March travel isn’t all about spring-breaking families and college students. This month is filled with sophisticated, don’t-want-to-miss-it cultural, culinary and sporting events. While sand and sea definitely sound lovely as this terrible winter winds down, so do these five interesting trips. Think of them as the adult version of spring break.
South by Southwest, Austin, Texas
It’s hard to remember a time before South by Southwest, the multimedia festival that takes Austin by storm every year. Musicians, media-savvy types, indie movie producers and fans of all of the above have been swarming the Texas town since 1987, viewing movies, going to concerts and attending in-depth talks on breaking technology. And if that’s not enough to excite your inner pop culturist, this year SXSW adds a couple of new events — for the first time TV shows will be added to the film section lineup, and SXsports will debut with film screenings and panel discussions about, you guessed it, sports. Highlights this March include a talk by Chelsea Clinton (March 11); performances by more than 1,700 music artists, including a Lou Reed tribute concert (March 14); and discussions with stars Jason Bateman (March 8) and Mike Myers (March 10). March 7 to 16
Costata Pairing Dinners, New York City
Not that you needed another reason to dine at chef Michael White’s Costata, but gourmands won’t want to miss the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Italian steakhouse’s exclusive pairing dinners. On March 19, Washington winemakers Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars, Chris Figgins of Leonetti/Figgins Family Wine Estate and Drew Bledsoe (yes, the former NFL quarterback) of Doubleback Wines will pair their pours with dishes such as tomahawk rib-eye and raviolini stuffed with braised short rib. If you prefer scotch over wine, opt for the March 26 dinner. On the menu: Nine whiskeys will be paired with five courses of Pat LaFrieda’s dry-aged beef. Master of Whiskey Spike McClure will be there to guide you through rare single malts from Lagavulin, Talisker, Glenkinchie and more. March 19, 26
LPGA Founders Cup, Phoenix
Those looking for a couple days’ dose of warm sun can head to Phoenix for the LPGA Founders Cup, in its fourth year. The tourney — which is held just outside of Scottsdale at the Wildfire Golf Club at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa — will donate $500,000 to the LPGA’s Girls Golf program. After watching the ladies play on the gorgeous Arnold Palmer- and Nick Faldo-designed course located in the Sonoran Desert, book an appointment at the resort’s enormous 28,000-square-foot Revive Spa. The 80-minute Desert Ridge massage incorporates a tailored-to-you aromatherapy oil and a eucalyptus foot treatment. March 20 to 23
National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington D.C.
Is there any better way to mark the beginning of spring than by eyeing the beautiful cherry trees that fill our nation’s capital? We think not — this city comes to life during cherry blossom time. Not only are the blossoms beautiful, but the vast array of celebratory cultural events that coincides with the festival is reason enough to visit. A highlight to hit: The Lantern Walks led by rangers allow you to see the blossoms by moonlight. Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C. will get into the spirit of things with the Cherry Blossoms Bloom package, which includes flower-inspired treats and a 20 percent discount on cherry-blossom-inspired treatments at the Four-Star spa. March 20 to April 13
The Beatles Celebration Weekend, Kohler, Wis.
This spring marks the 50th anniversary of the British Invasion, and if you can’t make it to Abbey Road to celebrate, we have a stateside alternative. The American Club, a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel, is hosting a fun weekend dedicated to remembering The Beatles’ trip over the Atlantic Ocean with a blowout live concert performed by the Grammy-nominated Liverpool Legends (a Beatles tribute band) on March 22. Those who purchase the British Invasion package get a double dose of the band — it will play in a small space inside The American Club and be joined by George Harrison’s sister, who will regale with first-hand stories about the famous band. March 22 to 23
GourmetFest, Carmel, Calif.
With all the food-and-drink festivals around these days, that last thing we need is another one to salivate over, right? Wrong. This new foodie fest is backed by Relais & Châteaux, an exclusive assortment of high-end hotels (mostly finely appointed inns) and restaurants (mostly helmed by absurdly talented chefs). Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star L’Auberge Carmel will host some of the events; the others will be held nearby at the Sunset Center and at La Playa Hotel, all just blocks from the Pacific Ocean on California’s Central Coast. Fifteen events round out GourmetFest, and they range from a cooking demo by Tastemaker Michael White and a caviar tasting to a wild mushroom hunt and a $350 dinner featuring cuisine by Relais & Châteaux’s Grand Chefs, including Patrick O’Connell from Five-Star The Inn at little Washington in Virginia, Barbara Lynch from Five-Star Menton in Boston and Justin Cogley from new Five-Star Aubergine in Carmel. March 27 to 30
Photos Courtesy of Buddy Secor, Marriott International Inc. and L’Auberge Carmel