort has six cabins with commanding views of Discovery Bay and area mountains. An additional private cabin is across the street. The large communal lawn has room for croquet, horseshoes, tetherball and shuffleboard. Dig for clams on the beach or search for treasure. It’s also right on the Cider Route. 3710 S. Discovery Rd.; 360-385-1270; chevychasebeachcabins.com


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CARIBBEAN

ST. BART'S TOURISM OFFICE

Built on arid, volcanic rock, St. Barts offers a variety of terrains in a small package. The island is only 8 square miles.

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St. Barts?

Oui! Oui!

Discover a taste of France closer to home BY ALLISON ENTREKIN

A

day in St. Barts begins like this: You wake up in the morning to the sounds of wild roosters crowing. You stretch a bit, get out of bed and decide you’re in the mood for crêpes. So you hop in your MINI Cooper Convertible (which is what everyone drives) and head to Gustavia, the capital of this small French Caribbean island. During your drive, you wind along two-lane mountain roads, trying not to close your eyes as locals pass you at full throttle. Once you blessedly arrive in Gustavia, you park near the harbor. Yachts as big as houses shine in the early morning sun. The crêperie is up the hill to your left, and to your right, a curiously large crowd has gathered by the water. You are drawn to the right and soon you find yourself in the island’s fish market, where locals chat in Creole and French as they examine displays of red snapper, yellowfin tuna and mahimahi. While customers shop, fishermen throw scraps into the water for the waiting tarpon fish as seagulls flap and squawk overhead.

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ST. BARTS’ BESTS St. Jean Beach: Anchored by the luxe Eden Rock Hotel, it’s walking distance from rows of boutiques and famed Nikki Beach. Saline Beach: Accessible only by foot, Saline is the second-largest beach on the island. Peaceful and quiet with tan sand, it’s where you’ll spot the occasional nude sunbather, but also kids and families. Marigot Beach: The clear waters here make it a favorite of snorkelers hoping to spy sea turtles. It’s surrounded by small villas and coconut-tree groves that sway in the breeze. La Bulle Diving Center: With abundant coral reefs and aquatic life, St. Barts is known for its diving. This center offers private and group dives and rents equipment. Headed by longtime instructor Didier Morvan, it accommodates everyone from newbie divers to experts. Marina Ocean Must, La Point Gustavia; labullesbh. com St. Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty: This company rents villas in a variety of sizes all over the island. Staff members will pick you up at the airport or dock, escort you to your villa and offer you a welcome basket once you’re settled in. All rentals include daily maid service and a round-theclock concierge. Opt for a property in the “Grand Cru” collection and you’ll also have continental breakfast waiting in your kitchen when you wake up, plus turndown service in the evenings. sbpeurope.com

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Bonito: Designed to resemble an upscale living room overlooking Gustavia harbor, this restaurant has the sexy-beach thing down pat. While Latin music plays, choose from nearly 30 craft cocktails and don’t miss the ceviches, especially the tropical salmon. Rue Lubin Brin, Gustavia; ilovebonito.com Maya’s: Don’t let the French-language menu intimidate you; the friendly staff is happy to translate. If you see accras (conch fritters) on the daily-changing rotation, order them immediately. Same for the tataki de thon (seared tuna medallions). Plage de Public; mayas-stbarth.com L’Esprit Jean-Claude Dufour: Locals come here for tuna tartare and seared mahi-mahi served with generous pours of wine. Ask for a table on the lush patio just steps from Saline Beach. Anse de Grande Saline, Salines; access-stbarth.com/en Conch fritters are an island specialty. Pair with a crisp Carib beer.

