TORONTO | WHAT TO DO

Museum of Illusions.jpg
MOCA Toronto 2.jpg
TIFF photo courtesy of Toronto Star.jpg

Museum of Illusions 
132 Front St E
+1 416 889 2285
Thanks to the Museum of Illusions, we can all live out our Instagram dreams. This is a place where photography is not only encouraged, but it’s a key part of the exhibition. With 14 locations around the world, each has the same goal: To play with ideas of imagination, the mind and the human sense of perception. 

MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)
158 Sterling Rd
+1 416 530 2500
Toronto’s Museum of Contemporary Art recently moved from the city’s west and to its new home inside a former aluminum factory, and its curatorial range, spread across five floors, has expanded from a sole focus on Canadian artists to a more international roster. The inaugural group show, BELIEVE, featured pieces from up-and-comers like photographer Awol Erizku, who shot Beyoncé when she was pregnant with her twins. 

TIFF (The Toronto International Film Festival) 
Not new but noteworthy nonetheless, is the annual Toronto International Film Festival, which brings a flurry of screenings, parties and celebrities into the city. Want in? The next festival comes to town on September 5th 2019. 

BERMUDA | WHAT TO DO

The thing I wasn’t expecting about Bermuda, and the thing that most impressed and excited me, was the sheer number of attractions, activities and hidden gems there are to discover. There’s truly something for everyone — plus plus. Traveling with an adventurer? Go cliff diving into the turquoise sea off of Admiralty House Park, the ruins of a former naval residence. Want to explore the island on foot? Head to the 18-mile Railway Trail, built on the old train tracks that run from St. George’s all the way across the island straight up to Somerset Village. History Buff? Visit the town of St George’s, a UNESCO Heritage site that once served as the island’s capital (it was moved to the more centrally located city of Hamilton in 1815) and is home to St Peter’s Church, the Unfinished Church and Fort St. Catherine. Sun Seeker? There are beaches galore, and each has its own feel, from the cliffs of Jobson’s Cove to the calm waters of Tobacco Bay and miles and miles of pink sand in between. And this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of Bermuda. My list is long and unfinished. I guess I’ll need to go back again — and again and again — if I want to see to see it all. But here’s my list in progress.

Rent a Twizzy. I’m starting with this because it’s the best way to navigate all 22 miles of Bermuda. Thanks to their Clean Air Act, each Bermudian household is allowed only one car, and car rentals are not permitted on the island. That leaves taxis (which can be pricey), bicycles (not for everyone) or mopeds (not the safest mode of transport for those unfamiliar with the island roads) and now, the Twizzy. At the end of 2016, the Government approved the use of these sort of open-air, moped-golf cart-electric smart car hybrids that are ridiculously fun to drive and are, in my opinion, the best way to get around the island. You can rent them at the Hamilton Princess from Current Vehicles (Ask for Somers – he’ll hook you up and let you know how to download the Maps.Me app that will show you the locations of charging stations around the island).

Get a Driver. I know I just said you should rent a Twizzy, and you should, but you should also hire a driver for at least one day to get a real feel for the island and all of its incredible history. But don't get just any driver. The one you want is Larry Rogers (+44 1 734 8024 larry.rogers67@gmail.com), and you’ll need to book him in advance. Larry’s a born and raised Bermudian with a keen sense of humor and a knowledge of the island that rivals Wikipedia. He also has ins at a few places that are off limits to tourists (ask him to take you to Palm Grove Gardens, the private residence of the Gibbons family that has some of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll ever see). I found him most helpful in going from Hamilton to St George’s as the roads in that direction aren’t quite as pretty as the ones to the South, and being in a car saved some time getting to this side of the island. And if a Twizzy isn’t your thing at all, I’d say get Larry to take you around as much as possible. And make sure to ask him to throw in some life lessons, or “Larryisms” as he likes to call them. #priceless.

Visit a Farm. This one is unexpected for sure — a farm visit might not be at the top of your list of things to do on an island vacation, but I implore you to give it a chance, because Wadson’s Farm is so much more than your average farm. Tom Wadson started farming in 1976 with one acre and he’s grown it to over 40 today.  With everything from curly kale to strawberries to hydroponic lettuces, not to mention chickens, ducks, hogs and sheep that are harvested on site, this is farm to table at its best and most authentic. No middle man, no mass distributor — just Tom’s partner, Marty Hattfield, going door to door to the island’s restaurants offering the week’s harvest. And it’s Marty who will show you the farm and give you quite a lesson in horticulture while he’s at it. Wadson’s Farm 10 Lukes Pond Road, Southampton, Bermuda +1 441-238-1862.

