Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast
Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - The Northern Charms of Montreal
Montreal may be just a short 1.5 hour flight from cities like New York City and Boston, but this bustling Canadian metropolis feels like a world away thanks to its vibrant mix of European and North American influences. From the cobbled streets of Old Montreal to the contemporary art museums, Montreal has plenty of Gallic charms to delight visitors.
One of the best ways to tap into Montreal's Parisian flair is with a stroll through the cobblestone paths of Old Montreal. Wander past 18th-century stone houses, admire the grand Notre-Dame Basilica, and pop into the many galleries and boutiques housed in historic buildings. It's easy to lose track of time browsing the antique shops, sipping café au laits at sidewalk cafes, and soaking up the Francophile ambiance. Just be sure to sample a few of the famous Montreal-style bagels from landmark shops like St-Viateur Bagel before you leave.
Beyond Old Montreal, the Mile End neighborhood is another hip enclave where Montreal's bilingual culture shines through. Mile End is home to a thriving arts scene thanks to its affordable rents and proximity to multiple universities. Ethnic eateries reflect the diversity of Montreal's immigrant communities, while indie music venues, microbreweries, and 24-hour bagel bakeries give Mile End its trendy cosmopolitan energy.
To appreciate Montreal's arts, be sure to visit the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, known for its European masterpieces, as well as contemporary galleries like the cutting-edge Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. Performing arts lovers can enjoy world-class productions at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra or the Place des Arts complex downtown.
Of course, no trip to Montreal is complete without exploring the natural spaces right in the city center. Mont Royal Park offers hiking trails, lakes, and panoramic views from its namesake Mount Royal. At the nearby Botanical Garden, visitors can stroll through lush gardens representing global ecosystems from China to the Mediterranean.
What else is in this post?
- Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - The Northern Charms of Montreal
- Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Feel the Beat in San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - History and Hospitality in Bermuda
- Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Go Green in Dublin, Ireland
- Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Dance the Night Away in Nassau, Bahamas
- Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Mind, Body and Soul in Cancun, Mexico
- Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Tour the Towers of Tor Torre, Panama
- Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Indulge in Food and Wine in Lisbon, Portugal
Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Feel the Beat in San Juan, Puerto Rico
From reggaeton to bomba, San Juan’s streets pulse with vibrant beats and island rhythm. As the capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan encapsulates the diversity of the island’s musical culture all within a compact colonial setting.
Wandering the pastel-hued streets of Old San Juan, you’re bound to stumble into impromptu jam sessions spilling from colorful corner bars. Locals tap claves and strum cuatros late into the night, while soulful singers croon boleros of love and loss. For a taste of San Juan’s homegrown music scene, stop into venues like Nuyorican Café, where you can catch live salsa bands and experimental fusion acts alike. Smaller hole-in-the-wall bars often host informal performances of traditional trova ballads, reinforcing San Juan’s identity as the heart of Puerto Rican culture.
Beyond the late-night revelry, San Juan also nurtures its musical heritage at institutions like the Pablo Casals Museum. Dedicated to the famous cellist and composer, it traces the evolution of classical music on the island. Meanwhile, the San Juan Museum of Art and History sheds light on folk styles like danza and highlights iconic Puerto Rican artists.
Afro-Caribbean influences also pulse through San Juan, from the intricate drum rhythms of bomba music to the call-and-response chants of plena. For insight into these traditions, time your visit with the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian each January. The street party fills Old San Juan with parading percussion ensembles, while food stands dish out local delicacies late into the night.
Of course, no discussion of San Juan’s music scene is complete without mentioning reggaeton. The city’s streets provided the backdrop for this blend of hip hop, dancehall, and Latino rhythms to emerge in the 1990s. Now an international phenomenon, reggaeton still thumps from passing cars and beachfront discotecas alike. For the full experience, join the crowds at Generator Club in the Hato Rey neighborhood to dance till dawn.
Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - History and Hospitality in Bermuda
With its pastel cottages, pink sand beaches, and refined British charm, Bermuda exudes both history and hospitality in equal measure. As a British Overseas Territory, this island nation retains deep ties to its colonial heritage while welcoming visitors with warm smiles and an intoxicating joie de vivre.
