Visions of rocky terrain and the open sea dance in your head as you daydream about escaping your cramped cubicle. Your spouse inundates you with “what-ifs” as he imagines fireside chats in a mountainside chalet away from the kids.
Visions of rocky terrain and the open sea dance in your head as you daydream about escaping your cramped cubicle. Your spouse inundates you with “what-ifs” as he imagines fireside chats in a mountainside chalet away from the kids. A twirl with Spanish flamenco dancers sounds like just the thing to break the monotony. Turn your dreams of romance, adventure and peculiarity into reality. Get some time, get some ideas and get away from it all.
By Tracey Edgerly Meloni, Kathy Witt and Soyia Ellison
Updated: November 12, 2019
“Get out of town!” The words immediately invoke daydreams of hitting the open road, and with a car and a plan, maybe a map or two, you can wake up and make it happen. Your challenge: Find a few destinations that can fulfill the need for romance, adventure and good old American quirkiness. Think outside the guidebooks and expect the unexpected. Get ready, get packed—go!
By Tracey Edgerly Meloni
Set sail on the open bay and make a toast to love. The Schooner Woodwind is a 72-foot yacht that opens its staterooms to four couples for an overnight stay in Annapolis, Md. Depart for an evening sunset cruise around the Chesapeake and return to land for dinner at any of Annapolis’ noteworthy seafood restaurants. Return to the mighty hulk and sleep peacefully snuggled up to your sweetie as you gently bob over lapping waves. Awake to a continental brunch spread waiting for you on-deck. Pinch yourself—this is no dream. Schooner Woodwind, Annapolis, Md.; 410-263-7837; www.schoonerwoodwind.com
TO DO: Share together the sweet taste of luxury at Annapolis Day Spa, where couples are pampered with champagne facials and rose petal foot treatments. Annapolis, Md.; 888-800-2636; www.annapolisspa.com TO EAT: Carrol’s Creek Cafe Contemporary American; entrees $21-30; Annapolis, Md.; 410-263-8102; www.carrolscreek.com. Tucked inside the Annapolis City marina, watch from your table as yachts and motorboats dock for an elegant meal. TO STAY: O’Callaghan Hotel; Rates begin at $169. Annapolis, Md.; 410-263-7700; www.ocallaghanhotels-us.com. Part of the Dublin chain of decadent hotels, O’Callaghan’s inspires with warm wood accents and proximity to shopping and water strolls.
Long before the United States fielded an all-female America’s Cup race, there was Womanship, an all-women sailing school founded in 1984. For every gal who felt intimidated by the thought of sailing open waters or had visions of macho men folk puffing up their sails, Womanship is liberating. The course offers sailor-ettes invaluable tools in fueling, steering and docking boats. Womanship, Annapolis, Md.; 800-342-9295; www.womanship.com
TO DO: Sign up for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim the second Sunday of June each year. The challenging 4.4-mile crawl across the Chesapeake Bay begins at Sandy Point. Annapolis, Md.; 856-468-0010; www.bayswim.com TO EAT: Pusser’s Caribbean Grille; Caribbean; entrees $15-20; Annapolis, Md.; 410-626-0004. Venture out to the islands without going very far at this waterfront island eatery. TO STAY: Scotlaur Inn Bed & Breakfast; rates begin at $115; Annapolis, Md.; 410-268-5665; www.scotlaurinn.com. The family-run Scotlaur Inn is found in the heart of the city, close to all of the action.
For kids that fantasize about treasure maps and plank-walking, eye patches and hand hooks, Pirate Adventures in Annapolis offers swashbuckling fun on the Chesapeake for the whole family. Suit up in motley gear, paint on a moustache or tattoo, and clamor aboard the “Sea Gypsy” for a rollicking ride. Evade Pirate Pete while hunting for golden treasure. Goodies and surprises abound aboard a well-chaperoned ship. Sorry, it’s B.Y.O.P.—Bring Your Own Parrot. Pirate Adventures, Annapolis, Md.; 410-263-0002; www.chesapeakepirates.com
TO DO: Travel to a time of jousting knights and merry maidens each summer at the Renaissance Festival. Annapolis, Md.; 800-296-7304; www.rennfest.com TO EAT: Wild Orchid Cafe Contemporary; entrees $26-34 Annapolis, Md.; 410-268-8009; www.thewildorchidcafe.com. Wild Orchid appears not just in the name of this elegant restaurant, but also in the food. The upscale eatery accents many of their dishes with edible flowers. TO STAY: The Georgian House Bed and Breakfast; Rates begin at $170; Annapolis, Md.; 410-557-2068. The 250-year-old home, filled with period furniture and antique oil paintings, was once a club where the signers of the Declaration of Independence gathered.
