Best Cities to Visit for Easter Weekend This Year

By WalletHub / BT Editor
March 25, 2024
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Kids play during an Easter egg hunt by Gabe Pierce - Unsplash

Easter is a big consumer holiday that rakes in billions and gives Americans toothaches on an annual basis. In fact, 81% of Americans celebrated the holiday last year, and consumers are expected to spend $22 billion on it this year. Outside of this consumerism, though, Easter is an especially important day for Christians everywhere.

In order to determine the best cities for celebrating Easter, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated cities across four key dimensions: 1) Easter Observers, 2) Easter Traditions, 3) Kids’ Easter and 4) Easter Weather. They then evaluated those dimensions using 11 relevant metrics, such as the number of churches, the size of the Christian population, the number of chocolate shops and gift shops, and Easter weather forecasts.

“The best cities for Easter cater to the religious nature of the holiday by offering plenty of opportunities for Christians to attend services, and they also provide the resources for people to have a great time with their family regardless of religious affiliation. That means lots of places to get some sweet treats or dine out, as well as good weather conditions and nice open spaces for Easter egg hunts," says Cassandra Happe, WalletHub analyst.

Don't want to travel far? Don't worry—there are cities all over the country with great activities and ways to celebrate. Take some notes from Dr. Kerri Camp, professor at the University of Texas at Tyler: "Travel costs during the Easter Holiday are impacted by supply and demand. Costs this year are expected to be slightly higher than last year due to rising fuel costs and increases in baggage fees for flights. If Easter travel plans include driving, consumers should consider carpooling with others to share the costs of travel or consider closer destinations. For those consumers wanting to travel by air, comparison shopping of airlines and the days of the week for travel could result in some savings. Additionally, because of recent increases in baggage fees for several airlines, consumers should try to travel lighter than normal and carry their luggage rather than checking bags at an extra cost."

Some of the top spots to celebrate this holiday are below—but for the full report on how each city fared, head to WalletHub.

#7. Honolulu, Hawaii

Scoring 5th place in the "Easter traditions" category and 4th for kid-friendly activities, this Hawaiian city makes a festive destination for an Easter celebration. This tropical destination also tied in first place for most flower and gift shops per capita, making it easy to put together fun Easter baskets and gifts, or simply decorating for an enjoyable holiday weekend. Honolulu also tied for first place when it came to the most candy and chocolate stores per capita—but don't worry, parents; you can always counter all the sweet treats with healthier island cuisine featuring fresh fruit and seafood catches!

#6. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia by Joey Kyber - Unsplash

Atlanta took first place in the Easter traditions category; the city has a plethora of options for Easter meals and brunches at restaurants, as well as options for purchasing sweets and decor. Being located in the South, Atlanta also ranked 22nd in the "Easter observers" category, thanks to its churches and Christian population. Many places are throwing special holiday brunches, Easter egg hunts are plentiful, and other themed activities can be found all over the city this holiday weekend.

#5. El Paso, Texas

This border city ranked well in almost all categories, scoring a 7th place rank in "Easter observers," 11th in "Kid's Easter," and 17th in "Easter traditions." El Paso has the 3rd largest Christian population by percentage, and especially has a strong Catholic population in part due to its larger Latin American immigrant community.

#4. Orlando, Florida

Easter decor by Sebastian Staines - Unsplash

Okay, Orlando is always a good place to celebrate, holiday or not. It ranked 2nd in the Easter traditions category, and tied for first place for the most flower and gift shops per capita. With its typically warm weather and a local population that celebrates the holiday, it can be a uniquely fun time of year to visit this family-friendly destination.

#3. Buffalo, New York

Buffalo is the third-best city for celebrating Easter, boasting the second-highest number of churches per capita and the fifth-highest share of the population identifying as Christian, at over 55%. Buffalo residents also search Google for “Easter dinner” more than residents of many other cities, which shows that a lot of people are planning celebrations. The city has a lot of candy and chocolate shops per capita, too.

#2. Birmingham, Alabama

A church decorated for Easter by Tucker Good - Unsplash

Birmingham is the second-best city for Easter, largely due to the fact that it’s a very Christian city. It has the most churches per capita, and over 52% of the population is Christian, the sixth-highest rate in the country. There are lots of choices when it comes to Good Friday and Easter Sunday services as a result. On top of that, Birmingham has a lot of flower and gift shops per capita, allowing people to spruce up their celebrations. See where all the Easter bunny sightings, egg hunts, and more are happening here.

#1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is the best city for celebrating Easter, in part because it has some of the most churches per capita and a very high share of the population identifying as Christian, so there’s a lot of people celebrating and plenty of places for them to worship. The Steel City also has some of the most candy shops per capita and a high number of chocolate shops per capita, so it’s easy to sweeten the celebration. Pittsburgh also has some of the most flower and gift shops per capita, so decorating is easy, and Easter is projected to have pretty good weather as well. Here's a list of family-friendly events happening in Pittsburgh this year.

