Friday, August 26, 2016
Friday, August 26, 2016
Guest Post by Kelli Hollingsworth
Your romantic getaway to wine country isn’t complete without a comfortable place to stay, top-tier cuisine, and laid-back entertainment. Stay at the property I recommend to family and friends, Solage Calistoga, which offers guests spacious suites, a sybaritic spa, geothermal bathhouse, and two complimentary bikes per room. With a Michelin-starred restaurant and bar on site, a trailhead nearby, and fabulous wineries just down the road, this resort is perfectly situated to savor the region. Nearby is Castello di Amorosa Winery where you can sample exclusive reserve wines paired with tasty appetizers and local cheeses. Unfortunately, you missed the last Calistoga Concerts in the Park, which is held from the end of June to the end of August. But if you visit next summer, be sure to spend your Thursday evenings at these free concerts, enjoying a boxed meal from a local restaurant, while sipping on wine from the featured winery of the week. When the hustle and bustle of everyday life leaves you feeling run down, there’s nowhere better to replenish the well than a getaway to gorgeous Napa Valley. Hope to see you soon!
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Less than a 2-hour drive from New York City is Sullivan County, the western region of the Catskills. Once the heart of the Borscht Belt, where resorts like Grossinger’s and Kutsher’s thrived in the 50s and the 60s, only to be abandoned in the 80s and 90s not long after the mega-hit movie, Dirty Dancing, hit the screens. Derelict buildings on properties the size of college campuses dotted Sullivan County and the region felt like the Pompeii of the Catskills. Today, the county is experiencing a comeback, with stylish new inns and resorts, as well as farm fresh restaurants popping up left and right. This resurgence, coupled with outdoor adventures and genuine affordability means there’s no better time to experience what’s in Manhattan’s backyard (without having to get on an overcrowded train to the Hamptons).
New inns and hotels are popping up all over the region, providing plenty of options to get away. Inns like The Arnold House, The North Branch Inn, and the Stickett Inn, provide a more intimate experience, while Ecce Bed & Breakfast and The Inn at Lake Joseph are ideal for a resort-style experience and families. Restaurants around the area take the phrase “Farm-to-Table” very seriously. Why wouldn’t they with all of the amazing farms within close proximity? When you’re not eating at restaurants like The Heron, The Bar Room at The North Branch Inn, or Northern Farmhouse Pasta, be sure to check out the farms where the ingredients are coming from at Apple Pond Farm, Root N’ Roost Farm, and more. Wash it all down at one of the many local breweries and vineyards in the area, like Roscoe Beer Co., Catskills Brewery, and Bashakill Vineyards.
Outdoor lovers want to start off by exploring the Delaware River. Work with the pros at Lander’s River Trips to coordinate a trip that suits you best via canoe, kayak, or raft. You can also stay on land and explore the miles upon miles of hiking trails in the county. Morgan Outdoors can get you geared up and on your way, advising on the best trails to hit, as well as offering weekly yoga classes.
I’m taking a break the next few days, back on Monday live from Maine aboard the windjammer, Schooner Mary Day. Please follow along next week as I blog, tweet @ActiveTravels, share photos on Facebook and Instagram, and videos on YouTube. Have a great weekend!
Thursday, February 04, 2016
Already recognized as one of the premier train systems in the world, the Swiss Rail System can easily make its claim as the finest once the Gotthard Base Tunnel opens on June 1st. It has taken 20 years at a cost of $10.3 billion and the lives of 8 men to create the world’s longest tunnel, a mind-boggling 35 miles long. 8,000 feet below the surface of the Alps, more than 2,000 workers excavated some 2 million truckloads of earth. The result is a tunnel where trains will travel over 150 miles per hour, shaving an hour off the current Milan to Zurich run, down to 2 hours and 50 minutes. It’s an incredible feat, especially when you consider the tracks are completely flat under the mountainous Alps. That’s what I call Swiss ingenuity.
