All posts by MoralCompass

Karen Rubin, Editor & Publisher, is a veteran travel writer and publisher, who is devoted to the mission of travel: to engender understanding – of self and others – and break down the barriers and borders dividing people, while creating the economic underpinnings to sustain environment, heritage and culture and a base for uplifting, fulfilling jobs.

Escape Adventures Introduces Guided Bikepacking Tour of North Dakota’s Maah Daah Hey Trail

Escape Adventures is offering a 5-day camping and mountain biking tour of the 144-mile-long Maah Daah Hey Trail System (MDH) in North Dakota, showcasing some of America’s most breathtaking terrain.

(Las Vegas, NV) — Escape Adventures is offering a 5-day camping and mountain biking tour of the 144-mile-long Maah Daah Hey Trail System (MDH) in North Dakota, showcasing some of America’s most breathtaking terrain. Majestic plateaus, jagged peaks and valleys, large expanses of rolling prairie, and rivers intertwine to offer the adventurous outdoors enthusiast a taste of pure, unadulterated badlands.

Located adjacent to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the MDH is one of the lengthiest stretches of continuous trail in America. Hailed as an IMBA epic, the MDH unfolds on 95% singletrack. The guided tour starts at $1,499 per person double. For more information, visit https://escapeadventures.com/tour/maah-daah-hey-singletrack-mountain-bike-tour/.

“From the northern unit to the ultra-charming, cowboy-pohttps://escapeadventures.com/tour/maah-daah-hey-singletrack-mountain-bike-tour/et town of Medora, we spend five days riding what’s commonly called the most stunning stretch of The Northern Plains,” said Escape Adventures Director, Jared Fisher.

From rolling prairie to endless red-baked buttes, the MDH crisscrosses the least commercial unit in the National Park Service. Accordingly, no national park outside Alaska is better suited for pure, backcountry trekking and wildlife encounters. A day on the trail might bring riders face-to-face with bison, elk, bighorn sheep, wild horses, pronghorn antelope, coyote, and wild turkey. 
 
The MDH is comprised of nine trail units of varying size and difficulty. From north to south, they are the Wolf (8.8 miles), Long X (5.8 miles), Summit (3.8 miles), Overlook (0.3 miles), Maah Daah Hey (144 miles), Bennett (3.2 miles), Cottonwood (6.9 miles), Ice Cave (1.5 miles) and, Buffalo Gap (18.9 miles).   

Full Itinerary:


Day 1-2: Meet in Medora. Shuttle to trail just outside Theodore Roosevelt National Park. An introductory ride takes guests on a great sampling of the Badlands. Ride Bennett Trail through high prairie grasses and wooded draws. Spend the evening under a bright blanket of stars, taking in the coyote calls that punctuate the night sky.
Day 3-4: Ride Devil’s Pass. Spectacular views across the Little Missouri River Valley eventually give way to the river itself. Camp near Teddy’s own Elkhorn Ranch. Continue on to Buffalo Gap and Wannagan Creek where riders enjoy quick descents on buff singletrack mixed with petrified Cypress trees. Camp near Wannagan Creek.
Day 5: Ride Buffalo Gap along the outskirts of the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Finish in Medora.

All internal land expenses and services are covered in the cost of the tour. All transportation, food preparation, meals, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, group supplies and community gear are included. Backcountry permits, licenses, park fees, reservations, and accommodations are also included, along with at least two professionally trained trip leaders, a mobile first aid and mechanic station, spare bikes, and support vehicles.

Since 1992, Escape Adventures has been blessed to shape and lead adventure travel vacations through some of the most awe-inspiring natural destinations in the world. Building on over 100 destinations, Escape Adventures caters to the full spectrum of active travelers, respective to fitness level and activity type, from road cyclist to mountain biker to electric biker, hiker, and multi-sport enthusiast, and from first timer to friends and family groups of all ability levels. https://escapeadventures.com/

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New York State Parks and Historic Sites Celebrate Centennial

Watkins Glen State Park. New York State is celebrating the centennial of its parks and historic sites system with programs and events throughout 2024. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul celebrated the centennial of the State Council of Parks creation on April 18, 1924. Landmarks across the state are being illuminated in Parks green and centennial gold and a special centennial flag will be raised at parks and historic sites across the state to commemorate the day. 

Throughout 2024, New York State Parks is marking the 100th anniversary with a range of programs and events. Celebratory initiatives include ‘Blazing A Trail,’ an interactive timeline chronicling the agency’s history and influential figures; an exhibit in the New York State Capitol’s State Street Tunnel currently on view; the Share Your Story project, which invites people to tell their own stories relating to Parks and Sites; the  Centennial Challenge, which encourages people to win prizes by participating in various activities at parks and sites; and the release of the Centennial Collection merchandise, which includes t-shirts, hoodies, mugs and more. Additional initiatives will be announced throughout 2024. 

“Our State Parks and Historic Sites system is a treasure for New Yorkers and visitors alike, and today we celebrate 100 years of memories,” Governor Hochul said. “The system we have today started with visionary leadership, and it has grown over the decades to encompass more than 250 properties covering 360,000 acres of land. As Governor, I will continue this legacy as we honor the history of our parks today and throughout the year.”

New York’s modern State Parks and Historic Sites system was created when Governor Alfred E. Smith and the State Legislature established the New York State Council of Parks on April 18, 1924. Creation of the Council built on state actions begun in the late 19th Century to protect places of natural significance, establish the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves, create the Palisades Interstate Park Commission by the New York and New Jersey legislatures in 1900, and form the Reservation on the St. Lawrence, which today includes many state parks in the Thousand Islands Region. 

In 1970, state legislation that created the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also upgraded the former Division of Parks into an independent agency, known as the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation. Further legislation in 1972 gave the agency direct control of New York’s park lands, with the State Council of Parks and regional commissions retaining an advisory management role. The agency’s name was updated in 1981 to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to reflect the agency’s mission to protect New York’s historic heritage. 

State Park Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said, “New Yorkers united 100 years ago to create one of New York State’s greatest environmental legacies – our State Park and Historic Site system. Our agency is looks forward to working with Governor Hochul, the State Legislature, our many partners across the state, and our visitors to build and sustain this legacy over the next century.” 

