Lisa Singh

Lisa Singh is an Interactive Producer at TravelChannel.com. Her multimedia career has spanned print and online publications. One of her first stories involved following a convicted felon into the Mexican desert in search of gold; she’s been hooked on travel (and gold) ever since. While Lisa has spent time in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, her big love is all things America, especially road trips. Her favorite places include Montana, where she’s gone horseback riding, and San Diego, where she placed in a tandem-surfing competition.

Posts by Lisa Singh

Allergy-Free Spring Fling

Ah, springtime: The blooms, the fresh air … the allergies. If springtime spells “Achoo!” for you and your family, you’ll want to take note of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation’s annual list of the worst cities for allergy sufferers. Released this week, the annual list tallies the most sneeze-inducing cities nationwide, based on pollen levels, allergy medications and the number of board-certified allergists in the area.

And the cities topping the allergy list this spring? Jackson, MI, leads the pack, followed by Knoxville, TN, and then Chattanooga, TN. Rounding out the top 5 are McAllen, TX, Louisville, KY, and Wichita, KS.

If popping Claritin or Zyrtec on a trip this spring isn’t your idea of fun, consider a vacation to one of the cities ranked lower on the list – like Daytona Beach, Denver and San Diego. For the full list, check out this interactive map of Spring Allergy Capitals.

You May Also Like:

For more spring-fling ideas, check out Florida’s Best: Secret Beaches.

See the top things to do in relatively allergy-free San Diego!

And consider a spring fling in another low-allergy city — “Golden” Sacramento.

Cherry Blossoms

Finally! The first day of spring is here, and the growing sunshine and warmer weather are bound to inspire travel ideas in you. If those plans include a trip to Washington, DC, for the 101st annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, though, you may have to adjust your calendar ever so slightly: The National Park Service reports that the peak bloom time for the blossoms has been recalculated — it’s now April 3-6. (An earlier projection had called for March 26-30; the reason for the date push-back is the recent cold snap that hit the nation’s capital). To make sure you do not miss the peak bloom, the National Park Service has set up a live web cam of the Tidal Basin.

Along with cherry blossoms, be sure to check out DC’s other top attractions:

Don’t want to wait that long to see cherry blossoms in bloom? Then head on over the Japan! What’s late here is early there — in fact, this year cherry blossoms in Japan have peaked at their earliest time ever: CNN reports that the Japan Meteorological Agency announced the beginning of cherry blossom, or “sakura,” season over the past weekend.

For more cherry blossom travel ideas, check out our recent roundup of cherry blossom festivals across America — and fun fact: The Garden State actually has more cherry blossoms than Washington, DC! So you may want to add New Jersey’s Branch Brook Park to your cherry blossom viewing list!

Photography by Getty Images

The 72nd annual Daytona Bike Week kicks off today. This granddaddy of all things motorcycles, billed as the “World’s Largest Motorcycle Event,” will see roughly 500,000 leather-clad bikers and babes descend on Daytona Beach, FL, over the next 10 days. If the open road is in your blood, you’ll want to join the crowds in Daytona over the coming week — here are some of the must-see events to check out.

Daytona Supercross by Honda: Saturday, March 9
The Toughest Course on the Circuit!
Will Chad Reed or Davi Millsaps unseat last year’s winner, James Stewart? Daytona International Speedway has been home to the longest continuous Supercross event in America since 1971. Every year, during Bike Week, a supercross track is constructed between the pit road and tri-oval section of the speedway track. Steep jumps and obstacles await riders as they tackle a terrain that historically has used more sand than dirt. Since 2008, racing champion Ricky Carmichael has designed the track configurations, and he returns this year as designer in what is the circuit’s most challenging event. A perk for fans: The starting gate will remain on pit road, offering a great view of the first turn.

Daytona 200: Saturday, March 16
Will Elena Myers Win Again?
History may be made at Daytona 200, the 200-mile motorcycle race held at Daytona International Speedway. Last year, 19-year-old Daytona champion Elena Myers, of Mountain View, CA, became the first woman to win a professional event at Daytona International Speedway after winning in the second round of an AMA Pro Racing spring road race. This year, Myers is eying another historic win in Daytona 200 as she rides for sponsor Sturgess Cycle Triumph.