Enter the secluded courtyard of the Harbor Court Hotel in Baltimore, Md. and step into the roles of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in “Runaway Bride.” (Little known fact: A majority of the movie was filmed in Baltimore.) The junior suite overlooks the Inner Harbor and the spacious marble bathroom alone is worth the price of admission. The hotel’s own Hampton’s restaurant is hushed and intimate, a lushly layered seduction of textured silk and wood. Save it for Sunday brunch, when champagne washes down unique takes on old favorites.
TO DO: Get saucy on the dance floor and salsa with your sweetie at the Havana Club. Baltimore, Md.; 410-468-0022; www.havanaclub-baltimore.com TO EAT: Ambassador Dining Room; Indian; entrees $17-25; Baltimore, Md.; 410-366-1484; www.ambassadordiningroom.com. In a glamorous setting befitting royalty, the Ambassador serves Zagat-noted Indian cuisine. TO STAY: Harbor Court Hotel; rates begin at $200; Baltimore, Md.; 410-234-0550; www.harborcourt.com. Luxury abounds in each room of the famous Harbor Court Hotel.
The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore aims to fulfill the wishes of offbeat thrill seekers. Time your visit just right and you can join in a celebration of artistic adventure on wheels: the museum-sponsored Kinetic Sculpture Race. Self-taught artists and wannabe engineers design “human-powered sculpture,” improvised floats to carry them over a 15-mile, eight-hour grueling course involving hills, mud and a dunk in the harbor. On-board team members not providing power are scoffed as “Barnacles.” Teams compete for the coveted “Mediocre Award,” which goes to the team finishing smack in the middle. American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, Md.; 410-244-1900; www.avam.org
TO DO: Satisfy your recurring dreams of flying with a tandem jump hosted by Baltimore Skydiving. Baltimore, Md.; 800-585-5555; www.skydivingbaltimore.com TO EAT: Nasu Blanca; Japanese-Spanish; entrees $26-39 Baltimore, Md.; 410-962-9890; www.nasublanca.com. In one sitting, guests can adventure into two continents with dishes like chili-powdered sashimi and unique miso tapas. TO STAY: Scarborough Fair Bed & Breakfast; rates begin at $162; Baltimore, Md.; 410-837-0010; www.scarborough-fair.com. Located within walking distance of The American Visionary Museum and other popular attractions, this B&B is a historic Federal Hill classic.
In May, horse jockeys have visions of black-eyed-Susans being draped around their necks as victors of Pimlico’s Preakness. But Baltimore routes for its own little victory with a jumpstart to the Preakness party. The Preakness Crab Derby is a long-standing tradition held one week prior to the actual race in May. Watch local media personalities and politicos as they coach and coax their crustaceans to the finish line at the Lexington Market. Lexington Market, Baltimore, Md.; 410-685-6169; www.lexingtonmarket.com
TO DO: Yes, it’s true. The exciting and fascinating world of teeth is on display at the Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry. Play a tune on the tooth jukebox and take a tour of George Washington’s gnashers. Baltimore, Md.; 410-706-0600; www.dentalmuseum.umaryland.edu TO EAT: Ze Mean Bean Cafe; East European; entrees $15-25; Baltimore, Md.; 410-675-5999; www.zemeanbean.com. Borscht, pierogis and strudel are served with a nod toward an East European palate. TO STAY: Boat and Breakfast on the Pintita; rates begin at $200; Baltimore, Md.; 410-435-2078; www.sailthepintita.com. Don’t leave the water; boat and breakfast on the Pintita, located in historic Fell’s Point.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Find Swiss-inspired romance at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, W.Va. Book an Alpine Chalet overlooking the Potomac River Bend. Savor your private whirlpool tub, don a fluffy robe and sip champagne before the roaring fire in your very sweet suite. Venture out to the welcoming dining rooms for house pate and schnitzel. Bavarian Inn, Shepherdstown, W.Va.; 304-876-2551; www.bavarianinn.com
TO DO: Steal a kiss atop the rocky steps of St. Peter’s Catholic Church while getting a birds-eye view of the Potomac. Historic Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; 304-535-6029; www.nps.gov/hafe TO EAT: Stone Soup Bistro Contemporary; entrees $16-32; Shepherdstown, W.Va.; 304-876-8477; www.stonesoupbistro.com. Like stepping inside someone’s home, the restaurant offers personalized service in a cozy setting. TO STAY: Hilltop House Hotel; rates begin at $70; Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; 304-535-2132; www.hilltophousehotel.net. Perched on a cliff overlooking the point where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet, the historic hilltop beckons romance.
