With Covid testing finally over, here are some hot US travel picks for friends, family and sweethearts
For families: Just because Orlando is so obvious doesn’t mean it’s not worth featuring here, as it’s as much fun for parents as it is for children. Theme-parks wise, my money is on Universal Studios, whose Islands of Adventure section includes belly-laugh inducing Jurassic Park, King Kong and Hulk rides, and of course The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Flight length is around nine hours, direct from Dublin via Aer Lingus. Stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort, which has a playful, kitsch 1960s aesthetic – and has Universal’s Volcano Bay water park literally on the doorstep, with free shuttle buses to/from Universal’s CityWalk. universalorlando.com
For couples: Think New York, think Manhattan, but some of the most romantic settings are upstate, in the wooded wilds of Hudson Valley and the Catskills.
The latter was once know as ‘the Borscht Belt’ between the 1930s and 1960s, for its Jewish-New Yorker holidaymakers, but these days it’s mostly Brooklynites looking to chill in Insta-friendly A-frame lodges and hipster motels after days sipping locally-produced craft beer, cider and spirits, or white-water rafting.
Check out antiques in Hudson, thrift shops in Kingston, bougie boutiques in Narrowsburg and farm-to-bouche titbits in Livingston Manor. Peruse some ‘cabin porn’ on Airbnb or stay at Glenfalls House, a Twin Peaks-meets-Dirty Dancing resort combining a hotel, motel and cottages. glenfallshouse.com
For friends: Chicago is a terrific alternative for those seeking a historic, cosmopolitan buzz but without the expense and intensity of Manhattan. On day one take the Architecture Foundation’s First Lady Cruises Boat Tour to get a lay of the land from the city’s eponymous river, then on-foot to landmarks such as Magnificent Mile and Anish Kapoor’s ‘Cloud Gate’ sculpture in Millennium Park.
This writer’s favourite hotel is the Viceroy Chicago; also recommended are nightcaps at The Green Mill, one of Al Capone’s favourite speakeasies, the small-stage burlesque at The Drifter (another Prohibition-era boozer), and a behind-the-scenes tour of Chicago History Museum’s Costume and Textiles collection. viceroyhotelsandresorts.com
For milestones A bucket-list trip well worth considering is California’s Napa Valley Wine Train, which is slow travel with a tasty twist.
Part travelling restaurant, part museum, vintage Pullman cars have been faithfully restored to connect the many different wineries dotted around the Valley. It’s not a sleeper train, but packages are available to stay at inns and lodgings along the route. winetrain.com