Check out The Naval Dockyards. Hop in your Twizzy and follow the South Road along some of the island’s most beautiful beaches, including Astwood Park, Horseshoe Bay and Elbow Beach. Take it all the way to the Northwest tip of the island, where you’ll find some amazing sites at the Naval Dockyards like the National Museum of Bermuda which houses more than 75,000 artifacts of Bermudian history, and the Clocktower Mall which is pretty much the only place you’ll be able to find any tourist trinkets to bring home.
Give yourself time, though, because there’s a ton to see on the way. I highly recommend a stop for lunch at Bella Vista Bar + Grill (Port Royal Golf Course, 5 Port Royal Drive, Southampton SB03, +441 232 0100) located at the top of Port Royal, one of the island’s only public golf courses. The food isn’t the draw here — it’s the view that will stop you in your tracks. Perched high above the sea, it’s the only place you’ll get to see the ocean from this vantage point and it is so, so worth it. Have a glass of rosé, a salad and take it all in. Moving on, swing by Glass Beach, a tiny bit of shoreline located near an old bottling factory that has now become a beach made almost entirely of sea glass. Be warned, though: It’s illegal to take anything away with you, so make sure you bring your camera. Back on the road, you’ll drive over Somerset Bridge, the world’s smallest drawbridge which connects Sandy’s Parish to Somerset Island. And I know you just finished lunch, so you may want to wait until after you’ve visited the Dockyards, but whatever you do, make a pit stop at Woody’s (1 Boaz Island, Somerset Village, Bermuda) for the best fish sandwich on the planet: Perfectly fried Grouper or Wahoo served on raisin bread (yes, you read that right) with coleslaw, cheese, tartar sauce and hot sauce. I know what it sounds like, but trust. I promise. And I’ll give you your money back if you disagree.
Note: The other option is to take a ferry from Hamilton to Somerset, which is a beautiful way to see the island, but in my opinion, you miss out on some good sightseeing. Unless of course you have time to try it both ways, then I say definitely do that.

Hit the Beach. The topography of Bermuda is so varied that it’s as likely to feel like the South of France as it is the Bogs of Ireland, and the island’s 75 miles of coastline are no exception. From the rocky cliffs of Admiralty to the gentle surf at John Smith Bay, there’s a beach for everyone and every activity. Tobacco Bay on the North Side near St George’s is known to be a great spot for snorkeling and has a beachside café with a bar and live music, making it a popular spot for the Sun Seeking generation. Horseshoe Bay, on the South Side is, and always has been, the most popular beach on the island; and Cooper’s Island, on the Southeastern tip, which was once occupied by a NASA space tracking station, is 45-acres of mostly unspoiled terrain that boasts miles of beautiful beaches alongside one of the world’s most impressive bird sanctuaries. And there are dozens of others worth discovering as well: Elbow Beach, Jobson’s Cove, Warwick Long Bay, Church Bay, Turtle Bay and Mermaid Bay to name just a very few. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Drew’s Bay in St George’s, which a local beach for two. Yes, only for two people. That's it. It’s an unwritten Bermudian rule, so be sure to change course if you arrive and find the sliver of beach already occupied.
But regardless of the beach you choose, rest assured it will be a slice of heaven, complete with crystal clear turquoise waters, beautiful pink sand, and an abundance of sunshine.

Get Out On the Water. Whether it’s paddle boarding on the North Shore where the waters are calm, taking a JetSki tour around the island from the Hamilton Princess Beach Club or snorkeling around Tobacco Bay, the waters around Bermuda are about as clear as you will ever see.  

Go Underground. The limestone caves that run beneath Bermuda are almost as awe-inspiring as the scenery above ground. And while there are tourist spots like the more commercial Crystal Caves and Fantasy Caves ( 8 Crystal Caves Road, Hamilton Parish CR 04, +1 441-293-0640 ), which have perfectly choreographed and scripted group tours with a modern infrastructure that takes you 120 feet below sea level, my suggestion is to find those caves that are a bit further off the beaten path. Try the Cathedral Cave at the Grotto Bay Hotel, where you can actually take a swim through the cave’s crystal clear waters, or Green Bay Cave in Harrington Sound, which is the longest cave in Bermuda, with more than 2 km of underground tunnels.

Take a Walk Through History. The original capital of Bermuda, St George’s, was founded in 1906 accidentally when Admiral George Sommers’ ship carrying 150 passengers was swept off course. It was a happy accident, though, because today St George’s is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and carries with it a rich and storied history. You could simply spend an afternoon walking the streets of St George’s, which is a wonder in itself. The architecture of Bermuda really shines here, but you really need at least a full day to explore everything St. George’s has to offer. St. Peter’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church in the Western Hemisphere; The Unfinished Church which was originally constructed to replace St Peter’s but was abandoned; Somers Garden where the heart of the town’s founder, George Somers, is buried; and Fort St Catherine, a seaside fort that was used first by Bermudian Militia and then by regular Royal Artillery units from 1612 into the 20th Century, are just a few of the places you must see. Add in a visit to The Bermudian Heritage Museum (29 Water St, St.George's, +1 441-297-4126), which celebrates the history of Bermuda’s African American heritage. In fact, the first slaves were brought to Bermuda in the 1620s and the slave trade wasn’t outlawed on the island until 1807, so it informs quite a bit of the island’s story. The museum was opened in 1998 with the goal of researching, collecting, preserving, displaying, and promoting this 400-year history, and it does it with incredible pride. It's a tiny building that you would likely walk right by, but don’t. Instead take a step inside, introduce yourself to Marion at the front desk, and ask her for a brief tour. It’s another example of the uniqueness of Bermuda, and a reminder that it really is so much more than just your typical vacation spot.

