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    State of Virginia

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    Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States, between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most-populous city, and Fairfax County is the most-populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's population in 2020 was over 8.65 million, with 36% of them living in the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area.

    The area's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607, the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent English colony in the New World. Virginia's state nickname, the Old Dominion, is a reference to this status. Slave labor and land acquired from displaced native tribes fueled the growing plantation economy, but also fueled conflicts both inside and outside the colony. Virginia was one of the Thirteen Colonies during the American Revolution, becoming part of the United States in 1776. The state was split by the American Civil War in 1861, when Virginia's state government in Richmond joined the Confederacy, but many in the state's western counties remained loyal to the Union, helping form the state of West Virginia in 1863. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major political parties are competitive in modern Virginia.

    Virginia's state legislature is the Virginia General Assembly, which was established in July 1619, making it the oldest current law-making body in North America. It is made up of a 40-member Senate and a 100-member House of Delegates. The state government is unique in how it treats cities and counties equally, manages local roads, and prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia's economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley; high tech and federal agencies, including the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency, in Northern Virginia; and military facilities in Hampton Roads, the site of the region's main seaport.

    Find more things to do, itinerary ideas, updated news and events, and plan your perfect trip to State of Virginia
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    InspirationDestinations

    Unique New Years Eve Drops

    Everyone knows that New York City is famous for its New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, but for those looking for something a little more unique and symbolic to ring in 2022, these towns are hosting slightly weird yet totally “on-brand” drops on December 31. MoonPie Drop , Mobile, Alabama Photo by Joseph Brooke / Flickr Creative Commons Mobile’s mantra is “Born to Celebrate,” which makes New Year’s Eve a pretty exciting time around here. At midnight, you can witness a 600-pound electric MoonPie drop from the sky, complete with fireworks and a laser light show. Mobile’s big claim to fame is that it’s home to America’s original Mardi Gras. In the mid-1900s, locals started tossing sticky-sweet (but still-wrapped!) MoonPies from their Mardi Gras floats. Spectators went crazy for them and today an estimated half-million pies get tossed during an average Carnival season. Since Mobile loves a good party – and consumes more MoonPies per capita than anywhere else (including the pies’ hometown of Chattanooga) – its citizens decided to create the world’s largest electric MoonPie to help them usher in each new year. Mushroom Drop, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, which is part of the Brandywine Valley, is known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World” because more than 60% of all the mushrooms in the United States are grown here. Celebrate their nickname – and their favorite crop -- by dropping a 700-pound lighted mushroom on New Year’s Eve during the annual Midnight in the Square event. The mushroom will be raised right before 9 p.m. and the drop will be live-streamed across social media at midnight. Marlin Drop, Orange Beach, Alabama Gulf Shores Reelin' in the New Year at The Wharf The Wharf, a popular dining, shopping and entertainment district in the town of Orange Beach, is hosting Reelin’ in The New Year from 5 p.m. to midnight on December 31. The highlight of this event is the Marlin Drop, a fishy nod to one of the many outdoor activities that draw visitors here year round. It’s free admission for the drop, and the whole family can come and ring in the new year Gulf Coast-style. Apple Drop, Winchester, Virginia To celebrate the arrival of the new year, a 400-pound apple is dropped more than 100 feet during the First Night Winchester event. First Night Winchester has been a tradition in the Northern Shenandoah Valley since 1987. Winchester is known as the “Apple Capital” because it’s the largest apple-producing area in all of Virginia and home to countless apple orchards. Giant Acorn Drop, Raleigh, N.C. Courtesy firstnightraleigh.com Each December 31 a giant copper acorn, the official monument commemorating the bicentennial of “the City of Oaks,” is transported from Raleigh’s Moore Square to the roof of the Civic Center where it’s dropped to celebrate the New Year - First Night Raleigh. Clam Drop, Yarmouth, Maine On December 31, Yarmouth's First Universalist Church lowers a giant clam named Steamer 25 feet from the bell tower. The Clam Drop includes music, cookies and cocoa to stay warm. Giant Potato Drop, Boise, Idaho Courtesy mrfood.com This year will be the 9th annual Idaho Potato Drop in Boise, Idaho. From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., ring in the new year with food trucks, a beer garden, fireworks, and of course, the potato drop in front of the Idaho State Capitol.

