The Top 10 Most Walkable Cities in The World

I have always been a proponent of exploring cities by walking. By taking guided walking tours with locals, you get to see many of the hidden sights, hear about the cities’ secrets, and learn about the non-touristy places to eat at.

When was the last time you walked around a new place without a map, GPS or smart phone? Walking alone can also be therapeutic. Not having a plan or being in a rush to get to your next destination, means that you can take the time to be in the moment. It allows you to observe your surroundings more keenly, and exercises your brain muscles too.

Now, that we are looking to travel safely again, get more exercise, and save money, walking is the most practical way to explore. But where in the world do you start?

According to a recent study published by Luggage Hero, here are the top 10 most walkable cities in the world. These are scored based on 5 different walkability markers – climate, air quality and CO2 emissions, safety, walking trails, nature and parks, as well as hours of sunshine. 

most walkable cities in the world
Ranking of most walkable cities by Luggage Hero.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna topped the charts as the most pedestrian-friendly capital city, making it the ideal city break location to explore solely on foot. Walking in Vienna meant you could stroll through history without a fuss. At every corner, you can find a cafe where as a matter of factly Mozart wrote a legendary piece of music or Kent got inspired to paint his masterpiece! Take breaks at one of the hundreds of cafes around Vienna where you are likely to find the Viennese simply sitting with coffee and pastries for hours.

Another way to discover the history and culture of Vienna is with my charming friend, Ina Hauer. I met Ina on a trip to Senegal and The Gambia, and her perfect English, world knowledge and witty humor, sparked an instant friendship. No matter what your interests, make sure to check out Lila Tilla’s Tours when you visit Vienna.

no 2 walkable city in the world Lisbon
Lisbon is rated as no 2 most walkable city in the world.

Lisbon, Portugal

The capital of Portugal ranked the second-highest in walking infrastructure. Make sure to bring some good walking shoes to trek the steep cobblestone streets around town. I only spent a day in Lisbon, a stop on my 2-weeks long Royal Caribbean Mediterranean Cruise, but I walked that entire day!

walking in New York City central park
Discover fall colors at Central Park in New York City.

New York City, USA

Tall skyscraper, busy streets, neon lights – those are the first impressions of New York City. But a spontaneous walk around the quieter neighborhoods of SoHo, Lower East Side or Central Park, and you will see why New York City is rated one of the top walking cities in the world.

Why not tour the city with a native New Yorker? My friend and colleague, Bruce Northam is a travel journalist, award-winning author, and a New York City resident, who offers walking tours to the public. You will be delighted by his storytelling skills and will surely get to learn about the city.

Tokyo, Japan

You may not think of the biggest city in the world to be ideal for walking, but like New York, Tokyo too has lots of green spaces, as well as quirky neighborhoods. Out of the 28 cities included in the study, Tokyo had the highest number of nature and parks, at 652. Tokyo also scored highly for city safety.

Temple at Niko Japan
Walking tours in Japan are popular among locals and tourists.

One of my favorite memories of Japan was on a 10-day walking tour across smaller Japan’s towns with Walk Japan. Each day we would start with an authentic Japanese breakfast, walk through villages and mountains, and in the evening, returning to our cozy family-run ryokans for a omakase feast. I learned so much about the Japanese culture and got to see the Japanese countryside, often overlooked by tourists.

Walking in China Town London
Feels like Beijing in China Town London.

Beijing, China

Now, I haven’t been to mainland China. But I can only imagine the colorful and bustling streets, dotted with street food vendors to high-end fashion boutiques. In Hong Kong, the street signs and subway stations were all marked in Chinese letters making it hard to navigate. Still, if your objective is to wander aimlessly, this would be an easy place to get lost! Just watch for street peddlers and con artists, and leave big cameras and expensive jewelry at home.

people walking in Seoul
Make sure to walk through traditional residential neighborhoods in Seoul.

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul is actually a very safe city where I traveled solo, mainly on foot. There are numerous markets, historic sights, Buddhist temples, and palaces that you can see by simply walking through the city. Seoul is quite hilly and gets bitter cold in the winter, so make sure to dress in layers. Of course, every good walk deserves a stop at a Korean bakery!

You can also hire a volunteer guide to take you around Seoul, as well as other cities in Korea. Read more about it below…

Madrid, Spain

My last international trip was to Spain, just before the world shut down due to COVID-19. I love the relaxed energy, Bohemian vibe and strong culture of Madrid. You can see people enjoy good food and wine at artistic buildings and courtyards throughout the day and night.

Churros after a walk in Madrid
Reward yourself with fresh churros and chocolate after a nice walk in Madrid.

One of my favorite walks takes you through the heart of the city. Start in Plaza Mayor, to Plaza de la Armenia, Puerto de Toledo, Retiro Park, and end at Mercado San Miguel for wine and tapas. If your heart still desires, stop at Chocolateria San Gines for my favorite churros con chocolate in the world!

walking in Prague
Prague is one of the most romantic cities in the world.

Prague, Czech Republic

With historic castles, bridges, gardens, rivers, and museums, Prague is the quintessential European city where one can walk for hours and days without getting bored. The survey revealed Prague as the third safest city for walking, which makes sense given the city never really sleeps. See the most important sights of Prague Old Town, admire the Baroque architecture, and stroll through some of the most romantic bridges in the world.

Hop on FreeWalkingTours.com to find a walking tour near you. I have taken several of their free tours, which offer an inexpensive way to learn about the city, meet locals, as well as other travelers. It also helps the guides (usually college students and stay at home moms) gain side income. Often, groups sizes are from 1-15, though I have often had a private tour. At the end, you simply pay whatever you feel the tour was worth to you.

where to walk in London
The diverse neighborhoods of London makes it one of the most interesting cities to walk.

London, U.K.

Though you may think of the best ways to travel in London would be in a black cab or the Tube (underground railway), the survey landed London in the top most walkable cities in the world. There are 277 nature and parks dotted across the city.

I find London to be fascinating during any season, as there is architecture, culture, food and lots of history around each bend. On my last trip to London, I took a few walking tours with London Food Lovers in SOHO, and with Eating Europe in East End where we sampled the best bread and butter pudding, fried fish and chips with homemade peas, and British hard cider at old-fashioned neighborhood pubs.

Paris at night
You can’t skip this view when walking through Paris at night.

Paris, France

Movies and books based in Paris have helped further its image as the dreamy city that offers perfect Instagram moments. The new comedy “Emily in Paris” also confirms that even heartbreaks, souvenir store fashions, and dog poop look fancier in Paris!

There are good and great neighborhoods in Paris to walk, and I believe you should explore them all – from the Louvre to the Arc de Triomphe, Latin Quarter and the Luxembourg gardens, and most definitely along the Seine, and the Eiffel tower at night. Grab a baguette, stop at one of the park benches to people watch, practice your French, and keep exploring!

Four Boutique Hotels in Colorado For All Seasons

If you are looking forward to seeing spectacular Fall colors, engaging in winter sports, or planning a family summer vacation, Colorado is an all seasons destination. This beautiful state is filled with mountains, valleys, rivers and plain fields that will do good for your body and soul. And after a great day of hiking, biking, rafting, skiing or snowshoeing, return to a funky, yet sustainable boutique hotel. Full of character, art and history, these charming stays will keep your interest, without sacrificing comfort and quality.

Maven hotel Denver Colorado
Create and collaborate at the Maven Hotel lobby.

Maven Hotel, Denver

The Maven is not just a cool hotel in downtown Denver, it’s a place to connect with entrepreneurs and creatives. The vibrant micro district called the Dairy Block, has flower shops, coffee roasters, independent boutiques, a food court and wine bars. It’s an easy walk to nearby Denver attractions, including Coors Field, Union Station and popular neighborhoods LoDo, LoHi, and RiNo Art Districts.

Dairy Block Denver
Explore the vibrant Dairy Block in downtown Denver.

