Flavorful Culinary Experiences to Indulge in this Spring

By BT Editor
February 23, 2024
Alpha GA
Food being cooked at The Taste of Alpharetta - courtesy of Alpharetta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Foodies looking for inspiration on where to travel will find a slew of restaurant weeks, festivals, and unique culinary events across the country—and beyond—this spring. Below are some of the most exciting, flavor-forward experiences coming up during the spring months.

Go beyond at "Flavors Beyond Borders" in Costa Rica

The award-winning Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas - courtesy of Casa Chameleon/xhibition

The award-winning Casa Chameleon at Las Catalinas has announced the inaugural Flavors Beyond Borders culinary extravaganza, a four-day gourmet experience from March 6-10, 2024, featuring culinary stars trained at the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America (CIA). During the multi-day event, Chefs Dara Yu, Sophia Ruiz, Evelyn Garcia, and Sarah Thompson will offer master classes, special tastings, and thematic dinners showcasing their expertise in the culinary arts and the signature flavors of Costa Rica. Proceeds from the event will benefit CIA student scholarships.

Flavors Beyond Borders offers an exclusive and intimate setting for guests looking to broaden their culinary and cultural horizons. Hosted throughout Casa Chameleon's restaurants, bars, and public spaces – including Sentido Norte, La Pampa Grill, Grotto 12°, and Green House – the event's daily itinerary opens with a wellness activity, like yoga or meditation, before the day unfolds with food-driven immersive initiatives anchored by each meal of the day:

  • For breakfast, guests may participate in a Barista Experience, brunch with a pastry chef, or indulge in a tortilla station, followed by a hands-on cooking class with a CIA chef.
  • Capped at 10 guests per session, Flavors Beyond Borders cooking classes showcase the best local and seasonal ingredients paired with techniques and insight provided by a CIA chef.
  • Mid-day meals are leisurely, allowing guests to experience Casa Chameleon's signature bars and restaurants. Served a la carte, these leisurely experiences showcase the incomparable setting of Casa Chameleon, perched above Las Catalinas with views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • From a catamaran tour to a Latin dance class and Margarita station, afternoons at Casa Chameleon offer cultural immersion on land and in the ocean.
  • Each afternoon, guests can experience the iconic Costa Rican sunsets on one of the majestic settings in the destination, Casa Chameleon's pool deck. Accompanied by inventive sundowner drinks like Tinto de Verano, gourmet aperitivo-hour small plates serve as a warm-up for the culinary highlight; dinner.
  • Assisted by Casa Chameleon's culinary team, Chefs Dara D Yu, Sophia Ruiz, Evelyn Garcia, and Sarah Thompson prepare a nightly feast that reflects their expertise and approach to fine dining. Using locally sourced ingredients, chefs offer guests insight into the rich traditions and cultural richness of their background with themed dinners like 'The Road Less Traveled: An Introduction to Local Foraged Food' and an 'Ancestral BBQ' at Casa Chameleon's newly unveiled restaurant, The Green House.

While Casa Chameleon, a Relais & Châteaux property, maintains a firm dedication to sustainability, exceptional cuisine, and personalized service, the property's commitment to culinary excellence truly sets it apart. Holding a strong emphasis on sourcing ingredients locally and forging connections with nearby farmers and fishermen, the hotel ensures the freshest and most sustainable ingredients across each dining option. Boasting four dining options, guests can expect unforgettable gastronomic experiences at any of Casa Chameleon's culinary locations.

The Sentido Norte Restaurant showcases the flavors of Costa Rica's rich culinary traditions using the finest local ingredients. It boasts a combination of bold flavors and authentic dishes, perfectly harmonious with the restaurant's incredible open-air setting, offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

The Grotto 12 offers a well-curated selection of wines from around the globe in an intimate wine cave atmosphere. The Green House is an intimate dining spot that celebrates Costa Rica's rich culinary heritage with dishes crafted from freshly sourced ingredients. La Pampa Grill showcases the soul of Costa Rican flavors, featuring slow-cooked, sea, and field-to-table feasts, offering insight into the destination's culinary heritage. Seasonal produce sits on the menu alongside classics such as signature fall-of-the-bone ribs, embracing the beauty of old-school, open-fire barbecue.

The Flavors Beyond Borders culinary event price starts at $10,995 per couple (subject to tax and fees). It includes four nights' accommodation in a private villa with a plunge pool, daily breakfast and lunch, four thematic evening culinary experiences, cooking demonstrations, daily activities, and social programming. Pricing is inclusive of all wine and drinks. For more information and to book Flavors Beyond Borders, please visit this website.

Get a "Taste of Alpharetta" in Georgia

The Taste of Alpharetta - courtesy of Alpharetta Convention & Visitors Bureau

Metro Atlanta's most anticipated culinary event, the Taste of Alpharetta, will take place in Alpharetta, Georgia, on May 9, 2024, from 5 – 10 p.m. Admission is free, and food samples are between $1 and $8.

The Taste of Alpharetta isn't your average foodie festival. Named a Signature Event of the Southeast Tourism Society, this culinary event has occurred since 1991. On the streets of Downtown Alpharetta, you'll find vibrant entertainment and delectable food offerings, all in one location. Attendees can look forward to a flavorful journey across Alpharetta's favorite dishes from over 60 restaurants. Restaurants will be announced in early 2024.

"This event welcomes over 40,000 locals and visitors to enjoy an evening relishing in delicious bites, great music and fun as we celebrate Alpharetta's dynamic hospitality industry,” said Janet Rodgers, President and CEO of the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau. Event highlights includes:

  • Gourmet Tastings: Indulge in a culinary adventure with dishes crafted by Alpharetta's top chefs, showcasing the best of the city's diverse food scene.
  • Family-Friendly Atmosphere: Bring the whole family for fun and entertainment, with activities for all ages, including a Kidz Zone, live music and the locally Grown hands-on education area.
  • Sip and Savor: Quench your thirst with various beverages around downtown.

