Explore These Hidden Gem Ski Areas in the Adirondacks
One of the best-kept ski secrets in upstate New York is that the Adirondack Mountains have a handful of hidden gem ski resorts ideal for novice to expert skiers, including two ski areas that offer skiing free of charge. Nestled into historic mountain towns with a distinct Adirondack feel, all of these under-the-radar ski areas offer visitors the opportunity to ski, snowboard or snow tube on uncrowded slopes with the spectacular scenery for which the Adirondacks are renowned. Many of these fun, smaller hills also offer ski schools, snowmobile trails, snowshoeing or Nordic skiing.
And adding to the appeal of these charming ski areas, many offer extremely affordable ski experiences that make snow sports more approachable for all. Some ski passes start as low as $15, in addition to ski areas that welcome guests free of charge.
Beat the crowds at these slopes
Among the variety of ski areas in the Adirondacks, visitors from novice to expert can find everything from destination resorts to community ski hills. And while many are familiar with larger ski resorts like Whiteface and Gore mountains, there are ski areas to explore. Below are some of the less-explored ski areas, with tips on accommodations and local eats:
- McCauley Mountain (Old Forge): A charming resort near the Adirondack wilderness. Get a great night’s sleep at the Adirondack Lodge Old Forge, stop by Keyes’ Pancake House for breakfast and Tony Harper’s Pizza and Clam Shack for lunch/dinner.
- Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center (Saranac Lake): A welcoming community ski hill with night skiing and tubing, with half-day weekend ski passes available for $15. Kick off your boots at Traverse Lodge or Hotel Saranac, and enjoy dinner at nearby Bitters & Bones.
- Oak Mountain (Speculator): A hidden treasure with varied terrain since 1948. Check out Lake Pleasant Lodge or Cedarhurst Motor Lodge for accommodations. And grab a bite at Logan’s Bar & Grill or Lemon Tree Brewery.
- Titus Mountain (Malone): A family-friendly ski gem a short drive from Plattsburgh, Lake Placid, Watertown and Northern Vermont, with terrain for all levels. Check out the rustic cabins at Deer Valley Trails (and stay for dinner) and stop by The Pines Tap & Table for evening revelry.
Elevating the affordability and fun of skiing in the Adirondack region, three of these hidden gem ski resorts participate in the “SKI NY Passport Program”, which offers free skiing for third and fourth graders (from any state or country) with an adult purchase. McCauley Mountain, Oak Mountain and Titus Mountain participate in the program.
Find free skiing for all experience levels
In addition to the large and medium-sized ski resorts in the Adirondacks, there are two additional ski areas that offer free skiing – which is a rare treat for newbie and experienced skiers alike.
- Newcomb Ski Slope is an ultra-local and community-owned ski hill which offers free skiing. For the last 50 years, the town of Newcomb has owned and operated this two-run ski slope, where generations of residents have learned to ski. The hill also boasts a trail through the adjacent woods along its 200 vertical feet. At this low-elevation summit, skiers are treated to a view of the snowy High Peaks.
- Indian Lake Ski Hill also offers skiing free of charge, with the local feel and charm of a community-owned establishment. The recreation area comprises a small hill, two ski trails, a t-bar lift and even ice skating.
Use the money you saved on the slopes to book a weekend getaway: The Adirondack region in upstate New York is just a few hours' drive from the New York metro area and Boston, making for abundant transportation options. The expansive region also is within a day’s drive for 25% of the entire North American population.
Say Goodbye to Winter Blues at These Destinations
Some destinations truly shine during the winter months, yet at the same time, tourism can slow down in a post-holiday, pre-Spring break lull during the months of January, February, and March. Catch perfect weather and great deals with a trip to the locations below. Wine and dine in the Santa Ynez Valley, California Relax in Santa Ynez Valley this winter - courtesy of Visit Santa Cruz County and William James Barely two hours from Los Angeles and a scenic four-hour drive from San Francisco, the Santa Ynez Valley is home to six distinct towns each with its own culture, vibe, and menu of experiences. Blanketed with fruitful farms and vineyards, the California Central Coast wine region's temperate weather allows for year-round activities of all sorts, spread throughout the historical communities of Ballard, Buellton, Los Alamos, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang. Destination dining and world-class wines await, accompanied by lodging at every level, all painted into atmospheric backdrops that colorfully mesh Old World and Old West. Visit more than 100 wineries, feast on chef-driven cuisine, and enjoy festive events and design details from Victorian-era to mid-century to modern Danish. “One of this region's great secrets is that the winter months are a prime time for a visit to the Santa Ynez Valley. And it's not just the mild, sunny weather that makes a winter visit so attractive,” says Shelby Sim, President and CEO of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley. “The return of the Midweek Membership Club and Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks offer two once-a-year opportunities to come and savor the best restaurants and lodging that we have to offer at a price that fits most budgets.” Midweek is the new weekend, and no destination is more appealing for a midweek trip this winter and early spring than the Santa Ynez Valley thanks to the Midweek Membership Club. Anyone who books an eligible consecutive two-night, Sunday-Thursday Midweek Membership Club stay at a qualifying lodging property — from Jan. 7 through April 4 — receives a $100 prepaid gift card upon check-in. That gift card can then be used for wine tastings, dining, shopping, activities, and other experiences during their time in the valley. With only 100 Midweek Membership Club packages available, the popular late winter and early spring promotion is expected to sell out quickly. Here's how the Midweek Membership Club works: Through April 4, or until all 100 Midweek Membership Club packages are sold, visitors must book at least one two-night consecutive stay, Sunday through Thursday between Jan. 7 and April 4. The stay must be booked directly with one of the Santa Ynez Valley's qualified lodging properties. Any booking made before the promotion start