Now that we’re back at our desks beginning a new, exciting year at Fodor’s, we thought it would be fun to share how we spent the last week of 2011. Some of us stuck around New York to catch up on life as locals—trying new restaurants, seeing Broadway shows, and getting to museum exhibits before they closed—while others packed bags and headed to hometowns and far-flung destinations. But we want to hear about your vacations, too. Tell us where your travels took you on Fodors.com.
London and Rome
"My extended family converged on London this Christmas from Toronto and New York. The city really goes all out for the holidays, with festive lights and wreaths everywhere you turn, and fantastic shop windows (the burlesque-themed Fortnum and Mason’s decorations were especially memorable). We had a cozy afternoon tea by the fire at Dean Street Townhouse on Christmas Eve, attended a moving evensong service at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, and ducked into the phenomenal Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the National Gallery before treating ourselves to the first showing of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the darling Gate Picturehouse in Notting Hill (where you can order wine with your popcorn!). Then, my husband and I jetted off to Rome for New Year’s, basing ourselves by the Spanish Steps and indulging in the city’s burgeoning wine and cocktail scene. We ended 2011 with a raucous Capodanno dinner at the packed-to-the-rafters Gusto-osteria, where disco music (inexplicably) blasted as the clock struck midnight and everyone danced between the tables."
—Arabella Bowen, Executive Director of Editorial
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"Israel was this year’s holiday destination for my husband, son, and me. In Jerusalem, we focused on classic sights: the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Israel Museum. Ben (son) scoped out local markets and street food—falafel, shawarma, bourekas—for his cousin’s food blog, koshercamembert. I love desert landscapes, so our plans included driving to Masada and the Dead Sea, and hiking at Ein Gedi. We were in Tel Aviv to welcome the New Year on a Mediterranean beach."
—Linda Cabasin, Editorial Director
"I traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to visit my parents for the holidays. I toured some local breweries, like Lakefront and Sprecher, along with Miller Brewing Company’s big tour. After, I stopped in the Milwaukee Brat House for brats and cheese curds. When I wasn’t eating and drinking, I was snowboarding at Crystal Ridge."
—Emily Cogburn, Managing Editorial Assistant
"I’m from New Jersey, and while my family and I went away for Christmas, we didn’t travel far. We spent the holiday at the Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs Resort in Vernon, NJ. We didn’t get to tan in the tropics, but we did catch some rays in the Lodge’s Biosphere one-of-a-kind pool complex! The Biosphere has a special roof that allows guests to safely tan in the winter, and also features a heated free-form pool, Jacuzzi, water slide, underground aquarium, steam room, sauna, and café. The resort is also home to multiple restaurants, golf courses, spas, bars, and a wine cellar. I relaxed at the resort for a few days and then returned to NYC to celebrate New Year’s Eve—but kept my distance from Times Square!"
—Mike Coletta, E-Commerce Analyst
"I spent my holidays back home in St. Louis with my immediate family. My trips home are packed with lunches and dinners with friends and family. I visited some of my favorite places, like The Drunken Fish in Westport Plaza and chowed down on some St. Louis-style pizza from Imo’s. I also spent a day in picturesque Historic Saint Charles (where Lewis and Clark first started their expedition), which really got me into the holiday mood. After walking the cobblestone streets, visiting the shops, and checking out the tree, my family always stops at Magpie’s to warm up with some of their legendary potato soup."
—Amy Donnelly, Community/Social Media Coordinator
"I went to Puerto Rico with my extended family. We stayed at a resort on the northeast coast that had miles of beachfront with gorgeous shells. I loved kayaking in the lagoons and chasing lizards with my husband and daughter, and stopping at roadside stands for spit-roasted pork and maduros. For New Year’s Eve, we headed over to the tiny island of Culebra, where our friends live, for a poolside barbecue followed by a festive countdown in the island’s main street with all the locals. On New Year’s day, we went conch diving and made incredible conch fritters for lunch."