Follow the Scent.  Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone took over The Bermuda Perfumery (Stewart Hall 5 Queen Street, St George's GE05, +1 441-293-0627), a ridiculously charming fragrance shop in 2004, and her passion for scent is literally intoxicating. Her perfumes, which are all hand crafted on site (on site! By hand! Not in a factory!), are meant to capture the essence of the island: the botanicals, the beach, the railway trail, the cuisine and the music. And they do just that. My personal favorite is South Water, a unisex scent that perfectly captures the pink sands and turquoise waters that surround the island. And as with the rest of Bermuda, there’s history here, too. Ask Isabelle to show you the original bottle of perfume that was recovered from the 1864 shipwreck of the Marie Celestia, and then smell the scent she was asked to recreate. You can also take an afternoon to create your own fragrance in the shop: On Tuesdays and Thursdays in the slower months (and by appointment the rest of the year), Isabelle offers workshops that let you in on the secrets of scent-making. You can also swing by on Wednesdays and Fridays for a spot of tea with Paula, the perfumery’s on-site Pastry Chef who bakes confections almost as delightful as the shop she serves them in.

Catch a Sunset. Sunsets in Bermuda are an event that shouldn’t be missed, and luckily there are some prime spots from which you can witness nature’s greatest show. Harborfront (40 Crow Lane at the BUEI, Pembroke HM 11, +1 441-295-4207) has a terrace perfect for a sunset cocktail; The Pompano Beach Club (36 Pompano Beach Road, Southampton SB 03, +1 800 343 4155) has the distinct honor of being considered the best place to snap a selfie during sunset and the Beach House at BlackBeards, right outside of Fort St Catherine on Achilles Bay, never disappoints with its views or its cocktails.

Pack a Picnic The one thing Bermuda lacks is outdoor dining. To remedy that, I’d suggest you head to Miles Market (96 Pitts Bay Rd, +1 441-295-1234), pick up a baguette or two, some prepared salads, a bottle of wine and make yourself a picnic. There’s almost nowhere on the island that isn’t picture-perfect, but some of my selects for picnic spots are the cliffs above the sea at Astwood Park on the South Shore, Admiralty House on the North Shore where you can spend a lazy afternoon diving off the Amalfi Coast-like cliffs into the turquoise waters; and Barr’s Bay Park, next to the Hamilton Bermuda Yacht Club where you can lay on the grass and watch the sailboats drift by.

Go Gallery Hopping. There’s a good amount of art to see in Bermuda, both local and foreign. See the landscape of Bermuda through the eyes of artists such as Georgia O’Keefe and Winslow Homer at Masterworks Museum of Bermudian Art ( 183 South Rd). The Bermuda National Gallery of Art (17 Church St, Hamilton) is another showstopper located inside Hamilton’s City Hall, full of local work that spans centuries. If you’re a modern art lover, don’t miss a tour of the Hamilton Princess (76 Pitts Bay Road, HM08, +1 441 295 3000) where the owners rotate the pieces from their private collection, which is massive and rivals any modern art museum you’ve ever been to. We’re talking Warhol, Damien Hirst, Magritte and De Kooning, and that’s not even a fraction of the list.

Get High. There are two lighthouses in Bermuda, and both are worth a visit. The Gibbs Hill Lighthouse (Lighthouse Road, St Anne's Rd, Cross Bay SN 01, Bermuda), was opened in 1844 and soars 114 feet high. Climb all 185 steps to the top for a great photo op. St. David’s Lighthouse, located on St. David’s Island overlooking the South Shore isn’t quite as high, but the views are equally as stunning.

Commune With Nature. Every inch of Bermuda exudes perfect, natural beauty, so it makes sense that the island is also home to miles and miles of nature reserves, botanical gardens and national parks. The Bermuda Botanical Gardens (169 South Road in Paget Parish DV 04, +1 441-236-4201) are 26 acres of everything from rose and hibiscus gardens to aviaries and greenhouses. There’s also an incredibly fragrant Garden for the Sightless full of flowers and aromatics, designed for the blind. Tom Moore’s Jungle (aka Walsingham Nature Reserve, Walsingham Ln., Harrington Sound Rd., Hamilton Parish) is a 12-acre reserve in Hamilton parish named for the Irish poet who spent most of his time in Bermuda, and along with lush greenery, you’ll find several natural swimming holes (Blue Hole is the most famous) as well as Tom Moore’s Tavern, the oldest eatery in Bermuda which dates back to the 17th century. Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve is surrounded by water on the Southeastern tip of Bermuda and provides access to a number of public beaches, including Clearwater Beach at Annie’s Bay, one of the island’s most pristine spots. There’s also a wildlife observation tower, which is a great place to spot whales in the spring. And if you’ve ever wondered what a rubber tree looked like, wonder no more: The Southlands Estate is home to the largest grove of rubber trees in Bermuda.

Drink It In. Last, but definitely not least, is my favorite activity: Drinking. Just kidding. Sort of. Seriously, though, you cannot and should not visit Bermuda without a quick (or not so quick) stop at The Swizzle Inn ( 3 Blue Hole Hill, CR 04) where, thanks to their potent Rum Swizzles (the official drink of Bermuda), you’ll “Swizzle In and Swagger Out.” And if it’s nightlife you’re looking for, take a stroll down Front Street in Hamilton. Stop into The Pickled Onion for a Dark & Stormy (another local fave) or the newly opened Astwood Arms, a Victorian style pub with great drinks and even better music. If it’s local flavor you’re after, make your way to Bermuda Bistro for great pub food and even greater live entertainment.

