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For residents of western Pennsylvania, vacation destinations remain varied and adventurous this summer.

From traditional beach trips to adventures in foreign countries to the north, locals’ summer vacations take them around the world as various COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted. While travel methods and exact details are specific to each family, trends are showing that there are some popular destinations for adventure-seeking western Pennsylvania residents.

For travelers to Beaver County, the East Coast’s many beaches remain a very popular vacation destination during the summer. Dotted by the Atlantic Ocean, travelers from western Pennsylvania head to popular beaches like the Outer Banks, Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Ocean City and Hilton Head to soak up the summer sun.

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According to AAA reports, Memorial Day travel data showed that traveling by car still remains a popular method of travel despite high gasoline prices across the country. Even if local gas prices exceed $5 a gallon, forecasts predict that 5.2 million mid-Atlantic travelers will choose their cars as their preferred mode of transportation for the July 4th weekend.

This trend also applies across the United States, with the initial forecast predicting a record number of travelers hitting the road over the holiday weekend. AAA predicts that more than 42 million Americans will travel by car that weekend, setting a new record for July 4th travel. Some of these cars also plan to go far, as 47.9 million Americans also plan to travel more than 50 miles to their destinations.

Another popular beach state to travel to this summer is Florida, which attracts families of all ages with its many theme park options. Orlando remains a highly popular destination for air travelers and families, with vacation plans to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios continuing to be popular yearly choices for the summer season.

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“Families with older children are drawn to Universal, while families with children of all ages have Disney World on their list of destinations,” said Marita Williams, travel promotions and product development manager for AAA East Central.

Outside of Orange County’s main theme parks, air travel options to other regions of Florida also remain in high demand this year as tourists flock to the beach.

“Florida remains an in-demand state for air travel from Pittsburgh,” said Bob Kerlik, representative for Pittsburgh International Airport. “This summer, PIT has nonstop service to 14 airports in Florida, including Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Myers, Destin/Fort Walton Beach and Key West.”

The beach and theme parks are not the top destination for all travelers, so many tourists are also planning more natural adventures in the US National Parks. AAA reports that these destinations are still one of the most popular travel options, taking Beaver Valley residents across the country to experience America’s natural beauty.

Some of these popular park destinations include Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park in Utah, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and the Black Hills in South Dakota. Many of these national parks offer a variety of hiking and camping options for travelers of all ages and experience levels, making a nature retreat easy for anyone to plan.

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While there has been a temporary pause in overseas travel due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, international vacations are making a comeback and sending western Pennsylvania residents all over the world. A few common destinations continue to dominate the number of trips, with many local families planning trips to areas in Mexico, Canada, Italy and Ireland.

New options at Pittsburgh International Airport are also making it easier to cross the Atlantic to London, England. As British Airways resumed its routes at the PIT terminals earlier this year, the route has become increasingly popular as a holiday destination and transfer to other locations abroad.

“This important route – serving thousands of passengers every month – caters to a diverse mix of customers, from business travelers to leisure travelers visiting family and friends abroad,” said Kerlik. “Not only is it an incredibly convenient option for getting to London, but a great connection point to European cities as well as key markets in Africa, India and the Middle East.”

Pennsylvanians are also traveling to the United States’ neighboring countries, heading north and south for weekend getaways and warmer weather.

“Cancun, Mexico and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic are Pittsburgh’s two perennially popular international vacation destinations, both served by nonstop flights,” Kerlik said. “Toronto and Montreal, served non-stop by Air Canada, are also popular for long weekend getaways with the many unique sights, attractions and dining options they offer.”

While travelers may not originally think of Iceland as a popular destination, the northern vacation spot is also seeing increasing popularity in the greater Pittsburgh region. The country’s unique attractions include offbeat spa experiences and the chance to see the Northern Lights during certain parts of the year.

“Most people traveling to Iceland travel on a guided vacation or cruise,” Williams said. “Iceland is a smaller country and when visiting Iceland you would like to see the whole country. The must-see in Iceland in my opinion is the Blue Lagoon, which is a geothermal spa.”

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