Monthly Archives: April 2016

Best destination for solo trip

The singles scene in New York City is a little crazy, maybe even certifiably so.

“This is a city with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but only in the best ways,” says Rachel Harrison, a Brooklyn-based public relations exec. “You can dress a little wilder, slap on some fake eyelashes—you can do anything you want, at any age. There are no judgments.”

Unabashedly batting those faux lashes got the Big Apple more than a few second glances this year. New York City landed in the top 10 for the best cities for singles, according to Travel + Leisure readers. In this year’s America’s Favorite Places survey, readers ranked 38 cities on dozens of appealing qualities, including good-looking locals, cool shopping, and hipster-magnet coffee bars.

The winning cities in the singles-scene category excel in the off-hours, ranking highly for nightclubs, dive bars, and even great diners, where you might lock eyes with someone over a late-night order of fries.

But the most singles-friendly cities also put a creative spin on conventional meet-up spots. Plenty of big attractions—from the Brooklyn Museum to the San Diego Museum of Art—offer monthly happy hours, wooing artsy singles with cocktails and live music. In Boston, one of the coolest bookstores does Trivia Nights, while indowntown L.A. a popular bar stocks old-school video games.

Another strategy for uncovering a city’s best singles scene is exploring the activities that locals love most. “New Orleanians live and breathe festivals—like Jazz Fest, and even Creole Tomato Fest,” says native Stephen Schmitz. Just be warned: “The heat and humidity,” he says, “can make for a rough appearance.”

Read on for the full results. And make your point of view heard by voting in the America’s Favorite Places survey.

How to find the best of european villages

The notion of postcard-perfect villages steeped in old-world charm has inspired centuries of travelers to fan out across Europe, seeking its secluded hamlets.

As a result, the continent’s scenic spots rarely remain hidden for long. It doesn’t take much to make a charming village feel uncomfortably popular. Consider the five fishing villages that make up Italy’s Cinque Terre, where an evening summertime stroll often feels like shuffling through a packed amusement park, complete with overpriced restaurants and souvenir shops.

But just a few miles down the coast from those crowds is Tellaro, another beautiful seaside village that is less accessible and thus blissfully unspoiled. A similar sense of discovery is the major draw in overlooked regions that house pint-size gems like the Alsatian village of Colmar, France, where bakeries sell both croissants and kugelhopf.

The first requirement of a beautiful village is a scenic location, whether among the Norwegian fjords or the sun-splashed Greek isles. But the finest also have distinctive features like the plaza ringed with high-gabled pastel façades in Telč, Czech Republic, or the unforgettable Victorian castle rising above the thatched roofs of Cong, Ireland.

Reaching some of these European beauties requires extra effort, yet the rewards are dazzling. Your eyes will thank you.

How to find great place with preasure and love

So you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Mazel tov! That’s a huge decision, but now another looms: how—and where—to pop The Question. The choice of locale is paramount—and as every aspiring spouse should know, some scenarios capture the mood better than others. Certain classics, of course, stand the test of time: the sunset stroll along a deserted beach; the postcard moment in front of an iconic backdrop; the candlelit dinner at a chic restaurant. But how to narrow down the list (and avoid becoming stuck in a cliché), given this is a story you’ll be telling for the rest of your life?

Creativity is key. Consider an element of surprise, or a destination that has special significance for the two of you. (Your paramour’s always yearned to get their pilot’s license? Book a night in a helicopter at sublime Connecticut hideaway Winvian, whose stylish and whimsical rooms are all themed.) But don’t necessarily overlook the classics either: Paris is an amorous mainstay for good reason. Famed New York–based wedding planner Colin Cowie sings the praises of the City of Light, suggesting “the Ferris wheel at the Tuileries when at the 12 o’clock positio,” for extra impact.

Warm-weather destinations, not surprisingly, topped our experts’ lists (nothing kills a love buzz like frostbite). Certain tropical spots like Fiji and Hawaii seem custom-made for great proposals, thanks to their wealth of secret beaches and castaway-style islands where couples can be assured of having the place to themselves. For seriously adventurous couples, meanwhile, an African safari has all the trappings of high drama…particularly when you’re floating above the savanna in a hot-air balloon.

Not everyone wants to blow a big-ticket overseas trip on a proposal, though. If you’d rather save up for the honeymoon, consider a nearby urban setting. New York’s Central Park provides an inimitable setting, as does a candlelit corner table at one of the city’s acclaimed restaurants. Whatever the context, each of our favorite settings is packed with enough romance to pretty much guarantee the right answer. Now all you have to do is choose the ring.

Find the romantic summer destination

Imagine sipping Argentina’s finest wines with the snowcapped Andes in the distance, sailing the fjords of Finland while the midnight sun shines down, or taking in a live opera under the stars in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

These stirring scenarios have one thing in common: a gorgeous backdrop tailor-made for romance. “We’re all starring in the movie of our lives,” declares Susan Moynihan, founder of The Honeymoonist, a boutique travel-planning company for luxurious romance experiences. “And a beautiful setting makes you feel more beautiful—you want a setting that matches your mood.”

Sometimes it’s not just the usual summer getaways that hit the spot, though. In compiling our favorite vacation ideas for couples¸ we looked further afield than staples like Rome, Bora-Bora, the Greek Islands, and Paris. (Don’t worry, we’ll always have Paris.) We even let another of New York’s boroughs steal our hearts away from perennial favorite Manhattan.

We fell head over heels for places like the Scottish countryside, with its cozy inns and atmospheric landscapes. Summer heralds its sunny season, and all that green outdoors is now accessible to hikers and bikers along the John Muir Way, which cuts past castle ruins, whitewashed farms, and wild beaches.

There’s an added thrill in experiencing a new place together, especially one that still feels truly different. Laos’s royal city of Luang Prabang, for example, moves at a languid pace and woos with its crumbly French colonial architecture and Buddhist temples. It is also, admittedly, hot; seek relief at the infinity pool of La Residence Phou Vao.

Starry-eyed couples can also find such transportive experiences in the U.S. A short flight or ferry ride from Seattle brings you to the San Juan Islands, a rugged archipelago that feels far removed, with its exhilarating natural beauty, farm-to-table cooking, and wildlife spotting (the orcas come out to play in summer).

“Part of the goal for a romantic trip is to get out of your routine and away from everyday stresses and surroundings so you can focus on each other,” says Moynihan. “Going to a destination that is distinct and different from your everyday life helps create that mood and magic.”