5 Fun Things to Do in the South this March
If you're searching for something fun to do this spring break or the typical beach trip just isn't quite your style, take a look at these Southern towns where you can experience good food, drinks, entertainment, and history—and at least one unique event dedicated to a fish.
See a movie at the Oxford Film Festival - Oxford, Mississippi
Throughout the year non-profit film organization OxFilm works to encourage filmmaking through screenings, workshops and educational programs. This appreciation for cinema comes to life in the annual Oxford Film Festival, where from March 1st to 5th over 200 films from across the globe are exhibited. Named a Top 50 Film Festival worth the entry fee over several years by MovieMaker magazine, the 20th year of this festival will host panels on William Faulkner, editing documentaries, stunt acting, movie writing, distribution, post-production audio, sound sync, and set dressing.
Hop aboard a Beer Trail Trolley Tour - Athens, Georgia
In Georgia, the brand-new Athens Trolley Tours from TJ Stephens provides public transportation to the destination’s six local breweries: Akademia Brewing Company, Athentic Brewing Company, Creature Comforts Brewing Co., Southern Brewing Company, Terrapin Beer Co., and Normaltown Brewing Company. Tours run every Thursday and Friday from 3-9pm, with more routes and days to be added in the future.
While in town, be sure to make another stop at the Georgia Museum of Art, celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2023. In honor of this milestone, museum goers and art aficionados can enjoy a special vinyl timeline in the lobby, interactive visitor response wall, “March Madness” social media voting for favorite works of art, and much more.
Step back into the 19th century - Natchez, Mississippi
In a tradition dating back to 1932, Natchez opens the doors to its exquisite historic homes to welcome travelers from across the world. The annual Spring Pilgrimage Tours are led by costumed hosts in 19th-century characters, theater performances, unique presentations and live music, all focused on the city's stunning historic homes. Learn the fascinating history behind each home, see one of a kind antiques, and beautiful original furnishings. Celebrations take place from March 11th until April 11th. Attendees can also save money by purchasing a 3-house package, which includes a tour of three historic homes.
- Rosalie, a magnificent example of the Federal Style, played a significant role in American History as the Union Headquarters during the Civil War. Rosalie’s John Henry Belter parlor furniture, twenty-one pieces in all, are among the finest examples of his work still in existence.
- Stanton Hall, a beautiful Palatial Greek Revival mansion, occupies an entire city block in downtown Natchez, MS. This home stands 5 stories tall and was originally 14,000 square feet. Stanton Hall boasts many original furnishings, beautiful antiques, and one of a kind arched millwork.
- The largest octagonal home remaining in America, Longwood is a superb example of the mid-nineteenth century “villa in the oriental style”. Construction halted when the Civil War began, causing artisans to leave behind their tools, paint brushes, and lovely Longwood, never to be brought to completion.
Attend the Paddlefish Festival - Shreveport, Louisiana
The Shreveport Aquarium is bringing back the Paddlefish Festival on March 4, 2023. Come celebrate and learn all about these extraordinary creatures and how we can all help them survive. Shreveport Aquarium, in partnership with Caddo Lake Institute is rearing and releasing this threatened species to help repopulate Caddo Lake. Help them send-off the paddlefish to their new home at Mooringsport City Boat Ramp at 2:15pm. The event also includes educational displays, animal feedings, recycled art contest with prizes, crafts, and games.
Also at the aquarium, guests can view over 300 species and 1,000 animals while hand-feeding stingrays and touching jellyfish. The Fossil Mining Experience allows for dirt digging as guests search for buried treasure such as gemstones, fossils, and shark teeth.