COPENHAGEN | WHAT TO DO

Amalienborg Palace
Amalienborg Slotsplads 5, 1257
+45 33 12 21 86

The home of the Danish Royal Family, Amalienborg Palace is all Rococo goodness. 

Designmuseum
Bredgade 68, 1260
+45 33 18 56 56

This is a must-do. Follow Danish design from the beginning of time through present day, including fashion. It’s a great first-stop for a crash course in what you’ll see for the rest of your trip.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Gl Strandvej 13, 3050 Humlebæk
Located 35km from the city, this museum is well worth the trip. From Picasso to Giacometti, there are over 4000 pieces in the permanent collection, so make some time. And don’t miss a walk through the incredible Sculpture Park.

Glyptoteket
Dantes Plads 7, 1556
The personal collection of Carl Jacobsen, the son of the Carlsberg Brewery family, it’s primarily a sculpture museum (you can see Rodin’s The Kiss here) and the collection focuses mostly on Ancient Greek and Roman works as well as art from the Danish Golden Age. 

STOCKHOLM | WHAT TO DO

The ABBA Museum
Djurgårdsvägen 68, 115 21
+46 8 121 328 60

Because, ABBA.
Seriously, though, if you ever listened to their music (or saw Mamma Mia), please go. It’s campy AF and so worth the entertainment.

Artipelag
Artipelagstigen 1Värmdö
+46 8 570 130 00

Think of this as Stockholm’s version of DIA Beacon, except it’s in Stockholm so it’s infinitely cooler. Located about a 20 minute drive outside of the city (you can get there by boat in the warmer months), on the island of Värmdö, the modern art mecca was opened BabyBjörn founders Björn and Lillemor Jakobson in 2012. With more than 100,000 square feet of interior art space plus walking trails that snake endlessly through the island’s pine trees at the water’s edge, this is a place you have to see. You just have to. The space includes a design shop, two restaurants and endless inspiration.

Drottningholm Palace
Drottningholm
+ 46 8 402 62 80

Don’t be surprised if the home of the Royal Family looks a lot like a mini-Versailles. It was, in fact. inspired by it, and it’s just as beautiful as its French counterpart (this one, though, is on UNESCO's World Heritage list). To get there, you take It’s about an hour boat ride you take to get there, complete with A classic sight an hour boat ride from the city and a beautifully maintained mini-Versailles that was inspired by 17th-century French architecture and has incredible, untouched Gustavian interiors.

Fotografiska
Stadsgårdshamnen 22, 116 45
+46 8 509 005 00
I’m a huge fan of photography, and this museum exceeded all of my expectations. The exhibits are decidedly cutting edge and with their incredible restaurant, it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Royal Palace of Stockholm
Gamla Stan Slottsbacken
+46 8 402 61 30

The Swedish are good at royalty, so a visit to their Royal Place is a must. Although the Swedish royal family now resides in Drottningholm Palace, the Royal Palace still holds an important role, both as a historic monument and as the host of banquets and receptions, and it’s pretty fun to look at.

Gamla Stan
Stockholm’s Old City is well worth a tour. Dating back to 1252, it’s one of Europe’s best preserved Medieval cities, full of twisty narrow streets and grand buildings.

Humlegården
Karlavägen 32, 114 31
+46 73 685 56 07
This park on Ostermalm is a fave for a lazy afternoon picnic.

Östermalm
This is where you’ll find the highest land prices in all of Sweden, so you can imagine the types of homes, shops and restaurants you’ll find here. This is where the bulk of the great design stores are (See WHERE TO SHOP)

Östermalms Saluhall
Östermalmstorg 114 39
This is considered to be the world’s 7th best food hall, and it’s a must-see. You’ll find everything here, plus enough Swedish treats to bring hone with you.

Skansen
Djurgårdsslätten 49-51, 115 21
+46 8 442 80 00

Skansen is the world’s oldest open air museum. Which is what, exactly? Glad you asked. Basically, it’s 150 historic homes in a park setting. You can go into the houses (some of which date back to 1600s) and see the stunningly preserved interiors. We didn’t go (because, winter), but this is from our friends at Indagare Travel, who I trust implicitly: The residences were collected toward the end of the 19th century, when scholar and folklorist Artur Hazelius rescued 150 outstanding traditional houses and placed them here among gardens and allées. Of special note: Skogaholm Manor, built in 1680, has superb Gustavian interiors with decorative pale gray paneled walls. There’s even a plaster bust of Gustav III in the salon.

Sodermalm
This is the hip, artsy area of Stockholm (Fotografiska is located here), full of cute cafes and shops. In the summer you can even swim off the small beaches in Tantolunden park.

Vasa Museum
Galärvarvsvägen 14
+46 8 519 548 00

The warship Vasa sank just minutes after launching in 1628 and spent the next 333 years under water. In 1961 the ship was salvaged and the Vasa Museum was born. It’s oddly (or not, if you’re into old ships, which I’m not) incredibly interesting and one of those Stockholm institutions you just shouldn’t miss. 

