Staff Directory 10646201

Kerri Westenberg

Travel editor | Newsroom
Phone: 612-673-4282
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: Italian
Travel editor Kerri Westenberg has twice been named Travel Journalist of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers. She previously worked at Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and National Geographic magazines.Westenberg’s writing has appeared in National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Real Simple and other national publications.

During Westenberg's tenure, which began in 2004, the society has named the Star Tribune's Travel section among the top three in the country many times. She is also the author of "State of Wonder," a book that celebrates Minnesota and derives from a series that first appeared in Travel.
Recent content from Kerri Westenberg
A shopper looks at a wall of headphones at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Ala.

What good can come from lost luggage? Designer dresses for a steal, plus help for the needy

The Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Ala., has intrigued me for as long as I've known about it — and that's a long time. The…
Lounging in the grand suite aboard the Carnival Vista.

On Carnival, an upgrade to a grand suite comes with a few headaches

I had been preparing for the cruise for more than a year. The Carnival ship hadn't even made its maiden voyage when I booked two…
The mosaic in the courtyard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum depicts Medusa and dates to 117-138 A.D.

For wonderful surprises, let your friends lead the way on your next vacation

The villa is a marvel. Built on what was once marshland in Boston's Fenway, the building designed after an Italian palace awed me. The courtyard…
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, shown here in a 2015 photo, dipped in a J.D. Power satisfaction study.

MSP slips a bit in ranking of large airports in U.S. and Canada

Using a scale of 1,000 points, how would you rank Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport? On average, fliers who participated in J.D. Power’s 2018 North American…
The boreal forest on display at Voyageurs National Park.

National Public Lands Day is coming up. Just how much land do Minnesotans own? Lots.

Sept. 22 is National Public Lands Day, and there are about 12 million reasons to celebrate in Minnesota.Our state counts more than 12 million acres…
A woman walked through a canopy of beautiful fall leaves toward the Minnesota State Capitol after a morning rain.

Fall colors: Get them while you can

Summer is fading away, but at least we have autumn's brilliant blazes ahead. The trick is knowing where to find them at their peak. Fortunately,…
Small-headed sunflowers flourish beside Twin Lakes in the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge in McGregor, Minn.

Autumn reveals the best of Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge in northern Minnesota

In autumn, ducks in the millions flock to the waters of Rice Lake.
Amtrak's Empire Builder pulled into the Winona, Minn., station.

Tips for train travel, from someone who was stuck on one in Wisconsin

When traveling on Amtrak, pack well, warns Wyatt Johnston of Rochester, Minn. “Bring snacks, bring extra batteries, bring one of those portable Wi-Fi hotspot…
Dead fish lined the mangroves on Anna Maria Island in Bradenton Beach, Fla. A bloom of red tide algae has swept in from Naples to Tampa, killing marin

Fort Myers, Sanibel and other Fla. locations hit by toxic algae blooms. Is it safe to visit?

I logged onto the beach camera at the Island Inn on Sanibel Island and saw a remarkable sight — at least for this summer.…
Consider buying Thanksgiving airfare soon. The week of Aug. 27 could offer the best savings; September is a good time, too.

Best days to book your holiday travel

I know where I’ll be at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I’ve got the airline tickets to get me there. I bought too early, if you…
Boston’s airport sits next to Boston Harbor. Water taxis pick up rides there and make getting to the city easy and fun.

Daring to venture out — by water taxi — during Boston layover

With a four-hour stop at Boston Logan airport, I had a plan. And it involved a boat ride.
The Women on the Grow trip landed on Hawaii’s Big Island.

Female and fearless: New Minnesota company offers women's trips

Kimberly Case launched Women on the Grow, a travel company devoted to getting women out in the world.
The village of Oia on the cliffs of Santorini, Greece.

Another added fee: Airline required passenger to pay extra to add a middle name

Mike Sholl of St. Anthony recently took a trip to Italy and Greece and wrote to share information about his airline. He and his family…
Carefree days on Madeline Island sometimes include hopping from the rocks into Lake Superior at Big Bay State Park.

Ways to avoid post-vacation malaise, from a travel pro

I have just returned from vacation — but not fully. My brain lacks focus, so I sit at my desk accomplishing the bare essentials. The…
On your next vacation, ditch the computer to get the most of your time away.

Two reasons vacations are good for body and mind

On July 3, I listened as two administrative assistants in a Minneapolis office prepared to leave for an extended break."Should I?" one asked."I'm definitely going…
A traveler with Intrepid Travel and a vendor enjoy vegan chai tea.

