For almost three decades, author Steve Jermanok has been exploring the world scoping out the coziest hotels, the greatest bike trails and the best places to ski. Most of that information went into more than 2,000 stories in newspapers and magazines or eight travel books
But New England is a favorite stomping ground, which is why his latest book, “New England in a Nutshell,” details all anyone would want to know about what to do and where to find it in the six states that comprise this area. The book became available July 2.
“This is my ninth book to date,” Jermanok said from his base in Newton, Massachusetts. “It celebrates the first book I authored, ‘Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England.’ It’s distilled down from the slew of stories I’ve done over the past 25 years but updating and revising the copy.”
In a succinct style that’s full of color and descriptive prose, Jermanok has listed at least 50 categories over 296 pages that include not just the expected best places to bike, hike, kayak, sail or visit romantic hideaways, but where to pick apples; enjoy craft beers or pizza; where to watch birds, wildlife or stargaze; where the best regional theater, dance, music or films are; and where to take the family for an adventure. He’s even included the most interesting historical trails, famous literary landmarks and great cemeteries.
These places and activities are scattered throughout the six states, each of which is divided into geographic zones, as north and south Vermont or east and west Massachusetts and cover four seasons. A few lively photos from Jermanok’s wife, Lisa Leavitt, grace the copy.
Jermanok’s own story is revealing. A Linton High School grad, class of ’82, Jermanok had been working on Wall Street in New York City as a stockbroker when he decided to quit his job in 1990.
“I’d gone to a book fair in Manhattan and picked up a book on how to be a travel writer,” he said. “I followed the author’s advice and booked a ticket to the South Seas. I sold my first story: ‘Living with Cannibals on Fiji’ in 1990.”
He never looked back.
Magazines and newspapers that had a travel budget used to pay for his travels, at least until 2008. Since then it’s not been so easy, Jermanok said. Always curious, he finds many of his places through research, others come through word of mouth.
He’s visited one hundred countries, he said. But like any good reporter, he’s the one who bikes the route, climbs the mountain – sometimes two in a day, he said — visits the hotels, sails the boat or checks out the art museums. Usually, he travels alone with his laptop and smart phone, but sometimes he takes his family.
He and his wife also run a boutique travel agency, Active Travels, which provides individualized global travel experiences.
New England is still one of his favorite places, however, because he grew up in the area and used to sail with his father on Lake George. (Bolton Landing is the only mention of a New York spot in his latest book and that’s for its sailing opportunities.)
“I have a love for the outdoors from being in Schenectady,” Jermanok said. “From Jumpin Jack’s burgers to walks in the park.”
Although the book does not include the immediate area, many of the book’s locales are excellent day trips including great places in the Berkshires, western Vermont and western Connecticut.
Jermanok said he thinks the book is timely especially with more people staying at home.
“I think travel in the future will be more localized even with a vaccine,” he said.
But he’s looking ahead to the next book, which he said would be a focus on North America.
“New England in a Nutshell” is available as a Kindle, at Amazon and at most independent book dealers. Prices average $9.99 for a Kindle and $15.99 for paperback.