Travel writer tells women where to go: Giveaway and Q&A

July 10, 2014
!00 Places in the USA

!00 Places in the USA

Congratulations to Neva Fels who was the lucky winner of the autographed book!

P.S. See Neva’s blog post, which she wrote after reading the book she won!

When it comes to figuring out where to go, men and women often enjoy visiting many of the same places. But my well-traveled, irreverent friend and colleague, travel writer Sophia Dembling has developed a lively list of destinations across the U.S. that beckon to be seen by women.

Sophia’s recently published book, 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go (Travelers Tales, 2014) describes each of these destinations in her interesting, informative, sometimes serious and sometimes whimsical style. The places include national parks, historical sites, essential cities, outdoor adventures and more. Whether you are headed on a road trip and looking for inspiration or are simply an armchair traveler, you’ll enjoy reading about this unique collection of places. This breezy book also would make a perfect gift for a friend or relative who loves travel.

I asked Sophia for her advice on destinations that women might particularly like for particular types of travels. Our Q & A is below. I’m sure once you read Sophia’s answers you’ll want to read more in her book.


The author has graciously agreed to send a signed copy to one lucky reader of More Time To Travel. To enter, leave a comment before July 31 with the name of a city in the U.S. you would like to visit.

One winner will be randomly selected and announced here on August 1 (Sorry, entries limited to U.S. mailing addresses only).


Where is a good place to go for a girlfriend’s getaway?

The collection of Gilded Age mansions in Newport, Rhode Island offer home tours on steroids, they’re the pinnacle of house porn. Were the millionaires of yesteryear anymore ostentatious than today’s? Discuss, as you to tour mansions such as The Breakers, built by railroad millionaire (billionaire by today’s standards) Cornelius Vanderbilt II. In this 70 room edifice, panels in the morning room are decorated in real platinum and the 20 bathrooms have hot and cold running rain or salt water. Naturally, huge staffs were required to keep places like this running; an audio tour of the Breakers touches on some of the experiences they had in those not-always-golden days. No, not everything about those days was pretty (when Mark Twain coined the phrase Gilded Age he didn’t mean it as a compliment), but the houses sure were.

What place would you recommend for a mother-daughter trip?

While today’s feminists agitate for equal pay and wrangle over healthcare, it’s easy to forget how hard the first wave of feminists fought for the most basic of civil rights: to own property, control their own money, and vote. Even those of us who witnessed the accomplishments of the second wave, including Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan — might be a little fuzzy on what it really took for Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others to obtain rights that we, and our daughters, today take for granted. The Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, New York, and the Susan B Anthony house in nearby Rochester, are an education, a reminder for women of all ages. And don’t worry: a trip here won’t be all serious study. Rural Upstate New York is not only magnificent, it’s also a major wine region, with the fine dining that inevitably follows wineries. Just take a moment, before you tuck into that meal, to raise a glass to the women who fight for us all.

Where would you recommend taking grandkids?

You may or may not be able to convince your teenaged grandchildren that you were, in fact, cool, but you can give it your best shot at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. With recordings, photographs, film, and a spectacular collection of artifacts (including, for example, Janis Joplin’s psychedelic Porsche, John Lennon’s collarless gray suit, the teeny-tiny red jacket Keith Richards wore at the infamous Altamont concert) the enormous museum starts at the roots of rock and roll and winds through pop, metal, punk, the British invasion, the Motown sound and much more–right up to artists the grandkids might actually have on their iPods: Lady Gaga, Black Keys, Bruno Mars. Go ahead and reminisce all you want, but keep your wits about you. If you were a real rock and roller, you probably did things back in the day that would shock the kiddos.

What would you suggest to as a great destination to rekindle romance with your partner or spouse? 

Yeah yeah yeah, B&Bs, ruffled pillows, clawfoot tub… That’s all very nice, but you want to really reignite the fire? Do something that gets the heart pumping and adrenaline flowing. Research finds that a little healthy stress, in the form of something adventurous, brings out the amorous in all of us. So instead of the same old-same old romantic inn, consider rafting the Grand Canyon. No experience necessary, a reputable outfitter takes you out there and keeps you safe. Do a multi-day trip and the outfitter will also provide tents, sleeping bags or cots, and cook for you (you’ll have to bring your own alcohol). It’s not exactly luxury, unless you count the extravagance of one of our nation’s most spectacular places, but it’s probably like nothing you’ve ever done before. And after the heart-pumping daytime thrills, you can cuddle up together and gaze up at the starry starry night. And you can imagine where that will lead.

Where can a woman go alone to recharge?