CARTAGENA | WHAT TO DO

Cartagena is a very smalll city with a very big heart, but not a ton of stuff to do. Here are some of the highlights.

CAFE HAVANA
While Cafe Havana opened as recently as 2006, it's become a mainstay of Cartaganian nighttime. Located in Getsmani, it's the ONLY place to go to hear live salsa. 

CARTAGENA CONNECTIONS
I'm not usually one for organized tours, but we wanted to do a couple of special excursions and were directed to Kristy Ellis and her company, Cartagena Connections. It turns out that Cartagena lends itself perfectly to these types of tours because, as I said, there's not a ton of stuff to do on one's own, but there is a ton of history and incredible stories to be found if you find the right guide. Kristy, an Australian transplant, is just that. She knows everything about everywhere and is an absolute joy to be around — something that seems like a requirement for a tour guide but so often isn't the case.  We took a tour of the Mercado Bazurto and did a cooking class with her, and if we had more time we for sure would have taken advantage of any number of the other tours she offers.

GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ
If you're a fan of Magical Realism, then Cartagena is the place for you. Birthplace of the creator of the genre, you can visit Marquez' house and take audio tours of the streets and places where many of his books, like One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera, were set.

MERCADO BAZURTO
Here's what I have to tell you before I say anything else: Don't plan on doing a tour of this market by yourself. Really — don't. I don't care how adventurous or well-traveled you are. Call Kristy (see above) and have her take you, because this is no cute farmer's market, this is about as down and dirty as you can get, and anything you think you might know about health and sanitary regulations needs to be put to rest. It's hot, muddy, dirty and little bit scary, but it's well worth the trip to get a true sense of the culture. And make sure to find the "food court" and have a bite at Restaurant Cecilia, made famous by Anthony Bourdain, where the rice and fish are both amazing and the beers are super cold.

THE ROSARIO ISLANDS
Like I said, Cartagena is HOT. And while the Caribbean lays just outside the walls, the beaches in the city are not swimmable and are inhabited mostly by  the homeless. So do yourself a favor and rent a boat (we used Boating Cartagena and they were amazing) and head out to The Rosario Islands, an archipelago about 62 miles off the coast of Cartagena. You won't even believe you're in the same country - the water is crystal clear and the snorkeling is fantastic. The guys at Boating Cartagena can organize lunch for you at any of the hotels on the islands which makes for a really nice day spent getting massages, having lunch and laying on the beach. And if you can, take 2 days and spend one having lunch at Cholon, an "island" (it's really a peninsula, but who's counting) located in Baru. And by lunch I mean eating freshly caught seafood while standing under a thatched hut in the middle of the ocean (they'll also deliver food to your boat, but trust me on this — you want to eat it in the water because you will never ever have that kind of experience again).  And don't say no to he guy who comes by canoe and offers you freshly snatched oysters, either. Apparently Cholon can turn into quite the party during the high season, but if you get there early enough you can get out before the real partying starts.

Tulum | What to Do

The great thing about Tulum is that there's lots to do, if sitting on the beach sipping a cocktail and reading a book are not your thing. Here a list of some of my favorites for when I just can't eat another taco. Note that there aren't really any proper addresses listed as many places don't have actual locations. Your hotel or taxi driver will be able to lead you, though.


AKUMEL DIVE SHOP
Plaza Ukana I, Playa Akumal, Local 3, 77731 Akumal, Q.R., Mexico
+52 98 48 75 90 30

Akumel, which is located about 20 minutes up the coast from Tulum, is home to some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving. Located in the middle of the public beach replete with taco stands is the Akumel Dive Shop, which offers everything from bull shark diving to tours of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere (see below). Or, if you prefer to snorkel solo you can also rent gear and go it alone.

AKTUN CHEN
Located 25 min from Playa del Carmen, 4 km south of Akumal and 16km before Tulum
+52 98 48 06 49 62

Caves, ziplines, underground rivers, wildlife – it’s all here at Aktunchen Natural Park. Great if visiting Tulum with kids, or antsy travel mates who are tired of laying on the beach drinking margaritas.

CASA CENOTE (or CENOTE MANATEE)
Carratera Cancun - Tulum, Interior Fraccionamento Tankah, Caribe Lote 32 Manzana 3, Q.R. Mexico
+52 98 41 15 69 96

People LOVE cenotes – natural sinkholes created where a cave has collapsed – and while I’m not a HUGE fan (I tend to get claustrophobic), the one at Casa Cenote seems to me to be the most beautiful and serene. And there’s also a great restaurant right next door for cold beer and ceviche when you’re done. Ask any taxi driver and they’ll get you here in 10 minutes from the Tulum hotels.

CHICHEN ITZA
+52 98 58 51 01 37
The second most visited archaeological site in Mexico, Chichen Itza was elected one of the new 7 Wonders of the World in 2007. It’s a very cool Mayan Ruin and worth a look if you’re searching for an activity.

