Travel News: Coffee Tourism, Setting Fire to Socks, and Dancing at the Whitney

By The Budget Travel Editors
March 8, 2018
A view of a demonstration at Starbucks' Costa Rica Farmer Support Center
Courtesy Starbucks
There’s a great big world out there, and the latest travel news may inspire a trip you never knew you needed.

From a Costa Rica coffee farm to one of NYC’s most storied art collections to the (literal) kickoff of flip-flop season, here's the latest trip-inspiring travel news:


Starbucks just opened its Hacienda Alsacia Visitor Center, part of its Costa Rican coffee farm. Visitors can experience coffee-making first-hand (“from seedling, to roasting, to tasting”), including Starbucks’ commitment to eco-friendly, sustainable  “agronomy,” and the company’s Farmer Support Center. (


On April 14, Panama City, FL, will celebrate the arrival of flip-flop season with its annual Burning of the Socks. Bring your socks to the marina and watch ’em go up in flames in a porcelain bathtub by the water. (


Artist Nick Mauss will present his first solo museum show in the U.S., at the Whitney, in New York City. Opening on March 16, the exhibit Transmissions “explores the reciprocal relationship of modernist ballet and the avant-garde in New York from the 1930s through the 1950s.” The twist? The exhibition will include daily dance performances in the Whitney’s eighth-floor Hurst Family Galleries. (

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California’s Iconic Highway 1 Is Throwing a Party

Highway 1, California’s impossibly scenic coast-hugging drive, gets plenty of love from visitors, especially the throngs who hit the central coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But as those visitors gape at the ocean views and pull into scenic overlooks for Instagram-worthy pics, they may not realize that there are ample opportunities to immerse themselves further in the natural beauty, heritage, and marine life along the iconic route. HIGHWAY 1’S ANNUAL CELEBRATION STARTS IN JANUARY The 5th annual Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Celebration, January 13 through February 28, 2018, gives travelers (and, of course, locals) the chance to explore everything that the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route has to offer, thanks to San Luis Obispo County, the California State Parks, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The celebration focuses on “stewardship travel” experiences such as nature walks, lighthouse tours, garden volunteering, natural history talks, and more that create a more meaningful - and more fun - travel experience, touching on history, heritage, and the natural life of the coast. While the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route offers 50 such experiences year-round, the annual celebration offers even more opportunities to experience the coast as locals do. COASTAL STEWARDSHIP ACTIVITIES FOR 2018 All along the 101 miles of the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route, which links 10 diverse communities from just south of Big Sur to just south of San Luis Obispo (approximately halfway between S.F. and L.A.), activities will include a film festival featuring the incredible undersea documentary Disneynature Oceans at the Hearst Castle, Sharks After Dark at the Central Coast Aquarium, wine tastings at the Pacific Coast Wine Trail’s six tasting rooms, off-roading adventures in the Oceano Dunes, and much more. AFFORDABLE LODGING ON CALIFORNIA’S CENTRAL COAST Many local hotels and motels in coastal communities are offering special lodging packages during the Coastal Discovery & Stewardship Celebration. Good deals can also be found at Budget Travel’s Book a Hotel page.