—For the full rankings, visit WalletHub.

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Experience Springtime in Sonoma County, California

Springtime in Sonoma County bursts forth with vibrant hues of over 1,000 species of wildflowers and mustard grass creating a Superbloom-like landscape not just in the valleys but also along the coastline. The 2024 Jack London State Historic Park Wildflower Guide “Blooming Now” offers valuable insights into the diverse array of blooms dotting the region. Meanwhile, along the coastline, witness the annual migration of Pacific gray whales spouting water from their blowholes from late winter through spring. Indeed, now is a time of rejuvenation in Sonoma County, inviting all to immerse themselves in nature-inspired experiences as Life Opens Up. Delight in new wine tasting experiences Ram's Gate Winery has introduced a new menu for its Seasonal Wine & Food Experience, showcasing ingredients sourced from Sonoma County farms and paired with small-lot wines from their cellar. This communal, multi-course pairing experience, lasting 2 hours, has been curated by General Manager and Winemaker Joe Nielsen and Executive Chef Ruby Oliveros. Each dish on the menu is designed to highlight the nuances of the wines. Montagne Russe, a small winery in Healdsburg, has elevated its wine tasting experience with the grand opening of Vino and Vinyl's, a record shop located within its tasting room. Guests can now enjoy Montagne Russe's wine selections while perusing and listening to over 2,000 new and used records, available for trade or purchase. Attend a flavorful event Grapes on the vine in Sonoma County by Rudy Prather - Unsplash There's plenty of amazing wine-centric events taking place throughout the spring in Sonoma County. Plan your trip around one (or more!) of these great events below. School of Cab is West Wines Winery's informal classroom to educate about Cabernet Sauvignon, the King of Red Wines. Sample highly regarded West Wines Cabernet Sauvignon from separate vintages. Learn how to assess color, aroma, and flavor in a fun and relaxed setting. Tasting includes a cheese and chocolate pairing. April 20, 2024 at 10:30 am.Travel along the Alexander Valley wine trail at Taste Destination 128 and enjoy the offerings of seven premier wineries, showcasing the finest flavors of northern Sonoma County. Each stop along the way presents an assortment of locally sourced artisan cheese and charcuterie spread paired with hand-selected wines. Featured wineries and cheesemakers include deLorimier Winery partnered with Point Reyes Cheese, Pech Merle Winery accompanied by WM Cofield Cheesemakers, Ramazzotti Wines in collaboration with Pennyroyal Farms, Soda Rock Winery featuring Cypress Grove Creamery, and Trentadue Vineyards paired with Valley Ford Cheese. April 6, 2024 at 11:00 am.5th generation winegrower Jordan Kunde serves as your expert guide through the Kunde Estate for seasonal dog hikes. Discover paths that wind from the valley floor in the Valley of the Moon into the majestic Mayacamas Mountain range. Along the way, delve into the sustainable winegrowing and winemaking practices of Kunde Family Winery, gaining insights from grape to glass with your four-legged companion. This moderately strenuous hike, lasting approximately 4 hours, culminates in a Kunde wine tasting paired with a wine country lunch. April 20, June 8, and November 2, 2024 at 9:00 am.Wine enthusiasts and fans of minimal-intervention wines will gather in Guerneville for the second annualBig West Wine Fest, a celebration of natural wines in Sonoma County. Set in the redwood trees at Solarpunk Farms, a queer-run experimental farm just a mile from downtown Guerneville, this event offers a unique, only one of its kind mix of over 30 local wine producers dedicated to sustainable farming and minimalist winemaking techniques. In addition to sampling a diverse array of wines, attendees will enjoy offerings from local food vendors and enjoy live music, all within a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. Participating winemakers are deeply committed to Earth-friendly practices such as organic, biodynamic, and regenerative farming, resulting in wines that showcase a wide range of styles and grape varieties not commonly found in Sonoma County vineyards. June 1 – 2, 2024. Tickets on sale March 16.Taste of Sonoma celebrates Sonoma County's wine, food, and culinary culture. Held at Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens, this highly anticipated annual event includes wine tastings from local wineries, culinary demonstrations by renowned chefs, gourmet food pairings, and live entertainment. Attendees can enjoy a wide selection of Sonoma County wines and delicious food prepared by local chefs and artisans. This event offers a sensory experience showcasing the Sonoma County best wine and food. Tickets on sale now. June 24, 2024 at 11:00 am. Enjoy culinary experiences beyond wine Sonoma County countryside by Trent Erwin - Unsplash There's more than great wine to taste in Sonoma County, California. Be sure to round out your visit with a trip to these other drink and food destinations. At Ethic Cider Farm visitors can sample a selection of 15 to 20 ciders, along with its apple brandy and Pommeau. Approximately 5% of the offerings are nonalcoholic, reflecting a growing trend towards accommodating consumer preferences. Visitors can engage in experiential learning about regenerative farming practices within the orchard through various workshops. Modern Farming Workshops cater to a diverse audience, including agriculturists and backyard gardeners, aiming to provide a comprehensive introduction to farming techniques. Regenerative Farming Workshops offer hands-on experiences, allowing participants to learn while actively engaging in farming activities. (12:00 to 5:00 pm | Friday - Sunday.) Continuing the trend towards embracing low or no alcohol options, the Mocktail Trail in Healdsburg offers diverse mocktail menus from many popular Healdsburg restaurants. Mixologists at Lo & Behold, Spoon Bar, Bravas Bar de Tapas, Chalkboard, Goodnights Prime Steak & Spirits, Little Saint, The Rooftop at Harmon House, and Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar have crafted drinks that feature a no-spirits menu going well beyond typical alcohol-free cocktails. From Spanish-inspired mocktails to coastal creations, each stop on the trail promises a unique and delightful experience. Tisza Bistro offers a fusion of Central European flavors with a distinct Californian flair. Chef/Owner Krisztian Karkus has honed his skills in some of the world's most prestigious resorts, restaurants, and culinary destinations. At Tisza Bistro, Chef Krisztian delights in creating visually stunning presentations blending old-world European charm with contemporary Sonoma County sophistication. Take in the full aroma of wine country What could be more fragrant than a glass of fine California wine? Perhaps, the flora that blooms along the same valleys. Sonoma Botanical Garden (SBG), in collaboration with Sonoma Ecology Center and Habitat Corridor Project announced a new partnership aimed at designing and establishing a cutting-edge California native plant demonstration garden. The project, which recently broke ground at SBG, will unfold over several years, offering visitors an immersive experience to understand the importance of native plants in landscaping, biodiversity, and conservation efforts. Through public programs and tours, the garden will serve as an educational hub, inspiring appreciation for California flora and promoting sustainable landscape design principles.