    DealsInspirationRediscover America

    Black Friday's best travel deals from around the web

    Whether you’re planning a staycation closer to home or an epic adventure in Mexico or the Caribbean, these Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals will help you do it for less, with rates starting under $250 per night and most travel dates extending into or through 2022. Note that blackout dates apply, most properties have flexible cancellation policies and some links won’t be active until November 26, 2021. Click here to join Budget Travel's free membership program for access to incredible deals year-round. Vacation Packages, Guided Tours and Cruises Apple Vacations & FunJet: Book November 24–December 4 to save up to $175 on mainland U.S. vacation packages and up to $500 on trips to Hawaii, Europe, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Beach Bound: Book your beach break November 26–30 to save up to $175 on trips to Florida and $500 on trips to Hawaii. Deals to Mexico and the Caribbean are also available, with $250 off stays of five or more nights with promo code BB250 and $500 off stays of seven or more nights with promo code BB500. Cheap Caribbean: This year’s specials include all-inclusive resorts from $49 per person per night, $250 off stays of five or more nights (with promo code CYBER250) and $500 off stays of seven or more nights (with promo code CYBER500) when you book November 25–30. G Adventures: Now through December 3, you can save up to 30% on over 500 guided tours around the world operating through March 31, 2022, and up to 20% on select tours through October 31, 2022, as part of G Adventures’ Cyber Sale. Go City: A great staycation option, you’ll get 15% off Go City passes in San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York City, Miami, Orlando, Hawaii (Oahu), as well as Cancun and London, by purchasing them November 23–30. Passes are valid for up to two years so you can always wait until you’re ready to travel again before activating them. City Cruises: Celebrate the season with 20% discounts on dining cruises in various cities around the U.S., Canada and the U.K. when you use promo code CYBER20 to book November 23-29 and set sail in December 2021. Priceline: Its biggest sale EVER. Sales unlock throughout the day for deep discounts on hotels, rental cars, flights, cruises, and more. Email rewards members can be on the lookout for a mystery coupon offering up to 99% off on hotel bookings. Virgin Voyages: Those ready to get back into cruising can save 20% and score a $100 bonus bar tab (when purchasing a $300 bar tab) as part of Virgin Voyages’ sale. Book November 15–29 to save on Scarlet Lady sailings from December 1, 2021, to March 27, 2022, and Valiant Lady sailings from March 18, 2022, to May 22, 2022. Hotels in the U.S. Hyatt: You can save up to 15% at over 850 participating Hyatt hotels and resorts by booking now through December 21 and staying by April 30, 2022. Arlo Hotels: Book November 26–29 to save 40% on rates at Arlo Hotels’ Miami and New York City properties when you stay now through April 30, 2022. Caesars: Caesars’ Atlantic City and Las Vegas hotels are offering 25% off stays booked November 22–28 with promo code CYBER21 and 30% off rates booked on November 29 with promo code CYBERM and November 30 with promo code CYBERT. All stays must be completed by October 31, 2022. Lark Hotels and Bluebird by Lark: Save 25% at Lark’s properties in the Northeastern U.S. and California when you use promo code CYBER2021, book November 26–29 and stay by May 12, 2022. Westgate Resorts: Use promo code FRIDAY to save up to 50% off at one of Westgate Resorts’ 27 U.S. properties when you book November 26–30. Florida Thesis Hotel Miami: Save 40% on rates at this chic Coral Gables hotel when you book November 22–29 and stay November 22 through September 5, 2022. Shelborne South Beach: Book between Black Friday and Cyber Monday to receive discounts of up to 60% on stays through 2022. The Balflour Hotel: Reserve four or more nights now through November 30 to save 25% on stays through April 30, 2022. You’ll also receive a nifty $50 food and beverage credit to use while you’re there. Plunge Beach Resort: In Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Plunge Beach Resort is offering 50% off weekday bookings made November 23–30. Use promo code Sale50 and stay for at least three nights by December 22, 2022. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort: This popular panhandle resort is offering discounts of up to 40% when you book November 29–December 2 and travel by March 11, 2022. Tennessee Hu. Hotel: Use promo code CYBER to save 25% on rates at this newly redesigned Memphis property when you book November 26 to December 3 and travel from December 5, 2021, to February 24, 2022. Bode: With two properties in Nashville and Chattanooga to choose from, Bode is offering discounts of 25% on its apartment-style rooms when you book a stay of at least two nights between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and stay November 26, 2021, to February 28, 2022. Virginia The Alexandrian and Morrison House: Just a 20-minute drive from Washington, D.C. in Old Town Alexandria, these two luxury hotels are offering 20% off stays December 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, when you book November 23–29. Colonial Williamsburg Resorts: Save 50% when you book November 23–29 and stay at least two nights between December 12, 2021, and March 31, 2022. Blue Ridge Parkway in Fall. Credit: Pgiam, Getty Images Rhode Island Hammett’s Hotel: Save up to 65% on your next trip to Newport, with weekday rates from $85 per night and weekend rates from $125 per night. Book November 26–30 and stay now through March 31, 2022, to take advantage of this offer. Pennsylvania $109 Poconos Ski Season Retreat: Includes Breakfast for two. Fully Refundable - Waking up to charming views of snowdrifts over Lake Wallenpaupack at Silver Birches in Hawley, PA, before days spent hiking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing through the Poconos. Philadelphia 4-star resort in city center: Flexible Deal - Hyatt Centric (Center City Philadelphia, PA) was so popular it sold out in under a week. In case you missed it last time, now's your chance to nab an upgraded room with killer views of Center City for just $149 per night through March. Massachusetts Those looking for a Berkshires getaway can save at the following properties when you book at least two nights November 26–30 and stay by May 26, 2022. Red Lion Inn: Save 65% at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, where prices start at $100 per night during the week and $150 per night on weekends. Briarcliff Motel: In Great Barrington, rates start at $50 per night during the week and $110 on weekends. The Seven Hills Inn: This Lenox property has weekday rates from $79 per night and weekend rates from $99 per night, reflecting a savings of 45%. Porches Inn: Save 45% on rates at this popular North Adams property, which has weekday prices from $100 per night and weekend prices from $200 per night. New Jersey Wave Resort: In Long Branch, Wave Resort is offering 40% off rooms booked as part of its Black Friday / Cyber Monday deal, valid on stays now through April 2022 when you book by November 29. The Asbury: Celebrate Black Friday at The Asbury with 35% off rates (use promo code JUSTBOOKTHEROOM) and Cyber Monday with 40% off stays of at least three nights (use promo code YOUDESERVEIT) when you stay by April 30, 2022. