Uncorking the Best and Most Affordable Wine Regions in the US
HomeToGo, the marketplace with the world's largest selection of vacation rentals, unveiled its 2023 Wine Lovers Index that identifies the top 25 U.S. wine regions for budget-conscious travelers to celebrate National Drink Wine Day on February 18, 2023. Considering the affordability of nearby vacation rentals, the average price for wine tours and tastings, and the cost of a local top-quality bottle of wine, HomeToGo barreled through cellars of data to uncork the list of the best wine regions for affordable vino vacations.
“As enotourism continues to gain popularity, we are thrilled to shine light on these U.S. wine regions during the season of romance so travelers can plan intimate, wine-filled escapes without breaking the bank,” said Mike Pearce, HomeToGo Spokesperson and Travel Expert. “Through our research, we found that the northeastern region of the United States is home to some highly regarded and very affordable wine vacations. We hope this index inspires those travelers who are dreaming of warmer days ahead and planning trips where they will be able to sip back, relax and savor the beautiful vineyard views.”
On average, travelers can anticipate paying $116.63 per night for a vacation rental in one of the wonderful wine regions featured in the grape-infused index. Including regions with centuries of rich wine history as well as up-and-coming innovators of winemaking, here's a look into the top 5 rankings from the 2023 Wine Lovers Index:
5. Monticello, Virginia
Located in the central region of Piedmont, Virginia, the Monticello AVA grows 30 varieties of grapes and has nearly 250 years of experience producing wine, starting with the American Revolutionary War. This rich history of winemaking is reflected in the Monticello Wine Trail, a 25-mile adventure through 40 award-winning wineries. Visitors can track their wine trail stops in an app on their mobile devices and, upon visiting 10 wineries, receive a special surprise.
4. Isle St. George, Ohio
As one of the first regions in the country to be officially recognized as an AVA, the Isle St. George region is situated on the small island of North Bass and is sometimes referred to as “covered in grapevines” due to its high concentration of wineries. The climate, which is influenced by the warm waters of Lake Erie, allows for the production of grape varietals such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Delaware and Catawba. The AVA includes the oldest winery in Ohio, Heineman’s Winery, which has been producing wine for five generations! Isle St. George also boasts the most affordable wine-tasting tours when compared to the rest of the destinations on the list. For only $10, wine lovers can appreciate the bold flavors and enticing aromatics during a one to two-hour tasting of three to six wines.
3. Middleburg, Virginia
The Middleburg AVA, nestled only 50 miles outside of the nation’s capital, is one of Virginia’s fastest growing appellations. Home to more than 30 wineries and vineyards in the area, travelers can explore the mountainous terrain and wooded countryside while sipping on full-bodied blends. Perfect for red wine lovers, this wine region is known to produce grapes for wine varietals including Norton, Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Bordeaux-style blends.
2. Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Located in eastern Pennsylvania, less than an hour from the Poconos, the Lehigh Valley wine region has over 30 wineries across 230 acres of land. The area grows signature grape varietals such as Chambourcin, Riesling, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, and Cayuga White. Travelers are encouraged to explore the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, which boasts five award-winning, family-owned vineyards for the ultimate vino-filled experience, as well as visit the local small towns along the charming countryside that are filled with the flavors of the region.
1. Shawnee Hills, Illinois
As the first AVA in Illinois, the Shawnee Hills region encompasses nearly 20 wineries and 55 vineyards. Located along the Ohio River, the region’s loose soil, warm climate, and high terrain factor into the taste of the wines produced here. Visitors can wander along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, a 35-mile scenic drive in the Shawnee National Forest that features 11 award-winning wineries. After a cozy conversation in tasting rooms, travelers are welcome to embrace the local natural beauty and enjoy picturesque picnics on the hillside. Shawnee Hills also offers the most affordable accommodation price per night at $34.90—whereas Napa Valley, California, chimes in as the most expensive at $208.16 per night.
