Category: United States

Tulips and daffodils, cherry blossoms and birds galore, the charmingly decrepit Central Park of my youth is now ancient history, as I learned on a recent trip. Defunct buildings are now sparkling hotspots like the Boathouse, refashioned and refurbished as a posh eatery with 19th-century Parisian charm.

Civilized cafes have sprouted up and scary bathrooms are well lit and clean, even the carousel seems perkier. Just a few years ago I took my kids on it, and an ex-con type was running the controls. The merry-go-round went so fast I feared my toddler son would fly off. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Birdwatching, Manhattan, New York, Urban Parks, wildlife

There is a lot of competition for getting on “the best beach” lists. I have my own list, but if you want to mix a perfect beach, and nearby amenities, it’s hard to beat Kailua on Oahu, in Hawaii.

Even in season, Kailua is pretty deserted during the week. During the weekends locals descend on it, but otherwise, the long crescent beach is almost empty. It has astounding views at every step; there are ancient craters and an endless horizon to watch, with an occasional whale pod to discover if you stare long enough during the winter season.

What I like about Kailua is the absence of high-rises. This ultra exclusive beach area has no resorts or monolithic condominiums — just houses, some of which are mind-bogglingly expensive, others, more modest — but still more expensive than most of us can even imagine affording. Still, the whole feel of the place is casual. This is not a particularly showy stretch of houses and most are not hidden behind forbidding walls. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Hawaii, North America, Romance, Travel, United States

The first time a friend suggested a trip to Sea Ranch, I had visions of seahorse cowboys and underwater rodeos. I soon discovered it to be anything but a SpongeBob SquarePants circus. It proved to be one of the most restful places I’ve ever been.

100 miles north of San Francisco, the drive takes a good three hours if you take time to gawk at the Oscar winning coastline. We often stop in Bodega Bay for a fish and chips or clam chowder lunch to break up the drive. This time, my seven-year-old discovered he gets carsick, and if you are prone to motion sickness this drive will surely bring it on.

Sea Ranch was a pioneering eco-community begun in the late ’60s and early ’70s. The connection between the landscape and the architecture is beautiful and certainly contributes to the serenity of the place. I dislike gated communities or housing developments in general, but this place really has captured the benefits of a uniform style with strong community ethos. The sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate wood-frame structures were inspired by the local ranches and are designed to cope with the weather and integrate well with the topography. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Books, Driving Trips, Eco Friendly Travel, Family Travel, Food, Hike/Backpack, Mountain Biking, Northern California, Spa/ Resort, Yoga, wildlife

Santa Fe is romantic. Even when it’s so cold you wonder whatever possessed you to go in the winter.

A friend and I went to scout it out for a winter romantic getaway, and even though we worried about hypothermia a few times, my guy will benefit from this reconnaissance.

If you go to Santa Fe in winter, you own it. Imagine being alone in the picturesque square, alone chatting up the salespeople, and able to drop into even the most popular restaurants on a whim. With the touristy crowds gone, we could enjoy a spontaneous day — and get the best of everything. Continue reading »

2 Comments | Filed Under New Mexico, Romance, Santa Fe, Travel, United States

Part treasure hunt, part spy novel, a New Yorker who went for a cross-country ski in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park after the recent snowfall is trying to find the owners of a roll of film he found lying in the snow. Developed, the black and white film shows young men evidently on vacation in New York taking arty photographs, not just snapshots, of Central Park, street scenes, Coney Island, the Brooklyn Bridge.

Todd Bieber, the man who found the film, tells a story in his YouTube video of a woman who pushed $26 into his hand that she’d found on the street, saying she felt awkward keeping it and insisted he do something nice for himself with it. He said he’d do something good rather than spend it on himself, and now it’s gone to the film processing and his online efforts to find the owners.

