Each year, the Newport Mansions put on a festive celebration to usher in the holiday season. Christmas trees and lavish decorations festoon the mansions, once homes to prominent families of Newport, Rhode Island. You’ll find Nutcracker performances, dinner parties, and music events that lead right up to New Year’s Eve.
Through the holiday season, four mansions are open daily to visitors: The Breakers, Rosecliff, The Elms, and Marble House. Each was once a private residence for the well-to-do, including famous families like the Vanderbilts, who retreated to the mansions’ grandeur along the cool shores of Rhode Island for summer months. Read more
Bethel, Maine is a charming New England town we visit each year to meet friends who ski in the area. The quaint mountain village lies between some of the highest mountains in Maine. Winter in Bethel Maine offers ample opportunity for outdoor sports, including alpine skiing and snowboarding, Nordic and cross-country skiing, snowmobile trails, snowshoeing, and more.
Sunday River and Mount Abram, both in nearby Newry, Maine, are the primary attractions for our friends, who rent a place at the Sunday River Ski Resort; the guys jet right out their condo to the slopes, returning by night to one of the cozy ski lodges within the resort. We go not to ski, but because winter in Bethel Maine is particularly beautiful. Read more
In the heart of downtown Los Angeles, I discovered a reservoir of quietude. It’s a peaceful refuge for Creatives and others longing to escape from the city’s frenzied pace, if only for a moment. I joined the dreamers and writers, book lovers and music enthusiasts, artists and eclectics, and curious travelers who passed through the oversized door on 5th Street. This oasis was The Last Book Store. Turns out, it’s California’s largest used and new book and record store. It’s also one of the largest independent bookstores in the world.
In a tranquil Cape Cod neighborhood steps from the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find a casual beach resort with comforts of home. Here, a footpath perfumed by beach roses and gentle seagrass invites you to a private beach. Adirondack and lounge chairs wait beside the fixings for a campfire on the beach. You’ll take in panoramic views of Nantucket Sound and Monomoy National Wildlife Preserve. Sound good? Welcome to Chatham Tides where I spent a restorative waterfront weekend in Chatham, Massachusetts.
Along with Brewster and Harwich, Chatham is part of the “Lower Cape.” Cape Cod is shaped a bit like an arm and Chatham Tides is near the “elbow.” Located off Route 124 in a residential neighborhood between downtown Chatham and Harwich Port, Chatham Tides offers beachfront and waterview guest rooms, suites, and townhouses.
I had the pleasure of staying in a two-bedroom suite at Chatham Tides Inn. Room #7 above the reception office proved to be my second story Cape Cod getaway.
This waterfront weekend in Chatham gave me an opportunity to explore the southeastern tip of Cape Cod and meet up with girlfriends (we call ourselves “The Bunco Babes”) at a family cottage in Harwich Port; I seized the opportunity to combine work and pleasure. Read more
After exploring the Tuscan hill town of Fiesole on foot then catching the best sunset over Florence, my friend Mary and I had worked up an appetite. We headed back down Via San Francesco in search of Tuscan comfort food in Fiesole.
We first came upon an Irish pub. Like many restaurants in Italy, J.J. Hill closed between 4:00 and 7:30 pm. We peered in to find what you would expect of a cozy Irish pub: dark woodwork, draught beer at the polished bar, Irish artifacts. While a juicy pub burger and a cold drink sounded good, we decided against it given the authentic Tuscan cuisine that surrounded us.
Next, we considered two restaurants along the same block: Blu Bar and Ristorante Villa Aurora. Both offered garden seating with panoramic views of the Tuscan valley below. Neither piqued our interest. We declined the hostess’ invitation to wait upon the formal divans of the Hotel Villa Aurora. We’d already caught a spectacular sunset and felt underdressed for elegant dining.
Then, beneath the glowing bell tower of San Romolo, we spotted Il Fiesolano Ristorante. Here, we discovered the quintessential Tuscan comfort food in Fiesole. Read more
Nestled in the gentle curve between two mountains high above Florence, Italy, you’ll find Fiesole. Favored by aristocrats and wealthy Florentines for its summer breezes and stunning views, it lies across the Arno River and less than thirty minutes northeast of Florence. I think it’s the best place to see the sunset over Florence.
The ancient Tuscan hill town with Etruscan-Roman beginnings offers opportunities to explore the remains of Roman baths, a Roman amphitheater, and the grassy hill on which Leonardo da Vinci experimented with flight. For centuries, this picturesque village has inspired great literature and renaissance art.
Fiesole was a serendipitous break from Florence’s bustling city landscape for me and my friend Mary, both itinerant shutter-bugs. We found it to be an ideal place to explore while capturing a beautiful sunset over Florence. Read more
My daughter, Alison, showed me around L.A. while I visited for her college graduation. Following our excursion to The Last Book Store, we checked out one of the best views of downtown Los Angeles at The OUE Skyspace Los Angeles. It was the perfect pinnacle from which to get a bird’s-eye view of Los Angeles’ expansive cityscape.
OUE Skyspace Los Angeles is on the 69th and 70th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower at 633 W 5th Street, Los Angeles. The attraction features two observation decks, a Skyslide, an interactive Media level, and a rooftop bar with light fare. It also includes a Gift Shop and Cafe on the first floor.
Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE), a Singapore-based hotel and property company, purchased The U.S. Bank Tower in 2013. At the time it was the tallest skyscraper in the West at 1,018 feet. (The Wilshire Grand Tower claimed the title in 2017 at 1,100 feet.) The new owners revitalized the U.S. Bank Tower and made many improvements, including OUE Skyspace Los Angeles, which opened in 2016.
A look up from the foot of the tower gives a sense of how high above the world the observation decks are! OUE Skyspace Los Angeles offers one of the best views of downtown Los Angeles. The unobstructed, panoramic view is California’s tallest open-air observation deck. Read more
It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning an international voyage or a trip to the beach community by the coast. Knowing when to go can make all the difference in a successful trip. You might be surprised by the benefits of shoulder season travel.
Understanding the Travel Seasons
The travel year is effectively broken into three seasons to visit a destination: peak season, low season, and shoulder season.
How do you pick the best travel tools for trip planning when there a sea of options online? It’s a bit of a crap shoot, in my opinion. I have spent hours comparing one flight deal to another, sizing up hotel accommodations, and looking for the best tours on the cheap.
I enjoy orchestrating my own unique travel experiences. That might mean arriving in a favorite city, renting a car to check out some of the lesser known areas, spending a night in an agriturismo or room at a bed-and-breakfast, taking the rail to another city, and a mix of guided and self-directed tours. The more varied, the more interesting, I say!
I will admit, it is a bit overwhelming at times. Read more