We’ve got six experiences to make your 2016 a year to remember, from soaring hot air balloons over the Adirondacks to sipping Tipsy Turtle cocktails from the deck of iconic Florida beach bars.
Up, Up, and Away
There may not be a finer hot air ballooning celebration in America than the Adirondack Balloon Festival, where 150,000 gather and gawk at a cloud of brightly colored baskets and balloons filling the September sky. You can float over the lakes, mountains, and forests that define Lake George from the comfort of a basket floating on the breeze, check out the hundreds of other balloons dotting the skies, and learn about the region’s rich aviation history in one fell swoop.
Where to Stay The Sagamore Resort
Visit a Living Coral Reef
North America’s only live coral reef, the Florida Keys Coral Reef Tract, is teeming with marine life, and like most things in life, it is best experienced with an appropriate sense of awe and a margarita in hand. The Reef and Ritas cruise is a three-hour tour that will take you above the reef and allows for diving and meeting oceanic denizens, from spiny lobsters to grinning, brightly hued parrotfish. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, explore our curated list of top day cruises to catch glimpses of dolphins, manatees, and even pull up lobster traps alongside grizzled Maine lobstermen.
Lake Placid’s Wintry Glory
One of New York’s most tranquil spots is a must-visit in summertime and especially in autumn, when the leaves turn to fiery shades of red and orange, but winter may trump both. Scale an icy mountain face, watch sled dogs whiz over Mirror Lake, and fish salmon just 20 minutes away on horseshoe-shaped Lake Colby. Bundling up against the cold is a must, but if you don’t mind the frosty air nipping at your nose, you’ll find a winter wonderland worth a weeklong visit.
Where to Stay Lake Placid Lodge
All the World’s a Show
If you know where to look, Opal destinations are full of rich history, and Sarasota is particularly unique for its celebration of and ties to the circus. The Ringling Bros. circus still makes its home here, and The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art is full of a dizzying array of art, photos, and performances that have made the circus one of the greatest shows on Earth. Get there before February 4 to catch an exhibit of some of the rarely seen, astonishing spectacles of battle and acting that the circus built for its traveling shows.
Where to Stay Lido Beach Resort
Face to Face with a Phantom
The Florida panther is making a resurgence after years of being critically endangered, but it remains one of the most difficult-to-find animals in America. Pack for a wilderness journey, chat with one of Florida’s wildlife biologists to put you on the right track, and wind your way through the hundreds of miles of trails and waterways that run through the Everglades in search of the big cat. If you come face to face with one, snap a photo and preserve a thrilling moment.
Where to Stay Edgewater Beach Hotel
A Boisterous Beachfront
Sometimes you just want to kick back and enjoy the feel of a bygone era, and Treasure Island’s unique beach bar scene is the all-singing, all-dancing embodiment of Florida’s once-vaunted twentieth-century waterfront celebrations. Stroll into CJ’s on the Island or Ka’Tiki for karaoke, potent drinks with colorful names like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and take a trip back in time while watching Treasure Island’s equally colorful sunsets.
Where to Stay Treasure Island Beach Resort