Head to This State in Mexico for Wilderness Adventures and Cultural Connection

The Mexican state of Nayarit has long been a favorite for beach travelers, but few tourists are fully aware of all that this unique part of Mexico has to offer. While Nayarit is indeed blessed with one of the most spectacular coastlines in the country, it is also a region steeped in ancient history, arts and culture, and gastronomy. It provides unparalleled wellness experiences and is a champion of environmental and social sustainability. Add to that adventure-packed outdoor experiences, national parks, and more magical towns than any other state in Mexico. The overall vibe of Nayarit is to take a step back, embrace the present, and get in touch with nature. You won't find late-night clubs with thumping music, or raucous party bars. Instead, the lifestyle in Nayarit is about toes-in-the-sand dining, cultural connections, or deep dives into history. It is also is one of the easiest states to reach from the U.S. and Canada. Visitors to Nayarit can fly into Puerto Vallarta and drive up the coastline. For interior visits to Nayarit, travelers can fly into Guadalajara or Tepic. In 2023 Aeromexico launched its first route between Mexico City and Tepic. If you’re looking for the next great adventure in Mexico, read on to discover why 2024 is the year to experience the State of Nayarit. Step back in time with historical sites and "Magical Towns" The capital of Nayarit is Tepic, a city whose rich legacy can be seen through its architecture, museums, and traditions. Tepic was founded in 1531 as the capital of the Kingdom of New Galicia, a region that was made up of central, northern, and western Mexico. A visit to Tepic starts downtown in the Plaza de Armas and its Purisima Concepcion Cathedral, built between 1804 and 1896. You will also find the Cruz del Zacate Temple and the Government Palace, which houses murals from Jose Luis Soto. Museums in Tepic include the Regional Museum of Nayarit, as well as the Juan Escutia House-Museum, located in the 18th-century birthplace of this national Mexican hero — among many other museums dedicated to art, archaeology, and history. Surrounding Tepic are majestic mountains, which hold many of the state's secrets, from its adventure and ecotourism offerings to its native communities. One such attraction is the Los Toriles archaeological site, home to 93 historics structures, including a pyramid dedicated to the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl. There is also the "Magical Town" of Amatlán de Cañas, which feels paused in time. Surrounded by mountains and sliced by rocky canyons, this town is known for its historic temples. Nayarit is blessed with nine of these "Magical Towns"—the most for one state in the country. The Magical Towns of Mexico, or Pueblos Magicos, is a government-granted designation given to towns or villages in Mexico that best exemplify aspects of culture, history, tradition, art, food, nature, and beyond. These recognized places have something unique to them that helps to tell the story of the soul of Mexico. In addition to Amatlán de Cañas, there is also Sayulita, Compostela, Jala, Mexcaltitán, Ahuacatlán, Ixtlán del Río,San Blas, and Puerto Balleto (Islas Marías). Travelers who want to learn more about the indigenous communities of Nayarit can head to the Sierra del Nayar, a region of Nayarit characterized by mountain ranges, jungles, and native communities that have kept their traditions and customs alive. The groups that settled in the Sierra del Nayar are the Coras, Huicholes, Tepehuanos, and Mexicaneros. A visit to the community of El Nayar is the best place to learn about these communities. The main ethnic groups here are the Cora and Huichol and their Holy Week has been designated an Intangible World Heritage by UNESCO. The event features men painted in body paint from head to toe, fighting ritual battles with wooden swords, dancing, feasting, and much more. Discover fascinating flora and fauna A whale off the coast of Mexico - courtesy of The State of Nayarit Tourism Board The natural beauty and wildlife of Nayarit is unparalleled, from marine life to migratory birds, jungle wildcats, and beyond. So much of the state is protected in Natural Reserves where its wildlife can thrive. Parque Nacional Islas Marietas, for example, located just five miles from Punta de Mita, is home to a diverse number of endemic species, while Sierra de Vallejo is home to the Santuario del Jaguar, a nearly 5,000-acreprotected area known for its jaguar population. Nayarit is home to some of the most unique islands in Mexico. Mexcaltitan is a Magical Town island known for its canals that have earned the nickname, "Venice of Mexico." Further out to sea are Islas Marias, a former federal prison now a protected natural environment. The state is also home to three of Mexico's National Parks. The first is Islas Marietas National Park, an archipelago five miles from Punta de Mita made up of two islands, two islets, and several rocky shallows home to endemic and migratory marine and bird life. La Tovara National Park, located in San Blas, is a habitat of estuary and freshwater springs, with canals surrounded by mangroves, vegetation, and brilliant orchids and bromeliads. Finally, Isla Isabel National Park is a virgin coastal paradise known for its panoramic Pacific Ocean views, sea-facing cliffs, and rolling mountains. A leader in environmental preservation, Nayarit's tourism growth is focused on sustainability. Nayarit is a member of the Hotel Basics initiative of the World Travel and Tourism Council, which seeks to take an important step towards the care of natural environments and respect for the communities. Hotels must work under sustainability criteria, such as reducing energy and water consumption, reducing carbon emissions, protecting the environment, and contributing positively to the environment and its communities. Experience ancient healing rituals A beach in Nayarit, Mexico - courtesy of The State of Nayarit Tourism Board The beautiful jungle-covered mountains, crashing Pacific coastline, and abundance of wildlife sets the ideal backdrop for a wellness journey. Whether it's an indulgent treatment at a world-class spa in Punta de Mita, a multi-day yoga retreat in Sayulita, or an ancient healing ritual rooted in centuries of indigenous tradition, Nayarit has everything travelers need to embark on a wellness journey. Enjoy local delicacies and fine coffee Nayarit's wealth is not only determined by its natural beauty. Its gastronomy is part of what makes this state unique. Each year, Nayarit is one of the hosts of Festival Gourmet International, a world-class food festival spread across dozens of restaurants bringing roughly 75 chefs, events, and thousands of foodies to Riviera Nayarit, Tepic, and Puerto Vallarta. Dishes like Pescado Zarandeado and Chicharron de Pescado can trace their roots back to pre-Hispanic times. Also native to Nayarit is Tlaxtihuilli, a seafood soup that uses shrimp, corn, and guajillo chiles. Don’t forget to sample the raicilla, a highly potent spirit made from the agave plant, similar to tequila and mezcal. Additionally, just south of Nayarit, in the municipality of Jala, is Peseta del Cielo, a vineyard that was launched in 2019. In 2022 the first Nayarit wines were produced, using Syrah and Macabeo grapes. The Syrah 2022 ranked among the Top 99 Mexican Wines of Cava Magazine. In 2023 Meseta del Cielo opened for tourism. Coffee culture is more than just a trend in Nayarit — it's a way of life. Some of the best organic coffee in the world is grown in the state. The warm, humid climate, volcanic mountain soil, and high altitude make Nayarit one of the best coffee producers in Mexico. Not only is it possible to sip a great cup of coffee, but visitors can tour the coffee plantations. Grupo Terruño Nayarita is a business that organizes the small farms of sustainable coffee production in the state. The group consists of nearly 400 local producers. Plan an outdoor adventure Explore the wilderness of Nayarit - courtesy of The State of Nayarit Tourism Board Nayarit's landscape is the perfect playground for adventure enthusiasts. From epic surf breaks along the Pacific Coast, to hiking, biking, and zip lining, there is no shortage of outdoor adventure to explore in the state. Other fun things to do in Nayarit include rappelling, ATV off-road adventure tours, or a guided backcountry eco-adventure tour aboard a4×4 Mercedes Benz jeep. It's impossible to talk about Nayarit and not mention its spectacular beaches. From Nuevo Nayarit up to the border with Sinaloa, the coastline is blessed with some of the best beaches in Mexico. Towns like Bucerias, La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Punta de Mita, Sayulita, San Pancho, Lo de Marcos, Guayabitos, and San Blas — also known as the Riviera Nayarit — have been drawing sun worshippers, surfers, and beachcombers for decades. With such a stellar coastline comes ample opportunity for world-class surfing. There are seven different surf “breaks” circling the Punta Mita southern peninsula alone, from Anclote to Sayulita. These provide surfers of all skill levels with many options — from zippy reefs to perfect point breaks. Other incredible surf breaks can be found further north in Chacala and San Blas. Islas Marias is a true story of transformation and repurposing to create something beautiful. About 80 miles off the coast of San Blas is a string of islands that was once home to one of the most infamous federal prisons in Mexico. Today, however, it is one of UNESCO's natural protected areas and a center for environmental tourism. Accessible only by boat, the protected islands are home to a cultural center, hiking trails, wildlife, and the Pueblo Magico of Puerto Balleto. See local artistic traditions Central to Nayarit is the Huichol, or Wixáritari, community. Their artistic traditions are deeply rooted in spirituality, represented through spectacular beadwork. The Huichol artwork takes inspiration from symbolism and the balance of opposites, like the relationship between light and dark or the rainy and dry seasons. You can find Huichol art in galleries and gift shops throughout Nayarit, particularly in the mountain communities as well as the coastal towns and villages. Part of the Huichol tradition is creating beautiful crafts. Artisans across the state specialize in a few key crafts that have become integral to the Huichol culture. The Tzicuri, or "God's Eye," is one of the most iconic, symbolizing protection over children. The weave of five interconnected diamonds is seen as a symbol of power and protection. Similarly, the Nerikate are ritual tools rooted in spirituality, made with yarn or beads on large wooden canvases. They represent divine revelation. Finally, Nayarit is known for its alebrijes, vibrant and cheerful surrealistic folk art sculptures that usually take the form of animals. Add in a little luxury to your vacation The coastline of Nayarit, Mexico - courtesy of The State of Nayarit Tourism Board If you want to budget in a little more, Nayarit has options to upgrade your vacation. Luxe legends like Punta Mita have been home to brands like Four Seasons and St. Regis for decades. Up the coastline, the newer, dreamy, elegant Mandarina development has a One&Only resort. Coming soon, Nayarit is expecting a Rosewood Hotel and a Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Nayarit has dozens of boho-chic boutique hotels all up the coastline, as well, particularly in Punta de Mita, Sayulita, and San Pancho. Exclusivity and luxury set the tone for the nine golf courses in the state, designed by legends such as Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Jim Lipe, Percy Clifford, and Robert Von Hagge & Baril. Thesetop-tier golf courses feature spectacular views over the Bay of Banderas and the Pacific Ocean, as well as the beautiful beaches and mountain rainforests of the Sierra Madres.


