Concert Tourism: Must-Visit Destinations for Music Lovers

By Lou Hammond Group
May 10, 2023
Seabreeze Jazz Fest musician
Seabreeze Jazz Fest in Panama City Beach - courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group

Sometimes the only excuse needed to plan a vacation is to attend a live music event. While large cities typically have tons of venues—from hole-in-the-wall stages to stadium arenas—and can certainly make for a fun weekend getaway, there are plenty of other less obvious destinations that boast incredible events, concert halls, and festivals. Below are the perfect places to plan your next live music-focused trip.

Panama City Beach, Florida

Panama City Beach is best known for its more than 27 miles of white-sand beaches and emerald-green waters where the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrew’s Bay converge. With an average of 320 days of sunshine annually, the region has long been favored by travelers seeking an affordable beach vacation with year-round offerings for families, adventure-seekers and music lovers. From music festivals to annual events featuring top artists, everyone from jazz enthusiasts to country music lovers will find performance-packed fun in Panama City Beach.

The destination is home to the Seabreeze Jazz Festival, one of the top jazz music festivals in the country, in addition to the annual Gulf Coast Jam, which welcomes country music’s biggest stars to the emerald coast June 1-4, 2023. This year’s star-studded lineup features Morgan Wallen, Miranda Lambert, Kane Brown and many more.

Concert Venues: Aaron Bessant Park, Frank Brown Park

Upcoming Shows: Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Aaron Bessant Park (April 19-23), Gulf Coast Jam in Frank Brown Park (June 1-4)

New Jersey

Sea Hear Now Festival in New Jersey - courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group

Labeled as one of the “top ten places to listen to music” by USA Today, the historic shore town of Asbury Park is home an incredible white sand beach, revitalized boardwalk eclectic restaurants and of course, one of the most anticipated music festivals of the year. Sea Hear Now takes concertgoers through two days of music, featuring more than 25 bands on three stages: two in the sand and one in the park, all on the iconic Asbury Park Waterfront. This year, visitors and locals will experience headline performances from household names such as,The Killers, Foo Fighters and Sheryl Crow, as East Coast surf legends and emerging male and female pros compete in a team surf contest, held between the Surf and Sand stages.

The fun doesn't end there as guests can enjoy the best of the Jersey Shore boardwalk and restaurant fare with curated eats from Jersey, New York City, Philly and beyond! This year’s festival is set to take place on September 16th and 17th. New Jersey’s newest, month-long festival features all the talent, diversity and creativity this great state has to offer. Hosted by three incredible and unique cities, Atlantic City (June 4–11), Asbury Park (June 14–18) and Newark (June 21–25), the North To Shore festival will bring together 50+ venues for an over-the-top showcase of Jersey-wide excellence, aligned with Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy’s vision for a celebration worthy of the Garden State’s legacy in the arts and innovation. From concerts, to comedy, to movies, to presentations from leaders in tech and business, if you want it, they got it. Best of all, we’re featuring New Jersey’s undiscovered talent who will prove to you why you should know their names. These rising stars will be joined by global headliners like Halsey, Santana, Bill Burr, Jay Wheeler, Stephen Colbert, Alanis Morissette, Marisa Monte, Demi Lovato, Daymond John, Natalie Merchant, The Smithereens, Southside Johnny, Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem and more. This lineup highlights New Jersey’s own and those who know that the Garden State is the place to be seen.

Concert Venues: Asbury Park, Atlantic City and Newark

Upcoming Shows: Sea.Hear.Now 2023 is being held September 16-17 in Asbury Park, North to Shore will be held in Atlantic City (June 4–11), in Asbury Park (June 14–18), and in Newark (June 21–25)

Providence, Rhode Island

PVDFest - courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group

PVDFest, Providence’s signature arts festival, happening September 8-10, 2023. PVDFest 2023 will bring the City together once again to celebrate Providence’s world-renowned artistic, cultural, and culinary communities. Since debuting in 2015, PVDFest has featured over 4,800 artists, performers, and curators, and has brought in596,000+ attendees during the festival weekend. PVDFest continues to grow each year, providing new and exciting ways to bring people together through the arts and embracing both local and global talent in a way that is uniquely Providence.