date will not qualify.Once booked, forward the original confirmation email to email@example.com at least 48 hours before the check-in date. Late entries will not be accepted.Receive your $100 gift card at check-in at your qualified hotel, and use your gift card like cash to pay for wine tastings, meals, shopping, activities, and more throughout the valley.One $100 gift card may be redeemed per reservation.For more information, complete rules and regulations, and a complete list of qualified lodging properties, or to plan and book your Midweek Membership Club visit to the Santa Ynez Valley, visit visitsyv.com/midweek/. Now in its 14th year, Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks has long added a particularly tasty reason to experience the region's creative culinary culture. Santa Ynez Valley's annual festival of flavor will be no exception this year. From Jan. 21-Feb. 3, 2024, Restaurant Weeks will showcase the region's culinary bounty — and being that this is the Santa Ynez Valley, the perfect wine pairings — with a variety of special three-course prix fixe price menus. More than two dozen restaurants will participate this year, each offering curated, chef-driven, three-course menus at prices of $30, $40, or $50, plus tax and gratuity. More than two dozen of the region's wineries and tasting rooms will also participate at various levels, offering two-for-one tastings, special tasting flights, and discounts on bottle purchases. Those who partake in Restaurant Weeks will get a taste of why the Santa Ynez Valley's reputation as a culinary-driven destination continues to grow. Its imaginative chefs, deep agricultural roots, collaborative culinary culture, and cuisine that ranges from contemporary, innovative farm-to-table fare to traditional Scandinavian feasts, will be on full display. MICHELIN-rated gems such as Bar Le Côte in Los Olivos, Bell's Los Alamos, Coast Range, and peasants FEAST in Solvang will be on this year's Restaurant Weeks menu. But with long-standing wine country favorites such as Hitching Post 2 in Buellton, Pico in Los Alamos, Los Olivos Wine Merchant Café, splashed with newer experiences like Vega Vineyard & Farm and Whiskey 'N Rye, there is so much more to explore. For the latest updates on Santa Ynez Valley Restaurant Weeks, including menus and participating restaurants, wineries, and tasting rooms, visit www.DineSYV.com or follow Visit the Santa Ynez Valley on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Take in the sunshine in Daytona Beach, Florida A turtle on Daytona Beach, Florida by Taylor Henley - Unsplash While it's cold elsewhere in the country, the Daytona Beach area enjoys mild temperatures during the winter months making it an attractive destination to visit. Winter can be a wonderful time to plan a vacation to Daytona Beach. Weather in Daytona Beach, while excellent throughout the year, can be superb in the winter. The bright blue skies and sunshine are ideal for getting outdoors and exploring everything that the destination has to offer. Daytime temperatures are mild, with an average high of 73 degrees Fahrenheit in December, 68 in January and 73 in February. Evenings can get cool enough for a sweater or even a jacket, but still comfortable. Winter is also a great time to find special deals on accommodations in the Daytona Beach area. With everything from hotel rooms to oceanfront cottages and resorts, and from bed & breakfasts to condo hotels to campgrounds and RV parks — there's a place to stay for every visitor's taste and budget. Daytona Beach is full of outdoor adventures to explore. From the 23 miles of pristine, iconic white sand beaches to 70 miles of hiking and biking trails, and for the adventure-seeking visitors, there's plenty of fun on the water with fishing, boating, paddle boarding and kayaking. In addition, hit the links with nearly 20 golf courses to choose from including the 36-hole LPGA International or try a new sport such as pickleball at Pictona at Holly Hill, one of the top pickleball facilities in the United States with 49 courts. Additionally, the area is a rich tapestry of arts, culture and heritage. At the Smithsonian-affiliated Museum of Arts and Sciences (MOAS), view the special exhibit World War II: Stories from the American Experience, which runs through Jan. 21, 2024 or enjoy the other galleries that feature art to industry to prehistory. The Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art, also on the MOAS campus, is home to the largest collection of Florida-based art in the world. Other great museums and galleries to visit include the Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens and Halifax Historical Museum. Check out the Daytona Beach Area Arts Mapfor details and directions and the Daytona Beach Mural Trail for the public artwork offerings. Outdoor dining is a great option throughout the winter in Daytona Beach. The destination is home to an abundance of waterfront restaurants that serve up fresh seafood and picturesque views. Great dining options abound for every type of taste bud. The Daytona Beach Ale Trail highlights local craft beers and artisan spirits in a diverse string of establishments owned and operated by people who are passionate about their brews. Enjoy incredible seafood in Mendocino County, California A fishing boat off Mendocino, California by Carlos Wolters - Unsplash With 90 miles of prime Pacific turf and a crackin’ crab season around the corner, Mendocino County is the stop for enthusiasts who enjoy delving into the delicacies of the sea. This January 26 through February 4, 2024 the annual Seafood & Sips Mendocino offers an inside look at the region’s ocean bounty with a local slant. Belly up for a round-up of epicurean adventures from family-style cioppino feeds to the signature Crab Cake Cook-Off paired with a cache of wines from Mendocino County’s top 12 AVAs. Back by popular demand, Hopland’s Sparking Wine & Oyster Celebration will pop all the corks as will a bevy of regional hotel properties offering package deals to round out a winter visit. The season never tasted so good! Signature events include: Sparkling Wine & Oyster Celebration - The classic pairing of oysters and champagne is as old as Aphrodite but today’s enthusiasts (and scientists) are citing new reasons why the two pair so well: the punch of umami, which can be found in both. This dynamic duo will be front and center at the second annual Mendocino Sparkling Wine & Oyster Celebration tucked deep inside the caves of Saracina Vineyards. As one of the nation’s key sparkling wines destinations with 25+ producers, Mendocino’s top-flight bubbles will be on tap all day, every way