Plan a Spirited Tour of these Tennessee Distilleries for Women's History Month

There's nothing wrong with a typical boozy girls trip to idyllic vineyards, but for something unexpected and adventurous, try a tour across Tennessee to discover these women-led distilleries. Here, a new narrative is unfolding. From the hallowed grounds of storied distilleries to the forefront of innovation, a number of remarkable Tennessee women not only shaped the landscape of one of America's most iconic industries but also shattered glass ceilings and defied convention. For Women's History Month this March, celebrate the indomitable spirit and groundbreaking contributions of women in the Tennessee whiskey industry. Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey (Shelbyville, Tennessee) A woman of many talents, Fawn Weaver is an entrepreneur, a New York Times-bestselling author, a TED speaker and CEO/founder of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, the fastest-growing American whiskey brand in the U.S. — and the best-selling African American founded spirit brand of all time. Equally talented is Victoria Eady Butler, who fills the role of Master Distiller at Uncle Nearest. It's a family affair: Butler's great-great-grandfather was Nathan “Nearest” Green, the enslaved (and later emancipated) Tennessean who taught Jack Daniel the craft of distilling. During a guided tour, go behind the scenes at Nearest Green Distillery, and taste the Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey flight, which includes the Master Blend Edition, sold exclusively on-site. And don't miss the craft cocktails at the distillery's Humble Baron Bar, where you'll enjoy 518-foot-long showpiece bar (the world's longest!), live music and a gospel brunch celebration every Sunday. Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. (Tullahoma, Tennessee) Nicole Austin of Cascade Hollow - courtesy of TN Dept of Tourist Development Fun fact: George Dickel is the only American whiskey distillery owned by a woman in the 1800s that's still in production. Now renamed Cascade Hollow Distilling Co., the Tullahoma distillery — and its women-powered energy — live on in the 21st century. Master Distiller since 2018, Nicole Austin is the whiskey genius behind some of Cascade Hollow's most beloved releases, including such legacy items as George Dickel Bottled-in-Bond and Dickel Bourbon. Cascade Hollow offers regular “Meet the Distiller” experiences, with Nicole guiding whiskey fans on a distillery tour, a Q&A session and tastings. Check the event calendar for upcoming events. Nelson's Green Brier Distillery (Nashville, Tennessee) Another woman who looms large in the history of Tennessee whiskey is Louisa Nelson, who emerged as a pioneering force in the industry during the late 19th century. In 1863, she married Charles Nelson, who initiated the Nelson Distillery in Greenbrier, Tennessee in the early 1870s. Following Charles's passing in 1891, Louisa assumed leadership, transforming the distillery's footprint from 50 acres to a staggering 980 acres, propelling Nelson's Green Brier Distillery to international acclaim until prohibition forced them to close. Louisa's descendants revived the family business and pay homage to their matriarch with her own line of liqueur. Visitors interested in learning more about this “great woman behind a great whiskey” can explore the Nelson's Green Brier Distillery exhibits at the Greenbrier Historical Society Museum and Library (Wed.-Fri., 10am-4pm or Sat., 10am-1pm). Take a guided tour of Green Brier Distillery's Marathon Village location in Nashville and learn more about how brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson revived the family business. Big Machine Distillery (Lynnville & Nashville, Tennessee) Initially a tattoo artist and part-time bartender, Devin Walden stumbled into the craft beverage industry as a temporary employee on the bottling line at Woodford Reserve. She immersed herself in the craft, eventually becoming the famed brand's first female distillery operator. Now at Big Machine Distillery in Tennessee, she tackles diverse challenges daily, from cooking mash to refining production schedules. At its downtown Nashville location, Big Machine Distillery offers an entertaining/educational tour with a tasting of a wide array of its craft spirits. As an add-on, guests can bottle their own Double Gold Award-Winning Platinum-Filtered Big Machine Vodka, or Single Barrel Clayton James Tennessee Whiskey straight from