“There's more to Taste of Alpharetta than just culinary creations. This year offers 'Locally Grown' an educational area with hands-on activities from organizations contributing to the local food system,” said Hilary Lew, City of Alpharetta Special Events Supervisor. "We want our attendees to leave with not only a satisfied appetite but also with a deeper appreciation for our local food culture."

Restaurant applications will be available through the Taste of Alpharetta website on January 22. Interested sponsors may contact Steph Mold at steph@premiereventslive.com. Please visit www.tasteofalpharettaga.com for the most up-to-date information regarding this event, including a listing of all participating restaurants. Taste of Alpharetta is produced by the City of Alpharetta in partnership with the Alpharetta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Drink up on the Laurel Highlands' Pour Tour in Pennsylvania

Pour Tour 4.0 - courtesy of Go LH

Recently launched is a new version of the popular Laurel Highlands' Pour Tour in Pennsylvania, which includes partnerships with 52 craft beverage makers including breweries, distilleries, wineries, cideries and a meadery spread across Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland counties. The new trail showcases the region's rich heritage, agricultural diversity, and entrepreneurial spirit. Craft beverage enthusiasts can pick up a Pour Tour 4.0 Passport at any participating location throughout the Laurel Highlands or download the all-new GO Laurel Highlands app.

“We are excited to implement the new app,” said Jennifer Benford, GO Laurel Highlands' senior director of marketing. “The app will make it easier for participants to digitally stamp their passport, provide a leaderboard for some friendly competition, and – my favorite part – not only showcase our craft beverage makers, but also all of our partners in the Laurel Highlands, such as nearby hotels, restaurants and retail shops that are near their favorite Pour Tour stops.”

Two of the newest stops on the Pour Tour have been built on a long and proud history in the region. Ponfeigh Distillery in Somerset reflects Maximilian Merrill's passion for whiskey and history. The Laurel Highlands is the birthplace of rye whiskey, and Merrill wanted to pay tribute to that.

“I knew I had to do a distillery in Somerset County to bring back the history,” Ponfeigh's president told a group at the distillery, which is housed in a former 84 Lumber building on Stoystown Road.

Merrill plans to add a whiskey museum to honor the region's legacy along with a tasting room with indoor and outdoor bars, a cigar lounge and an amphitheater for 2,000 fans to enjoy live music. At full production, Ponfeigh can distill 3,000 barrels per year, making it the largest distillery in Pennsylvania. In addition to talks with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to have Ponfeigh sold in state stores, Merrill has been working with an e-commerce site, which he said should have his product available in 42 states within the next few years. Ponfeigh started selling bottles of its Westylvania Rye in Somerset late last year, which is the culmination of a distilling process that started three years ago.

“We drove five tractor-trailer loads of Somerset County rye to a sister distillery called Southern Distillery, where I was trained on that equipment for a couple of weeks,” Merrill said as he spoke inside the massive distillery space. “We laid down those 200 barrels that are stacked up over there, using Somerset County rye, on the same equipment we have here today. Now, we're producing that same spirit with the same barrels and the same rye on the same equipment to catch up to that 3-year-old spirit (that we have produced).”

In addition to Monongahela rye, Ponfeigh plans to begin distilling a Maryland-style rye, rye-aged rum and rye-aged gin.

SanaView Farms and Winery also has longstanding ties to local history. Nate McKee, who owns SanaView along with his mother, Janet, said the 52-acre historic landmark is the oldest farm in the area. The McKees purchased the property in 2012. It now hosts weddings and other events and features lodging in its farmhouse and bunkhouse. Eventually, Janet encouraged Nate to become a vintner with an eye toward the same high standards that they demand at their organic farm.

“She said, 'You love drinking the stuff, why don't you figure out how to make it?' ” he recalled.

He did just that, studying the winemaking process in California, by reading books and meeting with industry insiders, who told him it wouldn't be possible to make wine naturally. He disagreed and set about finding a way to make a great-tasting wine that doesn't use chemicals in any step of the process.

“What we're doing is natural wine with low, low, low intervention,” Nate McKee said. “We're letting Mother Nature do the work. That's why you've got to start with really high-quality ingredients. … You've got to be exceptionally clean with every step of the process.”

Mike Fahy, one of the owners of Forbes Trail Brewing in Stoystown, understands McKee's passion for crafting delicious beverages the right way. Fahy is the brewmaster at Forbes Trail and while he loves traditional beers, he isn't afraid to try new things, such as the blackberry raspberry marshmallow beer currently available at Forbes Trail. That kind of innovation has helped make Forbes Trail a popular stop on the Pour Tour, and Fahy loves how the program helps beer lovers discover his brewery. “The Pour Tour brings in so many people that I don't think ever would have found us,” he said.

With a qualified purchase, participants will receive a sticker from the beverage maker for verification in the printed passport or choose to stamp their passport digitally via app. Passports can then be redeemed for prizes with a Tier I prize for 15 stamps, Tier II at 30 and Tier 30 for 45 stamps as part of Pour Tour 4.0, which runs through Dec. 23, 2024. The passport and app cannot combined, participants must choose one method to use throughout their tasting tour.

Last year, more than 2,200 Pour Tour prizes were redeemed by participants from 10 states, including as far away as Florida, Colorado and Washington.

Encounter Caribbean flavors at the Antigua & Barbuda Restaurant Week

Food from Carlisle Bay at the 2023 restaurant week - courtesy of Antigua & Barbuda Restaurant Week

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority has announced the list of celebrity chefs and culinary arts professionals participating in the second annual Antigua & Barbuda Restaurant Week (ABRW) starting May 4. During the two-week-long celebration, visitors and nationals can enjoy a variety of special and discounted dining and event experiences designed to showcase the twin-island nation's delicious and diverse food, restaurants, art, and culture. This year also makes the return of Chef Andi Oliver who will headline events at the “The Pepperpot Rum Shop,” a100-day food and cultural pop-up.