—Click here to see the full rankings of affordable wine destinations
Six Ways to Explore Wyoming's "Secret Season"
Wyoming’s “secret season” might be the best time to take in this great state. March and April are the snowiest months in Wyoming, making many of the state’s best winter activities possible well into the spring. Meanwhile, increasingly warm temperatures support a full menu of things to do like spring skiing, fat biking, snowmobiling, hot springs swimming, and more. Below is a complete breakdown of new things to do across Wyoming for visitors this early spring. Spring Skiing Snowy Range Ski Area - courtesy of travelwyoming.com While there is no official start date, spring skiing season serves as a “last call” of sorts before the slopes for area resorts close for the summer, typically enjoyed from late February to early April when temperatures begin to warm. Resorts tend to offer lift tickets at lower rates during this time, as compared to prices during the busy winter season and lodging and airfare rates also tend to be lower during the spring season as well. Spring skiing also can mean shorter lift lines, great powder and sunny skies (just don’t forget your sunblock!). Places to find prime spring skiing include Snowy Range Ski Resort in Centennial, Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area and Meadowlark Ski Lodge in the Bighorn Mountains, the resorts in and around Jackson Hole — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Grand Targhee Resort and Snow King Area & Mountain Resort — and Hogadon Ski Area in Casper. Snowmobiling Snowmobiling in the Bighorn Mountains - courtesy of travelwyoming.com Many of the state’s snowmobiling areas receive enough snowfall to keep trails open until mid-March or later. The Wyoming Range, between Alpine and Kemmerer, has about 336 miles of trails that can have substantial snow for riding through May. The popular Continental Divide Snowmobiling Trail follows the Wind River Range for 829 miles and has a grooming season that typically runs until mid-March. Visit the Wyoming State Trails website for maps and up-to-date trail conditions. Other places for sled heads to ride include the Snowy Range, Sierra Madre Mountains and Beartooth Mountains. Hot Springs Thermopolis Hot Springs - courtesy of Hot Springs Travel and Tourism The Cowboy State’s hot springs are open year-round, but are especially heavenly when there’s snow on the ground. Thermopolis’ Hot Springs State Park has free indoor and outdoor soaking pools, while Saratoga is home to the pampering Saratoga Resort & Spa and Hobo Pool, a locals’ favorite. Other soaking locales include Granite Hot Springs in Jackson and Boiling River Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Learn more about hot springs in Wyoming. Spa Treatments Rather stay indoors? Be sure to add Snow King Resort’s new 9,000 square foot spa to your list. It is set to unveil its new crown jewel in mid-Feb 2023, making Snow King Resort the largest, full-service resort and spa in Jackson. Located in the Grand View Lodge, the spa will feature six treatment rooms including a couple’s suite, locker rooms with experiential showers, hot tubs and eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, an infrared sauna, a scenic outdoor deck with a large hot tub and more. Museums Even Wyoming’s smallest cities have museums, galleries and historical centers to keep those waiting for warmer weather entertained indoors. The National Museum of Military Vehicles recently opened the Poolaw Building, the newest facility on its campus just southeast of Dubois. The building was named after Pascal Poolaw, who served with the United States Army in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War and is the United States’ most decorated Native American, with 42 medals and citations, including four Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts—one for each war. Dining, Shopping, & Sipping The Railspur in Cheyenne, Wyoming - courtesy of therailspur.com Adding to Wyoming's music and food scene this year is the unique, quirky and ever inviting Railspur in Cheyenne. Built from rail cars, rail bridge beams, and repurposed wood, The Railspur takes the old and makes it brand new, all while offering something for everyone. In Casper, check out The Drinkery. This newly opened restaurant serves up beer, cocktails, and a build-your-own charcuterie board and also offers zero-proof distilled non-alcoholic spirits. Visit Casper recently launched a Local Ale Trail to inspire beer drinkers from far and wide to check out their now eight breweries (making them the city with the most breweries in Wyoming!). Additionally, Soda Springs also opened in Casper, featuring old-fashioned soda drinks and specialty concoctions. The Warehouse Gastropub recently made its debut in Sheridan featuring a contemporary spin on classic pub fare. A brand-new space in the heart of downtown, the restaurant also includes a large patio, outdoor and indoor games (bocce; pool tables; video golf) and more. Green River recently welcomed a new bike and board shop, Geared Up, offering a variety of bike rentals as well as snowboard and splitboards. Geared up is also continently located near the entryway to the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, with several miles of wide-open spaces and breathtaking views.
