Journalist Jackie Cooperman calls New York home, but she is more likely found hopping a plane on assignment for publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the New York Times, Departures and Food & Wine. An expert in culture, food, travel and fashion, Jackie’s frequent sidekick is her seven-year-old daughter Livia, whose well-used passport out-stamps most adults’. Here, Jackie shares her favorite summertime escapes, her go-to New York date nights and where she’s dying to head next.
Q: Where and when did you take your first trip as a family?
In July 2007, when our daughter Livia was four months old, we drove with my parents to Wellfleet, MA, and introduced her to Cape Cod. The next month we got bolder and hopped on a plane to Carmel Valley, CA.
Q: What is your favorite travel memory from childhood, and what do you hope your kids remember about their travels?
I am very lucky because my parents loved to travel, had a real sense of adventure and took me along, providing a major shift from our usual surroundings in West Philadelphia.
When I was three, we lived in Paris for the year, and I attended a French nursery school. We spent that summer in a little house on the Dordogne, feeding chickens and rabbits and milking cows. One of my favorite memories is taking a two-day ferry from Greece (where my father was attending a scientific summer conference on the island of Spetses) to the former Yugoslavia. I was six years old, and the boat was nearly empty. The dining room seemed very grand and was staffed by Italian waiters who christened me “Carolina.” I think that trip, which included a side visit to Venice, started me on a lifelong love of all things Italian.
I hope that Livia remembers our trips as times when we had great family adventures, making plans but allowing spontaneity. I hope she remembers the feeling of arriving in a wholly new place and being constantly curious, joyfully navigating the unfamiliar.
Q: Have any of your family trips been a complete fail?
So far, so good.
Q: Name a place where you’ll always return and why.
Near home, my family loves visiting Lenox, Massachusetts at least once each summer. Picnicking under Tanglewood’s starry skies and listening to expert musicians is a spiritual experience.
Abroad, I would be very happy if I could spend at least a week each summer in the Argentario, on the coast of Tuscany. The soft sand beaches, pine forests and delicious food (there’s a beach bar that makes a sublime pasta with octopus ragu) alone are delightful, but it’s also close enough to make trips to Rome and the towns and cities of Tuscany.
Q: What’s your dream destination for travel a deux, and what’s on your bucket list for a trip with the family?
I haven’t been to Bali and would love to go with my husband one day. As a family, we’re dreaming lately of Macchu Picchu. I traveled years ago to Burma and to the Galapagos, two places I’d love to return with my husband and daughter.
Q: Where would you send first-time visitors for a family day and kid-free night in your hometown?
For a family day in the summer, I’d recommend Governor’s Island: you take a fun free ferry to get there, and then the Children’s Museum of the Arts has free activities, plus there’s artisanal ice cream, mini golf, bike rentals, great views of the Statue of Liberty and often live music.
It’s almost impossible to narrow down New York City for the adults on the town, because it caters to nearly every budget and taste. But a few personal favorites: a stroll through the galleries and then a drink on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s rooftop terrace (open until 9pm Friday and Saturday); dinner at Recette, Feast or ABC Kitchen; jazz at the Jazz Gallery; a movie at the Angelica. If you can begin the kid-free activities in the late afternoon, I’d start with a spa treatment and a swim either at the Peninsula spa or at Shibui at the Greenwich Hotel (in the latter case, an aperitivo after at Locanda Verde).
Q: What’s your traveling uniform? Do your kids have one as well?
I don’t have a precise uniform. I tend to wear dark clothing (dark fitted jeans or James Perse pants with a t-shirt and slouchy cardigan, or a navy blue Theory jersey tank dress that I’ve had for years and wear if I’m going somewhere warm) and ballet flats or my silver Geox sneakers. I almost always carry my MZ Wallace tote. It’s super light and contains more than I’d care to admit or inventory.
Livia likes to dress in layers: dresses, leggings, cardigans – usually in some combination of bright colors and patterns, not necessarily matching but reliably cheerful.
Q: Fill in the blank: Flying with kids is...
an inducement to allow screen time.
Never board a plane without...
MadLibs, a charged iPad, a few bottles of water, a Muji multi-colored pen, blank paper, and a healthy dose of patience.
Q: If parents could design a hotel, all rooms would have:
Water, healthy snacks, black-out shades, enough storage to unpack a few days’ worth of clothes, sufficient electrical outlets, a large bathtub and a smartly designed separator, as simple as a drop curtain or a folding screen, so that parents can stay up while kids sleep.