Exercise your brain while relaxing with these smart domestic journeys

New York may be the culture capital of the world, but there is a world of culture waiting for travelers once you stray beyond the five boroughs. 

Best of all, much of that learned recreation is both easily accessible and a short trip away — developed not just with travelers in mind, but sometimes even in conjunction with luxury hotels themselves. 

Take the River House at Odette’s, an elegant, 38-room hotel in New Hope, Pennsylvania — about two hours west of New York City.

Last fall, the property introduced a comprehensive Author’s Series in collaboration with local independent bookstore Doylestown Bookshop.

Running throughout the year, the series features leading authors staying at the hotel where they mix and mingle with hotel guests during book signings, private readings and meet-and-greets. 

Author talks are drawing literati to River House at Odette’s, a swank hotel in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Don Pearce Photographers

Already writers such as Julian Sancton (“Madhouse at the End of the Earth”) and Julie Carrick Dalton (“The Last Beekeeper”) have been in residence — still to come are Jill Santopolo (“Stars Under an Italian Sky”) on April 26 along with Lynn Steger Strong (“Flight”) on June 28 and Sarah Cypher (“The Skin and its Girl”) on Oct. 25. 

The series, said Ron Gorodesky, president and CEO of Refined Hospitality, which runs the River House, is an experiential “nod to Bucks County’s literary heritage and strengthens New Hope as a destination where visitors and locals can continue to celebrate the arts.” During each event, he continued, the hotel transforms into a brick-and-mortar “retreat for the authors to connect with nature and explore their creativity” while also enjoying face time with some of their most passionate fans. 

To keep those passions flowing, the hotel — which is set on the site of a one-time cabaret — has also devised a signature cocktail to go along with each author’s visit. Try the “Madhouse at the End of the World” cocktail, which includes gin, lemon juice, Luxardo Maraschino and an egg white. 

The Philadelphia Show returns to the city's Museum of Art for the 61st time in late April.
The Philadelphia Show returns to the city’s Museum of Art for the 61st time in late April.
Getty Images

Also in Pennsylvania is the annual Philadelphia Show, one of the largest art and design expos in the US.

Running from April 28 to 30, this year’s show — its 61st go-around — takes place (for the second time only) at the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art and features 40 galleries and exhibitors from across the US. It showcases a blue-chip array of antiques, fine art, ceramics, folk art and collectible design. 

Mounted on the Museum’s neoclassical East Terrace, the show will continue to expand its purview this year beyond American art, with a new focus on Asian and European art and galleries, as well. The event also includes organized tours, special lectures and kid-focused activities (including a scavenger hunt!), with all proceeds benefiting the museum.

For an equally culture-rich place to lay your heads, check in to the nearby Rittenhouse Hotel, the long-time Philadelphia grand dame which is a short stroll away from both the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as the rest of the city’s top cultural, culinary and retail offerings.

Down in Washington, DC, April brings cherry blossoms, creating a pastel-colored urban canopy across the nation’s capital.

The new Morrow Hotel offers the most charming and eco-conscious way to celebrate this annual floral surge by adopting a cherry blossom tree.

Get a room at the new Morrow Hotel and "adopt" a tree.
Get a room at the new Morrow Hotel and “adopt” a tree.
Kris Tamburello

The special “Adopt a Tree” package includes a donation to the Trust for the National Mall’s “Adopt a Cherry Tree” campaign – along with an indulgent picnic basket to enjoy on the nearby blossom-covered Mall.

Out West in cowboy country, the luxury “dude ranch” Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado has launched a new wine and culinary program with local purveyors.

Ideal for adventure-loving foodies, the program includes everything from wine tastings to culinary workshops hosted at Dunton with feasts and pours from some of the most celebrated small-scale producers from across the nation. 

Exterior of fly-fishermen at Dunton Hot Springs.
Across the nation, the deluxe dude ranch Dunton Hot Springs in Colorado is combining rugged outdoor activities like fly fishing with culinary craft for gastronomy-geared gadabouts.
Jack Richmond

Throughout the year, events will include workshops with winemakers in the afternoon and a dinner in the evening, with pairings that reflect some of their favorite products.

The late-May dinner with Napa’s hip-cult Matthiasson Winery is certain to be a winner. 

Another cultural event that pairs a luxe stay with innovation and creativity is DIVE, a new series of paintings from transcendental meditation guru Katy Ferrarone, which is being held at Palm Beach’s Colony Hotel through the end of this summer. 

Then there are guided “foraging walks” at newcomer Eastwind Olivera Valley in upstate New York. Hike while you learn about and hunt for plants, fungi and produce native to the Catskills. Once “discovered,” the items are then incorporated into cocktails for guests to enjoy. 

At the sultry Crossroads Hotel in Kansas City, a night market draws local artisans together for your professorial perusal.
At the sultry Crossroads Hotel in Kansas City, a night market draws local artisans together for your professorial perusal.
Courtesy of Crossroads Hotel

Finally, in increasingly groovy Kansas City, the sleek Crossroads Hotel has launched a new “night market” which features dozens of local artisans and makers coming together to sell their wares to both locals and visitors. 

Smart stuff. 

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