—Erica Duecy, Deputy Editor
"This year my family came to NYC. My mother stayed in an apartment in Chelsea, and we got breakfast every day at Chelsea Market. (Amy’s Bread is divine.) We did a tour of Fifth Avenue, and took in all the holiday windows and the Rockefeller Center tree. My mother’s big gift to our family was tickets to the Broadway show, ‘How to Succeed in Business.’ Watching Daniel Radcliffe tap dance across the stage was a great way to ring in 2012."
—Maria Hart, Editor
Boston and the Berkshires
"I spent Christmas with family outside of Boston and then headed to a rental house in the Berkshires for New Year’s with friends. For me, there’s nothing better than gathering around a big, slow-cooked meal, playing cards, staying toasty by a fire, going on long hikes, and singing along to my husband playing the guitar. The Berkshires is made for this kind of low-key, picturesque New England getaway—and is a refreshing break from NYC."
—Salwa Jabado, Editor
"I celebrated the holidays this year in true Iberian tradition. My partner and I visited family in the Covilhã, a town in central Portugal that creeps up the Serra da Estrela (the tallest mountain range in the country). After midnight mass on the 24th, we drove out to a nearby village where they had a huge bonfire in the town. Everyone milled around, drinking wine and chatting until the fires burned down and the sun came up. For the New Year we drove up to Santiago de Compostela, a fun university town in Galicia, Spain. It’s also the final stop on the El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James), a pilgrimage to the Cathedral where it’s believed St. James is buried. This area is renowned for its excellent seafood, especially the octopus and clam dishes. When I wasn’t sightseeing, I spent most of my time in front of a plate of tapas."
—Margaret Kelly, Editor
"The holidays are the only time of year that I don’t like to travel very far. I hopped back and forth between the city and the suburbs, and did everything from catching up on museum shows (I saw de Kooning at MoMA but unfortunately didn’t make it to Daphne Guinness at FIT) to taking a few walks in Central Park to hitting stores for post-Christmas sales. For New Year’s Day, I had a big brunch at Balthazar with close friends."
—Rachel Klein, Editor
"I packed up my long underwear and headed home to Minneapolis to visit friends and family. I embraced winter Minnesota-style, from sipping cocktails at Spoonriver, visiting the Mill City Museum, and playing ice hockey on one of the local lakes. In addition to trying out some new spots like Rosa Mexicano and The Bachelor Farmer, I gorged at favorite eateries that I can’t get in NYC—Noodles & Co., D’Amico’s & Sons, and Bruegger’s Bagels."
—Jess Moss, Associate Editor
"This year, my holiday travel plans were all about familial obligations. I was in my small hometown in southeast Kansas for two very long weeks, where I did nothing more exciting than walk my mom’s dog and eat too much. However, there were a couple of things on my agenda beyond visiting the local casinos. I saw the holiday lights at Woolaroc, Frank Phillips’s former ranch outside Bartlesville, Oklahoma. In all the time I lived in the area, this was one holiday tradition I had never experienced. And I also visited Murphy’s, another Bartlesville institution, for a hamburger or two."
—Doug Stallings, Senior Editor
"My husband and I did some early-season skiing at Killington Resort in Vermont, and then headed south to celebrate the holidays with family near Brattleboro, Vermont. We enjoyed all the essential elements of a New England Christmas: ice-skating on the lake, family gathering by the wood stove, presents from Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, and spiked hot chocolate."
—Cate Starmer, Content Producer
Florida and New York
"I planned a combination of city/culture in NYC, as well as some down time with family in sunny South Florida, where my family—all native Canadians—like to meet up for holidays. When I got back to New York, I revisited a couple of old favorites: the MoMA and the Rodeo Bar, the latter for some good bourbon and live music on my birthday. On New Year’s Eve, I celebrated at a lively party near Union Square."
—Caroline Trefler, Senior Editor
New Paltz, NY
"I intrepidly explored the tri-state area from my home base in the Garden State. First, I traveled to the Boardwalk Empire via the complete DVD set of the first season, which was next in my Netflix cue. Then I did some real traveling to Catskill Park, where I hiked in and around New Paltz. A favorite hike of mine is to the summit of Giant’s Ledge, which in winter provides endless vistas of stark, leafless mountains."
—Eric Wechter, Editor
Photo credit: courtesy Jess Moss