U.S. News Best Vacations: Scenic Landscapes, National Parks Top Rankings | Travel

When it comes to a vacation, the choice of where to go and what to see is a personal one. Some travelers prefer getting lost in the museums, culture and food scenes of renowned cities while others enjoy lying on the beach with a good book in one hand and a drink in the other. Families may want to pack up the kids and head for an outdoor adventure at one of America’s sprawling national parks while couples or solo travelers might be interested in a relaxing small town getaway. If you’re thinking it’s time to plan a vacation and you’re not quite sure where to travel, the U.S. News Best Vacations rankings are here to help guide you to your ideal getaway.

In this year’s rankings, which use a methodology that incorporates both traveler sentiment and editors’ scores across numerous categories, it’s clear: People value destinations with beautiful scenery and ample outdoor activities.

New Zealand’s South Island (No. 1 on the World’s Best Places to Visit ranking) boasts impressive fjords and glaciers, hiking galore and verdant vineyards, plus adventure excursions like bungee jumping, kayaking and skydiving. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona (the No. 1 Best Place to Visit in the USA) entices visitors with striking rock formations, challenging trails and thrilling outings like helicopter tours and whitewater rafting trips.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands (the No. 1 Best Place to Visit in the Caribbean), vacationers will find white sand beaches, turquoise water, well-kept golf courses and a variety of boutique hotels and beachfront resorts. Tulum (No. 1 on the Best Places to Visit in Mexico list) also offers beautiful beaches in addition to cerulean blue cenotes for swimming and snorkeling and Mayan ruins to explore.

Whether you want to explore America’s top vacation spots or you’re ready to finally take that international trip, consult the U.S. News Best Vacations rankings to find the best destination (or destinations) for you. Read more about the top places to visit below. (Keep in mind, some destinations may require pre-travel testing and/or proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19. Consult the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. State Department for details on travel before booking a trip.)

World’s Best Places to Visit

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Best Places to Visit in the USA

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Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA

An early morning view of Bar Harbor, Maine and the fall foliage of the surrounding mountains.(Getty Images)

Best Cheap Vacations in the U.S.

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Best Places to Visit in Mexico

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Best Places to Visit in the Caribbean

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Best Places to Visit in Canada

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Best Places to Visit in Europe

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Best Cheap European Vacations

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Best Places to Visit in Asia

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Best Places to Visit in Africa

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Best Places to Visit in Central and South America

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Best Places to Visit in Australia & the Pacific

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Best National Parks in the World

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Best U.S. National Parks

USA, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, Midway Geyser Basin, Grand Prismatic Spring (Getty Images)

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‘Pack your patience’: What to expect as you book summer travel this year – National

Canadians who are planning to travel this summer, “pack your patience.”

That is the advice from one travel expert in Toronto, as unusually long lines at airports and passport offices continue to cause delays across the country.

After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, there is a “pent-up demand to travel,” with interest surging “very close” to pre-pandemic levels, said Martin Firestone, a travel insurance broker.

Read more:

Airport delays are due to COVID-19 rules, industry group says. Do we still need them?

“The dilemma now is that the infrastructure at both airports and passport offices is just not caught up with the demand, and that’s what’s really causing a problem,” he told Global News.

In recent weeks, airports — particularly in Toronto and Vancouver — have seen hours-long security queues, customs bottlenecks and other delays.

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The Canadian Airports Council blames the COVID-19 protocols for the holdup, but the federal government says current health measures are in place to keep Canadians safe as the virus continues to spread.

Click to play video: 'Why travellers are facing major delays at Canada’s biggest airports'

Why travellers are facing major delays at Canada’s biggest airports

Why travellers are facing major delays at Canada’s biggest airports – May 4, 2022

Factoring in the “tremendous lineups,” Firestone said his advice to his clients is to get to the airport well in advance — at least three to four hours before the flight.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) expects an increase of almost 50 per cent in international passengers at Pearson, Canada’s busiest airport, this summer.

While Canada has eased its travel restrictions this year, some still remain at points of entry, including random COVID-19 testing upon arrival.

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All incoming travellers are also required to submit their vaccine and travel information on the ArriveCAN app and show it to border officials upon landing.

