Bravo and two thumbs up for this year’s San Francisco Bay Area Travel & Adventure Show, which boasts events in seven different locations — aside from the Bay Area, they travel to Dallas, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Diego. We were also a proud media partner of the show for the first time this year and I have to say after committing two days to the event, I’m impressed.
They had over 1,000 destinations represented, and the range was broad, from African safari adventures and Alaska cruises to dozens of regional counties up and down the west coast. After 12 years and 61 shows, the Travel & Adventure Show Series has established itself as the premier consumer marketing platform in the travel industry. They’re been around since 2004 and each year, they continue to grow and thrive. Their main focus is to connect quality travelers with the top travel providers in the world.
I found myself spending a lot more time exploring cruise provider options since we plan to add a Cruise Section to We Blog the World in the next few months and at destination booths I knew the least about, like Tahiti, Aruba, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, Korea, Fiji, American Samoa (it’s closer than you think) and Alaska. Truth be told, they also happen to be destinations where I’d like to expand our coverage. Of course, there are great spots around the country I have experienced in one way shape or form, but feel the need to expand our coverage as well, such as Oregon, Montana, New Orleans, Tennessee, Alabama and the Dakotas.
I learned a few quirky facts about destinations I’ve never been to….and some I have. For example, hot on my bucket list in addition to Tahiti and Aruba is Trinidad and Tobago, based on a book I read over two decades ago. For example, did you know that Trinidad and Tobago is the birthplace of soca & calypso music and the steel pan, the only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century? OR, that Tobago has the oldest protected rainforest in the Western Hemisphere? AND, that Trinidad is a birder’s paradise with over 13 species of hummingbirds and over 486 species of birds? OR, that Trinidad is home to the largest Caribbean Carnival, features a natural ecological phenomenon known as the Pitch Lake and is home to the largest Hanuman Murti statue outside of India. Also cool is that Trinidad and Tobago has the largest population of Leatherback Turtles in the world.
Returning to Indonesia is also hot on my list, largely because I’ve only been to Jakarta and Bali and it was oh so many years ago. Indonesia is such a fascinating place — it is, in fact, the largest archipelagic country int he world, encompassing 13,466 large and small islands. Separated by the sea has resulted in the amazing variety of characteristics of the people in each island as well as the flora, fauna, arts and culture.
My favorite U.S. picks from the show had to be Alaska, southern Oregon and the zillion counties in northern and southern California.
It seemed as if most of the regional tourism boards were there in some way, shape or form. We had a blast last year in El Dorado, California’s Gold Country, so be sure to read some of our stories, including the county’s great food. Hidden gems can also be found in places like the obvious ones: the Redwoods and Yosemite National Park, and the less known places like Fairfield, which is only an hour and a half from the Bay Area and boasts great wine, Mammoth Lakes for boating, Catalina Island for great seafood and culture, Yacaville, Morro Bay, Redding (nature baby nature), Richmond, Mendocino which we visited recently (check out our coverage, especially the very serene Little River Inn along the coast), Palm Springs which we hope to review this year, Sierras for mountain hikes, Stockton, Amador, Sacramento, Plumas County, Kernville, Lodi (love their wine), Placer County, Sonora, Bishop and Lake Tahoe, which we’ve been to a few times (and love).
Other spots that jumped out for me include Oregon’s Roseburg, Medford, and Gold Beach, and are so on the list. Despite the fact that the show is largely focused on adventure, nature and the great outdoors, there was plenty of food fun to be had on-site. New Orleans Bill was on-site whipping up his famous potato salad,
I loved the creatively displayed book of stories and recipes across five continents over three years by Allan Karl, whose inspiration came from riding his motorcycle around the world. The book merges arts, nature and food and through rich photos and stories, you get to taste a variety of cultures through the flavors and foods in 40 signature recipes. An oversized coffee-table art book, it has more than 700 photos and stories of adventure, survival and global local food.
Chef Banks White from Keystone Resort was on-site doing a cooking demonstration.
Johnny Jet spoke on the main stage, sharing his travel tips and ways to save money when booking flights and hotels across the globe. (the photos are sadly very distorted and blurry since I didn’t bring my Canon with me to the show)….
I learned that Calaveras is home of the famous Jumping Frogs Event – who knew?
In addition to a wealth of information and great conversations at the booths, they had a Rock Wall Climbing experience you could try out, a Cultural Pavilion that featured Henna tattoo, jewelry, clothing and cultural displays, gear and adventure clothing displays, and a world photo booth, where you could have your photo taken in front of your favorite spot in the world.
On the Global Beats stage, they had a modern dance and hip hop performance, dances from Indonesia, Fiji, India, Taiwan and classical forms Bharathanatyam and Kuuchipundi. Bollywood was in full force as was Oriental Dancing presented by Almaz, Belly dancing presented by Halanda Studio and Persian and Silk Road Dances presented by the Farima Dance Company. Bravo!
In addition to the cooking class by Banks White, we learned about Fattoush from Allan Karl and Texas seafood from Taste Texas TV producer and host Amy Kushnir. Chef Emily Sarlatte also took on Paella, Ben Simon embraced lentil burgers before going into BBQ heaven with David Lawrence. I took in nature photography from Rob Knight, discovered new adventures in Australia and New Zealand from John Gunning,
Speakers across two days included Rick Steves, Travel Channel Host Samantha Brown, Jennifer Goger who shared insights on Samoa (I so want to go here), Jonathan Reap from Tahiti Tourism Board (also hot on the list), the tourism folks from the Philippines and the cruise vendors who spoke about trips from Europe and Asia to the Pacific and Alaska.
There were plenty of giveaways such as resort escape giveaways to Tillamook, Yosemite, Pismo Beach and dozens of others, as well to exotic places like the Zulu Nyala Game Reserve and a cruise on Celebrity Cruise Line. A major two thumbs up — if you haven’t been to one of their shows, take a meader through their site to learn how to get tickets for an American city near you. The only ones left on the agenda for 2016 include Philly at the end of March. More info at http://travelshows.com/.