State Council of Parks Chair Bryan Erwin said, “For 100 years, New Yorkers have enjoyed their very own version of the National Park System. Through war, peace, recessions, and boom times; through pandemics, heat waves, cold snaps, balmy springs and crisp autumns. Through generations of Irish, Italian, Jewish, African American, Puerto-Ricans, Dominicans, Chinese Americans and all the rest of our neighbors: we all of us, no matter what the current backdrop of our lives, are able to enjoy what was bestowed on us a century ago. I’m so grateful that our leadership in Albany, led by this Governor, has invested in our parks so they will remain the critical part of our lives, and our childrens’ lives, forevermore.” 

 “For the last century, New York has led the nation in creating an unparalleled state park system that continues to play a vital role in providing New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds with affordable and inspiring outdoor opportunities,” Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “Scenic Hudson’s partnership with the state and others has allowed us to help create or enhance one-of-a-kind destinations, including Sojourner Truth State Park, Walkway Over the Hudson, Franny Reese State Park and Olana State Historic Site. We look forward to building on this legacy with Governor Hochul and the State Parks team to create innovative ways to connect people with nature and each other.”

Open Space Institute’s Chief Conservation and Policy Officer Kathy Moser said,“The Open Space Institute is honored to join our partners in New York State to protect, enhance, and expand our incomparable State Parks. Over the last 50 years, OSI has added nearly 40,000 acres to our State Park system – more than ten percent of the total acreage – as well as numerous other initiatives to make our parks more welcoming and accessible for all. Protection of our state’s abundant natural beauty and cultural heritage is a gift for people today and countless future generations. We could not be more proud to join with Governor Hochul and New York State Parks to celebrate the Centennial Celebration, and we look forward to the next 100 years.”

State Senator Jose M. Serrano said, “As chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation, I recognize that it is critically important to connect people to nature and to keep our green spaces accessible and welcoming. My sincere thanks to the dedication of the Governor, the Legislature, and parks staff, as we have seen a continued reimagining of our parks system that reinforces the many benefits of parks and historic sites.”

“Today, we stand on the shoulders of the visionaries who, a century ago, recognized the importance of preserving our natural landscapes and historic sites in the state of New York,” Assemblymember Daniel J. O’Donnell said, “So, as we illuminate our landmarks and raise the centennial flag, we not only celebrate the past 100 years but also reaffirm ourselves to carrying on the legacy that our forefathers established, and ensure these spaces are preserved and enriched for generations to come.”

Today, Commissioner Pro Tempore Simons is marking the occasion by raising a State Parks centennial flag at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh and attending a lighting ceremony at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs. 

Other lighting events will be held today at:

  • One World Trade Center in Manhattan  
    • Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in South Nyack 
    • Kosciuszko Bridge in Brooklyn 
    • H. Carl McCall SUNY Building in Albany 
    • State Education Building in Albany 
    • Alfred E. Smith State Office Building in Albany 
    • Empire State Plaza in Albany 
    • State Fairgrounds Main Gate and Exposition Center in Syracuse 
    • Niagara Falls State Park  
    • Albany International Airport Gateway  
    • Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Long Island Railroad East End Gateway at Penn Station in Manhattan 
    • Fairport Lift Bridge over the Erie Canal  
    • Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station  
    • Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Poughkeepsie 
    • Olana State Historic Site in Hudson 
    • Staatsburgh State Historic Site 
    • Lorenzo State Historic Site in Cazenovia 
    • Letchworth State Park in Castile 
    • Robert Moses State Park in Babylon 
    • Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh 
    • Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego

1 Million Visit NYS Parks for Total Solar Eclipse

Just how revered New York State parks are, was clear during the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024.

From April 6 to April 9, nearly one million visitors showed up to New York State Parks to witness and celebrate the total solar eclipse, an increase in attendance of more than 45 percent compared to the same days in 2023. On April 8 alone, New York State Parks welcomed more than 326,500 visitors, an over 52 percent jump in attendance compared to last year. 

12 state parks reached full capacity on April 8:

  • Cayuga Lake (Seneca County)
  • Chimney Bluffs (Wayne County)
  • Crown Point (Essex County)
  • Cumberland Bay (Clinton County)
  • Fair Haven State Park (Cayuga County)
  • John Brown Farm (Essex County)
  • Point Au Roche (Clinton County)
  • Robert Whele (Jefferson County)
  • Selkirk (Oswego County)
  • Seneca Lake (Seneca County)
  • Southwick Beach (Jefferson County)
  • Stony Brook State Park (Steuben County)

Governor Hochul opened campgrounds at State Parks within the path of totality early to accommodate visitors for the total solar eclipse, which were 100 percent booked the night of April 7 and 93 percent booked the night of April 8. To welcome visitors, New York State Parks and Historic Sites hosted numerous eclipse-viewing gatherings on April 8. Additionally, scientists, subject matter experts and astronauts from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) provided programming and exhibits at Niagara Falls State Park through April 8.

The New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Department of Transportation recorded significant increases in vehicle travel, and the New York Power Authority provided nearly double the charging miles for electric vehicles when compared to the previous week. Governor Hochul was one of 45,000 visitors who experienced Monday’s celestial event at Niagara Falls State Park.

On April 7 and April 8, the New York State Power Authority reported that EVolve Stations dispensed over 260,000 miles of driving, which is over 115,000 more miles dispensed than the same days the previous week.

From majestic Niagara Falls to the mighty Adirondacks, New York was one of the best places on earth to witness this once-in-a-generation celestial event,” Governor Hochul said. “We planned for more than a year to welcome a record number of visitors during the total solar eclipse, and those preparations helped this event go off safely and successfully.”

In October 2022, Governor Hochul convened an Interagency Task Force comprised of nearly two dozen state agencies and authorities to prepare to welcome the influx of visitors the state expected for this once-in-a-generation event. New York State agencies involved in the Interagency Task Force reported record services provided to residents and travelers.

On April 7 and April 8, the New York State Power Authority reported that EVolve Stations dispensed over 260,000 miles of driving, which is over 115,000 more miles dispensed than the same days the previous week.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which saw a record 84 million visits in 2023.

For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer app  or call 518.474.0456. Connect with us on  Facebook,  Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and the OPRHP Blog.