Read more:

‘Open for tourism again’: Canada eyes recovery as COVID-19 travel rules ease

Staffing issues at airports on top of COVID-19 protocols and increased travel demand are contributing to the backlogs and hindering the flow of traffic into the country, travel experts say.

Jennifer Weatherhead, co-founder of Travel & Style, recommends being mentally prepared for delays.

“You really need to look into the particular airport that you’re travelling to and where you’ll be coming back,” she told Global News.

“And if you are connecting through any other country or any other airport, try to give yourself as much time as possible.”

Click to play video: 'Long lines at Toronto Pearson Airport cause anxiety among travellers'

Long lines at Toronto Pearson Airport cause anxiety among travellers

Long lines at Toronto Pearson Airport cause anxiety among travellers – May 2, 2022

Travellers are having to sit for two to three hours in the plane even after landing , which is “pretty aggravating,” Firestone said, adding that such delays will deter many from making plans this summer.

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He said people should be prepared for a three-hour differential from the time they land to leaving the airport.

As for booking flights, early morning might not be the best bet to avoid hassle as security lines and customs are just opening up, according to Weatherhead.

“So if you can look to book something that’s either mid-morning or later in the day, see if you have that one change fee possible where you’re not charged to change that one time,” she said.

Having a valid passport is a pre-requisite for travel anywhere in the world.

“You can’t fly if your passport has less than six months remaining on it or it is expired,” said Firestone.

Read more:

Lineups, wait times for passport renewal soar as pandemic restrictions end

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Across the country, thousands of Canadians are hastening to renew their passports after more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions.

Passport Canada says it is experiencing very high call volumes right now and wait times are longer than usual.

“If you do not have travel plans in the next two weeks, we suggest you wait to call us,” the agency says on its website.

Amid the delays, Canadians are urged to have their renewed passport in hand before finalizing or booking any trips. If you’re not able to get your passport in time, your travel insurance will not cover the trip cancellation, Firestone warned.

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Click to play video: 'More long lines for Canadians at passport offices'

More long lines for Canadians at passport offices

More long lines for Canadians at passport offices

Soaring fuel prices amid Canada’s high inflation and the war in Ukraine mean travel will be more expensive this year.

As of Sunday, the average price of gas in Canada was $1.97 per litre, according to GasBuddy.

Provinces like OntarioQuebec and British Columbia have seen prices hit at least $2.00 per litre, with the latter sitting at $2.15 per litre on Sunday. Average gas prices in Newfoundland and Labrador hit $2.18 per litre. In ManitobaSaskatchewan and Alberta prices sit under $2.00 per litre, according to GasBuddy.

Read more:

Soaring gas prices limit long weekend travel plans for Canadians

The cost of gas has been on an uphill climb since Russia began its invasion on Ukraine, and is still expected to be pricey during the summer. Firestone says this will make cross-border road trips prohibitive, forcing Canadians to rethink driving down south to the United States.

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Click to play video: 'How soaring fuel prices will factor into summer vacation planning'

How soaring fuel prices will factor into summer vacation planning

How soaring fuel prices will factor into summer vacation planning – May 9, 2022

The rise in fuel costs is also having an impact on air fares, with an increment of “25 to 30 per cent,” according to Firestone.

“Prices are through the roof,” he said. “[Due to] a combination of demand coupled with fuel, there’s no inexpensive flights anymore.”

Toronto resident Reena Kara says while she is feeling safer flying again, the long airport lines and high air fares are making her “feel more anxious to travel.”

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Booking your ticket early is the way to go, experts say.

Weatherhead expects backlogs at airports to slow down after summer and recommends booking flights starting now for fall and winter trips.

— With files from Sharmeen Somani, Irelyne Lavery, Reuters and The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Summit County families travel outside the community to find baby formula as national shortage continues

Camden Webster is a 7-month-old baby living in Blue River with his parents, Mandy and Tristan. Mandy said that it’s been difficult to find Camden’s baby formula due to the national shortage and that she’s had to travel outside the county to get enough supply.
Mandy Webster/Courtesy photo

When Abbott Nutrition closed its Sturgis, Michigan infant formula production facility in February, almost overnight, infant formula became hard to get. Three months later, the shortage continues as families across the nation struggle to find enough formula to feed their children.

