Memorial Day Travel Highest in 12 Years

Staff Reports

AAA expects the second-highest Memorial Day travel volume on record, with 39.3 million Americans (more than 1.5 million Ohioans) traveling at least 50 miles from home between Thursday, May 25 and Monday, May 29. This is an increase of 2.7 percent (2.2 percent in Ohio) and marks the highest Memorial Day travel volume since 2005.

Economy Boosts Travel:

Overall economic growth has helped boost this year’s Memorial Day holiday travel. Household net worth is up, and unemployment is down. Consumers are more confident in the economy and are allocating more money to travel.

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing.

Auto Travel:

Nearly 91 percent of Ohio travelers (close to 1.4 million), will drive to their destinations this Memorial Day. This is an increase of 2.2 percent, and marks the sixth consecutive year of auto travel growth in Ohio.

More Americans are planning to rent cars for their holiday road trips this year. AAA’s car rental bookings are up 19 percent from last Memorial Day. The busiest day for car rental pick-ups is expected to be Friday, May 26, according to Hertz.

AAA, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Ohio State Highway Patrol will hold a media availability session, May 17, 10:30 a.m. on the corner of Goodale and Park Streets in Columbus to prepare motorists for holiday travel. Topics will include:

• AAA: Nationally, nearly 350,000 of the expected 34.6 million Americans taking a holiday road trip will turn to AAA for roadside assistance over the holiday weekend. The auto club urges drivers to take precautions to avoid breakdowns.

• ODOT: Ongoing and active construction projects will also impact traffic throughout the state, but ODOT will try to reduce their impact as much as possible over the holiday weekend. Last year, there were 6,041 work zone crashes. They resulted in 810 minor injuries, 186 serious injuries, and 28 deaths.

• Ohio State Highway Patrol: Seat belt usage will be a primary focus of the Ohio State Highway Patrol during Memorial Day weekend and for good reason: buckling up is the easiest way to increase safety while driving. During Memorial Day weekend, troopers will be out on Ohio roads to encourage drivers to wear their safety belts.

Air Travel:

Rising airfares aren’t grounding holiday travelers. Nearly 3 million travelers (more than 80,000 Ohioans) will fly to their destination. This is a 5.5 percent increase over last year (3.4 percent in Ohio) and marks the fourth consecutive year of holiday air travel growth (second year in Ohio).

Airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 9 percent higher this Memorial Day, with an average roundtrip ticket costing $181, according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index.

Popular Destinations:

While the vast majority of travelers are planning a Memorial Day road trip, others will take advantage of the long holiday weekend and travel internationally, with Europe especially popular this year. The top destinations for Memorial Day weekend, based on AAA travel bookings, include:

1. Orlando, Fla.

2. Rome, Italy

3. London, England

4. Dublin, Ireland

5. Vancouver, Canada

6. Seattle, Wash.

7. Las Vegas, Nev.

8. New York, N.Y.

9. Paris, France

10. Honolulu, Hawaii

Other popular road trip destinations for Ohio travelers this holiday and throughout the summer include Myrtle Beach, S.C., Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Gatlinburg, Tenn.; Nashville, Tenn.; Chicago, Ill.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Cancun, Mexico; and close-to-home getaways to Lake Erie Shores and Islands, Hocking Hills, the Ohio State Parks and Amish Country.

Travel Costs:

Hotel costs have increased since last Memorial Day, with the average AAA Three Diamond Rated hotel up 18 percent to $215 per night. Memorial Day weekend car rental rates will average $66 a day, which is 7 percent more than last year.

Holiday Forecast Methodology:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA/IHS Global Insight 2017 Memorial Day Holiday Travel Forecast can be found at

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial- and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited online at

The Five Seconds That Can Get a Boater Into Trouble

‘If you’re texting from the helm, you’re likely not helming the boat’

ANNAPOLIS, Md., May 15, 2017 -The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission says that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. On waterways across the country, recreational boaters know that five seconds is a world of time to get into trouble. Unlike driving on a road, boats can approach from any direction, come in all shapes and sizes and move at different speeds. As part of National Safe Boating Week (May 20–26), the BoatUS Foundation urges boaters who bring smartphones aboard to be aware of the risk of distracted boating.

Good news/bad news: “Cellphones are the primary communication device for many boaters,” said BoatUS Foundation Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner. “So while they’re important to all of us, we have to know how to use them wisely. If you’re texting from the helm, you’re likely not helming the boat.”

The stress of it all: Adding to the challenge and unlike automobiles, says Sensenbrenner, is boating’s unique stressors of sun, glare, wind, waves and vibration. Research shows that hours of exposure to these boating stressors produces a kind of a fatigue, or “boater’s hypnosis” which slows reaction time almost as much as if you were legally drunk. Adding alcohol multiplies the accident risk.

4 tips to improve situational awareness: Cell phones, alcohol and other factors can hinder knowing what’s going on around you, or your “situational awareness.” Sensenbrenner says boaters can always improve their situational awareness by: 1. not texting while driving, 2. slowing down, 3. posting extra lookouts, and 4. waiting for your safe return ashore before enjoying alcohol.

