We're thrilled to present our highly anticipated Coolest Small Towns list, just in time for your summer planning. We had a great time compiling this list and hope you enjoy it too! This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Being a "Cool Small Town" is much more than just having a small population. In fact, we've included a couple of larger destinations that have a "Cool Small Town vibe" (e.g.; Franklin, TN; and Asheville, NC). Our list showcases places that offer unique culinary experiences, friendly local businesses, a sense of community, and captivating stories. Take Bisbee, Arizona, for example. This former mining town has reinvented itself as an artists' haven and a hub for cultural tourism. With its colorful architecture, quirky shops, and galleries, Bisbee offers a glimpse into the creative and eclectic spirit of the American Southwest. The nearby Queen Mine Tour offers a unique underground adventure into the area's mining history. Or, consider Woodstock, Vermont. This picturesque town, nestled in the Green Mountains, epitomizes New England charm. With its historic covered bridges, quaint village center, and scenic hiking trails, Woodstock is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. For a taste of the town's culinary scene, be sure to check out the local farmers' market or dine at one of its many farm-to-table restaurants. Our goal is not only to inform and entertain you but also to inspire you to visit these destinations by demonstrating how Cool Small Towns are both affordable and less crowded than typical tourist hotspots. By supporting these communities, you'll not only have a memorable trip but also contribute to the preservation of their cultural heritage and the growth of local economies. So why not pay these charming towns a visit? And finally, after the challenging past few years, we believe that visiting a Cool Small Town can be a fantastic way to reset and rejuvenate our mind, body, and budget in 2023. Whether you're looking for outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or just a relaxing getaway, there's a small town out there waiting for you to discover it. Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina Road Trip itch? Do you have a couple of months and about 8000 miles to spare? You could hit the road and visit all these places in approximately two months (6-hour trips and 4-day stays in each Cool Small Town). Here’s the ideal route: https://goo.gl/maps/YWJWViTh8V4GaoBx8 2023 Coolest Small Towns Driving Directions
45 miles northwest of SeattlePopulation: 9.735 (est. 2020) Located on the Olympic Peninsula in western Washington, Port Townsend is a scenic town with many historic buildings and a thriving arts scene. Visitors can tour the historic Fort Worden State Park, visit local art galleries and shops, and explore nearby beaches and hiking trails. Cool facts about Port Townsend Port Townsend is a Victorian-era seaport town with many well-preserved 19th-century buildings and a lively arts scene.The town is located on the Olympic Peninsula, making it a popular destination for outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and kayaking.Port Townsend is home to Fort Worden State Park, a former military installation that is now a popular recreational area.According to seattlereafined.com, Palace Hotel hosts a few permanent guests who come out at night to mingle with the living - the most famous story is the Lady in Blue. Also Seen in… Off The Map Poster - imdb.com "Off the Map" (2003) - a drama film that was partially filmed in Port Townsend and showcased the town's beautiful Victorian architecture and natural scenery. Best Time to Visit Best Time to Visit Port Townsend - Weatherspark.com The best time to visit Port Townsend is from June to September when the weather is sunny and mild, and there are many outdoor activities to enjoy. Budget for a long weekend Budget for a 4-day getaway with hotel, one good restaurant, and one activity: $528 3 nights at the Palace Hotel (3-star): $450 - Find more hotel deals at KAYAK!Dinner for 2 at Sirens Pub: $50Port Townsend Marine Science Center admission for 2: $28 Note: Prices vary depending on the time of year, availability, etc. Follow on Social Media Courtesy of Enjoy Port Townsend Go to Port Townsend’s Facebook Page to learn more about its fascinating history, admire its Victorian architecture, and maritime legacy. Their Instagram profile reflects the charm of this village-by-the-sea, its artistic soul, and world-class culinary venues. #porttownsend Discover Port Townsend CARD WIDGET HERE Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023 This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Read the announcement and main article here. Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina
42 miles southeast of JacksonvillePopulation: 15,415 (est. 2020) As the oldest continuously inhabited city in the US, St. Augustine is rich in history and culture. Visitors can explore the historic downtown area, visit the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, and take a scenic boat tour of the nearby waterways. The town also has many beaches and outdoor activities, including kayaking and fishing. Cool facts about St. Augustine St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-founded settlement in the United States, dating back to 1565.The town has a rich history, with many well-preserved Spanish colonial-era buildings and landmarks.St. Augustine is home to the "Fountain of Youth," a legendary spring that supposedly has the power to restore youth and vitality.According to onlyinyourstate.com, the town is home to the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century fort that is said to be haunted by several spirits, including a Spanish soldier, a Native American woman, and a group of Seminole prisoners. Also Seen in… Burn Notice Poster - imdb.com "Burn Notice" (2007-2013) - a TV series that was set and partially filmed in Miami but features many scenes filmed in St. Augustine, including the historic Castillo de San Marcos fort. Best Time to Visit Best Time to Visit St. Augustine - Weatherspark.com The best time to visit St. Augustine is from March to May when the temperatures are warm, the flowers are in bloom, and the crowds are smaller. Budget for a long weekend Budget for a 4-day getaway with hotel, one good restaurant, and one activity: $606 3 nights at the Casablanca Inn On The Bay (3-star): $510 - Find more hotel deals at KAYAK!Dinner for 2 at The Floridian: $60St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum admission for 2: $36 Note: Prices vary depending on the time of year, availability, etc. Follow on Social Media Courtesy of St Augustine, Ponte Vedra & The Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau Like St. Augustine’s Facebook page and realize that you don’t have to go all the way to the Caribbean islands to enjoy gorgeous beaches. You can get all that fun in the sun, art and culture, world-class cuisine and amazing history right there in St. Augustinis! Also checkout their Instagram profile to see gorgeous images & learn about events at Florida's Historic Coast! #staugustine Discover St. Augustine CARD WIDGET HERE Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023 This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Read the announcement and main article here. Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina
119 miles north of PhoenixPopulation: 10,335 (est. 2020) Nestled in the red rocks of northern Arizona, Sedona is a popular destination for its stunning natural beauty and New Age spirituality. Visitors can hike in nearby Red Rock State Park, visit local art galleries and shops, and explore the town's many spiritual and wellness centers. Cool facts about Sedona Sedona is known for its stunning red rock formations, which are the result of millions of years of erosion and geological activity.The town has a strong New Age and spiritual community, with many vortex sites believed to have healing and transformative powers.Sedona has been the location for many movies and TV shows, including "Easy Rider," "3:10 to Yuma," and "The Brady Bunch."According to thetoptens.com, there are four vortexes located in Sedona: Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon, Airport Vortex and Red Rock Crossing/Cathedral Rock. A vortex is defined as a "whirling mass of energy" that spreads about a quarter of a mile in all directions. These masses of energy cause unusual sensations to those who are caught within their force. Also Seen in… 3:10 to Yuma Poster - imbd.com "3:10 to Yuma" (2007) - a western film that features several scenes filmed in Sedona, including the famous red rock formations and natural scenery. Best Time to Visit Best Time to Visit Sedona - Weatherspark.com The best time to visit Sedona is from March to May or September to November when the temperatures are mild and the crowds are smaller. Budget for a long weekend Budget for a 4-day getaway with hotel, one good restaurant, and one activity: $880 3 nights at the The Wilde Resort & Spa (4-star): $750 - Find more hotel deals at KAYAK!Dinner for 2 at The Hudson: $80Red Rock Magic Trolley tour for 2: $50 Note: Prices vary depending on the time of year, availability, etc. Follow on Social Media Courtesy of Visit Sedona The official Facebook Page for Sedona is a great resource for all your questions about visiting the greater Sedona area. Check out their Instagram Profile and enjoy stunning photos of the town's iconic red rock formations, its outdoor activities, and cultural attractions. #sedona Discover Sedona CARD WIDGET HERE Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023 This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Read the announcement and main article here. Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina
135 miles northeast of AlbuquerquePopulation: 5,971 (est. 2020) Known for its unique blend of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo cultures, Taos is a charming town in northern New Mexico. Visitors can tour the historic Taos Pueblo, hike in the nearby mountains, and explore local art galleries and shops. Cool facts about Taos Taos is known for its rich history and culture, with many Native American, Spanish, and Western influences.The town is home to the Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage site that has been continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years.Taos is surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Rio Grande Gorge.According to science-rumors.com, Taos is known for a strange hum sound that is faintly heard by some people in the town. The hum is a constant, annoying and mysterious low frequency humming sound that has no clear source or explanation. Some people have blamed it on the government and UFOs. Also Seen in… Easy Rider Poster - imdb.com "Easy Rider" (1969) - a classic road movie that was partially filmed in Taos and featured many of the town's landmarks and natural beauty. Best Time to Visit Best Time to Visit Taos - Weatherspark.com The best time to visit Taos is from May to October, when the weather is mild, and many outdoor activities are enjoyable. Budget for a long weekend Budget for a 4-day getaway with hotel, one good restaurant, and one activity: $424 3 nights at the Inn on La Loma Plaza (3-star): $350 - Find more hotel deals at KAYAK!Dinner for 2 at The Gorge Bar & Grill: $50Taos Pueblo admission for 2: $24 Note: Prices vary depending on the time of year, availability, etc. Follow on Social Media Courtesy of Visit Taos Their Facebook Page is a great resource to decide whether your visit leads you to their historic town square or the wilds of their magnificent landscapes and natural surroundings. Scroll through their Instagram profile and discover where magic mesa meets mighty mountains. #visittaos Discover Taos CARD WIDGET HERE Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023 This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Read the announcement and main article here. Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina
255 miles Northwest of DetroitPopulation: 15,559 (est. 2021) Traverse City has transformed itself into the cultural, business, and educational center of Northwest Michigan. Its downtown core has been lovingly refurbished, its historical buildings brought to a fresh sheen, making it both a spectacle and a place to shop, dine, and attend cultural events. The Traverse City area features varied natural attractions, including freshwater beaches, vineyards, a National Lakeshore, downhill skiing areas, and numerous forests. Traverse City is also known for its tart cherries and is home to the annual National Cherry Festival which draws in nearly half a million visitors every year. From the downtown beaches, you can have a good view of both the sunrise and the sunset. Cool facts about Traverse City Traverse City has over 40 wineries that are part of the Traverse Wine Coast which produce about 60% of Michigan’s winesFarm-to-fork dining has taken off in popularity in Traverse City in recent years The Traverse City area is the largest producer of tart cherries in the United States and they host the National Cherry FestivalHauntedtraverse.com has tours to learn all the ghost stories here in the Traverse City area Also Seen in… 30 Minutes or Less Poster - imdb.com "30 Minutes or Less" (2011) - This action-comedy film starring Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari was filmed in Grand Rapids and around West Michigan, including scenes filmed in Traverse City. Best Time to Visit Best Time to Visit Traverse City - Weatherspark.com The best time to visit Traverse City is from June to August when daytime highs hover in the mid-70s to 80s and sunshine is abundant. While the end of spring can be a little chilly, there’s a palpable excitement in the air as the city opens up after a long winter. Budget for a long weekend Budget for a 4-day getaway with hotel, one good restaurant, and one activity: $564 3 nights at Hotel Indigo Traverse City (3-star): $282 - Find more hotel deals at KAYAK!5-Course dinner for 2 at The Cook's House, which offers farm-to-fork artisan cuisine: $176Ghost Hunting experience admission for 2: $106 Note: Prices vary depending on the time of year, availability, etc. Follow on Social Media Courtesy of Traverse City Tourism Checkout their Facebook Page and find out why Traverse City is an incredible four-season destination and an ideal destination for an unforgettable vacation. Also head to their Instagram Profile to explore the scenery, beaches, wineries, breweries, and innovative regional cuisine. #traversecity Discover Traverse City CARD WIDGET HERE Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023 This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Read the announcement and main article here. Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina
100 miles northwest of BostonPopulation: 3,048 (est. 2020) Nestled in the Green Mountains of central Vermont, Woodstock is a picturesque New England town with many historic buildings and charming shops and restaurants. Visitors can tour the Billings Farm & Museum, hike in nearby Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, and browse the town's many art galleries and antique shops. Cool facts about Woodstock Woodstock is a picturesque New England town with many historic buildings and charming shops and restaurants.The town is known for its covered bridges, including the famous Middle Bridge and Taftsville Bridge.Woodstock is home to the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, which preserves the history and natural beauty of the area.According to woodstocktv.com, the town has a haunted history of vampires and ghosts. One of the most famous stories is about a family who exhumed their son's body in 1830 to stop him from feeding on his brother. Also Seen in… White Christmas Poster - imdb.com "White Christmas" (1954) - a classic holiday movie filmed in Woodstock and featuring many of the town's charming shops and buildings. Best Time to Visit Best Time to Visit Woodstock - Weatherspark.com The best time to visit Woodstock is from June to August when the weather is warm, and the town is bustling with outdoor activities and festivals. Budget for a long weekend Budget for a 4-day getaway with hotel, one good restaurant, and one activity: $1014 3 nights at the Woodstock Inn & Resort (4-star): $900 - Find more hotel deals at KAYAK!Dinner for 2 at the Red Rooster: $80Billings Farm & Museum admission for 2: $34 Note: Prices vary depending on the time of year, availability, etc. Follow on Social Media Courtesy of The Town of Woodstock Woodstock’s Facebook page is a window to gain local insights, get travel ideas, information, and to find out what's happening. Follow them on Instagram and get an inside look at life, locals, & lore in charming Woodstock, Vermont #woodstockvt Discover Woodstock CARD WIDGET HERE Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023 This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Read the announcement and main article here. Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina
46 miles east of BangorPopulation: 5,089 (est. 2020) Situated on Mount Desert Island off the coast of Maine, Bar Harbor is a picturesque town with many historic buildings and a thriving tourist industry. Visitors can tour Acadia National Park, go whale watching or kayaking in nearby waters, and explore local art galleries and shops Cool facts about Bar Harbor Bar Harbor is located on Mount Desert Island, which is known for its rugged natural beauty and abundant wildlife.The town is a popular destination for lobster lovers, with many restaurants and seafood shacks serving up fresh lobster and other seafood dishes.Bar Harbor is home to Acadia National Park, one of the most popular national parks in the United States.According to visitmaine.net, the 1804 Coach Stop Inn has ghosts with childlike voices that lock doors and flicker lights. Also, visit the “Ghost Evidence Page” at Barharborghosttours.comfor more intriguing paranormal stories. Also Seen in… Murder She Wrote poster - imdb.com "Murder, She Wrote" (1984-1996) - a popular TV series that was set in the fictional town of Cabot Cove, Maine, which was modeled after Bar Harbor and other small towns in the area. Best Time to Visit Best Time to Visit Bar Harbor - Weatherspark.com The best time to visit Bar Harbor is from May to October, when the weather is mild, and the town is bustling with outdoor activities and festivals. Budget for a long weekend Budget for a 4-day getaway with hotel, one good restaurant, and one activity: $990 3 nights at the Bar Harbor Inn & Spa (3-star): $900, - Find more hotel deals at KAYAK!Dinner for 2 at Geddy's: $60Acadia National Park admission for 2: $30 Note: Prices vary depending on the time of year, availability, etc. Follow on Social Media Courtesy of Visit Bar Harbor Maine The official Facebook Page for Bar Harbor showcases the town's natural beauty and outdoor activities. Make sure to check out their Instagram Profile and see why visitors from around the world return again and again to enjoy its amazing scenery. #visitharbor Discover Bar Harbor CARD WIDGET HERE Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023 This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Read the announcement and main article here. Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina
90 miles southeast of TucsonPopulation: 5,575 (est. 2019) Located in southeastern Arizona, Bisbee is a charming town with a vibrant arts scene. Visitors can take a walking tour of the historic downtown area, visit the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, and browse local art galleries and shops. Outdoor activities in the area include hiking, birdwatching, and exploring nearby ghost towns. Cool facts about Bisbee Bisbee is known for its historic copper mine, one of the world's largest copper mines in the early 20th century.The town is home to the "Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb," an annual race up the town's many steep staircases.Bisbee was known as the "Queen of the Copper Camps." It was once the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco.The town has several haunted locations, such as the Copper Queen Hotel and the Oliver House. Watch TRVL channel’s show Ghost Adventures Season 6, Episode 3 and watch some Brisbee can be a great destination for ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts. Also Seen in… Bisbee '17 poster - imdb.com "Bisbee '17" (2018) - a documentary film that explores the history of the Bisbee Deportation, a controversial event 100 years ago in which over a thousand striking miners were forcibly removed from the town and deported to the New Mexico desert. Best Time to Visit Best Time to Visit Bisbee - Weatherspark.com The best time to visit Bisbee is from March to May or September to November when the temperatures are mild, and the crowds are smaller. Budget for a long weekend Budget for a 4-day getaway with hotel, one good restaurant, and one activity: $538 3 nights at the Copper Queen Hotel (3-star): $420 - Find more hotel deals at KAYAK!Dinner for 2 at The Copper Pig Restaurant: $70Copper Queen Mine Tour for 2: $48 Note: Prices vary depending on the time of year, availability, etc. Follow on Social Media Bisbee at night - Courtesy of Discover Bisbee Arizona Bisbee’s Facebook page is a source of tourist information for the proverbial traveller, photographer, film-maker, history buff or day-tripper. Also checkout their Instagram profile to get a feeling on how quirky and artsy this Small Cool Town is! #bebisbee Discover Bisbee CARD WIDGET HERE Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023 This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Read the announcement and main article here. Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina
20 miles south of NashvillePopulation: 83,454 (est. 2020) Franklin is a charming city located in Williamson County, Tennessee. It is known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and vibrant downtown area. The city has a small-town feel with big-city amenities. Franklin is home to many unique shops, restaurants, and attractions that make it a great place to visit. Some of the popular attractions include the Lotz House Museum, Carnton Plantation, and the Franklin Theatre. The city also hosts many events throughout the year such as the Main Street Festival and the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival. Cool facts about Franklin The population of Franklin has grown more than 500 percent since 1980 when the city began a commercial and residential boom.The small town of Franklin in 1799 was established and named for… yes! Benjamin Franklin.It has a vibrant music scene, lively festivals, and historic main street. Restorations and upgrades are happening as you read this. Most notably, there’s a major renovation of the Factory at Franklin (stores and restaurants).Local author Allen Sircy has compiled Franklin’s spookies ghost stories in his book Southern Ghost Stories Franklin, Tennessee. Also Seen in… At Close Range Poster - imdb.com "At Close Range” (1986). While the movie depicted incidents in Chester County and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, many scenes were actually filmed in Franklin, Tennessee. And yes, it also appeared in Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009). Best Time to Visit Best Time to Visit Franklin - Weatherspark.com The best time to visit Franklin is from April to June, or later in the Fall. But if you’re looking for the very warmest time, go in August for an average of 93º F and steamy nights at 70º F. Budget for a long weekend Budget for a 4-day getaway with hotel, one good restaurant, and one activity: $960 3 nights at The Harpeth Franklin Downtown, Curio Collection by Hilton (4-star): $915 (however, the Hyatt Place in Cool Springs (3-star) is about $375 and only 6 minutes away). - Find more hotel deals at KAYAK!Dinner for 2 at Puckett’s Historic Downtown: $45Franklin Battlefield: A National Historic Landmark and the site of one of the Civil War's bloodiest battles: FREE, donations appreciated. Note: Prices vary depending on the time of year, availability, etc. Follow on Social Media Franklin - Courtesy of Visit Franklin Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned Franklin adventurer, check out their Facebook Page for essential resources and up-to-date information about events. Their Instagram account showcases the charm, history, and people of this Cool Small Town. #visitfranklin Discover Franklin CARD WIDGET HERE Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023 This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Read the announcement and main article here. Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina
110 miles north of DuluthPopulation: 1,340 (est. 2022) Grand Marais is a picturesque town that hugs the shore of Lake Superior and is located on the northwestern shore of Lake Superior. If you are undecided between hiking or playing at the beach, Grand Marais is for you. The Superior Hiking Trail passes near Grand Marais, and Judge C. R. Magney State Park is nearby. If you stay at the Grand Marais Campground and Marina you will be on the west side of Grand Marais Harbor. Walk around to the east side of the harbor and enjoy the Grand Marais Breakwater Trail where you can go between Grand Marais Harbor and East Bay. Cool facts about Grand Marais Prior to white settlement, the Ojibwe called this land Gitchi-Ba-Too-Biig, which translates into “Double Bay”.The location of present-day Grand Marais served as a summer village for the local Ojibwe population. The American Fur Company used the harbor area for outposts in the 1820s and 30s.Grand Marais literally translates to “big marsh” in French. A good portion of downtown sits on filled wetlands.There are ghostly rumors at two locations in Grand Marais—the Birch Terrace Supper Club and the Cook County courthouse. There have been reports over the years of unexplained noises and activities. Also Seen in… Virginia Minnesota Poster - imdb.com "Virginia Minnesota" (2018) - A film in which two young women, torn apart by a childhood tragedy, unexpectedly reunite and embark on an illuminating 24-hour journey, where they unlock memories of long-forgotten innocence and what it means to truly believe. Best Time to Visit Best Time to Visit Grand Marais - Weatherspark.com The best times to visit Grand Marais for ideal weather are July 2nd to September 9th based on average temperature and humidity. However, the busiest month for tourism in Grand Marais is April, followed by June and May. If you plan to visit during fall color season, book well in advance. Budget for a long weekend Budget for a 4-day getaway with hotel, one good restaurant, and one activity: $506 3 nights at East Bay Suites (3-star) or Best Western Plus Superior Inn (3-star): $396 - Find more hotel deals at KAYAK!Dinner for 2 at Voyageur Brewing Company: $50Attend the Grand Marais Arts Festival Donation: $60 and up. Note: Prices vary depending on the time of year, availability, etc. Follow on Social Media Grand Marais, MN - Courtesy of Barb Teahen Checkout their Facebook page to stay up to date on what’s going on this picturesque harbor village on the world’s greatest lake. Also go to their Instagram profile and decide if it is the arts and culture that inspire adventure, or vice versa. #donorthmn Discover Grand Marais CARD WIDGET HERE Budget Travel's Coolest Small Towns in 2023 This year, we've elevated this important editorial feature and revamped our approach. Read the announcement and main article here. Bar Harbor, MaineBisbee, ArizonaFranklin, TennesseeGrand Marais, MinnesotaPort Townsend, WashingtonSedona, ArizonaSt. Augustine, FloridaTaos, New MexicoTraverse City, MichiganWoodstock, Vermont Honorable Mention: Asheville, North Carolina
If you're looking to book a trip this year, WalletHub has some valuable insight on which airlines to choose (or avoid). They recently announced their rankings for both best and worst airlines in 2023 by comparing the 9 largest U.S. airlines, plus two regional carriers. Fourteen important metrics across four categories (baggage and departures, animal incidents, in-flight comfort and cost, and safety) were used to quantify overall service quality and functional performance of each airline. American Airlines, Frontier, and Southwest all unfortunately fell to the bottom of WalletHub's rankings. Southwest, in particular, was likely hurt by their major issues with delays and cancellations in the past year. However, after collecting and analyzing 2022 flight data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, WalletHub shared their findings with each airline—so, hopefully, even the worst-performing airlines will make future improvements. Most Reliable Airline: Delta Delta Air Lines has the lowest rate of cancelations, delays, mishandled luggage and denied boardings. Thanks to their reliability, Delta also was WalletHub's overall best airline to choose. It didn't perform particularly well in the price category; but for those looking to ensure smooth travels, the extra cost may be worth it in the end. Most Comfortable Airline: JetBlue Airplane aisle by Suhyeon Choi - Unsplash JetBlue leads the pack in terms of in-flight experience, offering free amenities such as Wi-Fi, extra legroom, and complimentary snacks and beverages. While JetBlue has the edge over competitors now, airlines have plenty of other ways they can improve traveler's experience. Ahmed Abdelghany, an associate dean at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, suggests there is much more that airlines can do when it comes to improving passenger comfort: "The airline is dealing with the passengers at different stages of the trip including before the flight, during the flight, in connection (if any), and after the flight. Of course, the airline can streamline the whole process to focus on passengers’ comfort. You can think of the different stages that passengers experience during the flight starting from buying the ticket, traveling to the airport, parking (if needed), checking in, passing security, waiting at the gate, boarding, finding space for carry-on, in-flight service, deplaning, connecting to another flight (if any), and baggage claiming. There is a large room for improving the comfort level of passengers during each of these stages. In particular, during the flight, airlines help passengers locate space for carry-on bags. Airlines can increase the legroom between seats, allowing passengers to stretch out and have more space to move. Also, comfortable seat cushions can improve passengers' comfort during long flights. Replacing older cushions with newer, more comfortable ones is a relatively simple measure to implement. Furthermore, airlines can improve the variety and quality of in-flight entertainment. They can also offer complimentary snacks and beverages during flights can help passengers feel more comfortable and satisfied. In addition, maintaining a clean cabin environment, with regular cleaning and disinfection, can help passengers feel more comfortable and safer." Most Affordable Airline: Spirit Airlines Airport ticket counters by Phil Mosley - Unsplash Spirit Airlines is the best airline for budget flyers. This may be one of the most important points when travelers look for flights, due to the effects of inflation making budgets tighter and tighter. Cody Christensen, associate professor at South Dakota State University's aviation program suggests inflation in the aviation industry may be here to stay: "As inflation increases so does pilot training, aircraft acquisition, and capital improvement projects. Sustained inflation will lead to a slowdown in the aviation sector." Additionally, smaller airports and regional flights may be impacted by inflation, Christensen believes: "As the number of pilots willing to work for the pay and the regional airline schedule decreases, we will see a decrease in the number of flights to small and medium-sized communities. The aircraft will continue to get bigger, which in turn will decrease the number of flights into and out of spoke communities. Consumers need to be ready for increased ticket prices and less availability in the coming years. Many military pilots and pilots trained by collegiate aviation are bypassing the regional airlines and instead moving on to National airlines ... If they are hired by regional airlines, their tenure before moving on to a major airline such as Delta, United, or UPS is much less." Most Pet-Friendly: Delta, Alaska Airlines, SkyWest A dog waits in an airport by Artem Labunsky - Unsplash If you're traveling with pets, there are thankfully plenty of options when it comes to animal safety. Three airlines tied for being most pet-friendly, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines and SkyWest—each of them reported zero incidents with pets. Safest Airline: Envoy Air Envoy Air is the safest in 2023. Envoy is one of two regional airlines in WalletHub's rankings, and mostly serves American Airlines. The safety runner-up (and winner in the national airlines group) is Spirit Airlines, which also happens to be the most affordable airline on WalletHub's list. Oftentimes, if a flight price seems "too good to be true," critics suggest that safety may be lacking. But in Spirit's case, the best of both worlds is possible; nervous flyers can rest easy knowing that they didn't compromise safety for a good deal. — To view the full rankings, visit WalletHub.
