Kate Bock at Blackberry Farm

Kate Bock at Blackberry Farm – Janine Berey / SI.com

Tonight, on an all-new episode of SI: The Making of Swimsuit 2015, cover model Hannah Davis and the rest of the crew head east on the final leg of their “Made in the USA” shoot. Starting off in the Great Smoky Mountains, the models take over Blackberry Farm, a luxury hotel and resort in Tennessee. After swinging from trees and posing with pigs, they head to Caneel Bay on St. John in the US Virgin Islands, where the rain settles in, making it quite difficult to get the perfect shot — especially for the models in body paint. After the clouds part and the sun makes a brief appearance, rookie model Hailey Clauson gets in the last photo shoot of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, finally bringing the long but beautiful 7-month journey to a close.

Check out the video below for an exclusive, behind-the-scenes preview of tonight’s season finale, “Beauty and the East.”

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If you’re like us and bundled up on a snow day instead of basking in the sun, tune in to Beach Week tonight at 8|7c for some prime escapism starting with 20 more of the world’s best 101 Sand n’ Surf Hot Spots, followed by SI: The Making of Swimsuit 2015, which heads to the West Coast. But first, we asked the lovely ladies of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue: If you were a beach, which beach would you be? Find out what Hailey Clauson, Sara Sampaio, cover girl Hannah Davis and more had to say:

And if you find yourself wondering the same question, take our beach assessment quiz to determine your true beach type — whether you prefer adventure to partying or would rather go off the beaten path — and which coast you should head to next.

More Beach Week:
Best Beach Award Winners 2015
Vote for the Best Overall Beach
Win a $100,000 Trip to Hawaii

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Mardi Gras in New Orleans (Photo: Getty Images)

“Fat Tuesday” is observed around the world, but only in New Orleans can you celebrate with the true flair of a party-ragin’ Cajun. There’s plenty to do during one of the biggest annual celebrations in America. And in a multilingual city with a rich French colonial history, there are myriad options for Carnival fun. It’s no coincidence that The Big Easy is sometimes referred to as the “most unique in the United States,” and this annual bead-begging bash shows exactly why.

A direct flight from New York to New Orleans is about 3 hours. From Los Angeles it’s just 1 hour more. And from Washington, DC, it’s only a 2 1/2 -hour jaunt, all of which makes it easy to jump right into the Mardi Gras mix. Once you arrive in New Orleans you’ll want a comfy place to rest up and energize from the day’s travels. Here are a few suggestions for enjoying Mardi Gras in New Orleans that will fit almost any budget. READ MORE

Mariana van Zeller and Michael Voltaggio

Mariana van Zeller and Michael Voltaggio in Jerusalem’s Old City, at the hand of Christ.

We’re 1 month away from the premiere of our new series Breaking Borders an episode in Jerusalem (“Mother of All Conflicts“). Travel Channel executive producer Brian Leonard traveled to Jerusalem with the Breaking Borders crew and its co-hosts, journalist Mariana van Zeller and chef Michael Voltaggio. It was Brian’s first time in Jerusalem, so we thought it would be the perfect time to have him give us his insights on everything Israel: the people, the food, the historical significance and more.

Related: Brian Leonard Talks “Breaking Borders” on BlogTalkRadio

What were your expectations?
I could not wait to land in Israel and get to Jerusalem, even though most of what you see on the news seems like “unrest,” i.e., clashes between soldiers and the Palestinian youth, tear gas, riot helmets and flak vests. My family definitely had some concerns about safety, but that, for me, was easily overshadowed by what I was about to experience. For the record, I never felt threatened or unsafe, even when we were in the middle of some Jewish tourists being “escorted” through the Old Market in Hebron in the West Bank. There was some pushing and shoving and yelling, but it was fairly under control.

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Tracey with girls in St. John, US Virgin Islands. (Photo Courtesy of Tracey Friley)

For Our Type of Traveler, we like to feature travelers who enjoy exploring the world, immersing themselves in a destination’s history and culture, and spending time with the locals. Every so often, we run across people who not only embrace this travel mantra, but they also become ambassadors, encouraging others to travel. Tracey Friley is an example. Although she splits her time between living in Oakland, CA, and Paris, Tracey still manages to seek support for the Passport Party Project, a program that encourages teenage girls to explore the world beyond the US borders. And that’s why Tracey is our type of traveler.

