Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

National Parks: Congress’ Best Moment, At 100

07/12/2016 - 11:39
Travel Writer

I was 12 when the family cross-country road trip took us to the Grand Canyon. I remember lunching at El Tovar, one of the historic lodges in the National Park system, and peering over the russet-red expanse of the canyon, those endless craters and ridges, heat shimmering in waves.

Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. LASSEN CREDIT: NPS Photo

Sunny Valencia Comes Out of Barcelona's Shadow

Valencia's modern makeover appeals to a new Jewish community - and visitors as well

07/05/2016 - 16:38
Travel Writer

Amid the cool stone alleys and sunny, palm-fringed plazas of Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, it was easy to imagine Jewish scribes and accountants bustling about in Roman times. I found plenty of Jewish history when I Googled in advance of a trip: descriptions of Valencia’s barrios, synagogues, plazas and mikvahs. All of it stopped in the late 1400s.

The City of Arts and Sciences, a space-age cultural complex that soars above the waterfront. Wikimedia Commons

Brexit: A Shock, But a Traveler's Boon

As Britons Agonize Over Separation, U.K. Visitors Find Bargains

06/28/2016 - 12:31
Travel Writer

The tension between integration and separateness is one that Jews know particularly well.

To be Jewish in the diaspora is, by default, to have a hybrid identity. Where one identity ends and another begins, and the spaces where they overlap — these are waters most of us navigate throughout life, even more so when we travel and those identities are thrown into sharp relief against the backdrop of foreignness.

A tourist stand in Trafalgar Square, in central London. Wikimedia Commons

In The Cool Berkshires, Jewish Culture Heats Up

Summer brings a myriad of Jewish activities and culture to the hills of Western Mass.

06/21/2016 - 12:23
Travel Writer

Summer in the Berkshires starts this week for hundreds of children at Camp Ramah, the iconic Jewish retreat that is a cornerstone of the American Conservative movement.

Norman Rockwell’s studio on the grounds of the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. Wikimedia Commons

Finland’s Turku Archipelago; Gateway To The Baltic

06/14/2016 - 13:27
Travel Writer

When the sun breaks through the clouds over Finland’s Turku Archipelago, the reward is a shimmering vista of sea, sky and rocky green islets. More than 20,000 islands, many no larger than a kiddie pool, stretch out into the Baltic Sea from the mouth of the Aura River.

The 13th-century Turku Castle, the city’s most enduring monument. Wikimedia Commons

Banff, Albert: A Peak Vacation

Jews on the prairie in Banff, Alberta.

06/07/2016 - 13:07
Travel Writer

I was first acquainted with Banff when two good friends married in a spectacular mountaintop setting there about a decade ago. I still remember her twirling in a red dress, the vivid scarlet contrasting with the brilliant white of Alberta’s snowcapped Rockies.

The main drag in Banff, framed by Alberta’s snow-capped Rockies.  Wikimedia Commons

An Eye On Packing

05/31/2016 - 15:06
Travel Writer

Recently on Twitter, I came across a vacation-packing checklist that included such items as a pocket square, binoculars and a travel steamer. There were 10 boxes to check in the shoe section alone.

With summer travel right around the corner, sometimes it makes sense to pack binoculars. Wikimedia Commons

As American As Cherry Pie (And Challah)

Traverse City, Michigan makes for an ideal summer destination.

05/24/2016 - 12:41
Travel Writer

If cherry pie on July 4 is the ultimate expression of Americana, then the ultimate American destination for Independence Day weekend might be Traverse City, Mich. — home to the oldest and biggest festival celebrating the red, juicy summer fruit in all its glory.

Traverse City is home of the country’s oldest cherry pie festival. Wikimedia Commons

Cultural (And Jewish) High Notes

05/17/2016 - 12:35
Travel Writer

There was a time when Aspen meant two things: classical music in summer, skiing in winter.

Both pursuits are going strong — but if you haven’t been to Aspen in awhile, it’s worth going back to enjoy a resort that has come of age. As elsewhere in Colorado, a steady influx of year-round residents, many of them Jewish, has brought a new sophistication and a burgeoning array of Jewish and arts institutions to this mountain town.

The $80 million lakeside Matthew and Carolyn Bucksbaum Campus. Wikimedia Commons

A ‘Premier’ Jewish Destination

A fixture in central England since classical times, Leicester has literally never gotten so much attention. Until Now.

05/10/2016 - 13:04
Travel Writer

The English city of Leicester has waited 2,000 years for this. Against improbable odds — 5,000 to one, according to local bookmakers — the Leicester City Football Club won this year’s English Premier League, the most competitive national derby on the Continent.

Leicester, following its soccer team’s improbable Premier League championship. Wikimedia Commons
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