Upcoming Shows: PVDFest 2023, September 8-10


Reggae SumFest in Jamaica - courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group

As the home of reggae, dancehall, and other genres of Jamaican music, there are endless live concerts, shows, and festivals that fill the Jamaican event calendar each year, yet locals know July is the best time to be on island because that is when the Reggae SumFest and Dream Weekend festivals come to town. As the premiere reggae and dancehall festivals in the Caribbean, they are unforgettable experiences every music lover should have atleast once in their lifetime. Come and feel the vibe of these performances while being in the land of the music’s origin.

July 16th through 22nd, Reggae SumFest comes to town, which is Jamaica’s leading festival dedicated to showcasing the island’s indigenous reggae music. Dubbed “Our Music, Our Festival” this major outdoor concert showcases the biggest Jamaican reggae and dancehall artists every summer in Montego Bay. It’s a week-long event and concert nights go until the break of day. The festival started in 1993 and has featured a variety of world renowned artistes such as Damion 'Junior Gong' Marley, Ziggy Marley, Toots and the Maytals, Buju Banton, Chris Brown, Rihanna, Kanye West, Usher, Beres Hammond, Freddie McGregor, Sean Paul, Spice, Chronixx, Nicki Minaj and many others.

Less than a week later, Dream Weekend begins on July 28. Dream Weekend is a five-day experience of non-stop partying along the breathtaking 7-mile beach in Negril. The kinetic energy at these parties is unmatched, several happening each day at various radiant venues.Considered to be the Caribbean’s largest party experience, this week-long event features entertainment by top artistes and DJs from all genres of music.Dancehall is at the forefront of all events while including elements of popular music genres such as pop, house, hip hop, rap, and soca. When there isn’t the excitement of a big music festival in the air, you can catch Jamaica’s music superstars at any number of pop-up or annual events around the island. They’re also regulars at some of the popular sports bars and music lounges where lucky visitors might catch an intimate acoustic performance or live set.

Concert Venues: Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex, in Montego Bay & Long Bay Beach Park in Negril

Upcoming Shows: Reggae SumFest July 16-22, & Dream Weekend July 28 - August 1

Norfolk, Virginia

Norfolk Skyline during Patriotic Fest - courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group

Norfolk, Virginia is the ultimate destination for those looking for a music-filled summer weekend getaway, offering the perfect combination of summer fun, delicious cuisine, and of course, great music. On Friday May 26, the Atlantic Union Bank 2023 Patriotic Festival in Town Point Park begins! This three-day festival is packed full of events that celebrate and honor our U.S Military. Experience military displays, exhibits and activities as well as performances from Sam Hunt, Jordan Davis, Cody Johnson, Walker Hayes, Corey Kent and Randy Houser.

Later on in August, the Norfolk Waterfront Jazz Festival comes to town. This is the area’s longest-running outdoor jazz festival and for the 40th annual edition, the festival features a star-studded cast of some of the biggest names on the international smooth jazz scene like Kim Waters and Kayla Waters, Keiko Matsui, Gerald Albright, Kandace Springs, Jazz Funk Soul, and Dave Koz. The two-day festival will be held Friday & Saturday, August 18 & 19, 2023 in a beautiful summertime setting at Town Point Park along the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront.

Make sure to set aside some time to soak up the sun at one of Norfolk’s beaches or rent a jet ski, kayak or paddleboard. When it’s time to eat, you will find that delicious indie restaurants and bars are scattered all throughout Norfolk, like convivial Blanca, veteran owned Bold Mariner Brewing Company, or whimsical Mermaid Winery.

Concert Venue: Town Point Park

Upcoming Shows: Patriotic Festival, May 26-28 & Waterfront Jazz Festival, August 18 - 19

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Lincoln Theater in Cheyenne, Wyoming - courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group

Capturing the imagination of the American West, Cheyenne, WY is a destination that will have travelers feeling like a modern-day cowboy or girl. A hot spot for live music along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, the city is also home to a variety of venues and genres to fulfill your love of music. Held on July 21-30 and celebrating its 127th annual season, Cheyenne Frontier Days honors its authentic western roots with the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and celebration of Western heritage. In addition to a PRCA tournament style rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days also features the biggest names in rock and country music each evening with an extensive lineup for Frontier Nights. Performers include Epic Church with Paul Cauthen, Old Dominion with Chase Rice, Zach Bryan, Five Finger Death Punch with Papa Roach, Tim McGraw with Kip Moore, Jon Pardi with Carly Pearce and finally Cody Johnson with Whiskey Myers.

