The Best Travel Stories Throughout the U.S. and the World
This holiday season, we’re celebrating travel at DCI. Celebrate with us, won’t you?
We’ve put together some great story starters for you to consider for the first quarter of 2024.
From charming villages scattered across Western Mass and the tasting rooms that dot the city of San Luis Obispo, California, to the velvety sands of Barbados and U.S. Virgin Islands, there’s plenty to look forward to in the new year. So, let’s raise a glass to discovering new places both at home and abroad.
Alexandria, VA – www.visitalexandria.com
Alexandria, Virginia, only minutes away from Washington, D.C., celebrates its 275th anniversary in 2024. This milestone is marked with special events and programs celebrating the city’s past and its diverse culture of today. Activities include new exhibits, expanded collecting and sharing of oral histories, and special editions of the annual Portside Festival and Alexandria Birthday Celebration. Explore Black history experiences, including the recently reopened Alexandria Black History Museum and Freedom House Museum, along with the recently expanded waterfront African American Heritage Trails. From March to November 2024, the newest temporary public art installation at Alexandria’s waterfront explores the impact of an asteroid that hit the earth 35 million years ago near what is now Alexandria.
Baltimore, MD – www.baltimore.org
The multimillion-dollar Baltimore Peninsula, once an abandoned industrial port, has a new lease on life as a thriving waterfront hub with such notable attractions as ROOST Baltimore, a boutique hotel offering idyllic stays for business or leisure. The iconic Rye Street Tavern, Volo Beach and Triangle Park will add allure when they open in 2024. The culinary landscape undergoes a notable expansion with the introduction of Slutty Vegan and Bar Vegan, spearheaded by the acclaimed chef and Baltimore native Pinky Cole. The cultural panorama is enriched by such compelling exhibitions as “Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400-1800” at the Baltimore Museum of Art and “Ethiopia at the Crossroads” at the Walters Art Museum. The latter, featuring one of the most-extensive collections of Ethiopian art outside Ethiopia, is scheduled for an early 2024 unveiling. These cultural and culinary milestones collectively contribute to Baltimore’s vibrant and evolving identity. The 2024 CIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament returns Feb. 26–March 3, 2024, at CFG Bank Arena. The CIAA and the city of Baltimore recently announced a two-year extension through 2025.
Chattanooga, TN – www.visitchattanooga.com
Although Chattanooga is touted as the “Scenic City,” it’s also one of the state’s most-creative and most-collaborative destinations. The year kicks off with the annual Lookout Wild Film Festival, which gets underway Jan. 12–15 and brings the best outdoor adventure and conservation films from around the world. The statewide Tennessee Songwriters Week celebrates the craft of songwriting in two rounds—Jan. 29–Feb. 11 and Feb. 19–25. Chattanooga’s Songbirds is a great venue to enjoy live music, and the Bessie Smith Cultural Center, named for Chattanooga’s favorite daughter who earned the nickname “Empress of the Blues,” is a great resource for exploring some of the town’s famed artists, including Usher and Bessie Smith herself.
Florida – www.visitflorida.com
Winter in Florida will be abuzz with sporting and cultural distractions. From January to March, travelers can experience the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington. This 13-week event features hunters, jumpers and equitation. The Rolex 24, occurring in January at Daytona Beach, invites fans to explore North America’s most-prestigious sports car race. Visitors can witness another great race in Daytona during the Nascar Craftsman Truck Series and the Beef 300 & Brandt 200. The 13th annual Gasparilla Music Festival returns Feb. 16–18, while the Florida Strawberry Festival offers a tasty experience Feb. 29–March 10 with fresh strawberries, delicious foods, headline entertainment, rides, agriculture, artwork and more.
Kissimmee, FL – www.experiencekissimmee.com
In early 2024, Kissimmee is buzzing with exciting new attractions and experiences. The World’s Largest Collector Car Auction® marks its 25th anniversary at Osceola Heritage Park from Jan. 2–14 and promises to showcase some of the rarest cars in existence. With a staggering 4,000 vehicle consignments expected, this event remains the ultimate destination for car enthusiasts. For those seeking a touch of Disney magic, a beautifully landscaped walking trail inspired by “Moana” immerses guests into a tropical paradise filled with water-themed surprises. SeaWorld introduces the “Penguin Trek” family coaster, set to open in spring 2024, featuring an immersive Antarctic adventure with two exhilarating launches and a grand finale at the penguin habitat. Toho Riverboat Adventures is adding the historic paddle-wheeler “Pearl of the Lake,” which features sunset cruises, live music, themed parties and a charming atmosphere for private events.