You have taken a day-long hike into the beautiful trails of West Virginia. The sun sets over the ridge and you panic knowing your canteen is empty. Relieved, you remember that survival hike you took with River & Trail Outfitters. The adventure company teaches hiking enthusiasts how to manufacture and purify water and build a shelter from the elements that lay at your very feet. With survival skills like these, light hiking doesn’t ever have to be a nightmare. River & Trail Outfitters, Knoxville, Md. (across the bridge from Harpers Ferry, W.Va.); 888-IGOPLAY; www.rivertrail.com
TO DO: Rent a bike and join a guided tour along the Potomac River. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; 800-326-7238; www.riverriders.com TO EAT: Kazu; Thai-Japanese; entrees $12-22; Shepherdstown, W.Va.; 304-876-8798. Good sushi in West Virginia? Believe it. The tiny restaurant serves quality sushi and noodle dishes with fair prices. TO STAY: Camp Hill Carriage House Bed & Breakfast; rates begin at $150; Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; 304-535-2657; www.camp-hill.com. Relax from a day’s worth of adventures in private suites facing the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Sitting in daily traffic, we often daydream of moving to the country. Cheer your favorite cow. Support the prized pig. Cackle back to the chickens. It doesn’t get any more country than this. Every summer, folks at the Jefferson County Fair celebrate the region’s farmers with a down-home celebration including livestock contests and bake-offs. Or tour history through the John Brown Wax Museum in historic Harpers Ferry. Special effects animate 10 different scenes of the famous abolitionist’s life. John Brown Wax Museum, Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; 304-535-6342; www.johnbrownwaxmuseum.com
TO DO: Have a model train collection that only a fellow enthusiast can appreciate? Harpers Ferry Toy Train Museum houses toy trains predating 1938. Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; 304-535-2291 TO EAT: Yellow Brick Bank Contemporary; entrees $17-26; Shepherdstown, W.Va.; 304-876-2208; www.yellowbrickbank.com. A favorite destination of Nancy Reagan, this bank-turned-eatery holds its wine bottles in what used to be the vault. TO STAY: The Angler’s Inn; rates begin at $105; Harpers Ferry, W.Va.; 304-535-1239; www.theanglersinn.com. This amiable Victorian home offers homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Does a mountainside sip of wine with your spouse sound like an unattainable fairy tale? When was the last time you lounged in your own poolside cabana and had a massage? These musings don’t have to be impossible dreams, and what’s more, they’re just a few tracks away. Pack your valise, board the train and head to the heart of Georgia’s wine country, Northern Indiana’s Amish Country or the non-theme park side of Orlando.
By Kathy Witt
To your dream of getting away from it all and spending alone time with your significant other, add this: the piquant scent of savory comestibles and the sound of water rushing down a mountainside. Pack a sumptuous lunch from the Picnic Cafe & Dessertery, located at the town square in Dahlonega, Ga., and head to Amicalola Falls State Park. Meander about Georgia’s wine country and sample the grape. Pull up a chair to a mountainside view and stare into each other’s eyes over a bottle of signature wine at one of four distinctly unique wineries: Frogtown Cellars, Blackstock Vineyards and Winery, Three Sisters Vineyards, and Wolf Mountain Vineyards. Picnic Cafe & Dessertery, Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-864-1095; Amicalola Falls State Park, Dawsonville, Ga.; 706-265-4703; www.gastateparks.org/info/amicalola; Frogtown Cellars, Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-865-0687; www.frogtownwine.com; Blackstock Vineyards and Winery, Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-219-2789; www.bsvw.com; Three Sisters Vineyards, Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-865-9463; www.threesistersvineyards.com; Wolf Mountain Vineyards, Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-867-9862; www.wolfmountainvineyards.com
TO DO: Enjoy the sheer decadence of a couple’s massage at Forrest Hills Mountain Resort. Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-864-6456; www.foresths.com TO EAT: Dominique’s Bartini; French; entrees $13-$24; Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-864-8452. A small, sophisticated martini bar, Dominique’s French cuisine stands out from the other Dahlonega eateries. TO STAY: Mountain Laurel; Creek Inn & Spa; rates begin at $145; Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-867-8134; www.mountainlaurelcreek.com. In the heart of Dahlonega’s wine country, the spa is known as one of the most romantic bed and breakfasts in the area.
