Richard Phibbs Nancy Novogrod
| Credit: Richard Phibbs

It looks like this will be America’s summer. I say “looks” because I am writing these words in mid-May as my editors and I close Travel+Leisure’s July issue, unable to predict newspaper headlines, surveys, or charts. Among the indicators I rely on: the impressive number of proposals from T+L’s globe-trotting contributors, who are setting their sights on U.S. destinations; the downward spiral of the dollar, which has edged even affordable European summer destinations off the map (at the five-star level, the euro/dollar exchange rate has also produced a new caution); and last but by no means least, election-year jitters, which introduce another looming question mark about the economy, as well as our country’s future. But staying closer to home is no fallback plan, especially when you consider how many entertaining new experiences there are to be had. Our guide, 50 Reasons to Love the U.S.A. Now, provides a cross-country itinerary of pleasures, from a cruise on a 36-passenger ship that can navigate Alaska’s lesser-known waters to a stay at a newly renovated inn with a top-notch restaurant overlooking Maine’s Penobscot Bay.

Admittedly, New Jersey may not be the first state that comes to mind for an American summer vacation, but think again. Those freewheeling brothers, T+L contributing editors Matt Lee and Ted Lee, treat themselves to Creamsicles from the Good Humor ice cream truck at Brant Beach, sample local oysters on the half shell in Cape May, and indulge in a “knockout” tuna sub (slathered with hot-pepper relish) at the White House Sub Shop in Atlantic City (Unpected New Jersey). Contributing editor Michael Z. Wise takes the measure of another beachside destination, Tel Aviv (Tel Aviv Modern). Israel’s cultural, financial, and media worlds meet in this thriving, modern metropolis, where the Mideast crisis is much debated, but does not set the tone. Contributing editor Gary Shteyngart joins the scene in Bangkok after dark and uncovers an array of distractions, from the Tapas Room Club to the Bed Supper Club, along with hot temperatures and hot food (Bangkok Nights). In special correspondent Christopher Petkanas’s Exploring Hidden French Islands, we visit four distinctive and largely untouristed destinations off the country’s Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, which offer authentic and flavorful experiences of French culture.

As for my own plans for July: you’ll find me walking, hiking, or kayaking near my family’s weekend escape in northwestern Connecticut, or in T+L’s offices on Avenue of the Americas in New York, dreaming (in spare moments) about where I want to go next.