Ormond Beach: Music Happenings
From a CCR Tribute Band to an 11-Year-Old Rocker
One of the epicenters of Bike Week action is of course, Daytona Beach’s northern neighbor, Ormond Beach. You’ll find plenty of hard, white sand, some stretches of which bikers can drive on. But the real draw here will be venues such as Iron Horse Saloon, where country band Confederate Railroad will sing their popular anthem “Trashy Women” (no comment). Fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival can check out a CCR tribute band at the Broken Spoke Saloon; plus, head to Beaver Bar where an 11-year-old rock singer, Brooks Paul, from North Carolina will rip it up with vicious renditions of AC/DC, Gus N’ Roses and more hard rock hits. Check out this great roundup of other Ormond Beach Bike Week highlights.


Main Street, Second Avenue and More
As we speak, hundreds of bikers are rumbling through Main Street in Daytona, FL – check out the Main Street attractions. For a quieter slice of Bike Week, head to Second Avenue, the historic African-American business district that established itself out of necessity – back in 1949, Daytona Bike Week was segregated, forcing African-American motorcycle enthusiasts to find this more hospitable stretch of town to socialize and park their bikes. (Learn the story of Daytona’s Second Avenue.)

For more on Daytona Bike Week (including this Hooters Bikini Contest … we had to mention it), check out the Official Bike Week website.

Plus, check out this Info Source for Bike Week 2013.


You May Also Like:

SPF? What SPF? See bad boy bikers enjoy the sun.

Girls go coleslaw-wrestling at Daytona!

Our favorite moments from Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Pics from America’s best motorcycle rallies.

 

Photography by Getty Images

Small Swiss Army knives, yes. Box cutters, still no.

Do the TSA’s new rules make perfect sense? Or are they total nonsense?

That’s the big question of the hour. In a move praised by some (Swiss Army knife enthusiasts) and derided by others (9/11 families), the Transportation Safety Agency announced this week that pocketknives will now be permitted on planes, effective Monday, April 25. TSA Administrator John Pistole outlined the new rules on Tuesday, stating that passengers will now be able to carry blades less than 2.36 inches long.

(Great visuals of TSA’s list of approved/banned carry-ons can be found here and here.)

When it comes to knives, why 2.36 inches — why not 2.5 … or 3? That question, among others, led the new TSA rules to win a vote of “confidence” from New Yorker funnyman Andy Borowitz, courtesy of his “National Arbitrariness Association”: “We love that the list appears to have been put together with no organizing principle or logical system. It combines the virtues of making no sense and being impossible to remember. Knives, bats, golf clubs, billiard cues — it’s like they made this list using refrigerator-poetry magnets.”

Not so fast, says TSA. On the contrary, the new rules to permit these items as carry-ons “was made as part of TSA’s overall risk-based security approach and aligns TSA with international standards.” Plus, in light of locked cockpit doors and with pilots now instructed to stay behind those doors if trouble arises, it’s unlikely, the argument goes, that someone will successfully hijack a plane with a small Swiss Army knife … or lacrosse sticks … or hockey sticks … or golf clubs (limit 2) — provided they’re under 24 inches in length.

Are the new TSA rules too much, too soon after 9/11? Some victims’ families think so: “What’s the difference between a pocketknife and a box cutter, for crying out loud?” asks David Beamer, whose son Todd was among the passengers who led the Flight 93 revolt. ‘’I cannot see the upside to this.”

(Sidenote: Box-cutters are still banned, because as TSA’s Pistole puts it: “… there’s just too much emotion associated with particularly the box cutters, so those will not be allowed.”)

Is there an upside to TSA’s new rules? If there is one, it may be as simple as convenience, especially for passengers avoiding the hassle of their pricey merchandise having to be turned in before they board. The TSA confiscates thousands of pocketknives each year, as well as expensive items like golf clubs, and gives them to states to sell off as surplus property.

What do you think – is this latest move a good thing? Or not?

If you travel, you’ve got an opinion, so leave your comments below.