paired with live entertainment and freshly-shucked oysters from Hog Island Oyster Company. Saturday, January 27, 2024; 1:00 p.m., to 4:00 p.m.; Hopland, Calif., www.destinationhopland.com.Crab Cake Cook-Off & Wine Tasting Competition - Who knew Mr. Dungeness could debut in so many formats as regional chefs craft their version of the best crab cake to grace a plate! The annual crustacean competition is set in downtown Fort Bragg in the big tent where the afternoon kicks off with a local wine competition followed by a mix of regional chefs vying for the top toque. Guests can dive into a variety of inspired cakes and seafood delicacies in addition to a live and silent auction culminating in a final judging by a triad of media. The event benefits Mendocino Coast Clinics. Saturday, February 3, 2024; 11:00 a.m., to 3:00 p.m.; Fort Bragg, Calif., www.crabwinefestival.org.Cioppino Dinner - Who doesn’t love bibs … or giant pots brimming with fragrant seafood, local Dungeness crab and a variety of shellfish in a piquant tomato base? Pull up a chair for the annual family-style Cioppino Dinner set at a new location at Little River Inn. Wines, microbrews, crackers and crab enthusiasts unite in this true celebration of the season benefiting MendoParks. Score a spring hotel escape package or juice for the wine cellar at the live auction or belly up for a repeat performance, paired with a stash of crusty, fragrant warm bread and dessert. Friday, February 2, 2024; 5:00 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.; Little River, Calif., www.littleriverinn.com/events.County Wide Seafood Feasts - During the festival, chefs from Ukiah to Elk will roll out an enticing line-up of chowders, savory seafood soups, sushi, uni and oysters served every which way. From traditional fish stew at the new Good Bones Kitchen to a seafood tower for two at Left Coast Seafood Restaurant, the options for savoring the region’s stars of the sea are endless. Vue Kitchen in Gualala is another top option offering a sinful pasta pescatore with clams, tiger prawns and seasonal seafood simmered in a spicy vodka marinara sauce. A great way to savor the flavors right off the boat is a stroll through Fort Bragg’s Noyo Harbor where Princess Seafood, Noyo Fish Company and Sea Pal Cove feature sustainably wild-caught finds in a true working harbor setting. Wrap the day with a traditional crabbing cruise, harbor boat tour or visit to the nearby International Sea Glass Museum. From at 25 percent discount at the ocean-front Heritage House Resort & Spa to the new Crabbing Adventure Package at Little River Inn, complete with a charter boat and haul-in experience, the options for lodging deals abound. Some top finds include Mendocino village’s new Nicholson House, a sleek nine-guestroom state-of-the-art hideaway (15 percent off), the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek (20 percent off) and Elk Cove Inn & Spa ($100 food and beverage credit). Step things up a notch at the vintage-style stay at Andiron Seaside Inn and Cabins, arrival includes a complimentary cannabis cocktail in the alfresco redwood bar. Restrictions and black out periods apply. Relax at a new resort on the Gulf Coast of Florida The new Sunseeker Resort on the Gulf Coast of Florida - Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor The highly anticipated Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor is now open as they welcomed their first guests on December 15, 2023. The independently flagged property features 785 well-appointed guest rooms including 189 top-tier luxury Sunsuites™ and is the first completely new-build resort with more than 750 rooms to open in Southwest Florida in over thirteen years. The resort features 60,000 square feet of meeting and conference space, 20 dining options and bars, two expansive pools, and retail outlets situated along a scenic harborside promenade. A state-of-the-art fitness center and spa are located on the third floor of the resort's main tower. In addition to its prime waterfront location, Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor features a world class 18-hole golf course, Aileron Golf Club, exclusive to members and hotel guests. Guests staying at Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor are able to pick from a signature list of guestrooms and suites. The resort's accommodations range from coastal-inspired premium rooms to the luxurious Sunsuites™, which include lavish one-to-three bedroom layouts ranging from 875 to 1,700 square feet. Each includes a chef-level kitchen with Sub-Zero/Wolf stainless steel appliances, an entertaining area and private spacious outdoor balcony. Guests also have access to special services including a separate check-in experience and private lounge access that offers amenities such as complimentary non-alcoholic beverages, small bites throughout the day and a pre-arrival concierge. The new resort is now an activity center in Charlotte Harbor, offering visitors a portal to some of the finest amenities on the Gulf Coast. These include: A state-of-the-art 7,100-square-foot fitness center and a full-service spa and salon as well as two pools including a 21,000-square-foot adults-only rooftop retreat and 117,000-square-foot ground-level experience (the largest pool in Southwest Florida).The convention area also includes innovative technology and features two waterfront ballrooms fully equipped with best-in-class A/V systems. Accompanying the two clear-span ballrooms are two executive boardrooms, 12 meeting rooms, and an ideation suite with three separate breakout rooms. Guests also have access to an exclusive (and resort guest only) 18-hole golf experience, Aileron. The golf course is home to high-end practice facilities with Totracer Range technology and additional culinary offerings. The course was recently rated highly by the FSGA (course 74.1 | slope 134) which competes with some of the best courses in the state. In addition to event spaces, fitness areas and lifestyle offerings, Sunseeker Resort Charlotte Harbor introduces an unforgettable dining collection and innovative beverage program to Southwest Florida's Gulf Coast. Guests are able to experience a first-of-its-kind lineup of seven stand-alone restaurants, eleven bars and lounges, two poolside offerings and a 25,000-square-foot food hall experience. The eleven bar and lounge areas on the property feature a robust wine program with a selection of internationally acclaimed fine wines, modern cocktails, local beer and tropical libations. The resort is located just ten minutes from Punta Gorda Airport (PGD), where guests can enjoy convenient access to and from their flights.
