Mini Summer Trips + Packing Lists
The truth is, if your summer plans include any amount of travel, you’ve already won. To help you narrow down a destination, we’ve rounded up four very different options that we’re dying to revisit. Each one is an entirely distinct experience, with its own comprehensive packing guide.
This primarily French speaking, poutine-loving city is home to winding cobblestone streets, countless sidewalk cafes, and some serious culture. In short, it’s got all the joys of a European getaway, minus the schlep (two-hour flight out of JFK and you’re there).
Auberge Du Vieux-Port97, Rue de la Commune Est | 514.876.0081
With dizzying views of the Saint Lawrence River and in cozy proximity to many of the city’s most celebrated spots, this 19th-century hotel in history-steeped Old Montreal is the total package. The massive, kitted out guestrooms—all exposed brick and cast-iron fixtures—blend right in with the city’s unmistakable old-meets-new feel.
Hotel Gault449 Rue Sainte-Hélène | 514.904.1616
Poured concrete floors, low-slung beds, and giant windows make sense, since this boutique hotel occupies the former home of a booming import/export business from the 1900s. It’s not as cold as it sounds: The designers used plenty of gorgeous mid-century pieces from designers like Bertoia and Eames to warm it all up.
SSense90 Rue Saint Paul Ouest | 514.289.1906333 Rue Chabanel Ouest | 514.384.1906
Sure, there’s the beloved, only-in-Canada department store empire, Holt Renfrew, but Montreal is also home to the bricks-and-mortar of one of our favorite online sites, SSense, meaning that any pitstop here requires flipping through the racks. They offer an encyclopedic array of brands, from Balmain to Charlotte Olympia to Diemme.
Rooney395 Notre-Dame Ouest | 514.543.6234
For a guy’s shop, there’s a surprising amount at Rooney that women will want to co-opt for themselves. Many of the obscure Japanese and European lines (Our Legacy, La Paz) can be easily sized down. Plus, there’s a kickass home and gifts section.
Salmigondis6896 Saint-Dominique | 514.564.3842
The snug backyard and sidewalk terrace here are just as much of a draw as the thoughtfully edited food offering. Oddly, the menu at this Little Italy spot isn’t at all Italian—it kind of defies regional classification, actually, focusing more on quality and taste. The weekend brunch is considered to be the best in town.
Maison Publique4720 Marquette | 514.507.0555
The charm doesn’t end with the pressed tin tiled walls and old-world lighting at this cozy, out-of-the-way corner spot. The primarily French-inflected menu—which is marked up on a chalkboard—is full of surprises even though it all sounds familiar, offering inventive takes on classics like oysters, Welsh rarebit, and an incredible BLT.
Le Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montreal185 Sainte-Catherine Ouest | 514.847.6226
Devoted to both the performing and visual arts, this compound revolves primarily around artists from Québec, including the largest collection of pieces by abstract painter (and Canadian) Paul-Émile Borduas, who was ultimately ostracized before his death in 1960 for advocating for the separation between church and state.
CCA Building1920 Rue Baile | 514.939.7026
Founded in 1979, The Canadian Centre for Architecture provides exactly that: A pretty impressive compound for understanding the significance of architecture and design on everything. There’s a massive permanent collection, a gorgeous garden, a bookstore, and an events space for a packed-calender of “Open Sessions” from visiting historians.
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Other than the legendary beaches, pristine Colonial architecture, and strong Cuban influence, what makes Key West a great getaway is that at fewer than 100 miles off the mainland, this teeny tropical Florida island feels like it’s an entire world away.
Casa Marina1500 Reynolds St. | 305.296.3535
This is a big, beautiful, Deco-style resort that somehow manages to strike a balance between the glitz of a Waldorf Astoria property and local clout: the structure has been here since the ’20s and is listed in the National Register for Historic Places. The massive, 300+ room compound sits on a private beach, so you can retreat to a lounge chair, or your beautifully appointed guestroom, or the world-class spa whenever the craziness of Duval Street, which is walking distance from the hotel, gets to be too much.
ocean key0 Duval St. | 305.296.7701
The Ocean Key resort sits at the very top of Duval Street on one side and the lively Sunset Pier on the other, making it a convenient home base from which to explore. The décor is fittingly perky, with pops of turquoise and rattan accents scattered throughout the rooms, on-site restaurant, Hot Tin Roof (killer sunset-watching spot), and the rooftop pool, but just enough so as not to be overwhelming.