“The Restaurant Week annual celebration highlights the best culinary experiences we have to offer–from favorite casual spots to multi-course menus at the finest restaurants,” said Shermain Jeremy, Special Projects and Events Manager at the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. “Given the fantastic lineup of Caribbean celebrity chefs and guests confirmed for this year, we expect to draw record-breaking participation from food loving locals and tourists. We're excited, too, to showcase the diversity of food from our twin-island nation, especially with an elevated twist.”

As ABRW grows in its second year, the event will feature a lineup of celebrity chef and beverage professionals exclusively of Caribbean heritage. Highlights include:

  • Chef Kareem Roberts. Born in Leicester and raised in Antigua, Kareem first set foot in a professional kitchen at 26. He began composing salads at a small café in St. John's, Antigua, and quickly moved to the high-volume kitchens at Sandals Grande Antigua. Over the next decade, he would hone his skills in a variety of kitchens in the United Kingdom, ranging from fine dining establishments to hotels to gastropubs. He worked his way up to his most recent position as Head Chef of Trinity, a contemporary British restaurant in Cambridge. Roberts attributes his development as a chef to the foods and cultures he's experienced, along with the fresh seafood he was exposed to as the son of an Antiguan fisherman. His creativity and passion were showcased recently on the BBC's cookery competition “The Great British Menu.”
  • Cookbook Author Althea Brown. Althea Brown is the creator and voice behind metemgee.com, a blog about Guyanese and Caribbean recipes and traditions. She offers simplified recipes, made accessible with diet specific tweaks. She is the author of the bestselling cookbook Caribbean Paleo. You can often find her on social media sharing stories about traditional Guyanese food and culture, and how she remixes dishes to fit her dietary needs. Born and raised in Georgetown, Guyana, Althea now lives in Aurora, Colorado, with her husband and three children.
  • Chef Angel Barreto. Chef Barreto is a three-time James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist and finalist, StarChefs Game Changer (2022), and a Food & Wine “Best New Chef” (2021). His highly-awarded culinary career spans more than a decade, with exceptional experience in both French and Korean cuisines. He's best known for his contemporary Korean cuisine at Anju in Washington, DC. Barreto is of Puerto Rican heritage and will be honoring Boricua cuisine at ABRW.
  • Chef Shorne Benjamin. Lucian born and New York-based, Chef Benjamin is known for his ability to infuse Caribbean food with a modern flair. Classically trained in French cuisine, he gained international acclaim as a guest chef at Mimo's in London. Career highlights include an annual presentation at the James Beard House, competing on the Food Network's “Beat Bobby Flay,” becoming a finalist on Chopped and winning the 2017 Jamaican Jerk Festival Celebrity Chef Throw Down. Most recently, he opened Fat Fowl in Brooklyn, where he crafts new age inspired dishes to showcase the richness and depth of Caribbean flavors through a healthy and imaginative lens.
  • Chef Digby Stridiron. A native of St. Croix, Chef Digby is inspired by ingredients indigenous to the Caribbean and the history of regional recipes. He is best known for his work as chef of award-winning restaurants Balter and Braata in St. Croix, where he earned recognition as one of USA Today's 10 Best restaurants in the Caribbean and Food & Wine named his food “the new heart of Caribbean cooking”. A community leader, Stridiron served as a culinary ambassador for the U.S. Virgin Islands, having showcased West Indian cuisine at the James Beard House, and also received the 2014 Chef of the Year award from the Caribbean Tourism Association. Currently he is chef/partner at Latha Restaurant & Bar in Phoenix, Az. Chef Digby is also the founder of the West Indian Chefs Alliance.
  • Sommelier Nadine Brown. Born and raised in Jamaica and Puerto Rico, Brown fell in love with the hospitality industry after moving to the United States and started her career as a restaurant host in Washington, DC. Twenty years later, she's an acclaimed industry veteran and award-winning Sommelier. Nadine worked as Wine Director at Charlie Palmer Steak for more than a decade. Owner of At Your Service, a wine consultancy, she is a wine writer, judge and educator. Nadine sits on the board of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington and the Verasion Project, a non-profit that works to help more people of color enter the wine industry. Nadine curates a popular dinner series called, "Re-"Imaging Wines', where she collaborates with chefs, exploring wine pairings with cuisines from the Caribbean to the Philippines

“We are seeing more and more travelers around the world choose Antigua and Barbuda as a vacation destination,” said The Honourable Charles Fernandez, Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Transportation and Investment. “Building on the success of 2023, Antigua & Barbuda Restaurant Week will continue to raise the visibility of our culinary excellence in the region and around the world, and we are certain our guests will delight in immersing themselves into our food and our culture.”

The schedule of events for Restaurant Week will include Prix Fixe menus and discounted dining packages ($25USD - $75USD) inclusive of lunch, dinner, wine, and cocktails from more than 20 restaurants. Dishes to suit all tastes and dietary requirements will be available, and guests will also enjoy live music, entertainment, and children's' activities throughout the festivities. ABRW will coincide with the run of The Pepperpot Rum Shop, a 100-day pop-up destination created by The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Treehouse Beach Club, and British chef, television and radio broadcaster Andi Oliver, who has ancestral roots in Antigua. Pepperpot is the national dish of Antigua & Barbuda, and the concept was born after the successful 2023 release of Oliver's recipe book, The Pepperpot Diaries: Stories From My Caribbean Table. For 100 days from the end of April, the pop-up will host curated cultural content and events spanning food and drink, music, art, and film in its stay-all-day sustainable and eco-conscious setting. For the latest information on Restaurant Week menus and packages, visit www.antiguabarbudarestaurantweek.com.

