Ten Places In The United States That I Have Been To And Will Return

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Ten Places In The United States That I Have Been To And Will Return

“America ….. is the land of the richness of life, of the fullness of every hour in the day, the country which gives you the sense of carrying out a huge amount of activity, even though in fact you achieve very little, the country where solitude is impossible.” Italo Calvino

America is big and there is so much to see in the land of the free and home of the brave. The geography, climate, wildlife and people are extremely diverse. We have a brief history compared to Europe and the UK but it is interesting. Here are ten places in no particular order that I love to visit.

Washington DC is the capital of the country and our political center. That might not sound like the place to be be right now but it’s beautiful in the spring with the cherry blossoms in bloom, and in the fall with the leaves changing color. DC is a walkable city if you stay downtown.You have to do the basics. First there are the monuments – Lincoln, Washington, Martin Luther King, Jefferson and WWll. You can see them at night as well. Get your Capitol and White House Tour tickets before you come. It’s fun to just walk down the National Mall and see all the museums and monuments. The Smithsonian Institution has 19 museums all over the city. I also like Newseum, the Holocaust Museum, National Portrait Gallery and my favorite the National Gallery Of Art. Union Market has an amazing food scene and the food in DC is eclectic and delicious. If you have kids, the FBI and the Mint are fun to see.

People from Los Angeles love San Francisco. Their rich people are techies not Hollywood types. It is geographically tiny and you can walk everywhere.  Walking across the Golden Gate Bridge is cool.  Riding the cable car is an excellent way to see the city.  Taking the ferry to Alcatraz Island is interesting.  You can walk along Fisherman’s Wharf which is really touristy. I dont recommend eating there.  Swan Oyster Depot is better for seafood. San Francisco is a foodie city so there are many  great restaurants. Go to the largest Chinatown in the US for dim sum and Japantown for sushi. The Ferry Building which has been converted to a market and food court is a great place for lunch. I love the newly renovated San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art. There are many interesting neighborhoods with walking tours. Bring a jacket- even in summer.

Amelia Island is a quiet barrier island, located in the Northernmost portion of Florida, not too far from the Georgia border. The island is one of the Sea Islands, a chain of coastal barrier islands stretching from Northeast Florida to South Carolina. It is great place to relax with southern hospitality. Amelia Island offers 13 miles of quiet, secluded beaches. The setting is quaint and beautiful, with many historical inns, beautiful seaside homes, hiking trails and a few resorts.The weather is mild year-round with an average winter temperature in the 60’s. You will find that the area is not overdeveloped, but rather reminiscent of the old days in Florida.

Chicago, Illinois has the the hospitality of a midwestern city with the  famous architecture and multiculturalism of New York. The food in Chicago is first class and the Art Institute is one of my favorite museums. The elevated Bloomingdale Trail and the Lake Michigan bike paths are fun when the weather is nice. I also liked the Architecture Cruise given by the Architectural Foundation which is a fun way to see the famous buildings. Chicago is home to the comedy club Second City (think SNL) and Steppenwolf Theatre Company (think Broadway). The best time to visit is spring and fall. 

The Big Island is also called Hawaii. I love the Kona side with its volcanic landscape and black sand beaches. The Hilo side has a lush tropical landscape and is definitely a day trip. Yes Hawaii is expensive because it is an island and everything has to be shipped in. If you have never seen an active volcano, go to Hawaii Volcano National Park. Stay after dark to see the glow from the Caldera. I usually never leave the black sand beach.

 As an ex New Yorker, when I visit New York City, I want to see and do it all. It’s a frantic schedule even for a New Yorker. It’s impossible to see it in one visit and you have to resign yourself to see and do what you can. The lines for the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Empire State Building are long so get there early. If you are interested in the World Trade Memorial, get your tickets before you go.Times Square is always crowded with tourists. Get tickets for you shows in advance or go to TKTS booth in Times Square for discount tickets to day of shows. See a concert or ballet at Lincoln Center. There are walking tours in every neighborhood so pick neighborhoods that interest you. I grew up in Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn and recommend both as a way to relax in the city. The HIghline is an urban walking park which runs from 34th Street to the Meatpacking District, built on old elevated train tracks, is lovely on a nice day. NY is filled with excellent museums so budget some time for those. The Met is one of the biggest museums in the world and  has something for everyone so I recommend that. I love the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. Food is a whole blog. NYC is filled with amazing restaurants and many different immigrant cultures who bring along great food. When I return, I must have pizza and egg rolls from any family run place, cannoli from Venero’s, bagels from Ess A Bagel and a hot dog from Grey’s Papaya . NYC was my last plane trip in the old world so I am particularly nostalgic. 

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Plan to be amazed by the intense color of the red rocks and the night skies filled with stars. There is a magical , spiritual quality to Sedona, Arizona . Sedona has a moderate climate and though it is hotter in summer and snowy in winter, you can really visit anytime. The natural beauty and energy vortexes make hiking, dining, spa and  personal growth experiences even better.