Cherry Blossom Festival

Denver’s Cherry Creek Neighborhood; Photography by Rich Grant

Hard to imagine now, as a winter storm swept through the DC area, but in just a few weeks the nation’s capital will be abloom with hundreds of cherry blossoms. Yes, that’s right: The National Cherry Blossom Festival is right around the corner – with the official dates of peak blooming time announced this week by the National Park Service. So mark your calendars — blooms are predicted to peak March 26-30.

The annual event typically attracts 1.5 million visitors a year, with 2013 now ushering in the festival’s 101st year. If you can’t make it to DC, you still have plenty of options for viewing cherry blossoms nationwide. Did you know that Philadelphia is home to its own impressive display of cherry blossoms, which were planted a few years after World War I? From the East to the West Coast, check out the top cherry blossom festivals to enjoy beyond Washington, DC this spring.

EAST COAST

Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Late March
Beginning in late March, a 5-week display of hundreds of blooming cherry trees unfolds at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The garden is home to more than 200 cherry trees from 42 Asian species and cultivated varieties, making it one of the top cherry-viewing sites outside of Japan. The first cherries were planted at BBG after World War I, as a gift from the Japanese government.

Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival (Philadelphia)
April 1-26
This annual spring festival in Philadelphia commemorates a 1926 gift of 1,600 flowering trees to the city of Philadelphia by Japan as a goodwill gesture. The festival showcases more than 45 events — the largest event is “Sakura Sunday,” held at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park. Among the day’s highlights include a chance to meet visitors from Japan and watch a tree-planting ceremony.

THE SOUTH

Macon Georgia’s International Cherry Blossom Festival
March 15-24
Organizers call this the pinkest party on earth – and they’re not kidding. Macon is known as the “cherry blossom capital of the world,” with 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees that bloom around town beginning in late March. The annual event began 31 years ago, following a nearly decade-long collaboration between a local realtor and area resident to plant the trees around town. By 1982, the trees were such a fixture of the city that the annual event was born.

Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival
March 23
Thought Nashville was all about the Grand Ole Opry? Think again. Since 2009, this annual festival has celebrated the arrival of spring, as well as the friendship between Japan and the United States. The festival was envisioned by the first consul general of Japan in Nashville, Hiroshi Sato, who proposed planting 100 cherry trees each year, over a 10-year period, throughout Nashville.

THE WEST

Cherry Blossom Denver Festival
June 22-23
Head to Denver for Colorado’s celebration of Japanese-American culture. In the spring, Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood comes alive with the blossoms of hundreds of cherry trees. (The first Japanese cherry trees were actually planted in Denver in 1937; however, the trees were subsequently destroyed following the outbreak of World War II. In the decades to follow, the local Soka Gakkai International-USA Buddhist center recommitted to planting cherry blossom trees.) Now in its 41st year, Japanese culture and heritage are showcased in this free, annual event, with dance, taiko drums and martial arts featured on an outdoor stage near the Denver Buddhist Temple.

WEST COAST

Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival (San Francisco)
April 13-14, 20-21
This annual festival — the second largest festival outside of Washington, DC – attracts an annual crowd of more than 200,000 people to celebrate the blooming of cherry blossoms in Northern California. The annual festival first took place in April 1967. The tradition has continued ever since, with festivities spanning 2 weekends. During this time, the streets of San Francisco’s Japantown showcase Japanese dancing, singing, martial arts demonstrations and more.

Also Check Out:

At the end of March, local residents give free tours of Tokyo’s cherry blossoms.

Get an up-close look of Washington, DC’s National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Dreaming of a big vacation — filled with adventure, jaw-dropping views and luxurious downtime? Look no further than Big Bend, TX! That’s right: You and one lucky friend could win a trip for 2 to this amazing stretch of West Texas, where hidden canyons and desert oases await nature lovers, along with more than 450 bird species, geologic wonders and ancient fossils sure to appeal to the Indiana Jones lover in the family. But you better hurry: Visitors to TravelChannel.com have just 2 days left to enter to win.

Now, we know what you’re thinking: What are the odds? The answer is good – if you start now, and keep trying. You can enter the sweepstakes once a day to increase your odds of winning. Just come back to this page and reenter your email address. No re-registration is necessary.