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Where to See the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

This spring, North America will be in the path of a total solar eclipse. Solar eclipses have proven to be a great excuse for a vacation, in order to experience being in the “path of totality”—and an experience like this won't come again to the continental US until 2044. During the afternoon of April 8, 2024, the moon will pass between the sun and Earth, blocking the face of the sun and creating a shadow over locations within its path. This “path of totality” will be directly underneath the most significant part of the moon’s umbra, or shadow, plunging these locations into darkness during the normally bright afternoon hours. Plan your vacation to catch this historic date at one of the destinations below. Enjoy the beauty of the mountains in Lake Placid, New York Sunset in the Adirondack Mountains in New York by Eva Darron - Unsplash The Adirondack Mountains, in upstate New York, offers some of the best opportunities for outdoor recreation in a beautiful, natural setting; it is within a day’s drive for 25% of the entire North American population, making it an easy vacation destination. It is anticipated that, due to ease of travel to the region, its open spaces, expansive vistas and unobstructed views of the sky, many people will choose to travel to the region ahead of the eclipse. In anticipation of increased travel, local businesses, attractions and communities are beginning to plan events, determining optimal places for viewing, and establishing various activities throughout the region. 2024-eclipse.com will serve as a central location for sharing information about these activities and events, as businesses, attractions and communities prepare. Visitors, potential visitors and those interested in learning more about the solar eclipse are encouraged to refer to the site ahead of their visit. High Peaks Resort is offering their Total Solar Eclipse package bookable online here. In addition to the eclipse viewing on April 8, High Peaks Resort is throwing a lawn party from 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM with food, drink, and entertainment at Lake House. In addition, Lake Placid will host a variety of events and activities for all ages. From educational workshops to outdoor activities and celebrations, there's something for everyone to enjoy. The resort is the perfect place to make a homebase while exploring the Adirondacks, with easy access to Whiteface Mountain (35-minute drive), the Olympic sites, and many other top attractions in the area. The resort offers three unique lodging experiences, from a traditional hotel experience in the High Peaks Resort, to a modern retro-vibe in the Lake House, to privacy and serenity in the Waterfront Collection (including suites with fireplaces!). Guests enjoy sweeping views of the Adirondack mountains, arts and crafts, family movie nights, s’mores building and marshmallow toasting, birds of prey demonstrations and dining specials in Dancing Bears Restaurant. Plan a family-friendly celebration in Columbus, Ohio Skyline of Columbus, Ohio - courtesy of Experience Columbus Columbus invites visitors to experience the near totality (99.6%) in Ohio's capital city. For the first time since 1806, Ohio will be in the direct path of a total solar eclipse. From unique viewing parties at rooftops downtown to an Eclipse-inspired craft beer from Land-Grant Brewing Company, here's what's happening in the 14th largest city in the U.S.: Eclipse viewing party at the #1 science museum in the country: Celebrate the eclipse at COSI, named the #1 science museum in the country for four consecutive years by USA Today 10Best. Located downtown in the path of near totality, the museum is hosting a day of fun, hands-on activities. They are also giving away thousands of free eclipse glasses. For those who cannot attend in person, COSI will live-stream the eclipse, supported by expert commentary and explanations during the event. Say cheers to the historic event with an eclipse-themed craft beer: One of Columbus' favorite craft breweries, Land-Grant Brewing Company, is celebrating the occasion with a special beer in honor of the eclipse. Totality is a Black IPA and an exclusive COSI collaboration. Visitors can try the beer on tap during their viewing party starting at 11 a.m. The watch party includes free eclipse glasses, interactive experiments with the COSI team, cosmic-themed music and food from local food trucks. Step into the path of totality at the zoo: Located in nearby Delaware County, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium is in the path of totality where experts anticipate the totality will last around 2 minutes and 35 seconds. Join them for a special Solar Eclipse Solar-Bration from noon to 4 p.m. and take in the historic sight amidst the wonders of wildlife. Visitors will get viewing glasses and enjoy character greetings and hands-on activities. Attend other watch parties at top attractions: In addition to COSI and Land-Grant's watch parties in Downtown Columbus, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum will host a viewing party on their expansive rooftop. Grab glasses at Columbus' visitor centers: Experience Columbus is selling glasses so you can safely enjoy the solar eclipse for just $1. Stop by and grab a pair at the Visitor Centers located at Easton Town Center or in the Arena District. Stay in Columbus' celestial-themed hotel: Whether you're planning to enjoy the near totality in downtown Columbus or drive the short distance northwest from Columbus into the path of totality, consider making Columbus your home base and staying at the celestial-themed Hotel LeVeque. Located in the historic 47-story LeVeque Tower, once Amelia Earhart's aerial lighthouse, the hotel boasts celestial details from lobby to guestrooms. Each of the 149 rooms features a telescope, ensuring a unique stargazing experience, and visitors can enjoy nightly turn-down service with a star machine projecting the night sky onto the ceilings. Or choose from one of dozens of other hotels in Columbus. Book a two-night stay through Experience Columbus and you'll get the choice of a $100 Delta voucher (stay must be a minimum of $250+), two tickets to the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, two tickets to the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens or a $25-$50 Lyft credit. Special solar science kits: No matter where you live you can learn more about the solar system with COSI Connects Solar Kit. Recommended for grades 2-5, the kit offers a fun way for kids to learn about our solar system's star—the sun. Explore the science of light and magnetism and make your own artwork showing the corona during a solar eclipse. Every kit includes solar glasses. Escape city lights at campgrounds in the eastern states Moonlight falls on a campsite by Tim Foster - Unsplash The rare event will be viewable at nine Spacious Skies Campgrounds in the eastern US as the eclipse travels along a diagonal trajectory from Mexico to Maine. Campsites and glamping accommodations such as cabins, yurts and retro trailers – which are sure to be popular on that very special day – are now available for travelers to book. “At Spacious Skies Campgrounds, the stars are more than just a backdrop—they're part of our story,” said Ali Rasmussen, co-founder of Spacious Skies Campgrounds. “Imagine watching a solar eclipse here. It's not just a spectacle, it's a shared celestial experience. Our approach to camping is star-studded, literally. We've woven the cosmic theme into everything: our dedicated Cosmic Crew, the playful Cosmic Canine Commons, engaging activities for Cosmic Kiddos and perks for our Cosmic Camper loyalty members. Experiencing a solar eclipse at our campgrounds? It’s not just fitting, it’s an unforgettable cosmic celebration.” Located in the states of New Jersey, New Hampshire, North Carolina (three campgrounds), Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, the campgrounds are situated near national and state parks as well as charming towns. All offer a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities like hiking and fishing as well as amenities such as sport courts and playgrounds. The maximum view of the eclipse varies from campground to campground. For specific details on the view from each location, visit this site. Campgrounds near the path of the Total Solar Eclipse include: Belle Ridge, Monterey, Tennessee, 2:05 p.m.Savannah Oaks, Savannah, Georgia, 3:08 p.m.Hidden Creek, Marion, North Carolina, 3:10 p.m.Bear Den, Spruce Pine North Carolina, 3:10 p.m.Peach Haven, Gaffney, South Carolina., 3:10 p.m.Sandy Run, Fayetteville, North Carolina., 3:14 p.m.Shenandoah Views, Luray, Virginia, 3:18 p.m.Country Oaks, Dorothy, New Jersey, 3:23 p.m.French Pond, Henniker, New Hampshire, 3:29 p.m. Spacious Skies Campgrounds offer a variety of accommodations choices in addition to RV sites. Most locations feature cabin options, and many also offer glamping accommodations such as yurts and retro trailers. Members of the Spacious Skies Loyalty Program, called “Cosmic Campers” can save up to 12 percent on all RV sites, cabins and other accommodations. The annual fee to join the program is $31.90. While the Loyalty Program discount cannot be combined with other discounts, the discount with the greatest savings is rewarded, providing campers with the best possible deal on their stay. Spacious Skies Campgrounds also offers seasonal camping deals and other specials.