Try local flavors at the Hattiesburg Craft Beer Festival - Hattiesburg, Mississippi
The Hattiesburg Craft Beer Festival on March 4th pays tribute to the local Mississippi breweries with this annual showcase. More than 10 years ago, there was a monumental shift in how Mississippians enjoyed craft beer. In 2012, a small change in beer laws brought about a huge economic and cultural impact that is still being felt. Hattiesburg is excited to celebrate nine years of industry growth with all of the breweries from around the nation who have made Mississippi their market. During the festival, attendees have an opportunity to not only taste a variety of beers but meet the people behind the beer while sampling food pairings from local restaurants. The event also serves as an opportunity for local tourism, where representatives from fellow beer cities throughout Mississippi attend.
Follow the Flowers Along this New Campgrounds Trail
The new 13-stop Spacious Skies Campgrounds Spring Bloom Trail highlights the very best of springtime color, as the bloom of wildflowers progresses from the South to the North. The trail, which travels from campground to campground from Tennessee to Maine, encourages springtime travelers to celebrate the explosion of spring wildflower color with ideas for where and when to experience the bloom. The trail begins in central Tennessee, where the wildflowers can be viewed as early as late March. The last stop on the trail is in the Maine Highlands, where wildflowers begin emerging in the region’s vast wilderness areas in early May. The Spring Bloom Trail highlights a sampling of the wildflower species visitors to each location might see as well as the best spring-season activities such as festivals, fishing and farmers markets. “Spring is a time of renewal, and when the first wildflowers begin popping up through sometimes still-frosty ground, we know that the warmth, sunshine and adventures of the season have finally arrived,” said Ali Rasmussen, CEO and creative director of Spacious Skies Campgrounds. “Our mission as a growing company is to not only offer fun and authentic campground experiences, but to also support local attractions, artists and other makers, and the Spring Bloom Trail is another way we encourage our guests to explore each region by day and relax and ‘camp on’ at night.” Each campground features different offerings, such as catch-and-release ponds, UTV trails and other on-site recreation. In addition to RV sites, many campgrounds offer glamping options like retro campers and yurts. Additionally, Spacious Skies Campgrounds has partnered with RV Share, with options for delivery of RVs and trailers to campgrounds as well as for self-driving. Below, find the stops along the new Spring Blooms Trail. 1. Spacious Skies Belle Ridge - Monterey, Tennessee Burgess Falls - courtesy of tn.gov Located in the Cumberland Plateau in middle Tennessee, between Nashville and Knoxville, this campground is open year-round. More than 40 miles long, the Cumberland Plateau is the world’s longest plateau of hardwood forest. The plateau is home to nearly 60 threatened or endangered species. Wildflowers begin blooming in late March and include: Endangered Virginia Spirea, Purple Phacelia, Spring Beauty, Oxeye Daisy, Sweet White Trillium, ChicoryWhere to spot them: Cummins Falls State Park, Burgess Falls State Park, Spacious Skies Belle Ridge UTV and hiking trails, Tennessee Central Heritage Rail Trail.What else to do: Celebrate the season at the Blooms, Bluegrass & BBQ Festival in early May. Learn about the region’s history at the Monterey Depot Museum.Where to next: Spacious Skies Hidden Creek. Drive time: 3 hours 40 minutes, 240 miles. 