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3 Tropical Destinations To Beat A Long and Harsh Winter

After a long winter, it can be great to get away for a bit to a tropical, warmer destination. You might think you need to look outside the United States for a vacation spot warm enough, but believe it or not, you have plenty of options to choose from within the country. In fact, U.S. domestic travel increased by almost 2% in 2017.

There are over 19,000 airports, heliports, seaplane bases, and other landing facilities in the United States and its territories; with all of these options, one of them is sure to have your next vacation destination. Even without a passport and without leaving the United States, you’ll be able to plan a fun tropical vacation the entire family will enjoy. Check out these 3 tropical destinations for a fun vacation to beat the winter blues.

Hawaii

Always a classic for an island getaway, Hawaii has a few different islands perfect for vacationing depending on what you’re looking for. For a more nature-oriented vacation in Hawaii’s tropical forests, try visiting Kauai; a variety of movies are filmed on this island due to its picturesque landscape. If you’re looking for more of a traditional vacation experience, the Big Island could be right for you; with plenty of hotels and luxury vacation activities to choose from.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has tons to offer while still being close to home. Check out the wide variety of wildlife on this island while not being too far away from the mainland. If you’re looking for a slightly more secluded getaway, try one of the smaller islands off the coast of Puerto Rico; many of these islands haven’t had as many tourists, making them a bit quieter and off the beaten path. Don’t forget to check out all the ocean activities the islands have to offer; 19.6% of Millennials participate in water sports, and you’ll find plenty to get involved with there.

Catalina Islands

While you may have heard of the last two tropical destinations, these lesser-known islands are sure to help you beat back the winter blues. These islands are less than 50 miles off the coast of California but are the perfect tropical getaway. Look for all your summertime and tropical favorites, including zip lining, hiking, beaches, and more.

Even without a passport, you can make the most of these tropical destinations to help get over a long winter. Which of these travel spots can you see you and your family vacationing to?

 

What’s New for Spring and Summer Travel at Busch Gardens

Still wondering what to do over spring break? Busch Gardens may be the perfect place. Thrill seekers, beach bums, animal lovers, foodies, concert enthusiasts, and those looking for a bit of everything can find it in the Tampa theme park. We got a taste of it two weeks ago when animal ambassadors and representatives from Busch Gardens Tampa Bay came to New York armed with VR headsets and a lively presentation to give us the latest scoop on all the new and exciting changes happening.

Rollercoaster lovers rejoice—Busch Gardens is an adrenaline lovers’ dream. Named the Coaster Capital, it offers some of the most adventurous rides in all of Florida. Opened in the summer of 2016, the Cobra’s Curse features a 30,000-pound snake with a 70-foot vertical lift that takes riders around 2,100 feet of snaking, spinning, and sometimes backward barreling tracks at 40mph. If your motto is “the faster, the better”, then Busch Gardens’ three-launch homage to the fastest land mammal, the Cheetah Hunt, is your ride. Appropriately starting at the Cheetah Run, guests speed through 4,400 feet of track at 60mph careening racing over bystanders and actual cheetahs.

For those looking to get in touch with their wild(life) side, spend some time getting to know the unique residents of one of America’s largest zoos. Against the backdrop of Times Square, we were introduced to Ringo the ring-tailed lemur, Peaches the cockatoo, Willow the wallaby, Emmett the screech owl, and two Madagascar tenrecs, Spike (pictured) and Star.

We learned a lot about these animals—for example, tenrecs, which are not to be mistaken for hedgehogs, are shy nocturnal insect eaters who can hang on trees upside down using tiny sharp claws. Emmett the owl was so engrossed in the M&M billboard across the way, it was hard to get his attention and have him turn his head back 270-degrees to face our cameras. Likewise, park guests can learn more about the animals, their habitats, and conservation efforts from the many experts in the park. Additionally, park goers can also opt for a safari experience on a 65-acre open-air vehicle on the Serengeti Plain. Through a VR experience, we got a feel for the 30-minute tour that allows you to hand-feed giraffes, spot rhinos, and drive along galloping antelopes and zebras. On top of that, be ready to see some seriously adorable baby animals. The park has recently experienced a baby boom with two new giraffes, sloths, and orangutans.