The payoff could be big. You and a guest will enjoy 5 days and 4 nights of first-class hotel accommodations at Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa. Come daytime, you’ll enjoy outdoor adventures such as a river-cruise excursion, horseback trail ride and an off-road expedition through Big Bend National Park.
What are you waiting for? Get going – start here!

Photography by Getty Images

Can you imagine anything worse: You’re in the middle of a crowd of people lined up along Pennsylvania Avenue — eager to see President Obama walk a portion of the inaugural route — when, all of a sudden, Little Johnny starts tugging at your sleeve, because … he’s REALLY GOTTA GO! Sure, every president since Thomas Jefferson has walked a portion of this inaugural route, but right now you’ve got something more important to think about – the nearest port-a-potty.

First, relax — we at the Travel Channel have got you covered. While Monday’s Inauguration isn’t expected to reel in the nearly 2 million people who descended on the nation’s capital 4 years ago, it will still be pretty darn packed. Streets will be closed off. Metros are running at special hours. And, well, when nature calls, the nearest museum or store may not be open. Here’s the lowdown on what you need to know.

Know Before You Go

First thing’s first – bathrooms. Yes, several media outlets have reported a shortage of port-a-potties about town for Monday’s inauguration. None other than Charmin is encouraging attendees to download the SitOrSquat app to find clean public restrooms.

But phones die, and apps can still be unreliable. So it never hurts to mentally catalogue places you know will be open. Many of the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall will open early come Monday, Jan. 21 – specifically, the Freer and Sackler galleries, and African Art and Hirshhorn museums will all open at 8 a.m. and stay open until 5:30 p.m. The Smithsonian Castle will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. However, all of these museums, as well as the Air and Space Museum, will close all Mall-side entrances – the only way to access them will be via Independence Avenue. Plan accordingly.

Not all museums will be open, however. These include the American Indian Museum, which will be closed all day (due to its proximity to the swearing-in ceremony on the Capitol steps). The National Gallery of Art will close its East Building Monday but keep its West Building open – this means there will be no handicapped entrance. The Renwick Gallery will be closed all day Monday.

Looking for Food?

All the political festivities got you hungry? If you’re looking for something quick – plus a chance to warm up – these museum concessions will be open: Air and Space (McDonald’s McCafe, Boston Market, Donato’s Pizza); Natural History (Atrium Café, Café Natural, Fossil Café); American History (Stars and Stripes Café, Constitution Cafe); Smithsonian Castle (Cafe and Coffee Bar).

Getting Around Town

If, for some odd reason, you’ve decided to drive into town — keep in mind areas with vehicle restrictions. Check out this full map of vehicle restrictions, courtesy of the US Secret Service. And if you plan on hoofing it on foot, print out this map of pedestrian walking routes.

For a full look at public transportation options over Inauguration Weekend, check out our Escape DC’s Inauguration Crowds — scroll to the bottom, where you’ll find everything you need to know!

Things to See

So you couldn’t land a front-row seat to the swearing-in ceremony — big deal! You’ve still got plenty of options. Swing by the American History Museum at 11:30 a.m. Monday – they’ll broadcast the ceremony in the Flag Hall. (However, if you were lucky enough to score tickets – be sure to check out the official Inaugural app that will guide ticket-holders to their seats.) Afterward, be sure to check out the ever-popular “First Ladies” exhibition on the museum’s third floor – you’ll see 2 dozen gowns worn by First Ladies of eras past, including Jackie Kennedy and Laura Bush.

Be sure to check out the National Portrait Gallery’s new display – a collaged portrait of President Obama by American contemporary graphic designer and illustrator Shepard Fairey, as well as Chuck Close’s sprawling 2012 tapestries of the president’s likeness. And don’t miss these presidential hangouts in DC.

Additional Inauguration Resources:

http://www.wtop.com/1220/3184000/WTOPs-Inauguration-Day-survival-guide
http://inauguration.dc.gov/
http://godcgo.com/inauguration-2013.aspx
http://washington.org/topics/inauguration
http://www.secretservice.gov/presidential_inaugural.shtml

New Year's Day Plunge

Photography by Todd Bush Photography

Sometimes you need to make a statement — big and bold — in order to start the New Year off with a fresh, clean slate. And what better way to begin a new chapter than with a dip into a body of water — icy cold, at that!

