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Published: Wednesday, November 08, 2017 @ 12:39 PM
— Whether your Thanksgiving travel plans involve domestic destinations or an international getaway, understanding holiday travel trends for 2017 can help you maximize your Thanksgiving travel budget and minimize stress.
Here are the key travel trends for Thanksgiving, including best and worst places to visit, busiest airports and a look at gas prices for those whose Thanksgiving travel plans includes hitting the road.
Thanksgiving 2017 travel trend watch
Top trending destinations for Thanksgiving 2017: According to a report by the Points Guy, Google Flights data determined the following as the trending destinations for Thanksgiving in 2017.
In the U.S.:
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The most wallet-friendly places to visit this Thanksgiving
GOBankingRates used cost of hotels, holiday flights, food, drinks, transportation and entertainment to come up with the most expensive places you could travel for Thanksgiving this year. One of the priciest to visit at Thanksgiving was Cape Town, South Africa. Winter for us is summer in South Africa, and it costs $1,341 to fly from Los Angeles to Cape Town during Thanksgiving, more than any other city on the GOBankingRates list. The average daily cost of meals came in at $48, with the daily drink cost average at $24.
GOBankingRates had much better news at the other end of the spectrum. It listed these three among its most affordable places to visit during Thanksgiving.
KAYAK also ranked "wallet-friendly" Thanksgiving destinations for 2017 using its billions of annual search queries, coming up with these Top 10: Chicago, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas, New York, Calgary and Seattle.
Highest and lowest gas costs
If your Thanksgiving travel plans include driving, you’ll want to know the gas price trends.
As of Nov. 7, 2017, the national gas price range was $2.21 per gallon to $3.22 per gallon, according to AAA.
Gas Buddy lets you see gas prices around the country at a glance with a color-coded map indicating the average price for regular unleaded gasoline.
Generally, you'd pay the least for gas in Texas, Midwest states including Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Virginia and Oklahoma and Southeastern states including the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia (Florida is slightly higher.) As you make your way into Northern, Northwestern and Pacific Northwest states you'll encounter the highest gas prices, with California topping the list to the West.
If you're concerned that gas costs will derail your travel budget, check the AAA website a few days before Thanksgiving to get a prediction on how gas prices will fare during 2017 Thanksgiving peak car travel days.
Top 10 busiest airports Thanksgiving 2017
Whether hustle and bustle is your thing or you're looking for an excuse to stay out of the fray, these 10 airports will be the busiest in the U.S. come Thanksgiving, according to Google Flights:
Travel tips Thanksgiving 2017
When to book: KAYAK's annual Holiday Hacker Guide has a hard and fast rule for Thanksgiving fliers: Avoid flying the Sunday after Thanksgiving. KAYAK data pegs that day as one of the most expensive departure dates.
KAYAK also shared the best days to fly for the price-conscious, based on 2016 data. The best 2016 flight deals were for those who could depart and fly back on Thanksgiving day (median price $163 in 2016) or Black Friday ($261), leave the Monday before Thanksgiving and return Thanksgiving day or Black Friday ($286 and $300) or leave the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and return Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday ($296 and $299.)
Book your flight ahead of the price increases. While variances are inevitable, a good rule of thumb is to expect fares to increase 21, 14 and again 7 days before your desired departure date, according to Google Flights.
Plan your road trip costs: To make sure you'll still have money left over for Black Friday, or to avoid arguments with your cheapskate co-travelers, use Gas Buddy's trip cost calculator to plan how much you'll spend getting to Thanksgiving get-togethers.
Consider getting away instead of going home. The Points Guy blogger reported 5 top holiday tips from the Google flights team, and this was both the most radical and most sensible idea. If you won't be drummed out of the family over your choice, consider a brief vacation instead of going to a traditional Thanksgiving gathering.
If you can’t afford a high-cost Thanksgiving travel destination, consider traveling to a less popular destination over Thanksgiving week. The Points Guy says that in some cases, travelers can visit international destinations for less than domestic fares during the holiday season.
Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2018 @ 2:30 AM
PITTSBURGH — When you think of Tiki bars and exotic tropical drinks, you probably don’t think of Pittsburgh. But starting this spring, you’ll be able to cruise the three rivers – Tiki style.
Cruisin' Tikis Pittsburgh will offer two-hour sightseeing charters on the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers starting in May. Each 16-foot boat fits six people. They’re BYOB and children are allowed.
As the sun sets on a dreary day in Pittsburgh, let’s look ahead to this spring and summer! Who’s ready to watch sunsets on one of the three rivers from one of our Cruisin’ Tiki boats? 🏝 #weownthesummerPosted by Cruisin' Tikis Pittsburgh on Thursday, February 15, 2018
Cruisin' Tikis already operates service out of the following locations:
Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 5:41 PM
— You can take some of the most lavish, expensive wine tours in the world in the Napa Valley, where wines are all about heritage, taste and sophistication.
These days, though, even the snootiest oenophile can find a worthy wine tasting in places far from California. And the same goes for the Napa-style custom of wine tours. Travelers in the South or Southeast have lots of pleasurable wine tours to choose from, including self-guided forays, touristy excursions and exclusive itineraries presided over by the wine elite.
Georgia, Tennessee and Texas are just a few of the markets that have come into their own in recent decades and have the wine trails to prove it. While you won't be inundated with award-winners on a few of these tours, you can still find numerous high-ranked wines and others that are fun to sample. The vintners are typically small, but accessible, and it's exciting to see newer wineries just starting to make their mark.
