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PAC K YO U R BAG S !

WINTER

Wonders COLORADO SANS SKIS A TASTE OF VERMONT UNEXPECTED EUROPE THE LURE OF PORTUGAL

El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico


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Behold the splendor of the wild in a place where nature and culture meet. Reinvigorate your spirit with breathtaking, snow-filled adventures, and delight in local craft beverages and fireside dining. Start planning the perfect escape at VisitEstesPark.com/winter


WINTER 2017

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UNEXPECTED EUROPE From locations used in Outlander to uncrowded museums, Europe in winter has its advantages. Take our tips for smooth travel.

PAUL FAITH/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Dark Hedges tree tunnel in Northern Ireland, a well-known Game of Thrones location

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WINTER 2017

REGIONS n NORTHEAST 58 60 64 66

Duff Goldman’s Baltimore Washington, D.C., Expands Its Horizons Tasty Vermont Cheese Winter in Buffalo: It’s Fun!

n SOUTHEAST 74

18 UP FRONT 10

AIRPORT NEWS

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THE BEST IN DUTY-FREE GOODS

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SAFETY TIPS FOR TRAVELERS

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NEW FOOD HALLS

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FOOD ON FIRE (ON PURPOSE)

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SHOOT THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

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LOOK FORWARD TO SPRING FLOWERS

FEATURES TOWNS 30 HOLIDAY Ten of the best places to catch that wintry Christmas spirit

ART 50 UNDERWATER Sculpture garden off Grenada’s shores evokes an eerie beauty

76 80

Robin Barnes’ New Orleans The Kentucky Bourbon Trail Florida by the Numbers

n MIDWEST 88 90 96

Kristin Cavallari’s Chicago Detroit’s Renaissance Shop and Play at the Mall of America

n WEST 101 Dan O’Brien’s

Scottsdale, Ariz.

102 Colorado Without Skis 106 San Antonio’s River Walk

n PACIFIC 113 114 118 122

Dan Savage’s Seattle New Trail for Los Angeles Tacoma: Glass Art Capital Winter in Lake Tahoe

DESTINATIONS 126 n CANADA Skate Through Ottawa’s Winterlude

130 n CARIBBEAN Puerto Rico: Home to the Only U.S. Rain Forest

134 n EUROPE

138 n CRUISES On Board the Disney Dream

144 n ONE FOR THE ROAD

ON THE COVER: La Mina Falls in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico PHOTO BY: Getty Images/AWL Images RM

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Artifacts Tell the Complex African-American Story

All prices and availability are subject to change.

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Lisbon Promises Fashion and Flash


FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS PREMIUM PUBLICATION DIRECTOR Jeanette Barrett-Stokes jbstokes@usatoday.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jerald Council jcouncil@usatoday.com

▶ MATT ALDERTON Alderton is a freelance writer specializing in business, design, food, travel and technology. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he’s written about everything from Beanie Babies and mega bridges to robots and chicken sandwiches. He lives in Chicago with his partner and their Boston terrier, Roxy. He’ll help you find your way through Europe (page 44), discover non-skiing adventures in Colorado (page 102) and guide you through the only rain forest in the U.S. (page 130). Twitter: @AldertonWrites

▶ LISA DAVIS Ever curious, Chicago-based travel journalist Davis loves scouting the best vacation experiences, whether they are offbeat and quirky or hidden gems in popular tourist stops. In this issue, she explores Detroit’s comeback as a top travel destination (page 90) and she discovers a surprising place that claims to be the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World, and it’s not Washington, D.C, in her roundup of spring flower tours and festivals (page 26). Davis’ travel discoveries also appear in the Chicago Tribune, Forbes Travel, Robb Report and American Way. Twitter and Instagram: @lisadavismedia

MANAGING EDITOR Michelle Washington mjwashington@usatoday.com EDITORS Elizabeth Neus Hannah Prince Lori Santos Sara Schwartz Tracy L. Scott DESIGNERS Miranda Pellicano Gina Toole Saunders Ashleigh Webb Lisa M. Zilka CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Matt Alderton, Karen Asp, Diane Bair, Brian Barth, Mary Helen Berg, Amanda Castleman, Lisa Davis, Ashley Day, Hollie Deese, Allison Entrekin, Jennifer Bradley Franklin, Alexis Korman, Jennifer Mabry, Lisa Meyers McClintick, Nancy Mills, Nancy Monson, Katie Morell, Sarah Sekula, Annette Thompson, Matt Villano, Pamela Wright, Stacey Zable CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER Flash Parker

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

FINANCE

COURTESY OF THE CONTRIBUTORS

▶ ALEXIS KORMAN Korman works as a wine and travel writer, and co-founded an artisanal kombucha company, Big Easy Bucha, which gives back to charities in New Orleans. Juggling a jam-packed schedule, Korman usually sticks close to home for the holidays. “But since there’s no snow in Louisiana, I’m perpetually dreaming of that perfect white Christmas,” she says. Last year, she hit the road with her husband and uncovered some Christmas-crazy towns that looked like snow globes come to life (page 30). “If you want to fill up on that festive vibe, sometimes you have to leave your ZIP code in the dust.” Twitter: @lexisips; Instagram: @lexk75

▶ NANCY MILLS Mills got her first taste of international travel in high school as an exchange student in Greece. She has lived in New York City, London and Los Angeles, and has traveled to many world capitals and hamlets following the film stars she writes about. Follow her through Europe during the off-season (page 40). Her work has appeared in USA TODAY, The New York Times Syndicate, The Guardian, Los Angeles Times and Cosmopolitan, among others. She has written four cookbooks, including the popular HELP! My Apartment Has a Kitchen, and writes a food blog, MomsCookingHelp.blogspot.com. Twitter: @momscookinghelp

BILLING COORDINATOR Julie Marco This is a product of

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved herein, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or reproduced in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written consent of USA TODAY. The editors and publisher are not responsible for any unsolicited materials.

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travel.usatoday.com JUST FOR FUN NAME THAT AIRPORT

Each week, we post a mystery photo and ask readers to identify which airport around the world it’s from. Join the guessing game at: utodayinthesky.usatoday.com

WORLD’S BEST ATTRACTIONS SEE BEFORE YOU GO

HOW TO KEEP FROM BEING HACKED WHEN YOU TRAVEL

• Don’t connect to an open Wi-Fi network. “Anybody can connect to them, and there could be traps set up to trick you, sneakily labeled ‘hotel Wi-Fi,’ ‘free Wi-Fi’ and ‘airport Wi-Fi,’” says Paul Paget, chief executive of Pwnie Express, a security consulting firm. • Don’t plug into any old power outlet. Daniel Smith, an information security researcher for Radware, says one of the biggest mistakes travelers make is placing their trust in random mobile power stations. Seriously. “By plugging your device into a power station you’re risking your device’s data via juice jacking,” he says. Make sure you’re topped off before you leave trusted power sources, or carry a spare battery. • Don’t forget to change your passwords. At the end of your trip, switch to a different password, experts recommend. Why? Many Wi-Fi networks and public Internet connections can be leveraged to sniff out passwords and user IDs of everything you did while traveling. Why give them access to your information when you return?

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CRUISING TO ADVENTURE SAILING NORTH

Rapidly shrinking ice coverage across the Arctic is making the Northwest Passage more accessible, and cruise operators are moving in. A typical cruise, it isn’t. The “ports” are forlorn, wind-swept islands that, as often as not, are covered in thick snow. Bundled up is the dress code. See what it’s like at: uusatoday.com/ travel/cruises

MUST-SEE VIDEO AROUND THE WORLD IN NEW YORK KITCHENS

Star chef Masaharu Morimoto demonstrates a pork belly recipe he uses for three dishes at his New York City restaurant, Momosan Ramen & Sake. uusatoday.com/story/travel/experience/ food-and-wine/2016/07/05/japanese-cooking-chefmasaharu-morimoto/86708852

BEN MUTZABAUGH; THINKSTOCK; MICHAEL MONDAY

CONSUMER CORNER

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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

EMBRACE THE SEASON

FLASH PARKER

Gliding between icebergs and snowcapped peaks at Exit Glacier near Seward, Alaska, photographer Flash Parker and his travel companion, pictured, explored “one of the most stunning places I’ve been.” Whether your goal is remote winter adventure or a warm escape from the weather, we’ll provide you a guide to it all. Turn the page, and begin your journey.


UP FRONT | AIRPORTS

USA TODAY’s travel team brings you the latest from the nation’s airports

PHOENIX

With the addition of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in June, nine of the 10 busiest U.S. airports now provide access to Uber and Lyft for travelers who prefer ride-hailing services. The services say tens of thousands of passengers had opened apps at Sky Harbor before service was available. “Folks have just been clamoring for this,” said Bakari Brock, Lyft’s senior director of business operations. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is now the last of the busiest without the services.

NEW YORK

JetBlue has made over its lobby in Terminal 5 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Kiosks let passengers check in and tag their luggage themselves; crewmembers are on hand to help if they run into trouble. The expanded area also includes space for passengers to repack heavy bags to meet weight requirements.

MIAMI

On Aug. 31, JetBlue Flight 387 became the first regularly scheduled commercial flight between the U.S. and Cuba in 55 years. Seven other U.S. airlines will soon follow with their own routes, which could balloon to 110 flights per day from cities throughout the U.S. to Cuban cities. American Airlines received the highest overall number of daily flights to Havana, tentatively winning the right to five from Miami and Charlotte, N.C. JetBlue and Delta won fewer overall daily flights but will fly to Havana from more cities. Alaska Airlines won tentative authority for just one flight to Havana, but the approval for one daily flight from Los Angeles would give the Seattle-based carrier the only Havana route from the West Coast. Nearly all of the 20 available daily Havana flights will operate from Florida and the eastern United States.

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MIAMI

Miami International Airport in September opened eight standalone “lactation stations” for nursing moms. The comfortable 4-foot by 8-foot suites, made by Burlington, Vt.-based Mamava, are designed for individual use, and are big enough to fit a woman’s carry-on luggage as well as other children she may have in tow. MIA is the 15th airport nationwide to install self-standing nursing pods for mothers, but the first to install so many.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Parents have a new play area to entertain their kids when they fly through Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport. The play area features an aviation theme; its “centerpiece” is the “Tommy Tower” structure, modeled after Dulles International’s historic air traffic control tower. The walls of the play area are decorated with facts about airplanes and aviation. Located in Concourse B near gate B70, the play area is open to adultsupervised children under 12 and no taller than 42 inches.

THINKSTOCK; COURTESY OF MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT; JETBLUE; JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES

New Arrivals


UP FRONT | AIRPORTS

Duty-free shopping can help you save BY HOLLIE DEESE

EVERYONE KNOWS THAT duty-free shopping can save you money on taxes, but beyond that basic premise the details of exactly how duty-free shopping works — and exactly how much it can really save you — are murky at best. Available at stores either inside airports with international connections or located at the U.S. border, duty-free shops sell products — often luxury items — that are not taxed. That means you can buy goods and take them across the border (either into or out of the U.S.) without paying local, state or federal taxes on some or all of the purchase price. In some cases, you may have to pay

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INTERNATIONAL BARGAINS Here is a sampling of items that can be found in duty-free stores around the world. Actual prices vary depending on the store, the currency in use and the side of the border you’re on, but are often similar to retail pricing.

La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Lift Cream, $335

Ray-Ban original Wayfarer sunglasses, $160

William Grant and Sons Àraid 21 Reserve, $170

Toblerone variety pack, pack $23

Buckley London black and white Ice Cube ring, $45

THINKSTOCK; WILLIAM GRANT: COURTESY OF DUTY FREE EXPRESS; ALL OTHER PRODUCTS, COURTESY OF DFS GROUP LIMITED FOR DUTY

Luxury for Less

the local value-added tax, or VAT, but you can apply to have it refunded. Savings can vary. Duty Free Americas, which runs dozens of duty-free stores, estimates that lucky shoppers can save up to 50 percent. An individual can buy up to $800 worth of duty-free goods per month; a family can buy a total of $1,600 when traveling together. U.S. customs regulations, however, limit how much tobacco and alcohol you can bring in, regardless of price. Some items can be purchased in advance online, and you pick them up at the airport before you get on your flight. Jean Chatzky, personal finance expert and host of the HerMoney with Jean Chatzky podcast, says duty-free shopping can be a saver, but not all the time. “There are two things that tend to fall frequently into the ‘yes’ category when it comes to duty-free shopping: cigarettes and alcohol, particularly if you live in a state that taxes them heavily,” Chatzky says. “You can also often do well on things that are rarely, if ever, put on sale — like some designer goods — because you save the tax. And on designer goods, the tax can be substantial.” As for everything else, you have to do your homework, Chatzky says; shop with the knowledge of what items cost in regular stores so you know if you’re getting a great deal or not. “That’s the only way you’ll know, for example, if the (Viktor&Rolf) Flowerbomb perfume is a better deal in a duty-free shop or in your local Costco,” where she recently snagged it for $49.99, she says. The designer fragrance can cost as much as $115 for 1.7 ounces at a department store.


Secure Travel A vigilant vacationer may also be a safer one BY DIANE BAIR AND PAMELA WRIGHT

THE RECENT SPATE of violent incidents at home and abroad — bombings, shootings, other disasters — could make even the most intrepid adventurer think twice before traveling. To borrow a phrase from a 1982 Clash song: Should I stay or should I go? Go, says Paul Wertheimer, founder of Crowd Management Strategies, an international crowd safety consulting service. “Recklessness, criminal behavior and terror take many forms and play out in many

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ways,” he says; avoiding all risk is impossible. (Besides, you could stay home and slip in the bathtub.) Do you really want to skip the Hairy Crab Festival in Nanjing because of that? The best strategy, Wertheimer says, is to research the place you plan to visit, and be vigilant and aware of your surroundings once you get there. Translation: Get your face outta your Instagram, girlfriend! Here are some more tips to help you stay safe while traveling:

IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SKETCHY, SAY SOMETHING. Wertheimer’s list includes: locked or blocked exit doors; abandoned packages, backpacks and oddly placed sections of pipe; people dressed out of season (a heavy overcoat on a hot summer day); bulging objects under clothing; very heavy-looking (but not always large) backpacks; people asking about security practices; and vehicles parked near public transit or event areas, especially if they’re parked illegally or without license plates. Also beware of a “nervous, loitering person who’s using only eye contact (to communicate) with other parties,” Wertheimer notes. That person could be planning something with others and is trying not to be overheard or draw attention.

THINKSTOCK

UP FRONT | SECURITY


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UP FRONT | SECURITY

16 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2017

KNOW THE SECONDARY EXITS. In an active shooter situation, the Department of Homeland Security advises that you run (best option), hide (behind locked doors) then fight (only as a last resort). Look for underutilized alternative exits or escape routes. These may offer the best chances for survival even if they are farther away. Why? “When a large number of people head toward one exit, the evacuation will be slower, a critical factor in fire or terror attacks, and the possibility for trampling and crowd crush will be higher,” Wertheimer says. Got kids? Carrying a child at your shoulder height is the best option to keep a youngster safe in a dense crowd, Wertheimer says.

For the latest tips and alerts for U.S. travelers, visit the Department of State’s travel page, travel.state.gov

ARM KIDS WITH INFORMATION. “With children, always have a plan if you should get separated, and give them the tools to act, (including) a place to meet and the name of (the) hotel if you are in a new city, since many kids don’t pay attention to that,” says Juliette Kayyem, former DHS assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs and author of Security Mom. Point out to them where they can find public safety officials, she adds. And, even if you swear you can run in stilettos, “wear comfortable shoes!”

FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS. If you get a creepy feeling, like “something’s not right here,” pay attention. “Listen to your biological survival instincts,” Wertheimer says, and Just. Get. Out.

THINKSTOCK

FOIL A PICKPOCKET. Pickpocketing is a common, everyday occurrence, especially in desirable locales like Paris, London and Rome. “Tourists provide a never-ending supply of distracted people, the perfect target for pickpockets,” says Bambi Vincent, co-author of Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams While Traveling. To foil a would-be Fagin, be aware of your valuables at all times. Don’t leave your purse hanging off the back of your chair, or your cellphone sitting on the café table. And don’t be fooled by diversions such as a staged fight, Vincent says. Beware of scammers, like the “lost” traveler who sticks a map in your face — and then reaches under it to steal your cellphone. Don’t stop to talk or field questions from strangers. “Learn to say, ‘No, thank you,’ in the local language, and do not stop to chat. Just keep walking,” Vincent says.


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UP FRONT | FOOD + DRINK

Grab ’N’ Go The food hall trend spreads across America BY ASHLEY DAY

THE MODERN-DAY FOOD court concept needs no shopping mall as anchor. Food capitals and tourism destinations across the country are embracing food purveyor hubs that bring together local artisans, chefs, bakers and makers for a variety of international cuisines and food types paired with coffee, pastries and even cocktails. Food halls are the perfect way to please the diverse palates of a large party while staying warm indoors and getting a varied taste of a place by browsing (and sampling) around the often historic spaces. Here are five new ones worth visiting this winter:

NEW YORK CITY

212-633-6003; unionfare.com

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@THREADSALT

1

UNION FARE Union Fare is a multiconcept venue stretching across a block near Manhattan’s Union Square. The 25,000-square-foot restaurant and “gastro hall” occupies the original Barnes & Noble building serving pizza, poke, salads and street foods at distinct stations. The hub boasts a café, bakery, wine and cocktail bar, a dinner restaurant and a charcuterie counter in a beautifully designed open space. While the food is from a single vendor, notable chefs in the city joined the project, including executive pastry chef Thiago Silva and executive chef Yvan Lemoine. 7 E. 17th St.;


CHICAGO

CHARLESTON, S.C.

3

2

REVIVAL FOOD HALL Revival Food Hall has taken over the 24,000-square-foot ground floor of downtown Chicago’s historic The National, built in 1907. Popular Windy City restaurants offer quick-serve or fast-casual graband-go options at about 15 stalls, paired with coffee and cocktails. Find adapted versions of local eateries Antique Taco Chiquito, Aloha Poke Co., Union Squared pizza and Farmer’s Fridge. “Some of the best culinary minds in Chicago are under one roof, working together,” says Bruce Finkelman, managing partner of 16” on Center, which developed the concept. “We put together all these really creative people … and give them an opportunity to cook downtown.” 125 S. Clark St.; 773-999-

MERCANTILE AND MASH Opened just a year ago in the historic 1881 Cigar Factory, Mercantile and Mash has been a smash hit. More of a single eatery with retail, the 7,500-square-foot restaurant offers breakfast, brunch and lunch, as well as dinner-to-go items. Visitors can find local products from kitchen goods to food at the market, butcher and bar. Start with some nitro cold brew coffee, opt for O-Ku sushi or try pork belly with tots for brunch. A 12-seat, fivecourse chef’s counter with a seasonal menu that changes weekly elevates the options. 701 E. Bay St.; 843-793-

2636; mercandmash.com

9411; revivalfoodhall.com

DALLAS

4

UPTOWN URBAN MARKET Uptown Urban Market, located in the Gables Villa Rosa complex in a former Italian restaurant’s space, is one of the newest entries in the field; it just opened in October. Expect a juice bar, coffee lounge, pizza joint, taco vendor, wine market plus grab-and-go salads, sandwiches and sushi, all from locally known chefs and restaurateurs.

2600 Cedar Springs Rd.; uptownurbanmarket.com

ANDREW CEBULKA; JENNIFER CATHERINE PHOTOGRAPHY; ALAN WEINER

PORTLAND, ORE.

5

PINE STREET MARKET Pine Street Market debuted in April in the Baggage and Carriage Building, a historic livery and garage for horse-drawn carriages dating back to 1886. The 10,000-square-foot hall currently hosts seven eateries offering coffee, pastries, Japanese, Spanish and Israeli cuisine. Notable local restaurateurs developed custom concepts for the project, including Salt & Straw’s Wiz Bang Bar (soft-serve ice cream) and Olympia Provisions’ Op Wurst (frankfurters). 126 S.W.

Second Ave.; pinestreetpdx.com

19


UP FRONT | FOOD + DRINK

Playing with Fire Restaurants create a spectacle by burning food — on purpose

WHEN YOUR ORDER arrives in flames, everyone turns to watch. At elegant midcentury restaurants, flambé (food set alight after being splashed with liquor) “wasn’t merely theatrical or spectacle, it was also deli-

20 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2017

cious,” says Peter Moruzzi, author of Classic Dining: Discovering America’s Finest MidCentury Restaurants. Today, showy dishes served in a blaze, or smoky haze, still promise drama — and are guaranteed to be Instagram-ready.