Kino Sandals107 Fitzpatrick St. | 305.294.5044
Look no further for a fittingly kitschy but wonderfully practical Key West souvenir. You can watch your sandals being made, and some of the styles are legitimately cute—plus, they’re sturdy and really reasonably priced ($15).
Besame Mucho315 Petronia St. | 305.294.1928
In a town dominated by novelty t-shirt shops, Besame Mucho’s lovingly packed displays of Astier de Villatte candles, letterpress stationery, Fig & Yarrow skincare, and vintage and new home goods are pretty refreshing. They also carry one of the deepest selections of Santa Maria Novella products we’ve seen outside of Florence.
Alabama Jack’s58000 Card Sound Rd., Homestead | 305.248.8741
Seafood is understandably abundant here, and there’s really no better place for conch fritters than Alabama Jack’s in Key Largo. But you should come here just as much for the ambiance as as the food as it’s a bit of a haul from Key West. It looks like a standard roadside dive (there are dedicated motorcycle parking spots out front) except that it sits on a floating barge with insane views of the creek and neighboring mangroves. Come on a weekend for live music and dancing.
Square One1075 Duval St. | 305.296.4300
Not nearly as touristy as other Duval Street spots, this refreshingly theme-free spot serves the kind of elegant dishes (tartines, dumplings, carpaccios) and craft cocktails you can’t really find elsewhere on the island. It’s been around for 25 years, but the clean, modern décor doesn’t show it one bit. The weekend brunch is so good they start serving it on Wednesday. You’ll want to make a reservation.
Hemingway Home907 Whitehead St. | 305.294.1136
Visiting Key West without making a pilgrimage to the Ernest Hemingway Home and gardens (and the resident family of six-toed cats) is kind of blasphemous. Much of the interior and a smattering of personal possessions from Hemingway’s years on the estate are lovingly salvaged originals. Don’t skimp on the tour as the guides are extremely well versed in Hem trivia.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park102601 Overseas Highway, Key Largo | 305.451.6300
The tropical waters of Key West are home to some of the most protected living coral reefs in the country. There are tons of outfits offering kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and even glass-bottom boat tours, but we like the in-house folks at John Pennekamp, which is a massive underwater park (statues, sculptures, and the like) that justifies the drive. They’re also nicely attuned to visitors’ wishes and skill-levels.
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Summers in Yosemite are marked by breathtaking scenery and a glut of outdoor activities. There’s plenty of opportunity to kick your feet up once you’ve had your fill of being one with nature, too.
The Majestic Yosemite Hotel1 Ahwahnee Dr., Yosemite National Park | 801.559.4884
Since 1927, adventurous types have used The Majestic (formerly known as the Ahwahnee Hotel) as their base camp in Yosemite. Watch out for bears as you make your way to the park’s main attractions like Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, or Glacier Point. The rooms can be combined to accommodate big groups and they also have rustic cabins in the pines.
Evergreen Lodge33160 Evergreen Rd., Groveland, CA | 209.379.2606
Sprawled out over 20 acres of woods on the outskirts of the park (not nearly as touristy as the center), Evergreen isn’t so much a hotel as it is a cluster of adorably rustic cabins surrounding a communal main plaza…kind of like summer camp. You can easily daytrip down to Yosemite Valley, but with a pool, pop-up BBQs, two restaurants, an old-timey general store, and a slew of throwback activities (outdoor film screening, s’mores, bingo) offered right on property, you might not want to ever leave. There’s even a youth program to keep little ones occupied.
The Pioneer Yosemite History Center8308 Wawona Rd., Wawona | 209.372.0200
Part interactive history lesson, part time machine, this makeshift village tells Yosemite’s story via a series of 18th and 19th century buildings, which were relocated from all over the park. To enter, you have to cross a real-deal covered bridge, once inside expect to see staff dressed in period costumes and a horse-drawn carriage or two. Getting kids to leave can be a bit challenging.
The Ansel Adams GalleryYosemite National Park | 209.372.4413
Admittedly, the center of a national park isn’t the likeliest of spots for a fine art gallery, and a really great one at that. As its name suggests, the focus here is on works from Ansel Adams, whose photographs of the park are icons and national treasures, though other artists are featured as well. A substantial part of the experience is the gift shop, which stocks an impressive selection of books, jewelry from local makers, and a small but mighty assortment of giftables.
