Best Things To Do for an Unforgettable Valentine's Day
Looking for something beyond the classic dinner-and-a-movie date night for you and your sweetheart? From arts festivals and nature centers, to mountains and beaches, to vibrant nightlife and secluded retreats, there are plenty of unique events and destinations to choose from for a romantic winter trip. Below are the top things to do and places to see for Valentine's Day 2023 that are sure to impress.
Attend the Art + Sol Winter Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico
Winter in Santa Fe is a magical season—not only is the snow light and fluffy, the skies a bluebird blue, and the sun warm, but The City Different’s vibrant world-class performing arts and culture scene ramps up to offer a rich array of events in music, comedy, theater, dance, and education via the inaugural Art + Sol Santa Fe Winter Arts Festival, a nine-day celebration (February 11-19) and landmark collaborative effort among prominent arts organizations, including Santa Fe Pro Musica, Santa Fe Symphony, and Performance Santa Fe.
Meet "The Lovers" at Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center
Located less than an hour from Colorado Springs in a scenic mountain setting awaits a unique and educational wildlife experience. The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center is home to wolves, coyotes and fox that each live and thrive in large wooded enclosures that provide privacy, sanctuary and stimulation for these amazing and beautiful animals.
On a special February 12th tour, visitors will experience the thrill of the intense gaze of these beautiful creatures and learn the heartwarming story of Sabin, and the romantic story of "The Lovers", Chinook and Nikita, for whom it was love at first sight. Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center visitors can take an hour tour to meet all of the resident animals, learn their histories and gain a better understanding of how they and their habitat are being threatened and what people can do to help. Each tour culminates with a group "wolf howl." Your tour guide starts the howl, you join in, and, with luck, all the wolves soon begin to howl, creating a magical and serene experience for everyone. Reservations are required for The Lovers tour, and strongly recommended for other tours.
For a unique hotel experience, book a room at the Glen Eyrie Castle, a 67-room English Tudor-style castle situated in the northwest foothills of the Garden of the Gods Park and built by General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. Castle tours and teas held in the Castle Music Room are also available to book.
Head to The Secret Coast of Mississippi
Travelers searching for new experiences in the new year should look no further than coast Mississippi, also known as the Secret Coast—a breathtaking 62-mile coastline, perfect for the wildlife and nature-lover in your life. For a unique experience, treat your sweetheart to a romantic Valentine's Dinner Under the Sea in Mississippi Aquarium's mesmerizing Aquatic Wonders. Enjoy an elegant dinner with seating for two thoughtfully placed at windows in the Oceans and Swirl habitats. For the ultimate Valentine experience, reserve your table in the Aquarium's 360 degree tunnel, Undersea Passage.
Or, try some of the area's newest dining options. The upscale restaurant Radish, which opened in late 2022 in the heart of downtown Long Beach, offers an ingredient-driven menu that showcases the fresh, authentic flavors of the South. Head Chef William Rester uses traditional techniques and preparation styles, paying homage to the farmers who harvested the land in the nineteenth century, to cultivate a menu including small and large plates, sandwiches, and a full cocktail menu. Mangiamo Italian Restaurant, which opened in Gulfport in November, is an authentic Italian restaurant with a vast menu that combines Italian cuisine and Gulf-fresh seafood favorites. The menu features pasta dishes, like Seafood Lasagna and Penne a la Vodka, large Italian-themed entrees, and pizzas that have taken much of the city by storm.
Spend the night at the historic Gulf Hills Hotel & Resort in Ocean Springs, which holds a unique place in Coastal Mississippi history. Recently under new management, Gulf Hills features new upgrades and restorations that pay homage to the history of the property and notable guests like Marilyn Monroe. The renovations include a remodeled indoor ballroom, the Pink Pony Lounge – a favorite spot where Elvis Presley played piano – and the addition of an outdoor chapel for wedding parties.
Get Cozy in the Mountains of North Carolina
If the beach or the crowds aren't quite your vibe, head to the seclusion of the mountains in North Carolina. Book a cozy cabin in Jackson County, the perfect spot to enjoy nature and time together but still close enough to nearby dining options that are sure to compete with any big city's upscale restaurants.
Listen to the roar of the Tuckasegee River while dining outside on the Foragers Canteen spacious patio. This local restaurant serves up a fusion of locally sourced, farm to table ingredients. It’s also near the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, so it’s possible you’d also hear the trains as they come by.
