Summer is quickly approaching—at least in the northern hemisphere, and it’s the perfect time to take a weekend or more to spend time relaxing and rejuvenating. Fifteen Food, Wine, Travel Magazine writers share their favorite worldwide weekend destinations with you.
Float Away in Traverse City
Traverse City, Michigan, has plenty of must-do activities for a weekend getaway. For gourmets, it’s Trattoria Stella with its local farm-fresh ingredients. For wine aficionados, it’s the wine tastings along Old Mission Peninsula. For boating enthusiasts, tall ship sailing tops the list with its floating bed and breakfasts.
Manitou, a mid-1800s-style windjammer with 3000 square feet of sails, is one of the Great Lakes’ largest traditional vessels. A simple picnic dinner accompanies the two-hour sunset sail around West Grand Traverse Bay.
After the evening sail, passengers go home, and bed and breakfast guests stay behind for a night of fresh air under the stars while secured to the pier. Bring your sleeping bag to relax under the stars on the deck, or sleep in your private cabin. The ship’s ten cabins sleep two sailors each in single-bunk beds.
Relish your morning coffee as the sun comes up over the horizon. Before departing, enjoy a complete scratch-made breakfast cooked over a wood-burning stove.
The Manitou Floating Bed and Breakfast is available June through August ($270, one cabin for two adults including the standard evening sail.) Check their website for wine tasting and entertainment sail pricing. Contact Tall Ship Sailing at +1-231-941-2000.
~Amy Piper Follow the Piper
Do Orlando North
Next time you head to Central Florida, skip the theme parks and go for a place that has something for everyone, Seminole County, AKA Orlando North. In recent years, it has become a foodie hot spot, a natural paradise, and nightlife Mecca. And all this comes with less traffic and no parking fees or meters.
Wondermade’s flagship store gives you a whole new take on marshmallows. For instant Germany, try Willow Tree Café. Its two-man band rivals shows in Vegas, and the food is authentic German. The streets of downtown Sanford ring with the sounds of live entertainment from their 10-plus breweries and beer gardens, and you can pedal your way to several of them on the Limo Cycle Tour. Haunted Sanford tour tells the eerie stories of Sanford’s colorful past. Hop aboard the steamboat, the Barbara Lee, and cruise Lake Monroe.
If you’re a nature lover, explore Seminole County waters. Black Hammock Airboat Tours brings you up close with eagles, alligators, and many other water birds. A more personal way to get up close to these elusive water creatures is at Wekiva Island via one of their rental kayaks, canoes, or paddleboats. Of course you can meet local as well as exotic animals at Central Florida Zoo. Explore a piece of little-known African-American history at Goldsboro.
So, skip the Mouse and see the real Florida in Seminole County.
~Kathleen Walls American Roads
Get All Shook Up in Memphis
Travel to Memphis, Tennessee, for an immersive weekend in all things Elvis. Tour his home, Graceland, and then take in the exhibits across from the mansion showcasing his career, automobiles, wardrobe, and gold records. Visit Sun Studio where the King of Rock & Roll broke into the music business with his first recordings.
Even if you’re not an Elvis fan, this southern city has much to offer. Spend an evening on Beale Street, home of the blues. Stop in B.B. King’s blues club and check out other nightspots, restaurants and shops within a three-block radius. The Memphis Rock ’n Soul Museum and Memphis Music Hall of Fame are within walking distance, too.
Visit the historic Peabody Hotel to witness the famous March of the Ducks, a twice-daily tradition at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tour the Bass Pro megastore in the Pyramid, and then take the world’s tallest free-standing elevator 28 stories to the top for an unparalleled 360-degree view of Memphis on the observation deck.
Before you leave town, find your way to the National Civil Rights Museum, built around the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. It’s both sobering and educational.
And who doesn’t want to have great food on a weekend getaway? You won’t go hungry in Memphis. Foodies will find a plethora of choices that include everything from world-renowned barbeque to James Beard award-winning restaurants, from casual to gourmet.
Read more at these links: Visiting Graceland and Elvis Presley’s Memphis™ entertainment complex, Memphis Beyond Graceland: Sun Studio, Memphis Beyond Graceland: The National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Beyond Graceland: Where to eat – gourmet to budget
~Debbra Dunning Brouillette Tropical Travel Girl
Sun Yourself in Positano
If you find yourself looking for something to do on a weekend when you’re in Italy, fly, drive, or train it down to Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Once a major port and trading town, today Positano is more of a holiday resort which climbs up the hills from the sea. Its pastel houses, grey pebble beaches, and aquamarine sea have long seduced everyone from John Steinbeck, Liz Taylor, and Pablo Picasso to the not-so-famous just looking to relax.