See also:

DRIVEABLE ADVENTURES: HIKING/CAMPING IN THE ‘GRAND CANYON OF THE EAST’ – NY’S LETCHWORTH STATE PARK

NEW YORK’S WATKINS GLEN STATE PARK IS SPELLBINDING

PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS: TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE ABOVE LONG LAKE, IN NEW YORK’S ADIRONDACKS IS STELLAR

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Slovenia Promotes Sustainable, Responsible Tourism Experiences

The jaw-dropping Postojna Cave, the most extensive cave system in Slovenia, is a series of caverns, halls and passages some 24 km long and two million years old. Slovenia holds the distinction of being the world’s first country to be entirely declared a Green Destination of the World. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NEW YORK, NY –In Slovenia, the diversity of natural landscapes stretches across the country, from the alpine peaks towering at 2,000 meters and the Adriatic Sea coastline, to the richness of thermal waters in the Pannonian region and the sunny hillsides where vineyards thrive.

One-third of Slovenian territory belongs to a protected area, with forest cover reaching nearly 60%. The rich biodiversity includes over 22,000 species of animals and plants, along with more than 13,000 underground karst caves.

Slovenia holds the distinction of being the world’s first country to be entirely declared a Green Destination of the World. It is also the third most forested country in Europe and one of the countries with the most water in the world, boasting 27,000 kilometers of waterways, around 300 waterfalls, and numerous natural lakes and crystal-clear streams.

Mindful of the responsibility for their natural and cultural heritage, Slovenians strive to preserve their environment through sustainable projects, educational policies, as well as by promoting sustainable tourism experiences.

Slovenia’s longstanding commitment to sustainable tourism positions the country as a significant player in the United Nations’ designation of 2027 as the International Year of Sustainable and Resilient Tourism, potentially serving as a model for global destinations.

Responsible Holidays with Green providers: The Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, the seal that endorses commitment to the environment

The Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism was one of the first projects in Europe to promote sustainability in tourism and serves as a model for many other countries. The European Travel Commission (ETC) has adopted the Green Scheme as a basis for developing sustainable guidelines for European destinations.

The Slovenia Green label awarded environmentally conscious entities including tourist agencies, natural parks, accommodations, travel agencies, restaurants, and beaches. Divided into five distinct categories, the green label boasts a membership of over 300 establishments. Visitors to Slovenia can place their trust in providers bearing the SLOVENIA GREEN label, as they undergo rigorous international assessments ensuring both quality and sustainability.

Celebrating 100 years of preserving Triglav National Park

Nestled within the Julian Alps, Triglav National Park celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2024, marking a century of conservation efforts since its establishment in 1924. The centennial celebrations highlight the importance of protection for ensuring the existence of natural and cultural assets for future generations. The slogan “Protection Ensures Existence” underscores the ongoing need to balance conservation with development while preserving the park’s pristine beauty and biodiversity.

Invaluable UNESCO’s World Heritage Treasures in Slovenia

The list of the World’s Natural and Cultural Heritage comprises two natural and three cultural sites. Additionally, Slovenia boasts seven distinct features of intangible cultural heritage included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, such as beekeeping, the breeding of elegant white Lipizzan horses, and the art of dry-stone walling, to name just a few.

Slovenia’s presence extends to other UNESCO programs as well, including the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, the Global Network of Geoparks, and the UNESCO List of Written Cultural Heritage, known as the Memory of the World.

Among the two UNESCO natural sites, Slovenia boasts the enigmatic Škocjan Caves, home to the largest subterranean canyon in Europe, towering at 146 meters high, and the primal beech forests of the Carpathian Mountains and other European regions, which represent the most preserved remnants of beech forests.

While Idrija preserves the world heritage associated with mercury extraction, Slovenia safeguards the protected world heritage of prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, with around 40 locations discovered in the Ljubljana Marshes. A significant discovery is a 5,200-year-old wheel, considered the oldest wooden wheel with an axle globally.

In Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia, the works of architect Jože Plečnik have bestowed a distinctive visual identity upon the city. His architectural masterpieces, which grace the city’s skyline, have earned it a place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Green Mindset, Healthy Tourism and Gastronomic Fresh World-Class Cuisine

Slovenia promotes a healthy lifestyle by encouraging bicycle or train travel, self-care through connection with nature, and enjoyment of local, homemade, and authentic foods. Under the motto “from farm to table,” Slovenia stands out for its diverse range of fresh products and natural ingredients offered in world-class restaurants, local markets, and agritourism farms.

As part of its varied sustainable tourism offerings and connection with nature, visitors can enjoy activities such as biking among vineyards, hiking trails, kayaking on crystal-clear lakes, and more sophisticated experiences like going on a hike with an expert Alpinist to feed salt to the native Jezersko–Solčava sheep or outdoor gastronomic experiences such as picnics in nature or snacks at rural homesteads just to mention a few. 

For more information on Green Slovenia to celebrate Earth’s Day, follow this link.

Nestled in the heart of Europe, where the Alps, the Mediterranean, the Pannonian Plain and the Karst meet, Slovenia offers several year-round exciting experiences. This captivating country is deeply committed to sustainability and stands as a pioneer in sustainability and offers a tapestry of unique and unforgettable stories, which unfold either in pristine nature or in charming towns and include unforgettable outdoor adventures, spa pampering, getaways filled with rich culture, art and tradition, and last but not least, superb gastronomy crafted from local, fresh ingredients. Especially in recent years, Slovenia has risen in popularity among gourmands and foodies, also thanks to the prestigious Michelin Guide, which has solidified Slovenia’s global culinary presence. With an impressive number of 9 Michelin-starred restaurants, including one with three stars and another with two, along with seven one-star restaurants, Slovenia stands among the 146 countries with three-star recognition. Remarkably, only 8 of these restaurants are led by female chefs, and Ana Roš from Hiša Franko is among them.

See also:

BIKETOURS.COM 8-DAY GUIDED RIDE THROUGH SLOVENIA OFFERS SURPRISES

CAVES, CASTLE AMONG ASTONISHING SIGHTS VISITED ON GUIDED BIKE TOUR OF SLOVENIA

LIPIZANER HORSES, UNESCO NATURAL MONUMENT, MEDIEVAL CITY OF PIRAN COMPLETE THE GEMS OF 8-DAY ‘EMERALD’ BIKETOUR OF SLOVENIA

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Luxury Goes Green: 5 Ways Resorts Around the World Are Making Every Day Earth Day

Environmental responsibility is becoming an increasingly important factor for conscious travelers.  Luxury resorts are undergoing a green revolution, with Solmar Hotels & Resorts, Majestic Hotel & Spa and Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts leading the way. 