2. Spacious Skies Hidden Creek - Marion, North Carolina Craggy Gardens - courtesy of Jim Ruff photo This campground is open-year round and located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 40 minutes from Asheville, in Buncombe county near the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers. Since elevations along the Blue Ridge Mountains vary widely, visitors will find a huge array of wildflower species and a months-long, ever-changing wildflower bloom. The National Park Service reports that of all of the 1,600 plant species along the Blue Ridge Parkway to the north of the campground, 80 percent are wildflowers. Wildflowers begin blooming in late March and include: Rhododendron, Mountain Ash, Daisies, DogwoodWhere to spot them: Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Max Patch Summit in Pisgah National Forest, Lake James State Park, Biltmore Estate, North Carolina Arboretum.What else to do: Explore Asheville’s River Arts District. Visit Biltmore Blooms at the Biltmore Estate. Hike to Daffodil Flats in the Linville Gorge, a “ghost garden” that was planted by a homesteader long ago.Where to next: Spacious Skies Peach Haven. Drive time: 1 hour 12 minutes, 56 miles. 3. Spacious Skies Peach Haven - Gaffney, South Carolina Next up, is an all-year campground in the upstate of South Carolina in the midst of farmland and rolling hills not far from Greenville. More than 680 species of wildflowers bloom in the state of South Carolina. The rare Oconee Bell is only found in a few places in the Southern Appalachians, and it only blooms for two or three weeks, from mid-March to early April. The wildflower even has its own festival – the Oconee Bell Fest at Devils Fork State Park. The poinsettia appeared for the first time in the United States in Greenville when Joel Roberts Poinsett, a minister and amateur botanist who kept greenhouses on his Greenville plantation, found the poinsettia plant on a trip to Mexico in 1828 and sent cuttings home. Wildflowers begin blooming in late February and include: Oconee Bell, Trillium, Balloon Vine, White Baneberry, Bulbous Buttercup, Bloodroot, Eastern Red Columbine, Butterflyweed, Narrowleaf Evening-PrimroseWhere to spot them: Devils Fork State Park, Table Rock State Park.What else to do: Visit the famous Peachoid Water Tower. Tour Cowpens National Battlefield. Walk along the Trillium Trail at Nine Times Preserve. Celebrate the season at the Piedmont Plant & Flower Festival in late April.Where to next: Spacious Skies Sandy Run. Drive time: 3 hours 29 minutes, 191 miles. 4. Spacious Skies Sandy Run - Fayetteville, North Carolina The next stop on the trail takes tourists to the Carolina Sandhills in the heart of Cumberland County. The North Carolina Department of Transportation features a wildflower program that seeds roadside wildflowers, ensuring that any spring road-trip in the state will be a colorful one. The department offers a free booklet to help visitors identify the flowers. The Siberian Wall Flower is one of the first blooms to appear. Wildflowers begin blooming in late March and include: Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Creeping Phlox, Ironweed, Cardinal Flower, Flowering Dogwood, Siberian Wall FlowerWhere to spot them: Cape Fear Botanical Garden, J. Bayard Park & Nature Center.What else to do: Experience the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival in late April. Spend a relaxing day fishing at the catch-and-release fishing pond at the campground.Where to next: Spacious Skies Shenandoah Views. Drive time: 5 hours 29 minutes, 331 miles. 5. Spacious Skies Shenandoah Views - Luray, Virginia The 5th stop on the Spring Blooms Trail opens up in mid-March in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, near Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive. There are more than 850 species of flowering plants in Shenandoah Valley, and the destination is considered one of the best places in the country to observe wildflowers. The region’s wildflower bloom lasts well into October (and the campground doesn't close until November, so visitors have the entire season to enjoy the flowers). If you're here in mid-May, you'll want to participate in a Wildflower Weekend walk in the national park. Wildflowers begin blooming in early April and include: Hepatica, Aster, Turk’s Cap Lily, Spiderwort, Anemones, Wild AzaleasWhere to spot them: Along Skyline Drive, hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park.What else to do: Explore the Shenandoah Heritage Village – Luray Caverns at Luray Caverns. Get into the local spirit at the River Hill Distillery.Where to next: Spacious Skies Country Oaks. Drive time: 4 hours 52 minutes, 243 miles. 