KANLUM LAGOON
Located 15 minutes from downtown Tulum,  by road from Tulum to Muyil south, approximately 9 km south of Tulum.
Totally crystal clear and calm, this lagoon is perfect for snorkeling and swimming. Bring your own gear, though, because there are no amenities here.

MAYAN RUINS
You kind of can’t get away with a trip to Tulum without visiting the ruins. There are quite a few to choose from, but I like the Tulum ruins the best. They are just North on the beach road and there’s a beach just below.

SIAN KA’AN BIOSPHERE
It’s a 1.5 MILLION acre UNESCO world heritage site. It’s a biosphere. Jaguars, pumas, hundreds of birds, manatees, and alligators and about a thousand other animals call it home. And it just might be the coolest place on Earth, so whatever you do or don’t do during your time in Tulum, you can’t miss it. Book a tour, go solo – however you want to do it, just please trust me on this one.

TEMAZCAL CEREMONY AT MAYA TULUM
You’re already in Tulum, so the next obvious step is this traditional Mayan purification ceremony. Led by a shaman, inside a small, hot lodge it’s really just a more exotic way of saying sweat lodge.

 

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New Orleans | What to Do


LISTEN

Obviously there is a HUGE music scene in New Orleans, and while I wish I could tell you we took advantage of it, we didn't really. We were traveling with our kids and so it wasn't so easy for us to get into some of the places, but these are a few that stood out as the most fun.
 

FRENCHMAN STREET
An entire street dedicated to music 7 nights a week 365 days a year. On any given night you'll find the best jazz, funk, blues, and everything in between.

dba
618 Frenchman Street
+1 504 942 3731


SPOTTED CAT
623 Frenchmen Street

SNUG HARBOR
626 Frenchmen Street
+1 504 949 0696


ONE EYED JACKS
615 Toulouse Street
+1 504 569 8361


PRESERVATION HALL
726 Saint Peters Street
+1 504 522 2841


TIPITINAS
501 Napoleon Avenue
+1 504 895 8477


ROCK 'N' BOWL
3000 Carrollton Avenue
+1 504 811 1700


DO

AUDUBON ZOO
6500 Magazine Street
+1 504 861 2537

As I mentioned, we were with our kids in New Orleans and as such visited the zoo under the guise of needing a "kid" activity. But the truth is that this zoo and the surrounding park is truly for everyone. There are amazing animals (elephants, white tigers!) and it's a really beautiful setting outside of town. A great visit for any age.

AQUARIUM OF THE AMERICAS
1 Canal Street
+1 504 565 3033

The aquarium, also part of the Audubon Nature Institute, is right on the Mississippi River and is home to some pretty spectacular sea life. Don't miss the
Gulf of Mexico Exhibit which measures 17 feet deep and holds 400,000 gallons of man-made saltwater. It's packed with sharks, sting rays, and sea turtles—including King Mydas an endangered green sea turtle. We loved everything about this aquarium.

NEW ORLEANS PHARMACY MUSEUM
514 Chartres Street
+1 504 565 8027

Just that - an old apothecary that is very cool to check out.

 

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Austin | What to Do

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SEE THE BATS
Yes, bats. It turns out that Austin has over 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats that come out from under the Congress Bridge every night at dusk. Creepy? Yes. But also pretty cool to see. I have been told that the best vantage point to see this phenomenon is to just stand on the bridge. Or, if you prefer to make it an actual thing, rent a boat and watch from the river below.

BARTON SPRINGS POOL
2201 Barton Springs Road
+1 512 476 9044

This insanely cool spring-fed pool inside Zilker's Park measures 3 acres in size and maintains a 68ºF temperature year-round with lifeguards on duty. I've heard that Robert Redford learned to swim here and that it's home to the endangered Barton Springs Salamander, although I didn't see either on our visit.

UMLAUF SCULPTURE GARDEN
605 Robert E. Lee Road
+1 512 445 5582

There are over 100 sculptures in this incredible garden (adjacent to Zilker's Park as well), and they also offer morning yoga and meditation classes that are beautiful. A fun place to spend a nice afternoon with kids, too. 

ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE
Various Locations
Best. Movie Theater. Ever. Seriously. The original on Colorado Street was a parking garage that was transformed by Tim and Karrie League who happened to like the idea of watching movies while drinking beer and eating. That first theater was a one-screen operation that featured second run titles at discount rates, but it wasn't long before people like Richard Linklater and Quentin Tarantino got hip to the Drafthouse and started showing up. It's a great place to see a movie and feel like a local.

LADY BIRD HIKE + BIKE TRAIL
First Street Bridge at Lady Bird Lake
Run, walk or bike this loop (10 miles) and be sure to check out the Memorial at Auditorium Shores which honors the late bluesman, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

LONGHORN CAVERNS
6211 Park Road 4 S., 
Burnet, TX 78611
+1 830 598 CAVE

This self-proclaimed Texas Hill Country wonder was created over thousands of years by the dissolving and cutting action of water on the limestone bedrock of the area. Some say animals from the Ice Age are fossilized here, but I say it's just a pretty cool place to visit.

PARAMOUNT THEATER
713 Congress Avenue
+1 512 472 5470

As old school as a theater can get (it was built in 1915), and has hosted everything from Vaudeville acts to the premiere of Batman in 1966. Today it's home to movies, concert and shows.

