2020 Tourism Story Starters
Easy-to-distance outdoor experiences abound in Berkeley. Visitors can head to Lake Anza in Tilden Park, Botanical Garden at UC Berkeley, Aquatic Park, Berkeley Rose Garden, Codornices Park, Indian Rock Park and Tilded Park Botanic Garden. Beyond outdoor experiences, there are also road trips from Los Angeles to Berkeley to consider for travel stories.
Berkeley has launched its own Telegraph Tour, bringing five decades of revolutionary history to life with a twist. While other cities offer paper maps and metal plaques to guide visitors through their historic districts, the Telegraph Tour is designed as an immersive, app-enabled experience. The Telegraph Berkeley Tour app features audio interviews, historical photos and an interactive GPS-based map that helps visitors navigate.
Berkeley is doing a lot to ensure the safety for all students returning UC Berkeley in the fall. A team of researchers at UC Berkeley School of Public Health is launching a new initiative called the Berkeley COVID-19 Safe Campus Initiative to offer universal testing to students, staff and faculty as they return to the UC Berkeley campus and to develop rapid response protocols and effective infection control. For prospective students, UC Berkeley has implemented virtual college visits, which allow future students to learn all about the Berkeley campus with student campus ambassadors over the course of an hour on Zoom. Two student campus ambassadors will present for 40 minutes and then answer questions. They are currently offering these virtual visits daily.
Central Coast, CA
California’s Central Coast is truly mesmerizing and teeming with outdoor offerings and social distancing adventures. Visitors can hike Black Swift Falls at Ragged Point, scoring views of the Big Sur coastline and ending on a secluded beach with warm black sand and waterfall views. The Channel Islands National Park, referred to as “The American Galapagos,” encompasses five remarkable and remote islands right off the Ventura coast, home to over 2,000 plants and animals, 145 of which are found nowhere else in the world, including the Island Fox. For wine drinkers, Adventure at Hahn Winery offers ATV experiences through Hahn Estate. After visiting the wine cellar and learning about the wine making process, guests finish with a tasting of Hahn’s luxury wines.
Other activities abound along the Central Coast. Horseback riding in Santa Barbara is one of the best ways to enjoy the area’s diverse landscape. Los Padres Outfitters organizes sunset beach rides along the ocean and multi-day pack trips. Biking in Monterey County offers miles upon miles of bike lanes, waterfront trails and off-road tracks. Hop on the popular Recreation Trail, stretching 18 miles from Castroville to Pacific Grove, cruise along iconic 17-Mile Drive in Pebble Beach or tackle mountain bike trails at Fort Ord National Monument and Toro Park. Visitors can also explore in a vintage car with Monterey Touring Vehicles, offering classic and vintage cars that can transform a driving experience into something more memorable. Scuba diving at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve attracts divers from around the world. The park’s unique beauty extends into the magical underwater seascape, which can only be explored as a diver. Travelers can also go parasailing in Ventura, take a guided SUP or kayak tour of Morro Bay and even go whale watching along the Pacific shores.
Charlotte’s waterways are open for business, and its most popular attraction is the U.S. National Whitewater Center. Hop in a raft and float away from the crowds. Other water sports like kayak excursions with Rockin River Adventures offer safe alternatives. Leave the thrills behind and get lost on the 50 miles of Greenways where joggers and hikers and breath fresh air after all that isolation. Even accommodations can be fully distanced by camping on Copperhead Island. Hotels are doing their part, but it might just feel more natural to pitch a tent and build fire!
And it’s not like visitors can’t have some adult fun, either. Breweries and venues like Windy Hill Orchard (opening in the fall!) offer spacious outdoor drinking options. Whiskey Warehouse is even opening its rooftop terrace again, so there’s no reason to shy away from local libations from a responsible distance. Families can enjoy a film together at Hound’s Drive-In, an outdoor cinema that now features two screens and three days of screenings. Forget cramming into the movie theater. Drive-ins are retro, and also perfectly socially distanced.
Chattanooga offers some of the most exciting outdoor activities in this corner of the U.S. A 10-minute drive from downtown takes visitors up 1,700 feet above sea level to Rock City on Lookout Mountain where for hiking and hang gliding. The best views of Chattanooga Valley await with a panorama over 7 states. In Rock City Gardens new safety procedures and online reservations reduce visitor numbers. At Ruby Falls visitors will discover a 145-foot waterfall, the tallest and deepest open to the public in the U.S. There is also one-of-a-kind ziplining adventures where participants zoom across 700 feet of breathtaking landscape. Chattanooga is to rock climbing as Vail, Colorado is to skiing, with Stone Fort, a climbers paradise, offering high-quality sandstone formations and intricate routes with astounding views.