Bermuda’s uniqueculture derives from its history as one of England’s oldest colonies. St. George, founded in 1612, remains one of the best-preserved examples of a colonial town in the Americas. Stroll through the quiet cobblestone lanes to experience history firsthand. Tour the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Town of St George and its Related Fortifications, seeing historical highlights like the state house built in 1620. Nearby, the historical museum in the stately Globe Hotel immerses you in island history and culture.
Beyond the storied capital, Bermuda’s British roots weave through daily island life. Afternoon tea is a cherished ritual, enjoyed on the sun-dappled terraces of hotels like the Fairmont Southampton. Cricket, that most genteel of English sports, remains beloved by Bermudians. Step back in time by stopping into a local cricket club to experience this community tradition.
Despite its tidy exterior, Bermuda rewards travelers who venture beyond the formalities to uncover its spirited culture. Local Gombey dancers channel Bermuda’s African heritage, while island musicians like the Bermuda Strollers keep audiences singing along to their infectious rhythms late into the night. Sip dark n’ stormies and watch the sunset from a seaside bar in quaint St. George’s, then stay for live music and dancing as the night unfurls.
Bermuda’s natural beauty provides the idyllic setting for rest and relaxation against the backdrop of 400 years of island history. Explore the sprawling Botanical Gardens established in 1898, admiring lush tropical species from around the world. Then wander through the Renaissance gardens of the 400-year-old Waterlot Inn, where English herbs mingle with Burmese orchids and Mexican succulents.
For a true taste of Bermudian hospitality, stay in one of the intimate cottage colonies dotted along the coast. At these family-run hideaways, relax by the seaside by day, then gather with fellow guests for cocktails or musical performances in the evening. Fall asleep to the sound of waves and wake up to home-cooked breakfasts featuring local specialties like codfish and potatoes.
Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Go Green in Dublin, Ireland
Dublin may be best known for its historic sites and lively pubs, but Ireland’s capital also leads the way when it comes to sustainability. With an array of eco-conscious tours, restaurants, and transportation options, Dublin makes it easy for travelers to reduce their carbon footprint. Going green not only benefits the environment, but also provides a more authentic connection to the Emerald Isle.
One of the simplest ways to lower your impact is to walk or bike your way around the city. Dublin operates a convenient public bike rental scheme with stations scattered around the center. Pedaling along the scenic River Liffey lets you take in sights like the Ha’penny Bridge at a relaxed pace. For those looking to break a sweat, companies like See Dublin by Bike offer guided cycles around Phoenix Park and beyond. You’ll work up an appetite for a sustainable meal at one of Dublin’s exceptional organic eateries, like the veggie-centric Cornucopia.
Dubliners keen on urban agriculture have also transformed pockets of the city into community gardens. At sites like the 11-acre Weaver Park, volunteers plant fruits and vegetables while providing environmental education. Get your hands dirty with a gardening workshop or simply wander the site’s nature trails and forest classroom. Nearby, the Sustainable Living initiative demonstrates eco-friendly daily practices to the public through its model home installations.
Conscious travelers can continue exploring Dublin’s green spaces with a visit to the National Botanic Gardens or a peaceful amble through St. Stephen’s Green. Seek out secret gardens tucked behind private residences and schools throughout the city for a glimpse of Dublin’s literal greener side. The civic group Dublin Greening has planted miniature parks in forgotten corners of the urban landscape to beautify neighborhoods.
Accommodations have also embraced sustainability, with initiatives to conserve water, energy, and reduce waste. Hotels like The Dean integrate upcycled materials in their design, while The Marker pledges carbon neutrality. On the outskirts of Dublin, Monart Destination Spa operates an eco-friendly resort powered by wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps.
Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Dance the Night Away in Nassau, Bahamas
The Bahamas may be synonymous with relaxation, but Nassau knows how to turn up the heat once the sun goes down. From salsa lessons to nightclubs, this Caribbean capital gives visitors ample opportunities to dance off some of that vacation indulgence. Grab your partner and get ready to sway your cares away.