Those who miss Cheyenne Frontier Days can get their concert fix in The Lincoln, one of Cheyenne’s most iconic landmarks and a historic theater that plays host to performances year-round. Built in 1929, The Lincoln was the first theatre to play talking movies and has now turned into the epicenter of the growing livemusic scene and hub for arts, nightlife and vibrancy. Upcoming performers include hard-rock band Adelitas Way on March 31, Ice Cube on April 16, Soulja Boy on June 2, rock-and-roll country band Giovannie & The Hired Guns onJune 25 and bluegrass band The Dead South on July 21.

Concert Venues: Frontier Nights at Cheyenne Frontier Days, The Lincoln

Upcoming Shows: July 21-29 for Frontier Nights at Cheyenne Frontier Days, March 31, April 16, June 2, June 25 and July 21 at The Lincoln.

South Dakota

Outlaw Square in Deadwood - courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group

Entertaining guests since 1876, Historic Deadwood draws visitors worldwide to the Old West town that is just as wild today as it was when legends like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock roamed the streets. From casinos and concerts to museums and historic sites, this gold rush town offers a variety of entertainment for all travelers. A restaurant, casino, hotel and entertainment venue, Deadwood Mountain Grand has an upcoming concertlineup for all music goers. Performers include American rock band Grand Funk Railroad with special guest Jefferson Starship on April 13, country music singer Aaron Watson on April 27, British-American rock band Foreigner on May 7, rock band Three Dog Night on June 3, Kolby Cooper on June 30 and the Happy Together Tour featuring The Turtles, Little Anthony, Gary Puckett, The Vogues, The Classics IV and the Cowsills on August 27. Those looking for an outdoor live music experience will enjoy a whole summer of live music with Deadwood’s Outlaw Square. Located in the heart of Main Street, Outlaw Square plays hosts to a free Summer Concert Series. Each Wednesday night starting on May 31 and ending August 30, music enthusiasts can jam out to a variety of artists.

Concert Venues: Deadwood Mountain Grand, Outlaw Square

Upcoming Shows: April 13, April 27, May 7, June 3, June 30 and August 27 at the Deadwood Mountain Grand and each Wednesday from May 31-August 30 in Outlaw Square


Live music at Red's - courtesy of the Lou Hammond Group

Mississippi is where America’s music was born, and no destination offers a more authentic experience for true music fans bound for the Great Americana Road Trip. The state’s Blues and Country Music Trails plot out iconic music history sites that can be anchored by several once-in-a-lifetime music festivals. In Tupelo every June, The King is honored by the best tribute performers in the business and thousands of dedicated fans in his hometown at the Tupelo Elvis Festival. Along the blues highway through the Delta, visitors can discover the crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil and even see a few sites that lay claim to his grave on the way to the JukeJoint Festival in Clarksdale, where for four days every May live blues pours out of venues and business all over this iconic small town. Pro-tip: check out Keep Cleveland Boring on Instagram for some of the most Spotify-famous new alt-country and modern Americana acts at local festivals like Dirtfest, Otherfest or Anotherfest. Down in the pines of eastern Mississippi in Meridian, America’s longest running music festival, the Jimmie Rodgers Festival, will celebrate its 70th year May 7-14 and will feature a robust line up of acts with rising neotraditional country star Paul Cauthen topping the bill.

