03/29/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

There’s no spring quite like a Southern spring — and no better city to bask in magnolia blooms and warm afternoons than Charleston, S.C.

This spring promises to be particularly lively in Charleston, where a host of upcoming events are planned for the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War. It was right here at Fort Sumter that America’s defining conflict broke out, 150 years ago this April.

03/15/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

For me, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has long been the best place on earth to experience American art, in all its breadth and historical context.

And with the recent opening of the much-anticipated Art of the Americas Wing, designed by Foster + Partners, the MFA offers a compelling new argument for visiting Boston. If you do nothing else here, the America wing’s 53 new galleries are worth the trip — and with Harvard’s collections largely closed for renovation, art lovers can spare the extra time.

03/08/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

As New Yorkers were rummaging for umbrellas and trench coats last weekend, the coming summer’s first enthusiasts were sunning themselves on the pebbly beaches of the Côte d’Azur. March afternoons in the 70s are why Nice, France’s sunniest city and the capital of the fabled Riviera, has been popular with hedonists since Roman times — and with Jews for at least 800 years or so.

03/01/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

I remember how amazed I was, many years ago, when it first dawned on me that a plane between cities could be the cheap option.

It was around 1999, the dawn of European discount air travel, and I had to figure out the cheapest ride between Paris and Nice. The train cost over $200; the flight, about 20 percent less, and it shaved six hours off the trip.

02/15/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

‘Portland, Oregon, is like everything that’s good about San Francisco, but without the bad parts,” announced my sister — and as a longtime, devoted denizen of the latter city, she ought to know.

Drop-dead beautiful, outdoorsy and hip? Check. Funky coffee houses? Double check. Infectiously earnest foodie scene, with great restaurants and a cool vegan subculture? Check. Laid-back, welcoming Jewish community? Check.

“All that, yet the streets are clean, and the parking is ridiculously easy,” swooned my sister.

02/08/2011 | | Travel Writer | Travel

There may be no more dramatic landscape than the sculptural green mountains curving majestically around the sparkling bays of Rio de Janeiro. And there may be no better time to finally see this glorious city than in the months after February’s Carnival celebration, when prices drop and crowds are pleasantly thin along the fabled beaches.