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Don’t stare into the abyss; reframe your mindset. The travel industry’s evolving climate is an opportunity to map a future that will grow your tour business.

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” — Gever Tulley

Become a tourism resource

Take the lead in reporting travel information where you plan tours. Update your business’ blog with posts that equip travelers with facts regarding safety guidelines from health officials. Discuss your tour destinations’ current and future plans, and reassure clients and prospective groups that this too shall pass.

Evaluate emergency protocols

The COVID-19 pandemic has most likely made you rethink how to handle a serious illness during a tour. Create a plan to retrain your team on what to do in challenging situations, like an illness, a seizure, a tornado, a hotel power outage or a motorcoach break-down. When it’s time to travel again, keep a digital or physical binder that lists the written steps for each scenario.

Update your web presence

When was the last time your company’s “about” section was updated on Facebook or your website? Draft a plan on what to post every day on each social media platform. Take time to tweak your headers and landing pages, and create a gallery on your website with photos from recent tours. Don’t forget to update your accomplishments on your personal and business LinkedIn pages.

Research new attractions

Surf the web for new tour destinations opening in 2021 and 2022. Fine-tune your itineraries with specific details, like a stop at the best local coffeeshop or a quaint giftshop. Add suggestions that are within walking-distance during free-time. Become an expert on your tour destination’s unique facts. Which celebrities live in the area? Are any of the historic buildings haunted?

Plan for an influx

When travel restrictions are lifted and cabin fever is over, people all over the world will be itching to travel. Draft a plan to help your business handle the number of bookings. Via the marketing avenue of your choice, share a regularly updated summary of facts and implications. In coming months, prospective clients will want to know when it’s safe to book travel again.

We know your business will emerge from this crisis stronger, wiser and prepared for the bright future of travel. We are here for you, and we are listening. Share your thoughts at subscriptions@grouptour.com.

Ludington, Michigan, bringing in visitors in with fall beauty, new events and exhibits

Conrad Road, Ludington, Mich., Credit: ToddandBradReed.com/Courtesy of TravMedia.com

LUDINGTON, Mich., — The Lake Michigan resort town of Ludington is welcoming the fresh new colors of fall with a number of modified events and new exhibits at local attractions.

“Autumn has always been a popular time to visit Ludington, and even more so now as families seek activities and events that provide safe social distancing,” said Brandy Miller, executive director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We’ve put some fun twists on past events plus added new events and attractions for plenty of options, in addition to Mason County’s stunning natural resources to get off the grid.”

Credit: ToddandBradReed.com/Courtesy of TravMedia.com

At Historic White Pine Village, “Beyond the Game” interactive exhibit features the history of many popular sports with the stories of Mason County Hall of Fame inductees and professional athletes. Visitors will also see Detroit Tigers memorabilia.

“Travelling in Time,” also new to Historic White Pine Village, displays seven iconic vehicles dating from 1917 to 1967.

In mid-October, the Port Ludington Maritime Museum will welcome the Armistice Day exhibit.  The permanent addition will commemorate the Armistice Day Storm on November 11, 1940 which killed 154 people on Lake Michigan. Visitors will explore three sunken freighters that were victims to the storm and learn just how powerful the storm was.

Ludington is also proud to be one of the six northern Michigan communities participating in the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Inside Out Program. Eight DIA art reproductions can be found at various venues in Ludington, which are listed on the Ludington Area Center for the Arts website.

Ludington will also continue with a number of fall events with modified schedules and rules in order to adhere to state and local safety guidelines. Events include Octoberfest, Courtyard Concerts, Camp Sauble Cages of Carnage Haunted Attraction tours and more. A full list can be found on the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau website.

In addition, visitors booking a stay at Mason County participating lodging properties can receive discounts for a second night stay Sundays through Thursdays through October 31.

About Ludington

Credit: ToddandBradReed.com/Courtesy of TravMedia.com

Ludington, Michigan, lying on the shores of Lake Michigan offers unspoiled natural beauty. In the fall, the region comes alive with bright colors that can be enjoyed at Ludington State Park, Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area and other local parks and forests. The region boasts small-town charm while also being within easy reach to U.S. 31 and U.S. 10. For more information on the Ludington Area and Mason County, visit PureLudington.com.