6. Spacious Skies Country Oaks - Dorothy, New Jersey In mid-April, the Country Oaks campground opens up for the season in southern New Jersey, within an easy drive of Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Here, a wildflower called "Sea Rocket" grows in sand dunes along the Jersey shoreline. Wildflowers begin to bloom in mid-April and include: Sea Rocket, Sea Lavender, Black-Eyed Susan, Purple Loosestrife, Crimson Eyed Rose Mallow.Where to spot them: Warren E. Fox Nature Center, New Jersey shoreline.What else to do: Sample wines from Balic Winery, where vineyards have been in operation since the early 1900s. Visit the Funny Farm Rescue and Sanctuary.Where to next: Spacious Skies Woodland Hills. Drive time: 4 hours 59 minutes, 259 miles. 7. Spacious Skies Woodland Hills - Austerlitz, New York Located in the Taconic and Berkshire mountain ranges of upstate New York near the Massachusetts border, and close to Boston, New York City, Providence and Albany, this campground opens for the season in early May. One of the local flowers here, Wild Carrot—also known as Queen Anne’s Lace—is a medicinal herb that can be eaten when the plant is young. Wildflowers begin blooming in early April and include: Red Trillium, Wild Blue Phlox, Northern Wood Sorrel, Queen Anne’s Lace, Bee Balm, Goldenrod.Where to spot them: Berkshire Botanical Garden, Vanderbilt Mansion.What else to do: Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. Drive to the summit of Mount Greylock.Where to next: Spacious Skies Adirondack Peaks. Drive Time: 2 hours 7 minutes; 133 miles. 8. Spacious Skies Adirondack Peaks - North Hudson, New York Purple trillium in the Adirondacks - courtesy of adirondackcouncil.org Located in the Adirondack Mountains, near Lake Champlain and the northern reaches of the Hudson River, this site opens up in mid-May. Wildflowers in heavily forested areas like the Adirondack Mountains emerge before the trees of the forests leaf out, and they provide an important food source for insects. Spring wildflower season coincides with mud season in the Adirondacks, and one of the great ways to avoid the mud – and enjoy wildflowers along the shoreline – is by paddling one of the region’s many ponds, lakes and rivers. Wildflowers begin blooming in early April and include: Blue Flag, Cardinal Flower, Cottongrass, Pickerelweed, Northern Pipewort.Where to spot them: Along walking trails at the campground, Hammond Pond Wild Forest.What else to do: Rent a pedal bike. Visit the Adirondack Buffalo Company, a working buffalo farm. Explore Fort Ticonderoga on the edge of Lake Champlain. Learn about climate solutions at The Wild Center.Where to next: Spacious Skies Minute Man. Drive time: 4 hours 9 minutes, 202 miles. 9. Spacious Skies Minute Man - Littleton, Massachusetts The Trail of Flowers - courtesy of trailofflowers.com In eastern Massachusetts, close to the heart of Boson, this campground in Littleton opens to visitors in early May. This historic town was first settled in 1686 and nearly a century later, the minutemen and militia of the town fought at Concord. Be sure to check out the Trail of Flowers, where volunteers plant thousands of flowering bulbs along the Assabet River Rail Trail every spring. Wildflowers begin blooming in late April and include: Wild Orchid, Foxglove, Rosebay Willowherb, Meadowsweet.Where to spot them: Nashua River Rail Trail, hiking and biking trails at Oak Hill Park.What else to do: Rent a canoe and paddle the Nashua River. Pick early season berries at Doe Orchards. Where to next: Spacious Skies Seven Maples. Drive time: 1 hour 14 minutes, 44 miles. 