Hey, Minnesota, it’s never too early to plan your winter vacation.
Why: This small Southern town in the heart of South Carolina’s low country has scenery so picturesque that movies have been filmed there, including “Forrest Gump” and “The Big Chill.” The main street in the city center is dotted with art galleries, shops and restaurants just meters from the beach, and the faintly sweet herbs give the area an inviting scent. History buffs will appreciate the stately, perhaps haunted, antebellum mansions and rich Jeolla culture.
Located between Charleston and Savannah, visitors travel to either city – it’s an easy drive to a place where time moves more slowly.
Food scene: Eating out in Beaufort means barbecue, fresh seafood, and the country comfort food that originated here. Start your day at the Lowcountry Produce Market and Café, where breakfast and lunch are served every day. The menu offers everything from fresh donuts to a fried chicken sandwich with blue cheese and peach salsa. Don’t forget to order a pile of pickled green tomatoes and pimento cheese for the table. If you prefer lighter morning fare, head to Herban Market & Cafe. Grab a seat on the sheltered patio and check out meal specials like a smoked beet Reuben or a bagel sandwich with veggie sausage. If a taste of true Carolina barbecue is on your bucket list, stop by the new location of Island Bistro & Bar. The melt-in-your-mouth ribs are like nothing else, and the banana pudding is heaven on a spoon. Cap off your trip by booking an intimate dining experience at Blacksheep. Opened during the pandemic, this build-it-yourself menu is intentionally small and reservations take quickly. It is a restaurant manifestation of a dream.
Anecdotes: The pace of life is intentionally slow, so don’t expect to get anywhere or do anything quickly. You can walk along the trail or take a horse-drawn tour to enjoy it all.
Why: Anyone who thinks the Atlantic coast is only suitable for summer breezes can think again. Portugal’s capital enjoys the mild, sunny winters the Mediterranean region is known for, and while a February trip may not be beach-friendly, it will still be warmer than Minnesota. Europe’s westernmost capital has a long and rich history, stunning skylines, a sophisticated food and wine scene, and a penchant for buzzing nightlife.
Food scene: Your first order of business is to taste the fresh, warm pastel de nata. A flaky tart filled with egg custard and lightly sprinkled with cinnamon or powdered sugar, it’s a creamy, comforting national treasure. Castro It’s one of those jewel boxes at a bakery where you can easily return two pastries with a glass of port or ginjinha (a cherry liqueur), then grab a six-pack to go. For a great overview of Portuguese food, and Lisbon’s restaurant scene in particular, try Time Out Market Lisboa, a massive food hall with 26 food stalls and eight bars (plus dozens of shops) representing what’s in local cuisine. Chefs from some of the city’s top restaurants are here, so taste and decide where to go the next night for dinner. One of these chefs, Susana Felicidad, has a restaurant in the Pharmacy Museum. At Farmacia Felicidad, arroz de linghirao, which is clam rice, is a must-have dish. Its AstroTurf park, with a stunning view of the Tagus River, is the place to be seen at sunset. For a fancier night out, try Plano, with two five- or nine-course tasting menus. Inspired by Chef Vitor Adão’s upbringing in northern Portugal, delicate ingredients are handled with care, and wines are presented with precision. Speaking of wine, get a primer at the Wines of Portugal Tasting Room, located on Praça do Comércio, one of Lisbon’s most famous squares.
Anecdotes: Lisbon is a compact and walkable city – if you don’t mind a steep climb. The challenging hills rival those of San Francisco, and even when two places look close together on the map, there can be a surprising climb of stairs in between. When you don’t feel like working out — or wear shoes that make hiking downright dangerous — riding classes are quick and incredibly inexpensive. (Traditional wagons, which are more attractive than practical, are another option.)
Tel Aviv, Israel
WhyBustling, glamorous, beautiful and vibrant, Tel Aviv lies a long way across the Mediterranean from Lisbon, yet shares the sea-invigorating vitality of Tel Aviv. Late winter and early spring in Minnesota are the best time to visit, when Tel Aviv’s rainy season is over and the city is in full bloom. Then you’ll want to set out on an epic walk, which is the best way to enjoy the city’s vast contrasts. Stroll along the surfer-friendly beach and its hotel strip, from the newly developed port area in the south to the ancient city of Jaffa in the north. Or downtown, through the glamorous Hollywood architecture, to the maze-like markets in the shadows of modern skyscrapers.
Food scene: one word: breakfast. The Middle East as a whole treats the first meal of the day with respect, and Tel Aviv is no exception – especially in hotels. No sad waffle makers, but rather plentiful buffets where fresh vegetables take center stage, juices are pressed to order, and you can sample smoked salmon seven different ways. Tel Aviv is also known for its markets, the Carmel forks being perhaps the most famous. Make your way around and collect a feast of fresh berries, a hunk of halva (sesame pudding), and a plate of fish and chips. Or snack on shredded filo dough kunafa, stock up on Samaritan tahini, and throw all caution to the wind with a taco tray. At night, the area becomes quieter, and a butcher shop turns into a restaurant. At M25, choose your cut at the counter and ask the chefs to cook it for you, or order a meat-centric fusion menu. The traditional Palestinian dish, arayes, pita bread stuffed with ground and grilled lamb, is a new discovery. For a completely different market experience, Sarona Market is an enclosed food hall with 60 stands and shops featuring the best Israeli food and home to some of Tel Aviv’s most popular restaurants. Chef Eyal Shany’s Miznon has a location here (get the eggplant sandwich); So does the falafel favourite, HaKosem. Later, in an alley between two buildings in Jaffa’s Old Port, taste your way through Israeli wines at the atmospheric Hagafen Wine Yard. Tel Aviv is also a cocktail city, home to stylish lounges where mixing drinks gets interesting. Tucked away in a boutique hotel, Bellboy plays with a laid-back atmosphere and unusual ingredients, like blue cheese cognac, celery whipped cream, and peanut butter.