Wednesday, November 04, 2015
2016 marks the completion of the massive Panama Canal expansion project that will usher in a new chapter for Panama and cap off the celebration of the Panama Canal’s 100th birthday. Lindblad Expeditions is taking advantage of this historical moment to offer several deals aboard their 62-passenger National Geographic Sea Lion. Guests will explore the Panamanian and Costa Rican coastline, traverse the Canal, snorkel and kayak off deserted islands, and venture up rain forest-canopied rivers, while being led by some of the finest naturalists in the travel business. Book one of their Panamanian cruises by November 30, 2015, and you can choose from free round-trip airfare from Miami OR the Panama City extension on select January and February 2016 dates. On this 2-day Panama City extension, you’ll visit the construction site at the Canal Expansion Observation Center, and see the new highly touted Frank Gehry-designed Biodiversity Museum.
Lindblad is also unveiling a new 9-day land-based trip to Costa Rica that will include a stop at Tortuguero National Park, often called the Venice of Costa Rica for its maze of waterways. From mid-spring to late summer at Tortuguero, four different types of turtle return to shores to lay their eggs, including the giant leatherback, which can weigh over 1,000 pounds. For reservations or additional information on Lindblad Expeditions voyages, contact us at ActiveTravels.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
October is the ideal time to visit Portugal. The weather is still warm, summer tourists are long gone, and the wines are being harvested. If you truly want to experience the authentic Portuguese culture—tour little known wineries and dine at mom-and-pop seafood restaurants that only a local would know—and get there via stunning scenic mountain passes and backcountry coastal routes, then you’d be wise to book a trip with Portugal Motorcycle Tours. Owner Miguel Oliveira personally guides all his tours and limits the number of riders to 10. Choose between a Harley-Davidson Touring, BMW 1200GS, and Honda NC750 and then pick a trip that suits your schedule. The 5-day Douro Tour will bring you to the lush green hills of Portugal’s most famous wine region, Douro Valley. Or opt for the weeklong cruise to the southwestern most point of Europe, the seafaring town of Sagres on the Algarve. For a quick taste, take the 3-day jaunt from Lisbon north to the small surfing and fishing community of A doe Cunhados. All it takes is one trip with Miguel and you’ll want more.
Tuesday, August 04, 2015
Now that Pedro Martinez is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, it might be time to take a side-trip to Cooperstown when I drop my son off at Cornell in the fall. I also want to make a stop at the Farmers' Museum to view the Cardiff Giant. In 1869, con man George Hull paid someone out West to carve a ten feet long, 3000 pound statue out of gypsum. The Giant was then shipped back East and buried underground in Hull's backyard. Hull hired a group of workers to build a well in the precise spot the Giant was buried, and, lo and behold, they found the world’s first petrified prehistoric man. Hull made a fortune as the Cardiff Giant traveled around the country tantalizing viewers into paying a hefty ten cents to see this incredible find. Evidently, P.T. Barnum desperately wanted the Cardiff Giant and when Hull refused, Barnum built his own replica and ended up making more money than Hull. Lastly, no one can visit Cooperstown without stopping at Brewery Ommegang for a taste of their heavenly Hop House, a Belgian-style pale ale.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
One hour south of Halifax, the seaside community of Lunenburg is one of only two cities in North America dubbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site (the other being Quebec City). What UNESCO found fascinating was the fact that Lunenburg was a perfectly planned British colonial settlement, a 48-block grid designed in London and plopped down on the coast of Nova Scotia in 1753. They were also obviously impressed with the preservation because Lunenburg remains one of the most charming towns on the Atlantic coast. The British were successful in recruiting some 1400-plus people to Lunenburg, mostly of German and Swiss descendant, including the ancestors of my Lunenburg Walking Tours guide, Ashlee Feener, an 8th-generation descendent. We started our hour-long stroll through town at the highest point in Lunenburg, the former site of the citadel and now home to the castle-like Lunenburg Academy. No longer a public school, the Second Empire structure built in 1895 is now an international music academy attracting students from across the globe, the first hint that this storied fishing community has transformed into a cultural destination.
