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COAST TO COAST: FIRST EMPTY NEST VACATION
Sailing windy San Francisco Bay or enjoying a coastal picnic of barbecued oysters and local beer, you momentarily forget you’ve just dropped off your only child at college a continent away. And that’s a good thing. It’s exactly how I envisioned our first empty nest vacation when my husband and I plotted a five-day stay on the West Coast. We knew that after saying good-bye to our son in New York City, we would need an immediate getaway. We didn’t want to mope. We wanted action.
LEAKEY, Texas _ Gurgling cold water trickles over white rocks, huge cypress and oak trees shade the river’s banks and a night sky boasts a canvas of stars. This beauty along the serene Frio River serves as a refreshing reminder that, thankfully, much of Texas remains removed from city life. Even amid dry weather and low stream flow, in the Frio Canyon from Leakey south to Concan there’s plenty to do at this scenic spot on the western edge of the Texas Hill Country.
ESCAPING TO BEAUTIFUL MAINE
PEAKS ISLAND, Maine _ Far from the southern heat, the upper northeast coast lures many of us in the summer who are looking for cool weather and natural beauty. Portland, Maine, and nearby Peaks Island are enticing destinations. Portland is vibrant in the summer. Its historic Old Port downtown district is full of specialty shops, chowder houses and the exquisite, creative Fore Street Restaurant. A short ferry ride away is the scenic and secluded Peaks Island, an excellent choice for a cool family retreat or a romantic getaway. Tranquil bay waters lap the shore next to cottages on one side of the island. Brisk Atlantic winds brush the opposite site of Peaks.
NEW YORK WITH A TEEN
NEW YORK _ Our holiday trip to New York City was a time to try new tactics for traveling with a teenager. We flew from Texas on Christmas morning. Traveling on the holiday was an adventure in itself. Then we checked into a fairly large hotel room next to Central Park. We discovered that getting our 15-year-old son to help with planning was key. Lunch at Lombardi’s Pizza? Check. Shopping at Columbus Circle? Check. We rode the subway and explored the campus of Columbia University.
THE BIG EASY
NEW ORLEANS _ Late-night frolicking in the French Quarter. Lighted palm trees twinkling along Canal Street. A decadent new twist to an age-old cuisine dubbed “Death by Gumbo.” Whether you enjoy bar hopping, strolling among art galleries or simply indulging in exquisite food, New Orleans is a good bet any time of year. It has a special appeal as a new year arrives, with the city still sparkling from the holidays while plunging into football mania and beginning to gear up for Mardi Gras.
UTAH/ARIZONA ROAD TRIP
SPRINGDALE, Utah _ Surrounded by the rugged beauty of southern Utah and northern Arizona, it’s easy to forget the bright lights of Las Vegas casinos are only a couple of hours away. Red, orange, pink, purple and sandy hues embedded in mountains, canyons and giant rocks are the show in this scenic desert region, attesting to millions of years of the earth’s formation. Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Canyon National Park north rim attract visitors from around the world.
AUSTIN, Texas _ A deep blue building rises above the trees just across Lady Bird Lake from downtown Austin. Its outdoor gardens beckon passing walkers and joggers. But the indoor stage, seating and state-of-the-art lighting and sound are the real draws of the Topfer Theatre, the jewel of the ZACH Theatre campus.
LINKS TO OTHER PUBLISHED TRAVEL AND ENTERTAINMENT STORIES BY KELLEY SHANNON:
Austin City Limits