I can personally vouch for it: Taking the plunge on New Year’s Day is something you won’t soon forget. Last New Year’s, on the heels of recovering from a lower back injury, I was feeling a little listless, like something had to change. Then one day, an ad popped up on my Facebook page — something about a Coney Island Polar Bear Club Plunge on New Year’s. Intrigued, I clicked on the ad.

Turns out, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club is the oldest swimming club of its kind in the United States, and every year since the early 1900s, this hardy group of men and women, now numbering in the hundreds, has taken a dip in the Atlantic Ocean off Coney Island on New Year’s Day. (They also take regular dips every Sunday from November through April, in case you can’t get enough.)

Hypothermia? Nah!

OK, OK, you’re probably thinking — I don’t know — “hypothermia” right about now. But as I found out last New Year’s, as I gathered with more than a thousand eager New Year’s plungers off the boardwalk at Coney Island’s Stillwell Avenue, you don’t have to be in super-primo-uno shape to take the plunge.

In fact, looking around at the sea of humanity ready to celebrate that New Year’s Day, I wasn’t exactly looking at a bunch of bodybuilders — and that’s putting it mildly. (As Bon Jovi music blasted from nearby speakers, yes, I did actually see grown men in every kind of sportive garb – including, you know, speedos and diapers — but hey, who am I to judge?)

Then came the moment …

At 1 p.m. sharp! –– a sea of people — my fellow brothers and sisters! — rushed toward the water, many yelping in what sounded like a primal seal sound: ah-oooh, ah-oooh

Feeling the growing excitement, I raced toward the water with them, and then it hit me, “Wow! This water is cold!” But then, what the heck, this was it, the moment — the New Year! — and soon, I dunked my whole body underwater, then rushed back toward the shore, feeling an exhilaration and joy I wouldn’t soon forget. I’m still talking about it a year later! (And a word to the ladies: A New Year’s plunge is a great date option — you’ll see how tough your fella really is!)

Eager to take the plunge yourself? Check out these New Year’s plunge options around the world! We’ve even included some warmer options, in case, you know, you don’t want to freeze to death. Go figure.

White Christmas Cities 2012

Photography by Getty Images

Are you dreaming of a “White Christmas”? For many, the holiday season isn’t the same without the sight of powdery white snow outside, enjoyed from the cozy comfort of a home complete with a fireplace and an abundant supply of gifts under the Christmas tree.

Sadly, Santa didn’t do much dashing through the snow last Christmas. In fact, winter 2011 was the 4th warmest on record since 1896. So will Christmas 2012 see a repeat performance?

We asked our friends at weathertrends360 which parts of the United States will see a white Christmas this year — and by “white,” we’re talking 1 inch of snow or greater.

Good news! Plenty of cities nationwide will see a white Christmas, says weathertrends360 meteorologist Krissy Klinger — and keep in mind weathertrends360’s snowfall forecast for cities is accurate about 80% of the time.

White Christmas: 25 Cities to Watch

Here’s weathertrend360’s list of cities nationwide slated to see a white Christmas — the list is based on records of solid snow cover, with temperatures projected not to fall below freezing through Christmas:

1. Salt Lake City
2. Cheyenne, WY
3. Denver
4. Erie, PA
5. Buffalo, NY
6. Syracuse NY
7. Watertown, NY
8. Rochester, NY
9. Burlington, VT
10. Minneapolis
11. Madison, WI
12. Green Bay, WI
13. Bismarck, ND
14. Grand Rapids, MI
15. Sault Ste Marie, MI
16. Spokane, WA
17. Lake Tahoe, CA
18. Glasgow, MT
19. Elko, NV
20. Ely, NV
21. Flagstaff, AZ
22. Duluth, MN
23. Saint Cloud, MN
24. Marquette, MI
25. Omaha, NE

We Want a White Christmas, Not a Blizzard!