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa: Save 20% on rooms and 10% on suites at this fabulous Atlantic City resort when you book with promo code CYBER12 by December 2 and stay by April 30, 2022. Ocean Casino Resort: Save with king rooms from $59 per night and double rooms from $69 per night (each with a $20 food and beverage credit on Monday–Thursday stays November 28, 2021, to February 17, 2022) studio suites from $139 and one-bedroom suites from $239 on Sunday–Thursday stays within the same timeframe. Discounts to onsite shows and nightlife (valid November 22–29), and beauty services at the salon (valid November 22–December 6) are also available. Illinois Viceroy Chicago: Not only will you save 35% on bookings made now through December 6, you’ll also snag 30% discounts on dining when you use promo code CYBER2021 and stay by December 30, 2022. Sofitel Chicago, Swissotel Chicago and Fairmont Chicago: Three Accor hotels are offering 30% off stays November 22, 2021, to March 31, 2022, when you book November 22–29. Members of Accor’s loyalty program can also save an extra 10%. Gale Chicago: Save 60% during this Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale, with rates from $99 per night when you book November 26–29. Texas Hotel Granduca Austin: Save 20% on rates by booking November 29–December 3 and staying by May 31, 2022. As part of the deal, you’ll receive a $50 food and beverage credit and a $10 donation will be made to the Central Texas Food Bank when you use promo code CYBER21. Arizona Lodge on the Desert: In Tucson, guests who book November 26–29 with promo code BFCM21 and stay between January 1 and April 30, 2022, will receive 50% off rates and enjoy complimentary margaritas, chips and salsa. Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort: This popular Tucson resort is offering 40% off rates on select dates from December 2021 through August 2022 when you book November 26–29 online or by calling (520) 299-1501.. Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend tour from $299: Fully refundable with 24 hours before experience cancellation. Explore this beautiful iconic canyon with the people of your choice.. Experience the West Rim of the Grand Canyon from $95: Free cancelation up to 24 hours in advance. This flexible West Rim coach tour offers optional activities to enhance your experience. California $249 Posh Sonoma Wine Country Resort. Fully Refundable - Retreat to Sonoma (Santa Rosa, CA) and stay on 92 acres of vineyards at the always popular Vintners Resort. The deal highlights the best of the resort and features everything you'd need for a relaxing, romantic wine country getaway — a plush room, farm-to-table dining, plus complimentary wine tasting for two people. The Meritage Resort & Spa and Vista Collina Resort: Both Napa Valley resorts are offering 30% discounts and $30 resort credits when you book November 24–30 and visit by March 31, 2022. As part of the deal, a $10 donation will also be made to The First Responders Children’s Foundation. Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa: This deal saves you 21% on rates, throws in a $21 daily food and beverage credit and donates $21 to Just In Time, an organization supporting foster youth, when you book by December 1 and stay by April 30, 2022. Newport Beach 4-star Hyatt stay from $159: Fully Refundable - Whether you're looking for a restful retreat or an action-packed adventure, The Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, CA has you covered. Hop on a beach cruiser and ride along the coast, soak up the SoCal sunshine by the pool or head to the nearby amusement parks through the end of the year. Hotels in the Caribbean and Mexico $569 Cabo beach resort for 3 nights w/ perks: Fully Refundable - Villa La Estancia – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - This 4-star hotel sits on Medano Beach, one of the best beaches for swimming in Cabo, and it's only a five-minute drive from the happenings of the buzzing downtown area. St. Maarten All-inclusive beach vacation for 2: Kick back and relax on 10 acres of beachfront in the heart of Maho Village at Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino St. Maarten, which is filled with shops, restaurants, and entertainment lounges. This deal covers 4-star digs, plus all your meals and drinks, for just over $100 per person, per night over peak winter season dates. All-inclusive Puerto Vallarta resort 3-night stay for 2 from $899: This luxe all-inclusive Hilton Vallarta Riviera in the heart of Puerto Vallarta Mexico first opened its doors in August. Be among the first to stay while nabbing a room with a private balcony overlooking the Pacific, with this deal for travel through 2022. Atlantis Paradise Island: In Nassau, Bahamas, Atlantis Paradise Island is offering 20% discounts when you book at least five nights November 25–29 and stay between November 28, 2021, and November 30, 2022. You’ll also receive two free Covid-19 antigen tests (for travel back to the U.S.) and a $50 daily resort credit — or a $100 daily resort credit if you sign up for early access November 22–24. Lighthouse Pointe at Grand Lucayan: This fabulous Grand Bahama resort is offering rates from $93 per person per night on bookings made November 23–30 for travel November 25, 2021–January 31, 2022. Rates include all taxes, fees, daily continental breakfast and unlimited greens fees at the onsite golf course. ​​Curaçao: ​​Celebrate Black Friday and Cyber Monday with deals at 13 hot hotels, including 45% off at Acoya Curaçao Resort, Villas & Spa; 20% off at Papagayo Beach Hotel and Papagayo Beach Resort; up to 50% off at Sunscape Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino and Dreams Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino; and perks like complimentary tours and breakfast, among other deals and discounts. Saint Lucia: Choose from more than 30 travel deals among Saint Lucia’s many hotels, resorts, tours and attractions, all part of the island’s Cyber Monday sale. Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa: In St. Maarten, save 50% on stays of at least three nights at this all-inclusive resort when you use promo code BFSALE. Book now through November 28 and visit by December 23, 2022. Karisma Hotels & Resorts: Save 60% at Karisma’s all-inclusive hotels and resorts throughout the Caribbean and Mexico, including Azul Beach Resorts, El Dorado Spa Resorts, Margaritaville Island Reserve brands and Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts when you book now through December 6 and stay by December 23, 2022. Iberostar Grand Bávaro, Coral Level at Iberostar Selection Cancún and Iberostar Grand Rose Hall: These fabulous five-star all-inclusive resorts — located in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Jamaica, respectively — are each offering 60% off stays booked November 19–30. Las Brisas Hotel Collection: Score 40% discounts as well as 20% off food, drinks and spa treatments at Las Brisas properties in Mexico when you book November 22–29 and stay November 22, 2021–December 21, 2022. Call 1-866-221-2961 or email info@brisas.com.mx to book. Meliá Hotels International: This popular brand is offering two sales, each letting you save up to 50% at its U.S., Mexico and Caribbean properties. Now through November 28, use this link to book the Black Friday sale, then check this link for the Cyber Monday sale, available to book November 29–30.