Environmental responsibility is becoming an increasingly important factor for conscious travelers.  Luxury resorts are undergoing a green revolution, with Solmar Hotels & ResortsMajestic Hotel & Spa, and Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts leading the way.  Forget the outdated image of luxury travel harming the environment – these resorts are proving you can have an unforgettable experience while minimizing your carbon footprint. Here are five ways these resorts are making every day Earth Day:

1.      Endangered Species Conservation:  Resorts are actively contributing to wildlife preservation.  For example, Solmar Hotels & Resorts in Baja California participate in sea turtle protection programs, while Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts in the Dominican Republic focuses on reforestation and native plant restoration. These efforts ensure a healthy environment for future generations.

2.      Waste Management and Reduction:  Responsible waste management is paramount.  Initiatives like recycling programs (including Solmar‘s unique Plastic Bottle Cap Bank that benefits children with cancer) and partnerships with certified waste disposal companies are becoming standard practice.  These programs demonstrate a commitment to minimizing environmental footprint.

3.      Third-Party Sustainability Certifications:  Luxury goes beyond aesthetics.  Resorts such as Barcelona’s Majestic Hotel & Spa hold certifications like ISO 14001, an internationally recognized standard for environmental management systems.  These certifications provide independent verification of a resort’s commitment to sustainability.

4.      Sustainable Operations Beyond Guest Areas:   Environmental responsibility extends beyond the immediate guest experience.  Solmar Golf Links’ Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program certification exemplifies how even golf courses can be eco-friendly.  This program ensures courses are designed and maintained with minimal environmental impact while offering exceptional playing conditions.

5.      Environmental Education and Community Engagement:  Spreading awareness is critical.  Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts‘ environmental education programs target guests, staff, and local communities.  These initiatives foster a culture of sustainability that has a lasting impact beyond the resort itself.

By prioritizing these key initiatives, luxury resorts can offer guests an exceptional experience while safeguarding the environment for the future.

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Passport to 12 Brandywine Valley Museums and Gardens on Sale

The Sunken Garden at the Nemours Estate, Wilmington, DE © Laurie Millman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

WILMINGTON, Delaware – Explore the history, culture and gardens of the Brandywine Valley for one low price with the Brandywine Valley Treasure Trail Passport. On sale now, the passport provides admission to 12 of the region’s top attractions and can be used any time between May 25 and October 31, 2024, enabling passport holders to explore the attractions at their own pace. 

The passport, provided by the Greater Wilmington Convention and Visitors Bureau, can be purchased  at www.visitwilmingtonde.com/passport/ and at participating attractions. It is also available for sale at Bureau’s visitor center at 920 Justison Street on the Wilmington Riverfront. An individual passport is $49. A family passport, covering two adults and up to three children ages 17 and under, is $99. The passport is available in digital and print formats.  

Admission to the following 12 attractions is included with the passport: 

Mt. Cuba Center 

Recognized as the “Best Botanical Garden” in 2020 by USA Today’s 10 Best Reader’s Choice Awards, Mt. Cuba Center is celebrated for its rare native plant collection.  

Nemours Estate 

This former du Pont mansion, modeled after Versailles, has the largest formal French gardens in North America.  

Brandywine Museum of Art 

This museum displays an impressive collection of American art including works by three generations of the Wyeth family, known as “America’s First Family of Art.”   

Delaware Art Museum 

It is known for having the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art outside of Britain, in addition to an extensive collection of American art and illustration.  

The Delaware Contemporary 

This cultural space showcases cutting-edge exhibitions, innovative installations, and thought-provoking multimedia art.  

Delaware History Museum 

This attraction showcases an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and interactive exhibits that bring the state’s history to life. It includes the Mitchell Center for African American Heritage. 

Delaware Museum of Nature and Science 

Visitors can explore dinosaurs, fossils, astronomy, environmental conservation, world ecosystems, and more.  

Hagley Museum and Library 

The story of the famed du Pont family begins here at the original DuPont gunpowder mills. “Nation of Inventors features one of the largest collections of patent models in the world. 

Longwood Gardens 

This impressive 1,100+-acre garden has topped many botanical “best of” lists over the years. The centerpiece is the magnificent four-acre Conservatory, showcasing an astonishing array of exotic plants. (Note: The passport is valid at Longwood Gardens through September 30, 2024). 

Read House and Gardens 

This National Historic Landmark is offering a brand-new interior tour that reveals aspects of the history hidden in the architecture and furnishings of this 14,000-square-foot mansion. 

Rockwood Park and Museum 

The Gothic Revival architecture of this historic mansion and its enchanting landscape were designed to reflect the beauty of an English country estate.  

Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library 

This former du Pont family home boasts an unparalleled collection of American decorative arts and 1,000 acres of explorable grounds and gardens.  

Passports are valid for one use at each attraction. Blackout dates may apply. For more information on the Passport and to start planning a visit, go to www.VisitWilmingtonDE.com.  

The Greater Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley region of Delaware is in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic and less than a two-hour drive from both New York City and Washington. Steeped in American history and the legacy of the famed du Pont family, it is a destination marked by sharp contrasts – town and garden, past and present, historic and hip. Featuring renowned gardens, world-class museums, colonial towns, outdoor adventure, festivals, and an ever-growing restaurant scene, the region offers a vacation experience that is vibrant, unique and authentic.

Learn more at VisitWilmingtonDE.com. To see the beauty of the Brandywine Valley, watch: https://youtu.be/KyPWLnciO0E

See also: WILMINGTON/BRANDYWINE MANSIONS & GARDENS WELCOME MOBILITY-CHALLENGED VISITORS

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Global Travel Experiences Celebrating International Women’s Day

Embark on a transformative Women-only Icelandic Adventure with Naya Traveler

Celebrated globally this Friday on March 8th, International Women’s Day inspires people around the world to recognize the social, economic, political, and cultural achievements of women. As the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”, the travel and hospitality industry is seeing an influx of female-focused experiences and trips, in addition to more hotels and destinations appealing to female travelers by making every woman feel encouraged and inspired while traveling. In honor of International Women’s Day, here’s some destinations encouraging women to go outside their comfort zone, intriguing new female-only trips, and destinations making a difference by investing in women.

Build Confidence and Learn a New Skill at Las Catalinas in Costa Rica

Travel encourages people to go beyond their comfort zone. Engaging in new experiences and pursuits builds confidence, independence, and opens new horizons. Located in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, the car-free, seaside town of Las Catalinas is a destination that is ideal for female travelers whether traveling solo or with other women looking to embrace change, go beyond the ordinary and try something new. Access to Las Catalinas is easy with several non-stop, direct flights from cities including Miami, Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Toronto and more. Once in town, the self-discovery begins in a welcoming, pedestrian-friendly hardscape that embraces nature – a place that is perfect for learning a new skill or activity with an array of pursuits and activities ideal for a restorative getaway. 