ST. BARTS TOURISM OFFICE; THINKSTOCK (2)

The jagged, rocky You mill around a bit, then head cliffs along the toward the crêperie. You trudge St. Barts coastline several blocks uphill, passing make for picturestorefronts for Louis Vuitton and perfect scenery. Hermès. The sun is rising higher, The highest point and you start to perspire. When on the island is you reach your destination, La Morne du Vitet, Crêperie, you catch your breath about 930 feet and order an espresso and a crêpe above sea level. filled with ham, Swiss cheese, mushrooms and fried potatoes. You sit at an outdoor table and smile as bronzed, French-speaking children in bathing suits and flip-flops walk past you. And so the day begins. You’re roughly 1,700 miles from the eastern United States, but you feel doubly far away: You could swear you’re in the south of France. Just like St. Tropez and Monaco, St. Barts is lovely and uninhibited. It’s also expensive — arguably the priciest island in the Caribbean. Everyone here smokes. Ordering a bottle of champagne at lunch is no big deal. Kids eat dinner with their parents at 9 p.m. The hottest nightspot in town is a cabaret. It’s hard to believe that a little more than 50 years ago, St. Barts was an isolated island with a struggling economy. Even though Christopher Columbus “discovered” it in 1493 (naming it St. Barthélemy after his brother, Bartolomeo), it took centuries for it to find its footing. It passed between


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CARIBBEAN

The horseshoe-shaped harbor of Gustavia has been an active port since the 18th century. Today, yachts of the rich and famous are more likely to dock here than schooners carrying provisions.

the Maltese, Swedish and French and endured wars and natural disasters. With hardly any rain on the island (save for the occasional hurricane), there was precious little to export. But St. Barts was ultimately saved by its beauty. Home to a whopping 22 beaches — some with white sand, others with smooth stones — it sits amid turquoise waters that are a playground for neon fish and humpback whales. It was this irresistible loveliness that compelled David Rockefeller to buy a home here in 1957, just a few years after the island got its own airport. Americans — especially New Yorkers — followed the banking tycoon’s trail and a booming tourism economy was born. Today, St. Barts is a popular vacation spot for many of the rich and famous, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Beyoncé and the Kardashian clan. Most visitors to St. Barts stay in a hotel or a villa. Hotel rooms range from small $500-a-night pied-à-terres in downtown Gustavia to the $2,000-per-night oceanfront suites. Villas share a similar price span: Some offer basic accommodations, while others are spacious and offer

luxury amenities. Lately, the island has become increasingly well known for its gastronomy, especially its French-inspired restaurants. The trendy Bonito serves French-Latin cuisine (think duck foie gras topped with sangria jelly) prepared by chef Laurent Cantineaux, protégé of acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud. L’Esprit de Saline, situated in a side-of-the-road bungalow near Saline Beach, offers a surprisingly upscale menu filled with fresh seafood and inventive cocktails. And Maya’s is a St. Barts institution, the place where celebrities go for calamari and carpaccio served in an unpretentious atmosphere. Which brings us to how a day in St. Barts ends: A late dinner — perhaps a fivecourse one — on an outdoor patio. A bit of eavesdropping on the smoky table next to you as they decide what time to hit famed cabaret spot Les Ti. A post-dinner stroll on the beach, because you’re too full and too tired for a cabaret. A good night’s sleep in a soft bed before the island’s wild roosters wake you in the morning. But it’s OK if they rouse you early: You might be ready for another crêpe. ●

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ST. BARTS TOURISM OFFICE

You sit at an outdoor table and smile as bronzed French-speaking children in bathing suits and flip-flops walk past you. … You could swear you're in the south of France.


CANADA

Niagara Winter Celebrate the season in charming Niagara-on-the-Lake BY NANCY DUNHAM

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THINKSTOCK

feel like royalty — or at the very least a blue blood — as my husband and I sit at a dining room table in the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, about a 30-minute drive from Niagara Falls. Lucky for us, the crisp, white-cloaked table is near a picture window facing the street, so we can watch a young couple — their linked arms suggesting newlyweds — scurry out the Victorian hotel’s gleaming wooden doors and toward a dark horse tethered to a white, gold-trimmed carriage. The scene is so charming I almost don’t hear my husband teasingly ask if I’m enjoying myself. I smile in response. Of course I am, but I’m a bit embarrassed. Growing up in western New York State, I visited the Falls so frequently I thought I knew every inch of the area. It took the curiosity of my Indiana born-and-bred husband to take me north of the Falls where we found a world full of pubs and tearooms and wineries and shops — all seemingly plucked right out of Cambridge and set near the Niagara River. Many longtime residents concede the area, home to the internationally known Shaw Festival Theatre, is a bit