If you’d like to learn more about safe, smart and clean boating, go to


DELAWARE, Oh. – The entire Delaware County community is invited to enjoy a new walking path located behind the Buckeye Valley Middle School thanks to funding through the Delaware General Health District’s Creating Healthy Communities program and the Buckeye Valley Local School district.

The path started out of a vision to connect the school district with the Delaware County community.

Work began on the path in the summer of 2016 and was completed by December.

Many programs at Buckeye Valley have already committed to utilizing the path for physical activity including the cross country team, middle and high school physical education and the special education programs.

The Buckeye Valley Local School District, however, does not want to limit access to the path for school-related programs. The district hopes that the Buckeye Valley community and all that call Delaware County home will take advantage of this new walking path in addition to the beautiful country views.

In 2014, the Delaware General Health District was awarded the Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) grant from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH). The five-year award, which totals $95,000 each year, will be used in the community to support and promote healthy eating, active living and tobacco-free environments.

Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) is committed to preventing and reducing chronic disease statewide. Through cross-sector collaboration, CHC is activating communities to improve access to and affordability of healthy food, increase opportunities for physical activity, and assure tobacco-free living where Ohioans live, work and play. By implementing sustainable evidence-based strategies CHC is creating a culture of health.

Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir grapes grown in northeast Ohio

Great wine regions around the world are typically renowned for a single famous grape or for their strictly controlled blends: Napa, California: Cabernet, Bordeaux district in France: great reds; Australia: Syrah; Argentina: Melbec; Champagne district in France: sparkling whites; Washington State: Rieslings and great reds, Long Island, New York: Merlot, Finger Lakes, New York and Traverse City, Michigan: Riesling, Austria: Greuner Veltliner, Oregon: Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

Why is that significant for the Tri County area of northeast Ohio?

The answer: Take a minute and Google “Pinot Belt Map.”

The amazing fact is that there are two narrow strips of geography which provide in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, general climactic conditions to grow great Pinots. In the northern hemisphere, Burgundy, parts of Italy, Slovenia, part of northern California and Oregon are prominent in the illustration ….. but additionally, so is the south shore of Lake Erie including the Tri County region of Ashtabula, Lake and Geauga counties.

Many of the wineries in the region are producing award winning Pinots [along with a myriad of other fine wines] and while they will continue to produce and promote lots of other wines, they hope to make these grapes the “signature” varieties in the Tri-County region.

Thus fourteen wineries in the area have formed a partnership, led by the Tri County Grape Growers Association to promote the great Pinots [Gris and Noir] that now growing there. Their goals are several: share with the wine world that they are doing some exceptional Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir wines, encourage more plantings of these varieties and drive consumers out to their doors to explore and enjoy all that they have to offer.

They have created a brochure sharing information about Pinots which features a lovely, but somewhat mysterious lady on the cover [reflecting Pinots’ reputation as the “Femme Fatale of Wines” ]. And beginning June 1 through July 15 will host a Pinot Trail special event where by consumers can visit any or all of the 13 including Debonné, Ferrante, Grand River, Harpersfield, Kosicek, LaLeure, Laurello, Laurentia, M, Maple Ridge, Markko, St. Joseph, and South River [the 14th is Silver Crest which will not be open for the trail event, but will be welcoming guests sometime in the fall].

Cost for the special trail event will be $15 per person and will entitle visitors to sample a Pinot complemented by an appetizer at each of the wineries any time during the six weeks. Following the conclusion of the trail, for those who visit all 13 currently open, prizes including crystal wine glasses, Vintage Ohio Wine Festival tickets and wine cork cages will be awarded via a drawing from all those Pinot lovers who visit those participating wineries.

And ONE lucky couple will win an overnight stay in the PINOT GRIS SUITE at the spectacular, new Vineyard Woods resort in the heart of the Grand River Valley. Visit to learn about this amazing new lodging facility with 25 wineries just a short drive, bicycle ride or walk away.

Participation cards will be available at each winery beginning May 18 or can be ordered through the Ohio Wine Producers [who is assisting with logistics] web site:, or at their offices at 1 South Broadway, Geneva…all beginning May 18th.

In addition to the special trail event, new brochures touting the story of the Pinots grown in the region and upcoming events will be widely distributed around the Tri County area throughout the year.

With summer approaching, the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on 2017’s Best Summer Vacation Spots to supplement its Best Travel Credit Cards and Currency Exchange studies.

To help travelers plan the perfect summer getaway, WalletHub’s data crunchers compared the 80 largest metro areas across 38 key indicators of budget- and fun-friendliness. The data set ranges from cost of the cheapest flight to number of attractions to average price of a two-person meal.