Beach Town Travel, the preferred travel agency in Las Catalinas, can curate an unforgettable stay focusing on soft to extreme adventure ideal for women looking to get outside of their comfort zone. For solo guests or two friends or family traveling together, the stylish boutique Santarena Hotel is in the heart of town offering a convenient base camp in the center of it all. For women traveling in a bigger group, Beach Town Travel can arrange villa accommodations in the Las Catalinas Collection with over 100 lodging accommodations across their three lodging types: BarandaBon Vivant and 229 Las Catalinas. Take advantage of the current 4th night free promotion at both Santarena Hotel and Las Catalinas Collection or any of their other special offers. For the adventurous at heart, guests can learn a new activity and take surfing lessons, horseback riding at La Estancia, scuba diving, mountain biking, paddle boarding or kayaking with Pura Vida Ride, trail running through the tropical dry forest and more. Gather with other like-minded women for meditations, visualizations, forest bathing or take a sound healing journey, yoga class, organic cooking class, ice bath therapy, cold plunge or other wellness-focused activities at Center of Joy, the town’s wellness center. 

The conscious town of Las Catalinas is Costa Rica’s newest desirable beach town inspired by New Urbanist philosophy. The car-free, highly walkable town includes several inns and intimate hotels, shops, restaurants, retail, day spas, pedestrian streets, parks, plazas, and recreational facilities, all located between two of Costa Rica’s loveliest Pacific beaches and 1,000 acres of protected tropical dry forest, which are interlaced with extensive hiking and biking trails. Within the town, the walkable public spaces are interwoven with nature, and the architecture emphasizes indoor-outdoor living and scenic views. Cars are refreshingly absent. For more information, visit www.lascatalinascr.com.

Women-only Icelandic Adventure with Naya Traveler

Embark on a transformative Women-only Icelandic Adventure with Naya Traveler, where curated experiences promise to immerse participants in the untamed beauty of the land of fire and ice. From savoring culinary delights in Reykjavik to rejuvenating at the Sky Lagoon, travelers delve into steaming hot springs and ancient glaciers, culminating in a journey of a lifetime. Guided explorations of Thingvellir National Park, black lava beaches, and private ice climbs reveal the mysteries of Iceland’s landscapes, while retreats at Umi Hotel offer spa experiences amidst breathtaking vistas. From steaming hot springs to ancient glaciers, this exclusive women-only adventure promises an immersive experience in the enchanting landscapes of Iceland.

Naya Traveler extends an invitation for women to experience the extraordinary, where every moment is curated for a lifetime of memories. With rates starting at $1200USD per person per day, inclusive of accommodations, private transfers, and personal local guides, this extraordinary adventure awaits, best experienced between September and early April for a chance to witness the captivating aurora borealis.

Founded in 2016, Naya Traveler offers tailor-made experiential journeys to a curated selection of destinations steeped in ancient traditions and customs. Rooted in first-hand expertise and intimate knowledge, Naya Traveler’s highly personalized itineraries focus on exclusive insider experiences that bring back purpose and value to travel and provide a unique space to discover a destination through the eyes and knowledge of those who know it best. Naya Traveler works with an exceptional group of local hosts and expert guides in each destination, ranging from historians and artists to ethnographers and chefs—all of whom will guide travelers through the threads of a destination’s rich cultural tapestry. For more information, visit www.nayatraveler.com. 

Ananda in the Himalayas empowers women through the Ananda Spa Foundation

The Ananda Spa Foundation (ASF) was created by award-winning, world-renowned wellness retreat, Ananda in the Himalayas in northern India. The foundation is committed to giving back to the community and promoting women’s empowerment through education and training. By providing women with the tools they need to succeed, the foundation can help create a more inclusive and diverse workforce and make a positive impact on society. ASF is committed to providing a better future for the underprivileged girls of India with the objective of empowering women from lower socio-economic groups. In Uttarakhand, women are the working members of the family and thus the financial backbone of their communities. In support of this cause, Ananda has established India’s first private not-for-profit academy providing fully sponsored training and education for underprivileged women in the field of spa therapy.

The mission of the foundation is to empower women from the community by providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge to build successful careers in the spa industry. Students receive top-notch training and education in spa therapy, ensuring that they are well-equipped to succeed in this exciting field. Upon completion of the program, the students will be guaranteed job opportunities in reputable hotels and spas, giving them the chance to support their families and live fulfilling lives. Through this initiative, Ananda in the Himalayas has transformed the lives of many girls in the community. For more information, visit here.

Ananda in the Himalayas is a world-renowned holistic wellness retreat in the Himalayan foothills in North India, overlooking the spiritual town of Rishikesh and river Ganges. Located in the former Palace Estate of the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal, the retreat spans 100 acres of lush grounds and gardens and surrounded by forested hillside. As the birthplace of Ayurveda, Yoga, and meditation, this spiritual destination embodies and facilitates wellness and enlightenment. The philosophy of Ananda revolves around Ayurveda, holistic wellness, yoga, meditation, emotional healing, spiritual awareness, and healthy cuisine. The heart of Ananda lies in its 25,000 square foot wellness center, offering beautifully designed therapy rooms with nature views, open-air yoga and meditation pavilions, an outdoor pool, a physiotherapy center, gymnasium, and a comprehensive range of Ayurvedic and international therapies for holistic cleansing of the body, mind, and soul. For more information, visit www.anandaspa.com. 

Bettoja Hotels in Rome Offers Special Women’s Day Package

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2024, Bettoja Hotels is offering a special offer for all stays from March 8th – 10th, 2024 in the Eternal City for a minimum of two people. Book any type of room at the Hotel Mediterraneo or the Hotel Massimo d’Azeglio and guests will receive a 15% discount including breakfast.

For those who wish to taste our Chefs specialties (specializing in Piedmontese cuisine) at the Ristorante Massimo d’Azeglio, guests can enjoy a Mimosa Cocktail with a dedicated menu  created for International Women ‘s Day on March 8th.