Anecdotes: Tel Aviv is on the religiously liberal end of the spectrum, but many institutions still observe the Sabbath. From sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, you may experience closures, so be sure to check schedules, or look for plenty of options for weekend shopping and dining at non-Jewish restaurants.
Palm Springs, California.
Why: Direct flights from MSP to Palm Springs are more affordable than ever, and this outdoor living city is filled with mid-century architecture, Gilded Age Hollywood glamor, and recreational living. The city has become younger, but visiting still feels like trying to retire just for fun. If you like Frank Sinatra, Liberace and the Golden Girls, there’s a lot to love about this desert oasis.
Food scene: Start the day in the Farm Garden for a pleasant al fresco breakfast. Order buttery croissants with easy eggs served with a bright and crunchy salad before strolling through the nearby shops. Another option: Wilma & Frieda’s serves modern brunch. No trip to Palm Springs is complete without a date, and the Ace Hotel’s is just around the corner with its espresso bar. A dose added to a shake makes for a delicious lightener for the day. For dinner, join the ranks of the Rooster and the Pig. Located inside a shopping mall, inside it looks like a cozy country cabin, while the menu is a lively exercise in fresh herbs and bright, spicy sauces, from a modern Vietnamese menu. It is best to go with friends who like to share and order as much as possible. Start with the graceful calamari. Stay all day at The Rowan, sipping cocktails (great non-alcoholic options too) by the rooftop pool. Not only does his 4 Saints restaurant offer a modern and impressive steak menu, but it also offers some of the best service in the city. For late night drinks, soak up the Spanish colonial atmosphere Del Rey for tapas and a pitcher of sangria. Or head to Jonathan Adler Design Parker Palm Springs (note the “bright” style entry carpet) and check out the Cardinal Red back bar for exceptional wine flights.
Anecdotes: Palm Springs’ early heyday came when it was a playground for old Hollywood stars like Lucy, Desi Arnaz, and Bob Hope. The impressive architecture and kitsch style of the mid-century still remain, but it has undergone a renaissance. You can set aside a day to wander the main street with its galleries and antique shops. You might find an artistic portrait of Bea Arthur or a sequined kaftan.
Why: The greater Phoenix area has long been a magnet for snowbirds, and many Twin City residents have in-laws in this sprawling city in the Sonoran Desert — meaning a short winter trip is a possibility. Nonstop sunshine and plenty of recreational activities await visitors to the urban center where resorts abound, the hiking is exceptional, and the food is as diverse as the many communities that call this valley home.
Food scene: It’s always patio season in the desert (even in the hottest temperatures, the mist of water makes al fresco dining more comfortable). Take your pick from the sunlit patios under shady trees, the cactus-lined canal-side decks, and do what patios do best: brunch. Early morning is a great time to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens and Gertrude’s, the hotel’s on-site restaurant. Great for French Toast and Hatch Chile Tostadas. Taking you from morning to night, Sip Coffee & Beer Garage is a stylish neighborhood café located in a former oil change station that serves up great coffee, cocktails, veggie-packed sandwiches — and a pub-style underground bar called 36 Below. Stop by Barrio Cafe Located off the beaten tourist track, having a meal there feels like home. The 20-year-old Mexican restaurant is known for its cochinita pibil, a melt-in-the-mouth pork cooked for 12 hours in achiote and sour orange. La Grande Orange, a charming grocery, pizzeria, bakery and winery, satisfies almost all your gastronomic needs. Don’t leave without one of these homemade English muffins. If you tuned into “Chef’s Table: Pizza” on Netflix to watch Twin Cities pizza star Ann Kim, you may have also seen the episode written by James Beard Award winner Chris Bianco. The owner of Bianco’s Pizza Widely considered the best wood-fired pizzeria in Phoenix (and the country). No matter which location you visit, order the Rosa Pizza, which combines sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano with tender, translucent red onions, chopped Arizona pistachios and rosemary. For a fun dessert, enjoy the cool mid-century modern aesthetic of the Valley Ho Hotel in Scottsdale, home to Zuzu Restaurant He makes a monthly “Show Stopper” shake filled with sprinkles, cake crumbs and other sweets.
Anecdotes: This is the palm area. The sweet, sticky fruits are everywhere and you’ll find them scattered on front lawns, sidewalks, and playgrounds. Instead of foraging, head to the Palm Pantry gift shop in Scottsdale from Sphinx Date Ranch. While browsing gift boxes and other made-in-Arizona foods and drinks, order a cold shake infused with Medjool dates.