Five Travel Book Must-Reads to Jumpstart Your Wanderlust


Sometimes, heading out of town on an adventure doesn’t jive with our everyday lives. While we might be ready to jet off somewhere, the only thing that can really leave is our mind.

And that’s why sometimes it is nice just to get lost in a good book. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few travel book favorites, and I wanted to take a moment to share them with you. Through the pages of these favorites, I’ve gone on culinary adventures in France, ridden on the back of a motorcycle in South America, hiking in Yellowstone, and more.

Without further ado, here are my top five travel reads:

1. My Life in France: This memoir by famed chef Julia Child provides a unique insight into live in post WWII France. Julia is new to the country, and hardly knows anyone, but she makes quick work of falling in love with the cuisine, culture, and countryside. Need an afternoon in the French countryside? This is your book.

2. The Motorcycle Diaries: Before Che Guevara helped lead the Cuban Revolution, he was a 23-year-old medical student who traveled South America on an unforgettable journey. While in many ways I don’t agree with the path his life later took, this book does have some important insights.

3. Madness Under the Royal Palms: My favorite vacation town gets a scathing and scandalous review by Laurence Leamer, and it makes for a quick and page-turning read. This part of South Florida has always had an interesting history, and he gives it an insight like never before.

4. Dear Bob and Sue: This love letter to our national parks left me wanting to visit as many as I could! It’s a funny, irreverent, and unique look at all 59 parks, and the things about them that make them great.

5. Humans of New York–Stories: I’m a huge fan of the Humans of New York IG account, and this is a great supplement to that. I’ve always thought that NYC’s best asset is her people, and this book proves it!

PGA National Resort and Spa: A Floridian Gem

Next week, a number of golf’s greatest players will gather in South Florida for The Honda Classic, a fun tournament that also raises money for Children’s Healthcare Charity, Inc.

Now, I’m no golfer, but I do know an awesome spot when I see it. PGA National Resort and Spa is one. No doubt.

A series of unfortunate events last month led us to the resort while we spent time in Palm Beach, and honestly our day there became a highlight of the week. The resort sits on hundreds of acres of fine real estate in Palm Beach Gardens, and a luxury neighborhood surrounds it–one that gives new meaning to the word “retired”.

My husband and I enjoyed lunch with a view of the pool, and I tasted some of the best conch fritters I’ve ever had (I’m a bit of a connoisseur). We also got a glimpse of a plush accommodations the property features, and took a short walk around the grounds. Most fun of all–we caught the setting up the grandstand for the tournament itself.

I’ll admit–it made me want to watch some golf next week! I also put it on my list of places I’d like to return to one day!


Islamorada: A Gem in the Florida Keys

Before my husband and I started watching Bloodline on Netflix, neither one of us had heard of Islamorada. Key West, yes, Marathon, yes, Key Largo, yes, but never this other community right smack in the middle of Florida’s famous trail of islands.

The longer we watched that show, though, the more we wanted to travel there. We finally did in May, 2016.

It turns out that Islamorada is pretty fantastic, and during the “shoulder season” for the Keys, it is pretty quiet. Travelers find Islamorada about 40 minutes south of Miami, right between Key Largo and Marathon. Like the rest of the islands, Islamorada is known for great fishing, diving, snorkeling, resorts, seafood, and gorgeous sunsets.

We stayed at Cheeca Lodge and Spa, located on the east side of the island. The property features a 9-hole golf course, private beach, three restaurants, a tiki bar, two pools, a spa, fitness center, and daily watersports.

It’s amazing.

While there, we discovered this resort is a longtime favorite of President George H. W. Bush, and we didn’t have a hard time seeing why he often past holidays there. Cheeca offers understated elegance and a high level of service (see the complimentary champagne offered upon check-in). Once the car is parked and luggage is safe inside a hotel room, relaxation begins immediately.

Islamorada offers a number of other resorts, too, and many of them are also upscale. The big secret is that it matters what time of year a person travels to the Keys. Winter is obviously the high season but by May, the snowbirds have gone home, and the rates for many of the hotels decrease. We found Cheeca, for example, on one night as we searched for a unique place to stay.

If you go, be sure to check out the vibrant culinary scene in the area. The Green Turtle Inn recently was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Islamorada Fish Company, Islamorada Shrimp Shack, Woody’s, and more provide great places to start.

In short, if you have a chance to visit… do!