When you step inside the hotel lobby, you can see why this place attracts art lovers and trend setters. Standing in the location of what use to be Windsor Dairy (thus the name of “Dairy Block”), is now a modern, industrious and expansive lobby where people gather for business and pleasure. The rooms have a contemporary loft-style feel with high floor to ceiling glass windows, large comfortable couches and retro accessories. The Maven is a modern and fun place to stay during your visit to Denver. It also makes a good starting point for your adventures around the state of Colorado.

Surf hotel Buena Vista
Stay at a French-style chateau overlooking the river in Buena Vista.

Surf Hotel, Buena Vista

Travel 88 miles southwest of Denver for a change of scenery. Buena Vista is a charming little town that outdoor enthusiasts, young families, and small businesses call home. More than just good views, Buena Vista offers a perfect family vacation for nature, adventure and art lovers in the Colorado Rockies. From kayaking to hiking, snowshoeing to mountain biking, each season yields a fresh crop of trails and terrain to explore in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

Directly overlooking the rushing waves of the Buena Vista Whitewater Park, is the Surf Hotel and Surf Chateau. You may feel like you are at a French countryside at The Surf Chateau’s cottages. Hear the sound of the river, smell the lavender flowers, and hang out with your four legged friends in the courtyard. Also, check out the common areas at the main hotel and discover cozy fireplaces, music posters and distinctive art.

Buena Vista main square art
Enjoy your morning coffee at the outdoor living room in Buena Vista.

The Surf Hotel overlooks The LAWN, in the center of South Main Town Square of Buena Vista. This charming green patch is dotted with colorful art, and ideal for concerts, festivals and cocktail parties.

Walk around to explore the coffee shops, bars and many walking trails – all within a couple of minutes from the Surf Hotel. Make sure to dine at the hotel’s restaurant – Wesley and Rose, where they serve a fine selection of wines and the best Basque Burnt Cheesecake!

Palace hotel Salida
Discover 100-year old history at The Palace Hotel in Salida.

The Palace Hotel, Salida

A stay at The Palace Hotel in downtown Salida will transport you to the time of train traveling salespeople passing through Colorado’s continental divide. Established in 1909, this premier historic boutique hotel is filled with stories, art and history. Just ask the receptionist at the original front desk (a converted teller’s cage from a local bank) to show you around. You will be awed by the Tintype black and wine photos, autographed pictures of the “Bloomer Girls” (a midwestern all-women’s baseball team), and an actual bullet lodged within the front desk.

The environmentally sustainable family-owned Palace Hotel looks a lot fancier than it did 100 years ago. Open Victorian style staircases, enclosed with Texas pine balustrades, high ceilings, and antique furniture, dutifully take you to a vintage chic meets modern era. Each room bears its own history based on who stayed there.

Salida wall art
Practice social distancing and wear a face covering when visiting Colorado.

Once you venture out of your suite, Historic Downtown Salida and Arkansas River, are within footsteps. Check out local shops selling outdoor apparel, casual dining establishments, and outfitters offering biking, rafting and fly-fishing tours.

Marble distillery inn Carbondale
Stay at at the world’s first sustainable distillery inn.

Marble Distillery Inn, Carbondale

Ever considered staying at a working whiskey distillery? You can get cocktails delivered right to your room at the family-run Marble Distillery Inn! The 5 ultra modern rooms are outfitted with comfortable beds, gas fireplaces, huge walk-in showers, and a relaxing balcony overlooking downtown Carbondale.

Marble Distilling CO Colorado
Grab a cocktail at the Marble Distilling CO bar in Aspen and Carbondale.

While staying at The Distillery Inn, learn about the distilling process at the Marble Distilling CO, the first zero waste distillery in the world! Spirits are made using 9.5% calcite Yule marble filtered water, locally sourced grains, and American-made equipment. A first-of-its-kind water energy thermal system helps the distillery produce enough energy to heat and cool its building as well as the Inn. Sign up for a tasting of Marble’s handcrafted whiskey and vodka, before settling down with your sustainable signature cocktail on the deck.

The Distillery Inn made a significant investment and installed ultraviolet germicidal irradiation in their air ducts, which is one of the most promising decontamination methods for COVID-19. They also have contactless check-in, where they send you an email with instructions to enter to the property and go straight to your room.

Zen garden Carbondale
The zen garden at True Nature Healing Arts is an urban oasis in Carbondale

The city of Carbondale is named one of USA’s best towns, by National Geographic and Outside Magazine, and a Colorado Creative District – one of only 21 in the state. Grab authentic tacos, sushi or burgers at one of the restaurants within walking distance. Take a stroll through the zen gardens and get a massage treatment at True Nature Healing Arts, located couple of blocks from the Inn.

Socially Distanced Food and Wine in Columbia

Large gatherings have seem to become a thing of the past. Most conferences, festivals, events and weddings are now cancelled, as the pandemic looms. It was surprising then, to discover that the city of Columbia, South Carolina held a socially distanced Food and Wine Festival in August 2020.

“We decided to host the festival despite COVID for two reasons,” says Chase Heatherly, one of the organizers. “First, Columbia Food and Wine Festival operates with the primary goal of recognizing and supporting the local food and beverage talent in the Columbia, SC region. In the time of COVID where restaurants and hospitality partners are struggling more than ever, we felt that if it could be done safely, we needed to recognize our local talent and connect them to potential patrons who can support them during this difficult time. Unlike most food festivals, participating chefs were reimbursed for their food costs so participating in the events were not a financial burden for them. Secondly, CFWF is only in its third year of operation (founded in 2018). Given the infancy of the brand, we felt that it was important to host some level of programming under the festival brand even if it was not the initial schedule and offerings we planned pre-COVID,” he adds.

Clearly, businesses in the south are drastically impacted because of the lockdown, and are facing economic difficulties. The restaurant industry, in particular, has received very little relief. So, to be able to support the community, while have a fun evening out, sounded like a good idea.

checkpoint
Temperature screening check point at the streets leading to festival grounds.

Gathering in Summer 2020

There were two main events during the Columbia Food and Wine Festival. First, was a socially distant dinner held on the grounds of two of Historic Columbia’s properties. Normally, each of the event venues could accommodate approx. 400 guests, but they were reduced in capacity to less than half. Also, the organization took several safety precautions. There was a temperature check point on the street and PPE handed out to each guest. Everyone had to wear a mask until seated at the table. Even though the event was held outdoors, people kept distance and obliged to face covering mandates.

A second registration table for each zone had color coded stickers you could pick. Red meant ‘keep distant’, yellow ‘be cautious’ and green signified ‘serve me as usual.’ These were cues for other guests and servers to keep the acceptable distance from you.

Hampton Preston mansion and gardens
The gardens at Hampton-Preston.

The Grand Dinner

I sat at the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens, a beautiful historic home with three acres of well appointed gardens filled with native and exotic plantings. I strolled through the pathways and enjoyed the warm evening sun in the garden, before settling down for dinner.

A cocktail station dedicated to each zone offered a house drink, especially prepared by local mixologists.

Tables were 6+ feet apart, and each tables had no more than 6 seats, so you need not interact with fellow diners. There was a pre-set four-course dinner. When purchasing tickets to the festival, you could pick which of the four zones you wanted to sit in, based on the menu preference. We started with a refreshing Caprese tower prepared by Chef Nelson De Hoyas of Halls Chophouse; followed by a delicious seafood Cioppino by as seen on Masterchef, Daniela Savone. The third course included a charred octopus over ricotta gnocchi by Chef Josh Rogerson from Saluda’s. Finally, we had a ricotta cream filled cannoli by Brian Glynn of Village Idiot Pizza for dessert. Overall, the food was “ok” in terms of quality and taste. Given the hot and humid climate of Columbia, the cannoli cookie was soggy, and featured table wines served warm. Still, it was nice to be outside in the garden and be part of a “normal event.”

sunday brunch
Salmon and corn ceviche for brunch appetizer.