10. Spacious Skies Seven Maples - Hancock, New Hampshire Location: Located in southwestern New Hampshire in the Monadnock Region, known for hilly terrain and abundant outdoor recreational activities, this campground opens in early May. Some of the most incredible flowers of the region are the wild lupin, which feature purplish pea-like flowers on stems as much as two feet high. Wildflowers begin blooming in mid-May and include: Golden Alexanders, Wild Columbine, Sundial Lupine, Ohio Spiderwort.Where to spot them: Monadnock State Park, dePierrefeu-Willard Pond Wildlife Sanctuary.What else to do: Rent a kayak and paddle the campground pond. Check out the home of the 14th U.S. President, Franklin Pierce.Where to next: Spacious Skies French Pond. Drive time: 31 minutes, 22 miles. 11. Spacious Skies French Pond - Henniker, New Hampshire The French Pond campground is open year-round, except for a brief period in February, and happens to be conveniently located right by the previous Spring Blooms Trail stop, also in southern New Hampshire. Henniker is situated between the Merrimack Valley and Dartmouth regions. Here, visitors can spot the pink lady’s slipper, the official state wildflower of New Hampshire. Wildflowers begin blooming in early May: Lupine, Bluets, Pink Lady’s Slipper, Fringed Polygala, Blue Violets.Where to spot them: Clough State Park, Mount Sunapee State Park, wooded areas and creek beds.What else to do: Take a spring selfie at the Henniker Covered Bridge.Where to next: Spacious Skies Walnut Grove. Drive time: 1 hour 36 minutes, 75 miles. 12. Spacious Skies Walnut Grove - Alfred, Maine Walnut Grove campground - courtesy of spaciousskiescampgrounds.com Located in central southern Maine, with easy access to coastal cities like Portland, Old Orchard Beach and Kennebunkport, this campground opens in early May and closes in late October. Purple violets bloom in early spring, and they can be found in meadows, woodlands and along the roadside. Wildflowers begin blooming in late April and include: Purple Violets, Yellow Violets, Sweet White Violets, White Trillium.Where to spot them: Wells Reserve. Marginal Way Coastal Walkway.What else to do: The Maine coastal region celebrates spring with festivals like the May Day Festival in Kennebunk. Farmers markets open in May and sell early spring produce like strawberries. Lobsters come into season in spring too. Check out the historic Old Orchard Beach pier.Where to next: Spacious Skies Balsam Woods. Drive time: 3 hours, 162 miles. 13. Spacious Skies Balsam Woods - Abbot, Maine The final stop on the Spring Blooms Trail takes tourists to the heart of the Maine Highlands near Moosehead Lake and vast, unspoiled wilderness areas. This campground opens in mid-May, about when flowers first start blooming. The trout lily is one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom, and it can be found in ditches along the roads as soon as the ground thaws. Wildflowers begin to bloom in mid-May and include: Painted Trillium, Blue Violets, Trout Lily, Trailing Arbutus.Where to spot them: Low’s Bridge and the banks of the Piscataquis River, Moosehead Lake, Piper Pond.What else to do: Springtime fishing is a thing, and “ice out” begins in April. Farmers Markets in the Maine Highlands open in May.
Best Bachelorette Party Destinations
Bachelorette trips are for spending meaningful — and often debaucherous — time with your friends before tying the knot. Which cities are best for celebrating the bride-to-be ahead of the big day? Lawn Love surveyed over 560 U.S. adults about their bachelor(ette) party experience — with fun stats about trip attendance, budget, destination, and, of course, naughty activities. The ranking compares the 200 biggest U.S. cities. LawnLove looked for plenty of attractions, restaurants, nightlife options, and spas; they also considered safety, cost, and transportation options, among 21 total metrics. Plan an unforgettable prenuptial party alongside your besties in one of the top cities below. Quaint escapes Magnolia Silos in Waco, Texas - courtesy of Jax Matson aerial photography It’s hard to have a bad bachelorette bash no matter where you go, even in some of the list's low-ranking cities. For instance, Charleston, South Carolina (No. 125), lacks options compared with larger cities but is still a favored getaway. Visiting places like Waco, Texas (No. 193), Huntsville, Alabama (No. 194), and Thornton, Colorado (No. 197), might not lead to wild nights. However, some