Italy without gelato: Vegan trip options grow as more people embrace a plant-based lifestyle

I find that gelato is the key ingredient of any trip to Italy. Not everyone agrees. Increasingly, tour operators are appealing to those who…
Why Rochester, Minn., air-rage video footage should stay private

Why Rochester, Minn., air-rage video footage should stay private

It has happened again. A person became belligerent on a plane, someone turned on her video recorder and the resulting footage showed up online and…
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, Minn.

Six simple ways to avoid using plastics while on vacation

Goodbye, tiny toiletry containers; hello, stainless steel water bottles. Just in time for your family vacation, we’re on the cusp of Plastic Free July,…
At Grand View Lodge on Gull Lake, solo travelers can stay busy with bike trips, pontoon rides and lounging at the beach.

In the Brainerd Lakes area, alone and loving it

Being alone at a resort could feel strange. But in this case it was wonderful.
This rendering depicts how a multilevel piece of art will flow from departures to arrivals at MSP’s Terminal 1; the sculpture shown is merely a plac

New art coming to MSP Airport; public invited to help shape it

The airport wants the public's input on the 2019 art project.
Pipestone National Monument is free due to a temporary fee freeze, but it is one of 117 National Park Service sites slated for price increases. Entran

While other national parks get higher fees June 1, Pipestone is free – for now

National Park Service raises entrance fees at vacation icons.
Passengers exited a plane at Denver International Airport after the Delta flight’s interior filled with smoke.

How to safely evacuate an airplane

When smoke began to fill the cabin after a Delta Air Lines flight landed in Denver on May 8, passengers made an emergency evacuation.…
Breezy Point Cabins on Lake Superior.

Minnesota abounds with resort vacation options

An interactive tool carries more than 60 resort reviews written by Star Tribune readers and reporters.
Raspberry rhubarb pie at the New Scenic Cafe, a short drive up the shore of Lake Superior from Duluth.

Top 9 places to dig into pie, from Lake Okoboji to Castle Danger

From Amboy to Whalan, these Minnesota pies are worth the drive.
The Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.

Why drive to Des Moines in springtime? So you can get to summer faster

As I drove down Interstate 35 last weekend from the Twin Cities to Des Moines, my spirits lifted. Each passing mile brought me closer…
Oberg Mountain Trail.

Improvements coming to beloved Superior Hiking Trail

Last spring, I took a walk on the miracle of a forested path that runs 326 miles through some of Minnesota’s most beautiful terrain, the…
Sun Country Airlines is going to New Orleans and Santa Barbara.

Sun Country adds nonstop service to vacation hot spots New Orleans, Santa Barbara

Sun Country Airlines announced service to two new destinations from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, both vacation favorites: New Orleans and Santa Barbara. The…
File photo: A Sun Country flight at the gate at Terminal 2 during a winter storm.

Snowstorm reveals why smaller airlines like Sun Country may not save you money in the end

The airline's initial response may have been a rookie mistake by new owners.
Students studying at the Rural Studio in Newbern, Ala., have an array of small fanciful rooms, called pods, to live in for the year. Photo by Jillian

Alabama's Rural Studio provides sleek modern buildings — and shelter for the soul

An architectural outpost in one of the country's poorest regions, where modern buildings dot Alabama's bucolic landscape.
An Alaska Airlines jet takes off at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Wash.

Overall, airlines getting the job done

Recent news about airlines could have travelers checking Amtrak and Greyhound schedules. Airplane seats keep getting squeezed. Choosing a seat at the time of booking…
If you don’t know where to start when looking for a travel company, TripAdvisor has more than 500 million reviews posted on its site.

How to find the best tour company for your trip

Finding the right tour company can be tricky, but your vacation — and your safety — may depend upon it. A reader recently asked me…
Debris snagged from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch during an ocean sampling operation.

My close encounter with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

A great green mass roiled in the ocean below. From the hiking trail on a volcanic cliff high above a bay in Hawaii’s Waianapanapa State…
“An American Marriage,” by Tayari Jones. Oprah Winfrey has chosen the novel as her next book club pick. Winfrey’s production company, Harpo Film

REVIEWS: 'An American Marriage,' by Tayari Jones, and 'You Were There Before My Eyes,' by Maria Riva

Review of Oprah pick.
Upgrades to MSP Mall help the airport rank among the best.

Why Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport keeps winning awards

When I arrive at the airport, I check the giant electronic signs above the two main security checkpoints to see which one to choose; the…
Pay attention to flight changes, especially if you booked using airline rewards, to avoid getting stuck with a short layover.

Suddenly, my one-hour layover was squeezed, courtesy of Delta

Soon my family and I will head to Maui on flights that seem free, since I used Delta points to nab them. But I came…
The stress leading up to a vacation can actually cause illness.