Hunt for ghosts and encounter over 100 years of history at Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Credit: Courtesy of Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

In Weston, West Virginia, stands the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, now a National Historic Landmark that served as the state mental institution from 1864 to 1994. Now privately owned, Trans-Allegheny provides history and ghost tours for groups.

“Since opening for tours in 2008, we have continued diligent research to provide the most accurate and insightful experience possible,” said Bethany Cutright, office manager at Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. “Our historic tours are presented honestly, with both the good and the bad of the past, while striving to deliver the information with respect to the people whose lives were touched by the hospital.”

With notice, the asylum can accommodate groups of 100 or more. Booking specialists help operators choose which tours will fit groups best, creating a personal experience for every group.

The four historic tours provide insights into everything from the evolution of mental health care to the architectural history of the building.

Groups will journey through four floors, visiting nurses’ quarters, Ward F where the most deviant patients stayed, the first floor of the Medical Center and so much more.

In addition, the asylum houses museum exhibit areas that include additional information, artifacts and memorabilia of the asylum.

“There is a patient art gallery that features hundreds of authentic art projects from patients who took part in the hospital’s art therapy programs,” Cutright said.

Daytime Paranormal Tours at Trans-Allegheny tell stories of ghostly sightings and mysterious occurrences within the walls of the asylum, taking groups to the four hottest spots in the asylum.

For a more in-depth paranormal experience, reserve space in one of the overnight Ghost Hunts. Guides will come along and assist groups in their exploration as they search for the asylum’s well-known ghostly inhabitants. Private overnight Ghost Hunts are also available for groups of at least 10 people.

“We strive to provide a top-notch experience for groups,” Cutright said. “And with reservations, we can ensure designated tour guides and the best experience possible.”

For more information call 304-269-5070 or go to trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com.

Nashville: Good eats and artistic flair meet in Music City

Kelsey Smith playing the Steinway piano at Historic RCA Studio B Credit: GTM/Kelsey Smith

Last fall, I crossed off a destination near the top of my bucket list — Nashville, Tennessee. A major music fan, I knew this lively city was going to leave a lasting impression (spoiler alert: it did).

My group and I visited during Nashville’s Americanafest, a six-day annual event that brings together fans and music industry professionals from all over the world through panels, seminars and networking opportunities by day, and raw, intimate shows by night. The festival celebrates the melting pot of genres that is Americana — roots, folk, country, blues and soul.

Honky Tonk Highway
Credit: Jake Matthews

Today, things look a little different in Nashville, but the city’s energetic spirit is unwavering. With the presence of COVID-19, the city is making safety its top priority for groups.

“As the city continues to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Nashville looks forward to safely welcoming visitors and groups to the city,” said Laurel Bennett, vice president of tourism sales for the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. “Our hospitality safety program, Good to Go, is a group of over 600 area businesses who are committed to the highest level of safety standards and practices put forth by the Metro Health Department and the CDC.

“In and around Nashville, storefronts of participating businesses will be marked with a green music note decal to designate their participation, she said. “We encourage visitors to patronize businesses adhering to these rules to ensure their safety is top of mind while visiting Music City.”

Nashville’s sound

Of course, when in Nashville, groups have to stop by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Not a country music fan? No problem. The museum has something for everyone.

“The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is a must-see when in Nashville,” Bennett said. “Visitors can learn the history of country music through artifacts, interactive exhibits, recorded sound and more. With new touchless entry protocols and timed arrivals, groups will be able to enjoy the museum safely.

“Groups may request priority tour times with morning hours and access to the galleries prior to the public,” she said. “Current exhibits include Kacey Musgraves: All of the Colors (through April 16, 2021), and Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ‘70s (through Feb. 14, 2021).”

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Credit: GTM/Kelsey Smith

After touring the museum for a few hours, our group stopped by Historic RCA Studio B, Nashville’s oldest recording studio. Built in 1957, the studio is known as the birthplace of the “Nashville Sound,” a style characterized by background vocals and strings that helped establish Nashville as an international recording center. Studio B was once home to musical legends, including Elvis Presley, Eddy Arnold, Chet Atkins and the Everly Brothers.