Cincinnati Ranks No. 5 for Best City Park System in the nation, priming it as a destination for those seeking socially-distanced experiences. Well-known for its walkable downtown, James Beard nominated chefs and award-winning restaurants, three professional sports teams and vibrant arts and culture scene, the Cincinnati Region is also the outdoor playground of the Midwest. Where more than 70 percent of people live in a 10-minute walk or less to green space, there are endless options to get outside and relax.
Between the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, the region boasts more than 20,000 acres of greenspace including 80 parks and nearly 40 nature preserves where you can choose from 250 miles of hiking trails, 60 miles of mountain biking trails, as well as bridle trails and 14 canoe/kayak/SUP board liveries. More than just a park, the 45-acres of urban green space known as Smale Riverfront Park has revitalized Cincinnati’s historic riverfront. For a complete nature experience, visitors can stop by Cincinnati Nature Center, among the top ten nature centers in the country. The award-winning trails wind through the region’s natural habitats of eastern deciduous forest, fields, streams and ponds. Carving more than eight miles of secluded tracks through the rolling landscape of Devou Park, our Backcountry Trails are a haven for hikers and mountain bikers. Travelers can continue their hiking journey at Mt. Airy Forest which sits on 1,459 acres and features miles of hiking trails and bridle trails for horseback riders. Mt. Airy has Ohio’s only wheelchair accessible public treehouse, an enclosed dog park, and disc golf.
For road trips, Ohio Scenic Byway is Indiana’s first national scenic byway and was designated one of the original 14 national scenic byways in the United States in 1966. With 302 miles of scenic roadway to explore, road trippers will traverse the lush hills and farmlands of southern Indiana as they travel along the mighty Ohio River directly into the Queen City of the West – Cincinnati. When in Ohio, the byway spans 14 diverse Appalachian counties in the eastern and southern parts of the state. A travel and tourism advisory group, which includes local convention and visitors bureau chief Julie Calvert, is working with the governor’s office on a restart plan.
Once health experts and government officials give the go-ahead for people to resume traveling, destinations’ top attractions will be ready and eager to welcome visitors. For more than 20 years, CityPASS® tickets have been a must-have travel accessory for tourists who want to immerse themselves in a destination’s top attractions while enjoying savings of up to 50%. CityPASS, which has a 97% customer recommendation rating, covers prepaid admission to the most iconic attractions in 14 North American destinations: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay and Toronto. Mobile tickets are now available for all destinations. Just before the lockdown, CityPASS had announced that the 72-acre Franklin Park Zoo joined the Boston CityPASS program in April. Travelers to Boston also now have the option of purchasing CityPASS tickets in either the original printed booklet form or a convenient mobile ticket delivered by email and easily saved to the buyer’s mobile device or Apple Wallet. Edge, Hudson Yards’ dazzling new observation deck, joined the New York CityPASS C3 attractions ticket earlier in March. As a result of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, CityPASS has announced three major updates that will allow visitors to buy with confidence:
Visitor Safety Measures: The health and safety of guests is a top priority for attractions and for CityPASS. The team has collected specific safety measures and cleaning protocols that each attraction has put in place, and they can be viewed directly on the CityPASS website.
30-Day Extended Validity: To make it easier for travelers to use CityPASS over a longer period of time, they have extended our validity from 9 to 30 days. Visitors will have to simply activate their ticket by February 28, 2021, to receive the 30-day extended validity.
365-Day Risk-Free Returns: CityPASS introduced a 365-day risk-free return policy on nonactivated tickets: CityPASS tickets that have not been activated are eligible for no-fee returns for 365 days from purchase.
Lastly, visitors can check each single destination’s page to verify which attractions are currently open and ready to welcome visitors.
