Savannah is one of those mysterious places that I imagined coming to life in the dusty pages of antiquarian books. Other than what I saw in Clint Eastwood’s colorful depiction of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and some Civil War trivia, I didn’t know much about it. So when the opportunity arose to check out a new music festival, Savannah Stopover, I jumped at the chance to experience the Southern legend firsthand.
We’re wrapping up our May food issue here at Travel + Leisure, and the delectable stories we’ve dished up (don’t read this one on an empty stomach, you just may eat the pictures) simply reaffirmed to me how vital a component dining is to a memorable travel experience. I, for one, explore a locale with both my eyes and my stomach. So, intrepid gastronaut that I am, on my first trip to Vancouver recently I saw all the sights (don’t miss the random Jimi Hendrix shrine tucked into the outskirts of Chinatown, or, if you have children, the wonderful Kids Market on Granville Island) while still squeezing in meals that ran the gamut from high-end to hole-in-the-wall, each worth writing home about. So let’s pretend you all are “home,” and here goes my paean.
As a professed snow snob I scoffed when a group of friends recently proposed a ski weekend in Killington, Vermont. It’s hard to get excited about mountains that look more like the hills I used to sled down as a kid in Salt Lake City than the exhilarating, death-defying declines that tattoo the Rocky Mountains. When you grow up within an hour of seven world-class ski resorts you tend to develop a cavalier attitude about the prospects of cleaving down a worn, icy tilt and paying good money for it. So I opted to head for this quaint northeastern burg sans my snowboard. Half the fun of a ski vacation anyway is exploring the town, enjoying the fresh air, eating at great restaurants, and plunging into the après ski scene.
It’s either unchecked hedonism or outright denial that led me to New York’s Fire Island the weekend after summer’s unofficial demise. While most vacationers packed up their share-houses and kissed farewell to the spit of sand off Long Island’s south coast over Labor Day, I was still dreaming of bike rides, summer ales, and one last coat of sun. It doesn’t hurt that hotel prices fall off a cliff once beachgoers pack up their white (I paid $225 per night at Clegg's Hotel, while rates during summer’s apex can be double that). So I found myself at the Island Mermaid pulling on a straw filled with its signature Rocket Fuel (a dark rum piña colada with a Cruzan 151 “sinker” at the bottom and a pond of Amaretto floating on top) and stretching summer out as long as possible before the looming cold throws its death grip around New York City. I wasn’t ready for fall, not yet.
Okay okay, I ate at the Black Pearl Restaurant...again. You can stamp “tourist” onto my forehead, but their New England clam chowder is too amazing to pass up. I stumbled out satisfied and wandered into the colorful gallery/art studio, Art on the Wharf. Perhaps it was this tourist-guilt that compelled me to ask artist-owner, Tony Gill (pictured below), for some locals’ suggestions, but it was well worth the inquiry. He had heard the question before and quickly handed me a sheet of paper titled “Tony’s Best Bets.” I now had my work cut out for me.
Am I really the last person to "discover" Minneapolis? Until recently, I probably knew more about the religious capital of Kandy, in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, than I knew about Minneapolis. Turns out that this bike-friendly metropolis has a lot to offer visitors beyond Grain Belt Beer, long winters, and Mary Tyler Moore reruns. Here are just a few of the activities I tried during my recent visit.
If you follow the dusty, pebble-scattered dirt road to Playa Langosta from Tamarindo on Costa Rica’s dense Pacific coast, you’ll observe a small stop sign jutting from tropical foliage, demanding you to halt—for tacos. The sign serves equal parts recommendation and warning, as it’s the last place to catch a bite before Tamarindo’s ubiquitous eateries give way to Langosta’s private beach estates.
I recently returned from a low-key weekend excursion to nearby Philadelphia—a city near and dear to me, as the site of my first on-my-own apartment—to visit friends. Since I somehow managed to let nearly a year lapse between visits, I had the urge to wander around my first morning. My friend/host Rob and I (with his short-haired lhasa apso, Rufus, in tow), strayed from his Rittenhouse Square abode east into Center City, where we stumbled upon Garces Trading Company.
Tough times for tourism? Not in Cartagena de Indias. I recently returned from a long weekend in Colombia (currently a "recession-proof country," according to several economic analysts), and while global markets may be floundering and travel numbers down, this sultry Caribbean city is booming with a wave of new boutique hotels, innovative eateries, and ample old-school watering holes. Here's the scoop:
At least a half a dozen gorgeous properties have recently opened downtown (plug: don’t miss T+L’s It List of Best New Hotels in June!). I settled into the 24-suite Anandá Hotel Boutique (pictured below), a quiet retreat in a restored Spanish-colonial building with carved-wood balconies and three breezy roof terraces. The cool, Zen-like calm is a world apart from the bustling street scene just outside its massive wooden doors.
The last time I saw Breckenridge, Colorado, was about 16 years ago through the rear window of my family’s oversized dirt-spattered truck. I didn’t know then how much time would pass before I returned, and for years I treasured my cache of childhood memories: leaping off our porch into a mammoth pile of soft snow; fishing in the stream that ran through our backyard; hiking wildflower-strewn trails that led to abandoned—and in my young mind, mysterious—19th-century cabins. My family moved around a bit afterwards, but for years, Breckenridge set the bar and no place could compete.
Sure, we settled by the ocean, but with a child’s obstinance, I deemed myself a "mountain person." Even later, as I explored new and exciting foreign cities, there remained something untouchable about the small mining town. Of course, as I grew older, I came to understand that a pair of rose-colored glasses had settled firmly on my nose, a realization reinforced by the way Breckenridge was discussed by others in conversation: as a ski resort, and little more. I wanted to explain how beautiful and pure it was there, but held my tongue, thinking that I sounded a bit silly.