Once spring rolls around, beach lovers everywhere are eager to get to the coast and enjoy sun and sand. For many, the ocean breeze, warm water, and rejuvenating sun are the perfect getaway—however, crowded shores with rowdy visitors can put a damper even the most idyllic setting. Head to these under-the-radar beaches to ensure you don't miss out on the tranquility of a coastal getaway.Kauapea Beach, Hawaii This secret beach on the North Shore of Kauai past the town of Kilauea is only accessible by a steep, somewhat slippery hike. The golden sands and red rocks make this a beautiful beach, and in one area a "natural shower" even flows from the coastline cliff overhangs. Be prepared, though: the far side of the beach is "clothing optional." Sandbridge Beach, Virginia Sandbridge Beach pier by Brianna Tracy - Unsplash While not exactly a "secret" beach to local Virginians, the beach in Sandbridge is much more secluded than it is 25 miles north in Virginia Beach. Technically, it's part of the northern tip of the Outer Banks, and the beach boasts beautiful sunsets. While there isn't much to do in Sandbridge, that's part of the appeal; it's just a peaceful little coast town near the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Cumberland Island, Georgia Take a 45-minute ride by ferry from St. Marys, Georgia to Cumberland Island, and you'll find secluded beaches and abundant wildlife. The island is mostly uninhabited and the land is protected as part of the Cumberland Island National Seashore, which means that animals like wild horses and loggerhead turtles flourish in the area. Bird-watchers will find peregrine falcons and warblers, and fishing opportunities are plentiful. Aside from hiking, biking, and kayaking, though, the best way to enjoy the shoreline is by soaking up the sun on its 18-mile stretch of shoreline. Carova Beach, North Carolina North Carolina beaches stay popular all season long. Carova Beach, however, misses out on the crowds thanks to the fact that it is only accessible by 4x4 vehicles on non-paved roads. This Outer Banks beach is also where legendary Corolla wild horses roam free.Despite the isolation, visitors still have access to great restaurants, ice cream shops, lessons for kiteboarding and hang gliding, fishing charters, and kayak rentals to explore the Currituck Sound. Ship Island, Mississippi Ferries docked at Ship Island, Mississippi - courtesy of Natalie Strong Coastal Mississippi isn't always known for having the clear gulf coast waters that nearby Alabama and Florida beaches boast—but if you're willing to take a ferry ride out of Gulfport, you'll be met with the most gorgeous turquoise waters along the shores of Ship Island. While there are no overnight accommodations on the little island and camping isn't allowed, its beauty and seclusion make up for it. The only thing to do other than swim and relax is take a tour of the historic Fort Massachusetts, commissioned during the 1850s to protect the coast of Mississippi. Enderts Beach, California Within the Redwood National Park along the northern California coast is the shimmering pebble-lined Enderts Beach. The beach is only accessible via a 3/4 mile hike from the Last Chance Section of the California Coastal Trail, although the Nickel Creek Campground is close by for overnight accommodations. While the colder waters don't make this the best swimming beach, it is the perfect place to read or explore the coastline, full of sea caves and tidal pools. Dry Tortugas, Florida Fort Jefferson on the island of Dry Tortugas by Christopher Osten - Unsplash This beach is located nearly 70 miles west of Key West, on the remote Dry Tortugas National Park and is accessible only by boat or seaplane—making it strikingly less crowded than the rest of Florida's beaches. In addition to swimming in the clear waters and relaxing along its powdery beach shores, visitors can spot all kinds of marine life and an assortment of birds. Tour Fort Jefferson, dive to a shipwreck, snorkel and view coral reefs, or even camp overnight. Roque Bluffs, Maine Amidst the 274-acre Roque Bluffs State Park are both a freshwater and a saltwater beach, plus miles of hiking trails. This area is very rural, so even on the hottest summer days, the beaches have no crowds. Depending on the time of year, visitors will want to make a stop at Welch Farm, a family-owned blueberry farm where you can learn about the history of blueberry farming in Maine and pick up some fresh grown berries. Secret Beach, Oregon Secret Beach in Oregon by Venti Views - Unsplash Yes, it is really called Secret Beach. While its name may imply that it has given away its allure, the beach itself is easy to miss—which may explain why it remains to be so secluded. Visitors first have to make their way to the Secret Beach Trailhead on the Oregon Coast Highway (Highway 101). From there, two trails take you to the same beach: the first trail is a 200 yard hike, while the second is a bit more wooded and meandering. The beach features a stunning chiseled rocky coastline. Try to visit during low tide, when sea caves, coves, and tide pools can be explored best.
If you needed another excuse to plan a summer vacation, Father's Day is fast approaching (this year, it lands on Sunday, June 18th). Look no further than the fun ideas below to plan a getaway (or two) this season for the history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or mechanically-minded dad in your life. Explore the Old West in Wyoming Cowboy Bar in Wyoming by Makenzie Cooper - Unsplash Whether he gets to release his inner child while digging for dinosaur bones Jurassic Park-style, surf the sand dunes, ghost hunt, or hike, bike, and more—the Star Valley (southwest) corner of The Cowboy State has experiences that are hard to find anywhere else. Killpecker Sand Dunes are the second largest active sand dune field in the world, encompassing approximately 109,000 acres and stretching 55 miles east from the Green River Basin across the Continental Divide into the Great Divide Basin. Rent an ATV and get out on the 11,000 acres of designated play space - Novice riders learn the ropes on flatter areas and smaller dunes while the experts show their skills on mammoth dunes that reach 100 feet high. Or surf down the dunes on a sled or skis! Descend 50 Million years into the past at the American Fossil in Kemmerer, which offers scheduled fossil digs between May and September. This dino dig area is located outside of Kemmerer, in the northern part of the Green River Formation and perfect for any dad wanting to experience a childhood Jurassic Park dream. You can expect to uncover fossils of various species, like turtles, fish, birds and insects. It’s one of the few places in the country you can take home some of your favorite finds or purchase fossils others uncovered. Complete with old graveyards, original log structures and worn-out wagon trails, Old West ghost towns in Wyoming feed the imagination with actual artifacts from this transformative piece of American history. Fort Bridger State Historic Site is renowned as one of the most haunted places in Wyoming and is a stop on the Oregon Trail. But it isn’t just the soldiers you may encounter wandering around Fort Bridger. A dog named Thornburgh is reported to have earned a medal of honor after saving a child. When he died, he was buried at the fort. He now stands guard over the cemetery. Master the Art of Sailing in the Finger Lakes Sailing on Canandaigua Lake - courtesy of Mower / The Lake House on Canandaigua This Father’s Day, why not skip the shirt and tie and gift dad an experience he’ll never forget: the art of sailing. He’ll learn to harness the wind and trim the sails from an experienced captain and crew on the seemingly endless Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New York. This exclusive sailing adventure at The Lake House on Canandaigua promises a unique blend of relaxation, exploration and lifelong memories for dad and his loved ones. During a Lake House sailing excursion, guests become part of the crew. Participants will assist the captain and learn the ropes of navigating a sailboat firsthand – providing for both an educational and empowering adventure that will leave dad with new skills and a sense of accomplishment. See Vintage Motorcycles at the Harley-Davidson Museum Motorcycle by Harley-Davidson - Unsplash Make Father’s Day an unforgettable experience with a trip to the Harley-Davidson Museum. Start your day with a trip through the unrivaled collection found in the H-D Museum – including the new, special exhibit, “Mama Tried: Bringing it Together.” Dads get in free all day! After your tour, come spoil the #1 Dad in your life and shop our newest arrivals at the Harley-Davidson® Shop. Finish it off at MOTOR, where Dads and Grandads can score a free grill special including a Usinger's hot dog or bratwurst served with potato salad and coleslaw when you purchase a beverage! Go up against dad with lawn games like giant Connect Four and more on our sun-splashed patio. On Saturday, June 24th, the museum is also hosting Wild Ones: Vintage Motorcycle Rally. Come celebrate Harley-Davidson’s unrivaled motorcycle heritage with a vintage 1940s-style motorcycle rally at the H-D Museum. In partnership with The Knucklehead Company’s Annual Reunion, this family friendly event features an antique motorcycle ride-in show and the AMCA Badger Heritage Chapter hosts authentic motorcycle field games with proceeds benefiting Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin. The museum also has regular programming all summer long. All wheels unite every Thursday from 5 to 9 pm at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Join riders (and non-riders) for free live music from some of our favorite bands, fun, drool-worthy rolling sculptures and outdoor food and beverage specials from MOTOR. Visit the museum campus on Saturdays to experience the fun and freedom of a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle. Riders with their motorcycle endorsement/license will be able to choose from a dozen of the latest and greatest #FreedomMachines from Harley-Davidson, including Touring, Softail® and Sportster® models. A pre-determined scenic route through the Menomonee Valley will give riders the chance to explore the H-D Museum’s surrounding neighborhoods. Sign-up is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Riders and passengers must be at least 18 years of age. All riders (and passengers) must wear a helmet, eye protection, shirt, long pants and closed-toe shoes with heel strap. All riders and passengers must bring their own riding gear.