A Florida vacation has the power to transform visitors inside and out. Warm moments bring families closer whether it’s a trip to swim with manatees in Crystal River or educational fun at the Kennedy Space Center. Florida is truly the most comfortable place for families eager to adventure out of their comfort zone. With 2,000 miles of coastline, 175 state parks, 320 freshwater springs and more than 1,300 trails there is endless breathing room to run, play and discover something new to love together.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, and Visit Florida’s Accessibility Hub makes it easy for those with special needs to experience the power of a Florida vacation. Florida’s theme parks and attractions provide guest services which contain information and assistance including wheelchairs, sign-language interpreters, listening devices, etc. Disabled travelers can even experience the thrills of riding many of the rides which are accessible to those in wheelchairs. Many of Florida’s world-class beaches and state parks are also wheelchair friendly, offering wheelchair accessible beach paths and wheelchair rentals. Crandon Park Beach on Key Biscayne and Haulover Beach in Miami provide free beach wheelchair rentals. Many Florida State Parks also offer accessible camp sites, trails and playgrounds. Oscar Scherer State Park in Sarasota County offers accessible kayak and canoe launches and beach wheelchairs. Families with children with special needs will also have a multitude of options when planning their vacations to Florida, including a section for traveling with children with Autism. An interactive map and detailed articles make vacation planning for families easy and reliable. Visit family-friendly attractions like the Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville, which fuels the imagination with its planetarium and interactive science exhibits.
Florida is also a top destination for pet-friendly travel. Florida is home to more than 1000 pet-friendly hotels. Beyond accommodations, there are numerous dog-friendly beaches along Florida’s 1350 miles of coast. When it comes to green space, there are plenty of dog parks such as Naples Dog Park and Amelia Earhart Bark Park near Miami. Florida’s favorable weather allows for plenty of outdoor dining – and in many places pets are welcomed. From the burgeoning foodie scenes in Tampa and Orlando to Miami’s pedestrian Lincoln Road, there are numerous patios open to dog-friendly dining experiences.
Loudoun County, VA
Visit Loudoun has launched “The Glass Half Full” campaign to spotlight the beauty of Loudoun County as well as the resiliency of the hospitality industry with the message that when the time is right, they’ll be ready to welcome their visitors back. Travelers are looking locally for the foreseeable future, and Loudoun County is a winning choice for a road trip in the greater DC area. Just 25 miles west of the nation’s capital, it offers a mix of rolling vineyards, mountains, and colonial towns that will delight travelers looking for off-the-radar choices. Visitors can expect quaint towns to drive between, inns and cottages providing the provincial getaway we’re all craving, and plenty to do outdoors. Consider the LoCo Ale Trail to sample the best local craft beers Loudoun has to offer.
There’s also the Harpers Ferry Adventure Center, where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet, full of outdoor adventure activities including whitewater rafting, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and hiking. Stroll or bike the Washington and Old Dominion Trail or get lost in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park with its Blue Ridge Mountain vistas, river views, and a generous dose of Civil War. Unwind later in the day with some rosé from one of the 40+ vineyards in the region. If you live on the east coast of the U.S. there’s no reason to board a plane to sample award-winning tipples. It’s all happening in Loudoun County, and it may only require a full tank of gas.
Greater Louisville, KY
The biggest news this year for Louisville is that, following the pandemic, The Kentucky Derby, America’s longest running annually held sporting event will continue in the city that has hosted it since 1875. It has been rescheduled for September 5, and the 146th Kentucky Oaks will be rescheduled to September 4. The two-week celebration of the Kentucky Derby Festival will also alter its schedule around this new timeframe. Each year since 1956, the Kentucky Derby Festival produces more than 70 events in the weeks leading up to the first Saturday in May. Now the Festival will move those events to later in the year, in conjunction with the new date for the Kentucky Derby.
For visitors in general, there are natural outdoor getaways that have been attracting socially-distanced locals for years without anyone realizing they were even distanced. There are more than 120 parks in Louisville, many created by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of New York’s Central Park. Its greenspaces earned the city the moniker “City of Parks.” In the warmer months, al fresco dining abounds in Louisville. Some notable options include Blind Squirrel, Couvillion, The Hub, River House, Taco Luchador, Colonial Gardens. Visitors can also road trip through the Urban Bourbon Trail®, a collection of bars and restaurants that have a significant knowledge of Bourbon and are eager to share their favorite beverage with visitors. To help welcome travelers back, the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is open and now includes a new Virtual Information Booth.
Miami has some of the best outdoor experiences in the U.S. that are inherently socially distanced, making travel here that much easier. By hopping a kayak in Everglades National Park, visitors will always be at least six feet from anyone else and can enjoy the open water without hesitation. Then in South Beach, parasailing offers the ultimate getaway, socially distancing visitors high in the sky. Travelers can don a different kind of music during one of the many SCUBA adventures in Miami, like Tarpoon Lagoon Dive Center. For a bit of fresh air, visitors can hike through one of the parks like Biscayne National Park, where other souls will be few and far between. And if hotels seem daunting, the ultimate socially distanced accommodations are campsites, whether it’s in a cabin at Oleta River State Park or one’s own tent.
