Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Teach the kids to love another country’s junk food.
Hours From New York: 7.5
TYPE OF VACATION: Family
Mont Tremblant, nestled between Québec City and Montreal, has grown from ski hill into year-round destination (for general information, call 888-738-1777). In fact, it’s now better in summer than for winter skiing, and a great family resort for a long weekend (albeit one with certain relaxed European attitudes—locals wander with beer and wine). In the blissfully car-free village, a short stroll takes you past crêpe stands and outdoor cafés to a water park, mini-golf, scenic chairlift rides, an alpine slide, zip lines, and bike paths. Very few children can resist that addictive Quebecois comfort food, poutine: French fries slathered in cheese curds and gravy. Wandering the cobblestone streets are jugglers, clowns, and storytellers, and immediately outside the village sit golf courses, a large lake with a marina, and a national park for rafting, hiking, and climbing. Need space and a kitchen? Condos are plentiful. If not, the best village hotel is the mountainside Fairmont Tremblant (bed-and-breakfast package, from $227 per night double occupancy; 819-681-7000), with a full spa and babysitting. Save room for dinner at Restaurant La Forge (819-681-4900), a showcase of exposed beams, glass, and an open fire, where the specialties are grilled meats and game, like wild hare.
Eat tomorrow’s fresh fiddleheads for dinner.
Hours From New York: 17
TYPE OF VACATION: Eating
Chef Hisao Nakahigashi rises at dawn to collect fresh fiddlehead ferns, clover, and wild scallions in the nearby Ohara Valley, all of which will be used at dinner that evening at Nakahigashi, his 28-seat restaurant on a quiet Kyoto street. There’s a six-month waiting list. Once you get a reservation at his restaurant (81-75-752), here’s how to do it in a weekend: Book a first-class round-trip ticket on All Nippon Flight 9 out of JFK, departing at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. The flatbed pod seats have down duvets and pillows. You land at Narita fourteen hours later, at 3:25 p.m. on Friday. Take a shuttle train into Tokyo and catch the next bullet train to Kyoto (there’s one every twenty minutes). The trip takes a little over two hours, so you arrive just in time for the 6:30 p.m. start of the meal. Four hours and fifteen courses later (the meal begins with hassun, which could be appetizer-size tastings of items like carp sashimi served with dandelion leaves, and continues with stewed lotus roots, roast duck with bitter herbs, and mezashi, anchovies dried and served with pickled radish and rice), you’ll feel refreshed, not overly full, says Matsuri chef Tadashi Ono, who’s done the trip. Spend the night at Tawaraya (075-211-5566; $292 to $628 per person), a 300-year-old traditional Japanese ryokan. On Saturday, pamper your jet-lag-addled brain with a wander along the cherry-tree-lined Path of Philosophy and some visits to the Zen temples scattered throughout the city’s Sakyo ward. Take an early-Sunday-morning bullet train back to Toyko, and catch the 11 a.m. flight home. When you arrive in New York at 10:45 a.m., fifteen minutes before you left, you might wonder if it was all just a delicious dream.
Skip the theme park for the open sea.
Hours From New York: 4
TYPE OF VACATION: Family
Do you really need another long weekend waiting on lines with a million other families to get onto the latest spine-punishing megaride? If you’re going to go sailing, do it right and head south to Annapolis, home of the U.S. Naval Academy and the historic hub of serene Chesapeake Bay. Drive down on a Thursday night and stay at Georgian House (from $170; 410-263-5618), a 1747 Colonial B&B. The next morning, report to Chesapeake Sailing School (410-269-1594; sailingclasses.com) for a three-day course. You’ll be put on a sailboat with a Coast Guard–certified captain, and off you’ll go down the river. You anchor first at the harbor in downtown Annapolis, so wander through the Naval Academy’s stately buildings and the town, have dinner, and return to sleep on the boat. The next day, you’ll spend hours on the open water, learning to hoist and strike sails and chart a course. You’ll drop anchor at St. Michael’s, a well-preserved port with good shopping, a terrific maritime museum, and seafood (try the Crab Claw; 410-745-2900). By the third day, you’re old salts. Sail back to Annapolis, and spend the final night on dry land in the Georgian House. When your kids show their friends how to tie a bowline knot, you’ll be glad you skipped the roller coaster.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Club-hop until the sun comes up over the Mediterranean.
Hours From New York: 10
TYPE OF VACATION: Party
Tel Aviv may be in the heart of the Holy Land, but its all-hours, pansexual, smoker-friendly, inexpensive club scene is anything but pious (and the city is increasingly safe). The weekend starts Thursday night, so leave Wednesday night (El Al has an 11:50 p.m. flight from JFK that lands just in time for dinner the following day). Book the Cinema Hotel (from $120; 972-3-520-7100), a converted thirties movie house a short stroll from the Mediterranean. Having slept on the flight, get your groove on early with dinner at Nanuchka (28 Lilenblum St.; 972-3-516-2254), a Georgian supper club; wash down tinakali (cheese dumplings with yogurt) with vodka shots, and maybe some dancing on tables to post-Soviet Slavo-pop. Flag a cab for the short ride to Ha-oman 17 (88 Abarbanel St.; 972-3-681-3636), Tel Aviv’s megaclub of the moment, which imports international D.J.’s like Paul Van Dyk and Armin Van Buuren for its Thursday-night parties. Wake up in time for a late Friday lunch at the aptly named Betty Ford (48 Nahalat Binyamin St.; 972-3-510-0650) to recharge on its hefty half-pound burgers and a big chug of Goldstar (the local brew); pass the afternoon souvenir-shopping and hottie-spotting at the outdoor crafts market just up the street. Take a disco nap before a late dinner close to clubland at coffeeBar (13 Yad Harutzim St.; 972-3-688-9696; reservations recommended), with its perfect steak-frites and sexy crowd. Continue to Barzilay Club (13 Harechev St.; 972-3-6878090 ), a nearby six-month-old hipster dance haunt, and then to the G-Spot (40 Salame St.; 972-52-8846121 ), whose D.J.-owner, Nir Mamon, spins the latest rap hits straight outta Brooklyn. Well past midnight, explore the Breakfast Club (6 Rothschild Blvd.; no phone), a smoky, shameless after-hours pickup spot, or Evita (31 Yavne St.; 972-3-566-9559), its nearby gay equivalent. Enjoy a late Saturday brunch at the alfresco Shalvata (Tel Aviv Port; 972-3-544-1279) with a cocktail while admiring prime Mediterranean views. Spend the last few hours on the beach itself, before heading back to the airport for El Al’s midnight flight to New York. You’ll land early the next day—leaving plenty of time to recover before Monday morning.