Before Winter Ends, Sneak in One More Ski Trip this Year

New Hampshire ski areas are ready to welcome visitors during looking for a late-season ski trip. Over 875 alpine and Nordic trails are currently open and covered side to side and top to bottom with snow, offering thousands of acres of varied terrain suitable for everyone from beginners to experts. Additionally, resorts are offering a multitude of other family-friendly activities like tubing, snowshoeing, and ziplining, along with special events and après-ski festivities for both kids and adults. Ski New Hampshire provides a listing of both alpine and cross-country ski areas on its website at www.SkiNH.com/resorts. Here, visitors will find information on ski areas of all sizes, each with its own vibe, level of difficulty, and off-slope offerings. Those looking for hidden gems with short lift lines and lower ticket prices can often find both at smaller ski areas. Currently, Ski NH has $25 tickets available at Dartmouth Skiway and McIntyre Ski Area that are good any day for the rest of the 2023-24 ski season, including February vacation weeks. Ski NH's Conditions page provides information that guests typically want to know in advance, including snow conditions, the number of open trails and lifts, links to resort web cameras, and click-through links to area websites for more detailed snow reports. Regarding tickets, ski lessons, and more, people should be aware that some ski areas will sell out of certain products or services during holiday and vacation periods. Ski NH suggests calling in advance to ensure availability, and in some cases, advanced purchases or reservations may be recommended or required. Night ski and save Skiing in New Hampshire - coutesy of Ski NH Another way vacationers can save on the slopes is to consider skiing under the lights at night. Many areas like Gunstock Mountain Resort, King Pine, McIntyre Ski Area, Pats Peak, and Crotched Mountain offer night skiing and riding from mid-afternoon until 8 p.m. or later. Crotched Mountain is normally open Tuesday-Saturday until 9 p.m., but is also open for night skiing until midnight on March 2. Find the latest information on night skiing at SkiNH.com. Go Nordic Nordic (or cross-country) skiing is a great choice to beat the crowds and get a great workout. At many Nordic centers, visitors can also snowshoe. The state has many choices for cross-country skiing that offer diverse terrain options, from beginner to expert, and some with sweeping views across open fields and others through wooded trails. Cross-country skiing is a lower-cost alternative to downhill, has a shorter learning curve, and is another great way for the entire family to enjoy time on snow this February. For those who have never tried cross-country skiing before, most areas offer lessons; one lesson can build confidence and get new skiers on their way to enjoying many miles (or kilometers, as measured by Nordic areas) of trails. Try a non-skiing mountain adventure Snow tubing has become increasingly popular, especially for kids, for those who don't ski, or as an activity to complement skiing and riding while on vacation. Snow tubing facilities vary; some are lift-serviced while others require a short hike up the hill. NH resorts offering snow tubing include Bretton Woods, Cranmore Mountain Resort, Franconia Inn XC, Great Glen Trails, Gunstock Mountain Resort, King Pine, Loon Mountain Resort, McIntyre Ski Area, and Pats Peak. Many NH ski resorts offer additional activities on and off snow, including fat biking, canopy tours, skijoring, mountain coasters, and taking a snow coach up the famed Mount Washington (the highest peak in the Northeast) where you can either ride the coach or snowshoe back down. Find more information on these unique non-skiing activities at SkiNH.com. Don't forget the après A child eats a s'more - courtesy of Ski NH For those who enjoy live music and hanging out with friends and family after skiing and riding, most NH alpine ski resorts offer live music on weekends or certain afternoons along with hearty appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, drinks, and more. During the February 17-24 vacation week, several ski areas will be serving up live music daily, while others will be hosting live acts Friday and Saturday at either end of the vacation week. A variety of events will take place at NH ski areas during the vacation weeks. For the kids, Cranmore Mountain Resort will be hosting its Cranapalooza family-friendly events daily from February 17-23. On February 24th and 25th, it's Good vs. Evil at Mount Sunapee's Superheroes and Supervillains Weekend! Come dressed as your favorite superhero or supervillain or make up your own and enter to win a pair of Oakley goggles at either Guest Services location. For those who enjoy competition, on February 25th there is “North America’s Toughest 10K." The Ski, Shoe & Fatbike to the Clouds 10k course uses 4k of the Great Glen Trails system, and then 6k on the snow covered Mt. Washington Auto Road with an average grade of 12% and an elevation gain of 2,200 feet (pre-registration required). Other events include live music, s'mores, guided snowshoe tours, and more; details on these and many more events can be found at www.skinh.com/events.


