CHARLESTON AGAIN IN TRAVEL + LEISURE BEST DESTINATIONS
Charleston, South Carolina, was named the top destination in the U.S. and Canada for the third year in a row by Travel + Leisure magazine's "World's Best Awards."
The awards were voted on between Nov. 3 to March 2, before Charleston made headlines for the June 17 church shooting in which a white gunman was charged with killing nine African-Americans.
This is the 20th year for the annual travel awards. Nearly 17,000 Travel + Leisure readers participated in this year's survey.
For the first time, Asheville, North Carolina, made the top 10 list for cities in the U.S. and Canada, coming in at No. 10. Also on the U.S. and Canada list were New Orleans at No. 2, followed by Savannah, Georgia; Santa Fe, New Mexico; San Francisco; Quebec City, Quebec; Chicago; New York and Victoria, British Columbia.
Kyoto, Japan, was chosen as the world's best city for the second year in a row. Cuzco, Peru, won best city for Latin America; Florence, Italy, won for Europe; and Cape Town won for Africa and the Middle East.
The list named the Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur, India, as the world's best hotel, and the Golden Door in San Marcos, California, as the best destination spa. Disney Cruise Line won best mega-ship ocean cruise line, Singapore Airlines won best international airline, Virgin America won best domestic airlines, and National Car Rental won best car-rental agency.
For the U.S., the Ritz-Carlton New York in Manhattan won for best large city hotel and Charleston got another award for top small city hotel for the Wentworth Mansion.
Full results are online at http://www.travelandleisure.com/worlds-best and in the August issue of Travel + Leisure.
HARLEM: WALKING TOUR AND PUB CRAWL
An online walking tour and a sightseeing pub crawl offer new ways to explore Harlem.
The free walking tour was created by the Museum of Modern Art in conjunction with an exhibition of Jacob Lawrence's "Migration Series" paintings. The paintings tell the story of African-Americans who moved from the rural South to Northern cities in the early decades of the 20th century. Lawrence lived in Harlem, and the walking tour highlights the places where he studied art, did research for his paintings and found inspiration.
The tour -- http://www.Moma.org/harlemwalkingtour -- includes a map, images, narration and interviews showcasing a dozen Harlem locations. They include Harlem Hospital, where the first floor is decorated with murals created by one of Lawrence's mentors, Charles Alston; the Abyssinian Baptist Church, which Lawrence's family joined in 1930, when it was the largest Baptist congregation in the world; and cultural institutions like the Schomburg Center, where Lawrence did much of his research.
The MOMA exhibit is up through Sept. 7 but the tour will be available online well beyond that, offering a compelling look at the neighborhood even if you can't do the tour in person.
The walking tour is also being incorporated into a monthly pub crawl for Harlem newcomers. Eat Sip N' See describes itself as "part sightseeing tour and part bar, pub, restaurant crawl" with events scheduled for July 30, Aug. 28 and one on Sept. 25 aimed at students from Columbia University and City University of New York. Details on tickets and registration at http://www.harlem5ive.com/ . Proceeds from the crawl benefit a fund for restoring the Harlem Hospital murals highlighted on the MOMA Jacob Lawrence trail. The crawl meets at the hospital and participants are also supplied with a link to the walking tour.
MOUNT RAINIER WILDFLOWERS
Wildflower season on Mount Rainier in Washington usually starts mid-July but flowers began blooming early this year because there was less snow than usual this past winter.
Flowers to look out for include penstemon (beardtongues), Mount Rainier lousewort, phlox, veronica and wild ginger.
A local tourism marketing organization, Visit Rainier, offers several online resources for visitors, including a wildflower guide at http://visitrainier.com/wildflowers/ and suggestions for hikes at http://visitrainier.com/wildflower-hikes/ . The organization says some wildflower-viewing spots can be accessed relatively easily by car, such as the meadows around Tipsoo Lake at the top of Chinook Pass and the meadows around the Sunrise and Paradise areas on the mountain. Other views can be had via gondola at Crystal Mountain Resort.