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Quebec’s Far North

NUNAVIK kNF4 For information or a free copy of the Nunavik Official Tourist Guide: NUNAVIK TOURISM • 1-855 NUNAVIK • NUNAVIK-TOURISM.COM

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the mom-and-pop boutiques and enjoy the occasional mug of hot cider or sip a wine from one of the region’s renowned wineries. At nightfall, we embrace the informal camaraderie of the British-like pubs in town. At the Olde Angel Inn, we step inside and are enveloped by the chatter of patrons. The décor, including wood tables reflecting the soft light of the fireplaces, adds to the pub feel, and a menu full of hearty fare includes a tasty shepherd’s pie. The only downside to our weekend is that it ends much too soon. I fret we haven’t fully experienced Niagara-onthe-Lake, but Janet Trogdon assures me we spent our time wisely. She and her husband, Eric, own Niagara Holiday Rentals and guide guests to the area’s best attractions. She reminds me to allot time to snowshoe, ski and enjoy the Ice Wine festival held each January. “That’s the best thing about Niagara-onthe-Lake, other than the great people who live here, that is,” she says. “It’s a winter wonderland.”

The picturesque Prince of Wales Hotel, left, was built in the 1860s and serves a daily afternoon tea, above. Top, the Olde Angel Inn has a British-style pub, a quaint dining room and several guest rooms.

VINTAGE HOTELS (2); OLDE ANGEL INN

under the radar. Terri-Lynn Woodhouse, who lives near the Prince of Wales Hotel in the area’s Historic District, says even when visitors discover it, they often don’t fully grasp the area’s offerings and year-round beauty. “Niagara-on-the-Lake is a tailored gem, always in perfect condition,” she says. “(In the warmer months), the streets are lined with gorgeous flowers that are always changing. I’m a history buff and love pretty places, so it totally fits the bill. Plus, I’m a lover of live theater and wine, of course. I have world-class restaurants, with farm-fresh cuisine at my fingertips as well. Honestly, what is not to love here?” Roger Brinkley of Monument, Colo., visited the area to golf and quickly became enchanted by the Butterfly Conservatory and Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. “The charm of the town is the Victorian homes and ability to walk anywhere. Take a stroll down to the Fort or just walk along Lake Ontario,” he says. Treasures can be found throughout the historic district. We stop to browse in


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Ancient Ireland 10 reasons to visit the Emerald Isle’s austere and mysterious Burren BY LISA DAVIS

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ancestors or felt a connection to the mysticism of Celtic beliefs. Whatever the draw, a trip to Ireland is at once comfortable and a lot of fun. But what if a trip to Ireland could also be thrilling, filled with Celtic mysteries, ancient castles, Neolithic tombs and dramatic caves? Welcome to Ireland’s Burren, a silvery gray, lunar-like landscape on the country’s west coast that was the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Here are 10 reasons to make the trek.

PHOTO CREDIT

reland is like that favorite cousin you see at the holidays — jovial and happy, embracing you with open arms and including you in all the fun. That sense of camaraderie makes Ireland a favorite international destination for U.S. travelers, as the Irish lifestyle of song, drink and gab makes visitors feel right at home. And many Americans already have ties to these emerald lands. They may have grown up hearing about Irish

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THINKSTOCK PHOTO CREDIT

GETTING TO THE BURREN The Burren is about 26 miles from the Shannon Airport and 142 miles from the Dublin Airport. Car rentals are available at both. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to drive? Take a bus or taxi from the airport to your hotel, where private tours of the region can typically be arranged.


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Located about an hour south of Galway and 40 miniutes north of Shannon, the Burren looks more like the bottom of the ocean than the typical 50-shades-ofgreen Irish setting. And that’s a fitting description: About 350 million years ago, this part of Ireland was under the sea. Visitors today can still find shells and sea urchin fossils embedded in the Burren’s rocky shale and limestone surface.

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Perhaps even more eyecatching than the stark moonscape are the ancient stone walls that divide it into a maze of sorts, as well as the wedge and megalithic tombs scattered along the horizon. One of the most famous tombs can be found south of Ballyvaughan, a small harbor village. The 12foot Poulnabrone Dolmen dates back to about 2500 BC and resembles the standing stones at Stonehenge.