RONALD SEARLE: REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM CLASSIC DINING BY PETER MORUZZI

BY MARY HELEN BERG


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UP FRONT | FOOD + DRINK

BOSTON The Baldwin & Sons Trading Co. The “Ready for Take Off?” cocktail flies high on the second floor of the former Baldwin Mansion in Woburn, 12 miles north of Boston. The drink isn’t literally ablaze, but coconut-scented dry ice fog creates a smokin’ presentation. The vodka-based drink, one of the country’s craziest-looking concoctions, according to Zagat, comes in a large copper swan garnished with bamboo spears, mint and fresh orchids. Serves six. 2 Alfred St., Woburn; 781-9358488; thebaldwinbar.com

SEATTLE El Gaucho This throwback supper club serves a “flaming sword” — a fiery 2 1/2-foot skewer of filet mignon and crimini mushrooms, topped with a Roma tomato and served with rich béarnaise sauce. “It’s a showstopper,” says general manager James Parsons. Visit the downtown location, a 10-minute stroll from Pike Place Market, or sister locations in Tacoma, Bellevue and Portland, Ore. 2505 First Ave.; 206-728-1337; elgaucho.com

DETROIT Pegasus Taverna Opa! Blazing, gooey saganaki is ordered by nearly everyone at this family-owned Greektown landmark, says manager Spilios Zafiropoulos. Kasseri cheese, dipped in egg wash, breaded and torched with brandy, creates pyrotechnics 2 to 3 feet high. Served with crusty Greek bread. 558 Monroe Ave.; 313-964-6800; pegasus tavernas.com

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HOUSTON Brennan’s The timeless bananas Foster caramelizes bananas in rum, brown sugar and butter to serve with vanilla ice cream. A splash of white rum ignites the dish; ground cinnamon, sprinkled into the flames, sparkles “like fireworks at your table,” says Carl Walker, general manager of the 50-year-old Texas Creole restaurant. 3300 Smith St.; 713-522-9711; brennanshouston.com

Mai-Kai The Kona Coffee Grog remains a cozy after-dinner classic at this 60-year-old tiki bar/restaurant, a quirky thatched location on the National Register of Historic Places. The warm nightcap, lit with flaming chopsticks, blends coffee with three types of rum, spices and homemade honey cream. Mmmmmmm. 3599 N. Federal Highway; 954-563-3272; maikai.com

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UP FRONT | NATURE

Dancing in the Dark Where to see — and how to capture — the northern lights BY NANCY MONSON PHOTO BY BEN HATTENBACH

WINTER IS THE optimal time to view the spectacular aurora borealis — the electrically charged particles from the sun that skitter colorfully across the night sky, more commonly known as the northern lights. Great viewing sites in North America include Alaska (particularly Fairbanks) and northern Canada, although you can sometimes get lucky and see the lights in Vermont, Maine, Minnesota and other northern states. If you happen to be in Europe, Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia are also prime viewing spots. The aurora borealis is best viewed on clear, moonless nights in dark, isolated areas. But its appearance is not a guarantee. The lights can hide one night, while putting on a show that lasts minutes to hours on other nights. (Scientists track the development of auroras; see box at left for information on forecasts.) The gorgeous sight is an obvious inspiration for frameable photos; unfortunately, most cellphone and automatic cameras aren’t equipped to catch the lights in a dark sky. “It’s just basic physics,” says Ben Hattenbach, a wilderness photographer.

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“You need to collect a lot of light, and cellphone camera sensors are just too small to produce highquality, low-light images of something that’s moving.” And there’s no app to help with that either, he says, in case you were wondering. So if you’re serious about getting some shots, says Ajit Menon, a New York City-based photographer, you’ll want to use a 35mm digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera that you can focus manually. You’ll also want a wide-angle lens (anywhere from 14mm to 24mm wide) with an aperture of at least f/2.8. Set the camera to increase its sensitivity to light — that means you’ll need to use a film speed of 1600 or higher (the ISO setting) and a shutter speed that allows the lens to stay open for 10 to 15 seconds. (Consult your camera manual for specific directions on how to accomplish this.) To avoid a blurry image, it’s also great to have a tripod, since the camera needs to remain still for several seconds while shooting. Beyond that, you just need warm clothes and the patience to shoot for the stars (or in this case, the lights). ●

Brooks Range, northern Alaska


FINDING THE AURORA These sites track the aurora borealis — when and where to see it, and how intense it will be: The University of Alaska Fairbanks provides forecasts for Alaska and regions outside the state. ▶ gi.alaska.edu/aurora forecast/travelers-guide The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center (swpc.noaa.gov) provides three-day notice. A 30-minute forecast pinpoints the location. ▶ swpc.noaa.gov/products/ aurora-30-minute-forecast

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UP FRONT | NATURE

Springing Ahead Usher in a new season at these upcoming flower festivals BY LISA DAVIS

FLOWERS ARE ONE of spring’s best assets. From lavender-colored lilacs to millions of multicolored tulips, there are plenty of opportunities to celebrate spring in North America. In the middle of winter, take a moment to plan for next year’s beauty:

DOOR COUNTY, WIS. doorcounty.com/experi ence/everything-cherry

CHERRY BLOSSOMS

Macon, Ga.

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May is typically prime blossoming time for the 2,500 acres of cherry trees in this county between the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The county is also home to 25 species of native Wisconsin orchids, including the heartleaf twayblade and the showy lady’s-slipper, which can be admired at The Ridges Sanctuary (ridgessanctuary.org) in Baileys Harbor.

MACON, GA. cherryblossom.com Macon is known as the hometown of Otis Redding, Little Richard and the Allman Brothers, but it’s also where more than 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees bloom each spring, rivaling the smaller, 3,750-tree scene in Washington, D.C. In fact, Macon claims the title of Cherry Blossom Capital of the World. Macon’s International Cherry Blossom Festival will be held March 24 to April 2.

MACON-BIBB COUNTY CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU; ILLUSTRATION: ASHLEIGH CORRIN

C H E R RY B L O S S O M S


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UP FRONT | NATURE

TULIP FESTIVAL

TULIPS HOLLAND, MICH. tuliptime.com Holland’s Tulip Time festival, held May 6-14, is the largest tulip festival in the United States, with nearly 4.5 million tulips planted in city parks and along the streets. The festival also includes parades, concerts and the Dutch dance,

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with more than 1,000 dancers outfitted in traditional Dutch dresses.

MOUNT VERNON, WASH. tulipfestival.org Tulips and mountains set the scene at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Mount Vernon for the entire month of April when millions of tulips and daffodils blanket the landscape. Take

a driving tour of the more than 45 sites involved in the festivities. Want more? Woodburn, Ore., about 45 minutes from Portland, has its own Tulip Fest (woodenshoe.com) from March 24 to April 30 with 40 acres of tulips and yellow daffodils. And Ottawa, Canada (tulip festival.ca) shows off the more than 1 million tulip bulbs that blossom every May.

ADULL PETCHSANGUANSRI; ILLUSTRATIONS: ASHLEIGH CORRIN

Mount Vernon, Wash.


LILACS LOMBARD, ILL. lombardlilactime.com About 20 miles west of Chicago is Lombard, where each spring more than 700 purple, white, pink and magenta lilacs bloom in the town’s 8.5-acre Lilacia Park. This year’s Lilac Time — the city’s annual lilac festival that’s been held for more than 80 years — is scheduled for April 30 to May 15. If you can’t make that scene, there’s prime lilac viewing at the glorious lilac arboretum in Des Moines’ Ewing Park and the annual Mackinac Island Lilac Festival held in Michigan in June.

LILACS

Lombard, Ill.

LUANNE FHUERE; LESLIE AND ROBERT SULLA

BLUEBONNETS

BLUEBONNETS

Ennis, Texas

BURNET, TEXAS bluebonnetfestival.org

ENNIS, TEXAS bluebonnettrail.org

Burnet, about an hour from Austin, was designated the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas by the state legislature in 1981. From about mid-March through June, bluebonnets, sunflowers and black-eyed Susans bloom along the Texas Hill Country Wildflower Trail (lakes andhills.com/bluebonnettrail. htm). The Bluebonnet Festival takes place on the second weekend in April every year.

From April 1-30, the Bluebonnet Trails in Ennis, about 40 minutes south of Dallas, will attract flower lovers ready to drive 40 miles of mapped sightings of Texas’ state flower. Peak usually comes in the third week of April. Head north for the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden’s Dallas Blooms festival (dallasarboretum.org). From Feb. 25 to April 9, the event features more than 500,000 flowers, including tulips, daffodils, azaleas and hyacinths. ●

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JULIENNE SCHAER

BERGDORF GOODMAN HOLIDAY WINDOW

New York City 2 MAG NAME XXXXXXXXXX


A M E R I C A ’ S

T O P

Holiday T O W N S

E X P L O R E V E RY M E R RY V I L L AG E S T H AT E M B O DY

THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON

BY ALEXIS KORMAN

3


H O L I D A Y

T

T O W N S

his year, skip the mall Santa and hit

the road — these jolly spots make for

sublime winter journeys. From millions of twinkling lights to miles of gingerbread houses, our decked-out holiday destinations from coast to coast know a thing or two about making Christmas magic. Along the way, stop at a couple of festivals that continue the seasonal fun.

PACIFIC

Festival Town

Leavenworth, Wash. Nestled against the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth transforms into a postcard-perfect Bavarian village come holiday time. Think horse-drawn sleigh rides through snow-topped trees, sled dog races and an awe-inspiring amount of Christmas lights (half a million, to be exact). Concerts featuring carolers, handbells and harps add to the vivacious holiday vibe. Visitors can scope last-minute gifts on Nov. 25 and 26 at the Christkindlmarkt, an Old Worldinspired holiday market with Glühwein (a mulled wine) and costumed characters, or enjoy 26 kilometers of groomed ski trails within 10 miles of town. Don’t miss the Christmas Lighting Festival, held over three consecutive weekends beginning Dec. 2.

uleavenworth.org

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WINTERFEST Sausalito, Calif. Famous for its houseboats and Victorian charm, Sausalito’s spin on the 12 Days of Christmas — which begins Dec. 1 — lasts a couple of days longer and includes a lighted boat parade with fireworks over the water on Dec. 17. Insider tip: Book a room at Casa Madrona, a historic mansionturned-luxury-hotel, and take in stellar views of the holiday harbor procession while sipping spiked hot cocoa and enjoying a roaring fire.

uoursausalito.com ucasamadrona.com


BRIAN MUNOZ

CHRISTMAS LIGHTING FESTIVAL 5 Leavenworth, Wash.


H O L I D A Y

T O W N S

NORTHEAST

Town

New York City The Big Apple celebrates Christmas in a big way — and it’s easy to organize a trip to coincide with one of Manhattan’s famous outdoor extravaganzas, such as the 90th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 24, or the star-studded Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting Nov. 30. Unique attractions — such as the 1,000-plus handmade gingerbread houses at the New York Hall of Science from Nov.

11 to Jan. 15, or the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden from Nov. 19 to Jan. 16 — delight visitors of all ages. The New York City Ballet’s iconic Nutcracker, which runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31, and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which lives up to its name between Nov. 11 and Jan. 2, are the season’s must-see shows. For those on a strict budget, glimpses of elaborately decorated department store windows are free.

unycgo.com/holidays

Festival WASSAIL WEEKEND Woodstock, Vt. Experience the magic of a New England holiday during Wassail Weekend Dec. 9-11. The (hopefully) snowy landscape encourages skiing, snowball fights and horse-drawn sleigh rides through town, but the highlight is the Equestrian Parade, with more than 50 horses and riders clad in 19th-century holiday attire. Fun fact: Wassailing refers to a medieval ritual of song and drink thought to encourage a good harvest. Today, it ensures you’ll help spread holiday cheer.

uwoodstockvt.com

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SKATING AT WOLLMAN RINK New York City

SAN GERONIMO CHAPEL Taos, N.M.

WEST

Festival Town

Taos, N.M.

SNOW SCULPTURE CHAMPIONSHIPS

JULIENNE SCHAER; THINKSTOCK

Breckenridge, Colo. Beyond red- or green-chile-topped everything, this famous New Mexico arts town is naturally full of holiday cheer, surrounded on all sides by ethereal snow-capped mountains (making it an excellent perch for ski bums). Visitors can sip wine or hot chocolate and stroll top art galleries during the Dec. 3 Lighting of Ledoux, in which Ledoux Street is illuminated with hundreds of small paper lanterns. Or observe Las Posadas, a Hispanic tradition re-enacting Joseph's and Mary’s search for shelter in the days leading up to Christmas (this year, Dec. 16-24). The Christmas Eve Procession of the Virgin Mary at the 1,000-year-old Taos Pueblo — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — is a solemn ceremony in which a statue of Mary is returned to its resting place in San Geronimo Chapel.

utaos.org utaospueblo.com

Snowman enthusiasts and serious artists alike flock to Breckenridge each winter, drawn by the chance to see and sculpt ornate sculptures from blocks of ice. On Saturdays during the championships (this winter, between Jan. 24 and Feb. 5), the laid-back ski town also presents a light show and plenty of fire pits to keep travelers warm after a day spent skiing, dogsledding and scoping out jaw-dropping frozen characters on display.

ugobreck.com/events/ budweiser-internationalsnow-sculpturechampionships

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H O L I D A Y

T O W N S

MIDWEST

Festival: Town

Branson, Mo.

WINTER CARNIVAL St. Paul

Branson’s Ozark Mountain Christmas runs through Dec. 31 and captivates travelers with millions of glittering bulbs along the 2.5-mile Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights. One $35 ticket covers a carload of up to eight people. Downtown, a giant nativity scene is a main attraction; the annual lighting of the 28-foot-tall display and Adoration Parade are scheduled for Dec. 4. The Old Time Christmas festival at the Silver Dollar City theme park just outside Branson continues daily through Dec. 30; it showcases a fivestory Christmas tree complete with special effects, a musical version of It’s a Wonderful Life plus Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Christmas Lights Parade nightly, featuring floats covered in more than 200,000 lights.

Featuring fanciful ice palaces fit for a snow queen, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival — Jan. 26 to Feb. 5 — is the oldest in the U.S. Since 1886, when it was created by locals annoyed by out-of-town reporters’ descriptions of the city as “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation,” according to the carnival’s website, it has extended the cool spirit of the season with ice sculptures, live music, parades, beer tastings and snowplow competitions. Buy a special button and register it online for special prizes.

uexplorebranson.com/christmas

uwintercarnival.com

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EXPLOREBRANSON.COM

CHRISTMAS PARADE Branson, Mo.


RICHARD T. NOWITZ; R. KENNEDY FOR VISIT ALEXANDRIA

SCOTTISH CHRISTMAS WALK Alexandria, Va.

SOUTHEAST

Festival Town

Alexandria, Va. Located just minutes by car or subway from Washington, D.C., visitors feel like time travelers to Christmas Past in Alexandria’s quaint Old Town. The colonial-era brick-lined streets play host to numerous Christmas events, such as the annual Christmas tree lighting Nov. 25, hosted by the mayor with appearances by Santa and

Alexandria’s own town crier. The 46th annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend that begins Dec. 2 includes a lavish parade Dec. 3 full of Scottie dogs, dancers and bagpipers and kilts. Ten miles south, revelers who visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon on weekends between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18 can glimpse fireside caroling and candle-lit 18th-century dancing.

uvisitalexandriava.com umountvernon.org/candlelight

CAJUN & CREOLE CHRISTMAS Lafayette, La. Expect dozens of unique events with Acadian flair, like bayou boat parades and gumbo cook-offs, throughout November and December in and near Lafayette. Take a peek into the region’s storied past during the Old-Time Christmas Dec. 13-21 at Lafayette’s Vermilionville, a living history museum dotted with settlement structures dating from 1765. Festivities feature Cajun Christmas legend Papa Noël.

ulafayettetravel.com/events/holiday uvermilionville.org

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P O E R ’ U S E ( UNEXPECTED )

Winter Wonderland

THINKSTOCK

Traveling hassle-free through Europe’s off-season

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EUROPE’S (UNEXPECTED) WINTER WONDERLAND

CONTINENTAL

DELIGHTS Discover Europe without the crowds

A

m I dreaming? It’s early February 2016, and I’m in London’s Trafalgar Square, sitting on a bench in the sun eating a smoked salmon sandwich. OK, the weather’s not perfect; the temperature is maybe in the mid-50s, but it’s usually in the mid-40s. I’ve unbuttoned my winter coat and put on sunglasses. The sky is a deep, cloudless blue. Everybody knows not to go to Europe in January, February or March because the weather will be terrible. There will be constant rain. And if it’s not raining, it will be snowing. There will certainly be wind. Everybody knows that, right? But what if it’s not like that, or it’s only like that for a day or

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two? It might be worth taking the chance and heading for Europe anyhow. Worst-case scenario: You spend a lot of time in toasty-warm museums, lugging a heavy coat and wearing waterproof shoes. You carry an umbrella, hat and gloves, although perhaps you can check everything. But you have unimpeded views of what’s on the museum walls because hundreds of tourists aren’t in your eye line. Best-case scenario: You can still walk around outside, checking out the sights at your own pace. Let’s say you’re in London (we were). If you pick a Sunday to stroll through popular Brick Lane in the East End (visitbricklane.org),

THINKSTOCK

BY NANCY MILLS


WORST-CASE SCENARIO:

THINKSTOCK

You spend a lot of time in toasty-warm museums, lugging a heavy coat and wearing waterproof shoes.

BEST-CASE SCENARIO:

You can still walk around outside, checking out the sights at your own pace.


MUSÉE d’ORSAY CLOCK INTERIOR PARIS for example, pop into the colorful street market. You might even be mistaken for a local. There will be no lines to see the crown jewels at the Tower of London (hrp. org.uk/tower-of-london) or the Joseph Mallord William Turner collection at the Tate Britain (tate. org.uk). The half-price theater ticket booth in Leicester Square (tkts. co.uk/leicester-square) will seem abandoned; you might even have a shot at a sold-out show. Should you be in Paris on the first Sunday of the month, get free admission to any museum. We wandered into the Musée d’Orsay, home of

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hundreds of wonderful Impressionist paintings. No crowds, no 12 euro entrance fee. Then we walked over to Notre Dame Cathedral, where there was no line. Even better, there was free street theater, including a player piano and a skateboard contest, on the Pont d’Arcole, as well as a jazz combo near our Left Bank hotel. From a financial perspective, the any-case scenario is actually pretty good. “From the second week of January to March 15, economy airfares and hotel rates could be as much as 50 percent lower than high season,” says

travel consultant Susan Bleecher, who works in Protravel International’s Beverly Hills, Calif., office. “Winter demand for seats to Europe is lower, unless you’re traveling during various fashion weeks. However, low-season pricing on package tours may not offer much savings. Be aware that some hotels may be closed during low season.” As for the effects of Brexit, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Bleecher says, “It has had an impact. I am urging clients to go now while the dollar is strong against the pound. I had one client who was deciding between London and Amsterdam, and he chose London based on this.” If you hope to stay with friends, their guest room is more likely to be available in the winter. If you go the Airbnb route, you’ll find plenty of choices. Airbnb spokesman Nick Wilkins says, “The company has more than a million properties in Europe. In urban places, the availability is the same all year, but during the winter in skiing situations, there would be more availability, and at beaches, less.” Another consideration: It’s easier to cash in your frequent flier miles. Winter demand for seats to Europe is low. We got Los Angelesto-London round-trip tickets for 40,000 miles each from American Airlines, on the exact dates we wanted. Having one free checked bag apiece, we had plenty of room to pack sweaters, wool socks and long underwear. Temperatures can drop below freezing or rise into the mid-50s. Think layers. Do bring your winter coat; you can always take it off. Tired of London and Paris? Try Sorrento, about an hour by train south of both Naples, Italy, and Pompeii (pompeiisites.org). The train stops at the entrance to the city, destroyed by a massive volcano blast in 79 A.D. Among the ruins, meet the stray dogs that are eager for tourist food offerings. Burst through the entrance to the gladiator arena and be alone with some imaginary lions. The Isle of Capri (capri.com) is less than an hour’s ferry ride from Sorrento. Only the residents will be there. Walk around admiring

PIERRE VERDY /AFP/GETTY IMAGES; THINKSTOCK

EUROPE’S (UNEXPECTED) WINTER WONDERLAND


DAN KITWOOD/GETTY IMAGES; THINKSTOCK

TATE BRITAIN LONDON JOSEPH MALLORD WILLIAM TURNER COLLECTION CLORE GALLERY

SANTO STEFANO SQUARE BOLOGNA, ITALY

their small, well-tended gardens. Or hop on a local bus to the famous Blue Grotto, where, if the conditions are right, a boatman will sing Volare as he paddles you through the cave mouth into the most spectacular body of blue water you will ever see. On the winter day we went, only two people were standing in a line that could hold hundreds. One blustery day in January, we visited Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. Amazingly, we first viewed this almost 17-foot-tall marble statue

from 40 feet away down a corridor, with no one standing in our way. On another winter trip we tasted authentic spaghetti Bolognese in Bologna, then discovered romantic drama in Ferrara, just a short train ride away. Deep inside Estense Castle, we visited the cramped cells of two condemned lovers: Parisina, 20, who fell in love with her stepson, Ugo, 19, in 1425. We shivered — partly from horror, partly from the cold. But we didn’t mind, because we were the only ones there. ●

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EUROPE’S (UNEXPECTED) WINTER WONDERLAND

ON THE FLY A couple days isn’t much, but it’s enough — if you plan carefully.

