05/12/16 1:14pm

In interviewing Amy Haimerl, author of Detroit Hustle, I asked her to name a few things I should absolutely do if I was visiting Detroit for the weekend. “The Detroit Hustle tour of Detroit? So many, many options,” she emailed back. “But I’ll give you my favorites. Of course, there’s probably too much for a weekend.”

There is probably too much here to cram in during one visit. Just bookmark her recommendations, and do the best you can.

Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry mural at the DIA. (Courtesy the Detroit Institute of Arts)

Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry mural at the DIA. (Courtesy the Detroit Institute of Arts)

If you love museums/art:

Detroit Institute of Arts: This, of course, is the home of the famous Diego Rivera industry mural. The Rockefellers tore yours down, but we still have his amazing frescoes. Plus, take a glass of wine in the Kresge Court and enjoy the late afternoon sunlight in this amazing courtyard.

Charles H. Wright Museum: Most people make the DIA pilgrimage, but the Charles H. Wright Museum is breathtaking. There are rotating exhibits, but the permanent collect is the world’s largest exhibit of African American culture. I love the genealogy wheel.

Motown Museum: Stand in the studio where the Supremes, Temptations and so many others recorded. It’s like you’re on hallowed ground.

Detroit Techno Museum: Did you know Detroit is also the birthplace of techno? We took the sound and made it all our own. The museum is by-appointment only, but you want to make that appointment. And both this and the Motown Museum are on Grand Boulevard, at opposite ends, so you can make an afternoon of it.

Murals in the Market: Head over to the Eastern Market district – think Union Square Farmer’s Market but bigger and better – for a truly spectacular canvas of street art. Thanks to the Murals in the Market project hosted last year by local gallery Inner State Gallery, the walls of the old warehouses are covered in murals by local and international stars. I love the Shark Toof that seems to shimmer with iridescence, but also am fond of anything Fel3000ft does. (more…)

02/06/15 9:13am
Camp on an island in the middle of Lake George this summer. Photo:

Can’t afford a private island? Go camping on Lake George this summer instead, but book your site now. Photo: Sandy Makatura via Lake George.com

The recent “blizzard” and all-out freeze has done a number on the city, our now-treacherous sidewalks and our collective spirits. There aren’t enough double Bailey’s hot chocolates or steaming hot toddies out there to warm what’s left of my frigid core. This week, I’ve learned that walking across the Williamsburg Bridge because the subway tracks are frozen is a great way to see the cityscape, if you can manage to open your eyes in the piercing wind. Luckily, I think I’ve found a way to beat the winter blues. My solution? Planning the most epic spring and summer getaways I can imagine.

I’m talking about island getaways, battleground barracks, motorcycle rallies and one of the most spectacular firework displays in the country. Yes, you can go the AirBnB route for soaking up the sun and relaxing somewhere away from the city, but New York State Parks maintains a pretty amazing array of campsites, cabins, yurts, even lighthouses that you can reserve and stay in quite cheaply. Reservations open up nine months in advance of the booking, and some of the most coveted spots (like a cottage on a the water in the Finger Lakes for $125 a night) get snapped up almost immediately. (There are lots of campsites you can get last minute, too, so don’t despair, light travelers.) You can book through the New York State Camping website, though I’d recommend calling if you have specific questions or needs, as the site and online booking process can be a bit confusing–they’re very helpful,  1-800-456-CAMP.

Here are some outstanding spots to commune with nature this summer, though New York State has a pretty amazing array of parks, lakes and historic sites, so explore what’s on offer around the state–don’t just stick to my recommendations.

Lake George
There are a number of campgrounds near Lake George, or The Queen of American Lakes as it’s known. It sits at the base of the Adirondacks with a shoreline of more than 100 miles. So, there’s plenty of room, but the best sites get snatched quickly. (more…)

01/05/15 5:32pm
Trade city life for tropical paradise for a week or more. Photo: Joy Bergmann

Trade city life for tropical paradise for a week or more. Photo: Joy Bergmann

*Not quite. You will have to purchase transportation, food and your travel-reading of choice.

Long before Airbnb (and before we all grew weary of the term “sharing economy”), thrifty, adventurous travelers saved money on vacations by participating in home swaps–my NYC apartment for your Cape Cod bungalow, my Catskills cabin for your South Beach condo. Swappers find each other via listings in the back of travel magazines, or by going through a swapping service. Or, for the internet savvy, I highly recommend using the Housing Swap listings on Craigslist. With three successful swaps under my belt, I’m here to tell you it’s an easy alternative to the potential legal headaches involved with Airbnb.

