Patricia Schultz, author of '1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. & Canada Before You Die,' answered your questions.
Patricia Schultz: Hi! This is Patricia Schultz, and I greatly look forward to chatting with you today about traveling in the USA & Canada. We still have a few weeks before the back-to-school mindset takes over us (even if we haven't seen the inside of a schoolroom in a while!), so get going!
Let's get started!
San Bernardino: Ok, so I'm having a snag in planning a girl's get-away for six individuals - ages range from 28 to 88 years old (youngest is my niece and oldest is my mom). Each year we plan a get-away ranging from San Diego, Napa Valley, Hawaii, Chicago, Indiana, Las Vegas. I need help planning something that everyone can equally enjoy - from the young to the old. Was thinking about Taos, New Mexico but not sure what to do there - any ideas? Please help! ! Audrey
Patricia Schultz: I would suggest you park yourselves in the wonderful city of Santa Fe, New Mexico instead, where there is so much more to do for all ages and interests (and take a fun day trip to Taos for lunch and a museum stop). This summer celebrates the 10th year anniversary of the unusual Georgia O'Keefe Museum, and there is also world-class opera through August at the stunning indoor-outdoor Santa Fe Opera just a few miles outside of town. There are endless art galleries whose works often showcase the prominent Native American presence in the city and surrounding Four Corners area (with various festivals celebrating the Native American culture and arts as well) and great restaurants and cafes that remind you how the delicious Southwest regional cuisine took root here in the 1980s. And don't miss the East-Meets-West Ten Thousand Waves spa just outside of town whose spa treatments (including alfresco thermal soaks) have been drawing folks from around the world for decades.
Abingdon, Maryland: Four or five mature (40's and 50's) ladies would like to get away for a weekend. Thinking of a spa weekend, casino or maybe N.Y. Any suggestions?
Patricia Schultz: You're not so far by car from Atlantic City (N.J.) where, if you go between now and September, you can enjoy the beach as well (something Vegas cannot boast)! Of course, A.C. is all about gaming, but if you stay at the new-ish Borgata Hotel and Resort, a little bit of over-the-top Vegas (the most expensive hotel/casino ever built in A.C.), there's enough to keep you busy without going near the slot machines: a gorgeous spa, an entertainment schedule for August that includes everyone from Aerosmith to Martin Short, swank restaurants (a steak or lobster dinner at The Homestead will make you feel like a high roller) as well as impressive all-you-can-eat buffets that are so much a part of the Vegas scene. The Boardwalk is like a stroll back in time (the Steel Pier! salt water taffy! bicycles built for two! ) or jump in the car for an easy and lovely day trip to Cape May New Jersey, whose historical collection of beautifuly-preserved and fancifully painted Victorian structures house B&Bs, inns, restaurants and shops. Go for lunch and rent bikes afterwards to tool around town and ride it off, or hire a horse and buggy and relive the golden days of America's first seaside resort.
Sonora, CA: This fall I will be in Quebec City, Quebec for only 2 days. What would you recommend as the best things to see?
Patricia Schultz: You could just wander about for weeks and not take it all in! This handsome, walled city is one of the oldest European settlements in North America (settled by the French in 1608), and if you keep thinking you've wound up in Paris you'll be excused the sense of spatial displacement! Outdoor cafes, patisseries, chic boutiques, 19th-century homes, the winding hilly streets of Haute-Ville, French spoken everywhere, lovely folks. Take the funicular to Basse-Ville below, the old port district, and the Place Royale, the city's public market area since the 17th century. Consider staying--or at least stopping by for high tea--at the Chateau Frontenac: built in 1893 on the highest point in town, it still promises a strong dose of old-world France minus the jet-lag.
Colorado Springs, CO: We are traveling for one week to the far NW corner of WA (Lynden) on 10-6-07. What are some not to miss sights? Ideas such as San Juan Islands, Cascade Mountains and Victoria Vancouver come to mind, but we (3 of us) have never been to this part of the country. We love the outdoors, can pass on shopping. We will be flying in and out of Seattle (we think! ) unless other recommendations are made. Thank you!
Patricia Schultz: Seattle is a great city, and an easy place to set off for awesome nearby destinations in every direction. Ferries from Anacortes connect you to four of the San Juan Islands (there are hundreds of them, some nothing more than large, green-covered outcroppings) on Kenmore air--they have a fleet of both fixed-leg aircraft or seaplanes that service the San Juans regularly and make for awesome flight-seeing on the way. Orcas Island is said to be the most beautiful - rolling farmland, a resident summertime pod of 60-90 orca whales (frequently seen from shore though whale-watching excursions are far more fun; Oracas, Lopez, and San Juan Islands are all great for biking, hiking, sea kayaking, excellent seafood, etc. Kenmore also flies from Seattle to the veddy British city of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Exploring the island can take you a few--or many--days, and it offers a surprisingly sophisticated gastronomic scene(the Sooke Harbour House and Restaurant) as well as hotel scene (The Wickaninnish Inn near Tofino, 200 miles north of Victoria--even popular in the winter months for those who come from all parts to hole up and pray for dramatic winter storms to roll in!)--though all varieties of options are available. And oh, that wild Northwest Pacific scenery! It's majestic.
San Antonio, TX: What should we not miss while in Quebec City and around there for a week in mid-October?