Being able to stand in the same room where these iconic musicians recorded was so surreal. We all got to sit down at Elvis’ favorite piano (a Steinway) and listen to some of the hits he recorded in that room, including “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

Turn up the heat

Nashville is known for a lot of things, but its hot chicken rises to the top of the list. Nashville hot chicken has three major components: bread, chicken and pickles. Authentic Nashville hot chicken uses simple white bread. Each restaurant may have its own secret blend of spices, but the base remains the same — the chicken is fried and coated in seasonings, most typically in a “dry” sauce. And, it’s hot. As for the pickles, they must be dill.

Hattie B’s family-run business is one of Nashville’s favorite hot chicken joints.

Hattie B’s
Credit: Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp.

“A trip to Nashville isn’t complete without a taste of famous Nashville hot chicken,” Bennett said. “With heat levels ranging from ‘Southern’ to ‘Shut the Cluck Up,’ it’s up to you to decide how adventurous of an eater you’ll be! Don’t forget some pimento mac and cheese, black-eyed pea salad and banana pudding.”

Full disclosure: I tried the ‘Shut the Cluck Up” heat level, and all I have to say is that it’s definitely true to its name.

My week in Nashville was incredible; the “Songwriting Capital of the World” definitely did not disappoint. Between exploring the vibrant neighborhoods and learning about the city’s roots and taste-testing the local fare, there was never a dull moment. I’m looking forward to visiting Music City again — there’s nothing quite like it.

For more information on Nashville, contact the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. at 800-657-6910 or visitmusiccity.com.

Utah itinerary: Salt Lake City

Credit: Doug Greenwood

Lying on a mountain valley with the towering Wasatch Mountains set as a backdrop, Salt Lake City is a vibrant, active urban environment. Utah’s capital city offers exciting and creative dining, nightlife and cultural arts — complementing the long-time classics that anchor Utah’s proud western heritage.

Salt Lake was once home to the ancient Pueblo people. Today, it is a bustling region home to over a million people and still boasts its rich history of the Pueblo people, Mormon pioneers and so much more.

 “This ‘Crossroads of the West’ is the ideal group destination, both for its unique offerings and unique accessibility to countless national parks, state parks and heritage sites,” said Michael Mack, Visit Salt Lake’s director of strategic partnerships. “Come and see Salt Lake, where mountains meet metropolitan.”

Visit Salt Lake


Credit: Austen Diamond

The architecturally-stunning Natural History Museum of Utah celebrates both the state’s natural and cultural heritage. Of course, there are dinosaurs — many of which are unique to the state — but the wonders of Utah’s geology, archeology, ecology and Native American cultures also are on display in state-of-the-art exhibits. The museum also is an active research institution.


Credit: Visit Salt Lake

Perfect for groups, The Gateway’s HallPass is Utah’s first food hall, a one-of-a-kind, fast-fine dining experience. There’s something for everyone in this innovative food hub; from ramen to fresh seafood and succulent salads to sweet and savory waffles, crepes and coffee. HallPass is sure to please all groups with traditional, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options available.


Credit: Austen Diamond

The Family History Library at Temple Square is the largest library of its kind, attracting many from around the world to discover information about their ancestors. Founded in 1894, the library holds records and genealogical data for over 3 billion deceased ancestors from around the globe. Experienced researchers provide a unique and personal experience to help visitors discover their familial past.


Credit: Visit Salt Lake

Located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake, City Creek Center offers a mix of luxury retailers, unique-to-market stores and trusted brands. It is a must-see with a fully tractable glass roof, waterfalls and a creek that runs through the center with local trout. Groups will receive a complimentary Passport to Shopping, which includes offers from over 60 stores and restaurants.

Sculpture comes to life at The Dawes Arboretum art exhibit

Dawes Arboretum
Lyman Whitaker installation, Dawes Arboretum Credit: PRNewsfoto/The Dawes Arboretum

NEWARK, Ohio, Sept. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Dawes Arboretum in Licking Township, Ohio, is hosting an art exhibit entitled “Wind Sculptures by Lyman Whitaker.”