Do you get sick on vacation? Here's why, and how to avoid it

I was in sunny Santa Monica, Calif., sitting by the pool, a situation I would have enjoyed more without a migraine. In New Orleans, my…
A young moose took advantage of the lack of traffic on the Gunflint Trail at daybreak.

Searching for moose – and dinner – in northern Minnesota

On the Gunflint Trail, come for the moose but stay for the meal.
Waiting to book that trip to Florence? Tracking airfare on Google Flights could help you save money.

Ways to save on (and for) travel

Do you have a modest travel budget, but not-so-modest travel aspirations? There are ways to save on ­— and to save for — travel that…
Delta Air Lines has announced new requirements for passengers flying with service animals or emotional support animals.

Delta changes its policy on in-cabin service and support animals

Delta is changing its approach to in-cabin service and support animals. Beginning March 1, owners will be required to show proof of their animal’s health…
Don’t overlook guidebooks — they’re becoming better than ever.

Why I love guidebooks more than ever: They clue you in to locals' tips

Even in this age of internet research, guidebooks are not dead. In fact, they’ve gotten better. The best, smartest guidebooks focus on insider tips from…
There were Viking fans who were cheering "Skol Vikings."]The Wolves take on the Blazers at Target Center.

Travel tips for Vikings fans heading to Philly for the NFC title game

Travel tips you need to know to paint the town purple next weekend.
The tower at Casa de la Torre in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Mexico has an overall level 2 rating, but Puerto Vallarta has a level 3.

State Department makes changes to its travel warnings

I have long suggested that travelers heading overseas review the U.S. State Department’s information about their destination country. It sounds nerdy and unnecessary, but it…
St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, New Orleans.

In New Orleans, another reason to party: The city turns 300 in 2018

New Orleans isn’t the South; it’s its own country. That’s what my New Orleans-born husband told me before we had gone on our first date.…
A plane travels across a supermoon, as seen from Arlington, Va.

Where to see the supermoons coming in January

During a ride to a restaurant in early December, my friend pointed to the east. “Wow, look at the moon,” she said. Hovering just above…
Candy canes and plastic cones filled with candies draw customers to a vendor’s booth at the Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market in Berlin, 2016. Photo b

Three problems with insuring snowbirds' trip

I recently heard from a reader who travels from six weeks to three months each winter. He and his wife use miles for airline tickets…
Given its location on an elevated rise near Detroit Lakes, Maplelag Resort often has snow on its cross-country trails, while other places remain brown

State of skiing: 7 ski resorts to hit in Minnesota

Where to ski in Minnesota this season, from vertical drops to Nordic trails.
Demonstrators gathered at the Barcelona town hall in November. Travelers should always keep tabs on their destination.

Can I travel to Barcelona? What to do when heading to an overseas hotbed of protests

Several weeks ago, I heard from a reader who had purchased tickets for a late-March trip to Barcelona. Since political tensions there are running high…
Bartenders, not concierges, often know the full scoop on a city’s “hot” and “not” spots.

For top tourist tips, skip the concierge and cozy up to the bar

I was starving.I'd been in Mexico for two hours, shuttling from the airport to my resort, and in the process, I'd skipped lunch. I was…
Changes are coming to standard airport security checkpoints as the TSA rolls out closer scrutiny of electronics.

Changes to airport security procedures

Many years ago, I traveled to Israel. Along with the tour of Jerusalem, one of the world's most beautiful cities, and dinner at a seaside…
JetBlue airplanes are seen at JFK airport in a Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 file photo. German airline Deutsche Lufthansa AG said Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007 it

JetBlue coming to MSP: 6 things you need to know to get on board

The budget airline will begin operating three daily nonstop flights between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Boston in May. What's the big deal? We'll tell you.
The chairs and view from the shoreline at the Naniboujou Lodge, about 15 miles up the shore from Grand Marais.

Minnesotans' travel questions answered

As Travel editor, I get lots of questions from readers. My upcoming trip to Napa just took a different direction. If you have airline…
Hurricane Irma slammed into St. John, wreaking havoc in paradise. This photo of Cruz Bay was taken shortly after the storm.

Claim denied: a post-hurricane travel insurance tale of woe

It was set. The reader would travel with family to St. John over Christmas. Then hurricanes Irma and Maria happened.
The historic main Sperry Chalet building was engulfed in flames in Montana’s Glacier National Park.

Mother Nature wreaks havoc on our favorite vacation spots

Between wildfires and hurricanes, the past few weeks have changed the landscape at some of America's most beloved destinations.
Brilliant red sumac leaves give a hint of things to come.