Sunday Brunch

The next morning, I return to the same venue for a second event as part of the Columbia Food and Wine Festival. Sunday brunch was a lot less crowded and my husband and I had an entire table to ourselves. There was a simple mimosa, Columbia craft beers, and a house cocktail for drinks. Mixologist Andy Haddock from Terra restaurant (a must for dinner) created Blood and Sand, a lively cocktail with Oban 14 single malt, Cherry Herring, Punt e Mas vermouth and orange.

A three-course brunch included salmon appetizer, pork sandwich and a flaky Latin style camembert and honey pastry. Chefs Javier Uriate  (formerly of Hendrix), David Grillo from Cantina 76, and Charley Scruggs from Terra, did their best in putting forward unique dishes, but you really need to visit their restaurants to enjoy their best cooking!

Columbia food and wine festival
Husband and me at Columbia Food and Wine Festival dinner.

In Conclusion

I felt CFWF made a great effort in putting together this event despite the circumstances. Many people still don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes, let alone attending a large gathering. I felt completely safe at the event, knowing all the precautions they had taken.

The participating chefs were grateful to the guests for attending, and reinforced how they had been impacted by the pandemic. To be able to cook and serve people, made them feel normal again. They encouraged us to dine in or take out from their restaurants.

The chefs came from different background which explains the variation in the dishes served. Columbia has a rich southern food tradition with staples like pimento, BBQ, grits, crawfish and seafood boils. I would have liked to see more southern and Lowcountry inspired dishes in the menus. Nevertheless, you should make it a point to taste these dishes when you visit Columbia, aka Soda City!

Soda city market
Saturday morning at Soda City Market.

More Flavors

If you missed the festival, or plan to attend next year, make sure to check out other things to do and eat in Columbia. You can truly see the melting pot of cultures at the weekly Soda City Market, a street event held every Saturday morning. Here you can shop for fresh produce, olive oil, cheese and baked goods, as well as try flavors from all over the world. Local vendors serve Brazilian cassava bread, Thai curries, Spanish paella, Mexican corn, Belgian waffles, Jamaican patties, and Louisiana grits, to name a few.

Market on Main is a vibrant gourmet food market in downtown Columbia, where you can grab coffee, ice cream and lunch. Check out the City Market Development for other sit down dining establishments. Finally, hit a few pimento cheese spots (my favorite was Di Prato’s pimento cheese sandwich). Columbia has claim to one of the oldest recorded pimento cheese recipes, first written in a fundraising cookbook in 1912!

Mann-Simons site
The Mann-Simons Site was home to the same entrepreneurial African American family for nearly 130 years. 

Southern History

Columbia has several sites that offer an authentic portrayal of this Southern city’s past – including slavery, the Civil War, progress during the reconstruction era, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. 

A walking tour is a great way to orient yourself and discover the many historic buildings around downtown Columbia. Stroll the peaceful walking paths of the South Carolina State House and visit the African-American History Monument. Historic Columbia offers historic home tours where you can enter the Woodrow Wilson Family Home (The Museum of Reconstruction) and the enterprising African-American women owned Mann-Simons Site, among others.

Columbia museum of art
Black is Beautiful exhibit at The Columbia Museum of Art.

The Columbia Museum of Art recently went through a major, multiphase renovation to offer a more inclusive collection. The current blockbuster exhibit – Black Is Beautiful, features the photography of Kwame Brathwaite. Here you can see photos of the Grandassa models (that promoted African-inspired fashion and black nationalist beauty principles) taken in Harlem in the 1960s.

Outdoor Adventures

Besides great food and American history, there are also spectacular natural sites in Columbia. Rent a kayak or boat from Better Boating on Lake Murray, located only 30 minutes outside the city. You will see many lake houses around the shoreline, passing through Dreher Island State Park.

Congaree national park
Walk along the boardwalk to see interesting landscapes at Congaree National Park.

Congaree National Park has the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. Explore the wilderness, canopy of champion trees, and marshlands walking along the wooded boardwalk or one of the trails. You can spend as little as an hour, to an entire day hiking, fishing or canoeing at the 26,000-acre Congaree National Park.

Hotel Trundle downtown Columbia
Trendy lobby of Hotel Trundle in downtown Columbia.

Southern Hospitality

To experience true southern hospitality with a sustainable twist, stay at Hotel Trundle located in the heart of the Main Street District. This eclectic, 20s-era Art Deco style boutique hotel is filled with local art and photos in a lofty environment. The historic building was restored to support the community and the city. Not only will you enjoy spacious room and the tastefully decorated common areas, but you will also be within walking distance to most attractions in downtown Columbia.

Sustainable Glamping – Luxury Cabins Near Jackson Hole

If you want a luxurious and sustainable experience on your Midwest wilderness vacation, head to Jackson Hole. With the recent travel restrictions, it seems that everyone is returning toward a 60’s style travel format. Before, families use to do more road trips, visit the national parks, spend time outdoors, set up camps and rented cabins.

Now, I’m not much of a camper and I have never stayed in a camper van or RV either. I do like hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting, and being out in nature though. So, I opt for glamping – which is a hybrid between camping, a hotel suite, and a luxury cabin rental.

fireside resort
Fireside Resort is secluded in the woods, yet minutes away from Jackson Hole.

Luxurious Alternative to Camping

Recently, I stayed at a beautiful, comfortable and modern cabin near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. From the outside, my stand alone building looked like a rustic wood cabin. But inside, it was a sleek loft/ tiny home, equipped with a king size Tempur-Pedic bed, living area with fireplace and television, as well as a walk in bathroom with a spacious shower. There was even a kitchenette with stainless steel dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave, sink and a coffee maker.

Comfortable and Cozy

The layout of the cabin looks like the inside of a million dollar motorhome, where everything is well thought of. Hardwood floors, local art, craftsman style door knobs, elegant rugs – no architectural details are ignored.

wedge cabin
I stayed at the Wedge Cabin at Fireside Resort.

A private deck with picnic table and outdoor grill was perfect to roast marshmallows on a chilly star studded night. But mostly, I sat outside the cabin in the morning, drinking my first cup of coffee and breathing fresh clean mountain air. Fireside Resort felt like a boutique hotel in the atmosphere of a wooded campground. In fact, there is an RV campground at the back of the 25 cabins.

Jackson Hole square
There’s lots to do in downtown Jackson Hole.

Location, Location, Location!

Choices for accommodations near Jackson Hole include everything from boutique hotels to budget motels. In the summer, Jackson Hole downtown is bustling with people, markets, bars and restaurants. Additionally, most of the chain motels are located along the main roads. In winters, skiers and snowboarders prefer to stay at the chalet style hotels near the chairlifts at Teton Village.

Teton Village
Chalet style accommodations at Teton Village.

If you want to get a little bit away from the crowds and still be close to major attractions, Fireside Resort in Wilson, Wyoming is ideal. The resort is nestled in the Teton wilderness, and is less than 10 minutes drive from the ski slopes at Teton Village and 30 minutes from Jackson Hole airport.

Sustainable Stay

With sustainable built, LEED-certified cabins, Fireside Resort is one of only two such places to stay in Jackson Hole. The cabins are designed by Jackson Hole based – Wheelhaus, with a motto of “Living LARGE with Less.” For instance, they use less building materials, less square footage, less waste, high quality craftsmanship and materials, to build tiny homes and modular homes. Blending rustic and modern, Wheelhaus designs combine both the durability and quality craftsmanship of a log cabin with a modern focus on energy efficiency, innovative design, progressive space management, and top of the line building materials.

Interior of Fireside cabin
Fully functional and modern cabin.

Pet Friendly

Dogs are welcome at the Fireside Resort’s cabins and RV park. Therefore, be sure to inform the reception upon check in and pay a $35/per day per pet non refundable pet fee.