Greater Miami, FL – www.miamiandbeaches.com
During January, visitors can explore South Beach’s iconic architecture during Art Deco Weekend and get an up-close and personal look at the area’s glamorous Art Deco Historic District. The new year also kicks off with the year’s first LGBTQ+ celebration at the Winter Party Festival, an annual weeklong LGBTQ+ celebration of music, dance and community. In this vibrant cultural hub, travelers can embark on a delightful journey of emotions with Florida Grand Opera’s “I Pagliacci” at the Arsht Center from Jan. 27 to Jan. 30. Audience members will find themselves drawn into Canio’s tumultuous world, where love, jealousy and tragedy intertwine as he manages a theater troupe and discovers the heartbreaking consequences of his wife’s affair.
Loudoun County – visitloudoun.org
Loudoun County during winter offers a picturesque scenery coupled with a variety of outdoor activities and delightful ways to escape the rigors of daily life. Break the winter blues with a stroll through nature by exploring the trails of Loudoun. The Bears Den Trail offers breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains. Pair your walk with one of Loudon County’s many world-class spas, such as the Spa Minérale at Lansdowne Resort, which provides a revitalizing vinotherapy treatment and an indulgent experience. Ice skating is another activity that is perfect for this time of year. Visit the ION International Training Center, which offers public skating on its two NHL-sized ice rinks.
St. Louis is an inspiring winter destination with its lively cultural scene and plethora of events, including winter festivals, live productions and skiing. Hidden Valley in Wildwood — a lively ski resort only 30 miles from downtown — features two peaks, 16 trails and optimal snowmaking, which is perfect for tourists who want to experience the destination while being strapped to skies or a snowboard.
Louisville, KY – www.gotolouisville.com
Winter in Bourbon City sets the scene for a vibrant season filled with special events, such as the Bourbon Classic , the Louisville Boat, RV & Sportshow, the National Farm Machinery Show and the Tailspin Ale Fest. The six-week Winter Holiday Festival features an outdoor ice-skating rink. Capture moments with Santa, explore the Brent Street Holiday Market, enjoy trackless train rides and discover endless delights. Skate, shop, dine and revel in Paristown this winter. Because Louisville also offers a wealth of natural beauty, visitors can enjoy long and peaceful wintertime walks while being surrounded by nature, such as the expansive Cherokee Park and its picturesque views or Waterfront Park, which is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.
North Carolina – www.visitnc.com
A big idea from tiny Maggie Valley (population 1,700) results in a growth spurt for the new year with NC Smokies Ice Fest Weekend. The event, occurring Jan. 26–28, will transform neighboring towns into a winter wonderland, with ice sculptures, interactive ice games, ice skating, a 5K run, shopping, a Downtown Waynesville ice stroll and other immersive activities. The Penguins on the Pigeon will release a flotilla of rubber penguins onto the Pigeon River and will provide alpaca-fiber winter wear at Winchester Creek Farm. Building on the success of the inaugural Maggie Valley Ice Festival in 2023, the NC Smokies Ice Fest Weekend encompasses all of Haywood County, including the spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway stops on the edge of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Redding, CA – www.visitredding.com
Known for its abundance of trout and the iconic Sundial Bridge, Redding is also emerging as a culinary destination. Located below the Oregon border in the shadow of Mt. Shasta, this former California logging town welcomes to its historic downtown a new public market that’s similar to Oxbow Market in Napa. Redding Market Center will host a wine bar, a noodle house, an artisanal ice cream shop and the mother-daughter owned Cask & Clever — a cheese and charcuterie shop that opened its doors in 2023 and features an array of grazing boards and condiments. Redding’s vibrant coffee culture has beans roasted daily at Theory and Evergreen, both of which are popular spots with locals and residents.
San Antonio, TX – www.visitsanantonio.com
Because San Antonio is one of only a handful of major U.S. cities classified as a majority-minority metropolis, the Alamo City hosts DreamWeek, which bridges the chasm between people and ideas through a community-curated summit. The 16-day celebration includes more than 200 events spread throughout the city to engage people in embracing new ideas for the common good. The 75th annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo will take place Feb. 8–25. Since 1949, this Texas-size event, powered by about 6,000 volunteers, has grown to become one of the state’s largest and most-prestigious events and attracts more than 1.5 million enthusiasts.
San Luis Obispo, CA – www.visitslo.com
Although San Luis Obispo (SLO), located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is a wine-growing region known for its reds and whites, it also is earning a reputation for being green. In 1990, it became the first city in the world to ban smoking in all public buildings, including bars and restaurants, and is home to the Palm Theater, the first solar energy-run U.S. movie theater. Its award-winning wineries are SIP-certified (sustainable in practice) as well. The city uses herds of goats to clear out brush along its hillsides, and the Beaver Brigade is dedicated to creating healthy wetlands by using techniques that beavers used to be good stewards of the region’s watersheds.