Upcoming Shows: Juke Joint Festival April 13-16, Jimmie Rodgers Festival May 7-14, Tupelo Elvis Festival June 7-11

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Love Seafood? Here's How to Celebrate National Shrimp Day

In anticipation of the day created to recognize America’s favorite seafood, National Shrimp Day on May 10, Coastal Mississippi has curated a variety of ways travelers can celebrate all month long. The region, which produces nearly three-fourths the nation’s domestic shrimp, has many unique experiences for seafood enthusiasts, from learning how to find your own fresh catch to exploring the history of the seafood industry. “It’s always a good time to eat delicious Coastal Mississippi shrimp, but National Shrimp Day and the entire month of May is an exciting time to celebrate our Coastal Mississippi shrimping heritage through our nationally renowned culinary scene, annual events and most importantly, the start of the shrimping season,” said Pattye Meagher, Director of Communications and Engagement at Coastal Mississippi Tourism. “We’re excited to welcome new and returning travelers to the region to jumpstart the summer and experience the best of our premier seafood destination.” While indulging in Gulf-to-table cuisine, travelers can also visit the many diverse towns along 62 miles of coastline, like Ocean Springs or Biloxi, once known as the "Seafood Capital of the World," to quaint towns like Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis, you’ll find just the right place to celebrate National Shrimp Day in Coastal Mississippi this May. Where to Eat: New and Award-Winning Restaurants Seafood at Beach Blvd Steamer - courtesy of Coastal Mississippi Fresh seafood is one of the best parts of visiting the Gulf Coast, especially the bountiful delicacy of shrimp. The region produces 69 percent of the nation’s domestic shrimp, and 90 percent of species in the Gulf of Mexico nest in the Mississippi Sound. While there is an endless supply of seafood dining favorites, travelers can consider these new and award-winning locations: The home of “The Original” surf & turf on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Captain Al’s Steak & Shrimp serves up American Fare, where shrimp and steak reign supreme – even in their bloody marys. Their goal of serving the freshest steaks and shrimp has made Captain Al’s a family tradition since 1993. If you’re feeling adventurous order the Shrimp Blast Bloody Mary (this over-the-top cocktail comes complete with one dozen shrimp).Beach Blvd Steamer, located next to Island View Casino & Resort, is a shrimp enthusiasts’ paradise. With multiple dishes, including the highly prized Royal Red Shrimp, only caught at depths up to 3,000 feet, it’s no surprise this restaurant has received high praise from their patrons. Located in Ocean Springs, Bacchus on the Bayou recently opened in March, serving delicious Cajun cuisine with a Mississippi Gulf Coast flair. From handcrafted cocktails, the freshest seafood and oysters to their famous pork chop, Bacchus has everything to satisfy your tastebuds.For the ultimate toes-in-the-sand experience, look no further than Sea Level in Pass Christian, where the Grilled Blackened Shrimp Tacos are just waiting to be paired with ice-cold beverages.If you like your crustaceans with a kick, visit Thorny Oyster in Bay St. Louis, where the BBQ Shrimp swim in a delicious broth of lemon, Worcestershire and cracked black pepper. Or you can enjoy their famous bouillabaisse of shrimp, clams, mussels and fry bread. Where to Celebrate: Gulf Coast Events Pirate Day in the Bay - courtesy of Coastal Mississippi May marks the countdown to many of the region’s most awaited annual events – whether travelers are looking for family-friendly events, breathtaking views of the coast’s watercrafts and more, Coastal Mississippi is ready to deliver. The annual events of May, include: To celebrate Biloxi's culture, heritage, and legacy, the Annual Blessing of the Fleet, which began in 1929, marks the beginning of the fishing season for shrimp fishermen and invokes a safe and prosperous season. On May 28, a variety of boats will form at the west end of the Biloxi Channel and begin to parade east – creating a breathtaking view of ships for all the coast to see. For sport anglers who want to experience the best fishing on the Gulf Coast, the 37th Annual Gorenflo’s Cobia Tournament begins on May 20 with cash prizes and fishing experience for all levels. Catered towards friends and families in its 7th year, the Annual Pirate Day in the Bay is a two-day event starting on May 19 with an adult pub crawl and a scavenger hunt. Then, on day two, families can enjoy a cardboard boat race, kids walking parade, pirate costume contest and more. For live jazz music echoing over the Mississippi Sound, travelers can grab a seat on the lawn of Pass Christian’s War Memorial Park for Jazz in the Pass and watch four different acts from 12-8 p.m. on May 28. The best part? The event is free for everyone!To finish off the month from May 31 to June 4, the Annual Jeepin the Coast will take place across the destination. This five-day event invites all jeepers to the Gulf Coast to roam around the beautiful soft sand beaches, experience beautiful views, and attend a weekend full of events, such as live entertainment and scavenger hunts. Where to Learn: The History of the Seafood Industry The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum - courtesy of Coastal Mississippi Taking a trip to Coastal Mississippi isn’t complete without experiencing the fresh air and sunshine of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Visitors will find numerous ways to explore Coastal Mississippi’s rich history and culture of life on the water through informative, fun excursions led by veteran boat captains or by exploring many dedicated museums and cultural centers. The Biloxi Shrimping Trip allows visitors to partake in their very own shrimping expedition. Passengers are taught the best practices for setting a shrimp net and insights on each sea creature caught in its path. On May 8, Captain Mike Moore’s boat, the Sailfish, turns 70 years old. To celebrate, the Biloxi Shrimping Trip is launching its “70 Days of Giveaway,” where passengers can participate in exclusive prize drawings throughout the summer, starting on May 1.Established in 1986, The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum's purpose is to preserve and interpret the maritime history and heritage of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Visitors will find an array of exhibits, artifacts and an extraordinary collection of photographs that tell the story of Gulf Coast culture. For a tranquil sail along the Biloxi Beachfront, hop aboard the Biloxi Schooner, a recaptured piece of history with an authentic replica of a Biloxi oyster schooner sailing experience. This unique way of enjoying The Secret Coast can accommodate up to 44 guests with a professional captain and crew.


