Most people know Scranton, Pennsylvania, as the fictional setting of NBC’s “The Office.” Turns out the “Electric City” is also the real life-setting of one of the most charming little spas in the state: LAVISH Body and Home (600 Lindsen St.; 570/558-2273), founded by Matt Drace (a former Creative Director at Travel + Leisure) and Jon Chernes, one-time marketing guru for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Given their impressive design resumes, it’s no surprise that their home goods section is well edited, but the spa itself is a huge draw. Clients love the organic facials—each one is tailored to your specific skin type and uses everything from cucumber to rice bran to draw out impurities—but personally, I love the soaps, made in Northern California of locally sourced herbs (my favorite: orange cinnamon with olive, which smells a bit like Florida at the holidays).
Kathryn O'Shea-Evans is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure.
Two venerable French institutions are pulling back the curtains to reveal the craftsmanship behind their stylish goods. L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels(from $750) offers four-hour classes on jewelry history and design in a gilded 18th-century atelier on Paris’s Place Vendôme. Students can try on a few sparklers, too. Stateside, Hermès is hosting the Festival des Metiers, a traveling exhibition making stops in New York, San Francisco, and Houston this fall. Visitors can interact with artisans sewing supple leather into Kelly bags using techniques first developed in the 1930’s. Sadly, you don’t get extra credit for shopping.
Once considered Nowheresville, the Portland’s West End is now a cool stopover.
Clyde Common: In this industrial restaurant beneath the Ace Hotel Portland (the undisputed heart of the neighborhood), almost everything is sourced from within a 100-mile radius, from the nettles in the cavatelli to the bacon, house-smoked over applewood. $$
Tanner Goods(pictured): Pick your preferred shade of English bridle leather and fittings (from brass to stainless steel)—and in just 10 minutes, you’ll walk out with a custom-made belt. 1308 W. Burnside St.
Dust off your hiking boots—Wales recently introduced an 870-mile walking path that winds along its salty coasts, from Chester to Chepstow. Along the way, you’ll see Flint Castle (built by King Edward I and surrounded by Dee Estuary), waterfalls (near Dyserth), and towering coniferforests that jut into the sea. Personally, I'm dying to get to St. Cwyfan’s Church, built on a tiny island in the 12th century and only accessible at low tide; the Boathouse at Laugharne (where Dylan Thomas spent the last four years of his life); and Cardigan Bay, known for the UK’s largest population of bottlenose dolphins. The most exciting part? Knowing I’ll get there on my own two feet.
Jonathan Kidder, puppeteer “I love L.A. The people who call it shallow have probably never been to my neighborhood, Silver Lake. Stop by Berlin Currywurst (3827 W. Sunset Blvd.; 323/663-1989) for the best sausage ever, served with wide Fritten, or fries.”
Malia Grace Mau, jewelry designer; Jeffrey Vincent Parise, actor and painter (pictured) Mau: “We’re regulars at Cru(1521 Griffith Park Blvd.; 323/667-1551), a BYOB vegan restaurant in Silver Lake where we had our first date.” Parise: “Waiters in this town are very plugged-in; be sure to ask yours for local entertainment tips.”
Keri Pegram, physical therapist “The Abbot Kinney area used to be equal amounts hippie and yuppie, but now it’s very chic. Grab a cup of salted-caramel gelato at N’ice Cream(1410 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/396-7161) and hit Venice Beach.”
Spencer Aaronson, “professional enigma”; Mijo, pit bull “It’s no small feat driving to East L.A., but any distance is worth it for Teresitas Restaurant(3826 E. First St.; 323/266-6045), a Mexican spot near Boyle Heights. Get the costillas de puerco en chile negro (only available on Wednesdays).”
David Einsiedler, shop owner, and his dog Laban “I own a vintage furniture store called Ply, so I’m a bit design-obsessed. Tide is a small, beautiful café lined with driftwood from the North Sea; I also go to the modern Klippkroog for regional food like Rollbraten (rolled roast).”
Nadira Nasser, costume designer “Speicherstadt, the old warehouse district, is filled with museums now. At Miniatur Wunderland, the ‘chocolate factory’ exhibit actually produces a tiny piece of Swiss chocolate for you while you wait.”
Andrea Schneider (pictured), book cover designer “HafenCity is the next great neighborhood, with many new buildings, including the concert hall Elbphilharmonie, scheduled to open in 2014. It’s right on the river Elbe; I like to watch the container ships coming in and out.”
Kevin Reschka, operations manager of an automotive company “Sometimes after basketball we go to 3 Freunde for their inventive cocktails. My favorite is the Filmriss Deluxe, with vodka, vanilla liqueur, sparkling wine, passion fruit, and lime.”
The takeaway? Despite recent events, seafaring travelers have little reason to worry. According to Michael Crye, Executive Vice President of CLIA, between 2005 and 2011 the industry carried 100 million passengers, with 16 fatal maritime casualties. While 16 is far too many, in this less-than-perfect world that number is astoundingly low. The percentage of risk is minimal: broken down, the number implies a one in 6,250,000 chance of passenger casualty per year (that’s far less than the odds of getting struck by lightning in any given year, according to the National Weather Service).
Still, the International Maritime Organization (an arm of the United Nations with 170 member countries) is reviewing all safety practices immediately. A few items up for consideration:
When my best friend Rachel came to visit recently, I decided to treat us to a one-night staycation (and give her a brief respite from sleeping on my couch). But where to go? New York City is a trove of hotels raring to roll out the red carpet for a glorified pajama party. Eventually I settled on midtown’s iconic New York Palace (once the mansion of a 19th-century railroad baron, it’s now a member of the Dorchester Collection, topped with a skyscraping tower, and remarkably luxe).