12 Months of Travel
BY Emily Colin
If you’re like most people the length of your New Year’s resolutions list is exceeded only by your fear that many of these dreams schemes and wishes will never come to fruition. The best laid plans … and all that. But if traveling is high on your to-do list for 2008 here’s
If you’re like most people the length of your New Year’s resolutions list is exceeded only by your fear that many of these dreams schemes and wishes will never come to fruition. The best laid plans … and all that. But if traveling is high on your to-do list for 2008 here’sWBM’s month-by-month planner of places to go and things to see and do when you get there. We’ve done the research; all you have to do is book your trip.
Tired of the cold weather? Do your spirit — and your wallet — have a case of the post-holiday blues? Unwind in Puerto Rico the Island of Enchantment where the average winter temperature is 83 degrees and the scenery is phenomenal. This tropical volcanic island is just 100 miles long by 35 miles wide but it’s packed with gorgeous sights and exciting things to do. Take a walking tour of Old San Juan with its boutiques restaurants galleries and museums; check out the nearby Bacardi Rum Distillery; enjoy the beautiful beaches and the tropical forests; hike kayak rock climb parasail or go caving. Spanish and English are the official languages of this tiny paradise the U.S. dollar is the currency of choice and no visas or passports are required for U.S. citizens to visit. Visit www.gotopuertorico.com to learn more.
Approximate travel time to San Juan: 6.5 hours
Taos New Mexico
This year experience Valentine’s Day in Taos New Mexico voted one of the most romantic spots in the West by the North American Snowsports Journalists Association. The city itself is 7 000 feet above sea level but Ski Valley for which the area is known perches at an elevation of 9 200-12 000 feet. Stay at Casa de las Chimeneas an AAA Four Diamond Inn complete with concierge and wellness spa where the staff will help you arrange everything from llama trekking to hot air ballooning into the Rio Grande Gorge. Visit the Taos Pueblo the sole Native American community that is both a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; stroll through one of the many phenomenal art museums; and take a dizzying drive across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge the U.S.’s 2nd highest suspension bridge. For an insider’s perspective check out www.taosguide.com.Approximate flight time to Albuquerque New Mexico: 7.5 hours.
Drive time from Albuquerque to Taos: 2.5 hours
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Want to take a family vacation without breaking the bank … or spending all day with Mickey and Minnie? We have just the place for you. This year Travel & Leisure magazine voted Kiawah Island Golf Resort (www.kiawahresort.com) the top family-friendly resort in the country. Located just 33 miles outside of Charleston South Carolina the resort features a spa paddling walking and fishing tours golf tennis motorboat charters and even Kamp Kiawah for the little ones. Take a day trip into Charleston and experience the city during peak blooming season (March through April). Traveling without an entourage? Grab lunch in town at the tiny Cru Café where the duck confit arugula and angus burger au poivre are equally delicious. Take a side trip to Mepkin Abbey (www.mepkinabbey.org) home to the Trappist monks and enjoy the serenity of the Nancy Bryan Luce Gardens. Top off your evening at the Social Restaurant and Wine Bar where more than 50 wines are sold by the glass.
Drive time from Wrightsville Beach to Kiawah Island South Carolina: 4 hours
Think New York City’s charm begins and ends with the island of Manhattan? Fugeddaboutit. Discover the wonders of Brooklyn the Borough of Kings. The two-day Brooklyn Pass (www.visiticket.com/brooklyn; $25/adult and $15/child) will provide you with free admission to some of the area’s top attractions including the Brooklyn Children’s Museum Jewish Children’s Museum New York Aquarium Brooklyn Museum Prospect Park Zoo and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens home of the annual Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival) which celebrates Japanese culture each April with a wide variety of events performances and workshops. Enjoy discounted admission to Coney Island’s celebrated Astroland Amusement Park Deno’s Wonder Wheel the Brooklyn Brewery Barge Music a floating concert hall docked in the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge and more. Have the rug rats with you? Don’t miss The Pit Stop a Mediterranean French bistro in the waterfront district whose unassuming storefront conceals a backyard Petanque (French bocce) court for the grown-ups and trikes and pedal cars for the little ones. Get an earful at the Sunday afternoon African drumming circle in Prospect Park stroll the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and drink your fill in the mosaic courtyard at Park Slope’s The Cocoa Bar a chocolate-lover’s delight by day and an oenophile’s dream by night.