Surround Yourself with Natural Beauty at these 3 Destinations

The wilds of Alaska, British Columbia, and Yosemite Valley are three locations beloved by travelers looking to escape into the beauty of nature and explore the outdoors—and all three destinations will have even more to offer this upcoming year. These destinations all include brand-new accommodations and experiences launching soon in 2024, so book your next wild adventure now. Feel rejuvenated in Alaska Rocking chairs at Tutka Bay Lodge - courtesy of Tutka Bay Lodge Alaska At Tutka Bay Lodge, wellness is woven skillfully into each day at the lodge. Within the Wild cuisine, cooking classes, adventure activities, and opportunities to explore in nature all add to the overall wellness culture at the lodge. To offer a deeper connection to nature and one's self, Tutka Bay Lodge's new regenerative wellness program offered all summer long includes daily outdoor yoga, as well as meditation, which can be practiced on a kayak or paddle board for a floating meditative treatment, and guided intentional breathing to find inner stillness, self-reflection, and grounding. Taking advantage of the lodge's unique location, Forest Therapy incorporates guided hikes into an old-growth rainforest or deep into the nearby Kachemak Bay State Park and Reiki in the wild where an expert uses gentle hand movements to guide the flow of healthy energy through the body to reduce stress and promote healing. From this ideal setting, guests can immerse themselves in sound bathing, which incorporates a full-body listening experience that intentionally uses sound to invite gentle, yet powerful, therapeutic and restorative processes to nurture the mind and body. Back at the lodge, a Wilderness Tea Lounge invites guests to gather herbs and berries from the forest to create a healthy and healing tea, which can be enjoyed before or after a Reiki in the Wild session or Herb & Salt Scrub Treatment. In addition to these offerings, the lodge has two hot tubs, a wood-fired sauna, and a private beach. A yurt is located near the forest, which guests can access anytime to stretch and do some weight-training with dumbbells and kettlebells. Within the Wild cuisine, cooking classes, adventure activities, or on-site property engagements with nature all add to our overall wellness culture at the lodge. Tutka Bay Lodge is also thrilled to announce their upcoming 'Wellness in the Wild' program retreats for 2024, scheduled in spring (May 24-27) and fall (Sept 20-23). Led by Hope Aguirre, the Wellness Director, guests are invited to immerse themselves in the healing power of nature, embracing the beauty of pristine waters and refreshing bay air. This transformative program encompasses eight core pillars: Connect, Grow, Heal, Create, Listen, Eat, Learn, and Move. At Tutka Bay Lodge, visitors will discover a sanctuary of balance, tranquility, and rejuvenation in the awe-inspiring Alaska wilderness, providing the perfect environment for focus and inner peace. Connect - Facilitate connections with the land, local natives, fellow participants, and, most importantly, oneself. Amidst the enchantment of our magical old-growth forest, find a special tree, the sanctuary for this transformative journey.Grow - Embrace hope for the future. Sustainability and regeneration are woven into every retreat aspect, from learning new skills to silent walks to joyful time shared at the table, encouraging reflective and purposeful living.Hea l- Experience the healing power of the natural world. Connect with the land and sea living pulse through meditative walks, hikes along Grace Ridge, and discovering the curative properties of wild things. Feel the energy of trees and embrace them and create your salt scrub using sea salt harvested from the ocean, complemented by wild herbs and flowers.Create - Liberate your mind, and inspiration will follow. Engage with talented hosts to make local spruce tip incense, experiment with natural pigment watercolors, and create fish prints. Unwind with glacial facial masks crafted from glacier ice, glacial mud, and seaweed freshly harvested from the ocean.Listen - Immerse in a symphony of sounds, allowing them to envelop and transport you to heightened awareness through sound bathing. Experience the transformative power of sound and celebrate the rhythmic undulations of the sea, the whispers of wind through the forest, and the harmonious melodies of birdsong. Explore the enchanting harmonics created by singing bowls, bells, harps, and the human voice.Eat - At Tutka Bay Lodge, food tells the story of who they are, who lived there in the distant past, and perhaps who will be here in the future. Learn about the cuisine, the cultural story of Alutiiq and Dena' Ina natives, the Russian occupation, and Scandinavian fishermen settlers. Learn how to forage for wild edibles and craft your gathered treasures into delicious works of art worthy of any Michelin-starred restaurant.Learn - Naturalist outdoor guides bring you deep into our old-growth Sitka Spruce Forest. Guides will share skills such as plant identification, animal tracking, and fire starting. The Spring retreat will marvel at being at near-full light at midnight and capturing the early morning dawn chorus. The Fall retreat will spend time looking at the stars and the bioluminescence in the bay.Move - In the heart of the seaside sanctuary, discover solace and immerse in exhilarating pursuits. The expansive deck, overlooking the ocean, becomes a base for practicing yoga while absorbing the invigorating sea breeze. Enjoy evening music and dancing, bonfires on the nearby beach, and stories. Sea kayaking offers an up-close encounter with the rhythmic ocean waves – and a potential whale sighting. Water-based wellness activities, including aqua yoga and hot-cold therapy, provide a harmonious blend of relaxation and exercise, embraced by the soothing environment of Tutka Bay. To learn more and book a stay or retreat visit www.withinthewild.com. Visit the Kootenay Rockies in British Columbia Rendering of Basecamp Suites in Revelstroke - courtesy of Basecamp Resorts Canada's award-winning hospitality brand Basecamp Resorts today announced Basecamp Suites Revelstoke (112 2nd Street East, Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada) will open to guests on May 17 2024, with reservations now available to book online. The modern boutique hotel was intentionally