For as long as Jane Eshbaugh can remember, the Holiday Valley ski area in Ellicottville, N.Y., has kicked off Canadian Friendship Week on the first Monday of the new year.
That changed in 2021, when the five-day observance was cancelled owing to a “lack of Canadians,” as Holiday Valley’s director of marketing puts it. Indeed, about 30 per cent of the resort’s clientele disappeared following the pandemic-induced closure of the U.S.-Canada land border in March of 2020.
More than 17 months later, the Nov. 8 reopening of that border has revived Canadian Friendship Week 2022, which Eshbaugh says will go “above and beyond” its usual at-par lift tickets and equipment rentals.
Good thing it isn’t Canadian Friendship Day. After the border reopens to non-essential travellers who can prove they are fully vaccinated, returning Canucks must produce negative PCR tests taken within 72 hours of arrival, or positive viral tests taken within three months and a letter from a health-care provider or public health official stating that they’re cleared to travel. With PCR tests often costing more than $200 a pop and typically taking at least 24 hours to yield results, day trips to the U.S. are effectively off the menu.
Interest in longer visits, on the other hand, appears to be rising. According to Expedia Group spokesperson Mary Zajac, week-over-week Internet searches for U.S.-based lodgings spiked drastically in the wake of the White House’s land border reopening announcement on Oct. 12. Searches for New York accommodations, for instance, jumped by 130 per cent across the Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo websites.
Several factors are spurring this interest. For one thing, Ottawa recently lifted its advice to avoid all international non-essential travel (as long as vacationers are fully vaccinated). For another, U.S. officials recently announced that negative COVID-19 tests will not be required to enter the country by land or ferry. A months-long surge in domestic travel, meanwhile, is enabling new enticements to open across the United States. For inoculated Canadians considering cross-border excursions, here are some of the most alluring diversions to emerge since the land border slammed shut.
Vermont (71.2 per cent fully vaccinated)
Tälta Lodge, Stowe
America’s most vaxxed state is now home to a self-proclaimed “boutique base camp” on the picturesque road connecting the historic town of Stowe to its namesake mountain resort. Ranging from king suites with private patios to four-person bunkies, most of Tälta’s 51 rooms include modular gear storage walls and private lockers for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and hiking equipment. There’s also an indoor swimming pool, sauna and hot tub on site should guests need to relieve aches and pains stemming from the use of said gear. bluebirdhotels.com/hotels/talta-lodge.
California (61.3 per cent fully vaccinated)
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles
The 50,000 square feet of gallery space in what’s said to be the largest U.S. museum devoted to the art of moviemaking spans five inaugural exhibits. These include Hayao Miyazaki, the first North American museum retrospective covering the work of the Japanese filmmaker; and the Oscars Experience, which simulates accepting an Academy Award on the stage of Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. Whatever you do, don’t mix up the envelopes. academymuseum.org.
The Hay, Pebble Beach
Set on the former site of the Peter Hay Golf Course, this nine-hole track was created by Pebble Beach Resorts in partnership with Tiger Woods and his TGR Design firm. Designed for duffers of all abilities and ages, including anyone wanting to warm up before tackling the 18 storied holes of the nearby Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Par 3, 670-yard Hay includes a replica of No. 7 at PBGL and a 20,000-square-foot putting course. pebblebeach.com/golf/the-hay.
Avengers Campus, Disneyland Resort, Anaheim
Aspiring superheroes, take note. Rising over the fictional former grounds of a Stark Industries plant and Strategic Scientific Reserve complex, this new section of the Disney California Adventure Park replaces the It’s Tough to Be a Bug! attraction while incorporating the nearby Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout drop-tower ride, and adding Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Dance Off, an al fresco disco where actors playing Star-Lord and Gamora groove to the franchise’s chart-topping Awesome Mix soundtracks. Also on tap: the Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure interactive screen ride, in which visitors help capture robots wreaking havoc on campus; and Avengers Headquarters, where guests receive training from real-world versions of their movie idols. disneyland.disney.go.com.
New York State (66.7 per cent fully vaccinated)
Billed as the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere and fifth highest on Earth, the glass-cradled Edge juts out nearly 20 metres from the 100th floor of Manhattan’s 30 Hudson Yards skyscraper. An outdoor staircase provides even loftier views, while a steeper and longer City Climb allows harnessed visitors to ascend to a small platform just below the building’s 387-metre-high summit. From that perch, visitors should be able to spot Summit One Vanderbilt, another new observatory two kilometres to the east. Larger but less vertiginous than the Edge at 65,000 square feet and 324 metres up, Summit features overhanging glass boxes, a transparent elevator that carries guests up another 40 metres to the highest viewpoint in midtown Manhattan, an Infinity Mirrors-inspired walk-through art installation, and a lounge, café and outdoor terrace. edgenyc.com; summitov.com.
Steps from Manhattan’s Flatiron Building, the first Muggle emporium of its kind features 15 Potter-themed areas and interactive displays such as a Butterbeer Bar and Wand Shop. Note: Golden galleons are not accepted as payment. harrypotterstore.com.
Autism Nature Trail, Letchworth State Park
Uniquely designed for visitors of all ages on the autism spectrum, this 1.6-kilometre loop an hour’s drive east of Buffalo encompasses eight stations including an arboreal Reflection Knoll and a Meadow Run and Climb for testing strength, co-ordination, flexibility and confidence. autismnaturetrail.com.
Maine (70.6 per cent fully vaccinated)
This online guide covers 75 points of interest ranging from oyster farm tours and raw bars to mobile shuck trucks and kayak excursions. An interactive Trip Planner helps visitors build itineraries, while a digital Oyster Passport tracks Oyster Trail stops and can turn them into Oyster Trail swag. maineoystertrail.com
Several stops on the Oyster Trail can be reached via three new Scenic Byways recently singled out by the U.S. Department of Transportation for their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational or scenic attributes. Together, the Katahdin Woods and Waters, St. John Valley/Fish River and Bold Coast routes double the number of Scenic Byways in the Pine Cone State. visitmaine.com.
Washington (63.5 per cent fully vaccinated)
Hockey: Faster Than Ever, Seattle
The inaugural season of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken has prompted the downtown Pacific Science Center to host this new exhibit from Nov. 8 to Feb. 27, 2022. Included is a Hockey Science Lab, where guests test their hockey knowledge on a scaled-down replica rink and conduct science experiments that involve hockey skills. She shoots, she explores! pacificsciencecenter.org/hockey.
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