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Travel News: Spring Travel Predictions, Pot Festivals, and San Diego Celebrates a Birthday

By The Budget Travel Editors
January 12, 2022
Entrance to San Diego Air and Space Museum
Courtesy San Diego Air and Space Museum
There’s a great big world out there, and the latest travel news may inspire a trip you never knew you needed.

From coast-to-coast cannabis celebrations to an all-access pass to San Diego's many exciting sites and museums to American Express Travel's predictions for the spring's hottest destinations, here's the latest trip-inspiring travel news:

NUMBERS DON'T LIE: HOT SPOTS FOR SPRING TRAVEL, REVEALED

American Express Travel has culled its piles of booking data and cross-examined its experts in the trenches to determine the must-go destinations for spring. The city seeing the biggest spike in bookings—238%, to be precise--is a destination that, let’s just say, has been in the news quite a bit: Russia’s capital, Moscow. It’s easy to suppose—errr…to joke that there’s a lot of spies buying plane tickets, but really it’s the city’s pleasant spring temps and jaw-dropping historical and cultural sites that are a common bucket-list item. Botswana, South Africa is another distant locale where travel is up by 200%. April through October, the dry season, is the most ideal time to take advantage of the region’s unparalleled safaris. Santiago, Chile, where autumn is just beginning, Santorini, Greece, which offers storybook seaside landscapes that are still mellow before summertime high-season, and Doha, Qatar, a luxe destination set against an ancient backdrop, are other cities increasingly piquing travelers’ interest. When it comes to Americans staying closer to home, St. Louis is turning heads. Go for the blossoming botanical gardens, stay for the festivals, baseballs, breweries and hip restaurants. 

POT PARTIES ACROSS THE USA

It's 420 somewhere. Well, on the clock, that is. On the calendar, however, 4/20 only comes once a year and with that April day fast approaching. As more and more American states legalize recreational marijuana, festivals and events that pay homage to that symbolic date are showing up coast to coast, and not all of them happen on 4/20, so there's still lots of time to plan. (Alert to those not in the know: 420 is code for smoking weed. Legend has it that the slang derived from the California criminal code for distribution/possession of weed.) Among the many varied events around the country are the blowout 420 Rally in Denver, ground zero for pot tourism. (April 20, denver420rally.com.) Hip-hop luminaries, vendors sell a range of paraphernalia, and up to 10,000 people attend. The National Cannabis Festival in Washington DC (April 21, nationalcannabisfetival.com) includes all sorts of activism-minded activity and a Cypress Hill concert. The Hash Bash on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus, an annual event for decades, offers activist speakers, street parties, live music and plenty more. (April 14, hashbash.com)  

SAN DIEGO CELEBRATES A LEGENDARY PARK'S 150TH

California became a state in 1850. Then only 18 years later, Balboa Park was established on 1,400 acres in San Diego and has since become home to everything from the San Diego Zoo to the San Diego Natural History Museum to the Model Railroad Museum, a science center with IMAX, art museums and plenty more. With the 150th anniversary of the park, the city is throwing a party and we travelers are the ones getting the present: the Go San Diego Card. The pass gives access to more than 40 attractions and it’s available for one day ($94; $89 children 12 and under), two days ($129; $115) and up to five days ($279; $245). Prices go up on March 29, so start planning your trip to SoCal. Stat! (gosandiegocard.com)

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Travel News: Fitness on the Road, the Great American Family Vacation, and the ASPCA’s Best Pet-Safety Tips.