The manufacturer voluntarily decided to close its facility after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers not to use certain powdered infant formula products from the company’s Sturgis plant, according to a release from the FDA.

One month later, Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet joined over 30 of his colleagues in sending a letter to the president of the Infant Nutrition Council of America calling on infant formula manufacturers to make every effort possible to get parents and families the formula they need to feed their kids, says a release from Bennet’s office.

More recently, the FDA and Abbott Nutrition came to an agreement that the company would take various corrective actions “that are expected to ultimately result in an increase of infant formula” and “ensure safe powdered infant formula is produced at the facility.”

According to a statement from the company from May 13, it has been relying on its FDA-registered facility in Cootehill, Ireland to ship out millions of cans of infant formula powder to the U.S., and it has also prioritized production at its Columbus, Ohio, facility. The same statement said that, subject to FDA approval, it could restart its Sturgis, Michigan site within two weeks.

But as the company works to get its facility up and running again, families are worrying about having enough supply on hand to feed their children. And in the case of Summit County families, some parents are even traveling as far as Glenwood Springs or the Front Range to stock up on supplies.

Blue River resident Mandy Webster supplements her 7-month-old son’s diet with a specialized infant formula called PurAmino. Webster said the formula was already hard to find before the shortage and that she normally ordered it off of Walmart’s website.

About three months ago, Webster said her mother shared her predictions about there being an infant formula shortage.

Eventually, the search for the formula became more difficult. Webster said she started enlisting the help of friends and family in other states to be on the lookout at their local stores when she could no longer find a site that would ship it to her in Summit County.

She also began punching in various Colorado zipcodes on Walmart’s website in the hopes that she’d find a few canisters at other locations around the state. In some cases, the search for formula has even dictated the family’s vacation, particularly on a recent trip to Moab, Utah.

“We stopped in every possible location between here and Moab, Utah on our camping trip there this last weekend, and were able to find some down in Glenwood Springs, which was a huge help,” Webster said. “We got an additional two canisters and should help get him through another couple of weeks.”

Tristan and Mandy Webster pose for a photo with their son, Camden. The family has struggled to find their son’s baby formula due to the national shortage, and in some cases, they have had to travel outside the county to find it.
Monica Kubinek/Courtesy photo

Breckenridge resident Andrea Finnerty agrees that finding formula in Summit County seems to require a scavenger hunt that, more often than not, doesn’t prove successful. Finnerty said her children no longer use formula, so her family isn’t impacted by the shortage. Nevertheless, she does have a Sam’s Club membership and has offered to pick up formula for various local and out-of-state families during her trips to Denver.

In total, she’s spent around $420 on formula in the last month. Finnerty said some families have reimbursed her for the supply and for travel time, but for some, she’s donated it to them since they might be in an especially tough spot.

In most local stores, customers are limited in how much formula they can buy. As supply dwindles and stores struggle to stock shelves, families worry about whether or not their stock will last and where they will go to find more supply for their children.

“For me, it reminds me of trying to find toilet paper and paper towels — when COVID first hit — at Target,” Finnerty said. “It’s like a wipe-out, apocalyptic-style bare shelves.”

Webster said she isn’t planning to rely on the uptick of production and is instead focusing her sights four months down the road when her son won’t be as dependent on formula anymore.

“I don’t foresee the actual formula shortage coming to an end any time soon,” Webster said.

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Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

There’s been a lot of Disney Parks and Resorts travel news recently. With so many announcements, it’s hard to keep track of all the opportunities. So, let’s take a look at the big items and important booking dates. 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Walt Disney World 2023 Travel Packages

2023 packages for Walt Disney World Resort will open on June 8, 2022! You’ll be able to buy tickets, hotels, and packages for travel throughout 2023. We’re all waiting to see what those packages might be. Holidays and special event dates book up quickly. 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions
There are lot’s of WDW 50th anniversary shows and attractions to experience in the parks. Our favorite is the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at EPCOT. A MUST SEE!

MiceChat Tip:  When you book with our travel partner, Get Away Today, your Walt Disney World Resort package will include their Concierge Services, which includes complimentary price monitoring, dining reservation assistance, plus additional perks and payment options. You can hold your Walt Disney World Resort vacation for just $200 down with the final payment due just 30 days prior to travel.

