Philadelphia may be one of the nation’s oldest cities, but right now it’s basking in the glow of novelty.
In the historic heart of the city, just a few blocks from Congregation Mikveh Israel — the city’s oldest Jewish synagogue — the National Museum of American Jewish History unveiled its new building in November. It has been buzzing with locals and tourists alike ever since.
Whether to go to Provence, France’s lavender-scented south, is a no-brainer. But shaping an itinerary from the myriad lovely villages and vibrant cities can be daunting.
The colorful, teeming streets of Marseilles beckon to some, while others head for the winding lanes and rolling fields that inspired Van Gogh — or possibly drove him further into his starlit nocturnal madness.
Some of the world’s oldest known civilizations have inhabited the Eastern Balkans, where worn-down mountain ranges punctuate the vast Thracian plain.
Yet many of the region’s cities have little to show for those ancient roots. Centuries of war, imperialism, poverty and even natural disasters have left much of the area lacking in opulent architecture and quaint historic cores like those found throughout Western Europe. And visitors accustomed to those more accessible destinations can find themselves frustrated by a lack of tangible urban history.
Did you know there are palm trees on the English coast? Neither did I. Like most of us, my mental image of the U.K. was shaped by earlier experiences in gray, rainy London and gloomy Scotland, and by the perpetual sodden chill in countless British novels. Can you imagine “Wuthering Heights” under a sunny blue sky?
One of the most distinctive things about California’s Pacific Coast Highway is how little it has changed over the years. Those heart-stopping curves along dusty cliffs, the vast Pacific Ocean crashing on rocky shores below, the towering evergreens that block out the sun around Big Sur? It is scenery as massive in scale as it is timeless.
When I was growing up, my parents never actually traveled anywhere, other than the predictable summer shore excursion — and of course, South Florida in the winter.
But that didn’t stop them from engaging in lively fantasy.
“Bud, wouldn’t it be romantic to go to Venice together?” my mom would rhapsodize, eyes shining at the prospect of gondolas and gelato. “Or Firenze! I remember shopping for gold jewelry on the Ponte Vecchio was I was 20…”
Deep in Scotland’s wild and craggy north, Aberdeen is a springtime destination that’s evergreen.
This is a region that is timeless in its wide verdant expanses, its year-round drizzly chill, the awesome history in its forbidding stone castles and their awesome history, and its cheery corner pubs.
It’s a corner of Europe — literally — that manages to be both stoic and warmly welcoming. Even in a place where the all-time record high temperature is 85 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s plenty of fun to be had amid the misty Scottish gloom.
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.
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.