While domestic travel is the big thing now, travelers can still experience a slice of international life in Miami. There are the obvious influences from nearby. Visit Little Haiti – La Petite Haiti – to get a taste of the Caribbean. It’s the spot for art galleries and small restaurants serving up favorites like Haitian patties, meats wrapped in buttery puff pastry. Latin flare abounds in Little Havana. With Latin flavors and markets welcoming visitors, it’s easy to forget you haven’t left the U.S. while strolling, sipping a cortado. Sunny Isles Beach is known as Little Moscow for its Russian influence and grocers. Without a Chinatown, Miami offers an Asian fix with pork buns and bubble tea in Koreatown, not far from Aventura in North Miami. Aventura is also home to Little France, where French immigrants settled and opened shops and restaurants. There’s even a Little Tel Aviv in Mid Beach, with a large Jewish population and businesses that reflect it.
To get away from the crowds, the city’s less-traveled districts are the solution. Latin culture is also alive in Hialeah and Hialeah Gardens. Look for Spanish street signs and Cuban restaurants, croquettas at the local bodega. With the country’s highest population of Cuban-Americans, you’ll feel swept away to the Caribbean island. Near the airport, Doral excels in hidden gems – more accurately, in places like the Spa Azul or the Caravela Portuguese restaurant – that fly under the radar of most visitors. Coral Gables is hardly under the radar, but it offers restaurants and bars alongside some swanky shopping. With no waterfront, beachgoers will have to make a very concerted effort to get here. Coconut Grove is a local enclave mixing the city’s historic Bahamian culture with more modern restaurants and promenades. It’s a place to wander and explore without the buzz of more crowded areas. Those who want to get away from the buzz and crowds can look to Sunny Isles Beach, a more peaceful nod to the Mediterranean. Nearby parks and quiet beaches offer another side of Miami that cautious travelers will enjoy without issue.
There’s a lot to look forward to in Rockford this year, including a brand new hotel opening. Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront & Rockford Conference Center in downtown Rockford, IL, is hoping to open its doors to hotel guests on Wednesday, July 1. As the city begins its recovery following the impact of COVID-19, this news serves as a sign of hope for Rockford’s downtown district which was in the midst of a renaissance prior to the pandemic. With 160 two-room suites, the hotel occupies the former Amerock Building, a century-old textile factory, entirely redesigned to welcome visitors to downtown Rockford. The property will include The Top – a seasonal rooftop restaurant and outdoor deck, a full-service salon and spa, indoor swimming pool, state-of-the-art game room, and TOWER kitchen and bar restaurant featuring an outdoor patio adjacent to Davis Park which will receive a massive facelift this summer.
St. Louis, MO
The STL Regional Business Recovery Initiative has assisted local industry leaders in creating health and safety plans and protocols with public health officials to help guide the reopening of businesses. As part of the Initiative, small working groups that tapped industry experts provided input in a variety of key segments. The Road to Recovery in St. Louis now includes protocols for venues and attractions.
Following the pandemic, officials added plastic panels to protect employees in the underground ticketing and security-check areas of the Gateway Arch, which is part of the National Park Service. Among other initiatives, the arch will reduce visitation to about 60 people an hour, or 20% of the pre-pandemic level. Looking to the future, the historic Federal-Mogul foundry building will be transformed into City Foundry STL a hub of innovation complete with St. Louis’ first true food hall, a curated retail and entertainment experience, as well as creative office space. The Food Hall at will house approximately 20 unique food stalls including Tamara Keefe’s Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery, her decadent ice cream, small batch creations are handcrafted using only the finest ingredients. Niche Food Group, James Beard winner Gerard Craft’s restaurant team, will serve as the culinary director and consultant for the upcoming food hall and public market space of the mixed-use development. With COVID-19, business models of restaurants and industry-adjacent businesses have changed dramatically. The collective City Foundry STL team sees the public market as an opportunity to give local chefs, restaurateurs, makers, artisans and more a platform to rebuild.
In hotel news, Live! by Loews, located in the middle of the city’s sports and entertainment area, Ballpark Village was designed by internationally-acclaimed HKS Architects Hospitality Studio. The hotel’s exterior architecture and interior design is influenced by local St. Louis character and the rich history of the St. Louis Cardinals. The hotel, opened in 2020, is the first St. Louis hotel for New York based Loews Hotels & Co.