It’s Time To Book Halloween Tickets!

Tickets for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom are now on sale to the general public! This year’s Halloween Party will take place over 37 nights from August 12 – October 31, 2022. We have a closer look at Halloween activities for 2022 for you below… there’s a lot of Hocus Pocus focus…

Disney Parks Halloween Announcements with a Focus on Hocus Pocus

Disney Cruise Line 2023 Itineraries

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Disney Cruise Line recently announced summer 2023 itineraries. Disney Cruise Line is a bit different than other lines. With Disney, the least expensive options are almost always booked early. Pricing goes up as more staterooms book up. So, we recommend booking as early as you can for best availability and pricing. 

Disney Cruise Line will be returning to Alaska, The Bahamas, and the Caribbean… including stops at Disney’s very popular private island paradise of Castaway Cay. And, beginning this July, you’ll be able to experience the brand new Disney Wish cruise ship for the first time! 

Here’s a look at everything you’ll want to know about Disney’s newest castle at sea: 

Disney Wish Cruise Ship – Everything You Need to Know

MiceChat was so excited about this next little bit of Disney Cruise Line news that we’ve already booked ourselves a spot. The Disney Dream cruise ship is being repositioned to Europe and will sail the fjords of Norway, through the British Isles, Iceland, the Mediterranean, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the French Riviera, and historic Greece! We love the idea of one of Disney’s bigger ships sailing Europe. 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions
In summer 2023, Disney Cruise Line will embark on a variety of itineraries in Europe, including the Greek Isles.

NEW: National Geographic Expeditions!

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Disney’s National Geographic has announced a full lineup of 2023 signature trips by land. New to the lineup is the expansion of the Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia: Ancient Temples and Natural Wonders expedition, giving travelers an even more in-depth and off-the-beaten-path exploration through the wonders of Southeast Asia. Bookings for 2023 Signature Land Itineraries open to the public on May 26, 2022. Bookings open early for the following travelers:

    • May 23 – Lifelong Explorers and Grosvenor Council members
    • May 24 – Past National Geographic Expeditions Guests
    • May 25 – Disney Vacation Club Members, Golden Oak Residents and Club 33 members
    • May 26 – Bookings open for the general public

Disneyland Travel Reminders

Just a reminder that Disneyland Resort theme park reservations are now available through mid-September. Although we haven’t heard an official Halloween Time announcement from Disneyland yet, now would be the time to start planning your fall vacation plans for the best reservation and hotel availability. We’re already starting to see reservations fill up for the summer, so don’t wait! 

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  Expeditions

Spectaculars and other entertainment have returned to the Disneyland Resort. For more information on the return of Fantasmic, Main Street Electrical Parade, Disneyland Forever Fireworks, and World of Color, please visit our Disneyland Entertainment coverage: 

UPDATED: Disneyland Spectaculars & Entertainment Return – Everything You Need To Know!

Get Help With Travel Questions & Booking

Disney Travel, Disney Travel News: Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line & NEW National Geographic  ExpeditionsSee a vacation you are interested in above? Have questions you’d like answered? To book Disneyland or Walt Disney World Tickets and/or hotels, Disney Cruise vacations, National Geographic Expeditions, or Halloween Party tickets, visit getawaytoday.com or call 855-GET-AWAY and one of their travel experts would be happy to help you.

Be sure to mention MiceChat when booking and use promo code MICECHAT for an additional $10 off any Southern California vacation package. 

MiceChat has negotiated special deals and offers on your behalf which can only be booked through Get Away Today. You are always welcome to use any travel agent or book on your own, but when you book with the MiceChat links in this article, we may receive a small amount on completed travel. 

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Tips to Plan a Trip to Mount Rainier National Park​

Ohanapecosh River standing on the precipice of Silver Falls in Mount Rainier National Park.

Thomas Franta/Getty Images

Ohanapecosh River

5. Ohanapecosh and Stevens Canyon (southeast): This region boasts lighter crowds, waterfalls, box canyons and towering old-growth trees. Its entrance also closes as the weather intensifies, but it’s typically open from late May to early November.

