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Of Recent Note

Staycations

When vacating isn’t an option, you could always consider a holiday in your own vicinity. The TMN readers and writers offer travel tales from lands closer to home.

You can’t always get what you want. You might want a luxurious cruise vacation, or a first class flight to New Zealand, or a multi-city tour of Europe’s finest cuisine. You might have laundry, baked ziti, and a sprinkler in the yard, instead. There is an upside to the summer staycation, however: you always know your way around. Here are a few recent close-to-home trips taken by the TMN writers and readers.

 

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Last Saturday night, I climbed on my soapbox to rave about Coney Island—what it represents, how it makes me feel, its larger cultural significance, and which foods I like to eat when I’m there and in what order. But I could have spared my companions 15 or 20 minutes of blue-faced pop philosophy by simply saying: “Coney Island is for fun and so am I.” Since we share a common purpose, Coney Island and I spend a lot of time together sweating and eating fried clams. This summer (like every summer), a crowded, filthy, joyous place that managed to survive Robert Moses’s development efforts is all the vacation I need. —Nicole Pasulka

 

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My preferred vacations are spent in long-forgotten settings, but the rising cost of gas means exploring locales within biking distance instead, and venturing to a place I haven’t dared enter since middle school: the record store. I wonder how shops like Rocket Records in Tacoma, Wash., have survived the post-Napster environment, but I’m glad they have. With the convenience of digital downloads, we’ve lost the record store experience and those High Fidelity-esque interactions with the people that work there. I earned personal recommendations (“Fleet Foxes are the new great thing out of Seattle!”) and a long rant about the loss of appreciation for cover art (“Have you seen the gorgeous packaging on the new No Age album?”) We tend to be less frugal on vacations, paying for 10-dollar margaritas or what have you. Fittingly, I didn’t mind spending a little more on the new Wolf Parade album than I would have on iTunes. —TMN Reader Kevin Nguyen

 

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For a staycation in Paris, I visit the park Buttes Chaumont in the 19th arrondisement. It’s a more residential park than Tuilleries or Luxembourg, and Saturdays and Sundays see the hills blanketed with picnicking Parisians. It’s a rather mysterious place; you don’t expect to find a Corinithian monument (the Belvedere of Sybil, according to Wikipedia) on top of a craggy mountain in the center, but there it is. After lunch, there’s good walking, and lots of ideal spots for sunbathing. It’s even wi-fi equipped. —Rosecrans Baldwin

 

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As the editor of a travel blog, the “staycation” is the last thing I should be promoting. But in a way, I jumped on the trend earlier this summer by signing up for the beginner’s class at the Manhattan Sailing School. While a couple of my friends enjoyed a July 4th beach vacation on the Jersey Shore, and another pair camped next to Nebraska’s Lake McConaughy, I sat in a stifling classroom learning the difference between a boom-topping lift and a boom vang. Though I can’t say the rote memorization of jargon was fun, I forgot all about it as my fellow students and I piloted our J/24 past Olafur Eliasson’s waterfall on Governors Island. —TMN Reader Paul Brady

 

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Summer in Stillwater, Okla., means several things: endless days of over-100-degree weather, deciding whether using the AC when driving is worth the extra cost (it is), countless half-price slushies between 2 and 4 p.m. at Sonic, and Crazy Days. Or possibly Krazee Daze. Or Crazee Dayz. Or Kraizy Dayze. It depends on the hand-drawn window artwork, but you get the idea. For three days, Main Street is blocked off from traffic and all the mom-and-pop stores put their best wares in the street: cowboy boots, grapefruit knives, scrap-booking paraphernalia, secondhand clothing. Stands selling Indian tacos (fried bread covered in beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and cheese) combined with a dance competition complete the insanity—it’s the event of the summer. —TMN Intern Nozlee Samadzadeh

 

