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

Ten Places That I Want To Visit In The US

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Ten Places That I Want To Visit In The US

“The major advantage of domestic travel is that, with a few exceptions, most domestic locations are conveniently situated right here in the United States.” Dave Barry

I have not traveled much around the US. Other countries and cultures have always been much more interesting to me. Since we can’t go anywhere else right now, I made a list of the places I want to see in my own country. 

Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is one of those places that everyone should see at some point during their lifetime.I have always been fascinated by geology and  it is a bucket list place for me. I’ve wanted to go on my birthday but it is supposedly freezing. There are so many ways to see the canyon that I get overwhelmed thinking about it but I will get there one day for sure. 

Marfa, Texas

I have been wanting to go to Marfa. The best way is to fly to El Paso and then make the three hour drive through nothing to Marfa. It is a hippie art town in the middle of Nowhere,Texas. It is all about the location, the art and the food. It sounds like it is totally my thing.

Kauai, Hawaii

 I have been to Hawaii many times but we always went to Maui or the Big Island. I have never been to Kauai and it is supposed to be the most beautiful island. There is something about lush, overgrown landscapes that I love. The old South Pacific movie was filmed  there.  It looks less developed than the islands I visit. The next time I go to Hawaii, that is where I will be. 

Big Sur, Carmel  and Monterey, California

It is crazy that I live in California and have never been to Big Sur and Monterey. Ii is a windy road trip and I get car sick so there is a reason- but still I could take dramamine.  The photos of  Big Sur are spectacular and how have I not walked down Cannery Row in Monterey? I’m a huge Steinbeck fan. (Big Sur)

Civil Rghts Tour – Atlanta, Selma, Montgomery, Birmingham (Georgia and Alabama)

I don’t think I can ever really understand American History without seeing the struggle of African Americans in the deep South. I want to see first hand the places, the memorials and the museums. When I was very young, my mother volunteered for Dr King. We grew up making posters for her marches for Civil Rights. When I was eight, I won a prize for a poster I made for her, that said “Arrest Discrimination-It’s Wanted For Murder.”  It is sad that after all this time, it is still true.  We can’t fix yesterday but the more of us that acknowledge and see the history, the more chance we have for reconciliation.  We are not the promise land but we have to do better.

Austin and Dallas, Texas

Austin looks like a city with a lot to do when it comes to art and culture and of course South by Southwest film festival. Live music is a lifestyle in Austin and it has become a foodie city as well. It seems to be a place people love and that is good enough for me. I am a history buff and I want to see the Texas Book Depository in Dallas where Kennedy was shot.The sixth floor has been turned into a museum which tells the story. I also want to see the  new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, Cowgirl Museum, the Arts district and try some Texas barbecue. (Austin)

Zion, Brice and Yellowstone Parks (Utah and Wyoming)

Zion is the most visited National Park in Utah and one of the most popular parks in the country.  Pine trees dot the landscape in clusters and towering red rock cliffs rise on either side of the canyon. Carving through the center is the clear Virgin River. It’s supposed to be breathtaking and crowded. The landscape at Bryce Canyon National Park is filled with pillar-like red rock formations  which makes it one of the most unique landscapes in the world. I’m a huge fan of red rock landscapes all over the world and can’t wait to see it. Yellowstone is the oldest National Park in the world. It is weird that I have  been to geothermic parks in Iceland and New Zealand and have not seen Old Faithful and the geyser basin. I’m a little embarrassed that I have not been there yet. (Brice)

Niagara Falls, New York

Growing up in New York, Niagara Falls was a road trip. But we were not a road trip family. As a young adult it was not on my radar of cool places to go.  I have been to Iguazu and many beautiful waterfalls in Iceland and feel that I have to go to Niagara as well. The Niagara River lies on the border of Canada and The US. I want to see this epic power of nature on both the the American and Canadian side and I am prepared to get wet. 

Nashville  and Memphis Tennesee

Memphis is the home of Elvis Presley and where Martin Luther King was shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. There is a Civil Rights Museum that tells the story.  I like music so why wouldn’t I want to see a place nicknamed “Home of the Blues” or “Birthplace of Rock and Roll”. Nashville is also named the Music City and it’s the home of the Grand Old Opry. This trip is going to involve a lot of street art, fried chicken, biscuits and barbecue. (Nashville)

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

I have seen tons of movies, photos and parodies of Mt. Rushmore. I’ve seen special monuments in other countries but not ours. I’m expecting to be awestruck. It is a feat of art and engineering and right now I feel a need to see our Founding Fathers.

Stay safe,
JAZ