For a unique fusion dining experience, try Chef Santiago Guzzetti's Italian-Appalachian cuisine at ILDA. Diners will find Instagram-worthy plates such as Saffron Paccheri pasta with butternut squash, brown butter, sunflower seed pesto and fried sage and Taleggio Crostinis to share featuring local filone and grilled, preserved grapes. Unique cuisine combination continue over at Guadalupe Cafe, which also features locally grown ingredients and regeneratively raised beef from Mountainside Family Farm. Most wouldn’t think of the tropics when they think of dining in the mountains, however Guadalupe’s incredibly creative tropical fusion cuisine is not to be missed with a menu inspired by Spain, the Middle East and the Caribbean. If you try one thing, let it be the tacos. Adventurous flavors include red curry shrimp, blackened plantains, peanut chicken, mango pork, and much more. For dessert, savor fresh chocolate from the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory.
See Why "Virginia is for Lovers" at Pippin Hill Farm
Located just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards is more than just a farm as their website explains—"it’s a love story." The lovechild of proprietors and husband-and-wife team, Lynn Easton and Dean Andrews, Pippin Hill represents the marrying of their complementary talents in a place they love—the undulating green hills of Virginia’s wine country. The grounds are composed of vineyards, kitchen gardens, flower gardens, eight acres of natural areas made up of native flowers and grasses, as well as dedicated livestock areas and an apiary.
Make reservations on the Veranda to enjoy tableside food service, suggested wine pairings, and self-guided wine flights. Can't get the reservation you want? Lawn seating is available for walk-ins. Afterwards, enjoy additional food and wine on the grounds with self-guided tours of the gardens, chicken coop, apiary, and seasonal wildflower meadow. More in-depth estate tours and tastings can also be reserved. Visitors can even book a water color painting class, where students will learn basic watercolor mixing and brush techniques to paint bouquet of flora and fauna inspired by the Pippin Hill Farm gardens, or take part in a cooking class that culminates with a family style dinner in the Tasting Room.
Guests can stay nearby at the Crossroads Inn, recently purchased by the Easton and Andrews in 2022. This historic inn has been accommodating travelers since it was built in 1820 and is listed on the National Historic Register as a designated Virginia Historic Landmark. Originally known as the Crossroads Tavern, the Inn has served no other purpose since its completed construction than as a stop for the weary traveler. Because of the remarkable preservation and detailed rooms, the Inn can provide guests a modern glimpse of how early 1800’s taverns were built. Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt are just some of the distinguished former guests.
Party With Your Galentines in Atlantic City, New Jersey
No date? No problem. Valentine's Day isn't just for the couples! Considered the Las Vegas of the East Coast, Atlantic City is the perfect weekend getaway for the girls. Covered in casinos, luxurious resorts, acclaimed restaurants along the beach and high-end shopping, there’s no excuse to not be booked and busy in Atlantic City! Soak in the scene and enjoy a fresh margarita accompanied by live music at girl’s night out hotspot Gypsy Tequila Bar, or take a gamble in Ocean Casino Resort’s 135,000 square foot paradise.
Looking to take the night to the next level? Explore the legendary, indoor The Pool After Dark inside the classic Harrah’s Resort for a one-of-a-kind nightlife experience that will keep guests satisfied until next Galentine’s Day!