For a taste of fine wine tours nowhere near Napa, consider these five:
Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee
All hail Appalachian winemakers. Five Tennessee wineries (and a distillery!) along 12 miles near the Great Smoky Mountains have banded together to present a free, self-guided tour. Each of the wineries is open all week for free tastings. They include Hillside Winery and Apple Barn Winery in Sevierville, Mountain Valley Winery and Mill Bridge Winery in Pigeon Forge and Doc Collier Moonshine Distillery and Sugarland Cellars in Gatlinburg. Plus, there's no law against catching Dollywood as part of your visit. And don't miss the Muscadine Spumante from Hillside Winery in Sevierville, which recently won the Governor's Cup at Wines of the South.
Free or nominal charge tastings
A scenic drive through the Dahlonega mountains sets the tone for sampling wines from "the Heart of Georgia Wine Country." It's the grapes that make the difference: The growing conditions and mountain elevations are ideal for European, French hybrid and American wine grapes. The trail makes a great day trip from Atlanta, with a driving time of a little over an hour and plenty of chances to meet winemakers and sample their labors of love. Stops include Cavender Creek Vineyards & Winery, Frogtown Cellars, Montaluce Winery & Estates, Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery and Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery.
Starting at noon Friday, March 16 through 5 p.m. Sunday, March 25, 2018 - 5 p.m.
This annual shebang is a great way to visit lots of wineries and sample a few wine and food pairings, enjoy live music or other mini-wine tasting events. The Winegrowers Association of Georgia sponsors and Northeast Georgia plays host. Travelers pay at the first winery visited and then can enjoy any or all of the other participating winery offerings: Each place does its own format, along with filling up those "passport glasses" that commemorate each year's event. Participants range from Cartecay Vineyards in Ellijay apple country to Fainting Goat Vineyards in Jasper, with dozens of other options around and about Northeast Georgia, all listed on the event website.
Austin to Fredericksburg and Lampasas to New Braunfels and other points in between
April 6-22, 2018
Individuals $45, couples $75
Who says you have to be in California for a lavish wine country experience? The Texas Hill Country's annual wine trail celebrates the blooming wildflowers along with a full 17 days of sipping award-winning wines. Each ticket includes a tasting passport for each featured winery (limit four per day). A small sampling of participating wineries includes Lost Draw Cellars, Messina Hof Hill Country, Narrow Path Winery and Old Man Scary Cellars.
Johnson City, Hye and Stonewall Texas
Tasting fees vary
Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 8:57 AM
— A Florida beach has been named the nation's best in TripAdvisor's annual Travelers' Choice awards.
The travel website announced Tuesday that Clearwater Beach was the best in the U.S. in 2018, climbing from No. 4 in 2017. The beach also topped the national list in 2016.
Meanwhile, Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, took the award for the best beach worldwide.
Published: Tuesday, November 07, 2017 @ 5:06 PM
Updated: Tuesday, November 07, 2017 @ 5:06 PM
— Camping may be fun, but not everyone is cut out for roughing it. Some folks need a little more waiting for them after a long day of adventures than a sleeping bag and a flimsy tent. Here are five ways to experience the nature of the Smoky Mountains without pitching a tent yourself.
Falling Water Adventure Resort 10345 U.S. 19/74, Bryson City, N.C. 800-451-9972. fallingwatersresort.com
Those who aren't afraid to get their feet wet during the day (but prefer a cozy bed at night) will find an apt home away from home in Falling Water Adventure Resort, a North Carolina getaway that offers affordable yurt rentals to accommodate its sporty clientele. Activities at the resort include river rafting, canopy tours and zip lines, and visitors who choose to stay in the yurts can also enjoy amenities like fresh linens, a private fridge, and individual coffee maker. Those who stay will still get a taste of the campsite life — picnic tables, a shared bath house, and charcoal grills ensure that guests can still get their fix of the outdoors.
North Georgia Canopy Tours 5290 Harris Road, Lula, Ga. 770-869-7272. northgeorgiacanopytours.com
Don't knock tent camping until you try it with North Georgia Canopy Tours, whose tepees are fully equipped with electricity, running water, and air conditioning — a must for anyone who knows just how hot a Georgia summer can get. The accommodations range in size and can sleep up to 10 guests. Order breakfast at check-in for an additional bit of luxury and be sure to book a zip-line tour to experience the great Smoky Mountains from the trees.
Camp LeConte 1739 E. Parkway, Gatlinburg, Tenn. 865-436-8831. campleconte.com
The campsites at this East Tennessee getaway run the gamut from standard piece of land to luxury treehouse, offering a distinct experience for outdoorsy types of all ranges. Those who opt for the most decked-out digs will find themselves sleeping in the open air among the tree tops and enjoying a covered patio, full private bathroom, and a beautiful view of Mount LeConte. Free board game rental ensures you'll have plenty to do when you unplug, while free Wi-Fi ensures you'll have access to the outside world when and if you need it, too.
Various sites. 828-450-9745. ashevilleglamping.com
There's a pretty long list of reasons to visit Asheville, N.C. The restaurants are incredible, breweries abound, and unique, friendly small businesses thrive in this laid-back mountain town. But one of the best things about Asheville is its proximity to nature. Within minutes, visitors can go from the downtown experience to a rustic mountain cabin, making this the ideal destination for groups with mixed intentions. Asheville Glamping offers accommodations that range from vintage Airstreams to mini yurts and picturesque domes. Each site offers an array of amenities, and those looking for comfortable, rustic sleeping arrangements will likely find something that suits them.
The Yurts at Sky Ridge 200 Sky Ridge Drive, Bryson City, N.C. 704-701-5696. skyridgeyurts.com
Most campers don't take vacations with the intention of sitting inside and watching television, but The Yurt at Sky Ridge folks aren't taking any chances: flat screen TVs, walk-in showers, kitchen appliances are among the amenities offered in these structures — and that's not taking into account the killer views.