Board the KangaRanger in Dahlonega for a 90-minute adventure through the “Outback.” The Kangaroo Conservation Center has the largest kangaroo population outside Australia, as well as African rodents, dik diks (tiny antelopes) and a variety of birds including the boisterous kookaburras. The Chattahoochee National Forest, at Dahlonega’s doorstep, offers horseback riding, hiking and kayaking or simply listening to rushing water and lazily buzzing insects. Kangaroo Conservation Center, Dawsonville, Ga.; 706-265-6100; www.kangaroocenter.com; Chattahoochee National Forest, Dahlonega, Ga.; 770-297-3000; www.fs.fed.us/conf
TO DO: Canoe, kayak or tube the sparkling waters of the Chestatee and Etowah rivers with Appalachian Outfitters. Dahlonega, Ga.; 800-426-7117; www.canoegeorgia.com TO EAT: The Oar House; American; entrees $11-27; Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-864-9938; www.theoarhouse.com. Rustic charm oozes from this house-turned-restaurant where two decks overlook the Chestatee River. TO STAY: Cedar House Inn & Yurts; rates begin at $105; Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-867-9446; www.georgiamountaininn.com. Disconnect and unplug in a Cedar House yurt. While the tiny bungalows are equipped with many modern conveniences, you won’t be able to check your email from here.
Try to strike it rich by mining at the site of the first U.S. gold rush in 1828, 20 years before the notable California rush. At the family-owned Crisson Gold Mine, get-rich-quick hopefuls have been panning for gold since 1847. Bearded and weathered “miners” guide gold diggers into the tunnels at the Consolidated Gold Mines. One of the largest gold mining operations east of the Mississippi, the tour company takes visitors 60 feet below the earth and through a massive tunnel network. Crisson Gold Mine, Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-864-6363; www.crissongoldmine.com; Consolidated Gold Mines, Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-864-8473; www.consolidatedgoldmine.com
TO DO: The Historic Holly Theatre is a former movie house now on the National Register of Historic Places. Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-864-3759; www.hollytheater.com TO EAT: to eat: Back Porch Oyster Bar
Seafood; entrees $12-24; Dahlonega, Ga.; 706-864-8623. Dine on “every kind of seafood imaginable” in a Jimmy Buffet beach atmosphere. TO STAY: Pura Veda USA Wellness and Yoga Retreat; rates begin at $105. Dahlonega, Ga; 866-345-4900; puravidausa.com. Enjoy the outdoor Jacuzzi, nature trails and spa services.
Even in the Amish country of Goshen, Ind. travelers can indulge their romantic whims. The new Spring View Bed & Breakfast beckons lovers to its 48 acres that include hiking trails, garden walkways and a private pond. Charming rooms have well-swaddled pillow-top beds, whirlpool tubs and a double shower with handheld massagers—everything a couple needs to escape reality and remember why they fell in love in the first place. Downtown, century-old buildings house quaint shops that tend to favor antiques by way of merchandise. A half dozen artisan shops and galleries add verve to a yesteryear streetscape.
to do: Go treasure hunting for one-of-a-kind handcrafted artisan jewelry for your beloved at Chapters. Shipshewana, Ind.; 260-768-4229; www.ugsoftware.net/chaptersllc
TO EAT: Lucy’s Rhythm Room; Tapas jazz lounge; tapas $4-$12; Elkhart, Ind.; 574-522-9328; www.lucysrhythmroom.com. Share small plates and a space at a cozy table while the sounds of live jazz wash over you. TO STAY: Spring View Bed & Breakfast; rates begin at $59; Goshen, Ind.; 574-642-3997; www.springview.com. In-room whirlpool tubs and steam baths are ingredients for an intimate evening.