the barrel. Leiper's Fork Distillery (Franklin, Tennessee) From grain selection, mashing, fermentation, distillation, barrel aging and bottling — Leiper's Fork controls every step of its intricate whiskey-making process. Leading this fiercely independent charge is Head Distiller Kendra Anderson, whose dedication to using pre-prohibition technique and a small-batch approach (the distillery only makes 25,000 gallons of whiskey annually) has resulted in some of the finest spirits to ever come out of Tennessee. On a guided tour of Leiper's Fork, you'll visit the distillery's stillhouse, learn how they make this traditional small-batch whiskey and get a taste of their spirits in a 200-year-old tasting room. Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery (Chattanooga, Tennessee) Tiana Saul of Chattanooga Whiskey - courtesy of TN Dept of Tourist Development Tiana Saul, Head Distiller at Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery, left an indelible mark on Tennessee's spirits world with innovations like barrel-aged gins and infused liqueurs. Her adept blending skills also played a crucial role in shaping the acclaimed Chattanooga Whiskey Finishing Series and Bottled in Bond Vintage Series. At the helm of Chattanooga Whiskey, Saul leads a team of 15 full-time employees, overseeing all aspects of production from grain to glass. With over 100 different barrels maturing in the aging cellar, every visit to the experimental distillery is an exploration of the past, present and future of hand-crafted bourbon. Reserve a tour and tasting to check out the latest and greatest. Jack Daniel Distillery (Lynchburg, Tennessee) Lexie Phillips's journey at the legendary Jack Daniel Distillery began in quality control and distillery operations, where she steadily rose to the position of Assistant Distiller. Today, she works closely with Master Distiller Chris Fletcher to drive whiskey innovation. As one of the few women to serve in this role, Lexie is keen on inspiring the next generation of female distillers and passionately shares her knowledge as a brand ambassador through tasting events, brand education, and insightful distillery tours for Lynchburg visitors. On the immersive Jack n' Back tour, spend a day in historic Lynchburg, with plenty of tastings and the full story of how the highest selling American whiskey in the world grew from the smallest county in Tennessee. Old Dominick Distillery (Memphis, Tennessee) Alex Castle of Old Dominick Distillery - courtesy of TN Dept of Tourist Development Whiskey isn't just a job for Alex Castle, Old Dominick Distillery's Master Distiller and Vice President. It's a lifelong passion. “I love that I get to be creative,” she says. “I really enjoy product development and getting to play with different flavors and ingredients.” With early experience in the heart of Kentucky's bourbon belt, Alex brings a spirit of experimentation to her work at Old Dominick — you must try their oatmeal raisin cookie bourbon. From an in-depth discussion into the history of whiskey in Memphis to an exclusive look into Old Dominick's aging loft, the Beyond the Barrel experience is a whiskey lover's dream come true. Tennessee Hills (Jonesborough, Tennessee) Born and raised in Washington County, Jessica Callahan's roots run deep in the community that Tennessee Hills Distillery calls home. Alongside her husband and co-owner Stephen, she left behind a comfortable 9-to-5 job, immersing herself in every aspect of the whiskey business, from the hands-on labor to the intricate art of constructing stills. That relentless dedication culminated in the opening of Tennessee Hills Distillery in 2016, housed in the historic Salt House of Jonesborough. Do yoga and whiskey go well together? At Tennessee Hills they do! Every Wednesday from 4:30-5:30pm, join a yoga session — and then enjoy a sampling of the distillery's best offerings.A Sip of History (Hermitage, Tennessee) This spring on April 6th, Andrew Jackson's Hermitage and the Tennessee Whiskey Trail will host the ninth annual Sip of History event, an afternoon of whiskey sampling, live music and dog-friendly fun at Nashville's presidential homesite. Taking place in one of Tennessee's most beautiful and historic settings, Sip of History offers visitors the chance to learn about and support several of Tennessee's woman-led distilleries, including Old Dominick, Uncle Nearest, Cascade Hollow, Jack Daniel and more. For more Tennessee whiskey experiences, discover the Tennessee Whiskey Trail.