Hit a Home Run with These Fun, Sports-themed Vacations
Plan a trip this year for the dedicated sports fan in your life at one of the destinations below. While it's simple (and fun) to add in a local sports event to a vacation itinerary wherever you travel, these places below offer a fuller experience for those who want to cater an entire trip around an especially-beloved activity. Whether it's baseball or beach soccer, there's something for everyone. Head to "baseball paradise" in Arizona The 2024 Cactus League Spring Training season marks the 70th anniversary of the league's operation, and there is no better way to celebrate than in the Scottsdale sunshine. Starting February 22 and running through March 26, catch the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium, and the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Arizona is also home to 12 other Major League Baseball teams' spring training fields, all within a 15-45-minute drive of Scottsdale. After the ninth inning, unwind with more than 70 hotels, and 50 resort and day spas in the greater Scottsdale area. Read on for an expert guide to Spring Training in Scottsdale. Hit it out of the park with Mountain Shadow Resort Scottsdale's Ballpark Package. Enjoy 25% off an entire stay as well as a Home Run Welcome Amenity and a daily $50 food and drink credit (valid for stays between Feb. 22-March 28). Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows' Seventh Inning Stay package comes with a bucket of local beer and koozies; perfect for pre-game libations or post-game celebrations. Complete the trip by sunbathing by one of three pools or dine at Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen (valid for stays between Feb. 18-March 28). Finally, there's also the Royal Palms Resort & Spa, less than a 10-minute drive from Scottsdale Stadium; this resort is offering spring savings for a stay in the sprawling splendor of this Mediterranean-style resort with its Royal Retreat package. Relax at Alvadora Spa and savor the seasonal delights of T. Cook's (valid through April 13). A day of Giants baseball puts you right in the heart of the post-game fun, as Scottsdale Stadium is within walking distance of Old Town's and Scottsdale Waterfront's best bars, restaurants, and nightlife. Hall of fame-worthy and family-friendly favorites for burgers, brats, finger-licking-good fried chicken, and pizza include Daily Dose Old Town Bar & Grill, Brat Haus, Belle's Nashville Kitchen, and Craft 64. Visitors who present a Spring Training game ticket the same day of the ballgame at The Herb Box Old Town receive a 10% discount. Kick it up a notch – with no need to change out of jerseys and caps – at Wasted Grain, Social Tap, and Rusty Spur Saloon There's also plenty other things to see and do while in town. Make the artsy play and browse the working studios of 100 renowned and emerging artists from across the country during the Celebration of Fine Art (through March 24). Throw on a cowboy hat and mosey over to Rodeo Scottsdale in “The West's Most Western Town.” Also known as the Parada Del Sol Rodeo, the event features bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, and more (March 7-10). With over 330 days of sunshine, Scottsdale is an ideal spot for outdoor activities including kayaking on the Lower Salt River, golfing at one of the 200 golf courses in the area, soaring to new heights in a hot air balloon or lounging poolside. Finally, travelers can hit a double play on savings with a list of 12 Fabulously Free things to do and round out a trip itinerary at ExperienceScottsdale.com. Celebrate the Super Bowl in Las Vegas Las Vegas, the Official Host City of Super Bowl LVIII, has launched a petition on Change.org urging football fans to encourage excessive celebration during the city's first foray into hosting the Super Bowl on Sunday, February 11, 2024. The petition was accompanied by a music video featuring former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and Grammy-nominated artist Tobe Nwigwe. The petition is a nod to the fact that while professional sports often restrict excessive celebrations, they are always encouraged in Las Vegas. “Whether you are on the Strip, in the stadiums, or just here for a good time, Las Vegas will forever be the home of excessive celebration,” reads the petition in part.