For wannabe cowboys and cattle rustlers, a taste of the Old West awaits in Amish Country’s Cook’s Bison Ranch. Take a wagon ride right into the past and pasture to see the great American Buffalo in its own natural habitat. Afterward, enjoy a chuck wagon dinner featuring juicy buffalo burgers. Cook’s Bison Ranch, Wolcottville, Ind.; 866-382-2356; www.cooksbisonranch.com
TO DO: Take an excursion through the new 51,000-square-foot American Countryside Farmers Market where 400 vendors of fresh produce, meats and crafts are housed in the largest timber and peg built structure in the country. Elkhart, Ind.; 574-296-7827; www.midwestfarmersmarket.com TO EAT: Amish Acres Home cooking; family-style service; Nappanee, Ind.; 800-800-4942; www.amishacres.com. Following a long day of hiking sit down to a Threshers dinner where plates are piled high with hearty country cooking. TO STAY: Log Cabin Hideaway; rates begin at $110; Goshen, Ind.; 574-825-4867; www.amishcountrycabin.com. The cabin rental company cheerfully promises: “Your only alarm clock will be the birds greeting each new day with a song.”
Book a culinary adventure through Northern Indiana’s Amish County through the Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and sample the hearty home cooking, heavenly baked goods and buttery cheese for which the Amish are noted. Home to one of the nation’s largest Amish communities, it provides countless opportunities to enjoy savory meals served family-style in tidy Amish homes. Enjoy combining tasty food with the chance to learn tips and techniques direct from locals with cooking demonstrations. Elkhart County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Elkhart, Ind.; 800-250-4827, www.amishcountry.org
TO DO: The Old Bag Factory features over 20 shops that carry one-of-a-kind goods made by local artisans in a renovated factory setting. Goshen, Ind.; 574-534-2502; www.oldbagfactory.com TO EAT: The Blue Gate Restaurant and Theater; Mennonite; entrees $5-16; Shipshewana, Ind.; 888-447-4725; www.riegsecker.com . Following a traditional Amish meal, walk over to the theater for live music or comedy performances. TO STAY: Big House in the Little Woods; rates begin at $70; Millersburg, Ind.; 260-593-9076; www.bighouselittlewoods.com. Stay here in the winter when the hosts at this bed and breakfast provide sleigh rides.
The last word in romance is the first name in luxury: The Peabody Orlando. Cuddle up in a sumptuous suite and enjoy the views from the upper floors. With a little notice, the staff can arrange for a welcome bottle of champagne and chocolate strawberries. While you’re there, book a lovers-only hot air balloon ride at sunrise and glide over the city with the sun warming your faces and the gentle breeze ruffling your hair. Magic Sunrise Ballooning, Orlando, Fla.; 866-606-7433; www.magicsunriseballooning.com
TO DO: Stretch out on a deep-cushioned chaise lounge in your poolside cabana at The Peabody and close the canopy for added privacy. Orlando, Fla.; 800-732-2639; www.peabodyorlando.com TO EAT: Luma on Park; Innovative; entrees $17-$32; Winter Park, Fla.; 407-599-4111; www.lumaonpark.com. Lavish yourself with intricately prepared dishes created to tempt and tease the palate. TO STAY: Chalet Suzanne Country Inn; rates begin at $169; Lake Wales, Fla.; 800-433-6011; www.chaletsuzanne.com. Plush beds and award-winning cuisine make it easy to fall in love at Chalet Suzanne.
Thrill seekers can take a skydiving jaunt with SkyVenture’s exhilarating indoor experience through a super-charged wind tunnel, one of only five in the country. Visit Wallaby Ranch for a tandem hang glide. Towed to a height of 2,000 feet by a specially designed ultra-light tow plane, gliders are treated to an eyeful of unspoiled landscape as they drift back down to solid ground. SkyVenture Orlando, Orlando, Fla.; 800-SKY-FUN-1; www.skyventureorlando.com; Wallaby Ranch, Orlando, Fla.; 800-925-5229; www.wallaby.com
TO DO: Swim or skim the water’s surface on skis, kneeboards or other watercraft at the Orlando Watersports Complex, the only facility in the country to have two cableways for unlimited riding time. Orlando, Fla.; 407-251-3100; www.orlandowatersports.com TO EAT: Manuel’s on the 28th; World cuisine; entrees $29-45; Orlando, Fla.; 407-246-6580; www.manuelsonthe28th.com. From France to Japan, feel like a world traveler with Manuel’s eclectic upscale menu. TO STAY: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground; rates begin at $58; Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 407-934-7639; www.disneyworld.disney.go.com. Dreaming of s’mores by an open fire? Take the family camping.
