Take a trip away this April. Check out our recommendations for what to do, where to go and what to eat in some of Cayman’s favorite overseas destinations.
Culture: Kick off your trip with a visit to Shangri La at the base of Diamond Head, the former home of American tobacco heiress Doris Duke. The Honolulu Museum of Art offers a shuttle ride to the attraction, where tiles from Iran, mother-of-pearl chests from Syria and mosaics from India offer us a glittering (and global) visual history of lands afar.
Shopping: When you think of the warm winds of Waikiki Beach, what better souvenir could there be than a gift hand-carved from beautiful Hawaiian indigenous wood? At Nohea Gallery, peruse treasures made of Koa (“Hawaiian Mahogany”), mango and macadamia nut wood.
Food: Make like Barack Obama and head to Alan Wong’s. Order their version of the Soup and Sandwich (as did POTUS), a two color tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich with foie gras and kalua pig. Finish up with fresh local coconut ice cream.
Cocktails: L’Aperitif at La Mer offers classic tropical glamour with a cocktail menu curated by Colin Field of The Ritz in Paris. Slip into something formal for drinks inside where white-coated bartenders await or watch the sunset in the surf on Waikiki Beach, drink in hand.
Must Do This Month: Enjoy retro Honolulu in all its glory at the newly-opened Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club.
This vintage beach blanket oasis is sure to be a hipster staple, even if only because of the super-Instagram worth “Wish You Were Here” emblazoned at the bottom of the swimming pool. See website for details.
Culture: Paradise Island gets all the hype, but Nassau is a laid-back beach town perfect for Labor Day (or any other) weekend. Experience the island nation’s European side at Van Breugel’s, a Dutch dining spot and restored historical home decorated with original Bahamian artwork throughout. Enjoy live jazz on the veranda daily.
Shopping: Craft Cottage sells elevated artisanal handcrafts out of a colorful clapboard house designed by the acclaimed Bahamian artist Jackson Burnside. Think cufflinks made of Bahamian coins to bracelets fashioned from recycled vinyl records.
Cocktails: If you want something more – ahem – adult than the country’s famous fizzy tamarind ale, visit John Watling’s, the only locally owned distillery in the Bahamas. Located on a grand 1789 estate in downtown Nassau, the spot also makes the island’s best Bahama Mamas (read: get there in time for happy hour).
Food: Do it like the locals and stop off at Goodfellow Farms where local simple food like grilled house-cut lamb chops and curry pumpkin soup are fresh and local. The menu changes daily and you can top off your visit with a bottle of homemade mango dressing or seal salt to go.
Must Do This Month: Summer is the perfect time to check out the beautiful wildlife at Ardastra Gardens. The aviation grounds are the most spectacular with peacocks and parrots, as well as “flamingo walks” when bright pink flocks make the zoo their catwalk for a magical (almost-choreographed) display. See www.ardastra.com for details.
Napa Valley, California
Culture: Napa is food and wine country. Pay homage at Oxbow Public Market where the decadence includes fresh oysters on the half shell, homemade cardamom or lemon cookie ice cream, and warm peanut butter milk chocolate cupcakes. Roll thyself back to the hotel.
Shopping: Is there such a thing as cult olive oil? If you’re a foodie, there is. Stop off at the St. Helena Olive Oil Company, where flavored infusions such as orange and jalapeño are tasted and poured along with the perfect original, all tapped from seven Napa estates. Purchase a bottle. Or five.
Food: Now is not the time to go low brow. When in Napa, dine at the first West Coast restaurant in Iron Chef Masaharu’s empire, Morimoto Napa. Sample sea urchin carbonara or save (a little, you are in Napa) with the omakase tasting menu.
Cocktails: You will have had your fill of wines, so perhaps find a bar with bites. Visit Solbar and sip the Sage Canyon Flip (white whiskey, pear purée, lemon, house orgeat syrup and egg white sage). Cure the hunger pangs with slivers of choice Hampshire pork shoulder and Mongolian peanuts.
Must Do This Month: Become your own Iron Chef. The world class Culinary Institute of America is closed for classes but remains open all summer for tours and demonstrations by alums like Anthony Bourdain. Tour the beautiful campus and savor the last of summer. See website for details.
St. Tropez, France
Culture: Hit the Musée de l’Annonciade, a 16th-century church turned museum with exhibitions dedicated to the painters — from Matisse to Andre Derain — who found inspiration along the Côte d’Azur.
Shopping: Saturday is market day and Place des Lices is the spot to stroll like a local, basket in hand. Grab the tastiest olives at Le Kemia, all grown regionally, and blocks of homemade fresh soap, as well as suitably sensual linen clothing made by local artisans.
Food: Summer pop-up restaurant doesn’t quite describe Christian Dior’s eponymous seasonal eatery, Café Dior, located in the brand’s resort flagship store. Grab a cappuccino and graze like a fashion model on summer vegetables and fresh pastries.
Cocktails: Follow the jet set to the bar at White 1921 and sip rosé while enjoying the subtle scent of jasmine flowers in the garden bar, opening every evening at 8 p.m. Live music on the weekends draws yacht dwellers in their numbers.
Must Do This Month: St. Tropez beach clubs are the currency of European summer stories. Bikini tops are optional at Nikki beach and the New Coco Beach is billed as stylish and “more chilled out.” We will see it when we believe it. See online for details.
Culture: Chicago is the birthplace of modern improv comedy and has a major theater scene, as well as umpteen jazz jook joints. Kick off a trip with Second City, the improv school, and stand where the Belushi Brothers once honed their craft. Street cred achieved.
Shopping: Support Chicago’s still-thriving independent music scene with a visit to Reckless Records in Wicker Park or Dusty Groove in Ukrainian Village. Enjoy the stroll; Chicago will be bitterly cold as early as October.
Food: Big, bold flavors run the Chi-town food scene, thanks to heavy eastern European influences. At Russian Tea Time, Ukrainian-style borscht and Russian herring will please the palette along with a 30-tea service and house blend vodka flights.
Cocktails: You may have to fight an entire stadium full of Cubs fans for one of the many beer flavors on tap at Sheffield’s, but you won’t regret it. The beer garden is legend, as is “Beer School – the bar’s own homemade selection of craft beers.
Must Do This Weekend: Lurie Park, the lush floral gardens at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Renzo Piano-designed Modern Wing, is spectacular during summer. Take the Millennium Park serpentine pedestrian bridge to the edge of Maggie Daley Park for the perfect skyline shot at sunset. See online for directions.