Top 20 Summer Vacation Spots

1 Las Vegas, NV 11 Salt Lake City, UT

2 Los Angeles, CA 12 Austin, TX

3 Orlando, FL 13 Oklahoma City, OK

4 Chicago, IL 14 Phoenix, AZ

5 San Diego, CA 15 Cincinnati, OH

6 Atlanta, GA 16 Tampa, FL

7 Houston, TX 17 St. Louis, MO

8 Dallas, TX 18 Portland, OR

9 Sacramento, CA 19 Charlotte, NC

10 New York, NY 20 Detroit, MI

Best vs. Worst

• The average flight to a popular summer destination costs $337, lasts 3 hours and 56 minutes, and has 0.4 connections.

• The Las Vegas metro area is the most attractive destination on the West Coast and the New York metro area on the East Coast.

• California and Texas are home to the top summer destinations in the U.S., each with at least two metro areas in the top 15. Oppositely, Connecticut and New York are each home to the largest numbers of the most unpopular summer destinations.

• The Miami metro area has the lowest nightly rate for a three-star hotel room, $25, which is 5.8 times less expensive than in Boston, the metro area with the highest at $145.

• The Salt Lake City metro area has the most diverse attractions, which is two times more than in Akron, Ohio, the metro area with the least diverse.


Columbus, Ohio – Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens welcomes a new exhibition this summer featuring life-size animals portrayed in floral forms. The exhibition, “Topiaries at the Conservatory: Wild Wonders,” will be on display from 10am-5pm daily from May 20 to Oct. 29.

The exhibition features 14 topiaries representing endangered and exotic animals, from a mighty lion with sprays of live grass representing its mane, to a larger-than-life peacock dressed in a seasonal collection of blooming flowers. The collection includes:

– Elephant trio: Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ (English ivy)

– Flamingo trio: Begonia semperflorens ‘Cocktail® Mix’

– Gazelle: Sedum rupestre ‘Lemon Ball’ and reindeer moss

– Giraffe: Lysimachia nummularia ‘Goldilocks’ and Ajuga reptans ‘Golden Glow’

– Gorilla: ‘Metallica’ and ‘Chocolate Chip’ cultivars of Ajuga reptans (of the mint family)

– Lion: Carex flagellifera (for the mane) and Lysimachia congestiflora ‘Variegated Lemon’

– Peacock: Ficus pumila with Ficus pumila ‘Variegata’ for the body, plus a seasonal bedding plants for the tail.

– Birdwing Butterfly: Alternanthera dentata ‘Purple Knight’, Pilea glauca ‘Red Stem Tears’, Alternanthera ficoidea ‘True Yellow’, Solenostemon ‘Party Time® Lime’, and Solenostemon ‘Party Time® Sangria’

– Red Panda: ‘Red Ice’ and ‘Coral Carpet’ cultivars of Sedum album, and reindeer moss

– Sea Turtle: Three varieties of Alternanthera dentata: ‘Little Ruby’, ‘Burgundy Threadleaf’, and ‘Snowball’

Complementing this exhibition, the Cardinal Health Gallery at the Conservatory will host a photography collection presented by Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), “GlassHouse: Photo Flora Form.” Just as the topiary sculptures create surrealistic forms inspired by real figures, this collection depicts actual foliage represented at the Conservatory in ephemerally altered ways. This showcase will be available from May 20 to Sept. 17.

For more information, visit, and follow #WildWondersTopiaries on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Cheers: Grand River Valley’s Premier Lodging Destination

Harpersfield, OH – Following 6 months of construction, Vineyard Woods – the region’s first upscale lodging option in the heart of the Grand River Wine Region – opened this week. The first phase of construction included the Vineyard Villa with three private suites overlooking 40 acres of pristine vineyard countryside and the secluded storybook Oak Cottage nestled amongst 16 acres of rolling woods. A second phase is slated to begin later this year.

Set amongst 10 acres of wine grapes and 16 acres of rolling woods, Vineyard Woods is at the epicenter of the Grand River Wine region and its 20+ wineries. In addition, it is within minutes of Lake Erie, the Grand River, historic Bridge Street in Ashtabula Harbor and all 19 of the iconic covered bridges in the county. A family-owned business, Vineyard Woods is entrenched in driving agritourism to Ashtabula County.

“The addition of Vineyard Woods to Ohio’s growing number of top-quality unique lodging options benefits the local economy, and the entire state as well,” Joe Savarise, Executive Director of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, said. “Our industry puts special emphasis on Ohio’s unique lodging sector. Vineyard Woods is an example of how these businesses add great choices, more capacity, and memorable experiences for visitors. It will be an important part of our strong and growing travel economy – which creates $42 billion annually in visitor spending and supports more than half a million jobs statewide.”

The Grand River Viticulture region boasts over 20 of the nearly 200 wineries in the state making Ohio the 7th largest wine producer in the United States.

Ohio’s only licensed meritage producer, Matt Meineke of M Cellars, manages the 10 acres of wine grapes on the Vineyard Woods property, providing local wineries with much-needed grape production.

Owners Scott and Katie Runyan grew up just 20 miles from the Vineyard Woods property. “We always knew this area was a gem and we think it has so much potential as a destination location,” comments Scott Runyan. “We couldn’t be more excited to share Vineyard Woods with guests and be a part of bringing economic growth to the area.”

For reservations, go to

Staff Reports