Where to Stay and Eat

Paradise. From May to early October, check into the Paradise Inn, which sits in the park, high on the mountain’s southwestern flank, about 19 miles from the Nisqually entrance. Its 121 rustic rooms are tucked under a steep, shingled roof designed to shed snow (which can linger until June or July). In the evenings, rangers often give talks in the grand lobby, an inviting space with twin fireplaces, cedar-slab tables and a rustic carved piano.

Longmire. The historic Longmire District is home to the park’s other lodging option, the cozy 1926 National Park Inn (technically in Ashford, about 6 miles from the Nisqually entrance). Its 25 tiny and basic rooms don’t have Wi-Fi or TVs, but the property stays open year-round. Insider tip: Don’t miss the spectacular views from its veranda rocking chairs and afternoon tea beside the lounge’s oversized stone fireplace.

Both properties have ADA-accessible rooms.

Ashford. You can get more bang for your buck just outside the park. The mountain town of Ashford sits 6 miles west of the Nisqually entrance, the only one open year-round to cars. This area has the largest and most sophisticated selection of accommodations and restaurants close to Rainier. You can book a tree house or cabin in Ashford at the Wellspring Spa & Woodland Retreat, a bohemian sanctuary in a fern-cloaked forest (think “Hobbiton meets Rivendell,” with a labyrinth, driftwood arches and outdoor cedar hot tubs). Nearby, the 1912 Alexander’s Lodge at Mt. Rainier has 23 quaint rooms (the upper floors are accessible by stairs only). For extra charm, stay in one of the turret rooms, overlooking the waterwheel.

Also in Ashford, the Paradise Village Ukrainian restaurant serves such dishes as white-cabbage borsch, galushki (gnocchi) and sour-cherry pierogies, alongside crepes and baked goods. This spot’s also home to the Instagram-famous “Cannibal Hot Tub” — a giant kettle over a wood fire — which is open by reservation, even to visitors staying elsewhere. Load up on rib-sticking, climber-carb-loading fare nearby at the Copper Creek Inn, the mountain’s top-ranked eatery. Find out for yourself why its blackberry pie wins raves. Or wait till just before the park boundary and indulge in pork momos (dumplings) at the Wildberry Restaurant.

Mineral. Fifteen miles west of Ashford, in Mineral, Elkamp puts a modern stylish twist on tent and RV sites. It offers amenities more typical of a boutique property, such as escorting all new guests to their sites, and delivering ice and firewood. It will expand in 2022 to include cabins, yurts, a tree house and a luxuriously appointed Airstream. Savvy visitors gravitate to the old barn, where the effusive owners sell art, vintage camping items, gourmet treats such as cinnamon-bourbon-pecan popcorn, and local Hellbent and Half Lion craft beers.

Eatonville. To Rainier’s west, sip a draft at Eatonville’s Mill Haus Cider Company, a new venue with an outdoor music stage and covered patios with firepits. You can also take in a flick at the 1942 Roxy Theater.

Wilkeson. If you’re driving to the park from Tacoma, stop by the former coal town of Wilkeson, en route to the park’s car-free Carbon River entrance 14 miles to the southeast. It offers handsome 19th-century architecture, and some of the state’s best wood-fired pizza at the Carlson Block. Savvy travelers line up an hour before opening (once the restaurant uses up its 120 balls of dough, it’s done for the day).

Note: Many Mount Rainier-area restaurants close for the winter and stay open only until 8 p.m. in the peak summer season.

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Gov. Evers celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week | News

Gov. Tony Evers celebrated National Travel and Tourism Week in Wisconsin last week with a video message and stops across the state highlighting the strength of Wisconsin’s travel and tourism industry and the critical role it plays in the state’s economy. Gov. Evers has invested $1 billion of Wisconsin’s federal funds in small businesses and other industries impacted by the pandemic, $200 million of which was invested in the travel and tourism, hotels and lodging, and entertainment industries alone.

“We already knew that Wisconsin’s travel and tourism industry was an essential economic driver in our state, and we saw that firsthand last week from Door County to La Crosse,” said Gov. Evers. “This industry is incredibly resilient, and through the investments we’ve made as well as the hard work, determination, and ingenuity of so many business owners, workers, and industry leaders, we’re working together to make sure these critically important industries continue to rebound and recover.”