P

BY MATT ALDERTON

eople have strong opinions about Europe. Really strong opinions. Wherever and whenever you plan to go, someone will tell you you’re doing it wrong. That attraction you want to see? “Too touristy. Skip it.” The hotel you’ve decided to book? “Cancel it. I know the perfect place.” And your schedule? That’s the worst offense of all. Whether you plan to visit for two days or 10, your well-traveled friends will contend it’s “not nearly enough.” Here’s the thing, though: It actually is. “Even if you only have a day somewhere, you can still do a lot,” insists Suzanne Wolko, author of the travel blog PhilaTravelGirl.com and owner of trip-planning company Arden Road Travel. “If you want to go to Europe, you should go to Europe — even if you only have a few days. Just make sure you have realistic expectations about what you can do while you’re there, because you can’t do everything.” Although you can’t do everything, you can do some things. And some things are better than nothing. Whether you want to sip afternoon tea in London, share a kiss beneath the Eiffel Tower or eat pizza in Rome, consult this quick-trip travel guide to turn minimal vacation time into maximum vacation.

44 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2017

Jet lag can ruin a short trip by making you spend valuable vacation days counting sheep instead of seeing sites. Virgin Atlantic cabin crew member Clare Fraser says to start your trip off on the right foot — or rather, flight — by: • Resting now, not later. Plan to sleep before you land instead of after so you can hit the ground running. • Eating early. Eating before takeoff ensures you can spend your flight sleeping. Just be sure to avoid unfamiliar or disagreeable foods; an upset stomach could derail the first portion of your trip. • Disconnecting. Games and email are tempting distractions on a long flight, but mobile devices stimulate the brain and make resting difficult. Power down an hour before takeoff. • Hydrating. Skip the pre- and in-flight cocktails. Drink at least two liters of water instead, to land refreshed and ready.

THINKSTOCK

EUROPE

FLY RIGHT


IT PAYS TO PLAN … When you have the luxury of time, unstructured days yield unexpected adventures. When you don’t, they create unnecessary delays. To avoid wasting time: • Sample sites. “The Louvre is eight miles of art, which … can consume your whole visit,” Wolko says. “A highlight tour or VIP option is generally three hours and gives you a peek into the museum in a short time.” • Stay central. “A lot of tourist attractions and sites are usually found within the city center, so staying close by saves you a lot of commuting time,” says college student Tiffany Choi, a marketing assistant at Canadian travel-booking website LeaveTown (leavetown.

com) who made short European jaunts while studying abroad in Ireland. • Start strategically. “Almost every major city in Europe offers free walking tours,” says Choi, who notes that walking tours are a good way to get your bearings and prescreen which sites you want to see up close. “They often only last a few hours, and your guide will know how to efficiently navigate around the city so you don’t waste time … getting lost.” • Make reservations. “Everybody wants to see the same sites, and that means long lines,” says Andy Steves, founder of travel company Weekend Student Adventures Europe (wsaeurope.com) and author of Andy Steves’ Europe: City-Hopping on

TIMESAVING TECH Technology is a time-pressed traveler’s best friend. Leverage it by: • Buying data. Make sure you can use your phone to look up attractions, restaurants and translations. “Get your phone unlocked before you go, or buy a local SIM card when you touch down so you can make plans on the fly,” Steves says. “Yelp is pretty popular in Europe, and so is TripAdvisor.” • Mapping your route. Look up desired attractions on your phone using Google Maps, then save them. “It makes it a lot easier to plan when you can see all the places you want to go visually on a map. That way, you can visit sites in a logical order and

a Budget. “If you make online reservations ahead of time, you can skip those lines.” • Check the calendar. “When I traveled to certain cities, sometimes I found myself in a place where everything was closed, which put quite a damper on my plans — especially when I had such limited time,” says Choi, adding that attractions are often closed at least one day a week and on local holidays. • Cut the fat. “Don’t go to the Louvre in Paris just because you feel like you have to go. Plan your trip around whatever gets you most excited,” suggests Steves. Instead of seeing sites that don’t interest you, he says, plan your trip around a theme that does, such as art, architecture, history or food.

make efficient use of your time,” Choi says. “Plus, if you don’t have cellular data when you’re traveling, you can still use Google Maps if you load the maps ahead of time while you have Wi-Fi access.” • Building an itinerary. Sites like TripCreator (tripcreator.com) and Joyage (thejoyage.com) can help you create an airtight itinerary with which to maximize your time. The former uses your dates, travel style, budget and pace to create a suggested plan that you can customize to your individual tastes; the latter lets you commission local travel experts to create custom itineraries by exploiting their personal knowledge and experience. ●

2 DAYS IN PARIS DAY ONE Morning: Grab your first authentic French croissant at a local patisserie (pastry shop), then head to the Paris Opera — the inspiration for The Phantom of the Opera — to meet up with Discover Walks (discoverwalks.com) for its 90-minute free walking tour of Paris landmarks at 10 a.m. Afternoon: Get lunch at a local bakery, then take the Metro from Concorde, where your tour ended, to Montmartre (Metro stops: Blanche or Abbesses) to explore Paris’ most bohemian neighborhood. While you’re there, see Sacré-Cœur Basilica and the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret. Evening: After freshening up at your hotel, have dinner in the 7th arrondissement, then ascend the Eiffel Tower to see why they call Paris the City of Lights. If the weather allows, pick up a bottle of wine, a baguette and some cheese to enjoy on the Champ de Mars. DAY TWO Morning: Start your day at the Louvre. A few hours should suffice to see highlights like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. Afternoon: Take the Metro uphill to the Arc de Triomphe (Metro stop: Charles de Gaulle-Étoile) and climb the arch for a view of France’s busiest intersection. Next, take the Metro to Notre Dame Cathedral (Metro stop: St-Michel Notre Dame), then hop on the RER C line to the ChampsÉlysées for shopping on Paris’ most exclusive boulevard. Evening: Join one of the many dinner cruises that take place on the Seine river to bid Paris adieu from the water.

*Adapted from Andy Steves’ Europe: City-Hopping on a Budget

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EUROPE’S (UNEXPECTED) WINTER WONDERLAND

LOCATIONS Visit the European settings of these popular shows and films BY HOLLIE DEESE

46 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2017

GRIMSTHORPE & DRUMMOND CASTLE TRUST/KATHY COLLINS

SCENE-STEALING T

here is definitely a bit of wanderlust that comes from watching landscape-heavy shows and films such as HBO’s Game of Thrones, Starz’s Outlander and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They deliver a sense of place and natural beauty, along with compelling storylines, driving fans to seek out their favorite on-screen locations in real life. “These intense and beautiful natural sites really exist,” says Zeneba Bowers, who helps people coordinate off-the-beaten-path trips overseas with her husband, Matt Walker, for their book-writing and travel business, Little Roads Europe. Here are some lovely locations to add to your next travel agenda.


DRUMMOND CASTLE, STAND-IN FOR VERSAILLES

SCOTLAND

SONY PICTURES TELEVISION INC.

Outlander

CLAIRE IN THE GARDENS OF“VERSAILLES”

High on our watch list is Starz’s Outlander, the timehopping drama based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, currently filming season 3. Scotland’s national tourist board actively seeks out fans by promoting locations found in the book and on the show, filmed mostly in Scotland. Fans can visit a wide mix of centuries-old castles and stunning landscapes they’ll recognize from the show. The real-life Glencorse House, where Jamie and Claire get married, is actually a popular

location for non-fictional weddings; the 15th-century Blackness Castle stands in for Black Jack Randall’s headquarters. Die-hards can choose between tours based on the show, and others based solely on the books. Both types showcase what life was like in Scotland in the 18th century. And most also throw in stops at places that have no connection to Outlander but do highlight the best of Scotland, including the Isle of Skye off the west coast.

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EUROPE’S (UNEXPECTED) WINTER WONDERLAND

Star Wars:

IRELAND The Force Awakens

SKELLIG MICHAEL

CROATIA

GoT shoots heavily in Croatia, so much so that multiple tours have popped up to cash in on the fandom. The Vetus Itinera travel agency offers a one-day tour of Split, which (with a lot of CGI) doubles as the area that fans recognize as Meereen. The tour revolves around Daenerys’ mission to free the city’s slaves, featuring significant locales such as the real-life Diocletian’s Palace, a 1,700-year-old structure that served as the location for Daenerys’ throne room. The Žrnovnica quarry and watermill and Klis Fortress will also look familiar. The company also offers a nine-day tour across the country that allows people to immerse themselves in Croatian history, a crossover with pop culture Bowers hopes fans can really appreciate at any of the locations. “Everywhere that you go there’s this fake history of Game of Thrones, which is cool and interesting, but there’s also real history that’s really interesting and cool,” Bowers says. “You’re going to want to give yourself a chance to see some of that, too.”

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DUBROVNIK, SOUTHERN ADRIATIC COAST NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland is already known for its beautiful, scenic walking paths and breathtaking cliffs, and the multiple GoT scenes filmed there take advantage of that. The real-life Dark Hedges in County Antrim, one of the most photographed locations in Northern Ireland, plays the fictional Kingsroad, the route Arya Stark uses to escape from King’s

Landing. The iconic tree tunnel creates a natural archway as it approaches Gracehill House, built in 1775. Downhill Beach in County Londonderry is the scenic area that serves as GoT’s Dragonstone. The mustvisit stunner of a site includes a long walkway and the Mussenden Temple, built as a library in 1785, sitting on the edge of the cliff. ●

LUCASFILM LTD. & TM VIA GETTY IMAGES; ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Game of Thrones

It’s no wonder why this towering sea crag off the coast of Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry was chosen as Luke Skywalker’s hideout. Originally the home of ascetic monks who withdrew from civilization around the seventh century, Bowers says the once-quiet island has become incredibly popular with tourists since the movie came out in late 2015. And that popularity is expected to increase with the release of the as-yet-unnamed Episode 8, scheduled to arrive in theaters in December 2017. Several of the movie’s stars — Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver, among others — filmed scenes for the newest addition to the series on land that shares space with the preserved monastic ruins and diverse seabird colonies.


Don’t Be Square Squa

317-377-9878 www.Yurtsofamerica.com


Vicissitudes

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© JASON DECAIRES TAYLOR. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, DACS 2016. PHOTO: JASON DECAIRES TAYLOR


Art imitates – and encourages – life at Grenada’s underwater sculpture park BY AMANDA CASTLEMAN

UNDER THE SEA, bicycle tires whirl. I exhale through my snorkel and sink toward the figure crouched over handlebars, legs frozen in the middle of a pedal stroke. British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor conceived this haunting vision as part of the world’s first underwater sculpture park, which he founded 10 years ago off the west coast of Grenada in the West Indies. Sheltered within an official marine protected area, the subaquatic gallery has won its way onto National Geographic’s Top 25 Wonders of the World

list — and for good reason. Open daily, this spectacle lies in water that ranges from 5 to 30 feet deep, dazzling snorkelers, scuba divers and passengers in clear-bottomed boats. On a bright day, sunbeams slant into the reef’s gullies and dapple the sea floor. About 100 sculptures stand sentinel below the waves in the 800-squaremeter park. The most iconic is Vicissitudes, a ring of life-size children, modeled on locals, holding hands and facing outward. Coral and sponges scrimshaw their concrete frames as the art evolves

with its environment. “The children depict the adaptability of children in any environment as the sea embraces them,” says a description of the sculpture on the park’s website. Taylor and fellow sculptors have also populated the park with The Lost Correspondent, a man at a desk with a typewriter — an homage to Taylor's late grandfather and Grace Reef, 16 sprawling female figures sometimes blanketed or buried by sand borne on the currents. “The pieces won’t disintegrate. If anything,

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NATURE & NURTURE

GRENADA ON LAND When you come up for air, sample the Grenadian delights to be found on dry ground. Jason deCaires Taylor

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THINKSTOCK; © JASON DECAIRES TAYLOR. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, DACS 2016. PHOTO: JASON DECAIRES TAYLOR

they will build up with more layers of calcium and growth. They will be transformed into something else,” he says in a TED interview from December 2015. “I am making these inert objects, but the environment is giving them their souls.” Much of the inspiration for the sculptures, as well as the models, comes from local connections and history. Christ of the Deep commemorates a historic island event: the wreck of the Italian ocean liner Bianca C in 1961. The “Titanic of the Caribbean” caught fire and sank, but only one of the 673 people onboard perished. Grenadians gave the survivors shelter until flights home opened up, a point of great pride for this tiny nation. But this artificial reef is more than the backdrop for some of the world’s most stunning underwater selfies. Manmade structures like this relieve pressure on banged-up, overfished and overtouristed classic dive sites, while creating new habitats for ocean life. That’s especially vital, as climate change heats up the seas and natural coral reefs — which feed and shelter 25 percent of all marine species — die off. “Only about 10 to 15 percent of the seabed has a solid enough substratum to allow reefs to form naturally,” Taylor explains. “By diverting attention, natural reefs have now been given a greater chance to repair and to regenerate.”


The underwater sculpture park Moliniere Bay, north of St. George’s; 473-405-7900; grenadaunderwater sculpture.com

Grace Reef

Savor traditional Grenadian cuisine — like callaloo soup and papaya salad — at Belmont Estate, a 17th-century plantation turned agritourism extravaganza (belmontestate.net). Afterward, stop for snacks and souvenirs at the Grenada Chocolate Company (grenadachocolate. com) and the River Antoine Rum Distillery (grenadagrenadines.com), which turns out 150-proof, cachaça-style firewater made from sugar cane crushed in the Caribbean’s oldest working water wheel.

The Lost Correspondent

Spice Island Beach Resort

The famous, sugar-white sweep of Grand Anse Beach shelters the five-star Spice Island Beach Resort. Try one of its suites with a private 16-by-20-foot swimming pool (spiceislandbeachresort. com). On a tight budget? Stay at the Green Roof Inn (greenroofinn.com), an oceanfront mom-and-pop hotel on the island of Carriacou, a 20-minute flight from Grenada. The brainchild of two backpackers, this hotel mixes sustainability, Scandinavian chic and West Indian warmth.

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NATURE & NURTURE

REEF MADNESS Grenada may have pioneered underwater sculpture gardens, but it’s in good company on the artificial-reef front. Here are some other spots that also make a splash.

Ray of Hope Xxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx The Bahamas’ Ray Of Hope Gray reef sharks inhabit this 200-foot-long wreck that was cleaned and purposefully sunk. It sits upright at 70 feet on a field of pure white sand. facebook.com/

The Gulf states’ decommissioned oil rigs More than 450 old gas and oil platforms find fresh life in the Gulf of Mexico as sanctuaries for clams, corals and sponges, which attract more dramatic, lively marine critters. Each structure can create 2 to 3 acres of habitat, supporting around 15,000 fish.

The Silent Evolution, Cancun

Miami’s submerged cemetery About 3 miles east of Key Biscayne, the Neptune Memorial Reef is expected to be the world’s largest man-made reef once it is complete. This underwater mausoleum provides a final resting place for human ashes, some incorporated into lavish sculptures 40 feet under the sea. The formerly barren area now supports 14 types of coral, along with pufferfish, spiny lobsters and a sea urchin previously thought to be extinct. nmreef.com — Amanda Castleman

pages/The-Ray-of-Hope-NassauBahamas/1463226320616228

Bonaire’s coral nurseries Divers began cross-breeding corals attached to PVC-pipe “trees” in shallow, sheltered water, and then transplanted them into the wild. Scientists with the Bonaire Coral Restoration Foundation now are scrambling to explain growth rates up to 10 times those of wild colonies. To get a closer look, you can take a half-day coral restoration adventure dive, or a two-day dive that involves more hands-on work with the coral. crfbonaire.org

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Coral on a Texas oil rig

THINKSTOCK; MICHAEL PITTS/GETTY IMAGES; AFP PHOTO/JASON DECAIRES TAYLOR; FLIP NICKLIN/GETTY IMAGES

Cancun’s underwater art museum Founded in 2009, the Museo Subacuático de Arte — better known as MUSA — has fixed more than 500 sculptures to the seabed off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Don’t feel like getting your hair wet? See the sights through a glass-bottomed boat instead. musamexico.org


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MORE TO SEE Where we came from and how far we’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


EXPLORE 113 118

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66 90 88 58 60

122

102

76

114 101

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MAP: MIRANDA PELLICANO

106

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NORTHEAST 58 My Town: Baltimore

SOUTHEAST 74 My Town: New Orleans

MIDWEST 88 My Town: Chicago

WEST 101 My Town: Scottsdale, Ariz.

PACIFIC 113 My Town: Seattle

60 D.C.’s New Look

76 Kentucky Bourbon Trail

90 Detroit’s Renaissance

102 Colorado Without Skis

114 L.A.’s Backbone Trail

80 Florida Islands by the Numbers

96 Mall of America Expands

106 San Antonio River Walk

118 Tacoma: Glass Art HQ

64 Vermont Cheese, Please 66 Winter in Buffalo Rocks

122 The Two Sides of Tahoe

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NORTHEAST | M Y TOW N

DUFF GOLDMAN’S

Baltimore Duff Goldman, star of Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, is a familiar face for food-lovers. The Detroit-born, bass-playing pastry chef moved to Baltimore for college and loved the gritty city so much that he stayed to start his business, Charm City Cakes. Los Angeles is home now, he says, but “I always love a chance to talk about Baltimore.” — JENNIFER BRADLEY FRANKLIN

SEE LIVE MUSIC Ottobar. “It’s a rock-and-roll club where you can see really good bands that are usually playing bigger venues. It’s just a kind of place where there’s always great music and cool people, and it’s kind of off the beaten path.” 2549 N. Howard St.; 410-662-0069; theottobar.com

BEST PLACE FOR A

CUP OF JOE “I saw Prince (at Daily Grind) once! It’s in a kind of old warehouse, right on the water in Fells Point. It kind of has a ‘90s vibe. In college, we used to get coffee and hang out until 3 in the morning and talk about life.” 1720 Thames St.; 410-558-0399; fellsgrind.com

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(Restaurant Charleston is) really elevated low country cuisine. Chef Cindy Wolf just knows her way around fish. Order the shrimp and grits and the escargot en croute.” 1000 Lancaster St.; 410332-7373; charleston restaurant.com

MUST-VISIT

ATTRACTION National Aquarium. “At the very bottom of all of the sharks, there’s this giant round room that’s really dark and you’re basically under water. You can watch all the manta rays fly by you. It’s probably the most soothing, relaxing, peaceful, wonderful place.” 501 E. Pratt St.; 410-576-3800; aqua.org

BEST

ROCK ’N’ ROLL RETAIL THERAPY The Sound Garden is “a fun spot to buy records, CDs, posters, clothes and movies. In the age of all music being all digital, it’s nice to still have a really great place to come in person. And you’ll see a lot of musicians in there, too.” 1616 Thames St.; 410-5639011; cdjoint.com

COURTESY OF FOOD NETWORK; THINKSTOCK; THE SOUND GARDEN; THINKSTOCK

BEST PLACE TO


County of Kent

Maryland’s Upper Eastern Shore on the Chesapeake Bay

cenic eninsula ith fishing, boating, kayaking, sunset cruises, antiques, museums, theaters, art galleries, inery, brewery, distillery, local seafood and more.