“Las Vegas is built for celebration,” said Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). “People come to Vegas because they know that the excitement surrounding the game is just as important as the game itself. Whether they travel to watch the game in person or at a viewing party, fans know they will be surrounded by energy that is simply unmatched anywhere else in the world. As we prepare to welcome the Super Bowl for the first time, we are determined to show the world that when it comes to celebration, Las Vegas is in a category of one.”Las Vegas is also partnering with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel to spread the word. The former Las Vegas local is supporting the destination's initiative, including a special appearance by Johnson on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night on ABC. While attending the Super Bowl is a big ticket item, Vegas fortunately has many affordable hotels, dining options, and flights that can make a trip like this a little more feasible. Plus, even if you're not at the live game, there's sure to be some great parties and after-parties wherever you choose to watch the big event. Tee off in Florida The Hills Course in Daytona Beach - courtesy of Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau Florida is an ideal destination year-round, and golf fans will appreciate the opportunities to both participate in and watch events in the Sunshine State. St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and The Beaches are home to one-of-a-kind events that can't be found anywhere else. Tickets are on sale now for the internationally-lauded The Players® Championship at TPC Sawgrass taking place this year from March 12 to March 17. Then, head south to Daytona Beach to find some of the best courses around. One of Daytona Beach's premier layouts, the Hills Course at LPGA International has reopened to rave reviews following a comprehensive greens renovation project. The acclaimed Arthur Hills design closed in April for a five-month project that restored the course's greens to their original size and USGA specifications, an effort that netted an additional 26,600 square feet of putting surface. Prior to the installation of the new TifEagle bermudagrass greens, the Hills Course had 65,340 square feet of putting surface, a number that jumped to 92,000 square feet. LPGA International, a 36-hole property, previously installed TifEagle on the Jones Course, making the decision to install the ultradwarf bermuda that is ideally suited for Daytona Beach's climate on Hills Course an easy one. The new putting surfaces, which are in pristine condition as the area looks forward to its peak winter and spring seasons, will attract much of the attention, but the Hills Course enjoyed other significant upgrades during the project. A ballstriker's design, the Hills Course challenges players with fairways lined by beautiful magnolia trees and native pines. The 4.5-star layout stretches to 6,954 yards and features five sets of tees, providing a fair challenge for players of all skill levels. LPGA International is also home to the highly touted Jones Course and helps anchor the Daytona Beach golf scene. Daytona Beach is home to nearly 20 courses and is an easy drive from multiple PGA Tour stops, making it an ideal destination for golfers in search of good times on and off the course. With multiple package options, which allow groups the opportunity to bundle golf and accommodations, and the lure of the World's Most Famous Beach, Daytona Beach is a fast-emerging golf destination. See surfing and beachside sports in California Surfing in Oceanside - courtesy of Visit Oceanside As if you needed another excuse to plan a beach vacation... Head to Oceanside, California for a slew of surf championships scheduled this year. In January, it's the WSL World Junior Championships. Beginning 2024, the best 20 and under surfers on the planet will compete in Oceanside from January 9-14. Later in the year, the world's largest women's surf, lifestyle and music festival returns to Oceanside each September—and it's free to attend. Attendees can watch world-class surfing competitions with more than 100 top female pros as they compete to qualify for the Women's Championship Tour. At the Super Girl Pro Festival Village, there are experiences for all ages, including autograph signings, giveaways, contests, celebrity speakers, skateboarding, live music, dance, competitions and more. There are also female-led vendors selling food, drink and souvenirs. Budding surfers can get top tips and advice for free through the mentorship program when they register in advance. Additionally, each September, the US Open Adaptive Surfing Champs showcases the remarkable talent of para surfers. With nearly 100 athletes representing 17 countries participating, the event has firmly established itself as a leader in promoting inclusivity, athleticism, and excellence within the adaptive surfing community. Finally, don't miss out on one of the more unique sports events in town: the Beach Soccer Championships in May. Beach soccer is one of the fastest growing pro sports in the world and every summer, O'side is its homebase. This very popular sand soccer festival features nearly 300 youth, adult amateur and adult pro women's and men's beach soccer as well as vendors, the BeSoCha Cantina and lots more! The sun-soaked bleachers are open to the public—so bring the kids!