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Nature also has a mysterious presence in the Burren. Among the relics of stone history live colorful flowers, birds and butterflies. In fact, a fascinating aspect of the Burren is how plants that normally grow in different parts of the world thrive alongside each other here. For instance, the white and yellow mountains avens flowers found in Scandinavia grow next to the bloody craneshills, a purple geranium.

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What lies beneath the Burren’s ancient lands shouldn’t be missed. The Burren has the biggest cave system in Ireland, known for its unusual rock formations, waterfalls and, at 23 feet, the largest freehanging stalactite north of the equator. Guided tours through these underground limestone caverns are offered at Doolin and Aillwee caves.

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Given the vast size of the region, which encompasses 300 square miles, you’d think driving would be ideal. But locals recommend skipping the four wheels. “Walking or cycling are the best ways to see the Burren, to get up close with the landscape, its history and to meet the people and experience the culture,” says Laura Cotter, communications coordinator at Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark.

CLOCKWISE: BURREN AND CLIFFS OF MOHER GEOPARK (2); THINKSTOCK (4)

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Prefer to walk? Book a stroll with the Heart of Burren Walks (heartofburrenwalks. com), or take a spiritualfocused stroll with Coisceim Anama (Irish for “footstep of the soul”), a walking business in the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark (coisceimanama.ie). A recommended walk for foodies is foraging with Wild Kitchen’s wild food walk (wildkitchen.ie), which guides walkers to edibles such as seaweed, wild herbs and flowers.

Tip: Be sure to wear shoes with good traction; limestone can be slippery.

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Any visit to Ireland should include a stay in a castle. The neoGothic-style, 16th-century Dromoland Castle in Newmarket-on-Fergus has all the features royalty would appreciate: ancestral portraits, oak paneling and Irish antiques. Dinner in the castle’s chandeliered Earl of Thomond restaurant is a must, as is walking the estate’s woodland trails.

Tip: Book a room in the Queen Anne wing.

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The Burren is home to some of Ireland’s most popular attractions: Burren National Park and the towering Cliffs of Moher that rise up from the Atlantic Ocean. Rent a car for a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, the longest defined coastal drive in the world, spanning 1,553 miles from Donegal to Cork. This easyto-navigate route has its own diversions, including Ring of Kerry, golf courses and surfing spots. If you’re not brave enough to hit the waves yourself, watch pro surfers test out Aileen, called a "perfect wave."

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It would be a grave Irish sin to miss a meal. Thankfully, the Burren has really good food, and finding a spot for lunch or dinner is as easy as following a trail. The Burren Food Trail has more than 20 restaurants, breweries, bakeries and farms. Stop by the Burren Smokehouse to sample smoked Irish salmon and learn the history of food smoking, or visit the Wild Honey Inn for Liscannor crab claws in garlic and chili butter. Both places are located in the spa town of Lisdoonvarna.

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Maybe more important than food is having a drink at an Irish pub. Lifelong resident Nuala Mulqueeney, director of the Aillwee Cave & Birds of Prey Centre, willingly divulges her favorites in the Burren: “Vaughan’s (Pub) in Kilfenora for great food and friends, and Linnane’s Pub for the best midweek traditional Irish music. Cassidy’s in Carron is a beautiful pub with some of the most breathtaking views over the Burren landscape.”

TOP FROM LEFT: THINKSTOCK (2); BURREN AND CLIFFS OF MOHER GEOPARK; THINKSTOCK; BOTTOM: DROMOLAND CASTLE

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Cruise Like a Viking Silent, snow-caked scenery and Arctic adventure await along Norwayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coast STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIT BERNARDI

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ypically, I would never abandon a plate piled high with fresh king crabs pulled from Arctic waters just hours earlier. But when the captain broadcasts an important announcement into the dining room of my cruise ship, I grab my parka and head topside.