As travelers gear up to take spring trips and finalize summer plans, we're seeing some cool trends that may inspire your next booking, and some important advice about flying with pets. FITNESS ON THE ROAD According to a new study by Hostelworld (hostelworld.com), Americans, especially younger ones, are just as focused on fitness on vacation as they are at home. The hostel-booking platform asked 2,500-plus men and women ages 18-65 about their exercise habits while on holiday, and a whopping 74% said they work out just as much—if not more—when they're out of office. Millennials take their routines especially seriously, listing fitness and outdoor activity as a higher priority than access to bars and nightlife, with some 40% of those surveyed saying they always get in at least one workout while they're away—and that easy access to fitness facilities is a must when booking accommodations. FAMILY VACATIONS: BIGGER AND BETTER THAN EVER Research from AAA Travel (aaa.com) says that 88 million Americans plan to take family vacations this year. “No matter their age, families are going on not just one, but  multiple vacations throughout the year to revisit favorite destinations and experiences new places,” says BIll Sutherland, AA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing. AAA is also seeing international family travel as a growing trend, with 35 percent of vacationing families reporting that they will travel outside the U.S. (that’s up 9% over the past two years). Popular international family hotspots include Cancun, Punta Cana, Montego Bay, Rome, and Dublin. A TRIP YOU’LL DIG Speaking of family travel, the budding paleontologists in your brood may really love a trip to Indiana Caverns (indianacaverns.com), the spectacular cave system in Corydon, IN (about 20 miles from Louisville, KY), where a team from the Indiana State Museum and Historic Site will start unearthing the remains of prehistoric animals on April. The dig will include an observation deck for visitors to witness the action, and the team will bring buckets of excavated sediment and bones up to the observation deck to show visitors what they’ve found and explain its importance. “This groundbreaking fieldwork being conducted by Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites experts offers our guests and extraordinary opportunity to be there and watch as history is being discovered,” says Jeremy Yackle, Harrison County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director. PET-SAFETY TIPS FROM THE ASPCA Love traveling with your pet? Dr. Kristen Frank, Medical Director, ASPCA Animal Hospital, DVM, DACVIM (aspca.org), offers some easy, common-sense tips for pet safety during air travel: * Pets in the cabin of an airplane should be contained in a well-ventilated carrier, which should never be placed in an overhead bin. * Pets should have access to circulating air and to water; a toy, treat, or blanket may also help to keep them relaxed in transit. * Pet owners should always consult with their pet’s veterinarian when considering travel to determine what is safe for the individual animal based on trip duration, age, species, breed, and other factors. * Pet owners should travel with a pet kit containing any necessities, including proof of vaccinations. * Medications should be given only on a case-by-case basis with veterinary approval. * Check with individual airlines to discuss fees or restrictions such as those on carriers, breeds, or species. * Always exercise caution and consider all available options when traveling with a pet.

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

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: COFFEE TOURISM 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. (starbucks.com) SETTING FIRE TO SOCKS 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. (destinationpanamacity.com) DANCING AT THE WHITNEY 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. (whitney.org)

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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.

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The Opry celebrates a grand ole birthday

Heading to Nashville, Tenn., this year? You may notice a couple of abnormally large guitars beckoning you through the entrance of the Grand Ole Opry House—guitars reaching 20 feet high and made up of 3,000 pounds of steel and aluminum, to be exact. This new memorial honors the country music venue's 85th birthday, a bash that will draw participation from such classic legends as Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride to relative newcomers like Carrie Underwood and Dierks Bentley. Leading up to the grand finale on Oct. 8th and 9th, venues all around the city will be featuring additional concerts and special gallery exhibits throughout the summer. Grand Ole Opry House: In a strange turn of events last month, the Opry House was hit with the worst Middle Tennessee floods in more than 100 years, with water rising nearly four feet above the stage. While renovations are frantically underway, various area locations—the Ryman Auditorium, Allen Arena at Lipscomb University, and War Memorial Auditorium—are housing the Grand Ole Opry and Opry Country Classics shows until they return to their digs in October. Don't be surprised if you spot celebrities about town as they accept the duties of "guest announcer" from now until the party in Oct. (2804 Opryland Dr., 800/733-6779, ticket prices vary) Grand Ole Opry Museum: Due to reopen the first week of October and located just steps away from the Opry House, three new exhibits will allow a behind-the-scenes peek into Opry secrets, including images captured by the official show photographers Chris Hollo and Les Leverett, artifacts from young country performers rapidly rising to stardom, and memorabilia from the late Opry icon Porter Wagoner. (Grand Ole Opry Plaza, 2802 Opryland Dr., 800/733-6779, $5) Acuff Theatre: The venue for the grand finale Opry Birthday Concert is guaranteed to be full of surprises yet to be announced, and will bring out every who's who of country music entertainment. If you can only attend one event this year, this would be the one that you shouldn't miss. (2804 Opryland Dr., 800/733-6779, tickets and tour packages from $95) EARLIER Trip Coach: Dreamin' of Nashville