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Archives Life in the Time of Coronavirus Travel

Virtual Tour of San Diego

Virtual Tour of San Diego:  Downtown San Diego
Virtual Tour of San Diego: Downtown San Diego

Because of the pandemic, I have waited almost a year to write my blog on the best things to do in San Diego. People had stopped traveling. Over time, though, I’ve discovered that armchair tourism lives on. We all want to dream of a freer time. In response, I’ve detailed a virtual tour of San Diego. Kick back, sip your quarantini, and imagine you are there. Or going there soon.

Despite San Diego’s reputation for year-round good weather, I found it unpredictable, particularly in January. I began my trip in short sleeves and ended it in a hat and gloves. Especially if you plan to go out on the water, pack for cold weather, just in case. Since you aren’t going away, at least not yet, feel free to turn up the thermostat or throw open the windows. Or both. No one will judge you, except maybe your cat.

Fun Stop for Families: San Diego Zoo

Best Restaurant for Foodies: Nobu

Quintessential Pacific Experience: Whale Watching

Best Way to Gain Access to Attractions: Go San Diego Pass

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Archives Life in the Time of Coronavirus Restaurants Travel

Best Restaurants in the Finger Lakes

Best Restaurants in the Finger Lakes:  The marina near Blue Point Grille
Best Restaurants in the Finger Lakes: The marina near Blue Point Grille

Finding the best restaurants in the Finger Lakes region requires both less and more research than I’m used to. Less, because the options are limited. More, because we found it difficult to find the truly good among them. In keeping with the rural and outdoor nature of the Finger Lakes, even the fine-dining restaurants listed below retain a relaxed, semi-casual vibe.

Best romantic restaurant: Pleasant Valley Inn

Best Menu: Ports Café

Restaurant With the Best View: Ginny Lee Café

Most Relaxing Restaurant: Blue Pointe Grille

Because of covid-19 restrictions, we selected restaurants that either served outside or, by law, at well-spaced tables inside. Reservations are either required or strongly recommended since seating can be limited, particularly on the weekends. Note: Since pandemic restrictions can change, check out the current status before reserving.

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Archives Hotels Life in the Time of Coronavirus Travel

Idlwilde Inn in Watkins Glen, NY

Idlwilde Inn in Watkins Glen, sunset
Idlwilde Inn in Watkins Glen at Sunset

On a recent trip to the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, we stayed at the Idlwilde Inn in Watkins Glen. The bed-and-breakfast inn, perched on a hill above the town, provided a quiet, Victorian-style retreat. Owners Marcus and Elin Dowd offered warm hospitality and delicious breakfasts.

For us, the Idlwilde Inn ended up being near-perfect for what we wanted.

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Archives Life in the Time of Coronavirus Travel

Finger Lakes Wine Tour

Finger Lakes Wine Tour: Tasting at Ravines Wine Cellars, overlooking Keuka Lake
Finger Lakes Wine Tour: Ravines Wine Cellars, overlooking Keuka Lake

With the coronavirus still raging, my husband and I decided to plan a Finger Lakes Wine Tour in upstate New York. We did not live in a banned state, and we could drive there in a few hours. Besides, we liked the bookend to our last out-of-state trip before the shutdown, to Napa Valley. With social distancing and mask-wearing in effect, the trip provided a low-key, relatively safe, and fun deviation from our routine.

Although the region focuses on white wines made from riesling and gewurtztraminer grapes, other varieties and styles tasted quite good. We tasted a few reds, but while they were perfectly enjoyable, they didn’t meet our admittedly high standards for red wine.

Best Overall Experience: Boundary Breaks Vineyard

Worst Overall Experience: Dr. Konstantin Frank

Tasting Room Most Closely Connected to Wine Making: Hermann J. Wiemer

Most Knowledgeable Service: Wagner Vineyards

Most Intimate Tasting: Tower Tasting at Heron Hill

Biggest Surprise: Keuka Spring Vineyards

Because tastings cost less and are less formal (also less informative) than those in California, we were able to visit many wineries a day. Below, you’ll find reviews of some of the best wineries in the Finger Lakes.