On Tues., May 3, to kick off National Travel and Tourism Week, Gov. Evers, together with Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary-designee Anne Sayers, joined the Destination Door County National Travel & Tourism Week Breakfast in Sturgeon Bay. While there, he heard from local leaders about the state of the industry in Door County, witnessed the signing of a new Entity Agreement between Destination Door County and the Door County Tourism Zone Commission, and shared an update on tourism statewide and the major investments made by the Administration to help the industry recover and rebound. 

“We were delighted to have Governor Evers and Tourism Secretary-designee Anne Sayers join us in Door County for our tourism industry breakfast on May 3,” said Julie Gilbert, CEO and president of Destination Door County. “It was a special day to recognize all the positive things tourism provides our stakeholders and residents in Door County, and having them both here in person to celebrate with us reflected their support for our industry, not only in Door County, but across the state.”

Following their visit in Door County, Gov. Evers and Secretary-designee Sayers then went on to La Crosse where they joined Explore La Crosse, as well as many local elected leaders, for a trolley tour of the city, stopping at Grandad Bluff, learning about the new cruise ship dockings at Riverside Park, and touring the newly renovated La Crosse Center. Finally, they ended their day with a stop for ice cream at The Pearl. 

“This week, the La Crosse region was excited to welcome Governor Evers and Secretary-designee Anne Sayers to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week 2022,” said A.J. Frels, executive director of Explore La Crosse. “As the La Crosse region moves forward from 2021, much like the state of Wisconsin, we are happy to report that recovery for the tourism industry in the region came far quicker than anyone expected. With the focus on leisure travel, our area was able to see revenue numbers that rivaled and even, in some months, surpassed our banner year of 2019. Explore La Crosse looks forward to continuing to promote our region’s tourism growth as we journey through 2022 and beyond.”

Then, on Wed., May 4, Gov. Evers and Secretary-designee Sayers visited the Inn at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, joining SentryWorld and the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for a press conference and tour of the complex. SentryWorld has been selected to host the 2023 U.S. Senior Open Championship, which will be the first Senior Open and third USGA Championship they have hosted. While there, the governor and secretary also presented two checks to the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau that were approved by the tourism board on April 26, including a “Ready Set Go!” grant of $30,000 and a “Meetings Mean Business” grant of $29,488. 

“Tourism is at the heart of everything we do,” said Sara Brish, executive director of the Stevens Point Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “From cultivating new ideas, strengthening relationships, and creating a positive economic impact that supports local business, jobs, and communities—tourism is vital to our success. We are grateful to receive two grants from the state of Wisconsin. These grants allow us to invest in tourism and keep our industry moving forward.”

Additionally, on Fri., May 6, Gov. Evers and members of his cabinet hosted “Cabinet on the Road” events in the Eau Claire area with events in Osseo, Altoona, and Menomonie to meet with local business owners, farmers, and elected officials and discuss economic development and community development projects benefitting the region. The stops included a visit to a Goplin Homestead Farm in Osseo to discuss agritourism, a tour of the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts and a discussion about housing insecurity and homelessness issues in Menomonie, a visit to a local business and a discussion with the city of Altoona about a downtown revitalization project that will bolster the local economy and bring new businesses and visitors to the downtown area, and several local small business and restaurant stops. To conclude the day’s visits, Gov. Evers and his cabinet took a tour of The Brewing Projekt with owner, Will Glass, in Eau Claire.

Finally, on Fri., May 6, and Sat., May 7, Gov. Evers attended the 2022 Governor’s Fishing Opener in Shell Lake to help celebrate the end of winter and the start of the 2022-23 fishing season in Wisconsin, as well as the vital role fishing plays in Wisconsin’s tourism industry. In 2020, Wisconsin was third in the nation for out-of-state fishing licenses sold.

In addition to the governor’s stops detailed above, the governor also announced last week that Wisconsin has outpaced the national average for travel spending compared to 2019 for the past 24 months, signaling a strong recovery for the industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wisconsin’s tourism industry sustained $17.3 billion in business sales in 2020, supporting more than 157,000 jobs. While 2021 economic impact data is expected to be released in June 2022, monthly visitor spending compared to Wisconsin’s record-setting 2019 has been above zero percent for four of the past six months, showing Wisconsin’s recovery continues to trend in a positive direction.

