Vacations ready for 2020

Vacations to America’s 2020/21 brochure launched to the trade on December 11.

Vacations

It features a wide range of U.S. holidays and includes a section on Canada for the first time.

The North America tailor-made specialist features unique properties that range from hotels to B&B’s, inns and lodges, including over 400 U.S. properties not offered by any other UK operator.

New to its programme are six suggested road trips that take clients from the West to the Deep South.

One of the new itineraries, ‘Music of the South’, is a 15-day journey that travels through cities and towns that are at the centre of America’s rich musical history. These include Nashville, Tennessee; Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; Indianola and Natchez, Mississippi; and New Orleans, Louisiana. Prices for the tour start from £2,495pp, including scheduled flights, 14 nights’ accommodation, car hire, a guidebook and maps.

Among new hotels featuring in Vacations to America’s programme are Royal Palms Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona; the Ridgeline Hotel in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains; Hyannis Harbor Hotel, Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and Jackson House Inn, Woodstock, Vermont.

Wild Dunes Resort in South Carolina is also featured for the first time along with eight new Inns and hotels in North Carolina.

Agents should contact 01582 469777 or email enq@vacationstoamerica.com.

Vacationstoamerica.com

Florida's clear winner

Long recognised as being home to some of America's best beaches, St. Pete/Clearwater in Florida has plenty to offer beyond its sands in 2020.

St Pete

Three new hotels and a brand-new $80m St. Pete Pier are among the new developments.

In July The Berkeley Beach Club opened with six luxury apartments and views of the Gulf of Mexico while last month (November) Fusion Resort in Treasure Island opened with spacious two- and three-bedroom suites and leisure facilities that include a large pool, paddleboats, kayaks and bikes.

The dog-friendly AirBnB property offers guests access to an on-site beach bar and grill, The Dewey, and The Rooftop Bar, with sunset views of the Gulf.

From January, the boutique Karol Hotel in Clearwater will feature 123 luxury guest rooms and suites, a lobby bar and restaurant, a rooftop bar overlooking Tampa Bay, a large resort-style pool and fitness centre.

Opening in in downtown St. Pete in the spring is southeast’s USA’s largest waterfront playground. The 26-acre space will include a brand-new $80m St. Pete Pier with entertainment, dining, shopping and an urban beach.

The Pier, which stays true to St. Pete’s artistic vibe by incorporating artworks and installations from local and international artists, will have five dining options, including two large restaurants Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, serving up local seafood, and Teak, a Florida-themed family-friendly spot known for its local seafood and vegan options.

St. Pete/Clearwater is also well known for its thriving Craft Beer scene, with over 40 breweries in the area.

St. Pete/Clearwater is served by daily flights from London to Tampa with British Airways, and three flights a week with Norwegian.

Tampa International Airport is a 30-minute drive from downtown St. Pete.

visitstpeteclearwater.com

Up and away — by rail

Vacations by Rail operates several sightseeing options aboard some of the USA’s most iconic trains.

Vacations by Rail

Historic cities, national parks, prairies, plains and mountain peaks provide the backdrop on journeys put on track by trains such as the Grand Canyon Railway, Colorado’s Durango & Silverton and New England’s Cape Cod Central Railroad.

On the nine-day Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta by Rail tour clients will see hundreds of brightly coloured hot air balloons launched into the New Mexico sky.

Departing from September 2020 to October 2020, the tour starts at $2,509pp.

The tour’s journey begins in Chicago, San Francisco, or somewhere else along the California Zephyr route that is popular among clients.

It also features the 2,000 natural stone arches of Arches National Parks, Mesa Verde National Parks, a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and a tour of historic Santa Fe.

After a night aboard the train to Grand Junction, the tour continues by motorcoach to the red rock landscapes of Moab, Utah.

It then visits Arches National Park, with its more than 2,000 natural stone arches before continuing to Mesa Verde National Park to explore the more than 600 ancient cliff dwellings dating back to A.D. 600.

Next, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad travels along the Animas River and through the Rocky Mountains, which seem near to bursting from the fall colours this time of year.