Where to Stay for an Affordable Spring Break Getaway
With flight prices skyrocketing due to a mix of inflation, high demand, and lower airline capacity, travelers are searching for more affordable destinations for their spring break getaways. Below are 10 great places to stay—including everything from campsites and beachside retreats, to city-center hotels and resort-town stays—where visitors can escape winter boredom and avoid rising travel prices. Fossil Valley RV Park – Vernal, Utah Fossil Valley RV Park is a peaceful, family-friendly campground that offers a unique dinosaur-themed adventure for all ages and members of the family without breaking the bank, with RV and tent accommodations available to book on Pitchup.com for just $60/night. Families can experience the land before time at the nearby Dinosaur National Monument, which features prehistoric and paleolithic dinosaur fossils and footprints. For outdoor activities, the campground is surrounded by hiking and biking trails along the Colorado River. There are also convenient on-site amenities to accommodate a busy family, including a laundry room, accessible bathrooms and free WIFI, plus restaurants, shops and museums in the nearby town of Vernal. Camp Ikigai – Dunlap, California Camp Ikigai - courtesy of pitchup.com Camp Ikigai at Ikigai Animal Sanctuary is the ultimate nature-centric spring break getaway surrounded by the iconic Sequoia trees, canyons, lakes and valleys of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Beyond the easy access to the bucket-list national park, Camp Ikigai is situated on the 72-acre Ikigai Animal Sanctuary, a 100-year-old former cattle ranch that is now home to friendly free-roaming horses, sheep, dogs and cats, which campers are welcome to get to know and feed. Around the ranch, there are plenty of walking trails for the perfect warm-up before hitting the national park’s famous hiking trails, as well as picnic tables and barbecues to enjoy the peaceful Northern Californian evenings. The campground offers ample space to set up camp, with tents and RV sites starting at $58/night on Pitchup.com, an outdoor accommodation booking website that features endless options for a budget-friendly spring break outdoor adventure. Radio Hotel – New York, NY Radio Hotel, located in Upper Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, provides travelers with a unique stay experience without the steep prices of Downtown Manhattan hotels. With an average nightly rate of $150, travelers can take advantage of their Spring Breaks and hit the Big Apple without hurting their wallet. The 221-room boutique hotel is a first-of-its-kind in Washington Heights with an on-site Santo Domingo inspired restaurant Jalao NYC, an activated 8,000 square feet courtyard, 75,000 square feet of flexible event space, and a rooftop lounge with sweeping views of the NYC skyline, the GW Bridge and the Harlem River. Caribe Royale Orlando – Orlando, FL Caribe Royale Orlando - courtesy of Caribe Royale Orlando Located 1.5 miles from Disney’s doorstep, Caribe Royale Orlando is an all-suites, upscale destination beyond the theme parks that makes for an ideal spring break destination with—or without!—the kids. To get more out of the trip, Caribe is offering the following Spring Break Offer: When booking direct for stays from March 9 through April 22, 2023, guests save 15% off Best Available Rate, plus a bonus $25 daily F&B credit when booking two consecutive nights or more. Rates begin at $175/night. Caribe Royale recently underwent a $140 million reimagination, adding a new collection of classic-meets-contemporary 1-bedroom suites in addition to its 2-bedroom villas. On-site activities include Elevated F&B experiences, like a hands-on class at the Chocolate Academy, and tasting flights at the new Rum Bar featuring Bacardi®. Images (Credit: Caribe Royale Orlando) Marriott's Grande Vista – Orlando, FL With rates starting at $170/night, families will find Marriott's Grande Vista as an ideal “home base” and affordable option for a week-long spring break in the heart of Orlando. Part of The Marriott Vacation Clubs portfolio, the resort can be booked by Owners as well as leisure travelers just as they would book a traditional hotel online. Visit Orlando’s most popular attractions and during downtime, relax in a private multi-bedroom villa complete with a full kitchen, spa-like bathroom, and furnished balcony. On-site, enjoy amenities like outdoor swimming pools, tennis lessons, golf on an all-new course, a new spa recently reopened after a two-year renovation, and delightful breakfast options in the newly remodeled lighthouse. Marriott Marquis Houston - Houston, TX Marriott Marquis Houston is a great destination for a warm-weather spring break. The 6th-floor Altitude Rooftop & Pool is an urban oasis where guests can float around the world’s largest Texas-shaped lazy river and kick back in a private cabana with a photo-worthy cocktail in hand. Rates start around $330 for the Spring Break