As we approach the one year anniversary of the world shutting down, many of us are experiencing a combination of optimism and burnout. There’s hope ahead, in the form of expanding vaccine rollout, not to mention warmer spring temperatures. But we’ve also been living our new normal for a while: trying to find safe, enjoyable ways to pass our free time, and distract ourselves from the more challenging realities of living through a pandemic.
It’s not always easy to muster up the energy to do something new—say, to look up a nearby hike, or maybe, finally, find a local restaurant serving boat noodles just like the ones you loved eating in Bangkok last summer. Whenever our editors have managed to break out of their pandemic routines, though—finding new day trips, meals, museums exhibitions, and more—it’s been a much-needed taste of the excitement travel used to bring us.
Until we can safely jet around the world again, we’ll be leaning on these bits of newness closer to home. If you’re in need of fresh inspiration for your weekend activities, our editors will be sharing our best finds here on a biweekly basis.
Here’s what we found this month—keep checking back for more weekend activities to be added, or take a look at what we were up to in February, January, and beyond.
A cabin getaway in upstate new York
Cedar Lakes Estate, in New York’s Hudson Valley, has gone through several iterations—starting as a sleepaway camp for kids from Harlem, then an Olympics training ground, and eventually, a wedding and event venue with a wide variety of accommodations, from high-ceilinged cottages to huge rooms with bunk beds. But last year, as large gatherings were canceled, owners Stephanie and Lisa Karvellas reworked their business plan to pivot to cabin getaways, which had previously only been available in the wedding off-season, in hopes of recouping some of the money lost from postponed weddings. They imagined a place where couples, families, and pandemic pods could spend a weekend in nature, with plenty of fresh air and incredible meals.
My husband and I got married at Cedar Lakes in 2019, and given that it’s only a 90-minute drive from the city, it seemed like the ideal place to celebrate our 10-year anniversary. We checked into one of their cozy Sleepy Pine cottages, which was decorated with rustic memorabilia and had plenty of space for us to stretch out for the weekend. The same amount of attention that goes into planning destination weddings has gone into these weekend getaways—there are work spaces if you need to dial in; we got daily texts reminding us of the events, like movie night in the barn and a cocktail-making class. All the meals are included in the resort fee, including a hearty breakfast, picnic lunch, and multi-course dinner (that can be eaten in your room if you’d prefer not to dine in their spaced out pavilion). And the 500-acre grounds are set up for all sorts of winter activities, like sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and more. We loved being back on the property and experiencing it as guests, where every detail was taken care of and COVID measures were carefully put into place. Cedar Lakes plans to continue these weekend getaways through April, so there’s plenty more time for those in the region to enjoy this rare chance to experience this pop-up hotel—no wedding festivities required. —Stephanie Wu, articles director
Falafel in Philly
Apparently, I have been a five-minute walk away from the perfect falafel for nearly a year. Goldie, a vegan and kosher falafel shop in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, was opened in 2017 by the same people behind award-winning Israeli restaurant Zahav. (Zahav is the Hebrew word for gold; “Goldie” nods to the idea that this outpost is a miniature version of the restaurant.) I was always curious about the people queued up down the block, because the menu is quite short: just falafel sandwiches and salads, fries, and Tehina Shakes, a milkshake made with ground sesame seeds. After indulging in a sampling—the moist falafel, well crisped fries, a variety of tangy dipping sauces, and that delicious shake—I will happily line up down the street for future lunches.—Mercedes Bleth, senior social media manager
An at-home raw bar
In the midst of a recent bout of winter cooking doldrums, Citarella swept in with the ultimate save: a complete at-home raw bar kit that required minimal work (basically, we plated it) and an impressive level of escapism. Citarella, the New York City–based gourmet market, recently created the package and named it after owner Joe Gurrera, a fishmonger known for his expertise on all things fresh seafood. We chose it because we’ve been craving some lighter dinner options—and at this time of year, wish we could be somewhere sunny and by the sea.
I didn’t realize you could ship shellfish and keep it so fresh. When we first opened it, I was sold on the caviar alone—the tangy crème fraîche really landed it—but then came a parade of heavy-hitters from the sea. Fresh, baby pink shrimp; pre-shucked oysters on the half shell; stone and king crab legs; as well as a full lobster (also pre-cut and pre-cracked). It was more than enough for two—but we didn’t leave a single bite behind. —Corina Quinn, city guides director
Grocery shopping in Manhattan’s Chinatown
Like many others, I’ve been cooking up a storm over the past year, turning cookbooks that once served as coffee table decor into sauce-splattered kitchen tools. And they have, in turn, sent me throughout New York’s five boroughs in search of the spices, flours, and produce needed to recreate flavors from every corner of the world. Most recently, I did a two-part journey to Chinatown in Flushing, Queens, and its counterpart in downtown Manhattan. Armed with a lengthy shopping list, I scooped up whole Szechuan peppercorns for dry pot, winter melon for a pork rib soup, and, because I couldn’t resist, frozen soup dumplings and bamboo steamers (both of which you can find at Hong Kong Market in the city), for those snowy nights when I’m too tired to cook, yet the weather is miserable enough that I can’t justify ordering delivery. —Megan Spurrell, associate editor
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