Spanning five generations, family-owned and operated Bettoja Hotels’ hotels (Hotel Mediterraneo, Hotel Massimo D’Azeglio, Hotel Atlantico) are located right in the heart of Rome. Within walking distance from historic landmarks including the Colosseum, Opera House, Forum, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, the three hotels are the ideal basecamp for embarking on the ultimate Roman holiday. The Stazione Termini, convenient for train excursions to Florence or Naples, is also just a few blocks away. For information, contact [email protected] or www.bettojahotels.it.

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6 Historic Places Where You Can Vacation Like a President This President’s Day

A U.S. National Historic Landmark, the Old Faithful Inn has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2012. This iconic holiday destination is located in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, specifically next to its legendary Old Faithful geyser. Among the illustrious guests: U.S. Presidents like Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge; First Lady Laura Bush stayed in 2002. Two earlier presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Theodore Roosevelt, had camped at the site back long before the Old Faithful Inn opened. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

In the spirit of honoring past leaders and indulging in a touch of luxury, what better way to celebrate President’s Day than by immersing oneself in the historic footsteps of former U.S. presidents? From the majestic views of the Grand Canyon to the quaint charm of the Sheridan Inn in Wyoming, and from the opulent Broadmoor in Colorado to the iconic Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park, there’s a wealth of presidential vacation spots waiting to be explored. Imagine basking in the same ambiance that once hosted the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Bill Clinton. 

Uncover fascinating tales of presidential visits, cultural significance, and the timeless allure of these remarkable retreats. Join us on a journey through history and luxury, as you vacation like a president this President’s Day.

El Tovar, Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim

Widely considered the crown jewel of the Historic National Park Lodges, El Tovar is located directly on the Grand Canyon’s Rim and first opened its doors in 1905. The hotel was designed by Charles Whittlesey, Chief Architect for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.  The Chicago architect envisioned the hotel as a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian Villa. This was done to appeal to the tastes of the elite from that era, who at the time considered European culture the epitome of refinement. The hotel was built from local limestone and Oregon pine. It cost $250,000 to build, and many considered it the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River. 

In 1987 the Hotel was designated a National Historic Landmark. In the past, the hotel has hosted such luminaries as Albert Einstein, Western author Zane Grey, Sir Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, and countless others. 

U.S. Presidents who have stayed at El Tovar include Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, and Bill Clinton.

The Sheridan Inn, Sheridan, Wyoming

Constructed in 1892 as part of a railway extension program, the Sheridan Inn was designed by Omaha architect Thomas R. Kimball. Drawing inspiration from Scottish hotels, the architect included the iconic wraparound porch and a bountiful number of dormered windows in his design. In a short six months, the Inn was constructed and upon completion was the first building in the area furnished with electrical power and bathtubs, giving adventurous travelers a taste of Eastern luxury in the West and was considered the finest hotel between Chicago and San Francisco.

Buffalo Bill Cody frequented the Sheridan Inn as part owner and soon turned the Sheridan Inn into the headquarters for his Wild West Show, from which he auditioned new members from the iconic front porch of the Inn. Local Sheridan cowboys and cowgirls were recruited, including George Gardner and Tode Bard, to join the show and travel to Europe with Buffalo Bill.

With a massive ballroom and a dining room table large enough to seat 165 people, the Sheridan Inn was the social hub for the area, hosting grand dances and dinners. The 64 hotel rooms hosted new residents of Sheridan who stayed at the Inn while their houses were being built and ranchers would spend their weekends at the Inn. Early prices at the Sheridan Inn were one dollar per night and fifty cents for lunch or dinner. Over the years, The Sheridan Inn drew notable guests from far and wide, such as Ernest Hemingway, President Hoover, Will Rogers, and Bob Hope.

Today guests can choose from one of the Inn’s 22 rooms, which have been uniquely designed and named after important figures in Buffalo Bill’s life. Reserving a room involves looking over a Room Menu and selecting from such options as the “Sitting Bull Room” or “Annie Oakley Room”. Each suite presents the times and individual histories of the person in the room’s overall finish and furnishings, artifacts, and exhibits.

THE BROADMOOR, Colorado Springs, CO

The Broadmoor has hosted many (actually, most) U.S. presidents in its 106-year history, including Dwight Eisenhower, who would visit the resort regularly to play golf and learn from pro-Ed Dudley. Fun fact: George W. Bush gave up drinking after a big 40th birthday celebration at the resort’s The Golden Bee gastropub. From the Obamas to the Roosevelts, The Broadmoor has had its share of presidential stays in this uniquely Western resort, which spans 5,000 acres and is a gateway to the Rocky Mountains.

One can roam the hallway between Broadmoor West and the West Tower to see The Broadmoor’s photo gallery. The gallery includes framed portraits of distinguished guests (including presidents) who have stayed at the resort over the decades, from Prince Harry to Bob Hope. 

The Oasis at Death Valley, Death Valley, California 

The Oasis at Death Valley was originally called Furnace Creek and is a true American oasis where 80,000 gallons of ancient water rise to the surface every day.  The Native Americans, prospectors, settlers, and 49ers all knew about the water there and the oasis. Eventually, the land was purchased by the Pacific Borax Company which mined and hauled borax out of the valley with the famed Borax 20 Mule Teams of the 1880s.  The mules and miners were based at Furnace Creek.

The resort was originally built by the Pacific Borax Company in the late 1920s and would become the getaway winter spot for Hollywood celebrities such as Clark Gable, and Ronald Reagan, and where George Lucas filmed scenes from the original Star Wars movies because of the stunning natural beauty in daylight. 

Over the years in addition to the Inn, the Ranch was expanded, and amenities and facilities were added for the enjoyment of travelers and vacationers including casual lodging, restaurants, a general store, a golf course, tennis courts, a gas station, official U.S Post Office (Zip Code 92328), RV parking and of course, a saloon.

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park, WY

A U.S. National Historic Landmark, the Old Faithful Inn has been a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2012. This iconic holiday destination is located in the heart of Yellowstone National Park, specifically next to its legendary Old Faithful geyser. The hotel itself was originally constructed upon the grounds of the former Upper Geyser Basin Hotel, which had collapsed during the 1890s. Its initial owner had been Jay Cooke, a prominent railroad tycoon who had long entertained the idea of preserving the area that now constitutes Yellowstone National Park. Cooke’s team at the Northern Pacific Railroad subsequently debuted the Upper Geyser Basin Hotel in 1883 and was thus obligated to construct a replacement when the former was destroyed a decade later. 