Santa Fe, New Mexico: A Sweet Destination for Any Couple
Santa Fe, New Mexico is a historic city, teeming with alluring views, unique experiences, and delectable cuisine, making it the perfect place for a romantic getaway. New Mexico’s capital truly has something for type of couple, whether art junkies, history buffs, thrill seekers, or epicureans looking for a charming weekend away. If you're looking for a Valentine's Day getaway or a romantic retreat, look no further than "the Land of Enchantment." For creative couples: New Mexico Museum of Art - courtesy of Tourism Santa Fe Did you know that Santa Fe was listed as one of The World's Best Cities for Arts and Culture by Travel and Leisure? This southwestern city is an art lover's paradise. Start with Canyon Road, a half-mile-long stretch of famous galleries and boutiques, where you can wander the halls of the New Mexico Museum of Art, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Art gallery on Canyon Road - courtesy of Tourism Santa Fe Couples can explore contemporary and traditional galleries that are filled with an impressive array of works by local, national, and international artists. Visitors will see everything from paintings to photography, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, jewelry, and more. Take time on this celebrated street devoted to arts and crafts. Later make the short drive up to Museum Hill, where there is not only a great cafe with extraordinary views, but four world-class museums and a botanical garden. Make sure not to miss the immersive art destination of Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return, which is open late on weekends and often hosts unique musical acts. Continue the fun at the eclectic and vibrant Railyard District, with its contemporary galleries, art spaces, and parks. There is always something new to see in this dynamic district, including the Santa Fe Farmers' Market, open on Tuesdays and Saturdays from early morning to noon. Stop at Santa Fe Plaza to find more galleries devoted to Native American art as well as contemporary and traditional arts of the Southwest. For the foodies: Farmers' market in Santa Fe - courtesy of Tourism Santa Fe Thanks to the convergence of many cultures that influence Santa Fe, the city has become an award-winning culinary paradise. From fine dining to Frito pie, there is endless flavors to experience for the couple that just loves to eat! Innovative Southwestern fare created by award-winning chefs and hearty New Mexico dishes such as breakfast burritos and green chile stew are reason enough for Santa Fe to have earned a prominent place on the world's culinary map. But, you're in luck if you desire creative contemporary cuisine or Asian, French, Italian, Indian or Middle Eastern bites. New Mexicans love their chile—it's spicy, delicious, and everywhere! If your server asks "Red, green, or Christmas?" this refers to the kind of chile you'd like served over enchiladas, chile rellenos, or other staples of New Mexican fare. When in doubt, answer "Christmas" and you'll get both. For a more hands-on experience, spend the day mastering the flavors of the real Southwest with a cooking class taught by highly acclaimed local chefs. Try the “Green Chile Workshop” at Santa Fe School of Cooking to really heat things up. Visitors can wash down all the delicious cuisine from their trip with a stroll down Margarita Trail, a This one-of-a-kind margarita experience allows you to taste more than 40 of the best margaritas in the world. Get your paper Passport or download the app to keep track of the margaritas you have tried and receive a dollar off each location’s signature margarita. Some highlights: The Cowgirl Cadillac Margarita from Cowgirl BBQ, the Chimayóso Margarita at Low ‘N Slow, and the Meowgarita from Meow Wolf. For the history buffs: Palace of the Governors - courtesy of santafe.org As the nation’s oldest capital city, Santa Fe is overflowing with history around every corner, the dream for the couples that love educational trips. The city experienced waves of migrations along the three trails that led here—and more recently via the rails, Route 66, and the interstate. Artists, chefs, wellness experts, and other creative dreamers all bring their culture, talents and experience with them and when they meet Santa Fe’s unique, multi-cultural history against a backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo mountains’ majesty and the spectacular sunsets over the Jemez range—nothing short of magic transpires. The heart of downtown Santa Fe for nearly 400 years, the historic Plaza, which remains the meeting place of The City Different, features Indian and Spanish markets and events such as concerts and more. For a unique day trip, visit a nearby Pueblo, where American Indians inhabited New Mexico long before Spanish contact in the 1500s, and their timeless culture, traditions, arts, and beliefs continue to enrich the state today. Several Pueblos are easily accessible from Santa Fe and can make for a wonderful day or half-day outing during a touring stay in Santa Fe. There are eight Pueblos going north, between Santa Fe and Taos, and there are scenic views to enjoy along the way. History-loving couples should check out the New Mexico History Museum, home to informative exhibitions to display the many events, people, and places that shaped what New Mexico is today. For a deeper dive into native culture, check out the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. Another can’t miss is the New Mexico Military Museum, opened by members of New Mexico's National Guard, the museum displays the history of the Bataan Death March, a World War II tragedy in the Philippine Islands that had a significantly harsh impact on New Mexico. In addition, the museum portrays the history of the New Mexico military, from the Spanish Conquest to the Civil War to both World Wars, Vietnam, and to the present-day Middle East conflicts. Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi - courtesy of santafe.org For a real life look into life in New Mexico in the 18th and 19th century, check out El Racho De Las Golondrinas, a historic early 1700’s ranch that was transformed into a living history museum and once was an important paraje or stopping place along the famous Camino Real, the Royal Road from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Arguably the most historic and recognizable building in Santa Fe, Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi’s Gothic architecture is a stark contrast to the adobe buildings making up the surrounding area. Built in 1886 by Archbishop Jean-Baptiste Lamy, the first archbishop of the Diocese of Santa Fe. For those seeking ultimate relaxation: The spa at the Loretto Inn - courtesy of hotelloretto.com Santa Fe's restorative powers are legendary. People have been traveling here for centuries to renew body, mind, and spirit in the area's high, dry climate, natural hot springs, sun-filled days, and starry nights. Whether couples prefer to soak, massage or detoxify their stress away, or just spend one on one time relaxing with their partner, Santa Fe has numerous day spa choices like Nidah Spa at Eldorado Hotel and Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. The spa at the Loretto Inn has a homespun vibe—starting with the homemade massage oils. All the standard treatments are on offer, from facials and milk baths to couples' massage, plus a room outfitted with a Vichy shower for water therapy. Ten Thousand Waves offers a spa experience inspired by the great Japanese mountain hot spring resorts, a unique concept that cannot be found elsewhere on the North American continent. The spa offers private hot tub suites, bodywork, indoor and patio dining, serene lodging and new transformation ketamine experiences to reset the nervous system in a totally supportive environment. Couples can enjoy a luxe Italian meal complete with mixologists crafted cocktails at Sassella or high-end Mexican cuisine at Sazon. For an upscale and romantic evening with a “global eclectic” menu, visit Geronimo, set in the elegant "Borrego House" was built by Geronimo Lopez in 1756. For adventurous, nature-loving duos: Skiing outside of Santa Fe - courtesy of Tourism Santa Fe Santa Fe is an amazing destination for a couple who loves outdoor adventure. Once you arrive in the highest elevation capital city in the United States at more than 7,000 feet—you may find yourself astonished by the beauty and variety of the landscape. Located in the southern Rocky Mountain chain at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Santa Fe is a semiarid climate at the crossroads of grass and shrub lands, piñon-juniper woodlands, and 1.6 million acres of high mountain coniferous national forest. Experience our 320+ days of sunshine, four distinct seasons, brilliant blue skies, and some of the purest air in the world. Charter any of Santa Fe's experienced river rafting companies for a full day on the river and you'll be in expert hands, plus have all the gear you need for your great adventure. Or try the popular Aspen Vista Trail, with beautiful views of the aspen trees that turn golden in the fall. You can also rent mountain bikes and bike the Aspen Vista Trail. If you'd prefer to play golf rather than hike the mountains, you'll find plenty of beautiful, award-winning golf courses. You could also spend the day fly fishing in the mountains. Charter a fly-fishing trip with one of Santa Fe's outdoor adventure companies and you'll be an expert by the time the lesson is over. In the winter you can ski greens to double blacks just 16 miles from historic downtown Santa Fe. At an elevation of 12,075 feet, the ski area is open late fall through early spring, and enjoys up to 300 inches of light, fluffy snow a year. Before it's time for dinner, make time to watch one of the spectacular sunsets from the top of the Cross of the Martyrs, an outdoor park on the northeast side of Paseo de Peralta. End the night with “The Stargazer” adventure. This special excursion transports passengers from the Santa Fe Railyard out into the dark skies of the scenic northern New Mexico landscape. On this ride, visitors will enjoy champagne and live music in the comfort of restored vintage Pullman cars, as they start their excursion traveling along a historic section of railway that was constructed in the 1880s. As the train rolls away from the city lights into the dark New Mexico night, professional astronomers will share tales of celestial objects that have been passed down for hundreds of years. When the train reaches the Galisteo Basin overlook, passengers are invited out to the open-air flatbed cars to view the night sky through telescopes pointed at the best constellations or planets viewable that night. Upcoming 2023 dates for this ride are February 18, March 18, April 15. The ride is only offered one time per month to capitalize on the darkest (little or no moon) Saturday of the month.