In Santa Fe, guests will learn about the Spanish colonists that formed the city and see the oldest building in the U.S. Finally, they will head to Albuquerque for the hot air balloon fiesta.

vacationsbyrail.com

St. Louis Arch points to top

Visitors to St. Louis, Missouri, can now enjoy an enhanced experience at one of the country’s best-loved man-made structures.

St Louis width=

Clad in stainless steel and built in the form of a weighted catenary arch, it is the world's tallest arch – at both 630 feet high and wide – and the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere.

The renovated arch grounds, with its pedestrian pathways and pleasant green areas, now link directly to the St. Louis Central Business District, while the new high-tech museum sunk into the ground near the base of the Arch base explores America’s western journey and important role the city and its people played in the growth and westward expansion of the U.S.

Six interactive exhibit galleries span 200 years and tell the stories of Colonial St. Louis, Jefferson’s Vision, Manifest Destiny, New Frontiers and the building of the Arch.

Visitors can also transport themselves to the top of the Arch via a tram, for views of the city and Mississippi – but point out to clients that the four-minute journey to the top of the curve is not for the claustrophobic.

In the summer, a variety of one-hour riverfront cruises, dinner and speciality excursions leave from a platoon located directly behind the Arch.

A combination ticket that combines entry to the museum, the tram ride to the top, a documentary movie and a one-hour riverfront cruise costs $32.

visitmo.com

Maine plans a big 200

The New England state of Maine is looking forward to a year of celebrations in 2020 to mark the 200th anniversary of it becoming a state.

Maine

A spokesperson for Maine Office of Tourism said a wide range of events, exhibitions and activities are being planned to showcase the state’s ‘unique treasures’.

“Next year promises to be a great time for visitors to explore the great outdoors, to see the work of Maine artists and craftspeople, and to seek out the hottest chefs in a state now as famous for its restaurants as its coastline,” they said.

“The centrepiece is the Bicentennial, with its exhibitions, festivals, parades and Signature Events…. virtually every activity and event and festival statewide will connect in some way with the 200-year celebration.”

The Bicentennial Parade (Lewiston/Auburn) on May 16, 2020, is an historic parade celebrating Maine's veterans, youth and culture, with floats, bands and more from across Maine.

Other events include Statehood Weekend (Augusta and statewide), which runs March 14-15, 2020, with classic Maine Saturday night bean suppers with food drives, speeches, poetry, music and more.

The Grand Finale Weekend (Augusta, Bangor and statewide) from October 9-12, 2020 will see four days of events highlighting Maine's diverse culture and commercial innovation, culminating in a ‘time capsule’.

Nearly as large as the other five New England states combined, Maine is known for a long coastline and deep-forested areas that play host to a range of outdoor activities.

These include bird watching or paddling in spring, discovering mountain paths or coastal villages in summer, seeing the colours of autumn and enjoying the deep snows of winter.

visitmaine.com

Baltimore’s year of women

One of Baltimore’s leading cultural institutions is planning a year of displays honouring female artists.

Baltimore

The Baltimore Museum of Art: 2020 Vision – Year of the Woman will showcase why Baltimore is considered a leading U.S. city for exceptional art and culture.

The initiative coincides with the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment, which guaranteed women in the U.S. the right to vote.

Highlights of the year will include two major solo exhibitions with video installations by Candice Breitz (opening March 2020) and paintings, drawings, and prints by Joan Mitchell (opening September 2020), and the “re-installation of most of the museum’s collections to emphasise the depth and diversity of people who have shaped the trajectory of artistic expression”.

Elsewhere in the city known as ‘Charm City’, the historic and popular Lexington Market is to undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation.

Since 1782 the market has been a Baltimore staple and in the summer of 2021 will unveil a new look that will see the current three-building footprint transformed into a modern-day food hall housing up to 65 different vendors offering a range of local fresh foodie treats.

Located on the USA’s east coast in Maryland, Baltimore is a city of over 250 neighbourhoods and a melting pot of art, food and culture and hosts a wide range of festivals and events each year.

baltimore.org