If you read the recent New York Times story about house swapping, you may have thought, “neat concept, but I don’t have a Manhattan townhouse or a 4,000-square-foot loft, or a pied-à-terre overlooking the Seine to trade.” Trust me, great swaps are possible with normal New York apartments. Indeed, the whole concept may have you thinking, “Ohmygod strangers in my house and they’ll rob me blind and hold orgies in my breakfast nook and eeeeew my mattress and my Xbox and that is just crazy.” (more…)

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11/25/14 8:00am
This doesn't have to be your problem.

This doesn’t have to be your problem.

Yes, Thanksgiving week is the busiest, most hassle-filled travel time of the year. It’s just part of the holidays, like that cranberry jello salad your aunt always makes, or the tense mood that strikes the table whenever your cousin’s awful boyfriend opens his mouth. For New Yorkers, getting to the airport is either expensive, time consuming, or both, even in the best of traffic conditions. All three of our major airports, JFK, LaGuardia and Newark rank at the very bottom of Bloomberg Businessweek’s Airport Frustration Index, with LaGuardia receiving the lowest marks of any airport in the country in almost every category.

We can’t magically get you to your gate without delays or irritation, but we do have a few suggestions for saving time and money on the way to the airport, including a ridesharing app that could be your Uber replacement, and some public transportation tricks. (more…)

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10/17/14 9:00am
The foliage is in its full glory at Mohonk Mountain preserve right now. Photo: Evan Groll

The foliage is in its full glory at Mohonk Mountain preserve right now. Photo: Evan Groll

As much as we love New York City, and as ideal as it is for many things, it is not the best place to enjoy fall foliage and get that taste of the outdoors that even the most seasoned city dwellers need from time to time. Here are two easy trips north where you can take full advantage of this gorgeous autumn. Both are much easier done by car, but if you want an autumn hike you can do completely car-free, check out this adventure in Peekskill, with foliage and beer.  (more…)

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08/08/14 9:49am
Bikes wait while their riders sample wines at Shinn Estate. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

Bikes wait while their riders sample wines at Shinn Estate. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

We originally ran this story in August of 2014–it’s been updated with additional information. After a return trip we’re pleased to report that the North Fork is better than ever. 

You don’t need a car to get out of town for a few days. Greenport, on the tip of Long Island’s North Fork is an excellent spot to explore by bike. Between the surrounding vineyards, Shelter Island and the town itself, a fishing village that is re-emerging from some pretty depressed economic times, with tons of new restaurants and shops lining the small downtown, there’s plenty to do, see, explore and taste.

No bike? Rent one. Dan’s Bike Rental includes a basket, lock, helmet, light and map, and they will drop a bike off at your hotel, or meet you at the train or Jitney. Rates start at $25/day, and they will come replace your bike and rescue you if you break down. Do note, these are easy-going, upright stance, city bikes, not serious road bikes. The general area is very flat, but if you’re traveling with speedsters on road bikes you should prepare yourself for a slower ride than the rest of the pack.

IMG_9274

Enjoy your private beach at the Silver Sands Motel. Photo: Annaliese Griffin

How to get there: If you’re planning on renting a bike, take the Long Island Railroad. Considering summer traffic, the three-hour trip is generally faster than the bus, and more comfortable. It is possible to take a bike on the LIRR, but only on certain cars on certain trains–it’s a pretty lengthy list of rules and regulations, and if you’re part of a group with bikes (unless you have nifty folding bikes) forget it. Depending on when you leave, the fare runs from $20-28, each direction. The Jitney on the other hand, is a snap with a bike. Just show up with your bike and they’ll stow it in a luggage compartment and then charge you once you’re on board. The fare is $23 each way ($19 if you reserve online), plus an additional $15 for your bike, and you get complimentary bottled water and chips onboard, usually. There are a few departure points from Brooklyn, as well as many in Manhattan.  Check the schedule for departure times and options–it’s very easy to change reservations from your phone, should your plans shift. The downside? Traffic.  (more…)

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08/12/13 1:00pm

Montreal_web-horiz-landing-pg

Montreal is one of our favorite nearby-but-feels-so-far-away getaways. Whether you’re exploring the cobblestoned Old City, reveling in the amazing cheese shops and gorgeous produce at one of the city’s open-air markets, or riding a BIXI (Montreal’s version of Citi Bike), our neighbor to the north makes for an enchanting weekend away. Here’s what we’ve lined up for you:

(more…)

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06/12/13 8:58am
The view from Centre PHI

The view from Centre PHI

This is a continuation of my previous post, 72 Hours in Montréal, Part One, where I talked about the music festival scene and public art.

