Luxury Adventures

By Barbara Ramsay Orr

Nova Scotia

It’s always a good thing when food and art combine. Executive Chef Dale Nichols, at the Digby Pines Golf Resort and Spa in Nova Scotia, collected his best recipes for his latest cookbook, From Palette to Palate, and invited artist Lynda Shalagan to illustrate the book with paintings of some of the dishes.  

You can tuck in to the culinary inspiration in the resort’s dining room. Digby scallops, prepared by Chef Nichols, are the best on earth. No contest. 

The resort is open seasonally from mid-May to mid-October and is just about a five-minute drive from the ferry terminal. With golf, a full spa, hiking trails and a sprawling Norman-style architecture, it’s an ideal base for a maritime vacation, and for exploring the Bay of Fundy.

If you fly to St. John and pick up a rental car, the ferry will comfortably whisk you over to Digby in just over two hours. The ferry ride is an adventure on its own.

From the Pines, you can tour the Acadian shore, sample the excellent local dishes at places like La Cuisine Robicheau, or explore the historic towns along the Bay of Fundy. Digby’s municipal museum boasts artifacts from famous local folk art painter, Maude Lewis, whose life was celebrated in the documentary Maudie. 

Annapolis Royal was settled in 1605 and is full of art galleries, antique stores, and locally created folk art. Be sure to visit Catfish Moon for unique wood carvings and check out the recently discovered wall paintings, hidden behind wallpaper and paint for years, at the Sinclair Inn.

New York, New York

It’s true. New York never sleeps.

Right now, the Metropolitan Museum is featuring its collection of paintings of the Dutch Masters until next October, if you’re looking for some classic eye candy. The trip out to the Cloisters is also a pleasant one, worthwhile for the architecture of the building itself, as well as its collection of medieval European art.

For the dog lovers, there’s a new museum opening in February in midtown Manhattan, The Museum of the Dog. It will feature fine art — paintings, prints, sculptures — that portray man’s best friend. There’s also a “Find Your Match” booth that takes visitors’ photos and tells them which dog breed is their doppelgänger.

And in the spirit of Sinatra’s “If you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere,” try to fit in a visit to the Art Students League on 57th Street. Hamilton-born and trained artist, Arthur Crisp, studied and taught at the Art Students League in the 1920s and was vice president of the school at one time. The elegant old building is lovely and there are guided tours. Some of the biggest names in the American art world studied here. 

A walk along the High Line and brunch in the West Village, window shopping on Fifth Avenue and a Broadway show — all will give you the flavour of the city.

There are so many places to dine in the city that visitors are often overwhelmed with choice. I actually like to go simple — the street food in Manhattan is often worthy of a Michelin star. Look for a food truck with a line-up and the culinary offerings you like. And no one does pizza better than Joe’s Pizza in the West Village. If you want to experience a buzzworthy NYC spot, try out Momofuku Noodle Bar, either the one in the East Village, or the newest one at Columbus Circle. 

The Moxy Times Square is a hotel that surprises you with its campy charm and perfectly designed rooms. Granted, the rooms are smallish, but all the details are covered and the location is ideal. You can walk to many of the big tourist attractions in a New York minute.

London, England

You’ve probably seen most of the iconic landmarks of London already, so this time, why not tackle a walking tour that will guide you through the backstreets and historic out-of-the-way corners, as well as give you a culinary experience that’s part dining, part historic exploration? 

Eating London Food Tours leads you on a four-hour walking tour with seven authentic tastings at historic pubs, famous curry restaurants on Brick Lane, or fish and chips and mushy peas at Poppies, rumoured to serve the best fish and chips in London. It’s a journey through time, and through the history of London, via the different waves of culinary influences that have shaped the city. It’s satisfying in every way.

London is well-supplied with excellent hotels. Splurge and stay at the spectacular Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard, whose distinctive form has taken a prominent place in the city skyline. The view from the champagne bar on the top floor is breathtaking in the true sense of the word, as is the view from your bed, of the vast city at your feet. 

For a unique London experience, consider A Movie On the River, where you first enjoy a sunset cruise on an open deck boat along the most iconic parts of the Thames, and then watch a movie under the stars, in view of London Bridge. 

Even in the middle of the turmoil of Brexit, London is still one of the coolest cities on earth.