Wildfires devastate Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Wildfires have devastated some of Tennessee’s most popular travel destinations. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closed due to the intense and unpredictable fires, which are the result of what firefighters are characterizing as a “perfect storm” of drought and high winds gusting up to 70 mph. The town of Gatlinburg has been evacuated, with approximately 14,000 people hitting the road ahead of flames and dangerously thick smoke; residents and visitors in Pigeon Forge, home to the Dollywood theme park, are also leaving the area. At Dollywood, staff evacuated park cabins and the DreamMore Resort, with local county school buses providing emergency transportation. My colleague Laura Brown, Senior Product Manager, Advertising, at Lonely Planet USA and Budget Travel, went to college in east Tennessee and provided some firsthand insight into what this fire feels like: “To watch the news about the fire is heartbreaking - not just the devastation to Gatlinburg, which is a gem on its own, but the fire tore through some of my favorite trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Those trails feel like friends.” The situation is evolving, and the only certainty at press time is that the damage to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and to downtown Gatlinburg, two places that are dear to Budget Travelers across the U.S., is severe. The most recent reports are that Gatlinburg has lost around 150 buildings to fire, with some additional structures still burning. We’ll learn more about the state of Great Smoky Mountains National Park from park rangers in the near future, and we urge fans of the park to bear in mind that fire is a natural part of the resilient forest ecosystem. If you’d like to help evacuees,, the website of The Tennessean newspaper, has published the following ways to donate: * Yassin's Falafel House is collecting cases of water and Gatorade in the public parking lot adjacent to 706 Walnut Street in downtown Knoxville from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. [Tuesday November 29] or until the truck is full. * Barker Lounge at 1301 Main Street in Sevierville and Blount County Animal Control at 233 Currie Avenue in Maryville are taking displaced animals and need animal related supplies including food and crates. * The Knoxville Expo Center is accepting donations at 5441 Clinton Hwy, Knoxville, TN 37912 * TheYMCA in East Tennessee is accepting donations at all locations. * Remote Area Medical is accepting donations at is headquarters at 2220 Stock Creek Boulevard in Rockford. * Lafollette Church of God at 1906 Jacksboro Pike, LaFollette, is accepting food and water donations. * Blount Partnership, at 201 S. Washington Street in Maryville and Townsend Visitors Center at 7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway are accepting donations for water and food for animals and more. * Christ the Rock Church of God is collecting food and water donations at 4306 Washington Pike in Knoxville.


How to Help Haiti

As many of you know, Hurricane Matthew hit the southwest region of Haiti this week, displacing more than 15,000 people, killing several hundred, and causing an immediate need for emergency help for around 350,000 people, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and it is still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake and the resulting humanitarian crisis, Hurricane Matthew is expected to trigger serious health challenges, including the rise of cholera in the coming days. Partners in Health, a humanitarian nonprofit organization endorsed by major news outlets, supports 12 health centers in Haiti’s central region. At press time, the organization was working to get additional supplies to those centers, as well as to cholera-treatment centers. “Though the storm has passed, experience tells us that the worst is yet to come,” said Dr. Charles-Patrick Almazor, Partners in Health’s chief medical officer in Haiti, in a statement on the organization’s website. “What would be the immediate need is to make sure that people get safe drinking water and safe water for washing.” While Budget Travelers care deeply about every region affected by this devastating hurricane, including the Bahamas and the Florida coast, we especially wish to support the neediest victims. Click here to make a donation to Partners in Health's efforts in Haiti, where 94 percent of all donations go directly to those in need.


Pizza Party! Delta Buys Pies for Rerouted Passengers

Fact: Pizza makes everything better. Even flight delays. On Wednesday, passengers on Delta flight 802 from Atlanta to NYC's LaGuardia airport got a tasty surprise when their flight was rerouted due to bad weather: boxes upon boxes of pizza pies and bottled water waiting for them when they de-planed in Syracuse, New York. Watch the video, reported by the Weather Channel, here. This isn't the first time Delta Air Lines has bought pizza for its passengers. Back in May, the airline's crews placed orders when weather delayed more than 650 flights. Same with storms in Atlanta this past November—flight attendants passed out slices from the aisle. Delta's dough-licious behavior can be traced back several years. In 2013, station managers arranged for a cop car to pull up and deliver 60 pizzas to a plane stuck on the tarmac for hours in Boston. Not too long before that, 160 pizzas were delivered to a Delta plane delayed in Savannah. Back then, a Delta spokesman told USA TODAY, "Delta can't control the weather, but we can control how we respond to weather delays and irregular operations. In situations like these, Delta people have the decision-making power to take care of our customers — even having pizza delivered plane-side."