Celebrate Mother’s Day in Columbus, Ohio

Mother’s Day is right around the corner, and Experience Columbus is inviting residents and visitors to honor the people who’ve spent the last year doing it all. Celebrate the mother figure in your life with everything from unforgettable experiences to locally made, hand-crafted gifts that are sure to bring a smile to any face this holiday.“Those who play such an important role in our lives of guiding and taking care of us deserve appreciation and celebration, and Columbus is full of unique and memorable ways to make this Mother's Day your best yet,” said Sarah Townes, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer at Experience Columbus. “Experience Columbus makes it easy for everyone to show their gratitude by highlighting some of the region’s best attractions, restaurants and artisanal gifts with local flare.” Shop Local for the Perfect Gift Get mom something to unlock her inner foodie with artisanal cocktail mixers from Simple Times Mixers, locally distilled pineapple rum from Echo Spirits Distilling Co. or handmade cured meats from the mother and son owned North Country Charcuterie. For a much-needed relaxing day at home, visitors can pick up several local bath and body goods from Tiki Botanicals, Glenn Avenue Soap Company and Penn & Beech Candle Co. Find Activities for All Ages Family stroll outside in Columbus, Ohio by Chris Hardy - Unsplash Columbus Modern (CoMo) Dance Company will host its 11th annual outdoor springtime performance at the Mothers Day Tea in the Garden on May 13–14. This free event is a CoMo favorite and the perfect outing for mom and the whole family. Modern dancers perform within the Topiary Park’s plant sculptures that recreate the impressionist painting “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat. Tea and cookies will be served at intermission. This Mother’s Day, the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens invites guests to decorate a flowerpot and plant a flower to give as a gift from 11 am–2 pm. Afterwards, enjoy a complimentary performance from Magpie Consort, a mixed-voice choral ensemble based in Columbus that will present selections from their upcoming summer repertoire, Sounds of Summer. Take the mom in your life to the Columbus Museum of Art where admission is free on Mother’s Day. Visitors can also enjoy special discounts on memberships during the month of May. Understory is kicking off the 2023 market season with a special Mother’s Day Market on May 13. From 11 a.m.-4 p.m., shop from over 40 local makers and artisans in the Understory top floor events space and terrace. There will be a full bar set up on the market floor for drinks, and guests are welcome to head downstairs to enjoy brunch in the Commons and Patio beginning at 10 a.m. The best science museum in the country, COSI, has a new traveling exhibition, Tutankhamun: His Tomb and Treasures. Visitors are invited to explore the archaeology of ancient Egypt and view King Tut’s tomb and treasures as they were discovered in 1922. The reproduction of the burial treasure, in its original archaeological context, provides an insight into the historically unique discovery of the Pharaoh’s tomb in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings. With 1,000 objects, graphics, movies and an audio guide, the monumental complete context is presented in an educational, exciting and entertaining way. Have a Relaxing Brunch There are few things more synonymous with Mother’s Day than a delicious brunch, and many of Columbus’ best restaurants will be offering special menus and events to celebrate moms this year. Columbus' favorite Cameron Mitchell Restaurant Group has special brunch menus at their 16 restaurant concepts throughout the city. Explore the City's Budding Culinary Scene The Short North Arts District in Columbus by Uche Chilaka - Unsplash Why stop at brunch? Columbus has several new fine dining restaurants. Acclaimed Columbus Chef Avishar Barua has a full plate. Just six months after opening Joya’s, a Bengali American daytime café in Old Worthington, he has opened the doors to a new restaurant in Columbus’ Brewery District. Agni, named after the Hindu god of fire, offers a menu built around foods prepared over an open flame. Pulling from fond memories of Midwest backyard barbecues, the Top Chef Season 18 contestant is serving up a five-course tasting menu that includes dishes such as Bengali Shrimp Taco, Dry Aged Rohan Duck and Caramelized Chai Pudding. Agni is not the only new restaurant to open in the past month. Downtown, Chef Josh Dalton of Veritas opened Speck in February. The restaurant, which offers a modern interpretation of Italian cuisine in a vibrant and eclectic setting, has quickly become one of the hottest reservations in town. In Columbus’ historic Trolley District, more carefully restored historic buildings are opening with a new purpose. Joining East Market food hall is the Columbus Brewing Company Beer Hall, which features multiple bars and dining areas, 24 taps and globally inspired food. The 13,000 square foot building, which dates to the late 1800s, was originally used as a mechanic’s shop to repair the trolleys that ran down Broad Street and throughout Columbus. Towering 28 stories over High Street in the vibrant Short North Arts District is the city’s new and tallest rooftop lounge, Stories on High, which offers 360-degree views of the city with floor-to-ceiling windows and two expansive outdoor terraces. Columbus is also celebrating the news that acclaimed restaurateur BJ Lieberman of Chapman’s Eat Market (named in The New York Times’ 2021 Restaurant List) and Ginger Rabbit Jazz Lounge, was recently named a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Great Lakes category for the 2023 James Beard Awards.


