Florida’s coast by catamaran
Imagine cruising along Florida’s Gulf Coast in “a crewed, floating B&B loaded with kayaks, limes, rum, and five of your closest paddling buddies,” said Meg Lukens Noonan in National Geographic Adventure. I took a trip through the sounds south of St. Petersburg on the Mirage, a “shallow-draft, 70-foot outrigger catamaran.” The best thing about traveling this way is that your “base camp” becomes “your guide,” leading you to inlets and islands that you can paddle out to explore. Every morning, as the catamaran scudded through the barrier islands of Pine Island Sound, it dropped us off at different locations along the newly expanded Great Calusa Blueway, “a 190-mile marked canoe and kayak route.” We hung with the manatees in the “grassy fringes” of Sanibel’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and got to “paddle through the chop with a posse of dolphins to the empty beaches of Cayo Costa State Park.” There was never any problem getting back to the “hotel” for dinner and a swim under the stars.
Everyday life in Portland, Maine
Eat, drink, and live locally in Portland’s Munjoy Hill, said Christina Talcott in The Washington Post. This historic neighborhood may not have the “bustle of Old Port, the sumptuous mansions of the West End, or the museums of downtown’s Art District,” but no other sector of the city better captures the “vibrant, eclectic” flavor of Maine’s cultural capital. Munjoy Hill embodies the ethos of the “Shop Local: Keep Portland Independent” stickers seen around town. There’s no Starbucks to be found in Munjoy Hill. Instead, expect to see one independent outlet after another lining Congress Street. Rosemont Market offers meats and cheeses from local farms. Front Room cooks up a mean gnocchi with spinach, bacon, and eggs, with a choice of Maine beers on tap to wash it down. Homegrown Herb & Tea sells pottery and handmade journals from local artists alongside exotic tea infusions. Angela Adams, the Maine native and design maven who sells her wares through Design Within Reach, opened her only store here.