Out of Town
Every Person in New York
|Some of our out of town recommendations over the years that have held up well.
Robert Todd Lincoln, the only child of Abe and Mary to live to adulthood, built the Georgian Revival house he named Hildene in 1905. It stayed in the family for another 70 years. You can visit the 412-acre estate that includes 14 buildings, a formal garden and an observatory. Celebrating the values of Robert's dad is the recurring motif.
Mérida gets all the ink these days, but that leaves Xalapa, 185 miles east of Mexico City, for you. Located in the highlands of Veracruz, Xalapa probably isn't what you picture of Mexico: lots of green, lots of rain and mist (the average temperature is 64 degrees), an arts community, and a coffee culture. It's more Seattle than Cabo.
Well, not exactly—Seattle doesn't have quite the mix of cobblestone streets, Neoclassical, neo-Gothic, and Moorish architecture. There are other quiet delights, including the 750 species in the city's Francisco Javier Clavijero Botanic Garden. The Pinacoteca Diego Rivera has the largest collection of the artist's work in the country. The Xalapa Anthropology Museum has an extraordinary collection, featuring the giant heads excavated from the Olmec settlements. Hiking in the nearby mountains and forests is a popular activity. And Xalapa (sometimes spelled Jalapa), gave its name to the jalapeno pepper—and that's only a small part of the food culture here.
George Bernard Shaw said, "Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week." In that spirit, the Shaw Festival started modestly in 1962 in Canada's Niagara-on-the-Lake, and has grown in stature ever since. This season includes Man and Superman, Brigadoon, and The Lady Killers.
Sometimes the gift shop just won't cut it. Sure, you can get a print of, say, the Rembrandt you saw a few rooms back, or a postcard version, or keychain. But wouldn't it be nicer to just have the Rembrandt itself? Slipped into your Harrods bag? Of course it would. And that—along with enough Rubens, Van Dycks, Van Ruisdaels, Watteaus, Tiepolos and Canalettos to satisfy any art buff—gives a visit to the Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London a special thrill.
The Dulwich has, over the years, been famously obliging about parting with its artworks. In 1966, souvenir hunters helped themselves to eight paintings, including half a dozen Rembrandts and Rubens. One of those Rembrandts is Jacob de Gheyn III, painted in 1632. It's now been on four vacations from the museum, earning the nickname the takeaway Rembrandt. Security has been improved since then (admittedly a low bar), making a heist less likely. Meanwhile, enjoy this somewhat off-the-beaten-path museum, its exceptional collection of artwork, and its colorful history.
LITTLETON, NEW HAMPSHIRE
If New Hampshire's White Mountains are on your travel list, you're probably psyched for hiking and generally soaking in the fresh air and sweeping vistas. A stop in Littleton, though, for those who view shopping as a sport, is likely to be the high point of your trip. That's because Lance Williamson's shop, Just L Modern Antiques, has one of the best troves of Mid-Century Modern furniture, lighting, and accessories—at the most reasonable prices—that we've come across in many a moon. So, sure, go for your hike. You'll find us on a whole different kind of adventure.
Qiviut, a much-loved Scrabble word, is musk ox wool, also much-loved since it's warmer than sheep's wool and softer than cashmere. About 45 miles north of Anchorage is the non-profit Musk Ox Farm where they're helping reintroduce the musk ox into the area (it had been extinct in this part of the world). You can visit the the sixty Oomingmaks (bearded ones) at their lovely home in the Matanuska Valley, learn about the sustainable agricultural practices used there, buy a great wool hat, and most of all, spend some time in the company of these extraordinary creatures.
The Limburger can take down even the most stalwart cheesehead. The battle of beer versus wine plays out on a wall mural (this is Wisconsin, so siding with wine is not advised). And there are a lot of dollar bills on the ceiling of the tavern. How'd they get there?
Downtown Monroe, Wisconsin has been home to Baumgartner's Cheese Store and Tavern, 1023 16th Avenue [11th St.] 608.325.6157, since 1931. It's a link back to the old country for the Swiss community here, but you don't have to have the Alps in your blood to love Baumgartner's. There's a cheese store in front and a tavern in the back. Step into the latter and you're stepping back in time and into the heart of the place.
You'll also have passed under the sign that says "Through this portal you can get the best cheese sandwiches in the world." And the sandwiches just might live up to their billing. Whether you go for the Brick and raw onion, Limburger and onion, Limburger and Braunschweiger (smoked liverwurst)—or one of the other less assertive choices—you will have done Wisconsin proud.
And how did those dollar bills get on the ceiling? That's a trick one of Baumgartner's staff will have to show you. Give them a dollar and a quarter to find out.
Jason Polan started Every Person in New York in March of 2008. He plans on working on the project until it is finished. Look for more at Jason's site and his book Every Person in New York.