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Here in north central Florida, it’s hot. No, not just hot—the humidity is suffocating. Where are broke college students to go in this kind of weather, when the price of gasoline deters the weekly two-hour drive to the beach? We go tubing in the river. We flock to local swimming holes where the springs churn out 70-degree water all year round. After my friends and I pack my little Honda with snacks and booze, we hit up the tube rental shops on the way to the river, making sure to grab one extra for the cooler. Conversation runs from political debates to dirty jokes—all fueled by the cold beers in hand—and we drift lazily under the hot sun. —TMN Reader Abigail Lee

 

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The week after July 4th, my wife, her brother, and my in-laws rented a cabin in Wimberley, Texas, about an hour south of Austin. Though splendidly nestled alongside the Blanco River, the accommodations were rustic, and so—despite my best attempts to build a wi-fi router from a cow skull—telecommuting was off the table. During the week, I drove down in the evening, drank wine, played charades, and heard stories of how, each day, they splashed for hours in the river. (I packed a swimsuit, but in the mornings it went home dry.) Hardly a vacation, barely a staycation, it was more of a vicarious staycation. —Andrew Womack

 

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My recipe: a quick trip to the grocery store (Gristedes), a stone wall in the park (but not always the park—perhaps something smaller, like Carl Schurz Park on the Upper East Side), and either a good friend or a good book. Picnic = vacation. Bring an umbrella, just in case. —Bridget Fitzgerald

 

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Remember being a kid and you come home from school and you have so much homework to do that the most logical thing seems to be to do none of it? That’s how living in New York sometimes feels. Only instead of homework, it’s cultural activities. Boo hoo hoo, right? I fully admit this is a good problem. But even better, cutting out all the hubbub and just going to Governors Island for an afternoon makes it a non-problem. A free ferry leaves from a colorful, Deco terminal just north of the non-descript Staten Island terminal. Within minutes, you can step out onto a green island with buildings that would fit in on the Dartmouth campus. And there are no cars. There aren’t even car sounds, which is a state of glory I’d previously thought unachievable in New York City. Plus, on Saturday afternoons in the summer there’s free folk music. It’s even good. —Lauren Frey

 

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I took a wonderful staycation this year: I planned my time off to coincide with the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. I decided to take the week off, volunteer for the Festival, and catch some great music. It’s hosted by the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society and is truly run on volunteer power! I have always enjoyed going to gigs at the Jazz Fest (it is my favorite festival in Vancouver). Volunteering enriched the experience even more. I got to see some fantastic music and I felt I was really part of a community. Now I’m sold; I want to do this every year. —TMN Reader Katha Teed

 

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At the risk of being remembered solely as “croquet guy,” I’d like to go on record and say that, wherever you’re staying or vacating this summer, it really wouldn’t hurt to get in a game or two. A few weeks ago I met some friends for a game of croquet in Prospect Park: One game turned into two, a little wine was consumed via plastic Solo cups, and some new friends in attendance decided to get their own sets. Which is great. More croquet for me. Because it’s such an old-fashioned game it maintains a wide appeal, from those who are genuinely affecting the whole bourgeois thing to hipsters who are so ironically above it that it hurts. (And the best part is there’s no running involved!) Hang out, socialize, sip a drink, say things like “that’s a sticky wicket” or “hey, nice shot,” and enjoy. If you’re playing in a public park, though, you’ll want to keep the alcohol on the down-low. Les gendarmes are the sworn enemies of both croquet and fun. —Erik Bryan

 

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If home is where the heart is, then summer bliss is what’s about to occupy that frosty martini glass in your kitchen freezer. The recipe: Add one drop of dry vermouth and fill to the brim with cold Tanqueray gin. Garnish with a lemon twist and mosey on over to Hulu.com, because nothing accompanies your classic cocktail better than a late-’60s crime drama. Enjoy multiple episodes of Ironside and It Takes a Thief while you savor a true martini. You’ll be astonished how quickly the time passes. —Patrick Ambrose
 

TMN’s Contributing Writers know where to find the purple couch. Long live the pan flute, mini mafia, and Michael Jackson. More by The Writers