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For a free visitor information packet: tourism@kentcounty.com or 410-778-0416

Maryland’s Beach and Beyond, where fishing is always in season… get your free Angler’s Guide to our ocean, coastal bays and river fishing.


NORTHEAST | WA SHINGTON, D.C .

Capital Achievement Revamped D.C. draws visitors beyond the National Mall BY NANCY TREJOS

W

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National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Mall and just a few neighborhoods. In the last several years, the city has had a rebirth of sorts, bringing new attractions and hotels, and a booming culinary scene that spans the city. The acclaimed National Museum of African American History and Culture (for more, see page 144) is attracting crowds, and the National Gallery of Art’s newly renovated East Building contains 12,250 more square feet of space. Luxury hotels such as the $700-per-night Trump International Hotel in the historic Old Post Office Pavilion building and the refurbished Watergate Hotel are welcoming guests. City Center, a new retail and dining complex near the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, has the likes of Hermès and

JERALD COUNCIL; THINKSTOCK

hen Genevieve Villamora moved to Washington, D.C., from Chicago in 1994, a night out on the town would involve a trip to Georgetown or Dupont Circle, where the city’s then-limited upscale dining scene was concentrated. More than two decades later, the city’s culinary world has expanded. Villamora, other entrepreneurs and chefs have moved to neighborhoods such as Columbia Heights and Shaw, which haven’t historically featured trendy dining options like Bad Saint, Villamora’s Filipino restaurant in Columbia Heights. Bad Saint usually draws lines of people waiting for one of its 24 seats. “There used to be a few scenes in town, but now all neighborhoods have a restaurant scene,” says Villamora, who graduated from Georgetown University. “This restaurant renaissance is happening on a local level. By having very neighborhood-based restaurants, I feel like the restaurants can more easily take on the character of the neighborhood.” With its great landmarks and museums, Washington, D.C., has always been a rewarding destination. But for decades, the action for visitors centered around the


ROB CARR /GETTY IMAGES; GREG POWERS PHOTOGRAPHY; RON BLUNT

Nationals Park

Gucci as tenants. And Washington just became the fourth U.S. city to get a prestigious Michelin dining guide, following in the footsteps of New York City, San Francisco and Chicago. “There’s this creative electricity that goes across different sectors and areas of activity, which I think is exciting,” Villamora says. “People are not just seeing it as a one-horse government town anymore.” With the upcoming inauguration in January, all eyes will be on Washington, and the city is doing its best to shine. “The perception of D.C. continues to change and get progressively better,” says Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of Destination DC. That was not always the case. For a time, in the 1980s, D.C. was perceived as a city in trouble. “The city had a lot of problems; the country had a lot of problems,” Ferguson says. “You think of areas like U Street

that once had a tarnished reputation and other areas of the city. Those areas have now flourished with growth and diversity.” In the late 1990s, came the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the MCI Center, now the Verizon Center, home of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the WNBA’s Mystics and the NHL’s Capitals (also frequent postseason visitors), and the neighborhood now bursts with life. The opening of the new convention center in Mount Vernon Square in 2003 brought much-needed group business to the city as did a new Marriott Marquis nearby. At the same time, improvements to the National Mall attracted tourists. New monuments such as the National World War II Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial were erected. Nationals Park, which opened in 2008 and is home to baseball’s three-time National League East

Bindaas

Mason and Rook rooftop

Visitors to Washington, D.C., will find a new sense of luxury and excitement that only adds to the city’s majestic history.

Watergate Hotel

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NORTHEAST | WA SHINGTON, D.C .

champion Washington Nationals, expanded the city’s sports fever. In two years, the city expects to open a new stadium for Major League Soccer’s D.C. United. And chefs such as José Andrés, Art Smith, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina and Mike Isabella have all deemed Washington a worthy stop. “All those things have changed the landscape of Washington,” Ferguson adds. Andrés, the Spanishborn chef at Minibar by José Andrés and Jaleo, arrived in D.C. more — ELLIOTT FERGUSON, than 20 years ago. He DESTINATION DC. opened Jaleo in 1993 in the Penn Quarter area that includes Chinatown. “We helped revitalize a neighborhood that very much was bad,” he says. “The Penn Quarter at 5 o’clock, there was nobody on the street.” “The restaurant is more than a place, a business to feed people,” Andrés says. “The restaurant industry becomes a very important

The perception of D.C. continues to change and get progressively better.”

62 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2017

part of recreating the DNA of what a city is — the sum of all neighborhoods.” Ashok Bajaj, founder of Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, which includes 701, Rasika, Bindaas and Bombay Club, credits former President Bill Clinton for elevating the dining scene. “He was the first (recent) president who started going out to restaurants,” he says. “The president tends to lift the city up, then everyone follows.” More than 20 years later, chefs are still following. Kwame Onwuachi, a former Top Chef contestant, moved to Washington just more than year ago to open Shaw Bijou. “I wanted to be part of the scene,” he says. In addition to new restaurants, Washington is also having a hotel boom. The Watergate Hotel has re-opened after nearly a decade of standing empty, a constant reminder of the burglary that brought down President Richard Nixon. Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants has invested in the city as well. Along with the newly renovated Mason and Rook, formerly Hotel Helix, the boutique brand has opened Kimpton Glover Park Hotel, which has the Casolare restaurant by James Beard award-winning chef Michael Schlow. Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, moved from Atlanta to Washington in the 1960s and has seen the city completely transform. “I came in the early 1960s when Washington was still shrugging off the vestiges of segregation,” she says. “I lived to see it as a vibrant inclusive city that accepts people from around the world.”

DENNIS BRACK/BLACK STAR

The National Gallery of Art’s renovated East Building, made of Tennessee pink marble, has added thousands of square feet of space to its exhibition area.


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NORTHEAST | V ER MON T

Travel Vermont for a taste of everyone’s favorite dairy delight

I

BY NANCY MONSON

f your mind conjures up visions of dairy cows when you think of Vermont, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that the state is fast becoming the Napa Valley of

cheese. Vermont cheeses regularly win at international and national competitions, and span the gamut from artisanal cow, sheep and goat’s milk cheeses to mass-produced brands such as Cabot’s. The state is also home to Jasper Hill Farm, one of the premier aging cellars for cheese in the United States. “Vermont cheeses are different from the cheeses from other states,”

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says Tom Bivins, executive director of the Vermont Cheese Council. “Many of the most-loved Vermont cheeses are unique, original recipes and styles that don’t fit into any category.” The countryside from top to bottom and east to west is dotted with more than 40 cheese-makers. Many sites are open for tours and tastings only in warmer months, but follow the Vermont Cheese Trail (vtcheese.com) for some standouts that you can visit now.

Wheels up! Unique flavors and original recipes are the mark of the Vermont cheese industry.

SABIN GRATZ; THINKSTOCK

Cheese-tastic!


TAKE A SLICE uBoston Post Dairy This family-run farm is located in Enosburg Falls, close to the Canadian border. Viewing windows in the cheese-making facility allow you to see how awardwinning goat and cow cheeses, such as Eleven Brothers and Trés Bonne, are made. 2061 Sampsonville Rd.; 802-9332749; bostonpostdairy. com

THINKSTOCK; MAP: MIRANDA PELLICANO

u Cabot Creamery Cooperative You’ve probably seen Cabot cheeses in your local supermarket, but the co-op also makes the fine artisanal cheese Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, a delectable, rich-tasting

aged cheddar with a crumbly texture and a nutty aroma. Cabot is a cooperative of 1,200 dairy farms and has stores in Waterbury and Quechee, but the main site is located in Cabot. There, you can tour the factory and watch the cheesemaking process, as well as sample cheddars. 2878 Main St.; 800-837-4261; cabotcheese.coop

u Billings Farm & Museum This working dairy farm on the outskirts of the upscale New England town of Woodstock features a museum that highlights Vermont’s agricultural past through interactive exhibits. Don’t forget to sample Billings

Farm Cheddar, made from the milk of Billings' prize-winning Jersey cows. The farm and museum are open weekends November through February. Route 12 &

BOSTON POST DAIRY

VERMONT

River Road; 802-4572355; billingsfarm.org

uGrafton Village Cheese Co. Grafton Cheese’s production facilities in Grafton and Brattleboro feature viewing areas where you can watch cheese-making in progress. Try their cave-aged Shepsog, made with sheep and cow’s milk; Bear Hill, an alpine-style sheep’s-milk cheese; or Truffle Cheddar, a mix of truffle and cheddar made with raw milk. 800-472-

CABOT CREAMERY COOPERATIVE

BILLINGS FARM & MUSEUM

GRAFTON VILLAGE CHEESE CO.

3866; grafton villagecheese.com

WINE, CIDER AND BEER PAIRINGS

CHEESE

DRINK

Shelburne Farms’ cow’s milk 2-Year Cheddar

A semi-dry white wine, such as Shelburne Vineyards’ 2014 La Crescent

Cheese goes well with wine, we all know that — and conveniently, there’s a Vermont Wine Trail if you’re interested (vermontwine.com). But cheese can also complement beer and cider. The key is to balance the flavors so they don’t overwhelm one another. Pairings to try, featuring Vermont-made drinks:

Boston Post Dairy’s Trés Bonne semi-hard goat cheese

A hard apple cider, such as Shacksbury Arlo craft cider

Jasper Hill Farm’s Bayley Hazen Blue cow’s-milk blue cheese Spring Brook Farm’s Reading Raclette semi-soft cow’s-milk cheese

A fruity red dessert wine, such as Boyden Valley Winery’s Cassis Black Currant or Vermont Ice Red, the first ice wine made in Vermont An India pale ale (IPA), such as Harpoon Brewery’s Harpoon IPA

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NORTHEAST | N EW YOR K

visitbuffalo niagara.com

A $1 billion transformation lets the city capitalize on its extraordinary winters BY STACEY ZABLE

W

ith a revitalized waterfront, restored architecture, new restaurants, craft breweries, hotels and an arts scene to go with its newfound energy, Buffalo has stepped front and center to become a must-visit destination. The “new” Buffalo embraces its impressive winter (average annual snowfall: 93 inches), encouraging visitors and residents to stay active and enjoy the cold temps. Here is just some of what makes Buffalo hot this winter:

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Sitting along Buffalo’s renewed waterfront is Canalside, an entertainment district boasting $300 million in new development. The set of historically aligned canals where the Erie Canal once ran through downtown Buffalo has now become winter’s 33,000-squarefoot rink, Ice at Canalside. In addition to traditional skating, visitors can rent ice bicycles — the first time available at a public skating rink in North America. Ice at Canalside is open daily; on Fridays and Saturdays it’s open late, until 10 p.m.

canalsidebuffalo.com

JOE CASCIO PHOTOGRAPHY

For more information on Buffalo, explore

Buffalo is Booming

▲ ICE AT CANALSIDE


Classic Adirondack…

Old Forge, NY

KURT GARDNER PHOTOGRAPHY

Adirondack Base Camp

“Snowmobile Capital of the East”

SnowmobileOldForgeNY.com

New York’s Best Family Mountain

1hr North of NYS Thruway Exit 31��T�C�

OldForgeNY.com

Get to Know

Putnam County

MONTREAL

Underground worlds at Howe Caverns and Secret Caverns TORONTO

Outdoor Adventures

BOSTON ALBANY

BUFFALO NEW YORK CITY

PHILADELPHIA

The history of baseball in Cooperstown

Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary

www.VisitPutnam.org

P UTNAM C OUNTY Whe re the Countr y Be gins

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Travel on scenic, uncrowded roads to discover natural wonders and charming villages, scenic beauty and stellar museums, farm-fresh foods plus two beverage trails. Spend a few days and leave with a lifetime of memories.

Otsego& Schoharie Counties IN THE CENTRAL NEW YORK REGION

For more on Howe Caverns and other Schoharie County destinations, visit upstatevacations.com/usa For more on the National Baseball Hall of Fame and other Otsego County destinations, visit thisiscooperstown.com/usa


NORTHEAST | N EW YOR K

▲ FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT’S MARTIN HOUSE COMPLEX The 15-year restoration of the six-structure Martin House Complex, a National Historic Landmark, includes the recent reopening of the interior just in time for next year’s 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday June 8. Tours also include the pergola, conservatory and carriage house. darwinmartinhouse.org

This new waterside bar and restaurant — with a roller derby track, concert venue and outdoor hockey and curling rinks — opened in 2015. This fall brought a new grain elevator, and by the end of the year, the venue is expected to begin brewing its own RiverWorks craft beer, which can be tasted in the beer garden. In addition to RiverWorks, nearly one dozen new microbreweries have opened in Buffalo and its suburbs. buffalo

riverworks.com

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DYLAN BUYSKES; BERNHARD WAGNER; JIM BUSH

◀ RIVERWORKS BREWERY AND BEER GARDEN


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NORTHEAST | N EW YOR K

◀ HOTEL DEVELOPMENT The 68-room Curtiss Hotel is set to open by December in a century-old downtown office building made of terra cotta. Cool elements include Buffalo’s first hotel-based Roman hot springs (all-weather, as well), a revolving bar and a fine-dining restaurant.

curtisshotel.com

Curtiss Hotel

The 88-room Hotel Henry within the Richardson Olmsted Complex, a National Historic Landmark, will open this spring following a multimillion-dollar restoration. hotelhenry.com

Shea’s Performing Arts Center has undergone a decades-long, multimillion-dollar restoration, transforming this 90-year-old former downtown movie house into a touring Broadway theater. Its season of musicals and plays runs September to June, and it hosts architectural tours when no shows are playing. Upcoming productions include A Christmas Story: The Musical and the Tony Award-winning A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. sheas.org Boasting modern and contemporary art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery — which dates back to 1862 — will host a new exhibit, Picasso: The Artist and His Models, through February.

albrightknox.org Works by artists from western New York are showcased at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

burchfieldpenney.org

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▲ NIAGARA FALLS Less than 30 minutes from downtown Buffalo, the iconic Niagara Falls make their own transformation in winter. There are fewer visitors than in summer and the mist from the falls often freezes on the surrounding trees, enhancing their mystical beauty. Very cold periods that last a few days can bring on the spectacle of seeing portions of the falls actually appear to freeze. niagarafallsstatepark.com

DYLAN BUYSKES; COURTESY OF THE CURTISS HOTEL; MICHELLE BLACKLEY-GLYNN

▲ ARTS SCENE


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Petty Museum

Linbrook Hall

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SOUTHEAST | M Y TOW N

ROBIN BARNES’

New Orleans Known as “the Songbird of New Orleans,” Robin Barnes, 28, is one of the Crescent City’s top jazz talents, armed with a powerhouse voice that’s equal parts stirring and sweet. She flexes her musical muscles on her new EP, Songbird Sessions, but also through her brand, Move Ya Brass (moveyabrass.com), a fun and funky fitness company that moves to a Big Easy beat. “Jazz has impact and power; I want to remind the world how amazing our music is,” says Barnes. — ALEXIS KORMAN

BEST

BEST

PARK

“ BEST

EATERY Situated on beautiful Esplanade Avenue, “Li’l Dizzy’s is quaint with Nola charm. Everyone peeps to see what everyone else is eating. They have amazing fried chicken and my favorite shrimp-and-bacon omelet.” 1500 Esplanade Ave.; 504-5698997; lildizzyscafe.net

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No matter where you’re from, I promise you someone will ask, ‘Hey, how you doin’?’ That’s New Orleans love. It’s our version of ‘Hello.’”

New Orleans’ newest green space, Crescent Park, boasts 20 acres of land, riverfront access and a monthly bazaar. Barnes offers free bounce- or hiphop-inspired classes there. 1008 N. Peters St.; 504522-2621; frenchmarket. org/crescentpark

Although Feet First has three locations in the greater New Orleans area, Barnes recommends the shop in Uptown, the city’s upscale shopping haven. “It’s a cute boutique stuffed with dresses, tanks and tees by local designers, including Nola Couture, Citizen Nola and even some Move Ya Brass gear.” 4122 Magazine St.; 504-899-6800; feetfirst store.com

BEST

MUSIC STORE Peaches Records offers vinyl, T-shirts and zydeco washboards. “It’s family-owned, and they know your name just as well as they know their music.” 4318 Magazine St.; 504-282-3322; peachesrecordsand tapes.com

SCOTT SIMON; REBECCA RATLIFF FOR NEWORLEANSONLINE.COM; THINKSTOCK; REBECCA RATLIFF/NEWORLEANSONLINE.COM

BOUTIQUE


A town of art, culinary and culture in Northwest Arkansas 800.410.2535 visitbentonville.com

Festivals and fun. Grand historic homes. Birthplace of America’s greatest playwright,Tennessee Williams. Run or bike along the scenic Riverwalk, winding around and over the Tombigbee River. Shop, dine, and savor in the ultimate Southern destination.

March 27-April 8, 2017 77th Annual Spring Pilgrimage Daily Historic Home Tours | Annual Spring Pilgrimage Birthplace of Tennessee Williams Tombigbee Bridge and Riverwalk Home to The W, historic public liberal arts college Home to Columbus Air Force Base Over 135 Restaurants | 1500 Hotel Rooms & quaint B&Bs o to isitcol m sms or or attractions & e ents Tennessee Williams Home & Welcome Center •

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SOUTHEAST | K EN T UCK Y

A Bourbon-Crafted Experience Let the spirit lead you to Bardstown, Ky. BY KAREN ASP

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S

ome people say that there’s only one word that describes Kentucky: horses. But there’s a second that’s just as telling: bourbon. Kentucky is the birthplace of America’s only native spirit (as declared by Congress, after all), and produces 95 percent of the world’s bourbon. There’s so much bourbon in the state that the barrels outnumber the people: For every one Kentuckian, there are 1.5 barrels, according to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Yet while it’s fun to chew on these numbers, it’s more fun to chew on bourbon (and yes, you can “chew” it) when exploring the Bourbon Trail — the reason I visit for a long weekend. I’m staying in Bardstown, the self-proclaimed Bourbon Capital of the World, host of the Kentucky Bourbon Festival every September. At least six distilleries call the Bardstown area home, making it a popular base camp for folks taking the Bourbon Trail (kybourbon trail.com), a tour of local, historic distilleries, all members of the Distillers’ Assocation, and all worth visiting. I’m not there to knock out the entire trail, but I do knock back a few. And although I’m a beer girl at heart, the bourbon wins me over.

MAKER'S MARK

Maker’s Mark


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.

BOWLING

GREEN KENTUCKY

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Geared for fun!

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


SOUTHEAST | K EN T UCK Y

TAKING TO THE TRAIL

Maker’s Mark products Maker’s Mark (makersmark. com), for instance, offers tours on a first-come, first-served basis, and because it’s a popular venue on a beautiful campus — the distillery is on the National Register of Historic Places — it’s worth going early in the day. (There’s complimentary bourbon-flavored coffee if you need a pick-me-up.) The roughly hourlong tour includes fascinating history about the distillery, including

The wax dipping process

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how the founders created the recipe for their bourbon, testing potential grains by baking bread with them and deciding which tasted best. A favorite bread was eventually chosen, a recipe evolved and Maker’s Mark was born. I sample that recipe firsthand, and by that, I mean before it becomes bourbon. We enter a room with massive tanks of what looks like bubbling corn meal. It’s really the yeast bubbling as it eats the sugar, called distiller’s beer, and when I’m encouraged to dip my finger in to taste some, I don’t hesitate. (Don’t worry; it’s cooked at such a high temperature that any germs are destroyed.) Day one mash is better, reminding me of sweet grits, compared with day two mash, akin to flat beer. The tour winds through the distillery, including the dipping line. Maker’s Mark is famous

for its hand-dipped red wax tops, none of which turns out the same. An insider tip? Look for the “liberal dip” where the red wax goes below the label. Although rare, dippers do this intentionally to create a fun find on liquor store shelves. I’m most impressed, though, by the warehouse. Most distillery warehouses are basic wood or brick structures, but Maker’s Mark has taken décor to a new level, adding a permanent installation by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly (see page 118 for more on him). The handblown glass ceiling, called The Spirit of the Maker, gives the barrel room a zen-like feel, the perfect setting for the angels to take their share. (The “angels’ share,” by the way, refers to the amount of bourbon that evaporates off the barrels.) The tour ends in a tasting room with classroom-style seating. Four pours of different bourbons await, but first, I learn how to taste. I look at the color, sniff the bourbon and then taste it, holding the bourbon in my mouth for three seconds — “We call it the Kentucky chew,” says my tour guide — before swallowing. You can, by the way, dip your own bottle, which my husband does. After purchasing your unwaxed bottle, you’re suited up in safety glasses, an apron and a pair of long gloves, protection against the hot wax.

