A short seven miles from the Cape Cod coast and bounded by Vineyard Sound, Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean sits the beautiful “Vineyard” as it is called by regulars. 20 miles long and 9 miles wide at its widest point, the island is the summer home or vacation spot for a host of celebrities including singer Carly Simon, ABC’s Diane Sawyer and husband Mike Nichols and Bill and Hilary Clinton.
The island has a year round population of about 14,000 which swells to 85,000-100,000 at the height of the season. Most activity revolves around the three primary towns each with a character of its own. Vineyard Haven, the main port for ferries, sits on the edge of Vineyard Haven Harbor and is home to a collection of shops and restaurants. Oak Bluffs is a kind of honky tonk boardwalk town with gingerbread style homes, a carousel, an arcade, and a waterfront promenade. Edgartown is an elegant seaport with narrow streets, beautiful old whaling captain’s homes, fashionable boutiques and wonderful restaurants.
What makes the island particularly interesting is that its geography changes depending upon where you are on the island. In the west are the cliffs of clay, the north, rocky boulders, the south, small ponds and in the center, dense forests.
As Edgartown has the most to offer, that’s where we make our base. The Charlotte Inn (www.charlotteinn.net
) is a magnificent inn with museum quality antiques and oil paintings that still manages to be one of the most comfortable places I have ever stayed. Their Terrace Restaurant is the most romantic on the island. The Harborview Hotel (www.harbor-view.com
) is perched on a hill overlooking the harbor with a wonderful wrap around porch with rocking chairs. It is a full service hotel with a pool, health club and restaurant/bar. With wonderful views of the harbor, the 28 room Vineyard Square Hotel and Suites (www.vineyardsquarehotel.com
) is perfectly located in the center of town, surrounded by shops, art galleries and restaurants. VS usually has the best rates in Edgartown for luxury accommodations. Finally, the charming Hob Knob Inn (www.hobknob.com
) is a wonderful B&B, just a block from the center of town with its own in-house spa.
Two of our favorite restaurants are on the western side of the island, which is a bit of a trek from Edgartown, but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular sunsets and great food. The Beach Plum, (www.beachpluminn.com
) has magnificent water views and the Outermost Inn (www.outermostinn.com
), owned by James Taylor’s brother looks out on the cliffs of Gay Head. In town, L’Etoile (www.letoile.com
) is elegant and refined with garden dining and Détente (www.detentemv.com) is a casual bistro with an excellent wine list.
With the London Olympics just ending, a visit to one of our favorite destinations, Lake Placid seems in order. Hard to believe the “Miracle on Ice” was 32 years ago or that this tiny hamlet of 3,000 has hosted two Winter Olympics, 1980 and 1932. Lake Placid today, is a wonderful year-round resort community and is home to the U.S. Winter Olympic team training.
Crystal clear lakes amid the tall pines of the Adirondack Mountains provide great recreational opportunities for all seasons and Whiteface Mountain offers some of the best skiing in the East. The town, despite its notoriety as an Olympic host, has been able to maintain its small town charm.
Our stay at The Point (www.thepointresort.com
) a short distance away in nearby Upper Saranac Lake was the most amazing 24 hours we have spent anywhere. This should be on everyone’s “bucket list”. Not far behind is the wonderful Lake Placid Lodge (www.lakeplacidlodge.com
), a gorgeous lodge and cabins right on Lake Placid. Kids love the Mirror Lake Inn (www.mirrorlakeinn.com
) for its indoor and outdoor pools and the homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk in the lobby every day. The Whiteface Lodge, (www.thewhitefacelodge.com
) a modern day replica of an old Adirondack Lodge, offers a movie theatre, bowling lanes, an ice skating rink, indoor and outdoor pools, an amazing spa and a cigar and cognac lounge.
Chair 6 (www.chair6.com
) is the local’s favorite for breakfast, but there’s also a Howard Johnson’s that’s been there for 50 years and still offers breakfast for under $5. Looking for something lighter? Try the scones at Bluesberry Bakery, they are positively sinful. The Cottage
is a favorite for lunch. Great pub food, a fireplace in the winter and a deck beside the water in summer. The Brown Dog, also with lake views, makes wonderful sandwiches on homemade bread and has an excellent wine list.
For cocktails, the best views of the lake and mountains are from the bar at the Crown Plaza
. In season (warm weather) the deck at the Boathouse
, provides a view of the town from the opposite side of Mirror Lake and the Kanu Lounge
at the Whiteface Lodge has a stone fireplace and plush couches and chairs.
The Lake Placid Lodge tops the fine dining charts, followed by the View at Mirror Lake Inn and Kanu at the Whiteface Lodge. All offer outstanding food in luxury surroundings. Taste Bistro at Mirror Lake has a more casual menu and for a bit of fun with your food head to the Paradox Lodge. Owner/chef Moses, “Red” LaFountaine cooks from an open kitchen (he’s appeared on Rachael Ray) and to call him a character would be an understatement.