If all that sounds a lot and you’d rather take it easy with some food, drinks, and entertainment, the Food and Wine Festival returns with a selection of over 65 wines, 50+ craft beers and cocktails, and delectable cuisine all while watching musical acts. The Festival runs through April 29th and will feature acts such as TLC, Flo Rida, and Boyz II Men.

And of course, what would a visit to Florida be without a trip to the beach? Luckily, St. Petersburg Clearwater beach is just a few minutes away. With plenty of hotel partners that provide daily shuttles to Busch Gardens, you don’t really have to choose between thrills and relaxation.

For more watery fun, there’s also Adventure Island—Busch Garden’s sister water park filled with water-drenched fun, combining excitement with a soothing Key West vibe. New this year is Vanish Point, a 70-foot speed slide challenging park goers to choose from one of two skyboxes that will determine how they go down 425 feet of spiraling tubes. Adventure Island also has the wet and swirling Colossal Curl, a children’s playground, raging rapids, and cabanas to relax in.

Spring Break isn’t the only time to plan your Busch Gardens getaway, there are plenty of events and themes to check out all year round. Aside from the Food and Wine Festival, there will also be a Jack Hana weekend, extended summer hours (when you can ride coasters at night), a Guy Harvey weekend, Bierfest, Christmas Town, and so much more.

Travel Highlight: Let’s Go to Maharashtra, India

At one point, we traveled extensively, it was a great joy in our lives as we love to travel. We love the temporary escape from our reality, opening the window to a view that’s not the usual, experiencing new people, cultures, foods, and the wonderful sights each destination has to offer. Today we’re highlighting Maharashtra, a state in the western region of India and India’s second-most populated state. We actually meant to cover this previously but…..life. Anyway, we had the pleasure of being a guest at a travel event for Maharashtra, India and delighted in the music, dancing and food featured at the event.

Maharashtra is the wealthiest and most developed state in India, but you may be more familiar with its state capital and largest city, Mumbai. Though Mumbai is the most popular, Maharashtra has 35 districts. There are lots of things to enjoy, like visiting the Mumbai Monorail, the first mono railway in India, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, India’s first cable-stayed bridge, the Gateway of India in Mumbai, the Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad, the Statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and a statue of Ganesha. Along with lots of beautiful sights to see, there are lots of delicious culinary wonders to delight in, a foodie’s dream. At the Maharashtra Tourism event, I heartily enjoyed a variety of dishes…..see some of the cuisine I enjoyed below:

Maharashtra cuisine features amazing dishes that range from mild to very spicy. Some of the popular dishes include puran poli (a traditional type of sweet flatbread), ukadiche Modak (a steamed or fried coconut-filled sweet dumpling), and batata vada (potato fritters). The is divided into two wide categories of cuisine – Konkani, and Varadi. Although they are different, both cuisines use lots of seafood and coconut. Some other ingredients used in dishes from Maharashtra include onion, garlic, ginger, red chilli powder, green chilies, lentils, and tamarind. Non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes are generally eaten with boiled rice or soft roti bread, and the most popular fish is bombil, also known as the Bombay duck.

The beauty of Maharashtra isn’t just in its sights and foods, as they have many different types of beautiful dances. The Povada is the dance form that describes the life of Maratha ruler, Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj; the Lavani and Koli dances entertains you with mesmerizing music and rhythmic movements; the Dhangri Gaja dance pays respect to the God Biruba; the Dindi and Kala are the religious folk dances, and the Tamasha is the most popular folk dance. We enjoyed a sampling of, and took video of the beautiful dances performed during the event, enjoy them below:

We hope to visit Maharashtra one day and experience it’s stunning beauty first hand, it is definitely on our travel wish list.