CLARK, Colo. — Bumping along in our ride to the Home Ranch, an upscale dude ranch where my husband, young son and I will spend the week, wrangler and local cowboy Sand Reed suddenly jerks the pickup to a quick stop on the road’s edge, nearly spilling the contents of the drink I’ve been clinging to since he picked us up at the airport.
ATLANTA — Atlantans are walking on the wild side this spring, enjoying opportunities for up-close encounters with dolphins, otters, pandas, Komodo dragons and other exotic creatures great and small.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — This island offers so many visual treats — gorgeous beaches, rugged hills, beautiful churches and majestic historic forts — that dining becomes a virtual afterthought. A hunk of meat or fish, some sides of mofongo (fried mashed plantains) and mamposteao (rice and beans with other goodies), a stiff rum drink and you’re good to go, right?
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When I told friends I was planning a trip to Birmingham, the reaction was universal.
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — This is the only country that gives you a bath before they send you home.
MAUN, Botswana — If you’ve paid for an African safari but you’re still not clear about the details, bad on you. Making the same mistake, I didn’t dig into the heart of the adventure before I headed to Southern Africa for my first wildlife safari, because I was always too busy. Bad on me!
SAN FRANCISCO — A venerable San Francisco institution has packed up and moved to a lovely new waterfront home.
SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK, Va. — The ridge-top Skyline Drive offers lots of panoramic views.
MIAMI — A cool ocean breeze cut the day’s humidity. Dresses up to there in hot pink sequins and acid yellows colored the sidewalks. It was around midnight on a Thursday in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, and the evening was just getting started.
OMAHA, Neb. — While everybody talks about the “flyover” states, few people stop to see what all the chatter is about. In the midsection of the United States sits Nebraska, a state that boasts treasures worthy of unfastening your seatbelts and putting your tray-table in its upright position.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK — Jagged peaks, a lucky glimpse of a bear or moose, and, of course, glaciers — these sights are just the tip of the iceberg at Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana.
HARRODSBURG, Ky. — Guests who eat breakfast at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill probably don’t even give a second thought to the syrup that covers their stacks of pancakes. But if they ask, they’ll get a history lesson.
ROME — “SILENZIO!” says the sign just past the massive bronze doors marking the entrance to St. Mary and the Martyrs Catholic Church in Rome, one of the two or three most important churches in Christian history. The sign reminds all that this is a house of worship. Indeed, visitors from around the globe flock to the Piazza della Rotonda to see its austere, columned portico.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkanas is a state that many people may not give much thought about when planning their vacations. Often considered a “flyover state,” it has much to offer a traveler in search of adventure, culture, or a natural refuge.
“I would argue Europe is better in the shoulder seasons,” said Amy Farley, news editor at Travel + Leisure and author of the magazine’s “Trip Doctor” column. “I was in Florence in October, and it was extraordinary. That said, if you have children and want the ideal weather, summer it is.”
Long before Orlando was transformed from a modest citrus-and-cattle town into Theme Park Central, folks vacationed along the fringe of Florida — its beaches.
Here, in alphabetical order, are 10 places I’d like to see in 2013. Several are cities, one is a state, three are entire nations, and all have interesting things happening in the weeks and months ahead. Will I get to them all? Probably not.
ZURICH — My daddy, Alan Behr, has written lots about Zurich for about a million years by now, but he says he never realized what a great place it must look like to a 3-year-old like me. He asked me to tell you why it is, so here goes:
PORTLAND, Ore. — Is it possible for an Angeleno to leave home and find love in a region where sunshine is merely a rumor and 50 shades of gray are a daily atmospheric reality?
CHANDLER, Ariz. — You come to Chandler for desert deceleration — not that fast life they live in Phoenix and Scottsdale. The city of about 240,000 (www.visitchandler.com) sits about 20 minutes southeast of Phoenix, below Mesa. In the central plaza it raises a 40-foot-high tumbleweed Christmas tree every winter. Chandler’s several hotels (mostly budget chains) are easy driving from the 11 soon-to-be-active spring training stadiums of greater Phoenix, including the Dodgers (about 35 miles away in Glendale) and the Angels (about 17 miles away in Tempe). A child-related activity brought us to town, but among normal people, golf is the larger draw. Venues include the 18-hole Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort, which dates to 1913; the Ocotillo Golf Resort (27 holes); and the Bear Creek Golf Complex (36 holes).