The sublime red-rock landscape of the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico inspired Georgia O’Keefe, who lived here for many years, dividing her time between a home on the ranch (not open to the public) and another in town (which may be toured). You can sign up for one of the many creative or spiritual workshops offered on the property throughout the year, or simply go to be alone with yourself, to hike the sweet-scented scenery, settle into an Adirondack chair and contemplate the changing light, walk into the center of yourself in the meditation labyrinth, and enjoy a break from life and technology; rooms have no telephone, television or Wifi, although you can get online in the library and dining hall and there is limited cell service here and there on the property. If you get antsy, Santa Fe is just 65 miles away, but wouldn’t you rather just sit quietly?

Since many of our readers are over-50, any special tips or advice for this group? 

Many of us, it seems, get stuck in vacation/getaway ruts. We have our favorite spots and return to them again and again. Nothing wrong with that—familiarity and nostalgia are lovely and soothing—but going someplace you’ve never been and do something you’ve never done can be refreshing and invigorating. Those been-there, done-that places will always be there for you to return to. Maybe this is the year you should do something completely out of the ordinary.

  • Reply
    Brittany Ruth
    July 10, 2014 at 8:52 am

    I really want to visit Portland!

  • Reply
    Roxana Georgescu
    July 10, 2014 at 11:20 am

    I would like to visit San Francisco

  • Reply
    Helen Husher
    July 10, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico! I need some alone time right now.

  • Reply
    Jean Fain
    July 11, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Yes, I am definitely in a vacation rut. I’m going to check out Ghost Ranch right now!

  • Reply
    Amy Acers
    July 11, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Ithaca, New York. I’d love to visit the Ornithology Lab at Cornell Univ., and explore the countryside around there.

  • Reply
    Suzie Riddle
    July 11, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I don’t know if this is in the book, but I want to go to Amarillo to visit the Museum of vintage RVs.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I want to visit those mansions in Newport, Rhode Island!

  • Reply
    Susan Achen
    July 11, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Maui or Honolulu! Really, anywhere in Hawaii! lol

  • Reply
    July 11, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Alaska and New York <3

  • Reply
    Linda Kish
    July 11, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    I would like to visit Washington DC

  • Reply
    Jennifer beck
    July 12, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Iwould like to visit Alaska

  • Reply
    Sue Wasserman
    July 12, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Sedona, please!

  • Reply
    Kay Lynn
    July 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I’d like to visit Asheville, NC.

  • Reply
    Cacinda Maloney
    July 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Sedona, Arizona for me!

  • Reply
    The Gypsynesters
    July 14, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    How about New Zealand!

  • Reply
    Michele Peterson
    July 14, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    What a great idea for a book! I may make a pilgrimage to Susan B Anthony house in nearby Rochester-thanks for the reminder on how important that site is.

  • Reply
    July 14, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Great to see her mention Ghost Ranch, though it’s good to know it’s no frills there. We stayed there this spring. The landscape is amazing. Lots of great hiking there. I highly recommend Santa Fe for girls getaways. We plan them all the time for clients. Lots to do here!

  • Reply
    Gretchen B.
    July 14, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    New York City. I need to spend more time at MOMA… 3 hours was not enough!

  • Reply
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    July 14, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    The book sounds fascinating and I would love to see so many of the places you talked about in your interview here starting with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and The Breakers.

  • Reply
    Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it
    July 14, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Her book sounds so interesting a read and would love to recieve it. You peaked my travel interest when you mentioned the Gilded Age mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. My husband and I are checking off the places to see and only return to the same ones when they are worthy. A great place to add is Durango, Colorado with a steam train ride to Silverton, Colorado.

  • Reply
    Lois Alter Mark
    July 14, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Wow, this book sounds fantastic! So many good ideas. I would love to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but think I would still take a spa vacation with my husband over rafting in the Grand Canyon!

  • Reply
    July 15, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Boston, MA

  • Reply
    Suzanne Fluhr
    July 15, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Doesn’t anyone want to come to Philadelphia? Birthplace of the Nation? Since I already live in Philly, I’d like to visit Big Sky country in Montana.

  • Reply
    Linda ~ Journey Jottings
    July 16, 2014 at 5:49 am

    I do have a friend in the USA you could post the book to so I’m going to go for the romantic rafting in the Grand Canyon suggestion – Its a place I have to get to one day, and rafting really would be the icing on the cake… let alone, what Sophia suggests this could lead to! 😉

  • Reply
    July 17, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    I’d like to explore Boston!

  • Reply
    Denise C
    July 20, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I went to Washington DC with my parents when I was a kid in the 80’s, and I don’t remember it well. I’d like to go back again with my family.

  • Reply
    A Cook Not Mad (Nat)
    July 21, 2014 at 12:40 am

    I’d love to visit San Francisco!

  • Reply
    Kimberley Lovato
    July 22, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I kind of want to visit Memphis—blues and bbq.

  • Reply
    July 27, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I’d like to visit Utah on my way to Portland, Oregon from Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, New Mexico.

    Thank you for asking… Looking forward to reading your book and one day meeting to share travel adventures.
    Artfully yours

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