Los Angeles is an ever-evolving destination full of fresh concepts and new experiences to discover. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a returning friend, the City of Angels has seen countless exciting new offerings emerge in recent years. Across the region, new places to stay, award-winning dining experiences, vibrant attractions, advanced infrastructure and more make up “LA 2.0” offering all-new places to explore. Celebrate 100 Years of These Landmarks Hollywood sign by Martin Jernberg - UnsplashThe Hollywood Sign – Throughout this year, the iconic Hollywood Sign will celebrate 100 years of larger-than-life lettering perched atop the Santa Monica Mountains. Originally reading “Hollywoodland” in its early days, the Sign is now an enduring symbol of Los Angeles as a place where magic is possible and any dream can come true. For spectacular views of the cityscape and the Sign itself, travelers can hike through the Mt. Hollywood Trail, Brush Canyon Trail and Cahuenga Peak Trail or even ride horseback on the Mulholland Trail. Visitors can also enjoy delicious food and drinks at rooftop venues such as the Highlight Room atop the Dream Hollywood Hotel or Mama Shelter Los Angeles with the Hollywood Sign as a backdrop. Step into Hollywood history with a stay at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, a martini at the 100-year-old Musso & Frank Grill or a show at the Pantages Theatre. From past to present, there are so many exciting ways to experience the evolution of Hollywood beneath the century-old Sign.The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – The beloved Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum celebrates 100 years of hosting major sporting and entertainment events as a key LA venue in Exposition Park. The Coliseum is an icon of the sports world having served as the home field for Los Angeles professional sports teams including the Rams, Raiders, Chargers and Dodgers in its storied past, and has been home to the USC Trojans since the Coliseum's opening. The venue has also hosted two Super Bowls, three NFL Championships and one World Series, and is the only venue to host two Summer Olympics—soon to be three in 2028. Sports are not the only major events the Coliseum has seen within its walls, hosting concerts by some of the world's most famous artists including the Rolling Stones, Prince, U2 and Metallica. The Coliseum also plays a part in key historical events, dedicated as a memorial to LA County WWI veterans upon opening in 1923. Martin Luther King Jr. also spoke at the venue less than a year after giving his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Warner Bros. Studios – A global icon of Hollywood moviemaking, Warner Bros. Studios celebrates its 100th Anniversary on April 4 with a year of exciting centennial celebrations. From fan favorites like When Harry Met Sally and Friends to masterpieces of cinema like Casablanca and Gone With the Wind, Warner Bros. will share the magic of film with audiences in special ways throughout the year. Film fans can join the celebration through several commemorative experiences, including centennial museum exhibits and screenings at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, a special 100th anniversary exhibit at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood and a celebration of key films and major talent from Warner Bros. Pictures' history at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood. The centennial exhibit explores 100 years of Warner Bros.' impact on storytelling, recognizing a range of classic and contemporary productions, including Casablanca, DC Comics, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Abbott Elementary, and beyond. The new exhibit is located in the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Welcome Center, which is open to the public, offering guests a photographic exploration of where it all began.The Millennium Biltmore – The Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles celebrates its 100th anniversary with a centennial logo, a series of anniversary events and updates to maintain the Biltmore's longstanding grandeur. With previous lives as a prohibition nightclub, Academy Awards venue and feature film set, the Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles was recently declared a “Los Angeles Historic-Culture Monument” dazzling guests since 1923. The centennial celebrations will include an elegant 100th Anniversary Ball in October 2023, thematic speakeasy events, An Evening with Mermaids event, high teas at the Rendezvous Court and a soon-to-be-announced fashion show, showcasing the Biltmore's impressive history, ornate design and Old Hollywood style. The “Grande Dame” will also see a restoration of its original fresco ceilings and all new windows and fixtures, and the hotel's entrance will return to its original location on Olive Street paying homage to the guest experience of the 20th century. Visit These Emerging Neighborhoods A sign in LA's Arts District by Welton Gite - UnsplashThe Vinyl District – With a long, rich history as the entertainment capital of the world, Hollywood has welcomed film-lovers and star searchers to its iconic landmarks such as the Walk of Fame and Grauman's Theatre for close to a century. There's a reason travelers are drawn by “Old Hollywood,” but the Vinyl District is setting out to breathe new energy into the neighborhood while preserving its storied past. Situated around the intersection of Selma and Wilcox just blocks away from Sunset Blvd., this emerging neighborhood was recently named the “Vinyl District” as a tribute to the area's long history in the music industry with recording studios, record shops and entertainment labels making their home on its blocks throughout the years. The Vinyl District has witnessed a major development boom, with several glamorous hotels reminiscent of Hollywood stardom such as the Thompson Hollywood and Dream Hollywood, new dining concepts from famed LA chefs like Mother Wolf and Ka'teen as well as venues that pay homage to old Hollywood's music scene while spinning the latest tracks. The Vinyl District is about paying tribute to Hollywood's storied history while revitalizing the area for a new generation of Angelenos and visitors, with a multitude of ways to spend your day all in one exciting neighborhood.The Arts District – A creative neighborhood flourishing with hubs for the arts, award-winning dining experiences and unique shopping, the Arts District in Downtown LA invites visitors to discover an area rich with cultural gems. A haven for artists in the 1970s, the neighborhood's artistic landscape today includes murals around every corner by famed street artists such as Shepard Fairey, RETNA and WRDSMTH as well as curated galleries like Hauser & Wirth. Culinary experiences are also a jewel of the Arts District with a variety of restaurants opening in the neighborhood. Several have been recognized on a global stage with French bistro Camphor receiving a MICHELIN Star and Brazilian restaurant Caboco receiving Bib Gourmand distinction, as well as LA Cha Cha Chá, Girl & the Goat, kodō, Yangban Society and Yunomi Handroll receiving MICHELIN recommendations. Just blocks away, ROW DTLA transforms industrial buildings into over 30 boutique shops, a weekly outdoor market and dining offerings including MICHELIN-Starred restaurants Hayato and Kato as well as Bib Gourmand award recipient Pizzeria Bianco. Slated to open this year, Kensho Ryokan will turn a historic firehouse into a thoughtfully designed Japanese-style hotel, offering an all-new home base for experiencing the neighborhood. Explore New Cultural Attractions Palm trees in Los Angeles by Shot By Joe - UnsplashLA's arts and culture landscape continues to thrive with more museums and performing arts venues than any other city in the US. An exciting addition will be Destination Crenshaw, the largest public/private Black art program in the nation, stamping a 1.3-mile stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard with an infrastructure project that includes beautifully designed community spaces, landscaping and newly planted trees, and 100 commissioned works by Black artists. While elevating Black culture, Destination Crenshaw will also boost the community through economic development, job creation and environmental healing. The Hammer Museum also completed its two-decades-long project transforming the building with a new entrance experience, 60% more gallery space and an outdoor sculpture courtyard in March 2023. True to Los Angeles' ever-evolving nature, there is