Approximate flight time from ILM to LaGuardia: 1.5 hours
Taxi from LaGuardia to Brooklyn: 30-45 minutes
Wrightsville Beach N.C.
Play tourist in your hometown for a weekend and experience all that Wrightsville Beach has to offer. In May tourist season hasn’t officially begun but the weather is warm enough to enjoy a day at the beach. Start your Saturday morning off with breakfast at the Causeway Café and then head to the beach to watch the surfers or even join in. Sign up for one of the area’s several excellent fishing charters and spend the afternoon reeling ’em in to your heart’s content. Or hone your kayaking skills and spot some wildlife with some help from the Salt Marsh Kayak Company. Once you’ve got the hang of it kayak out to Masonboro Island home to endangered loggerhead sea turtles and picnic on the shore. Enjoy dinner and dessert at one of the excellent restaurants overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. Do you really want to get away from it all? Stay overnight at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort or the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort and pretend you’re truly on vacation. On Sunday stroll on the beach as the sun rises build a sandcastle or two and then savor the delicious brunch at Boca Bay. Then head back into town rejuvenated and ready for real life to begin once more.
Sea Island Ga.
Eighty-five miles south of Savannah Georgia and 70 miles north of Jacksonville Florida you’ll find the secluded island of Sea Island Georgia. The island is accessible via a highway that connects the mainland with St. Simon’s Island. Originally built by automobile tycoon Howard Earl Coffin as a retreat for the rich and famous Sea Island has retained both its formidable cache and its unspoiled beauty — 10 000 acres of undeveloped land and 5 miles of beaches. Many visitors stay at The Cloister which was built in 1928 and has garnered considerable accolades including Best Family Resorts (Top 10) Travel & Leisure Family 2006; The Best Hotels in the World Travel & Leisure 2006 2007; Top 50 Spas Condé Nast Traveler Spa Poll 2006; and Gold List World’s Best Places to Stay Condé Nast Traveler 2006 2007.
Drive time from Wrightsville Beach to Sea Island Georgia: 6 hours
Where do you take your summer vacation when you live at the beach? Consider France. Sights and Soul Travels – European Vacations for Women is taking reservations for its July 1-10 2008 Mother and Daughter Tour to Paris and the Loire Valley. If your daughter is of high school or college age and is home for the summer this might be the perfect opportunity for some bonding time and an experience you’ll never forget. If Paris isn’t your destination of choice consider the July 11-20 trip to Budapest and the Transdanubia where you’ll explore all things Hungarian and can extend the trip by five days to tour Prague. Sights and Soul specializes in small-group all-women excursions focused on everything from outdoor adventure to cultural immersion to spa retreats. Learn more at www.sightsandsoul.com.
Approximate flight time to Paris: 11-15 hours
Approximate flight time to Budapest: 19 hours
Canadian Gulf Islands
Just a short flight from Seattle and Vancouver you’ll find the Canadian Gulf Islands and the secluded retreat of Poet’s Cove Resort and Spa (www.poetscove.com) nestled by a bay on British Columbia’s Pender Island. Stay in the resort’s 22-room lodge or if you want more privacy reserve one of its nine luxury villas or 15 cottages. Be sure to take advantage of one of the numerous outdoor activities that Poet’s Cove has to offer including deep sea fishing kayaking disc golf and planned eco-excursions; then relax in one of the two heated outdoor pools or in the world-class spa. There’s plenty for you to do on the island but if you feel inspired to explore take an overnight trip into Vancouver. Here hipsters will want to explore South Main between Broadway and 30th avenues chock-a-block with boutiques coffee shops and galleries. Want a gift with an edge? Shop for the tots at Voltage which features toys with attitude (The New York Times calls it an “anarchist Toys ‘R’ Us”). Plan your trips for the beginning of August and you may be able to catch the HSBC Celebration of Light the world’s largest international fireworks competition. You’ll need to bring your sweaters on this excursion but the experience is well worth the extra luggage.