designed for travelers seeking comfort, style and convenience while visiting one of Canada's most spectacular and thrilling mountain towns. Located in downtown Revelstoke, with easy access to shopping, dining, entertainment and adventures, and just a 10-minute drive from world-famous Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Basecamp Suites Revelstoke redefines the quintessential mountain getaway. The brand new hotel boasts 31 spacious suites - from three-bedroom to micro-studios - each featuring a fully equipped kitchen, living/dining areas, a washer/dryer and stunning mountain views. Additional amenities include communal outdoor rooftop hot tubs, high-end bedding and furniture, shuttle services and a full-service front desk. “Revelstoke is a must visit Canadian mountain town, filled with incredible culture, art, craft breweries and restaurants, stunning scenery and limitless adventures. We are thrilled to be opening another hotel in this beautiful pristine destination, and to provide visitors with a home-away-from-home while they take in all that Revelstoke has to offer,” said Sky McLean, founder and CEO, Basecamp Resorts. A dynamic mountain community with a rich heritage, loved for its small-town charm and big mountain adventure, Revelstoke is a year-round paradise nestled in the Kootenay Rockies. Adventure seekers can partake in world-class skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, paragliding and more. Downtown Revelstoke offers visitors a range of vibrant and diverse culture to enjoy including independent restaurants, cafes, breweries, shops, museums, live music, art galleries, public art, markets and festivals, Tucked between the Monashee and Selkirk Mountain Ranges of southeastern British Columbia, home to the Columbia River, and located in the world's only inland temperate rainforest filled with old growth forests, Revelstoke is renowned for its natural splendors and is known as a mecca for thrill-seekers. Experience the beauty of Yosemite Valley Firefall Ranch Cottage - courtesy of Firefall Ranch/Tracy Barbutes Welcoming guests this May 2024, Firefall Ranch offers an unparalleled blend of rustic elegance, exceptional nature-forward experiences, and sustainable travel practices, all within minutes of Yosemite's popular northwest entrance. A beckoning retreat for discerning travelers, the Ranch comprises 55 thoughtfully designed, stand-alone cottages and villas dispersed amongst 300 acres of serene meadowland and forested rolling hills. The Ranch's name takes inspiration from the eagerly anticipated natural marvel of Firefall — an annual phenomenon that takes place in world-famous Yosemite Valley when each February the sunlight streams perfectly through the thin cascade of water at Horsetail Fall, transforming it into a breathtaking, fiery orange stream over the sheer face of iconic El Capitan. Firefall Ranch invites guests to embrace a world away from the everyday, offering not only accommodations but a private and enveloping connection with the surrounding natural beauty of Yosemite. A 'destination within a destination,' Firefall Ranch features 55 stand-alone cottages and villas with one, two, and three-bedroom configurations. Each cottage and villa boasts a double-sided indoor/outdoor fireplace, an expansive covered deck, and striking design details. Luxurious and relaxed, Firefall Ranch stands as a secluded haven with its own hiking trails, leading guests through the private forested hillside with stunning vistas that overlook the entire ranch. A natural pond adds to the tranquility, providing a peaceful spot for reflection, while carved pathways procure space for calming walks and bathing in the soothing sounds of redwing blackbirds. The main grounds are flat, ensuring easy accessibility for guests to enjoy the property throughout the seasons. Firefall Ranch is now taking reservations for stays starting May 1, 2024. For additional information, please visit firefallranch.com . The signature Restaurant at Firefall Ranch presents an upscale yet playful approach to modern mountain cuisine. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, flavorful menus are rooted in natural hardwood grilling, include delicious and healthy mountain fare, and top it all off with a delectable selection of fresh desserts made daily. Adjacent to the Restaurant is a private wine room that showcases a well-balanced collection of wines from accomplished vintners in California and around the world. The Tavern, a separate, more casual dining experience, is a memorable gathering spot after an adventurous day. Amidst a lively and comfortable atmosphere, guests can enjoy hand-crafted cocktails, curated wines, craft beers, and free-spirited non-alcoholic drinks. Lastly, The General Store provides a rich array of gifts and treats along with essentials for all of your Yosemite adventures, from made-to-order coffees to trail-ready breakfasts and lunches to happy hour supplies. Firefall Ranch offers a seasonally rotating activities calendar that ensures a variety of experiences for guests of all ages. Designed for kids and kids at heart, daily activities include nightly fireside s'mores, stargazing, crafts, wine tastings, and more. The heated pool and hot tubs offer family-friendly fun in the summer and romantic sunsets in quieter seasons. Outdoor activities include bocce ball, horseshoes, ping pong, hammocks, and serene scenic vistas. The inviting Guest Lounge includes a double-sided fireplace, cozy seating, games, and panoramic views. Guests can also enjoy a plethora of guided excursions, from driving tours of the park's iconic sites to adventurous hikes, biking, snowshoeing, fly fishing, overnight backpacking, and even a private airplane ride over the park. The Recreation Desk and dedicated team assists guests in planning recreation, exploration, and wellness activities. For a full-service spa experience, guests are encouraged to visit nearby sister resort, Rush Creek Lodge & Spa. In addition to recreational activities, Firefall Ranch offers flexible, indoor and outdoor function spaces for unforgettable retreats, weddings, and group gatherings. The breathtaking event space, Peregrine Hall, with towering cathedral ceilings and dramatic custom woodwork, provides an elevated view of the forested surroundings and can accommodate groups from 50 to 225 people — providing endless options for unforgettable events.