 

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Los Angeles | What to Do

THE BROAD
221 S Grand Avenue
Downtown Los Angeles
+1 213 232 6200

The Broad (pronounced road with a b) is the newest contemporary art museum on the scene in LA, and it was everything I hoped it would be: a collection as impressive as the building itself (by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler) small enough to get through without feeling overwhelmed (the building is 120,000 square feet, but only houses two floors of gallery space), and has renewed the public’s interest in contemporary art (in LA at least, where the lines to get in still snake around the block). Admission is free and you can get tickets ahead of time online, but as far as I can tell, those tickets are “sold out” months in advance. So here is a SUPER important Select 7 tip: if you go to the gift shop and spend $75, you get two same-day tickets. So yes, it takes away the “free” admisision, but if you’re only in town for a quick visit and don’t want to wait or the day is sold out, this is a good option that they don’t promote.

THE GETTY
1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles
+1 310 440 7300

I can’t tell you anything about the art housed here because I never went inside – it’s mostly pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts  – which just isn’t really my thing. But it doesn’t matter because a visit here is MUCH more about the the gardens, the buildings (by Richard Meier) and the staggering views of LA . We opted out of the trolley ride from the main entrance area up to the museum, and walked through the sculpture gardens up the hill (it’s about a ¾ mile walk) to the museum instead, where we spent countless hours wandering through the exterior, looking at the view and just enjoying the day. The trolley is a fun ride, though, so we took it back down.  Next time I vow to go inside to see some of the art, but either way this is really a don’t miss

THE GROVE
189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles
+1 323 900 8080

The Grove is something of an enigma to me: it’s basically a giant outdoor mall that looks like the Disney Land of shopping (35 stores, 10 restaurants, 8 snack shops and a movie theater). But people in LA LOVE The Grove! And I have to admit, that while I may not understand it, I loved it, too. The movie theater is the most glamorous I’ve ever seen with plush carpeting and vintage sconces and chandeliers, and while the shopping is pretty mainstream, it’s still shopping, so there’s that. And The Farmer’s Market, which is attached (less of a Farmer’s Market, more of an outdoor food hall) has some great options for terrific food, too.

HIKING IN LA
You can’t go to LA and NOT take at least one hike. A city built between mountains and the ocean, you’ll want to get some height so you can see what this place is really all about. You can google "hikes in LA" and get a ton of answers, but some of the most popular are Runyon CanyonTemescal CanyonLos Liones Trail  (there’s a great bench midway to the top with some breathtaking views) and the Beachwood Canyon Secret Stairs  that will take you as close to the Hollywood Sign as you can get.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
+1 323 857 6000

The exterior of this museum might be more beautiful than the interior, although there are some pretty spectacular views from insIde the galleries as well.

MALIBU PIER
23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu
+1 888 310 PIER

This pier doesn’t have the amusement park appeal of the Santa Monica Pier, which for many is actually a blessIng. This one is all laid back Malibu, with the delicious and perfectly curated Malibu Farm, a fantastic shop at the end, and plenty of people fishing off the pier, which makes for great conversation with Malibu locals. The pier also offers Whale Watching and Coastal Tours.

PETERSEN AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM
6060 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles
+1 323 930 CARS

This museum just underwent a huge renovation and whether or not you’re into cars is besides the point. It’s incredible: cars from every era, including a room dedicated to only silver models, which you can imagine makes for quite a beautiful spectacle. There’s also a room devoted to “famous” cars: Walter White’s Pontiac Aztec lives there and of all the things to see, I think this might top the list.

SANTA MONICA PIER
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica
+1 310 394 8042

Like Coney Island but considerably smaller, the Santa Monica Pier was built in 1909 (in fact its original purpose was to run treated sewage into the ocean via a pipeline underneath the pier). Since then its undergone many collapses, rebuilds and renovations, and is now home to dozens of vendors hawking tourist-y goods, a few food stalls and restaurants, and a full amusement park. It’s pretty cool, and the view of it from anywhere along the beach is iconic.

 

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Milan | What to Do

BRERA ARTS DISTRICT + PINACOTECA DI BRERA
Via Brera 28
+39 2 72 26 32 64

The Brera Arts District is Milan's answer to Montmartre - a little seedy, a little Bohemian - with serpentine streets and enough grit to feel real. It's home to the Brera Academy of Fine Arts which lends to the artsy feel of the neighborhood, but the crown jewel here is the Pinacoteca di Brera, one of the most glorious collections of Italian art you'll see anywhere. With everyone from Piero della Francesca to Caravaggio, Titian and Tintoretto, it's well worth the couple of hours it will take to wander the galleries of the palazzo, as well as the Orto Botanico behind the museum where you can find vegetable gardens and Europe's oldest ginkgo biloba trees. After your visit stop into any of the cafes for a cappuccino or glass of wine and soak in the creativity,

DUOMO DI MILANO
Via dell'Arcivescovado
It's really the center of Milan, and as such holds a super important spot in the city, as it should. The church was started in 1385 and the last gate was inaugurated in 1965 - that's a really freakin' long time. It's often said that The Duomo is more beautiful than the Cathedral of Seville in Spain and even St Peter's in Rome, and while I'm not sure I agree with that, it is a pretty spectacular building. The best view, of course, is from the roof and I promise you, the walk up is worth it and much easier than waiting for the elevator!