MAKER'S MARK

You can book a tour and leave the driving to others, but self-guided tours allow greater flexibility in your schedule, and that’s the route I take. Before designing your itinerary, though, check each distillery’s hours and tour schedule. Not all of them are open seven days a week, and while some offer complimentary tours, others don’t.


WHY BARDSTOWN DESERVES A SHAKE

BOB HOWER/QUADRANT PHOTOGRAPHY/COURTESY OF WILLETT DISTILLERY; COURTESY OF BARTON 1792 DISTILLERY

Barton 1792’s warehouse

Willett Distillery (kentuckybourbonwhiskey. com) is another Bardstown favorite, and although it’s smaller than most, it has an interesting story. It’s a family-owned operation and is planning to open a five-room bed-andbreakfast on its property. Best part about this tasting? A visit by Willett’s resident cats, adopted from a local shelter to keep the mice at bay.

By the time I get to Barton 1792 (1792bourbon. com), my head is spinning — and not from the bourbon. I’m only three distilleries in and they’re starting to blur. As well they should. “All of the distilleries are the same,” my guide here says. “We all produce alcohol, but we all do it differently.” Of course, all bourbon must contain at least 51 percent corn, be aged in charred new oak barrels, stored at no more than 125 proof and bottled at no less than 80 proof, but after that, every recipe varies. In Barton 1792’s warehouse, I get a better look at how the distillery monitors and balances the weight of the building. Because the wood of both the warehouse and the barrels shifts, swells and shrinks from temperature and humidity changes, plus changes in the weight of the barrels because of the angels’ share, a warehouse can become unbalanced, especially as new barrels are loaded and older ones are taken out. Maker’s Mark monitors this by watching a dangling plumb line; if the line swings too far off center, the barrels need to be rearranged, which fascinates me. Lastly, there’s Heaven Hill Distilleries’ Bourbon Heritage Center (bourbonheritagecenter.com), which offers two tours. I take the more elaborate Connoisseur Experience and receive a complimentary souvenir glass after the tastings. Jim Beam and Four Roses (which also has a distillery in Lawrenceburg, home to a Spanish-mission style facility that’s also on the National Register of Historic Places) round out the current Bardstownarea six. Two more are opening soon.

While the distilleries demand your attention, so, too, does Bardstown, which has received numerous accolades. Travel + Leisure named it one of “America’s Favorite Towns” in 2013 and USA TODAY 10Best readers voted it one of America’s most beautiful small towns in 2015. The Kentucky Bourbon Marketplace (kybourbon marketplace.com), a historic 1814 mansion, was turned into a tasting bar with more than 100 bourbons. The gift shop sells bourbon-related goods and more than 120 bourbons. Bourbon flights are mandatory here. You can choose a pre-selected flight or create your own. No matter which you choose, the one “rule” is that you start with the lowest proof, which is about all I can handle. At night, head to the Harrison-Smith House (harrisonsmithhouse.com), a restaurant that serves up locally sourced culinary experiences akin to those you’d find in a big city. The restaurant features an impressive bourbon list and bourbon-inspired cocktails. By the time I leave Bardstown, I’m bourboned out. But I mean that in a good way, as I’m now among those who can say with conviction: Distill my beating heart. — Karen Asp

79


SOUTHEAST | FLOR IDA

From Edgewater Beach to Lee County Manatee Park, author Annette Thompson, below right, and her girlfriends counted off dozens of fun Florida activities.

Count the Ways Florida’s 10,000 islands — by the numbers STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANNETTE THOMPSON

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PENSACOLA

GULF OF MEXICO

FLORDIA

TAMPA

NAPLES

MAP: MIRANDA PELLICANO

T

hree friends, scads of wildlife, several cool towns and innumerable islands make for one hot winter adventure. Florida’s southwest coast is the kind of place you can count on for turquoise skies, white sand beaches and emerald seas. Our merry band of three girlfriends landed in chic Naples to explore the tropical region’s nature. We spied dolphins rolling through the waves every morning, and tallied a sizable list of wildlife each day. Follow along and add these spots to your winter must-do list:


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SOUTHEAST | FLOR IDA

Pelicans rest in the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, where kayaks are a popular means of travel.

1 IS NOT A LONELY NUMBER With one week and one car, we checked into one unit at the incomparable Edgewater Beach Hotel. The sunny yellow resort sidles up to the sea about halfway between the Ten Thousand Islands in the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve to the south and the village of Sanibel to the north. The U-shaped resort buildings embrace palm-shaded pools, cocktail lounges for sunsets and a stunning stretch of sugar sand beach. Our fourthfloor balcony overlooked the Gulf, and it’s where we began and ended each day.

5 BOATS TO THE SOUTH Getting onto the water was our first goal. Heading down to Everglades City, we met Capt. Charles Wright of Everglades Area Tours. He popped us and some kayaks into a Carolina skiff boat and

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off we motored into the tangle of islands. The Ten Thousand Islands, a National Wildlife Refuge, gets its name from the labyrinth of keys on the western tip of Florida’s peninsula. Some are simple mangrove masses; others are large hammocks with hardwoods and palms, encircled by beach. All are populated with the most flamboyant collection of colorful birds. After motoring into the backcountry, we anchored and sat in the kayaks. A flock of enormous white pelicans hung out on a nearby sand spit, while herons and egrets stalked the shores. Ospreys flew over, too, swooping into the drink to pull out wriggly fish. We disembarked on a deserted beach where our footprints were the first of the day, or maybe even the week. Sun-bleached horse conch shells, the size of shoe boxes, rolled

Naples, Marco Islands and Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau paradisecoast. com

onto shore. The next day, we opted for a larger boat with Sea Gone Fishing’s Capt. Kevin Bellington. Setting off from the funky little village of Goodland on the corner of Marco Island, we cruised through the mangrove maze in pursuit of a fresh fish dinner. I couldn’t get enough of fishing, from the big one that got away to the multitude of smaller sea trout and redfish I landed. My friends liked learning about fish (yes, sheepshead do have teeth) as much as watching dolphins herd schools into shore. We felt as though we’d been dropped into a David Attenborough nature film.


Our Forefathers’ aim in visiting what would become America was at first mere

curiosity. But now it feels right to sacrifice for a cause as noble as the hills here are beautiful. They stopped because of abundant water and fertile soil. They stayed to build upon the nation’s great ideals. As you ontac uss visit, make sure to explore the treasures of a community that embodies service and sacrifice at every turn. Contact to start planning your visit at 1-888-98-HEROES or VisitFayettevilleNC.com.

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SOUTHEAST | FLOR IDA

Sanibel beach finds

8 PLACES TO GO uEdgewater Beach Hotel 1901 Gulf Shore Boulevard North, Naples; 866-624-1695; edgewaternaples.com

uEverglades Area Tours 238 Mamie St., Chokoloskee Island; 800-860-1472; evergladesareatours. com

uTen Thousand Islands nps.gov/ever/ planyourvisit/ten thousandislands.htm

uSea Gone Fishing

6 BOOTS FOR WALKING Walking on water was also in our plans. The Big Cypress National Preserve hosts free ranger-led swamp walks on Saturdays. We brought old clothes and boots to muck about hip-deep in the quagmire. A two-hour ranger tour took us through an otherworldly scene of cypress knees, sawgrass and hanging orchids. We were relieved that the alligators were elusive.

100 MANATEES PLUS A GAZILLION SHELLS Another day had us driving north through raindrops to the Lee County Manatee Park in Fort Myers. Dozens of the gentle, warm-blooded sea cows migrate here when the Gulf water drops below 68 degrees, as it often does in winter. The park sits below an environmentally safe warm water discharge from a Florida Power & Light Company plant, and the manatees loll around as if the dark green waters are a big

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bathtub — even in the rain. Afterward, we crossed the bridge over to Sanibel Island’s Bowman’s Beach for shelling and beachcombing. We did the “Sanibel Stoop” as we searched for seashells along the shore. Before heading back south, we explored the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum to learn more about our treasures.

24-HOUR ROUTINES We didn’t wander every day — the amazing beach gave us a reason to stay in Naples. When we wanted city life, the local entertainment districts enticed us with boutiques. Eating in our simple kitchen saved money, but we fell in love with Naples’ Three60 Market, a combo restaurant and catering business. It stocks artisan cheeses, offers fine wines and makes the best grilled cheese in town. But we have to brag that our best meal was our own fresh catch — a taste of the islands.

Marco Island; 239-642-7310; fishmarcoisland.com

Sanibel & Captiva Islands Visitor’s Center sanibel-captiva. org

uBig Cypress National Preserve 239-695-2000; nps.gov/bicy

uLee County Manatee Park 10901 State Road 80, Fort Myers; 239-6905030; leegov.com/ parks/facility?fid=0088

uBailey-Matthews National Shell Museum 3075 Sanibel-Captiva Rd., Sanibel; 888-6796450; shellmuseum.org

uThree60 Market 2891 Bayview Ave., Naples; 239-732-7331; three60market.com


FURNISH YOUR WORLD IN HIGH POINT NORTH CAROLINA! Shoppers are welcome to converge on the “Home Furnishings Capital of the World”, boasting more than 50 furniture stores and outlets, including the largest in the nation! Whether you’re furniture shopping on your own or paired with an interior designer, be sure to furnish your world in High Point!

Contact us today to receive a free furniture shopping packet!

Where Heritage & the Outdoors come together!

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

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail www.nps.gov/ovvi 864.936.3477

Cowpens National Battlefield 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 West Frederick Street Gaffney SC, 29341 864.487.6244 www.getintogaffney.com #GetN2GaffneySC

If we’re this good in black and white

See us in color!

VISIT MARTINSBURG, WV travelwv.com

Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau . Race Street Martinsburg, WV - . WVA. UN Martinsburg-Berkeley County CVB | App: Visit Martinsburg, WV


SAVOR THE SEASONS Your good time SOUTH CAROLINA

inUpcountry South Carolina

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Hardeeville is proud to be the connection to the islands and a source of hospitality for generations of vacationers. No matter what you’ll be doing on your next Lowcountry adventure, you’ll want to stay in the center of the action. A place that’s within 30 minutes of Savannah, Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, and Beaufort. A place that has some fun of its own. We are Historic Hardeeville and New River. We are southern charm. We are Hardeeville, South Carolina. Where your adventure awaits.

E

njoy the blooming Dogwoods and Azaleas in Spring. In Summer, explore waterfalls, rivers and lakes.Take a drive along scenic byways for the fabulous Fall foliage. Spend a weekend in a cozy cabin during Winter. Whenever you choose to visit, the Upcountry will be Perfectly Seasoned for you! Perfectly Seasoned

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MIDWEST | M Y TOW N

KRISTIN CAVALLARI’S

Chicago

With so much to do in Chicago, it’s difficult to narrow down the hot spots. Former reality TV star Kristin Cavallari — now an author and a jewelry/shoe designer — lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, and their three children, and here’s what she enjoys in the nation’s third-largest city. — LISA DAVIS

BEST PLACE FOR

HAPPY HOUR “I’m pretty simple when it comes to drinks. When I want something fun, I go to The Berkshire Room. You tell them what kind of alcohol you want, and they create a drink for you.” Acme Hotel entrance, 15 E. Ohio St.; theberkshireroom.com

BEST PLACE FOR A

SUMMER OUTING WITH KIDS Cavallari’s son Camden loves the Lincoln Park Zoo and its Nature Boardwalk, 14 acres of restored habitat and wetlands where visitors can spot native birds, frogs, fish and turtles. 2001 N. Clark St.; 312-742-2000; lpzoo.org

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1410 S. Museum Campus Dr.; 312-235-7000; soldierfield.net

FASHION FIND “I got a great deal on a Chanel jacket from a designer resale store called Luxury Garage Sale” in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. 1658 N. Wells St.; 312-291-9126; luxurygaragesale.com

BEST

NEIGHBORHOOD “Lincoln Park is the best because it has great restaurants and cute shops.”

DOVE SHORE; LEIGH LOFTUS/THE BERKSHIRE; DANIEL KELLEGHAN; LINCOLN PARK ZOO

I never go to sports bars! I’m either at Soldier Field (for Bears games) or watching the away games at home with my kids.”

BEST


Our National Parks The National Mall welcomes millions every year, but what they see is hardly welcoming.

It welcomes the world to our most significant monuments and memorials. But like many national parks, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., desperately needs our help, including $350 million in federal funding for maintenance, repairs, and preservation. You can help with a simple letter. Visit NPCA.org/mall. Or call 1-800-NAT PARK.


MIDWEST | MICHIGA N

Detroit’s Renaissance The Motor City invites you to see the latest model — of itself

We have a rare and unique opportunity to rebuild this city.” — LISA SPINDLER, DETROIT RESIDENT

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F

rom the depths of economic collapse, political corruption and population flight, the city of Detroit has risen from despair to reclaim its pride. Today, the capital of the U.S. auto industry is a vibrant, inventive destination filled with creative residents who produce award-winning art, food and cultural attractions. “Detroit is changing and there is no going back,” says photographer Lisa Spindler. The city’s comeback — and new reputation as a hot location for tourists — is owed not only to financial investors who saw the city’s potential for recovery, but also to longtime and newcomer residents committed to giving Detroit a second chance. Spindler is one of them. Born in Detroit, she’s owned a successful photography business there for 30 years. She currently

rents 4,500 square Detroit’s revitalized feet of studio space skyline provides in a 120,000-squarean inspiring foot-building in backdrop for the city’s Corktown boat tours and neighborhood, photographers. located just west of downtown. The building is being renovated to include additional studio space for artists and also restaurants and possibly residential lofts. “I have met people from London, Germany, Los Angeles, New York, Denmark and other countries who are coming here,” she says. “We have a rare and unique opportunity to rebuild this city.” And the residents are eager to show off what they’ve done. Because of this influx of creative talent and the commitment of longtime residents to stay, there’s much to see on Detroit’s revitalized landscape:

VITO PALMISANO

BY LISA DAVIS


800-772-0750

www.visiteffinghamil.com


MIDWEST | MICHIGA N

THE Q-LINE The Q-Line light rail system will run along roughly 3 miles of Detroit’s nightlife scene on Woodward Avenue, from downtown to midtown. It’s slated to begin service in the spring.

LITTLE CAESARS ARENA And a few months after that, Detroit is expected to welcome a new 20,000-seat sports arena just north of downtown, also on Woodward Avenue. The Little Caesars Arena should be ready in time for the Red Wings’ 2017-18 NHL home opener in the fall.

DISTRICT DETROIT The arena is part of an evolving entertainment section called District Detroit that will include 50 blocks of businesses, parks, restaurants, bars and event spaces when it’s complete. It’s already the site of the home fields for baseball’s Detroit Tigers and the NFL’s Detroit Lions, and Little Caesars’ new headquarters is under construction.

Art can be found all over Detroit, including the Heidelberg street art project, above, and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour’s Legacy Lobby, right.

Just a few miles south of all of this activity, the neighborhood of Corktown — Detroit’s oldest — is home to Ponyride (ponyride.org), once an unoccupied 30,000-squarefoot warehouse that now houses artists, sculptors and fashion designers. Their creative mojo is helping to renovate Detroit’s appearance and attitude. (Tip: Some of the best coffee in Detroit can be found on the first floor of Ponyride, at micro-roaster Anthology Coffee (anthology coffee.com), where baristas use a perfected pour-over method to produce a delicious cup of joe.) The land along the Detroit River is also getting a makeover,

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with 14 miles of waterfront being transformed into recreational and green spaces. And, throughout the city, some 1,400 urban gardens are feeding residents and beautifying Detroit’s blemished landscape, filling in holes where demolished houses once stood. Visitors can dine at dozens of new restaurants, breweries, distilleries and coffee shops that have opened in Detroit in the past couple of years. Among them: Savannahblue (savannahbluedetroit. com), on Times Square downtown, which converts new patrons into repeat customers via Southern-inspired dishes such as

Cajun-dusted shrimp with parmesan grits and fried chicken with collards, maple pecan sauce and roasted sweet potato purée. The TIP delicious, creative flatbreads Some of the best coffee are also worth trying. in Detroit can And there are new be found at hotels such as Aloft Detroit micro-roaster (aloftdetroit.com), a 136-room Anthology hotel located in the restored Coffee. David Whitney Building — a Detroit landmark that actually stood empty for 15 years until its renovation — and the 100-room Foundation Hotel, under construction in the former headquarters of the Detroit Fire Department, expected to open in early 2017.

JESSICA J. TREVINO/DETROIT FREE PRESS; THE HENRY FORD; THINKSTOCK

PONYRIDE


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agan

Vacation To-Do List: 8 8 8

Pack suitcase Food & fuel Map of Minnesota Things to do?

Worthington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau 800-279-2919 • 507-372-2919 www.worthingtonmnchamber.com wcofc@worthingtonmnchamber.com

Hint: Worthington, MN is the perfect stop at the intersection of I-90 and Highways 59 & 60.


MIDWEST | MICHIGA N

DETROIT’S TRIED AND TRUE With all the attention on Detroit’s renovations, it’s easy to forget about some of the longstanding attractions that originally contributed to Detroit’s appeal as a tourism destination: for example, the Detroit Institute of Arts (dia.org), home to the famed Detroit Industry frescoes by Diego Rivera, honoring the city’s workers. Visit these Detroit tourist staples, many of them under the umbrella of The Henry Ford educational foundation (thehenryford.org):

uTour the still-active Ford Rouge Complex, where the Ford Motor Co. has built iconic vehicles from the Model T to the Mustang to the F-150 since the late 1920s; and the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, now a museum, where the Model T was developed (fordpiquetteavenueplant.org). uSpend the afternoon at Greenfield Village, the largest outdoor museum in the United States with more than 80 historic buildings spread across 80 acres. You’ll see the Illinois courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced

law and the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop — both original structures moved from their original location to Detroit. There’s also a reconstruction of Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory. uVisit Eastern Market (easternmarket.com), the oldest and largest indoor/outdoor marketplace in the country, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. After shopping, try two nearby restaurants: La Rondinella (larondinelladetroit.com), featuring handmade gnocchi and polenta made with mascarpone and Parmesan; or Supino Pizzeria (supinopizzeria.com), serving creations such as the City Wing Thing pizza with smoked turkey, smoked Gouda, cherry peppers, mozzarella and roasted garlic. uGet up close with musical history at the Motown Museum (motownmuseum.org), housed in the building where the

Temptations, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes and many other iconic artists recorded from 1959 to 1972. uWalk along the Dequindre Cut Greenway (detroitriverfront. org/riverfront/dequindre-cut/ dequindre-cut), a former railroad line transformed into a recreational greenway, extending 1.35 miles from Atwater Street on the south to Gratiot Avenue on the north. A recent half-mile extension runs from Gratiot through Eastern Market to Mack Avenue. uWhether you’ve focused on new, trendy Detroit or proud, historic Detroit, finish your day at the famous Slows Bar BQ (slowsbarbq.com), best loved for its apple barbecue sauce. Or try a slice of Detroit-style pizza (square or rectangular with spongy dough and a buttery, crispy cheese perimeter) at Buddy’s Pizza (buddyspizza.com), a Detroit landmark since 1946.

Detroit skyline

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JEFF ELLIS

uExplore the Henry Ford Museum, which displays historic locomotives, airplanes and automobiles, including the limousine in which John F. Kennedy was shot (a modified 1961 Lincoln Continental built by Ford) and the Montgomery, Ala., city bus on which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.


Full Circle Share our heritage. Share our beauty.

Come for the lights . . . Stay for the bears! Rotary Winter Wonderland at Wildwood Zoo November 25th thru December 31

Visit our website for more things to see and do in Marshfield!

Plan your trip at VisitAmishCountry.com 877-643-7874


MIDWEST | MIN N ESOTA

Shop, Dine, Scream Mall of America expands to add hotel, attractions and shopping BY LISA MEYERS MCCLINTICK

A

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TIP

Buy tickets for mall attractions online in advance; many attractions have substantial discounts for Internet ticket buyers.