Most Popular Film Tourism Destinations in the US
We’ve all fallen in love with a TV show or movie at least once. Whether it’s Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, or Breaking Bad, there’s something about getting sucked into a good story that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. But—did you ever consider traveling to a place you saw on Netflix? If so, you aren’t alone. That’s because film tourism (also known as film-induced tourism, screen tourism, and set-jetting) has been all the rave lately, with more and more people planning vacations around their beloved shows and movies. PhotoAiD reached out to 1,000+ Americans to unpack their experiences with this phenomenon, their attitudes toward it, and much more. To uncover the most desirable film tourism destinations in North America, PhotoAiD gave respondents a list of places famous because of a movie or TV show and asked them to indicate which one was their favorite or which they’d like to visit the most. They also answered other questions about their travel motives. Some key takeaways from PhotoAiD's research show that: 96% of Americans have visited places associated with their favorite television shows or movies at least once in their lifetime.78% of travelers are likely or very likely to opt for TV- or movie-themed trips in 2023 and beyond.The most common reason to engage in film tourism (35%) is to enjoy an immersive experience that lets you live out shows’ or movies’ storylines and follow in the footsteps of famous characters.Lodging is the most frequently mentioned film tourism expense (60%), followed by transportation (53%) and sightseeing (50%).Globally, the UK and Ireland are the most desirable screen tourism destinations owing to the success of Harry Potter.68% of Americans have a negative or very negative attitude toward fellow travelers striking irreverent poses or otherwise misbehaving when visiting the sites of actual tragic events depicted in shows or movies. These stats show just how popular film tourism has become. It may be because we’re watching more TV than ever before, with the average person likely to stream 437 hours of content in 2023 (=18 full days). Over three-quarters also said they were "likely" or "very likely" (45% and 33%, respectively) to pick one of their next vacation destinations based on their favorite TV show or movie in the future. Thus, it’s not surprising that companies like Airbnb and Netflix have already started to capitalize on the opportunity. The former has launched thematic accommodation options based on Scooby Doo, Moulin Rouge, and Queer Eye. In turn, Netflix partnered with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to “help destinations realize the potential benefits of screen tourism.” The data shows that the most common reason to engage in film tourism (35%) is to enjoy an immersive experience that lets you live out your favorite shows’ or movies’ storylines and follow in the footsteps of famous characters. It’s closely followed by the desire “to experience the city’s scenery shown in the movie or TV show” at 34.9% and to visit depicted restaurants, as 34.4% of respondents indicated. These make sense, particularly if you consider TV shows. Their slow-paced plot progression, long runtime, and character development often foster a deep connection between the viewer and the story. According to PhotoAiD's data, these shows and their locations are the 5 most desirable in America: 5. Big Little Lies (Monterey, California) The Bixby Bridge - courtesy of Shutterstock A quarter of respondents picked Monterey, California to visit thanks to Big Little Lies. Stop by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to see where Jane (Shailene Woodley) worked in Season 2; or, check out several stunning outdoor locales, such as Del Monte Beach and Lovers Point Park, that serve as a backdrop in the series. Don't forget to head to Highway 1 for an iconic drive from Bixby Bridge (featured in the opening credits) down along the coastline of Garrapata State Park, where many scenes were filmed. 4. Home Alone 2 (New York City) Grand Army Plaza - courtesy of Shutterstock Who wouldn't want to recreate Kevin's iconic holiday adventure from Home Alone 2? Of those surveyed, 27.9% picked this movie as a top reason to travel. After flying into LaGuardia Airport—on purpose, though, unlike Kevin—tourists will want to head straight to Manhattan to take in the biggest sites. The Plaza Hotel features most prominently in this classic flick, but if you can't quite budget a stay at this swanky spot, it's at least worth visiting before heading over for a walk through Central Park, The Pigeon Lady's domain. Don't miss Grand Army Plaza at 59th street, where Kevin bumps into Marv and Harry. 3. Joker (New York / New Jersey) Joker came in third with 28.6% of respondents selecting the 2019 movie. On the Set of New York—an incredible online resource with details for all kinds of shows set in the city—gives great details on how visitors can follow in the movie's footsteps by listing key scenes and their addresses, such as Arthur's Apartment, Hudson County Courthouse, Loew's Jersey Theatre, and the Twin Donut Shop in the Bronx. Unlike Home Alone 2, following the sites from this movie will take tourists further out from the hustle and bustle of Midtown Manhattan and spots in Jersey City, Newark, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. 