A cosmopolitan capital with a skyline expanse of sleek high-risers that may surprise you. A vibrant, evocative historic district of tile-roofed Spanish Colonial architecture. A tropical rainforest with a sun-washed canopy you can glide across in an aerial tram. And, oh yeah, there’s that iconic Canal. It’s all in Central America’s Panama, a country with not one but two coastlines: Pacific and Caribbean. An exotic destination that, for eastern U.S. travelers, doesn’t even require switching time zones. As in, no jet lag.
Nearly six decades have flashed by since Dolores Hart in her one-piece and George Hamilton in his tan graced the gilded sands of Fort Lauderdale in “Where the Boys Are,” a movie that map-pinned the photogenic spot as an enduringly sought-after destination for Spring Break hijinks.
On board Disney Fantasy, the youngest ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, many passengers decorate stateroom doors with colorful signage identifying themselves by name as a family group, an anniversary couple, repeat cruisers or honeymooners. Not something you typically encounter at sea. The all-in outgoingness is part of what brings a noticeable brio to a voyage where passenger expectations have a lot to do with being fans – often lifelong fans – of all things Disney.
Lovers of Pat Conroy’s lyrical voice likely would agree that his imagery took particular flight when it concerned his enduring devotion to the Carolina Lowcountry. “Just the pure, sheer richness and bounty of the Lowcountry seems to know no bounds,” he penned not long ago. “It simply is a ripe part of the earth.”
It’s a surefire “wow” moment, rolling up to the Broadmoor. And that’s just the first glimpse of the property’s 5,000 Colorado Springs acres etched across a backdrop of mountain majesties. Richly blessed with the scenic splendor of the American West, the Broadmoor, in one iteration or another, has occupied this Rockies-sheltered territory for a hundred years.
Cruising along South Ocean Boulevard, visitors can’t catch much of a look at Mar-a-Lago. A tower and a few tiled rooftops. Which is too bad since the buzz about President Donald Trump’s 20-acre Palm Beach estate-turned-private-club – a.k.a. the Winter White House – may be what lured them to this elite isle in the first place.
The new Napa, some are calling it. Or maybe the new Sonoma. It’s a term that pays tribute to a trending place to visit and soak up a California wine-centric experience, while alerting travelers who haven’t yet tuned in. Yet, there’s really nothing new about Lodi and its wine journey.
Hoping for relief from his rheumatism, Thomas Jefferson traveled to these parts to “take the waters,” as they dubbed it in his day. Since then, 22 other presidents have shown up for soaks and other pursuits (golf is a biggie), with the Omni Homestead Resort playing proud host. Wrapped in 2,300 eye-popping Bath County acres in Virginia’s Western Highlands, the iconic resort is famously distinguished by natural healing springs and a parade of high-voltage visitors – dating back to its opening in 1766 as a wooden 18-room lodge.
Not unlike Atlanta, Naples is twice blessed when it comes to luxe Ritz-Carlton properties. But there’s a noticeable difference. What gives the Southwest Florida resorts bragging rights over the considerable assets of its big-city sisters in Georgia: three resplendent miles of Gulf Coast beaches, and two l8-hole Greg Norman golf courses.
Hong Kong … Saigon … Singapore … Talk about storied ports that mix multilayered cultural riches with historical drama and spectacles of exotic seascapes. Stir in a spoonful of sugar in the form of high-end hotels and sumptuous ship offerings, and it’s enough to make any avid traveler grab a passport and go for it.
For William Faulkner, it was the centerpiece of his “own little postage stamp of native soil,” part of the rich vein he famously mined for storytelling treasure. For weekend fun-seekers out for a Mississippi small-town take on New Orleans, it’s the “Little Easy,” for Ole Miss football fans, the site of over-the-top tailgating. For foodies in search of a no-nonsense Southern culinary scene, it’s the place to pull up to several celebrated tables. And for bookworms of all persuasions, it’s paradise found.
You might picture Bentonville, set in northwest Arkansas at the foot of the Ozarks, as a Mayberry-like place wrapped in a grand expanse of outdoor pleasures from fly fishing to mountain biking. Or you might think of Bentonville as Walmart Country; this, after all, is where the retail behemoth was born. What you might not imagine is that Bentonville is a major art mecca. Yet all of the above images are right on target – the newsiest being the art part.
News flash from travel industry trend-trackers: families currently make up one of the fastest growing segments of cruising. And considering what’s afloat in the way of coming attractions – from a new Disney Star Wars adventure to Norwegian’s first nursery for tiny tots, from Carnival’s new Family Harbor Cabins to Holland America’s first purpose-built staterooms for family groups – it’s scarcely a stretch to say that cruise-shopping parents never had it so good.