Patricia Schultz: It is still autumntime in Quebec province in October, so get out of town (but only once you seen the sites/sights--it's an intriguing city--see an earlier question I just answered). Just a 50-mile drive along the shores of the St Lawrence River and northeast of Quebec is Charlevoix--an area rich with forests, farmland and rock-faced cliffs. A number of villages known as Murray Bay or La Malbaie grew up here in the Golded Age of the late 1800s and became known as the Newport of the North. You can take lovely drives to see the foliage, or enjoy many outdoor sports (hiking, canoeing, whale watching), spending the night in any of the small inns and historic hotels (you'll eat well, too!).
Arvada, CO: We are taking a trip for two weeks driving through Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, then driving to Quebec City for two days and finally two days in Montreal. This will probably be the only time we will be in this part of the world. Can you suggest places and sights we absolutely shouldn't miss on this trip?
Patricia Schultz: Highlights that come to mind are the 185-mile-long Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, one of the most scenic drives in this must-visit area of Eastern Canada called the Maritime Provinces. Nova Scotia has lots of summer-- (and autumn--) time music and arts festivals, particularly inspired from their Scottish (Nova Scotia, after all, means New Scotland) and French Acadian heritage over the centuries (don't forget the Cajuns of Louisiana came from these parts, expelled from here in the 1750s). The Bay of Fundy is a must-see, particularly from the New Brunswick side where it is designated a national park (it can also be visited from Nova Scotia). There is excellent and fresh fresh fresh seafood in this area of North America--enjoy! You may even be in Shediac (New Brunswick) for the Lobster Festival!
Montreal is also chock-a-block with summertime festivals--check the city's web page before you go to see what's going on--but your driving itinerary might bring you to Montreal by way of the beautiful Eastern Townships that are one hour south of Montreal or Lake Massawippi--both areas beloved by Montreal's city folks in search of bucolic respite.
Long Island, New York: Hello! We wanted to visit the Canadian Rockies and fly into Calgary and home from Vancouver. Can you suggest an itinerary that does just that? We would like to visit Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. What are the distances? We have a week to do the trip in. Thanks!
Patricia Schultz: The perfect way to see that stunningly-endowed area of Western Canada is by train--riding through the Rockies in a glass-domed observation car along any number of itineraries from Calgary to Vancouver (and with the chance to get on and off and not deal with summertime RV traffic jams) has long been a favorite for all generations (from kids to grandparents). Rocky Mountaineer runs various routes that include many/most of the magnificent national parks in Texas-sized Alberta (with the population of Philadelphia!) and neighboring British Columbia, as does VIA Rail, the national passenger rail network - both offering overnight accommodations as part of their packages (the Rocky Mountaineer arranges for you to sleep on land so you travel during the daylight hours and don't miss any of the natural drama). Their websites explain the various options and stops along the way, whether east to west or vice versa.
New York, NY: I am looking for good travel options for an adult family (kids over 25 and adults over 60) and a senior citizen friend. A good place to relax, but with things to do that are easily accessible
Patricia Schultz: Not sure from your question if you were hoping to stay close to home, or how long you would be able to stay away. But any easy drive from NYC up the scenic Hudson Valley and located in the gorgeous area of the Catskill Mountains, is one of my favorite getaways - the Mohonk Mountain House just outside of New Paltz (if you don't have a car, you can just jump on the bus from NYC and they will pick you up).
Built in 1869, it is still owned by the same Smiley family, at the center of a magnificent 26,000-acre wilderness (belonging to the Smiley family and adjoined to a state park). There are 85 miles of trails, but you can do nothing more strenuous than paddle about the private lake or sign up for treatments at their brand new spa. Multiple-generation-families have been coming here for decades, happy to dress up (or not) for dinner in the character-ful 1905 dining room, explore the gardens and grounds by horse and buggy, enjoying the t.v.-free accommodations - and each other. Lots of themed weekends are planned throughout the year, with interesting classes and lecturers that fill out your country idyll.
Beulah, ND: The wife and I are thinking of visiting Sedona, AZ area around Christmas time this year. Is there any reason that this would not be a good time of the year to visit this area? Also, could you recommend some places to visit and places to stay. We are thinking of being there around a week. If you have any other suggestions we would love to hear them.
Thanks for your assistance. Steve
Patricia Schultz: It is a great time to visit the red-rock country of Sedona - a most special place indeed, and even more so at Christmas time. This is the desert, after all, and a nice Dec day is still in the mid-50s, tho during the Dec nights it can drop to 30-40s. It's an easy 120 mile drive from Phoenix, and day trips from Sedona can even include the Grand Canyon (minus the summertime congestion). There are lots of shops and galleries throughout the ever growing town, particularly in the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, where a lot is going on during the holiday months. A tastefully recreated Mexican village, it is festivaely draped with Christmas lights and also has great places to eat. There are dozens of characteristic B&Bs and inns around town, topped by the awesome Enchantment Resort and Spa (10 min outside of town) if you have won the lottery. There is a ubiquitous New Age-y vibe to Sedona due to the seven or so energy vortexes that have long drawn spiritualists and would-be shamans for their healing and cleansing properties (the Center for the New Age in town offers tours and lots of material to help you understand something the local Native American tribes were onto centuries ago).
Patricia Schultz: Sorry I couldn't have answered more questions - so much to discuss, so little time! The world is grand and its possibilities endless, so get going!
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and know that in the not-too-distant future, my website and blog should be up and running at www.1000BeforeYouDie.com.
In the meantime, check out my new book 1000 Places To See in the USA & Canada Before You Die (Workman)--never again should you hear yourself say, "Well, we didn't know where to go this summer..." ! ! !
Happy travels! Patricia Schultz