2. Friends (New York City) 90 Bedford Street, New York, NY - courtesy of tripadvisor.com Just behind the top spot, Friends was picked by 30.5% of respondents, making it the third NYC-based show in the top rankings. The great thing about NYC is so many shows and movies have iconic scenes and experiences in the Big Apple—you can theme an entire trip there just around movies and shows! Friends fans in particular will want to head down to the West Village—specifically, 90 Bedford Street. While the apartment scenes were shot from inside a soundstage, the outside shots were taken from this actual apartment building. While in the area, don't forget to grab coffee at one of the many nearby favorites—Joe, Blackstone Coffee Roaster, Stumptown, or CoffeeRx. While Central Perk was filmed on a soundstage as well, these should be good local substitutes. 1. Jurassic Park (Hawaii) Kualoa Ranch - courtesy of hawaiiactivities.com Thanks to the Jurassic Park franchise, Hawaii was picked as the most desirable film tourism destination in the US, according to 30.6% of respondents. How does it translate into real numbers? Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom alone has given Hawaii’s economy a $31M boost and more than $6.9M in wages to 1,200+ Hawaii workers. So you could say the movie has had a T-Rex-sized impact on the islands. Kualoa Ranch offers visitors an amazing 2.5-hour Jurassic Adventure Tour. It takes guests to famous film sites in all three valleys of Kualoa Ranch (Kualoa, Hakipu’u & Ka’a’awa Valleys). The guided tour visits film sets from Jurassic World, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom, and even a visit to the iconic field from the original Jurassic Park Movie. Transportation is on a 16-passenger custom, open-air, Jurassic exploring vehicle. Enjoy breathtaking views of Kualoa's own Jurassic Valley and relive the authentic Jurassic Park experience! — For more details on PhotoAiD's research and results, see the data here.
Top Things to Do This February
With the excitement (and chaos) of holiday travel behind us and spring break and summer still a ways off, February might not seem like the most exciting time to travel. However, this can be a great time of year to enjoy lower hotel and travel costs as well as smaller crowds. Here are five fun events and places to add to your February plans this year.Experience the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival in the Adirondacks Opening fireworks at the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival - courtesy of saranaclakewintercarnival.com The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival began as an integral part of Saranac Lake's history as a renowned health resort. In order to break winter's chill and to promote outdoor sports and games, the Pontiac Club was formed in November 1896, and a few months later, they sponsored a one-day fancy dress winter carnival in 1897, which was expanded into the Pontiac Club Carnival in 1898. It is the longest-running event of its kind in the eastern US, and has grown into a 10-day festival that includes sports, performances, two parades and three sets of spectacular fireworks. This year's carnival takes place February 3rd through 12th, and includes two parades, multiple fireworks displays, and events such as arctic golf, snow rugby, an ice palace fun run, a woodsmen's exhibition, an icicle contest, and races in skiing, tubing, and snowshoeing. The centerpiece of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is the Ice Palace, built by volunteers on the shore of Lake Flower's Pontiac Bay at the state boat launch. For more details on activities, see the schedule here and find out more on how to plan your visit. Spend Presidents' Day at Mount Rushmore Mount Rushmore - courtesy of nps.gov Weather permitting (that's certainly an important factor in western South Dakota) Mount Rushmore is open every day of February. Completed in 1941, Mount Rushmore is undoubtedly one of the most recognized memorials in South Dakota, and in the US. Each year, more than 3 million visitors come face-to-face with the likeness of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Explore magical Ice Castles across the US Ice Castles - courtesy of icecastles.com Each year, Ice Castles brings fairy tales to life for hundreds of thousands of families across North America. Currently, there are five locations across the US—in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Utah, and Wisconsin. Squeeze through passageways just large enough for children and adults who are adventurous enough to crawl, or explore ice caverns and get lost in a frozen maze where wonder awaits around every corner. In Minnesota, enjoy the classic thrill of cruising down a tubing hill on a snow path groomed for safety, speed, and fun. Tubes provided free of charge! Surrounded