even more to come for the arts in LA with the new NHM Commons wing at the Natural History Museum in 2024, LACMA's renovations in 2024, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art slated to open in 2025 and an exciting revamp of the La Brea Tar Pits taking visitors on a journey from prehistoric times to today expected in 2028. Immerse Yourself in Super Nintendo World SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, a highly anticipated innovative and immersive themed land at Universal Studios Hollywood, just debuted in February. This all-new, dynamic land is a visual spectacle of vibrant colors and architectural ingenuity located within a newly expanded area of Universal Studios Hollywood, sweeping guests into the 360-degree world of Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. Super Nintendo World features the groundbreaking “Mario Kart™: Bowser's Challenge” ride seamlessly fusing augmented reality with projection mapping technology and actual set pieces to take guests on through creative courses inspired by the popular Mario Kart™ video game series to compete for the Golden Cup in a repeatable attraction with a variety of outcomes. In addition, the signature restaurant Toadstool Café serves a gourmet menu by Chef Toad including Super Mushroom Soup, Mario Bacon Cheeseburger and Princess Peach Cupcakes. Guests can commemorate their visit with a trip to 1-UP Factory for collectable memorabilia from apparel to iconic character hats and an array of plush characters. Dine at World-renowned Restaurants LA has also established itself as a global dining capital with 26 Angeleno restaurants receiving MICHELIN Stars across the city in neighborhoods such as Downtown LA, the Arts District, Hollywood and beyond. 10 Los Angeles restaurants also made their debut on the Bib Gourmand list, recognized for their exceptional food at a great value. LA's unique culinary offering spanning over 400 food trucks to high-end dining experiences is a result of the 140 different nationalities that call Los Angeles home, with many cultures reflected in LA's dining scene. From modern French at Camphor and Southern-inspired American at Hatchet Hall to European-style Gwen and contemporary fare at Manzke, Los Angeles continues to captivate the imagination of the culinary world, offering world-class cuisine from our ever-evolving street food to fine dining in iconic settings. The dining landscape of Los Angeles continues to shine as The James Beard Foundation Awards announced their 2023 finalists and LA's world-renowned restaurant scene is well-positioned for a variety of big wins. The diverse group of nine finalists include n/naka's Niki Nakayama for Outstanding Chef, Bridgetown Roti's Rashida Holmes for Top Emerging Chef, and Republique's Margarita Manzke for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Book a Room at a New Hotel Downtown Los Angeles by Owen Lystrup - Unsplash Los Angeles has added over 5,000 new hotel rooms in the last two years with options at virtually every price point, and the city has also seen a boutique hotel boom featuring unique new hotel concepts. Some exciting new properties across the region include The Conrad Los Angeles, Fairmont Century Plaza, Thompson Hollywood, The Shay and Downtown LA Proper. New properties continue to open their doors in many different areas of the city including the Moxy & AC Los Angeles in Downtown LA which opened in April 2023 and the upcoming Kensho Ryokan in the Arts District, welcoming guests to stay across LA's 30 diverse neighborhoods.
Universal Orlando Resort shares new details about all the ways guests can eat, laugh and make mischief with the Minions in the highly anticipated Minion Land on Illumination Ave. – an immersive new area created in partnership between Universal’s award-winning creative team and the acclaimed filmmakers from Illumination. Opening this summer at Universal Studios Florida, the new land expands upon the wildly popular Despicable Me Minion Mayhem attraction and will debut a new collection of experiences for guests of all ages inspired by the beloved Minions franchise. As soon as guests enter the land, they’ll be greeted by a fun, photo-worthy “Minion Land” marquee featuring 22 Minions before embarking on the mischief that awaits along Illumination Ave. From blasting their way to supervillain stardom in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast to savoring tasty dishes at the Minion Cafe to snacking on banana-flavored popcorn at Pop-a-Nana and meeting fan-favorite characters along the way, here are details about the exciting new experiences that await in Minion Land: Play in the Villain-Con Minion Blast Illumination's new Villain-Con Minion Blast attraction - courtesy of NBCUniversal Guests can put their villainous skills to the test in Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast – an all-new attraction where guests compete against each other in a fully interactive gaming experience that’s so much fun, it’s a crime. Afterward, guests exit through Evil Stuff, an all-new retail location where they can stock up on Villain-Con and Minions merchandise. More details about Villain-Con Minion Blast will be revealed soon. Indulge in Minion-themed Treats Rendering of Bake My Day at Universal Orlando - courtesy of NBCUniversal It’s Minions in the kitchen, mischief in the dining room, and tons of tasty food at the new Illumination’s Minion Cafe – the marquee dining location within Minion Land. This immersive new eatery offers something for every palate in a highly-entertaining dining experience that features three themed areas designed after beloved Minions Kevin, Stuart, Bob and Otto:the Kitchen – where guests will get a glimpse of the equipment and gear the Minions have used to whip up the cafe’s menu; the Breakroom – where guests can dine in the Minions’ break space that includes everything from “Office Safety Tips” to a vending machine stocked with mischievous items; and the Dining Room – a vibrant space adorned with colorful artwork courtesy of the Minions and more. Guests can also enjoy their meal on an outdoor patio that overlooks the fun of Minion Land. Just as eye-catching as Minion Cafe’s incredibly-themed surroundings is its delicious menu – the latest example of how Universal Orlando’s award-winning culinary team continues to raise the bar when it comes to theme park dining. Guests of all ages can enjoy inventive, family-friendly fare featuring nearly 20 items inspired by memorable characters and staples from the Minions franchise, including eclectic “despica-bowls” such as Otto’s Noodle Bowl, Agnes’s Honeymoon Soup and Carl’s Crispy Cauliflower (vegan offering); delectable handhelds such as the Steak & “Cheese Ray” Sandwich; adorable desserts such as Bob’s Teddy Bear Chocolate Cream Puff; a kids’ menu for the “mini Minions” in the family that includes items like the Mini Boss’ Mega Melt; and so much more. The Minion Cafe will also feature an express window with a limited menu for those looking to satisfy their mischievous cravings quickly and return to the mayhem in Minion Land. Other Minion Land treats to come: Bake My Day: Topped with a massive pink cupcake that’s visible from anywhere in the land, Bake My Day is a whimsical retail location and bakery featuring a selection of Minion-themed sweet treats, including cupcakes, macarons, s’mores and more, along with exclusive Minion-inspired merchandise like apparel, plush, drinkware, accessories, keychains and more.Pop-A-Nana: Banana-flavored popcorn, anyone? This walkup location features sweet and savory popcorn inspired by the Minions’ love for bananas. Here, guests may also find an assortment of cute popcorn buckets, including the Minion Selfie bucket. Freeze Ray Pops: Guests can cool off with a visit to Freeze Ray Pops, featuring a variety of colorful popsicles inspired by Gru, the Minions and Vector – along with beverages. Interact with Characters Guests can meet, greet and interact with beloved characters like the Minions, Gru, Margo, Edith and Agnes, plus new additions from the hit film “Sing” – Rosita, Gunter and Johnny – at an outdoor Illumination Theater facade. Guests can also discover murals, photo ops and more throughout Minion Land that celebrate additional characters from popular Illumination films. Minion Land is yet another example of how Universal Destinations & Experiences is raising the bar on immersive storytelling for the entire family using beloved stories and franchises often seen in films. —For more information about Minion Land and Universal Orlando Resort overall, visit www.universalorlando.com.