Outdoor Activities Near Jackson Hole

Winter Sports

The biggest reason to visit Jackson Hole is the beautiful landscapes, outdoor spaces and activities. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offers 133 (named) trails and 12 lifts across more than 2,500 acres for skiing and snowboarding. Well-groomed Nordic skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing trails are also available and ideal for skiers of all levels. Additional slopes include Grand Targhee Resort and Snow King Mountain.

Grand Teton National Park
1800’s church at Grand Teton National Park.

Summer Fun

There is something for everyone in the family for outdoor fun during summer time in the Jackson Hole area. Golf, bike, hike, fish, horseback ride, whitewater raft – the possibilities during summer are endless.

Grand Tetons
Grand Tetons overlook the entire city of Jackson Hole.

Grand Tetons

Near Fireside Resort, are some of the most beautiful national parks in the USA. Grand Teton rises more than 7,000 feet (2,100 m) above Jackson Hole. The Grand Teton National Park has numerous lakes, including 15-mile-long (24 km) Jackson Lake as well as streams of varying length and the upper main stem of the Snake River. Some of the rocks in the park are the oldest found in any American national park and have been dated at nearly 2.7 billion years.

Bisons in Jackson Hole
Bisons roam around the surrounding areas.

You can easily spend a day or two hiking, and biking through The Grand Teton National Park near Jackson Hole. One of the best drives is the Moose-Wilson road, where you can see glaciers, wildflowers, lakes, wildlife and old scenic churches. Also, make sure to take a water shuttle on stunning Lake Jenny, and a short hike to see Hidden Falls.

Yellowstone national park
Grand prismatic at Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Teton National Park is only 10 miles (16 km) south of Yellowstone National Park, the oldest national park in the US. It is also easily accessible from Jackson Hole.

Travel tip: Have a printed guide and map handy, as there won’t be WiFi inside most national parks.

Allow for at least two days to explore Yellowstone National Park, or longer if you plan to hike, fish, kayak or horseback ride. Mostly in Wyoming, the park spreads into parts of Montana and Idaho too. Yellowstone features dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs and gushing geysers, including its most famous, Old Faithful. It’s also home to hundreds of animal species, including bears, wolves, bison, elk and antelope.

Grand Teton National Park
Hidden Falls in Grand Teton National Park
Watch the Yellowstone National Park series on Amazon Video.

Traveling to Wyoming Responsibly

Because of the pandemic, wildfires and increment weather, exercise precautions while traveling to Wyoming. Adventure responsibly and enjoy the wide open spaces by frequent hand washing, wearing face covering and keeping social distancing.

Travel Wyoming safely
Follow the TravelWyoming safety guidelines.

Many restaurants in Jackson Hole and the surrounding parks are not open for dine-in, while others require advance reservations. At Fireside Resort, face covering is required to enter the reception area and housekeeping is offered for a fee. There’s also a hot tub on site, but it is closed due to COVID-19.

Where To Travel Sustainably in St Thomas USVI

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) comprise of 3 main islands – St Thomas, St John and St Croix. I traveled to St Thomas and St John in July 2020 for an extended weekend getaway. The islands are hit hard from the pandemic, and from its economic impact. Many of the businesses I spoke to said that they survived the two hurricanes in 2017, but this is far worse worse than that, because there’s no end in sight. With no cruise ships coming to the island, and extended lockdowns, the heavily tourism depended locals, have absolutely no income, and sometimes not even enough to eat.

Whenever you travel to St Thomas in the future, choose your accommodations and activities to ensure that your tourism dollars go toward supporting the local economy. Here are some businesses that I saw doing a great job in sustaining tourism in USVI.

St Thomas airport
Fly into Cyril E. King Airport, St Thomas USVI

Visiting St Thomas in Summer 2020

Flying into St Thomas USVI is easy, with lots of commercial flights operating daily. The tiny airport is packed, though everyone is required to wear a mask. Car rentals from the airport are often sold out, so make sure to reserve in advance. Driving in St Thomas is on the left hand side (like in U.K.), while the cars are equipped with left side steering wheels (such as those in the US).

At home in the tropics B&B St Thomas
Location of my B&B in downtown St Thomas.

Much of St Thomas was closed when I traveled there, and streets in downtown were practically empty. High end retail stories that are usually bustling with tourists purchasing watches, jewelry and souvenirs, were boarded up and opened for limited hours on the weekends. Restaurants were open for dine-in, but with limited capacity, and served meals in disposable containers only.

In my opinion, this was a great time to travel to St Thomas, as it was quiet and peaceful. Not having crowds of tourists walking down the cobblestone streets, or facing lines of cars on the narrow curvy roads around the island, make it a little easier to explore at leisure.

view of St Thomas harbor
View from At Home in The Tropics B&B

Staying at a Family-Run B&B

One of the highlights of my trip were my accommodations – At Home in The Tropics. This 4-bedroom family-owned B&B is located in quiet neighborhood in downtown St Thomas, called Charlotte Amelie. Being in the center of the historic district, the home was once part of the Danish Governor’s mansion grounds. It overlooks the beautiful downtown and harbor. Right next door are the famous 99 Steps, the Three Queens Memorial, Blackbeards Castle. It’s also a short walking distance to shops and restaurants.

99 steps St Thomas landmark
The 99 Steps were originally built by the Danes to solve the problem of getting around the Charlotte Amalie’s hilly terrain.

Decorated in Caribbean style, each of the 4 bedrooms have their own entrance, a patio and private bath. From the window, you can see colorful flowers, the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, boats in the harbor, and the green hills beyond. It’s the perfect place to relax and chill!

The innkeepers serve a scrumptious homemade breakfast outdoors by the swimming pool. The menu changes daily. Jessica makes gluten-free banana pancakes, passion fruit, mango and coconut tart (using fruits from her garden), curried eggs Benedict with avocado, and local organic coffee. Her friendly husband, Mark, takes care of maintenance and the garden. The couple lives on the premise with their son and two dogs, and are always available to make recommendations for dining and sightseeing. They have even set up a QR code so guests need not touch maps or brochures.

St Thomas B&B
Innkeepers Mark & Jessica quit their jobs and moved from New Jersey to St Thomas.

Mark and Jessica are creating a sustainable lifestyle in St Thomas. They use solar panels to generate power, filter rain water, and grow herbs and vegetables on a vertical garden. Because the B&B is well spaced out and has capacity for up to 8 guests, you never feel crowded or run into other people.

Eat at My Brothers Bakery

If you want to taste some of the best rum cake on the island, head over to My Brother’s Workshop’s Café and Bakery in downtown Charlotte Amelie. My Brother’s Workshop (MBW) is a nonprofit organization that provides mentoring, counseling, job training, education, and job placement to at-risk young men and women on the island. Chef and pro boxer Julius Jackson, author of the cookbook ‘My Modern Caribbean Kitchen’ and a well known celebrity on St Thomas, manages the organization. 

Chef Julius Jackson
Chef & pro boxer Julius Jackson dining with us in St Thomas!

In the past few months of shutdown, MBW has cooked, served and delivered over 37,000 free meals to the vulnerable populations on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. MBW offers a grab-and-go take-out window offering pastries, sandwiches and daily Caribbean specials. By eating at MBW, you will taste some local delicacies, encourage the youth, and help sustain the economy.

Read my interview with Chef Jackson here
starfish in Caribbean
Discover sea creatures on a ecotour in St Thomas.

Explore with an Ecotour

On your next trip to USVI, discover the natural wonders of the island with a full day of hiking, kayaking and snorkeling with Virgin Islands Eco Tour. Kayak through the narrow waterways of mangrove trees, hike the deserted island of Cas Cay, and explore volcanic cliffs and a rare geological blowhole. Snorkel around a coral-fringed mangrove nursery in clear, protected waters.

soldier crabs
Lunch with soldier grabs organized by USVI Ecotour.

