Near-Term, Near-By Get-Aways and Travel Tips

Travel Options When the World Says 'Closed'

These days it's a frustrating time to be a travel planner, or, for that matter, to be a traveler to whom the world looks like one big "Closed" sign! Our primary concern is for your welfare, so let us be clear: Global Health Advisories discourage any travel whatsoever right now due to the ongoing global impact of COVID-19. The world is on a travel lockdown: 72 percent of global destinations have completely closed their borders and 100 percent have imposed travel restrictions. More than half of the world's airplanes are grounded.

Besides the resorts where you might stay, almost all facilities, where open at all, have imposed capacity restrictions and social distancing, and these rules aren't going away any time soon. 

Be patient and plan for the future. We can help, and you'd be surprised how much the anticipation of your dream get-away can magnify your eventual experience. Travel will most certainly rebound and will bring along exciting new innovations. Travel bookings have soared for 2021 and beyond, and the prices have never been more attractive. Booking options, while understandably tentative, are extremely flexible because almost everything is open!

The most important thing is to keep yourself and those around you healthy and to plan to travel when you are comfortable doing so. With all that in mind, here are some options for planning a more near-term, near-by get-away. 

Wellness and Wide-open Spaces

Given how long we've been cooped up at home, the wilderness and great outdoors have never looked so good. We expect national and state parks to experience one of the largest visitation growth spurts in history as people clamor to "get outside." The National Park Service is already preparing for an unprecedented influx of visitors and has rushed to enforce new safety measures. More than 250 parks have remained partially accessible throughout the pandemic, though a return to full operations will continue to be phased, and services may still be very limited.

The Road Trip

Besides the advantages of being able to better control your environment, nearby destinations of shorter duration carry with them the benefit of much lower cost. Three- and four-day trips can work within safety precautions and school schedules, and can even enhance home-schooling experiences. As destinations relax their restrictions, our reach will widen. Just plan on staying "stateside" for the foreseeable future.

For shorter excursions with something for everyone, we do have suggestions, but again, only when local travel restrictions are relaxed and the "Welcome" sign comes back out. Feel free to call us about any particular destination or concern, and check out Leesburg Lifestyle's Facebook page for other bonus destinations!

The Perfect Weekend in Greater Williamsburg

Eighteenth-century Colonial Williamsburg isn't the place you visited in fourth grade. It's the world’s largest living history museum with more than 40 sites and trades and two world-class art museums. Stop by Raleigh Tavern and see the "Revealing the Priceless" exhibition highlighting efforts to tell the story of Williamsburg’s 18th-century enslaved children, women, and men. Tour the laboratories in The Wallace Collections and Conservation Building that examine and restore colonial artifacts. For the adventurous, sign up for the axe throwing or learn how to fire a flintlock musket.

Busch Gardens and Water Country USA are closed until further notice but are honoring tickets booked for 2020 through the end of next year, and all the animals are being well tended during their summer off! When you can enter safely, check out Finnegan's Flyer, the new 45-mph swinging ride that takes your childhood playground experience to the extreme. 

Like many of Loudoun's local breweries and wineries, Williamsburg's "Tasting Trail" still offers opportunities for curb-side pick-up and limited tastings. It will take you on a journey through the old, new, and exciting ways of making beer, wine, and spirits. Check out relative newcomers like The Virginia Beer Co. or the Precarious Beer Project and old standards like The Williamsburg Winery and Alewerks Brewing Company.

At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, children of all ages will identify with the stories of ordinary people in an extraordinary time, when subjects of a king become citizens of a nation. Inside, nearly every attraction is interactive. Outside, there are old- fashioned interactive options. Drill in an Army encampment. Help fire artillery. Pick up a recipe from colonial cookbooks at the bakehouse. Tend to the crops at a colonial-era farm. 

Asheville: Edgy, Artsy and Inviting

Asheville is a special place that lingers sweetly in your mind for years to come. The city's rich architectural legacy with its mix of Art Deco, Beaux-Arts, and Neoclassical styles is the perfect retro-urban backdrop to the edgy energy that typically emanates from the bustling town. Once things have re-opened, you can be confident they'll roll out the red carpet!

A bastion of cutting-edge art and technology in the Blue Ridge, the city also prides itself on its Appalachian past and celebrates this culture with annual events such as Shindig on the Green. While many cities underwent major overhauls in past decades, Asheville's historic and architecturally diverse downtown remains beautifully preserved. It makes for a funky and eclectic mix: 30-plus art galleries downtown alone, a burgeoning culinary scene, a thriving live music scene, and, of course, the awe-inspiring scenery of the Appalachian Mountains.

Because Asheville had no money to invest in urban renewal projects that were so popular in other cities following Black Monday, its magnificent architecture built during the boom years at the turn of the last century were spared the bulldozer. George W. Vanderbilt came to Asheville in the late 1880s and quickly purchased 120,000 acres to build his grand Biltmore Estate. The endeavor took six years and Vanderbilt commissioned renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to design the grounds and gardens and celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to help him plan the house. 

