Home & Leisure



Sometimes Group Travel Is the Best Way to Go

By Victor Block

My wife, Fyllis, and I had long dreamed of visiting Costa Rica. We knew about its reputation for magnificent landscapes, abundant animal and bird life, and preservation of the magnificent environment.

We could have spent hours searching the Internet for flights and hotels, reserving a rental car and taking care of the ...Read more

Requiem for Travel

By Gay Courter

Last Jan. 14, my husband, Phil, and I set out on the first of several international trips we'd planned for 2020. We would spend a week in Tokyo, two weeks cruising in Asia and another week in rural Japan. A month later we'd head to Kenya for a safari. After that, we'd visit grandchildren on opposite coasts, as well as the ...Read more

Okinawa: Sunny Island of the Immortals

By Gay Courter

Our Diamond Princess cruise had been almost perfect. We had departed two weeks earlier from Yokohama, visited Kagoshima in southern Japan, stopped in Hong Kong for the Chinese Lunar New Year and celebrated again in Taipei. The festivities had been limited because a mysterious novel coronavirus had been discovered in China ...Read more

A Family Winter Wonderland in Lake Tahoe

By Margot Black

Lake Tahoe is such a beautiful vacation destination for nature-lovers, no matter what season they decide to visit. Our recent getaway to South Lake Tahoe was our first winter experience in this picturesque resort city, and it certainly left more to be desired. The second you leave Lake Tahoe, you want to plan exactly when...Read more

Outdoor Family Fun in Santa Barbara

By Margot Black

Now more than ever getting unplugged and spending time outdoors with family is so important for mental and physical health. Our family was in need of some travel therapy, and our recent trip to Santa Barbara delivered that not only by reconnecting us with nature, but also by fulfilling our goal to learn a few new things ...Read more

Find Lucille Ball, Mark Twain and Salad Dressing in Upstate New York

By Fyllis Hockman

Leaving Chautauqua County, my husband, Vic, and I continued our Empire State Road Trip in upstate New York, this time headed toward Watkins Glen and the Thousand Islands. Our trip was organized by the Harbor Hotels, and when we left one for the other they each gave us a little cooler full of water, fruit and snacks to ...Read more

Comedy Is on Display in Chautauqua, New York

By Fyllis Hockman

How many places do you walk into laughing? You can't help it at the National Comedy Center in Chautauqua, New York, which we visited as part of an Empire State Road Trip in upstate New York.

Flashes of comedic movies, TV shows and stand-ups assault your inner comedian as you enter the National Comedy Center, and you ...Read more

Hotels Organize Driving Trips to Upstate New York

By Victor Block

How often does the lobby of a hotel become an intriguing part of the experience of visiting a destination? When it comes to the Harbor Hotel Collection properties located in upstate New York, the answer is three.

Guests entering the hotels first see magnificent pillars constructed of perfectly cut and fitted stones that ...Read more

Take a Road Trip to Upstate New York

By Victor Block

Anyone who might be thinking of taking what's called the Empire State Road Trip through upper New York state should be aware that the journey won't be without challenges. Fortunately, they are good ones.

The route passes through pastoral countryside with views of rolling farmlands interspersed by dense forests and tiny ...Read more

Same Names, Different Towns

By Victor Block

An Eiffel Tower sporting a cowboy hat on top. Two places named Berlin, neither of them in Germany. A town called Nashville, where dinosaur footprints rather than music are the big draw.

Towns throughout the United States may share the same name but little else. There are only so many ways to label a community, so it's no...Read more

Dream Trips: African Safaris in Kenya and Zambia

By Candyce H. Stapen

All of us need to dream now, and planning a bucket-list trip creates the joy of anticipation, even if the departure date still looms far into the future.

For us, the go-to magic is an African safari. There is something joyous about watching a herd of elephants lumber across a grassy plain, lanky giraffes munch ...Read more

Seeing Taiwan Through a Local's Eyes

By Gay Courter

The first time I visited Taiwan at age 6 my mother was looking for my father, who had asked us to meet him in Tokyo. When we arrived, we were told he was in what was then called Formosa. A few days later we arrived at the imposing Grand Hotel, perched on a hill overlooking Taipei.

Almost 70 years later, in January 2020, ...Read more

Celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

By Gay Courter

Three versions of Hong Kong churned in my subconscious as we sailed there on the Diamond Princess in January 2020. We were anticipating celebrating the Lunar New Year in that iconic city famous for its elaborate fireworks over the harbor and exuberant parades. There were scenes from my childhood of sampans in the harbor ...Read more

Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies Offers a Day Filled With Fun

By Bonnie Neely

Our favorite of all the aquariums we have ever visited is Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Here visitors of all ages can enjoy a full day of wonder and learning. Even the walkway to the entrance is flanked by great one-sentence facts about marine animals so that they can easily be read by people ...Read more

A Place of Beauty and Peace in Unsettling Times

By Bonnie and Bill Neely

During troubled times what we often long for is nature, and that's doubly true after several months of being confined in our homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with the promise of a vaccine in the near future, one of my best recommendations for anyone visiting the Los Angeles area is the Huntington Library,...Read more

Passing a Pandemic Day at Crystal Cove State Park

By Steve Bergsman

Crystal Cove is a very scary place. Just ask Shaggy Rogers and his friends Fred, Daphne and Velma. Even big dog Scooby-Doo will chip in with a bark. That's because of the crystal sarcophagus containing the Evil Entity - oh wait, that's the cartoon-land Crystal Cove. The one I visited was the one in Orange County, ...Read more

A Holiday Road Trip to Pigeon Forge

By Bonnie Neely

Since my grand-niece's eighth birthday was right before the holidays, we decided to make our way to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to realize her dream of riding the roller coaster at Dollywood and seeing in person the millions of Christmas lights she had previously only seen on TV. Her mother volunteered to be the driver, even...Read more

Ring of Fire: Kagoshima, Japan

By Gay Courter

Nobody likes to think about the worst-case scenario, especially when planning a vacation, but seasoned travelers know all about glitches. They purchase trip insurance, take a few extra doses of medications in case of delays, and always pack an umbrella. But nobody pays attention to events 1,500 miles away from their ...Read more

Sushi Adventure in Pre-COVID Japan

By Gay Courter

Two years ago my sushi-obsessed husband and I traveled to Japan to revisit places I'd lived as a child, to indulge him with the freshest and best sushi in venues from markets to fishing villages to Michelin-starred restaurants, and to take a cruise around Japan. In January 2020 we returned with two other enthusiastic ...Read more

A Look Ahead to When Travel Returns

By Victor Block

Middle seats in the planes of some airlines are vacant. Passengers and crew members aboard cruise ships are wearing masks and socially distancing. Some countries remain closed to non-residents or won't allow people from the United States to enter. Many people who normally would be flying are loath to set foot on an ...Read more



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