LISA M. ZILKA

roller coaster quietly crawls straight up toward eight acres of skylights before dropping into a shriek-triggering plunge at Nickelodeon Universe, the country’s largest indoor amusement park and centerpiece of Minnesota’s Mall of America (MOA). Along its fringes, a 34-foot-tall Lego robot looms above a free Lego play area, the American Girl store beckons doll-lovers to a salon and afternoon tea and the new FlyOver America flight simulation ride, which opened in April, inspires good-natured patriotism with its virtual 4-D glide that treats “passengers” to an aerial cross-country tour (complete with wind and mist) from coastal Maine to Hawaii’s surf-worthy waves. Mark McCormick’s extended family — parents, five adult siblings, spouses, nearly a dozen grandkids ages 5 to 18, cousins and an aunt — can’t wait to check into the stylish Radisson Blu Mall of America hotel attached to MOA in Bloomington for a reunion, vacation and shopping expedition in December. “They look forward to it every year,” says McCormick, of Marshall, Minn. “It’s become a family tradition.” With new attractions and a $325 million expansion that includes a second connected hotel and a wing of swanky boutiques that’s still filling in, here’s a look at MOA’s top picks as it moves into its 25th year in 2017.


The LEGO Store Crayola Experience

Wonder Pets Flyboat at Nickelodeon Universe

Rugrats Reptarmobiles at Nickelodeon Universe

PLAY Crafty kids can make their own crayon labels, pose for personalized coloring pages and melt wax into spin art or race car and ring shapes at the brand new Crayola Experience, which opened in May. $19.99 per person; crayolaexperience.com/minneapolis Nickelodeon Universe has 27 colorful rides for all ages, from toddler-size big rigs to scream-worthy coasters and a log chute that ends with a 40-foot drop. More than 400 trees and 30,000 plants give it a lush and outdoorsy feel on blustery winter weekends. $29.99 for one all-day wristband; nickelodeonuniverse. com

LISA M. ZILKA

Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course features slides, a ropes course and the opportunity to speed 405 feet across the Barnacle Blast Zip Line, North America’s longest indoor zip

line, located 55 feet above Nickelodeon Universe. $15.99 one-time pass; nickelodeonuniverse.com/rides/ dutchmans-deck-adventure-course At Sea Life Minnesota, touch pools feature stingrays and anemones, and a walk-through tunnel allows sharks and turtles to swim overhead. General admission tickets start at $14.99; visitsealife.com/minnesota In addition to cashing in post-holiday gift cards and seeking weatherproof fun, winter visitors can join a 10 p.m. ball drop on New Year’s Eve (scheduled for the younger set; there’s also a traditional drop at midnight), catch celebrities in the atrium (past visitors include Heidi Klum, the cast of Hunger Games and the Jenner sisters) or take advantage of free activities and discounts on Toddler Tuesdays. mallofamerica.com/events

GO Metro Transit’s Blue Line lightrail gets you to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in about 20 minutes; if you want to step outside the mall for another Minneapolisarea attraction, you can get to the Minnesota Vikings’ new U.S. Bank Stadium in about 45 minutes. metrotransit.org

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SHOP Toms Shoes, Zara and Anthropologie are expected to open along MOA’s Central Parkway before the holidays, joining destination stores such as L.L. Bean,

Nordstrom Rack, Kit and Ace, Fjällräven, Marbles the Brain Store, BuildA-Bear Workshop, The Lego Store and Creative Kidstuff. Food lovers

Radisson Blu’s FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar

DINE More than 80 MOA eateries serve up everything from Tucci Bennuch’s Italian cuisine to sushi at Crave to the playful insults hurled by servers at Dick’s Last Resort. But also try the hotels for top farm-to-table fare, craft cocktails and a quieter setting. JW Marriott’s Cedar + Stone, Urban Table dishes up pumpkin cheesecake pancakes for breakfast, spicy cheese curds as an appetizer and braised short ribs with Wisconsin cheddar grits for dinner. Radisson Blu’s FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar serves brick-oven apple pannekoeken and wild rice pancakes, rotisserie chicken or smoked pork ribs glazed with honey from rooftop beehives.

Creative Kidstuff’s “elves” paint props for their whimsical holiday displays. CK also has a second concept store at MOA called GreaterGood, which gives to nonprofit charities around the world.

should try Wisconsin cheese curds at the Green Bay Packers-themed Rybicki Cheese and small-batch bourbon and blueberry balsamic vinegar at Vom Fass, nurture spring nostalgia and get a sugar buzz at Peeps & Co. or get hot-sauced at the Pepper Palace. Out-of-state visitors take note: Minnesota does not charge tax on clothing. mallofamerica. com/shopping/directory

The 500-room Radisson Blu’s Black Friday weekend perks come with slippers to shop in, hotel staff to retrieve (and hide, if necessary) your packages while you shop and a full-service year-round spa. Look for photo ops with live reindeer, Santa and a Polar Express conductor closer to Christmas. radissonblu.com/en/hotel-mall-of-america The sleek, 342-room JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America opened in November 2015, creating a focal point at the front of MOA and promoting a luxury experience. marriott.com/hotels/travel/ mspjw-jw-marriott-minneapolis-mall-of-america

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Creative Kidstuff

LISA M. ZILKA; CREATIVE KIDSTUFF

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M Y TOW N | WEST

DAN O’BRIEN’S

Scottsdale, Ariz. Former decathlete and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Dan O’Brien still enjoys working up a sweat. But these days, “The World’s Greatest Athlete” has adjusted his training routine from high intensity to a moderate mortal boil. A three-time world champion in the decathlon, O’Brien, 50, shares some of his favorite retreats in his adopted hometown of Scottsdale. — JENNIFER E. MABRY

BEST

OUTDOORS SPACE

RANDY BINGHAM; DAN GRONSETH; THINKSTOCK; COAST VIEW PHOTOGRAPHY

“(Hiking) to the top of Camelback Mountain is a must. It’s a real focal point, and challenging hike.” Echo Canyon Recreational Area, 4925 E. McDonald Dr.; 602-534-5867; phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/ camelback-mountain

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Alpha 1 Training. “I make it a point to sweat every day, and since I am not a competitive athlete anymore, I have to find places to challenge myself.”

“My wife and I love sushi, and we were (Hiro Sushi’s) first patrons. It’s the best sushi (restaurant) in Scottsdale.” 9393 N. 90th St.; 480-3144215; hirosushiaz.com

WORK OUT

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The (Indian Bend Wash) Greenbelt is a series of perfectly manicured, green, lush walkways and bike trails, extending to the south of Scottsdale.” scottsdaleaz.gov/parks/ greenbelt

BEST

MEN’S CLOTHIER Patrick James. “I have a small waist and long legs and have a hard time finding jeans or dress pants that fit. I get my suits, sport coats and jeans there. It’s the essential men’s shop in Scottsdale.” 6137 N. Scottsdale Rd.; 480-9988765; patrickjames.com

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Colorado … Sans Skis From snowshoeing and dog sled rides to hot springs and hikes, there’s more to the Rockies than slopes

“O

BY MATT ALDERTON

DARREN EDWARDS

h, cool. Do you ski?” That’s what people in my adoptive city of Chicago invariably ask me when they find out I’m from Colorado. In response, I sheepishly confess that the last time I was on skis was in the

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B

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l an st ates available s mmer 2017 Bearcatstables.com/vail-to-aspen • 970.926.1578 Landing November 2016

Pterosaur illustrations ŠAMNH 2014

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www.pre historicair.com Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org)


WEST | COLOR A DO

first grade, when my parents left my cousin and me at ski school during a family vacation to Steamboat Springs. I don’t know if it was the feeling of abandonment or the lack of feeling in my toes, but I spent the day in tears and haven’t worn skis since. “Is that why you moved?” people sometimes jest, pointing out the treason I’ve committed against my Rocky Mountain heritage. “Did they kick you out?” Luxury travel consultant Lindsey Epperly can relate to my embarrassment. She and her parents visited Colorado from Georgia for the first time in 2011, excited to try skiing. “My mom loves seeing snow, so we decided to plan a snow trip to see if we could ski — which apparently is a lot harder than it looks,” says Epperly, owner of Atlanta-based Epperly Travel. “We were horrible and spent the

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whole time falling down. Clearly, we were not meant to ski. So we decided to try some other activities, like snowmobiling.” The Epperlys — who now take annual “we-don’t-ski” trips to popular destinations like Vail and Aspen — discovered what I’ve known since childhood: There’s more to do on a winter trip to Colorado than ski. “One of the big misnomers about Colorado is that the whole state is (skiing),” says Colorado

Tourism Office spokesperson Carly Holbrook. “There’s tons to do for people who don’t want to ski, but still want to enjoy that snowy, wintry mountain environment.” Instead of skiing, try snowshoeing, suggests adventure travel blogger Brad Nierenberg of Denver, whose sister snowshoes during family trips to Vail while he skis and snowboards. “It’s a great workout and a lot of fun,” says Nierenberg, who suggests Vail Mountain’s Nature Discovery Center (walkingmountains.org), which offers free snowshoeing tours of the surrounding forest. Winter trips start in December. Although most winter sports involve going

COLORADO TOURISM OFFICE

If you don’t want to ski, Colorado also offers horsedrawn sleigh rides and ice climbing.


There’s tons to do for people who don’t want to ski, but still want to enjoy that snowy, wintry mountain environment.”

COLORADO TOURISM OFFICE; YMCA OF THE ROCKIES

— CARLY HOLBROOK, COLORADO TOURISM OFFICE

down mountains, at least one is designed for scaling them: ice climbing. You can try it at the Ouray Ice Park (ourayicepark.com) in Ouray, which Holbrook calls the “Switzerland of America.” The season begins in mid- to late December. For serene instead of sporty, stop along the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop (colorado.com/ hotspringsloop), a 720-mile loop comprising 19 hot springs, including Iron Mountain Hot Springs (ironmountainhotsprings. com) in Glenwood Springs, which offers 16 mineral hot springs soaking pools, as well as a freshwater family pool. Finally, there’s always shopping. There are more than 200 shops on historic Main Street in Breckenridge, where there’s also a new 1-acre Arts District (breck create.org) featuring galleries, studios, workshops and theaters — plus art classes in everything from textiles and ceramics to metalwork and painting — for those who’d rather exercise mind than body. Skis? You don’t need them.

SKI-FREE FUN Alternatively, you can traverse snow-capped mountains by:

u HORSEBACK Winter horseback riding is a staple at The Home Ranch (homeranch.com), a luxury dude ranch about 20 miles north of Steamboat Springs. Help feed the horses in the morning, then ride them down snow trails in the afternoon. u ICE SPIKES Runners should head to Estes Park, where the Estes Park Running Club (facebook.com/ estesparkrun ningclub) hosts a weekly 5K fun run departing 6 p.m. Tuesdays from The Stanley Hotel, made famous by The Shining. Or pick up ice spikes in town, then go running on the lower trails of Rocky Mountain National Park (nps.gov/romo), suggests Terry Chiplin, founder of high-altitude athletic-training company Active at Altitude.

u DOG SLED Krabloonik Restaurant and Dog Sledding (krabloonik.com) near Snowmass Village offers morning, afternoon and twilight dog sled rides with a guide and eight to 10 Alaskan huskies. At $315 per adult and $195 per child ages 3 to 9, excursions include an hourlong wilderness ride with a stop for warm drinks and soup around the campfire. u FAT BIKE At Snow Mountain Ranch (snow mountainranch.org), located just outside Winter Park, rent winterized bicycles with fat tires, chunky handlebars and deep treads. Explore more than 6 miles of groomed trails exclusively for fat bikes. u INNER TUBE The Frisco Adventure Park (townof frisco.com) in Frisco offers lift service to the top of its tubing hill, which has six 1,200-foot tubing lanes of varying terrain. The cost is $25 for the first hour — $30 from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3 — plus $10 per additional tubing hour.

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Walking the walk along the San Antonio River BY SARAH SEKULA

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I

BOB HOWEN

Texas Trail

River tours and t’s 10 a.m. when I meet Andrew Carey in the water taxis give lobby of the Westin Riverwalk. Yes, he’s a visitors a different local and he knows fact after fact about San angle on San Antonio. But he’s not your typical tour guide. Antonio’s River His outfit is a dead giveaway: neon orange Walk. Above, a boat running shoes, mesh shorts, a yellow headband. passes near the He’s my Westin running concierge, and we’re about to La Antorcha de la explore a few miles of the River Walk. Amistad sculpture. We make our way out of the hotel, past a boat full of tourists cruising down the river, past the San Fernando Cathedral — one of the oldest churches in the U.S., which happens to have a nightly light show — and then back onto the River Walk. I’m completely entranced by the cobblestone pathways, the hummingbirds zipping by and the fact that there actually is a little bit of shade in Texas. You can thank the behemoth bald cypress trees for that. Not to mention, their knobby kneelike roots make the perfect home for herons, squirrels and baby ducks snuggling beneath their mamas.


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.

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WEST | T E X A S

Sunfish sculpture installation

TEXAS

THE ALAMO

MISSION SAN JOSÉ N W E S

RIVER WALK PATH

4 MAG 108 GO NAME ESCAPEXXXXXXXXXX | WINTER 2017

“There are people walking, biking and running here at all hours,” notes Carey as he points out the 70-year-old Casa Rio, the first restaurant to open along the River Walk. “I love it here.” Many would agree. Since 1941, the River Walk has been a popular gathering spot. In 2013, it got even better when an additional 8 miles of walkway was added, expanding the site to 15 miles that stretch from the Spanish missions to the Pearl Brewery. By 11:30, we wrap up the tour with a strawberry smoothie and a banana. An hour later, I’m back out sightseeing again with my friend, Justin. It’s

History, nature and culture are very much alive here in the Alamo City.

a quick walk to the Alamo, located at the River Walk’s midpoint, where we gawk at cannons and comment about the small footprint of the fortress. Come evening, we dine on seafood and guacamole made tableside at Boudro’s Texas bistro, thanks to my running concierge, who made last-minute reservations. Then we set out to search for bats, which supposedly fly out from underneath an Interstate 35 bridge by the hundreds. We never found them, but we did stumble upon The Grotto, a cavelike concrete nook complete with waterfalls and faux stalactites. On the stroll back to the hotel, we are wowed by whimsical public art in the form of mosaic murals and sculptures. My favorite is the school of fiberglass fish that hang from an underpass. We snap several photos as LEDs light up their underbellies. It’s a much quieter stretch here in Museum Reach — just us, the hum of cicadas and the occasional cadre of teens playing Pokémon Go. To our right, the San Antonio Museum of Art. To the left, a group of hipsters sit on swings at a trendy eatery.

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WEST | T E X A S

VFW Post #76, the oldest in Texas

IF YOU GO San Antonio River Walk thesanantonioriverwalk. com The Westin Riverwalk 420 W. Market St.; 210-224-6500; westinriverwalksanantonio. com

The Alamo 300 Alamo Plaza; 210-2251391; thealamo.org San Fernando Cathedral sfcathedral.org; information on the light show, 115 N. Main Ave.; 210-225-9800; mainplaza.org

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we fantasize, could never get old. There’s endless people-watching, farmers markets, ironwork bridges dating back to the 1800s and the clear encouragement to go biking or running daily. On the way to the airport, we stop at the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, which is also linked to the River Walk. Founded in 1720, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, joining the ranks of Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China. Judging by its beautiful archways, its Baroque-style church and bell tower, that’s no surprise. It’s true: History, nature and culture are very much alive here in the Alamo City. My only regret is that there’s so much I missed out on, like the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, currently undergoing an expansion — and sadly, I did not see one mariachi band. That said, I’m marking my calendar for December when the Tamales! Holiday Festival rolls around.

San Antonio Missions National Historic Park 210-932-1001; nps.gov/ saan

Casa Rio restaurant 430 E. Commerce St.; 210225-6718; casa-rio.com Boudro’s Texas bistro 421 E. Commerce St.; 210224-8484; boudros.com

BOB HOWEN; THINKSTOCK

Farther up is a Victorianstyle mansion — VFW Post #76, which claims to be the oldest Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Texas — where musicians are prepping for a show. This section is home to native plants like the iconic mesquite tree, pampas grass and wildflowers, which attract migrating birds and monarch butterflies galore. “Every city should have something like this,” Justin says. I wholeheartedly agree. Walking along here,

San Antonio Museum of Art 200 West Jones Ave.; 210978-8100; samuseum.org


VISIT Bartlesville OKLAHOMA Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower Woolaroc Museum & Wildlife Preserve Phillips Petroleum Museum OK Mozart Festival AT&SF No 940 Steam Engine Tall Grass Prairie Preserve Oklahoma Indian Summer Frank Phillips Home Dewey Antique District Prairie Song, Indian Territory Tom Mix Museum The Dewey Hotel

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M Y TOW N | PACIFIC

DAN SAVAGE’S

Seattle The Emerald City’s cheeky columnist in chief has been dishing advice for 25 years via Savage Love, syndicated in 50 newspapers nationwide. The editorial director of alt-weekly The Stranger, he's chatted on the Savage Lovecast since 2006. He and husband Terry Miller sparked the It Gets Better Project, which encourages LGBT youth to overcome bullying (itgetsbetter.org).

NICHOLAS HUNT/GETTY IMAGES; VICTROLA COFFEE ROASTERS; FRED HOUSEL

— AMANDA CASTLEMAN

BEST PLACE TO

BEST

INDULGE A SWEET TOOTH

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE

“Kurtwood Farms has a little herd of Jersey cows on Vashon Island and sells ice cream from Kurt Farm Shop on Capitol Hill. It’s a little microcosm of what Seattle means — local, organic, sustainable — but it’s also about pleasure!”

“I’m the unlikeliest snowboarder in the world. ... It’s such a dude-bro activity. My son insisted I learn when I was 40. Now I love the mountains! We go to Crystal (Mountain Resort) and Mt. Baker nearby.”

1424 11th Ave.; kurtwood farms.com

crystalmountainresort. com; mtbaker.us

BEST PLACE FOR

A CUP OF COFFEE “I’d like to namecheck a few indies like Victrola, Zeitgeist and Caffè Vita. But I love (a) ... Starbucks where nobody wants to talk about my column, so I can write there.”

When I moved here and asked, ‘What’s awesome about this place?’ everyone said, ‘The mountains are beautiful.’ I was like, ‘They’re not in Seattle!’ I really resisted. It took 14 years, but now I can’t get out there enough.”

BEST

MUSIC VENUE “I’m a fan of Benaroya Hall because my husband is active with the Seattle Symphony orchestra as a volunteer and supporter. I like musicals and pretty music. So Terry takes me when it’s Strauss and leaves me home for Philip Glass.” 200 University St.; 206-215-4800; seattlesymphony.org

Victrola Roastery & Cafe: 310 E. Pike St.; 206-624-1725; victrolacoffee.com

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Hikers on Backbone Trail

Happy Trails New hiking route connects Los Angeles to 67 miles of nearby backcountry bliss

Volunteers, left, help restore part of the Backbone Trail in March before its final sections were connected. Such help was key to finishing the trail, 50 years in the making.

O

ne of the newest backcountry trails in the West skirts the busiest city in the country. The thoroughfare, dubbed the Backbone Trail, stretches about 67 miles through the Santa Monica Mountains that ring Los Angeles, and opened in June after more than 50 years in the making. The trail, which connects Point Mugu State Park in Malibu to Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades, has evolved slowly over the years. Non-government volunteers worked

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with state and federal park employees to fund and build the path, and to acquire the land necessary to connect the pieces. The final links fell into place in a flurry in the spring, when over just a few weeks, the Park Service closed escrow on four land parcels, including donations by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and fitness pioneer Betty Weider. Those properties were among 180 individual tracts that have been purchased since the 1960s — land with a total value of more than $100 million. In June, the Backbone was

designated a National Recreation Trail, one of 1,200 in the country specially acknowledged by the American Trails organization for its ability to promote conservation, recreation and health. Howard Cohen, president of the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, says the distinction ultimately should make the Backbone eligible for more funding from state and local governments. “To see so much hard work come to fruition is a victory for everyone in conservation in the West,” says Cohen, who is also co-director for the Coyote Backbone Trail Ultra race next March.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE; ANGELA WEISS/GETTY IMAGES

BY MATT VILLANO


Ray Miller Trailhead

Danielson Ranch

SCENIC SITES

POINT MUGU STATE PARK

Parking Drinking water

Wilderness adventure just miles from the second-largest U.S. city

BONEY MOUNTAIN SANDSTONE PEAK

Backbone Trail

Hikers, cyclists, and equestrians

Mishe Mokwa Trailhead

Backbone Trail

Hikers and equestrians NO biking

Encinal Trailhead

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Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

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See sidebar for info

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Kanan Trailhead

Scenic Site

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Boney Mountain The rugged cliffs provide spectacular vistas and interesting hikes.