Asheville’s Foodtopia culinary scene ranges from dining with James Beard-nominated chefs to a thriving food-truck scene interspersed with craft cocktail mixologists. Here, locally grown/foraged/crafted ingredients flavor everything from traditional Appalachian dishes to globally inspired fair. It boasts more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the U.S., but also makers of kombucha, cider, mead, wine, and spirits. Markets feature local artisanal cheeses, fresh-roasted coffees, made-from-scratch jams, hot sauces, charcuterie, and handmade tortillas. There's even a chocolate factory! Indian street food, Parisian mussels, Spanish tapas? Check. Whole-hog barbecue, gourmet-inspired ice cream, and fried chicken? Check. Artisanal doughnuts, crêpes, and beignets? Absolutely.

To accompany it all, Asheville offers a sound all its own with performances humming around the clock. You might start your day with an acoustic session at one of the city’s cafés, or hit a trendy brunch spot in West Asheville for breakfast with a side of blues. 

Catch Abby the Spoon Lady, with her toes tapping service bells, or feel the reverberations of a didgeridoo just around the corner. While you’re out, be sure to check out local instrument shops, as well as the world-famous Moog Music Factory.

When evening falls, check the lineup at ExploreAsheville.com/music for performance details at music halls and outdoor concert venues. 

Contact Expert Travel Planning Services™ Žiža & Denis Stojanović, 703-723-0898, ziza.stojanovic@cruiseplanners.comwww.YourAdventureOfALifetime.com, FB/IG @YourAdventureOfALifetime, Experienced, Licensed, Bonded, and Insured, Nationwide Travel Seller

Charleston, South Carolina

Yes, they have cobblestone streets and historic landmarks aplenty, but it's the stories that come to life through their people, art, architecture, food, and fashion that capture travelers’ imagination and heart.

Founded in 1670, Charleston is often praised for its beauty, history, restaurants, livability, shopping, business climate, and romantic appeal. The accolades seemingly are endless. 

History & Architecture

Called the Holy City for its many church steeples and historically early religious tolerance, Charleston's great tale begins when King Charles the second of England chartered Carolina to his 8 Lords Proprietors. Established in 1670, Charleston fell victim to attack in the centuries to come by Native Americans, Pirates like the "Gentleman Pirate" Stede Bonnet, and throughout the War of 1812, and American Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Visit historical sites like Ft. Sumter in the Charleston harbor, to stand where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

The city itself feels a bit like it’s suspended in time, thanks to its antebellum architecture and surrounding plantation landscapes.  Early in Charleston's history, the city collected property tax on the street width of the house, rather than the length, creating a preference for the long, narrow houses that are signature Charleston style homes today.  Almost every home on Charleston's peninsula is historic, including most of the homes of area college students! Beautifully colored antebellum mansion homes can be found on East Bay on Rainbow Row, and at the Battery on Murray and South Battery Streets. Most of these picturesque dwellings also contain shady secret courtyards and black ironwork gates.

Charleston's beauty has long inspired artists and beckoned art lovers to come to visit, making it home to endless galleries, historic theaters, and high energy festivals.

Lowcountry Cuisine

The cuisine is the heart and soul of Charleston, and if you’re hungry for a mix of inventive and traditional, farm-fresh and just-caught, you’ve come to the right place. Be sure to order at least one serving of shrimp and grits and sweet tea vodka. Look as you might, you'll find no tall, tacky signs or bad chain restaurants downtown.

Charleston's restaurant scene is gaining national attention for its distinctly southern flavors, uniquely modern restaurants, and talented newcomer chefs. Local ingredients have always been a point of pride for area restaurants, and in recent years Charleston's finest have rallied behind a standard of using only fresh, locally sourced foods.  In this way, Charleston's classic Southern recipes are maintained, created, and served right from the source, giving visitors a truly authentic taste of the Lowcountry. Charleston is known for comfort foods with a Gullah influence, and famous for such dishes as Shrimp and Grits and Hoppin' John.

Landscape and Beaches

The landscape includes muggy but beautiful marshlands, quaint barrier islands, and three beaches just a short drive off of the peninsula.  Isle of Palms, the furthest beach from downtown, is full of upscale beach condos and remains relatively uncrowded most of the year. Sullivan's Island, only about 15 to 20 minutes away by car, is a flat sand beach with beautiful homes and rentals, unique bars and restaurants, and is the home of Fort Moultrie, a defensive fort used in both Revolutionary and Civil wars. Folly Beach, a 20-minute ride away on James Island, is most popular with college students and Charleston vacationers.

The pace is slower in Charleston. You can wander the cobblestone streets alongside horse-drawn carriages, meander through the historical streets peeking through age-worn gates into mysterious gardens and wonder at the stories they must hold. But beware also of staggeringly high temperatures, thick, humid air, Palmetto bugs (flying roaches), and thirsty mosquitoes. Bring your bug spray and drink plenty of sweet iced tea, and you'll be set for your southern coastal experience.

Southern Hospitality

A town raised with "Yes, sir" and "Yes, ma'am," Charleston demonstrates its southern hospitality in every aspect of life.  The friendliness of locals and strangers is noticeable, and anyone on the street is willing to point you in the right direction or give insider recommendations. Hotels in Charleston go above and beyond the usual amenities you'd expect with many offering complimentary wine and cheese receptions in the afternoons, and cookies and milk in the evenings. Charleston has even been named America's Most Mannerly City more than 10 different times!

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