Contributing writers Natalie Compagno and Greg Freitas find the best Tools for the Traveler each month, mapping out the most efficient ways to see a destination and the best techniques to stay on top of the deals. Filled with the latest guide books, apps, maps, news, where to stay and what to do, this column gives travelers everything they need to make the most of their trip.
Good news sun lovers! Summer doesn’t officially end until September 22, so there is still plenty of time to seek out those last few days of sunshine. Whether you’re looking for hidden picnic spots, delicious wine, sandy beaches, or miles of bike trails, these three destinations are at the top of the escape list.
Napa Valley, California
If you think Napa Valley is crowded and over-exposed, think again. The valley is still large and undeveloped enough to find a hidden corner to call your own. Cycling is the perfect way to discover these secret spots.
For cyclists, the Silverado Trail can be a dangerous obstacle course of road debris interspersed with speeding drivers. Fortunately the Vine Trail connects the city of Napa via 12 miles of peaceful, dedicated multi-use path, with Yountville. The ambitious expansion plan aims to connect Vallejo to Calistoga, over 40 miles away.
Where to Stay
Cyclists, wine lovers, or anyone who wants a blissful holiday should make a beeline for Chateau de Vie in Calistoga. The rustic chateau is located at the Valley’s less touristy northern edge. With just four rooms the hot tub is never crowded; you can relax among the vines and under the stars to your heart’s content. The inn sees that coffee is delivered to your door, and lovingly prepare seasonal breakfasts that are part gourmet, part country home cooking.
Consider staying in quirky, beautiful Calistoga for easy access to both Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Named by founder Samuel Brannan who, inspired by its natural hot springs, thought of it as the Saratoga of California. After a few too many drinks he dubbed it “the Calistoga of Sarafornia,” and the name stuck.
Besides the Vine Trail, there are many lesser-known bike trails hidden around the valley often ridden by locals only. Chateau de Vie owners Peter and Philip are a wealth of insider knowledge, and can point out several excellent cycling routes into the valley and the surrounding hills.
The tourism board offers the free Winery Finder App, which alerts to tasting deals at over 150 wineries. This is an excellent way to taste a variety of vino and save money for purchasing the bottles of your choice.
The brand new for 2017 Moon Handbooks guide to Napa & Sonoma is easy to pack. We also recommend tucking in your own corkscrew and wine glasses—you never know when an impromptu picnic might need to happen!
Water surrounds the city, and with warming weather and traces of sunlight until 10 p.m., Seattle is a great late summer destination. The city is growing rapidly, and with it comes new activities and innovation.
For the first time in 40 years Pike Place Market has expanded, with the long-anticipated opening of MarketFront in June. The 12,000 square feet addition brings 47 new market stalls, as well as panoramic views to the west. Don’t miss Little Fish, which balances Basque, Jewish, Native American, Scandinavian, and Japanese cuisines all around the common theme of—you guessed it—seafood.
Where to Stay
Inn at the Market is an off-the-radar boutique gem located just a few steps from the bustling Pike Place Market. The market, Seattle Art Museum, and dozens of shops, restaurants, and brewpubs are within walking distance. Opt for the Chihuly Glass and Glass package to explore the unique creations of Dale Chihuly and receive two VIP entry tickets, and round trip tickets on the Seattle Monorail.
No one loves to exercise more than a Seattleite when the sun is out. Take a walk around Green Lake with locals, rent a paddleboard, and then jump in for a refreshing swim. Or visit nearby Studio 45, a locally owned Lagree method Pilates studio, for total body conditioning.
Many visitors to Seattle arrive or leave by cruise ship and could feel limited to the touristy terminal area. Not so! Jump on a water taxi to West Seattle to enjoy a final beach day and lunch with a city view at Marination Ma Kai. For small town charm, take the ferry to beautiful Bainbridge Island. It’s an easy walk from the ferry terminal to downtown Winslow, which is crammed full of charming shops, restaurants, and museums. While you’re there, check out the brand new restaurant Bruciato, the latest brickwood oven farm-to-table hot spot.
Biking along Elliott Bay is a must, with epic views of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound, and Mount Rainier. Bike share is widely available, and at $1 per 30 minutes, there’s no reason not to take a spin. The program is dockless so locate the bike nearest you by downloading Ofo, LimeBikes, or Spin.
The Hunt Guide to Seattle is a brand new dining and shopping guide featuring independent stores and restaurants. Our faves include Show Pony in Fremont for must-have shopping, and Bar Charlie in Wallingford for snacks and libations.
It might get colder sooner in this Northern capital of food and design, but Copenhagen is built for year-round cultural and culinary adventure. Often touted the happiest place on the planet, whether it’s raining or not, you’ll feel sunny and warm.
Formerly the most exclusive foodie city in the world, the newest Copenhagen trend focuses on bringing award-winning food to the masses. Gourmands can save time and money by dining at sister restaurants. Legendary Noma’s spinoff 108 is, naturally, the most sought after scaled-down table in town. Despite uniformly great reviews and a Michelin star, appetizers range from $17 to $28 and the priciest entrees come to around $80 for two people. Refreshingly, reservations are NOT taken months in advance, and walk-ins can still find a last minute table if the stars are aligned. Cross your fingers and go.
Where to Stay
Just steps from Tivoli Gardens, Hotel Danmark opened in May 2017, continuing the theme of affordable luxury. Stay on a budget while receiving all the perks of a high-end boutique hotel. Hotel Danmark is unique in offering the first “upscale bunk beds” in town as an option. A private locker keeps belongings secure but all amenities, including complimentary wine hour and 24-hour room service, are standard for any bed choice. You can make your fellow campers jealous by having champagne and oysters delivered to your bunk at midnight. Each of the four boutique properties in the Brochner Hotel has something to recommend.
Many visitors make use of the Copenhagen Card, and it certainly has its advantages. Included for one single price, you can gain admission to 79 museums and attractions, free transport by train, bus or metro for the entire region, and discounts on select restaurants as well. For the most bang for the buck, we recommend the three-day pass for about 659DKK ($105), a better deal for serious sightseers.
Copenhagen is flat, compact, and one of the world’s great bike cities. Locals ride around in their finery and visitors should too. Reasonably priced Bycyklen offers bike rentals for about $5 an hour. Battery assist and built-in GPS means even Copenhagen neophytes can cruise around on two wheels at any time of year.
For those who opt for four or more wheels, Rejseplanen is the app the locals use to get around. Just put in your destination and the app will provide every possible way of getting there. Think of it as Rome2Rio for CPH.
Herb Lester prints exquisitely curated guide maps, suitable for framing. The 2017 edition of Copenhagen: The Good Life focuses on CPH’s two hottest sectors: design and food. What could be more Copenhagen?
For more travel tips for destinations around the world, check out:
- Space Needles & Sundaes: Family-Friendly Adventures in Seattle
- Ask A Concierge: Where to Get A Deeper Look Into Berlin
- Discovering Salinas Valley & the History of John Steinbeck
By Natalie Compagno & Greg Freitas for PeterGreenberg.com