brides-to-be may prefer a laid-back celebration amid stressful wedding planning. Waco might be a fixer-upper city, but this growing Texas town provides a little luxury in places like Magnolia Market and Spice Village. Huntsville also has several wineries, the Huntsville Botanical Garden, and museums. Have fun shopping in Thornton’s Denver Premium Outlets or go on an outdoor adventure. Hot spots Nashville's candy hearts mural - courtesy of nashvilleguru.com Some cities like New Orleans (No. 26) and Nashville, Tennessee (No. 39) famously host many raucous bachelorette parties. New Orleans offers plenty of gay bars and strip clubs, and is the second-best city for brunch. Sing your heart out in one of Nashville’s many karaoke bars, or rent out a bike bar to pedal down the Honky Tonk Highway. Also in Nashville, pair a mural tour with mimosas or margaritas, or take a private mixology class together. Learn how to line-dance, then take on the town with a private party pulled by the Nashville Tractor. Other trendy cities like Savannah, Georgia (No. 41), and Scottsdale, Arizona (No. 48), are safe spots that are full of glamour, bars, karaoke, and brunch spots. Why didn’t such popular bachelorette destinations land at the very top of our ranking? Smaller cities tend to offer fewer options than big metros. Additionally, with a low walk score, it can be hard to stumble back to your hotel after a late night in Nashville or Scottsdale. NOLA and Nashville also dropped in the ranks due to low safety. Natural beauties Hot air balloon over Phoenix, Arizona - courtesy of phoenixballoonflights.com Phoenix, Arizona (No. 18) and San Diego, California (No. 15) are both perfect, warm-weather getaways for the bride-to-be who wants to relax with a spa or an outdoors activity. Phoenix has great options for a spa day, or visitors can take in sky-high views of the city on a hot-air balloon. The city is also full of great hiking spots for nature-loving brides. In San Diego, California, bachelorettes can enjoy a delicious brunch and relax with yoga on the beach or a massage at Spa Kingston. Explore the city on a Social Cycle bike bar or soak up the sun at one of 31 beaches in San Diego County. West Coast favorites Waterfront dining in San Francisco - courtesy of thebolditalic.com If the bride is a foodie or wine connoisseur, bring the party to a West Coast city like San Francisco (No. 3), Portland, Oregon (No. 7), or Seattle (No. 9). San Francisco comes out on top for Eating and Drinking, with the most bars and liquor stores per square mile. SF impresses with the second-highest number of restaurants per square mile and has great access to beer, too. The Golden City is known for its tasty treats, from pastries to sandwiches to chocolate and beyond. Coffee isn’t the only delicious drink you’ll find in Seattle. Emerald City follows SF with the second-highest number of bars per square mile and places third in number of wineries. Keep it weird (and wild) in Portland, which also boasts plenty of bars and the second-highest number of wineries. All three cities are great for brunch, too. Beachy bachelorettes Yacht in Biscayne Bay - courtesy of bachelorettepartymiami.com Have a magical bachelorette trip to the top-ranked city: Miami, Florida. Magic City is ideal for a lively and glamorous getaway, with plenty of nightlife options, bars, and liquor stores per square mile (proximity matters if you plan to barhop). Good thing it’s also safe and easy to get around the city by foot or car. If drinking and dancing aren’t on your agenda, Miami is also full of art to admire, beauty clinics and spas to relax and reset, and the most restaurants per square mile. Magic City is great if you enjoy clubbing and sunny days on your own private yacht party. At Basement Miami, you can drink and dance, skate, or battle your pals at the bowling alley. Nearby, Fort Lauderdale, Florida (No. 13), stands as its own luxurious destination. The “Venice of America” follows just behind Miami in nightlife options (No. 4) and also boasts great choices for brunch, bars, and restaurants. — For the full rankings, head to Lawn Love.