Latigo Trailhead Pepperdine University

Corral Canyon Trailhead

MALIBU

67

MALIBU CREEK STATE PARK MALIBU CREEK

MAP: MIRANDA PELLICANO; THINKSTOCK; NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

MILES The length of the Backbone Trail, a rugged, challenging walk for hikers.

Tapia Trailhead

A view from Sandstone Peak, the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains at 3,111 feet.

SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS VISITOR CENTER

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S

Deadhorse Trailhead

N

Trippet Ranch

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20

MILES TO L.A.

Will Rogers Trailhead

SANTA MONICA

Malibu Creek You’ve seen this terrain in TV shows and movies, but it’s also filled with streams and wildlife.

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The Milky Way over Boney Mountain

Recreation Trail, signage at some intersections is simply nonexistent. Ultra-runner Josh Spector has run the trail a handful of times, and describes it as one of the most difficult routes he’s faced. “It’s an incredibly challenging course with lots of hills,” says Spector, who has lived in Los Angeles since 2009. “You’ve also got to be careful about when you run it — there’s very little shade on the trail, and in summer, when temperatures can get up over 100 and you’ve only got so much water, it can be rough.” For this reason, Cohen says he was “cautiously optimistic” about the impact of the National Recreation Trail distinction and the attention the trail has gotten since the last few pieces were procured. On one hand, he says, especially after all those years of waiting, the Backbone deserves the spotlight. On the other, however, certain sections aren’t large or sturdy enough to service the crowds that might be coming, and some visitors might come not knowing entirely what to expect. His advice: Plan ahead, and bring lots of water. “So long as you exercise caution, it’s a great way to experience an L.A. few ever get to see,” he says.

The Backbone Trail is part of the National Park Service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. nps.gov/samo/ planyourvisit/ backbonetrail. htm.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

“When you consider the views of the ocean and the proximity to such a major urban center, there’s nothing like this trail anywhere else in Southern California.” What makes the Backbone unique? For starters, the trail traverses one of the region’s largest remaining tracts of undeveloped landscape, a well-preserved mix of chaparralcovered hillsides, oak woodlands and rocky outcrop spires. The wildlife is pretty spectacular, too: On any given day, hikers might spot rattlesnakes, coyotes, bobcats and other critters. The views aren’t too shabby, either. From the apex at the top of Sandstone Peak you can see the Channel Islands to the south and the Tehachapi Range to the north. Also, if you’re hiking from east to west, the last 6 or so quad-burning miles back down into Malibu — a section known as the Ray Miller Trail — offer sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Still, the trail is not to be taken lightly. Hiked from end to end, the Backbone consists of many rolling hills, starting with a big climb from Will Rogers State Park as it ascends to the ridgeline with views of the San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica Bay and, once more, the Pacific Ocean. It’s so steep in some sections that runners may be reduced to a walk. And the roller-coaster terrain keeps coming. If you hike or run the whole trail, these hills will chip away at your strength, so be well trained for the challenge. In addition, water and overnight camping options are minimal, which means visitors have to lug extra water or hike the trail in sections; overnight thru-hiking is not yet possible. Fire of any kind is not permitted. And despite the recent designation as a National


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Heart of Glass Tacoma’s Dale Chihuly provides artistic inspiration for his hometown BY LISA MEYERS MCCLINTICK

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ense gray clouds crawl across Mount Rainier, erasing the snow-capped icon that seems to float above Tacoma’s eastern horizon. Drizzle spatters the downtown Museum District, but it disappears on the walkway across Interstate 705, where pedestrians stop in their tracks, stare, spin, back up and stare again. More than 2,300 hand-blown, backlit glass shapes stretch across the first 50 feet of the Chihuly Bridge of Glass. The Seaform Pavilion ceiling bursts into a kaleidoscope of color: Cobalt blue edges curl like coral, delicate gold tubes mimic kelp, translucent red orbs seem to pulse like jellyfish. Dale Chihuly’s distinctive glass artistry can be found at

KEN EMLY/MUSEUM OF GLASS

PACIFIC | WA SHINGTON


TERRY RISHEL

more than 200 museums around the world, including Chihuly Garden and Glass below Seattle’s Space Needle, slightly more than 30 miles from Tacoma. But Tacoma has a special distinction: It’s Chihuly’s hometown, a place where glass artistry thrives. Self-guided tours in town highlight numerous destinations — several of them free — featuring Chihuly’s installations, as well as those of other globally known artists who have defined the studio art glass movement. Chihuly co-founded the famed Pilchuck Glass School north of Seattle in the 1970s, and in the mid-90s, co-founded Tacoma’s Hilltop Artists, which begins training kids as young as 12 in hot shop skills at public schools. “Glass art is central to our identity” in the Northwest, says

The hot-shop team at Tacoma’s Museum of Glass uses local glass artist Dale Chihuly as inspiration for its creations; Chihuly’s art, including the Bridge of Glass, above, can be found throughout the city.

Rock Hushka, chief curator of the Tacoma Art Museum, which just opened a preview of a major new glass art acquisition that will be housed in a new $14 million wing by 2018. The 500-foot-long Chihuly Bridge of Glass links the Tacoma

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MAKE A WEEKEND OF IT Swiss Restaurant and Pub pours 30 beers, serves sliders and fish tacos and features several of Chihuly’s Venetian pieces amid its eclectic décor in the heart of the Museum District. 1904 S. Jefferson Ave.; 253-572-2821; theswisspub.com Four miles from downtown, The Lobster Shop serves regional wines and seafood overlooking scenic Commencement Bay with views of seals and jellyfish from the patio. 4015 Ruston Way; 253-759-2165; wp.lobstershop.com The chic 319-room Hotel Murano doubles as an unofficial museum, where guests and diners can study the Norse myths depicted in the stained glass of Vibeke Skov’s three Viking boats suspended from the lobby ceiling. The hotel’s collection features 45 artists from a dozen countries, with each of its guest-room floors highlighting an artist and his or her techniques. 1320 Broadway Plaza; 253-238-8000; hotelmuranotacoma.com

Art Museum to the Museum of Glass, known for the tilted silver cone that rises 90 feet high along the Thea Foss Waterway and is home to the West Coast’s largest hot shop. Inside the cone, visitors can watch glassblowers at work, feeling the warmth as artists work the furnace, spin molten glass and coax it into shapes. Jeannine Sigafoos, who co-owns the nearby Tacoma Glassblowing Studio with her husband, Mark, says the region’s cool weather can be ideal for glassblowing; furnaces and molten glass add warmth to the foggy, drizzly days. Like Chihuly, local artists who work at the studio — as well as beginners — find ideas for shapes and colors in the vibrant palette of the Pacific and among the landscapes of pristine rivers and lush, ancient forests. “It’s always nature that inspires them,” Sigafoos says.

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Chihuly Bridge of Glass includes the 40-foot tall Crystal Towers that shimmer like gigantic glacial-blue rock candy and an 80-foot-long Venetian Wall showcasing 109 vases artfully curved and accented with whorls and curls, cherubs and flowers. museumofglass.org/ outdoor-art/chihuly-bridge-of-glass The Museum of Glass’ resident hot-shop team tackles a range of projects, from Martin Blank’s 754-piece Fluent Steps sculpture rising from the plaza reflecting pool, to endearing pieces inspired by real kids’ drawings such as a fierce Ninja doughnut, a fox in colorful socks and crazy-eyed aliens. Hands-on classes include glass-fusing ornaments, pendants and suncatchers. 1801 Dock St.; 253-284-4719; museumofglass.org Learn to make a feeder, garden flowers or ornaments with hands-on classes at Tacoma Glassblowing Studio. 114 S. 23rd St.; 253-9489699; tacomaglassblowing.com

CHUCK LYSEN; MAHESH THAPA

Martin Blank’s sculpture, Fluent Steps, outside the Museum of Glass, pays homage to Chihuly, whose own art is on display within the Bridge of Glass.

Download the Chihuly Smartphone Walking Tour; it covers installations in the Tacoma Art Museum and around town. Don’t miss historic Union Station Federal Courthouse, a free stop with four Chihuly installations and a collage of sketches. tacomaartmuseum.org/chihuly


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PACIFIC | C A L IFOR N I A / N EVA DA

Mountain Thrills Lake Tahoe’s two destinations are perfect for winter vacationers BY KATIE MORELL

NORTH LAKE TAHOE & SILENT A PHOTOGRAPHY

L

ake Tahoe is a cold-weather traveler’s one-stop destination: gorgeous water views, snowcapped mountains ready for adventure, high-end hotels and fancy dining. At 191.6 square miles, the lake is large enough for two distinct destinations — north and south — both attractive if you’re hankering for a mountain vacation this winter.

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Stunning mountain views reflected in clear water are part of the Lake Tahoe experience.

NORTH LAKE TAHOE

hours and include s’mores. Book in advance. tahoestartours. com

LODGING Check out Basecamp Tahoe City, a modern upscale hotel that opened in May. Formerly the Aviva Motel, its 24 rooms are stylishly designed and the lobby bar is worth checking out for the on-tap craft brews. Call ahead to reserve your spot for the three-course communal dinners. 955 North Lake Blvd., Tahoe City; 530-580-8430; basecamptahoecity.com

DINING

JEFF EDWARDS; ROBYN SCARTON/ COURTESY OF HOMEWOOD MOUNTAIN RESORT

Head over to the railroadtown-turned-hipster-haven of Truckee and snag a table at the four-star Trokay, run by a former New York City chef with innovative taste. Bonus: The restaurant offers cooking classes for all ages; call ahead for availability. 10046 Donner Pass Rd., Truckee; 530-582-1040; restauranttrokay.com

OFF THE SLOPES Lake Tahoe's crisp winter nights are perfect for stargazing. Tahoe Star Tours offers moonlit snowshoe stargazing tours at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, at Northstar California Resort during a few select evenings. The tours last two

ADVENTURE In early 2016, Homewood Mountain Resort began offering snowcat-accessed backcountry tours. This activity gives advanced skiers and snowboarders access to more than 750 acres of tree runs and backcountry bowls from the top of Ellis Peak. Advance reservations required. 5145 West Lake Blvd.; 530-525-2900; skihomewood.com

APRÈS-SKI The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, located midmountain at the Village at Northstar, recently launched its Champagne Experience, which includes champagne by the glass and oysters on the half-shell served on its back patio every Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon throughout the winter season. The resort also offers après-ski spa treatments and yoga classes. 13031 RitzCarlton Highlands Court, Truckee; 530-562-3000; ritzcarlton.com/en/ hotels/california/lake-tahoe

DON’T MISS Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows will host the Audi FIS Ski World Cup March 9-12, the first World Cup ski event to come to California in 19 years. worldcupsquaw.com

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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE

LODGING Just a few blocks from Heavenly Mountain Resort and Lake Tahoe itself, the Coachman Hotel opened earlier this year. The former motel was redesigned with a hip, cabinlike aesthetic. In addition to its 42 well-appointed rooms (which feature rubber flooring near the door for your wet gear), there are communal spaces for lounging and a year-round hot tub. 4100 Pine Blvd., South Lake Tahoe; 530-545-6460; coachmantahoe.com

Coachman Hotel

SnowGlobe Music Festival

Visitors looking for great food and beer are smart to try Sidellis Lake Tahoe, a brewery and restaurant that opened earlier this year. The place is already a hit with locals, thanks to its microbrews and flavorful dishes; try the Peri-Peri pulled pork. 3350 Sandy Way, South Lake Tahoe; 530-600-3999; sidellis. com

OFF THE SLOPES If you aren’t in the mood to ski or try your luck at any of the half dozen casinos on the

Sidellis Lake Tahoe

Nevada side of the town, head over to Heavenly Village’s ice rink, open between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. all winter. 1001 Heavenly Village Way, South Lake Tahoe; 775-265-2087; theshopsatheavenly. com

snowmobiling tours that venture 9,000 feet above sea level. For a special treat, book a moonlit tour. Advance reservations required. 760 U.S. Highway 50, Zephyr Cove, Nev.; 775-5894906; zephyrcove.com

ADVENTURE

APRÈS-SKI

Zephyr Cove Resort, located a few miles north of South Lake Tahoe’s bustling casinos, offers two-hour scenic

360° Smokehouse BBQ, at the top of Sierra at Tahoe’s Grandview Express chairlift, is the perfect place to wind down

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after a day on the slopes. Grab a seat outside for the best views. sierraattahoe. com

DON’T MISS Ring in the New Year at the Snow-

Globe Music Festival, featuring a host of electronic and dance bands, Dec. 29-31. Be sure to book early; the holiday crowds in South Lake Tahoe are big. snowglobemusic festival.com

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CANADA

Welcome to Winterlude Ottawa shows off its seasonal best with a massive festival

A

s a guy born in Atlanta, I don’t ice skate. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the festivities along Ottawa’s Rideau Canal, transformed each winter into the world’s longest “skateway,” stretching 5 miles through the heart of Canada’s historic capital city. A working waterway that connects the Ottawa River with Dow’s Lake, the frozen canal becomes center stage for Winterlude. It’s home to a citywide festival in the first three weeks of February where locals shake off the winter doldrums and hit the streets to revel in the beauty of the season — and where non-locals can engineer a great getaway north of the U.S. border. “Winterlude is a celebration of Canadian winter activities, as well as our values and traditions,” says Katherine Cyr, a spokesperson with Canadian Heritage, the federal department that puts on Winterlude (pch.gc.ca/winterlude). “In 2017, we’re going to be highlighting Canada’s 150th anniversary.” Whether you skate, walk or

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CANADA OTTAWA

ONTARIO NEW YORK

LAKE ONTARIO

glide in one of the bright red sled-mobiles that are for rent along the route, there’s live music, games, ice carving, art installations, a pop-up style amusement park called the Snowflake Kingdom and plenty of warm beverages to enjoy, from kid-friendly cocoa to hot caribou cocktails, a traditional Québécois drink similar to mulled wine. (Popular back in the days of the first French voyageurs, it was supposedly made from warm caribou blood and whiskey.) Tens of thousands crowd onto the ice daily during Winterlude — don’t worry, the city tests the thickness of the ice each day to make sure it is safe — which

draws more than 1 million parka-ed people into the snowy streets of Ottawa. Among the masses expected to visit Feb. 3-20 are some pretty impressive amateur figure skaters, a delight to watch for a guy like me, who can barely walk across the ice without something to hold onto. (Although I managed.) The Rideau Canal weaves through several of Ottawa’s more eclectic neighborhoods and historic points of interest (the canal itself is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the only one in Ontario), so it’s easy to fill a day meandering back and forth from the canal to nearby attractions. Dow’s Lake Pavilion on the south side of Ottawa’s Little Italy is as good a place as any to “put in.” Rent sleighs or skates here, or have your blades sharpened if you’ve brought your own; there are changing facilities, lockers if you need one for the day and an enormous skating rink that connects to the canal. Then head a mile and a half toward downtown and look for the gleaming metal cupolas of the Aberdeen Pavilion. This Victorian-era structure is in Lansdowne Park, home of the Winter Brewfest — stop in for

MAP: MIRANDA PELLICANO

BY BRIAN BARTH


CANADIAN HERITAGE

Ottawa’s Rideau Canal Skateway during Winterlude, below the Château Laurier hotel.

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CANADA

MAKE A TRIP OF IT Fraser Café: A casual restaurant with high-end fare, the Fraser Café is known for its communal tables and “kitchen’s choice” option — the chefs surprise you with an improvised meal of their own inspiration. The open-kitchen layout allows you to watch as the chefs work their magic. 7 Springfield Rd.; 613-749-1444; frasercafe.ca

Buskers at Snowflake Kingdom mingle with visitors in Jacques-Cartier Park.

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Gallery of Canada. Winterlude is a worthwhile excuse for a visit, but the Ottawa region holds enough charms in its snow-capped hills to spend a weekend or more. Across the river in Quebec are charming francophone villages and the world-famous crosscountry ski trails of the Gatineau Hills. Or spend an afternoon ice-fishing on the Ottawa River with one of the many guides who operate east of town. As a Southern-born guy, I was worried about being cold, but the non-stop activity kept my blood moving. I admit that I kept mostly to my hotel at night, though temperatures of -10 F (once the wind chill is factored in) didn’t seem to dent the enthusiasm of the locals at the nightly outdoor dance parties. If you can brave the cold, the Sub Zero concert series, a Winterlude tradition, offers a taste of Canada’s top DJs and musicians. But my wife and I did slip out one moonlit night to take in what’s known as the Crystal Garden. Here in Confederation Park near the canal’s southern terminus downtown, internationally renowned ice carvers work their magic by day as tourists look on. At night, their sculptures are lit up in a dazzling display — a true winter wonderland.

Fairmont Château Laurier: If you feel like splurging, this is Ottawa’s most decadent lodging. Situated between Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal, the century-old hotel is a favorite of visiting royalty, heads of state and celebrities from around the world. 1 Rideau St.; 866-540-4410; fairmont.com/laurier Novotel Ottawa: A more modestly priced option, although still quite luxurious, this boutique hotel is two blocks from the Rideau Canal and is home to The Albion Rooms, a popular farm-to-table-dining destination. 33 Nicholas St.; 613-230-3033; novotelottawa.com Tours Expédition Ottawa: Daylong guided cross-country ski trips in Quebec’s Gatineau Park (15 minutes from Ottawa) start at $125 Canadian per person, including all the necessary gear and a picnic lunch in a heated cabin. Or you can arrange an overnight tour to further explore the 120 miles of trails Gatineau Park and stay in one of the park’s backcountry yurts or cabins. 1-323 Richelieu Ave.; 613-7626201; teottawa.com

CANADIAN HERITAGE; FAIRMONT HOTELS & RESORTS; THINKSTOCK

the craft beer scene, if that’s your thing. It’s also the gateway to The Glebe, Ottawa’s version of Greenwich Village, where you can wander among quaint cafés, craft shops and art galleries. Continue on and take in the local color as it comes. You might come across a stilt walker, or one of the many quirky Winterlude traditions such as the Annual Bed Race, which is as much a costumed parade where contestants are required to use bedframes for their floats. If you need a snack, there’s plenty of poutine (French fries with cheese and gravy) and beaver tails (Canada’s version of funnel cakes) to be had from the little huts that dot the canal, most of which (thankfully) feature a fire pit. One park along the path has snow slides, a popular pitstop for kids of all ages. “I went down them last Winterlude and I had a blast,” says Cyr. You’ll eventually find yourself at Wellington Street, the northern end of the skateway one block from Parliament Hill, where the gothic revival home of the Canadian government towers majestically atop the cliffs of the Ottawa River. Many of Canada’s top cultural destinations are within a few minutes’ walk here, including the iconic Moshe Safdie-designed National

Fairmont Château Laurier


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CARIBBEAN

A view of San Juan from El Yunque National Forest.

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American Rain Forest Waterfalls and wildlife abound at Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest

WILL RODGER

T

BY MATT ALDERTON

he blue-gray cobblestone streets of Old San Juan are scorching hot, searing the bottoms of sandals like skillets cooking bistec encebollado — steak and onions. Some 30 miles east, however, the ground is cool and damp. Here, thousands of trees form a verdurous parasol that blankets the earth in shade. It’s not just the temperature that’s

different in this slice of Puerto Rico, however. It’s the ethos. Instead of colorful colonial architecture, these vistas burst with brightly colored blooms, including bright pink impatiens and red orchids. Instead of chlorinated swimming pools, there are refreshing waterfalls. And instead of traffic, the air echoes with sounds of San Pedritos — tiny, plump green birds that exhale distinctive “beeps” from their long, needle-nosed beaks.

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Nature!