During the trip, you’ll also get a picnic lunch which you can enjoy surrounded by millions of soldier crabs. It is amazing to see them walking around your feet, looking for crumbs!

St Thomas guided ecotour
Hike along the cliffs and blow hole with a guide.

Take a Day Trip to St John

St John is the smallest of the USVI, and many businesses still not reopened since the devastating hurricanes of 2017. The best way to explore St John is by car. Take your rental car on the ferry (departure is every 2 hours) from St Thomas to St John. Travel time is only 20 minutes.

Cruz Bay is the main downtown area in St John’s where you will find restaurants and shops. Head over to Mongoose Junction, an outdoor mall built like a Danish plantation. Here you can pick up lunch, ice cream, coffee or shop for souvenirs.

St Johns beach trip
Drive around to find a secluded beach in St John.

Next, walk along the white sand beaches, swim in the turquoise waters at Trunk Bay, and hike the Reef Bay Trail and Petroglyphs. Grab dinner at St John’s before traveling back on a ferry to St Thomas. You can also chose to stay overnight at one of the boutique hotels overlooking the bay.

USVI Covid-19 response
Check travel restrictions to USVI.

Plan Your Trip to USVI

St Thomas had reopened for travel in June 2020. Though on August 13, the Governor of the USVI announced that the territory was reverting back to “Stay at Home” orders. Check the USVI Department of Tourism’s website for latest updates before booking your sustainable travel to the island.

Key West and The Florida Keys Vacation Guide

If you are still searching for moments of excitement and discovery but in socially distant destinations much closer to home, plan a vacation in the Florida Keys. The Florida Keys are an archipelago of 1700 tropical islands stretching about 120 miles off the southern tip of mainland Florida, between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

With warm temperatures and sunny skies, the Florida Keys are great to visit any time of the year. Given that Miami is a big and crowded city, it is better to fly directly into Key West International Airport. However, Ft. Lauderdale/ Miami is often cheaper to fly into, and it allows you to drive through the famous Overseas Highway and explore the northern Keys by road.

Sucheta Rawal in Key West
Make sure to check out the murals and street art around Key West

More Than Just Beaches…

It is true that most people come to the Florida Keys for the beaches and resorts, while that is not all that the Florida Keys offer. In fact, there are no beaches in Key West so you may want to stay in the other Keys or Miami area. The history, architecture and food are bigger highlights here.

There is a Bohemian vibe to the city of Key West, with colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, orange colored Framboyant trees, Cuban cafes and rooster running around the crosswalks. Whenever possible, stay away from the crowded bars and enjoy a socially distant vacation in the Florida Keys at these places…

Oceans edge Key West marina
Water sports are included with your stay at Oceans Edge Key West

Oceans Edge Key West

First, check in to a spacious resort away from the hustle and bustle of Old Town Key West. Suites with separate living rooms and private oceanfront balconies overlook a contemporary marina at Oceans Edge Key West in Stock Island. The property is gated, has free parking, and a free shuttle for whenever you want to pop over the narrow Cow Key Channel into town for dining or sightseeing.

Also, there are a number of activities included in your stay at Oceans Edge Key West so you could easily spend a day here swimming, paddle boarding, biking, kayaking, snorkeling, or take a fishing charter into the sea.

Hemingway house cats
Resident polydactyl cats at the Hemingway House gift shop

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

If you are a fan of literature and cats, the Hemingway House in Key West is a must stop. The home of Ernest Hemingway is a walk-in museum where guides lead you though his life’s important events, while about 60 polydactyl cats roam free through his bedroom, pool and gift shop! Due to COVID-19, the number of people allowed indoors is restricted and masks are mandatory.

Ernest Hemingway books
The Old Man and the Sea is is one of Ernest Hemingway most famous works. It tells the story of Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman who struggles with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Cuba.
Key West butterfly garden
Watch butterfly up close at the conservatory in Key West

Key West Butterfly Garden and Nature Conservancy

Next, the small butterfly conservatory in Old Town Key West is one of the most beautiful place for nature lovers. Picture being surrounded by 50-60 species of colorful butterflies frolicking on tropical plants and pink flamingos, some even settling on your clothes! A walk through the glass enclosed butterfly garden takes only a few minutes, but if you are in awe like me, you would want to relax and admire these little creatures for a few hours.

Key west food tour
Take a socially distant walking food tour in Key West

Key West Food Tour

When you want to know where to find the best local seafood or world’s best key lime pie, follow a resident food expert. Seafood Lover’s Food Tour led by Key West Food Tours is a perfect way to sample sangria, royal red shrimp, spiny lobster and conch, while learning about the history and culture of the place, and getting some exercise along the way! Set aside 3-4 hours for the tour and plan to walk along the famous Duval and Petronia streets. The woman-founded food tour company specializes in showcasing mom and pop restaurants you may otherwise not hear about.

Florida Key lime pie mystery novel
Here’s a good mystery novel to inspire your travel and tastebuds in Florida.
Up the keys ecotour in Florida Keys
Key deer are native to the Florida Keys

Up The Keys Eco Tour

In general, visitors tend to stay in the Key West area and take a day trip to explore the other Florida Keys. If you want to check out some of the hidden gems along the way and stay away from the tourist traps, book a private eco tour with Kim Stamps from Up The Keys. Kim knows exactly where the local wildlife (look for key deer, turtles and cormorants) hang out. Wildlife refuges, lighthouses, historic neighborhoods and mangroves are a few spots you will stop at along the Keys, while also learning about the railroad and trading history of the Conch Republic.

Florida Keys have manmade white sandy beaches
Enjoy the white sand beaches at Isla Bella Beach Resort

Isla Bella Beach Resort

End your Florida Keys vacation relaxing at the white sand beaches of Isla Bella, a 24-acre lush Mediterranean style resort located in the middle keys in Marathon, Florida. The five star destination resort boasts 5 swimming pools, spa and fitness center, on-site water sports, fishing pier, marina and stunning Atlantic Ocean views from all 199 one to five-bedroom rooms and suites. Sit under the cool shade of coconut trees, resting your feet in sand, while watching the evening sunset.

If you do feel like venturing out of the property, visit the nearby Turtle Hospital in Marathon where you can learn about rescue and restoration.

Historic streets of Key West are great for walking
Look around the historic homes in Key West

Play It Safe

Finally, the Florida Keys and Key West reopened to visitors June 1, 2020 with county ordinance requiring that facial coverings must be worn by visitors and residents while in business establishments and other public settings where there is a roof overhead. Keys officials’ messaging also encourages visitors to take personal health responsibility and embrace protective measures such as social distancing and frequent handwashing.

Key West is the southernmost point in the continental USA
Beat the crowds and go early in the morning to the southernmost point landmark.

Isla Bella Beach Resort and Oceans Edge Key West adapted a new “Safeguarding Our Guests” strategy meticulously crafted to adapt and implement precautionary hygiene protocols directed by the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) “Safe Stay” initiatives, along with State, Federal and local guidelines to ensure that a clean, safe and healthy environment is provided for guests and staff. The Keys visitor website at fla-keys.com offers comprehensive COVID-19 guidelines for visitors planning a vacation.

Refugees in New York Raise Awareness Through Fashion

Comments and photos provided by the Refugee Center in upstate New York…

The Heart of a Community

Refugee Welcome Center in Albany New York
Refugee Welcome Center

Albany, New York is both the center of the capital region and home to a number of diverse communities. Organizations like the West Hill Refugee Welcome Center (RWC) work tirelessly to create opportunities for its members, as well as an accepting atmosphere for those who are looking for a collaborative space to make lasting connections. 

Building Lasting Connections

The RWC works toward building a sustainable community that is supportive of its more established members as it is welcoming of newcomers. The center is known for its efforts in helping refugees polish their skills and tools they need to thrive as newcomers in the United States. They achieve this by organizing youth activities such as movie nights; mentorship programs; as well as safe and affordable housing. They also offer English and civics classes, and space to grow their gardens.