Boston, Massachusetts is one of the most historic cities in the United States. I have been there many times and love the food, museums and the fact that is a slower paced city than New York.The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile walk through historic Boston. It takes you through all the major sites and monuments relating to the city’s founding and the Revolutionary War. The trail passes through Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall so plan to stop for lunch.There are beautiful neighborhoods with their own vibe and history to walk through. I love the North End which is the heart of Boston’s Italian community. It involves waiting on a line for cannoli at MIke’s Pastry. You might also want to see a Red Sox game or visit Harvard. Museums in Boston are free to students which is another thing I love about the city.

A new England summer vacation had never occurred to me until my daughter went to camp in Maine. Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts is not actually a place to lie out on the beach for eight hours with a drink in hand.The weather can be iffy. There are great restaurants especially if you are a fan of lobster and sea food. The Vineyard is divided into six towns each with their personal vibe, so explore them all, by foot, bike or if it’s raining –  car. If you bring a car, make sure to have a car reservation for the ferry in advance or purchased from a resident. 

I love skiing in Park City, Utah. Growing up as an East Coast skier, the incredible Utah powder is so wonderful. Whatever your level of skiing, you will find runs in Park City. I love Deer Valley. The resort is consistently ranked at the top when it comes to grooming, service, access, on-mountain food, lodging, dining, and kid friendliness. Park City was founded in 1884 after the silver boom of the 1860s, and its mining heritage plays a strong role in defining the Western flavor of the charming little downtown scene. There is an abundance of restaurants and bars to choose from. It is also the host of the world famous Sundance Film Festival which takes place in January every year. 

Sty safe,

JAZ

Forty Eight Hours In London With An Art Lover

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Forty Eight Hours in London With An Art Lover

“I don’t know what London’s coming to — the higher the buildings the lower the morals.” Noel Coward

Arrive Thursday afternoon.  Check into Covent Garden Hotel (so cool).

Take a taxi to Saatchi Gallery.  I love London taxi drivers who know so much about the city.  The Gallery always has an interesting collection of contemporary artists.

There was a great photography exhibit on human trafficking in Nepal.

I tried to go to the  nearby Flower Show (biggest thing happening in London this weekend)  but I was losing steam.

I went back to  the hotel for a quick nap. Dinner at Spring and drinks in the library at Covent Garden Hotel.  (forgot to plug in my phone)

Friday.  Yay – it is not raining. Breakfast at the Covent Garden Hotel.

I walked to the Tate Modern Museum.  It is about a half hour walk from Covent Garden over the Waterloo Bridge and down the South Bank of  the Thames. I love walking in London.

The one hour I had  planned to spend at the Tate Modern stretched into three.

I was blown away by  Shape Of Light exhibit.

I spent a while there.

 I walked through some of the collection.

It is truly my favorite modern art museum in the world and I could easily have spent all day here.

I grabbed a sandwich at the museum café and planned the rest of my afternoon.

There is an excellent photography exhibition going on at the Gallery at Oxo Tower which was also on the Southbank.  Windrush :Portrait Of A Generation is captured by photographer Jim Grover.  In 1948 a ship called the Empire Windrush brought 1000 passengers from the West Indies to Essex. They were mostly Jamaican men brought to help rebuild England after the war. Many settled in London. They were known as the Windrush Generation.

They came to symbolize the changing demographics of the UK. But, with the new tough stance on illegal immigration throughout the world, the descendants are now struggling to prove a citizenship status they formally took for granted. They are not illegal immigrants. Before 1973, Commonwealth citizens had the right to live and work in the UK, without additional documentation. This photo exhibition coincides with the seventieth anniversary of the Windrush and is a timely reminder. Will they be deporting the Irish who came to work in London during the famine in the 1850’s? The exhibition is crowded thanks to a good review in Timeout magazine.

I pass by the Hayward Gallery even though they are between exhibitions because I wanted to see the space.

They don’t let me in so I continue walking.

I do some shopping and photographing around Covent Garden.

I have theatre tickets to   Everyone’s Talking About Jamie. The British are such an enthusiastic audience and they serve ice cream at intermission. It is very current and fun. I’m sure it will be here soon. There is nothing American theatre lovers like better than to say “I already saw it in London.”

The next morning I head to the National Gallery to see the Monet and Architecture exhibit.

I love both those things. His use of light in his paintings of the same subject is so inspiring and beautiful.

The National Gallery houses one of the greatest painting collections in the world. 

A copy of Van Gogh’s sunflowers hung in my house growing up. I run up to visit the  original painting.

 I have time for a quick stop at the National Portrait Gallery. It opened in 1858 and was the first Portrait Gallery in the world. There are paintings, photographs and videos of famous British people.

The pedestrian space in Trafalgar Square is filled with buskers, live statues and street artists.

For a street art lover like me, watching the artists create something while listening to beautiful Spanish guitar music on a sunny warm day in London, is a wonderful end to my trip. 

I have to come back soon. I am also a theatre, shopping and food lover and I couldn’t fit it all in two days.

Fly safe,

JAZ