The Daily Traveler: Governors Island

I previewed summer events taking place at Governors Island, one of my favorite places in New York City.

Jazz Age Lawn Party
If The Great Gatsby has you primed to take on the Roaring Twenties, this is the place to break out your cloche hats and seersucker suits. With a backdrop of tunes by Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, you can shop for vintage clothing, check out the Tin Lizzies in the 1920s car show (which, this year, includes Gatsby's 1925 yellow Rolls Royce), take a sepia-toned photo against a paper moon, and, of course, head to the dance floor and show off your Charleston. Tickets cost $30 ($35 at the door if there's any availability).

Click through to read the full article at the Condé Nast Traveler's website.

Photo © Robert Quinlan / Alamy

The Daily Traveler: Car-Free Destinations

Island Vacations: Car-Free Destinations for Your Big Summer Trip

Leave the traffic behind and blow all the gas money because, where you're going, you don't need a vehicle

Rottnest Island
Just a little more than 11 miles west of Perth is a sun-worshipper's haven, with beaches and bays ready for surfers, snorkelers, swimmers, and divers. The best views to be found are actually just off the island—and under the water. In addition to the tropical fish—and more than 130 species of tropical fish have been spotted here—there are a number of shipwrecks to be explored off the coast, including at least three that can be reached by snorkelers without a boat. The destination is popular with students partying to celebrate the end of their terms, so it's wise to book in advance.
Getting Around: You can rent a bike. You can hop on a bus. (Yes, cars are forbidden, but coaches are allowed to traverse the six-mile-long island.) Or you can do both with the combo Bike & Bus pass. For $30 to $40, you'll be given the use of a bike but, when the fatigue sets in at the end of the day, you can hop on any of the Bayseeker buses that run a regular circuit around the island. Just leave your bike at the bus stop, and it'll be collected for you.
Getting There: Rottnest Island has the requisite ferries, including the Rottnest Fast Express, from Fremantle and Perth City, and the Rottnest Fast Ferries, from Hillary. But there are also a few airlines that service the island without requiring an expensive private charter (and arriving by air gives you the chance to take some aerial photos). Check out the on-demand services of Rottnest Air Taxi or Ozwest Aviation.
FYI: The name Rottnest came to be when a Dutch explorer saw the island's native marsupials and thought they were rats. (The island's name translates to "Rats' Nest.") In fact, the animals he saw were not rats, but Quokkas. They look like crosses between cat-sized squirrels and mini-kangaroos, and they're adorable.

Click through to read the read of the slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler's website. 

Photo: ADS/Alamy

The Daily Traveler: New York City's Gardens

As part of the Condé Nast Traveler's New York blog, I profiled 10 gardens.

New York City's Outstanding Urban Gardens

Wave Hill

Wave Hill is an interesting combination of historic home and nature conservatory. The mansion, set on a hill overlooking the Hudson River, has had several VIP residents: Theodore Roosevelt's family rented it for summers, Mark Twain leased it for a time, and Arturo Toscanini lived here from 1942 to 1945. After a two-year renovation, the house reopens this July 6 and 7, but you don't have to wait until then to enjoy the rest of this public garden and cultural center. Nab an adirondack chair on the huge sloping lawn; wander the aquatic, herb or flower gardens; hike a short nature trail; or take pictures of the Palisades from the Italianate pergola. If you're lucky you might spot a proposal or a wedding—Wave Hill is a popular place for both.

Click through to read the rest at the Condé Nast Traveler's website.

Photo courtesy of Wave Hill.

The Daily Traveler: Beach Beauty


It's not quite beach weather, but we can pretend, can't we? For the website of the Condé Nast Traveler, I asked beauty bloggers for their must-have beach essentials. Read it at the Condé Nast Traveler, or download the PDF.

Here's a tip from the article:

"A few of my must-have beauty items for the beach are definitely Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray (let's be honest, no one has Baywatch sexy hair straight out of the ocean without it); Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 Shea Butter & Vitamin E (for the SPF and also its gel-like texture, which won't melt); and, of course, an SPF for the skin of at least 50, normally higher. Banana Boat Sport is good because it stands up a little better against water and sweat."
—Brooke Pakulski, Blushing Noir

The Daily Traveler: Lunar New Year Around the World


Not only did I enjoy researching this article—and all the delicious dinners that accompanied it—but I turned it around in less than a week.

Lunar New Year: Cool Hotel Perks and Special Events Around the World

Start off the Year of the Snake at one of these festive destinations—then venture out for citywide celebrations.

Las Vegas

THE HOTEL: Bellagio Las Vegas

THE PACKAGE: From February 14 to February 17, you're invited to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse—China's equivalent to Camp David (and formerly the hotel's Tuscan Kitchen)—to dine on cuisine normally reserved for royalty, presidents, and prime ministers. Bellagio chef Hao Baoli—known for modernizing ancient menus from the library of the Forbidden City—leads a ten-course tasting menu, paired with wine and cognac, cooked and served by staff direct from the real Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, and presented on dishware from China. (Tickets are $500 per person and can be purchased via Bellagio’s concierge at 866-906-7171). For something a little more casual, the Bellagio's Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are also decked out in a New Year theme through March 3.

VENTURE OUT: Las Vegas holds its CNY in the Desert Festival from February 8 to February 10, with cultural performances, a fun run, a lantern festival, and other events taking place throughout the area all weekend. The Chinese American Chamber of Commerce follows suit with the Chinese New Year Celebration and Asian Food Festival on February 17, with dragon and lion dances, martial arts demonstrations, Japanese taiko drummers, acrobats, and traditional dances from China, Japan, Polynesia, Vietnam, and Korea.