Local Partnerships

This summer, the RWC partnered with two local professors, Dr. Vera Eccarius-Kelly and Dr. Alison Schaeffing, with the purpose of creating a community museum with refugees living in the underserved West Hill neighborhood. A group of 12 Americorp fellows, students, many of whom are refugees themselves, were also involved in the program, which was facilitated by the Siena Project Incubator (SPIn), hosted by Siena College.

Unforeseen Obstacles

The supervisors and their fellows had originally hoped to engage with the RWC by developing a museum exhibit that showcased the voices of refugees. However, the spread of the coronavirus created several obstacles for the group.

They instead started a virtual fashion series, titled “For Us By Us.” The series features West Hill community members who showcase thee refugee community through fashion. 

Learn how men and women dress across different cultures.

For Us, By Us: A Fashion Series

The “For Us By Us” project highlights more than just beautiful clothing. Descriptions of the outfits written by the models tells you more about the history of the garment and its use.

The project strives to provide a space for refugees to share their experiences, stories, and needs with the wider Albany community. The SPIn fellows hope that the future will allow them to use the images and their descriptions from the series as a feature in a new museum exhibit that will eventually be created through this initiative.

Meet the Models

Jeanne Sinzinkayo is not only a curator of the “For Us, By Us” Series, she is also a model for the fashion show. Along with another member of the AmeriCorps team, she is researching the Banyamulenge struggle for recognition, with the long term goal of publication of digital information for a virtual museum exhibit. With both projects, she hopes to serve as a record keeper for the unheard voices and experiences of the diverse communities, along with developing a comprehensive case study to publish.

Jeanne Sinzinkayo in an iribaya and ipantaro
Jeanne Sinzinkayo in an iribaya and ipantaro

Jeanne Sinzinkayo: This blue outfit is a two-piece set in African clothing. The top is called iribaya (shirt) and the bottom part is called ipantaro. This is the most common for everyone of all ages. Usually, younger women would wear this as is or pair the iribaya (shirt) with a skirt (ijipo). Older married women would wear the iribaya (shirt) with another piece of igitange as their skirt. It is handmade and it is very versatile. It can be used interchangeably. For example, the top could be worn with jeans, and the pants could be worn with t-shirts. To save money and time, there are extra stitches so if one gains weight, one can take out some of the stitches to make the clothes lose to fit. The cloth itself is high-quality so it can sustain longer. 

Jeanne Sinzinkayo in an Banyamulenge Ibubu
Jeanne Sinzinkayo in an Ibubu

This yellow dress is called ibubu. This is commonly worn by older women in the Banyamulenge community of Congo. It is loose and it gives you room to be able to move around. It is typically worn with a headpiece because older women from the Banyamulenge community cover their heads as a sign of respect. When it is worn by younger women, they usually wear it without the headpiece. 

Jeanne Sinzinkayo in an Igitange
Jeanne Sinzinkayo in an Igitange

This green outfit is made out of a fabric called igitange. It is a set with pants and a long blazer, the blazer is called ikoti (jacket) and the pants are called ipantaro (pants). This is usually worn by younger women and it can be made for men as well. After selecting the fabric you can take it to the tailor with a design and they will make the outfit for you. 

Ethnic tunics have become part of mainstream fashion globally.

Balqees Sayed is also a SPIns Fellow, a model, and a local resident of the West Hill community.  She is a recent graduate of Russell Sage College. She has been volunteering at the RWC for the past two years. Balqees is working as a part-time Program Coordinator at the RWC after graduation.

 Balqees Sayed in an Afghani Kamees
 Balqees Sayed in an Afghani Kamees

Balqees Sayed: I love wearing my Afghani Kamees (ethnic Pashtun dress). For me, this is an opportunity to show another part of who I am. I am not just a girl from a developing country. I am not oppressed. I am not controlled by men. This is a vintage dress worn by Kuchi women (Pashtun nomads). My ancestors were nomads. Traveling to colder areas in summer and warmer areas in winter. These dresses are perfect for colder weather in summer. It is very loose and has a huge pocket where you can store many things. And this is all handmade!

When I bought it, my mom sewed some torn parts of the dress. This is more than just a dress. This is a part of who I am. This is the beauty of my culture. This is what the media fails to see. We are humans. We have cultures. We have insights. We are smart. This is an Afghani kamees, to all the white people out there appropriating our culture. This is not a “boho” dress. This is a handmade Kochani kamees (nomadic dress). 

Handmade Dress by Balqees Sayed
Handmade Dress by Balqees Sayed

The second dress was designed by me and my mother. Then it was sewn by my aunt. In Afghanistan, people who know how to make clothes, sew their own clothes. It is a very traditional way of wearing clothes. This dress was made from scratch, except the chest part which I bought from a vintage shop. This dress is usually worn in parties and different formal and informal occasions. 

Model Ishaque Ismail in a traditional Afghan

Ishaque Ismail: Men’s fashion is a way to express yourself. People can tell a lot about you just by looking at your outfit. This is a traditional Afghan male dress. It is called shalwar kameez. I wear it on Eid and to weddings.

Muzzamil Khiljee continually strives to spread love and acceptance throughout all of his lyrics. He has persistently fought for his work and message throughout his changing environments. Sip has continued to drop high-quality music with top-notch production to attract a mainstream crowd, all the while fostering the same message that culture is not necessarily just black and white. Music is unity; music is the culture that brings everyone together.

Muzzamil Khiljee in a handmade logo outfit

Muzzamil Khiljee: As a Hip-Hop fan, this handmade “culture” logo that you see on the back of my jacket is an international brand by one of the most talented Afghan hip hop/rap recording artists called Sip.

Continue Spreading Awareness

Looking for ways to become a part of the cause? Consider donating to the West Hill Refugee Welcome Center today, or, if you are a local of the Capital Region in Albany, consider volunteering at the Center and make a difference in a fellow community member’s life.

10 African-American Chefs You Need to Know About

In the USA, there are approximately 941,000 individuals employed as chefs. How many of these chefs can you name off the top of your head? You may have heard of famous figures like Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Wolfgang Puck. However, can you name any celebrity African-American chefs? 

Even though every one out of five chefs in The United States is African-American, according to the Bureau of Labor, Black cooks are socially isolated, discriminated against, and have a lack of representation in the media. While the Black Lives Matter movement continues to be a pressing topic in our current times, efforts are being made to bring attention to black narratives, specifically in the culinary world.

Despite facing many hurdles, African-American chefs have beaten the odds and created a platform for others, as well as continued to break racial barriers. In a time where representation is important for our society and the younger generation, take a moment to support such individuals by learning more about their background, passion, and get a taste of their cooking. 

Here are ten African American chefs who have made great names for themselves in the culinary world.

Carla Hall, Washington, D.C.

african american chefs
Top Chef Carla Hall works at Smithsonian National Museum for African American History

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Carla Hall spent much of her career fighting for visibility in the culinary industry. She landed appearances on Top Chef, The Chew, Good Morning America and many more. She has authored three cookbooks centered around soul food, and one of them has received an NAACP Image Awards nomination.

Order Carla Hall’s award-winning cookbook

Hall believes food connects everyone and strives to communicate through her work and cooking. Hall is the Culinary Ambassador for Sweet Home Cafe at the Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. There, she works to promote and connect the experience of the museum through the history of the food.

Leah Chase, Louisiana 

african american chefs
Chase had customers ranging from past presidents to freedom riders

Leah Chase is the nation’s preeminent Creole chef who brought New Orleans Creole cooking to international attention. After high school, she took a job at a French Quarter restaurant where it sparked a deep love of food in her. Alongside other numerous rewards, Chase was inducted into the James Beard Foundation in 2010. She received awards from the NAACP, National Council of Negro Women and Southern Foodway Alliance.