Mountain Room RestaurantYosemite National Park, Yosemite Village | 209.372.1403
There aren’t too many freestanding restaurants within park limits, but the bigger lodges and resorts offer some good dining options. More specifically, the Mountain Room at the Yosemite Lodge (the outdoor patio opens up in the warmer months) consistently churns out stellar locally sourced steaks and fresh veggie dishes.
Mahogany Smoked Meats2345 N. Sierra Hwy, Bishop | 760.873.5311
No drive up to Yosemite from Southern California is complete without a pit-stop here. We’re pretty loyal to classic turkey jerky, but the staff here is generous with samples, so give some of the more unconventional flavors a go (habanero buffalo, ahi teriyaki). If a more serious meal is in order, the sandwich-only menu at the Smokehouse Deli is pretty satisfying.
Drive a Model T7730 Laurel Way, Fish Camp | 559.641.7731
The best way to see many of the park’s highlights in the shortest amount of time is simply by driving around. This ingenious service lets you do just that in an original Model T Ford or Roadster. You can rent by the day or book a semi-guided tour, which can span any number of days and includes stops at all the major landmarks.
In winter, this is perfect ice-skating terrain and in the summer, it’s the best beach experience inside the park. Though some recent work made Tenaya significantly easier to get to, it’s still low-key compared to the lakes situated closer to tourist-packed Yosemite Valley. If you don’t want to just sit around there’s a relatively easy, exceptionally beautiful hiking path along the riverbank.
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As one of Spain’s greatest treasures, a stay in Seville is guaranteed sensory overload (in the best possible way). Here, insane, futuristic-looking structures sit next to beautiful historic sites (the Alcazar castle, for one) and the food scene is as full of flavor as it is vast. And then, there’s the Flamenco.
Hotel Alfonso XIIISan Fernando, 2 | +18.104.22.168.70.00
In the 1920s, King Alfonso XIII of Spain had this hotel built to house visiting dignitaries and the like—it definitely has the lavish, royal touch. Rooms are spacious and ornate, replete with stunning tilework, balustrades, and all sorts of subtle flourishes. It’s been revamped in recent years and so there are plenty of modern amenities, like a pool and multiple restaurants.
Hotel Palacio de VillapanéCalle Santiago, 31 | +22.214.171.124.20.63
Just a few steps from city center, this small and luxurious boutique hotel occupies an 18th-century Andalusian palace, meaning that it’s stunning, too. There’s a spa and wellness center, a slick restaurant, and plenty of in-room amenities that aren’t ages-old at all.
Restaurant el RinconcilloCalle Gerona, 40 | +126.96.36.199.31.83
A trip to Seville means tapas, which makes El Rincincillio a must. After all, they’ve been refining the craft since 1670. Everything about the restaurant, from the clientele (locals) to the décor (Spanish tile on the walls and cured meat hanging from the ceiling) is authentic. There is a formal sit-down restaurant upstairs, but it’s more fun in the standing-room-only bar area on the first floor.
Vinéria San TelmoPaseo Catalina de Ribera, 4 | +188.8.131.52.06.00
These guys deliver on what great food in Seville is about: Perfectly turned out tapas with the aperitifs to match. Highlights include an insane Tortilla Espanola, a Torta de Castuera with caramelized onions, crispy prawns, and Roteña-style cod.
Mercado de la Calle FeriaFeria St.
Street markets are a major part of life in Seville, which makes a visit to the Feria Market a great way to get a feel for the city. It’s Seville’s oldest open-air market and surprisingly not at all touristy. Since you’re not going to cart fresh fish back to your hotel room, sample some ceviche and calamari at the on-site market bar, La Cantina, on your way out.
Verde MoscuCalle Ortiz de Zúñiga, 5 | +184.108.40.206.97.77
There’s an emphasis on fair trade and environmentally friendly clothing here, but you wouldn’t know it from the racks, which are lined with high-waisted trousers from Orla Kiely, cute little Veja sneakers, and soft striped t-shirts (made from bamboo, of course).
Setas de SevillePlaza de la Encarnación, 18 | +220.127.116.11.15.12
Other than being a head-spinning architectural feat, Jürgen Mayer-Hermann’s Metropol Parasol is a fully functional public space. Its size alone is impressive and the meandering paths along the edges of the “parasols” offer dizzying views of the city.
Lola de los ReyesAvenida de Blas Infante, 6 | +18.104.22.168.11.63
Even if the idea of dancing in public is mortifying, you need to spend a night at this popular local’s bar, if only to watch a whole bunch of excellent Flamenco go down to live music and exceptional singing.
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