The sun and sea are the main attractions in Positano, so spend time in the sun on Spiaggia Grande, the town’s 300-meter main beach. If you prefer smaller and quieter, walk along the coastal footpath to Fornillo Beach. Take time to get lost among the streets and staircases that line the town. Shop in the boutiques; visit the art galleries; or, if you are adventurous, hike the five-mile Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods—so-called for its spectacular scenery) above town. You’ll also find outlets for paddleboarding, kayaking, or taking a boat along the coast.
Being a coastal town, Positano is rife with seafood, of course. There are however, plenty of choices for those who prefer meat, vegetables, or pasta. And, don’t forget the lemons. Grown on the hills all along the coast, lemons find their way into everything from drinks and pastries to pastas and sauces.
~Christine Cutler Cold Pasta and Red Wine
Escape to Santa Barbara Wine Country
Living in Los Angeles, a weekend escape to Santa Barbara Wine Country can include either Buellton, Solvang, Santa Ynez, Los Alamos, Lompoc. Los Olivos, or Santa Maria. Just the drive up the coast can put one in the right place to relax from the hustle of the big city. Once you hit Ventura and Santa Barbara, a calm prevails. As the 101 turns inland and one passes through the tunnel, the landscape changes to pastures and oak trees. You know the last leg of the two-hour journey is about to end.
The Danish town of Solvang is filled with restaurants, bakeries, gift shops, and tasting rooms, and all are accessible with just a leisurely stroll. Discover the western, old town feel of Los Alamos with its antique shops, or the country charm of Los Olivos featuring tasting rooms that represent all the AVAs of Santa Barbara County. Enjoy an afternoon with a picnic lunch in the vineyards by a pond at one of the local wineries.
Wine enthusiasts can enjoy Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Sta. Rita Hills, Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties from Santa Ynez and Rhone blends in Los Olivos. The friendly environment is conducive to the wonderful experience the weekend getaway will bring forth.
~ Cori Solomon The Written Palette
Recharge in Noosa, Queensland, Australia
About two hours’ drive north of Brisbane on Australia’s east coast, Noosa has the rare combination of sun-kissed, crowd-pulling beaches and low-key development. You won’t find any high-rises here. Instead, it has an almost village-like atmosphere with a single street of shops and restaurants in iconic Hastings Street, those on the east side having direct access to one of Australia’s most beautiful beaches.
Abutting the main tourist area, sub-tropical rainforest of Noosa National Park extends down to the water’s edge with boardwalks and walking tracks for us to stretch our legs. More than 1170 species of native plants and animals are found within the park which was designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. Across the river, on Noosa’s North Shore, driving along the beach past the magnificent Coloured Sands is an unforgettable thrill (permit required for beach driving).
Well-heeled visitors come for a weekend, a week, or a month, to shop in the upscale boutiques and galleries, dine in the wonderful restaurants, and recharge the batteries—it’s not uncommon to see an Australian or overseas celebrity enjoying a getaway here. Indeed, Makepeace Island, a small heart-shaped island in Noosa River, is owned by Sir Richard Branson and is open to paying guests seeking a barefoot luxury experience.
Visit the Valle
The Valle de Guadalupe wine and culinary region is a relatively easy day trip from San Diego, and it is well worth the effort. Cross the border at Tecate or Ojai Mesa to avoid the crowds and drama in Tijuana. You’ll find that the culinary scene is varied and extraordinary.
Michelin Chef Drew Deckman moved into the Valle to open his El Mojor restaurant. You can nearly touch the grape vines from his open-air dining room and watch him work the huge grill in the courtyard. He’s a stickler for fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. Down a winding dirt road, you’ll find Dona Esthela serving breakfast or lunch out of her modest home-turned restaurant. You know it’s popular from the throng of cars in the lot. Her oven-roasted machaca, served with homemade cheese, refried beans, and fresh tortillas was voted the Best Breakfast in the World by Foodie Hub in 2015. Enjoy the sophisticated architecture of new and old vineyard tasting rooms, both large and small, with views from Encuatro, Decantos, and Cuatro Cuatro. The gracious Spanish-style Adobe Guadalupe winery and Dona Lupe’s vineyard behind La Cetta serve stellar olive oils, breads, and wines.