Many of the metal sculptures are inspired by nature, so their installation in such a stunning natural setting is fitting. Each of the 60 kinetic sculptures has been strategically placed along a popular trail to accentuate the relationship between art and environment and to highlight some of the more subtle locations.

The carefully balanced designs of the sculptures are set into motion by the slightest breezes, the resulting effect of which has been called “healthy, inspiring and soothing.”

Artist Lyman Whitaker has been creating these mesmerizing works of motion for over 33 years. His designs include the Double Spinner, the Desert Flame and the Double Dancer, among others, and are appreciated by art collectors all over the world.

“This exhibit is the perfect way for visitors to get outside in a beautiful setting with plenty of room for social distancing and enjoy some truly amazing art,” said Luke Messinger, The Dawes Arboretum executive director. “We are happy to see so many people discovering or rediscovering The Arboretum. Nature enthusiasts, amateur photographers, as well as butterfly and birdwatchers, will all find plenty to appreciate here.”

The exhibit is included as part of the general admission ticket price. Non-member visitors are required to buy tickets in advance to support social distancing. Tickets can be reserved at dawesarb.org where guests also choose their day and time to visit. 

This installation will remain at The Dawes Arboretum until Dec. 15, giving guests the opportunity to see the artwork amidst a magnificent natural backdrop that will change with each season.

The exhibit is funded in part by a grant from the Licking County Foundation.

The Dawes Arboretum is a nearly 2,000-acre tree museum featuring an extraordinary collection of trees, beautiful gardens and distinctive natural areas dedicated to enriching lives through the conservation of trees and nature.

Denver Botanic Gardens connects people with plants

Spring Gardens, Credit: Denver Botanic Gardens

One of the top botanical gardens in the nation and a pioneer in water conservation, Denver Botanic Gardens is a 24-acre attraction boasting Colorado-native plants and plants from other steppe regions around the world.

At the time of publication, tours are not offered due to COVID-19 safety protocols. Please check with Denver Botanic Gardens prior to planning a visit. Typically, hourlong guided group tours are available for parties of 10 or more.

“We have guided tours by staff and volunteer docents on a variety of topics including seasonal highlights, art exhibits, Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory, Colorado Connections and water-smart gardens,” said Erin Bird, communications manager at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Additional sites include a Japanese Garden, Bonsai Pavilion, Vegetable Garden, Orangery and more.

Romantic Gardens, Mid-May
Credit: Denver Botanic Gardens

Walk through the Scripture Garden and see plants originating from the Fertile Crescent. Step into the Monet Garden and view a miraculous collection of aquatic plants. The Science Pyramid — adjacent to the Four Towers Pool — highlights how water connects plants, animals and people.

Art exhibits range from outdoor sculpture to mixed media pieces. Denver Botanic Gardens is continually showcasing different artists and rotates exhibits every year.

In addition to the main site, the Gardens cultivates a passion for planet and art with an additional location.

“Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms is a 700-acre native plant refuge with an active farm in Jefferson County,” Bird said. “The Gardens also manages programming at Plains Conservation Center in Aurora.”

Chatfield Farms also houses a plethora of gardens and additionally highlights agriculture throughout a number of them.

Denver Botanic Gardens’ York St. location has onsite dining. A large gift shop is also onsite and offers a wide selection of home decor, garden items, fashion accessories and more.

For more information call 720-865-3500 or go to botanicgardens.org.

Skyterra Wellness Retreat awarded by Tripadvisor

Credit: Courtesy of Skyterra Wellness Retreat

LAKE TOXAWAY, N.C. — Skyterra Wellness Retreat announced today that it has been selected as a Tripadvisor 2020 Travelers’ Choice award winner — placing the retreat in the top 10% of hospitality businesses around the world.

“We are so grateful for all of our guests who took the time to leave us such positive feedback about their stay,” said Skyterra’s founder and owner Sue Crowell. “It’s their feedback that makes this award possible. Thank you all for your role in helping us win.”