SFORZESCO CASTLE
It's a castle. In the middle of the city. How cool is that? Seriously - a 20 minute walk from the Duomo takes you back in time to the 12th century when castles just were. Today, the Sforza is home to quite a few museums and libraries, the most intriguing being the Trivulziana Library which holds Da Vinci's Codex Trivulzianus. Yep, it's the real life DaVinci Code.

TEATRO ALLA SCALLA
Via Filodrammatici 2
+39 2 88 791

Going to a cultural  event in another country - even when you're not so into it at home - feels incredibly indulgent. I am seriously not a fan of opera, but there's something so romantic about walking into an opera house that is as opulent as any castle, steeped in so much history. La Scala is just that, and has long been considered one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world. And even if you're not so into sitting down to a concert, take a tour ( I hear the Ansaldo Workshops are really amazing) or visit the museum.  


Because I was only in Milan for a few days, and because I can't possibly know everything, I often turn to the New York Times for advice on travel. I really love their 36 Hours In ... series, and unfortunately I didn't think of it before my trip, so missed some of their recommendations, but thought I'd share them with you here:
36 HOURS IN MILAN

 

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Paris | What to Do

BUBBLE SKY BAR AT MONTPARNASSE
33 Avenue du Maine, 75015
+33 1 45 38 52 56
This is, hands down, the ugliest building in all of Paris, but it also has the best views of ANYWHERE there (it actually looks down on the Eiffel Tower). There’s a restaurant, Ciel de Paris on the 56th floor, which is fine, but the real deal is the 58th floor observation deck and the OUTDOOR champagne bar with 360-degree views of the city.

FONDATION LOUIS VUITTON
8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi
Bois de Boulogne, 75116
+33 1 40 69 96 00
There are obviously a million museums to visit in Paris and all of them should be seen, but there are, for me, just a few that are worth an honest mention. The Fondation Louis Vuitton is high at the top of that list, and not for its collection of art, which is small and somewhat nondescript, but for the building itself. Designed by Frank Ghery and created in 2006 by LVMH to be a place “for meaningful exchanges between artists and visitors from Paris, from France, and from the entire world,” it sits on an incredible location next to the Jardin d’Acclimatation inside the Bois de Boulogne. Don’t miss it.

MUSEE RODIN
79 rue de Varenne, 75007
+33 1 44 18 61 10
I have never been to Paris without stopping here, if even for a minute. The museum itself is housed in a beautiful mansion that was recently completely renovated, but the true beauty is in the gardens where some of Rodin’s most celebrated sculptures rest among lush, green gardens. There’s also a café within the gardens, making it a perfect stop for a drink or snack as well.

PARIS MUSEUM PASS
This is one of the best shortcuts I have ever found: order these passes online before you go (give yourself at least a couple of weeks to get them in the mail), and skip the lines at a slew of museums and hotspots, including The Louvre, The Musée d’Orsay, The Musée Rodin and a whole bunch more. They are sold in either  2, 4 or 6-day passes and are really worth the time you’ll save.

LA TOUR EIFFEL
Champ de Mars, 5 Avenue Anatole France, 75007
Obviously. But in the past few years, they have started to sell timed tickets online,  making the endless wait to get the top a little less endless. Buy online before you go (up to the day before), and make sure to bring your printed ticket with you.


SCAVENGER HUNTS

THATLOU
+33 6 86 13 32 12
We did this with 2 other families, and it was really one of the best experiences we have ever had. It’s a treasure hunt where teams must find certain works of art throughout the museums and photograph themselves in front of it. It is riotously hilarious and educational and team building all at the same time. We did ours at The Louvre, but the company has since added options for The Musée d’Orsay (THATd'or) and through the streets of The Latin Quarter (THATrue).


GET ON A BIKE

Bike About Tours
+33 6 18 80 84 92
Fun, small group, family-friendly rides through Paris, Versailles or Champagne.

LA GRANDE EPICERIE PARIS
38 Rue de Sèvres75007 Paris
+33 1 44 39 81 00
Best. Market. Ever. Imagine if Eataly, Whole Foods, Zabar’s and Fairway got together, had a baby and moved to Paris. It’s literally too much to handle – you have never seen so much beautiful product in your life.   


LUNCH OR DINNER CRUISE ON THE SEINE

Bateaux Parisiens
It’s possibly the most tourist-y thing you can do in Paris, but the view of the city from the Seine, especially at night, is pretty magical. And the food is surprisingly pretty decent, too.

JARDIN D'ACCLIMATATION
Bois de Boulogne, 75016 Paris, France
+33 1 40 67 90 82
Great park with everything from amusement parks to food trucks and art exhibits. This is also where the Fondation Louis Vuitton is located. 

L'AQUARIUM DE PARIS
5 Avenue Albert de Mun75016 Paris, France
+33 1 40 69 23 23
There are so many incredible things to see and do in Paris that is seems a little strange to go to an aquarium, but it’s actually a pretty cool one and a good place to escape the heat of summer or the cold of winter.

 

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