Approximate flight time to Vancouver: 13 hours
Seaplane fight to Poet’s Cove docks: 30 minutes
For a trip filled with fun delicious food and gorgeous foliage pay an early autumn visit to the picturesque village of Waterbury Vermont. Nestled in the Green Mountain Range of central Vermont close to the tourist destinations of Stowe Montpelier and the Mad River Valley Waterbury plays host to some charming attractions of its own. This is the home of the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory which has tours and in the summer a free annual outdoor movie festival. Don’t miss out on a visit to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill complete with free cider tastings a bee observation hive and natural foods bakery. If you have a sweet tooth make sure to taste the Mill’s cider donuts which Gourmet magazine hails as one of the top four donuts in the country (Who knew?). Art lovers will enjoy the wares at Ziemke’s Glassblowing Studio and bargain hunters will get a kick out of the sprawling 10-acre flea market. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts Waterbury has earned the nickname “Vermont’s Recreational Crossroads;” Work off your ice cream and cider donuts on horseback skis ice skates or a mountain bike. Get the details at www.waterbury.org.
Approximate flight time to Burlington VT: 5 hours
Drive time from Burlington to Waterbury: 30 minutes
Western North Carolina
Fall wouldn’t be complete without a trip to see the beautiful foliage of western North Carolina. Now there’s an affordable way to experience all that the western part of the state has to offer: the Go Blue Ridge Card (www.goblueridgecard.com). Headed to Asheville and the central mountains? Check out Grandfather Mountain with its seven distinct animal habitats and Mile High Swinging Bridge visit the Thomas Wolfe Memorial sip wine at Rockhouse Vineyards take the 26-story elevator to the top of Chimney Rock and tour the Emerald Village all free of charge once you’ve purchased the card. Does the High Country strike your fancy? The card affords you access to Tweetsie Railroad Linville Caverns and the Historic Orchard at Altapass Storytelling Hayride. Are the Smokies calling your name? You’re in luck: Enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains Fish Camp with tubing Smoky Mountain Jet Boats a variety of rafting trips Ghost Town in the Sky … and the list goes on. The card also gives you discounts at a variety of restaurants stores and other locations. Experience the magnificent colors of autumn … guilt-free.
Drive time to Asheville: 7 hours
Chile’s Lake District
Dubbed the “Switzerland of Chile” for its snow-coated volcanoes hundreds of lakes and lagoons and lush forests Chile’s Lake District is one of the country’s most popular destinations — and for good reason. The beauty of the region alone is enough to inspire visitors with rivers waterfalls and thermal hot springs threaded throughout the rolling hills. The Lake District’s culture has been strongly influenced by the native Mapuche Indians as well as by German settlers and in fact a few German words (like ‘kuchen’ for ‘cake’) have found their way into the Chilean language. Since Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere the weather will be warm and November is a lovely time to enjoy outdoor activities bucolic drives and the area’s beautiful beaches. Hike through Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park take a helicopter flight over the Osorno Volcano and Petrohue Falls immerse yourselves in the Geometrical Thermal Springs and visit the small beautiful town of Frutillar on the shores of Lake Llanquihue. Getting to the Lake District is a little tricky — you’ll need to fly into Santiago and then take another flight — but the experience will be well worth the effort. Visit www.cascada.travel.
Approximate flight time to Santiago Chile: 13-18 hours
Can’t face another holiday season filled with rampant consumerism motorized Santa figurines and lead-weight fruitcakes? Give your family the gift of travel and consider Christmas in Fiji. In 2006 Maravu Plantation Resort (www.maravu.net) on Taveuni the Garden Island was acclaimed the No. 1 Luxury Hotel in the South Pacific and listed in the top 100 Hotels of the World by TripAdvisor in its 2006 Travelers’ Choice Awards. Choose from several packages including the Holistic Holiday in Fiji Tropical Rainforest and Adventure deep sea fishing and scuba diving packages. Enjoy a Fijian cooking lesson experience island storytelling and revel in the resort’s nouvelle Fijian cuisine. Off the resort’s grounds explore the Naihehe sacred caves dive on the Rainbow Reef and check out the waterfalls and trails at Bouma National Heritage Park. Fiji’s third-largest island Taveuni is replete with mountains rainforests plantations small villages and reefs. A holiday here is an experience you’ll never forget.
Approximate flight time to Fiji: 24 hours