Evenings in Nassau hum with musical energy, so put on your dancing shoes and let the island rhythms move you. For an authentic taste of Bahamian culture, wander past corner bars where locals casually calypso to songs from the islands. At beachfront hotels like the Melia Nassau Beach Resort, live bands get guests on their feet with upbeat tempos ranging from soca to classic rock. Not ready to show off your skills? Have a laugh at the Fish Fry's Omari Theatre, where costumed performers act out traditional folk dances from the Bahamas and beyond.
Of course, Nassau also boasts plenty of glitzy mega-clubs catering to the party crowd. Atlantis Paradise Island's Aura Nightclub draws international DJs spinning pulse-pounding electronic beats, while club Secret Garden goes for a more exclusive vibe. Downtown Nassau, the nightclub at the British Colonial Hilton whips up a posh cocktail of lounge music and go-go dancers. I recommend sticking to the hotel bars if you're traveling solo, but venture to other nightlife spots with a group.
Prefer a touch of romance with your revelry? Sign up for dance lessons to learn smooth moves like salsa and bachata. At Dancesport Bahamas, expert instructors lead group classes for all experience levels. I found the friendly vibe put even clumsy-footed novices at ease. Meanwhile, romance blooms once the sun sets at Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort and Offshore Island. Sway cheek-to-cheek on a twilight catamaran cruise, then show off new salsa skills during lively evening events.
Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Mind, Body and Soul in Cancun, Mexico
Though known as a spring break hotspot, Cancun has far more to offer than just parties and beaches. In recent years, the Mexican resort city has developed into a haven for wellness, with everything from yoga retreats to temazcal rituals drawing travelers seeking to rejuvenate mind, body and soul.
The soothing sounds of the Caribbean lapping at powder-soft sands already prime the mind for relaxation. Yet Cancun takes it further, with beachfront wellness festivals like Namaste bringing guided meditations, sound baths, and lessons in ancient healing techniques right to the shores. Or escape to holistic hotels like Le Blanc Spa Resort, where treatments based on ancient Mayan and Nahuatl traditions integrate modern spa science. Follow a detoxifying algae wrap with watsu water therapy for deep restoration.
Cancun’s surrounding nature also renews the spirit, from brisk beach runs at sunrise to meditative labyrinth walks at eco-parks like Xcaret and Xel-Ha. The crystalline waters of cenotes, or natural sinkholes, provide an almost preternatural calming influence while snorkeling or swimming. For the ultimate perspective shift, soar above the jungle canopy on zip lines with companies like Selvatica.
Yoga flourishes in Cancun, with barefoot sessions right on the beach a daily ritual at many hotels. Popular studios like Yama and Gypset Goddess hold classes in English, while the massive Pyramid of the Sun at ultra resort Grand Oasis Sens caters to yogis of all levels. Or go on retreat with international teachers at temples like Ahau Tulum, where teacher trainings, kirtans, and vegan cuisine nurture body, mind and spirit.
Plant medicine ceremonies provide another conduit for introspection and healing. Long revered by Mesoamerican cultures, psychedelics like psilocybin mushrooms and the peyote cactus offer safe, supervised mental journeys when facilitated by licensed practitioners. Retreats integrate these with other modalities from meditation to art therapy for truly holistic renewal.
Even Cancun’s world-class spas take wellness beyond simple pampering. At spa resorts like Le Blanc and Paradisus, hydrotherapy circuits boost circulation and lymphatic drainage between massages. Acupuncture, energy work like reiki, and herbal treatments address mind-body balance.
Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Tour the Towers of Tor Torre, Panama
Rising from the jungle like a vision from the past, Panama’s "las torres" stand testament to centuries of history and culture. These stone towers dot the landscape of Bocas del Toro province, a verdant archipelago of mist-shrouded islands and unspoiled rainforest. Built by the Ngäbe-Buglé people centuries before European contact, the torres once served as lookouts and ceremonial sites for this indigenous group. Today, visiting these relics offers profound insight into Panama’s rich heritage beyond the shiny skyscrapers of Panama City.