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Stiff, cold winds blow over the MS Finnmarkenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rollicking bow, now crowded with those hoping to spot the Northern Lights. Scanning the heavens above Norway, we wait. Then a faint, shimmering white smudge emerges from the darkness. Neongreen streaks stretch and cascade, drawing squiggly lines across the blackboard sky. Seeing the Northern Lights is one

of many ways to experience local color while aboard one of the 11 ships of the Norwegian transport corporation Hurtigruten AS. Operating as both a tourism company and lifeline to the coast of Norway, the vessels stop at the ports of 34 coastal towns, tiny fishing villages and remote polar outposts. My ship, the MS Finnmarken, transports 11,000 tons of goods


CRUISES

and 1,000 people, including crew, commuters and cruise passengers (who sleep in 628 beds in comfortable cabins). In port, cars drive into the cavernous hold and forklifts load pallets of construction materials, household supplies and food from fjord farms to keep the coastline running.

NATURAL BEAUTY AND BOUNTY There are no casinos, theaters or spas aboard this ship and even the Wi-Fi is spotty. Instead, your entertainment is Norway’s stunning scenery: 2,500 coast-hugging, nautical miles. Passengers look up from their novels to see barren tundrascapes, gritty industrial ports and snow-smothered houses painted in cloudberry yellows, evergreens, currant reds and glacier ice blues. Time lapses as the ship passes a coast of silvery fjords, icy shores and impressive mountains that look like encroaching storm fronts. While taking in the serene scenery, enjoy the cruise ship’s elaborate meals. The communities we sail past supply fresh ingredients for the seasonal Norwegian dishes filling Hurtigruten’s buffets. Count on herring, fish soup, cheeses and decadent cakes such as custard-meringue kvaefjordkake. Winter entrées may include Arctic char, cod, lamb and reindeer raised by the indigenous Sami people. “Rudolph doesn’t like to be in the oven too long,” jokes executive chef Kurt Gjertsen, when explaining how he cooks the reindeer dish.

ONSHORE ADVENTURES Port excursions focus on Norwegian history, culture and polar adventures. The options are endless. Guided tours through Bergen, the country’s second-most populus city, explore the UNESCOlisted medieval wharf buildings of the Hanseatic League. Architectural walks Ålesund take visitors through the art nouveau buildings and the town’s Atlanterhavsparken, the Atlantic

While they vary in frequency and intensity, the Aurora Borealis around the Arctic Circle (66° North) is most visible October through March. Hurtigruten guarantees the Northern Lights will make an appearance on all winter, 12-day Classic Roundtrip Coastal Voyages through February 2016 or you get your booking fees back. 877-301-3117; hurtigruten.com

Opposite page: Alesund is Norway’s largest fishing town, surrounded by fjords and the snow-capped peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps. Top, Bergen’s Torget Fish Market sells fresh catch of the day and traditional klippfisk (dried and salted cod), one of Norway’s oldest exports. Bergen’s historic Hanseatic League wharf warehouses were the center of Norway’s 13th-century cod trade.

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CRUISES

Enjoy traditional Norwegian foods, including waffles, brown cheese and reindeer casserole, at Baklandet Skydsstation café in Trondheim.

Gurlie, owner of Baklandet Skydsstation in one of Trondheim’s oldest buildings, welcomes visitors to her café for traditional Norwegian fare. Above right, a wall mural in the industrial port town of Bodø pictures a giant troll, a common character in Norse mythology.

Sea-Park aquarium. On the Lofoten Islands, guests dine and watch folk dancing during a Viking feast re-enactment. And in Trondheim, a vibrant university town founded by Vikings in 997 A.D., the homemade waffles and creamy hot cocoa served at the cozy Baklandet Skydsstation café are more than worth the trek. Above the Arctic Circle, I earn bragging rights from my fellow travelers for braving the cold (temps average in the low 20s most of the winter) at North Cape (71° North), billed as Europe’s northernmost point. And while dog sledding in the frozen wilderness of Kvaløya, an island in the Norwegian municipality of Tromsø, I imagine

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myself an intrepid adventurer, coasting over the wintry landscape. Our last port, Kirkenes, a town in the far northeast, nudges the Russian border and is rich in iron ore, World War II history and king crab. From Langfjord’s frigid waters, we pull crabs with claws that span 3 feet long, immediately boil them over an open fire and feast in a log cabin. Then, like a pack of growling beasts, our snowmobiles prowl across windswept, blank-white fields as we hunt the Northern Lights.

