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Escape Columbus winter with 5 flights under $200 RT

Colleen Quinn

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If you’re like us, February has you day dreaming of warmer weather and elaborate escape plans. Well, folks, it is time for a break that won’t break the bank, and we have you covered.

Below are five winter escapes from Columbus for less than $200 round trip and direct (heck yeah). Now let’s turn those day dreams into sunny realities!

PRO TIP: Flight fares fluctuate often based on many different factors. Use Skyscanner or Hopper to search flights and set alerts for inexpensive flights!

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA

Throw your winter blues out the window with a trip to southern Florida’s East Coast. Fort Lauderdale has all that good stuff you are looking for from a sunny holiday: beautiful beaches, crystal blue water, incredible food, tasty cocktails, and fantastic hotels. Plus, ever wanted to zip around on one of those airboats?! Take a trip to the nearby Everglades for a chance to spot a Florida gator!

Airline: Allegiant Air
Route: LCK (Rickenbacker Intl Columbus) > FLL (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Intl Airport)
Roundtrip Price: $126 ($70 with no baggage)

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA

Florida’s West Coast makes the list, too, with a visit to the sunny Gulf Coast. Bar hop along Fort Myer’s Beach, shop the trendy downtown streets, or get a history fix in at the Thomas Edison & Henry Ford winter estate.

A must-do here is visiting the neighboring islands of Sanibel and Captiva to rent bikes for the day. Explore the beautiful nature reserves, mangroves, beaches and do some bird watching!

Airline: Spirit Airlines
Route: CMH (John Glenn Columbus Intl Airport) > RSW (Southwest Florida Intl Airport)
Roundtrip Price: $187 ($85 with no baggage)

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

Savannah is seeping with southern charm and elegance. You cannot help but become enchanted by the cobblestone streets, large live oaks, and Spanish moss that line the streets of Savannah.

Bring your walking shoes as that is the only method of transportation you will need to get around. Walk the historic district, city parks, and markets to take in all the southern architecture and flare.

Eat your way around with all the southern style dishes you could dream of, and catch live tunes at the lively music bars. Savannah is a destination you will not be disappointed you took the time to visit!

Airline: Allegiant Air
Route: LCK > SAV (Savannah/Hilton Head Intl Airport)
Roundtrip Price: $198 ($100 with no baggage)

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CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Sticking with the southern charm, hop on a flight to check out what Charleston has in store. Friendly people, amazing food, trendy coffee shops, endless rooftop bars and bourbon tasting are just a few of the reasons this city attracts so many visitors each year.

You will feel like you are in a post card as you walk the cobblestones streets lined with candy colored pastel houses, and we are here for it!

Airline: Allegiant Air
Route: LCK > CHS (Charleston Intl Airport)
Roundtrip Price: $163 ($98 with no baggage)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Via Las Vegas! Does this place really even need an introduction? If you have never been to Vegas, you have to go at least once, so why not this winter? Glitz, glam, gambling, elaborate shows, restaurants, clubs, hotels, shopping, and adventure await you on the Vegas strip.

If Vegas is not your cup of tea… book the flight, rent a car and make the 2.5 hour drive to Zion National Park in Utah for a STUNNING representation of America’s southwestern territory with massive canyons, cliffs, lakes, waterfalls, and hanging gardens.

Airline: Spirit Airlines
Route: CMH > LAS (McCarran Intl Airport)
Roundtrip Price: $189 ($113 with no baggage)

Winter drags, but it doesn’t have to if you give yourself something to look forward to… Get packing!

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Weekend Getaway: Ohio State Park lodges reopen

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Cooped up inside of our homes for the past few months, everyone could use a change of scenery. Luckily for those that love the great outdoors of Ohio, the perfect getaway is now possible once again.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced on May 28 that all nine Ohio State Park lodges would be reopened by June 5.

The places where you can escape to are listed below in order of closest proximity to Columbus to furthest:

  • Deer Creek
  • Burr Oak
  • Mohican Lodge
  • Salt Fork Lodge
  • Shawnee 
  • Hueston Woods
  • Maumee Bay
  • Punderson Manor

Director of State Park Lodges Tom Arvan had this to say in the May 28 press release:

“Our staff has been working diligently to ensure that guests return to a safe and sanitized environment following the CDC safety guidelines. Our goal is for our guests to feel comfortable as they enjoy the fun activities and relax in the natural beauty of the lodges and all the state parks have to offer this summer.”

Visit https://www.greatohiolodges.com/ to secure your much-needed wilderness adventure today.

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Want to get away? Southwest making it cheap

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Southwest Airlines is hoping that enough of you are close to feeling safe to leave the house for more than a trip to the grocery store. In a bid to jumpstart their flagging business, Southwest has announced some pretty steep ticket discounts - as low as $49 each way to a host of cities departing from Columbus.

Flights must be booked at least 14 days in advance and travel must happen between May 26 and August 31. Most expect Ohio's 14-day travel quarantine rule to expire by August but be sure to take that into account if you decide to hop on a plane.

Some of the cities and deals we have imagined for you include:

A long weekend in Atlanta: $118 per person roundtrip from Friday, Aug 14 - Sunday the 16th. Keep in mind, it's about 100 degrees in ATL this time of year so be sure to have access to a body of water if you go.