Spend Spring in These Charming Small Towns

Beaches, theme parks, campgrounds, and big cities all might be feeling a bit crowded as spring breakers and travelers plan warm-weather trips. If you're looking to unwind and escape the bustle of popular destinations this season, get off the beaten path and head to one of these small-town America and enjoy the local charm and slower pace of life. White Rock, New Mexico Bandelier National Monument by Jael Coon - Unsplash The Travel, an online travel journal, recently named White Rock, New Mexico, the “Happiest Small Town in America” in their 2024 rankings. Based on the criteria of a town with a population below 8,000, as well as low poverty, crime, and unemployment ratings, White Rock—located in Los Alamos County—received the highest score. “With a rural feel and a close-knit community, White Rock is one of the happiest small towns in America, where the abundance of picturesque landscapes is great," The Travel wrote in their article. “We’re honored to have White Rock receive such high acclaim from The Travel, and we know the town is certainly deserving of the title,” Ellyn Felton, Marketing Specialist for Los Alamos County said. “With a friendly atmosphere, tons of trails through and around town, beautiful dark skies, and unique local businesses, White Rock is a gem among small towns across America.” For those visiting White Rock, be sure to start your visit at the White Rock Visitor Center for maps and an overview of local activities. A must-see destination for all history and anthropology lovers, Bandelier National Monument transports visitors back in time, where they can climb ladders and explore ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings. Additionally, with a variety of hiking trails, some even paved and ADA accessible, Bandelier is perfect for exploring the outdoors and viewing local wildlife. For more beautiful outdoor scenery, grab your camera and prepare for stunning shots at White Rock Overlook Park. With 270-degree views of the Rio Grande, running along the Jemez Mountains, you’ll have the chance to take in one-of-a-kind sunsets and explore trails on foot, horse, or bike, along the rim or down to the bottom of the canyon. Named in TravelAwaits’ list of 15 Best Small-Town Restaurants across the U.S. in 2021, Pig + Fig Café features delicious creations from Laura Crucet—award-winning chef and graduate of the globally-renowned Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. Enjoy a variety of fresh-made dishes—many of which can be offered with vegan, gluten-free, or nut-free options—as well as local twists featuring New Mexico chile. Extend your visit and explore nearby Los Alamos, New Mexico, famed as the former home of The Manhattan Project and J. Robert Oppenheimer. Located just 15 minutes away from White Rock, groundbreaking scientific discoveries occur to this day at Los Alamos National Laboratory. To plan your visit or explore all there is to see and do in White Rock and Los Alamos, go to Mariposa, California Mariposa Hotel Inn - courtesy of Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau The charming town of Mariposa, California is in the national spotlight again for a cultural scene that residents and returning visitors alike know is among the best in the United States. Recently, Mariposa was named as one of 20 finalists for the 2024 USA Today 10Best Readers' Choice travel award in the category of Best Small-Town Cultural Scene. To be considered for the award, a town must have fewer than 25,000 residents and have outstanding examples of museums, art galleries, performing arts and a strong stable of local events. Despite its population of just 1,060 people, Mariposa is home to three museums including the Mariposa Museum and History Center, which was named by the Smithsonian as one of the best small museums west of the Mississippi River. The town boasts three art galleries, local filmmakers that debut their works here in Mariposa and holds the title of being the smallest town in America with a symphony orchestra, The Mariposa Yosemite Symphony Orchestra. The Mariposa Arts Council's work to host its Music on the Green concert series and rejuvenate Mariposa with new murals and art installations is a huge boost to the local cultural scene. Mariposa is home to multiple annual events including the Mariposa County Fair which showcases the rich agricultural scene that many destinations have left behind. Each spring, Mariposa is home to the Mariposa Butterfly Festival, a family-friendly event that releases hundreds of butterflies. Mariposa's history goes back well beyond Spanish colonization to the Southern Sierra Miwuk, a local tribe that has called modern-day Mariposa home for hundreds of years. The Miwuk and other local tribes are honored each year with an event of their own in Mariposa, the Mariposa Pow Wow. A great place to stay for visitors, Mariposa is home to great lodging options running the gamut from camping to bed and breakfasts to boutique hotels and hotel brands that visitors from all over will recognize. Mariposa is the county seat of Mariposa County, California, a large, but lightly populated