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
Many travel companies offer trips with open-water swimming.

A swimming vacation in Greece, Belize, the Canary Islands is full-immersion fun

I was at the cabin of friends when I waded into the water, slapped on my goggles and swam across the lake and back.The water…
The Drive-In in Taylors Falls sports a spinning root beer mug.

For a taste of vacation, pop into one of these regional drive-ins

When I head to Madeline Island, off Bayfield, Wis., I like to cut into Wisconsin early. That’s not because I prefer passing through towns with…
Travelers in wheelchairs wait in line at the gate to board their plane.

At MSP, help for older parents unfamiliar with flying— or anyone who needs it

“I was wondering if you might speak to any travel tips for seniors who haven’t flown for several years,” a reader recently wrote to ask.…
You can track lions in Kenya on an Airbnb Adventures tour.

Airbnb enters a new marketplace by offering multiday tours

In the realm of travel, the sharing economy keeps expanding, fueled by travelers seeking authentic interactions with locals. Airbnb has been attuned to that desire…
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Lending perspective to concerns about safety of Dominican Republic

Between Florida and South America, a string of island nations rim the Caribbean Sea. Beachy beauties, they offer romantic getaways and winter retreats. Recent reports…
Esperienza offers Italian language and culinary immersion experiences in Pennabilli, a medieval village in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. Photo

Edina woman works to save Italian villages, one cooking or language lesson at a time

Minneapolis nonprofit offers language and cooking classes in Italy to draw visitors.
Pequot Lakes will have a parade and pancake breakfast July 4.

It's never too soon to make July 4th travel reservations

When fireworks start popping on July 4th, it could be a dazzling announcement that a four-day weekend is well underway. This year, the holiday falls…
Snapshot Safari allows users to help identify elephants, rhinos, zebras and more in the wild, all without leaving home.

How to take a desktop safari and get close to wild animals

The beast was large. That much I could tell, though darkness muddied the view at midnight in South Africa's Madikwe Game Reserve. Then the animal…
Bison calves are upping the cuteness quotient at Minneopa.

Nearly a dozen baby bison expand herd at Mankato's Minneopa State Park

The small herd of American plains bison has swelled this spring when a record 10 babies were born, joining the herd of about 20.
Eagles Nest in Nisswa, Minn. The mom-and-pop resort on Lower Cullen Lake has 15 charming clapboard cabins and a 40-foot beach.

5 budget resorts in Minnesota where we really want to spend a week

Looking for s’mores on the beach, fishing off the dock, lounge chairs lined up on the sand — and a nightly rate that won’t hurt…
Courtney Klocke and Dave Klocke enjoyed drinks and dinner at Lost Lake Lodge Sunday September 3,2018 in Nisswa, MN.

Hello, cabin, so long, cooking and cleaning: two Brainerd area resorts that offer the American plan

Sign up for a meal plan, and adore your cabin getaway more than ever.
The first stop of any summer road trip should be the garage, where a mechanic will check your car.

What you need to know before you start your road trip

If you plan to hit the road in your car this summer, you'll be among about the roughly 50 million Americans to take a road…
The Minneapolis Passport Agency is located inside the Old Federal Building.

Minneapolis Passport Agency to open its doors for annual Passport Day

Need expedited service? Passport Day takes place this year on May 18 from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Old Federal Building in Minneapolis.
RVShare offers 200 RVs to rent in the Twin Cities metro area. A popular destination is Joshua Tree National Park in California.

RVs, boats, campgrounds: More Airbnb-like ways to embrace summer

Vrooming across a lake in a speedboat, camping in a forest, crossing the Great Plains toward some distant national park in an RV. These are…
In Rome, tourists gathered on the popular Spanish Steps. Rome is the most visited city in Italy.

As world tourism rises, finding ways to authentically engage

I recently returned from Italy, and it's a great place to visit. Just ask the more than 58 million other international tourists who traveled there…
Children chased bubbles in Piazza del Popolo in Rome.

Why did the Netherlands rank higher than Italy in the World Happiness Index?