Palm Springs on a Budget

Celebrity playground or golfer's paradise? Gay resort or hideaway for the filthy rich? Since the Roaring Twenties, the sunny, well-watered oasis of Palm Springs, about a hundred miles due east of Los Angeles in the Colorado Desert of southeastern California, has been widely known for all of the above, with oodles of glamorous eateries and posh resorts catering to a well-heeled clientele. What's not nearly as well known is that the town of Palm Springs itself (as opposed to neighbors like Indian Wells and Rancho Mirage) attracts plenty of working-class Americans with some of the country's best resort bargains and prices generally well below destinations such as Provincetown, Key West, and Miami Beach. Rates are lowest in summer, of course, thanks to temps of up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit (being dry heat, though, it can still be perfectly fine for those into a not-too-active holiday). But even in peak season (generally January through May), when daytime temps hover around a delicious 70 to 80 degrees, you can score spiffy double rooms as low as $70, and every other eatery along chic Palm Canyon Drive will fill your plate for $20 or less. One tip: if possible, plan your visit during the week, as year-round weekend hordes from LA, San Diego, and elsewhere send room rates north. Take in the Views Palm Oasis at Agua Caliente Indian Reservation by Michael Kirsh - Unsplash So what's there to do here besides shooting the links, hanging out by the pool, or watching the cactus grow? Apart from that spectacularly dry and sunny weather year-round (the prime reason folks started coming all those years ago), you can drive in a single afternoon from snow-capped mountains to sandy wilderness to lush green oases... and back to the "historic district" (meaning early- to mid-twentieth-century) with its clean-cut Mexican-village look. For an awesome view over the valley, jump on the Aerial Tramway's rotating tram car; tickets are $29.95 per adult, with discounts for kids and seniors and annual passes available. Enjoy views of pristine wilderness during its 8,000-foot climb up the side of Mount San Jacinto. Once at the Mountain Station, enjoy two restaurants, observation decks, a natural history museum, two documentary theaters, a gift shop and over 50 miles of hiking trails. Stop by the dramatic Indian Canyons reserve ($12 adult admission) for canyon trails as well as ranger-led interpretive hikes. For classic Western vistas, head to Andreas Canyon, where water springs up from the sand surrounding native palms (where do you think Palm Springs got its name?). Tee Off for Less For many a visitor the great outdoors means one of the 100-or-so local golf courses. Most are predictably pricey, ranging from $50 to $250 in season (less otherwise) for one round including a cart; you can save up to 50% off, however, by buying unsold next-day tee times through Stand-by Golf. Explore Local Museums Marilyn Monroe statue outside the Palm Springs Art Museum by Susi Kleiman - Unsplash Head to the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens ($39.95, kids $29.95), a natural habitat where eagles, mountain lions, and other native fauna flourish. Back downtown, check out the Palm Springs Desert Museum ($16 for an adult ticket) with one of the western United States' most impressive collections of natural history and western and modern art. The museum also hosts free admission on Thursday nights from 5-8pm, though reservations are required and limited. For an additional ticket ($5), visitors can also explore the Architecture and Design Center. The sculpture garden is free. While tickets are a little pricier at The Palm Springs Air Museum ($22 for