Click through to read the rest of the article at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photograph courtesy of The Bellagio

The Daily Traveler: Wacky Travel Accessories II

If you enjoyed my other article about the strangest travel gear, here is the addendum.

Even More Wacky Travel Accessories

The Walker's Path Illuminating Belt

When stumbling around in the near-dark, for obvious reasons it's best to be as unencumbered as possible. Flashlights tie up your hands, and headlamps mess up your hair (not to mention blind anyone you talk to). This LED belt provides 100 lumens of unhindered, crotch-level illumination, the angle of which can be adjusted from floodlight to spotlight. You do run the risk, however, of looking like a Care Bear in the midst of a Care Bear Stare. Available at Hammacher Schlemmer, $60.


Click through to see the rest of the slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Daily Traveler: Itineraries Inspired by Oscar's Best Picture Nominees

Where to Vacation: Travel Inspired by the Best Picture Nominees

The Oscar nominees for Best Picture were announced this morning—and not only do they tell some pretty amazing stories, but they also showcase some pretty amazing locations. Take a cue from the silver screen and plan one of these cinematic getaways in D.C., Paris, Los Angeles, and more.

Re-Create Life in "The Bathtub" of Beasts of the Southern Wild
Destination: New Orleans, Louisiana
Beasts of the Southern Wild centers on a fictional Louisiana Bayou community that calls itself "The Bathtub." And if there's one thing that the denizens of the Bathtub like to do—for better or for worse—it's drink. Celebrate in their style by taking our New Orleans bar crawl: We have nearly 40 suggestions of where to imbibe, including Bar Tonique for Sazeracs, Tujague's for grashoppers, and Liuzza's Restaurant and Bar for good ol' cold beer. Just don't try visiting all of them in one night, or you'll be so drunk that you'll see visions of the mythical aurox coming to get you. Better get some food to go with all that liquor. Hushpuppy (Oscar-nominated Quvenzhané Wallis), the heroine of Beasts, is taught by her father to fish with her bare hands, but we suggest trying something that's seen a little more culinary attention, such as the Creole innovations at R'evolution and the tasting menu at the soon-to-open Square Root. If you'd prefer to get a little closer to the spirit of the bathtub, visit Isle de Jean Charles, a small fishing village southwest of New Orleans, where the film was shot.

Click through to see the rest of the slide show at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo by Matthew D White/Getty Images

The Daily Traveler: Wacky Travel Accessories


Whenever you travel, you have your essentials: your passport, your carry-on, your in-flight distraction of choice (iPad, Kindle, magazine). Then you have items that are…not so necessary, like these 10 odd travel gadgets and gizmos I wrote about for the Condé Nast Traveler website.

Portable Infrared Sauna
If your hotel doesn't have its own spa, but you can't live without your daily schvitz, just bring the sauna with you. The system deploys 600-watt, infrared heaters to make you work up a sweat—you just have to be cool with looking like you're resting in the world's least comfortable sleeping bag., $400

Click through to read the rest at the Condé Nast Traveler.

The Daily Traveler: Apocalypse Tourism

I suggested seven end-of-times destinations for a slideshow tied to theories about a Mayan-predicted apocaylpse.

Where to Go for the Apocalypse, In Case the World Ends Next Month

Go to the Source
The Mayans are the ones causing the end-of-the-world speculation, so learn all you can about Mayan culture to get some perspective on the situation. First order of business: a visit to some Mayan ruins. Why choose just one? Tour D'Afrique, Ltd. is running La Ruta Maya: The Doomsday Ride, a 1,429-mile bicycling trip that'll take you throughout the heart of Mayan country. The full, six-week cycling experience kicked off November 17, but you can join for sections of the route, which traverses Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize. Along the way, you'll visit the Mayan ruins at Tikal, Copan, and Lamani. If you're not interested in all that exertion—the end of the world means you can let yourself go, after all—perhaps you'd prefer to make your Mayan adventure a side trip in an otherwise all-inclusive, screw-it-all-because-the-world-is-ending beach vacation. In that case, Best Day Tours runs trips to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza, as well as Tulum and Xel-Ha from Mexico's Riviera Maya.

Live in Denial
Perhaps it'll make you feel better to think about other inaccurate apocalyptic predictions. William Miller, a figure who emerged during the Second Great Awakening in America, studied his "Book of Revelation" and decided that the Second Coming could be nailed to a specific date: October 22, 1844. When the day came and went with no sign of a prophecy fulfilled, it became known as the Great Disappointment. You can visit the William Miller House and Chapel, where he lived in Hampton, New York, close to the border of Vermont. The fact that they're both still standing, despite confident prognostications suggesting otherwise, should provide some comfort.

Head for the Hills
Book a flight to France: Some believe that the 200-person town of Bugarach will be spared when the apocalypse arrives. Why? You'd think its remoteness, being snuggled away in the Pyrénées, would insulate it from any harm. You'd be wrong. According to the Huffington Post, those who seek safety there believe that the aliens who will cause the end of times are storing their spaceships in the 1,230-meter-high Pic de Bugarach mountain, and they're planning to spare the locals when it's time to blast off. The mayor has even banned climbing the peak on December 21, fearing for the safety of apocalypse-minded tourists. The Guardian writes that Bugarach's infamy is because of "a prophecy/internet rumour, which no one has ever quite got to the bottom of," but it's as good a spot as any for bet-hedging.

Click through to read the rest of the slideshow at the Condé Nast Traveler.

Photo Courtesy Tour d'Afrique