The Best Places to Embrace Your New Pandemic Hobbies, According to a T+L A-List Advisor

Kendra Thornton, a T+L Advisory Board Member, offers suggestions for trips to take your pandemic hobby to the next level.

While the past 17 months may have brought you a lot of family time and an impressive collection of banana bread recipes, chances are that it may have also resulted in a new hobby to indulge in. Hobbies during quarantine were deemed so important to mental health that the Mayo Clinic recommended them on their website as part of coping strategies. 

Whether you wound up with a new furry sidekick, a Gibson Les Paul Standard or a deep understanding of how to sous vide, my company Royal Travel has you covered with amazing destinations where you can explore your new passion safely. 


Culinary Artist 

 adore Blackberry Farm in Tennessee for many reasons; the breadth of stunning rooms, suites, cottages and houses to choose from, the activities here are top notch and their farm to table food is not to be missed. If you’ve taken up cooking, you can indulge in their Summer on the Farm Dinners, wine tastings, as well as their annual Kitchen Full of Kids workshop for your little people.

The exquisite Belmond El Encanto in Santa Barbara, California offers several packages to blissfully indulge in food and wine right in our American Riviera. One of my favorites is their Colgin Cellars Experience where they will teach you on how to blind taste like a sommelier, provide you with a deluxe six-course wine pairing dinner, as well as many other special savory moments.

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico is known for the sand and sea, but also has the most amazing organic working farm and restaurant that runs weekly cooking classes followed by lunch. See Flora Farms and all their bounty.

Luxury property One & Only Palmilla or the more moderate Marquis Los Cabosare spectacular properties that each have elevated dining experiences to enjoy during your stay. 

Music Enthusiast

Even if you’ve never strummed a cord, you know that Nashville is the darling of the music industry. This cooler than cool town is home to 190 recording studios, 80 record labels and is a mecca for live music performances. Nashville’s Hutton Hotel has an amazing Fender Play In-Room Experience where you can use one of Fender’s guitars, basses, or ukuleles during your stay. This also includes the loan of an iPad for their Fender Play®app, an amp, and headphones so that you can rock the night away without disturbing anyone whose there to enjoy their lush beds.

Hotel Saint Cecilia Garden Suite | CREDIT: NICK SIMONITE

Austin, Texas is another great place to flex your music mania, and boutique Hotel Saint Cecilia is just about the coolest place to do it. If you’re more air guitar than power chords, you’ll love their Rega Turntables in every room along with their lending library of vintage LPs and rock biographies. You can easily escape the paparazzi in a poolside bungalow or suite where you can retreat to your divine Hästens bed.

If you’re classically trained, then Paris welcomes you back with a wonderful variety of symphonies as well as concerts to look forward to in the coming months. The InterContinental Paris Le Grand faces the Opera Garnier and is a stunning place to sip a Libertine while you discuss the performance of the Seven Deaths of Maris Callas. If you’re more of a street music aficionado, then wander the Marais while staying at the Pavillon de la Reine and let the sounds of this artistic arrondissement carry you through its charming streets and parks.

Doggie Devotee

Were you one of the thousands of people who found a Covid sidekick during lockdown? That’s great news, but what happens to your new co-dependent friend when you take your long-awaited vacation? Fortunately, more and more hotels are now welcoming dogs as part of the family. 

The Kimpton Hotel brand will host any pet that can fit through the hotel doors (yes, even your llama) with no additional charge. They will welcome the four-legged guests with pet beds, litter boxes, and a special room service menu. The Inn by the Sea in Portland Maine has a luxe getaway for you and your furry loved one. This package includes a room at their beautiful Inn, a personalized L.L. Bean dog bed and toy, a special dog bowl, and a nightly selection from their gourmet pet menu.

Dog on the Rocks at Cape Elizabeth – South Portland, Maine

The Waldorf Astoria Park City, Utah invites you to bring your dog under 100 pounds and promises to spoil them with treats, bowls, and beds and has an amazing dog park with pond and trails across the street. If your dog can’t make the trip, they’ve partnered with a local pet rescue which allow you to take a dog from their no-kill shelter on a field trip hiking, swimming or walking.

Kendra Thornton is a T+L Advisory Board Member and Owner of Royal Travel & Tours. Contact her at: | 815-217-0608


  • Pandemic