    Inspiration

    Can’t Get to Europe? These U.S. Destinations Will Make You Feel Like You’re There

    With much of Europe off limits amid the current pandemic, Americans will have to wait longer to travel to and throughout the continent. However, they can find resemblances to some European countries a little closer to home. Here are locations across the U.S. that make you feel like you’ve set foot in a European destination with no passport required. To feel like you're in Greece... Head to Tarpon Springs, Florida More than one in 10 residents in this Gulf Coast city claim Greek ancestry, with Greek immigrants arriving in the late 19th century. They also gave Tarpon Springs the moniker, “The Sponge Capital of the World,” in that divers would apply the Greek Islands tradition of diving for sponges to Floridian waters. Nowadays, Greek heritage can be seen with locals in coffee shops along Athens Street. Along Dodecanese Boulevard, shop at Getaguru Handmade Soap Company and dine at Mykonos and Hellas Greek Restaurant. The Netherlands... Holland, Michigan Founded in the mid-19th century, this city on the shores of Lake Michigan makes you feel like you’ve set foot in the Netherlands. Experience a Dutch wonderland at the Windmill Island Gardens, with a windmill that grinds West Michigan sourced wheat into flour, while Nelis' Dutch Village shows the traditional making of wooden shoes. Every May, take in its Tulip Time Festival; later on in the year, do your holiday shopping at Kerstmarkt. Pella, Iowa Another Dutch destination, this Iowa location is all heritage museums, Dutch architecture, and the Vermeer Windmill, the tallest working grain windmill in the U.S. Then there’s Klokkenspel, a carillon clock going off on odd hours and with historic figurines coming in and out. And cuisine options are plenty, from Dutch bakeries’ Jaarsma Bakery and Vander Ploeg Bakery to Dutch Fix, serving up Dutch street food. lowthian, Getty Spain... St. Augustine, Florida As the nation’s oldest city, this former Spanish settlement is still noted through Colonial-style architecture and historic venues. Avile Street is the oldest street in the U.S. and is now an arts district with galleries and restaurants and historic venues. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, an old Spanish fortification built to protect their claim on the Atlantic trade route, is now overseen by the National Park Service. Denmark... Solvang, California Referred to as the “Danish capital of America,” this village in Santa Ynez Valley gets quite festive with its Solvang Julefest, a holiday event; Solvang Grape Stomp, a wine harvesting celebration; and Solvang Danish Days, a full-blown heritage festival. Regularly, you can see a copy of Denmark’s famous Little Mermaid sculpture and Elverhøj Museum of History & Art, whose exterior resembles an 18th-century Danish farmhouse. But be sure to try Danish pastries at bakeries including Aebleskiver Café and Birkholm's Bakery & Cafe. California, USA - August 6th, 2019 : Solvang Brewing Company in Solvang Historic Downtown, a Danish Village in Santa Ynez Valley. nicolasboivin, Getty Poland... New Britain, Connecticut Nicknamed “Little Poland,” this Hartford County city’s section of Broad Street continues the legacy built by Polish immigrants coming to work in factories over two centuries ago. It’s known for its annual Little Poland Festival, which holds cultural and family-friendly activities. Do some shopping in Polmart, a store with all things Polish, or for pierogis and stuffed cabbage at Roly Poly Bakery. Or order a meal at the highly recommended Staropolska Restaurant. Basque Region... Boise, Idaho With the most concentrated population of Basques living in the U.S., the “Basque Block” is a downtown section along Grove Street reflecting this legacy dating back two centuries. The Basque Museum and Cultural Center tells the history behind these emigrants from this northern Spain. The Basque Market carries Txakoli, Basque and Spanish wines and is known for weekly preparing giant paellas on the street. Go pintxo hopping at Txikiteo and Bar Gernika Basque Pub and Eatery. knowlesgallery, GettySwitzerland... New Glarus, Wisconsin Referred to as “America’s Little Switzerland,” this Wisconsin village showcases its Alpine-style architecture and a Cow Parade of statues depicting these dairy-producing animals. Established in 1845 by Swiss immigrants, New Glarus holds a Harvest Fest in October, where daily routines and responsibilities of the past – cheese making, blacksmithing, yarn spinning, you name it – are re-created. And at Emmi Roth Käse Cheese Factory, a Swiss-owned cheesemaker, take a self-guided tour. Germany... New Braunfels, Texas Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels arrived in what’s now the Texas Hill Country to motivate the founding of this 19th-century German colony. His royal presence lives on in murals depicting him and other key figures in The New Braunfels Historic Outdoor Art Museum. Head to Krause’s Cafe for its Biergarten and German fare, and the Gruene Historic District is where German farmers lived but now has a hopping’ dance hall, general store, and restaurant. Every November, Wurstfest serves up a German food-focused celebration. Leavenworth, Washington In the 1960s, officials decided to make this Deadwood-looking town into a Bavarian village to attract visitors. Today, its architecture is full of beamed houses with other German features ranging from restaurants (try the Bavarian Bistro and Bar) to German named gift shops (with European ornaments at Kris Kringl). Sweden... Lindsborg, Kansas Known as “Little Sweden, USA,” this city in Kansas’s Smoky Valley was settled by Swedish immigrants in the 1860s and Lindsborg still celebrates its Scandinavian roots through Swedish traditions year-round. Their event calendar includes St. Lucia Festival in December; Våffeldagen, which celebrates Swedish waffles in March; and Svensk Hyllningsfest, a biennial celebration. Spot sculptures of the Swedish Dala Horse around town and purchase a hand painted one from Hemslöjd. Italy... Napa Valley, California Giving a Tuscan landscape vibe, this wine-producing destination boasts wineries whose architectural features make you feel like you’re in Italy or another similar European countryside. To start, the Castello di Amorosa gives off the feeling of exploring a hill town in Tuscany or Umbria, with its 13th-century-style winery. Napa Valley is also noted for producing another associated Italian export -- oil olive -- and sample the bounty produced at Napa Valley Olive Oil Manufacturing Company. Napa Valley wine country mountain hillside vineyard growing crops for grape harvest and winery winemaking. Rows of lush, green grapevines ripen in cultivated agricultural farm fields glowing in sunset. Spondylolithesis, GettyFrance... New Orleans, French Quarter, Louisiana While bounced between the Spanish and influenced by indigenous peoples and African Americans, New Orleans was first founded and settled by the French. Their imprint lingers within nearby Cajun country, with those speaking “Louisiana French,” and in NOLA’s French Quarter, the city’s most famous neighborhood. Here, dine on fine French and Creole cuisine at Arnaud’s, Galatoire's, and Antoine’s Restaurant. New Orleans, USA - April 22, 2018: People ordering food in Cafe Du Monde restaurant, eating beignet powdered sugar donuts, drinking chicory coffee, waiter taking order. ablokhin, Getty England... Alexandria, Virginia Founded by Scottish merchants in 1749, this city outside of Washington, D.C. gives off a Colonial English vibe within its Old Town District. Captain’s Row is a cobblestone streetscape, while the brick-lined King Street has many shopping ops. The Old Town Farmers’ Market has been in existence since before the American Revolution; George Washington sent produce grown at nearby Mount Vernon to be sold there.