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National gas prices at all time high, travelers make changes around MA

More than half of Americans are planning to make travel changes because of rising gas prices, according to a recent AAA survey. But when it comes to summer vacations, many people are not letting those prices get in the way.

“When gas prices get this high, we definitely see behavior changes in people,” said Mary Maguire, AAA director of Legislative and Public Affairs in Massachusetts.

She added regular gas is at an all-time high average cost of $4.39 per gallon, while diesel is also at an all-time high at $6.27 per gallon.

“People will be driving less, working more from home and consolidating trips, among other things,” Maguire said. “They are finding they have no choice but to make adjustments.”

National average at all time high

“Americans felt gas prices were too expensive just a few weeks ago at $3.53 per gallon,” according to a statement from AAA. “Now with the national average at an all-time high of over $4, Americans may have reached a tipping point. Over half (59%) said they would make changes to their driving habits or lifestyle if the cost of gas rose to $4 per gallon. If gas were to reach $5, which it has in the Western part of the country, three-quarters said they would need to adjust their lifestyle to offset the spike at the pump.

“While many Americans may adapt their daily habits to make up for higher gas prices, it likely won’t have as much of an impact on summer travel. AAA’s survey found that 52% of Americans have plans to take a vacation this summer. Of those, 42% said they would not consider changing their travel plans regardless of the price of gas.”

As for how high (gas prices will get this summer), “it’s basically impossible to get a good gauge on where we’ll be this summer because of the wide range of possibilities,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at fuel savings app GasBuddy. 

Pump prices rose again over the past week due primarily to the high cost of crude oil, according to AAA. The cost of a barrel of crude continues to hover around $100. With the oil price accounting for about 60% of pump prices, the national average for a gallon of regular is now $4.39, an increase of 27 cents since April 25.

“As long as the supply remains tight, it will be hard for crude oil prices to fall and consumers will in turn face higher prices at the pump,” said Andrew Gross, a AAA spokesperson. “It now costs drivers in the U.S. about $23 more to fill up than a year ago.”

All prices rising

Overall, U.S. consumers are paying 8.5% more for goods and services compared with last year. The 18.3% increase in prices for gasoline Americans experienced in March accounted for most of the increase in last month’s overall Consumer Price Index, which rose by 1.2% from February. 

There are some Democrat-led proposals in the works to remedy the problem, including the “Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax,”  levying a per-barrel tax on major oil companies “equal to 50% of the difference between the current price of a barrel of oil and the pre-pandemic average price per barrel between 2015 and 2019,” according to a brief of the bill.  

Already four states – Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut and New York – enacted gas tax holidays to provide temporary relief. (Maryland’s holiday’s expired April 18 and New York’s doesn’t go into effect until June 1. At least a dozen states have considered implementing one. California, New Jersey and Delaware also are considering sending rebates.

Many Republican lawmakers are resurrecting calls to expand the Keystone XL pipeline, which they claim would lower gas prices and help the U.S. become even more energy independent.

President Biden prevented the expansion in one of his earliest executive orders citing environmental concerns. Keystone XL, which would ship crude oil from Alberta to existing pipelines and then on to the Gulf Coast refineries, would take years to construct and would not be assured to increase U.S. supplies. 

USA Today personal finance and markets correspondent Elisabeth Buchwald contributed to this article.

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Make Reservations Now For Unique National Park Cave Tours In Utah

Cave tours are set to begin later this month at one of Utah’s most popular and unique attractions.

Timpanogos Cave National Monument is opening for tours starting May 18. Reservations are a requirement and can be made up to 30 days in advance.

This is a special year for the monument, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

“We are excited to celebrate the centennial of Timpanogos Cave National Monument,” Cami McKinney, acting superintendent, said in a release. “Over the last 100 years, there is a tradition of many families coming to see the cave, communities that have supported the success of the park, and decades of bringing people together.”

A series of events are taking place in honor of the centennial, all leading to a birthday party on October 14. Events include:

  • Daily lantern cave tours
  • New exhibits in the visitor center
  • Star parties
  • A 100-day hike challenge
  • Free Saturday programs for children and families
  • Art in the Park events

“We have a lot of different activities planned,” Sheila Hunt, supervisor at Timpanogos Visitor Center, told the Daily Universe. “I think one of my favorites is called Art in the Park.”