Package, which includes a $150 Total F&B credit (that can be used over one or two days), 20% off a spa service, access to Altitude Pool Deck, and unlimited bike rentals. LEGOLAND New York – Goshen, NY LEGOLAND New York - courtesy of LEGOLAND New York Just in time for spring break, LEGOLAND New York Resort is re-opening for the 2023 season! This year brings exciting new events and attractions like the opening of the highly anticipated Water Playground (coming this Memorial Day). After a day spent riding, driving, climbing, and building under the sun, guests can head to the Water Playground to cool off, build and race a LEGO® boat, splash on water slides and be doused by a giant 318-gallon water bucket. A changing area will be nearby so guests can move on with their day, enjoying the Park’s seven themed lands and can’t-miss attractions. The fun doesn’t stop at bedtime - sleep over in one of the LEGOLAND Hotel’s themed guest rooms that include a separate sleeping area just for kids (with bunk beds and a trundle) and interactive features throughout. Families can book a Vacation Package for savings on hotel stays and tickets (starting at $87 per person). Thompson Playa del Carmen – Playa del Carmen, Mexico Thompson Playa del Carmen pool and sun beds - Courtesy of Thompson Playa del Carmen Thompson Playa del Carmen, part of Hyatt’s Boundless Portfolio of hotels, is a two-in-one adults-only urban resort in the heart of Playa del Carmen’s Quinta Avenida. The Main House features a signature rooftop playscape with 360-degree views, a block-long infinity pool, panoramic seascapes, two on-site restaurants, live DJs, a vibrant social scene, and luxury cabanas perfect for an adults-only escape. Just a 10-minute walk away, guests also have access to the resort’s Beach House property that features a private beach club with complimentary lounge chairs, cabanas by the pool boasting the best ocean views, beachfront restaurant and complimentary yoga classes. Both properties are available to book through Hyatt’s rewards programs. When you book by February 28, 2023, get your third night free for the price of two. Starting rate: $187/night before discounts. Davenport Hotel Collection – Spokane, Washington Also known as the Lilac City, spring in Spokane is the best time for travelers to explore the city’s endless trails, wine tasting in the Cork District, award-winning restaurants, booming sports arena, access to the area’s five ski resorts, and an immersive arts scene for an adventurous getaway. For visitors looking for outdoor exploration, visit Riverfront Park (home to America’s largest urban waterfall) to view the falls from gondolas, enjoy spring skiing, or take a walk in the Lilac Garden at Manito Park (one of 87 in the region) to view the city’s very own lilac, the Syringa Spokane. Spokane’s Cork District is found at the core of downtown and features fifteen award-winning wineries within walking distance of one another. Better yet, it’s surrounded by shopping, dining, and the entertainment district where visitors can find Broadway plays, James Beard recognized chefs, farm to fork culinary experiences, and views of Spokane River Falls. Visitors who want to discover all the destination has to offer can choose between the elaborate architecture at The Historic Davenport (a landmark in itself!) or The Davenport Grand’s chic contemporary flare and downtown views. At The Historic Davenport guests can dine in the lobby’s restaurant in front of the magnificent crackling fireplace or indulge in treatments at The Davenport Spa. At the Davenport Grand, indulge in the hotel’s restaurant, Table 13, which features a small-plate, big flavor specialty whiskey bar. The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club – Waikiki, Hawaii The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club - courtesy of The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club For the quintessential Hawaii experience at an affordable price point, travelers can book the retro inspired Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club this spring break. At The Surfjack, visitors can soak in Hawaii’s sunshine poolside at the customized ‘Wish You Were Here’ pool and indulge in award-winning regional cuisine at Mahina & Sun’s. The hotel’s central location in the heart of Waikiki allows for foodies to explore delicious eats on a budget in walking distance, such as $5 udon at Marugame, spam musubi and rice balls at Musubi Café Iyasume and dairy-free banana ice cream from Banan. Guests can also secure discounted rates through the hotel’s Shaka Brah! deal, which covers parking and amenity fees. Those traveling with fido will love the hotel’s one-of-a-kind pet-friendly amenities found nowhere else on the island (think: SUP paddle and surf lessons for dogs and pet portraits with a local dog photographer). With no additional fees or weight limits, Surfjack dogs will feel right at home and can spring break in style with their owners. Rates start at $182 per night in spring 2023.