I recently spent a few evening hours strolling along the canals of Amsterdam. The visit was a surprise. My flight from Italy had been delayed…
Skirmantas Strimaitis takes a selfie onboard a Boeing 737-800 airplane, taking off from Vilnius, Lithuania, March 16, 2019, as the only passenger aboa

With solo flights and empty airline seats, are we in a new 'golden age' of flying?

When word spread that a lucky Lithuanian was the sole passenger on a mid-March flight from Vilnius to Bergamo, Italy, it lit up the…
Shoppers walk past the Victoria's Secret store on Broadway in the Soho neighborhood of New York.

How to find local lunch spots in New York: Ask the shop clerk

On New York’s Upper East Side, we walked up a narrow stairway to reach the restaurant, and then a second, narrower stairway to get to…
Marie Rivard, a trainer for Airline Ambassadors, listened during a training Jan. 23, 2018, for flight attendants, concessionaire staff and airport vol

Delta, other airlines fight human trafficking in the air

Two weeks before Super Bowl LII, I was flying from New Orleans to Minneapolis when an unusual trio sat nearby. Two young women occupied the…
Beginning in 2021, U.S. citizens will need to complete a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) application before entering most

Will you need a visa for Europe? Nope

Beginning in 2021, U.S. citizens heading to most European countries will need authorization first — but the European Union wants everyone to know that this…
The beach near the Villa Playa Blanca Hotel in Cancun, Mexico.

Note to Spring Breakers: Security Alert issued for Mexico

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City warns visitors to use extra caution, citing recent violence in the area.
A rare convergence of cold temps and calm waters has created a unique opportunity to set out onto Lake Superior.

Ice skating on Lake Superior? Rare conditions make it possible on Minnesota's North Shore

At Naniboujou Lodge, northeast of Grand Marais, Minn., conditions were perfect. The rare confluence of calm waters and super chilly temperatures had turned the usually…
Myrtle Beach, S.C., is averaging 54 percent cheaper than other destinations during spring break.

How to land a spring break deal

Haven't booked a spring break trip yet? This could be a good thing
Skijoring teams took off from the starting line during the Chuck & Don’s Skijoring Loppet on Feb. 2 at Theodore Wirth Park.

4 fun ways to play in the fresh Minnesota snow

More than 20 inches of big, soft snow has fallen so far this month in the Twin Cities area. Instead of dull, dormant grass, the…
Andrew Zimmern, seen here in Zhujiajiao, China, has co-authored the first in a planned series of children’s books with writer H.E. McElhatton.

Andrew Zimmern's book brings kids on an adventure, where food and travel intertwine

Local food-and-travel phenom explains the power of adventure.
If you’re stuck on the tarmac, know your rights and politely remind flight attendants if the airline isn’t complying.

If you're stuck on the tarmac, know your rights

Just days ago, a Virgin Atlantic flight departing Hong Kong Airport for London's Heathrow was stuck on the tarmac for seven hours. That event fell…
Pinney's Beach in Nevis with St. Kitts in the distance.

Looking to escape winter? Try one of these 5 vacation hot spots

Still shivering from the polar vortex? Here's where to go to warm up.
Gleaming kitchens and posh social spaces: How hotels are competing with Airbnb

Gleaming kitchens and posh social spaces: How hotels are competing with Airbnb

As home-sharing grows and hotels evolve to compete, new options for overnight stays have exploded. We check in.
A Delta Air Lines jet takes off from Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport MSP.

Which is better for fliers at MSP: a cash-back or Delta-branded credit card?

With the first installment in our “How we travel now” series, on flying, we included tips on making Delta’s dominance at MSP work…
Delta controls almost 71 percent of the market at MSP.

With Delta the dominant airline at MSP, here's how to make the most of it

Because Delta has such a hold on the market, other airlines can drop fares to bring in customers and Delta won't necessarily follow suit.
Find dry desert air, mountain vistas and sunshine in Yuma, Ariz.

Amid a gloomy winter, give me sunshine, and give me Yuma

It’s been a gloomy winter in Minnesota. Who could blame me if, in a sun-starved fit, I get myself to Yuma, Ariz.? The city tucked…
Hotel Lora

Four new overnight spots in Minnesota worth checking in to

These new and renovated destinations epitomize Minnesota Nice.
The April 2018 snowstorm grounded many flights at MSP.