~ Elaine Masters Tripwellgal.com
Celebrate in La Jolla
Whether you live in Southern California or across the country, a weekend getaway in the lovely seaside village of La Jolla, California, is a wonderful way to celebrate a special occasion or just relax and soak up the beauty of this charming coastal town. La Jolla is less than two hours from just about anywhere in Orange or LA counties, and it is easily accessible from three area airports. It is only 14 miles from the San Diego airport.
La Jolla is the perfect romantic getaway or destination for families looking for adventure. Walking along the La Jolla Cove is an iconic coastal experience with its gorgeous vistas of crashing waves, fascinating tidepools, and famous seal rock with lots of squawking seals and sea lions sunning themselves. All kinds of water adventures are available, including kayaking, canoeing and, of course, surfing. Shopping and dining are also enticing past-times in La Jolla. Besides savoring delicious and diverse cuisine, you can wander into unique boutiques and galleries. The village also offers visitors easy access to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Torrey Pines Golf Course, SeaWorld of San Diego, and the much-celebrated San Diego Zoo.
~ Susan Montgomery Life Uncorked
Meet Up on the Grey Lady
Massachusetts is blessed with a scenic coastline and many beautiful beaches. As a resident whose happy place is by the water, I avoid the crowds and take solace in one of my favorite weekend getaways.
When I travel, I don’t mind putting in a little extra effort to get to a destination. Isolation does a good job of keeping visitors in check. Thirty miles off the coast of Cape Cod sits the Grey Lady, known to most as Nantucket. The one-hour ferry ride is just long enough to blow away the stress and lay the groundwork for a relaxing escape. With over 80 miles of beach, it is always possible to find a deserted plot of sand by the ocean.
As an island, the farm/sea-to-table menu was in play here long before it became a movement. Restaurants serve delicious plates of inventive fresh seafood and greens. Bartlet Farm’s tomato and corn have developed a cult following. Visitors will leave dreaming about a perfectly crusted scallop right out of the bay.
The Grey Lady gets her name from the inevitable fog bank that rolls in and out of the landscape. Don’t fret, the weather just adds to the beauty of an undeveloped coastline and offers up a great chance to discover more about the area’s maritime history in one of the charming, informative museums.
It might be a little harder to get there, but with that extra effort comes a slice of warm weather heaven covered in sea grass and scented with sweet smelling wild roses.
~Alison Abbott Green With Renvy
Drive to York Durham Headwaters
The drive from Toronto to Jackson’s Point, Georgina, and The Briars Resort and Spa is about an hour. From London, Ontario, it’s closer to three hours, and while you could easily drive back and forth just for the day, you won’t want to leave. Plan ahead for a romantic weekend, a solo retreat, or a girl’s getaway in York Durham Headwaters Region.
Make a reservation at The Briars Resort and Spa, a heritage building dating back to 1840. The Briars has a nostalgic country charm, and it sits on 200 acres of forest and trails just begging to be explored. This four-season destination revolves around Lake Simcoe. In the summer, guests enjoy swimming, golfing, boating, fishing, and relaxing with a book at the beach. Bundle up and get outdoors in the winter months to try ice fishing, snowshoeing, tubing, skating, and cross-country skiing in this winter playground.
Schedule a massage at the spa and be sure to order the daily special in the dining room. The fresh local produce and attentive, friendly service make you feel at home immediately.
~Paula Schuck Thrifty Mom Media
Savor the Willamette Valley
For the vino lovers, do a weekend of wine tasting when you catch a flight into Oregon’s Eugene Airport and arrive in Willamette Valley. The Willamette Valley is a thriving wine region ideal for growing Pinot Noir and offers travelers over 300 wineries and tasting rooms. With summer around the corner, visitors can enjoy warmer evenings out at the vineyards and even take in concerts and exciting dinner pairings. In addition to incredible wines, guests can also enjoy quaint, small-town charm in Silverton and McMinnville with their tree-lined avenues of bustling bistros and shopping.