Head to Kentucky and Tennessee for the perfect bourbon-themed travel experience. In addition to a plentiful amount of distillery tours, the area is also home to unique experiences where visitors can learn more about the history, science, and culture around the beloved drink. Choose from the activities below to plan a perfect Father's Day weekend, guys trip, or bachelor party, or just make one of them a unique addition to any trip in the area. Bottle Your Own Bourbon (Louisville & Bardstown, Kentucky) Bourbon, neat, on a table by Phil Cruz - Unsplash Copper & Kings in Louisville, Kentucky recently released its first bourbon, available for guests who visit the distillery and take the new “Bottle-Your-Own” tour, part of their Barrel-to-Bottle experience. After the tour and tasting, guests can fill their bottle selected straight from the barrel, hand signed by Head Distillery Brandon O’Daniel. If simply bottling your own drink isn't enough, what about making your very own custom blend? In that case, try out Louisville Slugger's unique distillery experience. Barrels and Billets offers a custom bourbon blending experience lasting approximately 45 minutes, with six different wood-finished bourbons that visitors can taste and blend. The new custom recipes will then be bottled, sealed and labeled with a custom label so guests can take their new blends home with them. In Bardstown, Kentucky, there's also the Whisky Magazine’s "Global Whiskey Attraction of the Year"—Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience, which has been recently renovated with a new two-story wing with an expanded visitor center and three new themed tasting rooms. In addition to the new Five Brothers Bar and Kitchen, the new building also houses a hands-on experience called “You Do Bourbon” where guests receive product education before getting to select, fill and label their own bourbon to take home with them. Peruse a Vintage Spirits Library (Covington, Kentucky) Revival Vintage Spirits & Bottle Shop in Covington, Kentucky features a full-service bar on the first floor with one-of-a-kind vintage spirits and cocktails plus unique tasting flights. The second floor showcases the shop’s library of 4,000+ bottles for sale, including Pappy Van Winkles to Pre-Prohibition bottles. Keep the vintage experience going and head to Louisville, where you'll find a 1920s-inspired bar and tasting experience at Neat Bourbon Bar and Bottle Shop. This Highlands area bar highlights historic bourbons while offering vintage spirits to buy, trade and sell. Take Flight with This Luxury Experience (Louisville, Kentucky & Nashville, Tennessee) Touring company Mint Julep Experiences has launched a new “Roll Out the Barrel” high-end adventure, where guests can fly privately to-and-from either Louisville or Nashville via helicopter to Maker’s Mark Distillery. The all-inclusive package includes black car service, a farm-to-table lunch at Star Hill Farm, a private barrel select and personalized bourbon bottles. The experience will also include two nights in luxury accommodations at either the Omni Hotel Louisville or Omni Hotel Nashville. Learn Kentucky History at Bourbon Live (Lexington, Kentucky) Bourbon barrels by Josh Collesano - Unsplash A new high-tech bourbon experience, Bourbon Live, opened in July 2022 in Lexington’s Distillery District. The location includes floor-to-ceiling walls painted with a special pigment transforming them into projector screens, showcasing Kentucky’s bourbon history and distilleries. It’s an opportunity for guests to learn the basics of bourbon and see bourbon sights digitally while sipping on a flight of bourbon. BYOD – Bring Your Own Dog (Louisville, Kentucky) Louisville, Kentucky has several unique options when it comes to fun whiskey bars. But one of the newest additions that is getting a lot of love from pet owners is Frank’s Whiskey Place, a unique new dog-friendly whiskey bar. The business is named after the owner’s dog, a 3-year-old Australian shepherd/Labrador mix named Frank, and his face is part of the bar’s logo. The bar features a custom walnut wood bar-back with live-edge walnut shelves for alcohol and dark railroad ties holding the bar up, and the walls are filled with murals from distilleries on the Urban Bourbon Trail. Collect Memorabilia in Jack Daniels' Hometown (Lynchburg, Tennessee) Lynchburg, Tennessee is known for being the home of the Jack Daniels Distillery. They offer several different types of tours throughout the day showcasing the history and process behind making the drinks. However, if you're looking to commemorate your trip to town with a keepsake or two, you'll have to head elsewhere as the distillery doesn't sell any. Nearby, The Lynchburg Hardware & General Store has a huge selection of Jack Daniel’s memorabilia. It's a must-see stop for any visitors to town. Dine and drink at the James B. Beam Distillery (Clermont, Kentucky) Jim Beam Stillhouse in Clermont by Adam Bouse - Unsplash The James B. Beam Distilling Co. in Clermont has undergone significant renovations to upgrade visitors’ experiences. New visitor experiences include: The American Outpost, a new visitor and retail center; The Kitchen Table, a 5,000 square foot restaurant and gathering space championing local farmers; and “Beam Made Bourbon,” an immersive consumer tour showing how bourbon is made the “Beam Way”. There’s also the Fred B. Noe Craft Distillery, a new functional production facility offering special distillation process sessions with Freddie Noe, 8th generation Beam Distilling, plus hands-on activities in the blending lab, a tasting bar and state-of-the-art classroom. The new restaurant, The Kitchen Table, features indoor and outdoor dining where guests can enjoy a meal and cocktail while taking in the distillery grounds. The restaurant is inspired by the original Beam family kitchen table, a place of storytelling, whiskey sharing and recipes, and each dish and cocktail will feature locally sourced Kentucky ingredients. Some of the new specialty cocktails offered include a “Jim Beam Highball,” a Basil Hayden-based “Golden Hour” with Aperol Aperitivo liqueur and lillet blanc, and a “Smash” featuring Old Grand-Dad, lemon, mint and sugar.