The first winter storm of the season, which has been named Draco, slammed the Midwest and western Great Lakes on Thursday — and is now moving northeast. That’s good news if you’re heading out west; now that the storm has passed, and the temperatures will be cold through the weekend, the snow pack should keep in place through Christmas, says weathertrends360 meteorologist Krissy Klinger.

Any major weather concerns to watch out for?

“The only area we’d be concerned with having disruptive, blizzard-type weather would be across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest,” says Klinger. “But it’s going to be a close call. Right now, the forecast has a storm in the Central US gathering strength on Christmas Day, so any slow-down in that strengthening could easily push the storm off until late Christmas night or the next day.”

Farther north and west of the area being impacted by the blizzard (Minneapolis; Duluth, MN; Saint Cloud, MN; and Bismarck, ND) temperatures will be frigid through Christmas Day, which will also ensure that the current snow pack, several inches deep, will stay in place for the holiday, adds Klinger.

As for the Northeast, winter storm Draco is likely to bring snow to interior sections of New England (Burlington, VT), and kick up a period of lake-effect snow for cities such as Erie, PA; Syracuse, NY; Watertown, NY; Rochester, NY; and Buffalo, NY, says weathertrends360’s Klinger. Throughout, stay abreast of pre-Christmas travel issues.

Finally, in the West, across the Rockies, a Pacific storm system is slated to spread snow across higher elevations through this weekend and into Christmas Eve, says Klinger.

Snowfall Updates — Where to Go

For a full look at cities and snowfall, check out National Climatic Data Center’s nifty map of White Christmas Cities.

Stay current on White Christmas City updates on weathertrends360′s Facebook page.

And check out Travel Channel’s tips on how to score deals on last-minute holiday travel deals.

Warm, cold, cold, warm. Make up your mind already!

It’s safe to say that’s what a whole lot of people are thinking across the country, as they don fall jackets one day, winter coats the next. Winter, it seems, has become a little moody, and no one is feeling the brunt of its mood swings more than ski resorts.

“Rising Temperatures Threaten Fundamental Change for Ski Slopes,” reported yesterday’s New York Times. “Study Shows Warming’s Threat to Skiing,” said The Aspen Times, just a few days earlier. And this equally sobering take from Bloomberg: “Ski Areas Face $1 Billion Risk From Warming Climate, Groups Say.”

But Wait, There’s Hope!

Before you reach for your Xanax, take a deep breath and repeat: “There’s still hope for fun on the slopes this year.”

Sure, we’re all feeling a little nervous, especially with still-fresh memories of last year’s unseasonably warm winter — the fourth warmest on record since 1896 — that caused half of the nation’s ski areas to open late and nearly as many to close early. This year is seeing more unpredictable temperature shifts in areas from Mount Sunapee in Vermont, where warmer temps have turned some usually snow white trails dirt brown, to several ski resorts in Colorado that have been forced to push back their opening dates.

A Pro Colorado Skier’s Opinion

Lou Dawson — no, not a climate guy, but he is the first person to ski all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks — seems pretty optimistic about the whole thing. From what we can tell over at Lou’s popular Wild Snow blog, he’s got strong opinions on how ski resorts can withstand climate change.

Here’s what Lou’s saying: “If ski resorts want to deal with global warming and continue skiing as we know it, they need to figure out where we can ski as the climate warms, and build or extend ski areas into those zones.”

Snowiest Ski Resorts — Where Are They?

So where are those “zones”? Leave it to our friends over at weathertrends360 to gather the goods. Recently, these weather gurus compiled their list of the world’s snowiest ski resorts, with their selection based upon long-term weather trends forecasts.

And the slopes with the most guaranteed powder? Places such as Alta, UT, make weathertrends360’s list – and as the NYT confirmed this week, this famed ski area, now in its 75th year, is seeing trails with a base depth of 48 inches. (Translation: Anything above 15 inches is sufficient for skiing.)

What other ski resorts made the list? For the full forecast, check out the World’s Snowiest Ski Resorts.

Latest Pins on Pinterest

  • Queenstown, New Zealand as seen from the air.

  • Paro Valley, Bhutan

  • St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

  • Cuenca, Spain