by thousands of lights, your magical journey continues along our Lantern Passage after you exit the frozen wonderland.In New Hampshire, magic abounds in the Winter Fairy Forest. Along this short loop near the Mystic Forest Light Walk, you’ll be immersed in a fairy tale world where winter fairies live and play. Belly up to a frosty ice bar, the Polar Pub, and order a winter-themed alcoholic beverage that you can enjoy while you chill out in the coolest place in town.In Utah, meet real reindeer nestled away inside the Reindeer Room or squeal with delight as you race down one of our exhilarating ice slides designed for people of all ages. Several locations also feature sleigh rides, ice sculpture displays, and "Arctic Alcoves" available for booking special events like proposals. For tickets and more info, visit icecastles.com. Celebrate Mardi Gras at Panama City Beach Mardi Gras in Panama City Beach - courtesy of visitpanamacitybeach.com Visit Panama City Beach invites visitors and residents to celebrate Mardi Gras “Real.Fun.Beach” style at the annual Panama City Beach Mardi Gras and Music Festival, taking place February 3-4, 2023 at Pier Park. Combining the excitement of an authentic Mardi Gras celebration with spectacular views of sugar-white sand beaches and emerald-green waters, the fun-filled festival offers entertainment for the whole family. “The annual Mardi Gras and Music Festival in Panama City Beach is one of our most festive and exciting events,” says Visit Panama City Beach President and CEO Dan Rowe. “Each year, we look forward to welcoming locals and visitors for an unforgettable Mardi Gras celebration just steps away from our beautiful beaches.” In conjunction with the Krewe of Dominique Youx’s great Mardi Gras at the Beach parade, the two-day festival features a jam-packed schedule of entertainment for all ages, including live music, a kids fun zone and festival village, a 5k run, fireworks and more. Enjoy this year’s music headliner, Sawyer Brown, as well as other notable acts like Waylon Thibodeaux, dubbed “Louisiana’s Rockin’ Fiddler,” The Frontmen and Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band at the Celebration Stage in Pier Park. Besides the festival, what's better than a mid-winter beach escape? For more information about the Mardi Gras festival's schedule and events, click here. Sip hot cocoa and see wildlife at Chicago's Polar Adventure Days Huskies at Polar Adventure Days - courtesy of chicagoparkdistrict.com Visitors will come face-to-face with live animals and engage in fun winter activities during Chicago's annual Polar Adventure Days. This year, Polar Adventure Days will take place on January 21 and February 25 from noon to 3pm. The free winter series will treat visitors to a number of fun-filled activities that are both educational and fun for all ages. Participants will tour Northerly Island’s Natural Area, either on foot or in snowshoes depending on weather, and learn about winter animals including Siberian huskies, raptors, and birds of prey. Visitors will enjoy interacting with the incredibly creative Jabberwocky Marionettes (a local puppet theater producer), using their imaginative skills to carve recycled Christmas trees with our nature experts in the Nature Play Space, and listening to stories around the campfire with Al Eastman. Additionally, the Chicago Park District Naturalists will lead a winter craft activity in simple bird feeder making. “Polar Adventure Days has become a signature winter tradition for Chicagoans and visitors alike for almost two decades,” said Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. “Connecting with nature and wildlife in an urban setting is an experience unlike any other during the colder months in Chicago’s premiere downtown nature oasis.” Participants should dress warmly. Activities are subject to change based on weather.
New York is in the middle of its annual New York Hotel Week, where visitors can take advantage of a 23% discount on over 140 hotels in the city. Before you feel a tinge of disappointment at being too late, don’t worry – Hotel Week is actually over a month long, and you can grab the discounts until February 12th. There’s a wide range of hotels taking part, located in almost every area of the city, so make sure to shop around and find a unique property for your Big Apple adventure. InterContinental Times Square (Midtown West) InterContinental Times Square - courtesy of nycgo.com With a chic Manhattan residential feel encompassing natural elements, the 36-story InterContinental Times Square features 607 guest rooms, including 29 suites and a 2,700-square-foot duplex penthouse. Get inspired and celebrate in 14,000 square feet of flexible event and banquet space, including the elegant Gotham Ballroom. The Stinger is currently open daily for breakfast. The Hoxton (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) The Hoxton, Williamsburg, Brooklyn - courtesy of nycgo.com The Hoxton Williamsburg is located in Brooklyn with 175 bedrooms spread across four categories: Cosy, Cosy with a Brooklyn View, Cosy with a Manhattan View, and Roomy. Each room features