New Experiences to Add to Your Orlando, Florida Vacation in 2024
Orlando, the "Theme Park Capital of the World" and "No. 1 Travel Destination in the US," continues to embrace new and returning visitors in 2024 with more than two dozen new experiences. The destination — where winter doesn't exist — is brimming with new possibilities for dream vacations, from movie-inspired attractions and a launch coaster with snowmobile-style cars to a cabaret-style music venue tucked inside a stunning performing arts center and a luxury beach-like resort with an 8-acre crystal lagoon. With new concepts from Michelin-recognized chefs and Food Network and Top Chef celebrity chefs, alongside champagne bars, sober speakeasies, omakases and arcade bars, Orlando's culinary and nightlife scene continues to grow to reflect the diversity of the destination with distinct new offerings. “Year after year, Orlando sets itself apart as a travel destination with new experiences and unforgettable adventures to spark the imagination,” said Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. “Whether visitors are seeking new thrills, immersive entertainment or foodie-focused exploration, a whole new Orlando is ready to welcome you in 2024.” Continuous updates on what's new in Orlando are available at VisitOrlando.com, the official visitor information source for the destination. Visitors are also encouraged to sign up for Visit Orlando's free, personalized one-on-one Vacation Planning Service with destination experts for guidance and advice on building the perfect itinerary in Orlando, a destination that enters the new year ranked as the top U.S. destination to explore in 2024 by AAA and listed among the most fun destinations in the U.S. by WalletHub. New theme park attractions The crowd at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World by Amy Humphries - Unsplash Journey of Water, inspired by Moana opened in October at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort. Through a self-guided exploration trail, guests are fully immersed in the animated film while playing, dancing and interacting with water that travels through its lifecycle, from rain falling to vapor rising to the clouds. The Little Mermaid – A Musical Adventure, a fully reimagined theatrical production inspired by the Walt Disney Animation Studios classic “The Little Mermaid,” will debut at Disney's Hollywood Studios' newly refreshed Animation Courtyard theater in the fall. Tiana's Bayou Adventure replaces Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park in late 2024. Guests will explore a musical adventure inspired by the fan-favorite film showcasing the beloved characters as they are brought into the next chapter of Tiana's story. DreamWorks Land will debut at Universal Studios Florida in late 2024. Guests will be able to interact with their favorite DreamWorks Animations' characters in themed, interactive play spaces and attractions that bring characters from popular movies like “Shrek,” “Trolls” and “Kung Fu Panda” to life. Aquatica Orlando will introduce Tassie's Underwater Twist, a new waterslide that will transform the guest ride experience into an awe-inspiring journey through Australia's Shark Bay seagrass meadow in spring. SeaWorld Orlando will debut Penguin Trek, an immersive indoor/outdoor launch coaster families can ride together this spring. Guests (including children who meet the height requirement) will ride snowmobile-inspired cars going at a maximum capacity of 43 mph, ending up in the park's penguin habitat. LEGOLAND Florida Resort will debut LEGO Ferrari Build & Race this spring, offering guests the experience of viewing a life-sized LEGO Ferrari car, and building and testing it in one of three obstacle-laden test tracks. Younger drivers can enjoy the LEGO DUPLO Build Zone to design their own custom creations with larger bricks. Venue expansions and openings Judson's Live debuts on Feb. 6, bringing a low-key, 150-seat, cabaret-style music space with unparalleled sound to the spectacular Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Guests will discover new music with scheduled 50-minute performances while enjoying specialty cocktails and a seasonal scratch-kitchen menu of shareable bites. AREA15 Orlando, the second location of Las Vegas' highly themed entertainment district, is coming to the heart of Orlando's tourism corridor. AREA15 will offer guests a robust, ever-changing roster of concert events, art exhibitions, nightlife and boundary-pushing shows, featuring an impressive indoor/outdoor event space. Orlando Science Center opens its newest exhibit, “Life,” this spring. Featuring three distinctive habitats – swamp, ocean and tropical rainforest – with 300 animals from around the world, the new exhibit explores the impact of humans on the environment and is designed to amaze, entertain and educate. New accommodations and renovations The new Conrad Orlando opens in January 2024 - courtesy of Visit Orlando The Alfond Inn, a boutique hotel in the heart of the historic Winter Park district, completed an extensive renovation in October, adding 71 guestrooms, a chic café, and a lavish spa, among other features for its 10-year anniversary celebration. Owned by Rollins College, the hotel directs all net operating income to scholarships to underscore its commitment to education, philanthropy and the Winter Park community. Evermore Orlando Resort, which opened Jan. 1, is Orlando's first beach-like property with an 8-acre Crystal Lagoon and a 20-acre sandy beach with hammocks, cabanas and recreational activities. Guests can enjoy family paddleboarding, mixology classes, sandcastle-building lessons and more. Evermore, which has the world's first touchless sunscreen application system, is thoughtfully built for large groups and families offering a range of 2- to 11-bedroom vacation homes. Conrad Orlando, the destination's first Hilton luxury brand, opens on Jan. 9 with 433 rooms, a spa, numerous dining options – including its signature rooftop experience – and 40,000 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space. Located at Evermore Orlando Resort, the property overlooks a golf course, a two-story boathouse for private events and Evermore Bay's crystal lagoon and sandy beaches. Aloft Orlando Lake Nona, the closest hotel to the world-class USTA (United States Tennis Association) National Campus and footsteps away from the Drive Shack golf range, opens this month with 205 loft-style guestrooms, 15 suites, wellness facilities, a sports-themed restaurant, and a 10,000 sq. ft. event center. The vibrant hotel will welcome visitors with eclectic décor and design nods to its music and technology roots that give each guestroom its own character. Villatel Orlando Resort, situated within the iconic International Drive area, began a phased opening in late 2023, offering private villa rentals with hotel-style standards and amenities. The property