county on the southwestern edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The county is home to rich Gold Rush history, outdoor activities like hiking, whitewater rafting, skiing and snowboarding, and skydiving, as well as Yosemite National Park, a world-renowned outdoor destination, and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania Cucumber Falls - courtesy of GO Laurel Highlands Ohiopyle has long been known as one of the best places for outdoor adventure in the Eastern United States. Now, the charming Fayette County borough, surrounded by Ohiopyle State Park, can earn a new title: Best Small Town in the Northeast. A panel of experts and USA Today's 10Best editors has selected Ohiopyle as a Readers' Choice Awards nominee. With its idyllic location along the banks of the Youghiogheny River and encompassed by the lush embrace of Ohiopyle State Park, the town offers a perfect blend of tranquility and excitement for visitors and residents alike. From cascading waterfalls to winding hiking trails, Ohiopyle beckons adventurers to explore its captivating landscapes and discover the wonders of the great outdoors in the Laurel Highlands. “The significance of Ohiopyle and Ohiopyle State Park in the Laurel Highlands runs deeper than most visitors will ever realize,” said Ann Nemanic, executive director of GO Laurel Highlands. “As Pennsylvania's largest state park, Ohiopyle is a destination for any outdoor enthusiast. Whitewater rafting, an abundance of hiking trails, unique native fauna, waterfalls, and a hub for cyclists on the Great Allegheny Passage all mesh in over 20,000 acres of natural beauty. Native Americans named and respected the 'white, frothy water' that so many enjoy today. Ohiopyle is a four-season destination and provides all the amenities one would want nestled in a picturesque river/trail town. Come for a visit; we can assure you this will not be a one-and-done experience.” With a population of 37 according to the 2021 census, Ohiopyle certainly fits the “small town” category, but Mayor Mark McCarty says the number of year-round residents is probably closer to a dozen. Ohiopyle's nomination isn't surprising to McCarty, who has called the borough home since the state park was dedicated in 1971 and has served as mayor for decades. “I realized it was a wonderful small town more than 50 years ago,” he said. “I left Pittsburgh and ran away to the mountains and never looked back.” The Youghiogheny River runs through the heart of town, with the 20-foot drop of Ohiopyle Falls visible from Main Street and four outfitter services offering whitewater rafting trips on the river, ranging from family-friendly floats to wet-and-wild adventures. Kayaking, fishing and swimming are also popular activities in the Yough, which recently was nominated as Pennsylvania's river of the year. Over the years, the town's popularity has grown along with the outdoor activities available in it. Backpackers flock to the borough to access the trailhead of the 70-mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, while cyclists riding the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage – which USA Today readers named one of the nation's top recreational trails – pedal above Main Street on the Ohiopyle Low Bridge. “The tourism has picked up, especially with the Great Allegheny Passage bike trail through town,” said Jessica Kruse, Ohiopyle borough council president. “There's been an increase in lodging in town that means more people can stay. They used to come for day trips. Now, with so many opportunities, there are longer stays – weekend stays, three-day stays and even weeklong stays.” Ohiopyle State Park attracts more than one million visitors per year, with the adventurous testing their nerve at the Meadow Run Natural Waterslides while waterfall lovers gather at Cucumber Falls, an Instagrammable 30-foot bridal waterfall that is just yards from a parking lot. Outdoor adventures aren't the only reason to visit Ohiopyle. It's also a popular spot for architecture lovers. Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is 3 1/2 miles north of town, while Kentuck Knob, another home designed by the architectural genius, lies two miles to the west. The surrounding region of Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands has been showcased multiple times by USA Today 10Best. Keystone State Park was named the Best Destination for Fall Foliage in the U.S., and the Foggy Goggle at Seven Springs Mountain Resort was chosen the Best Apres-Ski Bar in North America. Ohiopyle outfitter Wilderness Voyageurs was voted one of the 10 Best Whitewater Rafting Tours last year, and Greensburg's El Diablo Brewing Co. was one of the nation's top new breweries in recently concluded voting. A magnificent mountainous region, the area spans 3,000 square miles in southwestern Pennsylvania. Located just an hour east of Pittsburgh, the beautiful four-season destination offers spectacular natural scenery, outstanding skiing, hiking, biking and golfing opportunities, historic sites and attractions, family activities and world-class resorts. Visitors to the Laurel Highlands can find information online at