a king-sized bed with bed linens by local Brooklyn designer, Dusen Dusen, walk-in shower, and desk, along with the usual Hox perks: free coffee, tea and water, WiFi, one hour of free calls and a mini-fridge to stock with items from the Hox Shop. Guests enjoy vibrant public spaces, a coffee bar, and a brand-new rooftop restaurant—chef Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook's Laser Wolf. ModernHaus (Soho) Set against the backdrop of Soho’s iconic cast-iron buildings and cobblestone streets, ModernHaus is a gathering place for urban travelers—and a thoughtfully designed extension of the neighborhood’s creative and dynamic spirit. Artworks from some of the most influential figures of the past century, such as George Condo, Harland Miller, Jean Dubuffet and KAWS, grace the walls. It’s ModernHaus’ homage to the neighborhood’s artistic past and an inspiring canvas for a thoroughly modern stay. Hotel Belleclaire (Upper West Side) Hotel Belleclaire - courtesy of nycgo.com Located on Manhattan's Upper West Side near Central Park, the Beacon Theatre, Lincoln Center and the American Museum of Natural History, Hotel Belleclaire boasts a blend of classic charm and modern comfort. All 240 guestrooms and suites are tastefully designed and feature luxurious Frette linen, deluxe C.O. Bigelow bath amenities and complimentary WiFi. The hotel is outfitted with a 24-hour fitness center, complimentary media lounge, meeting room and a French café, Mille-Feuille, located in the hotel lobby. The W (Union Square) Revel in the rhythm of the W - Union Square, located in the 1911 beaux arts-style Guardian Life building, with 270 guest rooms and suites, this is a contemporary spot to see and be seen. Have cocktails at Lilium, a seductive subterranean lounge, or grab a bite at Todd English’s restaurant, Olives. With glamorous shopping, electric music venues, and a dynamic art culture, here, the city is at your fingertips. And the savings don't stop with hotels... Dinner at Baar Baar - courtesy of nycgo.com Hotel Week is not the only way to save on a winter NYC trip. New York Restaurant Week, Broadway Week, and Must-See Week are also running until February 12th (together, they all make up the NYC Winter Outing). Restaurant Week sees some of the city’s best restaurants offering fixed-price menus for the duration of the event. Some of the establishments involved can typically have some eye-watering price tags, so it’s a rare opportunity to sample some world-class food without breaking the bank. Baar Baar (East Village) sets the bar high when it comes to modern Indian cuisine. Chef Sujan Sarkar’s deep-fried chicken nuggets come bathed in masala sauce and bordered by a tuft of lemony foam. The elevated street food on hte menu pairs well with a New Delhi sour cocktail made with bourbon, aromatic rose hip shrub, egg white and bitters. Other great small plates include Kashmiri lamb and tandoori octopus. The dark, roomy lounge and dining area is enhanced by a compelling fresco of an elaborately bejeweled woman. In Queens, a Forest Hills gastropub and barbecue joint, Queens Bully, pays homage to flavors around its home borough. Sandwiches reference the Greek food of Astoria, the Latin flavor of Corona and the Indian influence from Jackson Heights. The barbecue—pulled pork, brisket, even jackfruit—is all smoked in-house. Bar at Carmine's, Upper West Side - courtesy of nycgo.com For those looking for old-school Italian, the legendary family-style Southern Italian Carmine’s delivers everything but the red-checkered tablecloth. Sopranos fans will feel comfortable in both the Times Square and Upper West Side locations, where the portions are absurdly generous, bottles of Chianti abound and the river flows with red sauce. For a quintessential New York-diner experience, there's East Village Ukrainian eatery Veselka Restaurant. In business since 1954, it offers neighbors and visitors 24-hour comfort food in a diner-type atmosphere. The kids love the pierogis and potato pancakes; the adults love the borscht and sweet cheese blintzes. On the way out it’s hard to pass up the pastry counter with its pies, cupcakes, cookies and homemade muffins. Of course, plenty more options can found in just about every part of the city, with cuisine that will fit just about anyone's style. Broadway Shows, Museums, & More The Metropolitan Opera auditorium - courtesy of nycgo.com Broadway Week offers a simple buy-one-get-one offer on most Broadway shows and reduced-rate upgraded tickets. All put together, there’s no better time to visit New York. Just be prepared for the crowds! But the entertainment doesn't stop with Broadway—there's plenty to do with Must-See Week, which includes discounts for everything from attractions and tours, to museums and performing arts across all the five boroughs. Get iconic views of the Big Apple with a trip to the Empire State Building Observatory See a performance at The Metropolitan OperaVisit the Kings County Distillery for whiskey tours and tastingsEnjoy contemporary art at the Lower East Side's New Museum Get ready to plan your cheapest NYC trip ever with more ideas here!