In addition, USA Today recently named Skyterra as a top three wellness retreat in the nation for the third year in a row.

Credit: Courtesy of Skyterra Wellness Retreat

Opened in 2016, Skyterra averages 5-star ratings not only on Tripadvisor, but through guest reviews on Google and Facebook as well.

“Winners of the 2020 Travelers’ Choice Awards should be proud of this distinguished recognition,” said Kanika Soni, chief commercial officer at Tripadvisor. “Although it’s been a challenging year for travel and hospitality, we want to celebrate our partners’ achievements. Award winners are beloved for their exceptional service and quality. Not only are these winners deserving, they are also a great source of inspiration for travelers/diners as the world begins to venture out again.”

About Skyterra Wellness Retreat

A member of the Wellness Tourism Association, Skyterra first opened as a holistic health retreat. Today, the retreat consists of a team of experts that help guests begin new healthy habits and revitalize their lifestyles. Activities range from fitness classes, yoga, meditation, nutrition, stress management, health education and outdoor recreation. Spa services are also available at the retreat.

Fore more information go to skyterrawellness.com.

Visit Delaware launches new statewide interactive street art trail

Delaware Discoveries Trail
Mispillion River Brewing Credit: Delaware Tourism Office

DOVER, Del. (Sept. 21, 2020) — Nine large, interactive street art pieces will now guide travelers through a new way to experience Delaware attractions by creating their own Instagram-worthy moment.

Launched just in time for fall visitors to enjoy, the Delaware Discoveries Trail, created by the Delaware Tourism Office (DTO) includes never-before-seen artwork specially created to provide a perfect spot for a #DelawareDiscoveries photo to share on social media.

Delaware Discoveries Trail
Delaware Art Museum
Credit: Delaware Tourism Office

DTO commissioned local and national artists to paint nine pieces of one-of-a-kind outdoor artwork at the following locations:

  • Big Chill Beach Club
  • Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
  • Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal
  • DE Turf 
  • Delaware Art Museum 
  • Hagley Museum and Library
  • Mispillion River Brewing Company
  • Riverfront Wilmington
  • Town of Wyoming

“Tourism is an integral part of Delaware’s economy,” said Jeff Bullock, Delaware secretary of state. “These are challenging times for the state’s hospitality industry, and this innovative project provides visitors another reason to come to Delaware. Those travelers will boost the state’s hospitality industry by eating in local restaurants, staying in local hotels and visiting local attractions.”

Delaware Tourism Director Liz Keller said the Delaware Discoveries Trail, which has been in development for over a year, is designed to increase off-season visitation to Delaware and appeal to younger travelers.

Delaware Discoveries Trail
Big Chill Beach Club
Credit: Delaware Tourism Office

“The Delaware Tourism Office is taking an active role in developing new and exciting things to do in the state,” Keller said. “Each of the nine locations is unique and offers visitors the ability to immerse themselves in the artwork. We are aiming for wide appeal with this trail, a fun way for both younger travelers and art lovers of all ages to enjoy a socially-distant outdoor activity.”

Not only does the trail provide people the chance to be part of this art but also to make their own. When someone visits at least four of the nine locations, takes a photo in front of each piece of artwork and uploads those photos at delawarediscoveries.com, they will receive the free limited-edition prize, a paint pour kit developed with the Developing Artist Collaboration. 

“The Delaware Discoveries Trail strongly supports Delaware’s local artists and helps drive awareness of the great local talent in our state,” said Leah Beach, executive director of the Developing Artist Collaboration. “This is an incredible opportunity for artists to showcase their talent because their work will be seen by the thousands of people each year who visit these popular tourist destinations.”

“Art can spark joy and bring people together,” said Kelsey Montague, the nationally known artist who painted the pieces of artwork at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and Big Chill Beach Club. “I’ve traveled the world painting interactive street art, and I’m honored to be part of the Delaware Discoveries Trail. Delaware has incredible places for people to experience nature up close, and I hope my work encourages people to explore the great outdoors.”