will eventually include an adventure waterpark with multi-story slides and a lazy river, a fully equipped fitness center, a full-service restaurant and children's playgrounds. Upon full completion in 2025, the entire resort will have 526 units with apartment-style suites and single-family homes. Waldorf Astoria Orlando ushers in a new era of sophistication in 2024 as it completes a multi-phase floor-to-ceiling transformation of its resort rooms and suites, lobby space and select culinary outlets, including its award-winning restaurant Bull & Bear and prestigious 18-hole golf course. The redesign emphasizes the resort's unique geographic position, pleasantly located within the 482-acre Bonnet Creek Nature Preserve, a perfect sanctuary for guests seeking a mix of nature and tranquility. Dining and nightlife New dining at BANDBOX - courtesy of Visit Orlando EET, the only Indian-inspired restaurant in Disney Springs, is now open. Created by Food Network's Maneet Chauhan, most recently known for her role as a permanent judge on Chopped, the new eatery offers traditional Indian flavors with a modern flair. Summer House on the Lake, a lakeside eatery with California-inspired cuisine, also opened at Disney Springs and features local and sustainable ingredients, water views, a signature Rosé cart with rotating bottles and a dedicated Cookie Bar with 15 varieties of oversized cookies. Arcade Monsters unveiled its fifth location of the video-game bar and restaurant in Orlando's International Drive area offering a menu of classic bar food. With the purchase of wristbands, visitors of all ages can play unlimited classic arcade games. Flûtes Champagne Bar, a 40-seat French-inspired champagne bar, celebrates the timeless art of champagne-making and brings the elegance, culture, and flavors of France to Winter Park. Stadium Club, a new sports-themed facility located at Caribe Royale Orlando Resort, debuts later this month. The 500-seat facility will feature eight pro-level sports simulators, two bars and several areas for private events.Bar Kada, a new concept by Michael Collantes, chef and owner of Michelin-starred Soseki, will open in February. Bar Kada will be an intimate 30-seat sake and wine lounge with a focus on small plates, ancient sakes and low-intervention wines overseen by Michelin "Sommelier of the Year" Benjamin Coutts and offer experiences like classes and pairing dinners. Moso Nori, a new concept by James Beard Award finalist and Michelin-recognized chef Henry Moso, is expecting a summer opening in Winter Park. The new restaurant will feature a hand-roll bar, serving a variety of temaki, sake, beer, wine and sake-based cocktails. BANDBOX Orlando, the spirit-free speakeasy in Orlando's Ivanhoe Village district, will expand in the new year. The 1920s-inspired venue is partnering with a local coffee company to offer a variety of coffee and tea options by day, and a sober speakeasy by night. The expansion will also feature a larger bottle shop and retail selection. Natsu Omakase, an exclusive 10-seat sushi omakase concept, opened in downtown Orlando with an innovative and seasonal menu. Chuck Lager America's Tavern is opening its eighth location, and fourth in Florida, from Top Chef alumnus, Fabio Viviani. While known for its craft bourbons, the Tavern will also offer classics, like nachos, burgers, flatbreads and tacos. Pointe Orlando, dubbed a playground for adults with or without kids, will debut a trio of new indoor/outdoor entertainment spaces, including Sports & Social, a place to watch and play games such as Skee-Ball and Foosball; a PBR Cowboy Bar, featuring a mechanical bull and multiple bars; and Live! Plaza, a space for special events, live music, viewing sporting events, festivals and more. Mid Drive Dive, a locally owned midcentury-inspired bar and restaurant serving elevated American classics, will open in the heart of Orlando's College Park neighborhood. The Cake Bake Shop Bakery by Gwendolyn Rogers is coming to Disney's BoardWalk and will feature savory and sweet options, along with afternoon tea service in a whimsical atmosphere that complements the area's idyllic charm. Crush Yard Pickleball Club & Restaurant, a new entertainment complex backed by NFL stars such as Rob Gronkowski, is expected to open in Kissimmee in 2024. The complex will feature multiple indoor/outdoor pickleball courts, a food menu that services different dietary preferences and an active calendar of events, including tournaments, clinics and lessons.
Resolve to Relax: Where to Unwind in the New Year
While all the holiday parties, festive events, and gatherings are behind us, feelings of stress may still be lingering. If one of your resolutions is to relax more, then plan to start the year off right and rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul with a vacation to one of the destinations below. While these locations may be more of a splurge compared to a typical spa retreat, each place goes beyond the expected with unique, alternative healing modalities and technology. Splurge on an adults-only getaway in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Book a romantic getaway to Mexico - courtesy of Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway Nothing beats a warm-weather escape from those cold winter days and dark winter nights. Well, almost nothing. An adults-only luxury escape to a beautiful beach front resort in Mexico can certainly tip the scales. For couples looking to cure those winter blues with a luxe, kid-free getaway in Puerto Vallarta, Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway is just what the doctor ordered. Perched directly on a stretch of beachfront on the majestic Bay of Banderas and within walking distance to Puerto Vallarta’s buzzy Malecon, Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway offers a little bit of everything. An intimate beachfront resort with only 80 rooms, the hotel is perfectly positioned for both beach escapes and downtown excitement. The luxe experience begins at check-in when guests are welcomed with a five-minute de-stressing massage. Guests are also invited to choose customized aromatherapy and pillows for their rooms. The casual, yet contemporary rooms use tropical woods, white, and color accents to set the scene. Hand-woven textiles, blown glass bowls, and other locally inspired elements create a calming atmosphere. Every room features an oceanfront view with a private balcony, as well — perfect for enjoying those warm evenings and spectacular sunsets. Guests can choose from seven rooms or suite categories including Deluxe Room King, Deluxe Room, Deluxe Room with Jacuzzi, Premiere Suite, Honeymoons Suite, Spa Suite, or Master Suite. Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway delivers spectacular service and amenities, as well. The resort has several dining options with exquisite a la carte food, and variety of theme nights; there is also a pool bar and the Lounge Bar. For a truly memorable experience, guests can book a romantic three-course dinner on the beach and the Chef's Table experience. What better way to celebrate a winter escape than by soaking up the sun at two different ocean front pools, or in a chic Balibed on the sand? The resort's two pools are surrounded by plush lounge chairs, while the beach Bali beds have picture-perfect views out to sea. Guests who want to stay active can use paddle boards or sign up for one of the resort's yoga sessions. A 24-hour fitness center is also available. Luxe touches can be found at every corner of the resort, from 24-hour butler service to a personal concierge. For travelers who want to stay up on their golf game, guests of Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway enjoy a 20% discount at the Marina Vallarta Golf Course and Vista Vallarta golf courses. Afterward, unwind back at the hotel with a signature treatment at the Serena Spa, an oasis of tranquility meticulously remodeled with natural harmony of neutral colors, sand and terracotta to design a sanctuary of serenity, where light and texture intertwine to create a unique experience with treatments like the “Tequila Ritual”, Deep Tissue Massage and the Couples Massage. One of the best features of Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway is its enviable location. While it is very much a beach resort, it is also within a short walk to Puerto Vallarta’s iconic Malecon and action-packed downtown. Guests of the resort are within a short walk to the top attractions, from the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe to the gorgeous cobblestone streets and historic buildings in the Zona Romantica. Puerto Vallarta’s downtown comes alive during the winter season when all of its restaurants and bars are in full swing. Enjoy daily performances and art installations all along the Malecon, or grab a table at a toes-in-the-sand restaurant next to the legendary Los Muertos Pier. During the winter season guests can participate in the weekly Art Walk, held every Wednesday from 6 to 10 p.m. Participating galleries in the Centro Historico open their doors to visitors and show everything from paintings and sculptures to ceramics and jewelry. Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway can help guests curate their own adventure itineraries, from sunset sails and hiking trips to zip lining and ATV tours through the jungle. Winter is one of the best times to experience all that Puerto Vallarta has to offer, and Villa Premiere Boutique Hotel & Romantic Getaway helps guests do so in five-star style. De-stress with magic mushrooms in Vancouver, Canada The New Year has arrived and along with it comes the resolutions for transformation in 2024. There could very well be no greater way to clear out the old and make space for the new than with a guided psilocybin retreat. Some success stories for those embarking on these journeys include executives and professionals who were unhappy with their careers or felt lost and anxious. Rob Grover and Gary Logan are the founders of The Journeymen Collective, the alternative wellness company creating luxury guided magic mushroom retreats in the mountains outside of Vancouver. They’ve hosted everyone from entrepreneurs and CEOs to athletes, performers, couples, and small groups invested in the highest level of personal development and self-discovery. When asked about the holiday stress and mushrooms’ effects on depression they said, “The holidays are a crazy time for everyone and through this sacred plant medicine we can release the old energy, the stress, or trauma that’s been building up in our lives. We’ve had clients after the first day wake up and say they felt their depression was just gone.” The pair have a combined 60+ years of education in spiritual and metaphysical training, executive level mindset coaching, energetic healing modalities, Alexander Technique lessons, and provide online courses/support calls preparing for and integrating the psychedelic retreat. The Journeymen Collective guides guests through an extraordinary personalized experience that often results in accelerating attendees' success and their intentions to create a conscious impact on the world. Their team is passionate about the healing powers of psilocybin as a sacred plant medicine. According to studies, even just one treatment with psilocybin can cause a “rapid and sustained antidepressant effect”, indicating that it might really be the ultimate reset. Visit their website to learn more about booking the ultimate guided experience. Rejuvenate the senses in Fort Worth, Texas Vichy table at Canyon Ranch Fort Worth - courtesy of Canyon Ranch Since its founding in 1979, Canyon Ranch has been a global leader in wellness guidance, inspiring guests to pursue a lifetime of well-being. Now, Canyon Ranch has brought its renowned expertise and experience to Fort Worth with the opening of its new Wellness Club. The Club features a spa, salon, fitness, performance, and expert services from Canyon Ranch's famous resorts, all within Fort Worth's newest luxury destination — ideally located in the Cultural District at 850 Van Cliburn Way and Camp Bowie Blvd., in the new Crescent Hotel complex. The Wellness Club introduces many firsts for Fort Worth, including the area's only Vichy table, a unique multi-sensory experience spa amenity, and an all-new CR Vitality experience with the latest, cutting-edge tools and techniques for recovery, increased energy, and improved longevity. In addition, it will offer an incredible depth of programming, dozens of services, expert practitioners, and innovative technology like the Noraxon® Treadmill and Motion Capture system, VALD® ForceDecks, K5® Portable Metabolic analyzer, HydraFacial® treatments, and more. Members begin their Canyon Ranch journey with a signature five-part holistic wellness assessment, ensuring they're on the right path achieving their personal health goals. “Canyon Ranch is the original thought-leader and market-maker in the lifestyle wellness movement,” said Mark Rivers, CEO of Canyon Ranch. “We're incredibly proud to deliver the best of our resort and spa experiences to Fort Worth, where people can practice wellness every day right in their own backyard.” The purpose of the Canyon Ranch Wellness Club is to enable members to live longer and better. This is achieved by helping members understand, address, and adopt wellness practices while offering a fun and lively community that motivates and inspires long-term commitment. "Our local members, along with guests of our connected Crescent Fort Worth Hotel, will enjoy the gold standard in a healthier life and lifestyle,” said John Goff, principal owner of Canyon Ranch. For more information about Canyon Ranch Fort Worth and to learn more about membership offerings and the Club, visit www.canyonranch.com/fort-worth/wellness-club.