Get ready for Minnesota's brilliant autumn show

Rain fell on my summer vacation, but I don’t mind. This fall, I’ll see the payoff. When leaves are healthy, fortified with ample rainfall, they…
Minnesotans began enjoying the Great River Road even before 1959, when Gov. Orville Freeman and Valora Allen, Miss Minnesota Highways, put up the firs

Minnesota's best fall drive? Great River Road might be it.

When it comes to the Great River Road, it’s hard to know what exactly the “great” in the name describes. There is, of course, the…
The one-way Wilderness Drive in Itasca State Park is shared by cars and bicycles.

Hike, bike and glide your way to autumn colors

Hike, ride and glide your way to Minnesota's best autumn shows.
From paradise to problem? The U.S. government warns of violent crime in Quintana Roo, which includes Cancun.

Going to Cancun? Check new State Dept. warning about violent crime

On Tuesday, the State Department updated its travel warning about Mexico, and Minnesotans planning a trip there should take note.
The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, in Washington, D.C.

NAACP warns about travel to Missouri

As Travel editor, I often suggest that readers check the State Department website before traveling to a foreign country, in case a warning or alert…
A solar eclipse.

Sun Country offers round-trip flight to Nebraska for rare solar eclipse viewing

The Twin Cities-based airline announced a special package for people to see the rare occurrence — and be home in time for dinner.
A trip with Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours reveals a closer look at the rock formations along the St. Croix River.

Minnesotans find getaways to relish summer

August is the best month to relish a Minnesota summer — in part because you can already sense it fading away.
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Resort travelers warned of 'tainted' Mexican alcohol after Wisconsin woman's death

The State Department has a new warning for travelers headed to Mexico: Beware of the alcohol there.
TSA pat-downs get even more invasive

TSA pat-downs get even more invasive

In March, the Transportation Security Administration instituted a new pat-down procedure for airport security, and it is more thorough — and more invasive — than…

Minnesota ticks can carry several diseases, not just Lyme's

Heading Up North soon? You will not be alone. Wood ticks thrive there — and they are growing more worrisome. Powassan, babesiosis, human anaplasmosis: These…
Fireworks explode over the U.S. Capitol, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial.

The best fireworks in the nation, in Washington, D.C.

Night had fallen, and I lay on a blanket looking skyward. My head seemed to swirl; my brain could barely absorb the scene. The ground…
It's time for a summer getaway to a Minnesota resort.

Looking for a summer retreat? Here are 13 great Minnesota getaways

Here are 13 places in Minnesota to lounge by the lake, one for each week of summer.
Minnesota medicine, aka the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Why Minnesota's woods are good for you

Do you need a reason to head Up North, to be among all those healthful birds, trees and lakes?
A recent study found that June is the worst month for flight delays, not wintertime months.

Prepare for a new season of flight delays: summer

June, when congestion and thunderstorms converge, is the worst month for flight delays, not winter months.
A dog perches on its owner’s lap on a commercial airliner.

Why you see more animals at the airport

In 2003, the Department of Transportation expanded the definition of service animal to include not just guide dogs, but also animals that lend emotional support.
The grave of Marquis de La Fayette at the Picpus Cemetery in Paris. In 2002, a resolution of the U.S. Congress proclaimed Lafayette to be a citizen of

A must-see spot in Paris: Picpus Cemetery

Picpus Cemetery has a thrilling history, and not just because the Marquis de La Fayette was laid to rest there.
A Delta Air Lines jet takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va.

Looking for lowest airfares? Here are some strategies from our travel expert

Which is the best online travel site to use for buying airline tickets? The answer, well, there is no simple answer. It may be best to use many.
Passengers make their way through the TSA PreCheck area at Terminal 1 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Something gone wrong with your PreCheck? Here's why

Readers occasionally complain that although their application for TSA PreCheck was approved — and they paid the $85 application fee — they do not get a pass to the fast lane.
Via dei Condotti is the fashionable shopping center of Rome.

Are you leaving money in Europe?

I travel, I shop, I buy. Then I come home and brace for the credit card bill.
A United Airlines passenger plane.

Know your rights as a passenger — and brace for overbooked summer flights

What you need to know about getting bumped off a flight.
Hotel bookings made through third parties may not be as reliable as those made directly with a hotel.

Why third-party hotel bookings can be bad

Not all hotel bookings are created equal, as reader Jim Walsh discovered during a trip to Georgia.
Euro notes at a currency exchange office in downtown Rome.

Currency or credit cards for cash: What's best when traveling overseas?

I use Visa and American Express credit cards and a bank debit card. Which of these would make the best source of euros at cash machines during a trip to Italy?
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