Domestic Retreats Topped 2013

Vice President—Content/ Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero
Vice President—Content/ Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero

Here are my top travel tips based on the experiences I’ve enjoyed this year from tooling around the U.S.A.

Local Haunts: In New York, I just stayed at the Warwick Hotel on 54th Street. The grand dame hotel has a great Manhattan-style bar lounge (swanky but casual at the same time and a great place to watch people through the big windows facing Sixth Avenue). I stayed in the newly remodeled Marion Suite, very Art Deco and snazzy in its style, with a living room and dining area and a large bedroom. Downstairs, there are fantastic restaurants everywhere you look. Best part? The Museum of Modern Art is just steps away.

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The Tenpenny at the Gotham Hotel on 46th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues is small with great, subtle lighting. Hide here if you don’t want to be easily found. Happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. serves choice wines and appetizers. The décor is exposed brick walls, floors from reclaimed barn wood and walnut tables.

Pacific Pleasures: Made it to the Northwest for the first time this year. First stop was Sunriver, a resort in the Destinations Hotel & Resorts portfolio near Bend, OR. For a purely natural setting with rustling aspen trees and miles and miles of rolling green grass, this is your go-to place. Accommodations range from hotel rooms to condo-style digs. A pitched, cathedral ceiling defines the huge spa, but golf is a main event here, as are horseback riding, tennis and kayaking. Family travelers, you have found your nirvana. And yes, a river runs through it.

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In Seattle I stayed at The Fairmont Olympic, which is quite close to the very famous Pike Place Market, where they’ll throw giant fish to you over the counter if you ask them. (Yes, it’s a tourist thing). You can spend hours at the market and Seattle has plenty of mainstream shopping as well, such as Nordstrom’s and Macy’s. Seattle’s old guard frequents the Fairmont lobby for cocktails and good old-fashioned piano playing. Just across from the Fairmont is the Purple Café and Wine Bar. If you’re into more of an upscale scene from what the Pike Place Market offers, this is the haunt for you. Other great places to eat in Seattle are Palomino (1420 Fifth Avenue); it’s on top of a retro office building called City Centre. Yes, that sounds weird until you ascend the escalator and realize the restaurant has the entire floor with views down to the lobby. We hear happy hour pricing is amazing and nearly every table is a good one. Ever the fans of Italian cuisine, we also dined at Il Fornaio (600 Pine Street) where the food was great and the crowd was filled with happy, affluent-looking Seattleites.

Favorite Drives: I’m still impressed by the interesting cities you can access by flying into Jacksonville, FL. Southward there’s centuries-old St. Augustine, a real historic tourist town with beaches. You can stay downtown at the Casa Monica or you can rent a condo on the ocean and live like a local. 

Two hours north of Jacksonville and you’re in sultry Savannah, GA, where I recommend staying in the Andaz, which is close to shopping on East Broughton Street and the Riverwalk, just chock full of restaurants, shops and bars. I also recommend the Mansion on Forsyth, which faces Forsyth Park, home to oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and the fountain you always see in photos of Savannah. Drive another hour north and you’re in Charleston, NC. Need we say more?

Just outside of Jacksonville is Amelia Island, a stunningly natural area on the ocean (think sand dunes for miles and miles along the Atlantic). The top hotels there are The Ritz-Carlton and the Omni, which has just had a multimillion-dollar renovation. With either pick, tennis, golf and spa activities are tops.