Uncorking the Best and Most Affordable Wine Regions in the US
HomeToGo, the marketplace with the world's largest selection of vacation rentals, unveiled its 2023 Wine Lovers Index that identifies the top 25 U.S. wine regions for budget-conscious travelers to celebrate National Drink Wine Day on February 18, 2023. Considering the affordability of nearby vacation rentals, the average price for wine tours and tastings, and the cost of a local top-quality bottle of wine, HomeToGo barreled through cellars of data to uncork the list of the best wine regions for affordable vino vacations. “As enotourism continues to gain popularity, we are thrilled to shine light on these U.S. wine regions during the season of romance so travelers can plan intimate, wine-filled escapes without breaking the bank,” said Mike Pearce, HomeToGo Spokesperson and Travel Expert. “Through our research, we found that the northeastern region of the United States is home to some highly regarded and very affordable wine vacations. We hope this index inspires those travelers who are dreaming of warmer days ahead and planning trips where they will be able to sip back, relax and savor the beautiful vineyard views.” On average, travelers can anticipate paying $116.63 per night for a vacation rental in one of the wonderful wine regions featured in the grape-infused index. Including regions with centuries of rich wine history as well as up-and-coming innovators of winemaking, here's a look into the top 5 rankings from the 2023 Wine Lovers Index: 5. Monticello, Virginia Monticello Vineyard - courtesy of Kate Webset Located in the central region of Piedmont, Virginia, the Monticello AVA grows 30 varieties of grapes and has nearly 250 years of experience producing wine, starting with the American Revolutionary War. This rich history of winemaking is reflected in the Monticello Wine Trail, a 25-mile adventure through 40 award-winning wineries. Visitors can track their wine trail stops in an app on their mobile devices and, upon visiting 10 wineries, receive a special surprise. 4. Isle St. George, Ohio As one of the first regions in the country to be officially recognized as an AVA, the Isle St. George region is situated on the small island of North Bass and is sometimes referred to as “covered in grapevines” due to its high concentration of wineries. The climate, which is influenced by the warm waters of Lake Erie, allows for the production of grape varietals such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Delaware and Catawba. The AVA includes the oldest winery in Ohio, Heineman’s Winery, which has been producing wine for five generations! Isle St. George also boasts the most affordable wine-tasting tours when compared to the rest of the destinations on the list. For only $10, wine lovers can appreciate the bold flavors and enticing aromatics during a one to two-hour tasting of three to six wines. 3. Middleburg, Virginia Boxwood Estate Vineyards - courtesy of Boxwood Estate Vineyards The Middleburg AVA, nestled only 50 miles outside of the nation’s capital, is one of Virginia’s fastest growing appellations. Home to more than 30 wineries and vineyards in the area, travelers can explore the mountainous terrain and wooded countryside while sipping on full-bodied blends. Perfect for red wine lovers, this wine region is known to produce grapes for wine varietals including Norton, Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Bordeaux-style blends. 2. Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania Located in eastern Pennsylvania, less than an hour from the Poconos, the Lehigh Valley wine region has over 30 wineries across 230 acres of land. The area grows signature grape varietals such as Chambourcin, Riesling, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, and Cayuga White. Travelers are encouraged to explore the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, which boasts five award-winning, family-owned vineyards for the ultimate vino-filled experience, as well as visit the local small towns along the charming countryside that are filled with the flavors of the region. 1. Shawnee Hills, Illinois Shawnee Hills - courtesy of homtogo.com As the first AVA in Illinois, the Shawnee Hills region encompasses nearly 20 wineries and 55 vineyards. Located along the Ohio River, the region’s loose soil, warm climate, and high terrain factor into the taste of the wines produced here. Visitors can wander along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, a 35-mile scenic drive in the Shawnee National Forest that features 11 award-winning wineries. After a cozy conversation in tasting rooms, travelers are welcome to embrace the local natural beauty and enjoy picturesque picnics on the hillside. Shawnee Hills also offers the most affordable accommodation price per night at $34.90—whereas Napa Valley, California, chimes in as the most expensive at $208.16 per night. —Click here to see the full rankings of affordable wine destinations
Six Ways to Explore Wyoming's "Secret Season"