The Delaware Discoveries Trail artists are Leah Beach, Natalia Ciriaco, Laura Erickson, Michael Johnson, Christian Kanienberg (winner of art contest) and Kelsey Montague.

Before visiting be sure to view the Go-To-Guide for tips on how to #ExploreSafelyDE. Remember to plan ahead. Maintain social distancing, wear a face covering and bring hand sanitizer. Make sure to review guidelines before arriving at your destination. Some locations may be operating under different capacity or require reservations. And stay home if you are sick.

To learn more and plan your trip to explore the Delaware Discoveries Trail, go to delawarediscoveries.com.

The show must go on: entertainment industry shares hope, resilience in ‘new normal’

Branson entertainment Credit: ExploreBranson.com

Earlier this year, theaters, performance halls and entertainment venues across the nation went dark as the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. Once-full auditoriums were left empty, while box offices coast to coast were forced to close.

In June, the Broadway League announced the cancellation of all Broadway shows through the end of 2020 — a move that extended the longest production shutdown in Broadway’s history. The cancellations and shutdowns left tour operators wondering if entertainment could still be a part of their itineraries in the “new normal.”

Although the coronavirus has yet to make its curtain call, the entertainment industry has found innovative and creative means to keep the joy of performing arts alive for tour groups. Some theaters and venues are now back open, with safety precautions in place, while others are busy making plans for the day the curtains will rise again.

Branson, Missouri

Noah, Sight & Sound Theatres, Branson, Mo.
Credit: ExploreBranson.com

Home to more than 40 theater venues offering live music, comedy, variety and magic shows, Branson’s entertainment scene is a big draw for groups. Itinerary favorites include Sight & Sound Theatres, Clay Cooper Theatre, The Haygoods, Hughes Brothers Theatre and Presleys’ Country Jubilee, just to name a few.

At the time of publication, 80–85% of Branson’s shows had resumed after closing earlier this year due to the pandemic.

“Branson is open for business,” said Lenni Neimeyer, director of leisure group sales at Explore Branson. “We are practicing all the safety measures required of us and we’re just eager to host folks and entertain them. We’re ready — the show must go on!”

Safety measures in place for Branson shows include acrylic barriers between staff and visitors; health screenings for employees; social distancing seating charts; and modifications to intermissions, meet and greets and concessions. A comprehensive list of Branson’s safety measures can be found on Explore Branson’s website.

“As a chamber of commerce and convention and visitors bureau, our organization took the leadership role of bringing our businesses together based on our local health department guidelines and mandates by the governor of Missouri,” Neimeyer said. “The visitors we’ve had — groups and individuals — have been so appreciative of the steps we’ve taken.”

Neimeyer said something that often sets Branson apart from other theater destinations is how guests can get up-close and personal with the performers. With new social distancing measures, however, those things aren’t happening right now.

“It’s a shame, because that’s a reason why Branson is so popular — that up-close, personal contact and connection,” she said.

As expected, many tour operators cancelled trips to Branson this past spring and summer, but many rescheduled their trips to the fall and Christmas season.

“Tour groups are still coming; numbers are looking good for fall and Christmas and we have our fingers crossed that they’ll stay that way,” Neimeyer said. “We’re all bending over backward to help groups, but Branson is that way, anyway. That is not something new for us. We know how to treat our groups and they appreciate it.” 417-243-2105, explorebranson.com

Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Columbia, Maryland

Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Toby’s Dinner Theatre, Columbia, Md.
Credit: Jeri Tidwell Photography

For more than 40 years, Toby’s Dinner Theatre has produced professional, theater-in-the-round productions for group tour guests, along with a buffet-style dinner. The theater has been closed since mid-March.

“At this time, we still have not received official word as to when we can reopen,” said Cheryl Clemens-Everidge, sales and marketing for Toby’s Dinner Theatre. “We will re-open once our area officials deem that it is safe. We want tour operators/planners to feel safe to make reservations and plans to visit us in the coming future and for them to know that we will work with them. This is an ever-changing situation and we must remain flexible.”