Who knows, as he says on YouTube, maybe they’ll see his video and they’ll become friends. Or not. But the story is going viral and it’s only a matter of time before the men who lost the pictures see themselves caught in black and white in frozen New York in their own film on Todd Bieber’s video. And then maybe the mystery will be solved.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Brooklyn, Manhattan, New York, Travel, United States

With arctic temperatures in London, and Paris brought to its knees by snow, New York City is looking like a good bet for Christmas this year. Ice skating in Rockefeller Center, the Fifth Avenue store windows, the Radio City Christmas Show or a ride around Central Park in a horse and carriage all rank high on the New York holiday must do list. If you add in a few snowflakes, the dream comes to life.

But for locals and people in the know, the way hipper attraction is far out in the bowels of Brooklyn. Dyker Heights draws more than 100,000 visitors each holiday season to ogle the over-the-top home decorations. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Brooklyn, Budget Travel, Driving Trips, Family Travel, New York, Nightlife, Winter Fun

Ski season in the West is really cranking up with another big storm that dumped eight feet of snow on Lake Tahoe and other parts of the Sierra Nevada. Turns out it’s the snowiest November in a decade, with all the major resorts opening for Thanksgiving with top-to-bottom runs operating.

Big Sky in Montana has twice its usual snowpack for Thanksgiving’s opening day and is launching a twin zipline as well so you can zoom 1500 feet alongside your sweetheart or best buddy.

And if you’ve made your way to Yosemite National Park, the Curry Village Ice Rink opens on Thanksgiving as well.

There are so many choices but one thing’s for sure: winter is here.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under California, Lake Tahoe, Montana, Northern California, Skiing, Travel, United States, Winter Fun

This morning as I read my New York Times, I noticed a full page ad for a Harry Potter contest to coincide with the release of the latest film in the series.  My sons are such big fans and it seemed like a fun exercise to have them enter.

Getting sucked into a series of books can be a marvelous experience. You become so invested, almost intimate with the characters. Much to my surprise, I am completely taken by Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and have been burning the midnight oil as I gallop through the three books. I keep putting the reins on my reading because I don’t want it to end.

This summer, on a trip to the Pacific Northwest’s Olympic Peninsula, I insisted we take a 50-mile detour to visit Forks, Washington, home of the Twilight saga. Twilight is a series of four vampire, teen romance novels by Stephenie Meyer. It follows a teenage girl, named Bella, who moves to Forks, Washington and falls in love with a 104-year-old vampire named Edward Cullen.
Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Books, Culture, Europe, Family Travel, Feature, Films, Museums, National Parks, Olympic Peninsula, Pacific Northwest, Romance, Washington

Lake Tahoe reported a foot of snow the other day. Two weeks ago I got word that almost four feet had dropped on Jackson Hole. A few days ago a little farther north, Big Sky Montana got a foot, with more falling and a lot more on the way.

It must be ski season.

A few years ago I went to Yellowstone in winter to see wildlife, cross-country ski to Old Faithful, ride the snow coach, and tool around on a snowmobile in the national forests outside the national park. On the way down from Bozeman we drove right past Big Sky and I made a mental note to come back and check it out. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Jackson Hole, Montana, North America, Skiing, Travel, United States, Winter Fun, Yellowstone National Park, wildlife

I was recently in St. Louis and was pleasantly surprised about how spiffed up it has become. I attended Washington University there in the ’60s, and pretty much confined myself to its lovely campus. St. Louis itself was considered unwelcoming to us undergraduates.

No longer. Forest Park, the green spine that connects Washington University and the suburbs to the downtown area, has been beautifully reclaimed and in a space 60 percent bigger than New York’s Central Park, visitors and citizens can jog and bike along groomed trails and boat in large waterways.

One excellent excursion is to bike up to the famous Gateway Arch that was built to celebrate St. Louis’s colorful past as the provisioning place for western expansion. The arch, designed by renowned architect Enno Saarinen, is awesome. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Missouri, North America, Restaurants, Romance, St. Louis, Travel