Parnassus Books, co-owned by writer Ann Patchett and one of the nation's premier independent bookstores, sits in the most unamazing location in a strip mall, tucked in among Chipotle, The Vitamin Shoppe, Ten Thousand Villages and other small businesses whose exteriors are dull caramel trimmed in dark chocolate. Like other independent bookstores, which represent the souls of local communities, you might pass it a couple of times before you actually find it. But persevere on as a reader and you will be home again.
A chef I know uses coffee shops to assess what's hot in the local food scene when he's traveling. So in Nashville, we follow the coffee trail to two neighborhoods that are turning Music City into the next "food destination" in the South -- Germantown and East Nash.
I'm not sure which was more breathtaking - sweeping views in one vast room from the Hudson River on the west to Chelsea rooftops on the east - or the sheer immensity of the new Whitney Museum's dramatic 5th floor gallery.It's nearly one-third the size of a football field - at 18,200 square feet, the largest column-free museum gallery in New York. To celebrate the close of its first year in its new downtown location, the Whitney invited installation and performance artists to realize the grandeur of this one-floor expanse in the five-part "Open Plan" exhibit that closes May 14, 2016. Regardless of timing, check out the space.
"Bonnie Raitt at the Ryman Auditorium in May?" What a combo!! A legendary lady of a certain generation and a legendary venue for the best of country, rock and rockabilly. From iconic performers to modern-day interpreters, Bonnie - like the experiences of most Baby Boomers - bridges both sensibilities.
As a frequent traveler to a food-powered city like New York, the question is - do I return to a favorite neighborhoody spot or try something new? Ideally both. Here's why Cookshop (at 10th Avenue and 20th Street in the West Village) is on my list as a regular go-to dining experience.
If you travel to cities with great museums, enjoying them like a local refines the experience. On a tip from another Womantraveler, I joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a reasonably priced "National Associate" membership. Then, after more research, I discovered that certain museums closer to home provide reciprocal memberships with those across the country, so, for example, my membership to San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art admits me to the new Whitney in Manhattan's Meatpacking District, the Guggenheim and more than 30 others in the US and Canada.
Southern Vermont is sturdy in every season, its winding roads passing both quaint and gourmet country stores, year-round Christmas shops, challenging ski slopes and mountain hiking trails, local playhouses where famous actors guest-star in "the season" and brook-powered grist mills displaying the fundamental engineering of modern technology. Like these snapshots from the 18th century, Southern Vermont reminds us that timeless is good, but updating for modern tastes where pragmatic is OK too.
Everyone wants to be close to clients for quick travel across downtown DC, but I've been trending toward a few hotels - both downtown and on the edges - that stand out for personalized service, often offer more spacious rooms, are usually quieter and still afford easy access to anywhere in the nation's capital. Here's why I recommend The River Inn, Sofitel at Lafayette Square and Ritz Carlton Pentagon City...
San Francisco's Nico restaurant in Presidio Heights is a kitchen performance designed to create a work of art in every plate served, yet produced with a modest spirit encourages appreciation of sincere creativity and invention, wherever it appears - and thus its first Michelin Star for 2016.
Always on the search for the best barbecue when in East Tennessee, I’m directed to Sweet P’s on the water in Maryville outside Knoxville. Owner Chris Ford has made a big reputation here (and beyond) in the last decade with his Southern-style smoke foods, a fresh take on soul food classics prepared daily. There's also a new location in downtown Knoxville.