The late 96-year-old was the chief chef at her restaurant, Dooky Chase’s. It once was a hotspot for civil rights organizers to plan their course of action in the 1950s. Several famous figures, like Barack Obama and James Baldwin, have dined at Dooky Chase’s. If you’re craving classic, Creole cuisine, be sure to visit!

Todd Richards, Georgia

african american chefs
Todd Richards is a Georgia icon

The two-time James Beard Award semifinalist is a fixture of the culinary scene in Atlanta. Todd Richards worked at several fine-dining restaurants including The Four Seasons Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead before opening his own – Richards’ Southern Fried in 2016. Here, guests can have a taste of unique spin on casual southern dishes like fried chicken tenders, mac and cheese, black eyed peas, and chicken and waffle wings.

Just recently, Richards released his first cookbook – Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution, which includes roughly 150 recipes. Each page highlights the versatility of humble ingredients like onions, corn and tomatoes. It also aids in transforming them into delicious one-of-a-kind meals. Check out his cookbook below.

Order Richard’s cookbook filled with 150 recipes

Marisa Baggett, Tennessee

african american chefs
Baggett says expensive equipment or exotic ingredients aren’t necessary for good sushi

Marisa Baggett is the first female African-American to graduate from the California Sushi Academy. With her mission to share the art of making sushi, she has authored two cookbooks – Sushi Secrets and Vegetarian Sushi Secrets.

For three years, she worked at Do Sushi Bar and Lounge in Memphis, where she showcased her delicate skill in sashimi, nigiri-zushi, makimono and kaiseki. Though Baggett has since stepped down from her role, she is now focusing on sharing the art of sushi as a traveling itamae (Japanese chef) by teaching classes at markets, private homes and at events.

Get this kit to make your own sushi at home

Erick Williams, Illinois

african american chefs
Chef Erick Williams wan named one of “16 Black Chefs Changing Food in America” by The New York Times

Erick Williams was influenced by his great-grandmother’s Southern cooking and her insistence on connecting with anyone who sat at her table. He learned that sharing a meal is a universal expression of respect and dignity. The Chicago native is currently nominated for a James Beard Award for best chef in the Great Lakes region. 

Williams is the chef/owner of Virtue restaurant in Chicago. Since its opening in 2018, the restaurant has won Best New Restaurants in America for its twist on classic Southern American food. He also currently works on his personal goal of racial inclusivity and training young people of color in the industry.

Mariya Russell, Illinois 

african american chefs
Mariya Russell is the first African-American female to receive a Michelin Star

This Ohio native chef found her passion for cooking at the young age of 14. Since then, Mariya Russell’s love for food led her to receive a Michelin Star in 2019. That made her the first African-American woman to do so. Russell’s unique style of cooking is omakase, which flirts with Japanese methodology and fully controls a person’s dining experience. Anyone can immerse themselves in this experience at the previous restaurant she worked at, Kumiko and Kikko, where she served elegant seven-course meals.

Since winning a Micheline Star and stepping down from her sous chef position at Kumiko and Kikko, Russell has plans to use her platform to mentor other aspiring Black chefs. Be sure to follow her at @mariyaleniserussel on Instagram.

Rodney Scott, South Carolina

Rodney Scott specializes in whole-hog barbecuing in the Eastern Carolina tradition

Not many people can say that they have cooked a whole hog at the age of 11, but Rodney Scott sure can! Since his first hog, he has become one of the most famed pit-masters in the country. Scott has made appearances on TV-shows such as Parts Unknown, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, and at countless food festivals.

In 2017, Scott turned his craft into a full-fledged restaurant called Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, with locations in Charleston, Birmingham and (opening soon) Atlanta. Here, you can literally order a whole pig, or if you want something lighter, pit-cooked chicken and spare ribs. 

Dolester Miles, Alabama

african american chefs
Dolester Miles was named Most Outstanding Pastry Chef in America at the James Beard Awards

This world-class pastry chef engaged in her craft for over 30 years before winning her first James Beard Award. It’s safe to say that Dolester Miles is not only one of the greatest pastry talents in the South, but also in the United States. If you have one chance to try her baking, order the Coconut Pecan Cake, which is a nutty and tropical. However, Miles is versatile in her experience and can create any dessert from classic southern pound cake to traditional French dacquoise.

Mile’s inspiration for creating pastries stems from her mother, who taught her how to bake. When in Birmingham, Alabama, stop by the Highlands Bar and Grill to try her pastries.

A stand mixer is a must have for at home baking

BJ Dennis, South Carolina

BJ Dennis specializes in authentic Gullah-Geechee cooking

Many consider BJ Dennis the country’s leading ambassador of Gullah-Geechee cooking, which is a grain-based, hearty cuisine that is usually paired with seafood. To keep the African-Gullah culture alive, Dennis travels across the nation and cooks at pop-ups and events. He has also made appearances on Top Chef and Parts Unknown to educate viewers on the history and culinary techniques of the low country’s cuisine.

To learn more about Gullah-Geechee cuisine and to keep up with Dennis’ next pop-up event, check out his Instagram page.

Edouardo Jordan, Washington

Edouardo Jordan’s inspiration comes from his Sunday suppers and grandmother’s meals

Since the opening of his second restaurant, JuneBaby, Edouardo Jordan received Eater’s Best New Restaurants in 2017 and Food & Wine’s Best Restaurant of 2018. He also received a three-star review from the New York Times. Jordan was also a double winner at the 2018 James Beard Awards.

Eduardo explores his Southern roots and the cuisine of the African-American diaspora with JuneBaby’s celebration of Black, Southern food. He also celebrates the breadth of southern cuisine by showing the world that it can be high-brow and low-brow. Take the time to experience how food can showcase humble West African beginnings at Seattle based JuneBaby.

~By Virtual Marketing & Communications Intern, Laura Vo. Laura’s a Public Relations Major at Kennesaw State University and has a passion for supporting great causes like Go Eat Give.

Vacation Like a President in Williamsburg, Virginia

Wish you could spend a night at The White House? Want to know where presidents and celebrities go for vacation? Here’s some insider information for you!

A long winding road shaded by canopy of trees leads you to an expansive resort in the woods. You pass by homes of all sizes, lush golf courses, manicured tennis courts and natural ponds, arriving at a 7,000-square-foot private estate with panoramic views of the James River, where notable individuals such as President Barack Obama, President George H.W Bush, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have previously stayed.

This 4 bedroom estate has housed America’s Presidents!

The Estate at Kingsmill

Formally known as Pettus House, Kingsmill Resort has gated, manicured, residential grounds. It was the private mansion for the Busch family, who is known for Budweiser Beer and Busch Gardens.

Hire a private chef to cook in this kitchen for $4,000+ per night.

After a $3 million worth of renovations, – featuring beautiful interiors transformed with distinctive furnishings, lighting, textiles and décor from RH, Restoration Hardware – the Estate at Kingsmill looks like a modern villa with high ceilings, teardrop glass chandeliers, luxurious bathrooms (bigger than some of your lofts), distinctive art, gilded mirrors, retractable glass and floor to ceiling windows. A private terrace overlooks an infinity pool, hot tub, and perfect sunrise and sunsets over the James River. And if self pampering is your style, bring your private chef along or hire a butler to cook meals for your family in this state of the art kitchen.

While you can rent this four-bedroom Estate for your next vacation, small wedding, a milestone birthday getaway, or a corporate retreat, there are other more affordable accommodations on the property at well.

Old world charm and modern amenities are available at the condos.

The Resort

I stayed at one of the condo style accommodations at Kingsmill Resort. My private unit had parking directly in front of the building. In addition, it did not have hotel hallways or corridors. The entrance truly made me feel like I am walking into my private apartment. Inside, there was a spacious living room with fireplace and television, a dining room, full kitchen, laundry, separate king bedroom, bath, and a balcony overlooking the river. As the units were well spaced out and there were hardly any guests at the resort, it was peaceful and quiet. I mostly watched ducks, rabbits and deer enjoying the vast green spaces while sipping wine from my patio.