Sun Country takes action to ease worry of winter flying

Snow can create a big white beautiful playground. And it can shut down an airport.That's what happened last April when a late season blizzard closed…
During his stay at South Africa’s Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Andy Miller of Hutchinson, Minn., saw elephants, lions, hippos, rhinos and more. For him,

The best reader travel photos of 2018

Each week, Star Tribune Travel highlights a reader travel photograph in the Viewfinders feature. Here, we reprise some of the best of the year.
Fireworks explode behind Big Ben, at the Houses of Parliament in London.

The New Year's resolutions of a travel pro

Many people’s New Year’s resolutions go something like this: I resolve to visit ... fill-in-the-blank. I could spend hours daydreaming about how to fill that…
French Meadow at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport.

5 restaurants at MSP Airport that won't bust your buttons during a season of indulgence

Holiday cookies, Swedish meatballs, eggnog: Could these explain why the belts we remove at security checkpoints may be loosened a notch this time of year?…
The SS Sorlandet passed through the canal under the lift bridge July 25 in the parade of ships for the start of Tall Ships Duluth 2013.

Tall ships to sail into Duluth again August 2019

The majestic sight of replica sail boats has drawn huge crowds during past festivals.
Cars line up to enter the departure area of Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport's Terminal 1.

Fly smarter: Make sure to do this before heading to MSP

Everyone can use a plan to help avoid a maddening backup on the way to the airport when you fly out for the holidays or spring break. Here's a great place to start.
Taking vacations with your young children may actually help them do better in school, according to a 2009 study.

What's the best gift for developing brains? Travel

One year for the holidays, Dad gave us all a trip to Hawaii. He was on to something.Parents, there's a good reason for giving the…
A skier crosses frozen Bearskin Lake toward Bearskin Lodge. A makeshift hockey and ice skating rink, where snow is shoveled from the lake, sits near t

Why head to Gunflint Trail in winter? Ample snow, 130 miles of cross-country trails, cozy lodges

The road to winter fun, where snow arrives early and stays late.
Ski season opened once again at Afton Alps on Nov. 16.

Want to ski? Minnesota has loads of options

Across Minnesota, people will soon be retrieving skis from storage, applying wax, checking the bindings — if they haven’t already. There are giants of the…
The Mississippi River between its headwaters in Itasca State Park and “fun little college town” Bemidji.

Where to stay, eat and play along the Mississippi River? Book on Great River Road tells all

Dean Klinkenberg stopped counting the miles he’s cruised on the Great River Road when he hit 120,000. “I wore out one car, and I’m working…
Having toiletries, clothes and chargers in your carry-on will help make any extended airport stay more comfortable.

Eight essentials to help you survive air travel over the holidays

According to AAA, 54.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving this year, 2.5 million more people than last year. While most…
It's not a good idea to hold your baby on your lap during a flight.

Why you shouldn't hold a baby in flight

Just because the Federal Aviation Administration allows children under age 2 to ride on laps in airliners doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I write…
The Road to Hana in east Maui winds through cliffside forests along the coast. Tor Johnson/ Hawaii Tourism Authority

Seeking the wild side of Maui? Easy, it's everywhere

Everywhere on Maui, lush, authentic, uncrowded places abound.
Sun Country Airlines' new plane paint jobs will rotate into service starting in November.

No more Ufly when you fly: Sun Country changes rewards program

The Ufly program will end, and members' points will be automatically transferred to a new rewards program. The airline says the changes are meant to simplify the rewards process for customers.
Passengers made their way through Terminal 1 to a TSA checkpoint Wednesday at MSP.

How FAA reauthorization will alter your experience at TSA checkpoints

Last week, I wrote about what the 2018 FAA Reauthorization means for fliers and airlines. The new law will affect our experiences at the…
A new FAA law addresses some of airline passengers’ concerns, like seat size and passenger removal from planes.

What the recently passed FAA reauthorization law means to travelers – hint: it's (mostly) good news

When the FAA Reauthoriation Act of 2018 became law on Oct. 5, fliers rejoiced — or at least breathed a sigh of relief. Here are…
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…
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