Hilary Larson's travel tales and tips.

Teaneck’s Youth Movement

Modern Orthodox twenty- and thirty-somethings carving out their niche in established community.

Special To The Jewish Week

 The Bergen County suburbs of Teaneck, Englewood and Paramus, N.J., have lured generations of Jewish families with a wealth of attractions — great schools, pretty tree-lined streets, terrific shopping and an unbeatable location, just over the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan.

Teaneck is a lure for young couples, many from Manhattan, looking to raise families.

A Caribbean Alternative

Travel Writer

The best time of year to visit Florianopolis is summertime — which, in this idyllic corner of southern Brazil, starts sometime between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

That’s when a mild, pleasant spring gives way to the glorious Miami-like weather and spectacular sunsets that make this one of South America’s most popular resorts. For North Americans, Florianopolis offers an appealing alternative to the Caribbean: a winter escape to a land of wide, sandy beaches, sparkling lagoons and green mountains, wrapped in an affordable package of cultural exoticism.

Preparing for a winter getaway: The beach and a street market in Florianopolis. Photos by Hilary Larson

Diversity On The Hudson

A tolerant, inclusive vibe defines Riverdale.

Special To The Jewish Week

 There are plenty of Jewish neighborhoods around New York where the community tends toward a certain religious outlook, a predominant level of observance or a majority ethnic leaning.

And then there is Riverdale. Leafy and elegant, its stately Tudors and postwar high-rises perched along the banks of the Hudson, this corner of the northwest Bronx is cherished by residents for its religious and ethnic diversity — both within and outside of the Jewish community.

Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel has seen a rise in membership of late. Michael Datikash

A Mediterranean Switzerland?

Travel Writer

Just a few hours’ drive east from Venice, one of the most-visited places in Europe, lies a magical land that few Americans ever consider: Slovenia. 

While Europeans have discovered Slovenia in droves, there are reasons for its obscurity among us Yanks. Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, is hard to pronounce — Lyoo-blee-YAH-na — and impossible to spell. Many of us secretly sympathized with President Bush when he confused Slovenia with Slovakia, another country that didn’t exist when most of us learned geography.

A panorama of Piran, above. Photos by Hilary Larson

Cape Of Good Calm

Travel Writer

My mother always counseled us not to have a nervous breakdown in August. “That’s when all the psychiatrists go on vacation,” she explained. If you needed medical guidance in the month before Labor Day, she added, your best shot was to hang out on the beaches of Cape Cod and the Islands, because that’s where they all went.

For those who like a relaxing setting, Cape Cod has it. But the area also is home to a flourishing arts scene.

High Art, Low Stress

Travel Writer

There’s something about the sight of snowy peaks that instantly cools you off, even in the midst of a long, hot summer. 

Whether wandering around the stately red-brick buildings of downtown Denver or prowling its pretty Victorian neighborhoods, one never loses sight of the shimmering Rockies that make the Mile-High City so picturesque. Amid the bright, clear mountain sunshine, Colorado’s capital offers a breezy, verdant summer retreat, along with plenty of culture to fill the non-skiing months.

Clash of styles: Denver’s Union Station, top, is part of the gentrified LoDo section. Above, Daniel Libeskind’s modernist Denver

In Summer, Culture Heads Outdoors

Travel Writer

Barcelona may be famous for its elegant and surrealistic architecture, but in summertime all the action is out of doors.

The city has its interior pleasures too, of course, but its museums take second place compared to the allure of its beaches, parks and neighborhoods adorned with Gaudi buildings. (Madrid, in contrast, is an indoor city the way New York is: its top sites are museums, and I once spent a half-hour vainly searching for a park — even just a shady bench — to enjoy a picnic lunch.) 

The castle in the Parc de la Ciutadella.

A Jewish Magnet In Central Queens

The increasingly popular Flushing-Kew Gardens area is in the midst of a property crunch.

Special To The Jewish Week

Once upon a time, in the halcyon days of postwar America, the tidy Cape Cods and tranquil, tree-lined streets of central Queens offered spacious and affordable living for New York Jewish families. 

Kosher restaurants, supermarkets and Jewish stores line Main Street at the center of the Flushing Jewish neighborhood.

High Culture In The Hills

Travel Writer

If you prefer the strains of Mozart and the strokes of Picasso to the feeling of sand between your toes, head to the Berkshires this summer.

New England’s most storied arts retreat is nestled into the deceptively rural swath along the New York-Massachusetts border, a region named for its lush green mountains. I say deceptive because the bucolic setting, with its fresh breezes and homespun clapboard buildings, has a low-key vibe that belies the intensity of its fine-arts scene. 

Tanglewood, above, is one of the cultural shrines in the Berkshires. Right, Andy Statman headlines Challahpalooza.”

A Hamptons For All Seasons

More options for Jewish community
as East End takes on a more year-round feel.

Special To The Jewish Week

Summer in and summer out, the fabled sandy beaches and cocktail crowds of Long Island’s East End draw a reliable mix of celebrities, high flyers and city folk escaping the urban grind. 

But in recent years, an increasing number of Jewish families — parents of young children, retirees and a growing crowd of dedicated weekenders of all ages — have been calling the Hamptons home for all four seasons. 

The Jewish Center of the Hamptons, with Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, is a Jewish mainstay in area.
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