    Deals

    Celebrate Labor Day with these last-minute deals

    It’s been a long, hot summer and Americans have certainly been hitting the road — according to a recent survey by TripIt, 82 percent said they’d already traveled in the last three months while 98 percent said they had plans to within the next year. If you are going to be traveling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends not doing so unless you’re fully vaccinated, following travel health guidelines at your destination, and taking extra precautions if you haven’t been vaccinated. Play it safe — wash your hands, and wear a mask and keep your distance anytime you’re indoors or spending time with those outside your group. If you’re ready for a road trip or seeking a staycation closer to home this holiday weekend, there are still deals to be had. Here’s where to celebrate Labor Day weekend this year, with all hotels within driving distance of major U.S. cities and prices under $260 a night (based on a three-night stay from Friday, September 3, to Monday, September 6, 2021). Delaware Thanks to Southern Delaware’s Bike & Stay specials, you can spend your days cycling along scenic trails to local breweries, restaurants, distilleries and shops, and your nights at charming boutiques in Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Milton or Dewey Beach. Mention the “Bike & Stay” package when booking through a participating hotel — paddle & stay packages are also available for those who prefer kayaking. Washington, D.C. Two popular hotels near Dupont Circle are offering summertime deals, which works out perfectly if you’re planning to be in town for DC JazzFest. The Summer of Lyle package (at Lyle) includes valet parking, daily breakfast, complimentary welcome drinks and soft serve ice cream, with rates from $246 a night over Labor Day weekend. Nearby, The Ven at Embassy Row’s Soak Up the Sun package gives you two signature cocktails, sunscreen, koozies and access to a viewing of the film “Dodgeball” as part of the hotel’s rooftop movie program, from $249 a night. Virginia Unwind in style with Colonial Williamsburg Resorts’ Spa Escape Package, which, from $254 a night, includes overnight accommodations, two tickets to Colonial Williamsburg’s museums and historical exhibits, up to $350 in resort outlet coupons, and your choice of a 50-minute massage or a 50-minute facial. In southern Virginia, The Bristol Hotel has packages from $245 a night including daily breakfast at Vivian’s Table (the golf package also throws in two Turtleson golf shirts and tee time at a local 18-hole luxury golf course), while business travelers can save with rates from $189 a night and daily breakfast. South Carolina While nightly rates at The Caravelle Resort start at an affordable $145 over the holiday weekend, families with flexible travel dates can save more on a Myrtle Beach trip by staying Sunday through Thursday, when prices shrink to $65 a night. Tennessee In Memphis, the Somewhere Your Summer Deserves package at the Hu Hotel, available now through September 30, 2021, gives you daily breakfast at Lucy’s Café and 20 percent off stays of at least two nights, bringing starting rates over Labor Day weekend down to $252 a night. Mississippi Not all heroes wear capes. In Gulfport’s Centennial Plaza complex, the Grand Centennial Hotel is honoring all teachers, healthcare workers, police officers, firefighters, AMR ambulance and military personnel with a 10 percent hero discount, meaning Labor Day weekend rates start at $207 a night (starting rates for everyone else start at $229 a night). Spend some time relaxing on the beach — if you can tear yourself away from the lazy river, slides, pools, and dancing fountain. Ohio Moxy Columbus Short North is offering rates from $146 a night when you book five or more nights, so spending an extra-long weekend from Thursday, September 2 to Tuesday, September 7, could be a great staycation option. The Moxy is pet friendly, too, so you can take the whole family along, including your beloved fur baby. Indiana Vera Bradley fans, rejoice! Just opened in July 2021, The Bradley in Fort Wayne offers a chic Midwestern staycation option about a two-hour drive from Indianapolis or a 2.5-hour drive from Detroit. Labor Day weekend rates hover around $157 a night, making it a great base for checking out the city’s concerts and other events. Missouri Save 15 percent on a Kansas City stay and get Labor Day weekend started off right with the Crossroads Hotel’s Somewhere Your Summer Deserves package. Nightly rates start at $239 and include two complimentary koozies, two ice-cold PBRs and two frozen cocktails at the hotel’s swanky Percheron Rooftop Bar. Texas In San Antonio, Hotel Valencia Riverwalk is offering 15 percent off stays of at least two nights, bringing starting rates over the long weekend down to $229 a night. The hotel is right in the heart of downtown and makes a great base for checking out the historic Pearl District, The Alamo, and the San Antonio Museum of Art, among other popular attractions. Don’t miss the Ford Parade of Lanterns, happening along the River Walk from September 3–5 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wisconsin About a two-hour drive from Milwaukee or Madison (or a 40-minute drive from Green Bay), Fox Cities is a fun place to plan an affordable long-weekend getaway, especially if you want to spend time outdoors on Lake Winnebago. CopperLeaf Boutique Hotel & Spa, part of Best Western’s boutique Premier Collection, puts you in the middle of all the Appleton action with rates from $107 a night. About 15 minutes away in Neenah, kick back at the Best Western Premier Bridgewood Resort Hotel, which offers family friendly amenities like a water park, mini-golf course, an arcade and pickleball and tennis courts, with rates from $161 a night. Arizona Two hotels in Scottsdale are offering summertime specials just in time for Labor Day weekend. Downtown, nightly rates at The Saguaro Scottsdale start at $125 for a king room with a private balcony when you use promo code Saguaro, while stays of three or more nights are 30 percent off, with rates from $128 a night (use the same promo code). Nearby, Hotel Adeline has a daily happy hour deal that includes two cocktails and appetizers at SelfMade, from $209 a night. Families planning outdoorsy adventures in northern Arizona should check out Hyatt Place Page / Lake Powell’s Sweet Summer Fun package, which throws in a candy charcuterie board with fresh fruit and a mix of sweet, sour and spicy locally made candy; s’mores; and a water toy for children ages 12 and under; with Labor Day weekend rates from $219 a night. Another hiking-themed package, from $239 a night, includes a map to some of the most scenic spots in the area and a picnic lunch for two, complete with sandwiches, fruit, granola bars, chips and water. California Save 20 percent on a stay at the Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs when you book three or more nights this summer and use promo code SZCOOL. Rates over Labor Day weekend start at $182 a night, giving you the perfect excuse to visit one of Palm Springs’ newest hotels. For a real treat, visit the St. Somewhere Spa or try some craft cocktails at the 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar.