adults), admission is free for kids under 12 and active service members (plus their immediate family). The living history museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of static and flyable aircraft from WWII through the War on Terror. Also not to miss, 2023 will see the opening of the brand new Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza, a captivating look at to the culture of the Cahuilla Indians—who to this day own (and lease out) much of the area. The new cultural plaza will feature a new Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, as well as a spa that celebrates the sacred Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring, gardens and an Oasis Trail. Step Back in Time Pioneertown was established in 1946 when Dick Curtis shared his dream for a "Living Breathing Movie Set." Seventeen investors contributed to the development of this functioning 1880s-themed town to serve as a filming location, vacation destination, and permanent residence for people working in the entertainment industry, ranchers, and desert lovers. As the golden age of Western films came to an end, so did the abundant production work in town; still, the community has always remained committed to keeping Pioneertown alive. Today, Mane Street in Pioneertown still retains its charm and Old West image. Pioneertown is open and free to the public 365 days a year. Visitors are welcome to come enjoy the sites any day of the week but weekends are when the town really comes to life. Camp sites are available for campers and horses at the Pioneertown Corrals on a first come first serve basis, but visitors can also check out the Pioneertown Motel. Book Affordable Accommodations Mountains near Palm Springs by Venti Views - Unsplash If you don't mind more motel-like surroundings, head to the pleasant, three-story Vagabond Inn. There's admittedly not much in the way of landscaping or shade around the pool and hot tub, but you can cool off in a little poolside coffee shop that serves breakfast and lunch goodies at low prices. Even during peak spring and summer dates, rates start around $85 per night. The Motel 6 (at 660 S. Palm Canyon Drive) boasts a great location walkable to downtown, a heated pool and hot tub, and sleek rooms with pickled wood and the standard amenities. Rates are available around $70 per night. Named after a cactus that looks like a dried-up twig, the even prettier Ocotillo Lodge rents out condos in the lodge as well as nearby private houses. The condos are low-slung 1950s-style casitas, each with full kitchen, huge bath, separate bedroom, and even a large-ish patio. Prices start at $153 per night. Find Cheap (Yet Delicious) Eats Restaurants are also a remarkable bargain, with scads of stylish eateries up and down Palm Canyon Drive vying for your dollar. Most have shaded sidewalk tables, under pergolas and vines, cooled in summer by fine misting systems and creating a fancy resort feel that would not be out of place on the Riviera-only here you'll pay a third of the price and you don't even have to speak French. For Mexican, Las Casuelas Original serves up everything from nachos and fresh guacamoles, to salads, frijoles, enchiladas, and much more—and all for a great price, even the steak platters are under $30. For a funky musical experience, the Village Pub (266 S. Palm Canyon Dr.) has both live bands and a multinational menu, as well as budget-friendly brunch options, an assortment of appetizers and shareable plates, sandwiches and more. After dining, stroll along Palm Canyon Drive's chic shops, cafes, and restaurants. It's a downtown blissfully free of billboards, junky shops, and burger joints—truly a boon in a world of crassly overdeveloped resorts.