Welcome to El Yunque National Forest, the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest System. Encompassing more than 29,000 mountainous acres in northeast Puerto Rico, the area that is now El Yunque was sacred to indigenous people, who believed it to house one of their deities, the good spirit Yokahú. It remains sacred today — albeit for scientific instead of spiritual reasons. Celebrated for its biodiversity, the forest houses 240 native tree species, 50 varieties

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of native orchids, more than 150 species of ferns, 50 types of birds, 11 species of bats, eight kinds of lizards and 13 species of coquí, or tree frogs, whose nocturnal, birdlike chirping echoes through the trees each night like a Puerto Rican lullaby. “We have a lot fewer species than, say, the Amazon, but 20 percent of the species we do have are endemic —meaning they don’t exist anywhere else,” notes El Yunque tour guide John “Rubio” Druitt of Rubio’s Tours. That makes Puerto Rico in

general — and El Yunque in particular — a hotbed for ecologiEl Yunque National cal research. And Forest is for tourism. open daily, “El Yunque is year-round. our most visited fs.usda.gov/ attraction outside elyunque of San Juan,” explains Luis Muñiz, deputy executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Although the terrain in some parts of the forest is challenging,

ELIZABETH NEUS; PUERTO RICO TOURISM COMPANY

El Yunque’s trails, right, guide visitors to plenty of glorious fauna and flora


MAKE A WEEKEND OF IT there are trails for people of all visiting the forest as early as ages and abilities. possible — it opens at 7:30 a.m. “El Yunque offers something — in order to beat the heat and for everyone,” says Sasha Rodricrowds. guez, president of RST Puerto Although the temperature Rico, the onsite tour operator for at El Yunque is typically 10 the nearby Wyndham Grand Rio to 15 degrees cooler than the Mar Beach Resort & Spa. “And if temperature in San Juan, heat trails are not for and humidity still you, you can still reign supreme. drive through the So, dress approrainforest.” priately and bring Indeed, many plenty of bottled travelers access El water and snacks. Yunque by rental “We usucar, although most ally suggest catch tour buses comfortable from their hotels. clothes — T-shirt Either way, the and shorts — and forest is less than comfortable — LUIS MUÑIZ, DEPUTY an hour from San walking shoes, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF Juan via Highway like tennis shoes,” THE PUERTO RICO TOURISM COMPANY 66. says Rodriguez. Your first stop “You can also should be El Portal Rain Forest wear a bathing suit underneath Center, where you can learn the your clothing in case you want forest’s history, preview its plants to take a refreshing dip in one of and wildlife, and plan your itinerthe waterfalls.” ary. Popular destinations include Mosquitoes aren’t too much Yokahú Tower, an observation of an issue, thanks to the bats tower with views all the way to and coquí that eat them. Still, the Atlantic Ocean, and La Mina insect repellent is a good idea, Falls, a breathtaking waterfall along with sunscreen. If possible, and swimming hole tucked at choose DEET-free bug spray and the end of a 45-minute stroll all-natural sunscreen, as harmful along the paved path known as chemicals can easily transfer to Big Tree Trail. the water if you go swimming. Although gorgeous scenery That affects not only aquatic life, dominates, so do throngs of but also local Puerto Ricans, who fellow visitors. For that reason, source 20 percent of their potable Druitt prefers hiking the Baño water from El Yunque’s rivers. de Oro. A less-traveled trail, it “Affecting one of the species takes you past an abandoned in the forest will affect the whole swimming pool from the 1930s, area,” says Muñiz, who also over the La Mina River and recommends carrying a garbage through an especially lush part bag. “If you bring any snacks or of the forest. If you go slowly beverages, take them back with and look carefully, you’ll spot you and dispose of your trash.” the aforementioned San Pedritos Even on the busiest days, and one of the world’s smallest when the tourists at La Mina orchids, which flowers beneath a Falls are as thick as the foliage large leaf as protection from the around it, El Yunque’s beauty is frequent rain. pure and unspoiled. “It’s a beautiful trail; it’s a little In the name of Yokahú, its bit rustic, but it’s not difficult,” champions implore: Please keep says Druitt, who recommends it that way.

WYNDHAM GRAND RIO MAR BEACH RESORT & SPA

“El Yunque is our most visited attraction outside of San Juan.”

Despite their ramshackle appearances and cheap prices, the 60 or so Luquillo roadside food kiosks serve some of the island’s best cuisine. You’ll find pizza, burgers, barbeque, beer and more, but the highlight is the traditional Puerto Rican street food. Highway 3, Luquillo For a delicious, affordable and completely unassuming breakfast or lunch, check out La Familia Bakery 2, which specializes in Puerto Rican sweets and sandwiches. Calle 1 A9, Río Grande; 787-888-2320 The Rainforest Inn is a tropical take on the bed-and-breakfast. Consider booking the two-person Jungle Suite, which offers a unique swinging bed perfect for resting after a day of hiking the rain forest. PR-186, Río Grande; 800-672-4992; rainforestinn.com

▲ The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa borders El Yunque and has 500 acres of recreation. Every room offers a balcony with views of the resort, rain forest or ocean. 6000 Rio Mar Blvd., Río Grande; 787-888-6000; wyndham riomar.com

Just 15 minutes from El Yunque is Luquillo Beach, one of Puerto Rico’s most beloved beaches. Rent chairs and umbrellas, take surfing lessons or just stroll the pillow-soft sand. Visit Yunke Zipline Adventure in Luquillo for a dose of adrenaline. Tours consist of an interpretive hike through the rain forest, five vista-rich zip lines and a 50-foot rope descent from atop a West Indian locust tree. 787-242-3368; yzapr. com

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Posh Portugal Affordable Lisbon is becoming a site for fashion and flash BY DIANE BAIR AND PAMELA WRIGHT

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ne morning last winter, as we stepped out to explore Lisbon, we encountered an odd sight: a platoon of models on the plaza, all of whom appeared to be naked. Upon closer inspection, these sylphs were in fact wearing bath towels and muslin wraps around their naughty bits — and one of them was a dead ringer for soccer star David Beckham. If this was a flash mob, we wanted in. “Please move along,” we were told as we scrambled for our cellphones to grab a Snapchat shot. Turns out the dead ringer was the real Becks, in the ’hood filming an ad for Swedish retailer

H&M. Some of the shoot had taken place inside our hotel, the swank, lemon-yellow Pousada de Lisboa. How had we missed that? When David Beckham rolls into town to shoot a commercial right in the heart of the city, you know it's earned some serious style cred. Lisbon — long considered one of Europe’s best bargains — is quickly becoming one of the continent’s most stylish destinations. While you may not run into Beckham (or a cadre of his fashion dopplegängers), you’ll find eye candy all over the city. In fact, it’s difficult to avoid it. This sunny coastal city, with its seven hills and medieval castles, is the perfect backdrop for style. “The city offers chic spots, and plenty of glamour and style, but it is still an authentic place where you can see the Portuguese soul in the colorful tiled facades lining the narrow streets,” says Joana Oliveira, communications executive for the Pestana Pousadas de Portugal group. Fashionable types like Christian Louboutin, Miuccia Prada and members of the British rock band Muse are recent visitors, Oliveira says. First, where to stay? If words like “playful” and “quirky” ring your style chimes, consider the Internacional Design Hotel. This 55-room property, overlooking lively Rossio Square, offers a different experience — even a different scent — on each of its four levels: Zen, Urban, Tribal and eye-popping Pop. Decorated with graffiti-style art and Andy Warhol quotes, Pop smells like bubblegum. The hotel’s onsite restaurant, Bastardo, wins raves for its contemporary Portuguese cuisine. Because the cool kids don’t like to spend a bundle on digs, it’s fashionably affordable;

DIANE BAIR

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1 Beautifully packaged sardines are among the delicacies that can be found in Lisbon’s shops. 2 Fashions made of cork — from purses to bikinis — showcase a Portuguese crop.

4 The Internacional Design Hotel’s Bastardo restaurant. 5 The chic Pousada de Lisboa hotel. 6 An Urban room at the Internacional Design Hotel.

DIANE BAIR; INTERNACIONAL DESIGN HOTEL (3, 4 & 6); PEDRO SAMPAYO RIBEIRO

3 Lisbon’s central Rossio Square, home to

the Internacional Design Hotel, at the right of the square.

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Turismo de Lisboa Visitors & Convention Bureau

PORTO

in January, you can find room rates as low as $125 per night. Start the day like a local with an espresso and a freshly baked pastel de nata (a Portuguese custard SPAIN tart). Now imagine yourself swanning around the city in, say, one of Vivienne Westwood’s cutting-edge ensembles, or Christian Dior’s classic 1940s “New Look” designs. These treasures are part of the collection at MUDE, Lisbon’s museum of design and fashion. The museum’s holdings include 1,000 design objects from luminaries like Philippe Starck and Charles Eames, and more than 1,200 pieces of fashion, representing the evolution of global design trends. Alas, the MUDE is currently closed until late 2017 as it undergoes a major renovation; in the meantime, look for temporary MUDE exhibitions around the city. Inspired to create your own new look? Head to the Principe Real neighborhood for a Kardashian-worthy array of boutiques, mostly strung along the Rua Dom Pedro V. Embaixada is one hotspot, a 19th-century Arabian-style palace filled with Portuguese designer boutiques. And don’t overlook the

PORTUGAL LISBON

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Pousada de Lisboa slh.com/ pousadalisboa

Internacional Design Hotel idesignhotel.com

Casa do Leão pestana.com/en/ contents/casa-doleao-restaurant

Sr. Vinho srvinho.com/eng

Embaixada embaixadalx.pt

Cork & Co. corkandcompany.pt

Pelcor pelcor.pt

city’s tiny specialty shops, filled with exquisite items like Claus Porto soaps (beloved by Oprah), sardine-shaped chocolates wrapped in foil and all things cork. Yes, cork, the same stuff that tops your bottle of local Douro port. They grow a lot of cork in Portugal — sustainable cork bark is harvested from native cork oak trees. We’re talking cork bikinis (built-in flotation!), wedding dresses, iPhone cases, you name it. Leatherlike cork clutches are especially cute. Revive yourself with bacalhau (dried, salted cod) and a glass of wine at Casa do Leão restaurant located in the Castelo de São Jorge. From a table on the castle’s terrace, enjoy “the most stunning view of the city,” according to Oliveira. Come nightfall, make your way to Sr. Vinho in the Lapa District to hear authentic fado music. Just another stylish day in Lisbon — with or without David Beckham!

MAP: MIRANDA PELLICANO; DAVID GRIMBERT

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CRUISES

Aboard the newly renovated Disney Dream, relax and let the staff handle the magic BY ALLISON ENTREKIN

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MATT STROSHANE; THINKSTOCK

Cruise Control

e are on a cruise ship. A Mickey Mouse escorts guests Disney cruise ship. With on the beach at a giant statue of Mickey Castaway Cay, Mouse dangling from the Disney’s private stern. He’s dressed up like island in the the sorcerer’s apprentice, Bahamas. and he’s directing paintbrushes to write the ship’s name: Disney Dream. We’re sailing from Port Canaveral to Nassau, Bahamas, then on to Castaway Cay — Disney’s private Bahamian island. The trip will take four nights — four nights of sleeping in a 203-squarefoot stateroom with my husband, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. There are also 12 all-you-can-eat buffet meals, with pink shrimp on ice and fruit salad in little bowls and chocolate chip cookies piled high on doilies. Three days in which my very young children can access a kids’ club from 9 a.m. to midnight. Yes. You read that right. It’s not just any kids’ club — oh no. This is Disney’s Oceaneer Club for children ages 3 to 12. Last year, it underwent a major renovation, and its new centerpiece is a giant Millennium Falcon that would make Star Wars


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PUERTO VALLARTA: RESORT CITY COMMITTED TO SUSTAINABILITY

The beautiful resort city of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico’s Jalisco state, has long-since been known for its enviable position overlooking Bahia de Banderas. The malecón, which flanks the bay, is the city’s most popular attraction: strolling along the 12-block mile-long walkway which is gracefully flanked by bronze sculptures is the best way to soak the essence of this charming city, as you slowly sip your coffee and take in a sunrise or sunset. But this is just the beginning of your introduction to this destination which is gradually changing. In addition to the expected dose of pearly beaches, a gamut of water sports and trendy nightlife scene, is a growing commitment to sustainable tourism. This is not the Puerto Vallarta your parents knew. Bahia de Banderas is known for its abundance of marine life: whale-watching during the cooler months of the year is common here, as is snorkeling along the islands of Banderas Bay and beyond. Don’t be surprised if you see these gentle giants pop up and do a lovely arc and flip in front of your eyes as you sail along the bay.

RESPONSIBLE TOURISM

Because of the city’s commitment to sustainable tourism, there are more responsible tour operators who focus on protecting the wildlife of the destination. One such destination popular for sustainable tourism is Estero del Salado, which means “salty estuary”; it is mostly marshes and mangrove vegetation, and acts as a deciduous tropical forest canopy to wildlife including migratory birds and also the American crocodile. Another way to get acquainted with the wildlife of Puerto Vallarta is to do a dolphin tour and watch these intelligent, nimble creatures swim in schools on the silvery waters of the bay. One operator, Wildlife Connection, will give you the opportunity to interact up close and personal with bottlenose and spinner dolphins in their natural habitat. If you’re up for it, you can even listen to the chatter of these dolphins thanks to a hydrophone on board the ships.

SUSTAINABLE CUISINE

The city is not foreign to the food truck movement, and on any given sunny day (which are plenty in Puerto Vallarta), you can get a taste of hand-crafted cocktails, small bites and tacos throughout the city. An efficient way to do it all is the three-hour food tasting and walking tour given by Puerto Vallarta Food Tours, who will give you a taste of the town, including an evening taco adventure as well as a chance to mix your own cocktails. The tour will also give you a chance to explore Puerto Vallarta’s historic, gourmet neighborhoods.

Boutique Hotels Committed to Sustainability

A hotel experience is part of the destination, and this coastal city has several gems to choose from, with a growing crop of boutique lodging options as a sign of commitment to sustainability. One such gem is the Casa Kimberly which is perched on

the hills of the Conchas Chinas, and was the home of Elizabeth Taylor. If you’re into eco properties, try the Nemi Eco Villa, the city’s first eco luxury property designed by Max Living and Design, and tiered on four levels along a lush hillside. What is truly eco about it is that it was constructed with repurposed, locally-sourced or sustainable materials (think: shipping containers, wood crates, pallet wood) with all the six bedrooms running on solar power and natural swimming pools that are chlorine-free. For the romantics, give Villa Premiere a whirl, with its tones of tropical wood, white and coral accents that blend outdoor hues with the indoors. There are many affordable nonstop flights to this beautiful city, from airlines including Aeromexico, Delta and United. So come, take a look at the new face of Puerto Vallarta…you’ll be glad you did.


CRUISES

Princesses! Reserve a ticket to be sure your young fan of royalty meets them all.

creator George Lucas proud. My kids can sit in the cockpit and fly through hyperspace while a life-size R2-D2 looks on. My husband is so impressed, he tells me he kind of wishes he could stay in the kids’ club with them. And that’s before he hears that a Jedi master will be dropping by to teach the kids lightsaber moves. I get him out of there by reminding him about the adults-only pools we should check out while the kids are engrossed in intergalactic travel. There are two; we opt for the brand-new Satellite Falls on the top deck, complete with a curtain of gentle rain that blocks the noise from the family pools nearby. We lie on cushioned lounge chairs beneath a shady canopy. I close my eyes. Mickey is my personal hero. Disney cruises have a reputation for being different from other cruises. On this 1,250-room ship, the passenger-to-crew ratio is roughly 3 to 1 — and

We make sandcastles as crew members offer piña coladas. It is the Bahamas. It is Disney. It is near perfect.

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Disney keeps the crew happy. Not only are workers paid well, the staff gets complimentary tickets to Disney theme parks; there’s a crew-only beach on Castaway Cay and they even have their own bar on the ship. It all translates into remarkable service, as it should — Disney cruises are considerably pricier than most of their competitors, about 70 percent more. And worth every penny, if you ask me. Perusing the cruise’s “Personal Navigator” newsletter (choose a paper or online version) with the day’s activities, I’m astonished by the options. First-run films play all day in the Buena Vista Theatre, while live original productions are performed in the Walt Disney Theatre at night. Sixteen characters from princesses including Cinderella and Elsa to Pluto make 30 scheduled appearances all over the ship. From 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., the AquaDuck, the world’s first shipboard “water coaster,” takes passengers on a fast and wet 765-foot ride. There’s so much to do onboard, and we have three full days to fit it all in. But we still disembark at Castaway Cay, because, come on, it’s Disney’s private island. Once known as Gorda Cay, it’s a 1,000-acre oasis in the Atlantic Ocean that Disney purchased from the Bahamian government in 1996. If you like

KENT PHILLIPS; TODD ANDERSON; THINKSTOCK

While young passengers play in the Star Wars: Millennium Falcon area on the Disney Dream, parents can relax near the Quiet Cove Pool.


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CRUISES

TRIP TIPS u Prepare to disconnect. During your cruise, cellphone service is nearly nonexistent and Wi-Fi is slow and pricey. Prepare your boss or nosy relatives, and plan to sign off.

movies, you’ve probably seen it before: It’s home to the beach where Tom Hanks meets Daryl Hannah in the mermaid movie Splash, and part of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was filmed there as well. Nowadays, it’s the spot where Disney does what Disney does best: make you feel like you’re in a magic kingdom. The waters are shades of aquamarine and turquoise and the sand is blazing white. The stingrays in the snorkeling area are trimmed of their barbs (it’s just like cutting fingernails); a sunken statue of Minnie Mouse attracts colorful fish. We swim to a floating platform and race down waterslides; we make sandcastles as crew members stop by to offer piña coladas. It is the Bahamas. It is Disney. It is pretty darn-near perfect. We return to the ship, and our cruise continues. And far sooner than I expected, our four nights are over. My 6-year-old is crying; she doesn’t want to leave. She’s convinced if she pleads hard enough, we’ll just stay onboard. My son seems a bit more stable, so as I pack our bags, I ask him to tell me his favorite part of the trip. “That’s easy,” he says, his lips curving into a smile, his sun-kissed cheeks pink. “The child care!” Well-played, Mickey. Well-played.

142 GO ESCAPE | WINTER 2017

u Plan for princesses. Seriously. Apparently, if you want your princess-obsessed 6-year-old daughter to meet them all once you’re on the ship, you need to reserve a ticket on the first day of your cruise. And oops, if you don’t, make sure to avoid the lobby atrium when they’re taking pictures. u Splurge on fine dining. Send the kids to the Oceaneer Club (they probably want to be there anyway), and enjoy a grownups-only dinner at Palo or Remy, Disney Dream’s two specialty restaurants.

MATT STROSHANE; DISNEY; MATT STROSHANE.: THINKSTOCK

From swimming and sunning to touching live stingrays to leisurely bike rides, Disney’s Castaway Cay has everything families need to make memories.

u Bring bottled water. Don’t feel like buying overpriced bottled water? Pack your own. You can include a case of water with your checked luggage; place a Disneyprovided luggage sticker on it.


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ONE FOR THE ROAD

History Matters New museum brings to life the rich, complex past of African Americans

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1 | A dress made by civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks in 1955 or 1956; she took her seat at the front of a Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955. 2 | Handmade tin box containing freedom papers that prove that Joseph Trammell was not a slave, circa 1852. 3 | Protective boxing head gear worn by Muhammad Ali around 1973. 4 | The personal hymnal of former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman, 1876. 5 | Stone auction block from which slaves were sold in Hagerstown, Md., early 19th century.

COLLECTION OF THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE

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f the thousands of artifacts on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, none gives Mary Elliott the chills like the shackles that were used on children transported on slave ships from Africa, or the whip used to keep slaves in line. “The thought of someone gearing up to whip someone with that — that will never leave my mind,” says Elliott, a curator at the new Smithsonian museum. The museum has collected more than 37,000 artifacts and other items. More than Entry to the 3,000 are on display at museum is Washington’s newest free, but timed tourist attraction, passes are which showcases the required. The African-American museum is experience from before open 364 days. slavery to the present. 1400 ConstituThousands of people tion Ave. NW; have already taken 844-750-3012; emotional tours of nmaahc.si.edu the museum since it opened in September. “This is a shared history. This is an important history,’’ says Elliott. “It’s an American story, but it’s told through the African-American lens. But even with that, it’s a human story.’’ Visitors to the 400,000-square-foot museum will see exhibits and artifacts from abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s hymnal to the boxing head gear used by Muhammad Ali and a tower from Louisiana’s Angola prison. “The biggest challenge,” Elliott says, “(was) really just preparing for the crowds. The enthusiasm has been overwhelming.” — Deborah Barfield Berry

3


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