With such an array of tasting choices, Willamette Valley offers a variety of “routes” for eager sippers to choose from. Stay in Portland’s backyard when you visit the northside of the valley, while Eola-Amity Hills gives you a lot of back roads and mountain views as you experience the wines. For a truly unique lodging experience, check into Silverton’s Oregon Garden Resort where you’ll stay in a cozy suite with luxury spa services and an 80-acre garden on site in addition to a restaurant and complimentary breakfast. It is perfect for some rest and relaxation after a day of sipping Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.
~Mary Farah Along Comes Mary
Take the Jitney to the Hamptons
For those of us living in New York City, escaping to the Hamptons is a godsend, especially during the sweltering summer months. A quick ride on The Jitney to the eastern end of Long Island brings you to small villages, stretches of clean beaches, and some of the best lobster rolls in the world.
While still an extension of New York City living, the Hamptons offers something for everyone. For sophisticated summers, posh house parties and weekends at E.M.P. (the summer outpost of Michelin Star Eleven Madison Park) are the norm. For “twentysomethings,” the endless rosé, pool parties, and midday concerts at Surf Lodge create memories that will span throughout the season. While summer is “the season” to see and be seen, spring is the perfect time to beat the crowds and watch nature take its course coming alive from sleepy winters.
~Kimberley Fisher Kimberley Fisher
Rail to Woodend, Australia
Every season has its bounty. As we leave the last warm days of summer and autumn, in Australia, it will soon be winter. I look forward to the open fires and delicious produce of the cooler seasons.
Just an hour out from Melbourne either driving or via rail, you can be in the sleepy town of Woodend. Woodend is a gateway to the Macedon mountains (think of Picnic at Hanging Rock for Australian movie buffs). Spend a few hours searching for mushrooms. There are a number of companies that run tours with excellent specialist to ensure you don’t mistake your pickings for anything poisonous.
I love staying in accommodations with an open fire and spending the evening devouring my hard-earned produce whilst snuggling down in front of that fire. The next early morning’s walk may well entail crunching through the frost-covered grounds.
Woodend is a truly relaxed destination with plenty of food and wine choices, and it is always my favourite fall and winter getaway.
Cross the Bridge to The Lady by the Sea
Nothing says relaxation more to me than the constant sound of waves rolling up on a beach while warm breezes blow off an ocean across miles of white sand. The Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island, California, sets the stage for an amazing weekend getaway.
One of the grand old hotels in our country, this Victorian splendor showcases an expansive beachfront with amenities galore. There is no need to leave the resort; it offers ocean-inspired treatments, steam rooms, an infinity pool, and a fitness center. For a little adventure, the resort has boogie boards to try out those waves as they thunder towards the shore. There are also surfboards, bikes, and volleyballs.
I love the wide variety of restaurants and bars at The Del. On a recent visit, I ate at Eno Pizzeria & Wine Bar, a wood-fired artisan pizzeria and wine bar located outdoors. This location provides the perfect setting for watching the Pacific sunset while watching the pizza being created. And don’t miss the daily marshmallow roast on the beach while sitting in beach sand chairs.
The Hotel Del Coronado is located at 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, California.
~Linda Milks Toastingfoodwinetravel.com
Treat Yourself at Sparkling Hill Resort
The beautiful Pacific Northwest offers a bounty of possibilities when it comes to weekend getaways.
In the mood for an ultimate wellness weekend indulgence? Then head to Sea-Tac Airport for a short, one-hour-and-ten-minute flight to Kelowna, BC. Upon arrival, pick up your Tesla electric car for the 20-minute drive along scenic Route 97 to your two-night destination, Sparkling Hill Resort, in Vernon, BC. The world-class luxury spa promises a haven of rest, relaxation and well-being for your weekend getaway.
First, simply bask in the stunning splendor of your surroundings, starting with the resort’s dramatic entrance atop a granite bluff. Inside, dazzling displays of Swarovski crystals adorn the facility, while panoramic views of Lake Okanagan and the Monashee Mountains dominate the exterior landscape. Enjoy your complimentary European-inspired breakfast buffet at PeakFine, and/or return for lunch or dinner for a menu of regional fresh food flavors.
The highlight of Sparkling Hill, of course, lies in its wondrous 40,000-square-feet KurSpa (“healing waters”), featuring over 100 spa treatments. With so many options at your doorstep, it’s easy to let go and unwind in any of the themed steam rooms and saunas following the spa’s core philosophy of “hot, cold, and relax.” There. Now don’t you feel better already?
~ Nancy Mueller Wander Boomer