Opening in 1904, the newly created “Old Faithful Inn” immediately became one of Yellowstone’s most popular attractions. The hotel was soon hosting many influential people over the following decades, including U.S. Presidents like Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Two earlier presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Theodore Roosevelt, had camped at the site back long before the Old Faithful Inn opened. Lastly, First Lady Laura Bush stayed at this iconic inn in 2002. 

Cody and Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming 

Many presidents have been spotted in the state’s northwestern region known as Cody Yellowstone, which includes the town of Cody, as well as parts of Yellowstone National Park. To start, Chester A. Arthur visited Yellowstone National Park in 1883 with a large entourage and was intent on having an authentic Western experience. Arthur kept in touch with the outside world and engaged in presidential business with one daily mail courier on horseback who delivered and received Arthur’s messages.

President Calvin Coolidge visited Cody on July 4, 1927, for the opening of the Buffalo Bill Museum, the first of five museums that comprise the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Theodore Roosevelt was a big fan of the state, and he made several trips during his presidential tenure and returned to Wyoming to vacation after he left Washington. In 1903, during his final visit to the park for a two-week vacation, he visited the Norris Geyser Basin where he spent two nights at the Norris Hotel. During that trip, he laid the cornerstone for the park’s Roosevelt Arch. Although the arch is in the state of Montana at the northern entrance to Yellowstone, Wyoming celebrates the grand structure too, as most of the park is in Wyoming.

Years later, Theodore’s fifth cousin Franklin took office, and he also left his mark on Yellowstone Country. When he visited the park, he avoided the park hotels, many with multiple floors and no elevators, and instead was a guest of the lodge manager in his single-floor park home, which could better accommodate his wheelchair while at the same time keeping it from public view.

Some other notable names include President George H.W. Bush, President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama and his family, First Lady Melania Trump, and President Jimmy Carter dined at the employee pub at the park’s Lake Lodge where he signed the wall of the pub, still visible to guests today. Lastly, President Warren Harding visited the park in 1923, shortly before he died, and the staff in the park named a geyser after him.

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Celebrate Canyonlands NP 60th Anniversary with Moab Adventure Center

For those who can only spare a few hours on the river, Colorado River Jet Boat Fun Run for $139 per person is a three-hour, 64-mile jet boat excursion with canopy-covered seating into spectacular river scenery bordering Canyonlands National Park.

MOAB, UT– In 1964, 257,640 acres of high desert in Utah were formally designated by President Lyndon B. Johnson as Canyonlands National Park. Some 10,000 years ago Native Americans lingered here long enough to signal their presence through drawings (petroglyphs) on rock walls. Only 2,000 years ago hunter-gatherer tribes created granaries to store their harvests. Many granaries still survive. Early European settlers gazed farther west, leaving this geologically challenging world as the hideout for a handful of outlaws.
 
Today, with its 60th anniversary upon us, Canyonlands National Park remains the least visited among Utah’s “Big 5” national parks despite offering some of the best rafting, hiking, jeep tours, mountain biking and canyoneering in the country. In 2024, Moab Adventure Center is making it easier than ever to access some or all of the vast park.
 
One of the most overlooked (and most breathtaking) districts of Canyonlands National Park is the River District. Carving its way through this unmatched landscape is the mighty Colorado River. Kam Wixom, Marketing Director for Moab Adventure Center, reports “a remarkable surge in popularity” with their 96-mile, 2-day Cataract Canyon Express raft trip (per person rate $955) or Cataract Canyon 4-Day Expedition (per person rate $1935) through class III-IV rapids in the heart of Canyonlands National Park.  Rates include transfers, hiking, camping, meals and whitewater rafting (plus scenic flight on 4-day trip).
 
For those who can only spare a few hours on the river, Colorado River Jet Boat Fun Run for $139 per person is a three-hour, 64-mile jet boat excursion with canopy-covered seating into spectacular river scenery bordering Canyonlands National Park. Snacks and drinks are served along with commentary by the guide/pilot. Keep an eye out for a petrified forest, fossil beds, spectacular rock cliffs, Indian ruins, petroglyphs and arches.  See: https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/jet-boat-colorado-river
 
To grasp the grandeur and enormity of all of Canyonlands, Moab Adventure Center can arrange a one-hour Canyonlands National Park Airplane Tour. The flights are year-round and scheduled to depart daily at 9 a.m. All guests have window views and headsets to enjoy the commentary of a professional pilot on a 125-mile flyover that includes regions inaccessible to hikers. The per-person rate is $249 ($187 ages 12-3). An 80-minute Arches and Canyonlands Airplane Tour also departs year-round daily. The per person rate is $329 ($247 ages 12-3). See https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-air-tours for details.
 
Moab Adventure Center also maps out 4×4 Jeep Rentals for up to five passengers (including driver) available for one-day or multi-day use. The vehicles are brand-new modified Jeep Rubicons, considered the best and most capable jeep to explore the trails. Jeep Rubicons feature an automatic transmission, a 3-inch lift kit, oversized tires, seat belts for 5, and free satellite radio.  A per-vehicle daily rate of $330 includes a book of trail maps, a cooler of water and ice, and 150 free miles daily. GPS signal monitors in every Jeep means you are never really lost in the backcountry surrounding Moab. Complimentary airport and in-town shuttles are included. See https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-jeep-rentals-rubicon
 
This National Park Service site https://www.nps.gov/cany/index.htm is a starting point for a pre-visit discovery of Canyonlands. It even includes time management touring tips for those with one hour or several days to spend in one or more of NPS’ designated regions – called sections – of Canyonlands. Please see https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/itineraries.htm
 
Moab Adventure Center is a division of Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab and Fredonia, AZ. The company is the largest single tour provider in Moab, Utah. The Moab Adventure Center is located at 225 South Main St., Moab, UT 84532. For information and reservations please visit https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/ or call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163. The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear, clothing, maps and souvenirs.

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Explore the Cosmos at Death Valley Dark Sky Festival, March 1-3

Join scientists and park rangers to learn about the cosmos and how Death Valley National Park has been used as an analog for the exploration of distant worlds during the Death Valley Dark Sky Festival March 1-3, 2024. (Photo courtesy: Xanterra Travel Collection) 

There’s no better place to explore the wonders of space than from one of the darkest locations in the United States. Join scientists and park rangers to learn about the cosmos and how Death Valley National Park has been used as an analog for the exploration of distant worlds during the Death Valley Dark Sky Festival March 1-3, 2024.  
 