Art in the Park will feature artists throughout the day stationed in the cave, along the trail, or at the visitor center.

100 Years Of History

Created in 1922 by proclamation from President Warren G. Harding, Timpanogos Cave National Monument is a treasure unknown to many people.

Located in American Fork Canyon on the Wasatch Range, it features an extensive cave system made up of three linked caverns: Timpanogos Cave, Hansen Cave, and Middle Cave.

Each contains a wide range of formations, including helictites, stalactites, stalagmites, calcite crusts, draperies, and frostwork.

Visiting usually takes place from sometime in May to sometime in October because of the severe weather that can occur in other months.

In order to reach the caves, visitors must first hike about 1.5 miles on a paved trail that rises more than 1,000 feet. The entrance to the caves is at an elevation of just under 7,000 feet. The weather can be hot, so visitors should be well hydrated and conditioned to walk in air that is thinner than most are used to.

Because of the severity of the trail, no strollers or wheelchairs are allowed, and no pets, food, or drinks are allowed inside the caves.

The caves include dark passages and well-lit chambers filled with pylons, pillars, and other formations that are spectacular to view.

“We honor everyone that has worked here and hiked to the caves, and we invite you back to celebrate with us all year long,” McKinney said.

Tickets, tour schedules, and lists of programs can be found on the park’s website. Tickets are $12, or $7 for those ages 2 to 11.

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Shanghai man taken to morgue while still alive, CDC restates travel mask recommendation, and more COVID news | National News

CLAIM: A recent outbreak of unexplained hepatitis cases among children is being caused by the adenovirus vector used in some COVID-19 vaccines, including the Johnson & Johnson shot.

THE FACTS: Medical experts say this isn’t the case, mainly because the dead adenovirus used in the J&J vaccine is a different strain than the one linked to the recent hepatitis cases.

British health authorities this month have documented more than 100 cases of unexplained hepatitis, inflammation of the liver, among young children, and some social media users are suggesting the cases could be linked to J&J’s vaccine. While it isn’t clear what’s causing the illnesses, which have also been identified in the U.S., a leading suspect is adenovirus, a common group of viruses that can cause cold-like symptoms, fevers, sore throats and intestinal issues. Adenovirus was detected in 75% of the recent juvenile hepatitis cases tested, U.K. health officials have said.

Viral vector vaccines, like the J&J vaccine, use dead, nonreplicable adenovirus to help trigger an immune response, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The AstraZeneca and Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines also use viral vectors. Social media users are highlighting this connection to push the baseless claim that the adenovirus vector is causing the mysterious cases.

But experts say that’s not possible. Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told The Associated Press that current evidence indicates these hepatitis cases could be caused by adenovirus type 41, which is associated with intestinal infections. The adenovirus used as a vector in the J&J vaccine is type 26. Offit added that the adenovirus used as a vector in the vaccine cannot reproduce itself in the body and spread.

“The combination of the fact that it’s not the type of adenovirus that’s expected to cause hepatitis, nor is it a virus that reproduces itself, makes the claim ludicrous,” Offit said. Dr. Mark Slifka, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Oregon Health & Science University, pointed to an April paper by researchers with Scotland’s public health department describing their initial investigation into the first Scottish cases of the sudden liver disease. The investigation noted that none of the children had been vaccinated against COVID-19, nor were the other patients in the U.K.

“What appears to be happening on social media, is that people are jumping to conclusions that are not based on current evidence,” Slifka wrote in an email. A spokesperson for Public Health Scotland also told the AP that “there is no evidence to support the claims” linking the juvenile hepatitis cases to COVID-19 vaccines. Further, no increased risk of hepatitis was identified in clinical trials of the vaccines, or after emergency use authorization allowed many people to be vaccinated, Slifka noted.

Adenovirus is currently circulating in children at higher than average levels after dropping during the pandemic. One theory being explored is that children who weren’t exposed to adenovirus over the last two years as COVID-19 restrictions were in place may now be getting hit harder upon exposure.

— Associated Press writer Sophia Tulp in Atlanta contributed this report.

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