3 Closer-to-Home Destinations to Discover in Your Return to Travel

We're giving you our top picks for adventures close to home, including The Narrows, in Utah's Zion National Park (pictured above). Photo: Inge Johnsson/Alamy Stock Photo

Dreaming of your next trip? Here, we bring you some inspiration for closer to home travel from a Canadian staycation to a travel log detailing the wonders of Utah’s Zion National Park.


Checking In

Harbour views at Queen’s Marque. Photo: Autograph Collection


Staycations are the new normal, and Halifax, a city of 400,000 people, has seen a new hotel open every year in the last three years. The latest is the Muir, Autograph Collection Hotels’ first foray into Nova Scotia, an example of the “born of this place” design movement.

The bar at Drift, in the Muir. Photo: Muir

The goal, according to MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects, is to honour local character, materials and heritage. Located in the new Queen’s Marque district on the city’s scenic waterfront, the hotel’s wharf-like elements seamlessly connect it to the historic harbour.


Armchair Inspiration

New York City is back. Armchair travellers can do the Big Apple with Carrie Bradshaw et al., in the Sex and the City reboot, while Assouline has published a coffee-table book for the 90th birthday of the storied Carlyle hotel – fresh off a reno. A fave of Lenny Kravitz (who wrote the book’s forward), Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have also spent the night, and were spotted in the legendary Bemelmans Bar. Indeed, its murals painted in the 1940s by Madeline author Ludwig Bemelmans still draws the glam set.

—Vivian Vassos

Take a Hike

The Narrows, in Utah’s Zion National Park. Hiking this area ranks in the top five American adventures, according to National Geographic. Photo: Inge Johnsson/Alamy Stock Photo


The smooth red and grey walls of the canyon reach 500 metres above my head. I secure my footing on loose stones at the bottom of the Virgin River. It’s a calm, green, shallow stream right now, but its water carved out this part of the gorge — called the Narrows because it is just six metres wide in places — sculpting the compressed sandstone over millennia, here in southern Utah’s Zion National Park. I plant my wooden walking stick in the river and reach out to touch the pitted and grooved rock face. A tiny stream flows from a hidden crevice, while bright green, miniature ferns form vertical hanging gardens. I feel as if I’m wading through a temple of stone, a monument to nature’s awesome power. Fortunately, the probability of flash floods is low at this time of year. Hiking the Narrows fills my soul with that blissful peace nature bestows on those open to its reception. I smile at my guide, the mustachioed Wil Donohue, and tell him that there’s no place I’d rather be at this moment. Donohue tells me I’m experiencing what he calls “Type 1” fun — participating in an activity that is enjoyable during and after its completion. (In case you’re curious, “Type 2” fun is painful in the moment – think bike-packing uphill or canyoneering out of steep, natural potholes – but fun in retrospect.) It’s a glorious fall day, and the tall cottonwoods dotting the valley floor are in full, golden splendour. The cloud cover that dulled the sky earlier has lifted, gracing us with sunshine; Zion gets more than 300 blue-sky days a year. The absence of crowds contributes to my joy as I walk in the serene surroundings. Utah’s Indigenous Paiute Indian Tribe consider the canyon a spiritual sanctuary, and I couldn’t agree more.

—Claudia Laroye