Newsletter: Escapes: Miracles and surprises? They’re the secret sauce of travel

A woman walks by a huge mural painted by famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera inside the Palacio Nacional in Mexcio City.
A woman walks by a huge mural painted by famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera inside the Palacio Nacional in Mexcio City.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Autumn is always tinged with sadness for me. So long to those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer when a beach picnic beats the socks off an expensive brunch, when the sounds of kids playing is the best song of summer (sorry, Drake) and there is all the baseball you could possibly want.

But we’re lucky here. We still can have a beach feast, it’s warm enough for our young’uns to play outside, and the Dodgers made it to the postseason, further proof that the nice thing about miracles is that they sometimes do happen.

As do surprises — the good kind. We think we’ll know a place, and we don’t. We think we’ve seen a place, and we haven’t. And that’s the wonder of travel. It makes our eyes and our brains open wider.

Join us for a look at some of our new favorite destinations. And tell us what you’d like to see more of — in this newsletter, in print or online. You can drop us a note at And go Dodgers!


Mexico City for beginners

Christopher Reynolds finally fesses up: He’s been to Mexico dozens of times, but he’d never made time for the capital. Now he knows what he’s been missing. “When I finally gave myself a good look at Mexico City this year, most of [the] attractions surprised me,” he writes. He aims this piece at newbies, but it’s a good guide for anyone who has holes in his or her relationship with the capital. And it has beautiful photos by Times photographer Wally Skalij and a fun video by Reynolds.

A view from the Sears building of the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Seattle’s sexier than ever

I mean, at 56, who doesn’t need a little work? The Seattle Space Needle did. This tower was the centerpiece of the 1962 World’s Fair, Alec Scott writes, noting that it was supposed to be — and has been — a look ahead but is now cast in amber. Direct dial telephones? Monorails? Show me something, um, remotely 21st century. And so it has. Part of what you get with an infusion of $100 million is a redone glass observation deck; Marcus Yam’s photos capture the Needle’s newly invigorated spirit.

Miguel Susana, Arthur Callazans and Ronaldo Barros, from Brazil, pose for photos on the all-glass observation deck in the redone Space Needle.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Puttin’ on a little bit of the Ritz

It’s called the Beverly Hills of San Diego, so you might expect a trip to La Jolla Village will cost you a pretty penny. But what the heck. You’re worth it. And Irene Lechowitzky writes that, yes, you’ll find some pricey places but you can find some bargains too, including the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library and Duke’s La Jolla.

And don't forget the beaches of La Jolla, part of what makes a weekend escape so relaxing.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Starring Vegas!

As you’re waiting for the start of the Dodgers versus the Brewers National League Championship Series (and you can read Houston Mitchell’s assessment of that matchup, you can quell your anxieties by enjoying some blasts from filmdom’s past. If you can’t make it to Vegas, Terry Gardner tells us, take a look at some of these classic movies, some funny, some smooth, some silly, in which the desert city is the star.

Instagram some of Vegas' most noteworthy place in films that star Las Vegas, including "The Hangover," also starring Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, and Ed Helms.
(Frank Masi / Associated Press)

When you’re so weary or wasted you don’t know where you are

You stay in enough hotels and strange things happen, writes Elliott Hester, the experienced flight attendant who writes our “Fly Guy” column. His most recent is a doozy. It chronicles the incidents that flight attendants encounter after a long trip (or a long night of drinking), including getting locked out on the balcony off their room and entering the wrong room and, alas, the wrong bed.

Sleeping in hotel rooms is a big part of flight attendant life.
(Bob Ingelhart / Getty Images)

The menace of Hurricane Michael

As we wrap up the week, fingers crossed for those in the path of Hurricane Michael. You can find updates on how the Category 4 storm is affecting travel plans at Chris Erskine and Mary Forgione (just back from hiking in Croatia and Slovenia) bring you the latest.

High tide from offshore Hurricane Michael creeps up into the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs, Fla., Wednesday afternoon.
(Jim Damaske / TNS)

What we’re reading

Well, now at least I know where I get the doughnut gene from, thanks to the Washington Post. A Krispy Kreme opened in Dublin, and, as we say in baseball, the crowd went wild.

When you travel, you want to soak it all in, which can lead to a bit of sensory overload. Afar magazine has a different and more relaxing idea: Spend a day sightseeing and then take a long, delicious soak in an outdoor bathtub. It suggests 11 places where the heavens meet heaven.

In Westways magazine, Al Bonowitz’s “Island Flavor” put me in a Polynesian state of mind in a detailed story on how his ship trip in the South Pacific helped him understand the roots of Hawaiian hospitality.

And Westways travel editor Elizabeth Harryman’s article about Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 made me realize that you can take a world cruise without spending three months at sea. The secret to this, and to many of life’s dilemmas, is breaking the whole into parts. Harryman couldn’t do 120 days, but she could do five, and that was enough to give her a taste (but also leave her envious of the passengers who were doing all 108 days).

Dancers perform for tourists on the Marquesas Island of Nuku Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.
(Daniel A. Anderson)

End paper

To subscribe to this newsletter, which comes out weekly, or its monthly Vegas cousin or dozens of other packaged-just-for-you mini-tomes, go to the Los Angeles Times Newsletter page.

Meanwhile, we’re busily working on our next Hawaii issue, set for Oct. 21. We continue our “20 meals for $20” updates, this time on Oahu, thanks to writer Rosemary McClure and photographer Kent Nishimura; look at how to make heads turn on Maui (John Nelson); explain how those with physical or cognitive disabilities can surf (Yomi S. Wrong in “All Systems Go”); and find a place of healing on the Island of Hawaii. That last one is my piece. And if I don’t wrap up this newsletter, the editor of the section is going to scold me. Since that’s me, I’ll be talking to myself. Again.

Whether you’re in Hawaii or Mexico, Seattle or La Jolla, travel carefully and come back safely to us. We’ll be here to welcome you home.