A patriotic, weekend protest in Washington DC: $98 per person roundtrip, 4th of July weekend. See the sights (if they're open to the public) and stand somewhere with a sign with whatever outrage you have in mind.

A long 4th of July beach weekend in Ft. Lauderdale: $198 per person roundtrip from July 3-6 and you can stay at this cute Airbnb apartment that's just one block from the beach for $88/night.

Vegas baby! You're going to have to forget the weekends if you want the great flight deal. But we found August 5-7 available for $198 a person. Plus you can get into the Bellagio for $139 /night right now as an added bonus. Two nights of debauchery, a little gambling and some of the best restaurants in America. What could go wrong?

Of course, traveling may be risky business for some people and this all assumes the respective cities and attractions re-open and are relatively safe. But if you just need to get away, it's probably never been cheaper.

See other flight options here.

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Weekend Getaway: Take a trip to the birthplace of bourbon

Colleen Quinn

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Itchin’ to get away for the weekend and try something a little different? You are in luck! The birthplace to the warm, fuzzy burn of a perfectly aged bourbon is a mere 3 hours south of us here in Columbus, Ohio!

As America's ONLY native spirit, bourbon comes out of Kentucky, crafting 95% of the world’s supply! Awaken those taste buds with a trout down the Kentucky Bourbon Trail!

Giving bourbon lovers an up-close look into how bourbon is distilled and the history behind generations of bourbon tradition, The Kentucky Bourbon Trail is a collection of bourbon whiskey distilleries located throughout Kentucky.

You could spend over a week exploring all of the world famous distilleries throughout Kentucky… but a weekend is plenty of time to sip and soak it in!

Where to start? Begin at the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Welcome Center located on the first floor of the Frazier Kentucky History Museum in downtown Louisville. Here, you can gather all the information you need to plot out your perfect bourbon tasting bucket list.

Next up…Whiskey Row awaits! Strap on your comfy shoes and hang a left out of the Frazier. Within a one mile stretch you will hit Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery, Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Old Forester Distilling Co., and Angel’s Envy Distillery. Make sure to pick up your Kentucky Bourbon Trail Passport at your first distillery to collect stamps at each distillery you visit!

Tours and Tastings
There are a total of 18 distilleries on the KBT, grouped into roughly 4 different locations: Louisville, Lexington, Bardstown, and Owensboro.

Each distillery offers a tour lasting approximately one hour, ending with a tasting. Learn the history of each distillery, how to properly taste bourbon, what distinguishes bourbon from whiskey, and the role bourbon has played in our countries history. Each distillery has quirks that make them uniquely their own, however the tours can get some what repetitive as bourbon is made of a specific process.

Pro tip: Skip the tour and head straight to the tasting if you are short on time or find the tours have gotten repetitive. Where to next?

BARDSTOWN
For a newer, more modern bourbon experience check out Bardstown Bourbon Company—the first KBT destination to combine distilling and culinary arts! Grab lunch at the distilleries Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar with an awesome view of the distillery through the floor to ceiling glass wall.

Heaven Hill Distillery is another must. This distillery has been family owned and operated since they were founded in 1935. Officially opening their doors at their new location, Lux Row Distillers has 4 brands under one roof! A bit further south you will hit Makers Mark, where you can hand dip your own bottle into the red wax!

LEXINGTON
Spend a day visiting these distilleries near Lexington: Woodford Reserve, Four Roses, and Wild Turkey, which is home to the world’s longest tenured active master distiller, Jimmy Russell!

Buffalo Trace—while technically not on the KBT, this distillery is one of the most famous of them all. As the oldest continuously operating distillery in America, Buffalo Trace was one of only three bourbon distilleries allowed to operate during Prohibition to distill ‘medicinal’ bourbon. Here, if you are lucky you may get the famous Freddie as you tour guide! He has been leading tours for nearly 20 years, was featured on the Hulu bourbon documentary named ‘neat’ and recently induced in to the Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame.

Extra tidbits

While in Louisville make sure to stop at Feast BBQ for out of this world BBQ and their deliciously intoxicating bourbon slushies (yum).

For the history buffs, take a trip to the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in Hodgenville, KY!

There are 18 distilleries that make up the official KBT, yet there are SO many more excellent distilleries located in the state of Kentucky. If you do not want to make your way all the way down to Louisville, check out Boone County Distilling Co, a boutique distillery, or New Riff Distilling (named best new bourbon of 2019) both of which are located near Cincinnati.

Official KBT Distilleries
 Angel's Envy Distillery
 Bardstown Bourbon Company
 Bulleit Distilling Co. 
 Evan Williams Bourbon Experience 
 Four Roses Distillery 
 Heaven Hill 
 Jim Beam American Stillhouse  (2 locations)
 Lux Row Distillers
 Maker's Mark Distillery 
 Michter’s Fort Nelson Distillery
 Old Forester Distilling Co. 
 O.Z. Tyler Distillery
 Rabbit Hole Distillery
 Stitzel Weller Distillery
 Town Branch Distillery 
 Wilderness Trail
 Wild Turkey Distillery 
 Woodford Reserve Distillery 

Happy Bourbon tasting, and enjoy your time on the trail!

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