Those first descendants thought they were coming to Canada to farm but their shovels and ploughs soon hit rock. They looked to the sea and by the late 1800s, Lunenburg had become the fishing capital of Canada, with large schooners heading to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and often returning after a summer with 100,000 to 300,000 pounds of cod. Ashlee led us down York Street to view a Victorian home with a Widow’s Watch, a cupola with bay windows that overlooked the sea, where a ship captain’s wife could hopefully her husband returning home. Next door was one of the oldest homes in Lunenburg, a gabled one-bedroom Cape Cod-style home currently on the market for $287,000. On Fox Street, the red Georgian-style Lennox Inn was built in 1791 and is the oldest continuously operating inn in North America. Another highlight of the tour was the stunning St. John’s Anglican Church, one of five churches in town. Walk inside to see the ribbed wooden roof that could only be built by shipbuilders who knew their way around the ribs of a hull. We walked past the multi-colored façade and gingerbread trim of the Mariner King Inn, where I’m happily spending the night. Our tour ended on the docks next to the recently resorted schooner, Bluenose II, Nova Scotia’s ambassador of the sea, a fitting tribute to Lunenburg’s past.
The ebullient Ashlee and her business partner, Shelah Allen, a mere 7th-generation descendent also offer haunted tours of Lunenburg and its many scary-looking Victorian homes at night. Go on either tour and you’ll be happy I sent you.
Friday, June 05, 2015
Next week, I’ll be blogging live from Nova Scotia. So please check in and also follow my Tweets @ActiveTravels. This will be my third trip in the past five years, but my first since I was middle-school student that I’ll be taking the ferry from Portland, Maine. I was excited to learn that the ferry started up again last summer, making it much easier for New Englanders and other northeasterners to make their way to the province. Nova Star Cruises now leaves Portland each evening at 8 pm EST and arrives in Yarmouth at 7 am AST the next morning. The ship departs two hours later and arrives back in Portland at 5 pm local time. I’ll be driving the southern loop on this trip, staring in Yarmouth and heading north to the picturesque seaside town of Lunenburg, the farming and growing wine region of Wolfville, then down to Digby to try those scallops. I’m also going to take full advantage of the favorable exchange rate with Canada, now $1.22 Canadian to the US Dollar. Look forward to describing the highlights of the trip next week!
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
If you want the feel of having your own personal park ranger by your side as you drive through America’s most spectacular scenery, then do yourself a favor and download the Just Ahead audio guide. Just Ahead utilizes GPS technology to know exactly where drivers are on the road, and delivers stories and maps relevant to their exact location. The app points out not-to-miss features while also helping drivers avoid getting lost by providing suggested directions. It works without an Internet connection or cell phone service. Simply turn it on and enjoy a narrated tour that describes the history, geography, and wildlife of each national park.
Just Ahead guides are currently available for the following national parks: Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Zion and Cedar Breaks, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands and Arches. Additional park guides are in production and are expected to roll out in time for the busy summer travel season. They include Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Badlands, Black Hills, Petrified Forest, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, and Mesa Verde. The Just Ahead app is a free download, while guides range from $4.99 to $9.99.
Monday, May 11, 2015
The parking lot at the Blithewold estate in Bristol is overflowing on this chilly day in late April. I walk around the pink blooms of the Japanese star-magnolia tree and under the signature Japanese cedar that stands guard in front of the massive stone mansion. That’s when I get my first glimpse of the soft yellow hues glowing from a vast garden, stemming from row after row of daffodils. Young girls dressed as fairies run down the aisles, butterfly wings attached to their backs and colorful ribbons in their hair flowing in the wind. I follow their cue and enter a pasture coated with morning dew to find countless families happily ensconced within the centuries-old stone walls. A harpist plays as kids create papier-mâché flowers, blow bubbles, and dance around a Maypole. I half-expect to see nymphs lounging in a nearby pond of water lilies.
To read the rest of my latest story for Yankee Magazine, please click here.