    News

    Smithsonian museums in DC to reopen starting in May

    The Smithsonian will reopen eight of its facilities to the public in May, starting with the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, Wednesday, May 5. Additional museums and the National Zoo will open Friday, May 14, and Friday, May 21. All locations will reopen with added health and safety measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors will need to reserve free timed-entry passes for all locations. All other Smithsonian museums will remain temporarily closed to the public. Reopening Schedule Wednesday, May 5 Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Friday, May 14 National Museum of African American History and Culture National Portrait Gallery Smithsonian American Art Museum and its Renwick Gallery Friday, May 21 National Museum of American History National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C., location) National Zoo Safety Measures To protect the health of visitors and staff, safety measures based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other sources will include: Requesting that all visitors who are sick or do not feel well stay home. Requiring visitors ages 2 and older to wear face coverings during their visit. Closely monitoring and limiting the number of people in each location. Visitors will need to obtain a free timed-entry pass in advance of their visit. Implementing safe social distancing, including one-way paths and directional guidance where appropriate. Providing hand-sanitizing stations for visitors and conducting enhanced cleaning throughout all facilities. Museum cafes will not be open at this time. Restaurants and food trucks at the National Zoo will be open. All on-site public tours and events are temporarily suspended. Some exhibits, galleries, interactives, theaters, retail shops or indoor spaces may be closed or operating at limited capacity. Detailed information for visitors is available on the museum websites. Museum Hours and Information Some locations will open with reduced hours of operation. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: open daily 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. National Museum of African American History and Culture: open Wednesday to Sunday 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, both located at Eighth and G streets N.W.: open Wednesday to Sunday 11:30 a.m.–7 p.m. Visitors will use the G Street entrance. Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, near the White House: open Wednesday to Sunday 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. National Museum of American History: open Friday to Tuesday 11 a.m.–4 p.m. National Museum of the American Indian: open Wednesday to Sunday 11 a.m.­–4 p.m. National Zoo: open daily 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Timed-Entry Passes Visitors will need to obtain a free timed-entry pass for each location. Beginning today, April 23, visitors can reserve passes for the Udvar-Hazy Center. Passes for other locations will become available starting a week before their scheduled openings. Visitors driving to the Zoo who wish to park must purchase parking in advance as well. Visitors can reserve passes online at si.edu/visit or by phone at 1-800-514-3849, ext. 1. An individual will be able to reserve up to six passes per day for a specific location. Each visitor must have a pass, regardless of age. Visitors can choose to print timed-entry passes at home or show a digital timed-entry pass on their mobile device. For the safety of visitors and staff, groups larger than six are strictly prohibited, and at least one adult chaperone is required to accompany up to five children under the age of 18. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center May 5 also marks the 60th anniversary of the first U.S. human spaceflight by Alan Shepard. His Mercury capsule, Freedom 7, will be on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center, its first time there, for the anniversary and through most of this spring and summer. Visitors can pay for parking as they depart. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo Viewing of the Zoo’s newest panda cub, Xiao Qi Ji, will be limited for social distancing purposes and will require a separate free timed-entry pass. Visitors can obtain a free pass for Asia Trail / Giant Pandas when they arrive at the Zoo. Passes will be released throughout the day. As a reminder for the public, Xiao Qi Ji is still young and sleeps a lot during the day. Xiao Qi Ji along with his parents can be viewed on the Zoo’s live panda cams. Reopening the Smithsonian The Smithsonian closed its museums in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between July and October 2020, the Smithsonian opened eight of its facilities before closing to the public again Nov. 23. The reopening of these eight locations is the beginning of a phased reopening process for the Institution. All other Smithsonian museums remain temporarily closed to the public, and the Institution is not announcing additional reopening dates at this time. Updates and information about the museums open to the public are available at si.edu/visit. 