Don’t Miss: The Olympic Museum and High Falls Gorge.
Travel time from the Jersey Shore: About 5 1/2 hours.
For more information on weekend travel visit: www.bestweekends.com
In his capacity as CEO of BestWeekends.com and Jersey Shore Restaurant Week Chairman, Jim Flynn travels the country looking for great places to stay and eat.
Once the base for Caribbean pirates and later home to Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, Key West, Florida also served as the winter White House for President Truman and the inspiration for the drawings of John James Audubon.
Inhabitants are a colorful blend of eclectic artists, writers and others just escaping from everyday life. Everyone has a story and they’re more than willing to share it with you. No one seems to care about the rest of the world, only about enjoying life every single day in warm sunshine beside crystal clear waters.
Lodging options abound from national chains to intimate B&B’s. Sunset Key Cottages
(www.westinsunsetkeycottages.com) inhabit their own island just minutes from downtown by launch. The cottages are beautifully decorated and there’s an excellent restaurant where they’ll set a table for you in the water surrounded by flaming torches. Once the largest private estate on the island, the Gardens Hotel
(www.gardenshotel.com) has been transformed into an exotic oasis just blocks from the action on Duval. The grounds, framed by a 10 foot wall, are meticulously landscaped with brick patios winding through lush tropical foliage, with beautiful orchids and secluded little alcoves. Staying at La Mer and Dewey House
(www.southernmostresorts.com/la-mer-dewey-house) provides the intimacy of a B&B with the amenities of the adjacent Southernmost Hotel which has three pools, two outside bars and a fishing pier. If location is everything, then the Ocean Key Resort
(www.oceankey.com) has it all. Located at the end of bustling Duval Street and right on the Gulf, the Resort stands next to Mallory Square the site of the nightly sundown festival.
Dining is an adventure in Key West, beginning at breakfast. Blue Heaven
www.blueheavenkw.com) arguably has the best in town and the setting in a courtyard with chickens and roosters running around is quite unique. Or, head to Pepe’s
pepescafe.net) where the bar is open for a hangover remedy at 6:30am and the breakfast is delicious. Pepe’s also serves a full Thanksgiving dinner every Thursday night and there’s always free pickles for pregnant women. Mangoes
) on Duval is excellent for lunch and people watching and Café Sole (www.cafesole.com
) has excellent food (have the hogfish) in a charming tropical garden. Try the Half Shell Raw Bar
) for an afternoon snack of shellfish and cold beer and don’t miss the tourist traps, Sloppy Joe’s
) and Hog’s Breath
) for a cocktail or two.
No trip to Key West is complete without dinner at the waterfront, Louie’s Backyard
) is an award winning steakhouse with the best stuffed veal chop I have ever had and Cafe Marquesa (
www.marquesa.com/cafe-marquesa) in the Marquesa Hotel is a charming American/Seafood restaurant with an excellent wine list.
The flu is back and on the prowl this time of year. Why does it always seem that an amazing getaway is trailed by a nasty case of the sniffles? All too many of the things we come in contact with during travel are covered in all sorts of germs. Get to know what to avoid on your next winter weekend before it’s too late… Airplane Restrooms
The tiny little bathrooms on airplanes are nothing short of a germ haven. Even if you wash your hands, best to avoid them altogether if possible! Public Transportation
Busses, planes, trains, and taxis are all swarming with germs and with hundreds of passengers every day its no wonder why. Keyboards and Mice
Today many of us have all sorts of personal gadgets to keep us connected but when you do have to use a public computer remember you never know who used it before you. Money
Passed between hands all day every day, the deadliest germs could be lurking in your wallet.
Nothing a bottle of hand sanitizer can’t fix, right?Ellen StuderBestWeekends.com
With the recent release of the iPhone 5 we now have even more expensive technology in our lives. The downfall to this? Traveling with technology can be scary and burdensome. Here are a couple cool gadgets that will have you and your laptop, smartphone, tablet, and camera traveling with ease.
The first thing that I would invest in, whether you are planning a trip or not, is an external hard drive. The Drobo Mini
is perfect for frequent travelers like Jim. Snap up to 4 hard drives worth of photos and videos and store it all on this 2 lb. cube.
A second awesome investment is a waterproof and shock-proof Hit Case
. This armor will protect your iPhone from just about anything; skiing, swimming, you name it. A really cool feature allows you to attach it to a helmet and capture great action video while skiing down a mountain or riding some waves.
My third favorite techy-traveler companion is the Aviiq Portable Charging Station.
Keep all of your gadgets charging and organized in this perfect carrying case. All of your beloved electronics can be kept safe and untangled while charging via the USB port. Never worry about the travel mess again!