U.S. Virgin Islands – www.visitusvi.com
St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Exciting events and developments abound in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mark your calendar for St. Croix’s cherished St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17. Dive into history at the Slave Wrecks Project in Christensted, a poignant reminder of the transatlantic slave trade. In St. John, the Lovango Resort & Beach Club unveils intimate one- and two-bedroom cottages with modern amenities coupled with a “Stay & Sail” package or a “Coral Reef Caretaker Package.” Families can enjoy a supervised children’s program from Feb. 12 to April 26. St. Thomas welcomes elite sailors worldwide to the 2024 St. Thomas International Regatta in March. Don’t miss this thrilling nautical spectacle amid the stunning Virgin Islands waters.
Western Massachusetts – explorewesternmass.com
Western Massachusetts consists of Berkshire, Hampshire, Hampden and Franklin counties as well as the Mohawk Trail, which provides an eclectic mix of outdoor adventure, family-friendly attractions and a luxury retreat. This January, Explore Western Massachusetts invites snow enthusiasts to learn to Ski and Snowboard in Western Massachusetts, with customized bookable packages for ski and après ski experiences. Home to the birthplace of basketball, Western Mass invites sports enthusiasts to the annual Hoophall Classic from Jan. 11–15. Additionally, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame will collaborate with Ice Cube for the inaugural Ice Cube Impact Award to honor legendary rapper and actor Ice Cube and his extraordinary contributions to basketball and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. To mark the unofficial start of baseball season, Red Sox Winter Weekend will kick off at MGM Springfield, where the team will meet with fans, sign autographs and more!
Barbados – www.visitbarbados.org
While elsewhere is cold, the weather is perfect in Barbados. Enjoy the island’s rich heritage, savor its culinary delights and experience its commitment to sustainability. A pair of new luxury hotels now grace the pristine shoreline with the recent opening of Sam Lord’s Castle, a Wyndham Resort, and the pending opening of Indigo Hotel Barbados in 2024. Embark on a culinary adventure at Local & Co., Baia and Bearded Rose, as each one offers a modern twist to the island’s culinary traditions. Sustainable tourism is also important to the Bajan people, and Condé Nast Traveler has recognized the island as a top sustainable travel destination. Run Barbados, the Caribbean’s largest marathon, celebrates 40 years with the return of the Fun Mile. Enjoy the scenic East Coast route and vibrant festivities that surround this fit event. Delve 150 feet below the ocean with Sushi Under the Sea with Atlantis Submarine Touts to admire the bevy of marine life.
Israel – https://israel.travel
Although travel to Israel has been paused, many volunteers are making the pilgrimage to volunteer their time and talents. Voluntourism opportunities span from helping the elderly — especially Tel Aviv’s population of Holocaust survivors — preparing their weekly Shabbat meals, preparing food and essentials for soldiers and displaced families and tending to short-staffed farms and agriculture. The Israel Ministry of Tourism is also doing its part: In collaboration with Israel’s National Emergency Management Authority and the Israel Hotel Association, the ministry is helping provide accommodation and refuge to those whose homes have been affected. Despite the situation, new projects and developments have opened to show the tenacious spirit of the country, including The National Library of Israel, a $225 million project that recently opened its 11 floors to house millions of stories and documents.
Monaco – www.visitmonaco.com/en
This winter promises to be an exciting season in the Principality. From Jan. 19 to Jan. 28, Monaco hosts the 46th Festival International du Cirque de Monte-Carlo and the 11th New Generation event, featuring an array of international circus acts competing for the prestigious Golden Clown award. Monaco takes center stage as it hosts the annual opening leg of the FIA World Rally Championship in January. The event shifted into high gear recently by embracing sustainability and introducing Rally1 rechargeable hybrid cars, a significant departure from the traditional internal combustion engines.
Toronto (BUSINESS EVENTS PR) – www.destinationtoronto.com
Home to some of the most-innovative hotels, restaurants and venues in North America, Toronto has plenty to offer for business travelers and events. As the first Canadian city with a Michelin Guide of recognized restaurants, Toronto is home to about 7,500 restaurants, boasting an array of global flavors that reflect the city’s incredible diversity. As a global leader in sustainability, many of Toronto’s hotel destinations, such as the Westin Harbour Castle, run fully on green electricity. Others, such as the 1 Hotel Toronto, are designed and guided by biophilia — the concept of connecting nature with the indoors. Visitors who stay on the property — which contains 3,000 plants and lobby furniture made from reclaimed local trees — can experience the benefits of nature without having to endure winter weather. This February, Toronto will welcome the NHL All Star Game.
Vienna – www.wien.info/en
Vienna dazzles during January with its iconic ball season, which has hosted more than 450 legendary balls since the Congress of Vienna. The carnival season features six notable balls, including the unique Rainbow Ball for the LGBTQ community taking place Jan. 27. Vienna Ice World, one of the world’s largest manmade ice rinks, transforms City Hall Square into a fairy-tale setting with an expansive ice rink that delights visitors. Travelers can stay fit at Vienna’s indoor swimming pools and stay warm at the charming coffeehouses that offer several hot beverages. On Feb. 1, the Wien Museum welcomes its first major temporary exhibition after its much-anticipated December reopening.