    Budget Travel Lists

    24 safe budget getaways for spring

    According to a recent study by vacation rental search engine HomeToGo, bookings are up by 46% compared to last year, with travelers opting to stay within 257 miles of home. Hotels and campgrounds are getting in on the action, with Hilton offering up to 20% off rates at certain properties and free night deals at Sun RV Resorts in Arizona, California and Texas when you book by March 7 and travel by March 31. If remote cabins or unique camping experiences are more your style, check Vacation Renter and RVC Outdoor Destinations for more off-the-beaten-path ideas. If you’re willing to wear a mask, practice social distancing and follow health and safety protocols, spring might be a good time to venture out, especially with hotels and destinations doing all they can to keep employees and visitors safe. Here are 24 socially distanced trips you can drive to this spring, all under $200 a night. New York Save on a Finger Lakes stay at 1795 Acorn Inn, located near Canandaigua Lake about five hours from NYC. Mention the Winter Weekend Package to unlock nightly rates from $130, daily breakfast and a free third night when you book a two-night stay Thursday through Sunday by April 25. Pennsylvania Choose from cabins, cottages, yurts, bungalows, villas, RV and tent campsites and a 52-room lodge at Lake Raystown Resort, about 3.5 hours from Philadelphia or 2.5 hours from Pittsburgh. Bike or hike the 400-acre property’s scenic trails, visit the WildRiver Waterpark or Proud Mary Showboat and dine by the water at the Marina Café. Nightly rates start at $139 for bungalows and villas, $124 for cottages, $94 for cabins, $89 for lodge accommodations and $30 for tent campsites. Washington, D.C. The Cherry Blossom package at The Ven at Embassy Row includes a cherry blossom themed amenity, hand-painted postcards designed by a local artist, a commemorative lapel pin and a $15 rideshare app credit, with rates from $154 a night when you book and stay through April 30. Virginia Head to Southwest Virginia for fewer crowds and beautiful natural surroundings roughly 2.5 hours from Charlotte or six hours from DC. Bring your bike and take on the 35-mile Virginia Creeper trail, hike to the highest point in the state at Mount Rogers or see the wild ponies in Grayson Highland State Park. At The Sessions Hotel in Bristol, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum package includes breakfast for two and admission to the museum, from $194 a night. Nearby, rates at The Bristol Hotel, which makes its home in a restored 1925 landmark building, start at $139 a night. Near Shenandoah National Park in Northern Virginia, the Vacationing on the Clock package at Massanutten Resort comes with two complimentary cups of coffee, nightly rates from $195 and your choice of lift tickets or waterpark passes when you book and stay at least two nights Thursday through Sunday in a one-bedroom condo by March 7. South Carolina Visit Myrtle Beach, home to more than 60 miles of Atlantic beaches and 50 mini-golf courses. Stop by the LW Paul Living History Farm, stroll through Brookgreen Gardens or treat yourself to a private kayak tour with Black River Outdoors to enjoy the area from the water. Stay at Island Vista, where each room has a balcony overlooking the beach (from $87) or Hotel BLUE, home to South Carolina’s first swim-up pool bar (from $75). About 30 minutes from Charleston, Wild Dunes Resort, a Hyatt property in Island of Palms, offers plenty of outdoor space, tennis courts, a fancy 36-hole championship golf course and opportunities to fish or try stand-up paddleboarding. Rates start at $160 a night this spring. History buffs will love the Olde English District, located about an hour’s drive from Charlotte or Columbia, where you can learn about the area’s African American heritage and Revolutionary War history at a living history site, enjoy the great outdoors at Goodale State Park or get a bird’s eye view by sailplane with Bermuda High Soaring. Nightly rates at the charming East Main Guest House Bed and Breakfast in Rock Hill start at $129. Florida Celebrate Tampa’s Cuban heritage with a staycation at Hotel Haya, located on 7th Avenue in the heart of Ybor City. The Grab & Go Breakfast package, available from $174 a night, includes a homemade guava pastelito, a can of traditional con leche and fresh fruit. Between Pensacola and Panama City Beach, Hotel Effie Sandestin’s location within the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and proximity to Silver Sands Premium Outlets make it a great base for those in need of a round of golf or a shopping spree, with rates from $189 a night. In the Florida Keys, you’ll save 20% on weeknight vacation rentals or motel stays of at least two nights at Pelican RV Resort & Marina in Marathon (from $165) or Riptide RV Resort & Marina in Key Largo (from $150) when you book by April 30 and stay Sunday through Thursday by May 31. Mississippi Calling all Elvis fans: Whether you’re heading to Tupelo as part of a larger road trip from Memphis or Nashville or just enjoying the city’s history, music and foodie scene in its own right, there’s a lot to see here. Tour the King’s birthplace by bike, take a scenic drive along the Natchez Trace Parkway and camp lakeside at nearby Tombigbee State Park, with cabins from $60 a night and fully equipped vacation cottages from $75 a night. Texas Try a Texas Hill Country getaway or day trip this spring to see the wildflower bloom in March and April, enjoy Barbecue Month celebrations in May or spend time wandering charming towns like Fredericksburg, which celebrates its 175th birthday this year. Aviation enthusiasts will love the Hangar Hotel in Fredericksburg, a quirky hotel built to resemble a 1940s WWII hangar (rooms from $149), while an hour away in Dripping Springs, Lucky Arrow Retreat offers luxury yurts and cabins (from $159–$199) next door to the Bell Springs Winery and Brewing Company. Families near Dallas can enjoy early access to the Hilton Anatole’s new JadeWaters waterpark, which will be open to hotel guests on weekends from April 30 to May 31 before opening fully on Memorial Day weekend. Packages offer a $50 daily credit or complimentary breakfast, from $169 a night. About 90 minutes from Dallas in East Texas, the Deer Lake Cabins Ranch Resort in Mount Vernon offers more than 800 acres of trails and lakes so you can really get back to nature. Spend your days hiking, fishing, feeding farm animals, horseback riding or cruising around on a UTV, and your nights at a cowboy cookout or on a hayride, with cottages from $189 a night. Ohio The Mohicans Treehouse Resort & Wedding Venue, roughly 90 minutes from Cleveland or Columbus, is offering discounts through March 16 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday treehouse stays. Use promo code BUDGET2021 to unlock $200 nightly rates for the Moonlight, White Oak, Little Red, Old Pine and The Nest treehouses and $250 rates for the Tin Shed, Silver Bullet, The View and El Castillo. In Columbus, check out the Chihuly collection at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, wander the historic German Village district, take on the largest free outdoor climbing wall in the country at Scioto Audubon Metropark and get some air along the 253-mile Scioto Mile. Springtime rates at Moxy Columbus Short North start at $91 a night, while the Work Anywhere Stay Pass package includes early 6 a.m. check-in, late 6 p.m. check-out, complimentary Wi-Fi and a $10 food and beverage credit. Illinois Those seeking a pet-friendly staycation should check out the Radisson Blu Chicago’s VIPup package, which includes a doggie bed, as well as a welcome toy, portable food and water bowls, gourmet treats, a food and drink mat and a waste bag dispenser, with rates from $149 a night. Wisconsin There’s plenty of outdoor fun to be had in Door County, just 45 minutes from Green Bay and two hours from Milwaukee. History buffs should head to the Heritage Village living history museum in Sturgeon Bay, which will be reopening in May, as well as the Door County Maritime Museum to learn about the area’s shipbuilding past. Stay at Eagle Harbor Inn, a charming bed and breakfast in Ephraim, with rates from $98 a night. Nearby, the Fox Cities area offers many outdoor attractions — head to High Cliff State Park near Lake Winnebago to hike one of the park’s seven historic trails or try your hand at making maple syrup in Bubolz Nature Preserve. Stay in Appleton and book the CopperLeaf Boutique Hotel & Spa’s Winter Warmer package — you’ll get complimentary hot chocolate, two handcrafted stoneware coffee mugs, two mini bottles of Dr. McGillicuddy’s liqueur and a $50 credit toward dining or spa treatments, from $174 through March 31 — or the Girls’ Night on the Town package, which includes a bottle of wine and a $20 minibar credit (from $150). South Dakota The Badlands and Black Hills are full of scenic outdoor spaces worthy of a road trip, like Badlands National Park, Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, just to name a few. Visit Custer State Park to see the buffalo roam, then stay onsite at Custer State Park Resort, where you can save 20% and receive a $20 credit on two-night stays (or save 25% and receive a $25 credit) when you stay between April 26 and May 22 and mention the Stay and Save This Spring package. Rates for lodge and cabin rooms start at $140 a night. Colorado Those booking two weekend stays in Arrowhead, Bearclaw or Foxtail cabins at the River Run Resort in Granby will get one free weekend stay when they book and travel by March 28. Two-weekend packages start at $520 (which breaks down to $130 a night) and come with six free bowling games, plus you can add extra nights for 20% less if you want to stay longer. Back in Denver, The Curtis has a great package for groups who want to enjoy a safe getaway together. The Choose Your Adventure package lets up to 24 guests take over an entire floor — that’s 12 guest rooms at double occupancy — from $2,000 a night, which breaks down to about $166 per room or $83 per person. You’ll also get to book your choice of socially distanced adventures, like laser tag, a silent disco or murder mystery game night, among others. Washington For an epic outdoor escape with a luxury resort twist, head 90 minutes from Seattle to Suncadia Resort, a Hyatt property situated among more than 6,000 acres of beautiful mountain scenery in Cle Elum. Spend some time hiking or biking more than 40 miles of trails in Wenatchee Washington National Forest or trying your hand at archery or axe throwing, among other activities, with rates from $171 a night.