Spend the summer with your family at a cottage by the river.

A few people decided to rent Cottages at the James for a long term stay during COVID-19. Surrounded by mature trees, wildlife, water and cooler temperatures, Kingsmill Resort has 3,000 acres. Also, it is the perfect escape from busy and cramped city spaces. Pets are also allowed!

Kingsmill Resort also offers onsite amenities such as golf, tennis, spa treatments, yoga and Pilates classes, two luxury SUVs, customized golf carts, private jet skis, personal shoppers, laundry service, and personalized menus and music selections. There are four restaurants on site. However, dining services have been modified and there’s to-go menu only through Kingsmill Express.

williamsburg virginia
Enthusiastic from around east coast come to play at one of the best golf courses in Virginia.

Championship Golf

Kingsmill Resort is Virginia’s Only AAA Four Diamond condominium resort. Moreover, it features two renowned 18-hole golf courses, a celebrated golf academy and year-round golf instruction. There’s a good chance that your fellow celebrity guests and diplomats have practiced their swings at the River Course, rated one of the best golf courses in Virginia.

Williamsburg virginia
Spend the day on the river boating, fishing or jet skiing.

Water Activities

One of Kingsmill’s popular activities include the marina located on the scenic James River, which begins in the Appalachian Mountains and flows 348 miles to the Chesapeake Bay. While you can sit on the deck or beach and enjoy water views, you can also kick up your adrenaline on a jet ski, kayak or paddle board. Boat and pontoon rentals, as well as fishing equipped is available just a few feet from your room. Enjoy summer with a dip in the outdoor swimming pool or slide along the lazy river.

Historic Williamsburg

Williamsburg was the capital of the Virginia Colony from 1699 to 1780 and played a significant role in the American Revolution. It forms the “Historic Triangle” together with Jamestown and Yorktown. It is noted that the British settlers first arrived in the Williamsburg area in 1607. This is also where Pocahontas once walked and where America was born.

There are numerous attractions located within minutes of the Kingsmill. You can learn about American history, taste some of the best pancakes in the country, and enjoy some thrilling rides. Further, plan to visit Colonial Williamsburg,  Jamestown Settlement, American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Historic Jamestown, Yorktown Battlefield, the Williamsburg Winery, and Busch Gardens – to name a few.

williamsburg virginia
Get this guide book to learn about the Historic Triangle.

Getting There

Kingsmill Resort is located on the James River off I‐64 between Richmond and Norfolk. You can fly in to either airport and rent a car or taxi to get to the resort. You can also do a road trip from Washington DC, while checking out other historic sites and Virginia beaches along the way.

Staying Safe

As destinations continue to reopen safely, please make sure to check out the local Williamsburg tourism website and Kingsmill Resort for updates on travel restrictions, social distancing and mandatary protocols. The state of Virginia requires everyone to wear a mask indoors in public places.

Continue learning about USA at home with this jigsaw puzzle appropriate for adults and kids.

How Your Visit Can Help Rescue Turtles in Florida

When you travel on vacation, a visit to the hospital may be the last thing on your mind. But this particular hospital for turtles in Florida is a great place to learn about different kinds of turtles and to see them up close!

The turtle hospital in Marathon, Florida is located halfway between Miami and Key West, on the grounds of the old Hidden Harbor Motel. The old motel rooms serve as living quarters for the rehab staff and storage.

turtles
One of the patients at The Turtle Hospital.

During Your Visit

There are 7 species of sea turtles throughout the entire world. Five of the seven are found in Florida: Green, Loggerhead, Leatherback, Hawksbill, and Kemp’s Ridley. Volunteers and student guides give visiting guests a brief history about the location and the work the nonprofit does around rescue, research, rehabilitations and education. They also tell you about different species of sea turtles, their characteristics, and the kinds of illnesses and traumas they face. Most of the turtles that The Turtle Hospital has rescued were victims of boat accidents, entangled in fishing nets, ingested plastics and debris, or acquired skin conditions due to chemicals in the water. Similar to humans, sea turtles get cancers, amputations, tumors, eye infections, and loose their ability to swim.

turtles
You can minimize your impact on sea turtles by following a few basic guidelines.

The most fun part of the tour is seeing the turtles up close! You will get a chance to learn about each one’s life, their names and recovery process. You can also feed them food and watch them come up to the surface, or swim around the pools.

turtles
Guides will pass out special turtle food for you to feed the rescued turtles.

Have you watched turtles lay eggs? Only 1 in 1,000 of these sea turtles actually survive!

Watch a Release

The Turtle Hospital has successfully treated and released over 1500 Sea Turtles since its founding in 1986. Public releases are held in the Florida Keys, some from the shore, others from a boat. Hundreds of people cheer for the turtle returning back home, where it belongs. You can follow The Turtle’s Hospital social media page to learn about release dates and plan to attend it.

turtles
Watch a recovered sea turtle swim back into the ocean.

Ways To Help

Visiting The Turtle Hospital is a small step toward rehabilitation of endangered sea turtles, since all of your ticket price goes toward supporting the nonprofit organization. You can also purchase cute souvenirs, jewelry, t-shirts and bags from the gift shop to remind yourself of these amazing creatures. I purchased this super cute turtle crossbody bag from the gift shop at The Turtle Hospital, but you can order it through Amazon.com too (click on the picture).

Adopt a sea turtle yourself or gift to an animal lover for only $35 a year. Five of the permanent residents (sea turtles that are deemed non-releasable) are currently available for adoption. You can also make a tax deductible donation directly to The Turtle Hospital.

Stay at the Tranquility Bay resort located next door, a proud supported of The Turtle Hospital. The beachfront all-suites resort offers townhome style accommodations with private kitchens, multiple bedrooms and balconies. There are few swimming pools, restaurants, and water sports on site so you can make the most of your Florida Keys vacation. Tranquility Bay also has one of the best sites to see the sunset, so make sure to relax with a key lime martini by the beach!

Watch the best sunset in Florida Keys at Tranquility Bay.

Tranquility Bay encourages their customers to visit The Turtle Hospital, and will make a reservation for you. You can also get a free plush toy during your visit.

If you spot a sick or injured Sea Turtle in Florida, you should immediately contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (*FWC or #FWC on your cell phone).

Wear biodegradable sunscreens when doing any water based activities.

Awareness at Home

Eat sustainable seafood. Make responsible consumer decisions when it comes to the purchase of seafood and know how it was obtained or caught. Visit www.seafoodwatch.org for a free guide on sustainable seafood you can buy at grocery stores or restaurants.

Help keep the beaches and water safe and clean. Do not throw garbage, especially plastic on land and in the sea. Often times, trash blows away with the wind and ends up in the digestive tracks of wildlife. A recent study found that on average our oceans are littered with 47,000 pieces of plastic per square mile!

Reduce, reuse and recycle. Reduce your consumption of packaging and one-time use products. Travel with aluminum water bottles, wear washable masks, and recycle what you cannot reuse. 

Buy eco friendly products. Avoid using non biodegradable sunscreens and lotions when swimming in the ocean.

Be a responsible boater. Avoid crossing seagrass beds and be aware of your speed limit. Use a chart or GPS, stay alert and look out for floating sea turtles. A floating sea turtle is often sick and cannot dive down to escape an oncoming boat.

Dispose fishing line properly. If you enjoy fishing at home or on your vacation, make sure to not discard fishing lines in the water, and pick up a fishing line if you see it. Recycling bins are now located on every fishing bridge, beach and marina in the Florida Keys. Instead of tossing your fishing line in the garbage, hold onto it and place it in a recycling bin instead.

Due to social distancing restrictions, The Turtle Hospital is allowing only up to 20 people at a time, so make sure to make a reservation ahead of time. Masks or face coverings are required, and guests are asked to stay 6 feet apart from each other.