A few months back, I went to Montréal to explore the city with Tourisme Montréal (through a partnership with The New Yorker). It takes a lot to impress this Brooklynite, but I found striking architecture, quirky shopping, and unexpectedly fantastic dining options.

It’s hard to ignore the contrast between classical 19th century Old World architecture and the more modern buildings across Montréal. Centre PHI is a great example of an Old City building adapted for modern use. The multimedia arts space that was previously a crystal and chandelier factory now houses a movie theater, cabaret theater, recording studio, and multiple galleries and was renovated according to LEED specifications (and there was even an award-winning short film, Incendies, made in the unrenovated space). The Quartier des Spectacles is a mix of old and new, with newly-built modern structures that house the Jazz festival, the symphony, and ticketing agency 2-22, and, my favorite, SAT (The Society for Arts and Technology).

The main hall at the 2-22 building

The main hall at the 2-22 building

In addition to scouring the vintage stores of Mile End, I spent hours in Montréal’s artsy book stores. FORMAT, a quirky French-language shop in the 2-22 space was full of printed objets d’art and cards. I went home loaded with mini comic books, laser-cut note cards, and French art books. Drawn & Quarterly in Mile End was chock-full of rare magazines, literary journals, graphic novels, and new literature, but well edited.

The SAT rooftop during the CULT MTL launch party

The SAT rooftop during the CULT MTL launch party

The CULT MTL launch party at SAT was a perfect intersection of digital art, local cuisine, and the alternative music scene. The band (SUUNS) was mingling with POP Montréal organizers, and local chefs were chatting with artists and photographers.  CULT is the only remaining English-language alt monthly paper in the city, launched shortly after several others shut down, so there was a celebratory mood while guests ate creations from SAT’s experimental pop-up restaurant Labo Culinaire Foodlab. Guests braved the cold on the roof to watch the light installation projected on a neighboring building, and made note to return for an interactive show in SAT’s planetarium-like domed theater.

The most non-New York experience I’ve had in some time was at the circus across the street from Cirque du Soleil’s headquarters. If you’re a lover of circus arts and looking for some unique theatrical entertainment, head straight to La TOHU. The performance we saw was dark, surprising, and naughty in a way you wouldn’t want kids to see. The building houses an annual festival of cirque performances, and an ongoing rotation of traveling and local troupes.

A residential street in Mile End

A residential street in Mile End

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering when I’ll mention the food. I had no idea that Montréal is such a rising star in the food world. I was blown away by Saturday brunch at Nouveau Palais, a hip-but-accessible renovated diner in Mile End with its own DJ and nighttime cocktail scene, where we had an omelette and bacon, coffee and juice. Although we ordered a pretty basic meal, it was anything but. Chef Gita Seaton gave me the secret to her perfect eggs at the CULT MTL launch party later that night, where she was cooking for their Foodlab.

Dining is leisurely and relaxed, even when the food is not, which made me feel like I was really away from New York. Saturday brunch, not Sunday brunch, is a thing in Montréal. Even places that are hip feel un-scene-y. One of the best and most interesting meals I’ve had in recent history was dinner at Bouillon Bilk, in [what was described to me as] a fringe neighborhood that reminded me of the location of Alinea in Chicago: unassuming exterior with creative, outstanding food and wine, but without pretention. Do not miss it and definitely order the beet salad with puffed quinoa.

Friday night cocktails at Dominion Square Tavern

Friday night cocktails at Dominion Square Tavern

With all the impeccable French wine lists at restaurants, you have to look a bit for a spot that prides itself on cocktails. Dominion Square Tavern not only serves up outstanding Pimm’s cups, but they also make their own tonic water, which you can sip surrounded by antique coat-of-arms shields for each Canadian province.

After an amazing but exhausting weekend, we made our way back to Brooklyn via a quick flight, but not before stopping at an airport shop for bagels. The next morning I had my very first Montreal-style bagel which, I have to say, I liked much more than a typical bagel. Smaller, slightly sweet, and with a completely different consistency than other bagels I’ve had (and mostly disliked). Montréal and its food, art, and culture all surprise, even the most jaded New Yorker.

Find information for visitors via Tourisme Montréal and read more from our trip in the first post, 72 Hours in Montréal, Part One. This post is sponsored in partnership with The New Yorker and Tourisme Montréal. 

 

 

05/17/13 12:11pm
Greenport has a fishing village vibe in the middle of wine country.

Greenport has a fishing village vibe in the middle of wine country.

 

We’ve been running a contest with our pals at Jauntsetter, giving away a trip to the North Fork to one lucky reader. We’re pleased to say that Alyssa Frank will be headed out to Greenport to sip some local rosé and enjoy fresh seafood at The Frisky Oyster and soak in some cool ocean breezes at The Greenporter Hotel, on us, this summer. Here’s what she has to say about it:

I’ve lived in New York for more than 10 years, but haven’t yet had the chance to visit the North Fork.  I’m excited to do some wine tasting, eat seafood and enjoy.