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    DESTINATION IN Virginia

    Southwest

    Southwest Virginia, often abbreviated as SWVA, is a mountainous region of Virginia in the westernmost part of the commonwealth. Located within the broader region of western Virginia, Southwest Virginia has been defined alternatively as all Virginia counties on the Appalachian Plateau, all Virginia counties west of the Eastern Continental Divide, or at its greatest expanse, as far east as Blacksburg and Roanoke. Another geographic categorization of the region places it as those counties within the Tennessee River watershed. Regardless of how borders are drawn, Southwest Virginia differs from the rest of the commonwealth in that its culture is more closely associated with Appalachia than the other regions of Virginia. Historically, the region has been and remains a rural area, but in the 20th century, coal mining became an important part of its economy. With the decline in the number of coal jobs and the decline of tobacco as a cash crop, Southwest Virginia is increasingly turning to tourism as a source of economic development. Collectively, Southwest Virginia's craft, music, agritourism and outdoor recreation, such as a kayak adventure on the Clinch River, (Russell County) are referred to as the region's "creative economy."Counties that have been included in the definition of Southwest Virginia include: Alleghany County, Bedford County, Bland County, Botetourt County, Buchanan County, Carroll County, Craig County, Dickenson County, Floyd County, Franklin County, Giles County, Grayson County, Henry County, Lee County, Montgomery County, Patrick County, Pulaski County, Roanoke County, Rockbridge County, Russell County, Scott County, Smyth County, Tazewell County, Washington County, Wise County, and Wythe County. Unlike other states in the U.S., Virginia draws a sharp distinction between cities and other incorporated communities, all of which are designated as towns. Under state law, all municipalities incorporated as cities are independent of any county. By contrast, places incorporated as towns are included within counties. Independent cities in Southwest Virginia include Bristol, Buena Vista, Covington, Galax, Lexington, Martinsville, Norton, Radford, Roanoke, and Salem.