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Florida’s winter paradise; Columbus’s German Village

Florida’s winter paradiseIt’s hard to find things to complain about in Naples, Fla., said Ellen Creager in the Detroit Free Press. Sure, there are too many private jets flying over the city’s 16 miles of beaches, but January in this upscale retirement haven “is pretty much cushy money, shopping, going out to eat, and golf—in other words, absolutely nothing like real life.” Blessed with “some of the finest wintering weather in the nation,” Naples is invaded each year just after New Year’s Day by an army of well-to-do snowbirds, and no wonder: The average high temperature is 76 degrees, the downtown “has a refreshing European feel,” and it’s chock-full of treasures that only insiders could know about—like the romantic patio at Alexander’s and the quiet stretch of beach called North Gulf Shore. Even the Waldorf Astoria and Ritz-Carlton are tucked away far from the main drag—where only the noise of those private jets spoils the mood.

Columbus’s German VillageWithin moments of arriving in Columbus, Ohio, “I feel as if we’ve stepped straight into Hansel-and-Gretel land,” said Zofia Smardz in The Washington Post. The neighborhood known as German Village works magic that way—not because you’ll find much gingerbread architecture on its shaded brick lanes but because its blocks of tidy, 19th-century homes look like the setting of a fairy tale. Comfortable as we are at beautifully restored German Village Guest House, we can’t keep off those streets. After dinner we spend more than an hour wandering the maze of rooms at the local bookshop and spend the next morning following a neighborhood walking-tour map. We pass the area’s old schoolhouse and marvel at so-called Schwartz Castle—a handsome mansion built by an eccentric who supposedly demanded five basements. The famous cream puffs sold at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus? They’re “to die for, since you ask.”

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