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It’s almost spring-break season, and there’s nothing more appealing than the idea of skipping town and recharging with a stylish sabbatical. From road trips to cross-country flights, Amy Tara Koch — style expert, “Windy Cindy Live” and “Today” contributor and acclaimed author — shares her favorite weekend escapes, chock full of the hottest shopping, dining, cultural activities and even some time at the spa.
Sun, surf and bright, uninhibited style make this Southern city a no-brainer for any chic traveler.
It’s scientifically proven that sitting at News Cafe on Ocean Drive with an iced latte in hand will instantly reduce stress levels by 60 percent.
Here’s the secret to South Beach success: Avoid “hip” hotels that mask their subpar service under a veneer of faux grooviness. The King & Grove Tides gets my stamp of approval. Built in 1936, the airy beachfront suites and beautiful public spaces emanate relaxed elegance and an authentic art deco vibe — and the complimentary beach lounge chairs and umbrellas are a game-changer. Another A-list property is the revamped but equally historic Betsy Hotel. Located on Ocean Drive, it’s got a sprawling rooftop with views of the ocean, a full-service spa and a fabulous on-site restaurant, BLT Steak.
You can’t beat starting the day on the beach, but for me, tranquility demands a spa visit. The award-winning Mandarin Oriental Spa takes rejuvenation to another dimension. The attentive staff performs all services inside gleaming white and bamboo suites with sweeping views of Biscayne Bay.
When it comes to dinner, getting all dolled up is a prerequisite. Pull on something sexy and head out to one of the many of-the-moment hot spots. Best bets? Juvia, Il Gabiano, Prime 112, Zuma and Villa Azur. The food will always impress, but the vibrant tropical ambience will make you feel worlds away from home.
Glen Arbor, Michigan
Who needs Lake Tahoe? Deemed the “Most Beautiful Place in America” by “Good Morning America,” Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a veritable winter wonderland — and it’s just a six-hour drive from Chicago.
Check into one of the rooms, suites or condos at the Homestead: America’s Freshwater Resort and take part in the smorgasbord of chilly weather activities happening in and around this 500-acre property. There are 15 downhill ski runs, dozens of cross-country skiing trails, rangers lead snowshoe treks through the dunes every Saturday throughout February, and fun-seekers of all ages can partake in the resort’s ice skating and sledding.
After an arduous day on the slopes, it’s all about eating. Restaurant options abound, from fine dining to cafeteria-style — try Nonna’s for classic Italian cuisine and Beppi’s for casual sandwiches and salads.
Cap off the day at Spa Amira, a retreat within the resort. The coastline views are almost as glorious as the spa treatments.
Great weather, standout style, outdoor adventures and top-notch restaurants — a weekend in Southern California is a perfect melange of chill and thrill.
Stock up on next season’s wardrobe essentials by scouring West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Hit Satine on Third Street for au courant basics, then head to Melrose Avenue to splurge on top designers at iconic retailer Fred Segal. A few doors down, resale-savvy shoppers can spend hours at Decades, rifling through reasonably priced pieces from Chanel and The Row.
How do Angelenos stay slim? They hit the trails for a hike in the city’s many parks. Try Runyon Canyon, L.A.’s magical juxtaposition of urban sprawl and nature. Located 10 minutes above Sunset Boulevard, the 45-minute hike offers sweeping views of the city and the Hollywood sign.
Why dine out if you can’t see and be seen? For great food and equally awesome star-gazing, dig in at lunch spots like Urth, Mauros at Fred Segal or Culina at the Four Seasons L.A. For dinner, try Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza, Boa or the charming French style brasserie, The Little Next Door. Finish off with a nightcap at the legendary Chateau Marmont — perched upon the velvet-fringed sofa with a martini in hand, it’s easy to feel like you belong among the glitterati.
Check out: National Zoo, United States Botanic Gardens, The Jefferson Memorial, Ford’s Theatre, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Four Seasons Hotel, Georgetown Cupcake, Pie Sisters
Rediscover national pride — and see what’s trending with the power set — with a trip to our nation’s capital.
You won’t find any more sun in D.C. than you will in Chicago. But there’s an inherent energy in the capital that recharges even the most style-starved traveler.
Savor a few nights of luxury by booking a room at the Four Seasons Hotel. Located in the belly of Georgetown, this property is walking distance to all things trendy (I prize convenience). The fact that mega-chic power eatery Bourbon Steak is situated in the hotel lobby is an added bonus. Simply put, this hotel is expensive. But the hundreds of free attractions in the city — such as the National Zoo, the Botanic Gardens and The Jefferson Memorial — take the sting from one’s wallet.
Home to countless museums, historic monuments and archives, D.C. is the prime spot to brush up on your cultural knowledge. The weekend hit list? Ford Theatre, the site of Lincoln’s assassination; the Museum of American History, boasting Julia Child’s kitchen, civil rights mementos and a fragment of Plymouth Rock; and the National Air & Space Museum for all things aviation. Tip: Avoid massive crowds and visit these historic landmarks in the evening. Many institutions provide “moonlight tours” that are far more enjoyable.
Between activities, sugar up at Georgetown Cupcakes (home to the TLC hit “D.C. Cupcakes”) or Pie Sisters.