Monday, July 15, 2013

Some Local(ish) Escapes for Townies, Foodies, Naturalists, Romantics and Oenophiles

Well, it's about time we caught back up with one another! It's been a busy summer and, lately, I haven't had the discipline to sit at my computer and share my adventures. I blame cocktails. I think it's just too hard to blog when our bar is this well stocked. I honestly think someone should look into the phenomenon of: when June hits, gin tastes better.
(Don't even get me started on Mai Tais! Those start tasting better in March and are fully to blame as to why I don't dust until October.)

Luckily, though, I'm officially back into the swing of things AND I come bearing gifts! A gift list of destination suggestions, which I crafted for a friend looking to get out of NYC for a short, luxury getaway with his wife. He was looking for a place that would suit her needs -- lounging, spa, in-house fine dining -- as well as his -- mild adventure, great wine, and local culture. Also, he was willing to drive, rail it, or fly, as long as whichever mode of transport they utilized was within approximately 4 - 5 hours of NYC.

Personally, I look for 4 essentials at every destination -- great food; VERY nice accommodations (with special attention paid to a comfortable bed); potential for outdoor activities; not too wallet-busting. In that order.

So, I mulled it over a bit and came up with the following:

1. The Finger Lakes:

You won't have to go too far. The B&B's are amazing. It's serious wine country. And, it's far enough north that the weather should be gorgeous right now. Also, the gorges in the north of NY State and the town of Ithaca are breathtaking.

2. Bedford:
This one is a bit of a stretch, monetarily speaking; but, you wouldn't have to go very far. Richard Gere is one of the owners of the Bedford Post, an amazing, luxury inn, in Westchester County. The restaurant on-site is supposedly amazing and there is a yoga loft as well. The inn, itself, only has 8 rooms. I've definitely thought about a trip there for a special occasion, but (so far) it's been a little too pricey for us.

3. New Orleans:
If you're willing to take a short flight, one of the best down-low, summer deals is the New Orleans Ritz-Carlton. Their prices are REALLY shocking through September, because it's typically so hot in the bayou that you just may burst into flames! That said, the food, romance, ghost tours, ambience, local color, and hotel itself are beyond amazing.

Here's a link to a current deal they're running for $169/night! You'd have to buzz the reservations line to see what the price would be for each additional night; but, I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised. Truly, if you've never stayed at a Ritz-Carlton hotel, you should.

4. Rhinebeck:
Here's another option that's close to home, but gives you so much of that idyllic & historic vacay vibe. The Beekman Arms is America's oldest hotel and it's lovely. And probably haunted - though not in a scary, The Shining kind of way -- where tv's turn themselves on and off. In more of a 'Hey, I had a whole bottle of rye over here last night and now it's half gone' kind of way.
(Apparently, I'm only okay with ghosts whose appetites for craft spirits are similar to mine.)

Allegedly, George Washington commanded his troops from the grounds, so I truly wouldn't be surprised if you spied a redcoat in the hall, on the way to your room. The bar downstairs is not to be missed, even if you stay elsewhere.

And, you MUST dine at Terrapin, the nearby Zagat-rated restaurant. They have an upscale dining room as well as an attached, casual cafe side. Also, there's wine country up there as well as horse-back riding.

5. Niagara Falls (The Canadian side):
If you've never been to Niagara Falls, it's a classic choice for a quick getaway! This is especially nice if you'd like to feel International for the weekend, as I'm a firm believer in the Canadian side of the Falls being the one worth visiting. The nearby town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is super charming and there is fantastic wine to be had everywhere -- especially ice wine, if you're into it.

Bobby Leach and his barrel, after his trip over the Falls (1911).
I wouldn't recommend this particular tour.
My recommendation for a B&B would be the Lion's Head -- within walking distance of the Falls. It's run by a woman named Helena and her advice is to be followed to the last detail. I won't mince words -- she's pushy, but she knows what she's talking about -- if you go into your stay telling her exactly what you want out of your time there and trusting her advice at every turn, you won't be disappointed! Also, don't be late for breakfast -- she will literally bang on the floor to wake you. (It's kind of hilarious!) That said, you won't want to miss her breakfast. I'm talking stuffed french toast and caramelized grapefruit with Meyer lemon semifreddo and fantastic coffee. Yes, please!

6. Bar Harbor:
It doesn't get more poetic than Maine. The view will make you want to write a novel and smoke a pipe, all while trying to figure out how the heck so many people get those darn ships into those tiny bottles! Situated on Frenchman Bay, Bar Harbor is a fishing town with an easy pace and as beautiful a backdrop as you could hope for. Lots of hotels to choose from and you're absolutely set if you love lobster.

Cadillac Mountain (in Arcadia Nat'l Park) is the first piece of land to see the sun in the US, every morning; so, a hike or drive up to the top to see the sunrise is a MUST DO! Also, in the park, is the Jordan Pond House, a restaurant famous for its popovers -- a very fun tradition!

So, there you have it -- my top 6 for now. Though, some seriously honorable mentions worth looking into, are: Boston & Mexico City. I love both and both are GREAT choices for a quick getaway with maximum impact for just a little time.

Hope one of these inspires you to look into a great getaway spot!

(Feel free to let me know if you have a nearby pick to which you'd like to give a shout-out.)

Until Next Time,


The “Packing List”

This week, we were rocking the following:

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