Three National Parks That Are Both Beautiful and Budget-friendly
National parks are a great way to get away from the world and appreciate the beauty of nature, and with the US being home to over 60 national parks, you are really spoilt for choice when deciding which one to visit. Travel Lens decided to make that choice a little bit easier. They looked at entrance fees, the number of recreational visitors, the distance to the closest city, outdoor activities, and online reviews from sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Using all of this data together, they found parks that are both beloved for their natural beauty and top-rated activities, as well as affordable thanks to lower fees and easy access to major towns. With spring and warmer, sunnier days ahead, you'll want to plan a trip to one of these great parks soon! 3) Olympic National Park Waterfall in Olympic National Park - courtesy of nps.gov / Pete Zaidel Third place in the rankings is Olympic National Park with a total park score of 7.75 out of 10. The Washington-based national park is just 1.8 miles away from Port Angeles, its closest city. Olympic National Park also has 45% of its reviews mentioning the word “beautiful”, making it a great place to enjoy some scenery. However, it does come at a cost, with a $15 entrance fee. The park protects over 75 miles of Pacific Coast, 800 lakes, and 4,000 miles of rivers and streams that support some of the most extensive runs of wild salmon, trout, and char remaining in the Pacific Northwest. Through the management of fish and aquatic environments, the park works to preserve and restore native fishes and their habitats and provide recreational fishing opportunities for the enjoyment of park visitors. Many wild animals dwell within Olympic National Park. Despite their abundance, viewing wildlife is often a matter of luck and diligence. Most wildlife activity occurs around dawn and dusk, when animals feed. Plan excursions during these parts of the day to increase your chances of seeing wildlife. Olympic's diverse environment and epic scenery is the ultimate destination for amateur and professional photographers alike. Whether you're inspired by rich green forests, reflective glacier carved lakes, snowcapped subalpine mountain vistas, or red-orange coastal sunsets, Olympic has it all. Painters from all over the world come to Olympic National Park to paint. Set up your easel, break out your paint burshes, and set up your palette. Whether on a mountain ridge, a deep rainforest, or a sunny beach, Olympic National Park is your canvas! 2) Cuyahoga Valley National Park Blue Hen Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park - courtesy of nps.gov Cuyahoga Valley National Park takes second place with a national park score of 8.16 out of 10. Despite being one of the smaller national parks on our list, with an area of just 131.8km2, there are still plenty of things to do in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Ohio-based national park also boasts a free entrance fee, meaning anyone can go and enjoy it, as well as a short distance to its closest city. Just three miles separate Cuyahoga Valley and Peninsula. A railroad runs through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, making it one of the most distinctive national parks. Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad tickets sell out quickly, especially in the fall when the park is ablaze with the hues of autumn. A Bike Aboard program allows you to pack up your bike, ride the train for a few stops, and ride your bike back to your starting point. The park has nearly 125 miles of hiking routes, one of which is Virginia Kendall Ledges. It's a 2.2-mile trek through a densely wooded area filled with enormous limestone boulders, mossy cliffs, and caverns. One of the best paths for photographing is this one since it changes appearance depending on the season. The route here descends into a bit of valley and then back up again, culminating with an overlook that is a favorite site for sunset viewing. The trail is unpaved and uneven, making it a somewhat challenging trek. 1) Great Smoky Mountains National Park Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park - courtesy of nps.gov Great Smoky Mountains National Park takes the top spot with a national park score of 8.45 out of 10. Great Smoky Mountains National park, which sits on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, ranked highly across all our sections, recording the most recreational visitors out of all of our national parks, with over 14 million visitors. The Great Smoky Mountains also had the second-highest percentage of reviews that mention the word “beautiful." Hikers enjoy the Smoky Mountains during all months of the year with every season offering