Kickoff Summertime at this Festival by the Smoky Mountains

With the Smoky Mountains rising over a vast network of lakes and rivers, Loudon County, Tennessee, is the road less traveled to the National Park and the preferred location for those looking for the ultimate mountain lake vacation. This picturesque and charming destination situated between Knoxville and Chattanooga is the most scenic and least congested route to the Smokies from I-75 and I-40 East. There’s no better time than the summer for celebrating the natural beauty, talent and tastes of eastern Tennessee. Get a little more out of your mountain getaway by adding a stop before or after to a beloved local festival, or even a concert series. Lenoir City Arts & Crafts Festival The quintessential summer-at-the-lake season kicks off in early June with the Annual Lenoir City Arts & Crafts Festival, a beloved event with a long-standing history in Lenoir City. This year marks the 60th celebration of the festival, which began in 1962 as a community fundraiser. Started by the Lenoir City General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), today the festival has raised more than half a million dollars for charities. This year's event will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4, 2023, at Lenoir City Park. While free to the public, a $3 donation is requested at the entrance. More than 225 artists and vendors from all over the Southeast and beyond will be featured at this year’s event. Items range from ceramics and glassware to metal work and jewelry, to baskets, woodwork and much more. Food and beverage vendors add to the enjoyment with tasty treats for all. Lenoir City Park overlooks Fort Loudoun Lake and the Smoky Mountains. It’s the outdoor centerpiece of the charming, historically preserved downtown of Lenoir City, which is a short distance from historic Loudon, Maryville and Knoxville, Tennessee. A "chalk walk" will also be featured this year, a competition event where participants can decorate an 4' x 4' area of sidewalk with chalk and pastels. Prizes will be awarded by age group, and there will also be a kid's corner for the youngest festival goers to draw for fun. Lakeside Concerts Summer concert series in Loudon County - courtesy of Visit Loudon County In addition to June's arts and crafts festival, Lenoir City also hosts Rockin' the Docks. Twice each summer thousands gather at Fort Loudon Lake to enjoy live bands, delicious food and activities for children followed by fireworks and more. Nightfall brings musical headliners and a fabulous fireworks display. This year’s Rockin’ the Docks festivals will be held May 27 and July 1. “We are thrilled to be hosting the 23rd Annual Lenoir City’s Rockin' The Docks,” says Zack Cusick, Director, Lenoir City Parks and Recreation. “We will be bringing live music, food and a spectacular fireworks show for Memorial Day and July 4th weekends. We would like to invite everyone to come by land or water to celebrate these two holiday weekends with us at the Lenoir City Park cove!” Saturday, May 27 - Concert to feature Hillbilly Jedi as the headliner; RMS Band and Ethan Vincil as the openers.Saturday, July 1 - Concert to feature WIMZ Garage Band as the headliner; RMS Band and Cole Sitzlar as the openers. Beyond the Festivals Golfing near the Smokies - courtesy of Visit Loudon County Along with discovering Loudon's authentic historic downtowns, art and antiques, contemporary and traditional restaurants, days are filled with boating, canoeing, fishing, waterskiing and simply exploring the land itself on foot or bike. If golf is your game, Loudon County is a great place to tee up. The area is home to several top-rated courses.Don’t miss a visit to Sweetwater Valley Farm (17988 West Lee Highway, Philadelphia, Tennessee 37846), a working dairy farm and cheese producer where visitors can sample and see the process.Stop by the award-winning Tennessee Valley Winery (15606 Hotchkiss Valley Road, Loudon, Tennessee 37774), where free tastings are offered at one of the oldest operating family-owned wineries in the state.Pick up barbecue at Calhoun's (4550 City Park Drive, Lenoir City, Tennessee 37772; 865-988-9838); the restaurant is dockside, overlooking Fort Loudoun Lake and one of the area’s largest marinas. From a slate of wing flavors to juicy brisket sandwiches to award-winning smoked ribs and salmon, Calhoun’s has a fix for any barbecue craving.