Your first glimpse of Las Torres will likely come aboard a water taxi shuttling you between eco-lodges on Isla Bastimentos. Suddenly the dense jungle parts to reveal an ancient tower silhouetted against the horizon, sending a shiver down your spine. Most tours make a quick photo stop before continuing on, but I knew I needed to learn the real story behind these towers.
That’s how I found myself hiking through the jungle with Ngäbe-Buglé guides from the community-run tourism cooperative Camino de Cruces. They led me through trails only the locals use to avoid slipping and sliding in the rainy season mud. The path terminated at an impossibly steep ladder ascending one of the towers. “Many tourists turn back here,” my guide Claudio grinned. But I was determined to reach the top.
After a calf-burning climb, I emerged onto the tower top overlooking endless expanses of emerald foliage. Claudio explained that his ancestors used these vantage points to spot invading forces approaching by canoe. They also served as sacred ritual spaces for shamans. Gazing out at the intimate view of jungle and sea, I could easily imagine the ceremonies and celebrations that once animated these towers.
Most visitors whiz past Las Torres on boat tours or admire them fromshore. But climbing them grants an entirely different appreciation of their significance. Touching the weathered stones, I felt a visceral connection across centuries to the rich indigenous experience. Beyond the selfie-moments, experiencing sites like these with local guides gives meaningful context. It transforms passive sightseeing into active learning and fosters respect for living cultures.
Jet Set East: 10 International Cities Just a Short Flight from the U.S. East Coast - Indulge in Food and Wine in Lisbon, Portugal
Tucked along Portugal’s sun-dappled coast, Lisbon offers the perfect blend of history, scenery, and most importantly, culinary pleasures. In this city perched upon seven hills, excellent eats and drinks await around every corner thanks to a food scene fueled by fresh Mediterranean ingredients. Seafood straight from the Atlantic, savory regional stews, and of course, decadent pastries - a trip to Lisbon delivers temptation at every turn. Add in world-class wines from the surrounding countryside and you have the recipe for an unforgettable gourmet getaway.
No culinary experience here is complete without feasting on Lisbon’s bounty of seafood. Fromstreetside grilled sardines fresh off the boat to chef-driven new wave eateries, the city showcases the diverse ways Portuguese chefs transform ocean fare into magic. Local favorites include salted cod and garlic shrimp, while upscale restaurants craft elaborate seafood risottos and paellas brimming with shellfish. Make reservations at Cervejaria Ramiro for their legendary lobster stew, or join the crowds at Solar dos Presuntos for tender octopus washed down with crisp Vinho Verde wine. Wander the stalls of the Ribeira Market to sample grilled prawns sizzling on hibachis while drinking in the lively market atmosphere.
Beyond the waterfront, Lisbon’s various neighborhoods feed visitors with regional specialties and culinary flair. The Alfama’s winding streets host tiny taverns known as tascas, perfect for authentic takes on caldo verde soup and savory salt cod pastries. Head to workaday residential districts like Graça and Estrela for hole-in-the-wall eateries where locals gather for sizzling steak sandwiches and snails baked in elaborate sauces. In artsy Principe Real, creative chefs blend global influences into elevated versions of classic Portuguese fare - think black pork with yuzu mayo or octopus carpaccio on smashed potatoes. Even scenic hilltop miradouros feature drinks and snacks to fuel your city explorations.
No food quest in Lisbon would be complete without sampling its sweeter side. Bakeries citywide tempt passerby with freshly baked pastéis de nata, flakey tarts filled with velvety custard. Indulge your inner child by dipping chewy churros in thick chocolate at Casa Portuguesa do Pastel de Bacalhau. And don’t miss out on the theatrics at Manteigaria, where staff wrap buttery almond pastries in edible paper scribbled with customers’ names. Just browsing the area’s vibrant confectionaries and bakeries promises a visual feast to satisfy any sweet tooth.