Toby’s Dinner Theatre can normally seat 300 guests. When the theater re-opens, Clemens-Everidge said the occupancy will be much less, most likely allowing for at least 6 feet between tables. Other planned safety protocols include a plated meal, instead of the traditional buffet, hand sanitation stands in the lobby and near restrooms, and minimizing lobby traffic during intermissions.

“I think that when tours start to re-open, we are going to be looking at much smaller groups,” Clemens-Everidge said. “We will still keep the groups on the motorcoach before taking them directly to their seats to minimize people gathering in our lobby. Even though their meal experience may be changed slightly for the time being, their evening entertainment experience will still be top notch!” 410-730-8311, tobysdinnertheatre.com

Medieval Times, multiple locations

Credit: Medieval Times

After a day of sightseeing, performances or travel, a visit to a Medieval Times castle immerses groups in the Middle Ages. Inspired by an 11th-century feast and tournament, Medieval Times is a two-hour dinner show complete with a four-course meal, live-action musical score, jousting knights and Andalusian horses. Medieval Times has 10 locations, known as castles.

“Our Orlando, Atlanta, Dallas and Scottsdale castles are open,” said Kristen Schascheck, vice president of sales at Medieval Times. “In our other six locations, we are still monitoring each state’s guidelines and have not yet announced our re-opening dates.”

Medieval Times has made some enhancements to its show experience, including social distancing, castle cleanliness and new health protocols. All guests over the age of six years old will have a temperature check before entering the castle and must wear a mask/face covering. A full list of changes can be found on the Medieval Times website.

“Like our operator partners, we believe that group travel provides life enhancing (and changing) experiences for students and adults alike,” Schascheck said. “We’ve been honored to be a part of thousands of itineraries for 30+ years and are committed to helping bring travel and tourism back to our communities. As each castle opens, our teams will be ready to safely welcome your groups, share in the fun and revelry of the tournament, and make amazing memories for our guests.”

Medieval Times is encouraging and accepting any and all feedback from tour operators as travel and tourism continue to rebound.

“We are taking all of their awesome feedback and requests and creating a catalog of educational elements and exemplary video content to enhance groups’ in-person visits and create opportunities for digital engagement,” Schascheck said. medievaltimes.com

Missouri itinerary: St. Joseph


See where the Pony Express began and where Jesse James ended in St. Joseph. Once the westernmost point accessible by train before the Civil War, St. Joseph offers architecture, unique museums, nature and more.

“When you are ready, we are ready for you,” said Gracia Pinzino, group sales & service manager at the St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau. “With personalized itineraries and hometown hospitality, we will help you every step of the way. And once you are here, you will be greeted like friends we have long awaited.”

St. Joseph not only boasts an exciting American history, but also a world-class art museum; an entertainment district; 48 parks; seasonal festivals; and local, one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants.

St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau


Credit: St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Pony Express National Museum highlights the history of this service where riders left both St. Joseph and Sacramento, California, simultaneously for a journey that covered 250 miles in one day. Exhibits include interactive dioramas, archaeological excavation sections and more. The Pony Express has been prestigiously awarded “Best Historical Learning Experience” from Lux Life Magazine.


Credit: St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau

Listed as one of “America’s Top Ten Western Museums” by True West Magazine in 2008, Patee House Museum was once a luxury hotel built in 1858 that served as headquarters to the Pony Express. Also onsite is the home where world-famous outlaw Jesse James was shot and killed. The museum hosts the Wild Things Carousel, the Buffalo Saloon and the Hannibal-St. Joseph Train.


Credit: St. Jospeh Convention & Visitors Bureau

The award-winning Glore Psychiatric Museum tells the 145-year history of mental health treatment. Surgical tools, nurse uniforms and personal notes are among the many things on display. Exhibits include artwork and embroidered words created by patients. The museum is located on the former grounds of the state Lunatic Asylum No. 2.  


Credit: St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau

Remington Nature Center is located in the Missouri River Valley and features a 7,000-gallon native fish aquarium and exhibits on black bears, beehives, fossils and the wooly mammoth. Book a group tour and get the chance to see the surrounding beautiful natural habitats and the indoor exhibits and to learn about Native American history, too.