Death Valley National Park is one of only eight (8) designated “gold tier” International Dark Sky Parks in the country where stargazers can see the Milky Way with the naked eye (something that’s not possible from most people’s homes due to light pollution). The National Park Service, alongside the Oasis at Death Valley, has taken measures to greatly minimize light pollution in the area so no special telescopes are needed (though they are recommended for an otherworldly experience).
 
Accommodations and restaurants are extremely limited in the park. Not only does The Oasis at Death Valley offer two properties with modern luxury and family-friendly accommodations, but it’s also ideally positioned with clear nights the norm, a lack of settled land, and the exterior lights of the resort dim by design. Ideal for stargazing, yes, but also for travelers in search of astronomical sights – constellations, planets, deep-sky objects, celestial events like lunar eclipses and meteor showers, and even actual galaxies like the increasingly hard-to-spot Milky Way.
 
The Death Valley Dark Sky Festival is a collaboration between Death Valley National Park, non-profit Death Valley Natural History AssociationNASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Ames Research Center, SETI Institute and California Institute of Technology. All Death Valley Dark Sky Festival programs are free and open to the public. Some of the programs are specifically targeted for families with children. For a full list of programs and lodging options visit the park’s website at nps.gov/deva.
 
Located 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas and 295 miles northeast of Los Angeles, The Oasis at Death Valley is distant enough from the major cities in the Southwest to provide unobstructed views of the night’s sky, yet close enough for city dwellers to escape for the weekend. Guests can reserve a private stargazing party to create the ultimate night sky experience. In addition, Furnace Creek Stables on property offers a moonlight tour which is a unique way to stargaze.

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EF Go Ahead Tours Opens Bookings Through 2026 Giving Travelers Unprecedented Lead Time to Plan, Budget Future Travel at Today’s Prices

Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon): EF Go Ahead Tours’ Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City are two new ways to see Asia through 2026. The company is offering 2025 and 2026 tours as today’s prices, with ability to pay in installments © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

BOSTON — As guided group travel continues to soar in popularity, EF Go Ahead Tours (GAT), a premier provider of culturally immersive and education-based group tours, responds as the first operator to open bookings to all of its tour destinations through 2026. It is the largest and most diverse collection of itineraries to open 35 months in advance. By offering such generous lead time, travelers will realize incredible value by booking future travel at today’s prices. And for ultimate flexibility, EF Go Ahead offers a $99 down AutoPay with payments in manageable monthly installments, one of the few credit and interest-free payment plans in today’s economy.

2023 was an extraordinary year for guided group travel, with all indicators pointing to even stronger future demand through 2025. Based on sales in the last quarter, EF Go Ahead has seen bookings into late 2025 increase by almost 30% compared to 2024 bookings in the same time period last year.  Lead time isn’t the only benefit at EF Go Ahead Tours. The company is also expanding its tour offerings in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, focusing on less-traveled, expertly-vetted gems aimed at embedding travelers into local culture, gastronomy, and traditions.

“It’s not just where people want to go, it’s how they want to travel that defines the future of our industry,” says Heidi Durflinger, President, EF Go Ahead Tours. “People want connection and meaning, so they are choosing guided group travel for these transformative moments. By launching more departure dates than ever before to all of our destinations through 2026 (at 2024 prices), we are enabling travelers to plan for the experiences they desire at a tremendous value.”

EF Go Ahead data supports emerging trends for 2024 travel and beyond:

  • Travelers Are Going Guided for Planning-Intensive Destinations: Based on EF Go Ahead Tours’ recent (November 2023) bookings, trips to both Asia and Africa – two highly desired but not easily accessed destinations—were up 70% in sales compared to November 2022. Looking at the first half of 2024, Thailand and Japan departures are both up 57% compared to the same time in 2023, further underscoring travelers want to access these destinations in a guided group experience. Highlights of Southern Thailand: Bangkok, Phuket & Krabi and Highlights of Vietnam: Hanoi, Hạ Long Bay & Hô Chi Minh City are two new ways to see Asia through 2026.
  • More Meaningful, Deeper Dives into Culture, Food, and History are on the Rise: In the last few months, bookings for longer tours continue to see a big increase compared to the same time last year, with a 110% increase in tours lasting more than 16 days. Itineraries with a longer “Grand Tour” lens showcase the many advantages of modern group travel with 12+ days of travel. While these tours are increasingly popular in Asia, Grand Tour of Costa Rica: From the Caribbean to the Pacific is an exciting new itinerary that strikes the perfect balance of gastronomy and adventure and The Greek Ionian Islands: Kefalonia & Corfu with Nafplio & the Athens Riviera Extension offers an insider’s look at the less traveled parts of the Greek Isles.
  • More Opportunities to Connect Through Travel Drives Social Tourism & Solo Tours:  The end of 2023 saw a soaring rate of 380% more solo travelers embarking on solo-only group tours than the previous fall.  EF Go Ahead continues to strengthen its commitment to the “travel solo, but never alone” style bringing its unparalleled collection of solo-only tours up to 18 offerings in 2023.
  • “Peak Season” is Now All Seasons: While “hot” seasons like summer will always be popular in Europe, other seasons are growing at a rapid rate—even to destinations like Italy! “Shoulder Season” and off-season—Oct-April—offers less crowds and temperate weather with more access to local charm. In Oct-Dec. of 2023, EF Go Ahead Tours departed 30% more travelers to Italy than during the same period for 2022. Future shoulder season travel to other parts of the world like Asia, Australia, Latin America & Africa are also on the rise.

Value Oriented: All Reward, No Risk.  
Booking future trips with EF Go Ahead is a win-win. Travelers lock in today’s costs for future travel and through EF Go Ahead’s AutoPay, travelers benefit from one of the few credit and interest-free payment plans available in the current economy. Flexible, fee-free options allow changes to dates and destinations up to the Tour Finalization Date.

Travelers can visit www.goaheadtours.com for more information and to see all available trips. Check out destinations on EF Go Ahead Tours’ Instagram and Facebook.

EF Go Ahead Tours offers more than 175 guided trips across six continents. Each carefully planned, expertly led tour makes it easy for curious travelers of all ages to get to the heart of a destination. With a maximum group size well below the industry average, each trip has the perfect balance of planned sightseeing and free time to explore. EF Go Ahead Tours is a part of EF Education First, the world’s largest international education company that was founded in 1965. With a mission of opening the world through education, EF Education First has 612 offices and schools in 50 countries.

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