NATURE’S FIREWORKS Vikings believed the celestial lights were armor and shields of valkyries, warrior maidens of Norse mythology.

We now know that the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is caused by gaseous plasma explosions on the sun’s surface. Energized particles are released, creating solar winds that travel through space, sometimes colliding into the Earth’s atmosphere. “Energy is released in the form of intense green, red and sometimes blue dazzling lights best seen in dark, cloudless night skies,” says Jim Spann, a heliophysicist at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. And that’s exactly what I experience my last night in Norway, while staying at the Kirkenes Snowhotel in Bjørnevatn. Lynx, fox, reindeer, wolverines and the occasional brown bears


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CRUISES

Cruisers aboard Hurtigruten ships enjoy shore excursions such as the King Crab Safari, left. Or they simply watch Arctic scenery float by as they soak in the outdoor heated pools, right.

Energy is released in the form of intense green, red and sometimes blue dazzling lights best seen in dark, cloudless night skies.” — HELIOPHYSICIST JIM SPANN

158 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2016

roam the transcontinental Siberian taiga, or boreal forest, that surrounds the unique hotel. My room, one of 20 giant domes made of snow and ice, keeps the temperature at 28 degrees, just a smidge warmer than the 14-degree cold outside. “You’re in the animal kingdom now,” says my guide, Astrid Lund, as she demonstrates how to zip up my mummy sleeping bag to stay safe and warm.

While I’m perhaps safer within my walls of snow, it’s outside where I want to be. The Northern Lights sparkle in the skies above, a miraculous display of color and light, more than worth the journey to this remote outpost and a night sleeping in a snow cave. Watching the display, it’s easy to imagine Viking warriors doing the same thing hundreds of years ago, feeling the same awe for this vast, frigid, wild world. ●


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ONE FOR THE ROAD

Tea-lax!

Discover international rituals closer to home BY KATE PARHAM KORDSMEIER

Restaurants such as the Japanese Hakubai and Turkish Ansara, far left, keep tea traditions alive.

of studies purporting its many health benefits. But around the globe, tea has been an important part of life for hundreds of years, complete with serving ceremonies and rituals. Here are some unique ways to celebrate the traditions in the U.S.

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Influenced by Zen Buddhism, this ceremony brings people together in the spirit of harmony and respect. Expect the more formal event to last several hours, with the matcha (powdered green tea) served in fine pottery, along with a traditional light meal (called tenshin) or kaiseki (a multicourse meal of seasonal specialties).

Inspired by Taoism, this ritual, called Gˉongfu Chá, involves the ceremonial preparation and presentation of oolong in half a dozen clay tea pots and cups, served in a bamboo box. The porous clay in the cups absorbs the oils of the tea, so eventually you add only water.

The 7th Duchess of Bedford is credited with the concept of English afternoon tea. The midday event caught on in the 19th century, and the Langham Hotel in London started offering an afternoon tea service in 1865. The daily event evolved to include elaborate sandwiches and sweets.

Turkish tea (cay) is loose leaf black tea brewed in a copper kettle called a samovar. The tea can range from light to dark, and is poured to the individual drinker’s taste. Although the Turks don't have an official tea ceremony per se, tea is considered an art in the country and a cornerstone of hospitality.

TRY IT: At the Langham Hotels in Boston, Chicago and Pasadena, Calif., where the Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood is served from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. langhamhotels.com

TRY IT: Ankara in Washington, D.C., where tea is served in traditional tulipshaped glasses with pastries and light foods. 1320 19th St. NW; 202-293-6301; ankaradc.net

TRY IT: At Hakubai, the Kitano New York Hotel’s Michelin-rated Japanese restaurant. 66 Park Ave., East 38th St.; 212-885-7000; kitano.com

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TRY IT: At the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, which offers an authentic experience. Make reservations in advance. 3752 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; 702-5908888; mandarinoriental.com/ lasvegas

THE KITANO NEW YORK HOTEL; MARIA BRYK

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ave for the sweet-tea-sipping crowd down South, America doesn’t have much of a tea-drinking culture. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that we started fully embracing the hot drink, thanks in large part to a slew


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