The Orlando area is home to abundant land-based wildlife: from wild turkeys to bobcats. Take an eco-tour down a natural canal with Boggy Creek Airboat Rides to see Florida’s native wildlife. Explore the Sunshine State’s “frontier” with a safari tour—on horseback or in an open-air coach—with Florida Eco-Safaris at Forever Florida, a complex that encompasses the Crescent J Ranch, 4,700 acres of pristine wilderness and a working cattle ranch. Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, Orlando, Fla.; 407-344-9550; www.bcairboats.com; Forever Florida, 888-957-9794; www.floridaecosafaris.com
TO DO: Be a detective at Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows and try to guess whodunit. Orlando, Fla.,
800-393-1985; www.sleuths.com TO EAT: Taverna Opa; Greek; entrees $8-$19; Orlando, Fla.; 407-879-2481; www.tavernaoparestaurant.com. Break plates and toss napkins in the air in the true spirit of Greek culture. TO STAY: Perri House Bed & Breakfast Inn; rates begin at $99; Orlando, Fla., 407-876-4830; www.PerriHouse.com. Take your binoculars because Perri House boasts two acres of “voluntary” bird sanctuary.
Live music. A starry night. An ancient Italian town. If that’s not the stuff of dreams, what is? Maybe it’s driving cattle across Argentina’s pampas. Or picnicking in the grand ruins of the storied Alhambra Palace? These life-changing scenarios await you at the end of a flight across the water. The citizens of Cortona, Buenos Aires and Granada look forward to your imminent arrival.
By Soyia Ellison
Buenos Aires, Argentina
If an episode of “Dancing with the Stars” prompts fantasies of twirling across a dance floor, head to Buenos Aires, Argentina, birthplace of the tango. Check into the gilded Alvear Palace Hotel in the exclusive Recoleta district. While a personal butler unpacks guests’ bags and presses their clothes, they can slink over to the attached Galeria Promenade Alvear. There lives Beleidades, where shoppers can choose a one-of-a-kind sexy design that the butler need never see. But before slipping into the new lingerie, visitors are urged to slip on their dancing shoes. Buenos Aires is awash in tango schools and either the hotel concierge or Abc Tango Tours can assist with locating one nearby. Alvear Palace Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-11-4808-2100; www.alvearpalace.com; Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-11-4800-1275; www.beleidades.com; Abc Tango Tours, Buenos Aires, Argentina; www.abctango.com
TO DO: Feed the koi in the Jardin Japones, or Japanese Gardens, an oasis of serenity in the middle of bustling Palermo. Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-11-4804-4922; www.jardinjapones.com TO EAT: Casa Cruz International; entrees $9-$15 Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-11-4833-1112; www.casa-cruz.com
Chic, dark and filled with fresh flowers, get good directions because this restaurant is too hip for signage. TO STAY: Art Hotel; rates begin at $65; Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-11- 4821-4744; www.arthotel.com.ar. Featuring art exhibition space on the ground floor and 36 individually decorated rooms.
Perhaps the only thing that sounds cooler than being a cowboy is being a gaucho, and at Estancia El Ombu de Areco, roughly 40 miles outside of Buenos Aires, travelers can be one for a day. Tend to the Hereford and Aberdeen Angus cattle, and milk, drive, brand or vaccinate the herd. Or simply go for a horseback ride, lounge by the swimming pool or play a game of billiards in the common room. Either way an appetite is sure to be worked up in time for the asado, or Argentine barbecue. El Ombu de Areco, outside Buenos Aires, Argentina; www.estanciaelombu.com
TO DO: Adventure of another sort can be found in the “popular” section of a Boca Juniors game. For just a few dollars you can stand alongside the rowdiest of soccer fans. Buenos Aires, Argentina; www.bocajuniors.com.ar. TO EAT: De Olivas i Lustres; Mediterranean; entrees $5-$10; Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-11-4867-3388; www.deolivasilustres.com.ar. Order the 13-course tasting menu, which includes Incan delicacies such as llama, nandu (sort of like an ostrich) and yacare (a small river alligator).
to stay: Lina’s Tango Guesthouse; rates begin at $25; Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-11-4361-6817; www.tangoguesthouse.com.ar. A tiny, no-frills home run by a woman who has devoted her life to tango.