We’ll report back with some photos of Alyssa’s trip, and we’ll keep the contests coming, so keep entering.

05/10/13 6:40am
Street art is everywhere in Mile End.

Street art is everywhere in Mile End.

A few weeks back, I took a trip to Montréal. I was invited by Tourisme Montréal (through partnership with The New Yorker) to explore the city and get a sense for their cultural happenings. This was my first visit there since going with my family as a teenager in the 90s. I wasn’t expecting much, having been too busy being teen angsty to really absorb much of the city (but I remember having a fantastic time photographing the botanical gardens with my old manual Nikon). In short, I was blown away by what a cool city Montréal is. Sort of like a combo of Berlin and Paris, but much closer to home (only an hour flight!). There is clearly a cultural renaissance taking place now, with a backdrop of classical architecture and European flair.


The flight into Montréal was quick and I felt a bit like we’d landed in Europe because of all the French signs and the gorgeous, clean design of the airport. There was no wait for non-Canadians to enter — a bonus since I only needed a photo ID to enter the country the last time I was there — and I had an amusing encounter with a customs officer about Brooklyn and The New Yorker and the Montréal Tourism Board and what advertorial content means.

Sly and the Family Stone played during dinner at Hotel Herman

Sly and the Family Stone played during dinner at Hotel Herman

We were in town during the Under the Snow Festival (a smaller music festival by Montréal standards: Osheaga, POP Montréal, Mutek, and Jazz Fest all attract international talent) and wanted to venue hop a bit. We had dinner first at Hotel Herman, which I would categorize as New (North) American and typical of the hipper, new restaurants we went to. A fantastic French wine list, meat-heavy dishes with traditional French flavors and a modern twist (I could write a whole separate post about the puffed quinoa dish I had!). The wraparound bar gave us a great people-watching vantage point while we ate to a classic vinyl soundtrack. We walked over to Casa del Popolo and caught the end of the Dam Ships’ set and then across the street to Sala Rossa for The Loodies, a solid night of shoegaze. The music clubs reminded me a bit of venues I frequented in Boston a decade ago and a bit like a venue I’d been to in Amsterdam. It was only my first night in town but it definitely didn’t feel like a bland touristy experience.

Custom-designed wallpaper at Lawrence restaurant in Mile End.

Custom-designed wallpaper at Lawrence restaurant in Mile End.

I couldn’t help but notice all the design touches throughout the city that made it feel original. From whimsical iconography in the public washrooms at SAT (more on that spot later) to the street sign designs unique to each district in the city, it seemed creativity is everywhere in Montréal. The small back room at Sala Rossa was covered to the ceiling with screen printed band posters (which we saw again at the Under the Snow record sale in a Mile End church basement). The chef at Lawrence helped design the whimsical custom wallpaper on their walls. Moment Factory designed the multimedia light installations in the lobby of 2-22 in the Quartier des Spectacles (a building you will likely end up at if you are trying to book tickets for a theater, music, or arts show while you are in town).

The city feels like a canvas for public art, sort of like Williamsburg or Berlin in the mid-to-early 2000s. We saw En Masse’s black-and-white murals all around the Mile End and even on a vintage Airstream trailer in the Quartier des Spectacles. One of the most random bits of street art was on a lone brick building near 2-22, the building itself was one of the few old ones remaining and the side was covered in bright murals.  I particularly loved the eyeball street lights in the Place des Arts, a little bit of Montréal flair in an otherwise typical public space. Perhaps the best example of public art in the city is the 6 kilometer passageway between Place des Arts and Complexe Les Ailes. Art Souterrain presents hundreds of contemporary artists’ installations in a walkable underground gallery. We lucked out with the weather, but this is a perfect activity for a rainy or cold day.

The underground art passageway leads through tunnels between buildings, to Metro stations, and through building lobbies

The underground art passageway leads through tunnels between buildings, to Metro stations, and through building lobbies

Keep an eye out here for part two of my weekend jaunt to Montréal: a twist on a diner brunch, an alt-weekly launch party, the coolest art bookstore, a grown-up circus, and my first Montréal bagel.

You can find information about festivals and events via Tourisme Montréal and book tickets for shows in person at the 2-22 arts center in Quartier des Spactacles at 2-22 Rue Sainte-Catherine East or via the 2-22 website. This post is sponsored in partnership with The New Yorker and Tourisme Montréal. Thanks for showing me around, @Montreal and @NewYorkerPromo!