is own special rewards. During winter, the absence of deciduous leaves opens new vistas along trails and reveals stone walls, chimneys, foundations, and other reminders of past residents. Spring provides a weekly parade of wildflowers and flowering trees. In summer, walkers can seek out cool retreats among the spruce-fir forests and balds or follow splashy mountain streams to roaring falls and cascades. Autumn hikers have crisp, dry air to sharpen their senses and a varied palette of fall colors to enjoy. Cades Cove is a broad, verdant valley surrounded by mountains and is one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies. It offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. Large numbers of white-tailed deer are frequently seen, and sightings of black bear, coyote, ground hog, turkey, raccoon, skunk, and other animals are also possible. An 11-mile, one-way loop road circles the cove, offering motorists the opportunity to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Allow at least two to four hours to tour Cades Cove, longer if you walk some of the area's trails. Traffic is heavy during the tourist season in summer and fall and on weekends year-round. While driving the loop road, please be courteous to other visitors and use pullouts when stopping to enjoy the scenery or view wildlife. An inexpensive self-guiding tour booklet available at the entrance to the road provides a map and information about the cove. — Visit Travel Lens for the complete rankings.
3 Ways to Celebrate Mardi Gras Outside of New Orleans
With the annual celebration of Mardi Gras, many travelers may be looking for ways to partake in the festivities without the high-end price and stress of New Orleans. Here are three great alternatives for an equally (or more!) exciting and unique Mardi Gras experience. International Flavors of Carnaval at Universal Studios Florida Stilt walker at Universal Studios Florida - universalorlando.com Universal Orlando Resort guests can let the good times roll and party beyond the bayou during Universal’s Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval. The fan-favorite event returns to Universal Studios Florida with a dazzling parade, mouthwatering cuisine inspired by global Carnaval celebrations and star-studded live concerts on select nights. Running daily from February 4 through April 16, this year’s festivities invite guests to: Enjoy eight live performances by top names in music like Sean Paul, Maren Morris and Goo Goo Dolls at the Music Plaza Stage on select nights (see below for full concert lineup)Catch beads by the handful during this year’s dazzling “Mythical Realms of Mardi Gras” parade – featuring six new floats inspired by fantastical creatures like dragons, phoenixes, unicorns and more that will join Universal’s traditional lineup of New Orleans-inspired floats – such as the iconic, two-story Riverboat and nearly 50-foot-long King Gator. Plus, guests can take the celebration to the next level and be part of the festivities by tossing beads to fellow partygoers by purchasing the new Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience, which includes a 3-course meal at one of four participating restaurants and one Mardi Gras parade float rider reservation.Taste the mouthwatering flavors of global Carnaval celebrations from New Orleans to Brazil to Belgium and beyond with an expansive menu featuring more than 50 tasting-sized items. Plus, guests can enjoy more for less with the purchase of the Universal Orlando Resort Food and Beverage Card by paying $65 for a $75 card, and Universal Orlando Passholders have exclusive access to a $150 card for only $120.Stock up on the latest Mardi Gras merchandise at this year’s Mardi Gras Tribute Store, located in an all-new space in the Hollywood area of the park. The highly immersive retail location is themed to represent an international jazz celebration that leads to the traditional alleyways of New Orleans and ultimately into a speakeasy where the Mardi Gras festivities continue.Keep the party going at Universal CityWalk with special Mardi Gras menu items at select restaurants, including a new Masquerade Milkshake at The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, along with food kiosks located throughout the complex featuring delicious menu items that offer a taste of the Mediterranean, the Islands and popular Mardi Gras fare. Plus, guests can attend a Mardi Gras After Party at Pat O’Brien’s on select nights and enjoy special entertainment and theming at the Red Coconut Club – which will transform to the Cursed Coconut Club for the Mardi Gras season.And more! Access to Universal’s Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval is included with admission to Universal Studios Florida or with an Annual or Seasonal