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

36 Hours In San Francisco, California With Jet Lag

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36 Hours In San Francisco, California With Jet Lag

“It’s an odd thing, but anyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.”
 Oscar Wilde

People from LA (me included) love SF. Its ok to call it SF. But don’t call it San Fran or Frisco – they hate that. I love that their rich people are Techies not Hollywood types. They appear. less materialistic than we are. Techies walk around in hoodies, a t-shirt with the name of one of their first failed start ups, headphones and no eye contact. It reminds me of growing up in NY. I love how geographically tiny it is. It is only seven miles and i have walked from one end to the other in a day. I love how they think their food is better than ours and it is.

I have spent a lot of time in SF so when I had to the chance to spend 36 hours between planes, I avoided all the tourist spots like Alcatraz, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and Union Square. There are so many neighborhoods with their own cultures, appearances and even weather systems. Bring a jacket it is not LA – even in summer.

I chose Japantown. Before World War II, San Francisco had one of the largest populations of Japanese outside of Japan. However, that all changed in 1942 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which forced all Japanese by birth or descent, including Japanese Americans, out of the neighborhood and interned on the Pacific Coast outside of the city. After the war, many chose not to return, shrinking the neighborhood into the small size it currently is today.

9:00pm Check into Kabuki Hotel. I love anything Japanese and the Kabuki Hotel with its Japanese/ art inspired/ hipster vibe was right up my alley.

I have terrible reverse jet lag (flew in from Iceland) . My night alternated between boundless energy and crashing sleep. I knew the next day would be rough.

10:00am  I love the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I was there when it opened and was excited to see the new renovation.

There was an Andy Warhol Exhibit, interesting photography and a wonderful San Francisco Mural by JR. The people in the JR Mural move. Don’t miss it if you are there.

11:30am Walk through the city. My cousin Linda has lived in SF most of her life and is the best person to be with in the city. She knows everything.

12:00pm  We walk to Embarcadero and have lunch at Delancey Street restaurant. It is an inspiring bistro type restaurant, book store and event space. The room is welcoming and the food is delicious. The service is great and it supports a wonderful cause. Delancey Street is a rehab program and everyone who works their is well trained and rebuilding their life.

1:30pm More walking. We walk back to Mission Street.

2:00pm. I had never been to the Contemporary Jewish Museum. The building design is clean and modern. They only had one exhibit at this time.

2:45pm  The United States’ second largest Martin Luther King Memorial, titled Revelation, was built in San Francisco in 1993. It sits behind a 50’ x 20’ foot wall of cascading water. Located in the Yerba Buena Gardens, the memorial is a lovely walkway constructed under a 120,000-gallon reflecting pool.

3:00pm  As I said my cousin knows everything. Samovar in Yerba Buena Gardens  is my new favorite tea place. There is a wonderful selection of teas from all over the world. Service is friendly and the food is unique and delicious.

4:30pm I started crashing and went back to hotel. There is traffic. Apparently Uber and Lyft are causing major congestion in the city.

530pm  I forced myself to stay up and get some  sushi at An Sushi.

It is located at the very nearby Peace Plaza Mall.

6:30pm. Shopping at Daiso. It’s like the 100 yen store in Japan but most things cost a dollar fifty.  Everything is so cute.

8:00pm Sleeeeeeeep.

10:00 am  Kabuki Hot Springs is quiet at ten AM on a weekday. They have a hot and cold pool, steam room and sauna. I opted for a shiatsu massage which definitely helped with the jet lag.

1230pm  The nearby Japanese Mall sells many  authentic and not so authentic Japanese things.

I ate some yakitori and matcha tea and went to the airport.

Fly safe,
JAZ