Here’s the thing about weekend getaways in Sarasota: You don’t have time for all the good restaurants. I never got to Michael’s on East, which one friend called the best restaurant in town. I never got to the new Belgian place downtown or to Euphemia Haye, which is on nearby Longboat Key. But I still ate well. I don’t know the formula for these matters, but I think Sarasota must have a disproportionately high number of must-do restaurants for a city of its size. Check out my story on going to Sarasota here. You’ll find my recommendations for good restaurants, fun in the outdoors (like kayaking through the mangrove tunnels on Sarasota Bay, above), and viewing art. And while you're thinking about Sarasota, read Chris Dolen's story here on the Ringling International Arts Festival, coming up Oct. 10-13.
Florida Travel + Life has a plan for a long Labor Day holiday -- or any other time you can take off the better part of a week. The magazine outlines an itinerary for a four-day road trip that starts along Florida's northeast coast and follows A1A south to Palm Beach (you'll need to add on a day to get to the starting point). You'll stop in Cape Canaveral, Hutchinson Island and other interesting locales. Click here for a plan that includes suggestions about where to stay, where to eat and what to do.
Do you ever want to jump right into the middle of your favorite TV series? Live in the castle in Downton Abby (actually Highclere Castle in Hampshire)? Have vodka and oysters with Don Draper at Grand Central Oyster Bar? Robert Reid, Lonely Planet’s U.S. travel editor, has put together travel guides for five of the shows nominated for outstanding comedy and drama Emmys this year. Check out his story here.
If you’re going to either of the political conventions (Republicans, Tampa, Aug, 27-30; Democrats, Charlotte, Sept. 3-6), we’ve got advice for when you need to get out of the convention hall: guides to what to do and where to eat in both cities. Or maybe you just like the looks of what you see of the cities on TV (C-SPAN is carrying both conventions), in which case here’s the info you need for a future visit to Tampa or Charlotte.
A movie can bring in so much tourism to the place where it was shot that local agencies put a lot of resources into lobbying location scouts and moviemakers. Often the tourism agencies will also promote tours of movie sites after the fact. For example, VisitBritain.com has a page (click here) devoted to shooting locations titled “Britain is one glorious, gorgeous movie set.” North Carolina has put together a four-day itinerary of places where scenes from The Hunger Games move was shot (click here). Or consider Dyersville, Iowa, which built that town’s tourist industry entirely around the ballpark that was created for the shooting of Field of Dreams (click here).
Which brings us to Fifty Shades of Grey. The first book hasn’t even been made into a movie yet (it is in development at Universal), but already places mentioned in the trilogy, notably the Heathman Hotel in Portland, are being visited by curious tourists. Some hotels have created Shades of Grey-themed packages. No word on whether the packages include the, um, toys from the books. Read the story here.
What are you doing next weekend? Fodor’s, publisher of travel guides, has put together a list of weekend getaways within driving distance of nine big U.S. cities, including Miami. The destinations are not surprising — Key West, Naples, Palm Beaches, Sanibel/Fort Myers (pictured above) and Upper Keys/Everglades — but each comes with an itinerary that includes interesting restaurants, lodgings and activities. Here’s the rundown:
- Key West: The food scene in Key West provides inventive spins on fresh seafood with a growing number of restaurants that understand it takes more than a rum runner to please discerning palettes. The compact nature of Key West's historic Old Town makes it easy to navigate on foot or by bicycle: full itinerary here
- Naples: The downtown dining scene in Naples has seen some inventive new twists in recent years and East Naples is now blossoming into a destination in its own right, anchored by the Botanical Garden. The combination of stylish downtown bars and restaurants with beautiful beaches make this perfect for a girl's getaway: itinerary here
- Palm Beaches: For an artsy weekend with vintage flair that's not overly stuffy, consider our top picks in Palm Beach, its next-door neighbor West Palm Beach, and to the south, Delray Beach, where the downtown area around Atlantic Avenue is popping with new restaurants: here
- Sanibel and Fort Myers: Just twenty miles apart, Fort Myers and Sanibel pair up nicely for a weekend getaway that's all about sun-soaked activities and connecting with nature. Fort Myers has an expansive white-sand beach and some urban buzz, while Sanibel is a sleepy island known for sunsets and seashells: here
- Upper Keys and Everglades: The Upper Keys and Everglades National Park are easily combined into a fun-filled family weekend that won't break the bank. A car helps make the most of this area with a relaxed road trip along some of South Florida's most scenic routes. Pack lightly and soak up the casual vibe of Key Largo, Islamorada, and the Everglades: here
To check out weekend getaways from San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Washington D.C., Philadelphia or Boston, click here.
I was in Los Angeles last weekend and was treated to the spectacular sunset above. It outshines any sunset I've seen from Key West or Sunset Key or Anna Maria Island or anywhere else in Florida. But there's a secret ingredient: particulate matter, the dust and smoke and haze that are a component of air pollution. So the photo below, of the downtown Los Angeles skyline, is the price of the sunset above.
Arguably the most famous family feud in U.S. history was fought along the Tug River, which forms part of the border between Kentucky and West Virginia, where tourism officials are hoping to turn that feud into a tourist draw.
The feud was the rivalry between the Hatfield and McCoy families, which dated to the Civil War era and officially ended when the two families signed a truce in 2003.
Interest in the Hatfields and McCoys has ratcheted up since the History network ran a mini-series on the rivalry in May. There were already bus tours of sites associated with the feud, but now those tours are filling almost as fast as they are scheduled, and tourism officials are looking for more ways to trade on the long-running rivalry. You can read the full story here.
Photo: Kevin Costner portrays Devil Anse Hatfield in the History network's miniseries "Hatfields & McCoys." Credit: Kevin Lynch/History
It was 40 years ago that the movie Deliverance introduced the public to the Chattooga River, which divides Georgia and South Carolina. Much of the movie was filmed on the river — the Cahulawassee River in the movie — and in rural north Georgia. Its portrayal of uneducated hillbillies angered many people in the area, but the film is also credited with sparking the rafting industry and other outdoor activities along the river. This weekend -- June 22-24 -- the region is holding its first Chattooga River Festival, tied to the 40th anniversary of the film. Its promoters say the festival is really about environmental stewardship and the movie is just the first year’s theme. For more information, read this story about the festival or go to the festival website.
Photo: Burt Reynolds portraying Lewis Medlock in the 1972 film "Deliverance." Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment
The Weather Channel has chimed in with its recommendations for summer road trips, listing 10 drives it says are affordable. It’s hard to know how affordable they are since the list contains almost no information about the cost of food, lodgings, or attractions. But the routes do represent some of the more scenic and unusual parts of the country, among them Las Vegas, Nev., to Sedona, Ariz.; Detroit to Mackinac Island, Mich.; the Blue Ridge Parkway (pictured at left); plus a pair of Portlands: Portland, Maine to Acadia National Park; and Portland, Ore., to the Oregon Coast. Check them out for yourself here.