Pass (blockout dates apply). Florida Residents can take advantage of a new offer to partake in the festivities that gives them two days of free admission to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure with the purchase of a 2-Park, 2-Day ticket (valid for use through June 29, 2023; blockout dates apply) – and for just $25 more, they can add one day of admission to Universal’s Volcano Bay. For more information about Universal’s Mardi Gras, visit www.UniversalOrlando.com/MardiGras. Kid-friendly Museums & Parades in Coastal Mississippi Coastal Mississippi Mardi Gras Museum - courtesy of gulfcoast.org "The Secret Coast" is not too far from New Orleans, so it has the added benefit of sharing in the French Creole and Cajun cultures that make Louisiana's famous celebration so distinct. The gulf coast area has unique museums and more than 20 parades, each featuring floats, events and more along the 62-mile coastline. Many of the celebrations are family friendly, welcoming everyone to join along in the Mardi Gras entertainment. Coastal Mississippi Mardi Gras Museum: Located in Biloxi, this family friendly museum welcomes all to experience the unique coastal history of Mardi Gras on The Secret Coast. LMDC Children’s Mardi Gras Celebration: Mardi Gras but for the family! On January 28 at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, families can come together in their favorite Mardi Gras costume and enjoy Mardi Gras themed music, bingo, art activities and karaoke. Annual Ocean Springs - Elks Mardi Gras Parade: The first large parade of the Mardi Gras season in The Secret Coast, taking place on February 4, from Front Beach to Holcomb Blvd. in Ocean Springs. Annual Biloxi Children’s Mardi Gras Walking Parade: Starting on February 11 at 10pm, this walking parade features art activities, refreshments, custom and float contests through the streets of Downtown Biloxi. Annual Gulf Coast Carnival Association Mardi Gras Parade: Rush through the streets of downtown Biloxi on February 21 with The Secret Coast’s biggest Mardi Gras parade. 115 years and strong - What happens on the float...stays on the float!Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras Night Parade: The last parade of the Mardi Gras season, the evening of February 21 in Gulfport, starting on 19th street and winding through elegant downtown Gulfport. For more information on Coastal Mississippi’s Mardi Gras celebrations, please find the link here. Also, images can be found here. Soulard's Cajun Food & Festivities in St. Louis, Missouri Bud Light Parade in Soulard - courtesy of stlmardigras.org The second largest Mardi Gras celebration in the US takes place in St. Louis, in Soulard (somewhat fittingly, a neighborhood with a French name that means “drunkard”). Every year, the celebrations begin in the first week of January and last through most of February. Events include a winter festival, scavenger hunt, Cajun cook-off, a pet parade and "weiner dog derby," and much more. New this year, cooking demonstrations will include cannabis-infused Cajun cuisine with help from N’Bliss cannabis dispensary. Chef Mike Johnson of Sugarfire Smokehouse and Chef Adam Pritchett of the Hi-Pointe Drive-In will demonstrate how to infuse cannabis into some of their favorite Cajun dishes just two days before recreational cannabis sales begin in Missouri. For more great food, there's the "Taste of Soulard" held February 11th and 12th. This self-guided tasting and pub crawl allows visitors to choose their own adventure through the many Cajun flavors throughout Soulard. Each purchase includes one drink voucher and six food vouchers that can be redeemed at any of the participating establishments. On Saturday, Trolleys will be shuttling merrymakers to restaurants throughout the neighborhood. The Mayor’s Ball is a must-attend gala on February 17th that features fine cuisine, cocktails, dancing, live music, and aerial acts throughout the event. This charitable event is hosted by the Mardi Gras Foundation, and the proceeds go to create community grants that have shown demonstrable benefits to the Soulard and Downtown communities since 2003. The crown jewel of the Soulard Mardi Gras season is the biggest parade outside of the Big Easy: the Bud Light Grand Parade—this year it will be held on February 18th. It begins at Busch Stadium and proceeds through the streets of Downtown South and Soulard to the place where your beer was born: Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The fun doesn’t have to stop at the Bud Light Grand Parade. Afterwards, there's the post-parade Rue du Cirque street party featuring games, live music, a High Heel Drag Race, and a world record-breaking attempt at the largest game of Flip Cup.
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