BY ROBERT GLAZE
Now that it is the beginning of a new travel year, it seems that I am getting almost daily emails from magazines, travel guide books, and newspapers like AFAR, The New York Times, Frommer’s, and Lonely Planet on their top places to visit in 2018. Though some include regions and cities in the US, more and more feature recommendations in remote areas of the world and emerging cities in Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, and Africa.
In addition, I have been reading about how many popular cities like Venice, Italy, and Barcelona, Spain, are becoming so crowded that they’re considering limiting the number of accommodations available to tourists. On my last trip to Florence, there were so many tourists at the Uffizi Gallery that I could not move. I had to push in front of a Japanese tour group just to view Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. To visit Machu Picchu in Peru, you now have to buy a ticket for a visit during morning or afternoon hours as well as hire an official local guide.
I would love to visit many of these featured locations, including Iceland, and to go back to my favorite cities in Italy, France, and Greece, but I have decided that my 2018 focus will be on the US, Mexico, and Canada and recommend that you stay close to home as well. Unlike many years ago when I went to Europe for the first time (1972), you don’t have to go far for a great travel experience, for boutique hotels with great style and design, and for wonderful wine and food. Besides, you can experience many locations in the US over a long weekend without having to travel overseas or deal with jet lag or safety concerns.
So this year I am heading to Pittsburgh to explore its emerging food scene and see the Andy Warhol Museum and Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed Falling Water. In April I am going to Guadalajara, Mexico, from San Miguel de Allende to explore its great restaurants, folk art, and the Tequila Trail. Then in May I am also heading back to Sedona before my annual trip to Canyon Ranch to check out new restaurants and the Verde Valley Winery Trail nearby.
Vancouver, Canada, is on my calendar for late July with a day trip planned by seaplane to Victoria on Vancouver Island and another to Whistler. September will include Buffalo, New York, with its great art museum and architecture, and the Finger Lakes and Corning, including the Corning Museum of Glass and the surrounding wineries. Then off to Niagara on the Lake in Canada for the Shaw Festival.
Readers, in 2018 I recommend that you try some of the fun spots that I have found in the past two years. These include:
The funky Marfa, Texas, is becoming a popular art destination with much to explore from galleries and small museums to the Judd Foundation and the Chinati Foundation. Make sure to book your tours of the Judd and Chinati Foundations online before you go! Stay at the new Hotel St. George and enjoy their contemporary LaVenture restaurant. You should also try the Food Shark food truck and Cochineal for dinner, and Squeeze Marfa or Marfa Burrito for breakfast or lunch.
The highlight of any trip to the area is seeing Prada Marfa. Located 1.4 miles northwest of Valentine and 26 miles northwest of Marfa on US 90, it is a permanent art installation or what the artists called a “pop architectural land art project.” The structure was designed to resemble an actual Prada store, with two large windows displaying actual Prada shoes and handbags. Photographs have been featured in a number of art exhibitions and museums. I was so excited to finally have seen it!
I was recently in Moab, Utah, and loved exploring Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Make sure to get your tickets for the Moab Music Festival and the Grotto tour—a boat tour down the Colorado River with a classical music concert in the red rocks. It is an amazing experience. Stay downtown and enjoy the Desert Bistro, Jeffrey’s Steakhouse, Moab Coffee Roasters, and the Jail House Café located in a building from 1885 that later became the County Courthouse. You should also spend time at both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. The red rocks and vistas are stunning.
In Philadelphia, Fish Town is the trendy neighborhood to explore with boutique hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, microbreweries, and distilleries. Start at La Colombe Coffee Roasters, a large café and bakery in a refurbished warehouse. Have a great brunch at Root, ice cream at Weckerly’s Ice Cream, and then take a tour of New Liberty Distillery or Philadelphia Distilling to round out the afternoon.
Milwaukee’s Bayview neighborhood is the up-and-coming destination for food, beer, and spirits. Have lunch at Honey Pie, coffee at Anodyne Coffee, and explore the shops along Kinnickinnic Avenue. Don’t miss Dock18 Cocktail Lab for their dark rum Old Fashioned in a speakeasy-style tasting room followed by dinner at Odd Duck. You can easily drive up from Chicago, spend the day, and be home after dinner.
Columbus, Indiana, is well worth the trip to explore its stunning mid-century architecture. It can be a fun weekend getaway. Located just 45 minutes from downtown Indianapolis, the city is a showplace of modern architecture. According to the New York Times, it “just happens to have the most incredible collection of modern architecture in the Midwest, outside of Chicago.” Architecture buffs can see over 70 schools, office buildings, churches, banks, fire stations, and other public buildings designed by such architects as Eliel Saarinen and son Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, Cesar Pelli, I.M. Pei, and other important names of the mid-20th century.
I recommend the self-guided walking tour around the downtown area at your own pace. I would then sign up for the two-hour city tour by bus—it allows you to get into two churches that are otherwise unavailable to see. The other tour I highly recommend is the Miller House and Garden Tour that gives you access to the amazing mid-century residence designed by Eero Saarinen and a National Historic Landmark.
Stay downtown at the Hotel Indigo or the Inn at Irwin Gardens so you can walk to the downtown bars and restaurants. To eat, Zaharakos Ice Cream from 1900, Jill’s Downtown Diner for breakfast, Tre Bicchieri for Italian fare, and Henry Social Club for upscale dining should be high on your list to try.
Historic Mackinac Island in northern Michigan is a wonderful destination in the summer and fall months to escape the heat and feel like you have traveled back in time. Stay at the Iroquois or the Mission Point Resort, where you can easily walk to shops, bars, and restaurants. You will need to walk just to walk off the calories from all of the fudge shops!
Make sure to visit the Grand Hotel for afternoon tea or to have dinner at their Woods Restaurant. Downtown, the Carriage House at the Iroquois is a great restaurant with wonderful views of the harbor lighthouses. The Mustang Lounge is located in an old warehouse of a local fur trader. Sip an Old Fashioned and admire the old log walls dating back to the 1780s. The Chuck Wagon is a casual diner and has been a perfect breakfast spot for over 60 years.
Finally, the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky from Lexington, Franklin, Bardstown, and Louisville, is a wonderful road trip for bourbon and history lovers. Driving on small roads through acres of rolling green hills, horse farms, and charming towns is wonderful to experience. This is a trip that you can take solo or with a group of friends or family as it has something for everyone.
Make sure to visit Buffalo Trace in Frankfort; Woodford Reserve in Versailles; Makers Mark in Loretto; Willett Distilling, southeast of Bardstown; Barton 1792 Distillery, also in Bardstown; and Bulleit Bourbon in Louisville. You will love seeing the historic buildings and tasting the best of their bourbons.
There are many historic sites to see, great restaurants to try, and a large range of inns, bed and breakfasts, and boutique hotels to stay in.
Please enjoy your travels in 2018. Make sure to reach out if you have any questions or have some recommendations to share from you trips!
For more travel destinations and recommendations, visit globalphile.com.