Let us know about your favorite techy-traveler gadgets and start packing for your next Weekend… all you have to do is GO!Ellen StuderBestWeekends.com
Going into New York City
for a weekend? Why not check out a great live-music venue for the night? These venues have been drawing crowds for years and there is no question why… City Winery
155 Varick Street
Anything from singer-songwriter to R&B and Jazz can be heard coming from this winery and bar. Enjoy wine made on-site and a Mediterranean meal before sitting back to enjoy the show. Guests usually sit and stay for the whole show and at only 300 seats there is no shortage of a good view. Village Vanguard
178 7th Avenue South
Village Vanguard is one of New York’s most famous and not to mention oldest jazz clubs. Entertaining crowds since 1935, this jazz club is best known for its history, legends, and acoustics. The Living Room
154 Ludlow Street
At this music venue intimacy is key. The Living Room has a maximum capacity of only 170 guests and music-lovers can enjoy up to 10 performances per night! A handful of performances are free with a one-drink minimum and a suggested donation to the musicians. Joes Pub
425 Lafayette Street
Variety is key at this downtown club; here you’ll find anything from well-known artists to aspiring musicians. With up to three acts per night, you can even enjoy occasional comedy, poetry readings, and other performances. Reserve your seat or place at the bar ahead of time because this club is always packed.
Make your city weekend great by planning ahead with the Best Weekends
destination guide for all things NYC
! Ellen Studer
During my most recent trip to Lake Placid, NY I finally made it to the top of Whiteface Mountain. My reaction? Awestruck. Had I known how absolutely breathtaking this half-day trip would be, I would have done it years ago. Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway
is just minutes from the town of Lake Placid
and winds its way around and up Whiteface Mountain. We started the trip at the base of Whiteface and took a winding drive up the side of the mountain, stopping at lookout points to view the seemingly miniature Lake Placid and even smaller Mirror Lake. The views are incredible, even if you catch a foggy day as we did.
Continuing up the mountain, we wound our way to the castle – the point where you leave your car and continue on foot. We had the option to climb the rest of the way or take the elevator. Needless to say we took the easy way out and rode the elevator up the center of the castle (note this is not for the claustrophobic). We walked through a low tunnel to the center of the mountain and then crammed into an ancient 5' by 5' elevator with 15 other people. Once we reached the top, however, the view made it all worthwhile. The observation deck allows for a fantastic 360° aerial lookout over the surrounding Adirondack landscape – absolutely breathtaking. The photo opportunity is incredible so prepare to take this year's Christmas card picture!
On the way down we decided to take the stairs. Little did we know that what they consider stairs is nothing more than a slippery slope of jagged rocks and stonewalls. Prepare for some real mountain climbing! Despite a few stumbles and falls, we made it down ok and were able to enjoy the view in the process.
The fantastic experience is definitely worth checking out on your next Adirondack weekend so don’t forget your hiking boots! Lake Placid is a fantastic getaway this time of year; crisp air, chilly nights, and bonfires are what bring this destination to life. If you do think about visiting, check out the BestWeekends Lake Placid destination guide
for everything you need to know about your next trip.Ellen StuderBestWeekends.com
Thinking about taking a weekend to head to the Big Apple this fall? Perfect timing because the Statue of Liberty is celebrating its 126th year with the re-opening of the inside on October 28th.
After its $27 million renovation, the public access levels and crown will once again be open to the public. However, some renovations may not be finished until the end of the year and access will therefore be mildly limited. Part of the renovation includes an elevator and wheelchair lift to the pedestal making the monument more easily accessible; however, there is yet to be an elevator system up to the crown. At 305 ft., this statue has over 350 stairs climbing to the top of the crown and reservations are required for those who wish to make the trek. Hold on tight because this monument has been known to sway up to 3 ft. on a really windy day!
Make your next big weekend a success and check out the BestWeekends guide to everything New York City
On September 17th it will have been exactly 225 years since the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787; and in commemoration, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA is hosting numerous events and activities.
September 15th will mark the start of Constitution Week with free-admission lawn events including musical performances, colonial games, historic interpreters, and educational programs. The rest of the week will be comprised of hands-on activities and specialized events like the calligraphy demonstrations or printing press demos. Events will also include the “sworn-again ceremony”–participants are invited to renew civic vows and embrace their citizenship.
A giant copy of the Constitution will be on display throughout the week in Signers’ Hall and the best part is, anyone is welcome to sign. Just don’t be frightened by the 42 life-size bronze statues of the Founding Fathers that stand overlooking the document. Some hands-on features will even stick around past the Celebration Week. Visitors will get a chance to be “sworn in” as president or use one of the provided iPads to attempt at creating six-word stump speech that will later be displayed on a big screen.
Admission is $14.50 for adults; $13 for seniors and students; and $8 for children.
On Monday, Sept. 17, general admission is free. If you are lucky, you may even catch a guest appearance by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Theodore Roosevelt!
Planning a trip to Philadelphia
? Check out the BestWeekends destination page
for the latest and greatest of this beautiful city.Ellen StuderBestWeekends.com