Recoleta Cemetery is a spot like few others, a four-block “city” of elaborate mausoleums complete with an entire population of feral cats. Here lies the grave of Rufina Cambaceres, the 19-year-old daughter of a writer who was accidentally buried alive after slipping into a coma, and most importantly, the final resting place of Argentina’s most famous resident, Eva Peron. Pick up a map and meander through at your own pace, or hire a guide for a more structured experience. Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-11-4804-7040
TO DO: Museo de Los Ninos is a different sort of children’s museum, designed to help little ones develop their career dreams. They can play doctor or dentist, try their hand at journalism, or work in a McDonald’s. Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-4861-2325; www.museocr.com TO EAT: Te Matare Ramirez International; entrees $6-$12; Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-11-4831-9156. A restaurant devoted to eroticism, dinner may include naughty puppet shows and feature entrees with names like “Inhabited by Indecent Thoughts” and “Spell of Caresses.” TO STAY: The Faena Hotel and Universe; rates begin at $330; Buenos Aires, Argentina; 011-54-11-4010-9000; www.faenahotelanduniverse.com. Phillippe Starck’s oddly gorgeous red-and-white resort sits in newly fashionable Puerto Madero.
Before author Washington Irving conjured his Headless Horseman nightmare, he spent several months living on the grounds of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. The place so moved him that he wrote “Tales of the Alhambra,” stories of dashing princes and chaste damsels who once lived inside its walls. Now travelers can return to the place of Irving’s happier dreams, staying in the Parador de Granada, a Franciscan convent that oozes antique charm and possesses a storybook courtyard. (Book early since it fills months ahead.) Alhambra Palace, Granada; www.alhambratickets.com; Parador de Granada, Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-22-1440; www.parador.es (then search for Granada)
TO DO: Soak at Banos Arabes in re-created baths reminiscent of Moorish days and finish with a massage. Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-229-978; www.hammamspain.com/granada/ TO EAT: Carmen de San Miguel; Spanish; entrees $20-$25; Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-226-723. Order a bottle of Rioja and enjoy the spectacular views of the city. TO STAY: Carmen de la Alcubilla del Caracol; rates begin at $130; Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-215-551; www.alcubilladelcaracol.com. Every room has a view in this charming inn at the edge of the Jewish district.
Soaring above the Earth need not be confined to the world of sleep if you possess a paraglider. Less than an hour from Granada rises the grand Sierra Nevada mountain range, whose peaks remained snowcapped much of the year. Guides at the El Dornajo information center in the Sierra Nevada National Park can schedule a breathtaking outing in one of these sky vessels. If your dreams rest a little lower to the ground, the Park also presents excellent opportunities for hiking, bird watching, horseback riding or rock climbing. El Dornajo information center, Sierra Nevada National Park, Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-340-625
TO DO: Olé! Bullfighting season runs through October; check the local schedule and buy tickets for a fight at the Plaza de Toros de Granada. Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-271-950 TO EAT: Ruta del Veleta; Andalucian; entrees $20-$25; Outside Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-486-134; www.rutadelveleta.com. For the adventurous eater, the wild boar or ostrich Carpaccio is sure to delight. TO STAY: La Almunia del Valle; rates begin at $130; Outside Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-308-010; www.laalmuniadelvalle.com. Just inside the Sierra Nevada National Park, this 10-room spot has an abundant olive grove.
Steal away to one of the caves of the Sacromonte where gypsies dance the Flamenco. Legend says they were once the hideouts of early Christians. If you have the right look, you might be pulled onto the tiny dance floor for a lesson with one of its swishy-skirted ladies. If you venture on your own, consider the oh-so-typical Los Tarantos. Los Tarantos, Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-224-525; www.cuevaslostarantos.com
TO DO: In the Capilla Real, pay your respects to the couple responsible for finding your home. The Gothic chapel contains an underground crypt holding the coffins of Ferdinand and Isabella, the king and queen who financed Columbus’s voyage. Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-229-239; www.capillarealgranada.com TO EAT: Meknes Rahma; Moroccan; entrees $6.50-$12; Granada, Spain; 011-34-958-227-430. Inspired by its neighbor to the South, the entrees come with a side of belly dancing. TO STAY: Palacio de Santa Ines; rates begin at $90; Granada, Spain, 011-34-958-222-362; www.palaciosantaines.com. This 16th-century palace in the twisting Albaicin district houses paintings by one of Raphael’s disciples.