Wyoming’s “secret season” might be the best time to take in this great state. March and April are the snowiest months in Wyoming, making many of the state’s best winter activities possible well into the spring. Meanwhile, increasingly warm temperatures support a full menu of things to do like spring skiing, fat biking, snowmobiling, hot springs swimming, and more. Below is a complete breakdown of new things to do across Wyoming for visitors this early spring. Spring Skiing Snowy Range Ski Area - courtesy of travelwyoming.com While there is no official start date, spring skiing season serves as a “last call” of sorts before the slopes for area resorts close for the summer, typically enjoyed from late February to early April when temperatures begin to warm. Resorts tend to offer lift tickets at lower rates during this time, as compared to prices during the busy winter season and lodging and airfare rates also tend to be lower during the spring season as well. Spring skiing also can mean shorter lift lines, great powder and sunny skies (just don’t forget your sunblock!). Places to find prime spring skiing include Snowy Range Ski Resort in Centennial, Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area and Meadowlark Ski Lodge in the Bighorn Mountains, the resorts in and around Jackson Hole — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Grand Targhee Resort and Snow King Area & Mountain Resort — and Hogadon Ski Area in Casper. Snowmobiling Snowmobiling in the Bighorn Mountains - courtesy of travelwyoming.com Many of the state’s snowmobiling areas receive enough snowfall to keep trails open until mid-March or later. The Wyoming Range, between Alpine and Kemmerer, has about 336 miles of trails that can have substantial snow for riding through May. The popular Continental Divide Snowmobiling Trail follows the Wind River Range for 829 miles and has a grooming season that typically runs until mid-March. Visit the Wyoming State Trails website for maps and up-to-date trail conditions. Other places for sled heads to ride include the Snowy Range, Sierra Madre Mountains and Beartooth Mountains. Hot Springs Thermopolis Hot Springs - courtesy of Hot Springs Travel and Tourism The Cowboy State’s hot springs are open year-round, but are especially heavenly when there’s snow on the ground. Thermopolis’ Hot Springs State Park has free indoor and outdoor soaking pools, while Saratoga is home to the pampering Saratoga Resort & Spa and Hobo Pool, a locals’ favorite. Other soaking locales include Granite Hot Springs in Jackson and Boiling River Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Learn more about hot springs in Wyoming. Spa Treatments Rather stay indoors? Be sure to add Snow King Resort’s new 9,000 square foot spa to your list. It is set to unveil its new crown jewel in mid-Feb 2023, making Snow King Resort the largest, full-service resort and spa in Jackson. Located in the Grand View Lodge, the spa will feature six treatment rooms including a couple’s suite, locker rooms with experiential showers, hot tubs and eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, an infrared sauna, a scenic outdoor deck with a large hot tub and more. Museums Even Wyoming’s smallest cities have museums, galleries and historical centers to keep those waiting for warmer weather entertained indoors. The National Museum of Military Vehicles recently opened the Poolaw Building, the newest facility on its campus just southeast of Dubois. The building was named after Pascal Poolaw, who served with the United States Army in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War and is the United States’ most decorated Native American, with 42 medals and citations, including four Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts—one for each war. Dining, Shopping, & Sipping The Railspur in Cheyenne, Wyoming - courtesy of therailspur.com Adding to Wyoming's music and food scene this year is the unique, quirky and ever inviting Railspur in Cheyenne. Built from rail cars, rail bridge beams, and repurposed wood, The Railspur takes the old and makes it brand new, all while offering something for everyone. In Casper, check out The Drinkery. This newly opened restaurant serves up beer, cocktails, and a build-your-own charcuterie board and also offers zero-proof distilled non-alcoholic spirits. Visit Casper recently launched a Local Ale Trail to inspire beer drinkers from far and wide to check out their now eight breweries (making them the city with the most breweries in Wyoming!). Additionally, Soda Springs also opened in Casper, featuring old-fashioned soda drinks and specialty concoctions. The Warehouse Gastropub recently made its debut in Sheridan featuring a contemporary spin on classic pub fare. A brand-new space in the heart of downtown, the restaurant also includes a large patio, outdoor and indoor games (bocce; pool tables; video golf) and more. Green River recently welcomed a new bike and board shop, Geared Up, offering a variety of bike rentals as well as snowboard and splitboards. Geared up is also continently located near the entryway to the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, with several miles of wide-open spaces and breathtaking views.