NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE — Visit California hosted its 2023 Canada Sales and Media Mission at Pillar and Post Inn & Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake this past weekend, putting the spotlight on all the diverse destinations in the state.
Reps from 36 different Cali destinations were on hand to provide the latest from a long list of destinations in the Golden State.
Here’s a quick overview of more than a dozen destinations in attendance …
- Santa Ynez Valley: Consisting of six distinct towns, all with less than 5,000 people, clients can expect a smaller feel with plenty of wide-open spaces in the Santa Ynez Valley. There are over 100 wineries to explore, and primarily boutique and personalized accommodations as a base to enjoy year-round activities.
- Santa Barbara: From Toronto, travellers can take one connecting flight from L.A. to get to where is called ‘The American Riviera.’ Plus, flight prices for its airport have gotten lower since Southwest Airlines commenced service. Expect to find Spanish-style architecture, coastal panoramas, a thriving Mexican food scene and a walkable downtown.
- Ventura: This is a great add-on to a L.A. trip. Big for multi-generational travel and, also, activities like kayaking, snorkelling and sailing. Seemingly endless hiking/biking trails, uncrowded beaches, untouched nature, topnotch restaurants and rich culture await.
- Pasadena: Home of the Rose Bowl and the annual Rose Bowl Parade, this is America’s New Year’s destination. Visit art museums and botanical gardens, discover the diverse culinary scene and marvel at architectural wonders by renowned architects.
- Los Angeles: This year is the 100th anniversary of the iconic ‘Hollywood’ sign. There’s a hotel boom as over 2,000 rooms have opened since the start of the pandemic, with a focus on design using notable architects. Pro tip: don’t try to fit in too much. Two days for each neighbourhood is ideal.
- Santa Monica: Santa Monica is only 13 km north of LAX airport. “If there’s one special place you want to stay in Santa Monica, it’s near the beach,” says Sana Keller, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism PR Director, Canada. The new Regent Santa Monica Beach is expected to open in November 2023 and its prime location overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
- Marina del Rey: This laidback coastal community is another excellent hub as it’s close to airports and freeways. Known as ‘L.A.’s premier waterfront playground,’ the waters are calm here for activities like SUP, and there’s the largest man-made, small-craft harbour in the world.
- Huntington Beach: Just think surfing! Plus, there’s a 16-kilometre e-bike path. A big initiative has been undertaken to create significant new infrastructure for travellers with disabilities.
- Newport Beach: In Orange County, this spot is for the laidback yet luxurious crowd. Discover all 10 neighbourhoods, each with its own charm and vibe. Travellers can rent an ‘electric boat’ and dock at harbourfront restaurants that serve patrons on their vessels. Home to more water than land, explore 10 miles of scenic shoreline and pristine beaches.
- Palm Springs: The Greater Palm Springs area has nine unique cities. The renowned Coachella Music & Arts Festival takes places annually in Palm Springs. This region is also home to Joshua Tree National Park.
- Napa Valley: Napa Valley has new luxury properties like Stanly Ranch at the south end of the valley, with fewer than 100 rooms, and Four Seasons Resort & Residences Napa Valley. Take the Napa Valley Wine Train for a high-end dining experience served on the train.
- Santa Cruz County: The second smallest county in Cali offers drives from the beach to Redwoods National Park in 10-15 minutes. Some 300 days of sunshine means plenty of opportunity to uncover an array of farmers markets and farm-to-table dining and winemaking experiences. A new Courtyard by Marriott opened its doors in mid-April.
- Monterey: Follow the recently launched ‘Artichoke Trail’ to see where two-thirds of the world’s artichokes are grown. New properties include Sanctuary Beach Resort & Marina, Villa Mara and the adults-only Carmel Point, plus Coast Café in Big Sur.
- Temecula Valley: A rural area that looks like Tuscany, and boasting 15 wineries. Olive oil culture is huge in this destination, whose name means ‘Place of the Sun.’ Olive ranch tours are available.
Members of the Visit California delegation told Travelweek that the inbound visitor numbers for California are extremely positive. Canada’s visitation forecast is predicted to reach 99% of pre-pandemic levels in 2023 and 110% in 2024, with travel spending forecasted to recover to 109% this year.
As of December 2022, 93% of airlift from Canada to Cali has recovered, with 223,857 non-stop seats. The state has 127 new hotels since the beginning of last year.
Go to VisitCalifornia.com for more info. Be sure to make use of the new Visit Native California content hub for in-depth material about cultural experiences.
Check out Travelweek Daily tomorrow for a more in-depth look into Santa Barbara.