The Etruscan hill town of Cortona, Italy might have stepped out of a fairy tale; just ask Frances Mayes, subject of the bestselling book, “Under the Tuscan Sun,” who gave up her American life after falling under its spell. The villa of your imagination—with none of the upkeep—lies a short drive from Cortona. Villa di Piazzono rises at the end of a long, cypress-lined driveway and feels a world away from everywhere. From the room, guests can stare out at the formal Italian garden to the vineyards beyond. Venture into town after climbing its steep, narrow streets—duck into a grocery or pizzeria for a bite and a beer to go. Dine on the brick wall overlooking Cortona’s main square, complete with burbling fountain and clock tower. Villa di Piazzano, Cortona, Italy; 011-39-075-826-226, www.villadipiazzano.com; Cortona info: www.cortonaweb.com
TO DO: Discover the sensuality of cooking during a pasta-making course. In July, drive a couple of hours to La Cucina Caldesi, a London-based cooking school in Torrita di Siena that offers courses. Outside Cortona, Italy; 011-44-020-7935-1144; www.caffecal-desi.com TO EAT: Ristorante Tonino; Italian; entrees $15-$25; Cortona, Italy; 011-39-0575-630-500. Panoramic views and a beautiful, walled terrace set a romantic scene. TO STAY: Hotel Corys; rates begin at $80; Cortona, Italy; 011-39-0575-605143; Here, you can rub the sleep from your eyes while breakfasting on a flowered veranda.
Just how brave are you? Test your mettle at Marmore Falls, a couple of hours from Cortona. These three falls, which drop a total of 540 feet to the Nera River, were created by the Romans in 271 A.D. and are the highest in Europe. You can hike along them, choose an easy or intense rafting trip, or try canyoning, in which you let yourself down by ropes into crevices in the rock surface, slide farther on toboggans and finally dive into underground pools. Marmore Falls Park; www.cascatamarmore.it; Rafting and Canyoning, Cortona, Italy; www.raftingmarmore.com
TO DO: Book a hunting trip through Il Falconiere. Depending on the season, you might find yourself out tracking pheasant, partridge or wild boar. Outside Cortona, Italy; 011-39-0575-612-679; www.ilfalconiere.com TO EAT: Trattoria Dardano; Tuscan; $17 prix fixe menu; Cortona, Italy; 011-39-0575-601-944; www.trattoriadardano.com. This gem specializes in casalinga, or home cooking, fresh from the family farm. TO STAY: Il Falconiere; rates begin at $350; Outside Cortona, Italy; 011-39-0575-612-679; www.ilfalconiere.com. A luxurious estate, from the 17th century, offering various sporting packages for the outdoor type.
How many people get the opportunity to listen to a classical concert under the Tuscan stars with Sophia Loren? The relatively young Tuscan Sun Festival brings together some of the world’s best classical musicians, along with visual artists and authors, for 13 days of performances and discussions in the city of Cortona. This year Loren opens the festival, which kicks off with a tribute concert to her late husband, Carlo Ponti. The festival begins Aug. 4 and runs through Aug. 16. Tuscan Sun Festival, Cortona, Italy; www.festivaldelsole.com
TO DO: Book a vintage Italian car—say, a Ferrari or an Alfa Romeo—for your trip into the Italian countryside. www.weddingsitaly.com/car-rental-italy TO EAT: Trattoria La Grotto; Tuscan; entrees $7 to $21; Cortona, Italy; 011-39-0575-630-271. Dine inside one of a series of medieval-style brick and stone rooms, known as “the grotto.” TO STAY: Borgo il Melone; rates begin at $160; outside Cortona, Italy; 011-39-0575-603-330; www.ilmelone.it. A stone farmhouse that lets you choose between the original manor and re-created outbuildings-turned-apartments.