For North Americans looking to travel internationally, Barbados serves as an ideal destination due to its many on-island experiences that cater to various types of travelers. From the luxurious West Coast, rugged East Coast, buzzing South Coast & quite North Coast, Barbados has plenty of activities like diving, surfing, sailing, cave spelunking at Harrison’s Cave as well as events like Run Barbados & polo matches. Despite the pandemic, Barbados has continued to commit to becoming 100 percent carbon neutral by 2030; The Barbados Sea Turtle Project, biodynamic farming, eco-friendly accommodations, driving electric cars, the ban on single-use plastic and most recently tree planting initiative.
For wellness seekers, Barbados is the #2 country in the world and #1 in the Western Hemisphere with the highest number of centenarians per capita. They’re doing something right, and a visit to its spas and beaches may do the body some good. Barbados is already ahead of other Caribbean islands with the recent launch of the Fully Accessible Barbados program. Hotels, guest houses and villas may soon be required to ensure their properties are fully accessible for persons with disabilities. Barbados is also the culinary capital of the Caribbean with a mix of African, Caribbean, West Indian and European cuisine which are all featured in the unique style of Bajan cooking, and stands out from neighboring islands. Let’s not forget it’s rum – the staple of many of the cocktails consumed during Zoom happy hours!
Following COVID-19, Barbados launched its Recovery Tourism Task Force in May to get tourism back on track, and flights from the U.S. are resuming in July. A $100 million USD Barbados Tourism Facility will be created while the government pledged $10 million USD towards a Small Hotel Investment Fund. In addition to lending money, Mottley announced resuming several major construction projects across the island, including the BDS $400 million development at Sam Lords, 75 apartments at the Crane, and BDS $25 million improvements to the Apes Hill Golf Course. Barbados is looking to 2021 and new developments including Royalton Resort, Sandals Beaches, Hyatt Ziva, and Sam Lord’s Castle – a Wyndham Grand Resort.
Belize (Canada Media Only)
To encourage Canadians to start planning for future travel, Belize’s ‘Dear Belize’ campaign welcomes past visitors or hopeful future visitors to submit virtual postcards sharing the reasons they love Belize in 60 seconds or less for a chance to win an eight day/seven night trip for two, including flights, hotel and ground transportation. As it is coping with COVID-19, Belize attributes its ability to flatten the curve to the locally-developed tracking and reporting app called ‘Open Health’. A small group of software developers, statisticians and health professionals got together and designed their own in-house tracking, tracing, and reporting platform for COVID-19, possibly one of the earliest such integrated efforts in the Americas.
For travelers, an unspoiled destination with vast greenspace that is proudly and fiercely protected by locals as an ‘eco-first’ country, Belize is an ideal outdoor destination for visitors to reconnect and rejuvenate with nature. With seven distinct regions spanning the country, there are a range of diverse outdoor offerings to be explored – from scuba diving in the largest reef system in the Northern Hemisphere, the Belize Barrier Reef, to chasing epic waterfalls across the country and kayaking and hiking open trails.
Scotland (Business Events Media Only)
Scotland is working to ensure that if clients are postponing events, they can fit them into future years, or, if clients are cancelling, that they still choose to come back to Scotland in the future. The message that Scotland ‘will wait’ for clients to return or reconsider it as a destination for business has been amplified on social media via the #scotlandwillwait hashtag. Before it was mandated, Scotland has been leaning into social distancing. As a vastly green country, Scotland can host events in seven distinctly different cities, often utilizing historic castle venues and sprawling countryside. The whole country of Scotland has a lesser population than London, England, making Scotland a naturally spaced-out destination. For a long-haul road trip or railroad trip, Scotland is conveniently located in the Northern UK – a great launching point to travel through the rest of the UK. Visitors can extend a business travel trip to explore the rest of the country.
Tahiti (Canada Media Only)
The Islands of Tahiti welcomes visitors to explore the islands through a virtual series and inspirational posts, Tahiti Comes to You, to bring stories from the islands, share Tahitian culture and stay connected until borders reopen. Now more than ever, Tahiti wishes to share their spirit of Mana with all and look forward to a day when the islands can welcome visitors once again. In the meantime, the campaign looks forward to #sunnierdaysahead in The Islands of Tahiti. Visitors can rejuvenate mind and body by being in the pristine outdoors. With 118 islands, there is plenty of room to stretch, clear the mind and enjoy the uncrowded outdoors. From hiking along the mountainous peeks to swimming alongside colourful fish in deep lagoons to cycling along open trails, the islands’ natural beauty is the perfect remedy for cabin fever.
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