Celebrate Maple Season in the Adirondacks

In New York, Adirondack region maple producers have begun their annual sap collection and maple syrup production activity. Maple Weekends, a celebration of maple producers and maple products, will take place March 16, 17, 23 and 24 with many facilities offering tours, samples and opportunities to speak with experts about maple syrup production in New York. New York is the second-largest maple-producing state in the country, accounting for approximately 18% of syrup produced each year. Much of that production takes place within the Adirondack region of upstate New York in small, family-owned “sugar shacks.” According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New York produced 750,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2023, an 8% decrease from the previous year; while maple producers outside of New York experienced a 15% decrease. In 2022, maple syrup production in New York was valued at $30.6 million with an estimated economic impact of approximately $120 million.Maple syrup is typically produced throughout the months of February, March and early April. Unusually warm daytime temperatures this year caused sap to begin flowing in January. Sugar maple trees move sugary water (sap) through their trunks in late winter. Temperature fluctuations push sap through the tree so that it has the nutrients needed to grow. Sap can be collected through holes in the trees when there are cold nights and warm days; below 32°F at night and above 40°F during the day. This watery sap is then boiled until it becomes thick.Boiling sap and allowing the excess water to evaporate is arguably the most important part of the production process, as the quality of the syrup is determined by the amount of sugar in the final product. High quality syrups ideally contain 66-67% sugar. It is also incredibly time-consuming; it takes 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup. According to Adam Wild, director of the Uihlein Maple Research Forest in Lake Placid, maple syrup production has always been a part of life in the Adirondacks. “The heavily forested Adirondack region, with its large percentage of maple trees combined with the ideal Adirondack climate of long cold winters punctuated with gradual warming at the end of the winter season make this area one of the best in the entire nation for maple syrup production.” he said.Much of Wild’s research focuses on forest management and sustainability initiatives, as maple syrup production is a sustainable, farm-to-table practice. “Maple producers actively manage their forests, ensuring that the trees remain in place for generations. They are not cut for timber and maple producers continually work to ensure that the trees remain healthy. Tapping trees removes only a small percentage of the trees’ stored energy, as each tree produces much more than it actually needs to thrive.” Book a unique stay at a local resort Sunset in Adirondacks by Eva Darron - Unsplash High Peaks Resort on the shores of Mirror Lake in the heart of Lake Placid is the perfect place to make a homebase while exploring the Adirondacks, and it is just a short drive from local Lake Placid Maple Sugar Houses. To take advantage of this short season, High Peaks Resort is offering a Mountains & Maple package. When booked, visitors receive: Authentic, locally farmed Maple Syrup—perfect for those morning pancakes or an afternoon pick-me-up.Maple Cotton Candy that captures the essence of the Adirondacks in each fluffy bite.Maple Popcorn, an irresistible blend of sweet and salty, for cozy in-room movie nights.Two exclusive High Peaks Resort mugs to take home, so your Adirondack memories stay fresh long after you depart. The resort offers three unique lodging experiences, from a traditional hotel experience in the High Peaks Resort, to a modern retro-vibe in the Lake House, to privacy and serenity in the Waterfront Collection (including suites with fireplaces!). Guests enjoy sweeping views of the Adirondack mountains, arts and crafts, family movie nights, s’mores building and marshmallow toasting, birds of prey demonstrations and dining specials in Dancing Bears Restaurant. Go beyond breakfast and try inspired local cuisine A collection of maple syrups by Wei Chen - Unsplash Maple syrup traditionally accompanies a variety of breakfast foods but, in the Adirondacks, it is also used to flavor candy, beverages, barbecue sauce, recipes, and cocktails. It can also be used as part of various experiences that showcase this Adirondack pantry staple. Some locally produced products and recipes include: Maple beer: Craft beers featuring local maple are found across the Adirondacks. Big Slide Brewery’s maple bourbon imperial stout is aged in a barrel previously used for locally-produced maple syrup. Raquette River Brewing offers its Maple Cream Porter, brewed with local maple syrup.Many Adirondack-region restaurants have “maple glazed” items on the menu: salmon, pork, chicken, vegetables and more. Chef Mike Rush at Campfire Grill in Saranac Lake obtains kegs of maple syrup for use throughout the year.Barbecue sauces in the Adirondack region often use maple syrup.Maple is used for a variety of products including: cotton candy, hard candies, maple butter, various syrups, sauces and jellies. Continue the celebration at home with a local drink recipe Local bartenders often create delicious cocktails with maple, including this recipe for a maple margarita created by Carolyn Sicher, co-owner of the Deer’s Head Inn, in Elizabethtown, NY: Ingredients: 1.5 oz good quality tequila, .5 oz mandarin liqueur, .5 oz fresh lime juice, .5 oz fresh lemon juice, .5 oz maple lemonade (traditional lemonade with maple as extra sweetener), 1 Tbsp local maple syrup Directions: Rub a freshly-cut lime wedge around the rim of the glass and coat the rim by placing it upside down in a dish of tajin spice blend. Fill the glass with fresh ice. Mix all ingredients together in a shaker with ice cubes and strain into the glass. Drizzle with a tablespoon of pure Adirondack maple syrup. Garnish with lime.