Though I haven’t seen any solid poll numbers, I’d wager that the vast majority of New Yorkers have never been to Roosevelt Island. Let alone the vast majority of tourists visiting the city. This spit of land, snugly situated in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, is probably best known as the backdrop of a climactic battle in the first Spider-Man movie, with the webbed wonder striving to rescue commuters trapped in the Roosevelt Island tram (Spidey and the Green Goblin also do battle in the island’s abandoned smallpox hospital).
But those who don’t live on the island (or don’t travel to play tennis on the nice indoor courts there) will soon have a very good reason to make the trek. Plans are moving ahead to build Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on the island’s southern tip (currently off-limits to the public), adding a dramatic new public space to the city.
If you ask any of my closest friends, they'll tell you that, while I may be a spontaneous, even adventurous, person, I'm not much of an extreme thrill seeker. You won't catch me on any of the frightening rides we reported on last summer. Think you can convince me to jump out of a plane? Not a chance. And tethering myself to a bridge and hurtling myself off? You can't be serious.
That being said, I'm a little shocked by my intense fascination with a certain natural attraction: "The Devil's Pool" in Zambia. You can't even begin to fathom the magnitude of scariness/awesomeness that comes from this naturally formed pool of water. Enter YouTube:
If you happen to be in Aspen, Whistler, or Mammoth Lakes this winter, you may notice some well-dressed skiers around. For a week during the season in each of these ski towns, thousands of gay (and gay-friendly) skiers will converge for camaraderie, fabulous après-ski, and even the occasional drag show on the slopes (you know who you are, Aspen). It’s a little early to be thinking about skiing, but interested parties should book now—space goes faster than front-row Cher tickets.
Aspen Gay Ski Week For 33 years, gays and lesbians have been heading to Aspen for this event. Highlights: an opening party, complete with a fashion show, a film series, comedy night, drag show on the slopes. Oh, and world-class skiing and snowboarding. January 17-24, 2010
Winter Pride in Whistler, British Columbia Come here for the Winter Olympics, stay for the gays. The 18-year-old event immediately follows the Olympics and attracts almost 3,000 visitors every year. Guests have access to free ski and snowboarding guides, cooking and yoga classes, as well as martini mixers, and—of course—huge dance parties. March 1-8, 2010
Elevation Mammoth in Mammoth, California A large L.A. contingent has headed here since 2003 for a low-key week at a very high elevation (over 11,000 feet). The event’s mission statement sums it up: “2,000 riders. 7 major parties. 0 attitude.” March 17-21, 2010
Clark Mitchell is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.
We globetrotters (and footwear lovers) know one of the great packing challenges is trying to squeeze that last pair of shoes—the sneakers—into a full suitcase next to the three pairs of heels we swear we can’t leave behind.
Fairmont is stepping up to the challenge, having acquired more than 5,000 pairs of sneakers across all 56 hotels from Boston to Bermuda, as part of its increasingly popular "Fairmont Fit" program.
If you didn’t get your national park fix this summer—and live in, or are planning to visit NYC soon—worry not; the parks are coming to you. Thanks to the National Parks Conservation Association and PBS, the week of September 19—27 is now devoted to celebrating these wild tracts of land with a series of (mostly free) events throughout the city. Here, five of the week’s highlights:
Zion National Park in Southern Utah, is a spectacular place to hike. If you are considering a vacation there, and being completely immersed in the quiet, scrubby, gold and green desert with otherworldly red rock domes towering above sounds appealing, I recommend renting Los Gatos Cabin (below).
Some of the best views of New York City are from the water. The Staten Island Ferry is the time-honored cheap method of getting out on the waves, and it’s worth the ride at least once—but you’re on a big, loud boat that, um, ends up at Staten Island. A more sublime experience is had onboard a sailboat, using nothing but the harbor wind for power. If you don’t happen to have your own schooner, that’s where the Shearwater comes in.
You’d have to be dead inside not to love Maine, with its breathtaking landscapes, fresh sea air, and honest food. While I was there last week, I ate my weight in lobster and fried clams and tried to get in as much hiking as possible to balance that out. Here are a few pointers for best spots to hit.
On the drive in, stop at Lunt’s Lobster Pound (1137 Bar Harbor Rd., Trenton; 207/667-2620; lunch for two $40) for lobsters and a delicious, not-too-thick chowder.