If I’d listened to my Hudson friends, I might never have checked out Kingston. It’s historically gotten a bit of a bad rap—perhaps because it is really more of a big city than the quaint waterside towns nearby. In fact, Kingston was the original capital of New York! But, like many of these upstate towns, it’s going through a revitalization, with a huge focus on bringing back jobs and affordable housing to the city while keeping the artist vibe alive. The focus on empowering the existing community, instead of leaning into “weekenders,” might be what draws us to this area so much.
Where: Yosemite National Park, California
Where: Ojai, California
Since I started taking these NYC getaways, I’ve realized that one of my favorite parts about exploring a new area is visiting the often overlooked (by everyday tourists, at least) towns nearby. So on our recent trip to LA, I wanted to make sure to include a trip to one of the nearby desert towns. I thought about Palm Springs, but after seeing several posts about Ojai on my Instagram feed (yes, that’s really how I make travel decisions!), that sealed the deal. Ojai it was!
Ojai is a tiny town of about 8000 people, located in a valley about an hour and a half drive northwest of Los Angeles. It’s a sleepy little town, with a small main street area, an emphasis on locally made goods, cute restaurants, health food, and healthy (hippie?) living.
Where: Los Angeles, California
As you may know, I’m from the west coast. And though the feelings are not quite as intense as they once were, whenever I make my way back there, it feels like returning to the homeland. The second I land, my body just knows…it’s California. The air smells different, it feels different. The sky seems like a different color and all the plants seem to be whispering in a different way than they do in Florida (where, really, they’re screaming–not sure what types of fucking bugs live in there) or New York (where you can’t hear anything they’re saying, anyway). So it never matters what time of day I arrive–the initial high I get from being in California keeps me awake and moving until I’m finally peeled away.
When the first inklings of spring arrive after an unbearable winter, New York City is a madhouse. You know it’s happening because all the crazies come out–in the best and worst way possible. The streets are suddenly alive (although it’s possible I feel like that because I’ve finally rejoined the streets after months of hibernation). Whatever it is, I feel like I’ve never seen so many people wandering around. (I swear New Yorkers will stand on random street corners looking up at the sun, eagerly trying to soak it in.)
You also learn, quickly, that any thought you have is unoriginal. In a city of 8 million or so, with a (lot of, but) limited selection of outdoor hangouts, you can expect to see your neighbor, and your neighbor’s mother, and every tourist imaginable at every location that feels like a great idea. Like, that brunch spot near the park. The Brooklyn Bridge. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Sheep Meadow in Central Park. Yea, someone else thought of that.
So how do you enjoy the warm weather without being overwhelmed, as a tourist or native? Read on… (and share your own tips, if you dare).