What is the Passport Party Project? What made you decide to start this initiative?
The Passport Party Project is a National Geographic award-winning global awareness initiative that gifts underserved American girls ages 11-15 with their very first passports and gives them their first international journey. The purpose of the program is to help create a crop of budding global citizens who are both responsive and responsible travelers. The first phase was funded by Expedia, and this second phase is being partially sponsored by HomeAway. I can’t wait to share our international destination in the weeks to come!

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Have you entered to win The Trip 2015 yet? According to our hosts, this $100,000 trip for 2 to Hawaii should be enough to persuade you. Check out some of our favorite quotes from hosts Samantha Brown, Don Wildman, Anthony Melchiorri, Bert Kreischer and Kinga Philipps.

India “We got up at 2 a.m. so we could drive to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and see this crater glow like a hot furnace in the night. It was unbelievable. But the light changes fast, and by the time we had a chance to take our own pictures, it was daylight. Pretty awesome to think that smoking pit behind me is just a cauldron of lava ready to go at any time.” — Samantha Brown

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Jack Maxwell in Belize

Jack Maxwell in Belize

As Jack explores the many drinks Belize has to offer, he finds that the rugged Central American paradise has attracted people from all over the world. But no matter where you come from or why you’re there, Belize always welcomes you with a cocktail. During his journey across the beaches and through the jungles, to ancient Mayan ruins and back to the city to partake in Carnival, Jack tastes some of the wildest cocktails to date, including viper rum. It’s made when a live snake is stuffed into an empty bottle, which is then filled with rum and capped for a year until the snake meets its demise, leaving patrons with an odd but tasty snake-infused spirit.

While Belize may have tempted Jack with its bizarre drinks, chocolate wines and rum-filled seaweed smoothies, there is something much more intoxicating along the coast of Central America, luring people in with their pristine white sand and crystal-clear waters — the beaches. From amazing snorkeling just an hour off the coast of Dangriga to enjoying top-notch accommodations and cuisine on Placencia Peninsula — the country’s most popular sea and sand getaway — now is your chance to explore some of Belize’s best beaches.

Check out all of Jack’s Belizean adventures on an all-new episode of Booze Traveler tonight at 10|9c. And if you’re looking for a way to escape the cold, harsh reality of winter, don’t miss out on Travel Channel’s Beach Week, which will premiere brand-new episodes of paradise-themed programming, from SI: The Making of Swimsuit 2015 to 101 Sand n’ Surf Hotspots.

Travel Channel films with Nina Agdal in Islamorada, FL

Travel Channel films with Nina Agdal in Islamorada, FL

We know that a majority of the country is bundled up, trying to stay warm and dreaming about their next trip to the beach or some island paradise. Since we can’t physically take you far and away, join Travel Channel tonight through Wednesday for an on-screen tour of some of the hottest and sexiest beaches in the world during our annual Beach Week!

Travel Channel’s Beach Week officially kicks off tonight, at 7|6c and 8|7c, with the all-new 101 Sand n’ Surf Hotspots. From Matira Beach in Bora Bora to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, we’re counting down to the No. 1 beach in the world! READ MORE

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Photo by Amir Ghasemi/Getty Images/Flickr RF

No, you’re not hibernating in your apartment avoiding single-digit temperatures outside — you’re halfway around the world with some of our favorite travel bloggers. Ah, the power of this week in travel.

February is an ideal time to visit India. Take a photo tour with Bridges and Balloons to Mumbai and beyond.

Live vicariously through the Young Adventuress as she learns to fly in Lake Wanaka, New Zealand.

Jessie On a Journey reveals 5 must-eat dishes in Provence, France — beautiful illustrations included!

Alex in Wanderland traveled to Northern Thailand to attend the Yi Peng festival — and seeing the thousands of sky lanterns launched into the air at the same time took her breath away.

Where will you find you’ll find pagoda-topped buildings tucked between skyscrapers in San Francisco? Travel in Translation talks about #FindingAsia in the city’s iconic Chinatown neighborhood.

Marianela Pereyra

Dreaming of warm sunshine, wide stretches of sand and a frozen drink in your hand?  Yeah, we are, too. This weekend, take an (imaginary) journey to some of the best beaches in the 2 states that everyone in the Northeast wishes they were in right now: Florida and California.

Tomorrow night at 11|10c, tune in to Marianela’s Best Beaches, where Argentine model and Travel Channel beach expert Marianela Pereyra gives her unique perspective on some of America’s most beautiful stretches of coastline.

 

Get up-close and personal with sharks in Key West, FL:

 

Learn to make a bonfire at California’s Dockweiler Beach:

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