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Archives Travel

The Murals of La Jolla

Walking Tour of the Murals of La Jolla:  Man, Myth, and Magic by Steven Hull
Walking Tour of the Murals of La Jolla: Man, Myth, and Magic by Steven Hull

Earlier this year, before the coronavirus lockdown, I planned a self-guided tour of the Murals of La Jolla, California. Even if you don’t live in the San Diego area, you can “visit” them in this seaside town, albeit virtually. The Murals of La Jolla project commissions art by both well-known and lesser known artists based in California. Murals such as my favorite Man, Myth, and Magic by Steven Hull (above) bring art to the the buildings and community.

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Archives Travel

Best Things to Do on the Big Island (Hawaii)

Best Things to Do on the Big Island:  Sunset on the Kohala Coast
Best Things to Do on the Big Island: Sunset on the Kohala Coast

The best things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii depend, in part, on where you stay and how much driving you’re willing to do. Yes, you can lie on the beach or by the pool all day and do absolutely nothing. Or you can do some low-key sightseeing or high-intensity outdoor activities. Whatever your interests, you’ll find something to do. Or to not do.

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Archives Restaurants Travel

Where to Eat in Venice

Where to Eat in Venice:  Sole with lemon and spinach at Local
Where to Eat in Venice: Sole with lemon and spinach at Local

When deciding where to eat in Venice, my husband and I first defaulted to the idea that we’ve never had a bad meal in Italy. Then, on our first day, we encountered a mediocre lunch at a pizzeria. Although we sat outside on a glorious day, the pizza might as well been made in the United States. We vowed to be more discriminating for the rest of our trip. As a result, we found some wonderful places to eat.

Best restaurant for foodies: Local

Where to eat traditional dishes: El Magazen

Favorite gelateria: Suso

Best casual pasta restaurant: 6342 Alla Corte

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Archives Travel

Best Things to Do in Venice

Best Things to Do in Venice: View from the boat entrance to the Hotel Ai Cavalieri

As with most European cities, some of the best things to do in Venice involve visiting iconic sites. Think the Bridge of Sighs. And the Rialto Bridge. St. Mark’s Square and the Basilica. Beyond those, however, this island city offers a lot more to do, especially if you stay overnight.

Venice has a reputation for being one of the most romantic cities in the world, and for good reason. The absence of motor vehicles creates an unusual quiet, even with the throngs of tourists. Water laps at buildings, and the meandering narrow streets become a delightful puzzle. The distinctive architecture creates a beauty that defines Venice. Taken all together, you can feel as though you’ve fallen back to another era.

Most Surprising: How every building is at water level

Most Iconic View: the Grand Canal, from the Rialto Bridge

Best Museum: the Doge’s Palace

Favorite Tour: Cicchetti and wine walking tour

Best Restaurant for Foodies: Ristorante Local

Best gelato: Suso

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Archives Restaurants Travel

Where to Eat Tapas in Barcelona, Spain

Where to Eat Tapas in Barcelona:  Dining Outside
Where to Eat Tapas in Barcelona: Dining Outside at Cuitat Comtal.

On a recent trip to this Catalonian city, I tracked down where to eat tapas in Barcelona. Although we usually seek out some upscale restaurants in a given city, this time we opted for more casual dinners of tapas. Of course, we often added a bottle of cava or a carafe of sangria or a glass of Priorat or Rioja. Life was good in Barcelona!

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Archives Travel

Best Things to Do in Barcelona, Spain

Best Things to Do in Barcelona: Rooftop at Casa Milà
Best Things to Do in Barcelona: Rooftop at Casa Milà

The best things to do in Barcelona range from the ancient to the modern. The Barri Gòtic and its maze of narrow streets harken back to its Roman beginnings while the dramatic glass high-rises near the water scream contemporary architecture. And Gaudì? You cannot escape the city without visiting several of his iconic modernist buildings.

Most iconic sight: the almost-finished Sagrada Familia

Best Itinerary Theme: Visiting everything Gaudì

Best tapas: Ciutat Comtal

Wildest dining experience: El Nacional tapas

Most worthwhile day tour: Mount Serrat

Most disappointing: Not everything is within walking distance